Editor’s note: This article is from the latest newsletter, Community Perspectives, of the Collier County Presidents Council, email@example.com.
Newcomers to paradise, perhaps looking for retirement property, are most often unfamiliar with the state statutes, county regulations, deed restrictions and the need for permitting just about any change.
They purchase a property maybe in a developing community and most probably want to make changes which could include an add-on to an existing structure, which is where they run into the many regulations which guide our lives.
It is also possible for the unwary to buy into a property which the previous owner altered with an add-on that was not properly permitted or documented, and they find themselves as new owners held responsible for all the grief imaginable in the liabilities incurred by such actions.
These may be seemingly small such as conversion of garage or lanai space to living space, and the unwitting buyers may find, to their dismay, that they have to tear down the conversions at their expense. Such expenses can include architect fees, survey and impact fees and final appraisals, as well as permits — always assuming the changes are permittable.
Then, of course, there is the issue of any violation of the deed restrictions contained in the community association documents, which will most probably attract additional compliance issues.
A good Realtor should, of course, be alert for such problems and provide proper counsel to their clients, but unfortunately not all Realtors are that conscientious. Given that the current owner of record is always held responsible, it clearly pays for any buyer to take all precautions available to avoid falling into this situation.
Collier County offers a service to would-be buyers that details the property description as recorded officially in the county records. These may be requested before any purchase agreement by contacting the Collier County property appraiser’s customer service line at 239-252-8141 and requesting the property record card.
A requester needs certain information, but essentially the physical property address and the folio number if available will enhance the turnaround of the property record card.
This information will provide a basis for comparison with the property being examined and any discrepancy will show up as any addition that is not recorded in the county records.
As always, this is a clear case of “buyer beware.” In this case what you don’t know may hurt you!