Buying real estate in Naples, Florida is unique and you need to know these important details before you start your search.
Many times when I talk with new clients about buying real estate in Naples I find that clients often express surprise at the notable and important differences from their previous real estate transactions – even other counties in Florida. It is critical that you understand these differences, so in this week’s blog post I want to talk about a few of these key points:
The NABOR Contract
One of biggest differences for a person new to Naples real estate is that almost all Naples real estate transactions will use what is called the NABOR purchase and sale contract. In fact, it is customary for all offers to be submitted on a fully executed and signed NABOR contract by the buyer. This contract is only used in Naples, and is produced by the Naples Area Board of Realtors in conjunction with local real estate attorneys. The rest of Florida uses a contract called the FAR-BAR Contract, so it’s important that you have a real estate agent who has experience in buying and selling real estate in Naples because there are critical differences between the two contracts.
It is important to know that in the state of Florida, real estate agents are permitted to take form contracts and fill in the blanks with the relevant information, which includes the NABOR contract. What makes this so different from many other states is that, when making an offer to purchase the property it will become enforceable if the seller signs without making any changes to the price or terms. There is no “pre-contract” required or contract to later be drafted by an attorney. If the seller wishes to make a counter-offer on the price, the seller changes the price on the contract and passes it back to the buyer for a signature. Since there is no “pre-contract” and all offers made can easily become binding with the stroke of a pen, it is crucial that all buyers – and sellers – understand the terms of the NABOR contract before making any offers.
It would take more than this blog post to cover all of the standard language of a NABOR contract, but I’d like to highlight a very important provision that needs to be considered when looking at properties. Under a standard NABOR contract, the buyer has the right to have an inspection done on the property after entering into the contract – unless the house is being sold “as-is.” From that inspection, only “defective items” will have to be fixed by the seller, so it’s important to understand what items are considered “defective.” Broken screens, cracked tiles, and other “cosmetic” issues are not considered “defective” and will not have to be fixed by the seller.
This is an important consideration for you to keep in mind when looking at Naples real estate and determining your budget. I would highly recommend that you sit down and talk to your Naples real estate agent about the NABOR contract when you start your search, because once you find that perfect Naples property, you will have to act quickly.
City of Naples? North Naples? East Naples? Collier County?
When people talk with me about buying real estate in Naples, they are often confused about the different areas that “Naples” really covers. When I talk about “Naples,” I’m really talking about three main “areas” of Naples – these are the City of Naples, North Naples, and East Naples. I’m including some maps, below, that will help in showing the different areas. For comparison, the City of Naples at last count had a population of about 19,537, while Naples proper had a population of about 321,520.
What’s interesting about Naples is that most of its area is unincorporated parts of Collier County, the largest county in Florida. While I highlight the three areas above, there are still some excellent communities that are still located in Naples, but fall outside of these areas. For instance, the Vineyards or Island Walk are both highly sought-after communities in Naples, though they are not located in any of those three areas. In addition, another very large area of Naples that I don’t highlight above is called Golden Gate, which is located east of Route 75 and generally consists of single family homes with large amounts of land and no associations. Golden Gate deviates from the traditional Naples communities that people think of, and is probably closer to the real estate located in other areas.
When starting out your Naples real estate search with your real estate agent, your agent will generally use the Naples Area Real Estate Map which breaks down each area of Naples by a specific code. These codes make it easy to identify an area you are interested in, and search for real estate within that specific area. If you are doing your own advanced property searching on my website, you can use these codes to help narrow down your searches.
City of Naples
The City of Naples runs from Port Royal to Pelican Bay, and features some of Naples’ most prestigious and sought after real estate. It is mostly situated west of US 41 and Goodlette Road. Housing prices within the City of Naples can be expensive, especially in Port Royal where it has some of the most expensive real estate in world. For example, this house in Port Royal is currently listed for $68,000,000. In addition to the miles of sandy beach, the City of Naples includes 5th Avenue and 3rd Street South, popular downtown areas with excellent restaurants and shopping. The Naples Pier and Lowdermilk Park are also popular destinations for tourists and locals alike. Some featured communities in the City of Naples include Olde Naples, Port Royal, Aqualane Shores, and the Moorings.
North Naples starts where the City of Naples ends at Pelican Bay, and runs all the way up to Bonita Springs. Communities in North Naples have been able to develop at a considerable rate as the infrastructure and roads of Naples continue to expand. Popular shopping areas in North Naples, like Mercato, and Waterside Shops, have aided in this development. North Naples also features popular beaches like Vanderbilt Beach, Wiggins Beach, and Barefoot Beach. The proximity to Estero, an up-and-coming area in Lee County where the Coconut Point shopping center and the Miromar Outlets are located, also make North Naples a popular place for real estate. Featured communities in North Naples include Pelican Marsh, Mediterra, Collier’s Reserve, and Tiburon.
East Naples is located just east of downtown Naples (5th Avenue area), and runs east to Lely and north to the Naples Airport. Its proximity to downtown Naples makes it a desirable location, and it is currently undergoing a revitalization. Larger developments – like the Isles of Collier Preserve and Treviso Bay – have cropped up in the past few years, leading to a larger demand for real estate in East Naples. This demand has led to the development of new shopping areas and restaurants. In addition, East Naples is home to the Naples Botanical Gardens, an excellent Naples attraction.
Home and Condo Associations in Naples
My clients are often amazed to learn that most real estate available in Naples is part of an association – either a homeowner’s association, or a condo association. Northern states generally don’t have this level of community development, especially for single family homes. Therefore, if you’re buying real estate in Naples, it is absolutely critical to understand what being part of an association means. When I start working with a new client, we not only discuss their wish list for a property, but also their wish list for an association. Depending on the community, amenities provided by the association may include golf courses, tennis courts, gyms, pools, restaurants, and beaches.
The existence of these associations has created well-maintained and beautiful neighborhoods, but it comes with a caveat – namely, association restrictions and monthly or quarterly dues that must be understood. Association restrictions may include restrictions on pets (size, number and breed), outside decorations, and parking. For example, most condominium associations in Naples will only allow one small pet, which is generally not over 25 pounds. If you have multiple large dogs and are looking for a condominium, this needs to be discussed with your real estate agent before you begin looking at properties.
I strongly recommend that my clients review and understand all of the association documents, as well as the financials of the association. A buyer has a right to look at these items before entering into a contract, and doing so will hopefully prevent unwanted surprises later on. Associations in Naples have excellent benefits, but you need to know up front exactly what you are getting into.