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Posts Tagged ‘florida residents’

How To Set Up A Home Office

Home Office

Home Office

I’ve spent more than three decades with a home office. When you work at home, even part time, you discover that a makeshift desk area on a kitchen counter or the dining table isn’t the best setup. Having a dedicated home office, even if it’s compact, makes a big difference in comfort and productivity. Having a dedicated space also serves as an important signal to those who live with you that you’re ‘at work’. Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand.
Stake Out Your Spot 
You need to pick a spot in your home with the fewest distractions, and where all the essentials (like electrical outlets and your modem) are close by. Modern WiFi is a wonderful thing but understand it can still be inconsistent in even the most tech-friendly neighborhoods. I anticipate that our connectivity speed will be further degraded by all the streaming and game-playing that is happening now, in addition to everyone trying to work from home as well……be patient and see if you can upgrade to a higher speed with your home Internet provider.
Also, try to find a spot near a window with some natural light so you don’t feel completely tucked away from the world. Think about storage and try to keep work-only items grouped together. Think outside the file box to find an organizational system that works for you; see what you can use around your home. It’s more important to give everything that has been sitting out in piles a permanent home than it is to buy new containers. Here are a few ideas for organizing your home office:
·     A grid of clipboards on the wall can make for a handy place to keep papers organized.
·     Wall-mounted cups keep frequently used supplies neat and within reach.
·     Cups and bowls borrowed from the kitchen make great desktop and drawer organizers.
·     Labeled, open-top baskets on shelves are great for people who like piles
·     Traditional files are still useful for important documents.
Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. I say “morning,” but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a “getting started” routine at another time of day. I want my elderly parents to be able to call me anytime, but have reminded them that “after 6” is the best time to get my undivided attention. I ask other family members and friends to respect my work hours and stick with the less obtrusive email or text for non-emergencies.
Act as if you are “going to work”. Whatever your routine was when you were going to the office, try and maintain it now that you are working from home. Exercise, shower, get dressed (not pajamas), and then “go to work”. I try and avoid eating at my desk and taking a coffee break, lunch break, etc.  Use these times to reconnect with other household members and address their needs and concerns.
Think About Your Back, Feet and Shoulders 
Pick a back-friendly, ergonomic chair if at all possible and always make time for exercise (don’t forget to stretch!). I prefer to stand or walk around while I am on the phone but now that my husband is working from home as well, we find that this is distracting to one another. Go outside and get some fresh air while on that call.
Although you can easily work on a laptop from anywhere, an entire day, week, or even a month spent looking down at a screen is not going to do your neck muscles any favors. If you have the space and the budget, think about upgrading to a decent-sized computer monitor to plug your laptop into. I use two monitors so that I can multitask between emails, software applications required for my work, calendars, and more.
Most desks, chairs and monitors and still designed for the average sized man. I have made adjustments by ensuring that my monitors are at eye level. You can use boxes, books, magazines or anything you have around the house to easily accomplish this…no need to be purchasing special desks, risers, etc. If your chair is not adjustable, use pillows, etc. to ensure that you are sitting at the right height to keep your back straight. I have purchased an ergonomic cushion that provides comfort and support for my spine as well as adds two includes to my seat height.
Make Friends with Your Postal Worker or Delivery Person 
Thank goodness for USPS, UPS and FedEx!!! These people get bonuses at Christmas for their daily deliveries to my door. I have always been an online shopper for convenience and time-saving and now that I am getting deliveries for food, office supplies and more the visits to my front door have increased ( still can’t find toilet paper however).
Take the time to let your local postal worker or delivery person in your neighborhood know you’re now working from home if your work involves a lot of envelopes and packages. I have made a point in the past to have a few daily words with the drivers that frequent my home. It helps when my local delivery person knows I’m working at home and sending and receiving envelopes and packages on a regular basis.  In today’s world something as simple as leaving a note on your door explaining your situation will work and be appreciated.  My UPS driver told me a couple of days ago that I can leave the package outside my front door with a note to pick it up or if I see him in the neighborhood to just hand him the box…..no need to go out to the UPS store!!!
Pump the Brakes with Social Media
Social media can be absolute poison if you don’t limit yourself. It’s definitely good to stay on top of the news during these uneasy times, but if you allow yourself to be sucked into endless posts, you might look up at the clock and discover you lost three or four hours of your day.
I enjoy social media and participate for both personal and work reasons, but I have learned to use it wisely.  I check it before I head to my office with my morning coffee and then again at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at someone’s funny online story, or post about your favorite sports team or TV show. Just try to limit the damage during work hours.
Freshen up.
Give yourself a big pat on the back, because the hardest work is now behind you! Today is all about making your home workspace fresh and clean, so it will be a healthier, more pleasant place to spend time in.
·     Vacuum your home office from top to bottom. Use an attachment to clean window treatments, high corners and fabric lamp shades.
·     Wipe down shelves and surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth.
·     Use monitor wipes to clean your screens.
·     Use a keyboard cleaner to blow dust from between the keys or gently clean them with cotton swabs.
·     Bring in some fresh plants to help clean the air.
Straighten up your home office before you are done working each day. Bring the coffee cups back to the kitchen and completely clear your desktop.
We are all anxious and a routine will help keep our life as “normal” as possible in these difficult times. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not as productive as when in the office. Working from home is a mindset and a discipline and cannot replace a normal work environment. It takes time, discipline and commitment to find the right balance for your personal and family needs.

Tax Considerations When Deciding to Relocate.

Florida retains its ranking as one of the nation’s lowest-tax states, according to the latest study released by Florida TaxWatch. Out of 50 states, Florida ranks No. 42 in the average amount of money paid by residents.
Florida TaxWatch findings:
  • Floridians pay an average $5,679 per person in state and local taxes
  • Residents pay an average $2,584 in state taxes – one of the least amounts nationwide. Only the residents of one other state pay less.
  • However, local tax burdens are higher. “Per Capita Local Tax Collections” ranked No. 27 nationally.
  • In the balance between state and local taxes, Florida relies more heavily on local revenue than almost all other states and is No. 2 nationwide. Local taxes account for 53.3 percent of the total.
  • With property taxes, Florida ranks a solid “average” score – No. 25. The state’s per capita property tax ranking is right at the median – 25th.
  • Florida also classifies 38.7 percent of its state and local revenue as non-tax revenue (such as “fees”) – the 7th largest percentage in the nation.
  • Florida relies more heavily on transaction taxes, such as general and sales taxes. They make up, 81.5 percent of all state tax collections compared to the national average of 47.2 percent.
  • Florida has the highest state and local selective sales (excise) taxes on utilities in the nation. The tax on motor fuels is No. 15; the tax on alcoholic beverages is No. 19.
  • Florida’s housing sector produces significant revenue, and the state’s documentary stamp taxes are rising rapidly post-recession. It collected an average of $276 per capita in 2006, $72 in 2009, and $130 per capita in 2016 – the nation’s second-largest doc-tax burden.
  • Florida is one of seven states without a personal income tax. The average state relies on personal income taxes for 37.0 percent of its tax revenue.
  • Businesses pay 51.7 percent of all Florida state and local taxes – the 12th highest percentage in the nation.

Managing the post-storm insurance claims process

Florida, Georgia and North Carolina residents affected by Hurricane Matthew will begin surveying damages to their property and belongings.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier put together the following tips to help Floridians begin the process of filing insurance claims for damaged property and belongings and this may prove useful to residents in other states as well:

Tip 1: Locate all applicable insurance policies. This may include a homeowners’ policy, flood policy (flood coverage is not covered under a typical homeowners’ policy and is separate coverage), and an automobile policy (may cover damage to your car from flooding).

Tip 2: Document all damaged property and belongings. Take photos or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs. When you file an insurance claim, you may be asked for visual documentation of damages.

A photographic home inventory is a handy resource for this situation. A free smartphone app developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners called “MyHome Scr.APP.book” can help you take and store a room-by-room log of photos.

Tip 3: Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages.Insurance policies require prompt reporting of claims, so it is important to act as soon as possible.

Tip 4: Cover damaged areas exposed to the elements to prevent further damage. Your insurance company may reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts.

Do not dispose of any damaged personal property until your insurance company adjuster has had an opportunity to survey it.

Florida consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services’ Insurance Helpline. Helpline experts can be reached by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1- 877-693-5236), or online at: myfloridacfo.com/hurricanematthew.

Prepare for Hurricane Matthew’s Aftermath

As Hurricane Matthew churns through the Atlantic with a possible landfall in Florida, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urged property owners to take some basic precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.

“With the potential for Hurricane Matthew to hit somewhere along the East Coast, the Governor has issued a state of emergency for all 67 counties in Florida,” says Logan McFaddin, PCI Florida regional manager. “This caliber of a system could bring major flooding and damages along Florida’s East Coast.”

In addition to making sure residents have emergency kits and plans ready, PCI urges residents and business owners to take precautionary measures to prevent damage to vulnerable property. Flooding from storm surge during hurricanes and tropical storms can be especially dangerous for residents along the coast and further inland. PCI recommends that homeowners who sustain damage report it as early as possible to their insurance company.

McFaddin says flood insurance is advisable, but “there is typically a 30-day waiting period between the date of purchase and when flood coverage will go into effect.”

PCI hurricane precautions

Review your property insurance policy, especially the “declarations” page, and check whether your policy pays replacement costs or actual cash value for a covered loss.

Inventory household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. Keep this information and insurance policies in a safe place.

Keep the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurer and agent in a safe and easily accessible place.

Protect your property by covering all windows with plywood or shutters, moving vehicles into the garage when possible, and placing grills and patio furniture indoors.

Keep all receipts for any repairs so your insurance company can reimburse you.

Check with your insurance adjuster for referrals to professional restoration, cleaning and salvage companies if additional assistance is needed.

Make sure watercraft are stored in a secure area, like a garage or covered boat dock. A typical homeowners policy will cover property damage in limited instances for small watercraft, and separate boat policies will provide broader, more extensive property and liability protection for larger, faster boat, yachts, jet skis and wave runners.

 

There will certainly be an extended period with power outages.  After the storm, empty out your freezer and refrigerator of all perishable items and put in covered trash receptacles.  Unplug all appliances and electronics since there will certainly be surges when power is restored.

Be mindful of downed power lines when going outside after the storm.  Broken branches can also be dangerous and will continue to fall given the winds and rain that follow the storm.  Remove debris from your property to ensure continued safety.

Florida’s Housing market: Rising Prices In June

Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices and fewer days to a contract in June, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 27,086 last month – slightly higher (0.4%) than the June 2015 level of 26,973 closed sales.

“Florida’s housing market is experiencing tight supply and pent-up demand.  That is affecting the pace of sales and putting pressure on statewide median prices. Florida’s economic growth, rising jobs outlook and acclaimed quality of life continue to draw new residents eager to call the Sunshine State home.

Home sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table in June: Sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.3 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.6 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $225,000, up 10.8 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in June was $164,000, up 8.6 percent over the year-ago figure.

In June, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 55th month in a row.  According to the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2016 was $241,000, up 4.6 percent from the previous year the national median existing condo price was $229,600.  In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $518,760; in Massachusetts, it was $353,000; in Maryland, it was $282,257; and in New York, it was $212,500.

Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 37.2 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“Much of 2016’s slowdown in sales growth is due to the dwindling inventory of distressed properties throughout Florida,” said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “In June of last year, about 20 percent of sales across all property types were of the distressed variety. This June, by contrast, only 10 percent of sales were distressed. These declines are not due a lack of demand, but rather, a clear lack of supply. Florida’s distressed properties continue to slowly but surely work their way through the pipeline.

“If distressed properties are taken out of the equation, sales growth among non-distressed properties – the traditional market – remains quite strong. Non-distressed single-family home sales were up 13 percent year-over-year in June, while non-distressed sales of townhouses and condos rose by 7.6 percent.”

Inventory was at a 4.3-months’ supply in June for single-family homes and at a 6-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

Why Fla. is the Best State for Retirement

Sunshine, beaches and a laid-back lifestyle have made Florida one of the top destinations for retirees looking to live out their golden years in peace and comfort.

Now a new study from WalletHub.com has named the Sunshine State the best place in the U.S. to retire based on its affordability, quality of life and healthcare. The website pointed out that nearly a third of non-retirees have no retirement savings or pension and said it made its choices to help retirees find the states that offered the most bang for their buck.

Rounding out the top five for 2016 after Florida were Wyoming, South Dakota, South Carolina and Colorado.

At the bottom? Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

Here are the top six reasons why Florida is the best place to retire, according to WalletHub.

Hole in one!
From Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach (the state’s top ranked links, according to GolfDigest) to Trump National Doral, Florida has the most golf courses per capita in the nation.

Company
Looking for new friends? You won’t be lonely in the Sunshine State, which has the highest percentage of people aged 65 or over of any state.

Out on the town
It’s not Broadway, but theatergoers in Florida have more and better options than ever before. The state has the sixth-most theaters per capita in the U.S.

Help at home
The cost of hiring a nurse and other in-home help can break the bank for many seniors. But Florida has the eighth-lowest cost of in-home services of any state.

Low taxes
Many retirees don’t realize they may need to pay federal and state taxes on Social Security income and withdrawals from IRA and 401(k) funds. Florida’s low taxes make it the 10th-best state for retirees come tax season, according to WalletHub.

A night at the museum
Miami’s burgeoning cultural scene means locals don’t have to travel to New York for their museum fix. From the Pérez Art Museum Miami to the under-construction Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science to HistoryMiami, South Florida museums are on the upswing. Nationwide, Florida has the 15th-most museums per capita.

So what are you waiting for? Florida is calling.

 

Miami Herald, Written by Nicholas Nehamas

2016 Florida Homestead Exemption Reminder

It’s not too early to file for a property tax exemption for next year;  filing now
will allow Florida  property owners to beat the rush that normally occurs early in the year
as people try to beat the March 1 deadline.


Any Florida property owner with legal title to a home and who uses it as his or 
her permanent, primary residence by Jan. 1 is eligible for this exemption.   Homeowners
making their first claim at this time should contact their respective county property
appraiser’s office to find out how best to file for the exemption — many offices
offer applications online or will mail applications to residents. Homeowners may
also file for a homestead exemption in person, bringing along the deed to their
property or a property tax bill — something to prove they own the home. Most property
appraisers’ offices will accept applications for homestead exemption until the March
1 deadline. Please call your local county property appraiser’s office to find out
more.Visit the link found on my web site for contact information.

https://www.optimaproperties.com/south-florida-resources

Here are the criteria to see if you qualify and the documentation you will need 
to provide along with your application:

$25,000 Homestead Exemption

Every person who has legal or equitable title to real property in the State of Florida
and who resides thereon and in good faith makes it his or her permanent home is 
eligible to file for Homestead Exemption. First time applicants are required to 
furnish their social security number, and should have available evidence of ownership(
i.e., deed, contract, etc. )  If title is held by the husband alone, a wife may 
file for him, with his consent, and vice versa. If filing for the first time, be
prepared to answer these and other questions:


1. In whose name or names was the title to the dwelling recorded as of January 1st?
2. What is the street address of the property?
3. Are you a legal resident of the State of Florida? (A Certificate of Domicile 
or Voter’s Registration will be proof if dated prior to January 1st.)
4. Do you have a Florida license plate on your car and a Florida driver’s license?
5. Were you living in the dwelling which is being claimed for homestead exemption
on January 1st?

Additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption for persons 65 and older

Every person who is eligible for the homestead exemption described above is eligible
for an additional homestead exemption up to $25,000 under the following circumstances:
(1) the county or municipality adopts an ordinance that allows the additional homestead
exemption which applies only to the taxes levied by the unit of government granting
the exemption; (2) the taxpayer is 65 years of age or older on January 1 of the 
year for which the exemption is claimed; (3) the annual household income of the 
taxpayer (defined as the adjusted gross income as defined in s. 62, United States
Internal Revenue Code of all members of a household) for the prior year does not
exceed $20,000 (beginning January 1, 2001, this income threshold is adjusted annually
by the percentage change in the average cost-of-living index); and, (4) the taxpayer
annually submits a sworn statement of household income to the property appraiser
not later than March 1.

$500 Widow’s Exemption

Any widow who is a permanent Florida resident may claim this exemption. If the widow
remarries, she is no longer eligible. If the husband and wife were divorced before
his death, the woman is not considered a widow. You may be asked to produce a death
certificate when filing for the first time.

$500 Widower’s Exemption

Any widower who is a permanent Florida resident may claim this exemption. If the
widower remarries he is no longer eligible. If the husband and wife were divorced
before her death, the man is not considered a widower. You may be asked to produce
a death certificate when filing for the first time.

$500 Disability Exemption

Every Florida resident who is totally and permanently disabled qualifies for this
exemption. If filing for the first time, please present at least one of the following
as proof of your disability: A certificate from a licensed Florida physician or 
a certificate from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

$5000 Disability Veteran

Any ex-service member disabled at least 10% in war or by service-connected misfortune
is entitled to a $5000 exemption. If filing for the first time, please present a
certificate from the United States Government.

$500 Exemption for blind persons

Every Florida resident who is blind qualifies for this exemption. If claiming exemption
based on blindness, a certificate from the Division of Blind Services of the Department
of Education or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Federal 
Social Security Administration certifying the applicant to be blind is required.
“Blind person” is defined as an individual having central vision acuity 20/200 
or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or a disqualifying field defect
in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter
or visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than twenty degrees.

Service-connected total and permanent disability exemption

Any honorably discharged veteran with a service-connected total and permanent disability,
surviving spouses of qualifying veterans and spouses of Florida resident veterans
who died from service-connected causes while on active duty as a member of the United
States Armed forces are entitled to an exemption on real estate used and owned as
a homestead less any portion thereof used for commercial purposes.

Persons entitled to this exemption must have been a permanent resident of this state
as of January 1st of the year of assessment.

Under certain circumstances the benefit of this exemption can carry over to the 
veteran’s spouse in the event of the veteran’s death. Consult your appraiser for
details.

If filing for the first time, please bring a certificate from the United States 
Government or United States Department of Veterans Affairs as your proof of a service-connected
disability or death of your spouse while on active duty.

Exemption for totally and permanently disabled persons


1. Any real estate used and owned as a homestead, less any portion thereof used 
for commercial purposes by any quadriplegic shall be exempt from taxation.
2. Any real estate used and owned as a homestead, less any portion thereof used 
for commercial purposes, by a paraplegic, hemiplegic or other totally and permanently
disabled person, as defined in Section 196.012(10), F.S., who must use a wheelchair
for mobility or who is legally blind, shall be exempt from taxation.

Persons entitled to the exemption under number two (2) above, must be a permanent
resident of the State of Florida as of January 1st of the year of assessment. Also,
the prior year gross income of all persons residing in or upon the homestead shall
not exceed the amount of income, set forth in section 196.101(4), F.S., adjusted
annually by the percentage change of the average cost of living index issued by
the United States Department of Labor. Gross income shall include United States
Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and any social security benefits paid to
the person. A statement of gross income must accompany the application.

If filing for the first time, please bring a certificate from two (2) licensed doctors
of this state or a certificate (per s. 196.091, F.S.) from the United States Department
of Veterans Affairs.

_____________________________

 

Florida Homestead Exemption Advantages

The obvious advantages to residing in Florida is the weather and no state income taxes.  Another lesser known, but equally as important, advantage is Florida’s homestead laws.

“Homestead” can be a deceptively complex issue in estate and tax planning when individauls finally decide to become Florida residents, including asset protection, property tax savings, and restrictions on the estate plan.

Florida’s asset protection for homesteads is anchored in the state’s constitution (Article X, Section 4). Homestead property owned by a natural person is protected from forced sale under process of any court or judgment lien (except for obligations relating to the real estate itself, such as property taxes, mortgage principal and interest, and contractors’ liens).

The asset protection for homestead includes land and improvements on the land, with an acreage limit of up to 160 contiguous acres outside a municipality, and one-half acre inside a municipality.

Florida also offers two sorts of property tax savings for homestead property: (1) the “$50,000 exemption and (2) the “Save Our Homes” limit on annual property tax increases.

The “$50,000 exemption” is a reduction of up to $50,000 in the assessed value of the homestead property. A homeowner can apply for this exemption by filing a Form DR-501 at the county appraiser’s office.

The $50,000 homestead exemption is helpful as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far.  The Save our Homes” advantages for homestead property approved by Florida’s voters as a constitutional amendment in 1992 are much more economically significant. ” Save our Homes” limits annual increases in property assessments to the lesser of 3% or the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index.  Over time, especially when Florida’s real estate market is appreciating, annual “Save Our Homes” advantages can be substantial.