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What you should know when investing in Florida real estate

Florida has the fourth-highest gross domestic product (GDP) of any state in the country, with thriving tourism, aerospace, health care and international banking industries. Therefore, people who have money to invest in real estate can make a considerable profit if they do it correctly.

First, it's essential to determine your investment goals and to have a strategy before you begin. Do you want to build a new property or buy one and fix it up for sale or rental? Do you plan on holding on to the property or "flipping" it?

Florida is an extremely diverse state and so are the property values. Cities like Miami, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale have some of Florida's priciest homes. However, many investors prefer more affordable properties. These can be found throughout the state. The farther you get away from high-population, downtown areas that are popular with residents and tourists, the less expensive homes tend to be. Florida has no shortage of rural and semi-rural areas.

If you're interested in investing in Florida real estate, it's important to understand that most Floridians rent rather than own their homes. That's in part because they simply can't afford to buy -- at least in the area where they want to live. Therefore, rental properties can often be lucrative investments.

Whether you're investing in a property to sell or rent, it's essential to understand who will be living there. Florida remains a popular retirement destination. Therefore, if you plan to attract older buyers or renters, it's important that your property is accessible for those who are older and/or have mobility issues.

Florida real estate laws are unique and often confusing. If you're entering the Florida real estate market -- particularly if you aren't a Floridian -- you should have the guidance and assistance of an experienced real estate attorney. They can help you avoid costly legal, zoning and other issues that can undermine your success.

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