It’s termite swarm season here in Ocala

Its termite swarm season again here in Ocala. As the weather warms up termites go out and look for a new home. You do not want that new home to be yours.

Termites cause $700,000,000.00 in damage each year here in Florida. Despite this scary statistic about half the homes in Florida have no form of protection.

There are 2 types of termites, subterranean and dry wood. The subterranean variety is considered the worst because they have much larger colonies and thus eat more wood. Obvious from the name they live in the ground and prefer moist conditions and wood. The subterranean termites enter your house through a sort of tube that connects their colony to the food source. Dry wood termites like dry wood, like the rafters in your attic. They have much smaller colonies and are harder to detect.

The University of Florida has a great web site dedicated to termites with loads of information and great color images. Take a good look at the pictures and so you can identify the little buggers if you see one.


There are several warning signs of a termite problem.

1. Little black winged insects about 1/4″ long that are attracted to lights at night.

2. Wings on your window sills and in spider webs.

3. Wood pellets, smaller than a grain of rice that is 6 sided when viewed under a magnifying glass. Yes, these are termite droppings.

4. Mud tubes look like mud caked to the side of a house and are actually engineered by industrious termites to create access to your house and their food supply.

There are several things you can easily do to avoid termite problems.

1. Have a termite inspection.

2. Keep fire wood piles well away from the house.

3. Water is your enemy and a termite’s friend. Check that gutters and down spouts drain away from the house. The same goes for air conditioners.

Termite control is not a do it yourself project. Homeowners should get an annual inspection by a professional. It is essential to have a termite inspection before buying any house in Florida. Although a concrete block house may be preferred, it is no guarantee that you won’t get termites.

Ocala Property Taxes

Property taxes in Ocala, as in the rest of Florida, are pretty confusing. A lot has to do with the Save Our Homes initiative, also know in real estate as amendment 10. Save Our Homes was supposed to keep seniors from getting taxed out of their homes by capping tax increases on homestead properties by 3% or the rate of inflation, which ever is lower.

The problem with amendment 1o is that you can buy the exact same house as the guy across the street, who has been there for 10 years, and pay twice the taxes that he does. Another example of politicians helping one group at the expense of another.

Now that property values have dropped like a stone here in Florida a new issue has come up with Save Our Homes.  This is called the recapture rule. The recapture rule states that tax assessors must increase the assessed value of a house by up to 3% as long as that it  is less than the homes market value.  This is why most peoples taxes are not going down even though their homes value has gone down.

Now here’s some home work. Below are 2 great links. One is to the Marion County property appraiser. Read the FAQ and check out the tax estimator. If you live in Florida read the portability calculator because you can bring your Save Our Home exemption with you to a new house. The other link is to an article from the Ocala Star Banner which has a detailed explanation about why taxes aren’t going down.

Marion County Property Appraiser

Ocala Star Banner

If you buy a foreclosure or short sale in the Ocala area it is important to understand that you will be assessed at market value and not the amount you paid for your house.

Finally, when you see the taxes on a real estate listing be aware that it is not the amount that you will be paying. Taxes adjust every time a house is sold.

Highest and Best offer

In Ocala foreclosures the term, Highest and Best Offer, seems to be coming up more and more. Foreclosures here in Ocala are very hot. Banks are now trying to get buyers to bid against each other.

Here’s how it goes. You find yourself a nice foreclosure and make an offer. A few days later the listing agent sends your buyers agent a form or email asking you to submit your Highest and Best Offer. The reason being that there are multiple buyers interested in the same house.

Not all foreclosures are created equal. Some are just a lot more desirable than others. Banks can’t get away with this on every property.

There was a time a few months ago when this practice was rare but it is becoming more common as more and more buyers are looking for a great buy on a foreclosure here in Ocala Florida

Chinese drywall in Ocala Florida?

A very hot subject in Florida real estate is Chinese drywall. Chinese drywall is actually a German company Knauf, who manufactured drywall in a plant in China. Apparently the housing boom of 2003-2008 combined with the destruction of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma caused a shortage of drywall. To make up for this shortage drywall was imported. There are materials present in the Chinese drywall that are not used in the manufacture of American drywall. These compounds cause copper pipes and wires to corrode.

I never new anything about Chinese drywall until a few weeks ago and now it’s all over the news.

Is there Chinese drywall in Ocala Florida? According to a map on the Florida Department of Health web site there have been cases reported in Ocala. As of the writing of this post there have only been a few cases. Most of the problem seems to be in south Florida.

How do you know if your house has Chinese drywall? This link is to a self assessment guide from the Florida Department of Health.