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Florida Closing Costs 101

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Closing costs are a normal part of real estate transactions.  These costs are made of various fees associated with finalizing the property closing including, title insurance, surveying fees , closing agent fees, attorney fees just to name a few.  In Florida the buyer normally pays the closing costs but can be negotiated in the sales contract. The responsible party may be different from county to county.  Before purchasing or selling a property, research the accustomed method for the county or contact a real estate attorney to explain in detail.  Only a real estate attorney is licensed to advise clients and can negotiate on their behalf.

Title Insurance – protects the buyer of the property in case of issues that arise from a title search including “hidden hazards.”   “Hidden Hazards” can be unintentional omissions or mistakes made by previous ownership or title recordings that a title search may not reveal.  For example, a previous homeowner reported their marital status as single and then a former spouse makes a claim on the property, confusion with a like or similar name, forgery or fraud. Depending on the terms of the policy, legal fees and court costs are paid and if the claim is deemed valid many of out-of-pocket expenses can be reimbursed.  The cost of title insurance varies from state to state but is typically one percent or less of the property cost.  In Florida, the seller typically pays the title insurance and selects the title company except in Broward, Miami Dade, Collier and Sarasota counties.

Surveying Fees – a property survey is performed by a licensed company to determine the property borders, location of buildings, driveways, sidewalks, fences, other landmarks and encroachments from neighboring property.  A survey provides proof of what is specifically being purchased or sold and will be a future tool if the new homeowner decides to renovate or add to the property. Payment of surveying fees can be negotiated in the sales contract.

Closing Agent Fees – The closing agent is responsible for securing the closing documents by gathering contracts, surveys, inspections, mortgage documents, etc. from all parties involved in the real estate transaction.   An experienced real estate attorney will also be able to issue a title insurance policy for the buyer and lender as part of his services as a closing agent.  While the buyer or seller can select the closing agent, a title company does not work for nor represent either side of the transaction.  Furthermore, closing agents, other than attorneys, are not permitted to provide legal advice.  Once all required documentation has been signed by all parties and monies have been disbursed according to the sales contract, the closing agent records the deed and mortgage in the public records and prepares the title for the new property owner.  In Broward, Miami Dade, Collier and Sarasota counties in Florida the buyer selects the title company and closing fees are typically split between the buyer and seller pursuant to the terms of the contract.

Real estate transactions are very complex and requirements vary from state to state and county to county.  Hiring an experienced real estate attorney is an investment into the property that is being purchased or sold.  Ronald A. Luzim has been practicing real estate law and has been a closing agent for 40 years.  Contact Ronald at his Coral Springs, Florida office for all of your real estate needs.