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FAQ's

General FAQ's:

Does your search replace the title search made by a title company?

No. The title search is done to find any lien or violation already registered in County Court records and is done just before the closing date when the buyer has already signed a purchase contract. Instead, our property's construction history search is done with enough time so that the buyer can make the right decisions.

Then, the buyer and seller or their agent, can inspect the property and compare what is presently built with the information we provide. Whatever the results are, and based in the available information, all people involved in the transaction will be able to make the right decisions before the closing avoiding waste of time and costly mistakes.

What does Search Before U Buy check on a property?

We check all related construction databases and records that give us information about any change in the square feet or improvements made to the property since its original construction to the present either permitted or unpermitted, expired permits, tax records, current violation cases, due dates to take an action on an existing case, etc.

What do you deliver? What's really the core of your service?

We will perform the most complete and thorough search in several Miami-Dade County databases and offices in order to get all the construction history of the property. We gather that information and write a report that is easy to understand (English or Spanish). We will support that report with the documents obtained from the different County offices.

Do you provide Microfilm Records?

Yes. We schedule and attend the appointment to get those records and we know how and what to ask for. We can read the plans and summarize what really matters in the final report.

Are the Microfilm records included in your search fee?

No. That's and additional County fee that clients pay for.

Do you ask for all Microfilm Records? That could be a lot of money just in copies!

No. We ask only for records that give us relevant information about the change of the square footage of the property and improvements made since the original construction up to the present. Usually in a residential request are about 4 to 6 pages. In a commercial property there is more depending of the renovations made to its units or bays.

Is an inspection to the property included in your search fee?

No. We provide the customer with a complete construction history report and microfilm record; a buyer can inspect the property and compare it with the information we provide. We can also give to our customer a referral of one of our associated companies for a home inspection.

If I can do that search why pay you?

Because you are going to spend more time trying to get all information we get. You have to schedule appointments, wait in line, wait to be assisted, and know the right questions to ask to get the right answers, otherwise go back again to get the missing information. You would have to get permission in your job or leave unattended your business for more than one day. How much would cost that for you?

Why use Search Before U Buy instead of any other expediting company?

  1. We are supported by two companies working together using their best resources.
  2. Our staff worked with the building department and they know "the system".
  3. Our staff is specialized in finding information and working with building and zoning violations.
  4. Our service is focused, specialized in the search; many other companies are just expeditors.
  5. We support our services with the use of high technology systems.
  6. We provide an easy to read and understand summarized report.
  7. We can deliver the findings and report by E-mail, fax, or US mail.
  8. We keep a digital copy of the findings for our customer's convenience.

How does your company protect my privacy?

All credit card information, personal information and company information is treated as confidential and proprietary and is not shared outside Search Before U Buy,  with the exception of contact information when you require be referred to one of the our associate companies for any additional work. 

How does your company secure my payment information?

When you submit an order, your information is encrypted with secure server software to protect the information from unauthorized access. To protect your personal and credit card information, all information that you provide on the SearchBeforeUBuy.com order form is collected and stored on a secure server and is accessible only by designated staff.

 

FAQ's as a Buyer:

If I am going to buy a property why should I pay for your service?

Because as soon as you buy the property, you inherit all existing building and zoning violations no matter who did them in the past. You will be responsible to pay all penalties and the cost to fix them. It is much better if you know about any pre-existing violations before the sale so that you can make a better decision and include that cost in your budget.

The current owner says he bought the property 5/10/15/20 years ago and he has not made any additions or improvements. Do I still need to pay for a service like yours?

Yes. As incredible as it sounds, many owners don't know about illegal additions made many years ago especially with properties built from 1940 to 1990. We have known of new owners that have been penalized for illegal additions and improvements made more than 20 years ago!!!

I want to buy a property but, do I have to pay for each property I am interested in?

Yes. Our fee is for each property. If you are really and truly interested in several properties you could consider paying our fee for each property or just buy any of those properties and then, sooner or later been penalized for several thousand dollars and having many other difficulties just to save some hundred dollars.

But, still if I am a buyer instead of paying for your service for each property I am interested, it won't be better that the seller pays for your service?

Yes. If the seller pays for our service, then he can just give copies of the construction history report to any potential buyer so it will easier and faster to the buyer to make the purchase decision.

As a buyer, at what time should I ask for your service?

If you are a buyer, you should request our service before to sign a contract or immediately after.

 

FAQ's as a Seller:

If I am going to sell my property, why should I pay for your service?

Because if you have our construction history report you can make the decision of whether to fix any existing violation before offering the property for sale or disclose that information to the potential buyer. Some violations are easy to fix and as per your request, we can get estimates from our associate companies to fix those violations.

But, if the potential buyer knows about any existing violation in my property he is not going to buy it!

Not really. Instead, many potential buyers will consider the fact that you are been honest. With our report, they will know what action to take and how much it would cost to fix any existing violation so they will include that cost in their budget. Everybody wins!

As a seller, at what time should I ask for your service?

If you are a seller, you should request our service before to offer your property for sale.

 

FAQ's as a Realtor:

There is a Title Company involved in the process, why should I recommend your service?

Because the title search include only registered violations as liens or expired permits but many properties have additions or improvements that have been done many years ago, past owners have paid taxes but, they are still violations that eventually the new owner will be penalized for.

We use a Real Estate Attorney in the process, why should I recommend your service?

Because Real Estate Attorneys will assist the buyer and seller with contracts and documentation, not with finding permitted or unpermitted additions or improvements made to the property since its original construction.

We also use a home inspector why should I recommend your service?

Because a home inspector will assist the buyer and seller in knowing the current condition of the property, not in finding permitted or unpermitted additions or improvements on a property since the original construction to the present.

But, still if buyers are buying "As Is" why should I recommend your service?

Because the term "As Is" is perceived by buyers as the current property condition for minor damages and cosmetic repairs necessary to do; they really don't imagine that the beautiful and convenient "Florida room", "covered terrace", "extra room" or those nice "new windows and shutters" are precisely illegal improvements that eventually will have to be legalized or even demolished/removed. 

But potential buyers will not want to buy a property that has violations. How will I get my commissions?

You would be surprised. The fact that a buyer knows about existing violations does not mean they are not going to buy. There are many buyers that would be willing to buy if they have an honest, confident, and diligent realtor as you, willing to lead them in a transparent process. They can include in their budget the cost to fix those violations and/or negotiate with the seller.

As a realtor, at what time should I ask for your service?

If you are a realtor, you should strongly recommend to the seller to request our service before offering the property and to the buyer before to make the decision of purchase.


FAQ's about the New Ordinance 08-133

Is the "Disclosure and Findings Report" for the new certificate of use according to the Ordinance 08-133 enough to disclose all existing violations on a property?

No, that report contains 8 pages that have to be completed by the licensed and registered architect or engineer and does not provide all the information that could be obtained from the county records, permit, history, tax records, and current penalties to pay.

When we are working for a customer to get the Certificate of Use according to the new Ordinance 08-133, we use the "Disclosure and Findings Report" as well as the information we get from the proper County offices to provide our own and more accurate report.

When was the new Ordinance approved?

On December 2, 2008 the Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance No. 08-133, which requires issuance of a Certificate of Use (CU) by the Department of Planning and Zoning (DP&Z) for residential properties (in unincorporated Miami-Dade County) which are acquired through a Certificate of Title (Foreclosures and Judgments), in accordance with Chapter 45, Florida Statutes. This new ordinance requires the establishment of a new Certificate of Use process for such properties. This process will require that affected individuals/institutions obtain a CU, prior to the offering of such property either through a sale, transfer or alienation of such property.

What is the purpose of the Certificate of Use (CU) requirement for the sale of foreclosed properties?

The new CU requirement is a consumer-protection legislation. The process of the new CU is to document and disclose to the public/buyer, the extent to which residential properties (i.e. single family, condominium, townhouse, or duplex) acquired in this way comply with all applicable building codes and zoning codes.

Who is responsible for obtaining the Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties?

The holder of a property acquired through a Certificate of Title in accordance with Chapter 45, Florida Statutes (Foreclosures and Judgments) -- i.e. lending institutions and mortgagees.

Who would be responsible for making a buyer aware of the recorded report if the seller neglects to make them aware of it?

The report is available to the potential buyer and the Certificate of Title holder or their agent, through the Clerk of the Courts. The report should be provided at the time of closing by the mortgage companies, title companies and any other responsible entities.

What properties are affected?

Only residential properties acquired through a Certificate of Title in accordance with Chapter 45, Florida Statutes (Foreclosures and Judgments) that are located in UNINCORPORATED Miami-Dade County properties with folio numbers beginning with 30.

Are short sales or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure affected?

No, only properties acquired through a Certificate of Title in accordance with Chapter 45, Florida Statutes (Foreclosures and Judgments).

Are Foreclosed Properties acquired through a Certificate of Title in Accordance with Chapter Florida Statutes (Foreclosures and Judgments) prior to December 12, 2008 required to obtain a Certificate of Use?

No, only properties acquired through a Certificate of Title on or thereafter December 12, 2008, in accordance with Chapter 45, Florida Statutes (Foreclosures and Judgments).

What does the new Certificate of Use (CU) process for the sale of foreclosed properties require?

The new CU process includes preparation of a disclosure of findings report, which identifies building or zoning code violations for each property and contains a good faith estimate of the cost to remedy any deficiencies. This report must be completed by an architect or professional engineer licensed and registered in the State of Florida and submitted to the Zoning Permits Section of DP&Z at the Miami-Dade Permitting and Inspection Center located at 11805 S.W. 26th Street (Coral Way), Miami, FL 33175.

How can the new Certificate of Use (CU) process for the sale of foreclosed properties protect people?

By making prospect property owners aware of building or zoning deficiencies.

What is the effective date of enforcement for the new Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties?

April 1, 2009.

**Although, Ordinance 08-133 became effective December 12, 2008. The Department of Planning and Zoning has made a determination that enforcement commenced on April 1, 2009 for foreclosed properties acquired through a Certificate of Title on December 12, 2008 or thereafter and that were not under contract prior to April 1, 2009.

Are there submittal forms?

The submittal form to be used by the applicant in the preparation of the disclosure and findings report is available at both of the Department of Planning and Zoning locations, as well as on the Department's web page www.miamidade.gov/planzone.

Where can I review those applications?

Copies of the applications (Findings and Disclosure report) can be obtained at the Department's West-Dade Permitting and Inspection Office and, once it is recorded, it will available at the Clerk of the Court's website.

What is the process for the new Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties?

The process is as follows:

  • Submittal of the Disclose and Finding report to the Department at the Miami-Dade Permitting and Inspection Center on Coral Way, along with initial filing fee of $ 250.00 plus 8% surcharge (Total filing fee is $300.00 plus 8% surcharge).
  • Staff reviews report and determines acceptance or denial of report. In addition, staff also identifies potential violations and refers violations to the appropriate agencies. (Acceptance or denial of the report is independent of the resolutions of any violations).
  • Upon acceptance of report, applicant records the report with the Clerk of the Court (which has four recording locations, including the West Dade Satellite Recording Office conveniently located at the Miami-Dade Permitting and Inspection Center) and submits report to the county along with the remaining filing amount of $50.00 plus 8% surcharge.
  • DP&Z staff issues the Certificate of Use for the sale of foreclosed properties and deems the certificate of title holder to be in compliance.

How can the new Certificate of Use (CU) process for the sale of foreclosed properties protect people?

By making prospect property owners aware of building or zoning deficiencies.

How long will the process - from filing the application to obtaining a CU take?

The CU issuance process is expected to take between 1 to 4 days after the filing of a complete Disclosure of Findings report.

What is the cost of the Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties and what makes up that fee amount?

A $300 fee plus 8% surcharge, per property is required for the DP&Z's review of the disclosure and findings report and the issuance of a final CU, with $250 of which to be paid "up front" at the time of report submittal and the remaining $50 due at the time of CU issuance. An additional $50 fee plus 8% surcharge is also included for cases where a disclosure of findings report is rejected by Department staff and must be re-submitted.

***All Fees are subject to an 8% surcharge

What about violations?

After the disclosure and findings report has been reviewed by staff, violations noted by the design professional will be referred to the appropriate department, Building or Office of Neighborhood Compliance (ONC). DP&Z staff will notate on the disclosure report that a referral(s) has been made prior to the document being recorded. DP&Z staff will enter the referral(s) in the Oracle system. This will allow the DP& Z to keep track of the referrals made to Building and ONC. The secretary of the Zoning Permit/Inspection Section will then email the referrals to the designated contact person for Building and ONC. Please note that the report's acceptance is independent from the outcome of these violations.

What will happen with the code violations after the report is completed and the County becomes aware of the violations? Will the County's code enforcement officials start issuing fines to the owner of the property?

The Ordinance requires that violations be referred to the applicable County agencies. If code enforcement action is initiated and the property continues to be in violation of the code, fines may be levied only after the warning/citation and hearing/appeals processes have been completed.

What are penalties for non-compliance with the new Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties?

Failure to obtain the required CU will result in penalties as provided in Chapter 8CC of the County code.

Who is responsible for fixing the code violations?

From a legal perspective the owner of the property during any time that the violation exists is responsible to the County to remedy the code violations. As such, the buyer and seller will ultimately be legally responsible for repairs unless the repairs are made before the closing. However the seller and the buyer can decide between themselves as part of the sales contract who will be responsible for the repairs.

If the code violations are corrected after the report is recorded, how will it be possible to reflect corrections on the recorded?

The responsible party may choose to have an architect or engineer prepare a report that certifies the completion of repairs and subsequently submit that report for recordation. They may also choose to record a statement from a contractor that all identified repairs have been made.

How can the public obtain additional information on the new Certificate of Use (CU) for the sale of foreclosed properties?

All the pertinent information is posted on the DP&Z's website. The website's address is www.miamidade.gov/planzone. If additional information is needed, you may contact Ralph Gisbert, Supervisor of the Zoning Permits and Inspections Section at (786) 315-2660.

The information is being disseminated through the County's web-portal, The County's Scoop publication (which is mailed to over 300,000 county residents), Miami-Dade TV, DP&Z's informational sessions and direct mailings.



Do you know somebody who had bought a residential or commercial property and after some time has been penalized because of a violation left by the previous owner? Let us know at: info@search
beforeubuy.com