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Buyer should ask for clear accounting of how assessments are paid

By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Aug 19, 2021

Eric Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

We are under contract to purchase a Cape Coral home that still has assessments due for water and sewer. Our contract provides that the seller will pay the assessments off in full at closing next week. What do we need to do to make sure they are paid?

— Campbell S.

Dear Campbell:

Typically, the buyer of Cape Coral real estate assumes existing assessments in future tax bills, so that is great you were able to negotiate that the seller will pay them off. As noted many times, although there are certain customs in our local contracts, everything is negotiable.

However, you should be aware of an interesting quirk in the payment of assessments. The city sends over its assessment rolls to the tax collector as of July 31. Therefore, even if utility assessments are paid in full at closing in August, the annual assessment charge will still show up on the tax bill in November. The law firm or title company you are working with should provide options on how this situation will be handled.

The seller could pay off all assessments with the exception of the November payment, for which you could receive a credit at closing. Or, the assessment payoff funds could be escrowed until November, then paid in full. Either way, you should ask for a clear accounting of how the assessments are being paid, so you don’t get short-changed.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 33 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 20 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.

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