How to Ease Buyers' Minds About Wacky Wildlife Encounters in Florida
Out-of-state buyers worried about Florida’s unusual creatures? We’ve got some facts you can use to ease their concerns.
The combination of native wildlife and Florida’s active real estate development has produced some strange interactions with people and critters. Weird incidents, gleefully reported by media worldwide, give a skewed impression of Florida living.
Real estate agents can reassure customers that the hyped stories don’t reflect daily life in most communities.
To alleviate concerns that out-of-state and foreign buyers may have, we rounded up some facts about these creatures that you can use next time a buyer shows some concern.
Alligators and crocodiles
Alligators get an especially bad rap with such headlines as “Hungry… Alligators Are Invading Streets, Homes and Pools in Florida,” and “Alligators caught climbing fences and swimming across roads in Florida.”
Transient alligators may visit waterfront homes on rivers, canals or lakes, but are unlikely to tangle with residents. The odds for unprovoked bites are about one in 3.1 million, based on the total number of alligators in all 67 Florida counties.
Statewide, there were a total of 10 alligator attacks recorded in 2019 and 10 attacks for all of 2018. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report November 2019). Noteworthy: Since 1948, there has been only one verified crocodile bite incident in Florida.
However, some real estate agents say waterfront homes may not be a good match for families with small children.
“Buyers should select what’s in their comfort zone,” says Mary Mashke, of King & Associates Real Estate in Dade City. “If [they’re] really afraid of alligators, waterfront may not be the best place.” Alexandra C. Peters with Sotheby’s International Realty in Miami listed a Skylake home that backs up to the Oleta River (and includes a kayak for travel to a nearby lake.) “I’ve shown it to New York buyers who love the idea of being so close to nature but say they’re wary of alligators near their children,” she says. “I’ve found locals are not nearly as concerned.”
Birds of a feather
The headline “Pesky Peacocks Invade Florida Neighborhood” focuses on another colorful problem in several communities around the state. The boisterous birds pit neighbors who love the gorgeous birds strutting their blue, green and purple plumage against neighbors complaining of damage to their cars, piles of peacock poop and constant piercing shrieks.
“Prospective buyers seem to be charmed by the peacocks, they think they’re exotic and beautiful,” says Lisa Treister, a sales associate with Beacon Realty Advisors (Miami) and longtime resident of Coconut Grove. “I’m not aware of them affecting home sales in the neighborhood.”
However, last year, town officials in Longboat Key removed most of the peacocks overrunning the north end village. “They’re not a problem now [that] they’re controlled,” says Bobbie Banan, an agent with Michael Saunders Real Estate in Longboat Key for more than 40 years. “Peacocks add to the lovely uniqueness of our surroundings. I’ve never found the birds a negative in selling homes.”
Reports on “Wild turkeys attacking residents in Florida neighborhood” and “Wild turkeys terrorizing a Florida senior community” evoke a Hitchcock movie. But to Chad King, founder and owner of King & Associates Real Estate, the wild turkey problem in Zephyrhills sounds more like fluff than a legitimate issue. “We’re in a rural area where wild creatures and people mostly live peacefully side-by-side” he says. “Wildlife doesn’t affect our ability to sell homes.”
Even if most of Florida’s wildlife doesn’t present a problem selling homes, is it necessary to tell prospective out-of-state and foreign buyers about potential issues? Fort Lauderdale attorney Eric M. Glazer of Glazer & Sachs, who specializes in homeowners and condo association law, says disclosure is only for hidden defects in a property, not for its environment.
Unwelcome Florida wildlife can threaten a listing when the home inspection discovers a serious pest infestation of cockroaches or termites and the buyer wants out. The listing agent needs to reassure the panicking prospective homeowner that the problem can be resolved by investing in the services of a specialist extermination company. The deal may be saved when the buyer’s agent is advised that proper professional remediation is underway.
Customers appreciate agents who are a resource for information pre- and post-sales. Armed with a list of local pest-control and wildlife-control companies, these agents will be ready with a Florida welcome for any new homeowner who finds an opossum sunning itself on their patio or an iguana chomping on their bougainvillea. #
Helen Hill is a freelance writer from Boca Raton.