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Southern comfort; place in the sun Davie and Anne are living the dream in their Florida villa.

Byline: Laura Davidson

Since making their first trip to Florida in the 1980s, Davie and Anne Paterson dreamed of buying their own place in the Sunshine State.

But with a young family, their dream was outwith their financial grasp.

Finally, with their family grown, the couple finally decided it was now or never - and snapped up a fabulous villa in Orlando.

Three years on, they reckon their holiday home was well worth the wait and they're loving their new lifestyle with regular trips to America.

Train driver Davie said: "The villa is everything we hoped it would be. We get out there on holiday ourselves at least twice a year and we rent it out when we're not using it.

"We couldn't have afforded to do this years ago, but I'm glad we finally took the plunge. I think it probably makes us appreciate the place more too."

Davie, 40, and Anne, 48, of Clarkston, Glasgow, bought a four-bed, three-bath villa in the exclusive Southern Dales development.

They paid EUR325,000 in January 2006 (now pounds 212,000), using pounds 50,000 as a deposit from remortgaging in Scotland, and took out a second mortgage for the balance.

They had begun their property search the previous autumn, taking an inspection trip out to Florida in October 2005.

Davie said: "We went with a 'shopping list' of all the features we wanted - south-facing, with four bedrooms and a pool, preferably with a spa. A lot of the properties we saw ticked some of the boxes but not all.

"We also went to see a lot that were still at the building stage, but they were priced around EUR425,000 and were outwith our reach. In the end, we found the perfect property as a resale. It was only three years old and the previous owners were an Irish couple."

Anne and Davie's purchase was complete by early 2006 but they had to wait until summer of that year before enjoying their first break at the house.

Davie said: "We were like little kids when we turned the key in the door for the first time, we were so excited. It was everything we hoped it would be.

"I don't think you can beat going on holiday to your own house. You've got so much more freedom. There are days when we're happy just to stay put, lazing by the pool.

"We also love the theme parks, which are within a 20-minute drive, and Anne loves the shopping - there are plenty of malls close by."

The couple have created a fun games room with pool and air hockey tables, as well as a home gym at their US base. Although Davie doesn't play golf, he's planning to learn with the fabulous Southern Dales golf course on his doorstep.

He said: "As we get older, it would be lovely to spend longer periods of time in Florida. We love the idea of escaping the winters in Scotland and enjoying the sunshine out there instead."

To rent the villa, see www.davieandmaxfloridavilla.com

FACTFILE

More than 50,000 Brits own holiday homes or investment property in Florida and new developments are being announced all the time.

If you're buying an older property, be sure the seller is using a standard Contract for Purchase and Sale of Real Estate. This is produced by the Florida Association of Real Estate and Florida Bar Association.

Confirm everything in writing - verbal agreements aren't enforceable under US law.

Hire a US real estate attorney to review the closing papers and, if you're buying a house still under construction, to draft or review purchase contract.

Completion on your purchase requires outstanding balances to be paid, so factor in enough time for mortgage approval. That generally takes 2-3 weeks in the UK, though US approval can be quicker.

CAPTION(S):

Davie and Anne Paterson; The villa's four bedrooms reflect the couple's relaxed taste; The couple love to spend lazy days by the pool; The comfortable lounge offers a welcome break from the sun
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 8, 2009
Words:672
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