Here’s how one lady described her first-time-buying experiences and thoughts:
” ‘Do You Fancy Buying A Vacation Rental Home?’ That was my husband’s out-of-the-blue question.
At the time he was working in Orlando and I was over there on holiday. His question came as a complete surprise to me, since we had not entertained this idea for years and never in the USA, but my answer was nevertheless an unqualified “Yes, O.K”. I’m not sure who was more astonished that I didn’t need more persuading, me or my husband! But don’t a lot of people dream of owning a “home in the sun” and where better than Florida with it’s ideal year-round climate?
My husband had already done some research, obviously thinking I would need more persuading. He had contacted a Realtor (to find out more about suitable vacation homes for sale) and arranged for us to go and look at some properties while I was there.
A few days later we met up with the Realtor and he took us on a tour of some developments. Before the tour, he took the time to find out what our expectations were, our price range and what we did and didn’t want, challenging some of our assumptions where necessary. Based on this, we focused on locations around the Disney area, since this is the main area for short-term rental homes in Central Florida and it meant that we could earn some rental income on a regular basis.
The Realtor also talked about the need for a property management company to, at the very least, look after the cleaning between guests, the general maintenance, the pool, and the garden. I had wondered about those issues. After this it was time to embark on the exciting bit . . . going to look at houses.
Everybody’s ideas are different, but I knew I wanted a place that I would be happy to stay in myself and that other people would find “a home from home” if they stayed there. We looked at apartments with a community pool, homes very close to Disney, some further away, large developments, small developments, various prices and different sizes. I never knew there was so much to consider! But oh, those beautifully decorated show houses!!!
After looking at a number of places, we liked the first one we had visited best of all. Back we went to choose the style of house and the lot we wanted: we settled on one with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a pool overlooking a conservation area. Then, never having bought a new house before, came the really exciting part – choosing the colour of the cupboards, worktops, carpets, tiles, appliances, the furniture for the whole house, and the pool area. In fact, everything you could possibly need in a new house. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! I couldn’t wait to see the house finished but at the moment it was just a pile of earth. Well, sand anyway, because that’s what Florida property is built on apparently.
Whenever I was over there during the next few months, we went to see how the house was progressing and my husband sent me progress reports.
At last the house was finished and it was time for us to close on the sale. Our Realtor had done a final “walk through” and told us that everything was okay and that we could sign the final papers. We went to the Title Company (the equivalent of going to the Solicitors to sign everything in the UK) and signed what seemed like reams of paper and finally the house was ours. I couldn’t wait to go and see how it looked with everything in it. As I walked through the door all I could say was “wow”. It looked beautiful and I wanted to live there, but that was not what it was for.
We have had our home now for two and a half years and have rented it out to many people who have looked after it well (most of the time!). I still walk in and think what a lovely house this is.
We were very, very lucky to find an honest Realtor who told us all we needed to know before we took the first step on buying our home and then steered us towards the “right” builders and locations by giving us his independent view of the pros and cons of each place. We have since heard all sorts of horror stories about people being “pressured” by some Realtors into buying something that proved to be a bad investment. Our Realtor though was invaluable in checking every stage of the building process, as we were not around to do it ourselves and didn’t have the expertise to know the whole process, and he provided help in dozens of ways we couldn’t have imagined we’d need when we first started. Looking back, getting his help was the best thing we did and I would recommend him unconditionally
Do I regret buying it? Not at all. Would I do it again? Yes – in fact we have bought two more homes since then, all using the same Realtor.”