For free help and guidance tailored to your own individual plans relating to Florida real estate, why not start at the home page of our Florida Property website.
Here we’ve collected photos from our experience in helping clients over many years and we wanted to make them available to all those who are interested in seeing the variety available.
Click on the links below and check back often as we plan to add more over the next few weeks.
A. Photos of a Kissimmee Luxury Home
B. Model Home Photos
C: Grand Reserve – an example of beautiful homes in a Gated Community
D. More Grand Reserve – A Vacation Home Listing
Note: We posted an article on another one of our web sites a few months ago and, because the content is so relevant to buyers from the UK, we’ve decided to add it here. We hope that you find it useful!
Call it a Disney vacation home, a Florida vacation home, or an Orlando vacation home . . . the decision to invest in a vacation home is a big undertaking for most people and we pride ourselves on being able to provide the broadest possible help to potential buyers in their endeavors. But we want to be absolutely clear – there are some things that we will not do . . . even if it means losing a sale:
1. We won’t recommend ‘guaranteed’ schemes
“Guaranteed income programs are the way to go!” – we had one client earlier this week who told us that he had received details of condos with a guaranteed income yielding a net return of 6% to 7%. Our response to him (as it is to anyone tempted to be taken in by such “guarantees”) was to advise him to run like crazy from these. We’ve seen other heavily-promoted schemes this week for new Orlando vacation homes that offer the same trap for the gullible and unwary. We will never advise you to make one of the most important and expensive purchases in your life based upon an offer that is not only a severe misrepresentation, but also illegal. It’s no different than your stock broker offering you a stock and urging you to buy it because it offers a guaranteed rate of return of 14%. Its a violation of the SEC rules and should immediately make you run the other way. We love the Florida sunshine and the Orlando Vacation home concept and really believe in it. We have many, many happy Florida vacation home owners. Not one of them bought into the “Guaranteed Income and Return Progams”!
2. We won’t use fantasy financial figures
“Vacation home deals close to the theme parks – median price just above $100,000” – a national news website this week used statements by one local Broker to suggest that median home prices were in the low $100,000s and few homes were above $250,000. Clever wording was used to make it seem like these numbers related to homes close to the theme parks and communities with swimming pools, golf courses and other amenities. Some people may be duped into believing the numbers. The truth is that recent sales figures show a very different story: the median price is 75% or more above the number quoted. And many homes, a fifth if them or more, sell for more than $250,000. So we advise you very strongly to ignore the false numbers on the national news websites and look more carefully. We have found that the real values are usually hidden. No one knows about them or they may have been overlooked due to rabid searches for properties valued at half price. We can show you where the best deal and value is, but it is rarely (if ever) in the $100k range.
3. We won’t keep part of the story from you before you buy and then abandon you once you’ve bought your home
“Vacation homes are a great hands-off investment: buy your home and then ignore it while it makes money for you” – so goes the tale from some people who make money by selling property. Well, you can and you should find yourself a good property manager and expect him or her to care for your home. And maybe even generate you some rental income, if that’s what you want. But the most successful vacation home owners are those who make sure they are well-informed ahead of their purchase and then treat it as a business once they own. So taking no interest in your fine new home is something that we can’t advise you to do, unless you have no concern about how fast your property can deteriorate and how much running and maintenance costs can rise to. We will show you how to generate the most income from your home, what the full range of running costs are likely to be and how to make a success of your investment. And we will be there after you’ve bought – as our clients over many years can confirm.
So let’s get a little more positive. If the words above describe what we won’t do, what exactly can we offer that’s of benefit to you?
In summary, we can help with everything from start to finish when you are looking for a Central Florida home, including:
- Identifying which homes match your requirements
- How to get your home for the best price
- How to set it up to meet your ownership and rental needs
- Questions to ask prospective management companies
- The full and uncensored picture on ownership costs.
- How to be totally happy with your Orlando Vacation home by setting it up for success.
And . . . . all of that costs you zero, because in Florida, real estate fees are paid for by the Seller. So you get professional help with your purchase, at no cost to you.
Having read this, do you have any questions or feedback? If so, contact us here.
Time for some talk about money, because the above question is one that we are asked all the time by clients who are about to make an offer on a Florida property.
Ten years ago, at the height of the property frenzy, the answer to the question was “Not a lot!”. Buy many of today’s buyers, whether they are from Florida, other parts of the USA or even further afield (e.g. Canada, the UK) are fully aware of the bubble that burst around six or seven years ago and they are convinced that there are still big bargains to be had, if only they negotiate hard enough.
So what’s the reality?
Well, one way to check it out is to look at actual sales figures, so that’s what we’ve done. It’s true that you can prove almost anything with statistics, but actual sales numbers are hard to manipulate! So we’ve looked at sales in a recent 180 day period covering three large vacation home communities in the Central Florida area (over 140 properties sold in total across all three communities) and here are the results:
Emerald Island This is a gated resort community and one of the closest to the Disney theme parks, with properties that range from condos up to six bedroom homes (a few have been converted to be even larger!). It has it’s own clubhouse and includes a fitness center, sauna, games arcade, Internet cafe and free wifi around the pool areas, so you can understand it’s popularity. So how large a bargain can you drive as a prospective buyer? The 180 day sales figures show that sellers received 97% of the list price for their home on average. If you prefer a median number rather than an average, that shows 96%. Not much there, apparently, in the way of bargains. But there’s more to consider. There were 24 sales during the period and the “lowest achieving” of the group only obtained 88% of the list price, a 12% reduction. That’s better! However, at the opposite end of the list, the “best achiever” from a sales perspective managed to get 119% of the list price. More on all of that later!
Highlands Reserve Just a few years older than Emerald Island, Highlands Reserve isn’t a resort-style community, nor is it gated, but it has one very big advantage: it has it’s own golf course. Renters (and owners) love the idea of living on a golf course and many owners market their properties successfully. So demand from home buyers should be high and prices fairly firm, shouldn’t they? Judge for yourself: the average seller received 94% of his list price and the median figure was 95%. The best performer managed to get 104% of his asking price and the worst was at 86%.
The largest of the three that we’ve looked at, Reunion has it all – gated, three golf courses designed by legends Palmer, Nicklaus and Watson, a water park, restaurant and hotel facilities. Properties range from modest-sized condos all the way through to enormous homes of 10, 11 and 12 bedrooms (maybe more by the time you read this!). It was started in a blaze of marketing about 10 years ago, initially soared and then fell to earth with the property “bust”, and is now recovering well. At the depths of the price crash, some sellers were desperate to get rid of their homes, but things have improved a lot now and the place has much more energy. So how about sales? Are there some bargains to be had? In actual fact, the 180-day figure show an average achievement of 96% of the selling price (the same if you opt for the median). The least successful seller received 81% of his asking price, but the most successful collected 140%!
Ok, so after examining sales in these three communities, let’s add some thoughts for you to consider:
1. Whether it’s the average or the median, the numbers suggest that some price reductions are attainable but they are not enormous.
2. Why the big variation from the low of an 80%-level uo to 100% and more? I suggest that it is because of many and varied issues relevant to each the sale, including:
- The realism of the list price to begin with,
- How anxious the seller is to dispose of the property,
- How much the buyer is “in love” with the property
- The state of repair and decoration of the property,
- The presentation or staging of the home,
- Finance available to the buyer e.g. cash or mortgage, which can impact negotiations, and
- The buyer’s knowledge about the market, about other suitable homes and about how things work in Florida.
. . . and much more besides. So each transaction must be approached with the appropriate knowledge and realism and expectation. Therefore, try for a price reduction by all means – but don’t be surprised if you get an emphatic rejection!
3. Why do some properties sell for more than the list price? In the case of the two mentioned above:
- Emerald Island 119% of list price: one house listed for approximately $400,000 sold for more that $470,000. That sale was a Foreclosure. And we cannot stress this too much as a lesson to buyers looking only for those “cheap, bargain” foreclosures: BEWARE. FORECLOSURES CAN BE A TRAP FOR THE UNWARY. They can be a bargain in some cases but a very expensive mistake in many others. Even if you think you know what you are doing, banks and mortgage companies are totally ruthless and play by a different set of rules than you realize – they have had a lot of practice! All may not be as it seems, you may well pay more for that apparent bargain foreclosure. Apologies if that seems a little over-the-top, but the reality is that it may well be understated.
- Reunion 140% of sale price: a $207,500 condo sold for $290,000. This was a Short Sale, which again involved bank approval/negotiation/input. And all of the words of caution in the paragraph above that relate to third-party (i.e. bank) involvement apply here too, but even more in this case.
The big lesson is that Short Sales and Foreclosures can be risky, in that they can produce some bargains but they can also cost you time and money and be far more expensive than you budget. Banks are increasingly setting foreclosures at market prices (sometimes even above) and taking a harder line of Short Sales. So keep an open mind and get some advice (it’s free) from people who have already been involved in the process before you go too far. Use our help, or that of someone else who cran guide you through the minefield that Foreclosures can be.
In conclusion, we hope that all of this gives you food for thought if you’re starting out on the purchasing route. We want you to understand all of the background before you decide on which property is right for you, so that you can make an informed purchase. And if that means that you recognize a need for assistance, just use this Contact Form to get in touch.
Whether you’re buying Florida property to use for your own holidays or simply as an investment to broaden your portfolio, it can be an exciting experience. If it’s a holiday home you’re looking for, you get a place of your own in the Florida sunshine with the space and comfort that no hotel can offer. If you’re buying as an investment, the choices are widespread and the potential is enormous.
But your chances of success are tremendously increased if you just get the basics right from the beginning.
Well, there are many ways to approach the buying process but most successful buyers that we’ve talked to and worked with (and that’s a lot) have reported that a focus on the following key points was fundamental to making the right choices:
1. Research is essential.
The Internet provides an excellent source of Florida property information, for example:
- A simple Google search using phrases such as “buying Florida property”.
- Surfing the sites of local newspapers (e.g. orlandosentinel.com) will generate even more data.
- Specialist sites such as realtor.com or rightmove.co.uk have seemingly countless listings of properties.
2. Lots of web content is out of date and downright misleading.
Take what you read with a pinch of salt and be determined to verify whatever you read. And maintain an open mind until you actually visit the properties you’ve already seen on-line. For example, you would never know that the highly-desirable bargain-priced luxury home is overlooked by a motorway flyover unless you saw for yourself – however well-presented the web site is and no matter how convincing the sales person! (And that’s a real-life example, in case you’re wondering!).
3. Understand the process
Terms, conditions and the overall process are very different in Florida, compared to the UK. For example, the legal commitment to buy takes place at a very early stage in the Florida system, so you need to know what your rights and obligations are before agreeing to purchase. And what happens after you’ve “exchanged contracts”?
4. Sort out your financing up-front
If you’re like most buyers and you’ll be raising a part of the purchase price via a loan, consider in advance whether you will raise this in the UK (e.g. through a re-mortgage of your existing UK home) or by taking out a US mortgage. Both options have pros and cons – think carefully about what meets your needs the best and speak to someone who can explain the pros and cons.
5. Get some help
Independence is fine, commendable and very British, perhaps – but unless you know the local market, the buying process and the pitfalls to avoid, the price of your independence could be high. And think about this: how well would the average US citizen coming over to buy for the first time in the UK do without any advice and guidance? So cut down on the risks by finding a local Florida Realtor to advise you: under the Florida system, Realtor fees are almost always paid out of the Seller’s funds, even when that Realtor is acting solely on the Buyer’s behalf. It may sound strange to UK buyers, but if the help is free, why not use it? Find a Realtor who you are comfortable working with and who does not pressure or manipulate you into buying.
All of the above is obviously a very brief summary and it only scratches the surface. For more free information and advice, Contact Us for more information.