This is a guest post by Lisa Sedore, owner of www.SunshineVillaOrlando.com. Please scroll down below for more information on her and her services.
What room comes to mind when you think of the heart of a home? Your kitchen, right? Well, an Orlando vacation rental home is no exception to this rule. With just a few quick kitchen fixes you can pump some new life into a flat line rental kitchen and increase your bookings in the competitive Disney area vacation home market.
Toss those drab tea towels and dish cloths to the curb. Pick up some towels in some of today’s hot color schemes and use these must have items as part of your decor. Drape a stunning red towel over the oven door or fold a vibrant yellow dish cloth next to the sink. Bring your kitchen a little life with eye catching color.
2. Dress Up your Window
What’s your style? Whether simple and functionable, county or elegant the window treatments say it all. Try some mini blinds and valance or a cornice box hung high to enlarge the look of your window. Highlight a modern sleek look with a Roman shade or bump it up with wood blinds for a touch of elegance. Cute little cafe curtains add a homey county feel to a Florida home.
Ready, set, go …. Armed with only a screwdriver and an hour of your time watch this magical transformation. The variety is limitless, from cute and quirky designs like animals and flowers to stainless steel, brushed nickel to bronze knobs and pulleys. This simple switch brightens and extends the life of pricy cabinets.
4. Update Faucets
Go with the flow in faucet trends to keep your kitchen sparkle. These hard working almost forgotten tools modernize any kitchen counter. Before you buy, check in on your sink / faucet relationship. Too tall of a faucet equals splash works yet too short leave you wishing for a deeper well.
5. Shine Some Light
Some like it bright, some like little light. Mix a variety of light sources to blend light levels in the kitchen. Task lighting provides sufficient direct light to chop veggies or read recipes while ambient light creates warm glows that fill the space and warm our hearts.
Guests will take notice of the updates and modern fixes to your kitchen rewarding you with increased inquiries and more bookings. After all … kitchens are the heart to all our homes!
Lisa Sedore (owner) is The Villa Manager, she is dedicated to providing vacation rental property owners the best solution to their business management and booking needs. Her blog site, www.
Guest post by Stephen Walker, owner of Signature Villas Orlando
There are always advantages and disadvantages to buying an Orlando vacation rental home that is already under management with bookings in place, which we refer to as “turnkey”. Being in the business I get a first hand insight to what really goes on with booked properties and I want to share with you some of the most important things you should know before you buy one.
New vacation home owners don’t usually buy homes that don’t have a rental history though they should and the ones that do usually end up staying with the current property management because they are so lost in the buying process that they take the easy option. They figure, “Let’s stay and see how it goes”. In today’s market a lot of the owners who are selling are doing so because they can’t afford their home and there are very few that have made a large profit for numerous reasons. A couple of these reasons are that a high percentage bought at a ridiculous price during the boom and have enormous mortgages. Then there are the owners who bought one and just left it up to the management companies to fill and took no active involvement at all.
So what does all this have to do with changing management companies when you buy a turnkey property, you may be asking. If the management company is reputable, they should have a complete history of the home that they can readily provide to you before you purchase so you can get an idea of the type of numbers the home was brining in. It’s just the same as asking another management company to do a rent comparison of an equivalent home in the same area. That’s exactly how realtors price homes. Be careful as it is very easy for the property manager to put in what I like to call “ghost bookings”. What are ghost bookings? Well, they are false bookings that are made by the management company to entice the new owner to stay. This is a very dangerous game to play but there are many that do it, including a couple of large property management companies who shall remain unnamed.
Another common myth that new owners also believe is that keeping the old management company will be cheaper, but they’re often dead wrong! You’ve bought your first new vacation home and spent i.e. $300,000 on it and now want to save money? It’s one of the worst decisions I see new owners make. The answer to the problem is so simple and so easy that you will kick yourself. . . Ask your Realtor! Yes, it’s that easy (assuming your working with the right Realtor). Why is it that easy ? BECAUSE YOU MUST TRUST THEM OR YOU WOULDN’T HAVE SPENT $300,000.00 ON THEIR RECOMMENDATION!
If a realtor works for a property management company then they are obligated to their own company. But if you ask that same realtor who else they recommend I guarantee all they will say is ‘”We don’t really recommend other companies blah blah blah”. So they’re not the best realtors to ask and you probably shouldn’t be working with a Realtor who is also working for a management company! There are some realtors that will give you four or five management companies and this alone is great but why that many?? Lack of faith maybe? Diversity? Who knows. . . So which realtor will direct you to the best management company? I would say the one who only recommends a couple that they are not working for. Why is that you may say? A truly honest management company will really only take on homes that they know they can book. I myself try to stick with certain areas and styles of homes like Windsor Hills and Reunion. Some others may deal with town homes and condos better, I myself turn down nearly all town homes and condos as I struggle to book them. So a Realtor who directs you to one good manager has a lot of confidence in that company (assuming it’s not because they are accepting an under the table kick back) and knows what their specialty is.To be honest, it’s in your Realtor’s best interest because they really don’t want you harping in their ear every month about how you’re not making money or how all the bookings that were there have canceled (GHOSTS).
We hope you enjoyed this guest post by Stephen Walker, a local Orlando vacation home property manager. To learn more about Stephen and the services he provides please visit his website at www.SignatureVillasOrlando.com.
We hope to earn the opportunity of helping you achieve your investment property goals this year in 2012. For a free, no obligation investment property consultation with our Director of Sales- Lisa Arcia, please contact us directly at 866-422-6191 and if you have enjoyed this article please consider subscribing to our blog and stay updated on future information.
1. Taking Frequent Vacations to Orlando
Do you find you and your family are taking frequent vacations to Orlando? Maybe it’s Disney World or Universal. Whatever the attraction, consider how much money you spend on lodging, dining and activities. Generally the cost of all that combined annually could be a down payment on a vacation home. When you’re not using it you can rent the property out which helps offset the cost of owning it.
2. Already Own a Timeshare
Timeshares are great for some people but with the real estate market at rock bottom prices on vacation homes have never been lower. Unlike a timeshare, if you own a vacation home you can visit the property as much or as little as you like and there are no penalties and unlike a timeshare you can rent your property out when you’re not using it. Often times, the carrying costs of owning a vacation home that is being rented out ends up being almost the same as an upscale timeshare.
3. Planning Your Retirement
Many people who plan their retirement already have a set place in mind that they would like to retire to. If you are one of those people consider the financial benefits to investing in a vacation home for your retirement. The ability to offset the cost of owning the property until retirement and still use the home for vacations is a huge perk as well as the equity that you will be building towards your retirement nest egg.
4. 1031 Exchange
Many investors who are selling off their investment properties are looking to take advantage of the 1031 exchange for tax purposes. What a great opportunity to invest your gain into a vacation rental property. You not only save on taxes but now you gain a vacation home that you can retreat to as well as offset the carrying costs of owning.
5. House Exchange
Ever wish you could be part of a house exchange and travel across the world all while living like a local? The only downside to house exchanges are if you don’t own a vacation home, you would have to rent out your own personal residence to strangers. I don’t know many people who would be okay with that. Owning a vacation home now gives you the flexibility to trade up your house with someone else’s and not have to worry about personal belongings.
6. You Just Want a Good Florida Real Estate Investment
If only for the reason that you’re looking for a property that will appreciate in value than buying a vacation home could be the best investment you ever make. Vacation rental properties are in a specialized category of real estate and due to their zoning flexibility for short term renting, there is always a demand for this type of property from international investors. Vacation rental homes, in my opinion, could be one of the safest real estate investments you can buy.
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If You Don’t Like Your Florida Realtor
So your Realtor was great over the phone, did their job, always got back to you and helped you get everything prepared but after you met and started working together he/she just didn’t seem to hold up to their first impression they gave you. This would be an unfortunate situation to find yourself in after you’ve spent all the time and money on your trip down here to purchase a property. If it’s just an issue of your personalities not meshing well than my advice would be- If they know what they’re doing and are experienced you may want to try to work through the personality issues. At this point you run the risk of choosing someone new out of desperation and could end up with someone worse.
If your Realtor just doesn’t know what they are doing and can’t seem to give you any relevant information about the properties or even worse, doesn’t even show up than I have a couple of suggestions for you that shouldn’t waste too much of your inspection trip time:
- Contact their broker and let the broker know about your concerns and your experience with this Realtor so far and see if they have someone else in that office they can refer you to.
- Pull out that original list you made when you were interviewing Realtors and try contacting one of the other two Realtors. They just might have some availability and can squeeze you in.
- If you are staying in a vacation home neighborhood, go to the nearest shopping center and see if there is a real estate company within that plaza, trying walking in and explaining your situation. Explain to them what you are looking for in a Realtor and see if they have someone who is willing to take you out on last minutes notice.
I certainly don’t advise finding another Realtor at the last minute as that usually ends up in disaster however, sometimes these things just happen and Realtors just don’t workout. Try and prepare for this situation ahead of time and maybe have a Realtor in the back of your mind as a back up plan. Make sure you hold on to that itinerary, your next Realtor will need this so they know which properties you want to see before you leave. If you do switch Realtors, as a professional courtesy, let your current Realtor know that you are no longer going to be working with them so they don’t wonder what happened to you.
Remember, when it comes to buying vacation property in Orlando, if you fail to plan than you plan to fail. For a complete road map and guideline to getting from point A to Z and avoiding all the pitfalls in between when buying your vacation rental home in Florida be sure to check out our up and coming e-course “Everything You Wish You Knew Before Buying a Florida Vacation Rental Home”
Trying to find the perfect vacation rental investment from thousands of miles away can often become a very frustrating task. Homes might look great in the pictures online but what does the surrounding area look like? If you’re not utilizing at least one of these five free mapping tools listed here than you you may be in for a huge surprise when you arrive here in Orlando for your property inspection trip.
1. Bing Birds Eye View: Birds Eye View from Bing is one of my favorite free mapping tools on the market. It’s so easy to use and gives an very clear picture of not only the home but also the surrounding area. It also offers an ariel/satellite view which is similar to what google has.
2. Google Street View: Some pretty funny stuff has been caught on Google street view but we’ll save that for the What the Flock section. Google street view is great for just about anything but above all it’s amazing for researching real estate. It’s the second best thing to actually being able to walk or drive the streets your self. Google street view offers you a 360* view of the street. This is great if you want to see what your future neighbor’s houses look like or what your walk to the clubhouse will be like.
3. Map Quest:
Compared to Bing and Google, Mapquest seems to be the awkward kid at school but even the awkward kids are good at something and mapquest is still my number one choice for driving directions and route planning. Mapquest even has the 360* and ariel view options. What’s great about Mapquest is you can map the route with an ariel view and also add tons of cool options to your route like gas stations, traffic reports and much more. Mapquest is a very useful program for checking the distance and route from your potential vacation home to Disney or other popular destinations.
4. Google Earth:
Google Earth deserves it’s very own post but I’m throwing the short version in because it’s THAT important to know about and utilize in your property searches. Google earth integrates street view, ariel view and so much more. You can view the sun exposure at any hour of the day, see what your neighborhood looked like 3 years ago and if you’re an astronomy nerd like me you’ll love that you can even view the night sky from the house that your researching. How cool is that? Google earth is free to download and will become your best friend when trying to purchase and research a home from thousands of miles away.
Did you find this information useful? If so, consider subscribing and get our Free Report: Top 20 Most Critical and Frequently Asked Questions About Buying and Owning an Orlando Vacation Rental Home
Why are Legacy Dunes Condos in Kissimmee So Cheap?
Reason #1: Legacy Dunes Condo Association Fees are Very High for What You Are Getting
Now I’m not against Condo fees like some of you may think, I am all for them when they are within reason but Legacy Dunes Condos not only charge high condo association fees but they don’t even justify it by including much. The condo fees cover the common areas, and trash removal. . . don’t all cheer at once. The fees are different per floor plan however paying almost $200 per month for a 1/1 600 sq ft condo probably doesn’t excite many Kissimmee home buyers.
Reason #2: Legacy Dunes in Kissimmee is Not a Fannie Mae Approved Community
If you’re a cash buyer this basically means nothing to you however for those of you who will be going through the process of taking a mortgage and putting less than 20% down this property does not qualify for your loan. So to compensate and reach the cash buyers the prices in this community have dropped drastically. This one fact makes Legacy Dunes condos in Kissimmee a steal of a deal for cash buyers only. . . bringing me to my next point.
Reason #3: The Legacy Dunes Condo Association Delinquency Rate is Rumored to be at or Exceeding 15%
With over 400 unites in the complex this shouldn’t necessarily raise too many eyebrows but the reason I bring up this point is because if you are taking a non- FHA loan and even if you are putting at least 20% down the property still may not qualify for the loan. Lenders will not lend on properties with a homeowners association delinquency rate of more than 15% so even though you qualify for the loan the property itself does not. I have not spoke to the HOA regarding their delinquency rate however if you run the numbers in my opinion it’s safe to assume the rate has exceeded 15% or will be soon. There are currently 77 condos listed for sale in Legacy Dunes and only 13 of them are bank owned. The rest are all short sales which puts you at 64. It’s safe to assume that at least those 64 people are not paying their monthly condo association dues. When you factor that number in with how many units there are in the neighborhood the number is right around 15%.
Reason #4: 90% of the condos currently for sale in Legacy Dunes are Short Sales
This is the biggest reason why Legacy Dunes condos are so cheap. There are currently 77 Condos for sale in Legacy Dunes, 64 of them are short sales. Short sales are NOT real prices unless stated “bank approved” which is why all the prices look so low. I’m not going to get into all the reasons why you should avoid short sales like the plague (that’s a whole new article) but if you want to actually close on the condo and become a homeowner in Legacy Dunes the smartest course of action to take would be to stick with the bank owned condos and those are competitive to buy. Please look for our up and coming guide on “How To Buy a Bank Owned Vacation Home Near Disney”.
That being said, Legacy Dunes is not necessarily a bad option for the vacation home buyer who wants on site management (they take 40% of your booking), who can pay cash and doesn’t mind the steep HOA fees. You can get a great bank owned deal in Legacy Dunes Condos right now however please keep in mind that the community itself is not as glamorous in reality as it is in the pictures. If you dont mind the drab colors and not so fancy clubhouse than jump on it because there are currently bidding wars on the bank owned condos in Legacy Dunes and if you’re not ready to make a move you will miss out. The prices have hit rock bottom in there and now is the time to get in on it.
Get Our Free Legacy Dunes Neighborhood Report Packed With Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy
Legacy Dunes HOA Contact Information
Legacy Dunes HOA Fees
Legacy Dunes Long and Short Term Rental Rates
Legacy Dunes School Zoning Information
Legacy Dunes Property Tax Information
Legacy Dunes Neighborhood Information
Legacy Dunes Property Management Contracts and Much More!
I’m not one to talk about hype or anything like that but I felt compelled to write this post for those of you who may be considering purchasing a bank owned townhouse in Regal Palms but may be hesitating or waiting for prices to drop even more. I have spent the past two weeks showing property almost everyday in Regal Palms and the past year watching the Regal Palms pricing and market, I can finally say that now is the time to buy in Regal Palms. The bank owned properties are reaching all time lows in the 60K range. Most of the bank owned townhouses in Regal Palms that are coming on the market are the smaller floorplans (1400 sq ft) and they aren’t flying off the shelf (but are still selling). It’s the larger floorplans (1800-2000 sq ft) lock out units that are going under contract almost within days of being listed.
I just talked to the listing agent of one of the bank owned 2000 sq ft units in Regal Palms, I had a buyer who wanted to place an offer, and she said that before she could even get updated photos and market the listing online she has multiple offers on the property. It pretty much flew off the Regal Palms real estate shelf in a matter of 48 hours. The other 1800 sq ft lock out townhouse was gone within a few weeks and seemed to get multiple offers all at one time. When it rains it pours in Regal Palms. My advice to any buyers hesitating or waiting to put an offer in on a Regal Palms Townhouse is to strike while the iron is hot. These townhouses are a hot ticket right now, buyers are reacting to the the all time low prices and I predict than when summer comes and the real estate market in Davenport picks up that the Regal Palms bank owned inventory will start to clear out.
I don’t foresee prices dropping much more on the bottom end units that are alreadyi n the 60K range. I do think that some of the townhouses priced above $150,000 will be forced to reduce their pricetag over the next six months but I would be very surprised to see the lower priced twnhouses (Under 80K) drop anymore than they already have. It’s turning into a bidding warzone and buyers are acting. So if you’ve considered a Regal Palms purchase you may want to take advantage of the current low prices.
3 beds, 2.00 baths
Property Size: 1,889 sq ft
Lot Size: sq ft
Added: 01/23/09, Last Updated: 03/13/09
Property Type: Residential / All, Residential / Single Family
MLS Number: V4618562
Tract: POINCIANA SUB NBRHD 6 VIL 7
The Price of this Listing was last reduced on 3/14/2009 by 0%
Bank Owned. 100% financing may be available. Seller will assist with closing costs upto4%. This is a brand new home and has never been lived in.
Brought to you by The Flamingo Team at Cozy Homes Real Estate. Contact us today for more information on this property.
The rules that apply to vacation home selling are almost contrary to the rules we follow when selling our primary homes. The vacation home market is a completely different animal and must be treated as such. Here are some tip to help you prepare your vacation home for sale and get it sold faster.
1. Know Your Booking Statistics
So many people overlook this factor when selling their vacation home. If you’re property is being used a a short term rental and marketed heavily as one then those booking statistics are going to help sell your home. Compile a list of your booking statistics for the past year and create a graph style chart profiling your bookings over the past 365 days. If your home books an average of 25 weeks per year or more, this is a great marketing piece to add in with your home flyer. You can obtain records of all your bookings from your property management company or your Realtor can do this for you.
2. Appealing To The Buyers Emotions
Emotions are what sell a home so you want to evoke as many feel good emotions in your potential buyers as you can. What better way to do this than by photos? What attracted you to the home when you purchased it for your vacation? Was is the close proximity to Disney world or the local beaches? Whatever the reason, recapture those emotions and try to dig up some family photos of when you were out enjoying the local attractions while at your vacation home. Place a few of those photos in the listing and it watch the emotional effect it has on other vacation home buyers.
3. Showcase That Guestbook!
Hopefully you’ve been using one. . .for those of you that are you have a heaping pile of testimonials sitting on your kitchen table right now? Go through your vacation home guestbook and pick out three or four of the best reviews you received. Use those testimonials when marketing your home online. You could even pick a stellar one and give it to your Realtor to put it the MLS along with your property description. Don’t let that guestbook go to waste, it’s one of your best marketing pieces you have.
4. Connect With The Right Buyers
Buyers of Florida vacation homes don’t just come from within the United States. Florida attracts buyers from all over the world that want to own a piece of the paradise pie. You have to reach these specific buyers the same way you would be reached if you were looking to buy a vacation home in another country. This could be an entire new post but to give you a tip on this, when creating the property flyer for your listings (or online) make sure you add the price in at least the five most popular currencies from where your buyers are coming from. It’s much easier to see something in your own currency and realize what a great deal it is than to take the time to convert it. Buyers want instant gratification so give it to them.
These tips probably seem so obvious you’re wondering why everyone isn’t doing it. Most people aren’t implementing these steps because they either a. aren’t using a Realtor and don’t know this information or b. Their Realtor isn’t experienced in selling vacation homes. Whatever the reason you know have an edge over your competition and in this buyers market sellers need all the help and advice they can get.