I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries on Legacy Dunes this past week from investors that are just looking for a solid, inexpensive investment in the Disney area. Many of the investors who are buying property in here don’t have any intention of using it for short term. Some plan on renting it for a year and then trying to flip it, some just want to rent it full time and live in it for retirement and some are just buying it because it’s cheap and they will figure out the details later. Whatever the case may be there is one thing that is certain. . .
If you plan on investing in a Legacy Dunes condo in Kissimmee you can plan to pay above asking price!
The comps don’t lie. I’ve comped out every sold condo recorded in the MLS for the past six months and 70% of them sold for over asking price. Some were a mere thousand over asking and some were as much as $16,000 OVER ASKING PRICE! What this tells me is that if people are willing to continuously pay over asking price for these condos that our market has absolutely hit a rock bottom and the comps are reflecting that.
Legacy Dunes used to be a place where the average investor who just wanted a cheap vacation rental condo in Orlando could get a great deal. Now it’s turned into a feeding frenzy for investors looking to cash in on the rock bottom short term rental investment that is still in decent condition.
If you’re up for the challenge of trying to buy a condo in Legacy Dunes, here are the new rules of the game:
Rule #1: Don’t underbid or you won’t get the condo!
Rule #2: Submit your highest and best offer. In most cases, you only get one shot of submitting your bid so make sure it’s the highest you’re willing to pay.
Rule #3: Be ready to jump on the listing right away! Time is of the essence when you have 20 other hungry investors trying to buy the same condo.
Rule #4: Have your rental strategy mapped out ahead of time. If you plan on renting it, make sure it’s rental ready asap so you don’t get stuck with it too long! Those condo fees are high and will start to eat a hole into your bottom line.
As I was browsing HomeAway tonight looking for a vacation rental I noticed one ad in particular that caught my eye over all of the other ads. This ad was nothing special but it had three things going for it that most of the others did not. If your vacation rental ad on HomeAway or VRBO doesn’t already consist of these three things than I would advise you to consider implementing these tips into your ad and you will most likely notice a higher click-thru rate in 2010.
1. Accept Online Payments
The very first thing I noticed about this ad over the others was that it accepts online payments. I don’t know about you but I’m a creature of convenience and love to keep things as simple as possible. If a customer can quickly and easily pay online for their vacation rental and does not have to deal with calling a management company or owner to arrange payment than they will be much more likely to book your property over one that makes them jump through the hoops to make payment. Many owners don’t implement this concept for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons are they either don’t know how to set it up or they don’t want to pay the fees that are assessed when accepting credit card payments. It takes about 2 minutes to set up a Pay-Pal account and start accepting credit card payments. If you decide to start accepting online payments be sure to list it on your ad!
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The second reason I clicked on this ad was because it had more reviews than the other vacation condos listed on that page. No matter how happy your customers may be after they leave your vacation home, getting a testimonial from them is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. It’s not because they didn’t think your place was great but in most cases it’s just plain inconvenient for people to go to your website and leave feedback or send you an email with feedback. There are many methods you can implement for getting more feedback from your guests and I will go into that in another post but it’s important that you get as many of your guests as possible to leave you a review about your property.
Don’t forget to join the waiting list for The Pink Flamingo’s up and coming e-book “Everything You Wish You Knew BEFORE Buying a Florida Vacation Rental Home“
3. Great Cover Photo
The subject of what makes a great vacation rental ad photo is debatable by many but what I loved most about this particular ad was that it didn’t have the same picture of either the kitchen or living room as all of the other vacation rentals did. This photo showcased exactly what I was looking for and that was an amazing view and a great location. The photo that you put on the front of your ad is going to be the first and in some cases the only picture that prospective renters are going to see, so make it count! If your home is in a tropical location like Florida it’s great to show a picture of the ocean view or the pool and spa area. Take into consideration what you are trying to sell and that’s a vacation not a house. People make purchases based on emotional reasons so learn to push those emotional buttons in your ad and watch the click-thru rate and bookings sky rocket!
Here’s to 2010 and all of the bookings you will be getting for your vacation rental!
I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who signed up on the waiting list for the up and coming ebook “Everything You Wish You Knew Before Buying a Florida Vacation Rental Home”. It’s quite a mouthful to say but I wanted the title to reflect the extensive detail of the ebook. This is a project I have been working on for quite some time now and I’m excited to release it to you.
We’re Beefing Up
During the process of writing this book I have come across so many fantastic people that have inspired me, educated me, helped me and guided me. Like everything else in my life, if I can’t devote my absolute best to something I will not take it on, because of this I have chosen to add both video and interactive spreadsheets to the ebook. This ebook will no longer be just another ebook but the only Florida vacation home buying resource you will ever need and will be more of a workbook. The process of adding these bells and whistles to this has caused me to have to delay the launch of the book. I don’t feel it would be fair to deliver you the product in it’s current state, I want to give you the most valuable resource available on the market today and to do that I will need to push this launch back. To show my gratitude to those of you who have been anxiously waiting for this ebook and registered on the launch list before December 7, 2009; I will be giving you this workbook absolutely free, details on that have been emailed out to you.
Again I want to thank everyone for their help and support with this project and please stay posted for the release date. I don’t anticipate this going to far past January and I am pushing for before the New Year. If you haven’t subscribed yet you can do so here to stay updated this project. Happy holidays to all of you around the world and thank you for being part of the flock!
Don’t be that guy who thinks he’s going to get rich quick or cash in on an Orlando vacation home cash cow. You should avoid buying a vacation rental home in Orlando if your reasons are any of these three. A vacation rental home if doe the person who just wants to own a piece of Florida and understands they may or may not break even but they don’t care because this is their dream.
1. To Generate an Income
Stop right there and do not pass go. If you’re one of those people that think you’re going to buy a vacation rental home and generate a cash flow on your property all while enjoying the fruits of your investment three months per year you are dead wrong and should reconsider your decision. Yes- There are people in Orlando generating a small income off their vacation rental homes but it’s a very small percentage and there are several factors that have to line up for this to happen. Most of the time, epecially for those taking a mortgage, you should expect to pull 20%-30% out of your pocket every month to own the property. You do have a decent shot at breaking even but it’s going to take some work on your part.
View Properties With Transferable Bookings
2. For a Quick Flip
So you’ve been bit by the get rich quick bug and have decided you’re going to cash in on some of Florida’s foreclosure properties. . . Orlando vacation homes rarely make a good quick flip and its extremely difficult to net anything from the little money you may make flipping it. The only vacation rental neighborhood in the Disney areas that I have seen investors successfully flipping houses for a profit in is Legacy Dunes and even that’s not what it used to be anymore. Legacy Dunes used to be a nice little gold nugget buried away within Kissimmee that investors were cashing in on but word quickly spread and the inventory has dried up. You’re competing against dozens of other investors trying to do the same thing and as the higher you have to bid to get the property the lower your profit margin falls. The best quick flip properties are bulk packages that are generally purchased by investor groups.
Read Also: Legacy Dunes Being Flipped For a Profit On Ebay
3. For a Beach Getaway
I know this sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people contact me because they want a beach retreat and think the prices in Orlando are great. Nine times out of ten those people leave very dissapointed when they realize that a one hour and fifteen minute drive is not exactly around the corner. It doesn’t sound like a long drive but if you plan on hitting the beach every day on your vacation than you may really want to consider the west coast of Florida as a better choice. Orlando is not known to be a place to visit for the beach, it’s known for Disney and all of the other attractions. The beach just happens to be an option for many, then again for those of you that don’t even live a days drive to the beach an hour and fifteen minutes may be the best thing since sliced bread.
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When I first set out to write this post I intended on it being about tech savvy Orlando vacation home management companies that “get it”. As I started my research online to see which companies are embracing the technology revolution and which are still stuck in what looks like the industrial revolution I was very disappointed with the results I found. So the focus of this post has now shifted and I’m sad about that.
Being a tech geek myself I prefer to work with other businesses who are tech savvy as well. I like to follow them on Twitter and become a Fan of their Facebook page (hint hint-feel free to fan our Facebook page for awesome updates) to stay updated with what they are doing. Unfortunately, it seems to be hard to find any Orlando short term rental management companies that are embracing the technology revolution they way they should. Do they understand the power of the internet and social media?
I personally, would be concerned about enrolling my Orlando vacation home with a property management company who does not have a tech savvy enough marketing department to even put their own company on the internet map. It would make me wonder, “If they can’t market their own company properly, what are they possibly going to do for my home?” I can tell you what they will do for you home; They will book your home out with tour operator bookings that pay half of what you should be getting and this is where 90% of your bookings will come from. The other 10% will come from your owner bookings if you choose to go that route.
I hope local Disney area short term rental companies start embracing this change and start making more of an effort to get their own direct bookings. That will translate to more money in both of your pockets. I don’t know when this change will take place but what I will ask you is this; How tech savvy is your Orlando short term rental property management company? Can you find them on Twitter? Facebook? Flickr? If so, are they active? Do they have a presence on some of the large travel social networking sites like Viscape? If you can’t answer yes to even one of those questions perhaps it’s time to tell them how you feel about their level of exposure and dependency on tour operators. Maybe they will listen and together we can get the Orlando vacation home market up to speed.
For you techies- Don’t forget to follow the Flamingo on Twitter: @RealEstateFL
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We all like quick fixes right? Well here are 15 quick and easy changes you can make to your Orlando vacation rental and booking routine to increase your exposure and revenue this winter.
1. Update Your photos!
There is nothing worse than outdated, bad angled pictures lurking around on your property website. People will be booking your home solely based on the photos they see online. You only get one chance at this so make it count. The Flamingo thing to do would be to dip into your wallet a little and hire a professional Orlando real estate photographer to come in and snap some shots. It’s an investment that will pay off in the end.
2. Expose Yourself!
Don’t be afraid to put your home out there. There are over 50 websites you can list your Orlando vacation rental home on to get some owner booking revenue coming in. Consider the top three and take an ad out on those sites. Again if your pictures are terrible than don’t waste the money but if the package looks good than by all means get it out there! One of my personal favorite sites for this is VRBO
3. Start a Blog
Yes, I just told you to become a “blogger”. This is by far the fastest and most cost effective way to start generating some exposure online. It’s free to start a WordPress blog and if you do it correctly can generate a ton of new business and stir up interest in your Orlando vacation rental. A great thing to do would be to blog about up and coming events in the Orlando area, any news or information about your vacation home neighborhood, any specials you are running and have a place where guests can leave comments and testimonials. You can also link this to your property website.
Nothing speaks louder to a potential prospect than the voice of another satisfied guest. If you are not utilizing testimonials on your website/blog than you are missing out on a large market of people. Encourage your previous guests (the satisfied ones) to go onto your website/blog and leave you a testimonial on the testimonials page (which you should have in place already). In all of your online advertising link back to this page so people can read them.
5. Love Your Competition
Who says you have to compete with the competition? There is more than enough business to go around for everyone and there is also power in high numbers. Get with other owners of properties in your neighborhood and link your websites up. What’s great is that they may have guests that are looking for specific dates that they already have booked but guess what, their “buddy” up the street has availability. Many Orlando vacation home owners have even started neighborhood websites where all owners within the community advertise their home and they market the site together.
6. Build Your Database!
This is huge! Your Orlando vacation rental property is a business and should be treated like one. Every person who contacts you in any way, shape or form is a potential booking. You should be keeping a database of every email address that comes through your inbox inquiring about your Orlando vacation rental property. Utilize this database when you are running specials and want to tell people about it. You will be surprised how many people respond to specials that they may have not been interested in before. Make sure you are using a program like Constant Contact that offers an unsubscribe option in your emails. Nobody likes to be spammed.
7. Automate Yourself
If you’re like me you have a life and a family outside of work. The last thing you want to be doing is be sitting around by your computer and waiting for booking requests to come in. The downside to that is people want immediate responses to their questions and will go elsewhere if they do not get one. The easiest way to solve this problem is to set up an auto-responder on your email and within that responder let the customer know you will be getting back to them before the end of the business day. You may also want to include a frequently asked questions list as well as some testimonials and a link to your site.
8. Consider Allowing Pets
Say What! Animals in MY vacation home!! I know it’s a big thing for many to allow owners with pets to stay in their Orlando vacation rental property BUT consider this: So many other owners feel the same way so imagine the amount of people who are looking for a place like yours that can’t find anything that allows pets. Often time the first vacation rentals to book are the pet friendly ones. The extra booking revenue you earn from this should far outweigh the cost of having your carpets steam cleaned every other month. You can also charge extra for pets!
9. Game On!
Not everyone has a games room in their Orlando holiday villa and it’s costly to add one but one thing you can do to increase bookings is throw in a PlayStation or a Nintendo Wii. This will appeal to families traveling with children and in Orlando, that’s mainly your target market.
10. Stock Up on The Tea. . . and don’t be cheap!
This may seem incredibly obvious and even most hotels do this but having a nice selection of good tea available to your guests when they arrive is a big deal! Don’t scrimp on the tea and buy the cheap Lipton stuff. . . Stock up on the good stuff from places like Teavana and even Starbucks. This is a great feature to point out in your marketing. It’s the small details like this that keep people coming back for more.
11. Offer Up Your Home To Realtors
Most Orlando Realtors who are vacation home specialists only work with out of town and country buyers. When they fly down for their inspection trip they will need a place to stay. Offer your property up to their clients at a discounted rate. If you get in with a busy enough office you can easily score an extra 5-10 bookings per year. That can really fill in those gaps! Talk to your Realtor who sold you your vacation home property and let them know you’re interested in offering up your villa.
12. Secure The Net
Make sure your guests have access to a SECURED internet connection when they are staying at your Orlando villa. Many guests staying in Orlando on holiday are already paranoid and scared of getting ripped off. Some people, especially those traveling here form other countries, will feel much safer knowing they have internet access and it’s completely secured. I for one am one of those people and I can assure you that being a computer geek has it’s perks!!
13. Offer a Vacation Consultation
Who knows your home better than you? Chances are that you’ve been to Orlando on holiday several times and stayed at your property. You know all the hot spots and by now should know many of the local spots as well. Offer your guests a one on one phone consultation where you tell them all the inside information about the neighborhood, the town and the not so heavily advertised but oh so cool attractions they should hit up while they are here. People love a personal experience and this one gesture could turn a one time booking into a lifetime guest.
14. It’s All In Your Name
Addresses are BORING! You don’t want to market your property as an address you want to name your property just like you would your pets or your kids. It needs a fun name that will be remembered by just about anyone browsing the web. A name will make your property stand out from the others and almost instantly add credibility as an established vacation home. I reemember one owner named her house “The Pineapple Palace”. I still remember that because it’s different and it’s fun.
15. Add a Hammock
This is about as black and white as it sounds. People loves hammocks, especially when in Florida on vacation. I love hammocks even when I’m NOT on vacation so buy a hammock and put it in your backyard or if you have a large enough front porch that works too. Make sure you take pictures of the hammock and use it in your marketing. Hammocks rock! (Literally)
A Pink Flamingo vacation home testimonial. This lovely Canadian couple recently closed on their bank owned vacation home in Sandy Ridge. They had the entire house furnished and put under management within in days of closing. The property is already booked out for the summer and they are as happy as can be. If you are interested in renting this Sandy Ridge beauty for a holiday visit to Orlando you can visit their site at: www.orlandohouse.me
Property flipping in this market? You betta believe it! Legacy Dunes condos in Kissimmee are not only being marketed on Ebay but are actually selling and the investors are making a quick profit and not a bad one if I may say so myself. Are they being marketed honestly though? It would appear from this ad that the value of the property is being misrepresented. . .
This is just one of many examples of Legacy Dunes condo properties being flipped on ebay for a fast and hefty profit:
Here is the original listing from the MLS showing a closing date of May 1, 2009 for $27,000 (bank owned of course)
Here we are less than a month and a half later and we see this exact condo listed on E-bay for $59,000 with bids on it!!!!!! Even if this condo sells for $40,000 that’s almost doubling your money in less than two months. Could this be the start of another bubble though? Should end user buyers beware of the investor speculation going on in Legacy Dunes right now or should they feel secure knowing that they are buying at wholesale and could easily flip their condo for a quick buck if they wanted to? I say that this is just a temporary thing and those that ride it out while it last will make the money. As soon as all the bank owned inventory in Legacy clears out there won’t be any mark-up room to continue to flip.
As I was saying about the values being misrepresented. . . this condo is clearly NOT worth $96,000 however the person who is marketing this grabbed some information from the tax records to try and make this look like it’s the deal of the century and there are buyers out there that do not know how to find this information on their own that will believe this to be true. The Osceola property appraisers are in the process of reassessing the values for all the Legacy Dunes condos for 2009 and these values will be going down to reflect the market. The proposed annual tax statements don’t come out until August so this information is misleading in my opinion. At least they go onto mention that this information is subject to change. . .
Thinking about flipping or just owning one? Check out this list of Bank Owned Legacy Dunes Condos for Sale
1. Vista Park
$602 per month.
Coming in at numero uno thanks to the mandatory rule that you have to use their property management company for short term rentals. The HOA fee itself is not so bad at $122 per month however this particular community has a requirement that you have to use their own property management company for your bookings and management. Their monthly property management fees are $480 per month. It includes pool and lawn care as well as pest control however when you add that mandatory fee with the HOA you get a whopping $602 per month. Some buyers would argue they could outsource those services for much less and others love the one stop shop effect.
Homes for sale in Vista Park
2. Bahama Bay Condos
$425 per month
Condo associations usually always have higher HOA fees for the reason that they include so much more than the typical single home community (building insurance, exterior maintenance, etc). The fees on this community may be a bit high but I was told by the HOA that first floor condo units pay less HOA than second and third floor. I guess it really pays to live on the first floor in this community.
3. Regal Palms
$385 per month
Regal Palms, one of the most sought after resort communities in Davenport, FL that also charges one of the highest amenity fees. The Homeowner’s association dues are only $135 per month which is very reasonable however there is a mandatory club membership fees of $250 that is required if you or your guest want to use any of the club facilities including their pool and lazy river. Oh and did I forget to mention the $10 per day fee plus tax on your bookings?
Townhouses for sale in Regal Palms
All information contained is pulled directly from mid florida multiple listing service and deemed reliable but not guarunteed. Information should be verified with homeowners association before making assumptions.
You’ll likely be responsible for a variety of fees and expenses that you and the seller will have to pay at the time of closing. Your lender must provide a good-faith estimate of all settlement costs. The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:
- Down payment
- Loan origination
- Points, or loan discount fees, which you pay to receive a lower interest rate
- Home inspection
- Credit report
- Private mortgage insurance premium
- Insurance escrow for homeowner’s insurance, if being paid as part of the mortgage
- Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage. Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay the insurance or taxes for you.
- Deed recording
- Title insurance policy premiums
- Land survey
- Notary fees
- Prorations for your share of costs, such as utility bills and property taxes
In addition to those standard closing costs you will have additional fees associated with your Central Florida vacation home ownership such as :
- Property management fees
- State and county taxes
- Short term rental licensing
- Homeowners association
A Note About Prorations: Because such costs are usually paid on either a monthly or yearly basis, you might have to pay a bill for services used by the sellers before they moved. Proration is a way for the sellers to pay you back or for you to pay them for bills they may have paid in advance. For example, the gas company usually sends a bill each month for the gas used during the previous month. But assume you buy the home on the 6th of the month. You would owe the gas company for only the days from the 6th to the end for the month. The seller would owe for the first five days. The bill would be prorated for the number of days in the month, and then each person would be responsible for the days of his or her ownership.