ORLANDO — With Central Florida’s economy booming, the tourism industry breaking attendance records, and new homes being built every month, there might not be a better time for a foreign investor to start thinking about the value of purchasing one of those pre-construction homes in the Orlando area.
That purchase could turn out to be the smartest investment they ever made. Florida remains one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., and the housing market continues to thrive.
But before starting a search for just the right property, smart investors should first seek out the guidance of a Realtor who knows the Central Florida market, and can help them make the best choice, noted An Flamand, the owner and broker at An Flamand-Orlando Vacation Realty.
An, who specializes in marketing pre-construction homes in Central Florida to foreign investors, noted that before starting their search, buyers should first consider eight things to think about when buying your first Florida rental property. Doing so will enable them to maximize their potential for the best investment possible.
1) Who can help me with the purchase of my home, and will this cost me money to be represented by a real estate agent?
As An noted, all Realtors charge a commission for their work after the sale has been concluded. However, the expertize they bring to the transaction will save the buyer thousands of dollars. Experienced Realtors, An noted, will be able to guide the buyer to the exact kind of property they want — from a single family home with the potential to be rented out long-term or as a vacation home, a condominium or a townhouse, for example — in the most desirable location. Experienced Realtors also know about everything from the property taxes that the investors will need to consider, to county rules and regulations about rentals, and other critical information that a buyer needs to know.
2) What is the best use of the property — as a short or long term rental?
There are advantages to making your new property available as either a long-term or short-term rental. The Orlando area alone has been attracting nearly 1,000 new residents each week, many of them looking for a home to rent. Vacancies in desirable locations are often low, making your new property a sure bet to attract quality tenants.
It’s also worth noting, however, that Central Florida with its theme parks and other attractions remains one of the most vibrant vacation home markets in the state. These are fully furnished houses that are rented on a short term basis to tourists, business travelers, and others looking to spend their time in this region in a house rather than a hotel room. Vacation homes are particularly appealing to families looking for the amenities they offer: a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, a game room for the kids and a private pool, for example. Some vacation homes remain booked months in advance if they are close to the theme parks.
3) Location, location, location.
In Central Florida, the key to location is often summed up in two words: theme parks. Many of the most desirable vacation homes — and long-term rental properties as well — are in Osceola and Polk counties, which are both a short drive to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld Orlando. This enables tourists staying in vacation homes to easily access the parks they came here to visit; and for many tenants looking for a long-term rentals, many of the jobs they came here for are also at the theme parks.
4) Should I pay in cash, or obtain a loan abroad? Do I have the deposit?
Experienced Realtors, An noted, can guide a buyer through the pros and cons of paying for their property in cash, knowing how much to put down as a deposit, and if needed, securing a mortgage through a U.S. financial institution. The Realtor, An noted, can walk the buyer through every step of this often complex process.
5) Who will manage my home? Can they provide me with the return I need or want?
Just as Central Florida has a thriving vacation home industry and rental market, there are also plenty of property management firms in the region that can take on the routine tasks of maintaining a property owned by a foreign investor — from finding the tenants (and doing the necessary background checks) to collecting the rent, maintaining the property, paying property taxes on time and ensuring the property meets all local codes.
6) Price, what can I get for the money I have, and does it include furniture?
Vacation homes are furnished, and as An noted, a Realtor can work with a buyer to find experts in Central Florida that specialize in furnishing these properties.
Prices across Central Florida vary, depending on location. Realtors can match the buyer to a property in a desirable location that is also within their price range.
7) Other costs to consider.
There are other costs that a foreign investor needs to consider. If the home is located within a community with a homeowners association — and most in Central Florida fall into this category — there will be monthly HOA fees. There are also county fees, utility costs, maintenance fees, and other expenses to consider. A Realtor can ensure the buyers knows every cost that will be associated with the property, without any “surprises” popping up later.
8) Closing: do I need extra money for closing costs?
A Realtor can also guide the buyer through how much it will cost for the sale to go through.
A smart investor will be able to see that Central Florida remains one of the most vibrant regions of the country, and that property values are rising for a good reason.
The smart investor will also understand the benefits of using an experienced Realtor to ensure they find just the right property, in the right location, and for the right price.
It starts with considering those eight questions.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..