ORLANDO — Owning a home in Central Florida, and marketing it as a short-term rental or vacation home, has been a profitable investment for many European buyers over the years.
The Orlando area is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, with theme parks, beaches and outdoor activities that attract millions of visitors each year. It’s no surprise that as the tourism industry has grown substantially in the years since Walt Disney first opened his famous theme park here, so has the vacation home industry.
In fact, Central Florida is one of the top destinations not only for tourists, but for short-term rentals as well.
In the counties closest to the theme parks — particularly Osceola and Polk counties — there are a growing number of vacation homes available on the market for the region’s visitors to stay in.
It’s become a popular option for tourists who stay here longer than a week, and for large families that want to stay in a fully furnished house, rather than a hotel or motel room. Vacation homes are often located in gated communities that are quiet, private and safe, and offer the amenities of a kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, game room and private pool. What more could the traveler ask for when it comes to convenience and luxury?
An Flamand, the owner and broker at An Flamand-Orlando Vacation Realty, is an expert in the field of matching foreign investors to pre-construction homes for sale in the Orlando area.
An is also the past president of the Central Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, and successfully ran a vacation home property management form, USA Vacation Homes & Spa, for two decades.
As An noted, there are a lot of great opportunities for a foreign investor interested in purchasing a home in Central Florida, and then successfully marketing it as a short-term rental. But it’s also important, she added, to first sit down with an expert in the field and to fully understand what is required to make the vacation home a success.
“There are five key points to look for when buying a short term rental investment property in Florida,” An says, and all investors should take the time to consider those factors.
First, check to see if the house is in a gated community. The ones that are very often become more desirable to tourists, and easier to book. Osceola and Polk counties have a number of popular gated communities that host vacation homes, and are a short driving distance to the theme parks.
Second, gated communities are usually run by homeowners associations. Each HOA has its own set of monthly fees and dues., and regulations Check around to see not only what those dues are, but what the buyer gets in return.
Third, be sure the house is in a desirable location — one that is close enough to the attractions that bring tourists here to begin with.
“Consider the location — the distance to the main attractions, restaurants, and supermarkets,” An says.
Fourth, the vast majority of successful vacation homes offer guests a pool. As An notes, the location of the pool can be important as well.
“South-facing pools are still preferred,” An says. “Stay away from north-facing pools.”
Finally, consider what you want to invest in the amenities that all successful vacation homes need — including attractive furniture and furnishings, and appealing landscaping. Guests need to have a “Wow” experience the moment they walk in the front door.
Short-term rentals have turned into successful moneymakers for many foreign investors, An says. The smartest ones do their homework first, and seek out the expert advice and guidance of Realtors like An Flamand at Orlando Vacation Realty.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..