ORLANDO — Central Florida’s housing market remains appealing to buyers — including investors who recognize that purchasing a home in the Orlando area is likely to pay off handsomely in the future.
This is particularly true for foreign investors who recognize that Central Florida’s strong economy, thriving tourism industry, and strong growth means their property will definitely rise in value.
Just as appealing is the fact that so many newcomers are moving to Central Florida — as many as 1,000 per week in the Orlando region alone — and that national and foreign visits to the region are breaking records. With those numbers, there’s no question their property can be turned into a very successful long or short term rental. Whether the owner wants to find secure long-term tenants, or market the property as a vacation home available to visitors on a short term basis, either option can be potentially lucrative.
It also helps that just as there are so many newcomers looking for a home to rent and so many tourists interested in spending their vacation in a fully furnished vacation home (rather than a hotel or motel), there are also a rising number of property management firms in the Orlando area that assist foreign property owners in maintaining their investment.
The European buyer can remain in Europe knowing that their property is being well managed for them by professionals in the field.
While that’s a common assumption, there are still a number of pros and cons to consider before buying a property in Orlando and turning it over to a property management firm, noted An Flamand, the owner and broker at An Flamand-Orlando Vacation Realty.
An has a proven track record of successfully working with foreign investors to help them find the right property in the Central Florida area for their investment.
The advantages, An said, include the valuable services that a reputable property management firm can provide.
The firm, she noted, will help the buyer set up their home and get the utilities turned on, will make sure all lock boxes are installed, and that the buyer has paid all the necessary state and county license, and they will arrange to ensure property taxes are being paid on time.
In addition, “They will deal with any and all emergencies at all hours of the day/night,” An notes.
Property management firms, An says, can help get a short-term rental furnished, arrange for landscaping, and make sure all possible repairs are done as quickly as possible.
“They have connections and a network of people that can help,” An says.
Property management firms also offer another invaluable service: they find, screen and perform background checks on prospective long-term tenants, and do the bookings if the house is being used as a vacation home.
“They often can book your home and bring in revenue,” An says.
They also do routine inspections of the vacation home to ensure it remains clean and appealing for the next guests, she says.
“They will keep your home up to standard,” An says.
But there are also reasons to be cautious about property management firms, she adds, and investors should question whether hiring one is the right move for their property.
First, as An notes, property management firms are an extra expense, something to think about at a time when property values and sales prices are rising. Foreign investors also need to consider the other expenses they can’t avoid — property taxes, homeowners association dues, county licensing fees, utilities, and so on.
Second, if the investor does want to hire a property management firm, research their background first to be sure you’re hiring one with a proven track record and strong reputation for honesty and ethical values. There have been more than a few fly-by-night firms that have proven to be highly ineffective at carrying out basic tasks.
“Are their trustworthy?” An asks.
Also, keep in mind that some property management firms take a stronger interest in the homes they oversee than others. Some make it their task to guarantee that each property is managed professionally. But others quickly develop a bad reputation for minimal standards and lackluster work.
Some firms, An notes, are impersonal and do not work hard for properties that are not their own.
Before hiring a property management firm, take the time to seek out the guidance and expertise of a professional Realtor like An Flamand. Experts like An understand the advantages and disadvantages of placing your valuable property in the hands of total strangers.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..