Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fabulous Lake Nona Area Pool Home!

This wonderful property is bike-able to Medical City or a short commute to OIA!  10243 Kristen Park Drive, Orlando, FL 32832 is a pool home property you must add to your viewing list!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lake Nona-Medical City LGBT House Hunting Guide: Laureate Park

Lake Nona-Medical City Area Neighborhood(s): Laureate Park

If you are reading this article, you're probably connected with Lake Nona-Medical City in some capacity or other.  The VA "job spigot" is open and Medical City job postings flood the .gov employment website, among others, so now it's time for housing to follow!

The good news: in the 32832 & 32827 zip codes, which is considered the Lake Nona area by locals, plenty of housing options, new and not so new exist.  The bad news: anything considered "decent" ( which means "move in condition") goes quickly when priced correctly.

In terms of pricing, by Orlando standards, I would categorize Laureate Park as mid to expensive.  Of course, everything is relative, so someone from the Russian Hill or Chelsea neighborhoods will find pricing very affordable.

Loosely modeled after another popular Orlando neighborhood called Baldwin Park, Laureate Park is also a planned community.  DT Lake Nona is currently under construction and is walking distance to Laureate Park and like Baldwin Park, it will have a mix of housing & neighborhood amenities.

Boldly colored homes and unique styles are immediately recognized the moment you enter the community, and many of the homes being built have apartment suites over the garage, which are perfect for guests/family/med. students.

Some of the neighborhood resort styled amenities include:
  • Village Center 
  • Lakeside restaurant and cafe 
  • Fitness facility 
  • Aquatic Center featuring two large pools & lounging areas, a family pool with a zero-entry pool, water cannons, deck jets and a twenty-five foot tall dumping bucket 
  • The adult pool (code for quiet) features free form pool areas, 4 lap lanes and private cabanas
  • Sand volleyball court 
  • Walking/biking trails connecting the area neighborhoods within 32832 & 32827
Laureate Park is 25 minutes to DT Orlando, 35 minutes to the coast, 20 to Disney and mere minutes to OIA.

Read my other article on the Lake Nona area neighborhood East Park.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Privacy & Country Living Near DT Orlando and Lake Nona

If you are looking for acreage but don't want to be way out in the boonies, check out the southern part of Wedgefield southeast of DT Orlando.  It is fairly rural, but it's only 10 minutes east of OIA and Lake Nona off the Beachline #528 at Dallas Blvd.

You can find 1 to 10 acre parcels and build what you want OR pre-owned homes are always available.  The area is deed restricted with these being the more important rules:

  • Anything built on an acre must have at least 2,200 sq. ft. under air
  • No mobile homes, doublewides, modular homes are allowed
  • Optional HOA 
  • Horses are allowed but you must have two contiguous acres for the first horse

Additionally, the acreage lots to the south (estates area) are well and septic, only the homes in the northern part of Wedgefield have public utilities...they are on small subdivision lots.  This is also in the USDA Financing zone where 100% financing is available.

For new construction in Wedgefield or Lake Nona, I recommend SPC Homes.  They build a nice home, they 100% welcome the LGBT community, which I can confirm since I've had numerous transactions with them over the years.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lake Nona-Medical City LGBT House Hunting Guide: East Park

Lake Nona-Medical City Area Neighborhood(s): East Park

Now that the official "job spigot" has been opened for Lake Nona's Medical City, it goes without saying the house hunting spigot is also open and new arrivals (who don't have a clue about the area) and locals (who already know the area and want to live nearby or place their kids in great schools) and investors (who want to invest in a dynamic region) compete for available housing.  The area is booming.

The good news: plenty of housing options, new and not so new, exist.  The bad news: anything "decent" and priced correctly goes quickly.

Today's article is an introduction to a "neo-traditional" (where the houses have front porches) neighborhood called East Park.  The community has numerous parks, a fishing pier, volleyball-tennis-basketball courts, playground(s), walking paths & is connected, by sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes, to the other Lake Nona area neighborhoods.  If you like the outdoors, have an active lifestyle and enjoy endless green space, you'll like this community.

Condos, carriage homes, town homes and single family residences are found here, and prices range from the mid $100's to the upper $300's as of mid 2015.  Many of the homes have pond or conservation land frontage, so wildlife abounds throughout the neighborhood!

Nearby, you'll now find restaurants, a beer & wine pub, grocery stores and numerous other things currently under construction...Starbucks, hotels, etc., are scheduled to open fall of 2015.

Like most Lake Nona area neighborhoods, East Park is 20 minutes to DT Orlando, 30 minutes to the coast, 20 to Disney and mere minutes to OIA.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Top 10 LGBT Neighborhoods in Orlando, FL

10 LGBT Neighborhoods in Orlando, FL

Actually, it's really tough to make the cutoff and stick to 10 neighborhoods, which is why I have 13 showing and I easily could've added another 7!  As I tell out of state clients looking to relocate to Orlando, we really don't have a concentrated "gay ghetto" here...we are pretty much everywhere, which speaks volumes regarding the overall acceptance in the immediate region.  

Excluding Kissimmee & Winter Park, which are longtime established cities, the neighborhoods on this list have Orlando ZIP codes; in the case of Dr. Phillips, Baldwin Park and Lake Nona, which definitely feel suburban, the others are typical city neighborhoods.

  1. Thornton Park & Lake Eola Heights.  Walking distance to DT Orlando, great little restaurants and bars, great mix of people, gentrified neighborhood with gorgeous bungalows and craftsman style homes on cobblestone streets. Predominantly built post WWI. Upscale and gentrified. Expensive.
  2. Downtown Orlando. Professional, good looking, educated and active...endless things to do.  Ground zero for gay pride events. Many new condo towers since the 1990's. Moderate to expensive.
  3. College Park., bars and restaurants & sleepy streets lined primarily with post WWII houses. Moderate to expensive.
  4. Colonial Town (South) & Conway. In my opinion, these areas are ripe for "up & coming" status! Primarily 50's & 60's houses...terrazzo floors found here! Value to expensive.
  5. Winter Park. Check out Park Ave., then you'll see why it's on my list! Wide range mainly built from 1920's-60's. Moderate to expensive.
  6. Delaney Park. Designing Women's own Delta Burke has a connection to the neighborhood.  This lovely part of town features cobblestone streets, big old houses and a super location to DT Orlando.  A bit east is an area called Lake Davis, AKA "Lake Betty Davis" by friends who live in the area. Homes mainly built between WWI & WWII. Moderate to expensive.
  7. Baldwin Park. Formerly a military base, Baldwin Park is new urbanism at its finest! Easy commute to DT, nice restaurants and bars...very walkable neighborhood.  Homes built 1990's+ Moderate to expensive.
  8. Kissimmee. Yep, our gal pal's and guy's enjoy the laid back atmosphere & affordable prices Kissimmee has to offer.  Excellent little ma & pa restaurants from all over, but particularly the islands and South America pepper the landscape. Lots of new but plenty from the 70's and earlier. Value to expensive.
  9. Dr. Phillips. Many Disney and Universal executives call Dr. Phillips home, and for good reason: easy access to the attractions, airport, DT and Dr. Phillips restaurants, which are fabu! Primarily built in the 1960's-1980's. Moderate to expensive.
  10. Lake Nona.  Who doesn't have a friends in the medical, bio-medicine and education fields?  From doctors, nurses and other specialties within medicine, to professors and teachers at the VA and UCF Medical School, which are all located here, LGBT are taking advantage of career enhancing positions and making it home.  Suburban, moderate to upscale, green and super convenient to DT, OIA, Atlantic Ocean, Disney and Universal. Most built since 2000 and continues through today. Moderate to expensive.
New to Orlando?  If you like attending theatre events, bowling, concerts, museums, happy hour, networking, restaurants, etc., check out 

Friday, July 10, 2015

East Orlando 100% Financing Available!

100% USDA Financing!


This nice 3/2/2 home is eligible for 100% financing on the east side of Orlando!  Super convenient to UCF, Waterford Lakes, Space Coast & Central Florida Research Park.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Builder Basic or Upgrade? New Construction Upgrading Tips

What sort of things should be upgraded in a new home?  I recommend focusing on ROI (return on investment) at resale and stay away from things that cost you a lot now while adding no value to the home later.
Don't Upgrade. I wouldn't upgrade carpeting, plumbing fixtures, ceiling fans, flooring, lighting or appliances.

Most times, you will find a much better price sourcing these things yourself while getting the style and brand you want.  My suggestion. Go with whatever the builder offers as standard and if you don't like them, make changes incrementally, but over time.

Things to upgrade. I recommend upgrading things that actually add value and cost a lot once the house is completed. Things like extra recessed lights, built-in smart home system, pre-wire and pre-plumb for outside kitchen, upgraded cabinets, more sq.  footage, extra bedroom or bathroom, covered patio, metal/wood banister instead of half wall, 3rd stall garage, cabana apartment, etc.

Lastly, if you decide to purchase a new construction home, make sure you have your Realtor with you.  Why? The builders sales reps. are there to represent the builders interests, not yours, and since 99% of builders pay the Realtor's commission, you are getting full service and representation without paying for it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Zero Down Financing Available In Greater Orlando

Saving for downpayment? Nope.
Saving for closing costs? Nope.
Money to purchase appliances or paint? Nope. can purchase a home with 100% financing!!  
Is this you?  Or, are you and your partner trying to get ahead but find it impossible to save to buy a house? Then consider USDA financing.  It is income based, so if you/partner have a household income (combined) of $75,600 your income qualifies for the program. 
Since USDA is the old Rural Financing Program, the areas eligible for 100% loans are outside DT and the immediate areas. 
The current map of eligibility for USDA is quite large and includes the following communities: Areas of Kissimmee, extreme East Orlando, areas of Apopka, the area just south of Lake Nona in St. Cloud, Winter Garden, Davenport, Ocoee, Groveland, Orange City, Wedgefield (acre + lots), Geneva, Poinciana, Celebration & Haines City.
Program requirements
  • No Down Payment Required
  • Seller paid closing costs OK up to 6% of purchase price
  • No Pre-payment penalty
  • Max. loan amount is $417,000
  • 620 Credit Score required
  • New and existing homes OK
  • 30-year fixed rate loan
   Maximum adjusted gross household income:
    1-4 Person: $75,650
    5-8 Person: $99,850
Loan approval is fast...ask how & begin looking at houses!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Neighborhood Home Buying Tips & Hurricane Season in Orlando: Who Get's Power First?

We hired a seasoned electrician for several projects around the house the other day, and during one of our discussions, he opined on our Hurricane Season then offered some interesting observations that I never considered.

For example, following a major hurricane, older neighborhoods like Thornton Park will likely take longer to have power restored following a hurricane compared to a newer suburban area like Lake Nona.

It has nothing to do with one area having more clout over the other; it has everything to do with buried power lines VS utility pole supplied power and making $$$.  In his view, money is the ultimate prioritizer following hurricanes.

In newer areas where utility lines are buried, like Lake Nona, homes are connected to transformers and sub-stations which feed neighborhoods with electricity.  If a transformer or sub-station goes down, you could have hundreds of consumers affected...consumers who are not consuming (purchasing) power from the utility company.

In Thornton Park, if the beautiful Live Oak tumbles to the ground and takes out your power line in the process, is the utility company going to send its crew to an individual consumer first or take care of a sub-station supplying (selling) power to hundreds?

Let's hope we never have to experience it first hand to see if he's right.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What's Stopping You? 3 Reasons Buyers Have Trouble Saving For A Downpayment

What's preventing you from buying your first property?  A recent study found that most people defer their long term goals, including purchasing their first home, due to outstanding debt.  What are the biggest culprits?

1. Credit Card Debt: 50% of us sweat the billing statement each month, knowing the outstanding balance grew despite making more than the minimum payment.

2. Student Loans: 46% of us are strapped into unholy agreements with Sallie Mae, Navient, etc., for loans WHICH  WILL  NEVER  GO  AWAY!!!!!!

3. Car Payments: 38% of us have a car loan.

I was stuck with "all the above" when my partner and I looked for our first place 23 years ago.  My debt to income ratios were so high (which disqualified us for traditional financing) we decided to search for someone willing to sell with seller financing instead of traditional bank financing.  The plan worked!

We purchased our first home with seller financing, a side by side duplex, and a couple years later we refinanced into traditional bank financing using the rental income to qualify for the loan.

That's how we got our start.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Buying VS Renting: Which Type Of Financial Benefits Do Homebuyers Get That Renters Don't? Part 3.

Buying VS Renting: Part 3 of Series.
Discount Points Deduction

I am guessing most people don't know about discount point(s) and how they work. What, exactly, is a discount point and why should you even consider it?

A Discount Point(s) can be used to lower the interest rate on your home loan.   

Generally speaking, each point costs 1% of the loan amount, so if you have a $200,000 mortgage and purchase one discount point for $2,000 (1% of loan amount), you’d get a one-time $500 tax savings assuming you’re in the 25% tax bracket ($2,000 x 0.25 = $500).

If you plan on holding the property for 5+ years and want to lower your mortgage interest rate, consider paying point(s).

Pt. 1 Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Article May 6, 2015.

Pt. 2. Property Tax Deduction Article May 18, 2015.

Pt. 4. Mortgage Insurance Deduction.

Pt. 5. Going "Green" Deduction..

Monday, May 18, 2015

Buying VS Renting: Which Type Of Financial Benefits Do Homebuyers Get That Renters Don't? Part 2.

Buying VS Renting: Part 2 of Series.
Property Tax Deduction

Did you know that homeowners pay taxes to their local jurisdictions, such as 
the county, city, or school district?  Did you know those property taxes are fully deductible? 

Whether it's a $750,000 owner occupied home in Thornton Park, Orlando, or a $300,000 rental condo in Boys Town, Chicago, all property owners (landlords and regular homeowners alike) take advantage of this important deduction.  

Unfortunately, renters aren’t eligible for this property tax deduction since it's only offered to property owners, not renters.

Landlords don't own rental properties because they enjoy late night phone calls about the over flowing toilet or broken AC, they own rentals because YOU, the RENTER, through your monthly rent payments, indirectly pay the landlords taxes and mortgage payment...while he/she gets all of the deductions!

PT. 1 Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Article May 6, 2015.

Pt. 3. Points Deduction.

Pt. 4. Mortgage Insurance Deduction.

Pt. 5. Going "Green" Deduction.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Buying VS Renting: Which Type Of Financial Benefits Do Homebuyers Get That Renters Don't? Part 1.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

Do you know the mortgage interest deduction lets homeowners deduct the interest on their home mortgage up to $1 million ($500,000 if you’re married filing separately)?

In fact, because a greater share of the house payment during the first few years of the loan goes toward interest, roughly two-thirds of the monthly mortgage payment is deductible interest.

That can translate to a hefty tax deduction! 

For example, a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4% will result in $8,000 interest the first year you own your home. Deducting that interest will save you $2,000 if you’re in a 25% income tax bracket ($8,000 x 0.25 = $2,000) and even more if you are in the 15% bracket.

In addition to the mortgage interest deduction, homeowners (and landlords) take advantage of other deductions that renters don't.  The landlord and apartment complex owner gets all the tax benefits associated with property ownership while the renter typically pays the cost.

Buying VS Renting: Upcoming Articles

PT. 2 Property Tax Deduction.

Pt. 3. Points Deduction.

Pt. 4. Mortgage Insurance Deduction.

Pt. 5. Going "Green" Deduction.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Seller's Estimate Closing Costs

This simple link will help you estimate the costs to sell your house/townhome/condo.  Remember, seller pays doc. stamp for existing sales and buyers title insurance policy IF you are choosing the title company...if buyer chooses the title company they can pay their own title insurance.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why Challenge Exceptions on Title Insurance Owner's Policy?

Can you imagine purchasing auto insurance where the policy has an exception page that looks something like this.

  1. excludes collision
  2. excludes vandalism
  3. excludes hail
  4. excludes theft
If you saw this, wouldn't you wonder the point of having auto insurance?  Then keep reading...

Let me ask you this, have you ever looked at the Title Insurance Owners Policy sent to your Realtor prior to closing?  If not, you may be getting a policy that excludes coverage on major "risks" homeowners face each day.

For example, I was reviewing the policy for clients who are going to be closing next month, and I was surprised to see these exceptions on the property they are purchasing. 

 1. Defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters, if any created, first appearing in the Public Records or attaching subsequent to the Effective Date but prior to the date the proposed Insured acquires for value of record the estate or interest or mortgage thereon covered by this Commitment.

2. Any encroachment, encumbrance, violation, variation, or adverse circumstance affecting the Title that would be disclosed by an accurate and complete land survey of the Land. The term "encroachment" includes encroachments of existing improvements located on the Land onto adjoining land, and encroachments on the Land of existing improvements located on adjoining land.

3. Rights or claims of parties in possession.

4. Construction, Mechanic's, Contractors' or Materialmen's lien claims, if any, where no notice thereof appears of record.

5. Easements or claims of easements not shown by the public records.

6. General or special taxes and assessments required to be paid in the year 2015 and subsequent years.

I challenged these 6 on behalf of my clients because we, as homeowners, want insurance coverage against these things, we certainly don't need them listed as exceptions to the owner's policy.  

Even if you (and or partner) find all of this extremely boring, please get a friend or family member to review some of this stuff!  Buying a house is a big deal, don't approach it like it's not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Realtor Home Inspection Tips

I can't count how many home inspections I've attended since 2001.  Following each one, even after discussing what to expect during the inspection, my clients will still look somewhat dumbfounded and confused on how to sift through the big and small stuff.  What's critical and what's simply FYI notes and comments?  

Prep Yourself Ahead of Time...Your House Won't Be Perfect!

1. Always something:  It seems that most properties have something to address, even new construction homes usually require one or two things following completion, so don't be alarmed. Ask questions and don't be afraid to ask the inspector if you are purchasing a money pit.

2. Peeling paint: This is important for FHA financed buyers and Investors alike,but for      different reasons. 
Lead was added to paints and stains prior to 1978, so somewhere beneath layers of paint or stain, you'll likely find lead.
FHA appraisals are tough when dealing with peeling paint, particularly if the property was built prior to 1978...and lead is the issue. 
Investors, you need to be concerned because dealing with non-owner occupied property and peeling paint means you have to follow strict EPA repainting and disposal rules when it's time to paint.
3. Concrete: In Orlando, most properties are sheathed in stucco, and if you notice, you'll typically find hairline cracks...this is normal. Cracks need to be sealed and painted to prevent water penetration.  Larger cracks will most likely prompt the inspector to comment or voice concern. The same is true for garage floors and concrete slab foundations; they will both crack over time.  Years ago, an inspector friend, who was not trying to be flippant, said this. "concrete does two things:"
get's hard

4. Mold: I have horrible allergies, so the minute I walk into a house, if mold is present somewhere, my body quickly reacts. It's best to rely on an inspector to assess this instead of a Realtor with mold allergies, but if mold is found or suspected, be sure to ask your inspector some ideas on what it will cost to repair.  Remember, mildew on shower tiles is not the same as black mold covering the attic or an entire wall.

5. Electrical & Plumbing: These are both well documented on the inspection report, such as a broken fixures, switches, faucets, etc.  You will want to listen to the inspector regarding the electrical panels and plumbing lines, specifically Federal Pacific Electric & polybutylene.

6. Chinese Drywall, Yep, believe it or not, this is a concern.  The most common years are 2004-2007 in Orlando.  Unless the seller is prepared to deal with this massive expense, I advise my clients to move on if Chinese Drywall is discovered…

7. HVAC System: Air handlers are known for getting clogged condensation discharge lines, and when the lines back up, you get water damage and mold.  This is somewhat common, so don't freak if you see this.  I advise my clients to ask the seller to hire (at their expense) a licensed HVAC tech to repair and tune up the system and repair the damage.
8. Roofs:  Some homeowner insurance companies are requiring roof replacement prior to covering the property even if the roof appears to have several years of life remaining.  You don't want to be surprised by this at closing...ask your inspector, Realtor and seller how old the roof is.

9. Drainage & Gutters: Most people think gutters, in Florida, aren't important since we don't have basements.  Whether you have a slab or full basement, the purpose of gutters is rainwater management.  Having daily rainfall, which is common during the summer months in Orlando, terminating at the foundation of the house will weaken the footing.  Drainage away from the foundation is equally important for the very same reason.

10. Termites and WDO: Wood Destroying Organisms and termites are real issues in Orlando, even with block construction homes you need to keep a watchful eye.  Many homeowners have something called a Termite Bond, which is essentially an insurance policy against termites.  Always hire a WDO inspector when buying a house in Orlando!!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Lipstick On A Pig...? Don't Be Fooled!

It's amazing how a fresh coat of paint, granite, stainless appliances, new tile, etc., neutralizes our instincts to question the general condition of a property.

Don't let that happen.

When looking at properties, I suggest the following to my clients:
  1. Take notes. After looking at 6, 7 or 8 homes in a given day, they all start blending together and it becomes difficult to remember critical details.
  2. Question Remodeling Decisions.  Why did the flipper replace cabinets but not the old electrical panel or roof? 
  3. Value of Remodeling.  Always have your agent do a Market Analysis to determine if the asking price is justified.  If the flipper bought the house 4 months earlier for $100,000 and is now asking $199,900, are the upgrades and remodeling worth it?
  4. Over Improvement.  Beware purchasing the most expensive house on the block.  If you are looking at a tract house surrounded by other tract houses, even with all of the "Bells and Whistles", the price should be within the prevailing range of neighboring properties.
  5. Inspections!  If you ignore the 4 others steps, please remember to get a General Inspection and WDO (wood destroying organism) Inspection.