Friday, December 21, 2018

3 Tips for negotiating a Florida Home…

# 1 Know what the property is worth

Every property on the market has a value...yet most home buyers start making offers without knowing much about the property value.  You should know that plus more...

Buyer Representatives Orlando FL Homes

  • Is the property fairly priced at market value?
  • Is it priced low to generate multiple offers? 
  • Is it overpriced because inventory is short?
  • Does the seller just want top dollar? 
  • Did the listing agent skew the seller on a higher value to get the listing? 
  • Did the agent price it too low in order to look good by selling it quickly? 

Yes, for sure all those are possibles...and the negotiations will be different.

A good buyers agent should be able to answer those questions for you before you start writing offers. In fact, they should tell you what the surrounding properties sold for and what more than likely the property is worth.  With that information, you become a better informed home buyer, so that you will be able to sort through your buying options easier.

Florida’s appraisal problems:   Right now, the market in Central Florida is selling quickly due to a shortage of good inventory.  The real estate market has rebounded faster here than in other cities which has created a problem with appraisals coming in “short”. 

“Short appraisal” means the property is being sold for more than the lender's appraiser says it is valued at.  For example; let's just say the property is under contract for $400K but the appraiser says it is only worth $375K. Unless the seller is willing to drop the price to $375K, you will need to pay an additional $25K (out of pocket) in order to close on this property. That does not necessarily mean the house is not worth it...that depends upon other factors like...what else is available in your criteria?

#2  What to offer on the home?


Orlando FL Buyers Agent

Depends upon a lot of variables.  Your offer should take into consideration many things: 

  • Supply & demand of homes...
  • Who is the seller?
  • How many buyers are making offers?
  • +How long has it been on the market?
  • How much money do you have?
  • Are you financing?
  • How is this home priced?
  • How badly do you want the property?

Is this the only home you are interested in?  If so, you should relax your criteria so that  you always have 1 or 2 backup properties. That way you will not feel pressured into paying more than you should, or more than you want to pay.

If this property is nice and well priced, more than likely there will be multiple offers on the home and it will sell close to full price or more. Sometimes you may offer over full price and still not get the property. Other buyers in your price range are viewing the same homes and will think this house is worth bidding on....just like you do.  I know that paying full price does not feel good to most home buyers, but depending upon your budget and criteria, that may be your only option. Stay flexible.

Financing:  If you are financing, you should be pre-approved for your loan.  Pre-qualified (PQ) means nothing to most sellers, as you can go on the internet and create a fake PQ letter for yourself.  Yes, some home buyers do that also…

If you are serious about actually getting a home, then you should submit your financing documents to a lender who can verify your purchasing power.  That improves your home buying power to  “pre-approved” status which raises your credibility above other buyers who are only pre-qualified and puts you into an “almost cash” bracket.

Yes, cash does talk.  However, a low cash offer does not trump a high financed offer.  Cash will only be preferred over offers at about the same price.  If you are in a multiple offer situation, the seller may ask all the potential buyers for their “highest and best”...that is your final chance to raise your offer to better compete...or you can stay at your original offer.  About 40% of buyers offers in Central Florida are “cash”.

My buyers typically ask me what they should offer and this is my advice: Regardless of which state or country you are from, making offers on homes in Florida is not the same as back home. Your offer can be Low, Medium, or High.

Here are the offer facts: 

A LOW OFFER on a nice property will probably result in the seller not responding to you or giving a counter offer at full price.  More than likely, the seller will be insulted and no longer willing to be reasonable or sell to you.  The only time that a LOW OFFER works is if the property has been on the market too long, or needs major rehab work.

A MEDIUM OFFER offer will open the door for the seller to negotiate.  

A HIGH OFFER is necessary when there are other offers on the table, or if you need to finance, or if you need seller paid closing costs.

If you are the only buyer bidding on the property and you have cash or solid financing, I like to suggest coming in reasonably low. Low enough to leave room for negotiations, yet not so insulting that your offer will be shut down.  A good buyers agent will know the difference and be able to advise you.

# 3 Hire the right agent


Buyers Broker Florida

Last but not least..this is the most important.  Just like all people in the service business, brokers have certain skills and personalities.  If you want to buy a good house, not overpay, and get everything that you contracted for, you cannot hire a “newbie” or simply someone related to someone at your place of work.  You need someone qualified to help you that is savvy, experienced, and not afraid to speak up for you.

Differences of opinion and re-negotiations often come up in all transactions that the agent for the buyer should resolve in the buyers best interest.  Many agents are afraid to speak up for the buyer or bring up issues that otherwise may not be noticed.  Some brokers have no clue what to say or do...and when that happens, the buyer is really on their own. 

Unfortunately, most buyer’s don’t realize it, until it is too late to change agents. I know that for a fact, because they call our office for help when it is too late. Right now, you are learning facts that will help you become a smart homebuyer, so keep reading...

There are many kinds of brokers/agents in Florida and they all have different duties and levels of experience. Statistics from the Orlando Regional Realtor association show that in Central Florida, 38% of realtors have been in business less than 1-year.  Only 64% of realtors sold one or more homes last year. I believe that it takes years of experience and hundreds of transactions to be adequately “experienced” enough to do a great job for the buyer.

Here are some more surprising facts:

Florida has no mandatory agency disclosures.  That means they are not required to tell you who they really work for.  Their job may be to sell the property for the highest price and most favorable terms for the seller...but they do not have to tell you that. Florida is a buyer beware state.

99.9% of Florida realtors work as “transaction brokers” with no fiduciary duties to either party.  That means no loyalty for you.  No full confidentiality for you either.  Even if a broker says they will represent you as a transaction broker, the definition does not allow them to advocate for you.  They are simply facilitators.

Buyer agents who work in a listing office may have an obligation to push company listings on you.  They may even be paid a higher commission if they sell you one of the company listings...and they do not need to disclose that, so you will never know.

Exclusive Buyer Agents work in an office that never represents sellers.  They have no conflict of interest as they only represent only the best interest of the home buyer with 100% loyalty, 100% confidentiality, 100% full disclosure.

Florida has about 300,000 licensed brokers to choose from.  Less than 40 brokers represent only the home buyers as Exclusive Buyer Brokers. It is a rare niche because it takes a high level of confidence and competence to give up sellers and build a business representing only home buyers.  Having an exclusive buyer agent on your side is priceless and at no added cost.

Call us for straight answers to all your questions 407-539-1053 and thank you for discovering the 3 Tips for negotiating a Florida Home.

​In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view ​3 Tips for negotiating a Florida Home… on my YouTube channel:

Monday, December 03, 2018

10 Biggest Home Buying Misconceptions

Buyer Representatives Orlando FL Homes


#1 Misconception: The New Construction Builders Agent is there to “help” you, the buyer.

Not so.  The New construction agent only works for the builder and their primary job is to “sell” you on the the community so you fall in love and want to buy in that community.  Their loyalty, and confidentiality is only to the builder, never the buyer.

Whatever you tell the builders representative will be passed along to the builder.  It is never their duty to give you “freebies” or lower the price. They will never disclose the negative facts in the contract or tell you that there is a landfill near by.  Despite the fact that they look professional, smile nicely and act like your best friend, their legal and ethical obligation is ONLY to the builder/seller. Buyer Beware.

#2 Misconception: The institution where you do your banking is the best place to get your home loan.


Homes for Sale in Orlando Florida

Highly unlikely that they will do any favors for you. Unless you are a high net worth individual with $ big bucks $ in their coffer, you will be given the same deal as a stranger off the street will...nothing special.  

Sure, it might make a difference if you are related to the bank president, but typically the loan officer for the bank will not be interested in rolling out the red carpet for you. Usually they are paid a salary and have no incentive if you close with them or not. In addition, banks have their narrow guideline slots that you must fit into.  On the other hand, mortgage brokers have a choice of lenders that may better fit your borrowing profile.

Mortgage brokers have dozens of lending institutions that they can place your loan with depending upon the specifics of what you need. Mortgage brokers only get paid if you close. It does not cost more to use a mortgage broker.  Also, your credit report (FICO Score) is not affected if your credit is pulled several times while you are shopping for a loan from multiple lenders.

#3 Misconception: Every seller will negotiate the price.


Buyers Broker Florida

Many homebuyers believe there is an automatic discount off the list price.  I wish that were true, but it is not.  There is no “standard” reduction of price anywhere.

There are many factors that determine how the property is priced.  The property may be priced low, priced at market value or overpriced. The seller may need to net a certain amount in order to pay off the mortgage.  Or they may need a certain amount of money in order to move out and buy something else. Or the seller may price the property at a bare bones “take it or leave it” price”.  Sometimes, the seller simply thinks their property is worth a lot more. Sometimes, the listing agent may inflate the value in order to keep the seller happy and get the listing.

...And sometimes you just have a stubborn seller that digs in their heels and is not going to budge a penny.  The choice then is yours. You can either pay the price or keep looking.

#4 Misconception:  Buying “as is” means that if you want the property, you have to buy it with its deficiencies.  

Not so, but many agents believe that fallacy also. This is a misconception that many brokers want the buyers to believe, in order to avoid renegotiating the contract or bothering with repairs.  Don’t be fooled.

An “as is” contract is simply putting the buyer on notice that the seller wants to sell the property “as is” and does not want to do any repairs.  It does not mean the seller really will not fix anything...

If the contract is subject to the buyers inspections, that means the buyer has the right to do inspections and then have the option to say:
  •     “yes, I will take it’
  •     “no, I am no longer interested in buying”
  •     “I will buy, if the seller will fix A,B and C”.

Everything is negotiable, including having the seller fix deficiencies on an “as is” contract.

#5 Misconception: Calling the listing agent will save the buyer money.


Orlando FL Buyers Agent

Wrong, wrong and wrong. If you will probably end up paying more, with less favorable terms.  For sure there will be no one in your corner to promote your best interest.

Remember this...the listing agent represents the seller and their legal and ethical obligation is to sell the property for the highest price and most favorable terms for the seller.  If you divulge how much money you have, or how high you will go, they will disclose that to the seller. That is the listing agents job. They are required to promote the property in the best light and not tell you anything that may make you walk away.

If you think that somehow the listing agent will cut their commission or give you some of it, you are again mistaken.  The listing agent will be very happy to get double commission and keep it all in their own pocket. This is a perfect opportunity for the listing agent to simply make more money.

The listing agent does not owe you any loyalty, confidentiality, or full disclosure and most importantly they have no obligation to save you any money.

#6 Misconception: The bank only wants to break even on a foreclosure.  

This fallacy is not even close.  Banks are greedy, and they will always want to sell for top dollar and get the most money that they can.  

Many home buyers think that the bank will sell the foreclosure for whatever the balance owed was.  Not true. Whatever mortgage was owed is a moot point and not in consideration. The bank will typically get a couple of appraisal and list it for market value.  Many times they will do a cheap rehab...paint and carpet and then want to sell for top dollar.

The only time you may get a bargain price is if the property is seriously distressed, or on the market way too long.  The deep discounts are getting harder to find as banks have figured out that if they put a pinch of money into a fix up, they will get a lot more in return.  Buyers mistakenly think that a bank foreclosure is always a sweet deal...which is simply another misconception.

#7 Misconception: There is no need for a home inspection on new construction.

Ahhh...there is always a need for a home inspection on new construction.  New construction is big business with a shortage of quality workers or project managers.

Sometimes the builders quality control is not adequate and the city inspector does not catch all building mistakes.  

Builder mistake examples: Missing hurricane straps, hot water flushing the toilets, improper wiring, missing insulation, door locks not fitting, steps not meeting the wall, flawed tile, loose banisters, crooked walls, bathroom drains clogged up, and roof not properly nailed.

There are two choices for new construction inspections:
  1.     A phase inspection means that an inspector checks at certain “phases” of construction, which is a more thorough inspection.  
  2.     A comprehensive inspection done at home completion, before closing.

I am finding more and more builders removing some of their construction responsibilities after closing.  In other words, if you don’t find and mention the problem before you close, the builder does not have to fix it after closing.

#8 Misconception: FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner) property will be cheaper.  


Homes for Sale in Orlando Florida

Not a chance.  The “FSBO” seller is not interested in giving home buyers a bargain price.  They want to sell on their own in order to make more money for themselves.  

Sometimes, the FSBO seller has already spoken to a listing agent who told them that their house is not worth as much as they think.  Sometimes they simply avoid paying any commission, so they can pocket extra money.

I have never seen or heard of a FSBO seller that wants to sell on their own in order for  the buyer to pay less. In fact, I have done studies that showed that most FSBO sellers are priced higher than average and unmotivated to sell.  If they were motivated, they would list the property with a listing office in order to find a larger pool of buyers and sell quicker.

Which brings me to two more reasons that there are FOR SALE BY OWNER sellers:
  1.     They want to deal with unsuspecting/unrepresented home buyers who will believe everything they tell them.  Buyers that are looking at FSBO’s have no clue what the property is worth or the terms that they should negotiate in a contract. A buyer without an agent is usually naive and just what the FSBO seller is looking for.
  2.     Seller is unable to be reasonable or flexible.  They may owe too much debt on the property and must sell for top dollar or at least more than market value.  They may also need stringent terms in the contract that are not customary.

#9 Misconception: Using the sellers/listing agent affiliate title company is OK


Buyers Broker Florida

Here is the untold story:  Most listing offices have an “affiliate business relationship” with a title company.  They feed the title company their real estate business in exchange for some kind of benefit.  While this is legal, it is NOT in the best interest of the homebuyer.

It is never advisable to use the listing office “partner” or sellers title agent, because they typically favor the seller. When that happens, the title agent will not dig deep for any problems as they do not want to “rock the boat” for the favored side.  Instead of fixing a problem, I am seeing more title companies simply exclude the problem from the buyers title insurance policy. I am also seeing these “affiliates” have the buyer sign a waiver at closing agreeing that they will not sue the title company over their mistakes.

Often, the buyer is overcharged, or charged for items that the seller should pay. Fees for closing might not be shared equally but split in favor of the seller...Why should the buyer pay more than the seller for the same thing?

Affiliate title companies sometimes omit due diligence details for the encroachments on the survey, liens on the property, or requesting a municipal lien search.  I have seen many title mistakes and even serious mistakes like not transferring the entire portion of the property to the buyer.

Let's face it, when “favors” are being exchanged that is always an incentive for the title company to cater to the hand that feeds them.  The buyer however does have a choice:

Contractually, whoever pays for the buyers title insurance gets to choose which company does the title work...that is a negotiable item in the contract...and the buyer needs to add that to the negotiations.   

When a buyer is spending hundreds of thousands for a home, it is always smart to pay for their own title insurance and have a title attorney (on their side) to create the closing documents and review for any potential problems.  That is the only way to avoid a headache and protect your ownership after closing.

#10 Misconception: All agents are the just pick anyone.


Orlando FL Buyers Agent

If you believe that, you are likely to lose money on your home purchase.  The fact is that there are different types of broker/agents, different levels of experience and they all have different duties and obligations.  

You have the right to interview agents, ask them which side they work for and pick the one that best fits your needs. There are newly licensed agents with no experience, and seasoned agents that understand how to solve always need someone experienced. Most agents serve a particular niche, so here is a quick summary.

Sellers/Listing agent:  Represents only the seller to get the highest price and most favorable terms for the home seller.

Transaction Broker:  A middle person that facilitates a transaction with no fiduciary duties; no loyalty, no full confidentially, no full disclosure, no true representation.

Dual Agent:  Represents both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.  Neither side has full representation.

Buyer Agent: Works in a traditional office. May represent the buyer in certain transactions, may represent sellers, or may represent both.  

Exclusive Buyer Agent:  Works in an office that only represents home buyers with full fiduciary duties of loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure.  Never represents sellers or practices as a transaction broker or dual agent.

Fact:  Home buyers and sellers have opposing interests.  The seller wants to sell for more and the buyer wants to pay less.  It is impossible to serve two masters.

Homebuyers are best served by using a dedicated Exclusive Buyer Agent whose only focus is the best interest of the home buyer.  For Florida home buying call 407-539-1053 Outside Florida go to 800-986-2322 to find an Exclusive Buyers Agent.

Hiring the right agent will keep you away from the 10 Biggest Home Buying Misconceptions...

In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view 10 Biggest Home Buying Misconceptions on my YouTube channel:

Monday, October 22, 2018

Orlando Lakefront Homes for Sale

There are almost 500 Orlando Lakefront homes for sale in Orange county. Add to that the the surrounding counties of Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Polk and there are about 700 more lake homes to choose from. Lake county was named as such because it has over 1,200 lakes. There are all kinds of lakefront homes, some are desirable and bring top dollar while other lake homes may appear like are bargain, but are not in demand.

Lakefront Homes in Orlando FL

It is my opinion that a quality lakefront home brings the highest price tag, are most desirable, supply is limited and they appreciate about 3x faster that of a dry lot property.

What determines the cost of Lakefront in central Florida?

  • Quality of water
  • Size of lake
  • Clarity of lake water
  • Sand bottom
  • Running feet on the water
  • Spring fed
  • Unobstructed view of water
  • Ability to have watercraft
  • The city it it is located in
  • …and of course the quality of the improvements on the property.
As a rule, the larger the lake, the higher the price tag. Centrally located lakes are a plus while rural lakes may be a bargain. A lake that allows for boating and skiing is always in higher demand. Lakefront homes on a Chain-of-Lakes are premium priced with a very limited supply of inventory Ask us for a custom list of waterfront homes for sale…sent to you by email 407-539-1053.
Buyer-Be-Aware: Lake properties described as “Lake access”, “Lake view”, “waterfront community”, “chain of lakes community”, “canal to lake home”, “canalfront’ …are not direct lakefront homes! There is a big difference in both the property quality and the price.

Buying a lakefront home

First you need to determine your budget and what your goals are for living on a lake. Do you want to boat, swim, or ski? Need a “fly in” lake for your plane? Or do you just want to fish for big bass? Or maybe you just want “to die for” gorgeous sunset views…or just serene privacy.
Lakes are sand bottom, muck bottom, clear water, brackish water, on water that shrinks in dry season and lakes that keep the same water level. Then there are swampy lakes only good for the beautiful view and natural habitat. There are lakes that are “chained” to other lakes where you can travel by water to other lakes and even north to the St. Johns river.
Sometimes the waterview is obstructed with Cypress Trees which is a protected species. Sometimes there is a road separating the home from the lake…or there is a big distance between the lake and the house. These obstructions are not desirable for most homebuyers looking for prime lakefront property but on the other hand, there is nothing more beautiful than the privacy of living on water…any waterfront.
The brokers at Buyers Broker of Florida live on lakes and understand waterfront. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how valuable the lakefront property is. For more information call us for a no pressure chat. Or ask for Mike Alexander…he has broad knowledge of Central Florida lakes and will share his vast knowledge about lakes with you. 407-539-1053
Sizes of Lakes in Florida
At the bottom of the state sits Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida. The massive body of water covers 448,000 acres…or about 700 square miles. The lake is relatively shallow at an average of 9 feet. Some say that it is the best Bass fishing lake in America, but due to lots of “gators”, it is not a lake you want to swim in. You can also rent a boat on Lake Okeechobee to explore on your own.
The second largest lake in Florida is Lake George. This lake is 12 miles long and 6 miles wide. It is on the border of Ocala National Forest and is the largest lake on the St. Johns River.
The third largest lake is in Lake Seminole which borders Georgia and Alabama. The lake is used primarily for hydroelectric power production and recreation.
The fourth largest lake, Lake Kissimmee, in Central Florida, just below Walt Disney World. It also has a state park where you can go camping.
At 30,000 acres of water, the fifth largest lake is Lake Apopka, located in west Central Florida. At one time it was considered the most polluted large lake in Florida. The pollution was coming from the chemical runoff from the farmlands, but huge efforts have been made to clean it up. It now boasts of healthy wildlife.
Lakes in central Florida come in many sizes, various views and quality of water…both in boating and fishing lakes. As a waterfront buyer, you do have a choice in the type of lake and the city you wish to reside in. Tell us what your ideal water property is…

Properties on “Chains of Lakes” are always a premium

There are many kinds and sizes of lakes to choose from, but fewer choices when it comes to living on a chain of lakes. The lakes that are on a “chain of lakes” allow you to access the other lakes that are on the “chain” by boat. These lakes are typically the largest and also the priciest. The “chain” can access just one other lake or up to 13 other lakes.
One of the most coveted is the Butler Chain of Lakes. Living on the Butler Chain is always sought after for the excellent water quality and beauty of natural habitat. Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation promotes this chain as “Outstanding Florida Waters”. Located in the town of Windermere, the 4,720 acre chain is made up of 12 lakes: Lake Butler, Lake Tibet, Wauseon Bay, Lake Bessie, Lake Louise, Lake Isleworth, Lake Down, Lake Chase, Lake Blanche, Lake Sheen, Pocket Lake, and Fish Lake.
Do all lakes have alligators?
Orlando FL Waterfront Homes
Maybe not all, but most for sure. Alligators may be anywhere where there is water…ponds, rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps and even man-made canals. In Florida, while there may be a lake with no gators, there is no guarantee that there will never be a gator in there. Alligators travel across land if their food source runs low or if there is a connection drain or canal to another lake.
Lakes that are surrounded by residential properties may have few or no gators. While gators shy away from lake activity, a few lakes that are loaded with gators are not lakes for recreation swimming.
I live on a lake with no gators because it is a very active lake with boating, skiing and seaplanes. Plus there is no headwater lake that flows into it, so it is not accessible to gators.
While the news carries serious fatal gator conflicts with humans, that is very rare and usually the person mistakenly ventured into gator territory. More often, a gator may snatch a pet that is too close to the water.

Buying Lakefront Lots in Orlando

Waterfront Homes for Sale in Orlando FL
True story: I had lunch with a friend who owns a survey company and she relayed this story to me: A buyer just closed on a lakefront lot and then decided to order a survey from her company. Lo and behold, the entire parcel that the buyer purchased was in the lake…nothing was on dry land. He was devastated…with no recourse. The “land” that he walked, viewed and thought was his, actually belonged to the neighbor.
Here are the facts: Just because you buy a large 5 acre waterfront parcel does not mean you actually own a 5 acre buildable lakefront lot. Three of the five acres could be inside the lake and the rest could be wetlands, or some other protected vegetation that cannot be built on. Or you might be planning on removing the row of trees blocking the beautiful view, only to later learn that they are protected cypress trees that you can’t cut or even trim. And there is more…don’t forget that “high water mark” of the lake will dictate the setbacks from where you can build.
If you are considering buying a lakefront property, do the proper investigation and don’t rely on what the seller or the listing agent “think”. Hire us to help you navigate the pitfalls of buying vacant land. 407-539-1053
Waterfront lot purchase example: The last vacant waterfront lot that we helped our buyer purchase was on Lake Tibet, a 1,200 acre lake that is part of the prestigious Butler Chain of Lakes. The lot was “raw”…meaning that it was undeveloped and not cleared. It was so dense that you could not walk the lot, so you could not tell anything. Most lots need additional work at an additional cost that needs to be factored into the budget.
Many waterfront lots are spongy and not high and dry…something that you should know before you buy. Lakefront lots are also not cheap, so it is imperative that you perform the right tests, so you do not waste your hard earned money. A prime waterfront lot starts at about $1Million dollars$+ while rural lakes on unpaved roads may look like a bargain. Getting proper inspections is critical and not the time to cheap out and skip your investigations. Read on to get a better picture of what to inspect…
So here are the inspections that we did on this lakefront parcel:
1. First we did a new survey. The seller did have an old survey, but that should not be relied on…shorelines may have changed and the old surveyor might not have used the newest equipment. If you opt to choose the sellers old survey and it is not accurate, you have no one to complain to or have any recourse for relief. It is critical to get your own survey from an experienced waterfront surveyor.
2. Then we did a topography study. It is a detailed map showing the configuration, of the earth surface. It also shows the shoreline, boundaries, vegetation, wetlands, size of trees and the high water mark. The high water mark determines the setback from where you can build. In this case the buildable land was a bit smaller than the seller indicated, so we were able to re-negotiate the price and save the buyer almost $100k on a price reduction…(yes, after inspections).
More things to consider when buying a lakefront lot:
  • What is the lot zoned for? That will determine what you can build.
  • Is there city water on site? If not, a septic system and well will be required.
  • How far is the access to electricity, natural gas or sewer?
  • Is road access included, or will you have a private road to maintain?
  • Are there any liens or encroachments?
  • What about environmental restrictions?
  • Is it in a flood zone? What about insurance?
Frequently asked questions about living on a lake…
Orlando Lakefront Homes for Sale
Will my house flood?
Maybe, if the lot is low or the house sits too low on the lot. Ideally the property needs to have been built high and dry.
Will I need flood insurance?
Maybe or maybe not. Not all waterfront property is in a flood zone. However, keep in mind that your regular homeowners insurance may cover water damage, but not if it is from rising water. Check the coverage.
Will the lake dry up during dry season?
The water level could drop and make parts of the lake not navigable…especially canals. The water will come back during rainy season which starts in the month of June. If the lake is spring fed, it will maintain the same water level all year round.
Can I build a dock?
Yes, but you have to follow the local city rules and the St. Johns water management guidelines. You will also have certain guidelines for septic when living on a lake.
Call us to discuss your best home buying options: 407-539-1053
Buyers Broker of Florida helps homebuyers find the right lakefront home. We understand the difference between prime lakefront property and just a lake. We also know what it takes to build on a vacant waterfront lot. Ask us for a free list of Orlando Lakefront Homes for sale.

In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view Orlando Lakefront Homes for Sale on my YouTube channel:

Friday, September 07, 2018

Orlando FL Million Dollar Homes for Sale

There are more than 500 Orlando FL Million Dollar Homes for Sale currently just in  Orange and Seminole County. These homes start at $1 Million Dollars and go all the way up to $28 Million. Add the surrounding counties in which to explore the Million Dollar market and it quickly becomes too confusing for any buyer to handle alone...
Orlando FL Luxury Buyers Agent

If you are thinking about buying a Florida Million Dollar Home, you need an Orlando FL Luxury Buyers Agent to guide you to the best buys. Call us for a no pressure chat about your needs and the best options available:  407-539-1053.
There are various home styles and lifestyles to choose from. Single family, condominiums, townhomes, waterfront, golf front, estate homes, vacation homes, and luxury homes with land.  Not to mention, that about one half of these luxury home are on lakes...which may or may not be a desirable or quality lake. There are 200 homes on lakes and about 110 homes on a chain of lakes.  For more information on lakes go here.
The highest priced Million dollar homes are in the community of Isleworth in Windermere Florida, a suburb of Orlando. That pricing is followed by Golden Oaks in Disney and Lake Nona in east Orlando.  The town with the most homes Million dollars+ is Windermere and the city with the highest pricing per square foot is Winter Park.
Choosing an area to buy an Orlando Million Dollar Property
Where to buy is always the home buyers personal preference, but for investment and appreciation purposes, a million dollar home should be in a million dollar neighborhood.  You never want to be the fanciest house in the community…
The choice of cities comes down to many factors:  What do you need to live close to? Your work? Kids school? Disney? Want more land? A custom built home?  What are your buying goals?
What about your budget?  All this needs to be figured out before we talk about areas and what pricing you can get where. Occasionally, a buyer will say that the price does not matter, but I find that it always let’s figure out your comfort level first.
Why hire an Luxury Home Buyers Broker?
Orlando Luxury Home Buyers Broker

If you want to save time, money and effort, you need the services of a good and experienced  buyer broker. Listing brokers represent the seller and their job is to sell for the highest price and protect the seller.  You need someone to advise you and negotiate in your best interest and tell you all the good, bad and ugly about the property....100% full disclosure.
Florida does not have mandatory agency disclosures, so brokers are not required to tell you that they don’t or can’t work in your best interest.  A shocking discovery to most Florida homebuyers who are not familiar with agent duties.
There are very few brokers that specialize in representing only the home buyer.  Most brokers will attempt to either represent only the home seller or limitedly try to represent both the buyer and seller at the same time as a transaction broker/facilitator.  That means no loyalty, no full confidentiality and no full disclosure to the buyer.
Buyers Broker of Florida is an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage office that  ONLY represents the best interest of the home buyer and never the seller, so we never have a conflict of interest. 100% loyalty, 100% confidentiality, 100% full disclosure to the home buyer.
Home buyers who understand conflict of interest choose to avoid it.  This is the same reason that every courtroom has two for each side.  Buyers and sellers each have opposing interests; sellers want the highest price and buyers want to pay as little as possible.  Florida law says that a broker cannot have two masters...Consumer Reports says:  if the agent is not working for you 100%, they are working for someone else.
Making an offer on Florida Million Dollar Home
Before our buyer makes an offer, we will research the property to see how long it has been on the market, if there were any price changes up or down, what the seller paid for the property, and what the comparable sales are showing. We do dig for additional information.
Based on what we find we will suggest an offer, but the buyer makes the final decision.  Everything depends upon the attributes of the million dollar property and how badly the buyer wants it.  Is this a one-of-a-kind property that checks all the boxes? Or is this one just one of many homes that could fit your requirements?
All offers are put in writing with either a pre-qualification letter for financing or “proof of funds”  showing that you do have the cash to complete the transaction. The counteroffers are typically done verbally until there is a meeting of the minds and the contract is then revised to reflect what the buyer and seller have agreed to.
Negotiating an Orlando Million dollar home contract may take longer...
The more luxurious the property is, the more there is to negotiate.  The home may come with furnishings, a car, boat, airplane or advanced technology which may be included in the sale or negotiated into the sale.
Typically a Million Dollar Home will not have multiple offers, so usually there is no urgency to decide quickly as if there were multiple offers on the table.  Sometimes the owners are out of the country and they may want time to review your offer. Sometimes the offer stalls and is revived a week later, so it takes longer to conclude negotiating the terms. Every home is unique for best negotiations.
Once a contract is agreed to and signed by both the buyer and seller, the escrow deposit is due and the clock starts ticking for the due diligence period and inspections. Depending upon the complexity of the property, we may ask for 30 days or more to complete due diligence.
Home inspections on Million Dollar Homes in Florida
Million dollar and multi million dollar properties are not inspected like a typical house sale.  A general comprehensive inspection is just the beginning. In a Million Dollar home there are elevators, extra fireplaces, gas lamps, wine rooms, electronic gadgets, waterworks and complicated convenience items.
The house may have 6 or more a/c units; different makes and models with complicated electronic air filters which may be outside the expertise of a general home inspector, who usually does a cursory examination.
The pool person that cleans the pool does not look for problems other than dirt or the pool finish. Not only can there be problems with water levels, colors of the pool lights, but also the KOI pond may be losing hundreds of gallons of water a month. Inspections on large homes will always reveal some deficiencies.
Licensed Florida home inspectors are only required to eyeball the roof from the ground, which may not be adequate.  Even if you get an inspector that is willing to do more, almost no one will get up on a steep or 2-story roof. You will need to hire a good roofer to walk the roof.
Depending upon the particulars of the home, you may need specialists for the elevator, Lutron system, masonry, electrical and more.  It is not unusual for a property inspection to take more than one day and run into a few thousand dollars. A small price to pay to learn about the multi-million dollar home that you are buying. If there are deficiencies that you are not willing to accept, we will either renegotiate the contract or you may simply not buy the property.
Yes, Million dollar home buyers do need to hire their own title attorney
Luxury Homes in Orlando FL

The buyers title insurance is a negotiable item in the purchase contract.  Who pays for it gets to control which title company will issue the title insurance and prepare all the paperwork for closing.
Most real estate listing offices have “controlled business arrangements” with a title company where they funnel them all their business in exchange for “perks”. Sometimes, the title company even shares space with the listing office.  While this affiliate relationship is a “legal” arrangement, it is for sure not in the best interest of the buyer.
It is a well known fact that most title companies do not diligently scrutinize the buyers closing documents. They are biased toward the hand that feeds them, which is the listing agent who has the seller. They have no interest in finding or resolving any issues for the buyer.
Studies have shown that 70% of title work is flawed and many title companies are having the buyer sign a “compliance agreement” or “hold harmless” which releases them of any screw-ups whether accidental or intentional.
I find that routinely they overcharge the buyer hundreds of dollars, or simply put some sellers charges on the buyers side.  Most of the time, they cannot explain what the additional charges are for... their answer is usually that no one else complains, and that’s just the way they do it.  For sure, they do not read or follow the contract. They also don’t look at the survey. Some title companies are loosely run and have clerks (not attorney’s) that do everything...most are not trained to do careful title work or resolve any problems.
Worse then that, if there is a title issue, they do not bother to correct the problem….they simply make an exception to the title policy and exclude coverage for that problem. That dilutes the protection that you have under your title insurance. If you complain, they will simply charge you for adding an endorsement to cover what they just removed.
I have had a title company:
  • Not pay off $12,000 in liens against the property  
  • Not request an estoppel for what was owed to the HOA
  • Skip doing a municipal lien search, even when it is in the contract
  • Blatantly lie about sending a check to the bank
  • Bounce a check
  • Not mention the survey encroachments to the buyer.
When the title company does sloppy work, takes shortcuts and omits paying off something, the buyer could end up liable to pay even if it is not their debt.
Then there are the more serious problems:  One time I bought a property that was on two lots, consisting of two parcels.  I was careful to make sure that both lots were listed in the contract with the correct folio number.  The title company ordered the survey which to me looked confusing, so I hired an attorney to review all my documents...  
I quickly learned that the seller’s title agent was transferring only one parcel of property, not both. I also learned that the seller was trying to sell my 2nd parcel to the next door neighbor!
What do you think would have happened if this transaction closed with only one parcel? Or if the other parcel was already sold to the neighbor? Or the seller was already back in another country?
When you are paying a million dollars for the house of your dreams, this is not the time to cheap out and use a title company that is obligated to the listing agent and the seller.
Besides, title company underwriters are rated just like car insurance, so you do want to only have “A” rated title insurance company.  
Every buyer needs to have a Buyers Broker that works solely for them, and also a title agent that is not biased for the sellers side. Pay your own title insurance and hire your own title attorney to do your closing.  Peace of mind. Then can you enjoy your Orlando FL Million dollar home in paradise.

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Luxury New Construction in Orlando Area

If you are thinking about Luxury New Construction in the Orlando area, please put your seat belt on now. I am going to take you on a ride behind the scenes of buying a new construction home and it is not what you think.
Luxury New Construction in Orlando FL

Here is a true new construction luxury buyer story: this one I call “bait and switch”.
Buyer went to contract with a closing date of about 8 months out.  The buyer was promised several “bonus” upgrades, but when I read the contract, only one “bonus upgrade” is mentioned...the builders representative forgot to include everything she promised. I remembered and made sure that it was added to the contract.
During the signing of the contract, the buyer was given a “feature” sheet which shows the selected elevation (how the exterior will look)  and lists all the features that are included inside the home. The feature sheet had to be signed by the buyer to acknowledge the specifics of what the home is to have. No problem.  So far, so good. Except as the construction is progressing, some of these “features” are not being included.
Six months into the build, the new construction home buyer is given a revised “feature sheet” that deletes many of the promised upgrades as the buyer is told that the builder is no longer offering the other “features” in the community.  I compared the original signed feature sheet with the new revised one...there were 12 items that have been either replaced with something of lesser value or totally deleted.
I objected, and was told that the original feature sheet had “typo’s” and the new feature sheet was the correct one.  I think not...there were no “typo’s”...a typo is a spelling mistake. This builder simply decided not to provide the gutters, or the extra window or pavers on the 8 more changes.
Tidbit  #1:  If it is not written in the contract, you will not get it.  Chances are the sales agent will not remember or maybe will not even be working at the same location.  You must be vigilant and scrutinize need to include me as your trusted buyer agent.  I do read the 100 page contract.
Tidbit  #2: Builder cannot change what is signed. Once the contract is signed by the buyer and the builder, it is a legal and binding contract.  The builder cannot change what was originally agreed to. Even if the builder needs to substitute something, it must be of equal value or quality. Stated in the contract.
Even more interesting: the builders agent insisted that we are the ONLY buyers in the community who complained about the “revised” feature sheet.  Yes, I believe it, but that is not my concern. Other new construction Orlando buyers probably didn’t notice what they were entitled to unless someone like me pointed it out.
Many new construction home buyers think they don’t need to include a seasoned buyers agent, but when a problem comes up that needs to be addressed, buyers don’t know what to say or do, so they say “nothing”. Or maybe the buyer already has a broker that just signed them in with the builder and then disappeared until the commission checks are handed out. That does happen.
By the time buyers realize they are on their own, with no one on their is too late to hire a Buyer’s Agent. So, they comply with whatever the builder wants...regardless of how unreasonable it is.
Some new construction buyers even mistakenly believe that if they don’t bring any agent that somehow they will get a better price, and everybody will be fair.  That is absolutely not fact, more than likely an unrepresented buyer will pay more and get less.
Most interesting: This particular builder in my story is not some small fly-by-night flake. This is a national builder that is well known and builds in most major cities.  
Surprised, right?

3  Facts that all new construction buyers in Florida need to know

1. The builder’s sales person is not your best friend.  They will be friendly, professional and likable. They will make you comfortable enough so that you spill the beans about how much money you have, how much you are willing to spend and how much you love these homes!  However, they work only for the best interest of the builder, not you. This disclosure is buried in the small print of their 100 page contracts.
Their many titles may be builder salesperson, builder representative, builder agent, sales counselor and customer relations person.  Their only job is to make you fall in love with the community, so that you will buy the highest price and most favorable terms for the builder.
2. ALL builders pay the broker commissions.  Builders market to real estate agents to encourage them to bring in their buyers.  It is a fact that 80% of home buyers will use a realtor for their homesearch. Builders know that those are the more serious buyers, so want to capitalize on that.
New construction home builders are happy to cooperate with your broker, but you need to make them aware of who is representing you.  You must either accompany the broker or advise the builders rep upfront and sign/register in your broker’s name at the new construction office. There is no commission rebate to you for coming alone.
3. What you see in the new construction model homes is not what you get.
All model homes are upgraded and staged to the max. Builders know that “the eyes buy” so they pull out all the stops to make it appealing. Yet, some rooms may not even be the same size or configuration of what will be built. I had a new construction client that figured out that the master bedroom shown in the model was actually 6 feet longer than the size indicated on the blueprint for that model being built. In addition, the windows were oversized and not standard...something that no builder sales rep mentioned.
Last month I was in a new construction community where the base price of the new homes started at $400K.  This particular model that we were looking at had almost $300K in additional upgrades. So while the model looks fabulous, if you don’t buy the additional upgrades, your new home may be pale by comparison.
Lately, because the luxury new construction in Orlando is selling so well, there are less and less included perks and more outrageous pricing on some basic upgrades.
A good buyers agent will get clarification on what comes with the home and what is an extra add-on cost for the buyer. They will advise you of adding features that will make you money on a re-sale and not wasting your money on features that  only add cost. The choice is always yours.
Selecting a New Construction Lot
Luxury Homes in Orlando FL
This is one of the first decisions that you will make.  It is the builder agents job to have you quickly pick your favorite spot in the community.  Builders release only a few lots at a time to create a sense of urgency. Selecting the lot may not be as simple as it sounds and can be confusing to the buyer.  
There are perimeter lots, oversized lots, lakefront lots, waterview lots, conservation lots, interior lots, cul de sac lot, lots with extended easements.  All have different pricing and lot “premiums” added cost to the lot. Typically lot premiums can add anywhere from $5K-20K to the cost of the lot and sometimes can go as as high as $200K for a nice waterfront lot.  
Recently, I have found some builders who are asking top dollar for lot premiums that are not premium lots.  One builder is calling a perimeter lot a “conservation” lot which it is does not back-up to any conservation….it backs up to another house. Very misleading.  Of course, they are not explaining that to the buyer...they are simply charging a premium price for a non-premium lot...and unsuspecting buyers are paying the price.
In addition, the price of the premium does not tell the whole story...a higher premium does not necessarily mean that the lot is more valuable, just like a lower priced lot may be your best choice.  We will help you sort out the best lots for the money.
Going to contract on your luxury new construction home
Builder contracts are written for benefit of the builder and never for you, so don’t expect any help from the builders rep on that.  Most builder sales people have never read the small print in their own contracts and for sure they are forbidden to explain it to the buyer.
Some builder contracts are subject to a financing contingency, some are only if you use their lender, and some builders offer no financing contingency on certain properties.
Same with appraisals...mostly no contingencies.  I recently had a VA buyer whose new construction home appraised $10K short.  This was a government loan so the builder was not allowed to force the buyer to pay the difference.  Buyer was ready to “walk” away, so I was able to negotiate the price down to the appraised price. Otherwise per contract, the typical buyer would have been on the hook to come up with the extra $10,000 needed.
The reality is that the builder will give the buyer a short fuse to sign the contract electronically by docusign...they do not want the buyer to read or understand their convoluted 100 page contract.  Most home buyers do not understand even a fraction of what they will be required to sign. Yes, that is one of the big reasons that you need to bring a good buyers agent with you.
Here is a news video on how one buyer lost $40,000 because he did not understand the contract.
Before my buyer goes to contract on Luxury New Construction in Central Florida, I like to get a copy of the contract prior so that I can highlight any “buyer beware” issues and make sure the buyer understands the terms.
Not long ago, I requested such a contract from the builders salesperson  He sent me 92 pages of contracts and addendums the night before, most of which were not relevant to that community.  Yes, I read and understood all.
The next morning, I disputed what the builders salesperson stated which was different from what the contract really said. I received an additional $16,000 in builder concessions for my buyer client.  I also requested a reimbursement for the buyers hotel stay that was advertised on their website. That was several hundred dollars back to the buyers pocket. Builder concessions are not unusual if you know what to ask for.

What is negotiable on new construction?

It depends upon the builder, how popular the community is and even what time of the year it is.  The best buys are usually "spec homes”. These are “speculative” homes that the builder may have built in the hopes of an easy sale because they are “ready to go”. Or it is a finished home that the current buyer is unable to close on.  The buyers financing may have fallen through, they may have had a job transfer or maybe even a they no longer qualify to purchase.
Builders typically do not like to negotiate the base price but will negotiate “other” things. That all depends upon inventory, sales that month or time of year. Buyers that go alone, will never get the concessions that we can get for them because they don’t even know what to ask for.

Hiring an inspector for your new construction property in Orlando

Don’t kid yourself that a new home cannot have problems.  I have seen missing hurricane straps inside the roof, missing insulation, exhaust vents that are not connected and even hot water flushing the toilet.  I have also seen sloppy finish work, keys that don’t fit, the wrong appliances and missing landscape that was not installed...
Just last week on a new build, they were putting in 4x4 posts for the structure when the building plans called for 8x8 posts.  They did not fill the concrete blocks as required and it was too late for a re-do. The framed wall in the master was so crooked that they were going to put another fake wall over that so that it looked straight.  Seriously.
You can hire an inspector to just inspect the finished home, or you can hire a “phase” inspector that goes out periodically to inspect what they are doing during construction.
Lately, I am seeing builder contracts that limit the builders responsibility after closing. So it is important that you do have an inspection.
How to find a good buyers agent for new construction
Just like any profession, not all buyer agent services are the same. Statistics put out by the Orlando Realtor Association show that 38% of local realtors have been in business less than one year and only 64% sold one or more homes last year.
How does someone with no experience negotiate all the twists and turns that do come up? Or even know what to ask for?  The fact is that they don’ don’t sell yourself short.  You deserve to have someone on your side experienced in Luxury New Construction in Orlando. Choose carefully...
You, the home buyer, need to ask the agent the hard questions:
  • How much new construction do they actually sell?
  • How often do they represent only the buyer?
  • What will they do to save you money?
  • What will they try to negotiate for you?
  • Ask about some of the ways they protected the buyer?
  • Do they really read the new construction contract?
  • Do they provide advice during the contract signing?
  • Do they attend the home inspections?
  • Will they do a walk-thru for you, if you are not there?
  • Do they review the closing statement for mistakes?
  • What happens if the builder puts in a smaller water heater?
  • What will they personally do to actively help you?
Picking the right Buyer Broker will save you heartache in the future. Read our 5-star reviews here. Call us for a no pressure chat to discover your best home buying options in Luxury new construction in Orlando area: 407-539-1053

In case you can not view this video here, please click the link below to view Luxury New Construction in Orlando Area on my YouTube channel: