Looking at a House For Sale in Orlando? 6 Things You Should Know

Posted on Aug 12, 2020


Nearly 1,000 people move to Florida every day - that’s about 350,000 people, every year. Even more people move within Florida itself, thanks to new job opportunities, schools, and retirement. Not surprisingly, there is always plenty of real estate action as a result. 

Houwzer’s Orlando agents are constantly occupied: the Orlando real estate market has been heating up, with the average home selling price increasing by 44% over the past five years (source: Zillow Orlando FL).

With these year-over-year gains, buying a home in Orlando can be a great investment. However, there’s a few things potential homeowners should know before buying real estate here.

1. Never Skip an Inspection for Homes for Sale in Orlando

If you’re involved in a bidding war on a home, it may be tempting to drop the inspection contingency. A thorough inspection is necessary, though, especially here. Florida is classified as a subtropical climate. This means that, while homeowners arriving from colder states may not have to worry about snow anymore, other issues like insect activity and rain damage are more common.

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Insects: Florida ranks high when it comes to home insect issues. While insects like cockroaches and bed bugs are relatively easy to deal with, termites and carpenter ants can cause a lot more damage. 

Florida specifies that independent WDO (Wood Destroying Organisms) inspectors are needed for insect inspections, under Florida Statute 468.83. These inspectors can find the tell-tale holes, fecal pellets, and tunnels left by termites and other pests. 

Water damage: “When it rains, it pours” - this sentiment is doubly true, despite its nickname as the Sunshine State. Florida is ranked #5 for the most precipitation year round, but ranks #1 for most rain in summer. As a result, Florida roofs wear down more quickly, and flooding damage isn’t unusual. The state’s humidity can help to foster mold if water damage does occur - serving to underline the importance of a thorough home inspection.

2. Make Sure to Double Check…

Not everything relevant to owning a home will get covered in the inspection. Here’s two things you should double check when it comes to your potential home.

Location: “When buying a home in Orlando, it’s important to know that it is a geographically large and spread out city,” explains local buyer agent Dan Robinson. “Being centrally located and close to a highway can be a huge advantage.” 

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Don’t be afraid to lean on your agent for help when it comes to figuring out which part of the city is right for you. They can help you understand the complexities of the local market and match you to a neighborhood that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

AC Condition: About 86% of homes in Florida have central air conditioning, one of the highest percentages in the nation. High usage means Floridians can run into AC problems more frequently. You’ll want to make sure that your AC is running properly when you buy the property, and take note of its year of installation.

3. Why is Florida So Cheap? 

Many Americans picture Florida as a tropical paradise, so they’re surprised to discover that many parts of Florida are very affordable. 

There’s a number of reasons for this: land in many parts of the state is still plentiful, the state has lower wages on average than in other parts of the country, and there are other costs that aren’t reflected in the purchase price (like hurricane insurance). Additionally, Florida has something known as the “homestead exemption,” in which residents can write off up to $50,000 of their property’s taxable value.

Florida can also be very affordable for retirees because permanent residents (those who have lived in Florida for 25 years or more) are eligible for 100% exemption from property taxes.

Orlando, Florida can sometimes be more expensive compared to the rest of the state, but there are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods with access to a wide range of dining and entertainment options.

“Orlando has it all, with all the sun and fun you can handle,” notes Robinson. “From iconic attractions like Disney and world class golf courses, to fantastic restaurants and fine art. Orlando is a diverse city with lots of beautiful parks and amazing neighborhoods to suit any family's budget and lifestyle.”

4. Is Your Home Ready for Hurricane Season?

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Florida’s hurricane season begins in June and ends in September. Because Florida experiences hurricanes frequently, homes are typically built to withstand both the high winds and battering conditions and follow some of the most stringent building codes in the country. 

Homeowners today have more options than ever for securing and protecting their homes. Buying a home that already has storm shutters or impact windows, interlocking metal roofs, or fiberglass doors can help ensure your home makes it through annual storms without dents or breaks. 

If the homes you’re looking at don’t have these storm-resistant updates, you might want to consider having them installed in order to protect your investment. Insurance companies will often reimburse homeowners for part of the cost of installing storm-resistant features on their home. 

5. Buying a House in Florida: Home Insurance Prices

People looking at homes for sale in Orlando, FL should be aware that Florida law requires property insurance companies to cover damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. People moving from out of state may need to adjust their budget to account for insurance costs, as Florida is the third most expensive state for home insurance. 

Flood insurance is also important in many parts of Florida - flash flooding, river flooding, coastal flooding due to tropical storms and levee failure can occur, leading to home water damage. Florida is a state with low elevation and a high water table, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily take much for flooding to occur. Most homes in Florida lack a basement for this reason.

6. If It’s a Second Home...

It’s not uncommon for people to buy second homes in Florida, especially in Orlando, thanks to Disneyworld. If the home you’ll be buying is a second home, there’s a few things you should keep in mind.

If you plan to rent it out: property in Orlando that is closer to Disney tends to have a slightly better ROI than homes further away. This isn’t surprising given that Disney World is the most visited theme park in the world, with 58 million visitors each year. Keep in mind that Disney owns an incredible 40 square miles of Orlando (equivalent to the entire city of San Francisco!). Sometimes neighborhoods that are technically outside of Orlando (such as Celebration and Four Corners) are actually closer to Disney’s parks. 

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If you don’t plan to rent it out: there’s plenty of people who winter in Florida, while spending their summers further North. Keep in mind that you may want to hire a caretaker who can check in on your home while you’re not there. 

Summers in Florida can reach sweltering temperatures with high humidity - if you opt to leave your home for the summer with no AC running, furniture can degrade as mold and mildew set in, and any scratch on metal surfaces (like fridges and laundry machines) can lead to rust and corrosion. Mildew and pests can also begin to attack the interior of your home. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a number of recommendations for “summer-proofing” your home, and recommends running your AC for two hours a day - even when you’re not home - to prevent damage.

How to Buy a House in Florida: Do Your Research First!

Orlando is a great city to buy a home in, whether you’re finally upgrading from renting or looking to escape the Northern winters. It’s important, though, for homeowners to do their research and make sure their property is built to last. Schedule an appointment with one of our experienced local agents to learn more.


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