Orlando Home Buyers Guide 2015

First-time Orlando home buyers are always bursting with questions about the home buying process, and they should be. Buying a home is one of the most if not the most important decisions of your life, especially if it’s your first time. For most people, the process can be overwhelming and even discouraging at times.


In a perfect world, your first home buying experience should be stress-free and enjoyable but chances are there will be a few bumps on the road to the closing table. However, with the right Orlando realtor in your corner, you can rest assured that any problems or issues that may arise will be handled diligently and professionally. 


Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of first-time Orlando homebuyers through the process so I decided to put together a list of questions and suggestions designed to people prepare to buy that first home.

6 Steps To The Closing Table

  1. Pre-Qualify for a loan
  2. Find a house
  3. Submit an offer
  4. Secure your financing
  5. Appraisal & Inspections
  6. Close the deal


How Much Can You Afford?

The answer to this question is different for everyone. Lending institutions resolve how much you can afford by looking at your monthly gross income, existing debts, and your monthly mortgage payment by using 2 ratios. The first one is the front-end ratio which compares how much your monthly mortgage payment will deduct from your monthly income. The back-end ratio compares how much your entire debt payment will deduct from your monthly income.


The ratios differ a bit from lender to lender but a high credit rating may help you to get a larger loan than would be normally allowed. I would advise any potential home buyers to consult with several lenders to see which one has the best rates and fees.


How Much $ Will You Have To Bring To The Closing?

The dollar amount that you will have to come up with to buy the house depends largely on the type of loan and the purchase price of the home. The first fee that you will be hit with is an earnest money deposit when your offer gets accepted. Inspections are also the responsibility of the buyer which can cost between $200-$800 depending on the size of the home and what kind of an inspection it is.


The down payment on your loan will be by far the biggest out-of-pocket expense. This is the percentage amount of the purchase price that you have to pay in order to receive the loan. There are several loan options available depending on which one you qualify. Buyers are typically required to pay for part of the closing costs on the transaction. These are fees associated with the processing of all the paperwork, notary fees, and other odds and ends provided by the title company. It’s common practice for the mortgage broker to provide you with an example of what the closing costs will be based on the size of the loan they qualified for.


 I always suggest that when homebuyers sit down with a mortgage specialist that they ask to be shown an example of what their closing costs would look like, based on what they qualify for.


  Make Your Wishlist

Put on paper what the perfect home will look like for you. Things like location, square footage, number of bedrooms, and bathrooms should be at the top of the list. Don’t let everything on the list be a deal-breaker. You don’t want to let your dream house slip away from you because the downstairs bathroom is a bit small when the rest of the house was wonderful. Remember that anything can be renovated to meet your taste eventually.


 What Will My Orlando Real Estate Agent Do For Me?

Your Orlando realtor is there to assist you during the home buying process from A to Z. Their job is to scour the MLS until they find you a list of homes that meet your needs based on your wishlist. Depending on the inventory that’s available, they will show you any homes that meet the criteria. When they do find a home that you love, it’s their job to negotiate the price on your behalf to make sure that you get the best deal possible. They will also prepare the purchase contract to make sure that it’s in your best interest. It’s your realtor’s responsibility to work directly with the title company, mortgage company, listing agent, inspectors, etc. to make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. They should keep you in the loop every step of the way while answering any questions you may have.

What Won’t My Agent Do For Me?

A real estate agent is not qualified to provide you with legal advice and should refer you to a real estate attorney if the situation requires it. A realtor won’t provide you with financial advice either like how much you should spend on a home. Realtors are there to provide advice, give you facts about the market and provide you with all the information you need for you to make an educated decision.


At the end of the day, you the home buyer will be the one paying the mortgage, not your realtor, so the final decision has to rest with you. If your agent is doing anything to make you feel uncomfortable or pressured to make a decision, then either set them straight or hire another realtor.


Closing Costs, What’s That?

Closing costs are fees that are associated with the closing of the transaction not including your down payment. These costs include title ins policies, recording costs, appraisal, courier fees, lender fees, etc. Typically closing costs will run anywhere from two to three percent of the home’s purchase price. Closing costs are usually paid for by the seller and the buyer depending on what was agreed upon.


Inspections And Appraisals

A buyer should always have a home inspection done as soon as the contract has been accepted. The home inspector should address all the structural components of the home as well as things like the electrical, plumbing, A/C, roof, insulation, and appliances. This will give you peace of mind of knowing if everything’s in good shape or not.

Appraisals are a much more in-depth version of an inspection and it’s used to determine the value of a home. Many times, the value and the sale price don’t match up. The appraisal also ensures that the home meets FHA standards and is fully functional. This is beneficial for the buyer and also helps to protect the bank’s money.

What About Down Payment Assistance?

There are several down payment assistance programs available in Florida, one of the most common in Orlando is through Orange County.  The amount of assistance available is from $7,500 to $10,000 and applicants have to complete a homebuyer’s education program, as well as secure a first mortgage and the property must be located in Orange County.

As an Orlando real estate agent, I have helped countless first-time home buyers reach their goal of homeownership. If you need help finding your Orlando dream home contact me, Jenny Zamora at https://orlandorealtyconsultants.com/contact/



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Orlando Homeowners Embracing The “Green Home”

With all the rage about “Going Green” lately, more and more Orlando home buyers are inquiring about green features when considering properties.

There is soo many advantages to making your home a “Green Home” and homeowners are steadily waking up and joining the going green revolution regardless of whether they’re of selling or staying put.

It just makes sense. Going green increases the value of a property by making it more attractive to environmentally conscious buyers as well as lowering your monthly energy bill.

 By making a few simple changes like using energy-saving light bulbs and appliances, using a tankless water heater system, and tinting your windows, homeowners can add legitimate value to their homes.
 Here’s a quick list of things that you can do to make sure that your home is as green as can be for the echo-friendly buyer.

Simple Green Updates That Don’t Cost A lot Of Green 

Update The Lighting. By using LED and CFL low energy bulbs you can save as much as $6.00 per year on a single light bulb! That may not sound like a lot but I bet if you count every light bulb in your house and multiply that number by 6 I bet you’ll feel differently. Also, the amount of energy being used is about 75% less than with traditional bulbs.

Install A Tankless Water Heater. Traditional water heaters store a lot of water and as a result, they have to consistently heat and reheat all the water in the tank whether it gets used or not. Tankless water heaters don’t store water and because of that, they use about 50% less energy than a traditional water heater. Also, with these water heaters, you will never run out of hot water again. The water gets heated instantly by the coils contained within the unit only when you need it.

Update The Appliances. By using “Energy Star” appliances you can save some serious green over the course of a year. Sure they cost more than traditional appliances but soon they will pay for themselves because they use anywhere from 20% to 50% less than traditional appliances. Make sure to let potential buyers know how much you’re saving on the electric bill because of the appliances.

Update The Bathrooms With Low-Flow Fixtures. By using low-flow showerheads and toilets, you can reduce household water consumption by up to 50% without sacrificing water pressure. Again, there is more of an upfront cost by switching to these fixtures but well worth it in the long run.

Install Energy Trackers. You can keep track of how much energy each appliance in your house uses or for around three hundred dollars you can have a device that will monitor the energy usage of your entire home that provides you with real-time feedback on how much energy you are using and how much you’re wasting.

There are a gazillion models to choose from these days and with the new technology, they’re even syncing them with smartphones and Ipads.

Whether you’re selling your home or planning on staying for a while, turning your home into a “Green Home” just makes sense. If you want to sell, then your home will have an added value that most other homes on the market won’t be able to compete with.

On the other hand, if this is your dream home where you plan on spending your golden years, then you can start saving big money as well as help save the planet. It’s a win-win no matter how you look at it.




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What’s In This Year’s Home Buying Season for Home Buyers in Orlando

The Orlando real estate industry has been reveling the home-buying season in 2014. April 2014 marked a month of consecutive reductions in the rates of fixed mortgages. Rates of interest on the standard 30-year home loans dropped to their lowest level in the second week of April. The rates, the lowest since February, reduced again in the third week – increasing buyer activity in the industry.

Now, according to a new industry report, this year’s spring buying season commenced with a significant rise in the month-to-month sales of residential real estate property. According to industry experts, the month of March saw 17.28 percent more sales than February. Further, in terms of just the “normal” sales in February and March, the latter month outperformed the former by nearly 24 percent!

Realtors in Orlando will confirm the opinions of the experts – all major listing agents in Orlando reporting their hands full with residential buying and selling since the beginning of the season.

Home Buyers are fueling median residential real-estate prices in Orlando

The median price of properties in Orlando was recorded as $160,000 in March 2014. Just a month ago, the rates stood 1.27 percent lower, at $158,000. The rise in median prices is being fueled by increased demand from prospective buyers – a trend characteristic of the spring buying season.

Realtors unanimously hold the spring buying season a good time to buy residential properties, especially for first-time buyers. According to the experts in Orlando short sales, the median rates of short sales in March 2014, witnessed a 4.59 percent hike from the value same time last year.

With the short-sale inventory expanding, the spring season is also expected to bring new opportunities for buyers who haven’t been able to find suitable deals yet. Compared to the number of foreclosed homes available for purchase in March 2014, a fairly large number of foreclosed homes were made available to buyers in March this year (125 percent more than in March 2013). Homes also spend lesser time on the market now, than they did a year ago. The average listing period in March 2014 was 76 days, compared to the 79 days in 2013.

Making the most of the home-buying season

Conditions in the Orlando real estate market seem to be ideal for residential buyers now. Banks are easing up on home loans, the rates of fixed and variable-rates mortgages are decreasing and the market has plenty of options in different price ranges. Further, with Florida’s diversifying economy and its growing reputation as a premium retirement destination in all of the US, many prospective buyers are showing foresight by investing in properties during the season.

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This Spring May Just be the Best Time to Buy a Home in Orlando

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation has some good news for all real estate buyers. Results from a new survey conducted by the Virginia-based government-sponsored enterprise, point toward a slight dip in the mortgage rates across all of America.

The spring buying season has commenced and decreased mortgage rates may be just the extra push that home buyers need to kick-start their spring purchases. The average rate of interest on a standard 30-year home loan reached 4.34 percent in the week beginning April 7. Only a week ago, the rates stood at 4.41 percent.

 What does this mean for Orlando real estate buyers?

Have you been thinking about purchasing a property in Orlando? It would make good financial sense to get started now. According to top Orlando short sales experts, mortgage rates are decreasing overall sectors. The average rate on standard 15-year fixed loans also dipped from 3.47 percent to 3.38 percent, the same week. These dips, though not enormous, are substantial nevertheless and present a good opportunity to make a residential real estate investment.

Fixed mortgage rates are not the only dipping bunch. Hybrid ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) also spiraled downwards slightly when compared to their rates a week ago. The rate for single-year ARM reduced from 2.45 percent to 2.41 percent. Five-year ARMs followed the trend, slipping from 3.12 percent to 3.09 percent in the same week.

With the industry heavily divided in its mortgage predictions for subsequent weeks, many realtors are encouraging prospects to gear up on their residential property plans. Real estate agents in Orlando have numerous listings on their hands, owing to the wide selection of residential complexes being constructed in the metropolitan area. Luxury apartments typically find buyers fast and disappear from the hands of listers in a shorter span of time.

What could the future look like?

The Mortgage Rate Trend Index saw 38 percent of analysts predict a steady decline in the rate of fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages over the next week. Another 38 percent predicted steady rates over the next few weeks. A total of 24 percent of participating analysts predicted the rates to rise in the next week. Realtors in Hunters Creek speak of the high spring buying trend in the metropolitan area – something they have been witnessing for years. They expect the spring buying season to be the same, asking potential buyers to make the best of the downward spiraling mortgage rates in the spring buying season.

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Problems Faced by Orlando Home Buyers

It has occurred many times in the recent past that home buyers are not sure if the Orlando real estate agent truly represents them. Unless the agent puts it in writing, you can expect that you are not being represented on your real estate dealing. It means that if any problem arises, you will most probably be on your own. What many people don’t realize is that while there are many licensed real estate agents, there are only a small fraction of them who actually represent home buyers exclusively in Orlando. Like these, there are many other problems that homebuyers face in Orlando.

Typical transaction problems


During the process of transaction, there is a huge difference in the attitude of the agents who represent the buyers and those who just have the license to be called real estate agents. Given below are some of the problems faced by homebuyers when it comes to real estate transactions:

*  Contract dispute– The agent representing the buyer will surely be supporting the buyer in case of a dispute, but the other agents would act in a neutral way.

*  Inspection– During the inspection, you may find serious defects that were unknown, here a typical agent will try to downplay the issue, but the agent representing the buyer will try to renegotiate the contract.

*  Appraisals– When such appraisals come into the picture, a typical agent will tell you to raise the money needed to pay the difference, but the agent representing you will ask the seller to reduce the price.

Typical “natural” problems faced by home buyers in Orlando

There are various diverse Orlando real estate issues that buyers face these days. Some of these major issues facing home buyers here in Orlando are as follows:

 Sinkholes: These are naturally occurring geological features which can cause structural damage, but fortunately most insurance policies cover the damage caused by sinkholes.

Termites: Termites pose a huge problem in Orlando because of the warm weather. Most homeowners need to take proper precautions as termites can seriously damage wooden structures.

Flood-prone areas: Since Florida has a tropical climate, it is prone to floods throughout the year, so people planning to stay here must take the right precautions.

So, a typical buyer who is planning to buy a house in subtropical Orlando must keep the things mentioned above in mind before taking any decision.

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