Any Orlando-area vacation home owners here (not rental properties)?

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by disneysteve, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    I wasn't quite sure where to post this but this seemed like the best place. Do any of you own a vacation home in the Disney area? I do not mean a property that you mainly rent out as a business but one that you have primarily for personal use.

    DW would love to move down permanently but I'm not ready for that. I do like the idea of possibly buying our own place, though. We always rent a home when we go down but having our own place would make it easier to go more often as it would be available anytime we want it and we could stock it with all of our personal stuff which would make packing much easier.

    If you own a place, tell me about your experience. Where is your place? Do you have a condo, town house, or single home? How much time do you typically spend there each year? What have you found to be the most difficult or challenging aspects of owning it? Any regrets? Would you do it again?
     
  2. NH-to-FL

    NH-to-FL DIS Veteran

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    Hello @disneysteve! DW and I are Disney snowbirds and spend about 5 months a year at our 4/3 "vacation villa" in Davenport near the Champions Gate area. We bought it "for cheap" back at the end of the housing recession a few years before I retired. We put some money and sweat equity into fixing it up a bit and rented it through a property management company for a couple of years. But we stopped renting when we started spending winters there. We moved enough of our "stuff" there that we didn't want renters in the house anymore. Having our own place, with our "stuff" right where we left it when we walk in the door, is very nice.

    The most difficult aspects are what you might expect from remote property ownership. Worrying about safety, weather, and dealing with maintenance. For safety, we have a security system and a couple of external cameras watching the entrances. The HOA performs the basic yard maintenance. We pay for a pool service. But the biggest help is that we are blessed to have a neighbor who is willing to watch over our place, and a number of others in the neighborhood, when we aren't there. This past summer we noticed through the security system that the temperature in the house was rising and he checked the house and discovered the HVAC system wasn't working. I contacted our HVAC service and they coordinated a repair date with the neighbor. Quite a special neighbor!

    We have no regrets. I acknowledge that there are some costs but we planned for (most of) them and are blessed to be able to cover them in retirement. We love our Disney winters. DW can't tolerate the Florida summer heat and humidity so for the foreseeable future we will stay snowbirds. That said, I usually spend a week there sometime during the summer to check on the place. And, of course, get a few hours at Disney.

    Good luck with your investigations and feel free to ask any questions.
     
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  4. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Thank you so much for the reply. All great info.

    We don't want to go into the rental business. Maybe we'd rent it out casually to friends and family on occasion but not to strangers so we'd really be looking to buy for ourselves. I thought about it during the housing crash but we weren't in a position to buy at that point in our lives. Probably a year or so from now, we will be able to as our mortgage will be paid off and all of our our other ducks should be in a row financially speaking. That's why I'm starting to explore things now.

    Anyone else have experiences to share?
     
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  5. HopperFan

    HopperFan "It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess."

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    Not in Disney area but 1.5 hours away on beach. It was a 15 year plan that was for a house ... but in the end went with a townhome condo (I still got my little garden). Once I did math the condo was the least expense route even with the monthly fees because of all that was included in the fees.

    Once we decided condo - I insisted on gated, and we not only have gated but 24/7 security guards. The management of the complex is awesome and great at assisting when some maintenance or something needs to be done. We had a water heater break and they were great about getting us help from afar and all the work that came after (ended up needing whole place re-plumbed) they assisted, we never had to go there. I love I can call them anytime and they'll help me. It is such a relief to have that kind of oversight. We also have a maintenance guy that takes great pride and watches out for us including watering my flowers when they droop. Our monthly fee includes not only the big stuff with building maintenance, insurance, landscaping, security and all the amenities but water, cable, internet, phone so our only utility is electric. Another plus is the swimming pools, hot tub, tennis, fitness room, saunas ... all the amenities that I can use but don't have to take care of.

    I've actually looked at houses in Disney area each time I dream of selling our primary home but I do worry about all the stuff that I would have to keep up with. We did look at condos close to Disney about 4-5 years ago, for DD to live in when she wanted to stay at Disney (and give me a bedroom there) but I knew we wanted the beach and my fear was she would change her mind and I couldn't justify the cost without renting it out, which I didn't want to do the hassle. Fortunately I trusted my gut not buying and she decided to leave and go to grad school.

    Downside ....
    - dealing with some things from afar, like right now
    in month 3 of trying to get my showers retiled .... contractors ....
    - wanting to always be there but real life interferes
    - worry that comes with it during storms, or is it secure etc

    Would I do it again, in a heartbeat!!! Any given moment I can throw care to the wind, turn left and go straight there as it has all our stuff there, no packing necessary.


    PS Be very careful about the renting part, even if you know the folks, from a tax point of view. For us we are "registered" with the county as a secondary home with no rentals and our mortgage company does not allow it. We were even contacted by county to make sure we knew that if we tried to rent we would be paying them hotel taxes. We had friends that wanted to rent for a month or so in winter but we aren't risking any issues. Also some communities do not allow less than 6 mo rentals.
     
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  6. disneysteve

    disneysteve DIS meet junkie

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    Thanks HopperFan. Lots of good info and stuff to think about.
     
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  7. NH-to-FL

    NH-to-FL DIS Veteran

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    I will second HopperFan's warning. There are state and county licenses and taxes involved in renting. Some counties near Disney do not allow short term rentals. And as HopperFan notes, some HOA's prohibit it. In our community, one of the sub-communities does not allow short term rentals. In addition to mortgage issues, your insurance might care about short term rentals. We took out a special umbrella policy to cover renting. And there are a couple of interesting licensing rules on homes that are rented. Things like emergency lighting, exit map, posted licenses, and safety labels concerning the washing of the dishes are a few. You'll recognize any short term rental home when you walk in if you think back to a hotel you've stayed in.

    A warning... once you start exploring you will be drawn in. What happened to us was we had just come home from a wonderful early December week vacation at the Boardwalk. DW casually mentioned something like if we ever thought about owning a home in Florida now might be the time to buy. That got me thinking. We spent the Christmas holiday looking at Zillow. Then we contacted a real estate agent. A few weeks later we made a quick trip down to Florida. We drove ourselves around the area the first day looking at various developments. We ruled out a few of them after seeing the neighborhood. The next day we met the agent and she showed us a bunch of places. A couple I had identified on Zillow, a couple she had picked out. Interestingly enough we ended up buying the one that was at the top of our Zillow list. About seven weeks from idea to ownership. At times I wonder if we went a little too fast. But then that is how we have bought most of our homes. Usually in a rush during a work relocation, trusting our gut. We like our snowbird home and after being there for a few winters we haven't seen anyplace in our budget that would be better. Good luck with your exploration!
     
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  8. hiroMYhero

    hiroMYhero I'm satisfied with my care... Moderator

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    DH and I did something similar, for our DD, to what @HopperFan had considered for her DD.

    We didn’t care to be the actual homeowner - we’ve retired to San Diego - so gifted monies for a down payment for a 1600 sq ft home in a gated community in Davenport. Because Davenport is considered a rural area, a USDA guaranteed loan was available at 0% down at less than the prevailing interest rate.
    https://www.usdaloans.com/lp/?src=a...MIs9au2bPP3gIVCcpkCh2LqAHREAEYASAAEgJ6gfD_BwE

    In addition to HOA fees for basic lawn maintenance, there’s also the need for a pest control company and a company to do more advanced landscaping maintenance such as lawn aeration and sod replacement if needed.

    We have the guest room at the house where our “stuff” is stored. It enables us to fly over with only carry-on luggage for a 2 or 3 week stay. And because our gifted amount wasn't all that necessary for a down payment but went towards furnishings, we now enjoy staying in a nicely furnished home. ;)
     
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  9. NH-to-FL

    NH-to-FL DIS Veteran

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    That's right... our HOA fee includes the pest control but not advanced landscaping. Or sprinkler system maintenance. The lawn maintenance team manages to break a sprinkler head from time to time. Not a big deal if I am there but needs someone to address it promptly when it happens.

    Over the years we have identified a sprinkler repairman, a good plumber, a responsive HVAC company, and a good handyman.

    Wonderful!
     
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  10. Rpsemont

    Rpsemont DIS Veteran

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    HI Steve,
    We had been going to WDW for many years and were DVC members. We knew we wanted to retire/snowbird but also knew that was many years away. We probably started looking at properties in 2003 during our 3 trips a year to FLA. And we watched as prices went up and up, but buying was still not in the forseeable future. Then the market crashed and we started looking in earnest. That was in 2012. We decided we did not want a stand alone single family home because of maintenance costs, and costs for having it monitored while we weren't there. And we decided we DID want to allow vacation rentals because we really couldn't cover all the carrying costs for something we would only use a few weeks a year for the next several years. We ended up buying in Oakwater, a community right by the new Walmart on 192. We liked the idea that it was "Resort" (nice pool, clubhouse, game room, playground, etc) but the big thing for us was that it had a garage and we would be able to leave a car in Florida. We closed in June 2013 and took six months to get it furnished with my husband going there about once a month for a week or so. As it turns out, by daughter ended up going to college in Winter Park, so she would sometimes "go home" for the weekend to the condo. Since purchasing, we have gradually increased our trips to Florida. MY DH goes once a month for anywhere from 3-7 days. I make it down for short stays most months between October and May. We offer it on home away and also have our own website. We're hoping that we will become official snowbirds in about 3 years - and can't wait. Some things we learned and considered...as others have said, some counties do not allow short term rentals - this includes Orange County, which is the greater Orlando area. But the truth is, you can go on airBNB and see TONS of places offered that are in Orange County . If you rent short term, the state and possibly the county want their taxes. Technically this is true even if you let your neighbor use it for a much less than market fee. I have no idea what enforcement is done regarding the collection of these taxes or if they "go after" people that should not be renting.. Osceola County does allow short term rentals. You must get a state and county license and register to remit taxes. and on months where you don't have income, you must still file the remittance returns. I had asked, if we lived there for 7.5 months a year, could we file something to "remove" us from having to file these monthly returns and was told no. So unless we plan to never rent our home again, regardless of how much we stay there, we have to renew the business licenses and file the remittance returns every month - even if there's nothing to remit. We have also struggled to find a good management company - which you might want whether you rent or not. You really do need someone checking on real estate on a regular basis.

    We did take one of the large closets and split it in half and put in a door and lock. So we also leave things there so that we can travel with virtually no luggage.

    We are thrilled with our decision. We like that it's a "resort" community and I think we will like that even when we are there 7 months a year. And we love our location - just two miles to WDW.

    If you have the luxury of looking "over time" be sure to spend time driving around. Visit communities at different times of the day and different months of year. We cannot believe the difference in traffic on 192 in Kissimmee between October and March. The same is true on all the coasts. When the snowbirds are in town - whether in central Florida or the coasts, the traffic can be horrendous. Even during the off season, the commuter traffic can really be a challenge in some areas.
     
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  11. NH-to-FL

    NH-to-FL DIS Veteran

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    Well said! And a well thought out purchase.

    Wonderful! That is a great location! We are a bit further away. But we wanted a detached house so that took us a bit further out.

    What we really notice is the spike of traffic around the holidays. Especially Christmas. Our neighborhood fills up. The traffic through Champions Gate, our connection to I-4, really jams up. Even during "normal" times I-4 westbound just west of Disney gets backed up for the evening commute. I-4 eastbound from before 27 through to 429 can get backed up in the morning through midday.

    With all of the building going on in the area the traffic is just going to get worse. Around us they are now building a lot of higher density apartment complexes. I read somewhere that the Orlando area is one of the fastest growing areas right now. I believe it!
     
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  12. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    My experience is not in Orlando, but I thought I might give you my perspective on having a remote second home.

    After many years (decades actually) of visiting New Orleans multiple times a year I decided to buy a condo. I started out thinking that I would just get a tiny condo (there are many in New Orleans that are basically efficiencies). I could have bought one for under $100,000 which coming from the San Francisco area seemed practically free.

    But after looking I found a 2BR/2BA unit in a building that had just been converted to condos and had been completely remodeled. The location was perfect (on St. Charles Avenue) so I bought it. I closed 10 days before Katrina.:scared: Fortunately I'd left a few days before the evacuations started as my father was having surgery back in Arkansas. My unit is on the 6th floor and the flooding literally stopped inches from my building. I was not that worried about my condo - I was afraid my city was no longer there. I fortunately had nothing in my refrigerator (my old tag said tossed the butter and kept the gin as those were in the freezer). Most people had to toss their disgusting maggot filled refrigerators on return. Our management took care of having them all removed which was great for the people who had evacuated hundreds of miles away.

    I've now owned for 13 years and love having it. It's about an 8 hour drive for us from our home in Arkansas. My father is long gone, but I have married so I have help with the drive. Actually my DH does almost all driving now as I have a degenerative nerve disease (CIDP). My power chair and lift take up most of the back of our van so it's a good thing that we don't have to take much stuff back and forth.

    My building is a high rise with gated parking (dedicated by unit). There are codes on the front gate and in the elevators. We have a manager during the day, a full-time maintenance man, and security guards at night. I feel quite safe even when staying alone. Pest control, water and trash, and cable are all included in our monthly fee.

    Our maintenance man is wonderful and is always available to help. We even hired him to repaint our unit last year. If we are out of town I've called him to go check on something. Our manager is also great. There was a leak in the wall, no water in our unit, but they had to tear out the shower in my guest bathroom. I was out of town. I came back to a lovely new shower stall.

    I enjoy cooking so I like being able to have all the things that I need right at hand. I like being able to just walk out the door when it's time to leave. We take very little back and forth. Although I do like to buy my shrimp in New Orleans and take it back frozen to Little Rock. It's also much easier to drive to WDW from New Orleans than from Arkansas. We can do it in a day from New Orleans (a little over 600 miles) vs. close to a thousand miles from Arkansas.

    Again this wasn't about buying near WDW - but just how having a remote home has worked out for me.
     
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