Is Buying a Much Better Idea Than Renting In Central Florida?

Is Buying a Much Better Idea Than Renting In Central Florida?

Is your rent in Central Florida too high? You may be better off buying a house next year, according to a new report!

Greater Orlando joins 58 percent of U.S. housing markets where buying is more affordable than renting, even though home sale prices are rising faster than rental rates in 55 percent of those markets.

Homeowners in the Greater Orlando area spent an average of 35.4 percent of their wages on housing, while renters coughed up an average of 43.4 percent. The rule of thumb for years has been that monthly housing costs shouldn’t exceed 28 percent of gross monthly income.

Here’s a closer look by county at what percentage of Central Floridians’ wages went toward their home mortgage or rental costs in 2015:
Osceola County: Home 35.5 percent, rent 47.3 percent
Orange County: Home 32.8 percent, rent 38.2 percent
Seminole County: Home 34.6 percent, rent 39.2 percent
Lake County: Home 38.5 percent, rent 48.8 percent

“Renters in 2016 will be caught between a bit of a rock and a hard place, with rents becoming less affordable as they rise faster than wages, but home prices rising even faster than rents,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “In markets where home prices are still relatively affordable, 2016 may be a good time for some renters to take the plunge into homeownership before rising prices and possibly rising interest rates make it increasingly tougher to afford to buy a home.”

At Goodwin Realty, with offices in both St. Cloud and Kissimmee, we’ve always been able to help home buyers and sellers find the best solution for their real estate needs. We understand the real estate market so the solutions we provide are designed to be a perfect fit for the lives and financial needs of our clients. Trust an Osceola County realtor who does the “next right thing” to help the client find the perfect realty solution… call  Goodwin Realty!

Surge In New Home Construction Sales

Surge In New Home Construction Sales

homesurgeNew home construction sales are surging upward, and many people looking to buy a new home or actually build a new home don’t realize securing a real estate agent to assist them is extremely beneficial and will cost them nothing!

If you walk into the sales office of a new subdivision and work with the agent sitting at the desk you are talking to the agent who works for the builder… it’s as simple as that. They may be very cordial and knowledgeable, but they aren’t working on your behalf, they’re working for the builder. They legally represent the builder so if you want an advocate who can assist you during the process, you need a realtor. Any commissions paid are NOT paid by you… they are paid by the builder.

If you do walk into the sales office, be sure NOT to sign anything until your realtor is with you. If you sign an agency agreement you are going to find it very difficult to bring an agent into the transaction later, so call us prior to signing… we’re on your side

The builder knows how much profit they want to make on each home they build and sell and they have already accounted for realtor costs and most likely also the closing costs. If you end up working with the builder’s agent, any monies left over after these costs will likely be more profit to the builder. However, if you have an agent working for you, they will be able to negotiate with the builder and have that extra money put back into your pocket in the form of upgrades, bonuses or possibly down payment assistance. I’m sure that we now have your attention. Yes, I said by using a real estate agent we can work on getting free upgrades and possibly more. So… at no cost to you… call us first!

Just Listed In Harmony… take a look at this!

Just Listed In Harmony… take a look at this!

There’s no other community quite like Harmony in Florida. . .or just about anywhere for that matter. Harmony offers the best of small town living, in a convenient location where you can take advantage of Orlando’s big town lifestyle. Highlights of the community include:

  • A-rated Harmony High School and a K-8 Community School within walking distance of every home.
  • Two natural lakes – Buck Lake (511 acres) and Cat Lake (430 acres).
  • Harmony Golf Preserve, a Johnny Miller Signature course.
  • Homes within walking distance of parks, schools, stores and friends.
  • 12.5 miles of walking, hiking and bicycle trails through some of the 7,700 acres of conservation areas.
  • A Town Square with restaurants, grocery store, shops, and swim club.
  • Just 20 minutes from Medical City, 25 minutes to the airport, 30 minutes to Disney World and 40 minutes to the Atlantic beaches.
Are Home Warranties a Good Idea?

Are Home Warranties a Good Idea?

When buying older homes it is sometimes very wise to consider purchasing a home warranty. Home warranties can bring peace of mind as well as financial security to your purchase.
Home warranties are purchased to cover or reduce the cost to repair or replace certain home systems and appliances that come with an older home that can potentially bring unforeseen expense to the homeowner. Sellers use them as an incentive to attract more home buyers, who may feel m,ore solace knowing the home comes with a warranty.

What is the cost of a home warranty?

Typical home warranties range from $350 to $600 per year. They can cover the following:

  • Kitchen appliances 
  • Garbage disposals
  • Plumbing 
  • Sump pump – or well water pump
  • Water heater
  • Ceiling fans and exhaust fans
  • Air Conditioning and Heating systems – possible additional costs for these to be insured
  • Swimming pools and septic systems may also be covered  – usually at an additional cost and depending on the current condition.

What else should I know?

With most home warranties the home owner does not pick the service technician when a repair is needed, the warranty company does.

Make sure the details on warranties as they may not cover everything your logic tells you they should. Look closely for the right warrant for you. Once you have the warranty it’s too late top change. Consumers should shop around and compare contracts . Pay close attention to what’s covered and what’s not in the warranty. It’s very important.

Are they worth it?

Home owner warranties are worth it if you feel that there is a good chance a high price item in the house may fail. Certainly purchasing one before you sell can be an added plus when you place your home on the market. Buyers should be having homes inspected prior to purchase – so asking the home inspector’s opinion always makes sense.

In the end, it really comes down to what you feel is right for you, and how insured you like to be in your life!

Read This Before You Buy a Home!

Read This Before You Buy a Home!

Real Estate purchases can often be very complex transactions. It’s very important for people who are looking to impact their finances positively in their real estate decision to buy the right property that suits their long-term needs. To prepare yourself for your real estate purchase, be sure to consider the following steps before you begin.

Commit To Staying In The Home For A Number of Years
The buying and selling of a home comes with the reality of high transaction fees, so it’s  common belief that in order for their not to be an equity loss in every real estate transaction the property or real estate should be held for at least seven years. If staying in the home for at least seven years is unlikely, then perhaps the home search should continue until a better choice arises or perhaps renting would be fiscally wise.

Get Prepared In The Financing Area
Before you launch into the real estate purchasing process make sure to meet with a lender of your choice about 6 to 12 months prior and ask them to pull a credit report. Doing this ensures that you’ll fully understand your credit status. if there are any challenges you can begin the process of clearing them up before you start home searching.

Pre-Qualify If Possible
It also is recommended to have the lender pre-qualify you so you are aware of the price range you can afford. Very often the the lender will offer valuable advise in how you manage your finances during the process up until you close escrow on your home. Making large credit purchases, or transfering savings between accounts is often considered unwise. You will also be reminded to pay extra attention to paying all bills and loans you might have in a timely fashion. A derogatory mark on your credit report at this time can be very much a negative.

Haste Makes Waste
Take your time purchasing property and research thoroughly. Purchasing real estate will very likely be the largest purchase during your lifetime. After you’ve closed there is no turning back. The property is yours and if you should decide to sell soon, you will likely see some level of financial loss.

Choose The Correct Real Estate Agent
Choosing an agent that truly knows the areas you are considering, or one that can recommend an area you are unaware of but matches your aspirations is paramount. They should be able to sho wyou that they’ve been in the business at least 4  or 5 years and they have closed a number of deals successfully in each of those years. Make sure that their license is in good standing and that they respond quickly to your communication attempts. When you choose Goodwin Realty & Associates, Inc. you are choosing one of the most experienced and respected REALTORS in all of Osceola County. We understand the Osceola County Real Estate market. It’s where we live, and where we work.

With Goodwin Realty & Associates, Inc. it’s the name you trust and the company you keep!

the Ultimate Binge-Watching Room

the Ultimate Binge-Watching Room

Once upon a time, lovers of such antiquated shows as “Sex and the City,” “Friends,” and even “Lost” had to wait an entire week between episodes. Oh, the horror.

On Feb. 27, the show that vaulted “binge-watching” onto the Oxford Dictionaries’ radarreturns: Season 3 of “House of Cards” drops, all 13 episodes at once, on Netflix. Where will you be watching? On your laptop, on your postcollege-era couch with your cat? What if you could create the ultimate binge-watching room, one where you’d be perfectly happy to spend 13 hours (or more!) mainlining what may be the most addictive form of legally available entertainment?

It may be too late to pull this together in time for the “House of Cards” premiere, but “Orange Is the New Black” returns in June. So for some tips, we turned to Danny Walker, owner of Woodland Home Theater in Campbell, CA.

Of course, the TV itself is key. Netflix is streaming “House of Cards” in the ultra-HD 4K format, and to take advantage of that, you need a 4K TV (about $2,000 to $3,000, depending on size). You’ll probably want to mount it and run the wires through the wall—and there will be a lot of wires (budget $500 for labor).

“The whole hype in the media is that everything is wireless, but everything needs power,” Walker says. “You don’t want to watch a battery-operated TV.”

If you really want to soup things up, you could also get a stereo and speaker setup for enhanced sound, like the Sonos playbar and sub ($2,000 to $3,000). Because you might want a dance break every so often, and you’ll be able to tap into your tunes on Pandora/Spotify/iTunes.

Oh, and don’t forget to upgrade your lighting (about $500 to $1,000). So the lights will come on automatically when you pause the show. Duh.

In fact, why stop with the lights? Netflix, TV, stereo, thermostat, lighting—one device can rule them all.

“You gotta geek out,” Walker says. “You’ve gotta have a good remote control.” (Cost: approximately $1,000. Control4 is one maker.)

For refreshment, get a minifridge—but not just any minifridge. At Snyder Diamond, a high-end appliance retailer in Los Angeles, a salesman (who preferred to remain anonymous) suggested an under-counter fridge with drawers, like one by Sub-Zero (approximately $3,800, plus about $200 for installation).

As for snacks, nothing beats popcorn. But we’re not talking the microwave stuff: You can get an old-fashioned, theater-style popcorn-popper for $50 to $200 on

Finally, the seating. “For a dedicated home theater, I would recommend having theater seating,” Walker says, “but for a real TV marathon, you want to be able to stretch out—you want a big, comfy couch. With blankets.”

“Look for a sofa or sectional that isn’t too big for the room, has soft seating but enough cushion fill to maintain its shape over time, and has plush but durable fabric,” says interior designer Jennifer Farrell. For a traditional look, she likes this slipcovered sectional in a variety of configurations ($1,275 to $4,709). Or you can go contemporary with this sectional that’s also a pop-up sleeper ($3,798 to $3,998). “And Z Gallerie has the best throws,” says Farrell ($69.95 to $899.95).

“You could watch TV for years in this room,” Walker says.

OK, now that you’re all set up, only one question remains: What time should we come over? (We’ll bring the pizza.)

Summer Is Almost Here!

Summer Is Almost Here!

Summer is a time for fresh air and fresh linens, sunshiny afternoons and breezy relaxation. Before it hits full force, get your house in order by tackling a few projects that will help you enjoy the season even more.

1. Buy a soaker hose. If you’re in a state where foundations can become problematic if not watered regularly and/or you’re under drought restrictions, this will keep you sane—and potentially keep you from needing to have your foundation jack hammered and hoisted back into place.

2. Change your air filters. Some manufacturers say you should change them out monthly. Although we don’t know ANYONE who actually does this, it’s worth noting that they do actually work more efficiently when changed out regularly, and that can save you money – even though you’re spending more on the filters.

3. Change your refrigerator filter. You’ve probably been a bit lax about this too, right? Presumably, you’ll be drinking more water when it’s hot outside, so change the filter now and improve the taste of your water before you really need it.

4. Buy some decent outdoor furniture. Or fix yours up with outdoor paint. It’s easy to do, whether you’re dealing with wood, metal, or plastic. Check out this before and after:

5. Plant something pretty. Wait until it’s scorching and you run the risk of floppy flowers. Get info about what to plant when for your climate here.

6. Ditch your ruddy throws and blankets. It’s time to bring in something light and soft. Even if you’re not one who does a big seasonal swap with your furnishings, this easy change out will make your home feel fresh and summery.

7. Change out your backsplash. If it’s dark, drab, or dated, a new backsplash can give your kitchen a lift without knocking anything major down or adding anything super expensive. Choose something reflective to bounce light around the room if you have a dark space.

8. Clean your carpets. Were you aware that “E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, and other bacteria” can live in your carpet? Gross, right?

“Research indicates that your carpet probably contains about 200,000 bacteria per square inch, making it 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat,” said Men’s Health. “The average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells every hour; these skin cells hit the rug and serve as food for germs. Add in food particles, pollen, and pet dander, and you have a gratis buffet.”

A vacuum cleaner might not be able to reach deep down to grab all of those germs, but a professional carpet cleaner will.

9. Plant a vegetable garden. Summer is the perfect time to start eating better. Give yourself an edge with an at-home vegetable garden. Veggies that can be planted in early spring include spinach, kale, radishes, broccoli, and peas.

“Summer favorites like okra, squash and tomatoes require long, hot days to grow,” said P. Allen Smith Garden Home. Get a complete how-to for planting your first garden here.

10. Clean your windows. They’re probably gross, and they’re also blocking the light.

11. Slap on some solar screens. If you’re in a high-heat area and you want to block the sun, solar screens may be the answer.

“Solar Screens are the most effective window treatments that you can apply to your home for lowering energy bills by stopping the heat transfer through your windows and doors while still maintaining your view,” said Lone Star Solar Screens.

12. Take on a project and make it a family affair. Summer fun doesn’t have to be relegated to vacations. Want to lay new tile in the kitchen? Take the family to the local big box store for a workshop and then get started. It might just be fun. And even if you have to overcome some occasional (or more than occasional) whining along the way, you’ll always have the pride of knowing you did it yourselves once you’re done.

13. Build a firepit. You could always buy one, but why should you when you can build one of these 38 options yourself.

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