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What Adds Value to a Home? 10 Ways to Raise a Property’s Value

Purchasing and owning a home represents a major accomplishment in your life. But since home ownership is also an investment, you may be wondering how to raise the value of your home in order to get the most out of that investment. Understanding what adds value to a home will help you get the most out of the property that you own, giving you the best possible return on your real estate investment.

If you want some advice on how to maximize the value of your home, follow the tips we provided to get you started. All of the advice found in our guide will give you some ideas on how to improve your home so that it can achieve its full potential and give you the most rewarding home ownership experience possible.

What Adds Value to a Home? 10 Proven Tips on How to Raise the Value of Your Home

1. Improve Your Property’s Curb Appeal

First impressions count for a lot, and that holds true when considering the value of a property. The exterior of your home and the surrounding yard will be the first thing that potential buyers see when they’re taking a look at your property. Taking steps to improve this first impression that your home will leave can be a great way to increase your home’s value.

Some basic landscaping can go a long way in this regard, whether you’re planting trees to add some character to the yard or planting a garden for a splash of color. Keeping the lawn well-maintained will also send the right message to anybody considering buying the property. A new front door or other exterior improvements to the home itself can also make a big difference.

2. Upgrade to High-Demand Finishes

While landscaping and other exterior improvements are a good place to start, it’s important to make sure the beauty of your property doesn’t only run skin deep. Improve the interior attractiveness of your property by choosing upgrades that are popular among modern buyers. A little bit of market research to see what trends are hot at the time you’re putting your house on the market can go a long way towards getting a better offer for your home.

A few examples that you may wish to follow when thinking of how to raise the value of your home would be to add quartz countertops to your kitchen or to replace brass doorknobs with brushed nickel ones. You may also want to install eye-catching stainless-steel appliances. These upgrades come at a low-cost relative to other home renovations, giving you an easy way to add value to your property.

3. Remodel Existing Rooms

While taking on a renovation project can involve a lot of work and expenses, there are few better ways to increase the value a property holds. Replacing old furnishings with fresh and new pieces that follow the latest trends or updating the flooring in a room are some ways that you can improve the value of your property with a restoration project.

Before beginning any remodeling, take a moment to find your inspiration so that you can set out with a clear goal in mind. Opening up a real estate or interior design magazine can be a great place to start. Recognizing what’s chic and fashionable will help you tailor your own remodeling projects to appeal to the tastes of modern homebuyers.

4. Improve the Building’s Energy Efficiency

Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to make every aspect of their lives greener and more eco-friendly than before. That principle applies to home ownership as well. Better energy efficiency for a property not only leads to a reduced environmental impact, but it also saves the person living in the home money on electricity, heating, and other expenses.

Upgrading to LED lightbulbs from old-fashioned incandescent ones and winterizing any doors or windows are some straightforward ways to improve energy efficiency. You might also wish to install a smart home thermostat to ensure your heating and cooling systems are being used efficiently. If you intend to upgrade home appliances before selling the property, look for energy-efficient options that will be attractive to modern home buyers.

5. Expand the Square Footage

Size isn’t everything, but additional square footage makes a big difference in the overall cost of a property. The most obvious way to do this would be to build an additional room or extension onto the house. Each additional room opens up new possibilities for potential buyers and can be a major factor in what adds value to a home.

Besides increasing the physical size of the home, increasing the finished square footage by remodeling an unfinished basement or attic can be a good method for how to raise the value of your home. You can also visually improve the square footage you already have by making existing rooms feel more open with techniques such as letting more natural lighting in or adding mirrors in strategic places.

6. Reduce the Need for Upkeep

Nobody wants to add any unnecessary stress or hardship to their life. That’s why taking steps that make a home require less day-to-day maintenance can be very beneficial towards improving your home’s value. When people see the work-saving features included with the house, it will help them to picture themselves living in the property. They’ll be thinking of the possibilities the new properties provide instead of stressing over future maintenance requirements.

Some ways that you can reduce the maintenance burden for future owners is to replace major components of the house prior to putting it up for sale. Some ideas would be putting a new water heater or furnace in place, assuring potential buyers that they won’t face any costly replacements of their own. You may also want to have a new roof installed to show the property is well-maintained.

7. Make the Home Smarter

Technology continues to revolutionize all aspects of our lives, and that includes the way that we interact with our homes. Staying on the cutting-edge of the latest developments in smart home technology will leave you with a property that fits in with the expectations of modern home buyers. These improvements also come at a lower cost than large-scale renovations.

Smart home systems include thermostats with automated control, front doorbell systems that include cameras, and more. Integrating up-to-date safety technology into your home is another essential. Home security systems, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke alarms are just some of the most crucial pieces of technology that any home needs.

8. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

A new coat of paint can add life to a property in need of some restoration, and can even change the personality and character that the building gives off. Fresh paint on the exterior sends the right message to anybody who arrives to check out the property, while newly-painted interior rooms look fresh and updated to give the entire home a revitalized feel.

When selecting colors for any repainting that you’re doing, bear in mind that neutral tones appeal to the broadest array of people. However, there may be times that a more vibrant color would suit a particular room better. The ultimate choice comes down to personal preference, but do keep in mind the impression you’ll leave on potential buyers instead of only taking your taste into account.

9. Replace Old Carpets or Rugs

Once you’ve got a fresh paint job, another good step to take to revitalize your home would be to get rid of any drab carpets or rugs that detract from the home’s appearance. Faded colors, old stains, or other imperfections in these components of your house can give the property a dreary feel that might put off some purchasers.

Update your flooring with fresh new carpeting to maximize the attractiveness of your property.  Switching over to popular hardwood flooring choices is another good tip for how to raise the value of your home. Whichever option you choose, the addition of a few tasteful accent rugs can put the perfect finishing touch on your property before you put it up on the market.

10. Keep Up with Routine Maintenance

You should always keep up on regular maintenance needs for your home, but that becomes even more important when you’re thinking of selling the property. If somebody comes to view your property and finds it poorly maintained, that will leave a negative feeling in their mind about the experience. Make sure you’re presenting the best face of your house by ensuring that all of its maintenance needs are met prior to putting it up for sale on the market.

Getting the right real estate agent on your side is another essential step in getting the best possible deal for your property. If you want experience and knowledge of the real estate market to call on, look no further than our experienced team with years of background in the industry. Contact David Dorman today and get the best value possible for your home!

Avoid These 10 Red Flags When Buying a House

If you’re a first time home buyer, all of the different factors you need to consider when buying a piece of property can seem overwhelming. To make your search a little easier, keep this list of red flags in mind when you’re looking for a house to know how to spot potential problems at any home you’re considering.

First Time Home Buyer? Avoid These 10 Red Flags When Buying a House

1. Problems with the Foundation or Structural Integrity

A solid foundation is essential to the quality of the building it is supporting. That’s why one of the most important red flags when buying a house to look for is a crack in the foundation or any other similar issue. A crack in the foundation can easily be detected during your initial surveying of a home and can save you some costly and time-consuming repairs later on down the line.

In addition to the obvious trouble that a crack in the foundation displays, there are other things to look out for that might clue you in on problems with the building’s structure. Sagging floors and walls or doorframes that are somewhat misshapen are other indicators to look out for. These seemingly small problems may point to a larger issue with the building’s structure that will cost you big time further down the line.

2. Signs of Amateur Construction or Repairs

You want nothing but the highest level of craftsmanship used to construct your house. The same standard should apply to any repairs, maintenance, or expansions that were done after the house was built.

When inspecting a home, keep an eye out for any work that was done that wasn’t done up to a high standard. Such work may be indicative of corners cut during the construction or hasty renovations done by ‘flippers’ hoping to cover up problems to turn a fast profit. In any such case, the shoddy work done in the past can create problems for you further in the future.

3. Evidence of Present or Past Pest Infestations

Nobody likes to deal with insects or vermin disturbing their peace of mind when they’re trying to rest and relax at home. Pest infestations can do much worse than creep you out, however. Some of these creatures also have the capacity to damage the structure of your home, while others pose a threat to the health of those living around them by acting as vectors for diseases to spread.

That makes it important to be able to recognize the signs of an infestation when you’re viewing a home you’re considering buying. Signs of an active infestation, such as the creatures themselves crawling or buzzing around, are easy enough to recognize. But you should also look out for other indications of a problem, such as old insect carcasses, droppings lying around the home, or scratches and other marks that indicate the past presence of pests.

4. Stains Present on Walls or Ceilings

A first-time home buyer may overlook the appearance of minor stains and marks when assessing a potential property they’re considering. After all, these minor aesthetic gripes may seem like a minor problem compared to other more obviously important aspects of the home. But the truth is that these stains can be indicative of much more serious problems that should make you think twice about purchasing a home that shows them.

Stains and marks on the walls and ceilings may indicate moisture or mold issues. Ask questions to determine if these marks are the result of a plumbing issue, a leaky roof, or backed-up water from ice damming. That can give you a clearer idea of whether the issue that caused the stain has been resolved or if there’s an underlying issue that needs to be taken care of before you consider moving into the property.

5. Faulty Wiring or Electrical Issues

Especially when you’re looking at an older home, it’s important to keep an eye out for any issues with the electrical systems in the building. If it’s possible to get an opinion from somebody who is knowledgeable about electrical work, inspecting the fuse box and wiring can be beneficial precautions to take to make sure there aren’t any faulty or potentially dangerous issues.

Many people may not have the technical experience to look for such problems, but there are still steps that any home buyer can take. Look out for flickering lights or malfunctioning light switches as some basic indications of electrical problems. These can be signs that you want to have the home looked at by an experienced electrician before making a final call on if it’s the right purchase for you.

6. Indications of Poor Draining

While you’re looking for red flags when buying a house, it isn’t only the building itself that you should be checking out. Look at the yard surrounding the home you’re inspecting and take note of any build-up of water pooling around the structure. This could be a sign that the land isn’t being properly drained. Overflowing gutters or signs of water damage to basement walls are other signs of poor drainage.

Be sure to have this problem addressed if you notice it on a property you’re considering buying. If water is not drained properly, it can seep into the ground around your house and cause water damage to the basement or even more serious harm to the structure of the building itself. Standing water can also serve as a breeding ground for common pests such as mosquitos, and the moisture could encourage the growth of mold or mildew.

7. Areas Kept Off-Limits During Viewing

Since a home you’re viewing isn’t actually yours quite yet, it’s important to respect the privacy of the current owner. One thing that entails is respecting any boundaries that they lay down in regards to areas of the property you can’t see during a showing. This may not be a red flag in itself, but you should definitely take note of this behavior when it occurs.

Before finalizing a deal for the purchase of the property, make arrangements to see the areas that were missed in the initial viewings you had of the property. While there may have been legitimate reasons for keeping the part of the property off-limits, you’ll naturally want to see that area of the structure before completing any deals to ensure the current owners aren’t trying to hide away flaws in that part of the building.

8. Fresh Paint Used for a Cover-Up

In order to impress a first-time home buyer, the person showing off the property you’re looking at may apply a coat of fresh paint to the walls. This can be done with good intentions, as it helps to show off the best face of the property and add a little personality to the walls and ceilings. But you should always keep a skeptical eye out when inspecting a property, and that includes questioning why a coat of paint was applied.

Check for signs of mold, mildew, water damage, or other potential problems at the site of any fresh paint. Check to see if the walls or ceiling are sagging beneath the new coat of paint as well. One of the red flags when buying a house to look for at this stage of your inspection is if the fresh paint seems out of place, such as if it is only being applied to one wall.

9. Strange Odors Inside or Outside the Home

While many of the red flags discussed here are things that you’ll see when looking at a property, you should also be aware of problems you can detect by scent as well. Take a good deep breath both inside and outside of the home and take note of any strange odors you might detect.

There are a range of problems that can be discovered this way, so look for anything out of the ordinary. From the fetid odor of stagnant water to a nearby landfill, any number of problems can be caught early by a keen nose. Another red flag to look out for is the overabundance of scented candles or air freshener, which the homeowner may be using to mask a foul odor you would otherwise smell.

10. Questionable Neighborhood Around the House

A good home is only half of what you’re looking for when you’re buying property. You want to make sure the place you’re calling home for years to come is located somewhere that you want to live. There are a variety of factors to research, including the quality of the area’s schools if you have any children or plan on starting a family. A large number of people moving out is another indicator the neighborhood might be a bad fit.

You don’t have to go it alone when finding your next dream home. Get the help and experience that a proven realtor in our area can provide when you get in touch with our office. Start your search with David Dorman today!

Do You Get All the Money When You Sell Your House?

If you’re selling your home, one of the things you have to look forward to is the money you’ll receive from the sale. David Dorman in Ocoee, FL is here to help you sell your home and get the most out of the experience.

Do You Get All the Money When You Sell Your House?

The process of putting your home up for sale can be daunting. Working with a qualified real estate agent is one way that you can make the process much easier for yourself. But you may still have a lot of questions when it comes to selling your home, especially about the payment.

After the closing process is complete, you’ll receive the money you made from the sale. But are you going to receive all of it? There are several costs involved with the sale of a house, and you’ll have to pay them before you can take home the money from the sale. The good news is that you won’t have to worry about making sure the money goes to the right places. Rather, your closing agent will handle that for you. Here are a few places where some of the money from your sale is going to go.

Your Mortgage

If you haven’t paid off your mortgage yet, then part of the money you make from your sale is going to have to go towards paying the remainder off. It’s only fair, after all!

Of course, if you’ve already paid off your mortgage then you won’t need to worry about losing money to your mortgage broker. But if you still need to pay it off, before closing you’ll receive a notice that will tell you how much your payment will be. This notice will also include any fees or prepayment penalties that might be owed due to satisfying your mortgage before its full term.

Your Real Estate Agent

Your real estate agent works hard to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible. If you’re working with a good real estate agent, they’ll make sure that your home is sold quickly and for the most money you can reasonably expect to get.

Your agent needs to be paid for all that hard work! So part of the fees involved with selling your home, including paying your agent. Most agents are paid a percentage of the sale price, and this percentage can vary. Your agent will let you know what percentage you can expect to be paying them.


The contract of your sale will vary from sale to sale. If your home isn’t in the best shape, then part of the contract might be making any necessary repairs for the buyers. Most of the time when you’re selling a home, a home inspection will be a necessary part. If the inspector finds any major issues, you as the seller will be responsible for fixing them.

Of course, this will be taken out of the money you receive from the sale of your home.


Before you can transfer your property’s title over to the buyer, you’ll need to pay off any liens that might exist against your property. If you don’t have any liens, then you won’t need to worry about this. But if you do, part of your payment will need to go towards paying them off.

Liens can come from a variety of things including civil judgments, child support obligations, or creditor judgments.

Outstanding Amounts Owed

Owning a home means having to pay for all your property taxes and utilities. If you have any outstanding fees at the time that you sell your home, then it will be your job to pay them.

The amount that you pay will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Other Closing Costs

At the time of closing, there may be other closing costs that you need to pay off. These closing costs will change depending on where you live and what specific fees you might owe. These might include a title search, which is a public records search that confirms you’re the owner of the property. There’s also a transfer tax that you may need to pay. This will be separate from your property taxes and varies from state to state.

You’ll also need to pay for title insurance, which is insurance protecting the buyer from any title problems. You’ve also got escrow fees to pay. Usually, both the buyer and the seller pay half of these fees.

How Exactly Does the Closing Process Work?

A big part of selling a house is the closing process. This process can take several weeks. The exact length of time it will take depends on the buyer and how soon they’re able to get their loan approved.

When you do make it to your closing date, you’ll have to sign some documents with your real estate agent as well as a closing agent. The closing agent is a third party whose job is facilitating the sale of your home. When you sit down to sign these documents, there are a few things you’ll need to bring. This includes a valid government-issued photo ID, a cashier’s check for the closing costs you need to pay, all keys for your home, and any access codes that may be required for working things in your home. This includes things like thermostats or garage doors. The documents you’ll need to sign include the following:

The Affidavit of Title

This is a legal document that says you are the legal owner of the property you are selling. It will also disclose any legal issues that are related to yourself or your property.

The Deed

This document transfers the legal ownership of the property from you over to the buyer.

The Seller’s Closing Disclosure

This is an itemized list of all of the financials involved in the sale of your home. It will tell you how much money you’ve made from the sale as well as the closing costs that are owed and the amount owed to pay off the rest of the mortgage if you have not already paid it.

The seller’s closing disclosure will also tell you how much money you’ll be receiving after all of these costs are taken off.

The Bill of Sale

If you are leaving anything inside the house once you’ve sold it, the bill of sale will list it. This includes items like appliances as well as furniture.

The Loan Payoff

This document will detail the amount of your final mortgage payment. This will also list any prepayment penalties.

Statement of Closing Costs

At the time of closing the sale of your home, you will need to sign a statement of closing costs. This simply acknowledges that you’re aware of the costs of selling your home and that you agree to them.

When Do You Get the Money from Selling Your Home?

When you get your money from selling your home depends on whether you live in a wet funding state or a dry funding state. Most states are wet funding states, and this includes Florida. However, if you live in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, or New Mexico, you live in a dry funding state.

Wet Funding States

If you live in a wet funding state like Florida, then the money for the sale of your home will be available as soon as the buyer has sold all of the loan documents. States like this are called wet funding states because the money is available as soon as the documents are signed, while the ink is still wet on the page.

This means that if you live in one of these states, you can get paid for the sale of your home on closing day. By this point, the lender will already have sent the funds to your closing agent after verifying all of the buyer’s documentation.

Dry Funding States

Living in a wet funding state means you get paid as soon as the sale is closed. But if you live in a dry funding state, you might need to wait a little bit longer to get your money. This is what the “dry” in the term dry funding states refers to. The ink will be dry on the page by the time your money from the sale is available.

The amount of time you need to wait for your funds to be available will vary. You might need to wait up to four days before you’re able to get the money, which can cause some issues if you don’t think about the time between your funds becoming available and the sale date of your new home. However, if you live in one of these states, there are some resources available to you in cases like these.

Work With the Best Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling your home, working with a qualified, experienced, and passionate real estate agent is key. Our team is ready to help you get the most out of your home buying or selling experience. Get in touch with David Dorman in Ocoee, FL today to get started.

How Much Money Do You Get When You Sell Your House?

Selling your house can be nerve-wracking and confusing. Since your home has very likely been your biggest financial investment, it’s important to set about things the right way. While the calculations involved with this process can vary quite a bit depending on the situation, there are some things you can keep in mind to help you roughly know what to expect.

How Much Money Do You Get When You Sell Your House?

Understanding Net Proceeds

Once you’ve factored in all the money you had to spend actually selling your house, you’ll be left with the net proceeds. So in general, the net proceeds will be the sale price minus your sale prep costs, closing costs, or the amount of your mortgage payoff.

There can be a lot of hidden costs when it comes to getting your house sold, so keeping track of where your money is going during this process is key to getting the right bang for your buck.

Common Costs While Selling Your House

As we look into how much money you’ll keep while selling your house, any outstanding mortgage balance is going to play a role in what you get to pocket from the sale. The closing costs and your current equity also play their part in the money you can expect to make.

A Closer Look at Your Mortgage Payoff Amount

Your mortgage payoff is how much money you owe for your house. When it comes to calculating your sales expenses, if you’ve taken any lines of credit or equity loans against your property, you should include those costs in your calculations.

Home Equity

If the value of your home has increased significantly, or if you’ve owned your house for a long time, the mortgage payoff should be much lower than your sale price. This is a good thing, since it means more money for you.

On the other hand, when you have less equity that means you’ll have a higher payoff amount when compared to your sale price. That’s why knowing what to expect from your mortgage payoff is very important when it comes to figuring out the money you’ll be able to make at sale.

Other Common Expenses

In addition to the above factors, there are other elements that buyers should keep in mind as they’re figuring out how much money they’ll make from their sale.

1. The Cost of Home Prep

Staging is another term for this “tidying up” process. Home prep is important to a lot of buyers, so most sellers do some form of staging when they put their house up for sale. The goal while selling your home is usually to make the house not only look clean and appealing but to organize things in a way that allows potential buyers to imagine their own stuff and their own lives in the house.

For some sellers, staging could mean tackling a project they think will improve their home’s worth, while for others the process of staging is as simple as cleaning, decluttering, and depersonalizing. These investments should ultimately help you make the sale, so it’s usually worth it to make some improvements as long as you’re keeping your budget in mind.

Repair Costs

During the staging process, you may notice something that needs to be repaired. Many sellers will repair anything they think could be an issue when it comes to their home’s desirability.

Another time you may have to worry about repair costs is if the buyer requests certain repairs before closing. Some sellers may opt to provide credit at closing, so the new buyers can use that credit to have the issue fixed themselves.

Deal With Repairs Ahead of Time

What usually makes the most sense is to get any major fixes out of the way before listing. Upgrades can definitely help your house be more appealing, and the goal of these upgrades is to try to drive in more interest and higher offers than you would have gotten before.

Getting the repairs done beforehand also gives you more control over exactly how much you’re willing to pay for repairs, instead of having to compromise with a buyer on what they think the repairs are going to cost.

2. The Cost of Moving

If you need to use the services of professional movers or a truck rental, those are costs you’ll have to consider when it comes to your net proceeds. Even if you roll up your sleeves and move out all on your own, the price of packing materials and housing costs if you have to stay somewhere temporarily will take their slice of the money pie.

Moving locally is less costly when it comes to gas and professional moving fees. Make sure you research ahead of time to see the price per hour and per mover for the company of your choice.

3. Transaction Fees and Closing Costs

One of the biggest expenses you’ll have to face will probably be closing costs. This will usually take a percentage of the sale price. How much of a percentage it takes can vary widely depending on various factors. A realtor should be able to help give you an estimate of what your transaction fees and closing costs will be.

The term “closing costs” is usually used to refer to a range of charges. This will include various taxes or fees taken from a home’s sale, as well as commissions, mortgage points, attorney fees, and the cost of listing and buying agents.

How to Start Calculating Your Profit

Once you think you have a good grasp on the charges you can expect it will be much easier to estimate your sales proceeds. First, you should consider the value of your home. The home’s location and market conditions will factor into this, as well the overall quality and upkeep of the house.

Trying It on Your Own

Determining a fair market value for your house can be done in a few different ways. One easy way to do this is to hop online and take a look at what similar houses in similar areas are selling for. For the most accurate results, try to focus on houses that have sold within the last six months. The more recently they’ve sold, the more relevant this information will be for you.

The problem with this method is it’s not completely accurate, and your estimates could end up a little out of whack, which is one reason you may want to consider a realtor’s help.

Loan Payoff Quotes

In addition to a realtor, your lender can also help you determine your potential earnings by providing a loan payoff quote. Your loan payoff may be different from the remaining loan balance you’re used to seeing on your monthly statement. That’s because a loan payoff may also include any owed interest or closing fees that will be expected of you when you sell. Keep in mind that these quotes are usually only good for 30 days or less.

Prepayment Penalties

When you talk to your lender, you can ask them about any prepayment penalties for the loan. Not every loan will have this penalty. For houses that do have this penalty, it’s usually designed with just the first few years in mind. This means if you’ve owned your house for a while you probably won’t have to worry about it.

The goal of a prepayment penalty is to allow a lender to recover the interest charges they’ll lose out on when you close out the loan during the sale. While this penalty doesn’t apply to everyone, it is worth asking your lender about it just in case. The penalty may be calculated by either a percentage of the interest you still owe or a flat rate.

Getting Professional Help

After All These Costs, Why Hire a Realtor?

The truth is, crunching the numbers on your own can be stressful and time-consuming, and it’s pretty important to get it right. When you try to do it on your own, you can run the risk of miscalculating and throwing your budget off track. An agent has the training and experience to give you the most accurate numbers possible, and to help you keep your planning and budget in check.

Hiring a Realtor Can Actually Save You Money

Realtors know their way around selling a house for the right price, and your success means success for them too. It’s in their best interest to get you the best price and help you understand the selling process.

The right realtor will be able to tell you if you’re asking too little or too much for your house. They can also offer advice about navigating the whole complicated process, to ensure you get the best results possible.

They’ve Got Connections

Knowing the right people makes a world of difference in almost any situation. A respectable realtor with a good reputation will have an invaluable inner network. Realtors are constantly working together and discussing various properties with each other. If you need help with part of the selling process, chances are your realtor will know someone they trust who can lend you a hand.

David Dorman is a well-known and respected realtor who has worked tirelessly to help the people of his community as they make some of the most important financial decisions of their lives. If you want a professional hand when it comes to buying and selling your home, reach out to David Dorman in Ocoee, FL, today to learn more.

When You Buy a House What Do You Pay Monthly?

With rental prices in Central Florida rising at a faster rate than the typical renters’ paycheck, more Floridians are realizing the best way to control the cost of living is to own a home. Current low interest rates make the prospect even more attractive. Yet, many first-time buyers aren’t aware of the many expenses involved in homeownership. Here is a comprehensive list of monthly house payments every new purchaser in Florida should anticipate.

Biggest Monthly House Payments: Mortgage

Clearly, your monthly mortgage payment is the elephant in the room. As the biggest expense tied to homeownership, every buyer wants to know their potential payment. The National Association of Realtors estimated $272,500 to be the national median price for a home in 2020. Assuming a 10% down payment, that calculates to $1,700/mo on a 30-year, 3.29% fixed-rate mortgage and $2,276/mo over 15 years at a 2.79% fixed rate.
The average first-time buyer purchasing a $200,000 home on the same terms nationally can anticipate monthly payments of $1,307 and $1,760 respectively. In Orlando, the typical mid-priced home sells for $292,716. Before deciding if any payment fits within their budget, however, every home-buyer should factor in the other expenses. Keep in mind that refinancing is an option, too and that most homeowners don’t stay with their original loan for more than ten years.

Basic Utilities


In 2019, the US Energy Information Administration released a report stating the average Florida resident paid $126.44 for electricity every month. With the need for air conditioning, it shouldn’t come as a shock that is 13% higher than the national average. Additionally, homes consume more electricity than apartments. They come with more appliances, exterior lighting, an automatic garage door opener, and, sometimes, a pool filter.

Other factors affect your monthly bill. The age and condition of the home matter, as do the age, condition, and types of appliances. The efficiency of the HVAC unit is critical. One that performs poorly will increase your bill unnecessarily. Switching from incandescent to LED light bulbs significantly reduces your power consumption. You can find apps online that estimate electric bills and power usage based on the home address.


Like electricity, water and sewage bills vary depending on certain factors. How many residents are there? How much lawn and garden is there to water? How many cars to wash? Is there a pool or jacuzzi? In Orange County, your electric, water, and sewage bills are bundled by the Orlando Utilities Commission, whereas other Floridian municipalities may bill separately.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a typical household in the region uses 6,000 gallons of water and wastewater services each month. Billing ranges from $67 to $95 depending on the specific location and utility company.


The Orlando Solid Waste Division provides curbside pickup for solid waste, recyclables, and yard waste. They will also schedule free pick-up for large items, such as old washers, dryers, and dishwashers that do not fit in your waste bin. According to Orlando.Gov, the standard fee for monthly trash service is $19.28

Cable And Internet

In Winter Park and Orlando, Spectrum and Xfinity are the two cable television providers. Service plans from the two companies range from $30 to $153. Additionally, DIRECTV offers satellite television, while AT&T and CenturyLink feature IPTV and Fibre TV services. Each company also offers internet service. Summit Broadband is making inroads in the area, providing cable and internet service to roughly two percent of households in the two cities.

Maintenance Costs

Lawn Care And Landscaping

One major transition for new homeowners is the difference between watering a few houseplants and caring for front and backyard lawns and gardens. Thankfully, dozens of reputable lawn service and landscaping companies in the greater Orlando area can ease your burden.

Services include regular mowing, tree and hedge trimming, fertilizing, and planting and maintaining flower beds. Cost depends on services rendered and square footage. According to, the price range for simple mowing services in Orlando ranges from $11 to $55 monthly.

Sprinkler System

Most Orlando area homes have irrigation systems in place. If the home you purchase doesn’t, it’s another expense. The typical cost for a four-zone system that covers the average yard is $3,000. It’s a good investment in terms of time-saving and preserving property value. Like many other home upgrades, it can be financed and paid monthly.

Pool Cleaning

If your new home has a pool, but your schedule doesn’t allow time to both enjoy and maintain it, you may opt for a cleaning service. Single visits range from $20 to $30, but you can save as much as 15% by paying monthly for weekly visits. Professional pool cleaners keep your PH balance optimal, skim away accumulated debris or algae, and, for additional fees, winterize your pool, and inspect, replace and/or repair pumps and filters.

Protecting Your Investment

Home Security

When you buy a home, you naturally want to protect it. There are several home security services on the market. Features include contact alarms for windows and doors, motion sensors, motion-activated cameras, and 24-hour access to live operators if an emergency does occur. Many systems can be controlled via your smartphone or laptop while away from home, which is handy when you’re expecting a package to be delivered.

The major cost is installing the system. Typically, installation charges range anywhere from $500 to $800. Charges do not include local permit, inspection, or building fees. Applicable Orlando, Orange County, and Florida sales taxes are also extra, as is the roughly $100 surcharge if circumstances require a general contractor. Most companies allow the homeowner to finance the charge. Once the system is installed, monthly monitoring costs tend to fall between $15 and $30.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Overall, Florida weather is beautiful. New residents flock to the state annually. Unfortunately, with thousands of miles of coastal area, Florida is also subject to catastrophic weather. Situated mid-state, Orlando is comparatively safe from hurricanes and tropical storms, but only if you understand that “comparatively” is the operative word. Beyond insuring your home and belongings against fire, lightning, and theft, it’s imperative that you protect yourself against damages from flood and wind.

For all that, reports that the average annual home insurance premium in the state is $1,353, only $40 above the national average. Again, because Orlando is centrally located, slightly mitigating risk from torrential storms, local homeowner premiums tend to be lower than those in coastal cities.

Community Costs

Homeowners And Condo Association Fees

If you purchase a residence within an HOA or Condominium Association’s jurisdiction, the bad news is you will be required to pay a regular fee. Depending on the association, it is collected either monthly or quarterly. The good news is the fee can cover expenses such as trash collection and landscaping, mitigating and sometimes eliminating other monthly expenses listed above.

Association fees also cover costs for regular maintenance of community buildings, staff, security, and signage. Fees vary according to the size of the association’s jurisdiction, number of members served, and services provided. It’s important to know that associations can also assess much larger one-time fees for larger projects such as roofing, painting, and other upgrades approved by the majority of members.

Property Taxes

Whether you live in an association or independently, property taxes are unavoidable. Municipal, county, and regional governments derive the greater part of their revenue from property taxes. Your contribution funds various services including, but not limited to public schools, police, fire, and emergency services, and maintenance of streets and parks. Orange County’s median property tax is $2,152 per year.

County property taxes are assessed on a millage system. They’re prorated according to property value. Lots with greater value pay higher rates. Again, the good news is that the system has safeguards preventing your taxes from increasing more than three percent annually. When a home is purchased, up to six months of taxes can be collected in advance. Beyond that, they are collected yearly, although the City of Orlando does permit qualified residents to pay quarterly installments.

Improving Property Value

Most of the monthly expenses covered to this point are either necessary or commonly taken on by homeowners. Beyond that, homeowners may wish to increase their property value by renovating or upgrading the house or land. There are several projects that can be undertaken to achieve that aim. Each involves a significant investment, although some cost noticeably more than others. The one thing they all have in common is that the expense can be financed monthly.

Here are just a few possibilities to improve the value of your home.


Repairing or installing a new roof can lower your electric bill, prevent water damage and provide greater protection from inclement weather.


Erecting a new fence around your property can provide additional security and improve the appearance of the property, thereby raising its value.


Installing a new deck in the backyard not only offers your family additional space to enjoy their new home, it makes the home more attractive to potential buyers when you decide to sell.


It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint can make your house stand out in the neighborhood.

While the fact is that homeownership is a better long-term investment than renting in terms of a lower, recoverable cost, there are many monthly house payments attached to that investment of which new owners should be aware while planning their purchase. A qualified realtor can help. Contact David Dorman if you’re looking for your first home in the Orlando area.

How Much Money Do You Need Upfront to Buy a House?

According to a study published on January 22, 2020, rent in Orlando increased 39% from 2010 to 2019. Year-over-year rent prices are also exploding in other Florida cities. If you’re ready to break the cycle of paying more and more every year to an unresponsive landlord, you need to own your own home. Here’s a look at how much money you may need upfront to buy a house, including the down payment on a home you may need.

How Much Money Do You Need Upfront to Buy a House? 

How much money you need upfront to buy a house depends on many factors, including the price of the home you’re buying, the location of the home you’re buying, and the type of mortgage you’re taking out if you’re not paying cash.

As a general rule of thumb, you will need to save up a down payment on a home plus roughly 2% to 5% of the purchase price. Also, depending on your lender, there may be other cash requirements. In other words, you should have the cash to cover 2% to 25% of the home’s purchase price. Let’s take a closer look at the factors affecting how much money you need upfront to buy a house.

Down Payment on a Home

Depending on the type of mortgage you’re getting, your down payment may be up to 20% of the purchase price of the home. It is often recommended that homebuyers put a 20% down payment on a home because private mortgage insurance (PMI) must be paid if they don’t. The cost of this insurance depends on the base loan amount, the mortgage term, and how much of a down payment was put down.

It typically ranges from $30 to $70 monthly for every $100,000 borrowed. The duration of PMI also varies. Sometimes, PMI must be paid for 11 years. In other cases, PMI must be paid for the entire mortgage term. Some lenders may automatically drop your PMI charges when you have paid off 78% of the loan. Other lenders require a formal letter when your LTV drops to 80%. Make sure you understand completely how your lender handles PMI.

FHA Loan

FHA loans are incredibly popular because they only require a down payment of 3.5%. To qualify for an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment, you need to have a FICO score of at least 580. You must put down a 10% down payment if your credit score is lower than 580. However, recently, more lenders are requiring a minimum credit score of 620 to 640. Here are some other FHA loan requirements: 

  • You are purchasing a primary residence
  • You have documented, steady employment and income history
  • Your home has not been foreclosed on in the last 36 months
  • You have a debt-to-income ratio no greater than 50%

If you want to take out an FHA loan and don’t want to pay PMI, you only need to put down 10% of the home’s purchase price. If you don’t put down at least 10% of the home value, and you want to stop paying PMI, you can refinance your home. Your lender will charge you fees to originate the loan, but this may make the most financial sense if you have a much higher credit score or your LTV decreases significantly.

VA Loan

VA loans are also incredibly popular because you can get a VA loan without putting any money down if you present a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to your lender. This COE shows your lender that your service history and duty status qualify you for a VA direct or VA-backed home loan.

However, you may have a debt-to-income ratio no greater than 41% to qualify for this type of loan. Also, while the VA does not require a minimum credit score, your lender might.


If you don’t qualify for a VA loan, you may benefit from taking out a USDA loan. This loan program allows zero-down financing and locks you into a fixed interest rate. People often make the mistake of taking out a variable-rate loan and end up with an interest rate so high they can’t afford the monthly payments. The USDA also does not require a balloon principal payment, and there are no prepayment penalties for rural USDA loans.

What many people don’t know about USDA loans is suburban home purchases can also be made with a USDA loan. You may think the area you want to purchase your home in won’t qualify, but 97% of the country qualifies as rural or suburban. Check the USDA’s eligibility map, and you may be surprised that the area you’re thinking about qualifies. Besides location, here are some other loan requirements: 

  • Salary no greater than 115% of the median local salary
  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Upfront mortgage insurance of 1%
  • Annual 0.35% fee paid monthly
  • Escrow including annual homeowners insurance
  • Escrow including annual real property taxes
  • Closing costs (may be gifted by friends or family members)
  • Primary residence purchase

Closing Costs

Typically, closing costs range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of the home. Among the closing costs you may have to pay are an origination fee, application fee, underwriting fee, and processing fee. These are all costs that may be paid to the mortgage lender. However, third-party fees may also be necessary. For instance, you may be required to pay for:

  • The county recording fee
  • An appraisal
  • Escrow fees
  • Title fees
  • Title insurance
  • A credit report

You may also choose to have a lawyer present when you close on your home, and the municipality of the residence may charge a fee. If you’re worried about out-of-pocket costs, ask the seller if he or she will pay for the appraisal. You can also speak to your lender about alternative loan options or a lender credit to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.  

Property Taxes

You should be prepared for your lender to collect between four and six months of property taxes upfront. In some cases, a full year of real property tax and homeowner’s insurance is required. On average, counties in Florida have a 0.98% real property tax rate. If you’re purchasing a $300,000 property, and you need to pay half of the annual property tax upfront, you should have $1,470 set aside assuming a 0.98% real property tax rate.

Be advised, you can view the property tax bill for the home you would like to purchase by searching by address on the county’s Treasury website. When you’re shopping around for lenders, make sure you ask how much of the real property tax must be paid upfront.

Earnest Money

You also need earnest money to purchase a home. Earnest money is proof that you are truly interested in purchasing the home. If the seller accepts your offer and you sign the contract, the earnest money will be sent from the escrow account to the seller. A certified real estate agent can advise you on how much earnest money you need based on the current market.

In some cases, only a couple hundred dollars will be required. However, in hot markets, you may need earnest money that is closer to 1.5% of the home’s purchase price. In other words, if you are purchasing a $300,000 home, you may need around $4,500 sitting in an escrow account that will be applied to your down payment if the sale goes through. Also, your real estate agent can help you negotiate a lower earnest money deposit.

Cash Reserves

To qualify for a mortgage, you need to have cash reserves in investment or savings accounts. This money must be separate from the other costs of home buying, such as closing costs and a down payment. Lender requirements vary, but you should expect to need up to six months’ worth of mortgage payments. If your mortgage will be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you will need at least two months of cash reserves.

For instance, if you must pay $1,800 per month for your property taxes, PMI, HOA dues, homeowners insurance, loan principal, and loan interest, you should have $3,600 to $10,800 in cash reserves. Note, neither the FHA nor the VA require cash reserves, and the cash reserve requirement may be waived if your FICO credit score is at least 740.

Home Inspection

Before you make an offer on a home, you should get an independent home inspection. An appraisal only determines the value of a home. It does not guarantee there are no structural or safety issues that the current homeowner must resolve before you make an offer.

Homeownership is not impossible. If you have a credit score of at least 580, you may qualify for an FHA loan. You can get the keys to your home with only 5.5% to 8.5% of the home price saved up. If you’re ready to start looking for your first home, contact David Dorman, a real estate agent certified to sell homes in over three dozen Florida cities.

Buying and Selling during a pandemic

We are in uncharted territory in many areas. As a broker in Central Florida, I am constantly looking at trends and issues that affect the home sale process. While I would like to say. Things are steady right now, things are not. It’s not all gloom and doom depending on who is buying and who is selling.

A few of my favorite things

Owning a home is a great thing and after a while, once you get settled in, you really start to make things your own. Personally, my improvement strategy has been to pick one thing a year I want to do and vet it properly for cost etc. before doing anything.

Exciting new program!

David Dorman

With so many non brokerage companies out there making cash offers on homes, it was only a matter of time before the actual professionals got involved and improved on it! Enter REALSURE! Realsure take a unique approach to the cash now home sale process.

Instead of just offering a seller a price, usually lower than market value and then taking on additional charges and fees, Realsure has partnered with REALOGY, which owns major brands such as Coldwell Banker, ERA and our company, CENTURY 21. Once certified, the agents can procure a cash offer for the seller, but unlike other companies who demand you respond to their sale within a few days, Realsure allows the seller to think about it for up to 45 days. This allows the seller to actually list the home on MLS, which will usually result in a higher offer and lower transaction fees, however it allows the seller to have a back up plan if the market is not going their way. We could not be more excited to offer this to our clients! Need more info? Give us a call!