Archive for 2015

Home Buying and Selling Tips for the Holiday Season

Terry Riffe | December 16, 2015

holidays are a great time for real estate

If you plan to buy or sell your home during the holiday season, here are a few tips…

Although many sellers will pull their homes off of the market during the holiday season, for the serious buyer or seller – deals still happen between now and January. There are buyers out there during the holidays and for the serious seller, this could easily translate into higher interest in their home. Though it’s commonplace to think otherwise, market ready buyers and sellers have closed successful deals through the holidays.

For the buyers ~

Revisit listings you may have passed on earlier. If you passed on a property because of price, you may find a seller more motivated to negotiate. A home that you disregarded yesterday may become your dream home of tomorrow.

There are serious sellers out there, deals happen if you put yourself out there. Leverage these last few weeks of the year to find a home. Pound the pavement.

For the sellers ~

Take advantage of the holiday selling season and make your motivations known. Make sure everyone knows you are ready to negotiate. Offer incentives like a credit towards closing costs or include some furniture. Be sure that your agent is communicating your intentions to buyer’s agents.

Be sure your price is inline with the market. If your home has been on the market with no offers, chances are you are priced too high. Now is the time to get serious. Drop your home to a more favorable price now, you have a captive audience.

Deals happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the motivated buyer and seller, the holiday season could be the perfect opportunity for their perfect deal. If you are interested in buying or selling your home this holiday season, I’d be happy to assist you! Send me an email or give me a call 1 (407) 800-0888. I look forward to hearing from you. Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas!


Orlando Vacation Realty is Proud to Announce Joining with the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP)

Terry Riffe | November 30, 2015

AIPP member Orlando Vacation RealtyAn Flamand, with Orlando Vacation Realty, is very proud to announce they have joined with the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP).

AIPP has been set up to provide the consumer with confidence by promoting the highest standards of professionalism in the International property industry. Their aim is to improve the standards of professionalism in the International property market. They are a non-profit organisation, they do not sell property.

AIPP provides a set of standards for companies selling international property. Thousands of people are buying overseas property; Buying for holidays, for investment and for living. AIPP is working to make certain the consumers understand what it means when they see the AIPP logo on company literature.

I am proud to be associated with  an organisation that requires members to act with honesty, transparency and integrity in all dealings with the public and with in the industry. This is just one more way that you can be assured of the highest quality service when you choose to work with Orlando Vacation Realty.

If you have any questions regarding the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), I’d be happy to answer them for you. If you are interested in buying or selling vacation, investment or residential property in the Orlando/Disney area – give me a call +1 (407) 800-0888 or send me an email

I look forward to hearing from you!


Why Depending on Zillow’s ‘Zestimate’ May not be Wise for Buyers or Sellers

Terry Riffe | November 16, 2015

how accurate are zestimatesDepending on Zillow’s ‘Zestimate’ may not be wise; here’s why…

Zillow’s ‘Zestimate’ is the automated property value estimates provided by online real estate powerhouse website Zillow. The strong influence and power of the internet has 90% of future homeowners searching the internet for homes, leading many to Zillow’s ‘Zestimate’. Buyers are more educated than ever before, but we must ask – Is it always in their best interest?

Some buyers will rely purely on the values that are set on websites like Zillow, the so called Zestimate. More often than not, these estimates of value of a home are inaccurate. What people don’t realize is that these are automated systems and even though they may work perfectly for some areas, can be totally incorrect on others.

Zillow uses a system called automated valuation model (AVM), this system evaluates millions of homes automatically for their current market value. This technology is amazing and provides an enormous amount of information for the consumer. The nicest thing about it is that it will condense the multiple resources to provide everything in one place. The sophisticated algorithms to predict value are very valuable. Nevertheless, Zillow has done an extraordinary job in providing real estate information to consumers. However, this information should never be the rule of thumb and should never override an actual appraisal or CMA (comparative market analysis). It is inconsistent and inaccurate.

Any information on a particular property will be consolidated and used. How often are properties listed with the wrong square footage, missing bedrooms or incorrect tax records? If we look at what has been sold in a radius and compare homes from different neighborhoods,  you may be comparing apples to oranges and coming up with very skewed results.

It is very important for interested buyers to understand that websites such as Zillow are a good tool, nonetheless, it is not always correct and cannot be used to base market value on a home.

It’s not just a Buyer’s Market, it’s Perfect for Sellers too!

Terry Riffe | November 11, 2015

IMG_7886-6With real estate prices on the rise and interest rates still low, the housing market is ideal for both sellers AND buyers.

If you have been thinking of selling your home, now is the time. During the fall and winter months, there are less listings coming on the market – which gives the buyers less of an inventory to choose from. Listing your home in the fall and winter months gives your home more exposure and draws in potential buyers that wouldn’t normally see your home.

Unless you are planning to sell your ‘For Sale By Owner’, you will need to choose an experienced real estate agent to represent you. Keep in mind that all agents are not equal. You will want to choose one with a proven track record in your area. Ask friends, relatives or coworkers that have recently bought or sold a home for recommendations. Be sure to check reviews and do your research. As a seller’s agent in the Orlando/Disney area for many years, I have extensive experience in this market. My clients benefit greatly from my local expertise.

Begin preparing your home before you put it on the market. Don’t put off what you can do today. Buyers are looking for a move in ready home, not something they will have to work on. Making small changes before listing your home can make a big difference once you have potential buyers walking through. Small repairs done before listing your home can make the difference not only in how long your home sits on the market, but can also make a big difference in the bottom line of what buyers are willing to offer.

When you list your home, be sure to make your home available. This means not putting any restrictions on when potential buyers can view your home, within reason of course. If a client is interested in seeing you home, but not able to, you can be sure that they will find another home to look at.

Have your plan together of what you are doing after the sale. You can ask your real estate agent to help you find suitable housing before you begin marketing your home.

If you keep all of this in mind, selling your home can be a very positive experience. If you are in the Orlando area and ready to sell your home, I’d be happy to assist you. Email me or call me +1 (407) 800-0888.

What UK Investors Need to Know Before Buying Property in the Orlando/Disney Area

Terry Riffe | November 9, 2015

Brand 1With its sunny climate and world-renowned attractions, the Orlando/Disney area is one of the top locations for Uk property investors. Before you decide on your property and make a commitment, there are a few details you should keep in mind.

Familiarize yourself with the Immigration laws. The United States has a complicated visa system. The visa you choose will be based on whether you plan to move to Florida, live in the state part time, whether you will be associated with a United States company and other factors.  Also keep in mind, it is not necessary to travel to the United States to purchase an investment or vacation property. With the advancement in technology, investors are able to view properties online and take care of all legal documents either via email or courier services such as UPS. If necessary, US bank accounts and mortgages can also be handled without the investor travelling to the US.

Unlike buying in the UK, you do not need an attorney to purchase property in the United States. In the United States, you will want to partner with a REALTOR® that will act as your buyer’s agent. Your agent will find homes that fit your criteria and schedule showings for you.  Once you decide on the home you like, your agent will then negotiate the price and terms on your behalf.  Your licensed agent will act as your transaction broker and represent you during the entire process. She/He will represent you as a buyer regardless as the properties’ listing company/agent. (Please note: You are not required to select a REALTOR® to buy a property in the United States, however it is in your best interest to have one represent you.)

Decide how you will be using your property. Will you be renting the home out short-term as a vacation rental? Will you be leasing the home out long-term, generally seven to twenty four months? Will you be fixing the home up (flipping) to sell at a higher price? Or, will you be using the home primarily for yourself and your family? This is very important to be sure of before going in. In the Orlando/Disney area, not only do housing guidelines and restrictions vary by county and city, but also by area and subdivision. Your REALTOR® will better be able to find your dream home once this is established.

If you are a UK Investor and you are ready to invest in the Orlando/Disney area or have more questions, I’m happy to assist you! Send me an email or give me a call +1 (407) 800-0888.



It’s a Great Time to Purchase a Home – Here’s Why…

Terry Riffe | November 6, 2015

NOW TIME TO BUYIf you have been on the fence about whether to purchase a home or not, just do it! If you have the financial resources and means, it is a great time to purchase a home. Here’s why…

~ Home values are on the rise. The appreciation rate for the Orlando area for the last quarter was at 4.86%, and this number is expected to rise in the near future. What does this mean for you? It means that a home is not only great place to invest your money, but a great place to build family memories while you’re at it.

~ Rental rates are on the rise while rental inventory is declining.

~ Interest rates are low, low, low. Today’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage (conventional financing with 5% down) is at 3.81%, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.01%. It’s just a matter of time before the Feds raise these rates.

~ Many lenders are lowering their credit score requirements and relaxing their guidelines.  This makes it easier for some borrowers to qualify for a loan than in recent years.

If you decide it’s time for you to buy a home, be sure you choose a trusted real estate agent in your area. If you are ready to buy a home or an investment property in the Orlando/Disney area, I’m ready to assist you. Email me or give me a call 1 (407) 800-0888. Happy house hunting!



Here’s what you Should Consider when Choosing Your Real Estate Agent…

Terry Riffe | November 4, 2015

An Flamand, real estate BrokerBefore making what is probably your largest financial purchase, choosing the right Real Estate agent is a very important decision. After all, you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, you must be able to have serious conversations with them and be confident in their negotiating skills.

You will want an agent that will listen to you and be your partner throughout the entire process. You must also be sure that the agent you choose is an experienced professional and knows the market that you are interested in.

So, choose someone that you trust is the most qualified for the job, but also someone that you know will be with you for every step of the process.

While it may sound like a daunting task to navigate through, it’s not. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and potential agents to make it a little easier…

Will I be working with you directly?  You want to make sure that you are able to connect with your agent directly. While this doesn’t mean that you won’t also be working with a Sales Associate or Administrative Assistant, as they are often invaluable, you’ll want to be sure that your agent is available when you need them.

How many sales have you closed in the area that I’m interested in?  This is very important. An agent’s track record is proof of their success in any given area.

Is the agent also a Broker?  In choosing an agent that is also a Broker, you can trust that this person is committed to a career in Real Estate and goes above and beyond what is necessary. Experience along with continuing education generally make for better agents.

Be sure to ask for names and contact information of past clients that are willing to provide references.  This is probable the most important piece of advice for choosing your real estate agent. Don’t just read reviews. Speaking to past clients personally will give you the most insight to whether or not an agent has the qualities and knowledge that you are looking for.

Choosing your agent is the first step in the home buying/selling process. Take into account these suggestions when deciding on your agent. There are many qualified agents out there that are willing to work hard to ensure you find your perfect fit when searching for a home or is willing to market your home aggressively when you are ready to sell.

If you are interested in buying or selling in the Orlando or Disney World area, I would be happy to assist you. Email me or give me a call 1 (407)800-0888. I look forward to working with you.

In Real Estate, a Picture is Worth more than 1000 Words

Terry Riffe | November 2, 2015

Before and AfterAccording to an old saying, a picture is worth 1000 words. But, when it comes to real estate, a picture could be worth $1000 or more! There is another old saying, which holds true in real estate also, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

With all of the competition in the real estate market, it is important to put your best foot forward, and in this case that would be your pictures. The majority of buyers are searching the internet for their next home purchase. This means that they are scrolling through hundreds of pictures, if not more, deciding which homes they would like to look into more and which homes they are not at all impressed with. Having professional pictures, is essential in portraying your home’s true style and a complete necessity in keeping up with today’s market.

The Wall Street Journal published a graph to show that in the majority of price brackets, more homes sold that had professional pictures done compared to photos done by the homeowner or agent. They go on to say that listings with better photos demand higher prices.  The data also shows that listings with nicer photos get more online attention.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of a good picture. Poor composition and bad lighting could be the difference in selling your home or having your home sit on the market.

If you are ready to list your home, I’d be pleased to assist you. At Orlando Vacation Realty, we have professional pictures done for every home we list. Email me or give me a call 1 (407) 800-0888. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Looking to purchase a luxury investment property? Here are a few tips…

Terry Riffe | October 28, 2015

1With the economy bouncing back, both here in the US and the UK, more investors are turning to luxury property as an investment.  If you are considering investing in the luxury home market, here are a few tips to keep in mind…

Work with a local expert. It’s important to have a Buyer’s Agent that is familiar with the area you want to buy in, especially in the Luxury market. A local Agent will be aware of what is on the market that suits your criteria and will be readily available for appointments.

Look beyond the photos. Many larger homes do not photograph well. Don’t dismiss a property based on the photos.  Google Earth is a great resource for seeing properties and communities from another point of view.

Have your financing in order. If you plan on financing your luxury investment property, understand that the process usually takes longer than smaller mortgages. Because the seller of a luxury property is normally only interested in showing to qualified buyers, it is important that you have all of your financial documentation in order ahead of time.

Bottom line is, knowing your priorities in a Luxury Investment property and working with a local agent that specializes in these properties will ensure that you have a pleasant and prosperous experience. If you are in the market to purchase an Investment property in the Orlando/Disney area, I’m here to help. Send me an email or give me a call 1 (407) 800-0888.





Fall is a Great Time to Buy a House

Terry Riffe | October 26, 2015

NOW TIME TO BUYIf you have been thinking about buying a home, there is no time like the Fall; Fall is a great time to buy a house. Here are just a few of the reasons why Fall is great for home buyers…

Sellers are motivated, wanting to close before the end of the year. A home seller would probably like to take advantage of a gain or loss during the tax year. You may find homeowners looking to make deals so they can close before December 31.

You have fewer buyers to compete with. You will likely notice fewer buyers at open houses, as many families have taken themselves out of the search market since school started. This means less competition and translates into more opportunities.

Price reductions on the leftover Spring inventory.  Sellers that listed their home in the Spring and are still holding on to it are reducing their prices. Whether they listed too high to start with or are ready to let it go below market value, either way, it creates a great situation for those looking to buy.

Are you ready to purchase a home? I’d be happy to assist you. Email me or give me a call 1 (407) 800-0888.