Buying a Home in Florida? 3 Tips To Know Before You Go

Three TIPS FOR VIEWING St Cloud Florida  HOMES for Sale: You Should Know Before You Go

Searching for the perfect home St Cloud/Kissimmee Florida  can be a daunting task. Too often a potential buyer faces the frustration of calling on homes which are already under contract, or do not meet their budget.

Working with our trained staff of quality Real Estate Professionals here at St Cloud Homes, LLC is one way which will streamline the process and make the transition from potential home buyer to successful home buyer seamless. Once you have your financing in order; we will customize a personalized search addressing your wants and needs which match your budget. We will find the best homes which meet all those needs. You will choose the ones you want to see from the convenience of your computer. We will do the rest!

Here are Three Quick Tips to consider when viewing St Cloud Florida Homes for Sale  that will help you.


#1) Let us Set the appointment for you.   NEVER preview a home at dusk or in the dark. Keep in mind in the winter months it gets dark earlier. Schedule your viewing during daylight hours so you can see obvious things both inside and out.


#2) Take a notebook and camera with you. Taking photos and making notes of things you see is very important in determining if the home is want you want and you are prepared to make the necessary repairs.  It also will help remind you later which home you liked the best.


#3) Do not sign an “As-Is” Purchase Agreement, if you intend to ask for repairs after-the-fact. Knowing in advance what you want to repair/replace yourself will be very helpful in getting estimates before the house closes so you can budget appropriately.  Other costs you need to know are:

Title Work


Property Taxes

Home Owners Insurance

Utility Deposits


We here at St Cloud Homes, LLC will assist you in making the process of buying a home as easy as possible.  Our proven Fast Track System of Home Buying has proven results of happy home owners who utilized our service to make their dreams come true.




How do I buy a home for unpaid property taxes in Florida?

Every state is different when it comes to how they handle unpaid property taxes. In Florida, the process is different than it may be in other places.

Properties that are in arrears, are listed on the Clerk of Courts website. 

When a homeowner becomes delinquent, and their Property Taxes are not being paid by a mortgage lien holder, you can bid on a tax certificate at auction which is held at the courthouse.   A tax sales in Florida, means you are NOT bidding on property but instead the interest you will accept after paying the delinquent taxes in full on behalf of the homeowner. The bidder willing to accept the  lowest interest wins. This mean it could be as little as 1% for instance.

A Tax lien certificate is issued, but the owner of the property has 2 years to make good on the back taxes and interest before you can do anything with the paper you are holding against it.
This is known as the “Right of Redemption” which we have in this state. You must continue to pay property taxes for that property in order for the tax certificate to remain valid. The owner has the right to repay you, with interest, and reclaim the house at anytime during that window.       If they default, and fail to exercise their ” right of redemption”, then you can proceed with the Clerk of Courts to obtain a tax deed.

This is a lengthy process, with no guarantees that you will own the property, which you have paid the taxes for unless, the owner of record fails to repay you.  Investors, for many years looking for long term gains used this tactic successfully. When the Real Estate Market collapsed, tax sales became a little less popular as foreclosure increased. Banks looking to protect their investment, were paying taxes as part of the mortgage (funds were held in escrow for this purpose).




 We are Buyers agents specializing in residential Real Estate in St Cloud Florida,

St Cloud Homes, LLC is proud to announce the new Fast Track Home Buyers Program. It is free, simple, and effective.  Buying a home can be a frustrating experience. We have a proven system which will put you on the fast track to home ownership.  Our free comprehensive program plan equips you with the tools you need to close the deal.

Here is how it works.

1)  The first thing you will need is a Pre-Approval Letter from your lender. It is free.  Any loan officer can assist you where you do your banking. They will need to know how much you earn, and how much you owe.  Based on your most recent pay stubs, and credit history, the loan officer will be able to determine if you can qualify for a home loan, and how much home you can afford. Once they have established that, ask them for a Letter of Pre-Approval.

2)  Call our office.  We will put you on the St Cloud Homes. LLC provides the Fast Track to finding the right home which meets your needs and budget. It is fast, simple and free. In just a few minutes we define what you are looking for, how much you can spend and what your needs are. Once we have that we will search for homes which are a match for you.

3) Fine Tuning To the Finish Line- The right home is out there, with our Fast Track program you will have the leading edge on the all the available homes in the St Cloud, Florida area which meet your needs and budget.  It is fast, effective and saves you valuable time.  We will narrow down your selections, set up your showings and prepare your offer, painlessly.

The housing market is heating up, and there is competition- our experts at St Cloud Homes, LLC explain how to make the best offer, what factors influence price, and what the current market conditions are.  So that your offer stands out.

Costs You will Need to Consider:

Down Payment money (can include gift funds)

Home Inspection


Home Owners Insurance

Closing Costs

Repairs and improvements you may want to make after closing.

Our fees are  paid by the seller at closing.

St Cloud Florida Home Prices Inching Higher

Looking for your next home? St Cloud Florida Homes for sale will cost you more than they did just six months ago.  On average about 12% more.  The reduction in the amount of available homes, has created an increase in sales price. While sales have been brisk nationwide, and recently the TV news has announced that home the housing market appears to be improving, those buyers who were “on the fence” will no doubt be paying more than those who acted while the market reports were bleek.

Some Realtors® are reporting that Appraisals are still a problem as they are based on recent sales, they generally lag slightly behind market valuations Realtors® use when pricing homes. Additionally some sellers have been holding out waiting for the market to improve and have priced their homes too high to clear the appraisal obstacle for financed purchases.

Pending sales are those which have yet to be completed-sort of like being in the bullpen warming up before being put in the game. These properties which are under contract are at the leading edge of the market.  They are waiting to close. They rely on sales which closed before them and will help determine sale that follow them once they have reached the closing table.  On average sales fail three times before they are successful.

The primary reason for this is failing to achieve the appraised value. One third are cancelled because buyers change their minds, or grow weiry of waiting for banks to counter their offers. When they do they are usually not within a range the buyer is willing to pay.

We have seen a sharp rise in foreclosed (bank owned) properties in need of work counter offering at prices that are unacceptable to buyers who must make the repairs.  The discounts once offered on “Distress Sales” are indeed diminishing as Lender scrutinize achieved sales and are pricing their properties comparable to those prices. But are they really comparble? Usually not.

Investors have been buying for over two years when prices hit rock bottom in St Cloud back in late 2010 and throughout 2011.  They could pick up older homes sharply discounted, make the repairs and updates and turn those sales around at a respectable profit.

Banks have responded, by raising the bar on what they will accept for their distressed properties by offering them at much higher prices than they did a year ago. Despite the fact they may need thousands of dollars of work.  Thereby decreasing the investors incentives for quick flips and higher profit margins.

For the average buyer or first time home buyer what is available on the lowest rung are generally homes which need a large amount of renovation.  If you want a “turn key” move in ready home you will be looking at paying $20-40,000 more that you would have just last year.  The trend is expected to continued as lender are tightly controlling both the borrowing end (financing) and the selling end at releasing the foreclosed homes in their inventories.

Buying a St Cloud Florida Home “As-Is” Means No Repairs

“As-Is” Means Just That–Put Away Your Punch List. Homes In my area, Homes in St. Cloud Florida are selling. In fact sales are up over 6% from this period last year. The shift to a Seller’s Market, has left some buyers a bit confused. When Homes in Kissimmee/St Cloud are offered “As-Is”, that basically means that what you see is what you get, and yes, you still can have a home inspection performed to verify things which are not blatantly obvious.

We recommend that buyers ALWAYS have a home inpection performed. Making an offer on an “As-Is” property, means that the seller is unwilling or unable to make repairs you may deem desirable. Signing an “As-Is” Purchase Agreement, means you can not backtrack later on and present a punch-list to the seller before you close. On a standard Real Estate Purchase Agreement, you may have this option, but an “As-Is” Purchase Agreement, permits a home inspection and financing contingency, but eliminated the repair clause.

 “The buyer would like new siding and a new garage door” said the Buyers Agent. “That’s nice” the seller agent responds. “Well, what is your seller going to do about it?” “Nothing” Said the buyers agent. “According to the “As-Is” Purchase Agreement your client signed, repairs are not the burden of the seller.” “Well, what if the financing falls through? What then?” “The Property was priced to reflect the repairs needed, and within the scope of comparable properties which have sold recently of similar, age, condition, size and location”.

One cannot change the terms and conditions if the sale after the fact, nor can one, re-define the “As-Is” Purchase Agreement after-the-fact. Once signed it is a binding agreement. Unless, the home inspection reveals unsatisfactory results or financing is declined you are bound by that agreement. Homes do not have to be perfect to sell. Infact, many have flaws, and are in need of some basic things. If you are planning on purchasing a Home in Kissimmee/St Cloud that is listed “As-Is” put away your punch list until after you close.

Home Ownership: The Mortgage Interest Benefit Homeowners Have Over Renters

There has been talk, that politicians want to take away the Home Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction,  currently enjoyed as a benefit of Home Ownership.  Home Owners comprise 65% of the population.  Despite the housing market crash, and five million home foreclosures nationwide, the American Dream is still surviving depsite these tough economic times. 

While it is true that Mortgage Burning Parties may be forever a thing of the past, removing the benefit of the Home Mortgage Interest Loan Deduction would be paramount to sucker-punching the home buying public.

Home Mortgage Interest Loan Deductions do trickle down through the economy. When a homeowner receives a credit it reduced their tax liability. Closing costs are also a tax deductible item.

So in any given year someone buys a home, the following years return is often a hefty one if they had rented previously. 

 The housing market has already suffered significantly-there is no point in slashing the one true benefit home owners have which is the tax deduction of their Home Mortgage Interest and Property Taxes.


That money can be reapplied to future mortgage payments, or used to offset unexpected expenses.  With unemployment at 14.3% (real) including people who have been out of work, whose benefits have expired, or have just given looking–the demand for continued relief in any form will help taxpayers in tough times. For those who have been long time home owners it will help stave off rising costs in other areas.  Until such time as the economy really recovers, it would be counter-productive for legislators to be looking at this as a consideration.

Non-Distress Sales Are Making a Come-Back in St. Cloud Florida

Non-Distress Sales Are Making A Come-Back in St. Cloud, Florida. You read that right. Non-Distress Sales.  Not short-sales, not foreclosures, regular sales between a real seller and real buyer. The way Real Estate used to be. Buyers by the hand full who are fed-up and frustrated that banks juggle multiple offers and they always seems to end up on the short end of the stick, are revisiting traditional sales.

Short-Sales and Foreclosures are typically discounted seventeen to twenty-five percent (17-25%) off of fair market value. So a traditional sale may cost a little more. But what a traditional sale offers that discount properties do no,t is a shorter response time to offers, and ability to negotiate. 

In a Foreclosure sale, the bank knows  NOTHING about the property they now own. Nothing. 

They have no idea how old the roof is, if it ever had a water leak, or when the carpet was installed. In addition, often those properties have been long neglected due to the harsh economic times and shortage of repairs funds most home owners set aside to keep up with routine maintenance. 

 So a bargain is not always a bargain.  In addition to the defects you can see, there could be many you cannot see.   Having a home inspection performed may be one way to mitigate unexpected problems, but as any contractor knows one problem can often lead to another. It could become a money pit quickly.

In a traditional sale, the home owner has a better overview of repairs, problems, cures and dates work has been performed. There is something called a “Seller’s Disclosure” which in Florida Home Sales, is a handy document covering a variety of topics all pertaining to the homes various systems.  Ask for one.  In the long run, a traditional sale, one that is not a distress sale may be worth a second look. The money you pay up front, may save you much more in repairs later.  St Cloud Homes, LLC


RENTAL HOMES IN ST CLOUD FLORIDA– While news reports of a down housing market may have discouraged many would be homeowners from taking the plunge back into buying Real Estate;  investors flocked at the opportunity to scoop up distressed property at a huge discount. 

Contrary to popular belief,  Investors are not necessarily guys in business suits but rather average people with a basic understanding that timing is everything when it comes to buying and selling real estate. Buy low, sell high.  Declining value means opportunity. 

Investors watched the market here closely. As the glut of foreclosed homes hit the market, they had an ample supply of inventory to choose from. Most were looking for 3 bedroom 2 bath homes in St Cloud Florida. 

Why developments don’t work as good investments.

 While planned developments appeal to the average consumer, novice investors lost their shirts when the housing market peaked back in 2007.  Why?  Savvy investors look at the bottom line. Novice investors don’t. 

 Novice investors,  did not factor in the carrying costs and additional fees as part of their investment properties in St. Cloud Florida.  For that reason sub divisions while appealing to consumers as primary residences are attractive, are losing propositions for seasoned investors who know the burden of additional taxation such as CCD fees and Home Owners Association fees chipped away at their profit margins.

CDD fees (community District Development) are bonds the builders put in place to pay for amenities like sidewalks, street lighting,  club houses, community pools and common areas. These bonds are rolled into the property tax paid by Kissimmee and St Cloud Florida  home owners.

Comparing apples to apples, a 3 bedroom 2 bath home within the city limits of St Cloud Florida (outside of development) may have property taxes within a range of $2000-3000.  A similar home inside a development with  CDD fees would have a tax base of $3000-4000. Not including the additional cost of the home owners association fees.   It is not hard to figure out why they went belly up when the market went flat. They got caught short as value began to decline and the carrying costs were prohibitive from profitable renting.

Rental demand is on the rise.  The hundreds of thousands of people that got caught up in frenzy of the heated real estate market between 2005-2007 have lost their homes. As a result, they are now converted renters. Rents are predicted to rise annually as the demand for housing increases.  A 3 bedroom home in St. Cloud Florida will fetch $900-$950 a month.  A four (4) bedroom home can expect to yield $1200-1500 a month in the St Cloud Florida Area

While it is true that prices have slowly inched up over a year ago, at about a 6% gain, the selection of quality homes has decreased proportionately. What is coming to market now, are homes which have been in the foreclosure process for years in some cases. As a result they need a great deal of work to bring them back to rent-able status. 

 Early on, banks were reluctant to sell to investors, in fact, many would not.  They were holding out for the new wave of first time home owners who would finance the purchase through them giving them one more opportunity to try and recapture their bad debt.  That wave never materialized.  What did materialize were buyers offering cash for investment properties.

In a time where we are seeing values finally starting to rise, sompared to other parts of the country, Osceola County, specifically St. Cloud Homes have seen a median sales price rise on resale properties, which is  currently at $185,200.

Lease to Own Property in St. Cloud Florida

 LEASE TO OWN RENTALS INQUIRIES RISE  in my Market of St cloud Florida.

Lease To Own Homes, not a new idea by any means, but an old idea that is experiencing a renewed interest among renters. With Sellers…not so much. The concept of “leasing to own” or “Lease With The Option to Buy” is designed for renters to be able to apply a portion of the monthly rent to a down payment to purchase the property at a later date. (Typically within a year of the lease agreement)
Increased demand for housing, has lead some renters to make more inquires about Lease Options, or Rent to Own properties. But in a distressed area, that can be a very risky proposition. If the landlord/property owner is in default you could end up losing everything you have down.
For Sellers, there is NO benefit in a rising market. If you agree to sell the property in a year, you are speculating that the price would have to drop in order for your deal to be a good one for you. Unless there are other factors influencing your decision, and you feel having a buyer ” in residence” is the best way to go.
If you have been waiting for the market to “rally back” to previously over inflated property values, then it is not a good idea to engage in a contract now. A lease to own not only involves a lease, but a purchase option which if signed by all parties IS a contract.
While it is unlikely the prices for homes in St Cloud or homes in Kissimmee will get back to those previous high watermarks anytime in the near future. Many Florida home owners need to see the housing market improve from where it currently is and are waiting patiently for the market to turn around before considering selling. An average home price is $121,000. Most people who purchased in 2005-2007, cannot afford to sell for that price. So as a result, they would not benefit from a lease to own scenario at this time.
The housing market is far too unpredictable, and still under pressure from foreclosures, and short sales to make Lease/Options viable. In a years time, the renter can” opt” out and choose not to purchase. Also known as first right of refusal. But depending on where the market is at that time, it is risky. In a rising market it is clearly to the advantage of the renter/buyer. In a declining market it is the seller which would benefit to the greater degree. Which is why under present market conditions, and an uninspired economy, the Lease To Own Purchase Option has all but vanished in Real Estate.
Poor Credit also plays a factor. People looking to rent (with Lease to Own Options) generally have a credit issue of some sort that would prevent them buying outright. Otherwise, they would be seeking to capitalize on the historically low home loans lenders are currently offering (still under 4%) and be pre-approved to purchase property outright.
Those will less than stellar credit, are hoping to secure a “deal” while prices are low now and capitalize on it later when the market has more sufficiently rebounded and their credit may have matured to a point where getting a loan is more viable.
The Census Data indicates that 65% of American own their own homes. Down from previous years, is the result of the mortgage meltdown crisis, high unemployment, under-employment and a lackluster job market, and homes still underwater, combined with the foreclosure fallout and recent escalation of foreclosure filings, which is affecting one in every 167 homes locally.
Sellers who find themselves owing more than their homes are currently worth have other options with their lenders under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) and lender incentives giving them cash at closing to remain in their during the short sale process.
In addition, the 25 Billion Settlement with the five top lenders as a result of “Robo” signings have resulted in an increase of home loan mofidications designed to save home owners from going into foreclosure by reducing the amount of their current monthly mortgage payments.
Freddie Mac reduced fixed-rate 30 year mortgage interest rates by 1.5% saving homeowners who owed $200,000 a whooping $2900 in interest payments a year.
Banks are working harder to reduce principal amounts owed in hopes of decreasing the record high foreclosure filings which have plagued Florida for more than the last four years.
As the number of renters increases, rents are expected to continue to rise proportionately to demand for rental properties.
Investors know holding properties long term is one way to increase profitability-and therefore would not consider converting a “cash cow” into chopped meat by taking a lease option on their investment.
So with inquires on the rise, understanding why the supply of these types of homes is in short supply gives renters who wish to re-enter the home market (at some point in the future) a better understanding of why sellers are reluctant to want to participate at this time.
There risks to the renters as well. A “landlord” giving you a lease option and is not making mortgage payments is still at risk for losing their property to foreclosure. Placing the renter is a precarious position. The lease would be honored, but the Purchase Agreement may not. Leaving the would be buyer out the money which was to be applied toward the downpayment or purchase price.
While it is tempting from a renter perspective to want to maximize their return on their rent money by having it be utilized as dual purpose rent/ downpayment credit; it is a slippery slope. Finding a cooperative buyer, having a fully executed contract, making sure money is deposited into escrow, and a monthly accounting of what funds are being applied and how, make the bookkeeping aspect significant. Consult a real estate attorney before signing any legally binding agreement.
Millions of former home owners are affected by either having participated in a short sale or been foreclosured upon, and possibiliy even filed for bankruptcy and as a result have damaged their credit.
Renters who have poor credit and feel they cannot qualify under current lending standards, should still consult with a lender and learn how to improve their credit scores, ask what the proper time frames are to re-establishing credit worthiness, and how they can re-build their credit to an acceptable level for credit consideration in the future and construct a plan to achieve that.



Wondering how to make the most of the Real Estate market in Kissimmee and St Cloud?  If you are like most people, you are very aware that there are some great  buys on homes for sale in the Kissimmee and St Cloud Florida area.  With current mortgage rates at 3.87% and the added benefit of the mortgage interest deduction, still available this is the prime time to be seriously looking.

Are Cheap Houses Really A Good Buy?

No. While the prices may be tempting, cheap houses may not be the bargain you think they are. Factors that need to be considered are:

Cost of Repairs

Cost of Insurance

Age of the home


Cheap homes are often older (sometimes historic) homes.  They may need a lot of work.  A home inspection is a good launching point to determine the age and efficiency as well as functionality of the major components of the home.  A good home inspection can range from $200-400 depending on the size of the home. It is highly recommend you invest in one prior to making a purchase agreement.

Most people under estimate how much the actual repairs will cost.

Foreclosed homes are typically in need of several thousands of dollars of repair work as they have been long neglected and uncared for. 



 Hidden issues such as mold,  termite damage, water intrusion, and wood destroying organisms can be very expensive to eradicate.  Lenders make no warranties as to title or condition of the properties they are selling, therefore it is very important that you do your own “due diligence” and know exactly what you are buying before you sign on the bottom line. 

 Estimates do not include additional problems incurred while renovating.  Allow an additional 20-50% over the estimate for unexpected problems which will need attention and add cost to the job. 


Instead of shopping in the” bargain basement” of the home market, consider rolling in the repair costs and looking at mid-range homes.  Avoiding the “money pit” homes, and instead taking the repair money and applying it to a mid-range home will not only increase the inventory of homes you have to choose from, but the potential for the greatest return on your investment long term.

A cheap house is exactly that. It will not increase in value comparatively to a mid-range range home in dollar for dollar investment. An 800-1000 square foot house is never going to be worth what a 1500-2000 square foot house is.  Regardless of the market conditions.

Mid-range homes are newer, and often located in planned developments. They are larger and have a more favorable resale down the road. They will most often require a lot less work. 

Mid-range homes are usually short sale properties or in some cases traditional sales, where the owners have maintained the homes to a better extent than a foreclosed home which has been vacant. Short sale homes can still be purchased at a discount compared to a traditional sale as the price reflects current market value.


 The market downturn has hit the luxury market hard, making now a great time to capitalize on the larger homes which were once completely unaffordable.  Looking at long term holdings in Real Estate, bigger can be better. Especially for younger families looking to grow over time. If you are financially able, the best buys right now, are in the high end homes. They are much larger, have more upgrades, and location is always a factor in best return on our investment.