The best location to look for a short-term rental in Orlando
Most guests come to Orlando to experience the various Parks and the great weather. Vacation rentals are primarily located in Osceola and Polk county. Orange county for the most part does not permit vacation rentals. There are also certain subdivisions within the various county’s that do not permit vacation rentals either but that can be easily established with your realtor.
We have found that the best vacation homes are located south of the US192 between US27 (either side of this road is fine) and US535 which borders Storey Lake Resort. A cursory check on the property appraiser’s website will help to determine which county you fall into as taxation is quite different between the two (Please see our blog post on Taxes)
Some subdivision’s offer resort facilities for short-term rentals. Examples of this are Championsgate, Storey Lakes and Windsor at Westside -These are the newer resorts. Older resorts are Windsor Hills, Emerald Island, Paradise Palms and Watersong. There are some other resorts to avoid which trap homeowners in excessive HOA fees or rules – these homes can easily be identified with their low sale prices. The abovementioned resorts are close to Disney which is a major consideration for young families that visit. Resorts do have higher HOA fees to pay for the amenities. It would be an important consideration on what is covered in your HOA e.g., trash collection, lawncare, irrigation and limited cable.
TIP: If a resort is a consideration for home purchase buy as close to the clubhouse as possible.
Non-resort subdivisions offer a different experience for guests and are normally great for guests that do not have young families. Examples of this are Indian Ridge, Legacy Park and Highlands Reserve. I would recommend staying on the western part of Kissimmee as the eastern part has become sketchier in recent years.
Buy a home with a pool. Everyone looks for it when searching for a vacation and most homes in Orlando have one. Further, make sure that the pool is covered with a lanai – this stops the bugs from biting guests when outside and debris getting in your pool. Some guests search for a south facing pool – it is one of those nice to haves but its not something that is essential. A pool with a spa is a great plus as well.
Consider the views from the home as well. Homes that photograph well get a lot more bookings. An example of this would be a back area which has a lake view or conservancy or even a golf course.
The type of roof is an important consideration from a maintenance perspective. A Shingle roof is easily repaired but the same cannot be said for a tile roof – look for signs of water damage before buying as this could become an ongoing and costly annoyance. A roof generally lasts for long time, but a home inspection will be able to provide better clarity.
A central AC is essential for the hot and humid summers. An important thing to note would be the warranty on the AC unit and its age. Once a unit is about 10 years old count on replacing it. Pool heaters are also important for the winter period. The best electric model is the Thermeau (top of the range not the signature model) whereas Raypak leads the pack with natural gas heaters. Lesser models have a considerably shorter life and should be factored in the purchase price of a home.
Appliances are an important part of a vacation rental. Older homes still have spiral stoves which are tough to repair from a maintenance perspective. A stove with a self-cleaning function is an important benefit to have and some guests do seek this in a home. A fridge with an ice maker is a must have item for any vacation rental. Microwaves and dishwashers are expected as a minimum but an important thing to note that if the microwave handle is broken (and they regularly are) its worth your while replacing whereas when it comes to dishwasher’s, many delivery companies refuse to do the installation without a newer stop valve in place.
Termites can potentially be a problem in Orlando. It could be beneficial to see whether the seller has a certificate for treatment of termites.
Purchases for the home
Guests are particularly hard on the furniture in a vacation rental. Therefore, try purchase rugged hotel quality furniture. Do not purchase anything from Ikea as the quality is questionable. Having glass cut to protect the tabletops against water stains is a useful idea.
Each guest requires at least two bath towels and a hand towel. We’ve found that the Mainstay brand at Walmart offers the best value through time. Towels and linens should always be white so they can be bleached. Stains are the most common form of damage from guest stays. Comforters and duvets can be different colours to enhance the décor in the home.
Each bedroom needs a fan. Most guests expect them at a minimum in Florida and they are useful in keeping the temperatures low in summer.
We have the following advice with respect to technology:
· TV’s should ideally be mounted and smart (i.e. with connectivity to Netflix etc. Ensure that the local cable company app is available before purchasing the television. Spectrum is the cable company commonly used in Orlando and we’ve found that some tv’s do not have this app).
· A simple digital lock is needed for the front door. Alarm systems are not necessary in Orlando due to the near non-existent crime. A smart thermostat is a must – the app should have the ability to limit the temperature to a reasonable range. We have found that some guests will freeze over an AC unit by setting the thermostat to ridiculous temperatures.
· All guests expect strong wifi therefore purchasing high quality wifi extenders is necessary for most homes.
The weather is in Orlando is particularly harsh and it would be useful to get a quote to paint and repair cracks on the outside of your home before purchase. Accent walls are a great idea for each bedroom as they as they set the homes apart from others. We have found that the interior paint in most the new homes that manage of an inferior quality and accordingly advise repainting the home within 2 years of purchase.