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2269 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Jul 24, 2012 12:35 PM by ppv1 RSS
New Member 3 posts since
Jul 21, 2012
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Jul 22, 2012 11:20 AM

How to research expenses before you purchase a home?

I'm in the "wonder if it's a good idea" stage of purchasing a vacation home near Walt Disney World and trying to put together a business plan that includes all the expenses that I can think of.  This includes things like mortgage and interest and taxes that are pretty easy to figure out, but I'm also trying to get some sort of estimate about all the other expenses like insurance, cleaning, lawn care, pool maintenance, utilities, pest control, etc.  Would a  real estate agent be able to provide records of that type of information?  Are there other ways of determining this type of information for a specific area?

  • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,350 posts since
    May 25, 2011

    I'm not sure how California utilities are sold, but you can usually contact the electric provider that the home is under contract with and they can give you estimates of the last year's use and price. Of course, if the home's been empty for some time that won't work. Other utilities should be able to do the same, by address.


    A good Realtor should be able to provide you with lists of other service providers that you can call and get estimates from .


    You're on the right track!! I know a lot of people who bought VR homes and didn't think things through well.


  • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
    May 27, 2011

    If it's Walt Disney World, perhaps some of the Florida folks could help.  There is a Group of Florida Owners you could join.

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011

    If you do not have access to the owner's records, you need to do your own research.  Don't make a decision based on a realtor's figures because the realtor is going to be forwarding the sale.  I'm not suggesting the realtor will lie or mislead you, but you should have an independent source(s), outside of the parties the will profit from the sale, to provide you with or confirm information you are given.


    When we bought our first house the owner had provided a year's worth of utlitity records to review.  We contacted multiple service providers to request estimates for the services we would require.  Cable, internet, telephone, etc are relatively straightforward.  For cleaning, landscaping, plumbing, electric, and other "retainer" services, contact multiple contractors to determine rates.   Don't base your estimates on one provider.  When we interviewed landscapers we found great variation in costs.  There was less variation in the hourly rate for cleaning services.   


    If you are buying a new house or building a house you will need to rely on estimates.  Before we built our house (sold the first) we contacted service providers in the area and asked for quotes based on providing their services to a four bedroom, three bath home of ___ square feet / __ acreage.


    Good luck.  And always estimate higher, not lower.  It never (ok, almost never) turns out to cost what you estimate, and certainly not lower than you estimate, in my experience. 


    And, a final thought, you could consider purchasing in a community that includes a property management service that provides needed management and servicel for a regular fee.  I am not familiar with this type of community, but there are members that have experiince with managed properties that could address this option.  . 

  • mike-dfv Community All-Star 807 posts since
    Mar 5, 2011

    That's where I am, so here's my take:


    1) Get a management company, especially if you're not local. I'll be happy to recommend mine, if you're interested. They can give you good feel for what various costs are. Don't go by what a realtor, who gets paid when you buy, says.


    2) Insurance varies widely. I was quoted between $1,500 and $4,000. Again, if you're interested, I'll let you know who I used.


    3) Departure cleans, weekly pool cleaning, and pest control are handled by my management company. The departure cleans are $105 each, pool cleaning is $90 per month, and pest control is $40 per month. I've seen lower and higher prices for each.


    4) Lawn care is handled by my HOA, so not sure here.


    5) Electric (Progess Energy) has run me between $399 and $550 per month. Water (Polk County - very expensive) is right about $125 per month.


    Let me know if I can help with anything else. I love the area so moved here.



      • mike-dfv Community All-Star 807 posts since
        Mar 5, 2011

        Sorry, there's a typo in my electric bill range - it should be $300 to $550, which varies mostly due to A/C and pool heat use. I've just installed the Vera system,, which has already noticably reduced my electric bill. For reference, my house is 4 bed, 3 bath.


        My management company is Florida Spirit, Tell them Mike sent you. I handle most of my own bookings, on which they charge a $35 Booking Fee. They get me an occassional renter, but I can't come close to relying on that. Though I live locally, the primary reason I use them is so they can answer the phone at 3:00am. I can do everything else, but I do not want to do that. Their $100 per month fee is well worth my peaceful sleep!


        I think you'll still be with Progress Energy for electric, but will defintely not have Polk County water if you buy in Osceola County. Polk County is known for expensive water, but it will be costly no matter where you buy.


        For sourcing insurance, I used Florida Insurance Specialists,


        Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!



      • I too own a vacation home in the Disney area.  My monthly expenses are very similar to those Mike has quoted.  My electric bill tends to be a little lower though ($200-$400 in the summer--$125-$225 in the winter but I have a gas pool heater).  Another expense you should consider is an umbrella policy to protect yourself from any claims of liability.  Most vacation home owners carry this--most management companies require it.  My best advice to you is this:  if you cannot afford to pay all the operating costs and the mortagage each month out-of-pocket, you should not purchase a vacation home.  Too many people jump in with the expectation that rentals will cover the costs.  There is never a guarantee of X number of weeks rented each year.   Owning a vacation home is great experience but please proceed with caution!  You are definitely on the right path, checking into all the potential expenses before jumping in!  Hope it works out for you!

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