First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Program in Orange County, FL

First-Time Homebuyer Assistance Program in Orange County, FL

The Down Payment Assistance Program provides assistance to qualified first time homebuyers for down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home. The amount of assistance provided will be determined based on your household income. A household can qualify as very low income, low income, and moderate. Please refer to the income chart in the Learn More section of this web page to access the income limits. The amount of assistance available is from $10,000 to $30,000. All applicants must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer’s education program, and secure a first mortgage. The property to be purchased must be located in Orange County, outside the city limits of Orlando. For additional information, please refer to the Down Payment Assistance flyer and applicants are also encouraged to use the contact information below.


Housing and Community Development Division
525 East South Street,
Orlando, Florida 32801-2891
(407) 836-5150

Asistencia para la compra de una vivienda

El Programa de Asistencia en el Pago Inicial ayuda a los compradores de primera vivienda calificados con el pago inicial y los costos de cierre asociados con la compra de su primera casa. El monto de asistencia que se proporciona se determinará en base a sus ingresos familiares. Los ingresos familiares se pueden calificar como muy bajos, bajos y moderados.. Remítase al cuadro de ingresos en la sección “Más Información” de esta página web para acceder a los límites de ingresos. El monto de asistencia disponible es de entre $10,000 y $30,000. Todos los solicitantes deben completar un programa educativo de precompra para compradores de viviendas, y asegurar una primera hipoteca. La propiedad que se desea comprar debe estar ubicada en el Condado de Orange, fuera de los límites de la ciudad de Orlando. Para obtener más información, consulte el folleto de Asistencia en el Pago Inicial. Los solicitantes también pueden utilizar la información de contacto (arriba).

Green Building… Is it for you?

Green Building… Is it for you?

If you want to reside on healthier surroundings, breath cleaner air, save money and help the environment, then… YES, green building IS for you!

What is Green Building?

“Green Building’ or ‘Sustainable’ design and construction means creating healthier and more energy-efficient homes and buildings in a manner that allows us to use our resources more efficiently. The goal is to leave a lighter footprint on the environment through the conservation of our natural resources, while balancing energy-efficient, cost-effective, low-maintenance products on the construction.

There are many elements that make up or qualify a home or building to be certified ‘green’ or ‘sustainable.’ Not only it includes the systems that circulate the air, what’s behind the walls, the attic, windows, counters, appliances, lighting, sealing the house and so on, but it also includes using renewable and recyclable materials, adding durability, creating less waste during construction, and so many other things.

A green building may cost more up front, but saves through lower operating costs over the life of the building.

Wikipedia provides an easy to understand summary of Green Building. To read it click here or feel free to email us your questions.

International homebuyers continue to invest in profitable U.S. market

International homebuyers continue to invest in profitable U.S. market

Favorable exchange rates, affordable home prices and rising affluence abroad continue to drive international buyers to the U.S. to purchase properties and make real estate investments.

According to the National Association of Realtors® 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, for the period April 2013 through March 2014, total international sales have been estimated at $92.2 billion, an increase from the previous period’s level of $68.2 billion.

“We live in an international marketplace; so while all real estate is local, that does not mean that all property buyers are,” said NAR President Steve Brown. “Foreign buyers are being enticed to U.S. real estate because of what they recognize as attractive prices, economic stability, and an incredible opportunity for investment in their future.”

International buyers and recent immigrants purchased homes throughout the country, but four states accounted for 55 percent of the total reported purchases – Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas. Florida remains the destination of choice, claiming a 23 percent share of all foreign purchases. California comes in second with 14 percent, Texas with 12 percent and Arizona with 6 percent. According to®, the top five cities searched online by international buyers in 2014 were Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City.

Foreign buyers take many factors into consideration when deciding where to purchase abroad, such as proximity to their home country, the presence of relatives and friends, job and educational opportunities, and climate and location.

European buyers are generally attracted to states with warmer climates such as Florida and Arizona while the West Coast tends to attract Asian purchasers. Indian buyers tend to gravitate towards states that are home to large information technology companies, such as California, New York and North Carolina. Within markets in an individual state, it is not unusual to find concentrations of people grouped by nationality, possibly indicating that word-of-mouth and shared experiences influence purchases.

Twenty-eight percent of Realtors® reported working with international clients this year. International sales tend to be handled by specialists and only 4 percent of those who reported having an international client saw 11 or more international transactions in a year. Of those who reported having an international client, approximately 54 percent reported that international transactions accounted for 1 to 10 percent of their total transactions, a decrease from 2013 but still in line with past years’ levels.

International buyers are more likely to make all-cash purchases when compared to domestic buyers. In 2014, nearly 60 percent of reported international transactions were all cash, compared to only one-third of domestic purchases. Mortgage financing tends to be a major problem for international clients due to a lack of a U.S. based credit history, lack of a Social Security number, difficulties in documenting mortgage requirements and financial profiles that differ from those normally received by financial institutions from domestic residents.

Most homes purchased by foreign buyers, about 42 percent, are used as a primary residence. Non-resident foreigners are limited to 6-month stays in the U.S., so these buyers largely use the property for vacation or rental purposes or as an investment. Approximately 65 percent of purchases involved a single-family home. Nearly half of international clients preferred properties in a suburban area, about a quarter preferred a central city or urban area, and about 13 percent choose to purchase in a resort area.

International buyers come from all over the world, but Canada, China (The People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), Mexico, India and the U.K. accounted for approximately 54 percent of all reported international transactions.

Canada maintained the largest share of purchases, dropping from 23 percent in 2013 to 19 percent in 2014; however, China held the lead in dollar volume, purchasing an estimated $22 billion with an average sale cost of $590,826. China was also the fastest growing source of transactions, now accounting for 16 percent of all purchases, up 4 percent from last year. Mexico ranked third with 9 percent of sales and India and the U.K. both accounted for 5 percent.

“Foreign buyers who choose to work with a Realtor® have a substantial advantage,” said Brown. “Realtors®who have completed the Certified International Property Specialist designation have received specialized training and are prepared to help clients with the unique difficulties of being an international buyer. CIPS designees understand the challenges buyers face when purchasing property in the U.S., and have the experience and expertise to help them navigate the complex, time-consuming and overwhelming world of international real estate.”

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

New Florida laws go into effect today

New Florida laws go into effect today

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A number of bills passed by the 2014 Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott become effective July 1.

They include benefits for:

The homeless

New legislation provides housing aid for extremely low-income and homeless people through local homeless coalition funding. HB 979 establishes challenge grants for local homeless coalitions, nonprofits and other agencies that assist the homeless, and it provides training and technical assistance. More information: HB 979.

Vacation rental owners

In 2011, a law prohibited local governments from regulating, banning or creating new rules specific to short-term rentals, though they could keep ones already on the books. However, in some communities, large homes with many bedrooms were rented to multiple families, creating a hotel-like atmosphere. SB 356 by Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) empowers local governments to enact ordinances specific to vacation rentals, such as noise, parking and garbage. However, local governments may not pass ordinances that prohibit vacation rentals or regulate their duration or frequency. More information: SB 356.

Homeowners with Citizens Property Insurance policies

Effective tomorrow, Citizens will stop writing new multi-peril policies on condo buildings. It will, however, offer new wind-only policies. Another provision in the bill, SB 1672, prevents contractors from rebating all or a portion of the deductible to the policyholder as a way to stop fraud, which is a felony. More information: SB 1672.

All homeowners with property insurance

SB 708 created a “Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights” to help protect policyholders from having policies canceled and claims denied illegally. The legislation is a response to “post-claim underwriting,” which a large Florida insurer used. Under post-claim underwriting, an insurer would accept premiums perhaps for years. But when a homeowner put in a claim, the insurer would refuse to reimburse the owner based on some mistake the owner made when he initially applied for coverage.

The Bill of Rights also explains the claim-filing process and informs policyholders of possible unscrupulous practices used to deny claims. Insurers will be required to complete the underwriting process in 90 days and may not deny a claim and/or cancel a policy based on the insured’s credit information after their policy has been in force for 90 days or longer. More information: SB 708.

Community Association Managers (CAM)

Despite opposition from the Florida Bar, which petitioned the courts in 2012 to define many CAM activities as the unauthorized practice of law – a third-degree felony – lawmakers approved a bill, HB 7037, that allows CAMs to complete certain association forms created by statute or a state agency, calculate and prepare assessment and estoppel certificates, negotiate financial terms of a contract on behalf of a Homeowners’ Association and draft pre-arbitration demands. More information: HB 7037.

Military personnel, veterans and military spouses

The Florida GI Bill extends several state licensing fee waivers for military personnel and veterans to include their spouses. It also extends the fee waivers from 24 months of an honorable discharge to 60 months. Additionally, active Florida National Guard members will now be reimbursed for continuing education fees and examination fees. Visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for more information.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Florida is home to 1/3 of US zombie foreclosures

Florida is home to 1/3 of US zombie foreclosures

According to RealtyTrac, Florida was home to one-third (48,630) of U.S. zombie foreclosures in the second quarter – properties in the foreclosure process in which the owner has moved out but the bank has not yet taken back the home. Other states in the top five include New York (12,666), New Jersey (12,170), Illinois (11,925), and Ohio (7,390)

Nationwide, 21 percent of properties in foreclosure – one in every five – is vacated by the owner before the foreclosure is completed. While high, the number is down 7 percent from first quarter 2014 and 16 percent from second quarter 2013.

Florida ranked second in the length of time a zombie home remains empty: 411 days. In first-place New York it’s 418 days, with New Jersey (378 days), Illinois (272 days) and Hawaii (249 days) rounding out the top-five list.

By lender, Wells Fargo has the most zombie homes in the foreclosure process with 18,695, followed by Bank of America (15,175), Chase (10,312) and US BankCorp (10,141).

Metros with most zombie homes

• New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island: 13,574
• Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach: 12,958
• Chicago-Naperville-Joliet: 9,975
• Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: 9,643
• Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington: 6,101
• Orlando-Kissimmee: 5,221
• Jacksonville: 3,532
• Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: 2,041
• Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta: 1,906
• Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice: 1,845

Metros with biggest percent of zombie homes as a percent of all foreclosures

• Homosassa Springs, Fla.: 43%
• Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton: 37%
• Birmingham-Hoover: 37%
• Ocala: 36%
• Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin: 35%
• St. Louis: 34%
• Worcester, Mass.: 33%
• Port St. Lucie: 33%
• Punta Gorda: 33%
• Binghamton: 33%
• Las Vegas-Paradise: 32%
• Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: 32%
• Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach: 32%
• Gainesville: 31%
• Fort Wayne: 31%

Florida county zombie homes by percent and total number

Alachua County: 31% (464 homes)

Baker County: 27% (28 homes)

Bay County: 30% (372 homes)

Bradford County: 29% (40 homes)

Brevard County: 32% (2,041 homes)

Broward County: 20% (4,515 homes)

Calhoun County: 48% (20 homes)

Charlotte County: 33% (600 homes)

Citrus County: 43% (675 homes)

Clay County: 28% (615 homes)

Collier County: 21% (465 homes)

Columbia County: 32% (76 homes)

De Soto County: 22% (53 homes)

Dixie County: 14% (4 homes)

Duval County: 30% (2,356 homes)

Escambia County: 18% (356 homes)

Flagler County: 20% (256 homes)

Franklin County: 18% (21 homes)

Gadsden County: 32% (93 homes)

Gilchrist County: 37% (30 homes)

Glades County: 19% (5 homes)

Gulf County: 22% (29 homes)

Hamilton County: 29% (10 homes)

Hardee County: 28% (40 homes)

Hendry County: 19% (38 homes)

Hernando County: 32% (698 homes)

Highlands County: 33% (239 homes)

Hillsborough County: 26% (3,232 homes)

Holmes County: 31% (28 homes)

Indian River County: 27% (330 homes)

Jackson County: 35% (56 homes)

Jefferson County: 0% (0 homes)

Lafayette County: 55% (6 homes)

Lake County: 10% (309 homes)

Lee County: 29% (1,542 homes)

Leon County: 26% (371 homes)

Levy County: 34% (67 homes)

Liberty County: 10% (2 homes)

Madison County: 50% (10 homes)

Manatee County: 29% (721 homes)

Marion County: 36% (1,103 homes)

Martin County: 31% (322 homes)

Miami-Dade County: 15% (4,793 homes)

Monroe County: 16% (73 homes)

Nassau County: 28% (136 homes)

Okaloosa County: 35% (527 homes)

Okeechobee County: 27% (69 homes)

Orange County: 26% (3,117 homes)

Osceola County: 17% (642 homes)

Palm Beach County: 23% (3,650 homes)

Pasco County: 35% (2,321 homes)

Pinellas County: 32% (3,392 homes)

Polk County: 30% (1,744 homes)

Putnam County: 33% (142 homes)

Saint Johns County: 28% (397 homes)

Saint Lucie County: 33% (1,048 homes)

Santa Rosa County: 31% (324 homes)

Sarasota County: 29% (1,124 homes)

Seminole County: 29% (1,153 homes)

Sumter County: 27% (98 homes)

Suwannee County: 32% (42 homes)

Taylor County: 25% (12 homes)

Union County: 30% (12 homes)

Volusia County: 32% (1,304 homes)

Wakulla County: 35% (97 homes)

Walton County: 22% (132 homes)

Washington County: 37% (43 homes)

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

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