Orlando, Florida, is a busy tourist destination, but plenty of British expatriates opt to buy and live in the sunny city.
It is particularly popular with retirees, looking to enjoy their later years in the sun. However, there are also good job opportunities in the main city centre, away from the bustling theme parks, attracting expatriates and their families considering moving to the USA.
The city of Orlando is made up of several distinct neighbourhoods, and life as an expat in the city is very different to visiting as a tourist. Most expats live far away from the entertainment venues and parks, opting for one of the smaller communities in the suburbs. There are plenty of other British expats living in Orlando, which helps with settling into the region.
As the appeal of Orlando as an expat destination continues to grow, so too does the demand for luxury properties. Prices have been rising in the city over the last few years, but they are still favourable when compared to UK prices.
According to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, the median price of a home in February 2019 was $235,000, up 3% from the previous year in the same period. More houses were added to the market, just in time for the peak buying season.
The area you buy in and the type of property you opt for can greatly vary this cost, however. At the top end of the market you can invest in luxury townhouses and villas, with plenty of wide, open space. Expect to pay at least $1-$2 million for the most grand of properties, which often have private pools, gardens, courtyards, parking and top-of-the-range facilities. Most of these are located within exclusive gated communities.
There are many apartments and condos available, though these are usually snapped up as second homes or investment properties. These are based on resorts, with pools, amenities and gardens, and tend to be located in the more touristy areas. A typical three-bedroom apartment on a private resort is around $300,000.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in the US property market. In general the process is fairly straightforward, though there can be slight differences from state to state.
If you are looking to buy a home with a mortgage, you will need a pre-qualification or pre-approval from a mortgage lender. This means you have gone through an application process and review of your financial profile, and the lender has determined that it is happy to approve the mortgage. It is a non-binding approval, but it does show the seller that you are able to proceed with the purchase. If you’re buying the home outright as a cash purchase, you do not need to go through this step. There is usually a small fee associated with the pre-approval process.
Engage the services of a licensed real estate agent, who will have the most training and experience of the property market and the sales process. They will help you locate your dream property in your chosen area and guide you through the sales process. Your chosen realtor will negotiate on your behalf, advise you on the current market and answer questions on the location. Usually, the seller’s agent will charge a commission fee, which can be up to 6% and is split with the buyer’s agent. This is normally paid for by the seller. The realtor you choose works for you, so you will need to sign a Buyer’s Agency Agreement when you find the right one for your needs. The contract can be terminated at any time, but do read the terms.
The rest of the process is fairly straightforward. You make an offer and wait to see if it is accepted, or if there is a counter-offer. Once an offer is accepted and a contract drawn up, you pay a deposit that is put in a Trust account until the sale is closed. There are various checks that need to be carried out at this point, and then the transaction can be completed and the property ownership transferred.