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Villa Magazine Summer 2011

An Old Bird At MCO

n o i r e p y H s ’ d l y o e n Dis rf On H a h W

Bill’s Firs t Class M a il an excitin g new f


HELPING INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS FIND, BUY & RENT PROPERTY ANYWHERE IN FLORIDA NEW HOMES, DEVELOPER DEALS, RESALES, BUY-TO -LETS, BANK OWNED AND FORECLOSURES We have been helping British & International Clients buy homes anywhere in Florida since 1998. If you are thinking of buying a holiday home, a second home or a buy-to-let property in Florida, call the British Homes Group today for guidance and property search assistance.

Need to SELL your Orlando, Kissimmee or Davenport Villa? Call or email us for our Listing details. British staffed and Kissimmee based. Please come in and see us on the corner of 535 & 192, above the Edwin Watts golf shop. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

407 396 9914

There are two ways to buy currency for an overseas property At the right time

At the last minute Buying a holiday home or an investment property overseas? Paying a lump sum or making regular payments? With constantly fluctuating currency markets, when you trade is crucial. Our experts will monitor the markets and understand your deadlines, ensuring you make your transaction at the best possible time, at the best possible rate. You’ll have a dedicated Account Manager, making the process quick, easy and convenient. So, call us to find out how we can save you money.

Call the USA on +1 407 352 5890 Call the UK on +44 (0)20 7589 3000

It pays to use the experts

from the publisher

Welcome to the first issue of our new magazine! Firstly, I wanted to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of readers who emailed me (some individuals more times than most) asking for me to start publishing the magazine again. To be able to produce and distribute free to all our readers both financially and logistically to all our readers from all corners of the globe meant looking at a more flexible medium than the traditional print magazine. I hope you agree that our new virtual magazine is the perfect solution! We are looking to add a mobile web site for Android phones in the coming month, so you can access us on the go as well. Secondly, I must pay tribute to the core industry professionals that continue to support our magazine both through contributions and moral support. Without their support and time, our magazine would not have the depth of expertise and knowledge base they bring to a comprehensive range of subjects. A new and important partner in our magazine is Bill Cowie, founder and principle of the British Homes Group. The BHG is one of the foundation stones of the British investment of vacation homes in Florida. They have not only helped thousands of investors achieve their dream of owning a home in Florida but continue to support those and other owners with continued information, tips and updates. Through Bill’s new regular feature a ‘Letter from Florida’ he will both share his knowledge and information as well as be happy to answer questions and explain any topics you would like him to cover; so don’t be shy, let him know what you want to read about With all that said, our aims for our magazine remain as strong and focused as before; to provide the whole vacation home industry, from individual owner to manager, realtor to poolman, a central hub of common ground and learning. In this issue you will enjoy a range of topics from Jim Marshall and our feature article from Justine Assal. Both our experts panel and myself enjoy any and all feedback and questions we receive from our readers.

Ian Davies


Publisher Villa Magazine

Contents Summer 2011 Villa Magazine

main feature 12



Our resident Mortgage Expert Justine Assal explains the current position for Investment mortgages

special features regular sections


It took almost 100 years to arrive but Avianca Airlines touches down at MCO







Bill Cowie sends us his first ‘Letter from America’ and explains how he wants your suggestions


Jim Marshall of Ludlows Services gives us an insight on some of the hidden costs when buying a foreclosed property




We look at green options that can help lower your carbon footprint and your utility bills!


Only a matter of months since the start of the demolition of many of the buildings in Pleasure Island work has stopped


La Isla Drive on Emerald Island


Villa Magazine is published by Villa Magazines. Quantock Road. Bridgwater. Somerset England UK TA6 7EG. Copyright 2011 by Villa Magazines. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Send all correspondence by email to Disclaimer: Advertisments in this publication do not constitute an offer for sale in any state or country where prohibited or restricted by law.



Worlds Second Oldest Airline Arrives At MCO

After nearly 92 years in operation, Avianca, the airline of Colombia, landed at Orlando International Airport for the first time shortly after 2:30 p.m. on July 12, 2011.Avianca, the second oldest airline in the world, was received with a time honoured aviation tradition of a water salute by airport aircraft rescue fire fighters “The addition of Avianca caps a remarkable summer for international travel at Orlando International Airport. Avianca’s four flights per week brings to 5900 the total number of new weekly international seats to Orlando International Airport for the summer of 2011. This is an amazing statistic that benefits all of us here in Central Florida”, says Cesar E. Calvet, Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Avianca will fly from Orlando International to Bogota International Airport in Colombia. Passengers are able to enjoy multiple connection possibilities among the destinations that Avianca operates directly or through interline and/or code-share agreements with 170 other internationally recognized airlines. The service will also provide direct connections to destinations in Brazil and Ecuador. 6

Visitor News

Shortly after the water salute Phil Brown GOAA Executive Director, celebrated the new service with the Avianca flight crew, Cesar E. Calvet, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) Board Chairman, Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz, Avianca TACA’s Rolando Damas and Avianca TACA Vice President Rodrigo Plata.

HK-175 Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation Avianca Colombia


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Mark Shore is the principle Realtor of the British Homes Group. The British Homes Group is the leader in helping UK investors realize their dreams in owning a slice of the magic Central Florida offers. Although Mark is UK born and bred, he is a highly experienced Realtor in the market. Give Mark a call on 407 396 9914 Email:



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Changing Times In The Investment Market

he winds have truly changed and Florida is as hot as ever, both the summer weather and the real estate market. The Canadians have been here for the whole winter season buying properties with their strong dollars and Canadian banks that are open to lending. The Brazilians are enjoying their new rise to being one of the 5 largest economies in the world and are buying up condos like hotcakes! The Brits are here purchasing holiday homes, businesses, and homes near every beach on the peninsula. The panhandle is rapidly growing into its own international destination with a new airport and fabulous resort areas. 12

It’s hard to imagine that just 2 years ago, prices in Florida were still declining and foreign media had written the State off as a horrible investment gone bad and certainly not the place to be seen buying. What we may have forgotten for a while is that no moss gathers on Florida stones! We offer a dream, a lifestyle, a reasonable cost of living and some of the best prime real estate on the Planet, all on sale! From the red hot shores of South Florida to the horse country of Ocala, everybody wants a piece of Florida! The only problem still remaining is where in the world is the financing? It is important to note that financing is available by doing the research up front. It is absolutely necessary to know a mortgage lender that is familiar with closing loans in the specific region that you are looking to buy.

The best way is often word of mouth. Seek out real estate agents that are actively marketing to foreign nationals (this is the terminology used) as they are the best source of such referrals.

Mortgage News

Realtors usually know which mortgage brokers or lenders are actually still involved in this market as they are as strong as the team that they surround themselves with, including mortgage professionals, immigrations attorneys, international tax accountants, title companies, currency exchange, and banks. It is just as important to have a working and honest relationship with your international mortgage expert that you can trust they will tell you not just when a deal is financeable but especially when it is not. This is perhaps where the relationship is the most honest because no buyer wants to be led along with false hope.

Some properties are just better advised to be cash deals such as many condominiums, condo-hotels and raw land. There just isn’t enough funding to accommodate so much layering of risk. It stands to reason that no vacuum exists forever and as you are looking to purchase in a State where according to Florida Realtors 2010 Profile of Florida’s International Homebuyers, 22% of home purchases in Florida are with an international buyer in the past 12 months, it is obviously a great time to buy but mortgages are still very conservative and it is best to know from the onset whether you will be required to pay cash.


Feature Add to this that 81% of the foreign buyers paid cash but that an additional 19% are looking for financing (Florida Realtor 2010 profile), you can certainly see why logically lenders will step back into the marketplace eventually, there is simply too much money

Then research further by using the Internet for feedback, the even the best loan is only as good as the process and whether you can reach closure, some may be convoluted and you need a responsive and reliable contact to help navigate.

being left on the table and banks are not generally known for doing that! This is already evident in most areas of Florida where Community banks feel secure enough to offer foreign national funding. Depending on where you look in Florida, the availability of loans is still very regionalized, many mortgage plans vary from County to County through-out the State. There may be 2-3 programs currently available and it is certainly advisable to do the due diligence prior to recommending them. Ask • What time frame their underwriting process takes? • What are common causes for loan denial? • Does the mortgage originator call you back in a timely manner? • What types of property do they prefer to lend on?

This is definitely a niche market where you need strong teamwork and experience. Some programs call for specific visa types such as a B-1 etc, this will rule out almost all Europeans as most come on a visa waiver instead.


This market is on the road to recovery fuelled by great prices on real estate, strong exchange rates, and positive global media reporting. It is certainly worth some research to see whether you might qualify with today’s mortgage requirements. Please note that almost all programs require 2 years proof of income and there are no Non Status programmes anymore. Ask for requirements up front so that you can pre-qualify yourself as there will be no exceptions to the rules.

Mortgage News If you appear to meet the guidelines, then stay in close contact with the mortgage broker/lender and the realtor to ensure that you are looking at properties that also meet the standards. It is also worth noting that while mortgages are emerging on a limited basis, they are designed for a holiday home owner purchasing one property and not for investors looking for multiple mortgages. This is one mortgage per household, then cash for any subsequent purchases. Good luck and stay patient as the deals are many and the time is good, the mortgage process is just a bit beaten and battered and may require a stiff drink before its said and done.

Justine Assal

Principle at ACM Home Loans

Justine has been an expert in Mortgages for International clients for 15 years, she is the predominant leader in the market and frequently writes for National trade magazines on the topic. Justine is also a member of our Experts Panel Taking Pride in providing “Big Bank” competitiveness & variety while maintaining the comfort & service of a “neighbourhood” lender Tel: 407 397 7300 facebook: Twitter: My blog: Turbulent Times as published in The Niche Report


Hi and a big hello from Orlando, Over the last 15 years our Orlando-based British Homes Group has assisted over 1,000 UK families buy, sell and finance their Florida villa. Recently, as you undoubtedly know, the Florida property marketplace has suffered severely from the worldwide financial and real estate recession. Currently, Florida home prices are down some 30 - 70% below their peak values a few short years ago. These sharp drops in Florida home values have resulted in, as a recent report prepared by the US real estate research company core Logic Inc., has observed, more than half (54%) of Orlando home being “underwater”, that is, the value of the home being less that the current mortgage amount owed on it (see our last newsletter)! Being “underwater) undoubtedly represent a great personal challenge for many US and UK home owners in Florida. This Florida property recession also represents, however, a classic “Buyers Market” for astute investors and buyers of Florida villas. Many “distressed” Florida villas are not physically distressed - but rather purely financially distressed due solely to the sharp decline in the property’s value. But many distressed Florida Properties are indeed in bad physical shape - hidden or unhidden. That is why potential UK purchasers are wise to seek the advice of local estate agents in Florida, such as the British Homes Group, who are knowledgeable in both the location and condition of the property. Interestingly, a number of building companies in Central Florida, for example, are now offering attractive discounts and other purchase incentives - as well as financing for UK buyers - to help them reduce their currently too-high home inventory levels. This has resulted in many new Florida home being priced lower that comparable used homes! All of this represents an interesting time for both Florida home buyers and sellers. The British Homes Group, for example, has sold more Florida home in the first half of this year as we sold in all of 2010! And that is why we are writing you this “Letter from Florida”! Please let us know if there are any particular subjects that you would like us to discus in the coming months. In the meantime, Happy Florida Villa Ownership. Sincerely ,

Bill Cowie

British Homes Group



a d ori

l F m o Fr

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Jim’s Feature

In his regular feature Jim Marshall of Ludlows Services shares some of his vast experience and knowledge on another highly relevant subject in todays ‘Buyers Market’. For this issue he explains briefly some of the issues you should look at and be aware of the potential additional costs and work required before picking up your bargain!

Forearmed for Foreclosures


nyone who has looked at the Central Florida foreclosure listings recently will have found some real bargains, with properties available for a fraction of the price they were selling 4 or 5 years ago.


Potential new buyers will generally have a property inspection carried out, but from my experience of dealing with foreclosed properties, I would like to highlight some issues we have encountered. Virtually every home that has gone into foreclosure will have had the utilities disconnected, resulting in the sprinkler system not operating. As the vast majority of short term rental properties have St Augustine grass which requires regular water and fertilizer treatments, invariably any new owner will have to resod at the least some of the yard. For an idea of cost, allow $0.80 per square feet for a landscaper to prepare and lay new sod. For larger yards this total can soon add up!

$500. If the pool lining is badly stained, an acid wash may be required to rectify this, which would cost an additional $400 - $500. If the lining itself is damaged, a complete refurbishment could necessary. If a pool has to be refilled, ensure the pool contractor provides documentation to this effect. Vacation home pools generally hold between 10,000 to 13,000 gallons of water.

Before considering new sod, the irrigation system should be checked to ensure it is providing sufficient coverage. House inspections can’t always determine this if there is no power or water to test the sprinklers. The other area which will need attention will be the pool. I have seen properties where all the pool equipment – pump, motor, filter casing, timer and heater have all been removed during the foreclosure process. This would cost a new owner several thousand dollars to replace. Even if all the equipment is still in place, without power the pool will likely be anywhere between green black in color. Even a straight forward cleanup, emptying the pool and refilling with the cost likely $400 –

Utility companies charge for water in and water out (sewage), so if they are provided with the documentation, they will reduce the sewage charge by the volume of water used to fill the pool, showing a considerable saving. Jim Marshal of Ludlow Services Tel: 407 761 1152 Ludlows has been trading for over twenty years in Orlando and the surrounding areas and has built up an enviable reputation for both our quality of service and reliability. Jim is a member of our Experts Panel 21

Orlando-Central Florida Real Estate Services Servicing 2nd home owners and investors in Central Florida    

Real Estate Purchase Zola Szerencses Real Estate Sale RE/MAX 200 Realty Investments 954S Orlando Ave, 2nd Homes Winter Park, FL 32789 Email: Tel:+1.407.629.6330 #256


Immigration Law offices


Lisa krueger Khan, P.A. Practicing exclusively in US Immigration and Nationality Law since 1997 & Executive Vice Chair for the American Immigration Layers Association (AILA), Central Florida Chapter.

With extensive experience in preparing E-2 and L-1 visa cases for U.K. nationals

7932 West Sand Lake Road Suite 303 Orlando Fl. 32819 Tel: 407 351 9075 E-mail:



! n e e r G s ’ o G f

lorida Villa Services, owned and run by Paul Dudley, has established an impressive reputation in all areas of the vacation home industry. He is able to offer owners and managers an extensive selection services and products for their homes to accommodate budgets and needs. His extensive show rooms situated conveniently at the west end of the 192 is an Aladdin’s cave of games room options, from assorted sizes and styles of pool tables, foosball tables, slot machines and a host of other games equipment. There are also a number of drinks bars, bar seating, tables and chairs to suit any games room along with a large host of sports photos and paraphernalia to decorate any games room.

Many owners think FVS only supply games rooms’ equipment, but how wrong they are! Paul has opened a new show room in the same complex as his Games Room’s showroom, dedicated to home energy efficiently and associated products. I invited Paul to give us an exclusive preview of this exciting new 20


opportunity for home owners. Paul has spent a great deal of time researching exactly what owners /managers need and give them clear quality choices and options in these products and services. We started asking him about his company. “Having been a vacation home owner myself, I know how difficult it can be to find the product I wanted or the person who could give the service I required and could trust to complete the task competently. That’s why I started my company” Paul told me. FVS offers, game room conversions (garages to full games rooms), TV and surround sound system installations, home theatre/cinema room installation, lot fencing, furniture packages, pool screen enclosures, home security, flooring, landscaping and even decorating. So how can one man be so talented? “We are able to offer all these services as not only do we have our own skilled and dedicated staff but we only employ personally vetted, fully licensed and bonded companies to carry out specialist work. I don’t employ anyone I would not have working on my own home”. He explained. “An owner may require a number of different services; say a games room conversation, a home monitoring system and one of our new ‘green’ energy saving products all fitted at the same time. We are able to facilitate all these so

BrandNewProducts the owner only needs deal with one company, us, and not two or three at the same time.” “You mentioned ‘green’ energy saving equipment, can you explain more?” “I have been researching a number of energy saving devices, options and equipment for use by vacation home owners. The cost of all utilities has rocketed over the past few years, vacation home owners are especially susceptible to high electricity bills as guest may not want to or can be bothered to adjust the A/C setting when they leave the house for the day and some often leave the sliding doors open when in the pool, leaving the A/C unit to work constantly in an attempt to maintain the home temperature. Research has proven that a large amount of utility costs can be saved in these homes by installing relatively cheep monitoring devices and other equipment improvements.” “So how can you help owners?” “We have offered a number of products over the past year or so, one being the KAVR Energy Controller. This can save owners up to 15% each month on electric bills and by lowering the energy used in your entire home can extend the lifespan of appliances as well. Energy is an area all owners should be looking hard at; not only to save on utility bill costs but to reduce their homes carbon foot print! Not only is it everyone’s responsibility to do our bit to save our beautiful planet but I can see ‘green homes’ becoming the more sort after option for guests renting a vacation home; who want to vacation n Florida but also are conscious of the carbon foot print they may leave in doing so.

Our new showroom has been designed not only to showcase and offer owners the most efficient cost effective options available for use in their homes but we are here to offer free advice and discuss every aspect of energy saving with them.” The new store is impressive, with a large range of equipment to reduce energy consumption; from energy saving light bulbs (that’s a first for me in Florida!) to integrated energy monitoring and saving controllers and solar heating options. In addition Paul can now offer home security and CCTV systems. To ensure that you get the best results from these new products, Paul is offering the chance to have a energy efficiency survey carried out on your home. “Once an owner makes the decision to install an energy saving product, we offer to carry out a energy survey on their property to ensure they are maximizing the product or if there are further savings to be made” To find out how much you could be doing to save the environment and your expenditure, give Paul a call on 407 238 2389 or pop along to his showrooms at 8687 W Irol Bronson Memorial Highway, Vista Del Largo. Kissimmee 34747. 21


Disney Update

Disneys Hyperion Wharf On Hold


alt Disney World has announced a delay to construction of Hyperion Wharf at Downtown Disney, with the company claiming that it is working to “refine” plans for the area.

Announced in November last year, Hyperion Wharf was originally due to be completed by 2013. If built, it will replace the former Pleasure Island area, and will be designed to recreate the look and atmosphere of a 20th century port city and amusement pier. Little actual construction work has taken place since the announcement, although several nightclubs that used to operate in the area have been demolished.


In a post on the Disney Parks Blog, the company said: “During the course of this site work, we identified opportunities to further refine our master plan and are pausing to evaluate them. What does this mean for you? While we’re moving quickly, it will admittedly cause a delay in construction. But we’re willing to bet that any delay will be worth the wait once we’re able to share details about the exciting work we’ve been doing.”

Present view from Paradisco 37

Hyperion Wharf was originally designed to be more family-friendly than the adult-oriented Pleasure Island, with a lakeside park being a key element. At night, the area would be transformed into an “electric wonderland”, with an array of lights illuminating its buildings and walkways. A large number of retail outlets and restaurants also formed part of the plans.

entertainment center will open on the current site of the RIDEMAKERZ store, which will move to the Marketplace area. Known as Splitsville, the new complex will offer bowling, billiards, dining, music and evening entertainment.

While Hyperion Wharf has been delayed, Disney has continued to make other changes to the Downtown Disney area as it looks to revive its fortunes. This has included the opening of a new superstore run by Harley Davidson, which opened earlier this year. The Apricot Lane Boutique fashion store will replace the motorcycle vendor’s previous, smaller store this fall. Disney has also announced that a new 50,000-square-foot 27

Summer 2011 Villa Magazine  

Villa Magazine's Summer 2011 issue

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