Vacation home specialists Jerry Barker and Ali Frazier discuss some of the frequently asked question we received from buyers looking to purchase a vacation home in Orlando.

1.05 – What does the Jerry Barker Group Do?
2.04 – What is The Guide?
3.45 – What does the Jerry Barker Group help with?
5.15 – What geographical area can you help us buy a property in?
6.45 – What might be additional fees?
8.55 – Who will manage your property?
10.03 – Who will market your property?
12.12 – Will my vacation home make money?
14.10 – What monthly or annual costs can I expect?
16.06 – What is the difference between a resort and a community?
17.50 – Where should I buy?
19.28 – Are there any hidden fees?
22.35 – What is a capital contribution fee?
24.13 – Can you help us sell our property?

 What does the Jerry Barker Group do? (1.05)

We help people from all over the world go through the education process of understanding what it takes to own and manage a vacation home here in Orlando, we go through the whole education with you and help find you the correct properties. We acquire that property for you through the contract scenario. We are a licensed realtor and we have a real estate brokerage; the Jerry Barker Group is a real estate brokerage, that is our one hat, the other hat is as a vacation home specialist hat and as a vacation home specialist we are going to do all the other stuff as opposed to just the property side of it – all the things like property management, and insurance and all that information you are going to require to be successful in your vacation home. That is what we do at the Jerry Barker Group!

What is the Guide? (2.04)

The Orlando Vacation Home Buyers Guide is a book I wrote about 5 years ago. A really interesting story is that this book actually started as emails, when somebody would ask me about Homeowners Association Fees and I would write an email about Homeowners Association Fees and when people kept asking me the same question I would cut and paste that email and then I decided that was unnecessary work and so I created a website, and I took that email and put that into a website so you could go to the Jerry Barker Group and check Homeowners Association fees for yourself. Then I decided at some point along the way to take all those web pages and put them into a book and so each chapter started off as emails, that became web pages and then eventually they were all correlated and put together and it becomes the Orlando Vacation Home Buyers Guide! It is a book that will give you all the basics about understanding buying, managing, and owning and all the red tape and bits and pieces – it’s a great read, it is absolutely free, we offer it both in the hard back copy and a digital download. You can go to and add your email address and it will automatically send you a link where you can download a pdf and you can read it at your leisure. It is a must start if you are considering buying a vacation home here in Orlando. Start with the guide and the guide will guide you where you need to go!

What does the Jerry Barker Group assist with and what does the Jerry Barker Group not assist with? (3.45)

Think about us as your quarterback, to use a good American term. We try to help with everything you are going to need to know and understand. All our clients are out of state or out of country so what we try to do is make sure you get all the information that you are going to require as far as the buying process, and if you need to travel and look at resorts and to look at houses. We set all that up for you and that’s all of the real estate part.  The other part of it is the business part and we help you set up all those parts as well, that’s what we do – we do everything other than pay for it! And that is what we don’t do! The thing that we don’t do is the financing side of it. We can introduce you to financial vendors that we have worked with, or our clients have worked with, and we have approved over the years. We actually don’t do any of the management, we don’t do any of the insurance, we don’t do any of the financing but what we do is we make sure during the road map – that you get introduced to all of those people. So think of us as just the center point overseeing the entire program for you making sure everything goes accordingly to plan and introducing you to all the people that will make you successful and that’s what we do and that’s what we don’t do!

What is the geographical area of your expertise? (5.15)

We are very specific – we are in the South West Orlando area which for a lot of people is known as Kissimmee or Davenport, it’s actually really known as the Four Corners where the four counties come together. That is the Orlando short term rental zone area. That is really important because you want to buy a property that is in the Orlando short term rental zone area if you want to rent it out. If you buy outside of that area there is a very good chance that you won’t be able to rent it out and you are not going to be very happy if that happens because you got to buy a house and then you find out you can’t rent it out and that is not going to be a good day. So, everything that we deal with, unless you specifically ask for something outside of that and it’s very rare that happens, is going to be in the Orlando short term rental zone. Basically it is the Disney area and all within about a 20 minute drive from any of our locations to the parks – that’s exactly the area geographically that we deal with.

What are the additional fees that someone can expect to pay? (6.45)

A good place to start when you are buying a vacation home in Orlando is go through the concept of what are your “outs” and what are your “ins”. We have a web page at which is an interactive calculator that I designed way back in the day so I could run proformas so people could get a rough idea of what they could expect to pay in and what they could expect to pay out, and how much that would turn out to be, plus or minus, at the end of a year. So that is a great page to visit first as that is going to give you a lot of the general costs that are involved in ownership and that you will have to pay on a vacation home. Some of those things include property taxes, your HOA fees, your insurance costs – those are the general costs and then on top of that you will have things like your property management fees, your property marketing fees etc. That is all on the business side of things.  On the real estate side, actually if you are a cash buyer there is generally not an awful lot of costs, you can probably expect about 1% or maybe less of the actual cost of the property and that comes and goes a bit depending on various things; some locations are more expensive than others but it’s usually not by very much but we can certainly break down all those costs with you.  That is one of the things that we will do, we’ll go through the numbers so when you decide you want to buy a certain house in a certain location we can do one of those ledgers for you and use exactly the same calculator and you can have that as a baseline and so when you are moving forward you can go back and look at the listing and see the taxes and the homeowners association fees and add them to the interactive calculator and you will always have a good idea of what the costs and fees are likely to be.  That is really important, you don’t have to take anybody’s else’s word for it, you don’t have to believe someone else when they tell you. You can actually do it yourself and then you will know!

Who will manage our property? (8.55)

Well, that depends, it’s going to be your property management company and that again depends on where you buy. A lot of the times the properties are already in a program, they are vacation homes and if you are buying a vacation home as a resale, chances are it’s already in a program with a property management company. So, the first thing we’ll want to do is figure out who they are and find out if they’re a good management company. If they are a good management company then we can stay with them,  if we don’t feel as though it’s a management company that suits what you are trying to achieve then that’s a whole other conversation within itself – but if it turns out that it’s not a management company that works for what you are trying to do, then we can recommend other management companies and you can move over to another management company.  That is why that question is nobody has any idea at the moment, but we do recommend half a dozen really good management companies and they’re all a little bit different and have different things that they’ll do better or less for you.  That’s why getting to know who you are and what you are trying to achieve in your vacation home is really important so we can match a management company to your needs.

Who will market my property? (10.03)

It’s kind of like property management in a way, a lot of times property management companies offer a marketing service. Property management companies generally wear two hats – property management, obviously that is what a property management company is, but also property marketing and generally the property management side of it is really a loss leader – it’s not a big money maker for them although some people think it might be, but it actually is not. Where they actually make their money is on the marketing side, so they market your property and they rent it out then they take a percentage of the marketing fee and it’s usually 15% some are a little less and some are a little more but its roughly 15% and that is where they make their money. I’ll tell you what, they work really hard for it so property managers are both things – management companies and marketing companies. Of course in many occasions nowadays with VRBO and Airbnb and all those programs that go with it owners can do their own marketing and that is something that we very highly recommend you work with a management company that will allow you do that. In those circumstances you can set up your own program to bring in your own renters, you are going to save a little bit of money on the commission but management companies are great and they are well worth those fees that they will charge you and many of the management companies are 100% full service and if you don’t want to do anything at all to your property and you just want call up a couple of times a year and say “I want to stay for the next two weeks – black that out, then the rest of the time you manage it and look after it” the management companies that are excellent at doing that.  So wherever you sit on the spectrum whether it’s full management or if you want to take a real active role in managing your property then that’s up to you and again that comes down under the earlier question of who will manage my property. Well, we don’t know because until we know who you are and what you’re trying to achieve then we can’t recommend a management company so that’s the long winded answer to a short question!

Will my vacation home make me money? (12.12)

That is a how long is a piece of string question because it depends on the specific vacation home, it depends on the who the owners are, and it depends on who the management company is. My rule of thumb, and a really good way to look at it, is the number one benefit of owning a vacation home is basically having a beautiful home in Florida that you can use, your family can use any time you like and have someone else pay for it. And I would probably say 65% to 70% of our clients that’s their goal, it’s not about the money they are going to get from their vacation home, it’s all about getting the great use out of it for family memories and with a little bit of luck it appreciates over time and you’ll make a little bit of money out of it and basically after x amount of years you have a vacation home that somebody else has paid for.  That is really the goal. If you start going into the making money part of it then you start running into situations where the improvements need to be a certain value point so you can get the revenues back. Yes, we have clients that make quite a lot of money on a vacation homes, but I would say the vast majority of our clients are pretty much the “break evens”, many of them are quite happy. They don’t want to run a lot of people through their vacation homes so they don’t rent it out that much. It’s probably one of the things that people don’t understand about the business of vacation homes, is not everybody is trying to make money! A lot of people are very content to have that great facility just when they want it and somebody else is paying the majority of the costs and fees.  They are absolutely delighted and if you are one of them I’ll tell you that is probably the best place to be when looking at Orlando vacation homes.

What Monthly or Annual costs can I expect?

The base costs are going to be your property taxes, paid every year, you’re not going to get away with that – that’s a given and an amount I would suggest for a standard 6 bedroom, $500k – $600k house is probably around $5000 to $6000 per year and that is one of your biggest costs. Property insurance, you must pay that of course give or take $1500 to $2000 if you take out an umbrella policy on top of that which is really important to do and is probably a few more hundred dollars on your policy. Of course, you’ll have your power bills, and that depends on the size of the house and how much it’s used but you’re probably looking at few hundred dollars a month and on top of that you’ll have your homeowner’s association fees. Nearly every location has fees, and they vary depending on what the amenities are – the more amenities the more the homeowner’s association fees. The fees are spread across all the homeowners by an equal amount and that covers things like the garbage, gated security, the clubhouse facilities, the pool, the landscaping – all of that is paid equally by all the owners and that varies and again depends on the location, but you are probably looking on average at a resort at $450 a month and that is really the bulk of the running costs.  The other side of it is your property management fees and commissions and on top of that any extra maintenance, or any furniture updates or themed rooms etc. and those might be every few years.  You might want to do some standardization also like clean the air filters, shampoo the carpets and that kind of stuff but again those are all kind of minor stuff. So that is the bulk of it.

What is the difference between a resort and a community?

That is a good question, a lot of people see just houses and what you find is there are major resorts, and what is a major resort? We associate a resort with generally a gated, manned security post, so there is someone there when you drive up and you don’t get in until you’ve talked to somebody, and you are supposed to be there for a reason which is great, and a lot of people love that and rightly so. When you get inside the resort it’s beautifully manicured grounds, well looked after with a clubhouse with facilities like a pool, maybe a restaurant etc. etc. so it’s real full-service resort and you can spend a lot of time there. A lot of people don’t even leave the resort because of everything that is going on in there. So that’s a resort and then you can get tweeners which are bits and pieces, like gated with some kind of clubhouse and facilities and a pool which are in-between a resort and a community. Then you have base communities which are communities where you can drive through the streets, it’s not gated, doesn’t have any facilities but you can buy those houses and rent them out. So you have resorts and communities and then a little bit of tweeners which are in-between!

Where should I buy?

First, you have to buy in the short-term rental zone so that is the Southwest Orlando area. If you are buying a vacation home and you intend to rent it out, you must stay in that triangular area Southwest of Disney world. As far as specific locations you know, people call us up and say “what is the best place to buy” and the analogy I use for people is, it’s as if someone called you up and said “I want to know the best car to buy” and well that depends, do you have a big family and need an SUV? Do you want a sports car etc. and it’s a little bit like that to a certain extent so where you should buy is going to come down to what you are actually trying to achieve.  If you are looking more to invest or if you are looking more for a  family or price point so there is a lot of things that go into that.  Generally what I am going to tell you is you want to buy in a resort that is in my opinion. If you are going to buy a vacation home here in Orlando then get in a resort if you possibly can.  I think the benefits of a resort outweigh a community or a tweener in-between so I would stick to the resorts, unless there is something specific you want in a community or location.  With the older resorts all the way up to the latest resorts – that gives you a pretty good spread of house sizes and prices so there isn’t really a reason not to buy in a resort unless there is a house or a situation that you particularly want. You have to buy in the short term rental zone, and I would suggest you buy in a resort.

Are there any hidden fees? (20:39)

Not really, the only thing I would suggest that might be a hidden fee are costs that you will incur throughout the period of ownership, if something breaks, if you have to paint the property etc. That’s all the kind of maintenance that people don’t really talk about very much. There may be some additional fees with management companies and credit card fees is one of them for example and nobody really talks about that but some management companies – if they are taking a lot of credit cards they might charge you a 2% on a deal on a credit card and that is possibly a hidden fee, but generally we know what all the fees are and we’ll let you know what those are up front.  We’ll certainly know what’s going to come up and wallop you and get you landed with a huge bill. Actually let me reiterate that because you can get what is called special assessments and it’s very rare, so what is a special assessment? Let’s take a situation where something happens to the resort and everybody has to pay for it, so for example the road needs to get paved or something breaks and it’s an expensive item and they don’t have enough money in the reserves for the Homeowners Association to cover that then what they might do is they might put a special assessment so they might ask everybody for $200 or $400 broken down into increments – every home owner will have to pay their share.  I wouldn’t say it’s a hidden fee it’s just something that can come up and it’s very very rare that I can actually remember a situation where off the top of my head where special assessments come in but they do happen so there is really no way to protect yourself from that.) It’s just stuff that happens – with a really old resort you might want to bear that in mind with something that is 15 or 20 years old and you can ask or have your realtor ask either the Homeowners Association or when you buy a property  one of the things your realtor is going to get is your HOA Disclosure and on the HOA Disclosure it will actually have the information for someone at the Homeowners Association.  I would always recommend, even though that HOA Disclosure has the costs etc. on the disclosure, it’s probably worth giving them a call anyway and introducing yourself and say you’re thinking of buying a home in this resort, are these fees right, I have a piece of paper that says the fees are $400 a month, is that right and what does that include, and have you got any special assessments coming up?  They are duty bound to give you all that information so you will actually have the tools to check all that yourself. That is probably as hidden a fee as I can come up with on short notice!

What is the Capital Contribution? (22.35)

Capital Contribution – that is part of joining the Homeowners Association and most Homeowners Associations have a Capital Contribution fee and what does that mean? Well, it’s to save the cases of special assessment although not all communities have them, but most of the bigger ones do. When a new person buys a property in a resort there is a joining fee that is called the capital contribution and it can be a couple of hundred dollars and I’ve seen them as much as $3000. Emerald Island resort for example is a $3000 Capital Contribution fee and that is the highest one, normally they are about $1000 or $1500 so what does that do? Well, what they do is they put all that into a pot and that is what we were talking about earlier if they don’t have the reserves to cover something they’ll come to you in a special assessment.  The capital contribution they get for every new buyer goes into that pot therefore they don’t have to come for a special assessment and that is one of the reasons why we don’t see a lot of special assessments because the capital contribution fees for new buyers cover that. It’s only if something is over the top of that you’d get a special assessment but yes, that’s a really good question. So nearly every resort has a capital contribution fee and that is a cost that is incurred at closing as part of your closing costs.

Can you help us sell our property?

Yes, of course! We are a full-service brokerage at the Jerry Barker Group, and we are a very small brokerage. We never went out to be a big agent brokerage, we decided we wanted to stay small. We want to be able to help specific clients individually and take really good care of them, rather than just have them work with agents that we don’t know what they are doing or saying on a day-to-day basis. One of the nice things about that is we can really control the quality and when I set out to start this company about 13 years ago, that is one of things that I wanted, I wanted to educate the client, control our product and make sure that people who are entrusting us with half a million dollars from the other side of the world, knew everything that is going on and had all the necessary information. It’s completely transparent, I think that is exceptionally important. And at some point, when you go through the lifespan of a owning your vacation home you are probably going to want to sell it and we can help you do that. My wife Alyssa is both the broker of the Jerry Barker Group and the listing agent, so you’ll deal directly with Alyssa for the listings and she’s fantastic. She can go through all that detail so if you do want to sell a property then you can reach out to us and Alyssa will go through everything you need to know about selling your vacation home. She’ll make that process smooth and easy and enjoyable.  You get the best of both worlds when you have Ali and I or Roger (and Roger is right here behind the camera making sure everything goes – he’s waving to you right now!) and the three of us help people buy and Alyssa helps people sell. That’s our team right now!