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Where to buy a home in Orlando
Buying a home in Orlando can be a lucrative investment opportunity. But when you are browsing Orlando homes for sale, it’s important to know which sort of location will give you the best financial returns. Whether you’re planning on moving to Orlando to live, or buying a second home to rent out as a vacation home or short-term rental, this guide will give you an idea of where to invest your money.
Overall, Central Florida has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and is predicted to grow as both a residential and tourist destination over the coming years. Home to more than 2,500,000 residents, it comprises several exciting areas including Orange County, Osceola County and Polk County.
If you’re buying a property to live in, you’ll be able to choose a home from anywhere. If on the other hand you’re looking for a property to rent out for short-term lets and vacations, your options are limited to the two areas around Orlando, Osceola County and Polk County, both of which allow investment properties to be used as short-term vacation rentals.
Fortunately, all of these areas are perfectly positioned within easy reach of the theme parks, and close to countless shops, restaurants and activities, with all the associated infrastructure you’d expect. Read on to find out more about the various different options to give you an idea of where to buy a home in Orlando.
Orlando homes for sale under $100k
Orlando homes for sale under $200k
Orlando homes for sale under $300k
Orlando homes for sale under $400k
Orlando homes for sale under $500k
Luxury Orlando homes for sale over $1,000,000
Orange County – Orlando
Orange County is the largest county in Orlando and is separated locally into West Orange and East Orange. Home to a population of over 1.37 million people, it covers the buzzing cities and towns of Orlando, Downtown Orlando, Apopka, Bay Lake, Belle Isle, Eatonville, Edgewood, Lake Buena Vista, Maitland, Oakland, Ocoee, Windermere, Winter Garden and Winter Park.
This is a great place to own a residential property, however it’s not permitted to operate vacation rentals in all of the areas here. The most popular neighborhoods in Orange County are Keenes Pointe, Isleworth, and Downtown Windermere.
Disney World itself is located in Osceola County, so buying a home in this beautiful part of Florida is an obvious choice for anyone looking to make the most of rental revenue from the passing tourist trade.
Osceola County is home to just over 350,000 residents and covers the popular cities of Kissimmee and St Cloud which include the very popular vacation rental communities of Encore Resort at Reunion, Reunion Resort and Windsor Hills Resort. These resorts offer guests access to first-rate facilities such as championship golf courses, exciting water parks and on-site spas, restaurants, kids’ clubs and more.
Beyond the resorts you will find scenic spots like the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, as well as Kissimmee itself which has shops, restaurants and family friendly activities.
Just southwest of Osceola, Polk County is home to a population of around 700,000 people. Here you will find plenty of parks and recreation areas including the well-known Bone Valley ATV Park.
Polk County’s most popular city is Davenport which is home to some of Orlando’s best resorts and short-term vacation rental communities including Solterra Resort, Solana Resort, ChampionsGate Resort, Providence, and Highlands Reserve.
Why move to Orlando?
Moving anywhere in Florida has its benefits. For starters, Florida is an income tax-free state meaning you do not pay tax on your income. This is unlike states such as New York where you are taxed an additional 8.82% of your income.
Other benefits include:
The climate here in Orlando plays a huge role in people’s decisions to sell their home and move to Florida. The year-round perfect weather brings a fun and friendly atmosphere wherever you go.
Being one of the largest tourist destinations in the world means there are thousands of job positions available throughout the state and especially here in Orlando. This means there are great opportunities to find a good-paying job in this area.
Living in Florida and particularly Orlando is all about the lifestyle. The region offers beautiful weather, hundreds of amazing restaurants, theme parks, late-night shopping, nearby beaches and plenty of fun in the sun, making Orlando a perfect place to call home.
Types of homes for sale in Orlando
When choosing to buy a home in Orlando Florida you will find yourself with plenty of options. There are many types of homes for sale in Orlando, including vacation homes, residential properties and many more.
Vacation Rental homes
Vacation rentals in Orlando make up a huge amount of the houses for sale in Orlando. Orlando is the vacation rental capital of the world with more vacation rental homes than anywhere else. The general idea with these second homes is that owners can enjoy them whenever they like, then rent them out to paying guests when they’re not using them.
Orlando is very unique as it’s home to many communities that are developed solely to cater to vacationers. These vacation rental communities usually have zero full-time residences and are solely built as an Orlando vacation home investment.
Vacation homes for sale in Orlando are mostly built to the south of Disney, where land is zoned for short-term rentals. Counties such as Osceola and Polk allow for short-term rental villas but some of Orange County does not, so make sure you know which areas do and don’t.
Orlando is one of the hottest places to live in the United States, offering beautiful year-round sunshine, a huge tourist market and fantastic infrastructure. With plenty of jobs available plus amazing living conditions, Orlando is a perfect place to live. Homes for sale in Orlando’s residential communities are generally found north of Disney World with the most popular residential area being Windermere, Winter Garden, Winter Park, and Lake Nona. Many towns such as Windermere and Winter Park are surrounded by beautiful lakes such as the Butler Chain of Lakes.
Orlando is the capital of timeshare properties and is home to Westgate Resorts, Disney Vacation Club, and 100s of other timeshare companies. Buying timeshare means you are buying a fractional share of a property or room and pay a yearly maintenance fee on top. Some companies swap your cash value for points, these points can then be used against future travel.
The hidden cost of a timeshare is hard to understand and there is a reason for this – timeshare relies on high pressure selling to get you to part with your money. We would strongly advise avoiding buying a timeshare property as they are very hard to re-sell and end up costing you a lot more than you initially hoped for.
Investing in Orlando
If you are planning to buy an investment home in Orlando then you have a couple of great options. Orlando is booming, both from a tourist standpoint with vacation homes, and from a residential standpoint, with the long-term leasing of houses and apartments to people moving to or already living in Orlando.
Is investing in Orlando a good idea?
If you ask our owners they will mostly say yes, it’s a very good idea. Most of the homes in Orlando rent at an occupancy rate higher than 70% meaning that over 35 weeks per year are booked out. However, like any investment, investing in Orlando will take some work on your behalf.
When buying a home you need to make sure the home stays up-to-date. This could mean small upgrades are needed around every 5 years in order to refresh your home and keep it renting at maximum occupancy.
Invest in short term rental homes in Orlando
Orlando is home to over 20,000 short-term vacation homes. This may sound like a lot of competition but when you take into account over 80 million visitors come here each and every year, there is still a seriously high demand for vacation homes. Investing in a vacation home in Orlando is a great idea, especially when you buy a house that has been designed with guests in mind. You can enjoy your home whenever you want, then rent out your unused weeks to paying guests.
Investing in long term properties in Orlando
There is also a fantastic opportunity to purchase an investment home in Orlando and long-term lease the property to an individual family. It is expected that the Orlando population will increase from 2.5 million residents to over 5 million in the coming years. Not everyone can afford to buy a home, so looking for a long-term lease is a perfect option for many families.
Best short term rental neighborhoods to invest in Orlando
Whilst there are over 10,000 vacation homes spread across many different communities there are certainly some short-term vacation rental communities that perform better than others.
How to choose the best community to Invest in Orlando?
If you are new to the Orlando area and would like to know the best communities to invest in are, then you will need to know the following:
How far is the home from Disney World?
If choosing to invest in a vacation home in Orlando, then you really need to understand who you are marketing to. In Orlando, this is very easy as the vast majority of visitors are coming to visit Disney World. Even if they’re not coming for the theme parks, everything is close by including shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment. The closer your investment home is to Disney the better – you may pay a premium for the house, but the rental income you can earn will be much more significant.
How old is the community?
The age of the community or on-site amenities will play a factor in how much rental income you can charge for your vacation home. In older communities, a larger number of homes can be a little run-down and in need of some upgrades.
Don’t always let this put you off though, as buying a home that needs work often means you can get a great deal on an Orlando investment home. If you put some money back into the home and renovate it then you will have a great rental property that should produce you a great return.
What amenities does the community have?
Having world-class on-site amenities is certainly a great marketing tool that will draw people to the resort and hopefully to your home.
New resorts such as Encore Resort at Reunion feature a resort-style pool, an adult-only pool, water slides, a splash park, tennis courts, basketball court, fitness center, on-site restaurant and more!
Having lots of amenities on-site really makes the home easy to rent. Communities like Windsor Hills Resort is an older community but has recently renovated its waterpark bringing it back in line with the surrounding competition.
So what are the best short term investment communities in Orlando?
Here is our list of the best short-term investment communities in Orlando. We have used booking data from Top Villas to show the most popular resort communities to invest in Orlando.
Reunion Resort is the most prestigious vacation community in Orlando. It’s one of the only vacation rental communities that allows you to choose an individual lot and build a custom-designed home. There are also several opportunities to purchase a Reunion Resort resale home with homes ranging from 1-bedroom condos to 15-bedroom mega-mansions.
On-site you will find world-class resort features including a water park, 3 championship golf courses, a pro tennis complex, several pools, restaurants and even a hotel. Reunion Resort’s close proximity to the theme parks including Disney and Universal, makes it very appealing to vacationers.
Disney is just 5.5 miles away and Universal just 20 minutes away. Also nearby are local supermarkets and the shopping area of ChampionsGate. Reunion Village is also currently under construction, located directly next to Reunion Resort. This is why Reunion Resort makes our top list for the best place to buy a vacation home in Orlando, Florida.
Encore Resort at Reunion is another very popular resort located in Kissimmee, Orlando. There are several options for buying a home in Encore Resort, including lots of new construction options, meaning a choice of several floor plans all of which have been designed especially for vacation rentals.
Homes for sale in Encore Resort at Reunion range from 4 bedrooms up to 13-bedroom homes complete with lots of in-villa amenities. Guests can also make the most of the extensive resort amenities including a water park, and in-villa experiences such as meal delivery. This resort is particularly impressive and was one of the first true vacation rental resorts in Orlando with the aim to bring vacation rentals and the hotel experience closer together.
In addition, all homes in Encore come with a private pool and spa which is a must for any successful vacation rental in Orlando.
Encore Resort is located just outside Reunion Resort and has easy access to the I-4 freeway, 429 and Highway 192, so there is plenty to do around this area. Disney is just 5.5 miles away and Universal is within easy reach.
Other attractive factors include the fact that Encore’s rental rates are kept high due to contracted minimum rates set by the resort, providing investors with an excellent opportunity to make some decent returns from owning a home at the Encore Resort Orlando.
One of the most popular resorts to own a second home in Orlando is ChampionsGate Resort. Located in Davenport just south of Disney World, it is a large community that features multiple neighborhoods within the ChampionsGate neighborhood.
The main vacation rental community in ChampionsGate is the Reserve at ChampionsGate, a community located close to the scenic Oasis waterpark and where the majority of all vacation homes in this area are located.
When buying here, there are several floor plans to choose from, with homes ranging from 4 bedrooms up to 8 bedrooms, all with a private pool.
On-site amenities include a very popular pool and lazy river, a clubhouse, tennis courts and basketball courts, a movie theatre, arcade room and a fitness center. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar.
ChampionsGate is very conveniently located to everything Orlando has to offer, including Disney World just 12 miles away. Being a little further south of Disney also means a trip to the beach is only an hour’s drive away.
Windsor Hills Resort is one of the oldest communities on our list of ‘best vacation homes for sale in Orlando’. However, as it’s still a very popular resort amongst guests, there is a fantastic opportunity to be had by buying a home in Windsor Hills Resort.
Many homes in Windsor Hills are 15+ years old, and some still have furnishings and decor from when they were purchased. This creates a perfect investment opportunity! Some clients have purchased these homes at a great price, renovated them and turned them into some of the best rental homes in Windsor Hills.
What’s more, Windsor Hills Resort has re-invested in itself and renovated its entire waterpark, bringing in new slides and fun amenities for kids and adults alike. Not to mention that the location of Windsor Hills to Disney World, Universal Studios and Seaworld could not be better, with Windsor Hills being one of the closest resort communities to Disney World at just 2 miles!
Nearby are supermarkets and outlet shopping, along with the I-4 freeway which takes you to Downtown Orlando, Celebration or to the beaches.
Homes for sale in Windsor Hills Resort range from 3-bedroom townhomes and condos up to 6-bedroom family villas.
What costs are involved in owning a short term rental property?
As with most businesses or investments, there will be some overheads that need taking care of when owning a short-term rental investment home in Orlando. Luckily the overheads are typically taken care of by the rental income you are generating.
Orlando Property Management
One of the best things you can do once you have purchased your home is to hire a professional Orlando-based property manager to take care of your home. If you do not live locally a property manager is vital.
What does a property manager do?
All vacation rental homes need to have hotel and business licenses before you can operate your vacation rental. You can set this up yourself or have your management company do it for you. It is advisable to let the property manager take care of this for you to make sure everything is correct and legal.
If you have a pool you will need weekly cleaning which includes testing the chemicals, cleaning the filter, and vacuuming or brushing the pool. Some pool companies hose the decks down and some don’t, this is something to ask your company.
Every management company will use a pest control company to take care of ants, roaches, and general pests. Most spray quarterly but sometimes the charges are billed monthly to break it down. Ask your manager what bugs are not included in the pest control. Sometimes bed bugs, mice, etc are not included so it’s best to check!
In resort-style communities you will find that homeowners associations often take care of all the yards, bushes, shrubs and the mulching too. If this is not included in your agreement you will want to know how often the lawn will be cut and whether it includes the trimming of the shrubs, bushes and weeds.
Taxes and utility bills
Many property managers in Orlando aim to make the process of owning a vacation home as stress-free as possible, so they offer the option of paying all bills, taxes, and utilities for you and simply invoice you per month for the full amount or deduct these costs from the rental revenue generated each month.
This is one of the most important items in property management. Ask how long the cleaners have been working for the management company, is the laundry done on-site or are you being charged for an off-site service, do they get many complaints from cleaning, do the cleaners have a checklist? What is included in the clean and what is not, how often are deep cleans done, and are there any supplies left for the guests such as soap, trash bags, etc.
If you would like to understand more about property management in Orlando have a read of our guide to Orlando Property management here.
Upgrades and maintenance
As with any successful business, reinvesting into it is no different from a vacation home. You will need to allocate some funds to make sure any worn items in your home get replaced in a timely manner. Keeping on top of your home will lead to a better guest experience meaning great online reviews which in turn will help generate you more bookings and more revenue. Read our article explaining how to upgrade your home.
What are the safest neighborhoods in Orlando Florida?
Orlando like most large cities has its very good areas and not so good areas, however overall it is a very safe place to live. Many areas in Orlando are incredibly safe such as Windermere, Winter Park, Winter Garden, and Lake Nona.
The communities within these areas offer even more safety with many being fully gated communities and 24/7 manned access gated. We see that communities and areas that are located close to Disney World are extremely safe. A lot of money is spent by the parks and many people rely on tourism for work and lifestyle, so any indication of an increase in crime within an area is quickly dealt with.
Here is our list to the safest neighborhoods and communities in Orlando:
Windermere as a town has one of the lowest crime rates in all of Orlando. Located right next to Disney property, it has its own police station who solely deal with any minor incidents that happen in Windermere (which are very rare). Instead, you will regularly see the police speed-checking cars in and out of Windermere and clamping down on anyone speeding or playing excessively loud music from their cars.
Within Windermere are three of the top communities in Orlando, Isleworth, Lake Butler Sound, and Keenes Pointe. All three communities are located along Chase Road that joins Downtown Windermere to 535 State Road. The way these communities are positioned means there is only one way to access them, making it very easy to police. As added security, all three neighborhoods are strictly manned and gated with visitors only being allowed access via an app or a phone call to the house owner. If your name is not on the list, you are not getting in.
Reunion Resort is one of the safest places to own a home in Orlando. It is based in Kissimmee very close to Disney World. The resort itself is gated and manned with patrolling security 24/7.
Winter Park is located just north of Downtown Orlando in Orange County. Winter Park is a very affluent area and has a strong police presence. The main area of Winter Park is Park Avenue where you will find beautiful restaurants and shops. Located along the back streets is where you will find the beautiful houses of Winter Park, many with a lakefront position and within easy access to the main town.
Winter Garden as a whole is very safe, but living in Downtown Winter Garden is extremely safe with a very low crime rate. The best community within Winter Garden is Oakland Park located along the West Orange Trail and offering a beautiful friendly neighborhood and postcard-perfect homes.
Is it a good time to buy a house in Orlando?
Orlando certainly feels like the place to be right now. A lot of money is being brought in and the area is growing rapidly. With the expansion of Disney World and Universal, including the new park Universal Epic, Orlando looks like it is set to expand for the foreseeable future.
The city of Orlando is clearly expecting a surge in residents and tourists coming here now that the I-4 project is well underway, making the main freeway through Orlando into 7 lanes in each direction. This all leads to many opportunities to buy distressed properties, new construction homes and vacation homes.
Orlando vacation rentals
If you are looking for a fantastic vacation home here in Orlando then check out these amazing properties offered by Top Villas.
If you would like to learn more about homes for sale in Orlando, investment opportunities in Orlando, or how to own, build or run a successful Orlando vacation home rental then please reach out to our dedicated Orlando team today to learn more.