Bill: Hey, everybody. How's it going? Another exciting, thrilling edition of "Snowbirding 101." Episode 2. Kristine, what is up? How are you?
Kristine: Bill. Good. How are you?
Bill: Doing great, Kristine. Where are you joining us from?
Kristine: You what?
Bill: Where are you joining us from?
Kristine: I'm joining us from Orlando. So for those of you who are just tuning in, this is "Snowbirding 101." We're going to come to you with a ... did we say monthly? Monthly series?
Bill: Monthly. Yes.
Kristine: Just talking about if you've had any thoughts of moving down to Florida, down to the warmth, down to the sunshine, this is a great series to kind of get you started. And just we're going to talk about pretty much everything. We're going to pick a topic each month. This month, we are talking about the differences in construction, what to expect. There's so many differences, like Bill was saying, to anything that is, what'd you say, new construction is after the war?
Bill: Post war. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:01:08]
Kristine: Which is so funny to me.
Bill: [inaudible 00:01:10] foundations, that's the way to go.
Kristine: Yeah. So obviously, things are really different. And so, I'll just start with that first difference, is that you're going to find a lot newer homes here, especially in the Orlando area. We were going to have Janet from Tampa on our show today. She's sick, so we'll have her on, probably next month. But I can't speak for every city, but that's why we're bringing on a bunch of different agents. But I can speak for Orlando, and here in Orlando, especially the county that I'm in, which is Seminole County, you're seeing the majority of homes in 1980s, 1990s, and then a ton of new construction. Like my house is built in 2016. So it really helps with your home insurance. Who wouldn't want to insure a brand new home?
Bill: It's so refreshing to hear, because we get a lot of buyers looking in the Melrose area here, and sit down, they're like, "We want that open concept floor plan. We want something relatively new, we don't have to put a lot of time in." And it's like, "Have you thought of North Carolina?" Because it just doesn't exist up here.
Kristine: But you don't have the charm of those old homes. And here, our new construction is really built on, maybe like 1/4 of an acre, and they are "cookie cutter" homes. So basically, the builder gets a planned unit development in a subdivision, sometimes it's gated, sometimes it's not, and they have anywhere between like three and seven floor plans. And they pretty much just build those over and over and over again. So it is pretty cool. You can go in ... It's called semi customs. You can go in and choose the floor plan, you can choose your lot, and then you can choose all the finishes, but they already have all of the plans for the home done. And then the outside of them looks different. You choose like your elevations. There's usually like two or three different outside aesthetic options that you can do. But it's a good system. It takes them about four months to build the home, and so, that's from scratch, that's from dirt on the ground.
Bill: Okay. Yeah, that's a pretty quick turnaround. And I think the good news is, like a lot of people up here have lived in their 1890s Victorian, or turn of the century Colonial, 1920s Colonial, and they've spent 15, 20, 25 years with the upkeep of that property. And I think they're pretty much done with the charm aspect of it, and they're just kind of looking for something easy, so I think that's obviously a great fit. And we'll get a little nerdy here about the architecture and how things are built. So most of the stuff here, Kristine, is wooden frame construction. Tell us what it is down in Florida, usually.
Kristine: Yeah. So in Florida, it's mostly block. It's mostly concrete block, on the first floor, at least, and then if there's a floor above, it's wood framed that second floor, of course. We do have wood framed homes. Whenever we're going through the inspection process, it's always something the buyers ask about, if it's wood framed. We are a little bit wary here. As long as the seller has really kept up with the termite bond, we are fine. I'm sure everyone probably has termite bonds there, right?
Bill: No. So this is good we're talking about it. We do have homes with termites in them. They're largely the subterranean. They're not the [inaudible 00:05:08]. Where we will see termite damage, it's in the sill of the home, which here, almost all homes have basements, and so the sill ... I don't know if you really have a still in a slab home. You don't. So, the sill is a 2 x 4 that separates the home from the foundation, usually underground, and that's one of the first things a home inspector will check. He'll poke around that sill to make sure there's no damage to that, or in the floor joists, or the main beams, girders that go across. But then, that's it. That's where, usually, if the termites have gotten higher than that, then you've got a major issue. But it's usually down there. So, tell us about the termite bond.
Kristine: So, the termite bond is just something that, it's basically a promise. You pay a company, and they come out and they'll check for termites, they'll spray for termites. And if you have a wood framed home and you do not have a termite bond, it is kind of a red flag here, just because it's kind of like a taboo, like no one would really want that. So if you do have a wood framed home in Florida, you would have to keep up the termite bond. But most of them are the block construction homes, and then no worries there.
Kristine: Our homes are built on slab. If you dig too deep, you're going to hit water here, so we obviously don't have any basements. I actually am under contract on a home right now, and it's in a little town outside of Orlando called Geneva. And just that town, or part of that town, has its own aquifer. So it's called the Geneva Bubble. And so, apparently it's a really good thing to be on the Geneva Bubble. So you can tap into things like that. So that's, as far as digging down deep, you're not going to. You're on slab.
Kristine: What else will we talk about. Oh. So, there's a couple things whenever people are coming in from out of state. Like every state, I think, and sometimes every county, has its things to kind of look out for in a home inspection. And you were saying yours was-
Bill: Termites, elevated levels of radon gas, which is [inaudible 00:07:35] emitted from rock, which is not going to be an issue in Florida.
Kristine: Not. It's not. So we won't check for stuff like that, but one thing we do check for pretty seriously, is called defective drywall. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, and I think even parts of 2007, they had found this, what they called "Chinese drywall." And they thought it was a much more cheap kind of a drywall, that they were apparently bringing from China. And turns out, after some longterm studies and people lived in the homes for a certain amount of time, it is toxic. And you can tell, inspectors can do an inspection, and they can tell if there is this defective drywall, or Chinese drywall, in the home. There are certain parts of town, and certain builders, used that, and then, of course, the certain years. But they did stop using it after 2007, whenever they really started to catch on to what was going on.
Kristine: So that's one of the bigger things. The newer homes are not being built with this defective drywall, so you don't have to worry about that, but whenever you write an offer, you have to put in the defective drywall in pretty much every single home, just in case. And it's kind of saying, like, "Hey, we're going to check for this. Thank you for making us aware."
Kristine: And then, the other thing was the kind of piping. We use copper piping, we use PEX piping, we use PVC piping, but the one that you really don't want to run into here, it's called polybutylene piping. I'm not sure when they started using this. A lot of homes that were built in, like, the 80s, if they haven't been re-plumbed, in the Orlando area, do have the polybutylene piping. And a lot of times, the sellers will never have had a problem. They've never had a pipe burst. It's not toxic like the defective drywall is, it's shown to not hold up as well, and so a lot of leaks happen. So sometimes, you go through an inspection and the house has polybutylene piping, but there hasn't been any leaks, but you still are going to get that replaced for your insurance. Your insurance is-
Bill: Is it a plastic?
Kristine: ... either they won't insure it, or they'll give you 30 days to insure it.
Bill: Okay. Okay. I get you. So that's kind of like electrical here. If the old knob and tube electrical wiring is found in your house here, it's really tough to get that insured, but you'll have 30 days after closing to replace it. And that can be awfully expensive, if you're running wire through the, could be the entire house, to replace it. So that type of pipe, is it a plastic, or is it a metal?
Kristine: It is, and you can tell. You can actually see it. Where we check for it ... Even just during our showings, if we know that the home has been built in the 80s or early 90s, and I know on the seller's disclosure that the home hasn't be re-plumbed, I will check. And it's pretty easy. You just go under the kitchen sink, and look for gray piping. You can check under the kitchen sink, and if you see gray piping, then I would head over to one of the bathrooms, check under the piping there. And if there's also gray piping, then you might have an issue.
Kristine: But I wouldn't let that stop you. I would still get an inspector in. Because sometimes, I've seen it where only the piping that's polybutylene is right under the sink. So maybe they re-piped, but they've only re-piped part of the house, so it could be a lot cheaper. You really have to see all of the piping to check. But it's not a big deal. Honestly, a lot of times, we've had a lot of luck having the sellers give a credit, or giving you that money at closing to re-pipe.
Bill: Okay. So sellers understand, if they have it, they're going to have to either fix it, or compensate the buyer.
Kristine: Yep. Just because any buyer is going to ask for that.
Bill: Flood zones. Let's talk flood zones. We have them here in Massachusetts, but they are rare. And they are ... If you have to carry flood insurance, I would say, less than 3% of the homes in our area are in an actual flood zone. We have to be real careful about if your house is near water, or near wetlands, you need to, because FEMA is always changing the map on what's in a flood zone, what's not, how severe the flood zone is. So it's something, if a seller's trying to sell a house that's in a flood zone, you definitely have to adjust the price for it, because it's just not the norm. So, let's talk flood zones in Florida.
Kristine: Yeah. So, they're everywhere. And as far as pricing, an appraiser doesn't bring it up, we don't bring it up on our listing appointments. It wouldn't affect the price at all, just because it's so common. And if you're in a flood zone, usually, you're on a lake, so your price is going to go up. We do have hurricanes, and we do have heavy rains in the summer. A lot of people, even if you're not in a flood zone, they have flood insurance, so that's kind of part of being in Florida, part of the take from being close to water all the time. So pretty much everyone around a lake is going to be in a flood zone, 90% of the time. If they've got a big lot, then sometimes just part of the lot is in the flood zone, but it's up to your lender and your insurance company if you're still going to have to carry the flood insurance. It's pretty cheap. It's not going to tack on a lot. If you're already buying lakefront, you can probably afford the extra $100 a year, like I think that's [crosstalk 00:13:49].
Bill: Really? Only $100 a year?
Kristine: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Pretty cheap for flood insurance. Yeah, it's just not something that it's going to bother somebody. So if you're in a flood zone, we have different flood zones, and I will have to double-check on this, but there's a flood zone, it's AE. If you're in an X flood zone, that means you're good, you're not in a flood zone. But AE is a flood zone. It means that there's a possibility. And I think that the stat is like, that means that there's a 1% chance your home can flood that year. So it's not huge. Around lakes and everything, you've got a lot of seawalls, so people have experienced this over a couple of years, they know how high the water is going to rise.
Kristine: And homes are not built to flood, so we expect things. And around lakes, you still have some of the cracker-style houses, where the living space is built on that second floor, and then underneath is sometimes just stilts, or sometimes, it's a finished garage. And the owner can really decide what they want to do with that. But yeah, flood zones, it's just kind of part of the process here. Like how wood framed homes are part of the process there. So we just keep [inaudible 00:15:16] on, and-
Bill: Does everyone ... I mean, probably not so much in Orlando, but talk about hurricane insurance. Like it's obviously different than flood insurance, right?
Kristine: Yeah. So, I think it's something along these lines: this is why I say that you should still get flood insurance. Because if you have the hurricane insurance, that hurricane stuff will do, just your regular insurance, your home insurance, but, what is it ... It's like if it floods ... I'll have to look it up, but if it floods in the home, it's not going to take care of what the flood damage was. It has to do ... So flood insurance and hurricane insurance are completely different. If you're worried about your home flooding during a hurricane, you need flood insurance, because the hurricane insurance won't work on it. Yeah. They're two-
Bill: More like wind damage, maybe, or-
Kristine: Yeah. So I think the hurricane damage would have to do more with like, things falling on your house. You know, stuff like that.
Bill: Okay. Cool. Now, you mentioned a lot of homes are going to be in kind of a planned development. So people are familiar with association fees here, with respect to condos. Depending on the building, if you're downtown Boston, and you're in a higher-end building, you've got a concierge, you're looking at condo fees of around $1,000 a month. Or if you're Melrose, and you're in a converted three-family that's now three condos, now you're talking about $100 a month. So tell us about, kind of, what those fees are like, if you have [inaudible 00:17:05] or anything like that.
Kristine: Yeah. So we really just have HOAs. What happens is, builders ... developers, really, took a couple of acres and they divided it up, and then they sold it. Once they did that, they sold it to a builder, and that's when the builder got what I was telling you earlier, maybe three to eight floor plans, and started building. Some of them are spec homes, which means that they didn't have anyone in mind whenever they were building it. They just built it, and then hoped that someone liked it enough to buy it. So, some of them are gated. If it's gated, then your HOA is going to be a little bit higher, of course, because your community is paying for that. Most of our planned unit developments have some sort of a wall around them, at least, but they're not necessarily gated. And for that, that can run you anywhere between $10 a month to $25 a month. And then the ones with the gates, usually they're paid quarterly, and it can be upwards of $100 a month for those neighborhoods with the gates on them.
Bill: Okay. And then if we've got a golf course, there might be additional fees there?
Kristine: Yeah. So if there's a golf course ... So what we have here, also, is called an optional HOA. You'll have your mandatory HOA for your gates, and for the streets, and keeping everything kind of nice and tidy. And then you can have an optional HOA, which maybe that means that you're picking and choosing your amenities. So if you want to pay into the golf monthly so that you can use it, you can. And if you don't pay, you can't use that. Same thing with a lot of lakefront properties. There's going to be an optional HOA to use the amenities on the lake, or clubhouses, and stuff like that. So they'll keep track.
Bill: Okay. Okay. Yeah. Good. I think that's ... Did you have anything else to add? I think that's all I had on my notes.
Kristine: I just had ... As far as pools, we talked about pools a little bit.
Bill: Yeah. So I think pools, here, actually, they don't add a ton of value, because you can use them for a minute and a half here in New England, but different story in Florida.
Kristine: Yeah. If you have a big home, maybe 4 or 5 bedrooms, which kind of might allude to you having a family, having kids, most of the homes are going to have pools here. That's something to do with the kids, you know? And if you don't have a pool, it will take a little bit longer for your home to sell, just as a general idea. So, it definitely increases the value, and it increases the desirability of the home. Most people in Florida, that's a non-negotiable for them. They have to have a pool. So when I'm sitting with a buyer, and we're going through their "wants" and their "needs" list, the pool is usually on the "needs" list.
Bill: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). I can imagine.
Kristine: [crosstalk 00:20:25]. Yeah. It's hard to imagine. And then, a lot of communities also have a community pool, so that's a great way to meet neighbors, a great way to meet friends, that's a great way to spend your Saturday and your Sunday at the pool.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah. Do people install pools at all, or it's just pretty much you're either buying one with a pool, or it's not even worth it. And what are those costs typically like?
Kristine: Yeah. So, whenever you decide to buy a house, and maybe it doesn't have a pool ... Or, another good example is that new construction. A lot of new construction don't come with a pool. Now, you can have the builder put a pool in, but it is so much more expensive. If you buy a new construction and you say, "Kristine, I really wish that that house had a pool," "Okay, we'll have my pool guy come out after you close, because you're going to be paying double if the builder is doing it themselves." So, yeah, people will just come, you plan the pool, you'll need to give them a survey, and you will just have them come in, they'll come do the side yard, they tear up your grass, pretty much. You're going to have to re-sod. But you can design your own pool and put it in.
Bill: Nice. Nice. And then, typical cost, do you know? Like is it $20,000, or 10? What is it?
Kristine: Well, it really depends on the kind of pool that you want. I would say $20,000 to start, and then up from there. Yeah. Yeah. Depends on how fancy you are. But I would definitely recommend it. It does get hot here in the summer. It's a great way to entertain friends and family. We're always out on the back deck, eating dinner out there, or laying in floaties. It's [inaudible 00:22:24]. It's a good time.
Bill: What is the temperature in Orlando right now, by the way?
Kristine: [inaudible 00:22:37]. What do you think it is?
Bill: I'm going to go with 76.
Kristine: It's probably ... 85. Woo-hoo! Not a cloud in the sky.
Bill: Oh. Well, it is cloudy, and a little bit breezy, and we'll be lucky to get to 60 degrees here.
Kristine: Yeah. I got my first sunburn of the season last weekend, so game on. He hates me right now.
Bill: I'm not using my humidifier in my house anymore. Whoo! Party on!
Kristine: We don't need those here, that's for sure.
Bill: Awesome. Well thanks, Kristine. Thanks, everybody, for watching. Next month, we will have more ... hopefully, we'll dive into, we'll have our guests ready to go, and we'll be talking about specific markets in Florida. And if you have any questions or anything you would like us to discuss, please feel free. Comment below, shoot us an email. Kristine, what's the best way to get ahold of you?
Kristine: My email. email@example.com, or you could call or text me at 407-415-2412.
Bill: Cool. And I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give me a ring or text 617-771-9376. Kristine, have a fabulous weekend outside. Don't forget the sunscreen. I'm dyin' right now.
Kristine: All right. See you next month.
Bill: Cool. Take care. [inaudible 00:24:13], everybody.