Buying a house online in the age of the Coronavirus

In this weird new Corona world I’ve been reading that people are shopping for and buying real estate sight unseen online. I’m not a big advocate of sight unseen but as it so happens I’ve sold several such properties. Being experienced in this area I thought I’d do a blog post describing how I’ve done this type of sale in the past.

  1. I send you listings or you contact me out of the blue with a home you’ve already found online.
  2. I will go over to the house and look it over. As you know the list agent takes pictures and writes a description putting the house in the best light and minimizing any negatives. I go and take pictures of anything I see as a negative for you the buyer. I have also in the past made short cell phone walk through videos.
  3. My looking at the home should not be confused with an inspection. I am not there to find structural, electrical, plumbing problems ect. You would hire a home inspector for that. I am just looking for things you cannot see online.. I can look for permits that may show the age of the roof and AC though.
  4. You can make an offer long distance by electronically signing a Florida purchase and sale agreement. This is pretty easy as long as you have minimal computer skills.
  5. Once the offer is negotiated you have a contract and can schedule an inspection. I go to all inspections so just in case there is an issue I can see it in person. The inspector will email a very detailed report to you and will be available to answer questions via cell phone. A lot of buyers who see the house in person go home and we do the inspection much like this.
  6. We do long distance closings here all the time. A title company will be selected by the seller. The seller pays for a title search and gives you a full warranty deed. The seller also pays for Doc Stamps (a tax ) and Realtor fees. If you are a cash buyer there are very few closing costs, inspections, survey and register the deed. HOA fees and taxes are pro rated. If you get a loan there are a lot of closing costs and they are all from with your lender. The title company will either mail or email closing documents and you will have to send them back by over night mail.
  7. I go to all closings. I will get the keys to your house and either hold onto them until you get here or mail them to you.

Ocala New Home Buyers Beware

If you are looking at new homes and want to have the help of a Realtor beware ! If you contact a builder to request information be it on the phone or online they will register you as a customer. They do not disclose that they will not pay a real estate commission once they claim you as their customer. Builders do pay real estate commissions but only if the Realtor brings you into the sales office or pre registers you.

A Realtor can be a big help in buying a new home. The builders sales people are employees just like car sales people.

A Realtor can provide the following services.

  1. Show you resales that might exist that are only a couple of years old with upgrades beyond what you get in a new home from the builder.
  2. Show you sold comps to see what new and recent resales sold for.
  3. Realtors can help you select the best community for you. They will tell you the bad as well  the good unlike getting a one sided view from the builders employees.
  4. Help you select a good lot. I often scratch my head and wonder why with all those lots to pick from someone bought the one they did.
  5. Advise on options. Some options are a must and and others are just crazy over priced.
  6. Help find contractors for all those things you end up doing after closing.

Thoughts on building a new home


a street of new homes lined with trucks and a dumpster

This is a follow up to my ongoing series about my building a new house in Del Webb Stone Creek. When you build new you should be prepared to live with construction noise and dust for 6 to 12 months.

New home vs a Resale home in Ocala Fl

This post is about new verses resale homes based on my recent personal experience building a new house in Del Webb Stone Creek.

New houses are new. They have a new roof, AC, kitchen ect ect. They are not flawless. New homes always need things fixed that the sub contractors missed during construction. New houses may also need additional things such as a fenced yard, additional lighting or fans, garage storage, more landscaping, closet storage and the list goes on.

Newer resales especially 55+ resales often show as good as new. A lot of the things like landscaping, storage and fencing are not improvements where you recover 100% of your cost. Some just make a house more sellable. You can often find a nice lot in a resale that would cost a big premium on a new house.

Older resales often need some renovating. You would expect to pay less for the same size house  vs new. I’m selling a 1997 home with a hard to find pool looking out at the golf course in Ocala Palms for only $215K. You couldn’t be any where near that price in a new home.


New Home in Del Webb Stone Creek Part 5

This is part of my on going series about my experience building a new home in Del Webb Stone Creek for my wife and myself.

We closed on our new home on June 21st. It took just about 5 months from signing the contract until closing. In past blog posts I talked about the construction experience. I plan to continue to blog about my experiences after closing.

One thing that pops up is that we have spent quite a bit of money after closing. We found that we didn’t like some options offered by the builder and elected to take care of them on our own after closing. We didn’t like the window treatments offered and installed Levelor blinds on our own. We didn’t like the pendant light options over the kitchen island either and my wife found ones she liked online. There was no option for ceiling fans so we had to get them ourselves. Pendant lights and fans were about $1600- and window treatments which we installed ourselves were another $1,000-. We found a great retired electrician in the neighborhood to install our lights and fans at a super reasonable price of $30- each. These things add up fast ! We have a nice work area in the garage and cabinets and overhead storage were a quick $1,000-. We got a Lanai with a screen cage extension. For added outdoor space we had a 10 x 24 cement pad poured. The cement pad alone was $1800-. We didn’t use pavers on our Lanai floor because we thought they were crazy expensive, $3600- for a 16 x 16 area. We will probably tile the lanai and new cement pad and it should cost about $3000-. A savings but also an out of pocket expense too. We fenced our yard for our dog $3500-.  My new neighbors have made similar comments about expenses after closing.

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New Home in Del Webb Stone Creek part 2

This is part 2 of my experience building a new home in Del Webb Stone Creek here in Ocala.

On January 19 we signed our contract. On February 8th we went to the design center to pick out the interior finishes. Almost everything in the house can be upgraded. We decided on all tile floors in every room. Tile on both shower walls. We went with mid level cabinets in the kitchen and baths. We kept the base granite mostly because the upgrades didn’t wow us. We added pull out draws in the kitchen and under cabinets lighting. Although expensive it seemed too hard to do after closing and wouldn’t have come out as professional. We upgraded the base black appliances a couple of levels to stainless Kitchenaid. We had to pick door height 6 or 8 foot, door handle finishes, faucets, cabinet door pulls, even where and how to mount flat screen tv’s. I expected it to be overwhelming but it wasn’t too bad. We are decisive and were in and out in a little over 2 hours. In the end we added $27,000 in options in addition to our lot premium of $18,500.

Nothing else happened until March 7th when we met our Field Manager. Actually he had been busy ordering all the materials for the house and getting the building permit. Building permits take several weeks here.

JB Ranch

JB Ranch Entry Sign

JB Ranch is a new 55+ community located just off SR 200 here in SW Ocala. JB Ranch was started just before the great real estate crash of 2008. There are a mix of 3 builders. Armstrong Homes, a local builder, built a few homes around 08. Lenar built a couple of dozen homes on lots they still owned in 2018 but have finished. The remaining homes are being built by DR Horton. These are really nice homes that are priced to compete with much older resales. Prices are in the high $100’s to low to mid $200’s.

The clubhouse is brand new. There is a meeting room, kitchen and a fitness room with really nice high end equipment. There is 1 outdoor beach entry type pool. Once built out there are expected to be approximately 380 homes.

HOA fees will include trash pick up and lawn mowing and trimming. Unlike other communities that include lawn mowing in the HOA fee JB allows fences. Once the clubhouse is open HOA fees will be $141- month. That is a lot of value for $141 a month.

Information and statistics are deemed to be accurate at the time this blog was written but are not guaranteed. All information is time sensitive and subject to change without notice

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New Home in Del Webb Stone Creek

This is the first part of a series of posts about my wife and I building a new home in Del Webb Stone Creek. Much of this could apply to other new homes in other communities except of course spec homes.

Mid January 2019. We made our decision to build a new house in Stone Creek. We put down $20,000 to get started. The first step was to decide on a lot. Lots with no or little lot premium backed up to other homes or have a planting separating the homes. We decided on a home that looks out onto the Circle Square Cattle ranch that is owned by the family that builds On Top of the World. The lot premium was $18,500-. The next decisions involved structural components of the house.  We wanted an office with french doors, on the lanai we wanted the slider to close into a pocket and the Lanai to extend 8 feet into a screen cage. I have always loved a Roman shower so we got one. We decided against extending the garage 4 feet because it pushed the house back and we wanted as much yard as possible for our puppy Ginger. One of the bigger decisions was the elevation. The elevation is the front of the house and roof line. There were 6 options for the same floor plan that make the front of the house look totally different. Each having a different price.

A big take away is that in building any new home you can see a base price online. That is really base like a car with an AM radio and roll up windows if you remember back that far. I have heard different numbers but adding $40,000 + or 20% seems to be a good rule of thumb.

In my next post I’ll go over the time line and our visit to the design center.

Candler Hills Ocala Florida

Candler Hills Entry Sign

Candler Hills Sign

Candler Hills is an active 55+ golf course community located in SW Ocala. Candler Hills is a newer part of the On Top of the World Communities. The homes here are of concrete block and stucco construction and built within the last few years. There are new homes for sale and quite a few resales. HOA fees include a 24 hour guard at the gate, common area maintenance, curb side trash pickup, access to On Top of the World amenities, discount golf fees and the exclusive Candler Hills clubhouse and heated outdoor pool. Candler Hills is a golf cart community meaning you can drive your cart down the road. As a matter of fact you could drive all the way to a super market if you were so inclined. You are not allowed to finance more than 80% of the purchase price of a home here. Candler Hills has very high quality and very energy efficient newer home. Candler Hills unlike OTOTW itself is a fee simple community meaning you own the land. There are Community Development District bonds attached to most of the resale homes which add approximately $900- year to your taxes.

Update 3/24/15 HOA fees are currently $229- month. I think resale homes in Candler Hills are a bargain at the present time.

Update HOA fees are $233- month. I still think that resales are a bargain in Candler Hills. These are the best built 55+ homes in our area in my opinion.

Update 1/18/2017 HOA fees have increased to $257.30 per month. I am told there is a very impressive Candler Hills clubhouse under construction. I will update and add pictures when available.

Update 1/4/2018 There is a lot of new home building in Candler West. A new clubhouse and pool have also been added see pictures below. HOA fees went up to $271.44 month.

Update 1/23/19 HOA fees are now $276.24 month and include access to all the amenities in OTOW as well as the Candler Hills Lodge.

Update 1/07/2020 HOA fees have gone up to $282.36

Update 3/4/2021 HOA fees have gone up to $289.56 a month

If you would like a list of homes for sale in Candler Hills fill out my Ocala Dream Home Finder, call me or send an email. I will set you up a Listing Cart on the Ocala MLS for Candler Hills.

Pictures below

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Indigo East Ocala FL

Indigo East entrance sign

Indigo East

Indigo East is a newer part of On Top of the World communities. It is located just north of SR 200 and is close to shopping restaurants and health care.  Homes in Indigo East are all of concrete block and stucco construction and range in size from around 1200 sq ft of living area to a little over 2,000.  Prices are in the $100-200,000- range with most in the middle. Indigo East has an electronic gate that works on a bar code but not a person in a guard house at the gate. There is a nice clubhouse and pool. HOA fees include maintenance of the common areas, clubhouse, curbside trash pickup. For an additional $750- year per household you can use all the amenities at On Top of the World such as the indoor pool, fitness center and clubs.

Indigo East also has Community Development District bonds that add $483- per year to the taxes and an additional common area maintenance fee that adds an additional $296- year to the taxes. Bonds are for 30 years and the maintenance fee is forever and can go up or down. Great homes for the money despite the CDD bonds and resulting taxes.

Update 3/15 HOA fees are $133- month. Price remain stable. Great prices on newer CBS homes.

Update 3/16 HOA fees are now $136- month. There is also new construction and there is a current promotion where the builder is selling new homes with no CDD bonds. Prices start at only $150 K.

Update 1/18/2017 HOA fees went up to $150.47 month. They are renovating and expanding the clubhouse but I am told that there is still no exercise room.

Update 1/9/2018 They are building a lot of new homes and are adding a new clubhouse with a pool and fitness area. HOA fees went up to $159.87 month.

Update 10/29/18 The new fitness center and 2nd pool are now open. Pictures below.

Up date 1/23/19  HOA fees are now $161.47 month. New homes are selling like crazy in Indigo East. They are about 85% sold out. I have also seen a couple of almost new resales already.

Update 1/07/2020 HOA fees have gone up to $166.31. Indigo is almost built out.

Update 3/4/2021 HOA fees have gone up to $174.07 per month

If you would like a list of homes for sale in Indigo East fill out my Ocala Dream Home Finder , call me or send me an email. I will set you up a Listing Cart on the Ocala MLS for homes in Indigo East.

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