Home Buying in Lake Mary>Question Details

Thom, Both Buyer and Seller in Norfolk, VA

I'm looking to relocate to the Orlando area within the next 6 months are so. I've been looking at the online real estate listings for both

Asked by Thom, Norfolk, VA Mon Dec 21, 2009

Windermere and Lake Mary. There seems to be wide variations of list price and sold price between homes in the same area and relative same size. Should I use the price per sq foot as a rough estimate of what to make an offer?? I ran a market analysis on movoto.com and it appears that there many very overpriced homes in both areas.

Help the community by answering this question:


Regardless of your price range, the ‘Price’ is only one aspect to consider when assessing the true ‘Cost’ of a home. You should understand that waiting for lower Prices may ultimately Cost you more over time.

If you are relocating, the real question is: are you paying cash and will you be happy buying whatever home happens to be available? Or, are you really looking for a good long term deal and to buy the best property for you, in a community that is right you and your family for the long run, but understandably trying to avoid the problem of “catching a falling knife”? Everyone has to live somewhere, and for most families looking for a stable home their answer will be the latter.

You should expect some sellers will ask for the stars (especially as values decline) while others will be more informed and interested to sell quickly. Those with exceptional properties will generally get more then those with lesser properties. That is all normal at anytime, in any market. And Lake Mary has many more 'exceptional' properties than other areas of Orlando, as too does Windermere. But ‘asking’ price and ‘getting’ price have always been 2 different things, and they are indeed further apart today than in the recent past due to the current buyer’s market.

So, especially in this environment, Before you make any offer you should always know if the offer price is in a reasonable range. Right now, a good starting point is the county property assessor’s 2009 JMV (just market value as of 1/1/2009), and the 2010 “working value” as of 1/1/2010. Then, a detailed market analysis specific to the property, listing all recent comparable sales, should be provided to a prospective buyer before a contract is ever signed. There should be no question about appraisal or 'value' before an offer is made.

That said, your general concerns about 'price' and hitting bottom are not un-justified. Foreclosures are not likely to abate anytime soon, and values are likely to continue to decline y/y, though at a slowing rate, even here in Lake Mary. However, you should note that in many areas values have already deflated to a point where the replacement cost of the structure currently exceeds the purchase price in many communities. That is to say, the ‘Cost’ to rebuild the home may be $300,000 but the ‘Price’ is only $260,000… from a cost perspective homes are significantly “on-sale”. By any measure, even if prices do decline a bit further, over the long term buying a good home that is “on-sale” and meets all of your personal needs and desires will certainly not be a bad decision.

Most importantly, financing is still tremendously cheap, thanks in large part to Federal Reserve intervention into the mortgage bond markets. However, this support for low rates will not continue forever. A 1% increase in the cost of financing is the equivalent of ~10% increase in the price of the home. So to say it another way, the interest rate of the mortgage debt is by and far one of the most, if not the MOST, important components when determining the true ‘cost’ of any home over time. Understanding this fact is particularly important right now.

Taken together, the already deflated “on-sale” prices coupled at the same time with historically low “subsidized” fixed interest rates makes this a perfect time to buy. Waiting for lower ‘Prices’ may ultimately ‘Cost’ you more over time.

Whatever you decide, make sure you have your eyes-wide-open, and that you are working with someone experienced who understands and can explain, all the financial issues which impact your investment decisions.

Ron Hobbs
Palm Springs Realty (Commercial & Residential)
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Approved Broker
Licensed Real Estate Broker, Mortgage Banker, CPA (inact.)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 27, 2009
I would find a local agent that can give you real data on sales price per sqft.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 2, 2010
So if the 2010 working value according to the Seminole property tax office for a home in Heathrow is say $545k and the asking price is $649k and the home is basically in move in condition, according to what Ron Hobbs stated in his answer, the starting point should be $545K. That would be approx 84% of list, am I interpreting this correctly???

Is Sanford homes selling at more of a discount than Lake Mary???
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 8, 2010
Hi Thom,
You have gotten great information from all the Realtors that have answered you and I'm glad you got a chance to visit here recently. I live and work in Lake Mary and love it here. I'm sure with a little more information from you I know any agent here could find the home you are looking for whether in Lake Mary or Windermere. Sq footage can be tricky these day when pricing a home, you have to take into consideration if it is a private owned, bank owned, short sale, etc. The best thing to do is have a Realtor pull up current and accurate information for you. Alot of time the public sites have outdated information. You can look through my website for additional information or feel free to call or email.

Thanks and good luck!
Pam Bava e-Pro Realtor
Realtee LLC
a division of Realty Associates Central
(407) 982-5555
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010

Without knowing which neighborhoods in these cities you were looking at for homes, I would not be able to answer that question. Both Windermere and Lake Mary have multi-million dollar neighborhoods, so you cannot generalize with a per square foot.

Also to be taken into consideration with any property, is location, condition of home, comparable sales in the neighborhood. We have so many short sales, foreclosures and regular sales that generalizations really are not possible nor accurate.

Please feel free to contact me and visit my website for more info.

Cheryl Geluso
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 14, 2010
Hobbs and Company made some great points. One of the best replies I have seen on Trulia.

One thing to keep in mind about the historical low interest rates though. If you do buy now and get a fantastic rate, that will mean little if you have to sell in 2-3 years and the house has fallen further in value.

Also, the point he mentions about the cost to buy being cheaper than the cost to build. If that's accurate I would think those particular neighborhoods are close to the bottom.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 2, 2010
My price point is $500k for a single family home. But that doesn't mean I won't buy a lesser priced home that offers good value and that I can live in for 10 years and at least get my initial investment back. I've been kind of monitoring the market in the area for about 3 months now and I must admit that the article i referenced earlier really spooked me. Seems as if there are a significant amount of foreclosures and short sales in the price range I'm looking and many of the homes appear to have been on the market for a significant amount of time. I do worry that homes at this price point have not fully "depreciated", that's why I've picked a few favorites homes in both areas and following them. I'm getting email notifications of price changes and when I house is sold or taken off the market, which is really quite helpful. I'm thinking by April or May, I'll have a better feel for where prices will settle, but for now, I'm not comfortable committing to buy anything in the greater Orlando area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 23, 2009
You wrote:
Stickman, I've thought of renting 1st, but don't know if I can take 2 moves
I know what you mean, moving can be a real pain, physically and psychologically. I am not familiar at all with the Orlando market, but like almost every other market in the country the possibility is there for further price declines. And based on Shawan's comment below ("Home appraised at $475,000 we conducted the negotiation for our client, final price was $315,000 and the seller also paid $8,000 of his closing costs. ") the bottom may not be in. If you had bought a similar house to her buyers, say at 400K and 75K under appraisal, and then that one goes for 315K you'd really be stuck.

You say you have family in the Orlando area. I'd ask them if they are seeing price stability in their own neighborhoods yet. It's a turbulent market, and I'd be cautious buying in an area you are not familiar with. If you will need to move again with the next few years, that house will have to go up 6-7% for you to break even.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 23, 2009
Hi Thom,

I was the initial responder to your inquiry and I noted some of your responses to several of the answers/questions that were asked of you and also your reference to the Forbes article on 12/10/09. I had read that same article when it came out and it made some excellent points but as with any article on a National scope and not intimately involved with a local market, some points I would make are as follows:

1. Our real estate prior to the real estate boom in late 2004 to spring 2006 was one of the most undervalued in the United States. Prices today in many communities are well below what they were prior to prices increasing in 2004. Many of the sales prices are at 2000-2002 prices which defies typical economic logic.

2. The condo market is far far weaker than the single family market in Central Florida and it's recovery if it in fact does recover will be slow and painful and tends to skew some of this statistical data. I counsel my customers to think long and hard about their objectives who are considering purchasing condos and what their short and long term objectives are.

3. As mentioned previously, if you affiliate with a skilled professional and take your time in selecting the right property, there are plenty of excellent opportunities, regardless of the neighborhood. Certainly, Lake Mary and Windermere have a more expensive Median price, but relatively speaking, there are some deals to be had in those areas as well.


Marty Kaiser
Keller Williams Mega Agent
Web Reference: http://www.floridasells.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 23, 2009
Hi Thom,
If you use the price per sq ft method, you will drive yourself crazy. Using self generated value websites wont work get you the values either. The best method is simple, choose a Realtor that specializes in the area you are considering, stay loyal and let them d o the comparatives for you. We always provide our clients with a CMA prior to making an offer.

As far as your comment "there many very overpriced homes in both areas" keep in mind that many homeowners are underwater and the only way they could possibly sell is if someone was paying cash and didn't care what the homes actual value was. Never use an active listing as a comp, only solds.

O.K. now on to reality... Lake Mary was voted #4 as one of the best places to live by Money magazine... The only reason any of my clients purchase in Windermere is its proximity to Orlando.

If you are shopping based on Price per sq ft then it sounds like you want the most "Bang for the Buck" you wont get that in Windermere. Lake Mary's market has stabilized and we are starting to see some communities increase in price. If you want me to let you onto a secrete... Don't do anything until you have had a chance to preview homes in Lake Forest, Sanford: http://www.sanfordluxuryhomes.com/Lake-Forest-Homes---Real-E… Lake Forest is a community of luxury houses so unique it has earned the Grand Aurora Award for "The Best Residential Development in the Southeastern United States. We just sold this home in Lake Forest http://www.sterlingchaserealty.com/Lake-Forest-Sanford-Home-… Home appraised at $475,000 we conducted the negotiation for our client, final price was $315,000 and the seller also paid $8,000 of his closing costs.

How did we do it??? Let's just say "That is the type of results you can get when working with a professional negotiator".

If you have a home in mind, feel free to send me the address, I will tell you exactly what to offer.

Shawan Pettigrew

P.S. If you search still involves Lake Mary take advantage of the most advanced MLS search on the net: http://www.LakeMaryLuxuryHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 23, 2009
Louise, I was just in the area a week ago visiting some family there. I did get a chance to ride around and see Lake Mary and Windermere, that's pretty much why I've pretty much settled on one of the two areas. Here's the link to the article i referenced.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 22, 2009
Hi Thom -- Have you made a house hunting trip here yet? Windermere and Lake Mary are often the two areas selected when folks are looking on the internet. Both areas have great schools, beautiful homes, and nice amenities within easy access to downtown. I'm a bit partial to Lake Mary because we are more laid back up here with a lot less of the hustle and bustle of the attractions area. A couple years ago, Lake Mary was voted by Money Magazine to be the #1 Best Place in the South to live.

When you're searching by zip code or city on the internet, you'll get a wide range of price ranges and certainly $/sq. ft and it's difficult for an out-of-towner to make comparisons based on the raw data you'll find. The old adage that it's "location-location-location" is all too true and could mean a difference of $100/sq.ft within a 2 mile radius (a lot goes into the $/sq.ft so it depends on what you're looking for.) The best way to make sure you'll make a good financial decision is to use a professional to help you sort through and make sense of the data. Yes, you'll probably not overpay because you have the appraisal as the "fail safe", but there's more to making a great decision that just not overpaying (which, frankly, is the bare minimum a buyer should expect from their agent).

If you'd like some help in finding the right neighborhood that meets your criteria and lifestyle, please give me a call. I'd be happy to help you make a good move. By the way--what article did you read that says we're the most overpriced in the nation? I'm curious because I just returned from a visit to the west coast (California and Oregon) where the price of homes seemed astronomical to me. I guess it just proves that beauty (or maybe value) is in the eye of the beholder!

Happy House Hunting!

Louise Warring
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 22, 2009
Stickman, I've thought of renting 1st, but don't know if I can take 2 moves..... I'm pretty set on one of two areas, so now price is going to be the overriding factor now. We probably going to buy in April and planning to move in late june early july when schools are out. I did read an article about home prices in Orlando being the most overpriced in the nation, I want to make sure I get good value in a home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 22, 2009
Have you thought about moving down there and renting for 6 months or so before buying? You can get your own feel for the area, check out the schools, etc. I'm sure there are a bevy of empty houses and condos for rent in the area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 22, 2009
Good Morning Thom,
Welcome to Central Florida and what a great time to buy with 64% of our MLS sales either bank foreclosures or short sales. Get pre-approved for your mortgage; conventional 20% downpayment, FHA 3.5% downpayment, maybe Seller Financing could be an option. Establish your upset price.

Discuss with a Realtor what your needs are; work location (traffic in Orlando can be a nightmare), schools for children, interests, family needs. Not all Winderemere and Lake Mary locations are equal even though the "address" may be the same. Values are site specific and should be analyzed by a local Realtor or appraiser once the defined market area is determined.

Choose neighborhoods that meet your desires and needs and then the research will be more accurate. Most areas will have a close range in values as the homes in the best condition at at the lowest price are selling first. Homes in some great neighborhoods in Lake Mary are currently selling for 70% less than their 2006 market values.

Hope this is helpful and come on down!!

Sharon Sullivan, Broker Associate
"Selling Dreams since 1982"
SRF-Short Sale, Foreclosure Resource Cert.
Exit Real Estate Results, Longwood, FL
Ph. 407-865-3022
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 22, 2009
All these websites provide market review of home are not in line with actually info. true resourse via MLS realtors and appraisers use determine value of property.

Why not save yourself time contact a local Realtor provide your specifications and amount qualified for loan agent can forward automatic email alerts when a property is posted in MLS.

Different areas of a community will vary per sq. ft. based on deed restrictions of areaa. Lots with more sq. ft., view, and etc. will be more than an interior lot .

National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Texas Mortgage Loan Officer, Credit Repair Lecturer
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Lynn911

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009
Happy Holiday's Thom,

Glad to know you are heading to Florida and beautiful location you desired. There are many too many questions I have on this scenario such as do you have an exsisting home, sq footage needed and home floorplan to meet your family needs etc... I am the Northwest Florida Diresctor for my company and now living in Central Florida. Please feel free to call me at the below number and we could answer each other questions. Please feel free to
email or give me a call. Look to hear from you!

Kevin Strawter P.A.
Kipp Hollywood Real Estate Corp
Cell 850 496-6412
Fax 866 733-8496

Visit http://www.kipphollywood.com

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009
Thanks to all that answered. I guess I was kind of spooked by the prices in the area given an article I just recently read that stated that the orlando metro area is the most overpriced area in the country. I guess in the end the home must appraise for whatever the selling price is agreed to.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009

Congratulations on taking the initiative to collect information that will make you an informed and ready to purchase buyer. There is no substitute for knowing your market area when it comes to making the decisions that you will be faced with.

As far as using square footage as a gauge for making an offer......in our opinion, there is a sometimes too much emphasis on the price per square foot. Don't misunderstand, price per square foot is an important consideration but one that is best viewed as a secondary consideration.

By using the price per square foot of other homes you are placing yourself at the mercy of previous transactions of whch you actually have access to very little information. There are many factors that could be overlooked by making square footage a major issue.

Our recommendation is to use this information in conjunction with other important property details but not as a primary focus. As a factor, yes......As a primary factor, no.....

Best wishes,
The Eckler team
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009
Hi Thom,

Welcome to Central Florida Real Estate in 2009-2010. There is a wide variety of data and places an even greater emphasis on customers, whether they are local or like yourself relocating to Florida to not only guide only and locate you the best values but counsel you on negotiating strategy, their opinion on what a particular home is worth etc. Lake Mary and Windermere are both sought after locations, good schools, upscale demographics etc. They both include normal priced real estate plus homes in the millions, quite a variety. Many homes may be overpriced, others are distressed sales, i.e. Short sales and bank owns, condition of property may vary significantly, quality of improvements etc. accounting for wide variation in price. Price per square ft. is okay as a starting point but there are many variables, median price in a particular community, lot setting, condition of property, type of upgrades etc. that need to be factored into a thorough price evaluation.

Sites like the one you referred to are again okay as a starting point but overall they are not overly accurate and a true experienced real estate professional, who works for the purchaser for free in Central Florida is your best option.

If I can provide additional information or future real estate assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am only a phone call or E-mail away.


Marty Kaiser
Certified Relocation Specialist
Accredited Buyer's Representative(ABR)
Keller Williams Mega Agent
Web Reference: http://www.floridasells.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009
Hi Thom and welcome to the area! Both Windermere and Lake Mary have a wide array of homes, ranging from conservative single family homes, up to luxury properties in the millions. There are also quite a few differences even between single family homes that appear to be comparable in size, such as additional amenities, interior upgrades, specific location/ neighborhood, etc. While going by a price per square foot would give you some indication of a reasonable price for any home you may be looking at, your best bet would be to find a Realtor when you get to the area to assist you with the process. A Realtor working for you is free and we can provide you much more information such as the average list price to sale price ratio for the area, a comparative market analysis on the home you are looking at, etc. which will help you greatly in determining a reasonable offer price for a home to get yourself a good deal, but also not to insult the homeowner.

I would be happy to assist you with any further questions, or to assist you with finding your perfect home once you reach the area. Not only will a Realtor be able to assist you with pricing, but you cannot really rely on sites such as Trulia.com for available properties because they are severely outdated in many instances. A good Realtor can provide you up to date, current listings within your required specifications.

Again, please feel free to contact me at the contact information below before you move, or once you relocate into the area. I work with relocating buyers regularly and am well versed and very experienced in the hurdles of relocating. Good luck.

Steffani Martino, Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 21, 2009
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