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Ask Me Monday – Week of 10/21/13

Published October 24, 2013 by Scott Parker

Hi Friends!  The following “Ask Me Monday” questions were sent to me on Monday 10/21/13 via Facebook, Twitter, Google + and right here on the blog.  Keep the questions coming!

1.  Since moving to Orlando, has it taken out the magic of being able to go to the parks whenever you want and seeing them all the time compared to having to save up to go, having a count down, etc? This is a great question and one that I was concerned about not only for myself, but for my kids too.  I can honestly say No, visiting the parks often does not take away any of the magic.  If anything, for us, the magic is enhanced.  When we lived in Texas I would get to read blogs, facebook and twitter to keep up with the latest happenings at Disney World.  Now we get to choose if we want to be a part of the magical happenings the Disney parks.

2.  What is Tables In Wonderland? Tables in Wonderland is a dining program exclusive to Disney Vacation Club Members, Florida Residents and Annual/Seasonal Pass Holders.  Tables in Wonderland offers members a 20% discount on food and beverage, including alcohol, at over 100 participating restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort.  The discount is valid for a party of up to 10 guests including the member.  As a Tables in Wonderland member you also entitled to complimentary Resort Valet (and now Downtown Disney Valet) and Theme Park parking for dining purpose.  An added bonus is that members also receive invitations to special events such as dessert parties, happy hours and dinners.  For more information on Tables in Wonderland, you can visit here.

3. I would like information on purchasing a home in Florida, like what are the average closing costs or other fees. Also, are there any exemptions available for the property taxes, or is the amount on the listing what you pay yearly? Another great question.  For this one I deferred to our Real Estate expert Thomas Scott of  Here is what he had to say… A real estate transaction is commonly two separate transactions that occur simultaneously. One is the transfer of title of the real estate from seller to buyer. The other is the buyers’ mortgage loan.

For the real estate transaction, fees to buyers are minimum, generally. The seller pays the real estate commission, for a buyers’ title insurance policy, and the doc stamps (tax) on the deed. Those are the three big expenses. The buyer customarily pays the escrow agent a fee to process the buyers’ side of the transaction, which is usually not more than $500. Some brokerages charge a fee to buyers to help defray the cost of administrative requirements. At Keller Williams it’s $395. So for buyers, the costs for the real estate portion of the transaction are customarily in the $1,000 range.

When a buyer is purchasing a new home from a builder, typically the buyer pays the title insurance. However, the builder often will contribute several thousand dollars to buyers’ closing costs if the buyer uses the builder’s partnered title company and lender, to offset that.

For the mortgage, closing costs can vary depending on the loan program and lender. A mortgage broker is best to advise you on that. One we highly recommend is Synergy Mortgage ( Our past clients have gotten excellent service from them and they can offer loan programs from various lenders, including FHA, VA, and 5% down conventional mortgages.

Property taxes in Florida can be a little complicated. A property is assessed on January 1 based on the current homeowners’ homestead status and those taxes are due in November of that year. Each year on January 1, the property is reassessed. There are two basic exemptions. If the property is the homeowners’ homestead on January 1, the homeowner gets a homestead exemption for that year that’s worth about a $500 savings on the property tax bill. There is also something called the “Save Our Homes” cap, which caps any increase in property taxes at 3% per year or the CPI. When the home is transferred to a new homeowner, that cap comes off,

To know what your tax bill will be, it’s important to look at the current tax bill and situation for that property, remove the Save Our Homes cap, then add in the homestead exemption, as applicable. This can be easily done by looking up the property on the county property appraisers’ website. Seminole County’s is and Orange County’s is

Please note, the county and city can and does change the millage each year and the property appraiser adjusts the Just Market Value, to determine taxable value. As Realtors, we cannot promise or guarantee what future property tax bills will be.

Here is more information on this top from the Seminole County Property Appraiser.

If you would like to know about a specific property, you are welcome to email me and I will help you with that.

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