Red Flags Before Hiring a Home Contractor

The success of major home improvement projects largely depends on the contractor you hire. Yet not all working contractors are qualified to do the job. Some may have a friendly demeanor over the phone and offer you a great deal, but then cut corners on the job site, leaving you in the dark about their progress.

With money and time on the line, it’s imperative to find a highly qualified, competent professional you can trust with your unique job. Here are nine red flags you shouldn’t ignore when searching for a contractor for your home renovation.

1. Lacks Contact Information

At a minimum, a reputable contractor should be able to provide you with a working phone number and an address that can be verified with the Better Business Bureau. No physical address is a common sign of an unlicensed contractor. 

Many unlicensed pros can’t afford an official office and often move from area to area in order to stay in business. Beware the contractor who has a PO box or temporary address.

2. Demands Unreasonable Payment Up Front

Most contractors ask for money up front to secure your place on their calendar or begin buying materials. But a contractor who requests more than 15% or the entire sum before starting should set off alarm bells. Chances are, you may be hiring a swindler who will take your money and never return to start or complete the job.

Similarly, some fraudsters will ask to be paid in cash. Without a check or credit card statement to back you, it becomes your word versus the contractor’s in any payment dispute. 

To avoid getting scammed, be sure to determine a payment schedule before the work begins. A typical arrangement used by professional contractors is one-third paid in advance, one-third halfway through the job, and the final third upon completion of the project. Before the last payment, make sure that all permits have been closed and all final inspections have been completed.

3. Solicits Your Home

As a general rule of thumb, contractors who make cold calls or go door-to-door do not represent legitimate businesses. Often these are phony contractors who are passing through the area in hopes of making a quick buck. These contractors may use high-pressure sales tactics, such as pushing a temporary low rate.

Another common tactic used by these contractors is claiming to have materials left over from a previous job that they wish to use on your home for a reduced cost. While this may sound like a great way to save money, you are not likely to see any of those materials or the contractor after you make a down payment on the job. 

4. Lacks Permits 

After accepting your project, the contractor is responsible for securing the necessary permits. If the contractor asks you to obtain the permits, it may be because he or she is not licensed or registered with the proper state agencies. 

Some fraudsters may even waive permits as an unnecessary expense. However, completing a job without the proper permits can result in unsafe construction and expensive future repairs. Building officials can also shut down an unpermitted job. 

5. Can’t Present Proof of Insurance

Workplace accidents can happen at any time during the renovation, and even the best construction crew can make mistakes. For this reason, it’s essential that the contractor holds adequate liability and workers’ compensation insurance to keep the project protected financially. 

Trustworthy contractors take care to invest in their reputation. Therefore, a contractor should have no problem showing you proof of his or her license and insurance. If a builder can’t present any documentation, move on to the next candidate. 

6. Refuses to Sign a Contract

Pass on the pro who is unwilling to sign a written contract. Verbal contracts allow shifty builders to wiggle on price, job quality and completion dates. Also, verbal agreements make legal action difficult in the event of fraud or unfinished work. 

Licensed and reputable professionals are willing to sign a contract and may even help you write it in some cases. Be sure to get all of the project details in writing, including the scope of the work, types of materials to be used, detailed timeframes, the contractor’s license number, warranties, guarantees, and final costs. Ensure that verbal commitments are written into the contract. 

7. Has Outdated or Missing References

Desirable contractors should have a constantly revolving list of new and satisfied customers. Checking with previous customers is one of the best ways to learn about the quality of work and level of professionalism you can expect to receive. 

Be sure to verify at least three references. If a contractor can’t provide current references from jobs similar to yours, avoid moving forward with that prospect.

8. Lacks a Website, Portfolio, or Reviews 

Always do your due diligence before hiring a general contractor to work on your home. Professionals should have an online presence, portfolios, and reviews that you can use to vet them. Be suspicious of portfolios with too few projects, no before and after photos, and grainy images. 

9. Communicates Poorly 

You’ll want to work with someone who keeps you in the loop during the entire project, so looking for a contractor with great communication skills is key. A good contractor should be willing to tell you about the job’s progress and respond to your calls within a reasonable period. 

You’ve found a great contractor when he or she arrives on time and the project is running according to — or ahead of — schedule. If communication is vague, difficult to understand, or delivered with ill temper, the contractor is not doing an essential part of the job, and it may be time to find a new hire. 

Ultimately, it comes down to hiring someone you feel good about, both personally and professionally. You want a trustworthy professional whose workmanship will create a beautiful residence to be proud of for years to come.

For more red flags you shouldn’t ignore when hiring a home contractor, see the accompanying infographic. 

Author bio: Tim McKenna is an account manager at CraftJack, which connects contractors with homeowners who are looking for assistance with home projects. McKenna works with contractors to find the best lead generation solutions for their businesses and offers helpful advice when needed.

Graphic created by CraftJack, a provider of remodeling contractor leads.

Renting vs Buying a Home

Looking to Rent or Buy in Oviedo?


If you live in the Oviedo or Winter Springs area and are thinking of buying a home, you may have some doubts as to whether buying is a good move.

It is not unusual to become comfortable with renting a home especially because you don’t have to worry about saving up a down payment or being committed to a home.

On the other side purchasing a home can be a big milestone for some and provide a sense of stability.


Renting Pro’s

  1. One payment: Renters usually do not have to worry about paying taxes or home owners insurance. Some locations even combine utilities and Internet into one easy monthly bill.
  2. Less maintenance: It’s much easier to call the landlord when something breaks. While you have to maintain your personal items as well as basic upkeep, you don’t have to sweat the big stuff.
  3. Easier Process: The renting process is usually much easier because it usually just involves and application and credit check.
  4. Less financial burden: Although first, last and deposit can be significant, it’s much less than a down payment for a new home.
  5. No risk: After you are done with you lease term you are under no obligation to stay and are free to explore your options.
  6. Renovations: No need to worry about making upgrades or renovations to keep the property updated.
  7. Mobility: For those wanderers that don’t like to plant roots in an area, renting is a great opportunity to feel out an area and see if that’s a place you’d like to settle. If not, once your lease ends, you can move wherever you’d like without having to deal with selling.

Home Buying Pro’s

  1. Building Equity: When you become a homeowner, you start to build equity in your home. As you pay down your mortgage and a the value of your home appreciates, your home becomes and asset. Imagine paying $200,000 for a home and within a couple of years, the value of your home is $250,000. If the market is strong you also build equity through the appreciation of the homes value.
  2. Affordability: In this market, it is more affordable to own than rent. With a good credit score and a small down payment, you can be in a new home and paying a lower monthly payment than you would in a rental.
  3. Mortgage Interest: Currently, if you own your own home, you have the tax advantage of being able to deduct mortgage interest which lowers your income taxes.
  4. Customize: The fact that you own your home means that you can paint your living room a wild shade of pink if you choose. No more stark white walls, and pet restrictions. As long as you own it, you choose who lives with you, how you want to landscape the lawn, and more. (Check with your HOA for any external home decor limitations)
  5. Equity Line: When your home increases in value beyond the purchase price, that is money that you can use for other purposes such as adding room or paying college tuition. If you don’t take the equity out and it continues to grow, your home becomes a way to build wealth.
  6. You own your home: At the end of your 30 year mortgage you will own your home outright but until then it is still an asset.
  7. Payment: No one will be increasing your rent in a year. You’ll have a steady monthly payment and as you go through your mortgage, it will actually decrease as you pay down principal and interest.
  8. Pride in ownership: This is your home and research has shown that home ownership you have the opportunity to build ties within the community and be a proud homeowner.
  9. Save: Buying a home forces you to save for a down payment and closing costs.

If this isn’t enough and you need more to substantiate this, check out this article on 23 scientific reasons why home ownership is better than renting.

While buying a home is a big step, once home buyers make that leap, they realize that it’s more cost effective to buy instead of rent and they’ll have that equity and investment for their future.

These are just a few items to consider if you are thinking about renting or buying a home. Whether you are considering buying or selling, when you meet with us at Waypointe Realty, we take the time to go through the entire real estate process, the benefits of home ownership, and what the steps are to qualify for a loan. We value our clients and educating them is of utmost importance to make sure that our buyers feel comfortable and can take an objective look at your situation before you make a decision.

Ready to setup your COMPLIMENTARY BUYER’S CONSULTATION? Contact us today to schedule it.

3 Tips to Help Sellers Sell Their Home

Here at Waypointe Realty, we want to provide tips for sellers ready to sell their properties. As a result of having more buyers than inventory, we are in a seller’s market. What we typically see when a seller tries to sell their home without a real estate agent, is that they overprice their home.

When you overprice your home it can become stagnant in the market and we see a huge decline in visibility of the property and offers.

We’ve encountered sellers that have chosen to sell their home For Sale By Owner and see that something is just not working. Typically, it’s the price.


Orlando Housing Market Snapshot- October 2018

Orlando home prices, sales rise as inventory continues to slip in September

One year after Hurricane Irma threw a wrench into the Orlando housing market, data from the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association shows positive September-to-September comparisons for both sales and median price. Inventory, however, stayed on its year-over-year downward slide.
The good news, points out ORRA President Lou Nimkoff, is that in September the actual number of homes available for purchase reached its highest point this year. The month-to-month increase in inventory, combined with the traditional autumn lull in sales, is an opportunity for those buyers who struggled with competition during the summer. In addition, fall home shoppers can also enjoy a bit more attention from REALTORS, lenders, and other service providers who typically do not have quite as many clients to attend.

Median Price

The overall median price of Orlando homes (all types combined) sold in September is $233,000, which is 3.6 percent above the September 2017 median price of $225,000 and 1.3 percent above the August 2018 median price of $230,000. The median price for single-family homes that changed hands in September increased 3.8 percent over September 2017 and is now $254,250. The median price for condos increased 6.4 percent to $125,500.

Sales and Inventory

Sales of single-family homes (2,096) in September 2018 increased by 7.6 percent compared to September 2017, while condo sales (390) increased 23.4 percent year over year. Sales of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) reached 124 in September and are 3.1 percent less than the 128 distressed sales in September 2017. Distressed sales made up just 4.5 percent of all Orlando-area transactions last month. The overall inventory of homes that were available for purchase in September (8,092) represents a decrease of 6.4 percent when compared to September 2017, and a 3.6 percent increase compared to last month. There were 5.6 percent fewer single-family homes and 2.6 more condos, year over year. Current inventory combined with the current pace of sales created a 2.9-month supply of homes in Orlando for September. There was a 2.3-month supply in August 2018 and a 3.4-month supply in September 2017. The average interest rate paid by Orlando homebuyers in September was 4.66, up from 4.57 percent the month prior. Homes that closed in September took an average of 48 days to move from listing to pending and took an average of 84 days from listing to closing.


This is a great time where we see buyers coming out of hiding because inventory and pricing has stabilized. At Waypointe, you have access to properties not listed publicly as well as get properties before they come on the market. Buyers need the assistance of REALTORS to help them compete against other buyers, for example by crafting attractive offers that take into consideration current appraisal issues and advising on contingencies, in addition to assistance through the many traditional functions that a buyers’ agent performs. Ready to start the homebuying process? We can help! Contact us today.


Inventory and pricing has stabilized. If you’re looking to sell, we can help you get the MOST money from the sale of your home. Looking to relocate, move up to a larger home, purchase your first home or sell your rental? We can help. Contact us today!

What to Ask When Choosing A Lender

When looking at purchasing a home and acquiring a loan, you’ll be doing some research on lenders. Here are a few questions to ask when choosing a lender to choose the one that best meets your needs:

1. What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?

2. What fees are included in the loan; and what fees will be due at closing?

3. Are your rates, terms, fees and closing costs negotiable?

4. Do you offer discounts for inspections, homeownership classes or setting up automatic payments?

5. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI)? If so, how much will it be and how long will it be required?

6. What are your escrow requirements?

7. What bill-pay options do you offer?

8. What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, etc.)?

9. Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

10. Who will service this loan – your bank or another company?

11. How long will the rate on this loan be locked-in? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during the lock-in period?

12. How long will the loan approval process take?

13. How long will it take to close the loan?

14. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

15. How much in total will I be paying over the life of this loan?

16. Can you tell me how much my monthly payment would be for what I qualify for?

These questions can help prompt an educational discussion with potential lenders that keep you informed and aware of your options and the loan process when purchasing a home.

Ready to start? Contact us for a list of the lenders we trust and work with. Once you have your pre-approval, we’re ready to start the home search process.


5 Tips on Safeguarding Your Home During Open Houses

This the season for open houses. We want to protect you guys with some great tips during an open house that you may or may not have thought about:

1. Hide or remove any documents (bills, credit cards etc.) that have private information

2. Lock up or remove jewelry, antiques, keys, garage door openers, etc.

3. Don’t think your top dresser door is safe . Don’t hide anything in your top drawers

4. Lock up your medications and prescriptions

5. Make sure your Realtor signs everyone in before touring the home

When working with real estate professionals, it’s important to choose someone who knows the area and is an expert in the market.

At Waypointe Realty, we strive to stay educated about our market and understand our sellers and buyers, their needs, and how we can best serve them in one of the most important decisions they’ll make. Tips like these are just some of the ways we take care of our customers every step of the way.

Typical Closing Costs When Buying a Home

It’s an exciting time when buyer’s are ready to purchase a home, but many times they forget to consider the costs beyond just the down payment. Closing costs can be scary because of the unknown. So we want to help clarify the unknown for you.

Typical closing costs for a buyer are: Continue reading “Typical Closing Costs When Buying a Home”

Why Stage Your Home and the Best Rooms to Stage

iHeart Realty by Waypointe Realty is a fun, engaging show that brings you real estate news through authentic, clear messaging, giving you what you need to know about today’s real estate market, home design tips and tricks, and events happening around town with your hosts, Jenelle Ferrer and Hilda Hernandez.

4 reasons why you should stage your home when selling & the 6 rooms in your home that you should be focused on!


How to Benefit in a Hot Real Estate Market With a 1+ Acre Property

Oviedo, Florida (August 4, 2017) — Waypointe Realty has made a career out of selling homes in the niche market of those with more than an acre of land. With the hot real estate market that exists in Central Florida, sales are happening relatively quickly, but there are ways to maximize your property value before the sale is final.

“We specialize in the niche market of homes with larger lot sizes,” said Jenelle Ferrer, President of Waypointe Realty.


How do I register for Florida Homestead Tax Exemption?

Central Florida Homestead Exemption

As a Florida resident, one of our perks as homeowners is being eligible for a Homestead Exemption on your home, condominium, co-op apartment, and certain mobile home lot if it qualifies. The Florida Constitution provides this tax-saving exemption on the first and third $25,000 of the assessed value of an owner/occupied residence.

We’ll break this down for you.

A homestead property is one owned by Florida residents where they live as their primary residence. It is an exemption designed to protect the value of the homes of residents from property taxes, creditors, and circumstances arising from the death of the homeowner spouse.

Florida property tax homestead exemption reduces the property taxes by $50,000 when the value of a home is assessed, so a home that was actually worth $100,000 would be taxed as though it was worth only $50,000. Assessment for taxes is NOT the same as an appraisal (many people get these confused).

 You should file your regular residential homestead exemption application between January 1 and March 1. If you miss the March 1st cutoff, you may pre-file for the following year from March 2 through December 31.

You do not need to do this every year. Once is all it takes and then do it again when you move. But remember, when you move, you'll have to apply for the exemption on the next home, thus removing it from the previous.

Homestead exemptions remove part of your home's value from taxation, so they lower your taxes. For example, your home is appraised at $100,000, and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption (this is the amount mandated for school districts), you will pay school taxes on the home as if it was worth only $75,000. You can only claim homestead on ONE property. It has to be the one you reside in, not investment or second home.

If you own your home, reside there permanently and are a Florida resident all as of January 1, you may qualify for Homestead exemption and it can reduce your taxable value on your home as much as $50,000, saving you approximately $750 annually.

Many property appraisers allow you to file for a homestead exemption online. Make sure you check with your local county property appraiser to see if you can file online or if you must file in person AND for the information, you will need. For either method, at a minimum, you will need:

  • Social security number for each applicant
  • Two proofs of residence for each applicant, which could be:
    • Valid Florida driver's license
    • Valid Florida auto tag registration
    • Valid Florida voter registration card

You must complete Form DR-501 and check with your local county appraiser for filing details. Find all the appraiser's offices in Florida.

You're going to be asked to prove residency, but just follow this link and click on the arrow as shown below. It will give you all the information necessary to complete the process.

Once you do, you're all set up to receive your Florida Homestead Exemption.

Florida Homestead Exemption

Your Central Florida Property Appraisers

Seminole County
1101 E. First St.
Sanford, FL 32771
P: 407-665-7502
F: 407-665-7924

Lake County
317 W. Main St.
Tavares, FL 32778
P: 352-343-9748
F: 352-343-9894

Orange County
200 S. Orange Ave., Ste. 1700
Orlando, FL 32801
P: 407-836-5055
F: 407-836-5029

Volusia County
123 W. Indiana Ave., Rm. 102
Deland, FL 32720
P: 904-736-5901
F: 904-822-5063

Osceola County
P.O. Box 422366
Kissimmee, FL 34742
P: 407-847-1350
F: 407-847-1364

Polk County
255 N. Wilson Ave.
Bartow, FL 33830
P: 863-534-47771
F: 863-534-4753

Homestead Exemption Tips

You can only take a homestead exemption for a year if you live in the home as of January 1st.[1] Accordingly, you can't move to Florida during the year and claim a homestead exemption for that year.

For example, say you move to Florida on January 15, 2017. You can't claim a homestead exemption for 2017. However, you can claim the exemption for 2018.

Generally, only U.S. citizens and permanent residents can claim Florida's homestead exemption. However, non-citizens can claim the exemption if they have children born in the U.S. who live in the home and are dependent on you. In this case, your children have to qualify as permanent residents of the property.[5]

You will need to collect birth certificates and other proof that the children use the home as their primary residence. Talk with your county's property appraiser for more information.

You might do something that will cause your county to deny you a homestead exemption. For example, don't do the following:[6]

  1. Avoid renting your home for more than 30 days each year, for two consecutive years.
  2. Don't get a driver's license in any other state. Don't forget to register your vehicle in Florida if you drive in the state.
  3. Avoid registering to vote anywhere else. You should register to vote only in the county where you are a permanent resident.

The homestead exemption is not transferable. You'll need to complete a new application when you move. List your new home address.[17]

  • Once you receive your exemption, the assessed value of your homestead cannot increase more than 3% a year or the percentage change of the Consumer Price Index. Although you can't transfer the homestead exemption, you can transfer these tax savings to a new home.[18]

Other Property Tax Exemptions

Veterans who are Florida residents and were honorably discharged with a service-related total and permanent disability may be eligible for a total exemption from ad valorem taxes on property they own and use as their homesteads. A similar exemption is available to disabled veterans confined to wheelchairs.

In order to qualify for the Low-Income Senior Exemption for 2021, an applicant must be 65 or older as of January 1, 2021, receive the Homestead Exemption on the property, AND have a combined household adjusted gross income for 2020 not exceeding $31,100 (note: this adjusted gross income limitation number is adjusted annually in January to reflect the percentage change in the average cost of living index).

A Florida resident who has been certified by one Florida licensed physician as being totally and permanently disabled, but not requiring the use of a wheelchair for mobility, can qualify for a $500 Disability Exemption on the assessed value of the property.

The Widow / Widower's Exemption provides a $500 reduction in the assessment of a homesteaded property occupied by the surviving spouse.