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The Hidden Costs Of Buying A Holiday Home

Mar 2, 2008
I call it my 'sun head' as I cannot explain it any other way. What I am trying to fathom out is how I could have taken the agent's word without checking things out fully. It was a glorious hot sunny day when I bought my holiday home in Florida. There was a beautiful clear blue sky that seemed to hypnotize me. I seemed to be in 'dream land' as everything that the agent told me, I just smiled at and agreed.

Everything went very smoothly. We bought the house for the agreed price and completed on time. What I did not know was that the guy who was selling me the house was getting a whopping big commission; and I mean big. He got just over six percent of the purchase price for spending an hour with me and persuading me to buy the house. To be quite honest I needed no persuading. The house sold itself and so I had just given away six percent for nothing. If I had realized how much he was getting for less than one hours work I could have dug my heels in and got him to split his commission with me. No wonder he told me that the seller would not drop the asking price!

To be fair to the agent I did it all with a sense of good will and grace. Nobody was holding a gun to my head and I did feel at the time that I was getting a good deal. It was only a few months later that I felt I had been done; it was like getting your wallet taken by a pickpocket while he shook your hand and smiled at you. But again I cannot complain as I walked into it with my eyes open and the agent did everything by the book and within the law. It was just that I was stupid and did not get a deal.

My next big shock came when I went to insure the holiday home. All of a sudden the rough rate that the agent had verbally told me disappeared out of the window up into that beautiful blue Florida sky. 'How much' I asked my mouth hitting the floor. 'You are joking?' Apparently it had something to do with all of the hurricanes and the insurance companies wanting to get their money back. The real tear clincher was when the sweet Hispanic lady told me that they did not like insuring holiday homes and that the premium would be much higher as I did not live in the house full time.

The insurance premium then continued to rise as I had to explain what the house was built of, how many square feet, what sort of a roof and how deep is the swimming pool? My nice sales agent must have been psychic as each time I tried to phone him with a query, his phone was switched off.

One and a half hours later I had filled in all of the paper work and was thanking the nice Hispanic lady for all of her help. I swear I left the insurance brokers office feeling greatly relieved that they had taken me on as a customer. I was shaking from the cost of the premium but when the nice lady said that another hurricane was on its way through, I just signed on the dotted line. The thought of my nice new holiday home being destroyed by a hurricane and uninsured was just too much to take. It was only when I was standing outside the office sweating in 100 degree heat did I realize that it had taken longer to insure the house than it had to buy it.

A few weeks later back in the U.K I got my first letter from America. Filled with joy and enthusiasm I tore it open to see what good tidings it brought me from the place of my new holiday home. I thought that it must be in a different language as it did not read the way I thought it would. To be precise, it read double the way I was expecting. That is to say that my Home Owners Dues were nearly double the figure that I had been quoted by my friendly guy back in Florida when I bought the home. I soon began to dread receiving any mail from America and it is no exaggeration to say that I started to shake in anger and fear when ever any new mail came from there.

I immediately grabbed the phone to speak to my nice Reality chap only to realize that the five hour time difference meant that he was still in bed. Two weeks later when I did eventually get hold of him he informed me that the first figure that he had quoted was correct. The only problem was that was an introductory rate and now that the community was up and running fully we had to expect to pay full price.

To give him credit where credit is due, he did warn me that I could expect another letter any day soon informing me that the Golf Subs had also risen dramatically. He also reminded me that 'there was no such thing as a free lunch'. Even so, when that letter came it also caused great alarm and distress to the degree that the dog now learnt never to be around when I opened the mail.

A few more months went by without too much disruption when I got another letter from America. It sat on the kitchen table for a few days unopened until I was brave enough to open it. My wife persuaded me that it could not possibly be any further bad news and so I eventually opened it. This letter was from the nice people at the County office telling me that they had reassessed all of the property values in our area. The good news was that they had risen up in price (I already knew that as I had paid the new inflated price, the bad news was that my Council tax had nearly doubled in value to take account of the price increase.

Three years later I am onto my second property in Florida. That nice sales guy is now a good friend (My wife always said that I was a sucker) but he has lost his job with the downturn in the market. Unfortunately for me he did not manage to sell my first home before the slide but did manage to sell me my second. This time we split the commission. I still get those letters from America and I still tremble when they fall through the letter box. My wife now opens them and my dog likes it that way.
About the Author
Andrew Gibson is MD of Direct Holiday Bookings. It is one of the fastest growing on line travel websites. To see an example of why Direct Holiday Bookings is growing so rapidly have a look at Holiday Homes
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