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Tract Home VS. Spec Home VS. Custom Home

Tract Home VS. Spec Home VS. Custom Home

Tract Home VS. Spec Home VS. Custom Home

Tract Home VS. Spec Home VS. Custom Home


Buying a newly constructed home is exciting, but there are a lot of different options. Finding the right home style is important, whether it’s a custom-built house on a plot of land you just bought or a move-in ready home in a brand-new, cookie-cutter neighborhood.

Tract, spec, and custom homes have their differences, and understanding these differences can better inform your homebuying decision.

“Understanding the differences in home type is as essential as understanding your true costs, from monthly mortgage payments to insurance to electric bills. Home type needs to be matched to your preferences and budget with a long-term perspective,” says Megan Fox at Compass.

Each type of home might fit better with a certain type of buyer. Which build you choose ultimately comes down to buyer preference, budget, and stage of life. Here are some things to know about the main types of new-home construction.

Tract home

A tract home is a residential development where several homes with the same design are constructed on a large plot of land. Tract homes typically have two or three different layouts.

“The buyer for a tract home is someone who wants to live in a newer home in a development. They are not as picky about the design,” says Fox.

Filippo Incorvaia, founder/broker with FI Real Estate in Miami, says the intended buyer of a tract home is usually a first-time homebuyer or someone who is looking for an affordable option.

Tract homes are typically constructed in suburban areas and are more affordable due to cost-saving measures of constructing multiple homes with the same design.

“They are the least expensive of all three types,” says Fox. “There are usually several homes available as many are built at the same time.”

The advantages of this type of new construction are that it tends to be located in areas with amenities like parks, schools, and shopping centers. Tract homes are usually built in established neighborhoods with easy access to transportation.

But on the flip side, tract homes lack customization because their designs are predetermined, giving buyers limited choices on finishes and features. They can have a cookie-cutter feel and lack personality. Then there’s their lack of privacy.

“Tract homes are often built in densely populated areas,” says Incorvaia.

Spec home

A spec home is a newly built home that doesn’t have a specific buyer in mind.

“These are usually marketed toward buyers who want a new home without the hassle of building it themselves,” says Incorvaia.

This type of home is typically built on a property the developer already purchased in new developments or neighborhoods. Since the homes are newly constructed, they meet the latest building codes and have modern features. Plus, they often come with warranties for appliances, HVAC systems, and other features, giving buyers peace of mind, says Incorvaia.

But spec homes have limited customization options since they are often built before a buyer is secured, and they can lack character since they are often built quickly without a specific buyer in mind.

There might also be additional costs to ownership.

“Buyers may be surprised by additional costs associated with purchasing a spec home, such as upgraded features or HOA fees,” says Incorvaia.

Custom home

A custom home is one built to the exact specifications of a buyer.

“These homes are intended for buyers who have specific design preferences and are willing to pay for a one-of-a-kind home,” says Incorvaia.

But there is a downside to custom homes. They cost more than other types of builds because of the higher level of customization and attention to detail. Plus, their construction can take more time since they’re built from scratch.

“It can take a long time to complete and will generally be the most expensive type of new construction,” says Fox.

And there’s more risk.

“Since the buyer has more control over the design and construction of a custom home, there is more potential for errors or changes that can lead to additional costs or delays,” says Incorvaia.

Experts in Residential Real Estate in Orlando

If you are BUYING or SELLING real estate it’s quiet often the single most important financial decision you make. For the last 30 years we have helped clients buying and selling property in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Put simply, this means the knowledge and expertise accumulated over this time ensures our clients get the best representation possible.

Our experienced agents will help and guide you through the entire process providing valuable support every step of the way.

Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.


Spacious PoloPark East Home Just Listed

Spacious PoloPark East Home Just Listed

Spacious PoloPark East Home Just Listed

449 Dreama Dr, Davenport, FL


2bed – 2bath – 4256 sqft lot
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Spacious 1,342 sq.ft 2 bed, 2 bath home. The flowing open floor plan comprises a large living room open to the dining area and kitchen. Double doors lead from the living area into the Florida room which then accesses a further screened room. Both bedrooms are oversized and both offer walk-in closets. The utility/laundry room completes the picture inside and gives access to the storage area. Outside you’ll find ample parking, a 12′ x 43′ carport and a large 19 x 11 attached shed with double doors leading to a rear patio area. The home benefits from a NEW hot water heater and NEW laminate flooring in both bedrooms. A/C was replaced in 2016. NEW ROOF WILL BE INSTALLED PRIOR TO CLOSING. What are you waiting for? Call to arrange a viewing today!

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Normal Wear and Tear vs Excessive Tenant Damages

Normal Wear and Tear vs Excessive Tenant Damages

Normal Wear and Tear vs Excessive Tenant Damages

Normal Wear and Tear vs Excessive Tenant Damages

“Normal wear and tear” is one of those landlord-tenant law phrases that is subjectively difficult to define. It’s one of the leading contributors to security deposit disputes purely because of how vague it is.

Most states have individual versions of this law, each with different wording. This is an issue for you as a landlord. However, the general premise stays the same from state to state. Tenant damage is separated from normal wear and tear by implying the property damage resulted from negligence, abuse, or carelessness.

Of course, what constitutes these phrases differs from person to person. A person with severe OCD likely has a different definition of negligence and deterioration than someone else who is messy. The difference between normal wear and tear versus damages beyond normal wear is blurred at the best of times, and that presents a problem for your investment property.

With all of this being said, it is possible. So, how do you define normal wear and tear vs. excessive tenant damages for your rental real estate property?

Normal Wear and Tear vs. Tenant Damage

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has excellent documentation for defining what is and isn’t normal wear and tear.

Normal Wear & Tear Examples

According to the definitions laid out in the document, normal wear and tear constitute the following examples:

  • Ripped or faded wallpaper.
  • Peeling, faded, or cracked paint, including ceiling paint.
  • Holes in the wall, including nail holes and pins.
  • Cracks in the walls.
  • Cabinet doors sticking.
  • Hardwood floors in need of a coat of varnish.
  • Loose grouting or tiles.
  • Damaged window pane as a result of faulty foundations.
  • Thin and faded carpet.
  • Rusty shower rod.
  • Lightly damaged enamel in the bathroom.
  • Dirty or faded lamps and window shades.
  • Clogged sinks resulting from old plumbing.

Excessive Wear & Tear Examples

If a tenant caused damage, the tenant must pay to replace or repair the damage as opposed to normal wear and tear. Examples of negligence on the tenant’s behalf include:

  • Crayon markings, drawings, different paint colors, or wallpaper not approved by the landlord.
  • Holes in the walls or plasterboard.
  • Gouged or chipped hardwood flooring.
  • Heavily damaged or ruined wallpaper.
  • Broken windows.
  • Doors ripped off of the hinges.
  • Missing fixtures.
  • Holes, stains, burns, or other damage to the carpets.
  • Holes in the ceiling.
  • Missing or cracked bathroom tiles.
  • Clogged or damaged toilet from improper use.
  • Damaged sink and bathtub, including chipped or broken enamel.
  • Torn, stained, or missing lamps and window shades.
  • Missing or bent shower rods.

Useful Life Expectancy

The documentation also lays out the useful life expectancy of various appliances proportional to the tenant’s age. Examples of this are:

  • Hot water heaters – 10 years – All units.
  • Air conditioning units – 10 years – All units.
  • Refrigerators – 10 years – All units.
  • Ranges – 20 years – All units.
  • Plush carpeting – 5 years for family / 7 years for the elderly.
  • Interior enamel painting – 5 years for family / 7 years for the elderly.
  • Interior flat painting – 3 years for family / 5 years for the elderly.
  • Tiles or linoleum – 5 years for family / 7 years for the elderly.
  • Window shades, screens, and blinds – 3 years for family and the elderly.

Excessive Damage Repairs vs. Routine Maintenance

As the landlord, you have a responsibility to maintain the premises. This includes the standard turnover checklist between tenants. You usually cannot charge the tenant for this.


As the landlord, you must have the premises professionally cleaned when in-between tenants. Professional cleaning involves outsourcing the job to a certified cleaning company and cannot be done by yourself without the relevant qualifications. Outsourcing like this will ensure that the property is in pristine condition for the next tenant and allow you, as the landlord, to more clearly define normal wear and tear.

Being a landlord, you cannot bill your tenant for the regular cost of this cleaning. However, if the tenant never cleaned the unit during their time there, you may be charged extra by the cleaning company. This extra charge is a result of the tenant’s negligence and can be forwarded to them.

If you expect that your tenant will clean before they move out, be sure to include it on your lease agreements.

Carpet Cleaning

You do not need to outsource your carpet cleaning to a professional. You are free to do it yourself. You cannot charge your tenant for this kind of cleaning unless the carpet is excessively damaged. However, it would help if you suggested that your tenant cleans the carpet themselves before they move out. Keep in mind that if there is no significant damage to the carpet, they are not required to give it a deep clean.

If the carpet is damaged so severely that the tenant can’t clean it, there is something you can do. You can charge your tenant for the remaining life expectancy of the carpet. You cannot charge for a full replacement unless you can prove the carpet was brand new as carpets deteriorate naturally over time.

Carpet damage is a bit of a grey area when it comes to property deterioration. You will need to determine if it’s normal VS excessive wear and tear. Carpets are typically a very sore spot for a lot of landlords. It’s easy to damage one, and very hard to clean it. In the future, you might consider getting vinyl floors instead.


If you recently painted the unit, but the walls were filthy, you might be able to charge for the repaint as this doesn’t fall under regular wear and tear. This would include things like an excessive build-up of dirt, painting, and drawings on the wall.

However, if the tenant has been living in the unit for three or more years, you cannot charge them for a repaint as it is considered routine maintenance, as long-term deterioration would be regarded as wear and tear.

Light Bulbs

Every light bulb should be working when a tenant moves into the unit. As such, it is expected of them that every light is operational when they move out. This means that they bear the responsibility of changing any light bulbs that burn out.

The Importance of Security Deposits

It is vital that you, the landlord or property manager, collect a security deposit before the tenant moves into the rental unit. This acts as a form of insurance against any damages.

It provides you with the means to cover any tenant damage caused by negligence, and it serves as motivation for the tenant to look after the premises.

Typically, the security deposit amount is one month’s rent. This should be given to you in tandem with the first month’s rent in advance.

If there is no property damage when the tenant leaves, the landlord cannot keep the security deposit and is legally required to return it to them. Failure to do so entitles the tenant to seek legal action against you.

Lease Agreement Clauses

Having a comprehensive lease agreement is vital for landlords. Not just for when it comes to normal wear and tear vs. property damage, but in general.

These lease clauses will legally protect you against a variety of situations that may be individual to the tenant renting the property.

For example, you should include pet clauses if the tenant is bringing one to the rental property.

Without the proper clauses in place, it will be much harder to use the security deposit for damages.

As well as distinct clauses covering the individual tenant, there are a few that you need to make sure you’re on all of your lease agreements regardless of who is going to be renting the property:

  • How the moving in and moving out inspections are going to work.
  • If the tenant is required to clean the carpet or repaint when the tenant moves.
  • Exactly what type of cleaning should be done by them before leaving.
  • What is considered normal wear and tear, and what is considered damage.
  • The procedures if the landlord discovers damage after the old tenant has moved out.
  • How the security deposit is going to work.

Videos and Photographs

Taking videos and photos of rental properties is considered routine by landlords and renters alike. It prevents both parties from fraudulent claims and is a crucial piece of evidence in a legal dispute.

Landlords and tenants should both video and photograph the rental property before any renters moving in. This allows both parties to document any pre-existing damage, the condition of appliances, the condition of wood floors and carpet, the quality of the paint job, plumbing fixtures, and a variety of other features.

It is essential for both you and any renters to be thorough with this process. Furniture, walls, flooring, skirting board, light fixtures, and everything in between should be included in the recording.

Both should also take photos of the features included in the video to back up the evidence.

Similarly, the same process should be repeated by both parties when the renters leave the rental unit.

The tenant should take photos and a video themselves right before they finish moving out. This allows them to document the exact condition that they left the property in.

Once you inspect the property after the tenant has left, you should take photos and videos yourself. This way, there is clear documentation of the unit’s state at both ends of the tenant’s stay.

It allows officials to get a clear picture of the unit’s damage and deterioration, rather than just hearing testimony from the landlord or tenant.

A court judge will define normal wear and tear specifically for that situation, and that ruling is final unless you want to appeal it.

The Importance of Tenant Screening

Before landlords think about wear and tear, rent collection, security deposits, or anything in between, they need to screen their tenants.

This typically involves meeting the tenant for a tour of the property. It allows you, as a landlord, to get a feel for the other person’s personality. It’s an informal interview that gives you subtle clues as to whether or not you want that tenant living in your property.

Things like how they’re dressed and keep themselves, their manners, and how they conduct themselves can be significant indicators of whether they can be trusted with the property.

You should not let any personal bias or discrimination factor into your decision. You cannot base your decision to rent a property to a new tenant based on race, age, sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnic origin, physical or mental disabilities, or family status. You also cannot refuse to rent a property based on the tenant having kids.

It’s not unusual for landlords to be wary of renting to the likes of young people, but don’t let that hesitation cloud the reading you get from the screening.

If you are found to be refusing rent based on one of the criteria above, then you might end up in legal trouble.

Screening should be done exclusively to determine how much wear and tear vs. damage a landlord needs to be concerned about.

The Last Note

As a last note on normal wear and tear vs. damage, try and keep a clear image in your head of the difference between the two.

While understanding what is considered normal versus damage is essential, you also need to recognize the impact of normal depreciation. The value and condition of appliances decrease over time. You cannot charge a tenant on grounds based on that.

Faded paint doesn’t warrant a replacement cost taken from the tenant’s security deposit.

It’s situations like this that put so much value into your lease clauses, though.

When you are drafting up your agreement, remember to be comprehensive but reasonable. If you want the tenant to repaint the walls, that’s acceptable, but don’t ask that automatically of tenants renting your unit for six months.

Understanding how to tell the difference between damages and wear and tear is just the tip of the iceberg for a real estate landlord.

We hope this guide will be useful for you going forward.



Looking for rental services in Orlando – we can help.

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By doing our due diligence with our clients, tenants, and vendors we create a service that exceeds expectations and generates positive referrals. Click HERE to learn more and how one of our property management professionals can help you!


Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.


Perfect PoloPark East Home Just Listed

Perfect PoloPark East Home Just Listed

Perfect PoloPark East Home Just Listed

800 Polo Park East Blvd, Davenport, FL


2bed – 2bath – 4012 sqft lot
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Location! Location! Location! Ideally situated between the community amenities center and golf course and lake front with fishing pier and boat ramp and storage. What a great location! This community is truly Florida living at its best! This two bedrooms / 2 bathrooms manufactured home has an open plan design making the home feel larger than the actual square footage. Off the living room is the screen room with river rock flooring and vinyl windows. The home backs onto the perimeter of the community so you do have plenty of space between yourself and any rear neighbors in the adjoining community. The property also benefits from a single car garage with electric door open as well as a golf cart or workshop which can be accessed from the garage but it does have it’s own up door and cart track to this part of the garage. A new roof will be installed prior to closing. Ideally located close to grocery stores, restaurants, theme parks, medical facilities as well as easy access to highway 192, I4 and 429 toll road. Enjoy the amenities and activities that this beautiful active adult community offers. Time to start living the Florida lifestyle!

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Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.


Median Prices Up in February

Median Prices Up in February

Median Prices Up in February

Fla.’s Housing Market: Inventory, Median Prices Up in February

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s housing market in February continued to show increasing inventory (active listings) and higher median prices compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors®’ latest housing data.

Still, economic uncertainty, inflation and interest rates fluctuating above 6% impacted the state’s housing sector. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide last month totaled 18,627, down 21.3% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 7,665, down 30.2% from February 2022, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was in the 6- to 6.5% range for much of January, which helped spur some renewed activity in the existing home sales market,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “While closed sales were still down substantially year over year, the numbers for February were much more favorable than what we saw in January.

“One area where we worsened compared to last month, however, was in new listings. The last time there were this few new listings in the month of February was in 2013, in both property type categories. This lack of new listings kept inventories from expanding much at all. Single-family inventory actually declined month-over-month though it was still higher year-over-year.”

In February, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $395,000, up 3.5% from the previous year; for condo-townhouse units, it was $315,000, up 8.6% over February 2022. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

“The supply of for-sale homes is slowly building, which is easing inventory constraints in many markets across the state,” said 2023 Florida Realtors® President G. Mike McGraw, a broker-associate with RE/MAX Central Realty in Apopka. “As more inventory becomes available, it will begin to ease some of the pressure on home prices – and that helps buyers dealing with higher interest rates and affordability challenges.

“Working with a local Realtor means consumers have an expert guide who can help them understand the complex and emotional process of buying or selling a home.”

Statewide inventory in February was higher than a year ago for both existing single-family homes, increasing by 131.4%, and for condo-townhouse units, up 106%. The supply of single-family existing homes was at a 2.7-months’ supply while existing condo-townhouse properties were at a 3.2-months’ supply last month.


Ready to make a Move?

Bardell Real Estate are the experts in helping you with your selling, buying or renting needs near Orlando, Florida. Make your Disney area experience a forever memorable one. Call us now to speak to a real estate agent.