Moving to Central Florida? (West Orange Edition)


Are you interested in moving to Central Florida?  This video highlights some fantastic communities in Central Florida, Windermere, Dr. Phillips and Winter Garden.  Of course, we discuss the great local attractions and where locals go to dine, shop, and play.  If you are ready to become our neighbors, please feel free to give us a call! We are REALTORS who open doors for our clients!


Long Distance Move 101: Eliminate


If you were recently assigned a new position across the country, or perhaps are a modern-day nomad looking for a change of scenery — and now find yourself preparing for a daunting long-distance move, study these helpful tips to get your pioneer self ready for the next adventure.  

Keep these tips in mind when beginning your packing:

Get rid of all your nonessential “crap”. Elimination is both the first tip and the most important one.  Why, you may ask, is it so vital to de-clutter, pare-down and shed unnecessary items?  Because it will make every step in the process of your move easier and faster and will ultimately save you lots of money in packing, shipping, and storage costs, opening up more options for future housing.

To truly put yourself in the right mindset for parting with your beloved knickknacks and tchotchkes, I recommend watching a few episodes of Hoarders: Buried Alive on TLC.  Think of this exercise as a preemptive intervention.  By the time you’ve finished episode 4, you should be thoroughly disgusted with everything you own that doesn’t serve a function in your household.

And when you start discarding items, please don’t make the mistake of seeing it as ‘throwing money away.’  Instead, think of the time and money you’re saving.  Look ahead to the opportunities you’ll eventually get to purchase new items more suited to your future surroundings.

Pitch, Donate, Sell and Save.  Donate (or just give away) things that are clean and in good shape but you no longer need, no longer fit, or have duplicates of.  Sell everything with real value; or auction them off on eBay.  No, forget your mint condition Beanie Babies; focus on  things that other people really want.  Remember, keep those receipts from your donations for a little tax credit.

I understand that some people really, really really have a hard time pitching out their junk… even after a Hoarders marathon.  You know who you are.  But seriously; only save the items you need on a daily basis for your new home, your favorite clothes that fit, and a few highly sentimental items (like scrapbooks).  Keep furniture that you know you really want to keep.  Seize the opportunity to get rid of that beat-up, hand-me-down couch. Really separate the wheat from the chaff.  Every item you are packing must be the best-of-the best.  Your future self will thank you when she’s opening fewer boxes in her new location.

Nobody wants your junk, nobody.  Not even the Salvation Army.


“What’s That Smell?!” Buyers Nose = Sellers Woes

Smell is often the least appreciated of the five senses. Understandably; it may not be as essential as sight or sound – but sellers should never underestimate how important it is to buyers that the place smells good when they are evaluating your home. A buyer’s nose can literally lose you money. Some buyers cannot “see” beyond the telltale scent of your lovable little dog embedded deep into your carpets. Or even the pungent traces of that garlic-onion stew you had for lunch, still lingering in the air.

Even if the buyers love your home, otherwise, and would’ve planned on replacing whatever the offending odor is emanating from — it may be too late. Because in the buyers’ mind, your house “stinks.”

I have literally seen buyers walk through a home’s front door, then exit just as quickly because they smelled something that did not agree with them. That these same homes had so carefully, meticulously staged by their sellers only adds to the tragedy.

Now, does that mean that sellers should ditch their pets, or starve during the showing phase? Absolutely not. It just means that sellers should ask a trusted third party if their house has a smell. Other ideas would be to avoid cooking foods with distinctive odors right before a showing. Be sure to open those windows and let some fresh air in, a few hours a day. Wash all the hard surfaces of the house with a cleaning agent, get your air ducts cleaned, and if necessary, have those carpets professionally cleaned. Everything goes double if you are a smoker.

We have often walked into a home and played the game “What’s that smell?” …Is it a dog? Cat? Cigarette smoke? Mildew?”

Joking aside, smells can seriously frighten buyers off, none more so than mildew. When a whiff of mildew or mold hits a prospective buyer’s nose, it is literally the kiss of death. These smells makes them assume the house has been poorly maintained or conceals deeper defects, such as leaky roofs and pipes. Of course, if this is actually is the case, and a leak or other serious defect is behind the awful stink, the buyer needs to seek a professional to address the cause directly, and never just mask the odor.

However, if the house just smells a bit musty for one reason or another, take the time to correct it. You don’t want to sell your home short over a minor fix.

Having said all that, be sure not to overdo the Febreeze or Lysol sprays, either. It’ll backfire just as much as pouring too much perfume over yourself before a big date. Honestly, the best smell to a buyer is a generally fresh and clean ambiance. Wash every surface of your home, (get out the toothbrush and scrub between the cracks!) then give it some time to air out.

Nothing excites a homebuyer more then the lovely fragrance of a clean, well-maintained home.

New Attractions Lined Up for Orlando Theme Parks

Disney’s Pandora and Universal’s Volcano Bay are scheduled to open their doors this week.  Both will be live streaming their official Grand Opening and ready to take in droves of new guests this summer. Pandora will be a part of the Animal Kingdom and is based on the theme of the blockbuster movie, Avatar.  Volcano Bay will be Universal Studio’s new water park.  Both are generating quite a buzz among theme park enthusiasts.

But, the expansion of Orlando’s theme parks does not end there.  Here’s a look at several projects on the docket for the next few years…

Disney:  Star Wars fans will be thrilled to know that a new Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios is scheduled to be completed in 2019.  Toy Story Land is also under construction, but no opening date has been set.

Universal Studios:  Gamers will be pleased to discover that a Super Nintendo World is scheduled for development and while no dates are firmly set, suggestions point to 2020.

Sea World:  After loosing the Shamu shows, Sea World is retooling it’s children’s play area and launching a Sesame Street land, expected by 2022.

As Orlando continues to grow, residents and visitors will have no shortage of new attractions for the foreseeable future.  Just one of the many benefits of life in Orlando, Florida.

For more information on moving to Orlando, contact Brian Koss of Team Koss, Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando at 248-854-5932 or  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Clermont, FL (Community Profile)

Clermont is one of the fastest growing communities in Central Florida. Located 22 miles west of downtown Orlando in Lake County, Clermont has grown from a small rural town of around 7,000 people in 1990, to over 32,000 people today. It has become a hot spot for new development in the past decade or so, offering all the suburban conveniences yet far enough removed from the heavy tourist areas.

A popular spot for young families looking to find great, affordable homes as well as retirees. Clermont has recently been named “Best Places to Retire” by both Forbes and Money magazines, and is home to several premiere 55+ Active Lifestyle Communities. If you like fishing, boating and water sports, the Clermont Chain of Lakes covers all your aquatic needs.

Don’t worry, you are still right around the corner from Orlando area attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World.  This could be just the community for you!

Check out our video profiling the Clermont area…

Uber & Lyft Laws Set to Change in Florida

Governor Rick Scott indicated via Twitter on Monday that he would sign into law new legislation to streamline the regulation of hire-for-ride companies like Uber and Lyft. Florida House Bill 221 would require drivers are insured up to levels of $50,000 for death and injury per person, $100,000 for death and injury per accident and $25,000 for property damage.  It also requires background checks for drivers.

This would eliminate some of the concerns from critics in the taxicab and limousine industry who have fought against Uber and Lyft in cities around the state and country. However, in exchange for these uniformed regulations, local governments will no longer be allowed to impose their own additional regulations and fees upon Uber and Lyft drivers or limit their access.  In Orlando, a $250 registration fee is applied to drivers and they are restricted from access to certain locations, like the Orlando International Airport (currently only Uber Black drivers, a more expensive service have access).

Overall, this bill is considered a win for hire-for-ride companies and for consumers; it has passed by the Florida Senate with 36-1 vote.  The bill is expected to be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks and would go into effect on July 1.

For more information on moving to Orlando, contact Brian Koss of Team Koss, Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando at 248-854-5932 or  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

International Buyers Target Orlando

london-bigben-1500x850Americans from the Northeast and Midwest have been flocking to Florida for decades, but Orlando remains a favorite destination for our friends across the pond as well.  Recently, A Place in the Sun, a British TV show and magazine, put out a glowing and informative feature on the Orlando market.  Check out the full article below…

The strong dollar hasn’t kept the crowds away from Florida this year, with the Sunshine State on course for a new tourism record. Visitor numbers in the first six months of 2016 increased by 6 per cent compared with last year and the state expects to welcome 115 million tourists for the whole year, compared with 105 million in 2015.

Similarly, September marked a record year for Orlando International Airport, where the green light has been given recently for a new terminal. In the 12 months to the end of September, 41.5 million passengers passed through the airport, representing a year-on-year increase of 10 per cent. International traffic was up by 14.75 per cent.

This is all good news for homeowners in Florida, with demand driving both house price growth and rentals. “The market is really picking up here in Orlando, with more investors now looking at buy-to-let properties as well as vacation homes,” said An Flamand, owner of the agent Orlando Vacation Realty. “Prices are still very good value, especially compared to what your money gets you elsewhere, like in Europe.”

David D’Ambrosio, director of operations at the Grove Resort & Spa in Orlando, added: “Recent statistics from HomeUnion [the investment property portal] revealed that Orlando’s family holiday home rental market is set to rise by 6.1 per cent per month this year, due to its growing leisure and hospitality industries.”

Most second homes around Disney are in the “Golden Triangle” or “Four Corners” areas. Fanning northwards from Haines City to the edges of Disney, these include the metropolitan hubs of Davenport, Kissimmee and ChampionsGate where short-term rentals are allowed, and being bisected by Interstate 4 affords fast access to Orlando city and the airport. Here’s a closer look at where to buy, depending on your requirements.

Second homes with proven rentals to pay the bills

Established communities (also called resorts) that combine easy access to the theme parks and golf typically offer the best rental returns. Popular ones suited to the traditional family second homeowner include High Grove, Tuscan Hills, Solana, Calabay Parc, Highlands Reserve, Highgate Park, Tuscan Ridge and West Haven. Disney World is no more than 20-25 minutes’ drive from each of these.

“For budgets of $80,000 to $135,000, most clients realise that a condo or apartment with resort amenities is the best option,” said Howard Thorne at Homes of America Realty Group.

“And those with $135,000 to $200,000 lean more towards a town home, preferably one with its own splash/plunge pool. And those buyers looking for a home that attracts enough rental income to at least pay for itself, leaving enough profit over to pay for trips to Florida a couple of times a year, are paying $200,000 to $350,000.”

Single family homes for as little as $160,000 are available, said Mr Thorne, but with lower rental yields they are usually better suited to retirees or non-rental second homeowners.

For buyers planning to spend six months of the year in Florida, typically retirees, more residential communities with quieter neighbourhoods, lots of natural scenery and where the homeowners’ association (HOA) fees are low are preferred. Examples are Watersong in Davenport and Orange Tree in Clermont.

The agent Homes of America recently helped a couple who appeared on A Place in the Sun on the TV to purchase in Watersong. “They were looking for a more residential/second home area, where they could spend half the year,” said Mr Thorne. “Initially, they did not want to rent out their property, but they now accept 10-16 weeks of rentals each year, just to cover their outgoings on the house.”

An Flamand confirmed that “most buyers tend to look for three, four and five-bedroom vacation homes with pools and sometimes spas, too”. She recently helped Scottish clients to buy a four bedroom second home with a pool in West Haven, Davenport. They paid $245,000 for the property, which is a holiday home that they’ll also let.

Meanwhile, communities suited to buyers who don’t want to be more than 10 minutes from Disney include Windsor Hills, Sunset Lakes, Emerald Island, Tuscany, Calabria, Indian Creek and Formosa Gardens.

Golf, not theme parks?

If being closer to a fairway is more important, a home in the golf communities of Reunion, ChampionsGate, Mystic Dunes and Southern Dunes are safe bets. For something new, though, Flamand suggests a new-build town home at the golf villas development at Providence Golf Club, Davenport, where the developer is offering fixed rental returns.

Meanwhile, just west of Orlando in Montverde is the relaunched Bella Collina golf community. The project, created by the same developer as Reunion, stalled during the last economic crisis but not before the one-of-a-kind Tuscan-style clubhouse was built, infrastructure put in and the Nick Faldo golf course was opened in 2008.

With a new owner, the community offers stunning lakeside and frontline plots, available through The Jerry Barker Group, whose own property there will open as a show home early in the new year. Prices at Bella Collina start from about $500,000 for a three-bed pre-construction home, rising to $11million for a palatial lakeside home built in 2014.

Fully managed vacation resorts: the ultimate stress-free property

Some of Florida’s most exciting opportunities are in new hotel-style vacation resorts, where owners often have the option to enter their property into a leaseback or rental scheme with the developer. Facilities offered at new projects coming to market in the next year are comparable to full-blown holiday resorts.

Once complete, The Grove Resort & Spa, next to Lake Austin and five minutes from Disney, will include 878 apartments. For a limited time the resort is offering buyers in the first phase of 292 units the option to enter a two-year leaseback programme, which delivers a 10 per cent gross return (before tax and insurance).

Owners will then have the option to join the standard rental programme managed by Benchmark Hospitality International. Prices at The Grove, where extensive on-site facilities include a water park and surf simulator, start at $255,000. Not five minutes from The Grove and even closer to Disney is the site of another mega resort, Margarita Village, by Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Resort Orlando, due for completion by the end of 2017. Centred around a hotel, a lake with a beach area, water park and commercial outlets, the site will include a mix of vacation homes, timeshare units and residential apartments.

“Margarita Village is going to be something else,” said Jerry Barker. “We have over a dozen pre-sale reservations, including one of my own. Models and prices are due to be released early next year and the infrastructure is currently going in. This place will rock everything else.”

Balmoral at Waters Edge in Haines City, 25 minutes from Disney and 12 minutes from Legoland, is another more boutiquey option. Built around a series of navigable lakes and themed garden areas, a total of 245 three to eight-bedroom houses are planned. Complementing the clubhouse and usual amenities will be a water park and Ronaldo soccer academy.

The resort’s grand opening is planned for the end of March. “Phase one, which consisted of 102 units, has just sold out with the largest group of buyers being from the UK,” said Garrett Kenny, chief executive of Feltrim Group, Balmoral’s developer.

“We released phase two, which consists of 85 units, in October. Prices are from $328,000, inclusive of luxury furniture and a private pool. We’re also offering a 6 per cent net leaseback contract to buyers at Balmoral for up to three years, including off -peak personal use.”

All on-site management at Balmoral will be by Feltrim Resorts, whose recent contract with Virgin Holidays, kicking off in the spring, has already resulted in 150 bookings for the May to December 2017 period.

With a growing number of resort launches lined up, central Florida’s holiday home market is gearing up for an exciting 2017. For a home that lets you and your rental guests enjoy theme parks, golf and a quality outdoors lifestyle, the sunshine state is hard to beat.

This article provides just another current testimony of why Orlando remains one of the hottest destinations for international travelers.  We look forward to welcoming more UK vacationers and second home buyers here in the months and years to come.

For more information on the Central Florida real estate market, consult with Team Koss at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Mortgage Markets Respond to Fed Rate Hike


As the Federal Reserve raised interest rate hike last Wednesday, fixed-rate loans on mortgages also increased.  On 30 year loans, rates climbed from 4.21 to 4.0, whereas 15 year loans saw a 3.42 to 3.5 percent increase.

Most experts see the Federal Reserves’s .25% hike (from .75% to 1%) as a prudent maneuver in a strengthening economy.  Jobs numbers in February, for example, far surpassed expectation.  The Fed has indicated future hikes are likely to continue.

This Inman article offers some perspective on the interaction between mortgage rates and Federal Reserve interest rates:

“That Fed move is already built in to rates” for other products (like mortgages), added Barnes — which seems to be the consensus from other experts, too.

The Federal Reserve sets the rate for the overnight exchange of money by banks; governors adjust the rate to help curb inflation or stimulate growth, depending on their assessment of what would be best for the economy.

Although this rate is not the same thing as the mortgage interest rate that buyers pay when they take out on a loan on a home, movement of the Fed rate up or down can put pressure on mortgage interest rates.

“With this increase well anticipated by most markets, Keller Williams does not expect any dramatic change in the current path of mortgage rates. Rates will likely continue to slowly rise this year barring a change in the economic situation,” said Ruben Gonzalez, staff economist, Keller Williams, in a statement.

None of this is cause to panic, as the raise in rates are said to be a result of a stronger economy.  If more people find work and incomes rise, more home ownership should follow. However, if you are currently considering buying, you may want to consult a mortgage expert and get the process rolling to lock in the lowest possible rate.


Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill

No question that the Arnold Palmer Invitational taking place this week at Bay Hill will be a living tribute to the lost legend.  Mastercard, the sponsor the the annual golf tournament, released a heartfelt commercial this week,  associating acts of courage and kindness, things “Arnie Would” do.  ESPN paints a picture of his untouched office at Bay Hill.  A thirteen foot statue now stands at Bay Hill and State Road 408 has been renamed the Arnold Palmer Expressway.

The Orlando Sentinel had a piece over the weekend about Arnold Palmer’s impact on Orlando and the sense of place he had at Bay Hill.  Here’s an excerpt:

Back when Sand Lake was a two-lane road amid the Central Florida orange groves, the world’s most popular golfer stumbled upon this remote corner of Orlando.

“You almost had to get lost to find Bay Hill.” said Roy Saunders, Palmer’s son-in-law.

The 35-year-old Palmer immediately felt at home.

While visiting Bay Hill for an exhibition match during the winter of 1965, Palmer found a golf course that fit his eye, rugged natural surroundings teeming with wildlife and solitude that suited his western Pennsylvania sensibilities.

“It appealed to him because of the privacy,” longtime Palmer right-hand man Doc Giffin recalled. “He thought he had found a nice, quiet, lovely place — with a golf course.”

Tourism and 20th-century progress would reshape Palmer’s vision, but he didn’t fight it. Palmer’s business sense and ability to dream big would give him ownership of Bay Hill Club and Lodge in 1970. He soon transformed it into a high-end resort and one of the most popular stops on the PGA Tour.

In the week ahead, many of the world’s top golfers and sizable crowds will descend on Palmer’s winter oasis for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Even as Disney World butted up on the Bay Hill’s southern border in the early 1970s, Universal Orlando squeezed the property from the east two decades later and hundreds of homes and condos sprouted up over the years within the community, Bay Hill remained Palmer’s sanctuary.

Many cities have sports icons, but Arnold Palmer was not just a sports icon.  He was a businessman, philanthropist and ambassador for the community.  The PGA will ascend upon Bay Hill this weekend, where Arnold Palmer’s presence and legend will remain for generations to come.


Is Orlando the Next Big Thing?

Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

Orlando has been making the news lately.  It’s not just Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter – although they play a big role in Orlando’s appeal.  A recent report released by Forbes ranks Orlando as the 2nd fastest growing city in the country and #1 for job growth.  US News & World Report also ranked Orlando in the Top 10 places in the country most desirable to live.  Here’s just a few reasons to be bullish about Orlando:

  1. Growth:  As reported by Forbes, Orlando is outpacing every metropolitan area in the country in job growth for the second year running.  Orlando is attracting more companies and high skilled workers particularly in the tech industry, construction is booming and there’s an endless flow of vacationers.  The growth has promoted ongoing improvements in infrastructure and home grown talent is being groomed as world class universities like the University of Central Florida.
  2. Weather:  Orlando is full of northerners who have escaped the harsh winters and more come every day.  Sure it’s hot in the summer (like everywhere else), but how can you bear a 75 and sunny February day?  Orlando offers all the benefits of Florida living, without the full effects of threatening weather on the coasts.
  3. Entertainment:  You’ll never be bored in Orlando!  Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World remain some of the hottest tourist destinations anywhere in the world.  Orlando is surrounded by lakes prime for boating, fishing water sports, not to mention world class golf courses – designed by some of golf’s biggest names.  Cuisine, arts, shopping, sports and outdoor activities are around every corner!
  4. Location:  Orlando is the most central city in Florida, making it a convenient location for statewide events, not to mention national and international conferences.  Our city is consistently rated at the top destination for conferences and events, with plentiful hotel and convention space.
  5. Opportunity:  All these factors offer endless opportunities to those looking for a place to relocate their business, start a new business or find the career and lifestyle you have always desired.  Unlike most northern cities, Orlando has a much lower amount of multi-generational residents, presenting major opportunities for young entrepreneurs to bring their ideas and work ethic to build a business, become part of the community and build it for generations to come.  Florida’s low tax and business friendly environment is also inviting!

In conclusion, is Orlando the next big thing?  Actually, it’s already a big thing.  So, get to Orlando and chart your course today!

For more information on moving to Orlando, contact Brian Koss of Team Koss, Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando at 248-854-5932 or  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Better than New – Windermere Home!

This fully-upgraded, single-story, 2014 Beazer Home, MacArthur, floor-plan with Spanish colonial elevation is guaranteed to impress.  It boasts exceptional curb appeal, with mature landscaping, brick pavers and covered patio leading to a decorative front door.  All that is missing is two rocking chairs and a tall, ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade.  Read More

Continue reading “Better than New – Windermere Home!”

Grapefruit League Preview 2017

2017 FL Spring Training Logo

Baseball is back!  Pitchers and catchers reported to camp last week all across the Sunshine State. While many up North are freezing in their home cities, 15 MLB squads are reporting to cities across Florida and Grapefruit League exhibition play is set to begin.  Here’s a changes to take note of this Spring:

  • The Houston Astros no longer train in Kissimmee and the Washington Nationals no longer train in Viera (both a bummer for us Central Floridians).  Both teams are opening a new joint facility, Ballpark of The Palms,  in West Palm Beach.
  • Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, home of the Detroit Tigers, has undergone a $48 million renovation and the Tigers have a contract with the city of Lakeland through 2036.  The Tigers have held Spring Training in Lakeland since 1934.
  • The New York Yankees home at George M. Steinbrenner Field has undergone $40 million in renovations and the Yankees are locked in with the city of Tampa through 2046.  The Yankees have held Spring Training in Tampa since 1996.
  • The Atlanta Braves are still at Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World, but are negotiating with Sarasota for a new facility.  This may be one of the final few seasons the Braves play in Central Florida.
  • The World Baseball Classic kicks off on March will pull some of the leagues top stars away from Spring Training.  Marlins Park in Miami will host First Round games from Pool C, which includes: United States, Canada, Columbia and Dominican Republic.

If you are looking for more details on Spring Training and would like to catch your team in action, there are several great online resources available, including:  Florida Grapefruit League, Spring Training Online and Spring Training Connection.

Play ball!

Written by Brian Koss of Team Koss, Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Economic Development, Tourism on Agenda in Tallahassee

Governor Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran may be members of the same party, but they hold a very different view on several key positions regarding business incentives and tourism marketing.

Governor Scott is asking the legislature to approve $85 million for Enterprise Florida funding, a public-private economic development corporation, as a means of attracting more major employers to the Sunshine State.  The Governor has the backing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who’s CEO Wilson said Enterprise Florida is a key component of bringing in  “high-wage, high-skill jobs.” Governor Scott is also asking for $76 million for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing program.

Both measures are met with opposition from Speaker Corcoran who contest that the state government should not “pick winners and losers” in the market, nor should it spend public money on boosting tourism to promote private companies.  Republican majorities in the Florida legislature will be forced to make a tough choice between Governor Scott and Speaker Corcoran’s position, or find some way of reconciling the two.

Scott was denied his request for $250 million for Enterprise Florida in last year’s budget, but has come back asking for a much smaller amount.  The Governor has proposed an $83.5 billion budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017.  Among other highlights in the budget include business tax cuts, increased education funding and healthcare spending cuts.

Lawmakers have begun putting their agenda’s forward, as Regular Session of the Florida Legislature convenes on March 7 in Tallahassee.

Written by Brian Koss of Team Koss, Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams Classic in Orlando.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.