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 Brian@TeamKoss.com.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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 Brian@TeamKoss.com.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Mortgage Markets Respond to Fed Rate Hike

US-Federal-Reserve

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?

OrlandoSkyline
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 Brian@TeamKoss.com.  Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Grapefruit League Preview 2017

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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.

 

Minor League Baseball Returns to Orlando!

The Florida Fire Frogs are the newest professional sports franchise in the Orlando area.  The Brevard County Manatees relocated to Kissimmee following the 2016 season and will play it’s first season at Osceola County Stadium this Spring. Read More

Continue reading “Minor League Baseball Returns to Orlando!”

FHA Loans Insurance Premium Cuts, Cancelled

Things are changing in Washington DC with President Donald Trump being sworn into office last Friday.  One of the first executive actions taken by the new President was in regards to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan insurance premiums.

The scheduled rate cut were set to take effect on January 27 and would have amounted to reducing FHA-loan insurance fees (MIP fees) from .85% of loan amount to .60% of loan amount.  Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter in criticism of the policy, saying it would have saved home buyers as much as $500 per year.

So why did the Trump Administration take action?  The argument is based around concerned related to events that happened with the real estate collapse of the mid-2000s.  FHA loans already allow for small down payments (as low as 3.5%) and credit scores as low as 580; meaning that FHA borrowers are more likely to have less stable financial history.  The main concern is that these riskier borrowers are more likely to default on their loans and that cost would fall back on the FHA (i.e. taxpayers).

What does this mean for you?  Well, if you are currently paying these monthly fees on your loan, your rate will remain the same.  Since the cut has not gone into effect, your payments will not change, for the time being. President Trump has selected Ben Carson as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, but Carson has yet to be confirmed for the position. Carson did signal, however, that when he assumes his new role, they will reevaluate the policy.

This action is not likely to have much impact on the housing market, but it is interesting to note that the real estate industry has been in the spotlight, day one of the new Administration.

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.

West Orange Continues to Grow in 2017

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Health (Ocoee)

Metropolitan Orlando led the nation in percentage job growth in 2016 and as a result, home sales are doing well.  One of the areas where the growth is most noticeable is West Orange County.  Healthcare facilities, new schools and new home construction are all part of the West Orange boom that will continue steadily into 2017.

Here’s a few highlights of major projects happening:

  • Healthcare:  Orlando Health recently completed Health Central Hospital in Ocoee is expanding in Horizons West and Dr. Phillips.  Florida Hospital will continue to expand it’s new Winter Garden campus.
  • Education:  In response to the explosion of growth and families moving into West Orange, the new Windermere High School will welcome it’s first 1,800 students in Fall 2017.  The newly named Windermere Wolverines are in the process of adding programs, administration, holding PTSO elections and building a new community for the students and parents it serves.
  • Housing / Development:  The Hamlin community (Horizons West) is developing it’s Town Center, offering new retail and entertainment options of residents and locals on the shores Lake Hancock.

Of course, the steady growth of West Orange presents it’s own set of challenges for residents, municipalities and lawmakers.  It will be exciting to see how things progress over the course of the next year. West Orange communities also offer residents close proximity Orlando’s main theme park attractions; Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. Check out our Team Koss video on Dr. Phillips, Windermere and Winter Garden for more details on the area.

If you are involved in the business community, we also strongly recommend joining the award winning West Orange Chamber of Commerce, now celebrating it’s 45th Anniversary.

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.

Awful Weatherman Returns!

He’s back folks!  Remember the viral internet sensation the Awful Weatherman?  Well, Louis Badalament has been living here in the Orlando area and he’s given us another broadcast of the local weather that will not disappoint.

Don’t forget your umbrella!

 

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.