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

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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.

 

Is Orlando the Next Big Thing?

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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.

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.

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.

New Orange County High School Named, Not without Controversy

Windermere High School is the name of the new school being constructed to provide relief for the overcrowded West Orange High School.  Currently, West Orange High School (Winter Garden) is meant for 3,000 students, but currently has 4,300 enrolled.  The new Windermere High School is scheduled to take in 2,800 students when it opens in Fall 2017.  Read More

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#OrlandoStrong

 

Early Sunday morning on June 12, 2016, a radical Islamic terrorist entered into a popular local LGBT nightclub, Pulse, and committed the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.  This truly evil soul murdered 49 and wounded 53 innocent people in our community — 49 of our neighbors, people with families, friends and bright futures were snuffed out too soon.  53 got out with their lives, but are struggling to pick up the pieces.  The terrorist’s aim was to make a global statement, to spew a message of hate and intolerance, and to put our community and country in a state of fear.  In this, I am happy to report, he failed horribly.

After all these almost-unimaginable calamities, our community took charge and came together.  We donated blood and supplies from individuals and businesses alike, with volunteers working dutifully around the clock.

We are a community that embraces diversity and remains tolerant of every walk of life and will not allow this horrific crime to put us into fear or divide us.

Orlando is my home, Orlando is strong and I couldn’t be more proud to live here…