Central Florida vies for $242M in future sports biz


If a new Orange County committee plays its cards right, the region may host two major sports events with the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new .

The county’s tourist development sports incentive committee — a group that began meeting this month to help vet the best uses of resort taxes for sporting events — approved two inaugural proposals that could result in more than $242 million in economic impact: the 2022 Special Olympics and WrestleMania.

Tourist development taxes, also known as resort taxes, are fees collected by Orange County garnered from hotel/motel room or other short-term lodging sales. Those taxes go toward funding the region’s tourism and marketing agency Visit ; renovations and enhancements to the Orange County Convention Center; and upgrades to local venues like Camping World Stadium.

“Both of these opportunities meet the goals for Orange County,” Central Florida Sports Commission CEO Jason Siegel told county leaders at the April 9 meeting. “These achieve returns on investment of the tourist development tax; it attracts [high-level] sports events to the region and supports our tourism industry.”

Meanwhile, the two events would be major for Central Florida as they carry national exposure on television and social media, as well as help generate economic growth. National exposure also can result in encouraging more tourism- or business-related visitation to the region.

In addition, sporting events are vital to the region and often translate into vacations, providing more business for the region’s $60 billion tourism and travel industry.

Orange County’s sports incentive committee began this first year with $5 million in resort taxes to allocate for sporting events, with an additional $2 million added each year. Any funds not used during the year are carried forward to the next year.

Here’s more about the sporting events in play:

  • 2022 Special Olympics: The local organizing group for the future event is requesting $2 million in resort taxes to bring the games to Orlando. The games would result in as much as $61 million in economic impact, 57,000 hotel room nights and draw nearly 100,000 spectators, families, coaches and athletes. The games would be spread across the region in various venues, Joe Dzaluk, president and CEO of Orlando’s Special Olympics bid entity, told the county board at the April 9 meeting. Games would be hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, the YMCA Aquatic Center on International Drive, the U.S. Tennis Association’s USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, local bowling venues and more.
  • WrestleMania: The Central Florida Sports Commission is working to bring back the marquee professional wrestling event that came here last April at downtown Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. The commission requested $1 million in resort taxes for the event owned and operated by the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: WWE). Last year, WrestleMania 33 resulted in more than $161 million in economic impact, drawing more than 75,000 fans to Camping World Stadium; attracting 150,000 people to WWE’s related citywide events at venues like the convention center; and generating more than 50,000 hotel room nights. WWE is in the process of selecting host cities for the event between 2021 through 2025, but the best chance for Orlando to land the event may be 2023 or 2025, based on convention center availability.

What to Expect in the Homebuying Season

What to Expect in the Homebuying Season

Homebuyers will need to be on their toes this homebuying season if they are to snag their dream abode if the typical time taken to sell a home in 2017 is any indication. According to a report by Zillow, sold faster than ever in 2017, with a typical median-priced house flying off the market in 81 days. And this has been the case for the past three years, the report said citing data that indicated homes sold slightly faster at 80 days in 2016.

In 2017, the fastest-selling market was San Jose, California, with the typical home sold in 41 days. Homes in Miami, on the other hand, took 110 days to sell in both years, the report indicated.

What do these numbers indicate for 2018? “As demand has outpaced supply in the over the past three years, buying a home has become an exercise in speed and agility,” said Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist at Zillow. “This is shaping up to be another competitive home shopping season for buyers, who may have to linger on the market until they find the right home but then sprint across the finish line once they do. Being prepared—working with a great , getting financing pre-approved—can help a buyer make a stand-out offer.”

According to an earlier Zillow report on Group Consumer Housing trends, a typical buyer spends around four months searching for a home and makes two offers before successfully closing on a home. But the latest data indicates that homes sold in lesser time than that in 2016 and 2017, making it imperative for homebuyers to be ready to move quickly when they find a home they want to purchase, the report said.

The report also indicated that homes sold the fastest in June when the typical U.S. home sold in 73 days flat. In San Jose, the report said, homes sold fastest last year in October within just 39 days of being listed.

Developer preps site for apartments, shops near SunRail station


An 18.4-acre property adjacent the SunRail Sand Lake Road station is being readied for site work.

Landowner Sandlake Station Partners LLC, an affiliate of the Aventura-based Master Real Estate, is seeking Orange County approval to mass grade the property for a new development that would include a 38,000-square-foot commercial building and 196 apartments on vacant land at 7803 S. Orange Ave., according to the April 11 application. TRI3 Civil Engineering Design Studios Inc. is the applicant.

The mixed-use project, north of Sand Lake Road and on the east side of South Orange Avenue, is being marketed by MIR Developments as the Sandlake Station Condominiums and Sandlake Station Shops, Orlando Journal previously reported.


Central Florida neighborhoods where home values are surging

7 things to know today and best and worst airlines for customer complaints







Good morning, !

When it came to the rate of customer complaints about in 2017, passengers were feeling the love for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest (NYSE: LUV) — the largest carrier at Orlando International Airport — had the lowest rate of passenger complaints officially filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year at 0.47 per 100,000 passengers.

That’s according to the annual Airline Quality Rating released Monday, which utilizes that and other DOT data to compile an overall ranking for the 12-largest U.S. airlines.

And on the metric of customer complaints, which, again only measures those officially lodged with DOT, Southwest was part of an overall industry improvement in 2017.

More here on how the 12 airlines in the study did.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

Bid deadline for Port Canaveral’s new $150M cruise terminal nears

It’s the last call to compete for a major contract with Port Canaveral and its future $150 million Cruise Terminal 3. The new terminal is part of a much larger 30-year master plan, which includes more than $2.7 billion in improvements. More here on the deadline and how to apply.

Seminole State College names new president

Georgia Lorenz, currently vice president of academic affairs at Santa Monica College in California, was approved unanimously as president-elect of Seminole State College of Florida by the school’s board of trustees on April 11. More here.

Report: Pokemon land in the works at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Orlando Resort is still in early stages of its future Super Nintendo World project, but it may include one of Nintendo’s most popular game series: Pokemon, the uber-successful video game and TV show franchise. More here from WFTV.

Bank of America pledges to halt lending to assault-weapon manufacturers

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) has pledged to stop lending to companies that provide military-style firearms for civilian use. Vice Chairman Anne Finucane spoke on the matter in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. More here.

Hulu teams with Spotify on $13 bundle

Music and video fans can now get their streaming for one low monthly price: Spotify and Hulu now offer a combined, all-you-can-stream bundle for $12.99 per month. The companies plan to make the $13 bundle available to new subscribers this summer. More here.

Best quotes from Zuckerberg: What Facebook’s CEO told Congress

n case you missed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s first of two days testifying before congressional committees, or just need a refresher of what the 33-year-old billionaire told lawmakers,


Stressed about work? You must live in Florida


 7 things to know today

Good morning, !

Lately, it seems like everywhere you turn, someone is talking about — or offering advice on — how to deal with stress.

Stress levels nationwide have been rising for many demographics since their low point in 2016. Common stressors include the future of America and money, along with uncertainty about health care. But not all demographics are affected in the same way. For example, women’s stress levels rose in the past year while men’s actually dropped.

So to determine the Most & Least Stressed States, WalletHub analyzed 38 key indicators of stress to determine the places to avoid and achieve a more relaxing life. The dataset ranges from average hours worked per week to personal bankruptcy rate and share of adults getting adequate sleep.

Here in the Sunshine State, we scored in the good range for family-related stress (No. 6), health and safety-related stress (No. 20) and money-related stress (No. 22), but not so good when it comes to work-related stress (No. 37). That gave us an overall ranking of No. 16 on the list.

It turns out that Louisiana is the least stressful state, while Minnesota is the most stressful place to live. See the full data here.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

A New York-based development group wants to build three apartment towers in Orlando’s bustling downtown. More here on what’s next for the developer and what the project will include.

Here’s how many jobs Orlando added

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA added 6,200 construction jobs between February 2017 to February 2018, a new report from Associated General Contractors of America shows. In all, construction employment increased in 257 out of 358 metro areas in that time frame, declined in 50 and stagnated in 51. See the metro data here and state data here.

SpaceX launches RemoveDebris experiment on Falcon 9 rocket

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule spacecraft that Elon Musk-owned rocket company SpaceX launched from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station on April 2 carried a high-tech experiment designed to help bust down the many small pieces of material floating in low Earth orbit that can hinder future space travel. .

Orange County tourist tax collections up in February

Orange County tourist tax collections for the month of February totaled $23,813,900, an 8.9% increase over the year-ago period. Tourist taxes are charged on short-term rentals, mostly hotels and motels. Year-to-date, collections through February total $114,756,700, a 10.7% increase over a year ago.

The Walt Disney Co. plans to launch ESPN+, its new sports-focused subscription streaming service, on April 12. ESPN+, its first direct-to-consumer TV service and will give fans a “dynamic” lineup of live sports, original content and on-demand programming for a subscription price of $4.99 per month.

Delta Air Lines hit by data breach

Delta Air Lines — one of the largest carriers at Orlando International Airport — said it is investigating a data breach involving a company, [24]7.ai, that provides online chat services for it and other companies. Delta said in a statement that the breach, which occurred from Sept. 26 to Oct. 12, 2017, involved “certain customer payment information.” It did not say how many customers may have been affected.

New owner grabs stake in Orlando City Soccer Club


Orlando’s Major League Soccer franchise will have a new face in its ownership meetings.

The team announced via its website on March 28 that Canadian investor Albert Friedberg, who is associated with investment firm FCMI Parent Co., would join the leadership spearheaded by Flavio Augusto da Silva, majority owner of Orlando City Soccer Club. The team, which is entering its fourth year of operation, played its first MLS game in 2015 and has been surging in popularity since.

“We have taken the opportunity to become partners with an experienced and strategic investor in Albert, who, in addition to financial contributions, brings strong business and finance knowledge to help with projects that lie ahead for the improvement of our product on and off the field,” said Flávio Augusto da Silva, majority owner of Orlando City SC, in a prepared statement.

Friedberg acquired 8.63 percent stake of Orlando City Soccer Club, which amounts to roughly $42.33 million, according to ESPN.

Here’s more on Friedberg from the team’s news release:

Friedberg is the founder and president of Friedberg Mercantile Group Ltd., a Toronto-based investment firm. He is the principal strategist of the firm and is the sole manager of two mutual funds that bear his name. In addition, he serves as chairman and president of the FCMI group of companies, his family holding entities, which are involved in a wide range of investments that include real estate, mining and forestry operations.

Orlando City Soccer Club, a finalist in Round 3 of OBJ’s 2018 Brand Madness competition, has become a staple in the region’s sports culture. The franchise, alongside its sibling teams, the National Women Soccer League’s Orlando Pride and United Soccer League’s Orlando City B, has proven that the market is still hungry for more sports.

Sports are big economic tools for a region as teams can help to draw new residents, encourage new development and overall economic growth.

Margaritaville Resort Orlando has paradise under construction


Paradise isn’t built in a day, but Margaritaville Resort Orlando is trying to get it done by this summer.

The $750 million, a 300-acre resort in Osceola County has under a 180-room Margaritaville hotel, 1,000 resort vacation cottages, 300 timeshare units and a 12-acre, multimillion-dollar water park. As such, the resort held a behind-the-scenes construction tour of the property with media on March 26 that showed the latest work.

Primarily, the resort’s 1,000-plus vacation cottages are well underway on construction with the first 25 units set to be ready by July. The next 25 units, which will be built in 25 increments, will begin construction immediately at the completion of the previous 25 cottages.

“We have 25 railed up and you will see those coming up shortly. The concept is that we have six different islands or villages of about 200 each. We are trying to have every home be unique with no duplicates,” Jim Bagley, managing director of project developer Encore Capital Management, told  Journal, noting that the resort will have at least 300 homes finished every year.

Also, underway is the new Margaritaville hotel, which has two wings of about 90 rooms apiece. The hotel’s drywall is being installed on the western wing of the hotel with plans for those rooms to be completed by December. The hotel’s east wing currently is installing exterior framing and is running about 30 days behind the west wing, but Bagley said both of the hotel’s wings should be done at the same time for the late holiday season.

Amenities at the hotel include s 5,000-square-foot kids’ club and fitness center, a 2,500-square-foot food and beverage outlet and a 10,000-square-foot, zero-entry beach lagoon that will open by July.

“Right now the building shells and ironworks are being built on those amenities. We are also in good shape for the first pools. We expect to have 5,000 renters here on the weekend and we need to have pools to accommodate that, so the amenities will be able to accommodate 1,000 people apiece,” Bagley added.

As for the 200,000-square-foot retail center, space is filling up as tenants keep singing on. Tenants include Studio Movie Grill, GameTime, a Rascal Flatts restaurant, a KISS Rock & Brews, Skechers, Bahama Bucks Original Shaved Ice Co., Avalon Day Spa, Café Rio, Cold Stone Creamery, Paradise Spirits & Wine and BurgerFi.

Margaritaville Resort Orlando is expected to radically transform Kissimmee’s iconic U.S. Highway 192 tourist corridor when it opens later this year. The resort will boost Central ‘s lodging and activities and should spur more capital investment here. Orlando’s $60 billion tourism industry — the region’s main economic engine — draws 68 million visitors annually.

Millennial homebuyers are not actively seeking


Good morning, Orlando!

Millennial homebuyers are not actively seeking to buy a house in Orlando, according to a new study by LendingTree.

In fact, out of the 100 cities ranked, Orlando came in at No. 80. See the data here.

Mortgage requests for buyers under 35 were analyzed between Feb. 1, 2017, and Feb. 1, 2018, then ranked alongside data about the average age of the buyer under 35, credit score, down payment and requested loan amount.

The study found cities in the Sun Belt like Las Vegas, Tuscon, Ariz., and five Florida cities as least popular, which could be because of their popularity instead with retirees, as well as high cost of living, according to LendingTree.

About one-third of mortgage requests through the company were from those 35 years old and younger.

And be sure to check out these other Monday headlines:

New project with shops, may be on tap for the area near SunRail station
A South Florida developer is eyeing 18 acres near the SunRail station in southwest Orlando for a possible mixed-use development. The project would include apartments, townhomes and a two-story office-and-retail building on Sand Lake Road and Orange Avenue. More here.

Images revealed of apartment buildings at Disney’s Flamingo Crossings
Rendering of the community center at Flamingo Crossings

Online mortgage lender expands into Florida, seeks to disrupt the industry
Lenda, an online mortgage company that claims it can close home loans 3.5 times faster than the industry average is expanding into Florida. Lenda uses a predictive algorithm, rather than going through human loan officers, to determine whether a borrower is creditworthy. More here.

N.C. food production biz considers adding 95 jobs in Melbourne
MG Foods Inc., a North Carolina-based food production, packaging, and distribution company, has applied for property tax breaks with Brevard County in order to expand its workforce by 95 jobs, Florida Today reports. More here.

How to get a piece of the work on the next phase of OIA’s new terminal
Orlando International Airport is looking for some help as it plans the next phase of its $2.15 billion expansion. The Orlando airport — the busiest airport in the state — is a huge driver of the area’s and the new south terminal will raise its capacity by 10 million passengers. More here.

Mortgage rates hold steady
Mortgage rates held steady this week, according to Freddie Mac. The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 4.45% for the week ending March 22, essentially unchanged from 4.44% the previous week. Favorable mortgage rates have helped propel U.S. home sales and the refinance market.

And higher gas prices are on the way
Expect higher gas prices this week, AAA says. The Florida average has risen 10 of the past 12 days, climbing a total of 6 cents. You can expect prices to climb at least another 10 cents in the coming weeks. Gas prices in Orlando currently average $2.48 a gallon.

What Does The 2018 Housing Market Look Like?

Oftentimes, it’s difficult to predict the . In the last decade alone, we’ve seen a market crash and slow rebound.

However, while some experts are focused on yet another housing bubble, real estate has been on the rise. In October, sales of new U.S. single-family homes hit their highest level in 10 years across the country.

What’s the market forecast for next year? Industry insiders and top experts have similar predictions.

As a future or current homeowner, it’s important to stay on top of the changes in real estate. Read on to learn what the 2018 housing market has in store.

Inventory Shortages

New home sales may be on the rise, but the number of available is on the decline.

Low home inventory has made home prices more expensive in recent years. This trend will continue in 2018, making it more difficult for first-time and budget-focused buyers to enter the market.

There are 12 percent fewer homes on the market than there were a year ago. If this trend continues, homebuyers will be faced with stiffer competition and higher prices. This will make the demand for home purchase loans even greater.

What’s contributing to this low inventory? There are several theories.

Rising housing costs have added emphasis to high-end construction. More expensive homes are being built, which is making it more difficult to find affordable homes.

Homeowners might also be less likely to sell their homes than they were pre-crash. Despite it being a seller’s market, they aren’t looking to enter the market. They’d rather stay locked into their current mortgage.

Whatever the reason, the inventory shortage is expected to continue. Low inventory and high prices will force new homebuyers to get creative if they want to find an affordable home.

Housing Market Opportunities

Certain demographics have seen an abundance of housing opportunities. They can expect these opportunities to be even greater in 2018.

One such demographic is sellers of mid-priced single-family homes. These are some of the most in-demand homes across the nation.

Developers and sellers can make big money on this valuable sector of the market. More millennials are seeking to buy starter homes while baby boomers are scaling back.

The housing shortage isn’t all bad for buyers. Experts are predicting that housing prices will slow down in the coming year.

Forecasts show that the average U.S. house price growth will be 4.9 percent in 2018, which is lower than the 6.6 percent growth seen in the second quarter of 2017.

Prices might be curbed thanks to mortgage rates. A moderate increase in mortgage rates should help decrease refinancing activities.

You can still expect higher growth in big markets such as Seattle and San Francisco. Yet good mortgage rates, limited refinancing, and market stability will still help buyers in 2018.

Your Next Move

Predictions show low-inventory, high-prices, and market stability in 2018.

You don’t have to wait until these predictions come to fruition. Contact us now to learn more about buying your dream home. We offer free loan advice with no cost or obligation.

Orlando voted the No. 1 spring break destination


Good morning, !

Orlando roadways and area attractions are going to get a whole lot busier next month because we have  been named the No. 1 spring break destination for 2018, AAA reports.

Three cities are among AAA’s 10 Most Popular Destinations for the month of March, based on air and tour bookings made with the travel agency. Besides Orlando, Fort Lauderdale came in at No. 2, while Miami is No. 8. Other popular destinations include Honolulu, Cancun, Maui and Montego Bay.

A recent Consumer Pulse survey of Floridians who are planning a vacation in 2018 revealed that:

  • 55% of Florida travelers will take a spring break vacation of three days or more.
  • 43% will travel with family.
  • 12% will travel with friends.
  • 80% of Florida millennials will take a spring break vacation of three days or more.
  • 61% of millennials will travel with family.
  • 19% will travel with their friends.