Bring Your Own Representation

The Central Florida real estate market has been on the road to recovery for the last 18 months or so now, and while the news does not always report upbeat information, I can assure you that sales here have picked up tremendously in that small amount of time.  The greatly reduced resale inventory has been a catalyst for builders to start new projects or release new phases of existing neighborhoods and developments.  With that being said, I wonder how many people out there realize that you need your own representation when purchasing and/or building new construction.

It has come to my attention that most buyers believe that they can just go to a sales center and purchase what they would like from the builder and have the salesperson do all of the paperwork for them.  Now while this is true, ask yourself whose best interests does that salesperson have in mind – the builder who signs their pay/bonus checks or you.  I think we both know the answer.  That is not to say that builder  salespeople are conniving or misleading, but they are not there to negotiate price for you or oversee the build process.  They are there to sell homes for the builder, so that the builder can make money and continue to real ease new phases.  It is so important when making a purchase of this magnitude that you have someone representing your best interests and making sure that your wants are met.

We have helped clients through numerous new construction projects.  We can assist you with selecting the best parcel, negotiate the price and added extras, work with your lender, and oversee the building process for you.  Currently we are assisting clients with Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort, Mabel Bridge in Orlando, and Summerlake in Winter Garden.  We can help you take your new home purchase from dream to reality.

Florida International Beer Festival

One of this weekend’s prime events is the 19th Annual Florida International Beer Festival. Located in downtown Orlando at Heritage Square Park, the festival will feature over 100 different brews from around the world paired with food from local eateries. The festival will also include lots of live entertainment and local bands. The event takes place tomorrow, May 19, from 4pm-8pm.

Advance general admission tickets can be purchased at Chico’s Dirty Tacos and Tequila, Harp & Celt Restaurant and Irish Pub, Petty’s Meats, Mellow Mushroom and Friendly Confines Sports Restaurant. Tickets at the gate are $35.

For more information, click here.

Water Ski Festival at Lake Eola

Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Buddy Dwyer and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan announced that Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando, Florida will host a water sport festival in September. The festival was timed to coincide with the Surf Expo taking place at Orange County Convention Center the same weekend.

Some big name water skiers, like Tom Asher and Breanne & Ryan Dodd, came out yesterday to show their enthusiasm for the event. They promised onlookers big jumps and exciting races. Lake Eola has been home to some water ski events in the past, but this will be the largest purse yet, $100,000. The 2 day event called “Soaked” will include wake boarding, waterskiing, exhibitions, music and a muscle-car show.

The festival will be September 7-8 and will feature both day and night time events. Organizers are predicting over 15,000 people will be in attendance. Tickets will be sold for $15 each and can be purchased at

www.soakedorlando.com

Local Farmers Markets

One of the best perks of living in Florida is constant access to fresh, locally grown produce. As a Celebration resident I usually walk to the downtown area on Sundays and enjoy the one we have here, but there are several other great ones in the area on different days if Sundays aren’t the most convenient.  Here are a few I have tried and loved.

Windermere, FL 
-Every Friday from 8am to 1pm in the town square. For a map and more information, click here.

Hunters Creek (SW Orlando), FL
-Every Saturday from 9am to 2pm at the Village at Hunters Creek. For more information and a map, click here.

Winter Park, FL
-Every Saturday from 7am to 1pm at the old train depot. For more information, click here.

Lake Eola (Downtown Orlando), FL
-Every Sunday from 10am to 4pm at Lake Eola Park. For more information and directions, click here.

Celebration, FL
-Every Sunday from 9am to 3pm. For more information, click here.

All of these are located in walking friendly areas and feature a great array of produce, plants, and crafts. Many also have fresh caught seafood, prepared foods, organic options, and wines. These markets are fun for adults and children alike and offer a wonderful opportunity to explore local foods and parks.  Enjoy!

New Montessori Pre-School Coming to Celebration

One of the best things about living in Celebration is the access to great schools. Well the town will be welcoming another Pre-School in August 2012 with the opening of Learning Trails. Learning Trails is a Montessori Pre-School that believes the first school years set the foundation for the remainder of a child’s academic career, so they focus exclusively on pre-school age children.

They will be teaching mathematics, language arts, humanities and art, as well as life skills like courteous behavior and problem-solving. For parents, they will be offering flexible schedules and affordable rates.

You can find out more by contacting them at 407-566-9170 or info@trailspreschool.com.  For more information on Celebration schools: click here.

Pending Home Sales Continue To Rise

Often times we see newspaper and internet articles that center around the housing market and its strength. Some of this data is easy to interpret as a consumer and some of it is not. Since I spend pretty much all off time looking at these types of numbers and analyzing the data avilable, I can see the market and the economic recovery as more of a marathon and not a sprint. As consumers and homeowners, it is very easy to see one report and put all of our faith in it, but there are many factors to assess when gauging the overall strength of the real estate market.

One major indicator used to assess the overall health and well-being of the real estate market is the Pending Home Sales Index. The NAR (National Association of Realtors) explains the Pending Home Sales Index as follows: “The index measures housing contract activity. It is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. A signed contract is not counted as a sale until the transaction closes. Modeling for the PHSI looks at the monthly relationship between existing-home sale contracts and transaction closings over the last four years.”

That’s all fine and well, but what does it mean? Well the NAR distributed a press release on December 29, 2011 that stated the PHSI had risen for the second consecutive month. So let’s put that into perspective. This is the highest level that it has been at in 19 months (when people were trying to close before the new home buyer stimulus ran out)!  That means that the market is making a rebound without any government stimulus or outside intervention, just good old supply & demand and low interest rates. Buyers & investors are getting off the sidelines and entering market as the perfect storm of affordability and low interest rates has hit.

The news often paints a picture of gloom and doom, but it important to note that information needs be gathered and evaluated over a large period of time before we can truly know how it will effect us. I have seen the real estate market here in Celebration, FL stabilize and become competitive again over the course of the last 18 months, but I can not use the conditions here to paint a broad picture. That’s why I stay on top of the national numbers, and it is great to see that the trend we are experiencing here is making its way through all of Central Florida and on to the rest of the country as well.

As the saying goes, “There is no time like the present.”

Great Food & Good Times at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe

Living in the greater Orlando area, I have such a wealth of possibilities when it comes to dining out. Like most large cities, we have every kind of cuisine imaginable available to us. So how do you know which places are good? Well recommendations from friends always help!

Some good friends of ours turned us on to Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe in Sanford, FL. Now it’s a bit of a trek from where we are in Celebration, FL (about a 50 minute drive), but well worth the time it takes to get there. Hollerbach’s is an authentic German restaurant set in the historic district of Sanford. You can hear the restaurant from down the street. Yes, I said hear. Not only do you get amazing German fare in a very welcoming setting, but you also get entertainment. Every evening, Thursday through Sunday, the dynamic duo of Jimmy and Eckhard entertain guests with lively music, singing, and folk instruments.

This family-owned and operated restaurant features a large menu that includes both traditional German favorites and family recipes alike, and as with any noteworthy German restaurant, it has an extensive beer and wine list with over 50 different options to chose from.

So if you are looking for a place to relax with family and friends, this is a great place to try. The Schnitzel is out of this world!

Prost!

Celebration, FL Holiday Events December 3 & 4, 2011

Winterwonderland in Celebration FLIt’s that time of year again, and the Orlando area always has some of the best holiday events. I will be adding some every week, so make sure you check back to see all of the latest ones for the upcoming weekend. Here are some to check out this weekend.

The 14th Annual Holiday Home Tour – December 3 & 4 1-4pm (Celebration, FL)
-This Celebration holiday event is a charity event that is put on every year by the Women’s Club of Celebration. As a member of the Celebration Women’s Club myself, this is one of my favorite holiday events and start of the holiday festivities for me. Patrons gets to participate in a walking tour through the decorated Celebration streets and enter 4 fabulously decorated homes. Proceeds from the tour benefit local charities including the Special Olympics and the Osceola County Help Now (a battered women’s and children shelter). Tickets can be purchased on the days of the tour in front of Town Hall in downtown Celebration, and they cost $15 per person.

A Celebration of Voices Presented by the Orlando Sentinel – December 3 5-10pm (Celebration, FL)
-The 2nd Annual Celebration of Voices will feature local elementary school choir groups who have prepared a variety of musical holiday performances. Activities include ice skating, sleigh rides, train rides, pictures with Santa, and hourly snow fall! School performances will be every hour on the main stage and we will top off the night with an amazing concert from up & coming artists like Michael & Marisa, Matt Johnson, Sam & Nate & Jordyn Kane.

Now Snowing Nightly 2011 – Every night from November 26 to December
-Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers an all new ice rink and a schedule filled with surprises. Now Snowing is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM. The ice rink will be open nightly from 4-10pm.

With so many fun things to do, Celebration, FL is the place to be this weekend.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

I love this time of year in Florida. The weather is excellent, and there are so many awesome events and festivals. One of my favorites is Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, which is well underway at Walt Disney World here in Orlando, Florida. The dates for this year’s festival is September 30 to November 13th.

For those of you who have not been to this event before, you do not need a separate ticket for it. It is part of you admission to Epcot for the day. The festival consists of multiple chef demonstrations, music performances, wine and beverage seminars, and tapas and beverage pairings from around the world. It is great way to sample food and drinks from around the world while enjoying live music performances and the festive atmosphere of Walt Disney World.

For more information, please follow the link below to the Festival Welcome Center:

Epcot Food & Wine Festival    

Experience the brilliant tastes and smells at the International Epcot Food & Wine Festival

 

Dog Parks in Orlando, FL

Orlando has plenty of dog parks for you and your best friend.Often times when people begin their property search, they start by researching different neighborhoods and their amenities. They usually have a pretty good idea of the general area they want to consider based on its proximity to their places of business or school. Once that general area is drilled down, they start looking at the individual neighborhoods and prices.

Most people take into account the area schools, proximity to major roads, and the availability of shopping and restaurants. I have noticed lately though that many people have been asking me about amenities for the four-legged members of their families, more specifically, dog parks.

When you live in an area that has sunshine over 300 days out of the year, people want to know about outdoor activities. In Orlando their are several dog parks where you and your dogs can enjoy some great exercise and social time with other members of the neighborhood/community. As an owner of 3 very active dogs (Yes, I said 3), I have listed some of our favorites below.

Baldwin Park
This off-leash park is located between downtown Orlando and Winter Park. It features a lake that the dogs can swim in, showers to clean them off afterwards, and a mini-trail area.

Dr Phillips Dog Park
Another great off-leash dog park located in the Dr Phillips area of Orlando not far from Universal Studios. This park is fenced in and has separate areas for small and large dogs, canine water fountains, and lots of shady areas.

Meadow Woods Dog Park
This fenced-in, off-leash dog park is located only a few miles from the Orlando International Airport off of the SR 417. It features walking trails, separate areas for large and small dogs, and water fountains. There is even a “kiddie” pool for the dogs to play in.

Avalon Dog Park
This fenced-in dog park is located in Avalon Park in northeast Orlando. The park itself is fairly basic with a large fenced-in area for the dogs to run and water fountains, but it is well-attended by locals and is a great place for your dogs to engage others.

All of these dog parks are located in easily accessible areas that also have lots of human amenities such as great restaurants, shopping, and close proximity to major roads. They are a great way to make a day of spending time with your pet and family at the same time, and with so many in the Orlando area, you are bound to be close to one of them. Now that the weather is cooling down, this is a great time of year to try them out!