Brent's Blog / / Theme Park News, Orlando News, Real Estate News

and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing Return to Gaylord Palms Resort

Twas 32 nights before Christmas, when all through the Gaylords Palms?
Creatures were stirring - kids, grandparents, dads, and moms…

It’s that time of year again! The Christmas season has arrived at Gaylord Palms Resort and that means a new walk-through ICE! adventure awaits. I had a chance to preview things this evening.

This year’s holiday ICE! display features Clement C. Moore’s ’Twas The Night Before Christmas. Don your favorite kerchief or cap, put on one of the event’s trademark blue parkas, and brave the 9 degree cold of ICE! You’ll marvel as the beloved poem comes to life through six rooms of colorful hand-carved ice sculptures. Inside you’ll also find the On the Blocks ICE! Bar, four ice slides, a live carving zone, and stunning, crystal clear ice Nativity.

Visit the Alpine Village which includes souvenir opportunities, Build-A-Bear Workshop, photos with Santa, gingerbread decorating, and the return of Alpine Rush Snow Tubing. The eight-lane tubing hill will turn cosmic on select evenings from 6pm to close featuring special lighting and holiday music. 36” or taller to ride with an adult on a double tube. 42” or taller to ride by yourself on a single tube.

Orlando Debut of Cirque Dreams

And be sure to catch Cirque Dreams UnWrapped. This FREE stage show will be performing twice daily on the Emerald Bay Plaza Stage at the base of the hotel’s 54 foot tall Majestic Christmas Tree (6:15 pm tree lighting) in the St. Augustine Atrium. Enjoy superb artistry and imagination with an exclusive Christmas show from the creative mind of Neil Goldberg who brings his renowned Cirque Dreams brand to Orlando for the very first time.

Purchase tickets and check out the full events and activities here.

Tips: 1. Don’t leave without exploring the hotel’s massive Atrium. Make it fun by playing The Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt 2. Get your parking validated by dining at Wreckers Sports Bar (Pub featuring a two-story sports screen), Villa de Flora (Buffet), SORA (Japanese), Sand Bar (Poolside drinks and dining), Old Hickory Steakhouse (Steakhouse), or the resort’s newest restaurant MOOR (Seafood).

View my Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2015 Album on Facebook.

Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 23rd, 2015 10:47 PM

Research shows that homes sold directly by owner make less money overall.

Use a REALTOR. Contact me today if you'd like assistance listing your Disney area home for sale.


Selling Your Home Solo to Save Money? You’ll Actually Make Less Than You Think

Some homeowners opt to sell their residence without a real estate agent to get around paying a commission and make more of the profit. Forty-eight percent of people who sell without a real estate agent think that if they sell themselves, they’ll end up doing a little extra work in exchange for not paying a commission or closing fee. According to the research, however, what they actually get is a lot of time spent hustling to make the sale and a final selling price that is less than what the market can bear.

Do you have a lot of extra time to market your home and do all the work to meet and greet properly? Are you versed in local trends on the housing market and know the latest regulations for closing a sale? Do you have a list of potential buyers ready to view your home? Eighty-nine percent of all homes sold in 2015 were sold with the assistance of an experienced real estate professional, according to the 2015 Home Buyers and Sellers Profile. Most leave it to the professionals, yet there is still a small group of people who prefer to do it themselves. Eight percent of home sellers chose to list themselves, known as For-Sale-By-Owners (FSBO) home sales. That number has steadily declined since 2004 where only 82 percent of all home sales were agent-assisted and 14 percent of homes were listed FSBO. FSBO sales are currently at an all-time low since data collection began in 1981.

Let’s break it down further. Thirty-eight percent of all FSBOs—that’s only three percent of the total home sales in 2015—were homes sold to people where the buyer knew the seller selling to a friend, neighbor, or family member. However, 62 percent of FSBO home sales—five percent of total homes sold—were sold by the owner to someone they didn’t know. According to the 2015 Home Buyers and Sellers Profile report, sellers cited creating yard sings, listing their homes online on multiple websites, spreading the news through word of mouth, putting out classified ads, displaying on social media, hosting an open house, and registering with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. That’s a lot of work just on marketing and finding potential buyers.

The time it takes to sell a home on the market was roughly the same for FSBOs and for agent-assisted homes, the median time listed was four weeks for both groups. A third of all homes were sold in less than two weeks last year. Most FSBO homes sales were located in a resort area (16 percent), rural area (15 percent), or a small town (13 percent). Seventy-five percent of FSBO sales were detached single-family homes. Ten percent were mobile or manufactured homes. FSBOs typically had lower incomes than those who worked with an agent. The median income of FSBOs was $84,000 and for those who sold through an agent was $105,600. Those who sell themselves have the perception that they have less money to pay for assistance when selling their home and opt to go it alone.

As it turns out, FSBO make less money on their home sales than buyers who work with a real estate agent. According to the report, the median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number plunges to the median selling price of $151,900. For homes sold with the assistance of an agent, the median selling price was $249,000 ? almost $40,000 more for the typical home sale. According to NAR’s 2015 Member Profile, sixty-nine percent of all real estate agents get paid by a percentage commission split between two agents representing the buyer and seller.

Talk to an agent and find out what they suggest for the commission and then do the math yourself. The closing price for the agent-assisted seller is likely going to be way above an FSBO. In reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall. Based on these closing numbers, why not save yourself time and make more money by working with a real estate agent that is excited to sell your home?

Posted in Economist Commentaries, by Amanda Riggs on November 9, 2015 /

Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 19th, 2015 7:36 AM
Temporary guidelines will increase number of condominium projects eligible for FHA approval

WASHINGTON (November 13, 2015) – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) today published new guidelines under its condominium approval process intended to increase affordable housing options for first-time and low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Effective immediately, FHA’s temporary guidance will streamline the agency’s condominium recertification process and expand the eligibility of acceptable ‘owner-occupied’ units to include second homes that are not investor-owned. Read FHA’s mortgagee letter.

These provisions will expire in one year and serve to revise FHA’s condominium approval process until the agency can implement a more comprehensive condominium rule change. Today’s guidance:

  1. Modifies the requirements for condominium project recertification;
  2. Revises the calculation of FHA’s required owner-occupancy percentage; and
  3. Expands eligible condominium project insurance coverages.
Streamline Condominium Recertification

FHA-approved condominium projects require recertification after two years to ensure that the project is still in compliance with FHA’s eligibility requirements and that no conditions currently exist which would present an unacceptable risk to FHA. For existing condominium projects seeking recertification, FHA will now only require applicants to submit documents reflecting any substantive changes since the project’s prior approval.

Calculation of Owner-Occupancy

The procedure for calculating the required owner-occupancy percentage (50 percent) is modified to allow units that are not investor-owned to be considered owner-occupied for the purpose of Condominium Project approval. A condominium is considered to be owner-occupied provided they are not:

  • Tenant Occupied;
  • Vacant and listed for rent;
  • Existing (previously occupied), vacant and listed for sale; or
  • Under contract to a purchaser who does not intend to occupy the unit as a Principal Residence or Secondary Residence. The term Principal Residence and Secondary Residence have the same meaning.

Expansion of Eligible Condominium Project Insurance Coverage

Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) are required to maintain adequate “master” or “blanket” property insurance in an amount equal to 100% of current replacement cost of the condominium (exclusive of land, foundation, excavation and other items normally excluded from coverage). Insurance coverage for condominium project approval that consists of pooled policies for affiliated projects, state-run plans, or contains coinsurance obligations on the part of the policy holder is now permitted to satisfy this requirement.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 13th, 2015 10:30 AM
Breaking News announced last night at the Realtors Conference.

BREAKING: HUD Announces Change to FHA Condo Policies at Realtors® Conference

SAN DIEGO (November 12, 2015) – This evening, Federal Housing Administration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ed Golding joined National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron on stage before a packed ballroom of Realtors® and industry experts to announce changes to FHA condominium policies.

NAR has long advocated for broad improvements to FHA’s condo rules, arguing that existing policy is overly restrictive and keeps many consumers from buying and selling a home.

To address these concerns, Golding announced at the conference’s kick-off event that FHA will make changes to its condo policies in line with those requested by NAR. Those include changes to the lengthy and complex recertification process in place today, burdensome owner-occupancy requirements, and limits on the types of property insurance that are considered acceptable coverage under FHA’s rules.

NAR has worked closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to push for changes to FHA condo policy, and NAR President Chris Polychron recently testified before Capitol Hill to bring attention to potential changes, including those related to recertification and owner-occupancy requirements. Golding told Realtors® at the event that changes related to insurance and recertification would take place immediately as part of a Mortgagee Letter to be released on Friday, Nov. 13. He added that policy changes related to owner occupancy, commercial space percentage, FHA concentration and spot approvals would be addressed in a formal rulemaking in the near future.

Polychron issued the following statement about FHA’s announcement:

“Realtors® and consumers got a welcome piece of news today with HUD’s commitment to fix FHA’s condo policies and broaden opportunities for families to find a home.

“Condos are often the most affordable option for homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, and making sure FHA financing is an option is important to supporting homeownership.

“This is a win and a tremendous step in the right direction. NAR applauds HUD Secretary Julian Castro and FHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Edward Golding for taking action to improve access to credit for condos. We look forward to working with them again in the future to help more Americans achieve the dream of homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 13th, 2015 10:18 AM
Florida Realtors News and Events

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 12, 2015 – Florida's housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, a tighter inventory and fewer days on the market during the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 74,141 in 3Q 2015, up 14.7 percent over the 3Q 2014 figure.

"Over the past three months, distressed property sales continued to decline in Florida, a sign of the state's strong housing market," said 2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton. "Realtors across the state are reporting increased demand from buyers, while sellers are receiving more of their original asking price: 94.4 percent for single-family existing homes in the third quarter and 93.2 percent for townhouses and condos."

"And, it also took less time to make the sale in 3Q 2015 compared to a year ago – a median of 46 days for single-family homes and 53 days for townhouse-condos."

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 3Q 2015 was $199,900 up 9.8 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties during the quarter was $150,000, up 7.9 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 28,860 during 3Q 2015, up 8.9 percent compared to 3Q 2014. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties declined 41.8 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 34.4 percent. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

"It's been a solid quarter for residential real estate in Florida, which is now exceeding the nation in sales and price growth," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. "Even the condominium market, which had trailed single-family homes, is moving in a positive direction. We are seeing a sellers' market developing, but with prices and interest rates rising, the market should become more balanced in 2016."

Inventory was at a 4.4-months' supply in the third quarter for single-family homes and at a 5.2-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95 percent for 3Q 2015, down from the 4.14 percent average recorded during the same quarter a year earlier.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 12th, 2015 3:50 PM
Orlando among top investment markets for single-family rentals

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan statistical area is the second-best investment market in the U.S. for single-family rentals, according to a new report from HomeUnion, a California-based online real estate investment management firm.

Read the article in the Orlando Business Journal.

Contact me at 407.506.7857 for single-family homes in the Orlando/Disney attractions area. Our Management Company was recently awarded Property Manager of the Year by the Central Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association. Short and long term rental solutions available.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on November 11th, 2015 7:50 AM
The Orlando Sentinel has revealed new details regarding the Orlando Margaritaville Resort, MargaritaVillage.

REGISTER NOW at to stay informed regarding vacation rental home buying opportunities.

MargaritaVillage plans wedding pavilion, water taxis

Couples looking to tie the knot in a setting straight out of a Jimmy Buffett song will be able to do so at the proposed MargaritaVillage, the project's developers said Thursday.

MargaritaVillage, a lifestyle resort based on the tropical vibes crooned about in Buffett's hit songs, is shaping up to be much more than a hotel and a place to shop, including a planned wedding pavilion.

"There's just so many opportunities to have this tailgate atmosphere," said Jim Bagley, of Encore Capital Management, the project's developers.

The development, first announced in August, will include a 60-acre manmade lake, a water taxi system and a 3- to 4-acre swimmable lagoon with a swim-up bar and water activities, developers told the Orlando Sentinel in an exclusive interview.

Other features include a lazy river, outdoor stages for concerts and a wellness center.

The wedding pavilion, which would be built near the 175-room Margaritaville themed hotel, was not originally planned for the resort, a 300-acre site on U.S. Highway 192 in western Osceola County near Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The site was previously the location of the Splendid China attraction, which closed in 2003.

The pavilion was added after fans of the project asked for it.

"We're already getting tremendous demand for destination weddings," Bagley said. "This is a destination for a fairy tale wedding over the water."

Instead of building a tall, vertical hotel, Bagley said Encore plans to do a low and long structure.

Guests staying on the first floor will be able to walk out of their rooms and straight into the lagoon, which will include snorkeling, paddle-boarding and children's play areas, said Bagley.

"We think it's going to draw massive amounts of people," he said of the lagoon, the central activity center of the resort.

Encore is no stranger to Central Florida, with roots in the growing construcion of large vacation-rental homes in Osceola County, and, specifically, Kissimmee. A bulk of the company's products are at Encore Resort Homes in Reunion, which typically run at 85 percent occupancy rate.

In addition to the hotel, about 500 vacation-rental homes are planned to be built on-site. The homes start in the mid-$300,000 range and reach up to $2 million.

The construction of more vacation-rental homes fits Osceola County's growing stronghold on that market. Experience Kissimmee, the county's destination marketing organization, is in the process of trademarking the "Vacation Home Capital of the World" moniker.

MargaritaVillage plans also call for the construction of about 300 timeshare units and condominiums, 170,0000 square feet of retail space and a 12-acre water park that's open to the public.

Vertical construction of the hotel, water park and retail outlets should begin by the middle of 2016, said Bagley. The resort will open in phases beginning in 2017. It should be fully built in 2021.

The whole project would add $750 million in taxable value to the county, Bagley said.

Like other resorts in Central Florida, the hotel space, including surrounding amenities, are considered private for vacationers and their guests.

"This is a lifestyle place," said Bagley. "It fits very well with the Margaritaville aura and theme."
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on October 30th, 2015 4:44 PM
The Soccer Capital of the South has a new team.

Orlando City SC today announced the Orlando Pride, a new National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team starting in 2016.

Like the Lions, The Pride will play at the Citrus Bowl until the Downtown Soccer Specific Stadium is complete.

Former Australian and US National Team Coach, Tom Sermanni, was named Head Coach.

Read the full announcement.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on October 20th, 2015 12:53 PM
As published in the Orlando Business Journal

Orlando among top real estate markets for investment opportunities

Orlando is the best real estate market in the U.S. right now for investment opportunities, according to a new report from HomeVestors of America Inc. and Local Market Monitor.

"Top markets" mean strong rental markets where home prices are likely to increase steadily over the next few years, resulting in better returns, since home bargains will be harder and harder to find.

Criteria for evaluating the markets include growing population at above-average rates (4 percent or better) with growth coming from people moving there in search of jobs; a current rate of job growth of 2 percent or better; and low unemployment, so that new jobs will be filled by people who move there, not by unemployed people who are already there.

“The boom in snapping up foreclosed properties is pretty much over,” said Ingo Winzer, president and founder of Local Market Monitor. “Our Top 10 list consists of growing markets where higher home prices already signal more demand than supply, and where renters are at least a third of the local population."

The third-quarter 2015 Best Markets Top 10 includes:

1. Orlando
2. Dallas
3. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
4. Seattle
5. Austin, Texas
6. Fort Lauderdale
7. Charlotte, N.C.
8. Atlanta
9. San Diego
10. San Antonio
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on October 9th, 2015 5:35 PM
One of the best things you can do when visiting the Orlando area is rent a car. It offers great convenience. But, it also means you have to consider parking.

You might have heard that Disney raised parking fees and adjusted Annual Pass options this weekend. *Edit* Universal follows and also raises parking fees later in the week.

So, how much does it cost to park at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, etc.?

Here’s a break down of parking fees at the Orlando area theme parks.

-Magic Kingdom
-Hollywood Studios
-Animal Kingdom

Each of the 4 Disney theme parks have their own parking lot. Guests pay one fee per day good for all Disney theme park parking lots that day.

-Universal Studios Florida
-Universal's Islands of Adventure
-Universal CityWalk

Parking for all 3 Universal Orlando Resort venues is shared and located in 1 of 2 giant parking garages. The fee is reduced to $5 after 6pm, FREE after 10pm, Florida Residents FREE after 6pm. Different night rates may apply for special events such as Halloween Horror Night evenings.

-SeaWorld Orlando
-Busch Gardens Tampa

Tip: LEGOLAND Florida parking is $15 if pre-booked online. A shuttle is also available from I-Drive 360, Home of the Orlando Eye. The price is $5 per person plus tax. The parking garage at I-Drive 360 is FREE.

-Wet ‘n Wild
-Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark

-Kennedy Space Center

-Discovery Cove

Tip: Discovery Cove includes admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica with an option for Busch Gardens. Parking is not included at these sister parks. However, a special parking package can be added to your Discovery Cove reservation by contacting Discovery Cove Guest Relations. Complimentary bus transportation is also available for Busch Gardens.

-Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
-Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
-Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)

-If you leave and come back in the same day you do not have to pay again. Save your receipt.
-If you move between Universal and SeaWorld parks AND you have a Flex Ticket you pay only once per day.
-Preferred Parking and or Valet Parking is available at some parks for an additional fee.
-When purchasing tickets, consider Annual Pass options which include FREE parking.
-Universal Orlando Resort Hotels-Self Parking is $20 per night plus tax if staying at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Royal Pacific Resort ($22 for Day Guests/Hotel Visitors). Valet Parking available for additional charge. FREE park transportation for guests provided - walk, boat ride, or bus to CityWalk/the parks. Self Parking at Cabana Bay is $12 per night plus tax ($20 for Day Guests/Hotel Visitors). Bus or walk to the parks (no water taxi) for FREE.
-Walt Disney World Resort Hotels-Disney Resort hotel Guests get FREE transportation and luggage delivery (Disney’s Magical Express) from Orlando International Airport/MCO to the Walt Disney World Resort as well as FREE park transportation - walking, bus, boat, or monorail as applicable. Both hotel Self Parking and Theme Park Parking (if Guest chooses to drive) are FREE if staying at a Disney Resort hotel. Anyone may visit/have a meal at any of the Disney Resort hotels. Parking for Non-Guests/Visitors is FREE, but limited to 3 hours for meals, shopping, or a look around. You may not leave your car and access a theme park. You may not use the pools. Driver must show photo ID at the security gate. At certain peak times, Disney Resort hotel parking may require a dining confirmation # or be limited to Disney Resort hotel Guests only.
Posted in:General
Posted by Brent Ferry on October 5th, 2015 10:19 AM


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