Orlando-area home sales heat up

The hot spot driving the greatest share of home sales in the core Orlando market sits atop former citrus groves nestled between historic Winter Garden and Disney theme parks, new data shows.

Winter Garden, with its century-old downtown buildings and bike trail, had 40% more sales last year than any other ZIP code within an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties, according to data from Orlando Regional Realtor Association. The trend has been fueled with new Horizon West communities such as Hamlin and Independence, brokers say.

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Other top-selling pockets include Oviedo in east Seminole County, Waterford Lakes in east Orange and Windermere in southwest Orange County, according to an analysis of last year’s Orlando-area home sales by ZIP code. Each of those three areas had more than 1,000 sales by association members last year. The allure may be a combination of affordability and avoidance of Interstate 4 construction, said Lou Nimkoff, president of the real estate association. Oviedo, near the University of Central Florida, has benefited from a rebirth of its downtown hub, he added.

"I think that Winter Garden and Oviedo are both a little bit more in the fringe, and we’re seeing prices in the core area skyrocket and people are starting to look at some of those outlying areas," said Nimkoff, principal at the real estate investment group Brio Companies. "And a lot of exciting things are going on in Winter Garden. They just continue to grow. A lot revolves around transportation and being able to get where you need to go easily."

The Orlando area’s heavyweight of residential sales — with more than 1,800 last year — is the Winter Garden area extending from Lake Apopka south toward Osceola County. The sandy, rolling terrain is quickly being redefined with new houses, apartments, dozens of eateries, a luxury cinema and big-box retailers designed to look historic.

"I work with a lot of out-of-town buyers," said longtime Winter Garden real estate broker Mark Hide, of Clock Tower Realty. "For me during the last four or five years, two thirds of my business has been new home sales. And over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of buyers interested in the development of Hamlin."

Many buyers, he said, are seeking homes near tourism-related businesses and services.

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