Grants help Renters become Buyers

June 22, 2019

As Orlando-area rents continue to climb, Bank of America launches five-year, $5 billion affordable home ownership initiative.

This major bank is offering a pair of home-buyer grants that could help low and moderate income residents make the leap to ownership.

The effort provides eligible home buyers a down payment grant of up to $10,000 and a separate lender credit of up to $7,500 that can cover one-time fees or be used to buy down the loan’s interest rate.

Neither grant has to be repaid.

Caroline Isern, Southeast sales performance manager for Bank of America, said the bank’s community surveys showed covering up-front costs is consistently the biggest hurdle for would-be home-buyers, especially those paying high rents.

“They don’t have a chance to set aside enough to build toward that down payment”, she said. “This is about closing that wealth gap, and home ownership is one of the most powerful ways to do so.”

The Orlando metro area was chosen for the program’s roll-out, because of its large housing affordability gap, economic diversity and the number of potential first-time home buyers. The program, however is not limited to first-time buyers.

At the national Center for Responsible Lending, a nonpartisan research and consumer advocacy organization, there was cautionary praise for the plan. “Overall, we’re really glad to see a major bank is devoting resources to down-payment assistance”

For more information on the Bank of America programs, go to

For information and advice on home buying, see

Fla. tax holiday on hurricane supplies begins Friday

May 30, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 29, 2019 – A little nudging for storm prep shouldn’t be necessary after Matthew battered Florida’s east coast in 2016, Irma essentially drenched the entire state in 2017, and Michael ground up a chunk of the Panhandle last year.

Still, Floridians will have seven days to build a hurricane-season stockpile – including batteries, flashlights and radios – free of sales taxes, beginning Friday.

“You’ll have the opportunity to get pretty much whatever you need. It is very important to do so,” says James Miller, the Florida Retail Federation’s external affairs director. “Make sure you have your disaster preparedness and emergency kits ready to go, because we ultimately will have a storm at some point.”

“During that time, obviously all of the stores will be stocked in preparation for the holiday and in preparation hopefully for no upcoming storms,” Miller said.

The discounted supplies are just part of what Floridians need to be prepared for any disaster, says Mark Wool, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

“You need to be able to be self-sufficient, without the aid of anyone else, including EMS (emergency medical services), for three to five days,” Wool said. “We need a gallon of water per person and pet per day, non-perishable foods, flashlights, battery-powered radios, batteries for your flashlight, prescriptions, and make sure your gas tank is full.”

Jim Zingale, executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue, encouraged all Floridians to exploit the “holiday.”

“While living in and visiting Florida offers many benefits and advantages, it is important to keep the potential for severe weather hazards and threats in mind,” Zingale says.

Items eligible for the May 31-June 6 tax break

  • Reusable ice that costs $10 or less
  • Self-powered light sources, $20 or less
  • Gas or diesel fuel tanks, $25 or less
  • Nonelectric food storage coolers, $30 or less
  • Packs of AA-cell, AAA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt or 9-volt batteries, $30 or less
  • Self-powered radios, two-way radios or weather-band radios, $50 or less
  • Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting, $50 or less
  • Tie-down kits, $50 or less
  • Portable generators, $750 or less

The rental or repair of items doesn’t qualify for the exemption, and items sold at airports and theme parks aren’t included in the deal.

Source: News Service of Florida, Tom Urban, Jim Turner

Mortgage rates won’t go as high as expected

May 24, 2019

WASHINGTON – May 23, 2019 – This year’s borrowing costs will likely be lower than originally predicted, according to an updated forecast from Freddie Mac.

The GSE recently downgraded its forecast for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, projecting it will average 4.3% in 2019 – below last year’s average of 4.5%.

In addition, Freddie Mac economists predict only a small average rate increase in 2020, with 30-year fixed rates averaging 4.5% next year.

“The combined positive impact of low mortgage rates, a strong labor market, low unemployment and modest wage growth supports our forecast for a steadily growing housing market in 2019,” Freddie Mac says in its May 2019 Forecast report.


It’s Just Another Day in Celebration~Ville!

May 22, 2019

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Tavistock plans private Lake Nona Academy near USTA National Campus

April 27, 2019

Lake Nona’s developer is laying the foundation for a proposed private college-preparatory academy for more than 1,500 children in southeast Orlando.

Tavistock Group, the conglomerate behind the fast-growing 17-square-mile neighborhood, wants to build the Lake Nona Academy just south of the USTA National Campus, according to a document describing an open job position to lead the school.

Lake Nona already has 15,000 residents, 12,000 employees and 14,000 students at its schools. However, a “strong educational ecosystem” has long been a top development priority for Lake Nona.

Tavistock wants to open the Lake Nona Academy by fall 2022, but didn’t reveal when construction may begin. The academy’s mission would be to prepare students for college, with an “academically rigorous” curriculum focused on areas such as foreign language, global awareness, athletics and the arts.

Lake Nona’s higher-education institutions also are expanding. Valencia College wants to build a $42.6 million second academic building for the Lake Nona campus, while the University of Central Florida is underway on its $175 million, 204,079 square foot UCF Lake Nona Medical Center.

New Hotel coming to Celebration

April 25, 2019

Mississippi hotelier making Florida entry with new extended stay asset in Celebration…
Heritage Hospitality Group bringing Homeward Suites to Celebration…

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It’s official: AARP designates Fla. an Age-Friendly State

April 25, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 24, 2019 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) CEO Jo Ann Jenkins to announce that Florida has been designated an Age-Friendly State, making Florida the fourth state in the nation to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.

“As our state continues to grow, we must ensure that we do all that we can to meet the needs of our residents. I am proud that Florida is leading by becoming the largest state to commit to this important effort,” DeSantis said.

Florida’s designation as an Age-Friendly State demonstrates a commitment to building livable communities that enrich the lives of people of all ages. Member states develop and implement plans that address any or all of the eight Age-Friendly domains: Transportation, housing, public spaces, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, social participation, community and health services, and communication and information.

“This designation opens the way for important partnerships in many parts of state, city and county government, and in the private sector, to make Florida an even better place to live for people of every age,” said AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson. “For the more than 8 million Floridians age 50-plus and the 2.8 million AARP members statewide, this is a big step forward.”

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