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Vacationers, seniors boost Orlando new-home construction

Orlando – Vacationers and seniors are largely behind a bump in Central Florida’s new-home construction, while a margarita-themed retirement community might compete with The Villages.

Four Osceola communities known for vacation rentals — Tapestry, ChampionsGate, Storey Lake and Reunion Resort and Club — were among Central Florida’s most active for construction during the third quarter, according to a new report by real estate analyst MetroStudy.

“Generally speaking, the vacation-rental market is getting back to where it was at the turn of the century with 1,000 to 1,500 closings a year,” said Anthony Crocco, director of North and Central Florida markets for MetroStudy.

Buyers from Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere began trickling back into Central Florida about five years ago, and the region could be poised to see an increase in that activity during the next year, he added.

The Villages still dominated all residential construction in Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties with 785 housing starts during the most recent quarter, according to a third quarter report by MetroStudy. The retirement mecca could soon face competition just outside the region: Latitude Margaritaville, which opened its Daytona Beach sales center Nov. 13. Crocco said the project could ignite Palm Coast and Ormond Beach with developers positioning related projects.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor said he has watched Census numbers showing an uptick of seniors moving to the state. How the new product balances with the influx remains to be seen, he added.

“The great senior migration we expected in Florida from the Baby Boomers got derailed by the housing bust, but now it appears to be coming back,” O’Connor said.

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