State of Orange County real estate: Booming by all accounts, but panelists urge caution

Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh delivers an address about Orange County real estate Thursday night at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive.

While Orange County is experiencing strong growth, the area is also vulnerable to forces that could hamper its development.

That was the message at the 2015 State of Orange County Real Estate presentation by county appraiser Rick Singh and a panel discussion that followed.


Last year, the area saw $2.5 billion of new construction, $1 billion more than the prior year, equating to $6.8 million a day.

And residential building is outpacing commercial by a 60 to 40 ratio.


Hot spots for residential growth were Apopka, Winter Garden, Horizon West, downtown Orlando and Lake Nona, Singh said.

He said an apartment boom is going on, with 3,800 units built in 2014, equaling $500 million worth of construction.

Home prices are climbing as well, with the median home sales price up 10 percent to $252,000. And jobs are being added at a rapid clip.

But some of the boom equates to a bust for residents and those who want to live here.

For instance, panelists acknowledged that rising home prices and lower-than-average wages could be pricing buyers out of the market. After all, one third of area jobs are tied to the leisure and hospitality industries, which don't tend to pay premium wages.

"If there is a soft is the affordability issue," said Rick Weddle, CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission. "We have to work to get our incomes up."

There was also talk of Orlando perhaps overheating, which was met with general doubt, but cautious words. "Everyone needs to remember what we went through," said David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts.