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Upgrading your home? Get the Most For Your Money.

With the housing market heating up, many homeowners are looking to remodel or upgrade to get a higher return on their investment.  But the reality is a homeowner will not really get their dollar for dollar return on any given home improvement project.  The average return is usually about 70%-85% for a well thought out remodel or upgrade (read more).  Why spend valuable remodel money on a room or area that's not necessarily in need of fixing or remodeling?  What room or items will be most desirable to buyers in the current market?  Savvy homeowners know not to spend money unless it is really necessary.  Keeping this in mind here are some great ideas on where to spend your valuable remodeling or upgrade dollars.

The kitchen is the heart of a home and has the largest return on investment dollars.  You can generally recoup 85%-100%+, as long as you don't spend more than 20% of your home's value.  While many of us would like to have a gourmet kitchen, you should never make your kitchen fancier than the rest of the house, or the neighborhood.  Don't replace old appliances with higher end appliances, instead go for Energy Efficient appliances.  Most home buyers are looking for energy efficiency as a desirable feature in homes.  Durable counters such as granite or quartz are also desirable kitchen features.  But a simple paint job can also considerably increase your return in kitchen investments (read more).

Bathrooms are another high return on investment room.  You can generally recoup about 80% of your investment when done smartly.  Again, you don't want to over do the remodel or upgrade, but you do want a "Wow" factor.  The current trend is leaning away from tubs and more towards large showers with frameless glass enclosures or no doors at all.  Durable counters such as granite or quartz are again more desirable.  And of course energy efficient fixtures are always desirable (read more).

Decks are a wonderful addition to any home and are more & more desirable.  The potential return on investment can be upto 80% if done right and not overly thought out.  Putting an outdoor kitchen or furnishing the deck or patio with high end amenities will not get you much back.  Instead look at what the neighbors are doing, keep it simple and functional.  Plant trees and bushes.  Curb appeal will bring high returns on investments (read more).

In keeping with the energy efficiency trend, replacing old windows with new energy efficient windows can potentially give you a 70%+ return on investment (read more).  Replacing vinyl siding with fiber cement siding will reliably raise a home’s value (read more).

The bottom line is a well thought out remodel or upgrade can bring you top dollar in this hot real estate market.

Being in the “Dog House” Can Be a Good Thing

Custom built dog houses have been around for a while, but some Posh Pooches live in Extreme Dog Houses. These homes, believe it or not, come with air conditioning, heating, porches, and even pool decks with bone shaped pools.  Some also have solar powered lights with timers and very insulated windows and walls.  Paris Hilton built a Doggy Mansion for her pet friends, complete with couches, chandeliers and closets for their doggy outfits.  

Stately Dog house

Image courtesy of www.thecoolist.com

These doggy mansions don’t come cheap.  A custom doggy home can start upwards of $600 and range all the way up to $30,000 or $325,000 for Paris’s Mediterranean Style doggy mansion (read more).  But not every Pampered Pooch likes a Mediterranean Mansion!  These Doggy McMansions come in many shapes and sizes.  There’s the “Celebrity Brick Estate House” for the very spoiled pooch (read more).  This doggy mansion comes complete with running water, custom lighting and of course heating and air conditioning.  Or for those pampered pooches with a more modern taste, there’s the Cubix dog house, inspired by Bauhaus architecture (read more).  And for the pooch who prefers the farm living there’s The Hundehause Farm Dog House (read more).

The Modern Dog House

Image courtesy of www.thecoollist.com

Wouldn’t you mind being in the doghouse now!  Here are more luxury dog houses for the pampered pooch in your life (read more).

The Farmhouse Dog House

Image courtesy of www.thecoolist.com

Showing Simulation (1)

Showing Simulation Tours

Showing Simulation Tours are destined to become the future of real estate marketing and sales. These cutting-edge tours are exclusive to uOwn Real Estate and combine interior 360 degree walkthroughs and mapping to give users a 'virtually' complete online showing.

These tours have recently been enhanced to include a smoother tour experience, a more intuitive user interface, a better mobile experience, the addition of Google Streetview, and more. These improvements reinforce Showing Simulation Tours as the most advanced real estate tours in our market. Learn more about Showing Simulation Tours by watching the video below or experiencing the tours at ShowingSimulation.com.

 

Orlando Tech Scene

Orlando Tech Scene on the rise

There is another industry growing right beside the Orlando Tourism industry; the Tech Scene in Orlando is beckoning to be noticed. With all the buzz in and around the tech industry in Orlando, it is necessary that members of the tech community take an active role in supporting growing companies and promoting regional activity.  That is the primary purpose of Orlando Tech Association (read more). OTA is connecting technology companies across the region through events, news, and an active networks of individuals working to support industry growth.  In partnership with the City of Orlando, OTA is working to bring a sense of connection to the Orlando tech community in the form of a new digital main street.  Modeled after the district structure of other Main Street communities, the digital main street  connects digital efforts throughout Orlando.  OTA runs the Orlando Tech Meetups, a monthly gathering of tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts that allow local tech startups to demo products to a live audience and get real-time feedback right here in Orlando (read more).  

Canvs, a non-profit tech hub in Downtown Orlando, co-founded by Philip Holt, is a 17,000 sq ft co-working space intended to give start up companies space to work, brainstorm ideas and professional advise, and hopefully one day have their own space in Creative Village, a new Tech complex being developed in Downtown Orlando and due to have the first buildings completed in 2017 and 2018 (read more).  Canvs is described as a YMCA for tech startups — a building fully equipped with all the necessary tools and activities to get their businesses into shape (read more).  The Tech Co-working sector continues to expand in Orlando showing the growth of the Orlando Tech Industry (read more).

University of Central Florida (UCF), the second largest University in the United States, and the research park that surrounds it has the tremendous technology industrial strength to make Orlando a Tech/Entrepreneurial city it longs to be.  The UCF Business Incubation Program is a university-driven, community partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs.  The program helps early-stage businesses develop into financially stable companies by providing the tools, training, and infrastructure that help facilitate smarter, faster startup growth (read more).

Technology is rapidly becoming the second largest industry, and taking notice are the major corporations like Apple, Deloitte, Lockheed Martin & Siemens just to name a few.  Deloitte is in the process of hiring 1000 tech professionals for its new IT center in Orlando and Apple has been hiring hardware engineers in the area.   And of course gaming companies like Zynga and Electronic Arts also have a presence in Orlando (read more).  The city’s economic development campaign has been labeled “Orlando, You Don’t Know the Half of It,” in an effort to bring attention to the city’s employment opportunities outside of tourism.  With all this growth and expansion, expect to see Orlando in the Tech spotlight in the coming future.

 

 

 
I-4 Ultimate Expansion Photo (1)

Ultimate I-4 Expansion

Central Florida will be getting a vastly-improved Interstate 4.  I-4 has been the backbone of the Central Florida highway system and will soon be completely  transformed for 21 miles, from Kirkman Rd in Orange County to State Rd 434 in Seminole County.  The plans call for four new Express Lanes down the middle of I-4, reconstructed interchanges and Tolls Booths and brand new bridges (read more).  This massive project is one of the the largest public-private partnerships undertaken in Florida to date.  Private investors will fund nearly $1Billion of the bill, but would be reimbursed with toll money (read more).

Bridge District

Still in it's conceptual phase, the Bridge District would liven up the I-4 corridor underpasses.  With the Ultimate I-4 Expansion widening and raising the heights of underpasses, it's a great opportunity to recreate these areas that have been under utilized as dark, dank, parking garages.  There have been several ideas which include adding shoppes and cafes, or maybe additional recreation space.  Orlando has already tried to liven up the underpass on Church St with some lighting displays, so this would just be expanding the thought process.

Rendering of Downtown Orlando's Bridge District

Rendering of Downtown Orlando's Bridge District

This is not a new idea - many cities have done the same with varying degrees of success.  Toronto turned one of their underpasses into an recreational park with a skating arena, basketball courts and mirrors and lighting to illuminate the area.  In the Netherlands they built cafes, a supermarket, flower and pet shops and recreational parks as well.  These are just a few examples (read more).  The Bridge District should bring new life to the Downtown area.

Area 1 - Attractions

If you are traveling east on I-4, you will enter the project just west of Kirkman Road in Orange County, with direct access to the Express Lanes. The direct access will be marked with decorative pylons — a signature aesthetic treatment you will encounter throughout the corridor. I-4 Beyond the Ultimate is planned to continue the improvements of I-4 from Kirkman Road to U.S. 27 in Polk County, extending another 21.2 miles (read more).

Area 2 – Downtown

The downtown Orlando stretch of I-4 houses eight interchanges, including State Road 408. Within this strech of I-4, you’ll notice a more aesthetically pleasing design and a more open-air feel. Drivers and pedestrians alike will experience a true transformation as the bridges and the spaces underneath are beautified with green space and lighting accents (Bridge District). In addition, direct connections to the Express Lanes will be provided at South Street and Anderson Street (read more).

Area 3 – Ivanhoe

Headed to the Amway Center from the east, you will enter the Ivanhoe area — a main access point to and from downtown Orlando.  You will notice a high level of aesthetics was incorporated here, including entry landscape, vertical monuments, lighting features and illuminated pylons that demark the gateway.  There will also be additional auxiliary lanes eastbound, from Colonial Drive to Princeton Street, westbound from Maitland Boulevard to Lee Road and eastbound from Princeton Street to Fairbanks Avenue. These lanes will increase the amount of traffic the area can accommodate and improves the level of service. No more traffic jams as you leave that downtown concert! (read more)

Area 4 - Altamonte

Going west from Daytona Beach, drivers will enter the I-4 Ultimate project just east of the State Road 434 interchange in Seminole County. If your trip takes you all the way through the city, you will experience a reliable travel time that reaches the attractions in a timely manner. Four Express Lanes are planned to continue from the State Road 434 interchange all the way up to State Road 472 in Volusia County. (read more)

Photo Renderings

Orlando 2.0 - Life with Creative Village

Orlando 2.0 – Life with Creative Village

The $1 Billion Creative Village project is to break ground this week, May 14th, 2015, with approximately $13 Million of construction on the infrastructure for the bus route and the building paths (read more).

 The 68-acres of land at the former Amway Arena site will soon be the site of an active "24/7" neighborhood that will attract digital media, tech schools and the "creative class" to that part of Downtown Orlando (read more).  Creative Village is a partnership between the City of Orlando and Creative Village Development, LLC, Bank of America Community Development Corporation and led by a partnership between Craig Ustler, Tim Baker and Brooke Myers. It will be the first of its kind in Central Florida.  Being marketed as a live-work-play neighborhood, Creative Village will be catering to the "Creative Class" (read more) focusing on technology, arts and education.

Creative Village will be built around a central park running north to south and will have an amphitheater serving as central community gathering spot.  There will be about 7 parks throughout the neighborhood appealing to the outdoor types and promoting the "live, work, learn and play" lifestyle.  There will also be 1,500 units of mixed-income housing, including student housing, flats, town homes and brownstones.  They have projected as much of 500,000 square feet of educational space and  over one million square feet of office and "creative" space.  In the spirit of making it a mixed use complex there will be 150,000 square feet of commercial space and of course 150-200 hotel rooms (read more).  University of Central Florida in partnership with EA Sports will be some of the major players to anchor Creative Village (read more).

It is important to mention this project is a combined effort between the public and private sectors, and will take anywhere from 15-20+ years to complete.  While this venture will bring new life to the Parramore area there has been nor will there be any displacement of current residents.

Due to the scope of this massive project, it will take many years to complete, but projects of this magnitude can only be created through smart, sustainable growth.  Creative Village is a game-changing concept in Downtown Orlando. It will further define Orlando as a city of the future and will completely change the physical  and economic landscape of Downtown Orlando.

Orlando’s Expanding Attractions

Orlando Attractions Grow With over 62 Million visitors a year the Orlando area continues to grow and expand. Today is the Grand Opening of the Orlando Eye, the 400 Ft tall observation wheel and newest attraction on International Drive. This event will usher in a new era for the I Drive area with a multitude of new attractions, hotels and restaurants.

The Orlando Eye (read more) will provide 360 degrees of unobstructed Central Florida/Orlando views. You will be able to see Downtown Orlando, Cape Canaveral, all of the Theme Parks and landmarks as well. The Eye is anchored by the I-Drive 360 Complex (read more) which houses two other exciting attractions. Orlando’s Sea life Aquarium (read more) with a 360 Degree water tunnel and over 5,000 sea creatures, and Madame Tussaud’s Orlando ( read more) with wax replicas of your favorite A-Listers is expected to attract tourists from all over.

Scheduled to open in the summer of 2017 is the I-Square Mall and Hotel. (read more) A Mega Luxury Hotel with approximately 700 superior guest rooms and 30+ super luxury suites with butler service. The lobby of this grand hotel with include world class gourmet restaurants with a 24 hour revolving restaurant with an observatory deck on the top of the Hotel. Amenities will also include a 24,000 sq ft Luxury Spa, and meeting facilities featuring a Grand Ballroom with over 100,000 sq ft of space. And of course a Helipad for arriving VIP guests. All of this and a world class shopping mall with all the world class designer stores.

Another new addition to the I-Drive area is The Artegon Marketplace.(read more) This is a 1.1 Million Square foot mall with anchor shops such as Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and Toby Keith’s I love This Bar & Grill to name a few. With a movie theater and bowling alley on location in addition to numerous world class restaurants and shops, The Artegon Marketplace is a great addition to the Orlando area.

For a tour of the I-Drive corridor and more information about current attractions and future attractions take a ride on the I-Drive Trolley or I-Ride.(read more)

Orlando Ranking High in National Polls

Orlando Ranking High in National Polls

Orlando is the place to be in 2015.  Consistently, Orlando is ranking as a top city nationally and internationally for a variety of different reasons. The attention has come due to Orlando’s growing economy, thriving tech scene, international travel appeal, and other categories that may surprise many people.
In 2014 Orlando was named #1 for job growth in the nation with 3.7% job growth – more than twice the nationwide average, according to Forbes Magazine (read more).  Earlier this year the NY Times named Orlando #13 on it’s list of places to go in 2015 (read more).  Disney and Universal have always been an attracting force, but Orlando is finally being noticed for other great things.  Orlando has a thriving thespian scene than has only increased in notoriety with the opening of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in the downtown Orlando, bringing new life to that part of town.

Orlando has also been recognized by foodies from across the nation.  Orlando has some fabulous award winning chefs in town catering to the most discerning palates.  James Beard award nominees and winners include the chefs at Ravenous Pig & Cask and Larder, Txokos Basque Kitchen at East End Market, just to name a few.  Wine Enthusiasts Magazine named Orlando one of the Top 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2015 (read more).  In 2014 Orlando was the most traveled city in the US with 62 Million visitors (read more). Orlando also caters to the discerning traveler with newly opened Four Seasons Resort Orlando and the Waldorf Astoria by Hilton.  The Orlando World Center Marriott Resort caters to some the best of the best in the Golf world.  And, of course, the Floridian Hotel catering to the retail shoppers of the world.

“The City Beautiful”, as Orlando is also known, is also being ranked as “An American City of the Future” (read more).  Many international companies such as Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems of Japan, Siemens from Germany and Mazor Robotics from Israel, to name a few, have chosen Orlando as their home and have made Orlando a new Tech City (read more).  Realtor.com released statistics that downtown Orlando’s 32801 zip code was the most searched zip code (read more) for real estate for sale in 2014. This exciting real estate statistic shows that Orlando is a hot spot for real estate throughout the nation.

As Orlando receives more notoriety and continues to grow, it will only attract more visitors, residents and businesses.

Bike Sharing Downtown

Looking to switch up your commute or enjoy the fresh air some more? Enjoy an active lifestyle, inexpensive and environmentally friendly ride with Downtown Orlando’s Bike Share…It’s as easy as Reserve, Release, Ride, Return!

Use the Bike Share mobile app to find and reserve your ride. You can also reserve a bike right on its keypad. Unlock the bike with a 4 digit code after reserving and enjoy your ride. Once you’re done, return to a bike rack or hub and thats all!

Rates begin as low as $5 for an hourly rental with various memberships also available. Keep in mind, you can return the bike to any bike rack or hub, but returning to a bike rack (non-hub) does incur a $2 fee. Taxes are not included in the rates, and you must be 18 or older with a credit card to ride.

Visit the Orlando Bike Share website at www.orlandobikeshare.com for more details.

Enjoy your ride, and please bike safely!

Article written by Michael Leanna, Realtor®

uOwn Opens Second Location in Thornton Park

uOwn Real Estate is proud to announce the opening of its second office location in the popular Thornton Park district of Downtown Orlando. Thornton Park is locally renowned for its fine restaurants, boutique businesses, and proximity to Lake Eola Park. The new office is located between the popular restaurants Dexter's and Graffiti Junction at 888 E Washington St.

As a satellite office, this second location is an expansion to the uOwn Real Estate brand. The storefront has a clean, modern appearance and digital window displays capture the attention and curiosity of each person that passes by. This office offers a new way for uOwn to connect and engage the Downtown Orlando community through creative outreach and marketing. Like uOwn Real Estate Thornton Park on Facebook to keep updated on news and events for this office.