Downtown Orlando’s Baldwin Park is top pick for 2013 Real Estate price growth

Plagued by foreclosures during the downturn, Orlando’s Baldwin Park development led the list of the “hottest neighborhoods” in the metro area with home prices projected to rise 8 percent this year, a report released Monday shows.

Areas nearest downtown show the most promise for price appreciation during the next year, according to the report from real estate research firm Zillow. Overall, Orlando prices have returned to 2002 levels, the report said.

Median home prices in the four-county metro Orlando area increased 6.5 percent to a midpoint of $125,600 during the past year, Zillow reported. The Orlando Regional Realtor Association recently reported 11 percent price increases for 2012 but that includes only select sales for a core market area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties.

Tops on Zillow’s list of appreciating areas is Baldwin Park, the traditional-style development just east of downtown Orlando. Built largely in the 2004 to 2006 boom years, the development continues to have listings of underwater homes, which are worth less than the mortgage owed on them, said Orlando real estate broker Greg Martinez.

But there are far fewer of them than in recent years, he added.

“They want to be in front of a park and be able to walk to the village in five or 10 minutes and have room for a pool,” said Martinez, who specializes in Baldwin Park real estate. “Buyers want close proximity to downtown, relatively new construction, something less than a 15-minute drive to Publix, good schools and schools in walkable distance. Those things are still the big draw.”

In addition to Baldwin Park, neighborhoods such as Wadeview Park, Dover Shores West, Lake Como and College Park made the list of Orlando areas where home values are expected to rise more than 5 percent throughout 2013. Neighborhoods off Kirkman and Conroys roads were also on the list for top-appreciating areas.

And finally, the Zillow report found that more than 51 percent of the homes sales in Metro Orlando last year sold for a loss, or less than the mortgage amount.

Nationally, U.S. home values ended 2012 up 5.9 percent over the end of 2011, marking the largest annual gain since August 2006 – near the peak of the housing bubble. Historically, housing markets have risen about 3 percent annually.

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said last year’s housing numbers were strong but they also demonstrate how the extreme shifts of the recession and post recession can give consumers “whiplash.”

“It’s important to be cautious moving forward, even as we celebrate the undeniably positive end to 2012, and be careful that consumers don’t grow to expect such high appreciation as the norm,” Humphries said.

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