Big Disney staff relocation to bring high-end buyers to Orlando’s housing market

Jul 21, 2021 | ARMEL NEWS

By   –  OBJ Staff Writer & Orlando Inno Reporter, Orlando Business Journal


The Walt Disney Co.’s decision to relocate 2,000 jobs to Orlando’s Lake Nona community will create “shell shock” for local homebuyers. 

That’s according to Peter Luu, a Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent who specializes in Lake Nona. This move will send even more buyers from California to Central Florida willing to pay far more than a home’s list price, driving up prices in an already-hot housing market, Luu said. 

‘Going to get outbid fast’

That disruption comes from the disparity between home prices in southern California and Central Florida. Competition in metro Orlando’s housing market is already intense. Home inventory this year is at its lowest levels in at least 20 years, forcing many buyers to pay more than list price. 

Orlando’s cheaper home prices likely will make buyers moving from California comfortable with paying $50,000 or more over the list price, Luu said. That is especially true if the employees are granted relocation perks that cover moving and closing costs, Deanna Armel, broker and CEO of Kissimmee-based Armel Real Estate Inc., told OBJ. “They have a cushion of $25,000-$50,000.” 

Local home prices are skyrocketing anyway, with the median home price up 42% year-over-year to an all-time high of $315,000, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. Relocating Californians with money to spend will push prices up even further, Luu said. “A lot of these local buyers are going to get outbid fast.”


Meanwhile, Lake Nona is Orlando’s most popular master-planned community, and the 19th-most-popular in the U.S., in the first six months of the year. There were 405 home sales in Lake Nona in the first half of 2021, up 28% compared to the first half of 2020, according to real estate consulting firm RCLCO. 

Relocation destination

Disney (NYSE: DIS) on July 15 confirmed it will relocate roughly 2,000 jobs from its California headquarters to Lake Nona during the next 18 months. Most of the relocating professional roles will be related to Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division — which includes theme parks — who are not fully dedicated to the Disneyland Resort. 

Of course, the Disney relocation is just one notable example of jobs moving to Orlando from out-of-state, said Bryan Rubio, broker and owner of Montverde-based Rubio Realty Investments LLC. Other companies are doing the same thing, moving employees to lower-cost Central Florida with relocation packages to spend on a home, he said. “It’s not going to slow down.”

Trends in the residential real estate market are important, as every home sale in the state has an estimated local economic impact of $90,300, according to the National Association of Realtors. In addition, the housing market often is considered a reflection of the local economy’s overall health.


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