Potential Disney move would add fuel to Lake Nona

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

If The Walt Disney Co. pulls the trigger on a partial relocation from California to Orlando, local house hunting soon would follow. 

That’s according to Realtor Peter Luu, who told Orlando Business Journal such a move would further boost Lake Nona’s red-hot housing market. OBJ first reported Jan. 8 that Walt Disney World’s owner and operator was in talks with Tavistock Development Co. regarding a potential move of Disney divisions from California to Lake Nona. 

“It’s going to have a great impact," said Maycumber, a Realtor with Keller Williams Advantage Realty’s southeast Orlando office and an expert in the Lake Nona market. "The housing market is still doing well in Orlando. This would just be a boost."


Florida to attract more Californians  
As OBJ previously reported, it would take less than two years to build new office space to accommodate Disney (NYSE: DIS). If Disney theoretically was to complete a move to Lake Nona in 2023, executives relocating from California would begin to look for homes two years in advance, Luu said. Then, vice presidents would start house hunting a year in advance, and other management-level employees would start their search six months out, Luu added. 

In addition, luxury home sales would spike if relocated Disney employees kept their California salaries, Luu said. That means they could afford pricier houses since Orlando’s median home price of $280,000 is dwarfed by Los Angeles’ median price of $835,000, according to Realtor.com.  

A corporate relocation is far from the only reason workers from the Golden State may flock to Florida. Future relocations of Californians to Orlando “make sense” in the age of remote work, Maycumber  said. 

“In the past, California buyers would go as far as Colorado and Texas. Now there’s no need to be at corporate meetings in a couple days. We’re going to see a huge spike in California people.” Executives at Disney and Tavistock, Lake Nona’s master developer, could not be reached for comment. 

'Halo effect' for Lake Nona
Outside Lake Nona, the relocation would create a “halo effect” for properties in the surrounding area, Colliers International Executive Managing Director Trevor Hall told OBJ. “Residential developers of all densities, they look to jobs.”

When it comes to a potential Disney move, no deal has been signed nor is it clear which Disney divisions or how many people would move to Lake Nona. On Jan. 8, a Disney spokesperson told OBJ the Burbank, California-based company is “always exploring opportunities for additional locations within the vicinity of our theme park, but there is nothing concrete."

However, work soon will start on Tavistock’s planned 278,000-square-foot Lake Nona building. Real estate sources say Disney may be taking the entire office building, OBJ previously reported.  

The effect a Disney relocation would have on the housing market is important because every home sale in the state has an estimated local economic impact of $77,858, according to a 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors. In addition, the housing market often is considered a reflection of the overall health of the local economy. 

There already is big demand for homes in Lake Nona. In fact, Lake Nona recorded 645 home sales last year, up 38% from 468 sales the year before, according to real estate consulting firm RCLCO. The master-planned community’s popularity led to the average sale price steadily climbing, from $439,354 in 2018 to $508,612 in 2020, according to data from the Orange County Property Appraiser’s office.