CALIFORNIA HOME buyers may not think that rotundas, front courtyards, and casitas are very special; builders have been offering floor plans with those options for years. But in Orlando, Fla., they're new, they're hot, and they sell houses. That definitely has been the case for Mercedes Homes, which offered the features for the first time at Bella Vista at Tivoli Woods, a master planned community in Orlando.
“It's a new style for the Orlando market and for us,” says Cristina Quintana, vice president of sales for Melbourne, Fla.–based Mercedes Homes. “If you drive the market, you won't find a similar community.” The five floor plans at Bella Vista were offered in traditional, Craftsman, and Mediterranean elevations and feature solid poured concrete wall construction. The construction method is relatively new to the Orlando market, Quintana says, and several builders offer it. It is a direct result of a large local Hispanic population familiar with this type of construction because it is used in their countries of origin.
The community has attracted many Hispanic home buyers because of the construction and the Mediterranean elevations, according to Quintana.
“We didn't do it intentionally,” she says. “We introduced the product because it's new and innovative.”
While the target buyer for Bella Vista originally was young couples, the demographic changed over time to include mature couples because of the community's location. Close to both downtown Orlando and the airport, it offers tremendous convenience for shopping and commuting to work. Amenities include a community pool, a gazebo, half-court basketball, and a tot lot.
Between the product and the location, Bella Vista literally has sold itself. The only advertising for the community has been a single billboard on a nearby highway, on-site signage, and community maps.
“There has been no marketing,” Quintana says. “I've never had to advertise this community.”
Market: Orlando, Fla.; Project: Bella Vista at Tivoli Woods, Orlando; Sales started: April 2003; Sales through March 2004: 136; Total units planned: 216; Unit size: 1,532 to 2,893 square feet; Price: $174,000 to $248,000; Builder/Architect: Mercedes Homes, Melbourne, Fla.; Developer: Michael Morton, Orlando