Like magic, housing glut vanishes around Harry Potter theme park

Foreclosed homes in Orlando, Fla., made up about 29 percent of sales in February and 34 percent in January, the two highest levels since 2011.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort seems a world away from the nearby Florida neighborhood nicknamed “Crime Hills.” But magic is spreading.

Where foreclosed homes once lingered, empty and dilapidated, the Orlando area of Pine Hills is seeing newfound demand for real estate. A family of seven moved into the vacant property next door to 63-year-old Sam Braunn, who has lived in the neighborhood since junior high school, while the house to the right was renovated with a new columned facade.

“I’m seeing more and more homes vacant for a long time filling up,” said Braunn, a construction labor-union employee based at Walt Disney’s parks. “The good things happening lift my spirits about getting my place back in shape. I’ve been trimming up the bushes and removing the extra lumber that was lying around.”

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