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Buying a Bit of Celebration, Fla., Is Getting Easier

"We have people walking in every day," she said. "The entry point is now accessible to many more people."

Purchasing a house here is especially attractive to first-time buyers, who don't have to worry about selling another home elsewhere, agents said. Instead, they can move straight into this place that is often mistakenly referred to as the setting for "Pleasantville" or "The Truman Show," movies based in similarly pristine communities that turn out to be dystopias.

Unlike other communities, especially in hard-hit Florida, that the recession left in a state of mid-construction, every amenity that was planned in Celebration has been finished since it opened in 1996. There's a movie theater, a church, a golf course and a school -- and a real Wisteria Lane, though the one on the "Desperate Housewives" TV show is on a back lot at Universal Studios in California.

On the same day that Buoncervello and McGrath held the open house, Lynda and John Kangas pulled into a driveway of a nearby "available" house. The couple sat in their car just admiring the house while Lynda Kangas's sister, Barbara Arms, and her niece, Jessie Arms, got out to explore.

They were more than sightseeing, Lynda Kangas said. "Sight-dreaming," she said. "We're definitely sight-dreaming."

The couple live about 10 miles away -- "where the common people live," John Kangas said -- in an RV park that suited their first dream of traveling the country. But if they had a second dream, and money were not an issue, Lynda Kangas said, it would look like the house in front of them.

"You know why I want this house," she said. "There is no doubt that I could have a Christmas tree. It's kind of hard to put up a Christmas tree in a fifth-wheel [RV]."

She and her sister joked about the banister they would slide down and the floors they would slip across in their socks. They spent a little while looking at the house, imagining the possibilities, before driving less than a mile to the house McGrath and Buoncervello had opened to the public a few hours earlier.

The agents had left and the doors were locked, so the family settled on peeking through the windows.

"Oh my goodness, look at that -- it's so beautiful," Lynda Kangas said, turning to her niece. "Go tell Johnny, he doesn't have to remarry me for our 50th anniversary, just buy me this."


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