Henderson Franklin was proud to sponsor the real estate event Market Trends, which took place on Thursday, September 9, 2021, at the Caloosa Convention Center, downtown Fort Myers. The speakers included Randy Thibaut, CEO of LSI Companies, Denny Grimes, President of Denny Grimes & Team at Keller Williams, and Justin Thibaut, President of LSI. The presentation focused on the real estate market in Southwest Florida in 2021; and, more specifically, on three major areas of the market: new residential construction, the residential resale market, and commercial real estate. The following provides a brief recap of the presentations.
Continuing the trend from the second half of 2020, both the residential and commercial markets in Southwest Florida sustained their momentum. New homebuyers continue to flock to the region and developers are trying to keep up with demand.
New residential construction market
The total number of new building permits for single-family and multi-family in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties has continued to increase. 2020 saw a total of 18,418 residential permits issued. The year-to-date total for residential permits issued in 2021 currently sits at 14,272, with the projected total by year’s end estimated to be 23,400 permits issued. The past 12 months have seen a double-digit percentage increase in new permits in all three counties. Lee County saw an 11% increase, Collier a 22% increase, and Charlotte with an astounding 50% increase.
As was the case in 2020, individual communities continued to see astounding growth. The top three communities were Ave Maria, Babcock Ranch and Isles of Collier Preserve. To showcase that the residential market continues to grow, look no further than Babcock Ranch, which in 2020 saw 533 new building permits issued to various builders. It currently stands at 691 residential permits issued to various builders in 2021.
While the big builders like Lennar, DR Horton, and Pulte continue to dominate the market, we have seen a comeback for the small builders, with over 6,000 permits issued to these builders. An interesting new trend taking place in Southwest Florida is the build-for-rent model. This model appears to be aimed at a younger generation looking for homes, but wanting more financial flexibility. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues over the coming years.
While at some stage the market will likely level off, demand in the residential market looks set to continue in 2021 and the foreseeable future in Southwest Florida. As homebuyers continue to move into the region, developers look to continue buying up land and building single-family and multi-family units.
Residential resale market
While we thought the market in 2020 was hot, the resale market in Southwest Florida in 2021 set unprecedented numbers we may never see again. The numbers for existing single-family homes sales continued to rise from 2020 to 2021. Charlotte County saw a 42% increase, Lee County a 44% increase, and Collier County a 65% increase in existing homes sold. The same goes for median sale prices, with Charlotte County seeing a 31% increase, Lee County a 29% increase, and Collier County a 38% increase compared to the previous year.
With increases in sales and prices, some may begin to fear another market crash. However, the presenters believe we are on track for the market to correct itself rather than seeing a repeat of the previous market crash. The “irrational market” will be replaced by a rational one and we will likely be passing the peak of buyer frenzy that we saw through the height of the pandemic and the early parts of the year.
Commercial real estate
While certain sectors continue to be affected by the pandemic, especially with the emergence of the delta variant, the Southwest Florida commercial real estate market as a whole continues to thrive in 2021. Through the height of the lockdown in 2020, commercial sale volume still hit $150 million. Through Q2 of 2021, commercial sales have hit upwards of $560 million, with an astounding 275% increase over 2020. The retail market makes up nearly 50% of the total sales volume in 2021, at approximately $259 million in sales.
The industrial market has seen an increase in rent and occupancies, with over 2.2 million square feet of industrial space coming into the market. So why such large quantities of space? This increase is due in large part to large-scale distribution centers moving into the region. With e-commerce taking over, fulfillment centers for companies like Uline and Amazon are becoming ever-present in Southwest Florida.
As we experience a consumer spending rebound, Lee, Charlotte and Collier County all saw increases in rent and occupancy over the last year in the retail market, with goods and services driving the market forward. However, labor shortages due to the pandemic will impact how well this market performs.
The office market over the last year is stable but an odd one. Rents and occupancies are all up but at times space is economically occupied but physically vacant. This is in large part due to the pandemic and employees working from home, as well as tenants waiting to see how things play out before renewing leases. We have not seen the “great migration” back to the office that we thought. Most new deliveries in the market are now including amenities to try and entice the workforce back into the office. So with these issues, what sector has caused the increase in rent and occupancies? The medical office sector has led the way in this regard. Regional medical groups have taken advantage of the market and have grabbed good land positions in the region.
The Market Trends report this fall showcased how the real estate market in Southwest Florida has continued to thrive thus far in 2021. Both residential and commercial sectors have seen exponential growth. It will be interesting to see how both finish out the year, what their outlook will be heading into 2022, and what impact the pandemic will have on the market going forward.