Business GraphHenderson Franklin attorneys joined nearly one thousand other Southwest Florida real estate professionals at the annual News Press Market Watch Real Estate event, held at the Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. As a law firm that has a long tradition — stretching back to 1924 — of assisting clients in all aspects of real estate, we were proud to, again, join the list of sponsors for the event.

Attendees witnessed three presentations, each anchored in considerable amounts of market data compiled on the sectors of real estate that are vital to Southwest Florida: residential sales and development, land acquisition and development, and commercial real estate. Market data for 2013 confirmed the prevailing mood in the real estate industry: restrained confidence that the market has been restored to realistic and sustainable growth.

Residential sales remained sturdy in Lee County with 12,345 single family homes sold in 2013, a negligible drop of only 40 homes from 2012. With the demand and supply of single family homes both relatively unchanged from 2012 to 2013, a 23% increase in the median sales price to $158,000 demonstrates that buyers continue to see value in prices from the deflated lows of 2009 and 2010.

Developer optimism continued from 2012 as last year marked a 72% increase overall in construction permits for single and multi-family dwellings in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. Some of the notable transactions and planned developments include a 32 million dollar acquisition of 1,798 acres in Naples by Taylor Morrison, projected to be an 800 single family home community with an 18 hole championship golf course; and, a 45 million dollar acquisition by Lennar Homes in Bonita Springs, also planned for a single family home community with a golf course.

On the commercial real estate side, positive trends continued in multi-family building permits and in the Lee County lease market. Multi-family building permits in Lee County enjoyed a 92% increase from 2012. In the Lee County lease market, the amount of square footage of space occupied compared to that vacated increased in each of the important office, industrial and retail segments.

Other economic indicators contributed to the collective optimism as the data for the number of visitors to Southwest Florida, the total number of airport passengers, and the population estimates each reflected moderate gains.

Henderson Franklin clients were involved in key transactions highlighted during the event, and we are pleased to have contributed to our area’s growth in 2013 through our representation of developers, local governments, and individual investors.