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Residential, commercial, industrial, pretty much every category of real estate continues to thrive in Southwest Florida.
So said three real estate experts who each gave 30-minute presentations Thursday night at Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers.
About 750 people convened in person with about 400 more watching online. Three Lee County commissioners, the mayor of Fort Myers, the sheriff of Lee County and a litany of executives from construction companies, communities, engineering firms and architectural firms were among those on hand.
From Randy Thibaut, the organizer and CEO of LSI Companies, they learned why the current good vibrations are a “frenzy” and not a “boom” like the bubble that burst in 2005.
“Worldwide pandemic equals real estate frenzy,” Thibaut said. “To me, this is the most chaotic market I’ve experienced in my career.”
Single-family home permits rose by 61% in Lee, 37% in Collier and 32% in Charlotte counties, year-over-year.
The growth keeps happening farther inland.
The top five fastest-growing communities in terms of new home permits: Ave Maria (712 permits), Babcock Ranch (691), Isles of Collier Preserve (382), The Place at Corkscrew (368) and River Hall and Timber Creek (277 each).
“The saying used to be, go west young man,” Thibaut said. “Now, it’s go east.”
But the number of permits being approved now are still well below the pre-bubble burst of 2005.
In 2005, there were 44,000 construction permits written, a number that crashed to just 2,066 in 2009.
But in 2020, there were 18,418 permits. Through August of this year, there were 14,272 permits, according to the data from public records presented by LSI Companies.
“For those of you who believe it’s 2005, it’s not,” Thibaut said.
Residential home markets keep thriving, especially the luxury market, said Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes & Team at Keller Williams Realty.
“I call it a market in a million,” Grimes said.
Sales of homes priced more than $300,000 in Lehigh Acres, he said, were up 958% year-over-year, with 202 such homes closed so far this year and 122 pending.
“These buyers are coming in from other expensive markets, and they’re buying expensive homes,” Grimes said. “We think they’re expensive. They don’t.”
Grimes pointed to a waterfront lot in Naples. It sat on the market for 2,087 days until January, when it sold for $13.9 million.
Just 23 days later, it sold again: for $18.9 million.
Sales of homes priced above $5 million in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties rose 206% year-over-year, with 150 closings so far this year and 20 pending.
E-commerce has changed the dynamics of both commercial and industrial real estate, with commercial shifting to smaller, neighborhood mini-strip malls and industrial booming with last-mile delivery warehouses, said Justin Thibaut, president of LSI Companies.
Those sectors had $150 million in sales in the second quarter of 2020 in the three-county area. Those sales rose 275%, to $560 million, in the second quarter of 2021, according to the data pulled by LSI Companies.
“We’re seeing this happen in real time in Southwest Florida,” Thibaut said.