After growth screeched to a halt during the recession, people are moving back to Florida. Researchers project 192,091 new faces will arrive in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties over the next seven years. The coastal stretch is already home to an estimated 1.1 million people.
Lee County leads the way, growing 20.2 percent, twice the rate of Florida as a whole, to reach 773,500 people by 2020. Collier will absorb 49,537 new residents and Charlotte 12,421.
The projections from the University of Florida are based on past growth. They’re a conservative estimate between the lowest and highest estimates. Population increases fuel economic development but also pose infrastructure and environmental challenges.
Waterfront property and activities are top selling points driving people to Florida. Water, for drinking, swimming, fishing, but first of all for our natural habitat, is key to a healthy economy.
People move to Florida for a wide variety of reasons. It’s known as a place where they come to retire or start over, for instance. And as more arrive, housing inventory is being reduced and construction is picking up. That in turn attracts new residents. There is also no personal income tax in the state.
Florida lost a small percent of its population because of the recession. Now the state is on track to surpass New York this year if it hasn’t yet already. That would make it the third most populous state behind California and Texas.
Through 2020, Florida is projected to absorb some 1.9 million new people, pushing the population past 21.1 million.
For now growth is trending steadily upwards in Southwest Florida, albeit not at the breakneck pace seen in the early to mid-2000s. Cape Coral, the region’s most populous city, grew by 6,764 people between 2010 and 2013, UF estimates show. Nearly 160,000 reside in the Cape.
Many homebuyers are baby boomer retirees from the Midwest and Northeast, but a surprising number are younger.
But with all the growth, is Southwest Florida gearing up for another precarious real estate bubble? Lee County especially Lehigh Acres was often cited as a “ground zero” for the housing meltdown that preceded the recession. Many economic forecasters feel the region is going to see sustained growth in more of a normal market. As once vacant homes and properties left untended during the recession fill up it makes it a lot safer for the buyer.
Long-term population projections:
Percent change: 7.6
Percent change: 14.8
2013: 643, 367
Percent change: 20.2
Palm Beach County
Percent change: 8.9
Percent change: 9.8
To learn more about the real estate market in SWFL contact a member of the Gratia Group team at (239) 333-2221.