Southwest Florida remains a retiree mecca, but rapid job and population growth is increasing family-buyer demand. Affordability is a concern; the median existing home prices in Naples hit $345,000, surpassing 2008 levels, and Fort Myers has had double-digit price appreciation over the past three years. So how does one region adequately serve the affluent retiree and the price-conscious family buyer? Here are our predictions:
- Rural lands: Plenty of land remains available for development in southwest Florida; the challenge lies in gaining approvals from environmentally sensitive local governments. Minto has announced plans for 4,000 units in Rural Lands West (Eastern Collier County), where it has committed to preserving three acres of land for each acre developed. Also, the recent years’ success at Ave Maria in Eastern Collier County has boosted developers’ confidence.
- Small infill communities: Although most land west of Interstate 75 has been developed, builders are getting creative. Investments in infill communities on 10–20 acres of land are bringing homes to the market that command top dollar.
- Multifamily is back: Lennar recently opened two townhome communities in Fort Myers, and D.R. Horton’s Cordera, a luxury townhome community in Bonita Springs, has been overwhelmed by high demand. (Although, when a 1,765-square-foot, three-bed-three-bath unit with a two-car garage five miles from the beach has a price of $259,990, who can be surprised?)
- High-rise development: Four new high-rises are pre-selling along the Gulf Coast in Naples and Bonita Springs, totaling nearly 400 units to be delivered beginning in 2017. Downtown Fort Myers, meanwhile, has one high-rise condominium announced, with others under discussion.