The Year Ahead in Florida Industry Pros Look to 2015

Florida is one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S., attracting people from across the country and around the world with its beaches, warm weather, natural wonders and wide array of recreational destinations. This isn't a new trend; real estate has been important to Florida for so long that the Marx Brothers’ first movie, 1929's The Cocoanuts, was a satire on that era’s Sunshine State land boom.

Lookin' Good

Some people seek Florida residences as a first home, some as a second home, and others as investment properties. Nowadays, among the most desirable regions of the state for any or all of those are South Florida, particularly Miami and the Gold Coast between Palm Beach and Dade Counties, and the Tampa-West Florida area.

According to an “econocast” from the Orlando-based consulting firm Fiskind & Co., the state’s recent indicators are mainly positive. The unemployment rate for 2014 was 5.7 (down from 11.3 in 2010), and is expected to go down even further in 2015. There were 28,713 multifamily housing starts in 2014, up from 5,875 in 2010, and that number is projected to increase again in 2015. Closings on existing condominiums have increased from 92,912 in 2010 to 130,713 in 2014, with a slightly lower 117,049 forecast for 2015.

For several years starting in 2008, the real estate market was negatively impacted by the recession. Sales stalled, foreclosures skyrocketed, and development stagnated all across the state, even in markets that had been formerly robust. With the nation's overall numbers looking up, how is Florida positioned as the recession recedes?

Fishkind & Co. economist Stan Geberer believes the Sunshine State has recovered. “Yes,” he says, “the recession ended in 2009 and we have been working our way back ever since. In terms of population growth, we are about 90 to 95 percent of the way back to the historic 40-year average statewide, though a little weaker than that in the Southwest part of the state. Southeast and Central about 95 percent.”

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