With its booming economy and robust housing market, Lee County in Southwest Florida is red hot and primed for 2022! Beach markets are in high demand as people move in from the East Coast and expensive new home prices are driving many buyers to buy a resale home and renovate it to increase their value.
In fact, the economy and property market in Southwest Florida is booming at the same time as the rest of the state. The population and employment are increasing, localities are increasingly business-friendly, and the real estate market has more demand than supply. These are the kinds of things that attract rental property investors.
In terms of population growth, Lee county is currently the fastest-growing county in Southwest Florida, home to nearly 619,000 residents! Additionally, projections see this tremendous growth trend to continue well into the year.
The area is also home to some of the biggest “boomtowns” in the nation: Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, and Fort Myers. In an analysis by SmartAsset, a New York financial technology firm, these three cities gained top-50 rates in metrics of changes in population, unemployment, and household income, as well as the growth in businesses, housing, and GDP showing off their strong population growth and rise in local businesses. In particular, Cape Coral-Fort Myers boasts a median household income of $62,240 and has grown by 10.9% over the past year. Lee County has seen job growths of 4.6% year-over-year with key employers in Southwest Florida being Lee Health, Lee County School District, Publix Super Market, NCH Healthcare System, Walmart, Florida Gulf Coast University, US Sugar, Hertz, and the City of Fort Myers. Several large companies such as Chico’s FAS, Arthrex, Inc., The Hertz Corporation, and Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation house their corporate headquarters in the region.
Analysis of the current real estate market in the area also reveals housing building is booming in Southwest Florida, as developers try to keep up with demand. In fact, single-family home development in Cape Coral and Fort Myers are experiencing the second-largest increase in the country, indicating how solid the real estate market in Southwest Florida communities is. Lee County has seen a 31.8% increase in annual home value and a median selling price of $340,000. The median listing price is valued at $369,500 with a median list price of $216 per square foot. The sale-to-list price ratio is at an astounding 100%. Useppa Island is the most expensive city in Lee County, with a typical listing price of $1.5 million, while Villas is the most affordable, with a median listing price of $187,900.
The booming real estate market in Southwest Florida is also boosting demand for rental properties. Houses that were previously rented are being purchased, causing rental prices to rise by up to hundreds of dollars per month. There is an annual increase in rent of 47% and the percentage of renter households is at 44%. Currently, the median rent for a 3-bedroom home is priced at $2,570 per month. Moreover, there are several reasons why people are attracted to rent in the area. College towns such as Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres are appealing to students looking for affordable housing, white-collar workers are coming back to the area to be closer to family, and relocate for the career opportunities found in Southwest Florida.
Comparing its current state to past years, Lee County has seen a 35.1% change in home prices after 1 year and a 67.8% change after 5 years. In addition, the National Association of Realtors determines whether a typical family would be able to obtain a mortgage on a median-priced existing (resale) single-family home in the market through the Housing Affordability Index. Basically, a family with an HAI of 100 has exactly enough median income to qualify to assume a 20% down payment. For Lee County, HAI is at 120 while for Collier and Charlotte, the HAI are 110 and 114 respectively.
Fort Myers, the largest city in Southwest Florida, is ranked as the 7th best place to retire and the 43rd greatest place to live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Southwest Florida also boasts many attractions including Everglades National Park, Edison Ford Winter Estates, and the Babcock Wilderness Preserve. And, if you’re looking for a new hobby, the area has more than 150 golf courses and is nicknamed the “Golfing Capital of the World”.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to invest in the housing market, why not try Lee County? Surely the perfect property for you, awaits!