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Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The bright sun and rays of hope shining down on the state offer a warm and inviting atmosphere all year long. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, there are tons of coastline and beachfront property to explore.
And for many people that are currently residing in cold places inside and outside of the country, the dream of owning a piece of property in the Sunshine State is very appealing.
Owning a vacation home in southwest Florida gives people a place to come and relax, or even live permanently if they choose to retire here. Gaining access to a tropical landscape where they can spend their days outside enjoying the weather is a top priority for many who are looking to purchase real estate in Florida.
The southwest Florida real estate market is heating up as more and more people are looking to purchase property in the area. The market trends and stats for southwest Florida show that the prices for both residential and commercial property are on the rise, and there is no sign of the market slowing down anytime soon.
Population Stats in Florida
The most recent population estimate for the state of Florida according to United States Census Bureau data is 21,781,128 people. By population, the largest city in Florida is Jacksonville, which has an estimated population of 900,000 people. The Southwest region of Florida covers 1.4 million of these numbers which is an increase of 21.5% since 2010. Fort Myers with a total of 83,505 people is not only Florida’s fastest-growing city, but it is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
This is followed by Cape Coral with 189,633 people and Lehigh Acres with a total of 124,523 people. For the whole of Florida, the median age is 42.2 years old. The gender split is almost even, with just a little over 50% of the population being female.
Job Opportunities and Top Industries in Florida
With the unique mix of people and cultures, there are plenty of job opportunities to be found in Florida. Not only in Southwest Florida, but across the state in general. The state attracts companies from different key sectors of all sizes. The competitive tax climate in the state also makes it an attractive place for businesses to relocate to or expand. Here are the breakdowns of some of the top industries in Florida:
- Aviation and Aerospace: One of the fastest, growing industries in Florida is aviation and aerospace. The state is home to many popular aviation and aerospace companies, including Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral AF Station, and Cecil Spaceport. Florida alone houses 131 public airports, 365 private airports, and 24 international airports that move people and cargo to and from the state.
- Information Technology: Florida is the third-largest tech hub in the U.S. The state is home to many major tech companies, including Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts. The IT industry alone employs more than 300,000 people in the state. The state houses more than 33,000 tech companies, and that number is growing every year.
- Cleantech: There are a total of 11,750 cleantech companies that are currently operating in Florida. Energy efficiency and environmental technologies are some of the main focus areas for cleantech companies in the state. GE Energy, Saft, Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, and Siemens Energy are some of the top cleantech companies that are based in Florida.
- Manufacturing: With the tax advantages and widest pool of labor and talent in the Southeast, it’s no wonder that manufacturing is one of the top industries in Florida. The state is among the top 10 states for manufacturing, and it’s home to more than 20,000 manufacturing companies. Florida is responsible for employing more than 371,000 people in the manufacturing industry.
- Financial and Professional Services: Florida is also home to most of the nation’s leading financial and insurance service firms. The state stands as the third-largest cluster of insurance and banking companies in the U.S. Some of the most recognizable names in the financial and professional services industry, such as DTCC, USAA, Citigroup, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Black Stone. Florida’s 5.5% corporate tax is arguably the reason why businesses find Florida an attractive state to set up shop.
- Logistics and Distributions: Florida is an ideal place for logistics and distribution operations as the state is placed as the second-largest trade zone in the United States. 20% of all U.S. exporters ship their goods through the state, and Florida receives more imported goods than any other state in the country.
- Headquarters: There are a total of seventeen Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Florida, which is more than any other state in the Southeast. One of the main reasons companies choose to set up headquarters in Florida is because of the state’s pro-business client. Another thing is the diverse talent pool that companies can draw upon.
- Defense and Homeland Security: Florida has 20 military installations and three unified combatant commands. The state is also home to over 17,900 defense and homeland security companies. These companies employ more than 194,000 people in the state.
Cost of Living in Southwest Florida
For someone who is considering Southwest Florida real estate, it is important to know the cost of living in the area. The cost of living index in Florida is 102.8, which means that it is just about 3% higher than the national average. The median home cost in Florida is $294,900 which is just a little over $3,000 more than the national average. The median household income in Florida is $57,453 which is about even with the national average.
When it comes to health, groceries, utilities, and transportation, Florida appears to be the nearest on the national average which tells us that the cost of living in Florida is about the same as the rest of the country while providing an edge in tax benefits, climate, and the job market.
For a more specific location, Fort Myers in Southwest Florida, the cost of living index is at 96.2, which is about 5% lower than the national average. The median home cost in Fort Myers is $269,900 while the median household income is $48,848 (2020). When it comes to groceries, utilities, and transportation, Fort Myers is undoubtedly cheaper than the national average or even Florida’s average.
Tax Benefits in Florida
There are a few tax benefits that come along with owning southwest Florida real estate. There is no state income tax in Florida. This means that all of the money you earn from your job or business will not be subject to state taxes. There’s also no inheritance tax or estate tax which leads to more money in the pockets of those who own property in Florida. And lastly, the homestead exemption helps to protect a portion of your home’s value from property taxes.
And as mentioned above, the 5.5% corporate tax rate in Florida is one of the lowest in the country. Combined with no state income tax, this makes Florida an attractive place for businesses to relocate or expand. Homeowners that are considering Southwest Florida real estate should know that they will be getting a great deal on their property taxes.
Real Estate Market
Looking at the real estate market, we see that there is a great demand for housing in Southwest Florida. The population in Florida has been growing steadily for years and is projected to continue doing so. This, combined with the low cost of living and the many tax benefits, makes Southwest Florida a great place to invest in real estate.
Given the three largest counties in Southwest Florida — Charlotte, Collier, and Lee — a rise of 22.1% of sales volume for single-family home sales and an almost $70,000 increase in the median sales price from 2019 to 2020 are seen.
Longboat Key is a small town in Manatee and Sarasota counties with a little over 7,000 residents. It’s a popular destination for tourists and a luxury resort and golf courses.
The real estate market in Longboat Key is very strong. It consists of single family homes and condos with easy access to Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The median listing price for a home in Longboat Key is $1,500,000 with the median listing home price per square foot of $804. Longboat Key is a seller’s market which means that there is more demand for housing than there is available inventory. This demand speaks to the allure of the Longboat Key real estate market.
A barrier island located in the Gulf of Mexico known for its sandy beaches, Siesta Key is a small town in Sarasota County with a population of just over 5,000 people. The real estate market in Siesta Key is also quite strong. The median listing price for a home in Siesta Key is $1,200,000 with the median listing home price per square foot of $794. The median home listing price is trending up to 21.2% over the years showing a continuous appreciation for Siesta Key real estate. Like Longboat Key, Siesta Key is also a seller’s market with a high appreciation for real estate.
Another barrier island in Sarasota Bay, Bird Key is a popular destination for fishing, biking, or for someone that wants to enjoy the sunset. The place offers outstanding amenities and a relaxed lifestyle. The real estate market in Bird Key is very strong with the median listing price for a home at $3,700,000 and the median listing price per square foot of $1,000. The appreciation for Bird Key real estate is also quite high at 39.7% over the years. Bird Key is another seller’s market where homes tend to be higher and sell faster than in other areas in Southwest Florida.
A city south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is home to many cultural institutes and miles of white sand beaches. The place is home to more than 57,000 people. The median listing price for a home in Sarasota is $595,000 with the median listing price per square foot of $334. The appreciation for Sarasota real estate is at the top of the list in Southwest Florida at 43.4%. It is also a seller’s market that experiences high seller’s demand with an average median sold home price of $515,000.
A planned community and census-designated place located in Manatee and southeastern Manatee, Lakewood Ranch is a bustling town that’s constantly growing. The population is over 26,000 people and the median listing price for a home is $689,000 with the median listing price per square foot of $322. The appreciation for Lakewood Ranch real estate is at a steady rate of 44.1%. Lakewood Ranch is a top-rated master-planned community offering high-quality life and great schools.
Within Lee County are the cities of Fort Myers (the county seat), Cape Coral, and Lehigh Acres. These areas make up what is known as the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan statistical area. The population of this metro area is over 770,000.
The real estate market in Lee County is booming. The population is growing and there is a high demand for housing. Lee County itself is a busy market with a lot of activity. Compared to April of 2021 when 2,532 listings were on the market, in April of 2022, a total of 2720 listings were on the market, which is an increase of 188 listings or 7.4%. This means that buyers in Lee County have more houses to choose from than they did last year. The median price per square foot for a home in Lee County is $288,000 whereas the median listing price for a home is $435,000. Out of cities in Lee County, Sanibel Island is seen as the most expensive with a median listing price of $1,300,000.
Cape Coral is the second-largest city in Lee County where Naples, North Naples, and Marco Island are all located. The city has a population of over 180,000.
Cape Coral is a great place to buy a home. With a median listing price of $725,000 and a median price per square foot of $401,000, Cape Coral is a bit more expensive than other areas in Southwest Florida, but still cheaper than most places in the country. A well over 50% annual home value increase is something that has been seen in recent years which is a good signal for future growth in the area. The Pine Ridge area is the most expensive neighborhood in Cape Coral with a median listing price of $2,600,000 with Immokalee as the most affordable at a $230,000 median listing price.
Charlotte County is home to more than 8,700 homes and 23 cities including Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Rotonda West. The county has a population of over 185,000.
The median listing home price in Charlotte County is $419,900 and the median price per square foot is $249 with a $385,000 medium sold home price. Grove City is seen as the most expensive neighborhood with a median listing price of $799,000 and Charlotte Harbor is the most affordable at $207,000.
What Attracts Buyers to Southwest Florida
There are many things that attract buyers to Southwest Florida. The beautiful weather, the beaches, the golf courses, and the many activities and attractions are just some of the things that make this area so desirable.
Southwest Florida is a great place to live, work, and play. Not to mention the quality of education it offers due to having many higher education institutions, including Florida Gulf Coast University, Hodges University, and Edison State College. The University of South Florida itself is known to be one of the country’s fastest-rising universities.
When it comes to career opportunities, there are many in Southwest Florida due to the large number of businesses and industries in the area. The leisure and hospitality, retail, construction, and professional and business services industries are some of the largest employers in the region.
Transportation in Southwest Florida is also good with the many highways and roads that pass through the area, including Interstate 75, which runs north and south through the region. Southwest Florida International Airport is the second busiest airport in the state and serves over 10.3 million passengers each year. The place is also home to one of the largest taxi fleets and airport transportation services in the world which is the SWFL Transportation Group Inc. That means getting around the area, whether you’re using public transportation or your own vehicle, is easy and convenient.
Brista Realty Can Help
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell in the Southwest Florida area, the agents at Brista Realty can help. Contact us today for all of your real estate needs.