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Florida Real Estate Is Booming

May 18, 2018 - 6:00am
Conference photo credit: Dean Saunders and Florida Trend
Conference photo credit: Dean Saunders and Florida Trend

Here's news the mainstream media will ignore or shoo to the back pages ... shhh, Gov. Rick Scott might get some credit ... but facts are facts: The residential land market in Florida is "very strong as a result of the improving economy, combined with the continued influx of almost 1,000 people per day to the state."

Not my words, they come from "Lay of the Land," a new market report via Florida Trend. The report provides an accounting of verified land sales from 2017.

“As demand for residential development land increases, sales of agriculture land in the paths of progress increase," says Dean Saunders, owner of Lakeland-based Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate and publisher of the report.  "With the capital earned from selling land for high development prices, sellers are reinvesting in other rural agriculture land.”

Saunders, once a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles and later a Florida legislator, conducted his "Lay of the Land" conference in April at Champions Gate near Orlando. It was the ninth such annual event his firm has sponsored.

Where is all the residential growth occurring? Much of it is along the I-4 corridor from Tampa to Daytona Beach. 

Dean Saunders
Dean Saunders

Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Jerry Parrish told conference attendees that from Jan. 1 to April 6, 83,524 people had moved into Florida, and the state’s adjusted gross income grew by $2 billion. He said people from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Connecticut -- in that order -- lead the migration into the state.

Of 19 counties specifically studied for the report, the real estate market in counties along the Treasure Coast and surrounding it -- Indian River, St. Lucie, Brevard, Martin, and Okeechobee -- was the hottest.

In Indian River County, 5-acre ranchette lots sold at the bottom of the market in the $10,000 to $12,000 range. Compare that to prices two counties to the south in Martin, with a few sales in the $25,000 to $50,000 range for home sites of approximately 5 acres.

Other highlights in the report:

-- Average cost of a usable acre in Central Florida is $56,672. But the range is big and depends on a lot of factors (jobs, shopping, recreation, for instance) ... Martin County, over $200,000 per acre; St. Lucie County, a little below $20,000 per acre. 

-- In all of Florida, the most significant sale in 2017 was a sale in Martin County, Pero Farms to Gladstone: 3,518 gross acres for $55 million.

-- The citrus industry "continues its tailspin" because of citrus greening and Hurricane Irma.

-- Citrus groves no longer productive are selling in the $3,500 to $5,300 per acre range, while better-producing groves are fetching $5,000 to $8,000 per acre.

-- Okeechobee County farm sales ranged from $4,849 per upland acre, where conversion from citrus was required, to $7,080 per upland acre for a turnkey farming operation.

-- Gone are the recession days when there was a large inventory of single-family building lots -- that's pretty much gone now.

-- As for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), lands in the central region of the EAA, within Palm Beach County, "are the most desirable, with prices exceeding $11,000 per acre."

Florida land brokers “are all slammed; we are all busy,” Saunders said. He attributed the recent high land sales activity in part to high consumer confidence and tax reform. The development of solar farms, Florida’s huge population growth and a strong housing market also bolster land sales.

He singled out 1031 exchanges for their contribution to land-sales activity. Those are the exchanges that allow landowners to sell one piece of real estate and defer taxes on the sale by buying another. The 1031 exchanges are a great deal, Saunders said, adding, “Don’t pay Uncle Sam; go buy something else.”

Bullish-on-Florida Saunders' parting three words to conference goers repeated the theme: "Buy some land."

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith  



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I hear the "Golden Goose" gagging and choking; Oranges are drying out on the tree or being bulldozed over for housing lots; "Juan Valdez" is riding his Burro towards Tallahassee; The "Illegal Alien Invaders" are still "riding the trains" from Central & South America: WELCOME to "Flori-fornia" ! And THANK YOU "Visit Florida" ! And THAT'S THE "Lay of the Land" !!!!!!!

People can move here all they want. But if Florida doesn't start paying a decent salary, they won't stay long. Florida mentality is that if you don't like what we pay you, leave. There's plenty of snowbirds moving here to take your place. And that attitude sucks. Florida's economy eggs are all in the tourism basket. Unfortunately, when the economy up north sucks, they don't come down here. Make it easier for corporations to move their headquarters here. That would be a good start.

Typical partisan snot rag. Any idiot with a basic understanding of economics knows that FL's markets have very little to do with individual political decisions. Bottom line, FL does well when the economic climate nationally does well. The nation has been booming for ah, say 10 years now, until the just recent downturn... Why, tourism, tourism and hospitality jobs, etc. When people from other states, countries, etc. have money and prosperity, they travel. When that happens we need jobs to welcome them. We need construction and growth to accommodate them, etc. Of course, it is convenient to take credit for that growth while you are in office. Scott does it, Trump did it, until the recent tanking in the markets, big increases in the trade deficits, full $1 increase in gas. All of the sudden, he has gone completely silent on the subject. Now they are back to touting the tax cuts, that put an extra $28 in my check. However, my rich Uncle Gene says he will make millions off of them. You start to see a pattern here, except of course the partisan sheep of both parties...

Florida suffered a major hurricane end to end last year yet we broke records for tourism, our taxes stay low and people still want to move here. You, pal, are a typical liberal whiner. You don't want to give the governor who has been working to lift the state economy for seven years any credit, who you gonna give it to? Which of your liberal buddies?

typical Republican cork sucker... keep sucking corky...your hooked. I never will be to either side mama's boy...

WELL, Obama (and his corrupt Administration) CERTAINLY CAN'T take credit.....unless Florida *implodes* and turns into NY, NJ, or Calif. THEN Obama can take credit because of his "Saul Alinsky plan" to fulfill "Daddy Obama's dream"

spoken like a typical NY fat ass w/o a job from the trailer park...

Governor Scott and the Legislature created an environment where businesses could thrive and they have. So has President Trump. Yes, I have extra money in my paycheck, it is nice. It helps with my monthly expenses. It may be 'crumbs' to you, but to millions of Americans, it is more money to buy food, gas, help with bills. The Democrat Party has evolved into an elitist rich old men/women party. Remember when they represented "the common man"?

MRSRA! Make Rick Scott Rich Again! The medicare money wasn't enough.

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