“Booming” Real Estate, Business Activity, Tourism

Downtown Fernandina Beach, Winter Afternoon (Feb. 2017)
Downtown Fernandina Beach, Winter Afternoon (Feb. 2017)
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.


“Confluence of Prosperity”

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

Obviously, this catchy statement represents plagiarism in its rawest form (it is a lyric from a popular ’60s song). However, it also reflects a mood, a vibrancy, a confidence you can feel in Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island.

Properties are sold weeks or a few months after listings here. Some are getting multiple offers on them. Help-wanted signs are hung at small businesses and large retailers, reflecting the low unemployment rate here. Lines of cars — many with out-of-state license plates — form along Atlantic Avenue to get into downtown Fernandina Beach on busy weekends.

New restaurants are opening, and those already here overflow with patrons on wait lists.

Down Under Restaurant To Reopen in 2017 Fernandina Beach
“Blast From The Past,” Fernandina’s Down Under Being Renovated

New homes pop up like spring flowers, and sell quickly. Local resorts boast high occupancy rates and lavish new offerings.

“Everyone wants what we have here,” says Darlene Morris, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Chaplin Williams Realty on Amelia Island. “We’re lucky to be here.”

Early Risers Head To Beach To Watch Sunrise, Amelia Island
Tourists cannot get here fast enough. Visitors revel in the low density, the historic charm, the natural amenities. Some people are even moving here from South Florida, tired of the congestion and hassles there. Inquiries are coming in to local real estate offices from as far away as Alaska and California. Many come in from the Midwest, the Northeast, the Carolinas.

While inventories of existing homes have declined to 17-year lows across the U.S., homebuilders like Pulte and KB Home are as busy as one-arm wallpaper hangers. And their stock prices are jumping like LeBron James.

Several smaller subdivisions are bustling on Amelia Island, while Yulee is a beehive of building activity. The new homes rarely sit for long. The competing inventory of existing homes is dwindling here, especially on Amelia Island, as demand overwhelms supply.
But it’s just not here. Consumer sentiment reached a 13-year high last month across the U.S. And big and small businesses are thriving. Small business optimism rose to the highest levels since 2004, but increased (from previous readings) by the most since 1980. Now that’s sugar-high enthusiasm among consumers and businesses.

And the U.S. stock market is making records faster than Adele. It’s important to note that the stock market is a leading indicator in many ways. It acts as a forecasting mechanism for what lies ahead in six to nine months — for the U.S. economy, for businesses, for the global markets.

On Amelia Island, and around Nassau County, something good is happening here. Tourism and new residents and business activity are creating a confluence of prosperity. In a nutshell, as one local real estate professional states, “it’s booming.”

Steve Nicklas
Steve Nicklas
(Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor and a chartered retirement planning counselor with a major U.S. firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. His financial columns appear in several newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of columns he has written over the last 20 years. The book is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at thenicklasteam2@msn.com.)

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