Positive News For Jacksonville, Florida Real Estate Market, Economy

The Jacksonville, Florida housing market has been ranked #4 of the “Top 20 Healthiest Housing Markets” in the USA by Builder magazine. Furthermore, the metropolitan area is poised to “fare better in its economic recovery than most of the rest of the state over the next three years.” Locally here in Fernandina Beach, new construction activity is beginning to sprout once again.

Amelia Island new construction home in Fernandina Beach October 2011
New home under construction on Amelia Island (in Fernandina Beach) by Bryan Lendry Custom Homes. Photo October 2011.

The Jacksonville housing market in northeast Florida has been ranked #4 of the “Top 20 Healthiest Housing Markets” in the USA. Here’s what Builder magazine reported about the Jacksonville residential real estate market (most recent data available, their mid-2011 update published mid-September 2011):

Seeing a Florida market so high on our list of healthy markets may be a surprise to some. But Jacksonville’s strong employment base has helped it come back before many of the services-dependent housing markets to the south. A strong military presence has always anchored the economy. But a growing financial services sector has added employment in recent years. Employment is expected to rise 3.2 percent next year. Median income is projected to rise 3.3 percent.

Thanks to job growth and a diminished supply of foreclosures, home prices have stabilized; they are slated to rise nearly 5 percent next year. It helps matters that Duval County, home to Jacksonville, has the highest average annual wages in Florida, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2009, wages stood at $58,505.

Builders and developers must sense the market is poised to recover. They have pulled 28 percent more permits through the first half of this year than last. Moody’s expects that growth to accelerate in 2012, with permit activity nearly doubling. Roughly 70 percent of the action is in single-family housing.

More about this analysis: Builder magazine has its “Markets Index,” described as forward-looking (combining both actual data and projections, compiled by Moody’s Economy.com). Next step, data is weighted by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence to create the index. The forward-looking projections are based on what drives housing. They take a look at jobs, income growth, price appreciation and population growth (projected by Moody’s).
Source:  Builder magazine.

The Jacksonville Business Journal has also recently reported Jacksonville’s economic outlook to be healthier than most other markets in the Sunshine State. Based on estimates by a well-known Florida economist, Sean Snaith (director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida), the Jacksonville area is poised to “fare better in its economic recovery than most of the rest of the state over the next three years,”  according to a November 1, 2011 article by the Jacksonville Business Journal.

Source:  Jacksonville Business Journal

A bedroom community of Jacksonville, Nassau County, Florida (including Amelia Island) are located within the Jacksonville MSA and many local residents commute to Jacksonville from Nassau County for employment.

Locally here in Fernandina Beach, new construction activity is beginning to sprout once again. One need only walk through a few neighborhoods to see home improvements underway (new additions and other projects). Additionally, some new construction homes are also being built on Amelia Island and in nearby neighborhoods just off the island (such as building in the Amelia National Golf & Country Club with its Tom Fazio golf course), as well as in nearby communities along the Amelia Concourse.

Then there’s the new retail plaza under construction on A1A at the intersection of Chester Road (just across from Amelia Concourse entry), where the area’s second Publix grocery store is underway and Kohl’s, new to this local market.

Villages of Amelia, new shopping center under construction
Villages of Amelia, new shopping center under construction in Yulee on A1A, near Amelia Island

The Villages of Amelia, a project of commercial developer Sleiman Enterprises of Jacksonville, will have 134,399 square feet of commercial space when completed. The first phase of the new shopping plaza is reportedly anticipated to be completed by year-end 2011.

While this large commercial construction project is coming out of the ground, however, other existing retail shopping plazas do sit with many empty storefronts, both on and off Amelia Island. Thus, there still appears to be a large over-supply of commercial retail space for current demand in Nassau County, Florida. (Even popular Centre Street, the main tourist corridor of the downtown historic district in Fernandina Beach near the riverfront, has empty storefronts available for new businesses to occupy.)


An additional positive sign for the real estate market both nationally and especially in Florida is that housing inventory (homes listed for sale) has substantially declined, according to an article published today by real estate news website, Inman News, referencing Realtor.com data. Inman reported “inventories of homes listed for sale on Realtor.com were down nearly 21 percent in October 2011 from a year ago, with 135 of 146 markets tracked posting double-digit annual percentage declines.” See the Inman article titled “Florida dominates top 20 markets for inventory declines.”

Update November 21, 2011 — Yet another article covering the housing recovery in Northeast Florida, this one reporting housing inventory level is down 31% compared to last year according to October 2011 data from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

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