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Southwest Florida Enjoys Big Increase in Building Permits After Irma

A new home under construction in Naples, Florida by Nova Homes of South Florida

In a fact-filled presentation Randy Thibaut compared Southwest Florida's real estate market to that "nasty sea hag Irma."

As with the hurricane, he said, "There are things we need to watch for or we get slammed."

The facts are important and can't be ignored, Thibaut said in the intro to his 45-minute talk at Market Trends.

Thibaut, president and CEO of Land Solutions Inc., was the keynote speaker at the seventh annual event, held at the Miromar Design Center in Estero, on Tuesday night. The event is hosted jointly by the Collier Building Industry Association and the Lee Building Industry Association.

Moving on from Irma, Thibaut got into the nitty-gritty numbers, starting with housing permits in Southwest Florida.

In 2016 about 11,000 new housing units were permitted in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. Thibaut predicted a leveling off would follow, but "thank goodness I was wrong," he said.

Instead, the three-county area has seen a 21 percent increase in permits in 2017 — with more than 13,000 permits expected to be pulled this year.

Also, Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres have had a surge in permits for homes under $300,000, sought by first-time homebuyers, retirees and others.

For eight years, housing permits have risen steadily year over year in Southwest Florida, except for in 2016, but there are always ups and downs in any real estate cycle, Thibaut said.

He said there are blue skies now. Neighbors united and worked together to get through Irma and clean up the mess it left behind, but he warned that there's a need to be careful and to look out for signs of an economic storm.

Some of the signs to look out for, he said, are rising interest rates, an increase in home equity loans, political changes, changes in lending practices, and higher impact fees.

Permits are always a good gauge of what's going on in the market, Thibaut said.

"Every quarter is going to count right now," he said. "Let's hope that they keep going up."

Nova Homes of South Florida is building custom homes in Southwest Florida's best neighborhoods. Customers can bring in a plan of their own, customize one of Nova Homes' popular floor plans, or they will design a custom home from scratch. For more information call 239.307.6116 or visit

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