Now that 2013 is underway, let’s take one last look at how 2012 shaped up.
Retail sales were up. Tourism was up. Construction was up. Real estate sales were up. Unemployment was down.
By May, business owners and analysts were reporting the beginning of a rebound. Monthly sales reports from the Naples Area Board of Realtors became increasingly upbeat. The year ended with double-digit increases in sales and inventory significantly declined, showing the real estate recovery had begin in Collier County.
Bed taxes charged on hotel stays and other vacation rentals hit a record high in 2011-2012, totaling about $14.9 million. In late 2012, passenger travel number began tracking up again at Southwest Florida International Airport.
As tourism rebounded, seasonal employment rose. With it, the unemployment rate got better in Collier County. A December report showed both Collier and Lee counties added nearly 8,000 jobs from November to December.
Collier’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in November, down from 9.6 percent a year ago.
Planned residential developments are back in Southwest Florida. Taylor Morrison, WCI Communities, Stock Development, GL Homes, Toll Brothers are all building again. Even some new builders, like FrontDoor Communities, have entered the Naples market.
Sagging real estate sales in recent years reversed in 2012, and foreign buyers played a role in that trend. Home buyer from Canada, Brazil, Russia and other countries see Southwest Florida as a permanent residential destination, whether as an investment or as a full-time home.
From July 2011 to June 2012, foreigners accounted for 19 percent of the home sales volume in Florida, led by Canadians, according to an industry report by Florida Realtors.