Market Watch 2020: Blue skies, no recession predicted in Southwest Florida real estate

Blue skies, smooth sailing, dissipating fears of a recession – these are the themes that will be discussed and analyzed during The News-Press Market Watch 2020: Focus on Real Estate.

A recession seems less and less likely to happen soon, an opinion shared by the three Market Watch presenters who were less certain of such smooth sailing one year ago.

Market Watch 2020 will take place 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Hertz Arena in Estero. Tickets are available at $50 per person or premium tables for eight or 10 people at $600 or $750. They can be purchased at MarketWatchSWFL.com.

Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes & Co.; Stan Stouder, founding partner with CRE Consultants and Randy Thibaut, CEO of LSI Companies, each will return as the presenting speakers.

“If you go back a couple of years, we were talking about the effects of Hurricane Irma,” Grimes said. “If you go back a year, we were talking about the effects of blue-green algae and red tide. Now, you’re talking about how Naples is one of the happiest places to retire. You’re talking about how Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres are all top boom towns. There are a lot of different sources of positive publicity for Southwest Florida. Take the politics out of it, and interest rates are still at a three-year low.

“We may be in for a record season, when we’re looking at January through April for residential sales. 2020 has the potential to be a better year than 2015. Of course, the entire Green Bay Packers coaching staff said that before last Sunday’s game. You never know what team shows up.

“There’s not a green light for sellers to start doubling or tripling their prices. But as far as real estate goes, there is not a cloud in the sky.”

Stouder said he would specifically address fears of a recession and how that impacts the market today. He also will spotlight rising values in Fort Myers Beach, the further changes the forthcoming Margaritaville resort will bring and his annual “What’s that?” segment on some of the next big commercial projects coming to the region.

“The broader pieces of what my portion will be, there’s a tension between people and their real estate decisions and the fear of a recession,” Stouder said. “The public has this fear of something coming out of the night and just collapsing and suffocating the market. The most frequent question that I get is, what if there’s another recession? I’m going to address that in what I consider a rather unique way. It’s not going to be: Yes there is. No there’s not.

“I’m going to be speaking to the fear of future recession. I’m going to be speaking to that in the context of what to do if it does or doesn’t happen. There are three positions: I’ll be the smart guy in the room who buys everything at 10 cents on the dollar. I’m going to sell everything I own before it hits. The third position is somewhere in between.”

Thibaut, who has a team of data researchers at LSI, will reveal some of that data at the event.

Until then, he offered a sneak preview of some of the themes he planned to discuss. The themes would be positive.

“And more positive than we expected them to be in 2019,” Thibaut said. “We thought we would have a little grimmer look. There were a lot of good signs in 2019 of how long can this vibrant business market and housing market that we’ve been in for nine years can continue. Traditionally, there’s real estate cycles. Up and then down. We’ve surpassed that. One might wonder, which we did, when we would start to see change. And it didn’t happen.

“In 2020, it’s going to get better.”

While Grimes refrained from getting into the politics, Thibaut jumped at the chance to praise President Donald Trump for the continued upturn in the local real estate market.

“The actions that the fed took to keep the interest rates low and keep this robust economy has worked,” Thibaut said. “Another reason why: We have an influx of millennial buyers who are now entering the new home market. They’re changing their housing from apartments. And they’re in their mid-30s. There’s an influx of those buyers coming to the table who had not been very active in the market for the last decade.

“We’re seeing a lot of value-oriented baby boomers in two categories: Value-oriented. They’re looking for $250,000 or less housing. And luxury buyers on the super high-end who are relocating to Florida for no state income taxes. They’re economically benefiting from that, too.”

Thibaut promised to have updated numbers on the three fastest-selling housing areas in Southwest Florida: Babcock Ranch, Ave Maria and the Place at Corkscrew.

“That validates that we’re seeing the growth north and east,” Thibaut said.

In 2019, there was actually a mild downturn in apartment and new housing building permits, Thibaut said. This has set the stage for potential growth in both those areas in 2020.

“There’s no signs of any significant imbalances in the housing and development industry that would cause significant market corrections in 2020,” Thibaut said. “Up or down. It’s steady as you can go. That’s a good outlook for 2020.”

Market Watch 2020

What: Annual real estate event that will analyze current market trends

When: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25

Where: Hertz Arena in Estero

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