Along with California, Arizona, and Nevada- Florida is one of the hardest hit states in the nation when it comes to the real estate bust. In the Sunshine State these days the usual optimism is harder to find; many are starting to talk about a need for change.
The foreclosure rate in Florida is frightening; 268,064 properties were foreclosed in the first 6 months of 2009. Put in perspective, that’s 3 times the number of condos and houses sold during the same period. Over the winter Lehigh Acres near Fort Myers became a household word when the collapse of its real estate market got national headlines. Although prices of homes have recently stabilized and some experts even believe prices are now at reasonable limits, there is plenty of fear and even anger.
Florida, where construction is one of the most important industries, is in recession. Unemployment has gone over 10% (10.6) and people are beginning to leave the state. The state’s fiscal coffers are bare – layoffs and cuts are frightening the state’s employees, universities, and residents. Conservationists are scared about recent initiatives which will relax restrictions on growth. In short, optimism is in short supply in a state based on unbridled quantities of it.
The New York Times has a thoughtful article, “On the Mat, Florida Wonders Which Way Is Up” today. Many believe that Florida has to change in significant ways if it is going to succeed in the coming years. It even quotes Florida author Carl Hiaasen, who says of Florida that “…we need to do something bold”.