Real estate improvement seen throughout state

Real estate news around Florida is getting better by the day it seems. Thatís great news for everyone, and we hope the trend continues right here in Highlands County. So much of our areaís economic success depends on home sales and construction. A Tampa Tribune article by Michael Sasso stated that prices are up 20 percent in the Tampa Bay market. That means bidding wars are breaking out for some properties. Weíve heard that happening in Highlands County in the last week as well, for some high-dollar property. A lot of the sales are cash purchases, according to real estate professionals. In the Tampa Bay market much of that is coming from out-of-state investment firms snapping up below-market prices. Local realtors donít care where the sales are coming from because it means property is moving. Thatís understandable. Other experts, though, wish it were more families buying homes than investment firms who may dump the houses in a few years and depress the market again. Right now we just want our real estate market doing better. Getting those foreclosed properties off the market is the only way weíll see better prices and a return to home building. Those construction and real estate jobs are vital to Highlands Countyís economy. That money flows to every corner of our communities, improving lives and building stronger bonds.
Our countyís job market is not diversified, so when the economy tanked in 2006-07, Highlands was hit particularly hard. Manufacturing on a large level was not here to help pull us out of the recession so construction and real estate is our best chance at reversing a tough trend. The businesses that somehow hung on the last seven years deserve credit and we hope they now flourish. We also hope that the businesses and jobs that were lost can start returning. Highlands County still lags behind other parts of the state in a rebound, but things are improving and can continue to get better, even if at a slower pace. We want it turned around now, but we also know that a steady growth pattern without a bubble is whatís best for everyone. Letís hope this one continues.