Submitted Shown is the resort-style pool at the village center in Paseo, the Lee Building Industry Association's Community of the Year.
FORT MYERS — Builders pulled nearly twice the number of single-family permits in May than they did a year ago in unincorporated Lee County.
The county staff issued 80 permits, valued at about $16.3 million last month. That was up from 66 permits in April and 44 in May of last year, according to a monthly report by the county’s Department of Community Development.
“It’s all good news, but all news, good and bad, should be taken with a grain of salt,” said Denny Grimes, a real estate broker with Denny Grimes & Co. Inc., at Royal Shell Real Estate in Fort Myers.
He gave this example, to drive home his point:
“If you only have a quarter in your pocket, and you find another quarter on the sidewalk, you basically double your net worth. Permits doubling is good news, in that we have another quarter in our pocket, but we’re not ready to retire yet,” he said.
Last month, Lee also saw a jump in multifamily permits over the year. In May, there were 43, compared to 14 a year ago. In April, there were 65, county records show.
Building is still at a crawl and only beginning to pick up steam, Grimes said.
“This is good news, but then again the building industry isn’t running on all eight cylinders yet,” he said.
Most of the activity in housing is coming from national builders, who are looking to meet demand in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range, with the inventory so low in that market.
“The timing is right for them because there is very little resale inventory,” Grimes said. “Interest rates are still low and the consumer and the buyer sense that now is the time to buy.”
Last month, Lee County Community Development issued 3,502 permits of all kinds in the unincorporated area, which excludes cities and towns.
General commercial activity was valued at $687,525 for 115 permits, compared to nearly $1.2 million in April and $5.4 million in May of last year.
Commercial development traditionally follows residential development, so it’s still slow in general, Grimes said.
“Commercial has still not worked through their inventory,” he said. “That will take some time to do.”