Affordability gap

Lee prices have outpaced earning power light_bulb A News-Press article addresses the ongoing challenge for many to buy into the real estate market here in Southwest Florida. The median housing price of $280,500 (down from $287,200 in January) may seem affordable to those living in the Northeast or along the East coast of Florida. Unfortunately the average Lee County wage earner can only afford a home just slightly over $200,000. In my view, the lack of quality jobs is a much bigger challenge for the region than the price of housing. I truly believe that we have one of the more under-employed work forces in the country. The percentage of Southwest Floridians involved in the housing industry is staggeringly high. In places like Lehigh and Cape Coral the major industry is residential home building. What can be done to improve the quality of jobs in the region? Well certainly the ongoing developments at FGCU and Ave Maria University are a good place to start. Inevitably some of the shining stars will elect to stay in the area and start businesses. In the past, our best and brightest have been lured by the riches associated with the real estate boom here in Florida. The current slowdown in the housing market will also drive the development of commercial projects. Today, even if a company wanted to relocate to the region, they would be challenged to find suitable space. Hopefully our elected leaders can be effective at steering developers towards commercial development. I would much rather see the local governments investing in infrastructure to support quality job growth rather than rather than residential or retail growth. Falling home prices yet to hit buyers' reach [New-Press] Cape's affordability questioned [News-Press] Cape planners have big visions [News-Press]

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