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Lay of the land

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  • | 11:00 a.m. March 31, 2017
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For a positive note about the near-term future of the economy, check out national economist Mark Dotzour.

The former chief economist and research director at Texas A&M University, Dotzour, speaking recently at a conference in the Omni Orlando Resort, says 87% of his retirement portfolio is in commercial real estate. He also believes “we're in a new bull market for single-family homes,” because millennials will soon start marrying, having kids and buying houses, according to a statement.

Dotzour was one of several speakers at the ninth annual Lay of the Land Florida Land Conference hosted by Lakeland-based Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate. Other speakers included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Dotzour believes the United States is in the “sixth or seventh inning” of its current economic expansion. “Businesspeople and consumers are pretty optimistic right now; you wouldn't know that by watching TV,” says Dotzour. That's not a political opinion he adds, according to the statement, insisting he's neither Republican nor Democrat, but “a registered cynic.”

Conference attendees also received the comprehensive Lay of the Land Market Report, which looks at 10 different property types. Report highlights include:

• Interest in ranchland tapered off slightly in 2016 after three straight years of annualized growth in land values of just more than 10%. The average value in 2016 was $3,287 per acre, a 3% reduction from 2015. Interest from overseas buyers and celebrities remains strong; professional athletes purchased several ranches in 2016;
• The average price paid per acre in the citrus region that includes Manatee through Collier counties increased slightly in 2016 over 2015, despite citrus greening disease;
• The lone sale in farmland/cropland recorded in the Immokalee growing region — Collier, Hendry and Lee counties — was one of the higher prices posted in several years, at $13,753 per farmable acre;
• The Palmetto and Ruskin growing regions, in Manatee and Hillsborough counties, respectively, continue to have stable market values, both averaging $7,000 to $8,500 per farmable acre.
• Depending on proximity to packinghouses and irrigation infrastructure, an existing strawberry operation can easily have values in excess of $30,000 to $35,000 per farmable acre in the Plant City area.
• Two of 10 strawberry and row crop farms sold in Hillsborough County in 2016, a total of 195 gross acres, were bought for residential and commercial development. Farmland is pressured by “urbanization in Hillsborough County,” the report states. “Housing demand is on the rise in the southwestern area of the county and commercial warehousing developers continue to expand along the Interstate-4/County Line Road corridor.”


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