Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Editorials

Local economy improves if real estate improves

Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:39 PM

Nothing will help Highlands County rebound economically like a strong real estate market. That's why it's promising news that indicators are pointing up in that regard, but not way up. And that's even better.

Investors are snagging real estate treasures in Highlands County these days, according to local real estate professionals. That shouldn't be a surprise, considering the amazing prices on houses in this market.

It also helps that banks seem to be lending more freely, as well as closing in a timely manner. A recent complaint from some Realtors was that banks kept putting off closings, frustrating buyers and sellers. Maybe we're getting past that.

A lot of buyers are plunking down cash on houses, Realtors are saying. And some of these houses are for investment purposes. That's good and bad, depending on who you are. Mostly, though, it's good. We have too much inventory due to foreclosures and such. We need to get that whittled down so new home construction can fire up and provide more jobs.

As much as those salad days in 2005 were nice, with home prices doubling and loans being handed out, it hurt us in the long run. That's why a nice real estate market with growth, but no boom, would serve us well. We don't need another bubble bursting and killing off home sales. We don't believe that will happen.

Highlands County has lagged behind so many other places in the state and country because we don't have giant employers or industry here. Construction and real estate is a major factor in our economy and we need that sector to be successful. Every other part of our economy improves if those two areas improve and that money filters through.

The fear some real estate agents have is that people wanting to sell their homes will take this good news as a reason to jack up the prices. It's understandable why someone would want to do that, especially since prices are so depressed. But sudden higher prices could slow down the market and that's the last thing we need.

No one's claiming all is well and back to normal after five or six extremely hard years, but there's reason to be optimistic. Signs are looking up right now and that's fantastic news. We haven't had a lot of good news on the Highlands County economic front for a long time. Perhaps we're finally getting there.

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