Lack of land puts the squeeze on SoFla’s homebuilders

Developable plots are often located west, far from urban centers

Exterior shot of a model home in Kolter’s Alton development in Palm Beach Gardens
Exterior shot of a model home in Kolter’s Alton development in Palm Beach Gardens

With the Everglades on one side and the ocean on another, it’s no secret that South Florida’s stock of developable land is limited.

But a new study reportedly shows that the region’s shortage has made it one of the worst areas in the country for building homes.

Citing a study by contracting website BuildZoom, the Sun Sentinel reported that South Florida was the 12th most difficult metropolitan areas for homebuilders. The worst regions were Honolulu, Hawaii, and Los Angeles, California.

The ranking was based off the size of an area’s housing stock and the rise in home prices between 2000 and 2015. In South Florida, home prices ballooned by roughly 80 percent in that time period, while the number of homes grew 17 percent, the Sun Sentinel reported.

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Truly Burton, executive director of the Builders Association of South Florida, told the publication that large plots of land suitable for master-planned communities are quickly disappearing. Parkland is the only city that could support such a development in Broward, according to the Sun Sentinel, and the largest chunks of available land in Palm Beach County is located far to the west — away from big shopping centers.

That lack of land has also driven many developers to focus on luxury projects and condos, which has contributed to the region’s rising average home prices.

Another report from Metrostudy showed South Florida only had 6,374 home starts over the past year.

“This [tri-county] market should easily be doing 15,000 to 20,000 starts a year,” David Cobb, regional director for Metrostudy, told the publication. “The main bottleneck is the supply of land.” [Sun Sentinel]Sean Stewart-Muniz