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Jacksonville, Florida Market Analysis
by Raymond Rodriguez, Market Consultant


Jacksonville is on the great double loop of the St. Johns River, the nation's longest north-flowing river. A busy seaport, it is one of Florida's major cultural, financial, industrial, transportation and commercial centers. The city is also a wholesale lumber market and coffee importation port and is home to a naval stores yard. Two important interstate highways, I-95 and I-10, intersect in the Jacksonville downtown area. I-95 traverses the United States from north to south beginning in Maine and ending in Miami. I-10 connects Jacksonville on the East Coast with Los Angeles by way of New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Tucson and Phoenix.

For many visitors heading south Jacksonville is, geographically at least, Florida's unofficial welcome center and the city is a fine example of what the Sunshine State is all about. Jacksonville and its environs have miles of beautiful sand beaches and an assortment of museums, professional sports and abundant recreational facilities.

According to the Census Bureau and a study done by Fishkind & Associates, a local consulting group, an estimated 75 households per day relocate to the Jacksonville Metropolitan area. This equates to over 24,000 additional households per year in Jacksonville population. In this report I will share with you growth plans generated by the city along with a report endorsed by the City of Jacksonville and The Chamber Of Commerce. This includes 1,000+ participants who addressed social, education, employment and economic issues. I will illustrate how workforce detached housing in the low $100,000 range has been abandoned by the building industry in recent years. I will show how small real estate investors-turned-builder/rehabber are filling this void created by the building industry. Finally, I will outline investment opportunities in the $50,000 to $125,000 home price range, which will allow investors to capitalize on recent new employment announcements of international shipping companies setting up shop in the Florida's First Coast known as Jacksonville.

Better Jacksonville Plan
Voters approved "The Better Jacksonville Plan" in 2001. This 2.25 billion dollar plan provides road and infrastructure improvements, environmental preservation, targeted economic development and new and improved public facilities. The plan is scheduled to be completed by 2010. Improvements can be seen especially in the northwest sector of Jacksonville, north of Interstate 10. Redevelopment efforts in Jacksonville are currently underway and can be seen driving throughout targeted areas. The Jacksonville Economic Commission has identified the Soutel/Moncrief area as a blighted area and redevelopment plans are underway, which are designed to bring retail and more local jobs to the area. (This area currently has an abundance of rental property that is in high demand and can be bought by the experienced investor for well under $100,000) Businesses located in the "Enterprise Zone" receive special monthly tax credits against their Florida sales and use tax liability. A map follows this page outlining an area referred to as the "Enterprise Zone".

CSX Transportation, Winn Dixie, Bank of America, US Navy, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Baptist Health Systems, Publix Distribution Center, Citibank and Fidelity National are just some of the major employers in the "River City". As Jacksonville pursues its new economic engine, international trade is becoming an important component of Jacksonville's future. In 2007, Mitsui, a South Korean container shipping company, announced its relocation to Jacksonville. According to company press releases, they're scheduled to open operations by the end of 2008. Mitsui will bring 1,300 jobs, having an indirect impact of up to 5,000 jobs. The establishment of Mitsui paved the way for another shipping container company, Hanjin, to set up shop in 2011, bringing an additional 6,000 jobs to Jacksonville.

A locator map follows the "Enterprise Zone" map, pinpointing the location of such operations. The area east of Interstate 95 adjacent to the proposed container shipping sites has an existing housing inventory of 12,038 units at a median price of $215,800. Opposite I-95, in the northwest sector, there are 52,204 housing units at a median price of $89,500. The northwest sector has over four times the amount of homes, when compared to the container shipping area and is nearly 60% lower in terms of median sales price.

Blueprint for Prosperity
In 2005, the City Of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and WorkSource embarked on BluePrint for Prosperity, a partnership to improve our community through concentrated efforts in six foundation areas: Education, Economic Development, Quality of Life, Racial Opportunity and Harmony, Infrastructure and Leadership. Blueprint's top priority is to increase economic opportunity and raise the per capita and household income of Duval County residents. The opportunity for the investment sector to provide affordable housing is great. Unfortunately for consumers, attached housing was often their only option for new housing priced under $200,000. The lack of affordable new housing available for consumers to purchase created opportunities for real estate investors-turned-builders, to benefit financially by constructing or refurbishing single family detached housing under $200,000.

Since the year 2000, home prices in Jacksonville have risen annually by 6.7%. The figure is based on 129,727 recorded deeds, processed in the greater Jacksonville area, related to single family homes. This appreciation rate is conservative compared to most other areas in Florida. The lack of affordable housing remains evident in Jacksonville. Currently, there is a high inventory of middle to upper income homes which has driven some of their values downward. Nonetheless, sales prices and rental rates still remain so high that it keeps these homes in less demand. This opens the doors for investors to prosper by offering housing to lower income households.

I have only briefly reviewed redevelopment plans by the City of Jacksonville. If you would like further information on the plans mentioned herein, I suggest visiting and go to Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

In 2000, 1,000 existing single-family detached housing units were sold in the northeast and northwest sectors priced between $50,000 and $125,000. The number of homes to be sold in 2007 is forecasted at 900. In the workforce housing arena, Habijax (the local branch of Habitat for Humanity) accounts for 95% of the new homes sold between $50,000 and $125,000. A survey of 452 homes sold in 2007 in a price range between $50,000 and $125,000 revealed that 56% of the homes purchased were homesteaded [chosen as primary residence]. At last count, 79% of the builders who build new homes are pricing their homes at $150,000 and above. These builders currently represent 95% of the new home sales creating a void/opportunity for smaller entities to enter the new housing market. The existing home market offers little in the way at home listings under $100,000. In addition, listings in the low $100,000 range are mainly attached housing.

As noted above, statistics show that an average 75 households per day relocate to the Jacksonville area. The Better Jacksonville Plan focuses on infrastructure improvements and making blighted areas more attractive. JEDC, a branch of the City of Jacksonville, is the group in charge of managing the city's economic employment engine. When considering relocating to the Jacksonville area, companies with sizeable numbers of employees meet initially with The Jacksonville Economic Commission as part of their due diligence. The Enterprise Zone, a geographical area established by the city, entices private enterprise to set up shop in forgotten areas allowing them to benefit financially from the tax breaks. We also learned that container shipping companies like Mitsui and Hanjin will bring more than 10,000 jobs to Jacksonville in years to come. Workforce housing is a top priority within city governments. The challenge set forth by the growth in population is how to meet the demand for housing? We know the housing void created by the building industry is being filled by investors-turned-builders offering new and refurbished homes. There is no doubt, workforce housing is a top priority among all Florida county governments. Jacksonville is taking that lead by implementing numerous initiatives addressing the issue. In my 23 years as a resident of Jacksonville, I see no better time for a properly executed housing venture to prosper from the tremendous population and business growth Jacksonville is experiencing.


Why Jacksonville?
The "River City" has been highly ranked by numerous independent organizations and publications. From its low tax burden to high quality of life, Jacksonville soars above other cities in side-by-side comparisons. This translates into big returns for Jacksonville companies and an inherent advantage over their out-of-town competition.

Here is just a few samples of Jacksonville's many rankings and accolades.

  • No. 3 "Best City in the U.S. for Jobs" (Forbes magazine - 2007)
  • No. 6 "Best City in the U.S for Retirees"(Forbes magazine - 2007)
  • No. 10 "Fastest Growing City" (Forbes magazine - 2007)
  • Downtown Jacksonville has been named the "Best Downtown Development Retail Opportunity in the Nation" (Retail Traffic magazine - 2007)
  • Jacksonville is the fastest growing U.S.-foreign trade gateway, earning it the title of #1 Gem in the Expanding U.S. Export Market from leading research group, Global Insight, Inc.
  • Jacksonville is No. 29 of the 100 largest metros in the United States and No. 2 in the state of Florida in income growth (Bizjournals - 2007)
  • No. 5 "Best State Business Tax Climate" in the Nation (Tax Foundation - 2007)
  • "2006 Major Market of the Year" (Southern Business & Development magazine - 2006)

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