In 2022, Florida had the highest population growth rate of any state at 1.9% and the second largest nominal growth in population at 416,754. Florida’s population was at 22,244,823 as of July 1st, 2022, the third largest state population in the U.S. The population of Florida has not experienced a decline since 1946. Because of continual high population growth, the housing market in Florida has been one of the strongest across the nation.
Florida has 22 Census designated MSAs. The largest is Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach with a population just above 6 million. The second largest MSA in Florida is Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater with a population around 3.2 million. Below are the top ten largest MSAs in Florida by population.
The top ten MSAs for single-family permit totals in Florida are similar to the population rankings. One major difference is that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach had the 7th most single-family permits in 2021. Pre-Great Recession numbers show that Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach in the past was consistently the highest single-family permitting area in Florida, reaching a height of 27,139 single-family permits in 1988. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA has remained at relatively low single-family permitting levels since the Great Recession. Port St. Lucie and Ocala both rank in the top ten for single-family permits while both were not in the top ten for population.
Single-family permits per capita is a statistic that we can use to compare the different MSAs of Florida. With the total number of single-family permits, we are unable to compare MSAs on an equal level because areas with higher populations almost always have more single-family permits. In the section below, we take a closer look at the ten MSAs that had the highest single-family permits per capita in 2021.
Top 10 MSAs by Single-family permits Per Capita
The ten highest single-family permits per capita per MSA in 2021 are all displayed in the map above along with their 2021 total single-family permits and population estimates. Six of the ten MSAs are located on the Gulf coast of Florida while only one is along the Atlantic coast.
Within the top ten single-family permits per capita MSAs, only three of the highest population areas in Florida make the top ten. They are Cape Coral-Fort Myers, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and Lakeland-Winter Haven which had the sixth, fourth and fifth single-family permits per capita in 2021. Among the highest total single-family permitting areas in Florida, five of the MSAs were also among the highest permit per capita areas in 2021. The Villages, an area popular with retirees, had the highest permit per capita value at 0.029. This was well above the next highest in Punta Gorda at 0.018.
Looking at the population growth of these ten MSAs, Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island had the highest median growth rate over the past 41-years at 4.14% making it the only MSA of the ten to have a median population growth above 4.0%. The Villages had the second highest population growth rate was at 3.92%. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin was the only MSA of the ten to have a median population growth rate below 2.0% at 1.93% between 1980-2021.
The most single-family permits among the ten MSAs in 2021 was in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton at 12,106. The highest total number of single-family permits over the past 41 years was in Cape Coral-Fort Myers in 2005 at 22,211. This value is well above any other total single-family permits in the 41-year period. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Lakeland-Winter Haven, and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton have consistently authorized the most single-family permits of the ten MSAs since 2015, the three MSAs are also the largest with populations above 700,000.
Due to the large generation of Baby Boomers entering retirement, The Villages has regularly needed to build for a rapid increase in population. The Villages had the second highest median growth rate among the ten MSAs but has a significantly higher median permits per capita over the 41-year period. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and Lakeland-Winter Haven, two of the large MSAs of the ten, both had higher permits per capita in 2021 than their median permits per capita over the past 41-years. Lakeland-Winter Haven had the lowest median permits per capita, being the only one below 0.0075.
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Islands, the MSA that had the highest median population growth rate, has never held the highest yearly single-family permits per capita dating back to 1980. While this MSA did have the second highest median single-family permits per capita among the ten, it was the lowest in 2021. The Villages has consistently been the highest of the ten, with the exception of 2002, reaching a pre-Great Recession peak at 0.072 in 2005. None of the ten MSAs have returned to their pre-Great Recession peak level permits per capita.
This article highlights the strong population growth rate in Florida, which could be a great opportunity for construction loan and builder loan providers, such as BuilderLoans.net, to increase their presence in the area.