A little spring in Orlando’s step


Adobe Stock / Pakhnyushchyy

The spring break – usually some time from the first week of March through the third week of April – is an important time for the Orlando economy, and it could be even more important in 2021. Tourism remains the top industry in Orlando, accounting for over 20% of pre-pandemic jobs.

In the last few months we have seen some important improvement trends. As reported by Orlando International Airport, the number of passengers has risen steadily since last April. While we are still seeing declines in April 2021 compared to the same period last year, we will see a sharp increase in passengers, hotel bookings and visitor numbers in theme parks compared to the previous year. Vacation trips to Orlando expose more people to the lifestyles and benefits of living here year round, and ultimately create a future demand for housing.

In a recent webinar with the Greater Orlando Builders Association, a Visit Orlando representative said that 2021 will see all facets of the travel industry grow compared to 2020. He believed that 2023 will approach pre-pandemic levels in terms of travel.He expects the travel industry to recover fully by 2024 and grow beyond 2019 levels.

Despite the pandemic-related job losses, the demand for residential property remains strong. From 2017 to 2019 (latest available census data), Orlando was the fastest growing city in Florida.

While Orlando saw moderate year-over-year sales growth in new home sales compared to January 2020 (a strong month before the pandemic), it was one of only four cities in the Zonda New Home Pending Sales Index in January 2021 that saw the month increase. monthly sales. This is an early sign of a strong “snowbird season” in 2021 – while it is typically defined by retirees and second home buyers who live in Florida during the winter, the strong sales are carried by first-time buyers and resettlers who work from home .

Source: Zonda; Data are seasonally adjusted and from December 2020

Our survey data on apartment starts (cast plate) and closings (actual occupancy) showed 2020 was flat for starts while closings in the Orlando CBSA increased 1.7%. Osceola County was hardest hit by job losses in the recreational and hospitality sectors, with housing starts declining 4.3% in 2020. As travel costs improve in 2021, residential activity in Osceola County should follow suit. We anticipate residential real estate launches and closings for the CBSA in Orlando to spike in 2021 as demand continues to outpace supply.


Janet Smith