Over the last two years, the number of residential building permits issued by Palm Coast has decreased by almost 38%.
Data from the city of Palm Coast shows that in the summer of 2020, the city was issuing an average of 200 single-family and duplex residential building permits in a month. That number has decreased to an average of 125 a month from August 2020 to July 2023.
In 2005 and 2006, Flagler County was the fastest-growing county in the state. Twenty years later, the county is still the fourth-fastest growing county, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The declining number of issued permits, at a glance, may lead some to believe the growth rate is slowing, but Annamaria Long, an executive officer for the Flagler Home Builders Association, said that isn’t necessarily the case.
For one, Palm Coast has an inventory of new construction builds now.
“We have more housing stock now than we did in 2021 and 2022,” she said. “There wasn’t a choice then but to build a new home.”
With more complete homes to purchase, fewer people are building their own homes, so fewer permits are issued.
Developments also tend to request individual residential permits in batches, Long said, which means that development tends to happen in waves: The developer or builder will request a batch of permits, receive them, build the homes and then request another batch.
The drop in permits is not significant enough to worry, she said.
“What we’re seeing here is actually pretty healthy,” Long said. “What would make me very nervous is if I had really, really large numbers, because they’re not sustainable.”
Realtor Carl Lilavois, of Keller Williams Realty, said that despite the rise in property values in the last few years, Flagler is still one of the cheapest counties in Florida in which to buy a home — especially if a family is moving from a more expensive market.
“They’re selling their property for maybe $750,000,” Lilavois said. “And they’re able to purchase a really nice home here and either A, have more money leftover in the bank, or B, come here, still buy that nice property here, and use the leftover funds that they have to buy a secondary property or an investment.”
Greg Blosé, president and CEO of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber of Commerce, said while residential growth may not be slowing down, Palm Coast and the county need to focus on bringing in businesses.
“We’re upside down on the percentage of our population, the residents paying taxes versus businesses,” Blosé said.
Blosé said some industries are drawn to an area by the number of rooftops: retail stores like Walmart, Target and Publix. And while those are good jobs too, he said, the city and county need to focus on highly skilled, high-paying jobs.
“We need to invest more in economic development programs in Flagler County,” Blose said. “That’s how you get there.”