Realtors were getting a lot more action than builders in the Volusia/Flagler area in January, according to recent reports.

Realtors in the two-county area started the year off with a bang with 950 sales of existing houses in January, up 19.6% from January 2020. The median price, where half sold for more and half less, was at $264,264, up 18%. Realtors sold 279 townhouses and condos, up 28.6% with the median price at $247,500, up 22.5%.

On the other hand, builders obtained permits for 316 new housing units in January in Volusia/Flagler area, according to Census Bureau, with 273 houses, 22 townhouses and 21 condos, down from 598 in January 2020 with 295 houses, 28 townhouses and 275 apartments. The Census Bureau report only covers about 75% of the area, though.

Demand for housing obviously hasn’t declined in the two-county area, so you’d expect builders to pick up the pace as the year progresses.

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The third quarter Census of Employment and Wages is out for 2020 and shows some interesting numbers. With the Covid-19 pandemic, employment was way off with average monthly jobs at 164,274 compared to 171,935 in the third quarter of 2019. But average occupational wages, at $42,780, were up a sharp 7.8% in the quarter. Unfortunately the higher wages are probably due more to lower paying jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors being way down than it is overall wage growth.

Still, employment was down 4.5% in the third quarter from last year compared to 9.5% in the second quarter of 2020. The labor market is improving, but we’ve got a long way to go and for low-wage workers those federal stimulus checks cannot come soon enough.

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The commercial real estate market has been active, but nothing big. Some smaller transactions included Sanford businessman bought vacant land zoned for mobile home park at 921 Old DeLand Road in DeBary for $900,000. A St. Johns (the town, not the county) businessman bought Spring Oaks Professional Center at 154 McGregor Road in DeLand for $875,000. Orlando investors bought the Cozy Villa Motel at 502 Ridgewood Ave. in Holly Hill for $550,000. RCM Properties of Ormond Beach bought a warehouse at 606 Commercial Drive in Holly Hill for $450,000. Michelle and Dino Dodani of Daytona Beach bought the retail shop at 740 Main St. in Daytona Beach for $252,000.

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Passenger traffic at Daytona Beach International Airport was at 30,624 in January at Daytona Beach International Airport, compared to 58,988 in January 2020 and 29,432 in December.

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Still a lot of real estate development going on or planned. Some of the projects include All Aboard Storage submitting plans for Crane Lakes Depot, across from Crane Lakes community on Taylor Road in Port Orange, to the St. Johns River Water Management District for a mini-storage complex and retail/office building. Perryman Farms submitted plans to the district for a 28,485-square-foot office/warehouse building at 1340 Yorktown St. in DeLand.

Plans were submitted to the district for Ventures apartments with 298 units along Veterans Memorial Parkway, about one mile north of the intersection with Saxon Blvd in Orange City. Latitude Landings along LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach is planning two retail buildings and a bank and development of an assisted living facility at Hand Avenue and Williamson Boulevard in Daytona Beach continues with plans filed for both with the City of Daytona Beach.

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In fast-food news, it looks like the first eatery at Williamson Crossing in Daytona Beach will be just a Taco Bell even though the name of the franchisee is Central Florida KFC, according to plans filed with the city. Domino’s Pizza is going into Unit E of Dunlawton Square at 3863 S. Nova Road in Port Orange. Interior build-out is starting for Starbucks at 2017 W. Granada Blvd. in Ormond Beach. With the one that just opened in New Smyrna Beach and the ones in Target and at Embry-Riddle, there will be 13 Star Bucks in Volusia County or 12 if they close the existing one on West Granada in Ormond when the new one opens.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 24 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsmediagroup.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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