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Home building costs rise in every Central Florida county

Homes across Central Florida are seeing increases in the costs per-square-foot.
Homes across Central Florida are seeing increases in the costs per-square-foot. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel)

Every county in Central Florida saw its average price per-square-foot for homes increase this year, by an average 6.1 percent through May.

The average cost per-square-foot in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk, Lake and Volusia counties was $105.01 at the end of May. The number compares with $98.97 in January, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

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Of the six counties, Orange saw the smallest increase, while Volusia, Seminole and Polk all went up by double digit percentages. One reason Orange County may not have seen such a bump up is the county has not had much change in its impact fees over the past year. Impact fees are collected by local governments for such projects as new roadways and schools. Impact fees have a bearing on price per-square-feet because they are part of the construction cost.

A closely watched barometer by builders and home buyers, price-per-square-foot is determined by taking a home's cost and dividing it by the square feet of living space. It is a good determinant for "comps" of other properties that have sold in the area.

While property costs continue their recovery from the recession, which is driving up prices, there are other factors at work. Building costs are increasing because of a shortage of skilled construction workers and prices are rising for lumber and cement.

"The price of land in general has risen over the past couple of years, raising the cost of homes," said  Scott Merritt, executive officer of the Greater Orlando Builders Association. "The builders have to adapt to it. It might mean an adjustment in the way they operate, such as greater process efficiencies."

The challenges have not slowed home builders. In 2014 there was a 25 percent increase in home building permits compared with 2013. "We're still on the same pace now," Merritt said.

Volusia County saw the biggest percentage increase in price per-square-foot, going to $83.53 from $73.59 from January through May, for a 13.5 percent gain.

Seminole County was also up there, with the average price-per-foot going to $113.98 from $103.59, a 10 percent rise.

In Polk County the average price went to $80.92 from $73.18, also a 10 percent rise.

In Osceola County, the price went to $100.32 from $92.90, an 8 percent gain.

In Lake County, the average cost per-square-foot went to $95.15 from $90.76, a 4.8 percent increase.

In Orange County, the average cost went to $121.31 from $117.34, up 3.4 percent.

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