As credit problems have kept many form home ownership, apartment rentals are in ever-higher demand in Southwest Florida. Average apartment rentals are now $1,035 per month, up 14.3% from a year ago. The occupancy rate for the Ft Myers area is 95.2%, a very high occupancy rate.

Tom: The recent decision by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to extend from two years to four years the time period that prospective buyers who had a foreclosure or short sale must wait before they can re-apply for loans, should keep the rental market strong for at least a few more years. It will also hopefully keep the area real estate market from exploding like it did in 2004- 2006. When renter's credit problems are rectified, and they have passed the four year waiting period, I expect many of these renters to become homebuyers.