Snowbirds swoop in on home deals
DUNEDIN - You can add real estate offices after restaurants, golf courses, condos and RV parks on the list of where you will find snowbirds, the perennial winter visitors from Michigan, Ontario and other parts north who began arriving in early November.
Despite the poor economy, and stronger efforts by Western states to recruit seasonal visitors affluent enough to afford two residences, more snowbirds are expected to gather in Florida this year than last, partly because of housing prices here.
"It appears snowbirds are arriving in greater numbers early this year," said Walter Klages, who heads Tampa-based Research Data Services Inc., which provides consulting services for visitors bureaus.
"These are not tourists," Klages said. "They are part-time residents."
In recent years, the University of Florida Bureau Of Economic and Business Research produced a handful of studies to show how to scientifically identify a state's snowbird population.
Still, locals can see the impact, from additional highway congestion caused by vehicles with out-of-state plates to the increased business, sales and property tax revenue from long-term visitors.
A 2006 Journals of Gerontology paper by UF's Stanley K. Smith and Mark House estimated there were 818,000 snowbirds in Florida at the peak of the 2005 winter season.