Published: Jul 02, 2012 10:59 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 02, 2012 11:53 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Builders are smiling for the first time in a long while, because of a nice boost in new home construction in Lee County. Fort Myers led the charge with 83 permits for new homes this June, far more than in recent years.

"We are very pleased, very encouraged," said Michael Reitmann of the Lee co. Building Industry association. "People are building new because they want to customize and they want to pick their lots and locations. Prices are going up, so the time to buy is now."

"We are selling multi-million dollar homes again, and we are happy about that," said Peggy Senna of Miloff-Aubuchon Realty in Cape Coral.  

Unincorporated Lee County showed 56 permits for new homes in June, compared to just 24 in June of 2009. Cape Coral recorded 40 permits for new homes this June, compared to just 21 in June of 2011. At the height of the building bust in 2008 and 2009, it was hard to find any new homes under construction in this area.

Prices range from $130,000 to $140,000 in parts of Fort Myers, to $250,000 in Estero, and generally around $500,000 in some parts of the south Cape.

Builders say many buyers are Europeans, paying cash, and retiring American baby boomers who want to get their houses now in Southwest Florida.