The reason U.S. Sen. Rick Scott visited The Villages at least two dozen times during his two terms as Florida governor boils down to a simple reality.

Scott recognized the community’s economic contribution to the state and status as a model of success.

The Villages metropolitan statistical area, for instance, led the state during those eight years in growth of inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, a market basket survey of goods and services produced and consumed.

“Like so many vibrant, growing communities around our state, the progress and success of The Villages is a testament to Florida’s booming economic turnaround over the past eight years,” Scott said in a recent exclusive Daily Sun interview.

Known as “the jobs governor,” Scott fulfilled his original campaign promise to regain the jobs lost — and added thousands more — in wake of the national market collapse that stifled Florida’s growth but only marginally impacted The Villages.

“When I ran my campaign in 2010, I set a goal of creating 700,000 jobs in my first four years in office,” Scott said. “Now, we’ve got about 1.7 million new jobs and unemployment down to 3.3 percent — lower than when I entered office.”

Under Scott’s administration, The Villages metropolitan statistical area added 13,893 new jobs from November 2010 to November 2018, according to state and federal jobs data.

What inspires Scott, however, is the impact of those jobs on families, he said.

“The nicest thing for me is when I talk to people who say, ‘Governor, I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for your actions,’” Scott said. “Or that they moved to Florida because I created a better economic environment. That makes you feel good. For me, it’s about the individual story and the action that you took.”

Also: One new survey just reaffirmed The Villages’ economic success. The Villages captured the No. 1 spot again in 2018 as the nation’s top-selling master-planned community. RCLCO Real Estate, one of the nation’s leading real estate advisory and consulting firms, ranked The Villages first with sales of 2,134 homes, or 655 more homes than the No. 2 ranking. Strategic planning and hard work form the foundation of what makes The Villages so attractive to home buyers, said Mike West, the Developer’s director of residential construction. “The key word here is this is a master-planned community,” he said. “That says it all.” But the attraction is more than just quality-built homes, West said. “Here, you get quality homes, the active adult lifestyle and a convenient location. It’s where all aspects of quality converge.”

Also: The Villages lifestyle remains one of the best values in the country, according to CoreLogic’s latest home price index. For the second consecutive month, single-family home values in The Villages metropolitan statistical area exceeded the increase in the state and national averages, according to the November index published by the nation’s leading real estate data and analytics firm. Year-over-year home values grew by 6.14 percent for the month ended Nov. 30. In comparison, Florida’s home price index increased year over year by 5.5 percent in November, with the U.S. average growing by about 5.1 percent.

Also: Home prices not only increased in November, but the mortgage-delinquency rate in The Villages remains one of the lowest in the country, according to new data CoreLogic released last week. Only 1.2 percent of the homes in the MSA, which includes all of Sumter County, was in some form of delinquency in October. It’s even better year-over-year. The percentage of homes in delinquency decreased by 0.9 percent. In comparison, the percentage of Florida homes in delinquency was 4.8 percent; nationally, 4.1 percent. So, it’s good news all over, since the national rate was the lowest for the month of October in at least 18 years.

Also: The impact of The Villages on home prices and delinquency rates hasn’t affected home affordability in Sumter County, either, according to the fourth-quarter U.S. Home Affordability Report released by ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database. Sumter is one of only four counties in the state where wages are outpacing homes prices, ATTOM’s researchers concluded. The county is keeping pretty good company, too, since the other three also are growing markets — Alachua, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.