Local Developments Among Top US Sellers By John Hielscher, Staff Writer, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 4 January 2019
In a further sign of the strength in the region’s real estate market, two master-planned communities in Southwest Florida again ranked among the top sellers in the country.
Lakewood Ranch moved up one spot to second place for sales in 2018 in newly released reports by two real estate consulting firms.
The West Villages in south Sarasota County ranked fourth in the report from John Burns Real Estate Consulting and fifth in a survey by RCLCO.
Lakewood Ranch, which sprawls across the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties, posted 1,479 new home sales in 2018, a 23 percent increase from the 1,206 reported the year before.
That 31,000-acre community with 32,000 residents ranked third in sales nationally in 2017. Among the top 10, only one community showed a higher percentage gain in annual sales. Lakewood Ranch has been listed among the top-selling master-planned communities in the country for seven years.
West Villages closed 1,108 new home sales in 2018, up 12 percent from the 992 the previous year. That 15,000-acre community’s rank differed because sales were estimated and varied at a project in California.
West Villages is being developed by a partnership that includes Mattamy Homes, the largest privately owned home builder in North America, and developer Vanguard Land.
Lakewood Ranch said its numbers were boosted by the opening of such new neighborhoods within it as The Isles by Toll Brothers, and by the growth of Waterside, a village in the Sarasota County portion of the community.
“The expansion in activity at Lakewood Ranch is driven in part by the opening of Waterside, the community’s 16th village, on the southern edge of the community,” RCLCO said. “The neighborhood, which will have a new town center with 100,000 square feet of retail, dining and office space, will include 5,000 homes at build out, meaning Lakewood Ranch’s time near the top of the survey will likely continue for the foreseeable future.”
Home buyers at Lakewood Ranch are coming from Tampa, Orlando and Florida’s East Coast, and from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and the mid-Atlantic, the community said. Buyers are showing up in increasing numbers from Georgia and California.
The developer also credits its “multi-generational” approach to marketing.
“Young families, their parents and grandparents have all found their home in Lakewood Ranch, and this reinforces our very strong extended family dynamic and helps amplify our home sales,” said Laura Cole, vice president of marketing for LWR Communities LLC.
Driven by demand from baby boomers, four Florida master-planned communities ranked in the top 10 and a total of 10 among the top 50. Master-planned communities in the state accounted for 28 percent of top 50 sales, RCLCO said.
“The Florida market continues to be buoyed by mature buyers due to the state’s long-term attractiveness as a retirement destination, and many of the top-performing Florida communities offer an age-restricted product,” RCLCO stated.