Florida Master Planned Communities Doing Well Despite Headwinds

Despite the difficult residential market in Florida, the top-selling U.S. master planned community in 2011 is in that state, according to a new study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, as is the number-nine seller.

Miami—Despite the difficult residential market in Florida, the top-selling U.S. master planned community in 2011 is in that state, according to a new study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, as is the number-nine seller. The company counts as master planned communities those “large-scale developments that can include a wide array of real estate product, multiple builders, diverse amenities and non-residential uses.”

More than 130 communities across the United States were included in the study, representing nearly 23,000 new home sales during 2011, or nearly 7.6 percent of the estimated 300,000 new U.S. home sales in 2011. Included in the company’s survey of master planned communities are not only single-family housing, but also townhomes and other for-sale multifamily.

The Florida market posses particular challenges for any residential developer these days, though existing home and condo sales did end 2011 on a rising note. Florida’s existing home sales rose 8 percent for the year, with a total of 185,921 units sold compared to 172,462 units sold in 2010, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The statewide existing home median price for 2011 was $131,700, a 3 percent decline from $135,900 in 2010.

Florida’s condo market saw a total of 87,581 units sold statewide in 2011, a gain of 15 percent compared to 76,209 units sold in 2010, the Realtors reported. The statewide existing condo median price in 2011 was $88,300, compared with $90,000 in 2010 for a 2 percent decrease. Significant numbers of foreclosures coming on the market are still acting as a brake on existing home and condo prices.

Number one in residential sales last year among planned communities anywhere in the nation (not only Flordia) was the Villages near Orlando, an age-restricted development of Villages of Lake Sumpter LLC. The Villages was, in fact, far and away the best-selling planned community in the nation in 2011, recording 2,307 residential units sold. The development was the top seller in 2010 as well, noted John Burns, with 2,208 units sold.

Number nine nationally was Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota, a development of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., which includes single-family and townhome properties. According to its developers, Lakewood Ranch saw more visitors to its information centers and models during the fourth quarter of 2011 than it ever has in any other quarter, thus helping drive last year’s new home sales at the planned community. In the fourth quarter of 2011, close to 7,000 people visited Lakewood Ranch models and information centers, says Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.