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East County Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 8 years ago

Ranch reports real estate recovery


Home sales in Lakewood Ranch are on the rise and are a confirmation of the recovery of the real estate market.

Recent sales statistics include, 257 homes sold in the Lakewood Ranch zip code 34202 from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. Of those 257 homes, 15% sold at or above asking price.

“Market conditions have improved steadily month over month for the whole year,” said Miranda Oswald, vice president of sales and marketing for Lakewood Ranch Communities. “People can afford to be very picky right now about where they spend their money, and we are definitely seeing an increase of market share here in Lakewood Ranch. Typically in years past, of all the homes purchased in Manatee County, approximately 2-4% were purchased in Lakewood Ranch; however, recently that number has gone up to around 12-14%.”

Visitors to the Lakewood Ranch information centers and builders’ models are also increasing with a lower number of inventory homes available. The number of inventory homes on the ranch has dropped dramatically in the past 90 days.

“At one point here at Lakewood Ranch, we had 850 out of 6,500 homes on the market,” said Milt Flinn, president of Lakewood Ranch communities, “now we are down to 280.”

Buyers such as Peter Seley of Alta Loma, Calif. see this as a time to buy. This month, Seley purchased a home in Country Club East from Paradise Homes. It will be completed in early 2010. Seley, who works in the real estate field in California, thinks the market has bottomed out.

“We looked for two years and couldn’t find the right house…we finally found it in Lakewood Ranch with Paradise Homes,” Seley said. “The real good bargains are being sold. People that are being reasonable, those homes are selling. I’m seeing it in California and Arizona as well.”

Oswald agrees.

“We are now seeing correct pricing and we’re seeing multiple offers, two strong indicators that the market is rebounding," she said.

The combination of correct pricing, lower inventory and higher traffic all point to the strength of the Lakewood Ranch brand and provide a positive outlook for new home construction in the Sarasota-Manatee area.

• For the month of September, 271 people have been through Lakewood Ranch information centers and models, as compared to 118 in September 2008.
• The number of return customers seen so far this month is quadruple the number seen last year, from 22 in 2008 to 94 this year.
• Lakewood Ranch Realty’s sister company, University Title Services, had more closings in August 2009 than any other month in the past two years.
• Year to date, University Title has more than doubled the amount of closings from last year.
• In the first quarter of 2009, Lakewood Ranch had 24 new home contracts. In the second quarter, 45 new home contracts, and so far in the third quarter, 29 new home contracts.
• Commercial development is also looking up in this market — office vacancy rates on the Ranch are 16% versus the average 23% on the Interstate 75 corridor.
• 15,000 square feet of retail space was recently leased on Main Street, adding great new vitality to the already thriving businesses such as the theater, which attracts close to 20,000 visitors a month.

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