hen Stock Development opened its first model home in Country Club East in May, it didn’t take long to sell the 3,136-square-foot, three bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom home.
“It sold the first day it opened,” said Claudine Wetzel, Stock’s vice president of sales.
The sale price? $1.1 million, fully furnished.
Wetzel said the price range is not one the company will shy away from anytime soon. The Lakewood Ranch/Sarasota market is prime for new homes priced above $600,000 because luxury homebuyers are still plentiful and homesites in this area are less expensive than in other areas of Florida. Here, buyers can have new construction near sandy white beaches, art and culture and other lifestyle offerings.
“We look at the Sarasota market as a value play on the Naples market,” Wetzel said. “It’s more affordable. There’s no developmental land on the East Coast.”
National builders Homes by Towne and Pulte Group also have announced plans to construct homes in the future Waterside at Lakewood Ranch project in Sarasota County, as well. The 5,500-acre mixed-use project is slated to contain 5,144 homes, and the national builders are the first to break ground, with a combined 800 units, or so.
With waterfront views, great schools and large waterways, the project lends itself to be a “premier community,” said Josh Graeve, vice president of sales for Pulte’s Southwest Florida division.
“The price point will match those other attributes,” Graeve said.
Pricing for Pulte’s project will be released later this year, but is expected to start in the $500,000s and go up, he said. The project adds diversification to Pulte’s inventory, consisting of its age-restricted Del Webb Lakewood Ranch project and the future Mallory Park. Both have homes starting in the $200,000s.
Homes by Towne’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kitt Kearney said the company’s project in Waterside likely will start with smaller homes in the $400,000 range and go up beyond $700,000.
“There’s going to be multiple products for us, coming in at different price points. That’s one of the wonderful things about the Ranch, that it goes to the different segments of the market,” Kearney said. “We feel comfortable that each segment is going to be there.”
Jimmy Stewart, a sales associate for Stock and the former vice president of sales for LWR Communities, a subsidiary of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, said Lakewood Ranch’s product diversification is the key to its success.
“The real estate climate in Lakewood Ranch is a micro-climate,” he said. “You can tell how things are working with the mid-year reports moving it up to the fifth best-selling master-planned community in the U.S.,” he said. “There’s a wide diversity of product offerings.”
Stewart expects the “sweet spot” for new home sales to be around the $400,000 price range.
Stock’s move to Lakewood Ranch was prompted by a lack of developable lands in Lee, Collier and Chandler counties, where it has done business for the last 15 years. In 2015, the company sold 60 homes in the Quail West development, in Naples, with the average home price of more than $1 million.
Its business model is one that focuses on building inventory homes because its buyers frequently want to move in and begin enjoying the lifestyle, rather than waiting for a custom home to be completed.
The company, which also builds in The Concession, now has four models open in Country Club East, two under construction in Esplanade and four under construction in The Lake Club, as well as 12 inventory homes under construction.
“Our expertise has been in that semi-custom luxury second-home, year-round buyer,” Wetzel said. “With all the amenities in place in Lakewood Ranch and The Concession, it was a good fit for our company.”
Stock will open a more than 5,000-square-foot design center and Sarasota office off University Parkway, just west of Interstate 75, in October.