Neal Communities set its all-time annual sales record in 2017 with 1,177 homes sold and 1,183 homes closed statewide. The Lakewood Ranch-based new homebuilder saw a 6% increase in home sales from 2016.
“Our focus is on doing it right and being really good at what we do," said Neal President Michael Storey. "I think today’s consumer votes with their wallet, so the fact that we can continue to grow and continue to attract more buyers to our brand says that we’re doing it right."
Storey said sales started slower than expected in the first quarter of 2017, but picked up in the summer months as buyers who may have hesitated earlier in the year made a purchasing decision later on. Even with a two-week slowdown in September around Hurricane Irma, the homebuilder rebounded with a strong fourth quarter to secure the record-setting year.
That was in part due to a healthy market that Storey said has strengthened since the recession.
"Fundamentally the housing market is really good right now," Storey said. "I think it’s right where it ought to be."
While Neal's target demographic continues to be older people with active lifestyles, Storey said the company saw returns on its investments as it began expanding offerings designed toward buyers between the ages of 25 and 44.
"That buyer was severely impaired through the recession," Storey said. "They’re now moving out of mom and dad's basement, saving money and now they’re coming back to the market. It’s an underserved community with room for growth."
Neal expects to open eight new opportunities for sale in 2018 and plans to introduce affordable homes, as required by Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan, over the next five years.