Manatee developer building large-scale homes in Lakewood Ranch

nwilliams@bradenton.comDecember 5, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- John Neal, president of John Neal Homes, isn't building homes based on the condition of the recuperating housing market.

Instead, he's building based on the demand of buyers in the Highfield neighborhood in Lakewood Ranch, an area just west of Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club he is exclusively developing.

And what Neal sees is a need for large-scale homes.

The Barbados II model by John Neal Homes, an affiliate of Neal Communities, is just under 4,998 square feet. The homes, priced from the low $900s to $2 million, will include four bedrooms and four 1/2 bathrooms, plus a den, club room and bonus room upstairs. The Italian Villa style model is expected to be completed by February, in time for the Home Builder's Association Parade of Homes.

"We've seen mostly families, with maybe older to young teen children," Neal said. "The size is more accommodating to families that need more."

Five lots for the Barbados model have been sold in Highfield and less than 11 remain.

"They're the best lots left in Country Club," Neal said.

The Barbados model will be the largest new home model in Lakewood Ranch when completed.

"What we're noticing is people are taking this opportunity to build a home in Highfield," said Laura Stavola, sales manager for John Neal Homes. "A big factor has not only been indoor space, but outdoor living space because that's where they're spending time right now. They're trying to expand on a place where they can get the most use."

Despite a still recovering housing market, there is a trend in Lakewood Ranch of builders offering luxurious, large-scale homes.

In The Lake Club, the most

private and upscale gated community in Lakewood Ranch, five homes or mansions of 10,000 square feet or more are being planned. One of the homes built by London Bay, priced at $3 million, features a Tuscan-style design, copper-tin ceiling, electric shutters, a motorized chandelier and fire and water bowls near the edge of the pool.

The demand for larger homes reflects an overall demand in the Manatee and Sarasota housing market.

Pending sales were up 33.4 percent in Sarasota County and 6.4 percent in Manatee County from September to October, with year over year increases of 41.4 percent and 60.5 percent, respectively.

In addition, the median sold price rose 16.8 percent in Manatee County and 31.1 percent in Sarasota County in October compared to the same time last year.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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