LAKEWOOD RANCH -- With an improving economy and growing interest in the Lakewood Ranch area, home sales on the Ranch have seen an upward trend, experts say.
Traffic for the annual Tour of Homes -- a showcase of new homes where potential buyers can pick up a tour map and view models -- has gone up nearly 25 percent compared with last year's Tour.
"I think this is because of a number of things: Demand, the economy is doing well, interest rates are still low and people know that it's still a great time to buy," said Jimmy Stewart, vice president of sales at LWR Communities LLC, the residential component of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Lakewood Ranch's developer.
Traffic was up 27 percent on the Tour's first weekend, 25 percent on the first week and 16 percent on the second week compared with the 2012 Tour, Stewart said, noting perfect weather also helped draw the crowd.
As of last month, 518 new homes had been sold, an 8 percent increase over the first 10 months of last year.
The average sale price is up 10 percent this year, but that isn't stopping any new homebuyers.
"People's homes are selling in other areas. The market is improving elsewhere so we have more buyers here," said Jonnie Dwyer, a realtor with Michael Saunders & Co. specializing in Lakewood Ranch. "If you have your choice on where to be, for so many reasons Lakewood Ranch is a big draw."
Dwyer has a resale two bedroom, two bath home with a den in Central Park, a Neal Community in Lakewood Ranch, newly listed for $210,000.
"It is absolutely priced to sell," she said.
Lakewood Ranch's median sale price for a single family home is $670,310, Multiple Service Data listings show.
This year's Tour includes models from the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, Country Club East, The Lake Club, Central Park and Greenbrook.
Listed prices range from the high $100,000s ("The Valor 2" in Central Park) to $1.35 million ("The Alezio" at The Lake Club).
The Tour of Homes ends Sunday. Information centers and models are open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday from and noon until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.