LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the third straight year, Lakewood Ranch has been recognized as one of the top 10 best-selling master-planned communities in the country.
The Ranch came in at No. 9 on surveys released this week by California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting and Maryland-based RCLCO. It was the third-highest ranked Florida community on the lists, finishing behind No. 1 The Villages in Ocala and No. 4 Nocatee in Jacksonville.
Interest seems to be growing in the 17,500-acre Lakewood Ranch community in East Manatee. The community saw an 8 percent increase in year-over-year sales, with 618 new home sales in 2013, up from 573 in 2012, according to developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Inc. There were more than 31,000 visitors to Lakewood Ranch's information centers and models in 2013.
Sales were boosted by the introduction of a new community this past September, Bridgewater by Lennar, and expansion at Taylor Morrison's Esplanade Golf and Country Club, an "active adult community," said Jimmy Stewart, vice president of sales for LWR Communities, in a media release.
In 2013, new homes comprised 58 percent of all home sales in Lakewood Ranch, Stewart said, and there are 295 single family homes and about 500 apartments in various stages of construction.
Bridgewater and Esplanade are seeking approval to add more than 500 additional single-family and multi-family units in their next phases.
Canadian homebuilder Mattamy Homes recently purchased 230 acres of undeveloped land from SMR for $17.1 million and plans to build 675 residences there, a mix of town homes and single-family residences.
Further east, Pulte Group is proposing a 1,500-home community called Del Webb at Lakewood Ranch, an age-restricted community that would be south of State Road 70 and east of Country Club East and the Ritz Carlton Golf Course. And Country Club East is adding more than 600 new homes.
Less than 2 percent of the existing 8,500 homes in Lakewood Ranch are for sale, creating a higher demand for new product, Stewart said.
"With the combination of the success of our commercial properties, our Main Street shopping area, the Premier Sports Campus, Sarasota Polo Club, and the Ancient Oak Gun Club, Lakewood Ranch is clearly the premier new-home destination on Florida's West Coast," said Rex Jensen, president and CEO of SMR. "The community continues to attract more visitors; once they're here, they want to stay."