Lakewood Ranch Tour of Homes brings new inventory to house shoppers
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- While bringing homebuyers to Lakewood Ranch has not been a tough sell of late, putting enough homes in front of them has. Just 2 percent of the community's existing 10,000 homes are for sale, likely leaving some house shoppers wanting more.
Starting next week, they will get more when the 18th annual Lakewood Ranch Tour of Homes puts 32 new homes on display and brings attention to hundreds more that are under construction. Tour organizers are building demand among both empty nesters and young families for the new inventory.
"The tour spikes it for us," said Jimmy Stewart, vice president of sales for Lakewood Ranch Communities. "It's consistently proven to produce sales."
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New home sales have been steady in Lakewood Ranch this year, totaling 388 through Sept. 30. That's up 6 percent from the same period last year. About 90 new homes are either ready to sell or will be finished in the next two months. More are on the way. Stewart said 267 homes are in various stages of construction throughout Lakewood Ranch.
Two weeks shorter than last year's longest-ever tour, the event is still expected to draw thousands of home shoppers. Fourteen homebuilders, including local firms Nutter Custom Construction, Neal Signature Homes, Todd Johnston Homes, Murray Homes and Lee Wetherington Homes, will have model homes on the tour.
The start of the tour on Oct. 16 is timed to coincide with the reopening of the newly remodeled Lakewood Ranch Information Center at 6220 University Parkway. The center, along with builders' model homes, sees about 20,000 visitors each year who are looking at homes in Lakewood Ranch.
While acknowledging that 2015 has been a good year for sales, builders still see the tour as an important event to grow business going into autumn. T.J. Nutter, president of Nutter Custom Construction of Sarasota, has sold several high-end homes in Lakewood Ranch this year. About half of his sales come from that single community.
For the tour, Nutter is serving up its $2 million, 4,011-square-foot "Leeward" model. It is one of about a dozen homes the company will build in 2015.
"The tour really gets some additional traffic," Nutter said. "It kind of ends the summer doldrums."
Models on the tour represent a wide price range. New townhomes in Mattamy Homes' new "Harmony" community are priced just under $200,000, a price point Stewart said will attract first-time home buyers. Standalone single-family homes starting in the $260,000 range will be featured in another new tour community, Indigo by Neal Communities. And for those with a taste for the elaborate, Lakewood Ranch's luxury neighborhood, The Lake Club, has tour inventory with average pricing at about $1.5 million.
The tour kicks off with an opening event at The Mall at University Town Center for real estate professionals.
The tour runs daily through Nov. 22.
Tour participants can pick up a copy of the Tour of Homes guide book starting Oct. 16 at the Lakewood Ranch information centers at 6220 University Parkway and 6310 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., or at The Lake Club's information center at 8307 Lake Club Blvd. The guide details this year's models and includes a pull-out map.
Information centers and models will be open for the tour 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon until 5 p.m. Sundays.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter