Lakewood Ranch new home sales up in first quarter over 2011

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- New home sales in Lakewood Ranch were up 35 percent in the first three months of the year, compared to the same time last year.

“We continue to buck state and national trends here,” said Jimmy Stewart, vice-president of sales in Lakewood Ranch in a press release. “There is more value to buy new than to buy a resale, and it is certainly a buyer’s market. Our biggest challenge now is keeping up with the demand and providing more lots for our builders to sell,” said Stewart.

Esplanade, Taylor Morrison’s new active lifestyle community that opened this year, accounted for 22 of the 123 new home sales.

The average sales price of a new home in Lakewood Ranch was $385,000 during the first quarter and with 18 new home builders on the Ranch, there are 60 inventory homes available and close to 200 homes under construction, the press release said.

Haddington will be the next new neighborhood to open in Country Club East, a gated community off Lorraine Road. Haddington will feature 76 new homesites and should open for sales this summer.

“I am pleased that Lakewood Ranch is experiencing a surge in demand for residential product of all types and price points,” said Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc.

Jensen expressed pride that Lakewood Ranch is bucking the trend of resales overshadowing new home sales.

There is also a growing demand for new rental apartments in the master-planned community.

“We are actually looking to bring on new builder partners in our single and multifamily product offerings. Few other Florida communities can say that,” Jensen said.

More than $150 million in commercial real estate is also underway at Lakewood Ranch, north of State Road 70 including road widening projects, the new Lost Creek Resort Apartment complex, LECOM’s new dental school, and several other commercial projects.

Jensen said several things are driving the upswing -- first and foremost the job center that’s been created in Lakewood Ranch, but also new communities like the active-lifestyle neighborhood Esplanade by Taylor Morrison, and bold, creative moves to revive the local economy like the creation and development of the Premier Sports Campus, which opened in early 2011 in Lakewood Ranch.

"Those positive economic drivers certainly are making a difference,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope, who serves as president & CEO of Enterprise Florida Inc., the state’s principal economic development organization. “During a recent visit to Lakewood Ranch, I witnessed it firsthand as I learned about the area’s attributes and unique opportunities that are benefiting the state’s economy as well as Manatee County’s.”

In 2011, the economic impact to the region totaled more than $30 million from events and tournaments at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. “From the beginning, our philosophy has always been centered on economic development,” said Jensen. “We have always and will always strive to create two jobs for every home in Lakewood Ranch. “