12 Florida master-planned communities make top 50 list as sales thrive during pandemic

by Kerrie Kennedy

The John Burns Real Estate Consulting team recently recognized the nation’s top 50 master-planned communities, all which sold at least 437 new homes per community during 2020 — the highest in the company’s 10-year survey history.

According to the report, more than 37,000 home buyers purchased new homes in these master plans, reflecting a 31% increase from 2019 and a new combined sales record. Six master plans achieved sales of 1,000 new homes or more in 2020, rising from 5 in 2019, including three master plan communities in Florida.

New home sales at this year’s top 50 masterplans increased in Florida, Texas, Southern California, and the Southeast.

Prior to COVID-19, in-migration from California was already augmenting strong local demand in the Southwest region, a phenomenon that’s accelerated during the pandemic.

“Master-planned communities continue to dominate the new home sales scene across the ‘smile states’ as buyers in every life stage find appeal in the thoughtful community planning and highly desirable lifestyle,” the report said. “Despite amenity closures during the spring pandemic restrictions, buyers are viewing these features with a longer horizon. Many want to ensure access to outdoors areas that are more controlled than public spaces outside of their communities.”

In order to be considered for the Top 50 list, master plans must offer a range of home sizes, types, prices and builders; consistent themes through signage, landscaping and street names; shared or reciprocal amenities and activities for a variety of lifestyles and branding and marketing that give the community a unique a well-recognized identity.

In Florida, 12 master-planned communities made the Top 50 list, including:

  • The Villages, Villages of Lake Sumter LLC – No. 1
  • Lakewood Ranch, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Inc. – No. 2
  • Wellen Park, Wellen Park LLLP – No. 4
  • Nocatee, The PARC Group – No. 8
  • Viera, The Viera Company – No. 18
  • Westlake, Minto Communities – No. 19
  • Lake Nona, Tavistock Group – No. 20
  • Latitude Margaritaville, Minto Communities – No. 20 (tie)
  • Babcock Ranch, Kitson Partners – No. 34
  • Starkey Ranch, Wheelock Communities – 35
  • Ave Maria, Barron Collier – No. 38
  • Bexley, Newland Communities – No. 40

While the report noted that demand for master-planned communities is expected to remain strong and home prices to continue rising in 2021, supply challenges will hinder sales growth in the near term.

Finished inventory per community remains low, falling -54% year over year to below one completed home per community on average. Builders are restricting sales at 28% of their communities nationally to align with production capacity and lot supply while also scrambling to find new land deals and develop additional lots.

However, some of the new lot supply won’t be ready until the second half of 2021 — especially in markets with difficult approval processes. The report noted that construction product delays and shortages could extend that time frame.

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