Housing Sales, Starts Up In Sarasota, Manatee

Housing sales and new residential construction around the Tampa Bay region are experiencing a resurgence in early 2011.

The Tampa Bay Partnership's scorecard revealed an increase in housing starts during the last quarter of 2010. Neal Communities and Lakewood Ranch are experiencing the fruits of this increase, reporting a spike in contracts, sales and reservations for new homes.

In the month of February 2011 alone, homebuilder Neal Communities signed 39 contracts -- an increase of more than 85 percent from last year and the best sales month since 2004. The builder sold it's 8,000th home in March.

Builder Pat Neal attributes the spike in sales to a combination of weather and quality building.

"We're experiencing a real -- not just perceived -- turnaround in real estate in Manatee and Sarasota," Neal says. "There's a couple of factors contributing to this. One, there were two very bad winters up North, and that convinces many people that Florida is the place to be. Second, the homes we're offering are sized appropriately, with the amenities people want at prices that make sense."

Neal says he hopes this trend will entice people to make Florida their permanent home. "It's interesting that we're seeing people buying smaller homes here while they maintain homes up north. They plan to up-size when the market back home strengthens. Then they'll sell their homes there, retire and make this their primary home."

Lakewood Ranch, a community that features many Neal models recently announced an increase of 64 new home sales and reservations over the same period last year.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Pat Neal, Neal Communities

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