Lakewood Ranch Hottest Market In U.S.

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A surge in home sales provided a surprise silver lining to the economic toil of the COVID-19 pandemic. A national analysis suggests Lakewood Ranch may have benefit more than any other community in America.

Real estate consulting firm RCLCO ranked Lakewood Ranch the best-seeling community in the U.S. in its 2021 mid-year survey. That came as Lakewood Ranch announced 1,535 new home sales secured in June alone, representing an 83% jump from the prior year. And Laura Cole, executive vice president of LWR Communities, noted last year wasn’t the poor year many feared when the coronavirus shut down most commerce last spring.

Cole in fact lists the pandemic as one of three major factors in the Ranch’s current success. “The pandemic influenced the market everywhere in the country,” she said. That caught even an optimistic lot like Realtors by surprise. But whether it was individuals finally deciding to buy that Florida home or millennials deciding remote work could be done from anywhere so why not paradise, there was an undeniable bump in sales.

Lakewood Ranch benefit from that especially as five new villages had recently opened last spring. That meant there was an inventory of homes waiting in a variety of price ranges at just the moment real estate surged. From townhomes selling for around $280,000, luxury homes in the $2 million and up range, and a variety of prices in between.

In the Ranch, luxury sales lifte by 57% year-over-year, the active adult market jumped 71%, and, entry buyers leapt 84%.

As for the future, Cole doesn’t expect the market for the remainder of 2021 to be quite as hot as the first half. That’s largely because builders have to limit the inventory the bring online. They have a backlog of customers interested, but supply costs have skyrocketed as demand rose. It may be a good problem to have for real estate professionals, but it inevitably means fewer sales each month.

On the bright side, it also means this market doesn’t look like it’s going to crash, lest this boom remind too many of the Great Recession.

“You always think lessons learned will apply to the next scenario, but what’s happened right now is so different from (the recession), which was really financially driven,” Cole said.

So where are these customers coming from? Lakewood Ranch continues to see an even divide of in-state and out-of-state buyers. The former come from Tampa or the East Coast with people fleeing cities for more open space. The out-of-towners come from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts, reliable markets. But an exodus from California also means more purchases here.

Also, the ranch suddenly has found buyers from Chicago. While there has always been interest, low home values there through the years scuttled many a purchase because, unlike New Yorkers, Chicagoans after the Great Recession could not unload their existing properties and still have the capital to buy a Florida dream home. Thanks to increased values nationwide, now they can.

Photo of Mallory Park home

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