(THE VILLAGES, FL) -- The Villages, an active adult community in Central Florida with 2,107 net sales, was 2010's top-selling master-planned community (MPC) in the U.S., according to RCLCO.
RCLCO has been releasing its top-selling rankings since 1994. The firm retains the most in-depth knowledge bank of master-plan community data and trends in the industry. Each year, RCLCO tracks the sales of over 400 communities across the nation for its annual survey. The survey tracks other key success metrics in addition to sales.
Master-planned communities are large-scale developments featuring a range of housing prices and styles, an array of amenities, and multiple non-residential land uses (such as commercial, hotels, and educational facilities) offering residents an attractive and convenient environment in which to live, work, and play. Some communities provide lifestyle options for multiple market segments, while others target a specific buyer type such as active adults age 55 and over.
As in past years, the Sunbelt region remained home to a majority of the top performing communities with Houston representing the largest concentration. Newland Communities, the nation's largest private developer of master-planned communities, claimed 40 percent of the communities on their top 20 list, and was the only developer with top-selling communities in multiple markets. Bob McLeod, Chairman and CEO of Newland Communities, attributes their success to "Newland's national platform and geographic diversity."
Major themes from this year's survey include the following:
Sales for top performing MPCs began to stabilize in 2010, reversing a severe downward trend that began in 2006. Total sales for the top ten communities exceeded 7,000 units, slightly above 2009, but still far below the peak of 22,000-plus homes sales that took place in 2005.
85% of respondents believe that 2011 is going to deliver moderate increases in home sales and home prices (0% to 5%). Expectations for increased lot sales to builders increased twofold from prior year.
A renewed sense of "cautious optimism" has led developers to increase investments in community amenities, almost exclusively on relatively low cost, highly desirable recreational amenities such as trails and community parks. Fully 50% of communities (20% more than last year) plan to increase investments in amenities in 2011.
While schools continued to rank as the most important factor for homebuyers, the reputation of the developer and proximity to jobs and shopping saw double digit gains year-over-year.
The distribution of lot sales tilted back in favor of larger lots (less than 4 units per acre), with a 20% increase in large lot sales in 2010 over the prior year. Approximately 64% of lot sales were for larger lots.
Few builders are back to buying in bulk. A majority of the MPC developers (75%) that responded to our survey are providing "just in time" delivery of lots to builders.
Large lot home sales were almost evenly distributed between the 30 to 39 and 40 to 49 year age cohorts, while small lot homes and townhomes were most popular with 30 to 39 year olds. Where condo sales occurred, the dominant buyers were Gen Y's ages 18 to 29. Boomers were the least active homebuyers in primary communities (not active adult or second home).
The top two performers in 2010, The Villages in Central Florida and Villages at Irvine in Orange County, California, each achieved impressive sales using two very different strategies. This reflects the fact that one caters to a fairly narrow segment of the market, the other to a broad range of segments. Dr. Gary Lester, Vice President of Community Relations at The Villages tells us that "we really aren't doing anything new - we've always been good 'listeners' regularly surveying our residents and those who visit here to find out what their dreams for retirement are... the active lifestyle here continues to draw new residents from all over the country who want to enjoy country club living in Florida on an affordable budget."
Villages at Irvine Ranch took a different approach, revisiting their segmentation model to better align housing products with market opportunities. "Over the past six months, we've seen a clear trend in the MPC business toward revisiting segmentation models and adjusting product lines to enhance market capture," notes Gregg Logan, a managing director at RCLCO and head of the firm's Communities Practice Group. "Our clients are taking the necessary steps to proactively position themselves for success as the market recovers. We expect this will continue to be a large part of RCLCO's consulting activity over the next year as developers adjust to new realities".
In April, RCLCO will release its annual Special MPC Advisory, which will provide deeper analysis of the survey results along with insights from interviews with top performers. If you wish to receive the Advisory, please contact Laura Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RCLCO is an independent real estate advisory firm, providing market and financial analysis and strategic advisory services to a broad spectrum of clients including developers, corporations, financial institutions, institutional and private investors, public agencies, and nonprofit organization around the globe. Founded in 1967, RCLCO has expertise in urban development, community and resort development, economic development, and management consulting. RCLCO is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has offices in Austin, Los Angeles, and Orlando.
Westin Opens new Houston-Area Hotel
(HOUSTON, TX) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced the opening of The Westin Houston Memorial City. Located at the heart of Houston's bustling West Side, the newly constructed hotel is a key element of the city's upscale Memorial City Complex and offers 267 spacious guest rooms, ample meeting facilities and the full range of Westin signature amenities and services designed to inspire wellbeing.
Boasting panoramic views of Houston's skyline, The Westin Houston Memorial City is connected via a sky bridge to Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center and Memorial City Mall. The hotel is also convenient to the Energy Corridor, Westchase District, and CityCentre, a variety of restaurants, shopping areas, entertainment and sports venues, and the offices of numerous international corporations. The Westin Houston Memorial City joins two other Westin hotels in Houston and is the third Starwood property to open within the Memorial City Complex, which also features Four Points by Sheraton Houston, Memorial City, and Sheraton Houston West Hotel.
"The Westin Houston Memorial City is a prime addition to our fast-growing portfolio of hotels and gives us an even greater presence in this key metropolitan center," said Nancy London, Brand Leader for Westin Hotels & Resorts. "Staying at a Westin is simply different. We make the healthiest choices irresistibly appealing, with innovative programs that ensure that guests always leave a Westin feeling better than when they arrived."
Casino Resort Set for Pacific Northwest
(TOPPENISH, WA) -- Officials of the Yakama Nation unveiled plans for a $90 million expansion of their Legends Casino in Toppenish, Wash., that include a 200-room hotel with meeting space, a spa and other amenities.
The project is set to break ground on May 16, with completion expected by late next year.