Master Planned Community Sales in U.S. Strongest in 3 Years

Master Planned Community Sales in U.S. Strongest in 3 Years

Residential News » North America Residential News Edition | By Scott Kauffman | April 2, 2012 10:24 AM ET

Luxury-Home-Community.jpg (Orlando, FL) -- The economic recovery now seems to have arrived behind the gates of America's master-planned communities. At least that's how it appears considering year-to-date 2012 home sales at top master-planned communities (MPCs) are the strongest in three years, up sharply over 2011, according to the latest report from Robert Charles & Lesser Co.

Each year since 1994, Robert Charles Lesser & Co. has conducted a national survey identifying the top-selling MPCs, followed by in-depth interviews among the top 20 to reveal the trends behind the numbers. Although RCLCO research shows that sales in 2011 were not universally stronger than in 2010, most MPCs report that year-to-date sales for 2012 are up substantially.

A majority of the communities are optimistic that this is a trend, not a blip, the latest RCLCO report says. Most of the top-selling MPCs report that in 2011 and early 2012 they are seeing a deeper buyer pool with better credit. Buyers that have been sitting on the sidelines for the past few years are feeling more secure about buying, and they're back in the market now that the future economic outlook seems a little clearer. Meanwhile, MPCs are also finding that they're competing with a lower volume of short sales and foreclosures in their projects compared with last year.

In 2010, sales were starting to improve, the study shows, but there was no confidence that a good month or two of sales indicated a trend. In 2011, the pattern of consistently improving sales became more pronounced, and 2012 has been even stronger.

In 2011, there was an even stronger flight to quality than in 2010, pushing MPC market share higher as both builders and consumers believed MPCs were safer places to invest in lots and homes. Now those buyers are showing up in greater numbers.

It's important to look at both the circumstances behind increased sales and the proactive strategies participants have employed to bolster their sales. Certainly the improving economy and job growth are major factors, according to RCLCO, with communities near job centers noting the correlation between their sales and employment growth in those areas.

However, through a series of interviews RCLCO identified key themes that have led to the success of the top-selling MPCs that are worth considering for MPCs that are still struggling to recover, as well as for future planned communities. Admittedly, some of the critical success factors (such as being a mature community) cannot be replicated by new MPCs, but many indicate what it takes to succeed in the current environment.

Tomorrow, Robert Charles Lesser & Company will share some of the key success strategies that have been used by some of the top-selling master-planned communities.

RCLCO Top MPC 2011.jpg

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