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Lakewood Ranch Ranked Among Top 10 US Communities

A California-based consulting firm has ranked Lakewood Ranch as one of the top selling master planned communities in the U.S.

Lakewood Ranch notched 391 new home sales in 2011, placing it ninth on the list of 50 compiled annually by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. The study is featured on the firm’s national blog.

Lakewood Ranch outpaced many other popular communities such as Stapleton in Denver,  Summerlin in Las Vegas and Nocatee near Jacksonville Beach.

With nearly $150 million being poured into new projects at a time when others have put building plans on hold, Lakewood Ranch officials touted intentions to remain on the list for some time to come.  “The living environment here brings you value, and that’s a big distinction from something that’s just cheap,” said Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch. “We’re a community, not a project. The social fabric that’s here plays a role.”

Lakewood Ranch saw a record-breaking number of visitors pass through the doors of its visitor centers in the fourth quarter, with about 7,000 people scouting a model home or information center during that time.

This is the second year in a row John Burns Consulting has included Lakewood Ranch among the country’s best sellers. Last year, Lakewood Ranch was ranked No. 14.Researchers that compiled the study point to the community’s diverse product, which offers safe housing in a great location, with a plethora of office space, good schools and entertainment nearby, said Peter Dennehy, a vice president at John Burns Consulting.

In all, master planned communities are emerging ahead of the typical scattered subdivisions, he said.  “We wanted to look at what sets these communities apart in an otherwise challenging housing market,” Dennehy said. “Sarasota-Bradenton is not the biggest housing market in the U.S. so to see that level of sales for a smaller market is impressive.”

More than 130 communities across the U.S. were included in the study, representing nearly 23,000 new home sales last year, or nearly 7.6 percent of the nation’s total.

The Villages, a popular senior community near Orlando, earned the highest spot for the second straight year, with 2,307 sales. The Villages and Lakewood Ranch were the only Florida communities in the top 10.

Four were located in Texas, including two in the Houston area.  The 8,500-acre Lakewood Ranch community houses more than 15,000 residents between eastern Manatee and Sarasota counties.

By JOSH SALMAN
jsalman@bradenton.com

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