ORLANDO, Fla. Builders in the new Sawgrass
subdivision south of Orlando are adding to what is already the fastest-growing
segment of the housing market in Central Florida: model homes.
Builders have significantly cut the number of homes,
condominiums and town houses they're putting up in the region, as demand has
slumped. But model homes are making a brisk comeback.
Lennar Homes Brevard County Florida
"Before, all we needed to do was put up a sign a 'Coming Soon' sign
and we'd get 400 people lined up. Now you really have to build and decorate
model homes," said David Byrnes, Orlando division president of Beazer
Beazer is opening eight new models at the Sawgrass site.
M/I Homes is opening three more.
Throughout Orlando and surrounding counties, builders
have been feverishly erecting more models in recent months hundreds of them,
actually in subdivisions where customer traffic has slowed.
Beazer, for example, has more than doubled its stable of
model homes in the past six months, to 24, in a six-county area around Orlando.
M/I Homes has roughly tripled its model-home inventory, to 27, during the past
two years in Orange, Lake and Seminole counties.
According to Metrostudy, a Houston-based company that
tracks housing trends, builders in that six-county area have boosted the total
number of model homes by more than 50 percent in less than a year.
The number of subdivision models in those counties
Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Volusia and Polk mushroomed from 630 at the
end of last June to more than 950 by the end of March, with much of the increase
coming in the first quarter of the year.
"It's a reflection of the lack of sales
activity," said Anthony Crocco, director of Metrostudy's Central Florida
and Northeast divisions.
Builders with more time on their hands also have more
reason now to build the models as marketing tools. The work also helps keep
subcontractors busy now that the number of homes built on speculation or for
buyers under contract has fallen sharply.
According to Metrostudy's latest survey, the number of
housing starts, or new homes just getting under way, plummeted 46.7 percent in
the Orlando market during the first three months of the year, compared with the
same quarter a year ago.
During the local housing boom, from about 2002 through
2005, builders "were selling out quickly before the infrastructure was
developed," Crocco said. As a result, the number of model homes in the
region fell to a low of about 575 by the end of 2005, just as the sales boom
Models were not critical during that buying frenzy
because investors often chose homes and subdivisions through the Internet and
joined electronic waiting lists to get pre-opening prices. That helped fuel
double-digit price escalation for new and resale homes. Now the speculators are
gone, Crocco said, and builders have to market more, and model homes are still
considered a key part of such efforts.
Lennar Homes, for example, is opening five model homes in
Brevard County in early June, boosting its total there from seven to 12, said
Laureen Ramsey, president of Lennar's Space Coast division.
"These are all new floor plans we've never offered
before. So we're excited," she said.
Beth McGee, executive director of the Home Builders
Association of Metro Orlando, said the trade association first noticed the
decline in model homes a few years ago, as the number of entries in the
association's Parade of Homes marketing campaign took a corresponding dive.
"The large builders usually enter their model homes,
and they just didn't have as many," McGee said. The number of homes in the
show fell from 146 in 2004 to 88 in 2005 before rebounding to 110 last year and
126 this year.
Metrostudy's first-quarter subdivision survey found that
the number of model homes in Lake County nearly doubled, from 87 to 164, during
the nine months that ended March 31.
In Polk County, the number more than doubled, from 105 to
220, while in Osceola it rose from 94 to 138 and in Volusia it increased from 76
In more densely developed Orange County, model-home
growth has been more restrained, rising from 218 to 241, while in Seminole,
where the number of available lots is far more limited, the number of display
models rose from 54 to only 70.
"It's close to being built out, in terms of
single-family (homes)," Crocco said of Seminole County.
But the rush to make models is not over. Byrnes, the area
president for Beazer Homes, said his company has three more planned for its
Heritage Commons town-house community.
"As soon as we can get the permits," he said.
Lennar Solar Homes Outpace Rocklin, California Market
May 31, 2007-
lennar homes sun power
For eight communities in the Whitney Ranch residential development in
Rocklin, California, outside Sacramento, an average of 1.9 homes have sold
each month since 2006. A ninth community, Grupe Homes' Carsten Crossings,
stands out with more than twice as many sales, or an average of 4.6 homes sold
per month over the same time period.
Four miles down the road in West Roseville's West Park residential
development, homes in Lennar Homes' Laureate, Wayfarer and Ironcrest
communities are selling almost twice as fast as comparable homes in six
neighboring West Park communities.
The homes at Carsten Crossings, Laureate, Wayfarer and Ironcrest include a
SunPower SunTile(R) solar power system as a standard feature on every home.
The SunTile system integrates into the roof construction and features
efficient solar cells. Both Lennar and Grupe have also incorporated
energy-efficient features into these homes, further reducing monthly home
"Grupe and Lennar's home designs in these communities include the
installation of high-performing solar power systems combined with high-quality
energy efficiency features," said Bill Kelly, general manager, New Homes
Division, for SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of
high-efficiency, commercially available solar cells, solar panels, and solar
systems. "This combination of solar technology and energy efficiency
results in very low utility costs for the homeowner while improving home
comfort. This is a great value for homeowners, and an investment by Grupe and
Lennar towards cleaner air and a better environment."
"Home buyers value solar systems today because they can significantly
reduce their electric bills and help lower greenhouse gas emissions,"
said Mark Fischer, senior vice president of The Grupe Company. "Families
at Carsten Crossings are achieving an average of $120 per month in savings,
and enjoy the satisfaction of generating their own clean, renewable
"The SunPower solar power systems are well integrated into our homes'
design and look great. They operate simply, requiring no effort by our
customers to enjoy the monthly savings," said Jeff Panasiti, president of
Lennar Homes' Sacramento division. "As a builder, including roof
integrated solar in the homes' construction makes great sense. It should come
as no surprise that these homes sell faster."
For more information, visit http://www.sunpowercorp.com.
Antwerpen Real Estate