Lakewood Ranch, Florida -- If you have any doubt of the real estate market's health, visit Lakewood Ranch where construction and home sales are up and there's no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.
"We are about a third developed of 31,000 acres. So, we've got a little land left," says Jimmy Stewart, vice-president of sales for Lakewood Ranch Communities.
Stewart says there are 8,500 homes on Lakewood Ranch with permitting for more than 23,000 homes.
Some of that undeveloped land is starting to fill up with new homes. Lakewood Ranch reports 295 homes are under construction, mostly in Country Club East, plus nearly 500 apartments with about half of those off Main Street.
The Jimminks live in Lakewood Ranch and are buying another bigger home.
"The fact it's a planned community and close knit community gives you a feeling you belong to a town," says Jack Jimmink.
"Lakewood Ranch is the number two best-selling master planned community in the state of Florida and the number nine best-selling master-planned community in the U.S.," says Stewart.
Home prices range from the high 100's to $5 million -- wide enough to attract buyers -- and builders say many of those buyers are baby boomers.
In 2013, Lakewood Ranch sold 618 new homes, plus 456 re-sales, totaling 1,074 homes compared to just 92 homes sold in 2008. Neal Communities a private developer based in Lakewood Ranch reports selling 1,757 homes in Lakewood Ranch since 1997, including 353 homes last year.
"What it tells me is things are improving. People are tired of sitting on the fence waiting, waiting, waiting, and there are a lot of cash buyers out there," Stewart says.
According to Sarasota County Planning officials, Lakewood Ranch developers have been meeting with Sarasota County planners to develop its property south of University Parkway, a 5,500-acre project called Villages of Lakewood Ranch South.
"Every indication I see, it's definitely a recovery," says Greg Yantorno, manager for Sarasota Co. Planning/Development Services.
Sarasota County planners say some builders across the county have made adjustments to meet buyers' demands.
"They've cut back on some amenities, decreased some of the size so they can lower prices," Yantorno says.
Builders don't see home sales slowing down before 2029. that's when the last group of baby boomers turns 65.
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