The Villages, an active adult community in the Orlando area with 2,307 sales, was 2011’s top-selling U.S. Master Planned Community (MPC) according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. The Villages was the top seller in our 2010 survey as well, with 2,208 sales. Other MPC’s in the top five for 2011 included two in the Houston area (Cinco Ranch and The Woodlands), Irvine Ranch in Southern California, and Alamo Ranch in San Antonio. Looking at just the top 10 selling projects, 8 of this year’s 10 top-selling projects were in the same list last year, with two new additions – Alamo Ranch and Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota.
The following is our ranking of the 50 top-selling U.S. master plans in 2011:
This is the second year for John Burns Real Estate Consulting’s ranking of top-selling U.S. master plans and this year we have sales numbers from 131 projects in all areas of the U.S., representing nearly 23,000 new home sales during 2011, or nearly 7.6% of the estimated 300,000 new U.S. home sales in 2011.
Master Planned Communities are large-scale developments that can include a wide array of real estate product, multiple builders, diverse amenities and non-residential uses (schools, commercial, etc.). The MPC concept is designed to appeal to a wide array of buyers by creating a superior “place” with segmented product types that share a common design and marketing theme. Some communities in our survey provide lifestyle options for multiple buyer types, while others, like The Villages, target specific buyer groups (2nd home buyers, or active adults).
Themes from this year’s survey include the following:
- Geographic Diversity – The Sunbelt states are still the dominant location for the top U.S. master plans, particularly Texas. The Houston MSA, with 11 different MPC’s in the top 50 U.S. master plans, represented the largest number of projects. There were also top-sellers in the Austin, Dallas and San Antonio markets. At the same time, it is encouraging to see that the top-selling master planned communities also included projects in some of the nation’s hardest hit housing markets, including Florida, Phoenix and Las Vegas (two of the top 10 projects are in Las Vegas!).
- Improved Sales in 2011 – Sales for the top U.S. master plans generally were stable or increased somewhat in 2011. The sales for the top 10 communities totaled 7,459 units and sales for the top 50 communities totaled 16,324 units. This theme of increased sales is reflected in the 2011 sales performance of Newland Communities, the nation’s largest private developer of master planned communities, which had 7 of the top 50 top-selling MPC’s on our ranking, representing nearly 2,250 home sales. Newland is developing master planned communities in 22 markets and 14 states across the country, making it a particularly broad-based indicator for market direction. In late November, Newland reported that with more than a month left to go in 2011, 2011 net sales in all of its communities had exceeded total net sales in those same communities in 2010.
- Successful Project Re-positioning is Increasing Sales – Sales increased at many U.S. master plans in 2011 as a result of strategic re-positioning, which included change of ownership, new product or marketing direction, new builders, etc. An example is the Otay Ranch master plan in San Diego County, where new builders and products generated almost 250 sales in 2011, compared to less than 80 sales in 2010. Another example is the Bridgeland master plan in Houston, which increased sales by 17% from 2010 with a revamped marketing approach (including television advertising). A number of MPC’s included in our survey have successfully revised marketing approaches and product offerings in the past year or two based on consumer studies and research to adjust to current market conditions, and this is enhancing market capture.
Our team has been active across the nation in the past 12 months analyzing these communities and housing and economic conditions in their various MSA’s. We will further define lessons learned (successes and failures) from our survey of top-selling U.S. master plans in a series of newsletters in coming months.