Should You Invest in a Master-Planned Community?
When you hear “master-planned communities,” do you think of cookie-cutter homes located out in the boonies? Well, think again! Today’s master-planned communities (MPCs) are anything but sterile, and builders of these communities are aware of the facilities that potential buyers are looking for within their gates.
What’s So Great About Master-Planned Communities Anyway?
Most MPCs provide security and safety. The majority are gated and have 24-hour guards stationed at the entrance gate and patrolling the neighborhood. Many MPCs are also located well away from commercial and industrial areas, allowing for some coveted peace and quiet.
Master-planned communities used to offer traditional country club amenities, but both moving into the 21st century and an increase in millennials buying in these communities has brought about change. MPCs now offer stand-alone spas, mega gyms, dedicated business centers, swimming pools, and even cycling and hiking trails. Many still have beautiful golf courses, which cater to an older community. Honestly, what’s not to love?
If you’re worried about how your home will look, there’s good news — homes in MPCs can be customized. It’s a myth that they have to bought “as seen,” which can be off-putting for potential homeowners and investors.
Homebuilders offer potential owners a variety of ways to design their own landscaping and allow them to choose interior and exterior paint colors, roofing, and flooring. These choices set the home apart from the neighbors’. Most communities have anti-monotony codes that builders comply with.
Living in an MPC is similar to living in a small city, with many offering easily accessible shops, restaurants, and business centers. Some MPCs even offer nursing and clinical care. Everything is on your doorstep, so you can spend more time on your hobbies and less time on traffic!
Master-Planned Communities Are Thriving Throughout Florida
Data from real estate advisory firm RCLCO states that many Florida MPC sales improved in the first half of 2020. Community sales are up 40% or more, so purchasing a home to live in or as an investment is a good strategy.
You can find an abundance of master-planned communities in Florida. One of the top MPCs in the area is The Villages, located in Marion County, Central Florida. It used to sell 5,000 homes per year but is now down to 2,000. There’s still a demand for more properties to be built there, but they are simply running out of land!
The third fastest-selling MPC in Florida is Wellen Park, also in the Sarasota area. It sold 683 homes in the first half of 2020 and has a very diverse range of buyer categories.
In Port St. Lucie, The Tradition community has seen a 62% increase in sales compared with the first half of 2019. The demographic of this community consists of families, empty nesters, and retirees. Mattamy Homes, a homebuilder for The Tradition, still has 7,500 homes left to build.
“It’s about value. You can get a lot more for your money here, and more space, than you can in Palm Beach County,” said Dan Grosswald, president of Mattamy’s Southeast Florida division.
GL Homes has been actively developing a 55+ master-planned community adjacent to The Tradition. It is planning to build an 11,000-home community called Riverland. GL Homes sold over 700 homes in the first 12 months of marketing this development, which is an unprecedented volume for this type of market.
“GL Homes is developing a lifestyle program for our residents that is out of the movies,” said Ryan Courson, vice president of GL Homes’ St. Lucie division.
Babcock Ranch in Punta Gorda is an MPC with an emphasis on energy and water conservation. Thanks to its solar arrays, it is expected to generate more electricity than the community consumes. 230 homes were already reported sold in the first six months of 2020.
Lake Nona, called “the Future of Cities” by Fortune magazine, ranks among the fastest-growing communities in America. Located near Orlando International Airport, this MPC is built on healthy living, sustainability, and integrated technology. Lake Nona is 17 square miles, with a projected ten million square feet of residential and commercial development over the next ten years.
Juan Santos, senior vice president of Tavistock Development Company, says, “Lake Nona is a really unique environment. It’s a master-designed community that is created with the idea of a frictionless environment where people can truly thrive.”
Act Fast! MPC Deals Are Snapped Up Quickly
Some homebuilders are now offering deals to lure in new buyers. Neal Communities, based on Florida’s west coast, will waive closing costs of up to $18,000 on 80 of its homes that are ready for sale or are currently under construction. Three builders in Wellington are offering discounts in an “agrihood” planned community called Arden, which consists of a five-acre working farm.
“It’s a buyer’s opportunity to get a great price,” says Susan Moguel, Arden’s marketing director.
A note of caution: It’s important to realize that homes in these communities could be a long- term hold; many MPCs take several decades to develop and unlock their full potential. They can be difficult to put a value on using traditional ROI methods. MPCs may be a good investment for rental income, but you would have to check with the community’s HOA on rental rules.
Even with these drawbacks, a master-planned community has some appealing advantages for long-term investors and is a unique real estate business model. If you choose to go the MPC route, make sure to conduct due diligence and save yourself from headaches down the road!