New home construction taking off in North Port

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NORTH PORT, Fla. – Overall, the local real estate market has cooled in recent months. However, one segment is coming on strong. New home construction is back in a big way.

Inventory of pre-owned homes has shrunk. It's helped open the door for builders, who are staying busy these days despite the slower summer months.

Local real estate expert Dan Heschmyer with Gulf Coast Realty Team says sales of pre-owned homes has slowed a little, but new builds are booming. “New construction has really cranked up, and they are taking a lot of the buyers out of the market."

He says many are seeing some of the advantages. "Why would you not buy new construction when you can get something for $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 more than a 30 year old house with a 10 year warranty in a brand new community? It becomes a real viable option.”

Those with Neal Communities, who are buying up land and pumping out homes, say they've sold more than 445 so far this year. Even in the slower month of June they are setting the bar.

"We had 97 closings over the month of June; a record number for Neal Communities." Leisa Weintraub with the company says quick availability with a number of options is what more are looking for. "You can purchase from the high $100,000’s up to $600,000. Depends on your desires, the community you want to live in, the amenities, and of course the location."

The numbers don't lie. The City of Venice says June was a busy month for them, with 24 single family home permits. Unincorporated Sarasota County shows 119 new permits in June -- more than the previous two years in that month. North Port reports 41 permits.

Building department heads there say they only predicted 200 for the whole year. "As of the beginning of July we have done 319, and will probably do over 400 by the end of the year," says Scott Williams of the North Port Building Department.

South Sarasota County communities once slowed by the recession are now back in play; Grand Paradiso, Sarasota National, and Island Walk are building daily.

"It is something we have been looking for for a long time, seeing people go back to work. A lot of old faces we have not seen for a while. A lot of activity that is real promising for the City of North Port," says Wiliams.

As for the rest of us with older homes, Heschmyer says more competition will impact home values, but that's just how Florida rolls in a healthy market. "You can still expect the prices to go up a little bit, but not as many buyers for it because the buyers are opting for new construction, especially the Baby Boomers."

And the number of homes has a huge economic impact on the area, providing jobs of course and tax dollars. The value of those 184 home permits pulled just in June in south Sarasota County is an estimated $52 million.