Bubil: Letter from home


News items about new-home construction are raising eyebrows among those in the industry.

Perhaps that is a bit understated. Industry insiders are starting to compare the current level of demand to that experienced in 2005.

That did not end well, as you may recall.

Ten years after an epic boom that was followed by an epic bust, orders are overflowing the desks of local builders. Already this year, Neal Communities has sold more than 563 homes, more than 25 percent more than last year at this time. Neal expects to sell more than a thousand homes in 2015. In 2010, Neal sold 330 houses for the entire year as it downsized its product offerings to adjust to the market’s collapse.

Its custom-home division, Neal Signature Homes, has sold 62 houses in the first half of the year, an increase of 50 percent over last year’s activity.

It’s the same story in the West Villages of North Port, Venice, Manatee County. Even Punta Gorda is on track to issue 100 new-home building permits this year, which is a lot for that small town.

Even smaller custom builders are experiencing high demand. Josh Wynne, of Josh Wynne Construction, said he is turning away about $2 million worth of business each week.

“The market is pretty terrifying, frankly,” said Wynne, “because, how can it go like that? I’d rather be slow and steady for a lot of years than like this. It is way too familiar.”

Wynne said that at the Southeast Building Conference in Orlando, builders were told that new-home building in Florida has surpassed 2005 “in terms of total production.”

He added, “The difference between now and 2005 is the cost to build. The cost is still 40 percent lower on average than it was in 2005 for deliverable product. Where now we are back at the same level of production as we were in 2005, the cost is not as crazy as it was, and the interest rates are nearly nonexistent.”

Wynne did more than listen to market reports at SEBC. His firm won the top overall honors in the Aurora Awards design competition.

With Leader Design Studio, Josh Wynne Construction took home a Golden Aurora (best in show) for two projects. In a tie vote by the judges, the Golden Aurora was presented for the Tugendhat Residence, known as Lotus on Orange, and a new modern house at 1414 S. Osprey Ave. in Sarasota. Team members at 1414 included SAWA Design Studio, Borden Landscape Design, Two Trails Inc. and Latitude 27 Properties. On Orange Avenue, the team included landscape architect Michael Gilkey, SAWA and green consultant Two Trails Inc.

Solstice Architects, a partnership of Jonathan Parks and Chris Arelt, was the other big local winner, taking a Grand Aurora for Thirty Oaks, a new modernist house in Hidden Harbor on Siesta Key.

Next week, this section will take a closer look at those projects.

Market anecdote of the week

Deborah Beacham of Michael Saunders & Co. listed a $2 million condo on Wednesday, July 8. By the end of the day, MSC’s Kim Ogilvie presented a signed purchase contract.

“Southern girls know how to get deals done,” Ogilvie said. She’s from Tennessee; Beacham is from Mississippi.

Southernism aside, this deal speaks to the heat of the market, even in the summer. It may be the “offseason” here, but for northern buyers, it’s peak season for buying.

“It’s busier now than it was in January,” Ogilvie said.

Realtors, builders and others are welcome to share their quick-sale stories with me at harold.bubil@heraldtribune.com.

Last modified: July 24, 2015
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