Within the last 2 years, even with the COVID19 worldwide pandemic taking the country to its economic knees, the construction of new homes in Southwest Florida has seen an impressive surge in activity. You can hardly drive down any residential street or within any gated community without seeing multiple job sites teaming with activity.
While the sale of existing real estate inventory has been reported as extremely active with homes selling in just days in some instances, those looking for a brand new home to be built for them need to follow a different path. Selecting the homebuilder for you, whether within a private development offering inventory models by the builder who is developing it, or for a homesite you may already own, takes a little research and getting answers to a lot of questions.
A Look at the Numbers
In Southwest Florida, new-home, gated residential communities are developing at a record rate, as well as an increase in home building permits in cities like Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero, Lehigh Acres and others. In fact, in the 2nd quarter of 2022 the City of Cape Coral issued a temporary ban on filing new home building permits so their staff could get caught up with the backload.
They are now receiving new permit applications. For just the first six months of 2021, new building permits in Lee and Collier counties exceeded 2020 levels by 1,000 in each county. To read more about the explosive development along the Corkscrew Road area in South Lee County, click here.
When it comes to discovering which specific home builders are building the most homes, the Lee County building department records are indicative of which firms are putting up the most rooftops.
A survey conducted by a real estate and home building publication called HBWeekly shows a review of the building permits issued in Southwest Florida in January 2021:
Lennar Homes: Permits: 243 Average Value: $170,445.00
D.R. Horton: Permits: 229 Average Value: $206,030.00
Pulte Homes: Permits: 180 Average Value: $233,676.00
Taylor Morrison: Permits: 112 Average Value: $225,886.00
Neal Communities: Permits: 91 Average Value: $219,619.00
The article points out that there was a total of 315 home builders with recorded housing starts in Southwest Florida as of January 2021.
Lennar is a large, national builder established in 1954 which has built over 1 million homes across the country. D.R. Horton was founded in 1978 in Texas and has been acquiring other building companies and related businesses ever since. A dream by then 18-year old Bill Pulte in 1950 resulted in Pulte Homes now being ranked as the nation’s third largest homebuilding firm. Taylor Morrison began in the UK as Taylor Woodrow Builders and began designing and building homes in the U.S. in the late 1930’s. Neal Communities, established in 1970, is a family-owned business with a well-respected history of building homes from the Bradenton area south along the Florida gulf coast to Naples.
Local or National Builder – Things to Consider
If you’re in the market for building a new home instead of purchasing an existing home on the market, you should be informed and get all of your questions answered before you sign a purchase contract.
Large, nationwide builders buy large tracts of land and plan a residential community in which they are the only builder allowed to construct homes, in many cases. Some do have an option for the buyer to select a custom homebuilder of their choice, provided the developer authorizes it. Big builders will launch new communities with multiple furnished model homes to make envisioning your new home easier, and also offer the sale of the homesites within the development. In some cases, a builder will offer 15 different floorplans with a wide variety of architectural elevations to ensure buyers can find just the right home for them.
National homebuilding firms have developed systems and processes based on their sheer volume of homes built to ensure the buyer receives the biggest bang for their buck. You will deal with a licensed real estate sales professional in most cases, and following that a designated client coordinator, walking you through the entire process of building your new home. Large companies also rely on their extensive expertise and market research to develop technology, construction innovation and design trends plus other facets involved in building a new home to meet the needs of today’s buyers.
But what should you do if you already own a buildable homesite outside of a large development? In today’s active market, lot owners are making the decision to build houses on property they may have owned for years. Also, many local and regional home builders are buying residential lots throughout Southwest Florida and either marketing them with the intent of also offering to build a new home on the site, or constructing a “spec home,” to sell after completion.
Southwest Florida is home to hundreds of smaller, independent home builders that design and build beautiful custom homes on your lot, and that have achieved considerable success in building their businesses to impressive levels. Smart builders know that they need to provide a quality product that matches that of the national builders, and they’ve stepped up their game in establishing a respected reputation in the local home building industry.
When you think of it, a smaller regional or local builder has more on the line when it comes to building a home for a satisfied client, because it may more directly affect their bottom line. Whether you build 20 homes a year or 2,000 or more, savvy builders know that the details like constant, consistent communication and attention to the buyer’s questions or potential changes in the building process are the keys to success.
You may learn about a local homebuilder whose past clients are thrilled with their newly-built homes, but if the builder doesn’t return your calls or address all of your questions, it can end up as a frustrating, negative experience.
As to the costs involved in selecting the right new homebuilder for your needs, getting complete details is critical to making an informed decision. While it may be true that large, national building firms do realize an economy of scale when purchasing construction materials and related builder services on a large scale, a local builder with a recognized track record of success understands that staying competitive in pricing their homes today requires keeping costs in line with what the market will bear.
Choosing a builder to create your new dream home will take some considerable effort in researching all of the available options, seeing the builder’s work firsthand and doing all you can to ensure your experience is a positive and worthwhile effort.