Home construction booming at Babcock Ranch
October 18, 2018
Andrea Stetson - Special to the News Press
It looks like a massive construction zone on the streets in Babcock Ranch where Pulte and Lennar are building. Dozens of homes are under construction and homeowners continue to move into completed houses. At Babcock Ranch, it is the less expensive homes that are taking off with the biggest sales.
“The entry level price homes have a broader appeal,” said Laura Keller, Babcock Ranch, senior vice president marketing and sales. “That is what some people are more comfortable spending. It is the way it is at any master- planned community.”
Babcock has six established builders, including Pulte, Lennar, Florida Lifestyle Homes, Homes By Towne, Fox Premier Builders and Stock Development. Lyons House/Arthur Rutenberg Homes and Solara Homes by Banroc will soon start to build in Babcock Ranch. While all of the builders have sold something, it is Pulte and Lennar that are building by the dozens. Pulte has more than 50 homes at Babcock Ranch since they started there in 2017.
“The No. 1 driving factor that cannot be overstated is meeting people’s price point of affordability,” said Josh Graeve, vice president of sales. “We work hard to economize the scale to produce high quality homes.” Pulte homes start in the low $200,000s. Graeve said many of the buyers are families outgrowing their homes or parents that want better schools or like the vision of the town. He said about 60 percent are families and 40 percent are older residents.
“Even our full-time empty nesters are seeing value of buying under $300,000. They love the restaurants, health center and small-town concept. When Pulte and Lennar came in, we were the first to offer brand new homes under $300,000 and that has been critical to serving the needs of the consumer.”
Jimmy and Tiffany Haynie moved to Babcock Ranch on the southeast coast of Florida for its school and lifestyle. This was their first time buying a house. “Pulte could meet my price range,” Jimmy Haynie began. “It was much more affordable.” Haynie said he looked at both Pulte and Lennar, but chose Pulte because they had more choices. “I didn’t want to have the same type of home as everyone else,” he said. “Pulte had tons and tons of options to make it your own.”
“My buddy came down and bought a home next to me for the same reason,” Haynie continued. “With Pulte, I think the biggest thing is they really stand out in that you have the ability to personalize your home. Right down to the doorknobs, you can be that specific with what you want. I know there is not going to be one house that will be like mine in the community.”
Lennar has sold more than 130 homes at Babcock Ranch. Their homes range in price from the upper-$100s to the high-$300s. Lennar has 14 floor plans that range in size from 1,417 to 4,202 under air. Christina Traver, vice president of marketing for Lennar, said the builder is popular at Babcock Ranch because of all its technology and sustainability. “Lennar’s Everything’s Included program and Wi-Fi certified home designs coupled with this technologically savvy community provide the ideal backdrop where a homeowner can truly have it all,” she stated. Jason and Grace Caissie and their 2-year-old daughter are moving into a Lennar home in Babcock Ranch. “That’s the only one we can afford as teachers,” Jason Caissie said.
Lennar plans to build 176 homes in the Trail’s Edge neighborhood at Babcock Ranch. Build out for phase one is anticipated for late 2019. A second phase with 243 homes and will be completed two years later.
Builders selling a more expensive, higher quality product say they are selling homes, but nowhere near the rate of Pulte and Lennar. Homes by Towne has sold 19 houses. “We are moving a little slower than we’d like to, but it is moving forward,” said Kitt Kearney, licensed real estate broker with Homes by Towne. “I think it’s because the other builders are less expensive in the price point.”
Homes by Towne has three models at Babcock. They sold their fourth one. They have eight floor plans ranging from 1,860 square feet to 3,071 square feet. Prices range from $349,900 to $469,900. Kearney expects prices to go up because of rising impact fees. Homes by Town has room to build up to 40 houses. “We are more semicustom,” she explained. “So they get to make more choices than the other builders below us. That is something that people want to do.”
Florida Lifestyle Homes was one of the first to complete models at Babcock Ranch, but they aren’t selling. “We have one sold, one under contract and three letters of intent,” said Sales Professional Michael Knoerlein. Their single-family homes range from 2,784 to over 4,000 square feet. Prices start in the $500,000s.
Randy Frederick, sales professional with Florida Lifestyle Homes, was at Quail West a few months ago explaining how quickly homes are selling there. Even before models are complete at Quail West, they are sold. Frederick said that’s not happening yet at Babcock, but he is optimistic. “The market has not really opened up for our price point,” he said about Babcock Ranch. “That area is very different. Kitson does things first class. We have a lot of people that love our homes. The people in our price range love our homes. I think it will be clearer as the community develops. Kitson wants high prices and low prices.”
Stock Development has sold nine homes in Babcock Ranch and has five models available for purchase. Stock Development prices range from $439,990 to $629,990. “Families are starting to be a little bit more prevalent, but we are seeing the retirees almost as much as we are seeing families,” said Van Osborne, Stock Development’s vice president of sales. “I think (the benefit is) the plans that we offer. They are well laid out. I think that the community itself is very unique as far as green living is attracting customers. The sites are at a premium as well.”
Lyons House/Arthur Rutenberg Homes is finishing contract negotiations to start building in Babcock Ranch. Tim Rose, building company president, said they plan to build a model home and some spec houses. “They’ve got an extremely well run operation and it is nice to deal with that type of company,” he said about why Lyons House/Arthur Rutenberg Homes wants to be in Babcock Ranch. “They’re where the growth is.” Rose said buyers will have more than 90 plans to choose from and can customize any plan. “They’re going to be the product we are famous for; high end, low maintenance, energy efficient homes,” he said. Prices have not been set yet, but Rose said they are projected to start in the $600,000s.