Area home sales outpace national figures

Local builders might not be getting as much money per home as they did during the real estate boom, but some say sales numbers are up slightly from last year.

Neal Communities sold 14 homes last month, resulting in a total sales volume of about $5.3 million. In November 2006, Neal sold 12 homes, but the sales volume was nearly $2 million higher at $7.2 million.

The higher sales number with lower sales volume is an indication on how far home prices have fallen.

Even in places like The Country Club at Lakewood Ranch, prices have been drastically reduced. A banner outside one of the gates tells prospective buyers they can get into Neal's Wexford community for $330,000. During the boom years, prices in that development were nearly twice that.

At John Cannon Homes, sales are up over last year, but the margins have remained the same, said chief operating officer T.J. Nutter. In November, the company sold $6 million worth of homes, and December proved to be an even better month with $10 million in sales.

While throughout the year, it has been John Cannon Homes' larger custom homes that have continued to move, things are starting to look better in a variety of price ranges.

"Even our mid-range stuff is starting to move," Nutter said.

Local experts aren't surprised that the area seems to be faring better than others across the nation. The area led the way in appreciating home prices and was one of the first to start feeling the pinch of correction, so it is only natural it would lead the way in recovery as well, said Jerry Blumberg, co-owner of Gibraltar Homes. Nutter agrees and thinks other once-booming states including California, Arizona and North Carolina are a year behind Florida in terms of recovery.

"We believe that the robust traffic we have seen for November is a true indicator that now is the time to buy," added Pat Neal.

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