Melissa Followell- Bradenton Herald LAKEWOOD RANCH - The Lake Club is four weeks into its premiere and traffic by potential buyers is still steady. On Sunday, parking was a rare commodity as many toured the showcase homes in Lakewood Ranch's most exclusive community.
The community's 10 builders have each been assigned a week in which they can plan lectures or events for the public. Whether it's the events themselves or the scale of the homes being presented that is attracting crowds, one thing is certain: The public keeps coming.
"We haven't seen traffic like this in years," said Sondra Guffey, spokeswoman for LWR Communities. "It's a good sign for the real estate market overall." Guffey believes the events have helped keep the momentum going. Crowds have been a mix of potential buyers, as well as those looking for decorating ideas or who just want to check out the new custom homes.
This week's featured builder, London Bay Homes, is new to Manatee County, and sales executive Julia Lurz thinks that has helped drive visitors to its home both before and during its premiere week. "I just can't believe the great response we are getting," Lurz said.
Over the weekend, a couple from Atlanta came through London Bay Homes' 5,537-square-foot Mediterranean Avena model. "There's a great deal of interest. The buzz on the street is that this is an unusual community," Lurz said.
Potential buyers are not only those coming in from different areas but some are locals looking to move farther inland. From hurricanes to red tide to high insurance premiums, some people who live on the beach are coming into The Lake Club. Professionals from St. Petersburg are making a trip down to The Lake Club as well, Guffey said.
Those who tour the homes are asked to give a donation at the sales center. The money is split between the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund and the V Foundation. As the first attempt at fundraising through showcase homes in Lakewood Ranch, many didn't know how people would take to the idea.
"We're getting a really good response," Guffey said. As of Feb. 17, $12,643 has been raised for the charities through The Lake Club tours. People are given the opportunity to give back to the community before even officially becoming a part of it.
Debbie Gonzalez, director of sales and marketing for John Cannon Homes, said she has noticed traffic picking up throughout many different communities and a change in the prospective buyers' attitudes.
"They're not afraid to sit down and talk," Gonzalez said.
John Cannon Homes' Camira model in The Lake Club is one of five entries the company has in the Parade of Homes, which kicks off Saturday. London Bay Homes' model is also featured in the parade. Gonzalez thinks that if things keep going the way they are, it may be a positive sign for the market. "We'll have some good, friendly competition again," Gonzalez said of home builders.