RCLCO Announces Top-Selling U.S Master-Planned Communities for 2007
By Gregg LoganCommunity and Resort Master-Planned Communities
Mountain’s Edge, with 1,740 net sales, was 2007’s top-selling master-planned community (MPC) in the U.S. according to RCLCO, a leading independent real estate advisory firm.
RCLCO has been releasing its top-selling MPC rankings since 1994, when it first undertook this effort to gain greater insight into the master-planned community industry.
Master-planned communities are large-scale developments featuring a range of housing prices and styles, an array of amenities, and multiple non-residential land uses (such as commercial, hotels, and educational facilities) offering residents an attractive and convenient environment in which to live, work, and play. Some communities provide lifestyle options for multiple market segments, while others target a specific buyer type such as active adults age 55 and over.
Each year, RCLCO invites communities across the U.S. to participate in the survey, and in past years, a majority of the top-selling master-planned communities have generally been located in the southwestern region of the country. Last year, RCLCO questioned whether or not those communities would continue to outpace projects in regions with limited land availability, higher land values, and cooler climates. This year’s survey has shown that the top 10 communities still reside mainly in the southwestern region of the U.S., and a portion of these communities have been able to sustain good sales through uncertain times.1
One of the most notable trends seen from this year’s survey is the emergence of retail town centers. In the past couple of decades, golf courses were the “it” amenity among successful MPCs; communities that offered a golf course were able to set a higher premium than other communities. This is still true in today’s market, where eight of the top 10 selling master-planned communities have a golf course amenity. However, this year’s survey revealed that retail town centers may be the new “golf course” of today. Approximately 39% of all communities surveyed in this year’s study have a retail town center, and many of these have performed as well as—and, in some cases, better than—golf course communities in terms of sales pace and price.
Master-planned communities are displaying the capacity to weather the current housing downturn. Between 2006 and 2007, the number of new homes sold declined by approximately 7%. Over the same time period, the average number of new homes sold in master-planned communities we surveyed decreased by a similar margin. However, sales prices showed remarkable strength in MPCs through this time period. During the period between 2005 and 2007, the median sale prices of new homes within MPCs increased by six percent, while the median price for a new home according to the U.S. Census only increased by 2.5% over that same time period. Some communities—such as Coral Canyon, Amberly, The Woodlands, Northwest Crossing, and Daybreak—reported price gains that were much higher than that, and it is notable that these five communities all offered retail town centers as part of their master plans. These statistics suggest that the master-planned community is still a successful concept.
1It should also be noted that Poinciana and The Villages, both located in the Central Florida and ranked highly in terms of sales in past years, declined to participate in this year’s study.