Lakewood Ranch open house bonanza brings out sellers

LAKEWOOD RANCH — To generate walk-through traffic and sales in the typically slow summer home sales market, real estate agents are setting up buffets and rolling out welcome mats in Lakewood Ranch for an open house tour.

The Lakewood Ranch Community Open House has signed 62 listings in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes represented by about 50 agents to be open to the public noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Organizer Maureen Legac, a part owner of the State Road 70 Keller Williams Realty office in Lakewood Ranch, started signing up agents and listings four weeks ago. It’s something she does a few times a year in neighborhoods around Manatee County, though never before on this scale.

The tour promises to be one of the biggest local open housing market events outside the annual spring Parade of Homes organized by the Manatee Sarasota Building Industry Association and the Lakewood Ranch Tour of Homes in the fall. It comes as home inventory levels in Lakewood Ranch have ballooned compared with 2013. About 240 homes, townhomes and condominiums are for sale in Lakewood Ranch, up from 150 at the same time last year, according to Multiple Listing Service data.

Between the two zip codes, 560 homes have sold so far in 2014. Sales for all of 2013 totaled 1,027.

Legac, a technology specialist, invited agents from all companies with properties listed for sale in Lakewood Ranch to participate, then compiled their listing information on the event website, LWRopen.com. The idea is to generate traffic and then sales. It could happen:

A smaller event at Lakewood Ranch village Riverwalk two years ago resulted in three sales.

“I do these kinds of things to stimulate and think out of the box for my sellers,” she said.

Homes on the tour are listed for prices between $235,000 and $1.69 million, according to the event website.

Holly Pascarella, another Keller Williams agent and partner in the Lakewood Ranch-based Pascarella Group, has 10 active listings in Lakewood Ranch. She has already sold 16 area homes this year as sellers get into a market where home prices have bounced back from the housing market crash. Higher prices have convinced homeowners who bought at the top of the market in 2005 that now is a good time to sell.

“We’re seeing more inventory because prices have gone up,” Pascarella said

The average price of a home sold in the 34202 zip code this year is $501,324, up 2.4 percent from 2013, according to the MLS. The $391,625 average in the 34211 zip code is 2.5 percent higher than last year.

Known for years for its new home communities, Lakewood Ranch has sold out of some of its first-run inventory, which is increasing demand for resale homes. As developers and builders look farther north and east of Lakewood Ranch to build new homes, the heavily built-out neighborhoods in Lakewood Ranch are popular among buyers who want to stay close to the business district, Interstate 75 and Bradenton and Sarasota.

“People don’t want to move that far out,” said Pascarella Group partner Laura Stavola. “That is what will keep Lakewood Ranch strong.”

Villages that have sold out in Lakewood Ranch include Greenbrook, Edgewater, Summerfield and Riverwalk, according to Lakewood Ranch’s website.

New homes are still available in several villages, including Country Club East, Central Park, The Lake Club, The Country Club and Esplanade.

Agents characterize the supply of Lakewood Ranch homes as tight, despite the year-over-year increase. However, more inventory is on the way. Canadian builder Mattamy Homes is scheduled to begin selling the first of 675 new homes in its Harmony at Lakewood Ranch community early next year.

Adjacent communities that are not in Lakewood Ranch also promise to scratch buyers’ new home itch. Sunday’s event will feature eight new homes in The Links at Rosedale, a community just northeast of the Central Park development on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. They will be the only new construction featured in the tour.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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