Indigo in Lakewood Ranch, one of 31 Neal Communities developments from Manatee to Collier counties.

Neal Communities took a big bounce back from this spring’s COVID-19 quarantine, with 107 home sales across its 31 developments from Manatee County to Naples in May—an increase of 47 percent over the 71 homes it sold in May 2019.  

In addition, five Neal Communities developments reached sell-out in May: Tides End in northwest Bradenton, The Ridge at Crossing Creek in east Manatee County; and Coconut Cove, Watermark and Cypress Walk in Fort Myers. 

Company founder Pat Neal—who marked 50 years in the home-building business on May 11—attributes the bump in sales to three conditions: “Things are good here and bad up north and interest rates are lower than they’ve been since World War II,” he says. “And there’s a new attitude about the future that we’re going to get through the coronavirus.”

“Housing is going to lead us out of the recession,” says Neal. “Everybody who lives in New Jersey and New York and Connecticut and Illinois is going to end up living in Florida—Florida being good, clean, good economy, good weather, nice people, good prices compared to the poor economy, difficult political environment and high taxes up north.”

Despite a report this week from the real estate database CoreLogic that predicts Sarasota-Manatee has a 50-50 chance of falling home prices over the next year, Neal says there’s been no pushback on list prices from his buyers. With mortgage rates hovering just above 3 percent, he argues it’s less expensive to buy a $330,000 home from his company than it is to rent.

“We sold somebody [a home in the North Port community of] Grand Palm from Indiana,” he cited as an example of the new attitude. “Typically, our buyers will sell up north first; [but] they said, ‘we were going to wait but we just decided to do it.”

Neal was also quick to credit his management team with adjusting to the new times. Online sales concierges, utilizing 3D home projection, accounted for half the May sales. “We have changed also to meet the new reality,” he says. “We don’t think it will ever go back to the way before.”

Neal has two new communities coming online in next few months. Windward, opening in August, will be a neighborhood of 900 single-family homes and paired villas off Lorraine Road just north of Fruitville in the Sarasota County portion of Lakewood Ranch. And Grand Park, a community of single-family homes and paired villas, will open in October just off Clark Road east of I-75. Grand Park.

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