There may be no better sign that the real estate market is perking up than this: The same day Highland Homes registered with Manatee County to begin selling lots and homes in the community of South Oak, inquiries started pouring in.
"Since opening day, there has been a list of prospects waiting to take advantage of the incentives for being one of the first homeowners in South Oak," said Kathie McDaniel, vice president of sales and marketing for Highland Homes. "Manatee County has had lots of good news recently. Their economic development plan has been a huge success, homes are selling at a good pace, employment is up and home prices are going up, too."
McDaniel attributes much of the quick response to South Oak's lot sizes, which are wider than lots typically found in new communities.
"We find buyers prefer the wider lots to put a little more space between their house and their neighbor's," she said. "The home sites in this community are large and the community has some wonderful natural conservation areas."
In response to the positive inquiries, Highland Homes quickly set up a sales trailer and hired a new sales manager to start selling in South Oak, just west of Prime Outlets Ellenton, McDaniel said.
South Oak is located off Ellenton-Gillette Road, one of Manatee County's fast-growing areas. The area surrounding South Oak offers homebuyers ample access to shopping, recreation and entertainment. For water enthusiasts, the community is near the Manatee River, Little Manatee River and several waterways leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Horse farms and equestrian areas are also near South Oak, as well as the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, which offers ice skating and hockey, indoor soccer and football fields, a fitness center, video game room and eateries. And for shoppers, South Oak is close to one of Florida's largest outlet malls, Prime Outlets Ellenton.
In South Oak, Highland Homes will be offering homes that start in the low $100,000s and floor plans ranging from 1,100 to more than 2,600 square feet of living space. The floor plans offer one- and two-story homes, with two- and three-car garages, from three to five bedrooms, and homes with formal living or just casual great room plans, McDaniel said.
"We try to offer a wider variety of plans than most builders," she said. "The company's philosophy is built around giving more choice to the buyer and offering it at the most affordable price. With Highland Homes, buyers can choose any lot and build any house on that lot. Then they select all their included features at the Highland Homes Selection Studio. Choosing a home is the easiest part since the company offers more than 40 floor plans."
McDaniel said Highland Homes partners with name-brand manufacturers to provide homeowners with affordable quality, including Merillat cabinets, Armstrong vinyl, Wilsonart countertops, Corian, Whirlpool appliances, Mohawk flooring, and Delta faucets, among others.
"Not only does Highland Homes have a great reputation when it comes to warranty response, but we also have these name brands that also carry solid reputations and warranties," McDaniel said.
Highland Homes is offering special incentives for the first five sales at South Oak, and is promoting its $99 Down Moves You In incentive through the remainder of 2010.
McDaniel noted that Highland Homes is one of the few builders in Central Florida who has not encountered any Chinese drywall claims.
South Oak is in Ellenton. From Interstate 75 in Manatee County, take the exit for U.S. 301 (exit No. 224) toward Ellenton/Palmetto. Drive west for about a half mile to Ellenton-Gillette Road (also called 36th Avenue East). Turn right and South Oak is on the left.
Model center hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
For more information about South Oak, call (941) 465-6411 or visit www.highlandhomes.org, where you also can register to be a VIP for South Oak and receive a special incentive.