Recent headlines paint a fairly positive picture for new home sales. Interest rates are at an all-time low, prices of sold homes have increased and housing permit requests are on the rise.
Seeing this upswing as an opportunity to grow, Highland Homes has begun buying developed lots in new-home communities, including South Oak, located in one of Manatee County's fast-growing areas near the Prime Outlets Ellenton shopping center.
Highland Homes recently closed at South Oak and expects to start selling homes in this community by the end of July, said Kathie McDaniel, vice president of sales and marketing for Highland Homes.
"Manatee County has been on our radar for over a year now," McDaniel said. "The county has been aggressive in pursuing and building industry and new employment centers. The Port of Manatee has been successful at attracting several businesses to relocate and take advantage of the deep waters on Tampa Bay. The area has created hundreds of new jobs and continues to see other area businesses moving into the area with future employment potential. Highland Homes is excited to be part of this new and continued growth."
In South Oak, Highland Homes will offer homes that start in the low $100,000s with only $99 down, McDaniel said.
"Families who typically rent are now looking into the possibility of owning a new home," she said.
"For many of our buyers, the idea of owning a home was only a dream until they visit us and see for themselves how they can own a home for less than rent. Payments can run as low as $600 per month for many of our buyers, so it just makes sense to build a new home."
South Oak is off Ellenton-Gillette Road. 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.
The move into Manatee County will mean Highland Homes now builders in six central Florida counties. It moved into the Orlando market less than a year ago in Osceola County and also build in Pasco, Lake, Polk, and Hillsborough counties. The company is headquartered in Lakeland.
Highland Homes has built its reputation on being the "Value Leader," McDaniel said.
"We were recently recognized by Builder Magazine as the number 73 out of the Top 100 builders in the country. We closed more than 335 homes in 2009 and are closing at a pace in 2010 that already exceeds that. We continue to compete with larger, national builders, to the surprise of industry experts."
The company is known for offering dozens of floor plans from 1,000 square feet to almost 3,000 square feet of living space. It builds one- and two-story homes, with two- or three-car garages, and from three to five bedrooms.
The homes include outstanding features such as Merrilatt cabinets, Mohawk carpet, Delta Faucets, and Whirlpool appliances. The company has a complete design studio where buyers choose all of their selections.
South Oak is in Ellenton. From Interstate 75 in Manatee, 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 drive about one-quarter mile. South Oak is on the left.
Highland Homes will start selling homes in South Oak from a modular office later this month and will start construction of their new model home immediately. The model center hours will be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
For information about South Oak, call (941) 465-6411 or visit www.highlandhomes.org, where you can also register to be a VIP for South Oak and receive a special incentive.