Homebuilding takes a healthy bounce up

sjones@thesunnews.comMarch 22, 2013 

— Nationwide homebuilder Lennar is holding a grand opening this weekend for its Brookefield Estates subdivision near Murrells Inlet, one of several new sections the developer’s Myrtle Beach office has opened in recent months.

Some might think that’s a gutsy move, considering that the national economic recovery is still in the crawling stage, but not Susan Martin, Lennar Myrtle Beach’s director of sales.

“I’ve been here for 20 years,” Martin said of her time along the Grand Strand. “I’ve seen the market in all different stages.”

She said her decisions on when to open new areas of Lennar developments to new construction are based on her experience and a careful watch of the area market. She looks at what’s selling, what’s growing and what’s needed.

“I sit back and watch,” she said.

Martin said she expects Lennar’s business this year to be up nearly 80 percent over 2012. Independent homebuilders are anticipating healthy growth in their business this year as well, said Ed Friend, president of the Horry Georgetown Homebuilders Association.

He said his company, Excalibur Construction, is having more people calling in for information than at anytime in the last four years.

“It does feel good,” he said.

Martin said Lennar sold 132 homes in Horry County last year and expects that number to vault to 236 this year. She said the company opened the first section of Enclave, a subdivision that shares the same site as Brookefield, last year and sold more than 42 homes since August. Just eight units remain unsold.

Brookefield opened for sales in January and already 45 homes have been sold there.

Martin said that her decision to pull the string on a new development or a new section of a development begins with the purchase of a piece of property.

“I make sure when I purchase a location that it’s the right location at the right price,” she said.

Then she studies submarkets – resales, condominiums, single family homes and others – to see what’s happening in each segment.

“You have to look at it all,” she said.

Her decisions have to be made with an eye on a home’s final coast as well, because she said that when it comes time for sellers to make their decisions, “Price at the end of the day is everything.”

The homes in Brookefield are priced from about $180,000 to more than $220,000. Just in case that might be a tad bit over some potential customers’ house-buying budgets, the company is offering buyers $4,000 in closing costs for a limited time.

Friend said that independent builders will record a 30 percent to 40 percent growth in 2013.

He said homes that are reproduced in quantity such as those in Brookefield Estates typically will cost in the range of $100 per square foot. The custom homes he builds run from $129 per square foot to $140 per square foot.

The price of either, will fluctuate with the cost of building materials, which have seen healthy increases in the last six months.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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