Could some of the most in-demand housing markets be cooling off?
Plan to Vacation, Stay to Live
When complete, Bayside will offer 1,640 units of single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and condominiums. The Delmarva Peninsula location appeals to mid-Atlantic residents who will retire but don't want to move to Florida because of the distance it would put between them and family and friends.
The Delmarva Peninsula around Delaware, Maryland and Virginia has been a vacation and second-home destination for years, and Carl M. Freeman Communities has developed resort communities there for more than 30 years. Homeowners from Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore and other mid-Atlantic cities appreciate the two tributaries and waterfront.
The Wilmington is available in a variety of architectural styles and color packages. In addition to a two-car garage, a strpped driveway fits two cards and leads to a porte cochere that fits another.
Set square in Delmarva territory, Bayside "lends itself to a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course to take advantage of those water views," says Katie Avsec, the marketing director for Carl M. Freeman Communities.
When complete, Bayside will offer 1,640 units of single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and condominiums. Amenities include a fitness center; recreation areas for water sports, hiking and biking; five pools; and a town center with retail space and restaurants. The community offers both golf and sports memberships; the latter provides access to all amenities on the property.
Of its 867 acres, 287 have been set aside for a conservation easement. A future environmental center will teach the community about preservation of natural resources, Avsec says.
Bayside's primary targets are second-home buyers, empty nesters and pre- and post-retirees. The location appeals to mid-Atlantic residents who will retire but don't want to move to Florida because of the distance it would put between them and family and friends.
"They can even keep their own doctors," says Avsec. "The proximity and familiarity allow many to buy their homes as vacation property a few years before they are ready to retire and start to build friends and network here locally. That makes relocating for retirement a lot easier for them."
Don Evans, principal of Orlando, Fla.-based The Evans Group and architect for Bayside, was surprised at what some of their market research revealed. For example, rain, sleet or snow wouldn't deter people from making the drive up every weekend.
"That's what the Delmarva Peninsula is all about," Evans says. "People want to live in a resort setting, but they want to use it all year round."
Bayside offers 28 floor plans. Carl M. Freeman has released a limited number of each for development, including four of the 2,630 square foot Wilmington model.
"Of the single-family home sites that have been released to date, the Wilmington has been the most popular choice for people and has sold the quickest," says Karen Dunn, product development director for Carl Freeman. "Every time we've had a Wilmington home site become available, it has sold right away."
The Wilmington's base price is about $600,000. Depending on options, it can cost as much a $1 million, the price at which the model, which opened in June 2005, sold.
The team tackled coming up with a design for the Wilmington that could address the fluctuating needs of a variety of buyers.
"We were trying to be everything to everyone," says Evans, "which normally you are told not to do. But Carl Freeman asked us to work at that goal, and we said yes."
A unique feature of the Wilmington model: the oversized screened porch.
The Gourmet Kitchen sits steps from the enclosed side porch.
The great room's plentiful windows let in natural light.
The Wilmington floor plan has four bedrooms on the first level, including an owner's suite. The other three bedrooms can be used as dens, offices or studio space to meet the needs of individual homeowners.
The oversized screened porch on the side of the house — unique to the Wilmington model — follows trends for outdoor living and entertaining, says Dunn. Homeowners can access the porch from the great room and gourmet kitchen and eating area.
An optional second floor could provide a retreat for children and young adults or a private area for guests. A large loft with separate bedroom and bath is one option; a fifth suite is another. The second floor option can add as much as 856 additional square feet.
Evans calls the second page of options "flexes." "All the big builders offer them today. People think because they can customize it and make choices that they're getting a custom home. People want to feel that you are acclimating the home for their lifestyle."
The Wilmington comes in three architectural styles: colonial revival, folk Victorian, and shingle; each style offers a choice of six exterior color packages. Interior options range from mechanicals and electricals to flooring or paint finishes.
"Choice for our buyers is one of our cornerstones," says Dunn.
"We sat in a room with all the marketing people," says Evans. "They asked, 'Okay, what if one of the kids is going to school in D.C., the other to another college in the area, and they're meeting mom and dad at the shore for the weekend, and they bring their friends with them. What do they do?' I said, 'Okay, here's what we do.'
"For example," Evans continues, "We feared that on the weekends when everybody was there the street would look like a used car lot. I decided I was going to do a strip driveway to get to the porte cochere. You can park one car in the porte cochere, two in the driveway outside the garage, and two in the garage. So now I've got five cars parked without being in the front."
Bayside has been hugely successful to date. A large presale in June 2004 netted 150 sales in about one weekend, says Avsec. "At this point in time we've settled about 160 homes in the community from the sales that occurred two years ago. We've sold 460 homes. We anticipate it's going to be a 10- to 12-year build-out."
"There are only three counties in Delaware, and they're somewhat antiquated," says Evans. "They've never had anything like Bayside. It's sitting between Atlantic City and Ocean City, Md. It's drawing from the biggest market base in the country. The market was so wide open."