Top-Selling Master Planned Communities Are Getting Smaller

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Rising land and construction costs have cut the best sellers' total sales in half from a decade ago

December 29, 2016

Highlands Ranch in Colorado. Photo: wmung/Wikimedia Commons

Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., was one of the top-selling master planned communities of 2015. At 7,000 acres, the development is tiny compared to other communities from a decade ago. For instance, it is only a quarter as big as The Woodlands in Texas, which contains 28,000 acres. Other large master plans from past years include Highlands Ranch in Colorado (22,000 acres), Summerlin in Nevada (22,000 acres), and Weston in Florida (17,000 acres).

RCLCO has conducted its Master-Planned Community Survey for more than 20 years, and it has found that master plans are shrinking due to rising land and construction costs. In each year from 2000 to 2005, the total new sales of the top-10 selling master plans topped 16,000. Since 2006, though, the high point dipped to 10,750 in 2013.

The final results RCLCO survey, which determines the 50 top-selling communities in the nation and identifies current and past trends, will be released in January.

The geographical concentration of the top-selling master-planned communities has also shifted over time. Since 2006, the share of top-selling communities that are located in Florida and Texas has grown substantially. Arizona, on the other hand, has seen its share of the 10 top-selling communities decline, particularly since the end of the Great Recession. However, Arizona continues to be a popular retirement destination and is prominently represented in our preliminary top-50 list for 2016.

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