“With homes ranging from $150,000 to over $2 million, our largest numbers came from the $250-$350,000 price range,” said Pat Neal, President and CEO of the ubiquitous Lakewood Ranch-based, home building company. “With 80 million baby boomers – the first ones turned 65 in 2011 -- and one sixth of all Americans retiring to Florida, we believe this boom will continue until at least 2029, when the last of that generation turns 65,” he noted.
Forty-four percent of Neal’s new home sales were feature or inventory homes, which are already started when they are purchased. “Our ability to build inventory homes is a huge advantage for us. It shortens the buying cycle, and a segment of buyers prefer to see what they intend to buy. Our solid financial position allows us to continue to produce inventory, while others in the market cannot,” said Michael Storey, President of Building for Neal Communities.
In addition to its strong financial position, Neal opened 10 new communities in 2013, and launched a South Florida Division based in Bonita Springs, with communities in Lee and Collier Counties. The new division exploded onto the market with higher than expected sales and plans to grow in 2014. “Exceeding our sales goals is certainly important to Neal Communities, but equally notable is the response we are getting from homebuyers who are thrilled to be in one of our homes,” said Michael Greenberg, Neal Communities’ South Florida Division President.
The builder’s overall expansion will continue with plans for close to a dozen new neighborhoods in 2014.
“Our business plan has us doubling in size over the next five years and if the market provides us that opportunity we’re going to seize it,” said Storey.
Additionally, Neal plans to expand north next year to Hillsborough County. “We have a pretty bullish outlook for the future. We believe we will continue to see the housing recovery move along coupled with overall economic improvement. That will bode well for us, so we fully anticipate that 2014 will be a good year, with sales volume and prices continuing to increase,” said Storey.
One of the fastest growing, privately-held home builders in the state, Neal began its massive growth ironically as the market headed into recession in 2008. “Now, we are absolutely the benchmark in this region, clearly the builder of choice with sales volume that is still over 2:1 that of our closest rival,” said Michael Storey. “That intentional strategy really started around 2008 when Pat (Neal) decided to reformat the company. He was a land developer that built homes. In the downturn, he decided to grow the home building business and the downturn provided the platform to do this. Our sales volume today is almost six times what it was in 2008. In 2008 we sold 141 homes; this year we’re at 826,” said Storey.
Furthermore, Neal Communities is completely vertically integrated in that it controls as many aspects of the building process as possible, with staff handling land acquisition, development, and building. PureStyle is Neal’s design company, headed by Charlene Neal and Waterscapes Pools & Spas is its pool company, plus the builder has joint ventures with a title and an insurance company, and owns a home owner’s association management company.
Besides record sales in 2013, Neal Communities also closed on its 9,000th home in the spring, and this year, the builder expects to celebrate its 10,000th. “The cool thing about 10,000 homes is that we’ve built them primarily in this marketplace. Not many people can say that about a single market. We’ve done it without a single failure. This company has never failed to complete a community, never failed to complete a home, never failed to pay a loan, in 45 years and close to 10,000 homes. That is phenomenal. That gives me tremendous confidence in our organization, and I think it should give anyone who does business with us great confidence,” said Storey.
Looking to the future, the Neal team is optimistic about continuing its successful record-breaking streak into 2014 and beyond.
“We have always operated according to one of the core principles that Pat and Charlene (Neal) developed: we strive to improve lives. Lives of our customers by giving them great homes and communities to live in, lives of our team members by giving them opportunities to grow with us, and lives of our trade partners and contractors by giving them continuous and steady work. It’s improving the community as a whole. It’s a passion that we have as a business, and that’s why it’s fun to talk about the growth, not just the increase to the bottom line. We really are just having fun,” said Storey.
Neal Communities was named one of 2012's "America's Best Builders" by BUILDER Magazine and voted the “2013 Best Residential Builder in Southwest Florida” in a readers’ poll sponsored by Gulfshore Business Magazine. The company is ranked #1 locally by Metrostudy and by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence based on number of home sales and ranked #64 nationally among homebuilders by BUILDER Magazine. To date, Neal has built over 9,000 homes in Southwest Florida. As the area's largest and most established, locally owned and operated private builder, Neal Communities is continually striving for excellence in every aspect of the home building and development business. John Neal Homes, Neal Signature Homes, Charlene Neal PureStyle, Waterscapes Pools & Spas, and Allegiant Title Professionals all contribute to the firm's continued, record-setting local success. The company's honors and accolades include 29 Parade of Homes 2013 awards, 49 Aurora Awards, 5 Best in American Living Awards, and hundreds of local and regional industry awards. For more information, please visit www.nealcommunities.com.
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