Local Builder Sees Improved Market; Buys Springfield Lots | Real Estate
JACKSONVILLE - It's been a tough market for homebuilders. There's been such a glut of existing homes on the market there was no need to build new ones. But one local builder says he's seeing signs of life. "Sales have definitely picked up this summer," says John Wells, owner of Lowcountry Classics. His company specializes in building replica homes from the 1920's and 30's in established neighborhoods like Avondale.
"You hear people say they don't build them like they use to. That's absolutely correct. We build them better than they used to," says Wells. Like many builders, LowCountry Classics had to cut costs over the past few years just to stay in business. Wells says he's had to dig footers himself and frame homes in order to reduce expenses. He says he passes the savings on to his customers.
First time homebuyer Beth Ann Cooper bought a LowCountry home. "This is like the best of both worlds for us. A new home in our neighborhood," says Cooper.
Red oak floors, Victorian fireplaces and granite countertops are standard features in a LowCountry Classic home. The average size is about 1400 square feet. The average price is $250,000.
A few years ago, other replica builders like SRG were building bigger, more expensive replica homes in other established neighborhoods like Springfield. SRG has since stop operating. However, Wells' company purchased 40 of SRG's lots in Springfield that were on the brink of foreclosure. The price for all 40 was $200,000. Only $5000 a lot.
"Some things still have to cycle through but we plan on starting to build later on this year or early next year in Springfield," says Wells. Local Realtors tout the benefits of living in established neghborhoods. "We bike to the Jaguars games and with the price of gas in this day and age you can't beat being this close to everything that's going on in Jacksonville," says Pat Nodurft of Watson Realty.
Amy Powell, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker says, "Over 50% of our market is first time homebuyers and they're excited."
That's excitement that hasn't been seen in the real estate market for quite awhile.