Builders of new homes in the region are offering new models for the new year, positioning themselves to take advantage of a slowly improving market.
Sales of new homes rose more than 4 percent in November to an annual rate of 377,000, the fastest sales pace since April 2010, the U.S. Commerce Department said. And housing starts jumped 12 percent in December.
As buyers of new construction return to the local market, they’ll find choices designed for their shifting tastes and needs.
At the Neighborhoods of Cedar Creek, a Brad Haber Homes development in Egg Harbor City, a new option to add a separate living space for a parent or in-law is being offered this year.
“More customers are looking for space for the older mom or dad, someone who can’t do stairs,” said Brad Haber, 58, of Medford.
On units with a walk-out basement, that first floor can be finished as a separate apartment with rear entrance, he said.
The cost increase is minimal, because basements are partially finished in all models already and the main added feature is a full bath, he said. Cedar Creek models range from 1,750 to 2,500 square feet and $190,000 to $230,000,
Of the 400 houses planned for Cedar Creek, just 13 in the first section of 25 houses have the topography for a basement entrance at grade in the rear. “From the back, it effectively looks like a three-story house instead of a two-story,” Haber said, with two to four steps to the main, middle-floor entrance in the front.
The new model at K. Hovnanian’s Bayport on Lakes Bay, in the West Atlantic City section of Egg Harbor Township, also offers an option to finish a ground-floor basement.
The Quincy II model has a configuration common at the shore, with the living space on the two upper floors to take advantage of views and stay above flooding.
Sam Abruzzo, senior community manager for K. Hovnanian, said the new model responds to buyer demand.
“We try to keep dialing into what’s most appealing to customers, and we found they like three-story living,” said Abruzzo from his office in Jackson, Ocean County.
He said none of the nearly 100 units so far at Bayport flooded during Hurricane Sandy, and from preliminary flood map updates it looks like new units will have to be built only about 2 feet higher to meet the new flood insurance criteria.
“Luckily, we already elevated the property pretty substantially from the existing grade when we built,” he said.
The Quincy II features a spacious owner’s suite, and like all Bayport houses, includes membership in the development’s private on-site clubhouse with fitness center, library, catering kitchen, multi-purpose room and outdoor swimming pool on Lake’s Bay.
Their model can have two bedrooms and a den, or three bedrooms, with 1,517 square feet and an additional 225 square feet with the finished basement. Prices start at $169,900.
A new model from Schaeffer Family Homes puts the master bedroom on the first floor where there are no stairs to climb, but also has an option to maximize the house’s capacity.
The Newport, which is only available to be built on a customer’s lot and not at Schaeffer’s Atlantic County developments in Hammonton and Egg Harbor Township, can have as many as five bedrooms and 4½ baths, said Natalie Leggoe, the company’s online sales consultant.
That configuration results in 2,500 square feet of living space, with prices starting at $225,000.
The Newport also features a great room, with the living room flowing into the kitchen and dining room.
Haber said he will build Cedar Creek in Egg Harbor City, the capstone development of his 35 years in the business, in 100-unit phases, each broken down to 25-unit sections.
Interest has been strong so far, he said, but house shoppers remain reluctant to commit.
“I’ve had two dozen folks who’ve been through who I’ll tell you are going to buy a house, but the problem is they’re not on my schedule. They’re on their own schedule,” he said.
He said he’ll launch his marketing campaign in February and have a grand opening of the development in March. Three finished models are on site, and his goal is to complete 18 homes this year and thereafter average 50 a year.
Abruzzo said there has been strong interest in the Quincy II, with six of seven in the first section of them already sold. Two more customers put down deposits at an open house Jan. 12.
He said of Bayport’s total buildout of 131 units, about 35 remain to be sold.
“We’re doing OK, and we’re pretty pleased with it,” he said, with the development drawing a mix of second-home buyers and first-time buyers.
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