- Special Sections
- Public Notices
INDIAN LAND – The housing market bubble may have burst last year, but sales have remained strong in one Indian Land location – Sun City Carolina Lakes, which has continued to attract new homeowners.
Developed by Del Webb, the Sun City development off U.S. 521 includes hundreds of homes, most ranging between almost $200,000 to over $400,000 each.
Jon Hardy, president of Pulte Homes’ Charlotte market, said the development is progressing according to plan. Pulte Homes is Del Webb’s parent company.
Since it opened in May 2006, Sun City has seen people move into 1,503 homes. Hardy said the community has about 2,700 residents.
Last year there were 508 home sales, which made it one of the top-selling developments in the Charlotte area. Based on its success, Hardy said 435 new home sites are planned for the community, which the company will begin developing this year.
“Things are going very well,” Hardy said. “We’re the fastest-growing community in the Charlotte area. We’re very pleased with the success.”
Designed specifically for active adults, whose average age is 63, the development stretches across 1,552 acres.
With a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse, access to the Catawba River and several lakes, walking tracks and space for future softball fields, the area is a draw for affluent residents looking to keep a healthy lifestyle.
“When you look at this buyer, more than any other consumer they have the financial wherewithal to push through during these tough economic times,” Hardy said.
He said customer traffic in the Sun City sales center is always high. Half of it is “be-back” traffic, Hardy said. These are interested homeowners who are so impressed with the property that they return several times to make a decision before buying a home.
Many of those attracted to Sun City enjoy the proximity to Charlotte, but with the advantage of Lancaster County’s low property taxes.
The wide array of clubs and organizations exclusively available to Sun City residents also attracts home buyers. These include restaurant chat clubs, sport fishing clubs, Bible study, retired military groups, a woodworkers guild and a singles club. In total, there are almost 100 different groups at Sun City.
“We have a lot for people to do. The art some of these people make would blow you away,” he said. “There’s something for everyone here.”
Hardy expects Sun City homes will continue to sell well in 2009.
“I think it will be a good year,” Hardy said. “People still want to have fun and are looking for a community like this to move to.”
Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said it’s impressive that three of the top-selling subdivisions in the Charlotte region are in or near Lancaster County. They include Sun City, Regent Park and Belair (Carolina Lakes).
Willis said the reason Sun City is doing so well is probably a result of the good reputation Del Webb and Pulte Homes have.
“They are a well-recognized company. Folks realize they’re good,” he said.
Willis said Sun City is also prospering because construction on the homes began before the decline in the housing market. Lancaster County’s property tax rate is also very attractive to prospective newcomers, Willis said.
“Taxes play into it a lot,” he said. “It’s a very, very popular area.”
Building permit activity slows
Despite the success of residential projects in Sun City, a recent study shows a sharp decrease in the amount of building permits requested in the county. Compiled by the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, the report shows a sizable decline in the amount of residential building permit activity in Chester, Lancaster, Union and York counties.
The report shows a 45.3 percent drop in single-family residential permits in Lancaster County between 2007 and 2008.
According to the report, this is the second consecutive year that the county saw such decreases. The county also had no requests for multi-family permits and had no change in the amount of mobile home permits.
York County saw the next-highest drop, with over 44 percent fewer residential permits.
Willis said the drop in residential permits won’t have an effect on either the county’s revenue collections or budget. He said revenue from permits generally is used for excess, or unbudgeted, projects, so only those projects would be affected due to permit decreases.
“Even with the downturn, we are still line with what we planned for building permits,” Willis said. “These are cyclical, but we budget conservatively and it will not affect us economically.”
Approval of subdivisions down
Chris Karres, planning director for Lancaster County, said there has been a decrease in new subdivisions being approved. He said most of the development that occurred in 2008 were housing subdivisions that had already been approved.
“Just the number of Realtors and developers calling and coming into the office has dropped a substantial amount,” Karres said. “This can translate into fewer housing developments.”
Karres has seen a slight increase in activity with people interested in buying or building property, but said overall activity has slowed.
In the short-term, Karres predicts growth in Indian Land will be slow for at least the rest of the year, picking up in 2010.
While residential building permits have slowed, Karres said one bright spot is a slight increase in the number of commercial permits requested. That number increased by 17.5 percent over the previous year and that has helped offset the loss in revenues from the decrease in residential building permits.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 416-8416