You probably won't be surprised by the community holding the top spot: The Villages, FL.
The Villages leads all Florida communities, but not only that, they top the entire list with 2,307 homes sold in 2011.
To put this into perspective for you, the 2nd ranked community on the list, The Woodlands in Houston, Texas sold 945 homes in 2011.
Now, some of you know that I have a whole other website and book dedicated to The Villages, so you know I'm a fan and think its a great choice for a lot of people. I won't spend a lot of time here playing that up. If you're interested in learning more check out Inside the Bubble.
But I do want to spend a few minutes talking about some reasons why The Villages is far and away the top selling community.
The first reason is that what they do, they do really well. They make outlandish promises…and for the most part they keep them.
For instance, in most of their TV commercials and ads they promise free golf for life on their executive courses. The Villages finished 2011 with more than 500 holes of golf. Not all of those are free to play, but the majority of them are.
They promise nightly entertainment in the town squares. Right now there are two town squares with a third on the way expected to be open later this year.
They promise a “millionaire lifestyle on a retirement budget”. Of course you can spend close to a million dollars on a home in The Villages, but you could also buy one for $200,000. Something for everyone.
The second reason I think The Villages does so well year in and year out despite a still lousy economy and sluggish real estate market is word-of-mouth marketing.
In 2011 The Villages crossed the 86,000 resident mark. You have to suspect that each of those people knows at least one more person considering moving to Florida and looking for a place to live. If you use my math, that's another 86,000 people, yet The Villages is only planned to hold between 110,000 and 115,000.
The third piece to the puzzle is what I like to call the “be everywhere” strategy. In 2011 The Villages appeared in a CBS Sunday Morning Show segment that to date has been watched by more than 2.6 million people on YouTube. Those are Justin Bieber type numbers. Keep in mind that's not counting the number of people who watched it live when it first aired and then when CBS re-aired it a few months later.
Then in September, the morning show FOX & Friends broadcast live from Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Oliver North, and others as guests.
The Villages will be in the news a lot in 2012 as well. The top GOP presidential candidates passed through The Villages just last week before the Florida Republican Primary. You may have even seen Mitt Romney break into song while speaking with residents in The Villages. That video was picked up by almost every major news station, and MTV even had a story on it.
No matter who the Republican nominee is, I guarantee they will be in The Villages again before November. What do you call 86,000 people with about an 85% voter turnout rate? A politicians dream, if they are on your side.
Be Everywhere. It just works.
Alright, enough about The Villages. Let's take a look at the 6 other Florida communities that made the list. Some of these are pretty great in their own right. Keep in mind, not everyone wants to live in a huge community such as The Villages. I should also note that not all of these communities are geared toward retirement. Some are designed primarily for families.
Lakewood Ranch – 391 Homes Sold in 2011
Lakewood Ranch is an 8,500 acre master-planned community located in Sarasota, FL. Lakewood Ranch offers 36 holes of private golf and 18 holes of daily fee golf. There are 18 tennis courts, as well as cricket and polo.
Florida's Gulf Coast is extremely popular among mid-westerners, and its a great place to consider in Florida.
Monterra – 359 Homes Sold in 2011
Monterra is located in Cooper City, FL. This is part of Broward County (South Florida). I haven't reviewed this community here on Florida for Boomers because they definitely focus more on families than retirement. But, for more and more retirees that I speak with, that is not a deal breaker at all. So if you're open to living among people of all ages, definitely check out Monterra.
Nocatee – 313 Homes Sold in 2011
Nocatee is located in Ponte Vedra, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Ponte Vedra is home to the ATP Tour, the PGA Tour, and The Players Championship (played at TPC Sawgrass). Nocatee is home to 7 communities, among them is Del Webb Ponte Vedra (formerly named Riverwood at Nocatee by Del Webb).
Del Webb Ponte Vedra is an age-restricted (55 or better) community that covers more than 1,000 acres and will have nearly 2,000 residences when it is complete. One highlight is the newly opened 37,000 sq. ft. Anastasia Club featuring indoor/outdoor pools, fitness center, and more.
Valencia Reserve – 281 Homes Sold in 2011
Valencia Reserve is built by GL Homes. GL Homes happens to be one of the gracious supporters of this website. GL Homes builds both active adult communities as well as communities for families.
Valencia Reserve is one of their active adult communities and it is located in Boynton Beach, approximately 20 miles south of West Palm Beach. At completion Valencia Reserve will be a community of over 800 homes with a 41,000 square foot clubhouse as the centerpiece.
Though it didn't make the list of the 50 top-selling communities, Valencia Lakes in Tampa is GL Homes' other active adult community and it is definitely worth a look as well.
FishHawk Ranch – 229 Homes Sold in 2011
FishHawk Ranch is a community for families of all ages, located in the Tampa/St. Pete area. The community has areas of single-family homes and low maintenance homes with 13 builders to choose from.
There are parks, clubhouses, fitness centers, an aquatic club, a medical center, and much more.
Durbin Crossing – 167 Homes Sold in 2011
Durbin Crossing is also geared to families of all ages, so I haven't reviewed it in-depth here on Florida for Boomers, but again it might be worth checking out.
Durbin Crossing is located just a few minutes from downtown Jacksonville in St. Johns County.
Over to you. Do any of the communities above interest you? Does the fact that a community is considered a top-selling community play into your decision making process?
Let us know in the comments below.