Heritage Wake Forest, a 2,200-acre community near downtown Wake Forest, N.C., celebrated its 10th anniversary last month. So it’s only fitting that by the end of this year, Heritage should hit another milestone with 225 sales, the first time since 2007 it has surpassed the 200 mark.
Andy Ammons, president of Ammons Development Group, Heritage’s developer, attributes the community’s recent success to its focus on using social media and co-branding with Realtors to reach out to potential customers. “We’ve been able to leverage our [marketing] investment better this year,” he explains.
Another factor is product diversity. There are 24 builders active in Heritage’s 26 neighborhoods. National builders Pulte, Lennar and David Weekley Homes are present, but the latter two are wrapping up their projects. Ten of the remaining builders are custom guys that typically sell between 10 and 12 homes per year; the others sell between 20 and 50 per year each.
The community’s potpourri of homes ranges from starter townhouses in the $140s, to single-family homes in the $600s. (Its average is 2,700 square feet and $370,000.)
When Ammons’ father, Jud, purchased the farmland on which Heritage sits in the 1980s, he was looking to create a “habitat” where homeowners, businesses, conveniences, and amenities would intersect. The original 900-acre 950-home community has since expanded to where it will eventually have 2,400 homes. (Ammons says there are 120 lots left to build on.)
The community’s amenities include a 190-acre golf course, 100 acres of town parks, schools, a clubhouse with a pool, and five daycare centers. There is also ample shopping, restaurants, and other lifestyle businesses and locations available in nearby Wake Forest and Raleigh. “People say that Heritage is like a Labrador retriever, friendly and fun to be around. They come to us and find whatever they’re looking for,” says Andy Ammons.
He adds that Heritage Wake Forest, which has averaged around 200 sales per year over the past decade, has thrived while several other local communities have faltered during the recession. Its most persistent competition right now is resales, many of them being sold at discounted prices. “A few years ago we were getting an average of $165 per square foot. Now our builders have had to learn to live with $139 per square foot.” So a few years ago the developer and its builders scaled down their houses from an average of 2,900 square feet, but without taking out standard features, so they could still make money.
Apparently, that strategy has worked, as the developer is about to open Heritage East, which will have five neighborhoods and 306 units. Ammons projects that Heritage Wake Forest’s unit sales in 2012 should “settle” at between 5% and 10% above this year’s.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Raleigh, NC.