Centerline Homes: Saddle Bridge

With prime locations and a desire to make homeownership affordable again, Centerline Homes is in the midst of another boom of sorts

"We're selling communities out."
"We're selling ahead of projections."
"Sales have been great, since there's not a lot of inventory."
"We've pre-sold 40 percent (30 units) at Saddle Bridge."
"If you're in an A-plus location and priced correctly, it sells well."

Contrary to what you might believe, these are not statements from the height of the boom. Instead, they are the current sentiments of Craig Perry, CEO, and Jeffrey Auchter, vice president of marketing, both of Centerline Homes, when asked how their company is doing in today's market.

Perry believes that people have finally realized that it's okay to buy a house.

"Price are more affordable, interest rates are lower than they've been in years, and there are a lot of choices," he says. "People have been making sacrifices for too long, including putting off purchasing a home, and they are ready to start living again. People who want to own their own home will find a way to do it." Of course, Perry has always maintained that homes should be purchased for the right reason.

"A home is ultimately a place to live -- and not an investment," he says.

"It used to be that buyers would want to know how many kids lived on the block," Auchter adds. "Then it became all about how much money could be made in five years." While both men acknowledge that buying and selling in today's market is not for the weak of heart, they agree that out of adversity comes opportunity.

"Things are moving forward, but it has to make sense," Auchter says. "I'm proud to work for a company that looks ahead and says, 'These may be the worst of times, but we can still help people move into the home of their dreams.' "

Perry admits that much of this has had to do with being able to create more value.

"With the exception of government fees, everything got reset -- land cost, building materials, advertising, etc. As a result, we can build affordable homes again and pass the savings on to buyers while still making a profit," he says.

Demand is high

Whatever Centerline is doing, it seems to be working. Demand at their South Florida communities -- Parkland Reserve in Parkland, Georgetown in Lauderhill, Calabria in Miramar, and Briella in West Boynton Beach -- is high with new phases being built and no move-in-ready homes available.

It also helps that the developer tends to build in prime locations where there is very little, if any, competition. For example, they offer the only new-home construction in Parkland, Lauderhill and Davie, home to one of their newest communities, Saddle Bridge, which is near the I-95, I-75 and Florida Turnpike exchange. "Saddle Bridge is a low density townhome community, built around a huge lake with all kinds of natural habitat. Plus, one of Davie's equestrian trails runs along the east side of the property, and we've made sure to leave lots of room between buildings," Auchter says. "It's extremely convenient without feeling like you're living in a concrete jungle."

Buyers are responding

"Saddle Bridge is priced very competitively with the resale market, and there's no competition from other new-home builders within five miles of us," Perry says. "We've really stretched ourselves, too, to tweak floor plans for the way people live. For example, where are linen closets located? It's extremely important that details like this make sense," Auchter says. "We've also reworked layouts to include two-car garages and side entrances with end units. Buyers have responded really well to what we're offering."

Townhomes at Saddle Bridge include: the 1,638-square-foot Appaloosa, with two bedroom, two-and-one-half baths, Great Room and full-car garage, priced from $199,900; the 1,720-square-foot Breton, with three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths, Great Room and full-car garage, priced from $209,900; and the 2,095-square-foot Clydesdale, with three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths, Great Room and two-car garage, priced from $234,900.

The units come standard with impact glass, ceramic tile throughout the first floor, granite counters and more, which has appealed to buyers. "If we had built Saddle Bridge out, it would have been entirely sold already. That's how much demand there's been," Perry says. "We've had a lot of requests for immediate-occupancy homes, and we just don't have any."

Interest has come primarily from people already living in the immediate area or North Dade.

"Of the people who have purchased here already, we have singles, young families and even retirees looking to downsize," Auchter says. "There are two couples with infants, one couple with children ages 7 and 12, and a lot of people who make the community work -- firefighters, teachers, police officers, etc. Because of the location, we're popular with students, faculty and other people at Nova Southeastern University.

"We even have twin brothers who purchased identical units at opposite ends of the same building," he adds.

In addition to the low purchase price, HOA fees at Saddle Bridge will be approximately $142 per month and include the following amenities and services: resort-style swimming pool, neighborhood playground, men's and women's cabana baths, lakeside gazebo, individual landscape maintenance for each home, community area landscaping and community lawn sprinkler system.

Centerline also is currently offering $10,000 toward closing costs, which will cover just about everything with these homes. It also means that buyers eligible for the $8,000 non-repayable tax credit from the U.S. government will be able to pocket that money or use it to make improvements to their new home.

Mark your calendars

With everything currently under construction at Saddle Bridge already sold, Centerline will be delivering units at the end of May. They also will be holding the official grand opening of their three models on May 30 and 31.

"We're having a live Kiss Country remote on Sunday, and there will be refreshments," Perry says. "We thought about not doing this because we're doing so well and really don't have available product at this point for buyers, but we wanted to show that the American dream of homeownership is alive and well. It's time for this." "We have a tremendous amount of respect for what we do," Auchter adds. "Real estate is not a four-letter word."

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What you get for the money

When Centerline Homes holds the official grand opening of its three models at Saddle Bridge in Davie on May 30 and 31, townhome buyers will be able to see the three floor plans being offered -- The Appaloosa, The Breton and The Clydesdale -- with prices starting from $199,900 to $234,900.

"Two are furnished to show what's possible as far as options, upgrades and decorating go, and one is not to show buyers exactly what they're going to get upon taking over the unit as their own," says Jeffrey Auchter, vice president of marketing for Centerline.

The undecorated and unfurnished Appaloosa has two master suites, making it ideal for roommates.

To create the right atmosphere in the other two models, Centerline provided Kay Green Designs of Orlando with specifics about the type of buyers they believe will be interested in Saddle Bridge.

The Breton was designed to appeal to a single male in his mid thirties, with dark cabinetry and warm, earthy colors.

The Clydesdale was designed for a young family with aspirations of one child. The look is sleek and tailored without being over their heads.

"It was important to me that we show seating for six in this model," Auchter says.

The models have signage that clearly reveals what the extras are in each unit along with the precise dollar amount.

"Whether you have zero or $20,000 to spend on upgrades, we wanted to take the guess work out of the equation," Auchter says.