06 April . 2018
Why choose a master-planned community? Five things to think about
When looking for a brand-new home, there are basically two choices, outside of urban options such as high-density condominiums and infill construction in older neighborhoods.
One choice is the master-planned community, or MPC. The other option is the subdivision. But what exactly do “MPC” and “subdivision” mean, and what are the advantages of each for homebuyers? That’s what we’ll dig into in this blog, after some basic definitions.
Bankrate.com defines an MPC as “a large-scale residential neighborhood with a large number of recreational and commercial amenities such as tennis courts, lakes, parks, swimming pools, and even stores and restaurants. The average MPC is more than 2,500 acres. Residents move there to experience a self-contained environment. An MPC differs from a subdivision based on the number of amenities and the variety of home styles and price ranges it offers.”
An easy way to think about the difference between an MPC and a subdivision is that an MPC is a “collection” of subdivisions, with the overall quality of life being much greater than the sum of its parts.
An MPC typically consists of many neighborhoods, each offering one or more homebuilders, home styles and price ranges. The “glue” that connects these neighborhoods is an overall lifestyle and theme envisioned by the MPC developer, and delivered through amenities, landscaping, resident activities, and more.
Here are five advantages of living in an MPC such as Sweetwater.
Amenities. While a subdivision may offer a park or two, an MPC can devote hundreds of acres to recreational amenities, knitting neighborhoods and residents together with a strong sense of “community” and an overarching theme. At Sweetwater, our 1,400-acre master plan devotes more than 700 acres to parks, trails and natural open spaces. Sweetwater’s Hill Country theme creates a pleasing unified aesthetic throughout the community, with native landscaping and a widespread use of native Hill Country stone in amenities such as the Sweetwater Club.
Variety of choices. While a subdivision typically offers one or two homebuilders and a single-price range, an MPC offers a wide variety of homebuilders, price ranges and home styles. With such variety, an MPC attracts a wide variety of residents, including first-time buyers, move-up buyers and those who want to scale down. The result is a diverse community, where longtime residents can move up or scale down to new homes that fit their current needs, while keeping their friendships.
Lifestyle. The best MPCs strive to activate their amenities and create an overall lifestyle for residents. For example, Sweetwater has a Lifestyle Director who plans a year ‘round calendar of events and activities for residents of all ages. These include big annual shindigs such as the Sweetwater Wildflower Festival, and smaller, regular events like Teen Night, Story Time and Stargazing & S’mores. Sweetwater’s partnerships with Families in Nature and Round Rock Honey offer residents opportunities to meet neighbors and learn more about their Hill Country surroundings.
Visibility Into the Future. Because MPCs are typically large enough to create self-contained environments, they can offer residents much more assurance of what their future surroundings will look like than subdivisions can. MPCs usually designate land along major thoroughfares, typically along the edges of the master plan, for mixed uses such as retail, office and medical space. This creates a buffer between outside development and the residential neighborhoods within the MPC, and it also provides convenient onsite services for MPC residents. MPCs create strict architectural guidelines for construction of new homes and alterations of built homes, along with covenants for maintaining landscaping. The goal is to create both variety and cohesiveness, for an overall look that is visually pleasing.
Great Place to Invest. It’s tricky to predict growth or stability of property values, but some leading authorities in real estate believe that master planning speaks for itself. According to RCLCO, a leading authority on MPCs: “MPCs credit their enhanced sales to buyers’ belief that MPCs are the best place to invest.” New Home Source adds: “An MPC essentially adds stability to the resale value of your home.” One reason that MPCs might help protect property values is that they offer the lifestyle and protections desired by homebuyers across generations want, so they are in demand.
RCLCO concludes: “Consumers prefer to live in neighborhoods with meaningful connections to their surrounding environment, reflected in increased use of shared public spaces in MPCs that facilitate both serendipitous and planned interactions among neighbors.”
To put this real estate lingo into plainer words, at a community like Sweetwater, you can run into neighbors as you hop across a low creek crossing on a nature trail. You can see friends and neighbors while enjoying the pool at the Sweetwater Club, or while working out at the fitness center. At planned events like the Sweetwater Wildflower Festival and the annual holiday party, there are many opportunities for spontaneous fun.
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