A master-planned community in east Gilbert sold more units last year than any other community of that type in Arizona, according to a national housing-market analysis firm.
Morrison Ranch, a 2,000-acre community noted for its large lots, extensive landscaping, rustic style and innovative use of reclaimed water for irrigation, was ranked 23rd in the nation, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which is based in Irvine, Calif.
“Everybody likes a list,” said John Burns’ vice president, Peter Dennehy. “Everybody in this industry likes to see who the top performers are. It’s not a list of who’s making the most money or is the most profitable. It’s just who the market leaders are in terms of (unit) sales.”
Five other master-planned communities in Arizona made the firm’s top-50 list.
“We were surprised (at the ranking),” said Howard Morrison, one of the owners of his family’s business.
The owners knew sales had been good in 2011, he said, “but we didn’t know it was top in Arizona.”
Morrison thought the Ranch’s location was a big part of the reason it was ranked so high, citing the town’s well-regarded schools and family-friendly neighborhoods.
“People love living in Gilbert,” he said. “The other significant factor is the look and feel of Morrison Ranch. We leave a generous amount of open space. We don’t cram the houses in.”
Morrison Ranch sold 239 units in 2011. That’s more than in 2010, Morrison said, but nowhere near the number sold during the housing market’s peak.
Three homebuilders — Ashton Woods Homes,Blandford Homes and Richmond American Homes — had models in Morrison Ranch last year. The Ranch now has five neighborhoods, with a total of 2,300 residences.
Morrison said it’s hard to know exactly how many homes the community would hold at build-out, as four more neighborhoods remain to be developed, but he estimated that the Ranch could hold about 1,500 additional single homes and possibly 400 multifamily residences.
He said the next neighborhood to be developed within the Ranch will be called Elliot Groves and that it will be at the southeastern corner of Recker and Elliot roads in Gilbert.
Additional retail, office and industrial areas remain part of the master plan, but full development will depend on economic factors, Morrison said.
Morrison said he expects the Ranch to do even better in 2012.
The John Burns firm looked at sales figures from 136 master-planned communities across the country in 2011. Altogether, that represents about 24,000 houses, nearly 8 percent of the approximately 302,000 new homes sold in the U.S. last year.
Sun Belt states represented the bulk of sales. Texas led the list with 20 master-planned communities in the top 50; California had eight, Florida had seven and Arizona had six.
Fewer new homes were sold in 2011 than any other year since records started being kept in 1963, but the sales for the top master-planned communities in the country were generally stable to slightly better in 2011, Dennehy said, adding that even if the list shouldn’t be taken as a broad market indicator, it shows that well-promoted properties in desirable locations can outperform the market as a whole.
The Morrison family settled in Gilbert in 1932. Over the decades, they became one of the southeast Valley’s largest agribusinesses, running a dairy farm, extensive croplands and a widespread ranching operation.
The family established Morrison Ranch in 1997.
Howard Morrison manages the company with cousins Scott Morrison and Dawnie Stewart, and Stewart’s husband, Justin.
used on all turf and for every tree.
The Ranch has its own weather station and computer system to apply the appropriate amount of water.