Poster child for housing market, Summerfield begins resurgence

ssloan@herald-leader.comJune 10, 2012 

Arguably no subdivision in Lexington demonstrated the effect of the recession and the potential for recovery more than Summerfield on Winchester Road.

For years, a single home, built to entice buyers, stood alone in the subdivision. But now, with interest in residential real estate beginning to rise, the house has become flooded with neighbors.

"I'm a happy guy right now," said Tim Haymaker, owner of Haymaker Development.

In 2008, Haymaker's company began offering lots in the area across from Patchen Wilkes subdivision and between New Circle Road and Hamburg Place. But then the bottom fell out of the housing market.

By mid-2011, he had sold just seven lots, and the majority of them were contract lots sold to companies who planned to resell them. One home stood in the area, and that was on property Haymaker sold to his son Andy of HM Homebuilders. HM Homebuilders built a house on the lot for sale, but it sat empty for years.

"There's an old adage in real estate that if you start moving dirt, things will start happening," Tim Haymaker told the Herald-Leader in early 2009. "We thought for one house it would be worth doing, but it didn't work."

But no more.

During the past year, Haymaker has sold 55 lots and has 24 more under contract to sell in the next two months.

"To go from seven in 31/2 years to 79 in a year is a pretty big deal for us," Haymaker said.

He credits the turnaround to his decision to reconfigure the neighborhood's plans.

Instead of 70-foot-wide lots that would hold homes priced at more than $350,000, the neighborhood now has lots that are 50 feet wide. The new price range for houses is $200,000 to $300,000.

"We couldn't believe the area," said Jim Johnson. He and his wife, Sandi, and their son, Spencer, were the first residents to move into the neighborhood.

"We're just minutes from Hamburg shopping, minutes from downtown and 15 minutes from the mall," he said.

Haymaker said his success, though, isn't necessarily indicative of a major turnaround in Lexington's housing market.

"It's really not so much that we're overpowering the market," he said. "It's that the market has withdrawn to such low levels that we just have a bigger market share.

"We were able to hold on in the difficult times, and now we have inventory where others don't."

Haymaker said banks are making few loans to developers to put new residential lots on the market.

"It's really a negative thing because you wish everybody success," he said.

Haymaker already is planning on building on his success.

The first phase of Summerfield has only 34 lots remaining to be sold, so Haymaker and his team are planning the second phase, which will see at least 1,000 more homes.

"It takes a year to get the land ready, so you've got to start now," he said.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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