First, when buying in Lakewood Ranch you will find the homes are located within either a CDD (community development district) or a Stewardship district. Esplanade is a Stewardship district. These are independent, local governing authorities that have special taxing authority. The annual taxing district fees show up on the property tax bill each year.
There are generally two separate parts to each of these types of fees. The first portion is a one time capital assessment or infrastructure bond. This can be paid off, and a payoff can be ordered and disbursed at closing when the property is purchased, or anytime thereafter. Keep in mind however that this is generally a sizeable payoff, as the bond typically runs for 20 - 30 years time period. The other portion of the fee is for general operating and maintenance and cannot be paid off immediately upon purchase. This portion of the fee is subject to change annually in accordance with an annually adopted budget, similar to that of a homeowner's association.
Be sure to get clarification from the sales staff on the stewardship district fees BEFORE you enter into a contract to purchase.
The originally built section of Esplanade was constructed before the golf course was added, so the fee structures for those residents are different (no golf fees) than those of current buyers in the community. I would suggest going over the annual fee structure with the sales rep carefully so that you fully understand what you will be paying for. Sometimes they gloss over the details.
The community itself has, as you are probably aware, a well appointed clubhouse with great amenities, activities and a full time activities director (called a lifestyle director).
It all comes down to whether you want to pay extra annually for the access to a community golf course.
As to Taylor Morrison the builder, no builder is going to have a perfect track record with all buyers. That being said, TM has a good track record for building in our area.
Like many local builders, they offer "base" prices for the various models. However, I have never met a single buyer that has actually bought a base home without any upgrades. Typically buyers will spend $30,000 - $55,000 in upgrades. Lots are come in base and upgraded. Upgraded lots are any lot on water, a preserve (ie wooded behind) lot, golf course lot, larger corner lot, cul de sac lot, etc. Lot premiums can run as little as $5000 and as much as over $100k, but generally fall into the $35k - $45k range.
When you add it up, that $360,000 base model home can quickly tally up to a $450,000 home. If you want new construction but don't need to pick out every detail of your new home, you might get a slightly better deal if you purchase a builder spec home that's already under construction.
One last thing. Your real estate agent may have access to builder incentives that are not advertised to the public. Before actively engaging any of the sales reps at the builder models, you'll want to have your agent contact them first. Although many builders suspend incentives during the winter season here, there are actually some builder incentives being offered right now on new construction in a number of new construction communities, including some in Lakewood Ranch.
The more knowledge you have, the better decisions you can make regarding your next home.
Diane Christner, GRI, SFR, CNE