Although 2015 was a milestone year with a record $8 million in sales, we are extremely happy with an 18% increase for a total of $9.525 million in total revenue for 2016. This was mainly due to an increase in prices for all our land purchases, which commenced January 1, 2016. While sales units actually decreased for the year, the total monies received for land purchases were up by almost a million. We are still forced to sell our in-ground burial of single graves “at time of need only,” due to lack of availability.
We continue to look for opportunities to reclaim vacant burial sites pursuant to New York State cemetery law. We are currently negotiating with the Old First Brooklyn Church to obtain land from them in our Cedar Dell section of the Cemetery, which could yield us over 100 graves.
We started the year with an increase in land prices of $3,000 per grave for premium lots, $2,000 per single grave, $2,000 per premium lot for cremated bodies, and $1,000 per urn site. We sold fewer urn sites and lots for cremated bodies, while selling slightly more single graves and premium lots. We were able to sell larger premium lots this year as opposed to previous years, including a sarcophagus site, a ten-grave lot, and several three-grave lots.
The rise in price and sales of large lots contributed to the revenue increases this year. While niche sales increased slightly at 3%, crypt sales increased an unanticipated 18% in units and revenue for a $500,000 gain for the year. All other sale categories were flat-to-slightly-down with the exception of urn sales, which increased by 41% in revenue.
Cremations continue to rise in popularity with an increase of nearly 10% in total cremations for the year. We continue to look at different options for honoring loved ones, including surveying new area for in-ground burials, more choices of urns, and the possibility of adding an obelisk ossuary by one of our lakes for permanent retention of cremated bodies within the monument itself.
With each year of sales, available land for in-ground burials diminishes, thus making it vital that we plan well and utilize the remaining land wisely. Our surveyor has been working diligently, looking throughout the Cemetery for any and all available land that can be used for all our needs. Within the next few years, the Cemetery will be forced to stop offering single graves for sales because of lack of large parcels of land needed for this particular sale. Therefore, we must continue to expand our other areas of sale sources, especially relating to the retention of the cremated body.
With over four decades of experience at Green-Wood, Gene’s institutional knowledge and expertise is formidable. Gene is responsible for the sales of all new lots, interments, mausoleums, cremations and memorial services. Reporting to Gene are Green-Wood’s memorial counselors as well as the administration team that ensures a professional and customer-centered experience for purchasers.