By R.E. Blake Evans. The tide is turning on the active adult market--to the East. The Mid-Atlantic is now competing with Florida sunshine and desert landscapes. Toll Brothers and K. Hovnanian are both investing aggressively in suburban Washington locations.

K. Hovnanian is expanding its successful Four Seasons brand with two new communities: Four Seasons at Kent Island in Queen Anne's County, Md., and the Four Seasons at Historic Virginia in Prince William County, Va. More than 4,500 families are on the waiting list for 1,300 homes. Toll Brothers is also competing in the region, launching Regency at Dominion Valley in Haymarket, Va. The company is targeting move-down buyers from the region with its luxury brand-name golf course community.

Most experts really took note of the East Coast trend when Del Webb started Falls Run, a 220-acre community in Stafford, Va., 45 minutes from Washington. The $150 million community will feature 576 single-family homes priced from $130,000 to $250,000. The demand is high according to Chris Ryan, vice president. "We estimate 535,000 residents in the region are ages 55 to 74. That is higher than Phoenix, which has 143,000."

Washington suburbanites and relocating Northeasterners are the target buyers for K. Hovnanian's Four Seasons communities. Marketing experts agree. Jack Shoptaw, managing director for The Brand Consultancy in Washington, sees a bright future for active adult. "General presentations, without sales information, product, pricing, or options drew an average of 500 families each. But they wanted to buy." Shoptaw says that builders expect 30 percent of buyers would come from Northeastern states such as New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. "They don't want to be far from cultural amenities or their families."