By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Why it worked: The luxury housing market was hit hard this year, yet this gated community of million-dollar-plus homes continues to sell well thanks to a great location, a sensitive land plan, and traditional designs with updated floor plans.

  • Local, third and fourth move-up buyers are attracted to the project because it offers more customization options than any of the other big builders' projects in the market.

  • Buyers are spending an average of $150,000 in options and upgrades. The bulk of that number is flooring (mostly tile) and kitchen appliances.

  • The builder provides full front-yard landscaping, something its competition does not. And when competing with large re-sale homes with mature landscaping, creating the feel of an established neighborhood is key.

  • Although it's just minutes from a town full of amenities, the country roads, rolling hills, and old oak trees create a serene, secluded setting. The land plan and grading work with the natural topography, and the 14 floor plans were designed to fit into the nooks in the hillside.

  • Toll Brothers has its own inside sales staff, but the builder relies heavily on local brokers to get the word out to buyers in the luxury market.

    Photo: Mert Carpenter Photography

    Project Credits

    Project: Norris Canyon Estates, San Ramon, Calif.; Sales started: April 2002; Sales through October: 22; Units planned: 289; Price: $1.3 to $1.7 million; Unit size: 3,600 to 6,600 square feet; Developer/Builder/Land planner: Toll Brothers, San Ramon; Architect: Hunt Hale Jones Architects, San Francisco; Landscape architect: Camp & Associates, Walnut Creek, Calif.