Invisibly Joined Finding the seams between these attached homes is tricky, by design.
Christopher Mayer Invisibly Joined Finding the seams between these attached homes is tricky, by design.

Model homes are builders’ business cards. They are key to helping buyers believe that you can turn a dusty, nondescript square of subdivision dirt into a place where they can happily live, love, grow a family, make a home.

And that’s why beautiful, well-designed, well-staged model homes are one of the most important sales tools around.

“We all get caught up in lot, location, and price,” says Adam Hieb, vice president of sales and marketing for Shea Homes in Northern California. But ultimately, he says, it’s the house that customers buy. “It’s amazing how much of a difference the product makes, how you can improve your opportunities with product.”

For example, Shea’s Spaces, which helped lead a bit of a contemporary design revolution in production housing a few years ago, was among the gold winners of The Nationals, the sales and marketing awards given by the National Sales and Marketing council of the National Association of Home Builders. Shea’s award-winning home, along with the other best-of-the-best homes, shows how to help buyers imagine their new lives in a new home.

Faux Detached

Fast-selling townhomes fool the eye.

There’s a good chance that by the time potential buyers of The Villas at Pacific Shores realize the homes there share walls with their neighbors they are so smitten that it won’t matter to them that the houses, which at first glance appear to be detached single-family homes, are really million-dollar–plus townhouses.

After all, even architects who judged the competition had a tough time telling that the Huntington Beach, Calif., houses, built by Christopher Homes, are connected in the front or back. Every unit has its own color and architectural details and their joining places are set back from the street façade, hidden in the spaces between the homes.

The interiors further dispel any conception of cheek to jowl living, as well. The award-winning Residence Three in the project has 4,142 square feet on three levels, including five bedrooms, five and a half baths, a spacious loft, a full-size, three-car garage, and optional elevator. Then there are the covered decks and patios and generous private courtyards that provide plenty of outdoor views and living spaces.

The gated location, three blocks from the beach, and the amenities, including a well-used 60-foot, swimming pool, also help give the project a relaxed, resort-like feel.

“We wanted a very high standard interior that shows off the architecture and doesn’t hide it,” says Philip Yasskin, vice president of sales and marketing for Christopher Homes. “These homes are flushing out buyers in the million-dollar–plus price range in a market that is topping out at $750,000,” he marvels. Christopher sold 15 of the units between July 2011 and April 2012, he says.

Project The Villas at Pacific Shores, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Award Architectural design—attached home plan

Builder Christopher Homes, Newport Beach, Calif.

Architect MSA Architects, Newport Beach

Price point $1 million-plus

Next: Shopworn to Chic

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Boston, MA, Boulder, CO, Los Angeles, CA.