Why it worked: Buyers were willing to trade a 45-minute commute to San Diego for such creature comforts as high-ceilinged family rooms, oversized three-car garages, and 6,000-square-foot lots. Prices start at $270,000, which is downright affordable for Southern California.

* After campouts preceded phases two through four, Brookfield Homes now sells through a lottery process that makes nabbing a house "fair game for everyone," says Carlene Wilkie, vice president of sales and marketing at Brookfield.

* Hometown look achieved through brick and stone detailing, wraparound porches, and even a bit of gingerbread on some exteriors.

* Exterior details include concrete tile roofs and front-yard landscaping with irrigation.

* Interiors feature media areas built to fit large-screen TVs and ample kitchen islands.

* Buyers are primarily first-timers with children, although the one-story Plan 1 is popular with the move-down crowd.

Project Credits

Courtesy Brookfield Homes

Project: Meadowood at Morningstar Ranch, Winchester, Calif.; Sales started: March 2003; Sales through August 2003: 102; Units planned: 143; Price: $270,000 to $314,000; Unit size: 2,000 to 2,500 square feet; Developer/Builder: Brookfield Homes, Del Mar, Calif.; Architect: Dahlin Group, Solana Beach, Calif.; Landscape architect: Gillespie Design, La Jolla, Calif.; Interior designer: Chameleon Design, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA.