At K. Hovnanian's Four Seasons, sophisticated active adults wet their palates with such model names as Merlot, Sauvignon, and Cabernet, and are gulping nine units a month in a typically slow selling season.

New Jersey's active adult buyers tend to hibernate during winter months, emerging in April to seek new homes. But the first week of December 1999 saw nearly 40 homes sold at K. Hovnanian's Four Seasons in Chester, N.J. The age-qualified community (one head of house must be 55 or older; no children under 18) offers low maintenance, high style, and big-name standards such as Peachtree, G.E., Moen, and others--a must for this brand-sensitive market. Not to mention that these buyers--high-powered professionals who plan to work from home after retirement--are investing $60,000 on upgrades. So it's no surprise that popular upgrades include finished basements and kitchen accessories that accommodate this affluent segment's busy social and entertaining needs.