Beating competitors' prices by $10,000 to $15,000 and including standard amenities other builders tack on as extras, California's Highland Ranch has become a sales success.

Fireplaces, tile countertops, tiled entries, and half-wall exterior brick veneers. These amenities, typically offered as upgrades by builders in the competitive central California market, come standard in Highland Ranch's six plans. And move-up buyers, delighted by the savings, are sinking an average of $11,000 into upgrades such as floor tile, countertops, textured backsplash tiles, and landscaping. Translation: Buyers get more bang for their buck at Highland Ranch. Money talks, and so do happy buyers. At press time, the community, which had recently been named the fastest-selling neighborhood by the California Real Estate Journal, was selling 13 units a month and about to release 42 more. Three hundred people were already on the waiting list, and the builder hadn't run an ad in three weeks.

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