In a boom economy, the move-up buyer is the center of attention. But Panitz Homes is making a mint by catering to the particular needs of first-time buyers. First-time buyer homes are often accused of being too boxy. But building a better box may be the perfect way to meet the needs and price range of the ever growing affordable markets. Panitz Homes, a division of Beazer Homes in Jacksonville, Fla., has done just that at Southlake.

Unique to the region is Southlake's combination of Florida and Southern Georgia design influences. Panitz joined the two by offering open plans with subtropical Florida elevations and traditional interior room layouts. The homes, originally priced in the high $90,000s and now listed in the $100,000s, are convenient to greater Jacksonville, historic St. Augustine, and affluent Ponte Vedra Beach.

The homes were built 40 feet wide on 60-foot-wide lots to create uncluttered streetscapes that buyers would respond to. Flex options for dens and bonus spaces proved popular with young professionals who wanted offices or exercise areas and with buyers with teenage children who need room to spread out. "We tried to keep the designs as cost-efficient as possible," says Sandra Panitz, vice president, who directs the company's sales and marketing efforts. "We were very popular with the local Realtor community, and the merchandising of the bonus areas was one of our smartest tools." The Windsor II model was Panitz's first entry-level product in 10 years.

Project Credits Project: The Windsor II at Southlake, Jacksonville, Fla.; Sales started: January 1999; Sales through May 2000: 178; Units released through May 2000: 178; Units planned: 200; Price: $116,750 to $137,411; Unit size: 1,673 square feet and up; Builder/Developer: Panitz Homes, Jacksonville; Architect/Landscaper: Beazer Homes Architectural Design, Atlanta; Interior merchandiser: Beazer Interiors, Atlanta; Marketing and ad agency: Creative Services, Jacksonville

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Jacksonville, FL, Atlanta, GA.