Why it worked: Nearby lakes, a forest preserve, and a municipality that's picky about who builds--in a word, location--at a price point slightly lower than the closest competition.
* Lines of cars formed the night before each of three releases, turning the site into an informal camping ground and selling out the release each time.
* Starter and first-time move-up buyers are attracted to this master planned community for its prime location and homes that sell at a lower price point than the nearest competition, whose prices start around $350,000.
* Designs reflect the symmetry of traditional Midwestern architecture--American Four-Square, American Farmhouse--and neo-colonial exteriors give way to interiors designed for contemporary needs.
* Set-back garages allow homeowners to sit on their front porch and, with a 180-degree view, watch their kids play in the front and side yards.
* Lots of options are available--granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, plumbing, electrical fixtures, and upgraded elevations.
* The community boasts 144 acres of open space and wetlands, parks, playgrounds, soccer fields, walking trails, a bridle path, and a community pavilion.
Project: Liberty Lakes, Wauconda, Ill.; Sales started: May 2003; Sales through September 2003: 162; Number of units planned: 800; Price: $212,500 to $282,000; Unit size: 1,818 to 3,204 square feet; Developer/Builder: Town & Country Homes, Lombard, Ill.; Architects: Single-family: Balsamo, Olsen and Lewis Architects, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.; Townhomes: Bloodgood, Sharpe, Buster Architect Planners, Palatine, Ill.; Land planner: Allen Kracower and Associates, Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Interior designer: CDC Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Landscape architect: Hitchcock Design Group, Naperville, Ill.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.