Not far from Disney World, in a posh country club banquet room last week, was a scene that looked like Fantasy Land for builders in 2013—or maybe a blast from the go-go home selling years of 2005 or 2006.

The room was packed with 100 potential home buyers, their families, and Realtors. Each buyer was pre-approved for a mortgage of at least $525,000, and all were hoping for the first chances to buy the first 20 lots in a brand new community by Meritage Homes named Parkside, which at this point is nothing more than curbs and lot stakes stuck in the dirt.

There were no models to see, no pool, community center, not even paved streets, yet these buyers eagerly watched and listened as the cage of tickets was spun and the selected numbers read. Then the first 36 chosen lined up to make appointments for the weekend to see the lots available in person and to select from the three home plans available.

It will be April before the community has its grand opening, and the end of the year before the amenity center is built.

“This, I believe, is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Meritage Homes Division President Clint Szubinski told the crowd before the drawing began.

A number of the potential buyers said they thought he was right. By the end of last weekend all 20 lots had $10,000 deposits on them and there was a waiting list for the next development phase.

 Here’s why:

  • Since there is really no more land available in the prestigious and well-located Dr. Phillips area of Orlando where Meritage is building the 315-lot community, new home opportunities are nearly non-existent.
  • In addition to being close to major transportation arteries, the development is also walking distance to an elementary school and close to a large county park on Sand Lake.
  • The lots in Parkside are generous by Orlando new-home standards at 70 feet wide by 115 to 150 feet deep.
  • The prices, from $386,990 to $470,000 for the 2,754- to 5,016-square foot homes, are reasonable for the area and the size of the product.

Meritage bought the land a couple of years ago, said Brian Kittle, Meritage’s vice president for the Orlando region. Kittle said Meritage found the parcel using a proprietary data system the company devised to find the best land in the best places. It melds data from existing-home neighborhoods as well as new-home neighborhoods, and includes demographic information that helps the company zero in on land with potential and offers guidance on appropriate products. It took Meritage a couple of years to entitle the raw land.
David Stokes, a down-sizing dentist, whose number was drawn quickly, summed up his interest in buying a home in Parkside.

“I only want to buy a new home,” said Stokes, who lives in nearby Windermere, Tiger Woods’ former home community. “This is a chance to decide the location, make all the choices.

He was also pleased with the pricing of the homes designed by BSB Design as well as the location.

“This is a can’t-go-wrong investment,” Stokes said.  “If I decide to move in five or six years, this will sell.”

That, too, sounds like 2005.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.