ANYONE WHO TRAVELS REGULARLY knows that it doesn't take long for destinations to begin to blur. Déjà vu kicks in as soon as you hit town: You know you've never been here before, but everything looks so familiar. There's a sameness that can numb the senses.
Still, a traveler discovers a few towns that stand out. You feel their specialness as soon as you arrive—a sense of place that's unique and defining. They make you want to linger over the drug-store postcard display, looking for just the right image to send to friends and family and to remind yourself of why you never wanted to leave.
What if a builder could evoke that reaction? Some say it could never happen, especially at fast-selling communities. You could pick them up and plop them in another market without changing a thing, the skeptics say.
Someone forgot to tell the builders featured here about that formula. In the following pages, BUILDER spotlights 10 of the best-selling communities from the nation's top 75 housing markets. (For detailed information on all 150 communities, see the Best-Selling Communities listing. It's the first time we've ventured past the 50 biggest markets, but experienced travelers know that exciting adventures can unfold when you go beyond the familiar.
So, this year, in addition to finding out what was selling in booming markets such as Phoenix, Atlanta, and Las Vegas, we headed to such unique places as Charleston, S.C.; Omaha, Neb.; and Albuquerque, N.M. One point to keep in mind is that the prices listed for each community profiled reflect the base prices offered when sales first started. Not surprisingly, many of those prices are now significantly higher.
Far from offering assembly-line construction, many of these builders have enticed buyers with innovative design that celebrates regional distinctions or introduces a new sense of style, at a wide array of price points.
It's a traveler's dream come true; these communities could inspire some postcards of their own. The only message needed is short and sweet: Wish you were here.