NOT MANY BUILDERS—OR HOME BUYERS—get the chance to be part of a new city. Mountain House is the first city to be developed in California in the last quarter century. Organized into villages on roughly 5,000 acres near Tracy, Calif., it will include about 15,000 homes at build-out.

Pulte is building Gable Lane, a neighborhood of single-family, alley-loaded homes on 45-foot-by-100-foot lots. “On that, we put a 35-foot-wide house right on the lot line,” says Merry Sedlak, vice president of marketing for Pulte's Bay Area division.

The high-density Gable Lane houses—the project has 136 units on about 12 acres—were a new product for Pulte. That presented some challenges, Sedlak says, in making sure that the houses were functional on narrow lots and that “each one lives differently” from houses nearby. It also required the sales staff to spend extra time with prospective buyers, explaining the zero–lot line concept and a house that lives to the side instead of having a backyard.


“[Zero–lot line homes are] fairly common in newer communities, and people who have been out shopping recognize the value, but people just starting out [looking for a home] don't get it,” says Marjorie Safaie, one of the lead sales agents at Gable Lane.

What buyers gain from a zero–lot line house is more affordability and almost no yard work. That, plus the proximity to Bay Area jobs and the chance to be founding fathers and mothers of a new town, helped make Gable Lane a success.

Project: Gable Lane, Mountain House, Calif.

Date sales started: June 2005

Sales through February 2006: 97

Total units planned: 136

Unit size: 1,398 to 2,341 square feet

Price range: $520,000 to $630,000

Builder: Pulte Homes, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Developer: Trimark Communities, a subsidiary of SunChase Holdings, Phoenix Architect: Mark Gross Associates, Irvine, Calif.

BEHIND THE SCENES Proximity to caffeine: Less than a mile to Wicklund's Market

Poultry items in a model: Zero

Sales center munchies of choice: Pulte-branded water and mints, but prospective buyers may also find themselves in the midst of a homeowner potluck get-together

Sunset central: A balcony on the Plan 3 model

Sales staff's fave feature in the best-selling plan: Sales consultant Marjorie Safaie loves the way the kitchen, family room, and side yard come together: “In the summer, you can have a party and mingle in close proximity.”

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