Where are America’s highest earners? Expensive downtown neighborhoods in dense cities are logical places to look for wealth, but the highest percentage of households earning more than $100,000 per year are concentrated in small suburbs, according to a recent Census data analysis by NerdWallet. Communities on the outskirts of big metros in California and Texas make up the bulk of the top 10 most affluent towns. Among the top 10 towns, a mash-up of big builders and regional custom home builders lead the revenue market share, showing there’s opportunity big builders to build and market expensive homes in small, wealthy suburbs.

Prices in all top 10 affluent towns are rising, half of them with median new home closing prices deep into seven figures last year. Toll Brothers and Lennar are the only two public builders to lead in any of the towns by closings from 2012 through 2014, illustrating a lean toward custom homes and local  in these high-income markets. While some smaller towns that make the top 10 have very few new home closings recorded at all, nine out of the 10 communities saw an increase in new home closings between 2013 and 2014. Sammamish, Washington is the only exception.  

Sammamish leads the country in concentration of six figure incomes with 73.70% of households earning at least $100,000 and more than a quarter earning more than $200,000 according to NerdWallet. Although new home closings dipped slightly in 2014 from 239 to 197, the median price went up more than $100,000.

Top 10 Most Affluent Towns 

City

% Households Earning 100k And Up

Top Closing Builder 2012-2014

Total New Home Closings 2012-2014

Median Closing Price 2012-2014

Closing Price Median 2014

1. Sammamish, WA

73.70%

Murray Franklyn Companies

638

$773,800 

$892,700 

2. La Cañada Flintridge, CA

73.40%

Unlimited Vision Development

1

$3,425,000 

$3,425,000 

3. University Park, TX*

73.40%

David Weekly Homes

82

$987,500 

$1,150,000 

4. Saratoga, CA

71.40%

Summerhill Homes

20

$1,492,300 

5. Southlake, TX

71.20%

Toll Brothers

250

$612,500 

$642,500 

6. Colleyville, TX

67.90%

Toll Brothers

227

$506,900 

$539,100 

7. Los Altos, CA

66.60%

Lennar

58

$1,164,500 

$1,187,500 

8. Manhattan Beach, CA

65.90%

California Custom Homes

14

$2,760,000 

$3,300,000 

9. Brentwood, TN

65.70%

Turnberry Homes, LLC

616

$615,900 

$645,800 

10. Lake Forest, IL

65.50%

Arthur Greene Construction

8

$1,300,000 

$1,150,000 

Source: NerdWallet, Metrostudy

* University Park, TX includes the 75225 and 75205 zip codes in total 

nullnull

Looking at the top 10 towns together, there are a few builders reaping the benefits of high price point demand in these small pockets of above average income. A total of 15 local, regional, and national builders hold onto at least 2% of the market share by revenue across all top 10 affluent towns and closed at least 30 new homes in the last three years. Despite their only being located in Sammamish, Murray Franklyn Companies makes up more than 10% of the revenue market share among all of them and has closed the most new homes in the last three years at a median price over $800,000. Toll Brothers, with a presence in the Texas towns and Sammamish, approaches 10% of the revenue market share with a much lower median closing price slightly north of a half million. Lennar, K Hovnanian, Pulte Group, and DR Horton are the other public builders with a presence in at least one of the top 10 most affluent towns. Otherwise, regional and local builders have an opportunity here to cater to the demand of many luxury buyers.

Builder Name

Closings

Builder Market Share by Revenue 2012-2014

Closing Price Median 2014-2104

Closings 2012-2014

Builder Market Share by Revenue 2014

Closing Price Median 2014

1. Murray Franklyn Companies

200

11.94%

$815,400 

42

7.56%

$961,500 

2. Toll Brothers

177

8.25%

$544,900 

72

9.93%

$831,000 

3. Turnberry Homes, LLC

84

4.62%

$763,600 

33

4.82%

$831,200 

4. Willian Buchan Homes

61

4.40%

$962,500 

21

4.24%

$1,093,800 

5. Lennar

52

3.98%

$1,139,300 

34

6.80%

$1,168,800 

6. Lozier Homes

62

3.37%

$750,000 

19

2.90%

$864,300 

7. John Wieland Homes

69

3.34%

$692,200 

26

3.39%

$722,200 

8. K Hovnanian 

98

3.26%

$451,600 

34

3.37%

$530,000 

9. Pulte- Del Webb- Centex

71

2.83%

$558,300 

22

2.39%

$600,000 

10. Burnstead Construction

51

2.72%

$720,500 

15

2.15%

$778,100 

11. Conner Homes

49

2.51%

$725,000 

8

1.24%

$866,700 

12. Ford Construction Classic Homes

35

2.49%

$875,000 

5

1.38%

$1,425,000 

13. DR Horton 

37

2.08%

$821,100 

34

4.98%

$836,800 

14. The Drees Company

49

2.08%

$604,200 

11

1.47%

$735,000 

15. Plateau 228, LLC

69

2.08%

$419,400 

Source: Metrostudy


In an economic climate that proposes a changing landscape of the entry-level buyer, suburban density of six figure incomes are an area of opportunity where big builders are not center stage. Lennar closed homes in these a few of these communities that put a three-year median closing price in seven figures when the national median for Lennar is only $272,000. DR Horton done similarly well, with median closing price among the most affluent communities at $821,100 for the last three years compared to median $226,300 nationally. While seeking product diversity that is specific to the demographics of a particular area is a no brainer, suburbs like these are prime candidates for high-end homes from production builders, even beyond Toll.

The top 15 builders make up more than half of the revenue market share across the top 10 affluent towns from 2012 through 2014 without a single median closing price under $400,000. Just 1,164 new homes were closed among the top 15 showing the powerful revenue share from just a small number of sales. While builders await more millennial subdivision traffic, there's ample opportunity for pockets of big payouts in small towns where quality still beats quantity.