This week, Time Inc.’s Money released its ranking of the Best Places to Live this year. The 2014 list focuses on small cities with a population from 50,000 to 300,000. Considerations in ranking the top small cities to settle in include the local economy, housing market, health care, and schools—just a few of more than 50 factors. Looking at the overall list, small cities in California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, and Utah shine with three from each state making the top 50. Regionally, the top 50 are spread quite evenly with 11 to 15 small cities represented on the list per U.S. region.

Zooming in on the top 10 small cities over the past four completed quarters (3Q13-2Q14) via data from Metrostudy, big builders dominate in the number of closings. Of 2,284 new homes closed of a total 3,471 were by national builders, a whopping 65.8 percent. Regional builders make up 16.7 percent of closings, 10.3 percent local builders, and 7.2 percent micro. Unsurprisingly, the top builder in the top 10 places to live over the last four quarters is DR Horton with 335 closings.

Who are the top builders in each of these small, desirable cities? Take a look at the data below, including a breakdown of builder category in each market, leading builders by closings, market average home size, and median closing prices for the 10 best places to live over the past four quarters.

1.       McKinney, Texas

Total City New-Home Closings: 1,593

New-Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 2,894

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       D.R. Horton / 302 / $253,000

2.       Lennar / 168 / $253,500

3.       K. Hovnanian / 147 / $323,700

2.       Maple Grove, Minn.

Total City New-Home Closings: 251

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 2,684

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       K. Hovnanian / 51 / $356,800

2.       Mattamy Homes / 44 / $307,100

3.       Putle-Del Webb-Centex / 43 / $476,600


3.       Carmel, Ind.

Total City New-Home Closings: 250

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 4,017

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Ryland Group / 68 / $396,400

2.       Pulte-Del Webb-Centex / 29 / $404,200

3.       Wedgewood Building Co. / 29 / $440,000


4.       Castle Rock, Colo.

Total City New-Home Closings: 740

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 2,860

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Richmond American Homes-MDC Holdings / 288 / $363,400

2.       Oakwood Homes / 86 / $426,900

3.       Lennar / 80 / $457,100


5.       Kirkland, Wash.

Total City New-Home Closings: 147

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 2,749

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Toll Brothers / 29 / $756,200

2.       Burnstead Construction / 20 / $733,300

3.       Select Homes / 16 / $637,500


6.       Columbia & Ellicott City, Md.

Total City New-Home Closings: 344

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 2,741

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       NVR / 132 / $565,000 (Ellicott City), $262,500 (Columbia)

2.       Ryland Group / 80 / $450,000

3.       Bozzuto & Associates / 31 / $502,500


7.       Clarkstown, N.Y. (New City, Nyack, Valley Cottage)

Total City New-Home Closings: 38

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 3,886

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Smith Farm Builders / 21 / $400,000

2.       Demaio Builders / 4 / $700,000

3.       Wilder Balter Partners / 4 / $900,000

Note: Data for Clarkstown does not include West Nyack or Nanuet based on data available.  


8.       Ames, Iowa

Total City New-Home Closings: 46

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 1,543

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Hunziker Christy Shirk Builders / 13 / $312,500

2.       Happe Homes / 6 / $330,000

3.       Tasteful Homes / 6 / $416,700


9.       Rochester Hills, Mich.

Total City New-Home Closings: 60

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 3,447

Top 3 Builders / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       Benchmark Homes / 20 / $345,000

2.       Moceri / 9 / $568,800

3.       Arteva Homes / 6 / $300,000


10.   Reston, Va.

Total City New-Home Closings: 2

New Home Avg. Living Square Feet: 6,022

Top Builder / Number of Closings / Median Closing Price:

1.       NVR / 2 / $1,669,100