IN CONTRAST WITH TODAY'S HOUSING SITUATION IN SAN Diego, where prices rise so quickly they should only be written on a chalkboard, Kensington Heights was conceived in 1926 to appeal to buyers in a declining market. Interest in the new subdivision was piqued when a story in the local paper announced that one of the lot owners was offering $100 to the amateur architect who submitted the best design for a Spanish-style home. The winning entry, sent in by Margaret Fickiensen, turned out later to have been designed by Richard Requa, the community's architect and also the contest's judge. Nevertheless, the ploy worked: The design became the model home for the project, and great crowds came out to see it and subsequently buy. Still a draw, the Kensington Heights of today embodies its developers' original vision: “luxurious modest homes of refinement.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA.