At the apex of the housing boom six years ago, Taylor Morrison started working to get approval to build homes on a palm tree farm with peek-a-boo views of the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, Calif. It’s just now starting model homes on the land.

Even as the housing market kept crashing, Taylor Morrison kept working to find and develop choice land in Southern California. Someday, company officials were certain, that land would be worth something again.

“The market is so competitive in Southern California that getting land out in front of us is critical,” said Phil Bodem, Taylor Morrison’s Southern California division president.

Fortuitously, the market seems to be picking up at the same time Taylor Morrison has three new communities in prime areas near Los Angeles and Northern San Diego that will be ready to start selling by summer.

“I would say that we have had probably the best three months of sales that we have seen” in years, said Bodem. “[The market] started picking up in December and has continued through January and February. And the nice thing is that I am seeing it across the board in all of our communities.” In addition, both permits and employment numbers are up, he said.

When the market tanked Taylor Morrison stopped shopping for land in far-flung exurbs of Southern California and concentrated on closer-in communities with the thought that location matters more now than it did during the peak of the boom.

“We were continuing to grow our business through strategic acquisitions in North San Diego County and Orange County. “It truly has been a focus on quality locations.”

The Carlsbad neighborhood is in the Aviara master plan and is called Vista del Mar. Taylor Morison is planning 37 single-family homes from 1,900 square feet to 3,000 square feet with prices ranging from the low to high $600,000s, along with a considerable amount of land preserved from development because of environmental concerns.

Taylor Morrison is also readying a development with 143 townhome lots in Yorba Linda, California. It’s the last residential piece in the Vista del Verde master plan. Taylor Morrison bought the land from Toll Brothers and a partner. The lots are nearly finished and the community is scheduled to open in June. The units will be between 2,200 square feet and 2,500 square feet and will be priced from the high $500,000s to the low $600,00s. The community includes a high-end public golf course.

The third new neighborhood is Campanilla in the San Juan Hills master plan in Capistrano, Calif. The 132 single-family lots will be sold in two different product lines. The 98 Artisan Collection homes will be between 1,800 square feet and 2,700 square feet and sell from the high $500,000s to the high $600,000s, while the 34 Villa Collection homes will be between 2,600 square feet and 3,100 square feet and sell from the mid- to high- $700,000s.

Campanilla is the last residential piece in that area and will be the only community of new homes for sale. Bodem said the deal came “under the radar” from a broker who approached Taylor Morrison with the deal. It was owned by a small local builder who isn’t actively building. “This one was a real feather in our cap,” Bodem said.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.

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