Greater New Orleans' diversifying economy and nearby gaming and tourism industries have brought a boost to its Northshore. Southern Homes lured first-time buyers and empty-nesters to the area by offering ample space, large lots, and a quiet setting accessible to major employers. Just 40 minutes from New Orleans' central business district is Northshore, on massive Lake Pontchartrain.

While not quite a country club setting for move-up buyers, it has a strong employee base on the east side of St. Tammany Parish that has grown steadily for 10 years. The area has proven to be a market for Greater New Orleans' second largest builder, Southern Homes. "We expected to get mature buyers and some move-down buyers, but we were surprised at the diversity," says Jeff Sonnenberg, sales manager for Southern. The company sold 68 homes on 90-foot-wide lots to first-time single buyers, move-up singles, newlyweds, siblings, and families with children. The original product line was listed at $125,900, with average sales topping out at $143,900. Homes now sell as high as $163,900.

"The homes and lots are large for this part of the country, in this price range, and that's what's moving the product," says Sonnenberg. The Deerfield lots are each 140 feet deep and give buyers 2,333 square feet with four bedrooms and a two-car garage. "Buyers always comment on how private the community feels, but they are still within 10 minutes of shopping and can work downtown," he says. Bradford Place, nestled near Interstate I-12, can take commuters to their jobs in less than an hour. Mississippi's Gulf Coast gaming and tourism industries are 45 minutes away.

Project Credits: Project: The Deerfield at Bradford Place, Slidell, La.; Sales started: April 1999; Sales through July 2000: 68; Units released through July 2000: 68; Units planned: 140; Price: $125,900 to $163,900; Unit size: 2,200 square feet; Builder: Southern Homes, Slidell; Architect: Carol Lavender, San Antonio, Texas; Interior merchandiser: Kathy Andrews Interiors, Houston; Landscape architect and; Ad agency: In-house.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: New Orleans, LA.