Not every recent land sale is for finished lots, in starter-home neighborhoods at bargain-basement prices.

Taylor Morrison, for example, recently bought 108 acres to build 270 high-end homes in the Houston area from Newland Communities for a hefty price.

“We paid a lot,” said Steve Von Hofe, president of Taylor Morrison’s Houston division. A sale price for the acreage in the Telfair master-planned community in Sugar Land, Texas, hasn’t been released.

“Sugar Land is a highly sought-after address and location because of land scarcity,” said Von Hofe. “We are excited about Telfair. We are excited that our corporate office had the confidence in this location” to invest.

Taylor Morrison plans to have models built in Telfair by late February.

Telfair has been a successful seller for Newland. Newland had 339 net sales in 2009 in Telfair, up more than 10% from 2008.

“We believe this increase speaks volumes about home buyers' confidence in both Sugar Land and Telfair as the community that they choose to make their home,” Ted Nelson, Newland’s regional president for its central division, said in a press release. “Newland and Taylor Morrison have had a long and successful relationship, and we are very excited about this new opportunity which is truly a significant accomplishment for both companies.”

The purchase, which will be branded “Avalon,” is Taylor Morrison’s first project in the Telfair community, but not in Sugar Land. Taylor Morrison built another Avalon community at First Colony in Sugar Land, which has been sold out for four years. Its other Houston Avalon community, Seven Meadows in Katy, Texas, is also nearly built-out, the company said.

Homes in the community will sell from the $400,000s to more than $1 million. “That is actually a very comfortable niche for us,” said Von Hofe. “We are very comfortable building upper-end homes.”

The Houston market, which has held up better in the downturn than most of the rest of the country, has been good for Taylor Morrison.

“We had our most successful year ever at Marbella,” said Von Hofe. The community, which includes diverse products from the $140s to the $600s in League City near Galveston Bay had higher sales in 2009 than 2008, he said.

“Our market, we haven’t lost as many jobs as we thought we would,” Von Hofe said. “We are starting to see our job market come back. The {federal) stimulus has helped with the tax credit. We are finding very qualified buyers.”

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER and BIG BUILDER magazines.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Houston, TX.