YES, THEY'RE SMALL AND CLOSE TOGETHER AND there are no backyards, but units at The Courtyards at the Peaks, by Astoria Homes, still have plenty to offer first-time buyers in Las Vegas market.

In focus groups with target buyers, the Astoria sales team heard loud and clear that consumers wanted a detached home and some sense of style. Though floor plans at The Courtyards range from just 1,124 to 1,275 square feet, they're packed with style, including covered front porches and second-floor verandas. To help first-time buyers see themselves living in the homes, Astoria merchandised the models with furniture and accessories from stores where their buyers shop, such as Ikea, Pier 1, and even Target.

“Our salespeople used that information all day long,” says Geoff Gorman, vice president of sales. “Not only did our homes have this great value, but we were portraying them in a way that was livable and possible.”

While they might be sacrificing a yard and elbow room on their lots, buyers didn't have to give up green space. Astoria built two “very nice, class 1A parks,” Gorman says, that serve both The Courtyards and The Verandas, a nearby Astoria neighborhood of slightly larger homes. Both parks have large pools and covered seating. One park is geared toward young children; the other is designed for the “big kids,” with larger equipment and a basketball court.

To reach the model homes, buyers drive right past the parks, and all the models back up to them so that buyers can look out the window and imagine their families using the parks.

“What I really love now is you drive out there and you see a ‘brochure moment,'” Gorman says. “You see kids using the parks and parents out there swinging their kids. It's nice to see something you put a lot of effort into pay off.”

Market: Las Vegas

Project: The Courtyards at the Peaks, Las Vegas

Date sales started: August 2003

Sales through February 2005: 443

Total units planned: 584

Unit size: 1,124 to 1,275 square feet

Price range: $133,000 to $141,000

Builder/Developer: Astoria Homes, Las Vegas

Architect: Tracey Lee, Astoria Homes

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.