Big Houses And Sprawling Suburbs Are Back — And Better Than Ever

This story appears in the December 29, 2014 issue of Forbes.

By Stephane Fitch and Kristin Kloberdanz

With their younger son off finishing college and their older one out on his own, Linda and Lee Sussman found their four-bedroom house near downtown Boca Raton, Fla. too quiet. But the couple, now in their mid-50s, didn’t want to downsize to, say, a luxury condo. Instead, they sold the old house for $430,000 and moved last year into a $731,000 newly constructed home with a backyard pool overlooking the lake at Parkland Golf & Country Club in the northernmost reaches of Broward County.

“The backyard is phenomenal. We see water, wrapped by water all around. It’s like being on a peninsula,” marvels Linda, a retired art teacher who appreciates a good view. Sure, Lee, a golf-loving financial planner, has to drive an extra 7 miles each way to his office. But the supermarket is close by, and it’s just a short stroll to the Parkland clubhouse, with its spa, restaurant, lounges, tennis courts, pools and fountains. “It feels like a Disney resort,” Linda says. Get this: At 3,300 square feet, the empty nesters’ new home is bigger than the one where they raised two sons.

“Nobody moves to a smaller house,” crows Robert “Bob” Toll, the 73-year-old cofounder and executive chairman of luxury home builder Toll Brothers TOL +3.04%, which sold the Sussmans their new spread. At least not if Toll can help it.

The suburbs, McMansions and Horsham, Pa.-based Toll Bros. are all staging a comeback. Bob and his younger brother, Bruce, started building homes in 1967 and were mass-producing luxury housing by the time they took Toll Bros. public in 1986. The company survived the housing bust with a 60% staff cut and $2 billion in writedowns. Now with excess inventory depleted and 130 home builders having disappeared, Toll and the other remaining players are enjoying a gale of resurgent demand.

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Beautiful Homes in the Most Dynamic Big Cities of 2014

The Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, recently released its list of the “best-performing” cities in the country. What exactly does a best-performing city have that others don’t?

Simply put, these are the most dynamic and successful cities based on job creation, education and overall economic vitality. Most of the cities cracking the top 10 are hubs for either technology or oil—industries that show no signs of an imminent slowdown.

With those dual drivers fueling growth, it’s no surprise that many of the top metros are in the tech-savvy San Francisco Bay Area and resource-rich Texas.

And because these cities are the best places for economic expansion, their real estate prices are also on the rise. As the report cites, “Housing was the primary story behind the biggest gains in the 2014 index.”

To get a sense of what’s on the market in these top towns, we picked one beautiful home for sale in each of the 10 best-performing big cities. If you’re fascinated by any of the homes featured below, click on the image to learn more. To gauge the overall market, click on the city name to see what’s for sale… Read this article here

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