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Aug/Sept 2005

Real Estate
Arresting Developments
by Amanda K. Brown

Bella Maison.
According to a Census Bureau survey, only a third of metro-Atlantans sign a lease each year in order to occupy their housing unit. Nevertheless, to those who dream of planting a tree in their own front yard, or of painting a wall without having to get permission first, "rent" is still a four-letter word.

Now, however, may be the perfect time to forgo those lessee contracts and apply for a loan instead. Lowered interest rates, a booming real estate market and a plethora of award-winning builders found right here in Atlanta create a trifecta of opportunity for families looking to buy or build a new home.

For potential new homebuyers, convenience and comfort factor greatly into building decisions, especially with the traffic delays and urban sprawl of the metro area. Fortunately, several Atlanta builders specialize in creating "man-made" communities containing beautiful, luxurious homes surrounded by vital amenities that make living easier for even the most harried of homeowners.

The emphasis that Atlanta-based John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, for example, puts on creating compelling homes has won the company coveted awards such as America's Best Builder, National Builder of the Year and the National Housing Quality Award. Wieland himself, founder, chairman and chief creative officer of the company, began building homes in Atlanta over three decades ago, and his company now builds and closes more than 1,700 single-family detached homes, townhomes and cluster homes each year.

An artist's rendition of Cascades.

Site of the 2004 Street of Dreams, Wieland's master-planned community of River Oaks offers the serenity of country estate living with a location in Fayette County just 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta. An English manor clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts ensure recreation and relaxation to families building on the neighborhood's two- to eight-acre wooded lots. While residents have their choice of custom plans from Wieland's Colonnade Custom Homes division, no two homes are alike and are limited in their design only by the building family's imagination.

Centex Homes, while founded in Dallas, Texas, has shared the convenience of its master-planned communities with the Atlanta area for more than 30 years. These neighborhoods feature sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping and amenities that are geared toward families. Winners of an Atlanta Homebuilder of the Year award in 1998, Centex Homes has also been named this year's "Most Admired Company in America in Construction and Engineering" by Fortune Magazine.

One of Centex's latest neighborhoods in Fulton County, Cascades, features sidewalks, streetlights and lush landscaping. The resort-like amenities at Cascades include a community swim complex with a children's water feature, a spacious clubhouse, three lighted tennis courts, two lighted basketball courts and an outdoor pavilion for cookouts and communing with neighbors. Cascades offers three home options: The Preserve, featuring semi-detached homes; The Heights, spacious townhomes with garages; and The Cottages, smaller, attractively priced townhomes. The majority of these models are priced in the mid- to upper-$100s.

Newcastle Farms.

David Weekley Homes, based in Houston, Texas, has garnered hundreds of awards for homebuilding excellence, and was the first company ever to win the aforementioned "Triple Crown" in homebuilding awards: National Builder of the Year, National Housing Quality and America's Best Builder. The company entered the Atlanta market in 1999 and currently builds in 14 metro-area communities, including Cobb, Paulding, Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall, Henry, Coweta and Douglas Counties. Homes by David Weekley range anywhere from the mid-$100s to over $1 million, and the company also specializes in a build-on-your-lot program in several metro-Atlanta areas and in the North Georgia mountains.

One of the newest David Weekley communities, Newcastle Farms in Cherokee County, features an intimate, 58-acre setting with 82 homesites, including many on wooded, private lots. Ten different ranch-style and two-story, three- to five-bedroom floor plans are available, starting in the high-$200s. Visitors to the model home at Newcastle Farms will see a kitchen with a large island, granite countertops and tile floors, a dining room with columns, an outdoor fireplace and a covered porch. Residents will also have access to horse stables, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a playground.

To get started on building your dream home, or for more information on these and other homesites, visit, or

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