After three years of quietly studying the luxury home market in the Reno area, Toll Brothers is ready to make its move. The company hopes to build on its success in Nevada by expanding northward from Las Vegas this fall. It plans to build 74 homes in the new upscale Damonte Ranch community in the Truckee Meadows, just south of Reno. Toll Brothers also purchased 100 sites for custom homes in the Somersett master-planned community in northwest Reno.
“The timing is right for Toll to be there (in Reno),” said Gary Mayo, vice president of the company’s Las Vegas Division. “The area has had an influx of luxury homebuyers from Northern California.”
Mayo, who is in charge of the company’s expansion in Nevada, wanted Toll Brothers to move into the Reno area three years ago. However, the company decided to be cautious and make sure it was the right move. Mayo studied the demographics and trends in Reno and interviewed competitors and others involved in real estate sales and development.
Toll Brothers, which has made a big impression in Southern Nevada by selling luxury homes for under $1 million, is having its biggest year in the community, with 226 homes sold for the fiscal year that ends in October. The company projects sales of 300 homes next fiscal year. This is the most since it entered the market by buying Coleman Homes in 1997. It has sold 700 homes in six years. Toll Brothers is especially strong in
Summerlin, where it has developed four communities and is starting two more.
Damonte Ranch is a 2,000-acre master-planned community being developed by partners Robert Lewis, Perry DiLoreto and Craig Dutton. The company’s timetable for its Toll Brothers at Damonte Ranch development calls for presales of homes to start this month, with the first models to be built in May or June. The first homes will be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2004, Mayo said. The company finalized its land purchase in Somersett in August and is still working on plans for its development in the gated golf course community.
The Reno-Sparks area, with more than a quarter-million people, is about one-fifth the size of the Las Vegas area. However, business activity has been strong, with major corporations moving into the community. The new industry will attract residents looking for quality homes, Mayo said. The region is also a magnet for affluent Californians seeking a second home for vacations, and for retirees wanting to be in an attractive setting.
People who don’t want the hassle of building their own custom home are attracted to Toll Brothers developments, Mayo said. The Huntingdon, Penn.-based operation, which is selling homes in 175 developments in 22 states, is filling a niche in the real estate industry between homes in the median price range and those selling for more than $1 million. It does have a few $1 million homes, but its average price is $600,000, and last fiscal year 70 percent of its homes cost between $300,000 and $700,000. The company typically builds in master-planned communities and those that feature golf courses.
Toll Brothers describes its homes as “semi-custom” because buyers are allowed leeway in what type of appliances and cabinetry are installed and can request optional items, such as patio covers. Buyers can reconfigure the living space by having interior walls removed, but the basic structure of a home cannot be changed.
In addition to its four communities in Summerlin, the company has developed communities at MacDonald Highlands and Buckingham. It plans to build two new projects – Serrano and Traccia in Summerlin, and expand its Toll Brothers at MacDonald Highlands community next year. The company also has another development in the works – North Canyon Estates in northwest Las Vegas.
The National Association of Home Builders named Toll Brothers “America’s Best Builder” in 1996 and Professional Builder magazine awarded it a similar honor in 1988.