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Real estate trend in self-contained communities

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Something huge is happening on the western rim of Nevada's Las Vegas Valley, drawing tens of thousands of people to settle in the desert. It's called Summerlin, and it's a massive master-planned community that encompasses 36 square miles, or 22,500 acres. The project had about 32,400 units and 84,350 residents as of December 2003, and is projected to house nearly double that population in about 15 years. Summerlin is an exceptionally large example of a growing trend in the development of planned communities, which are large-scale housing developments that feature a range of housing types, community amenities, public services and can also include office and retail space. These communities are typically governed internally by homeowner associations. Irvine, Calif., Rancho Bernardo near San Diego, Calif., and Reston, Va., are other examples of giant master-planned communities. An annual survey of home sales in master-planned communities found that the top-20 survey participants sold 28,5...