By Dave Enscoe, Advertising Department

Don't tell Brad Haber the new home market is slow. The Medford based builder just sold out the first section of his new development in Egg Harbor City, The Neighborhoods of Cedar Creek. Now he's ready to start the next one.

"Despite the blues that are still affecting the housing industry we've been able to maintain one of the best sales paces in South Jersey," Haber says. "We've been building two homes a month."

The Neighborhoods is located off Philadelphia Avenue, more than a mile from city's small business district and a stone's throw from scenic Egg Harbor City Lake. Fifteen single family homes have been completed and occupied since the first buyers moved in a year ago and Haber says construction on six more homes will begin soon. When completed, the development will feature about 400 homes on 500 acres of woodlands that virtually encircle Cedar Creek High School.

Available home designs include two ranchers, a Cape Cod, a salt box and a traditional colonial. Each design is available in two elevations, which helps Haber comply with a city ordinance that prohibits two of the same style homes from being built next to each other. The average sale price is $255,000, with buyers spending as much as $15,000 for upgrades.

A new model home, the two-story "D" model that starts at $245,000, was recently completed and will host a grand opening April 25. The traditional design has 2,200 square feet of living space and includes 3 bedrooms, 2½ baths and a covered front porch. It features a large living/dining room and a country kitchen with a gas fireplace, optional quartz counters and a wood plank laminate floor.

"I wanted a rustic look for the floor," Haber says. "It's a floating floor with cork on the back of it so it feels comfortable to walk on. It's not a hard surface like wood or ceramic."

Three second floor bedrooms include a master suite with a tray ceiling and a private bath with a walk-in fiberglass shower chamber.

Haber took advantage of a hillside that runs through his first neighborhood to offer partially finished walk-out basements with French doors that open to a concrete patio.

"Builders in South Jersey rarely get the opportunity to offer walk-out basements because it's so flat," Haber says. "But people really like walk outs. It's like having a third story."

Most of the homes at The Neighborhoods will occupy 75-by-150-foot lots. Standard features include crown molding in the living and dining rooms, nine-foot ceilings on the first floor, covered porches, vinyl siding and railings, a landscaping package and the partially finished basement which adds about 500 square feet of living space to the home.

Options include a fire sprinkler system, a sound system, a burglar alarm and upgraded cabinets and appliances. Buyers can also take advantage of various incentives including a zero down payment mortgage available to first-time homebuyers.

"We also have a five-year real estate tax abatement that will save buyers $15,000 to $20,000," Haber says. "The first year you pay taxes on the land but not the house. The second year you pay 20 percent of your assessment. The third year you pay 40 percent, and so on until the sixth year when you're paying the full freight. It allows you to grow into your home."

All the homes at The Neighborhoods have an Energy Star rating, which Haber earned by installing things like tankless gas water heaters and precast insulated basement walls. While a forced air/natural gas heating system is standard, Haber says an optional geothermal heat and air conditioning system can help owners save as much as 50 percent on their energy bills compared to a typical new home.

"We have 15 families living in the Neighborhoods and they cannot believe how low their energy bills are," Haber says. "They're paying about $100 to $125 a month for heat all winter long. This saves them hundreds of dollars each month."

Haber says it typically takes about 90 days to complete a house from start to finish. He says buyers are coming from all over South Jersey and represent a "healthy mix of young couples, families with kids, and empty nesters."

For more information on The Neighborhoods of Cedar Creek call Harry Mehlman or Nicole Hendricks at 609-593-3288 or visit bradhaberhomes.com.

Fast Facts:

What: New single family homes

Where: Egg Harbor City

Styles: Ranch, Cape Cod, traditional

Average price with options: $255,000