Orange County Business Journal

Homebuilders Up 3%, Still Well Shy of Peak Years

Irvine Pacific No.1 for Second-Straight Year Mark Mueller Sunday, February 24, 2013
Century Village: 53-unit townhome project by Brandywine Homes in Garden Grove is sold out as construction wraps up

Century Village: 53-unit townhome project by Brandywine Homes in Garden Grove is sold out as construction wraps up

The Irvine Ranch continued to be the primary source of sales in Orange County’s slowly improving new-home market last year.

The county’s 26 largest homebuilders sold 1,822 new single-family homes and condos in 2012, a nearly 3% increase from a year earlier, according to this week’s Business Journal list.

Single-family homes sales—which made up about 68% of all the new home sales here in 2012—saw their second straight year of increases. Stand-alone home sales, which totaled 1,240, were up more than 4% from a year ago.

Lower-priced condo and townhouse sales, which had made up a majority of the region’s new sales every year between 2006 and 2010, saw their second-straight year of declines.

There were 582 attached home sales here in 2012, a less-than-1% decline from year-ago levels.

Data for this year’s list was provided by the Costa Mesa offices of Washington, D.C.-based real estate research firm Hanley Wood LLC, and was augmented by data from individual builders and the Business Journal.

The 3% uptick in sales still left the local industry with its fifth-consecutive year with sales of less than 2,000 new homes. That’s less than half the new home sales that OC saw a decade ago amid the last big home construction surge.

New home sales here regularly topped the 10,000 mark in the mid-1990s. As many as 15,000 deals a year was the norm in the late 1980s.

Those totals aren’t likely to be topped any time soon, but besting the 2,000-home sale mark appears more than attainable in 2013.

Several new masterplanned projects plan to kick off sales this year, including major developments being overseen by Rancho Mission Viejo LLC and FivePoint Communities Management Inc.

Meanwhile, developments at the Irvine Ranch continue to dominate the local sales market.

Nearly three-quarters of OC’s new homes sale took place on the Irvine Ranch last year, which has been California’s best-selling masterplanned community for several years running.

Projects on the Irvine Ranch—including Stonegate, Portola Springs, Woodbury and Laguna Altura—reported 1,434 sales last year, according to a recent report from Irvine-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting LLC.

The Irvine Ranch saw an increase of 670 home sales last year, a nearly 88% increase from 2011 levels.

That was the largest year-over-year bump in total sales of any masterplanned project in the country last year, according to the John Burns report.

The Irvine area “continues to be a desired location by buyers in Orange County and abroad,” thanks to good schools, a strong job base, and numerous amenities, according to John Burns Consulting’s Nicole Murray.

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