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Irvine Co. Preps Next Homebuilding Projects

The Irvine Ranch, the largest master-planned community in Orange County, totaled 950 sales in 2021, spread among Orchard Hills, Portola Springs and other developments, according to data from Irvine’s John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

That marked a 19% increase from 2020 levels for the Irvine Co.-overseen developments, according to John Burns’ latest ranking of the country’s largest master-planned communities.

Rising sales on the developer’s land provided a boost to Irvine Pacific, the in-house homebuilding division of Irvine Co. that builds on the company’s land.

Irvine Pacific sales totaled nearly half the sales on the Irvine Ranch last year. Its 449 sales were up 41% from year-ago levels, good for the No. 2 spot on the Business Journal’s March 14 list of largest homebuilders in OC for 2021.

The master developer also sells land at its projects to other builders.

The Business Journal recently asked Dave Prolo, president of land sales and homebuilding for Irvine Co. and president of Irvine Pacific, to discuss the state of the local homebuilding market, and the developer’s plans for 2022.

His responses follow:

OCBJ: What has Irvine Co. seen in terms of any changing housing market trends in Irvine and Orange County over the past year?

PROLO: Demand from buyers looking to move to Irvine and current residents looking to move up the housing ladder has increased significantly since 2020. Inventory of both new homes and resale homes has been historically low over the last 12 months, adding to this high demand.

Buyers are increasingly looking to the new-home market in response to the quality and amenities available, and to avoid the stress of buyer competition for resale homes.

OCBJ: Are you seeing any notable changes of late in terms of buyer profiles?

PROLO: We are seeing more buyers from the Los Angeles area along with certain parts of the Bay Area in Northern California. Buyers are driven to the city of Irvine because of the exceptional schools, access to jobs, shopping, open space and the overall safety the city offers.

OCBJ: Are there any new home features increasingly in demand at your projects?

PROLO: Buyers continue to appreciate the great room concept and the indoor/outdoor relationship in our home designs. Flexible use spaces are a critical component in today’s new home designs. Highly amenitized kitchens open to the family room with expanded islands are a popular feature.

OCBJ: What changes, if any, are you planning in terms of product type, or pricing, with interest rates rising?

PROLO: The homes scheduled to release for sale in Portola Springs this year will focus primarily on single-family detached offerings. We anticipate that demand for single-family homes in our safe and well-designed Villages will continue to provide our buyers with valuable new home options.

OCBJ: Are there any changes, or expected changes, to how Irvine Co. sells land to other builders versus using Irvine Pacific?

PROLO: Irvine Pacific is committed to be the builder of choice for all new single-family homes in our future Villages.

OCBJ: Lots of grading work is underway along Portola Parkway, for future phases of Orchard Hills. Can you give an update on the timelines for that project, and future phases of Portola Springs?

PROLO: The remaining five programs in Portola Springs will open in the second half of 2022. The grading on Portola Parkway between Jeffrey Road and Orchard Hills Drive is the last phase within Orchard Hills called the Summit. The Summit will consist of four gated luxury home programs with sweeping views of the city of Irvine. Model opening is currently scheduled for the end of 2023. 

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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