The old bromide, "It's too good to be true," is still the best yellow flag around for real estate transactions, and over a period of years, a parallel warning we have bolstered here is "If it's that good, it just can't be true."
But in today's local housing market, it's hustle and bustle, and what's happening is good and it's true.
There is hectic activity among those who are involved in lending money, appraising properties, home shoppers and builders. (See related lead story on this page.)
The would-be buyers, those who can hurdle the somewhat tougher down-payment requirements, are taking advantage of the present low fixed and adjustable rates on home loans. Even greater numbers are refinancing homes purchased in recent years when rates were at the 15% level.
Elsewhere, developers of two new communities this spring are being deluged with names for their buyer interest lists, reminiscent of a summer 10 years ago when an Irvine Ranch project called Woodbridge jumped into the headlines in unprecedented fashion with eager, ready-to-buy customers, camp-outs and lotteries to handle the sales sanely and fairly.
That historic sales and marketing landmark has parallels today with what is happening at two master-planned communities, EastLake community in Chula Vista, covering more than 3,000 acres in eastern San Diego County, and at the yet unopened Rancho Santa Margarita, which straddles the Santa Margarita Parkway in Orange County with its 5,000 acres. They appear to be working up to a replay of 1976, in spirit and demand.
In a repeat of the Woodbridge experience, spokesmen for both new projects report that buyer interest lists are getting longer each day.
At last count, Rancho Santa Margarita had more than 9,000 names on its "we want to buy a house list." About 2,000 visited the project's information center last weekend; the opening isn't scheduled until May 18.
At EastLake, by early afternoon last Sunday, 156 buyers had put their money down on about 75% of the homes available in the first phase during last weekend's opening.
More than 6,000 visited the project and 1,100 of them gave their names as prospects for homes to be completed and sold during May. Representatives of EastLake Development declared that the event was "the most successful real estate opening in San Diego County."
The mix of prices at EastLake were apparently right, ranging upward from $49,900 to $300,000. Prices at the as yet unopened Rancho Santa Margarita will range from $55,000 to $170,000.
Shades of Woodbridge.