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2 Companies Sell Most New Homes in O.C. in 1993 : Housing: Kaufman & Broad and the Irvine Co. top the list of builders in a year dominated by the first-time buyer, study shows.

January 20, 1994|DEBORA VRANA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEWPORT BEACH — Kaufman & Broad Home Corp. and the Irvine Co. dominated a list of builders selling the most new homes in Orange County in 1993, a year where buyers were on the lookout for bargains and good neighborhoods, according to a study by a Newport Beach real estate consulting firm.

"The home buyer last year was looking for value and location," said Stephen Smiley, managing director with the Meyers Group. "Many of these were sold to the first-time home buyer."

Prices of last year's best selling condominiums and townhomes ranged from about $75,000 to $165,000 and detached homes sold from $175,000 to about $250,000, Smiley said.

The most popular communities were close to freeway arteries, targeted for easier commuting. Most of the sales were in South Orange County, with two home projects located in Mission Viejo, one in Aliso Viejo and one each in Trabuco Canyon and Foothill Ranch. Three of the best-selling projects were in the central part of the county, in Tustin.

Smiley said that as a result of the real estate downturn, which knocked some developers out of business, buyers are scrutinizing the developer more closely. "It's no surprise that seven out of the top 10 builders are Kaufman & Broad and the Irvine Co.," said Smiley. "People want a developer who is going to be around to fix things if there are problems."

The best selling housing project was Rancho Vera Cruz in Tustin, a condominium community with 317 units priced from $90,000 to $150,000, of which 124 units were sold in 1993.

"I think buyers were attracted by the architectural character of Rancho Vera Cruz. It's not just a box that delivers on price," said Rudy Svrcek, vice president of sales and marketing for the Irvine Co., which through its Irvine Pacific subsidiary built Rancho Vera Cruz. The other two Irvine Co. projects on the list were Mandevilla and Cantada, a pair of Tustin condominium projects.

These homes--built next to a golf course and with a pool, spa and recreation area--were recently converted from rental apartments to condos.

Four of the best selling projects on the Meyers Group list were developed by Los Angeles-based Kaufman & Broad, including the top ranking detached housing project, California Ridge in Trabuco Canyon. "Location, location, location, price, price, price--that's what buyers were looking for in 1993," said Roland Osgood, president of Kaufman & Broad's south coast division. "They were looking for value."

California Ridge, with 120 home lots of about 5,000 square feet each, sold 96 homes last year. Buyers are attracted by the relatively large lots and its location in the hills between Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills, Osgood said.

"If you were a 12-year-old boy and saw the hills around our project, it's where you'd want to live," said Osgood. The homes sell for between $190,000 and $220,000, Osgood said.

Cinnamon Tree, the fourth best-selling project in the county, sold 88 of its 91 attached units during two auctions last year, Smiley said.

Vineyards, a 256-unit condominium project in Foothill Ranch, was ranked eighth, with 80 sales during the year. The project, which opened in April, 1993, has homes ranging in price from $125,000 to $160,000.

"Vineyards is targeted to the first-time home buyer," said Dan Nahabedian, manager of land acquisition for John Laing Homes, which is based in Laguna Hills. "We think the move-up market is still struggling, so the best market to be in is for the first-time buyer. We also like being in Foothill Ranch because there is less attached product out there than in other places."

Tops In Sales

New-home developments by Irvine Pacific and Kaufman & Broad were hot sellers last year. Kaufman & Broad had four developments in Orange County's top 10, and Irvine Co. subsidiaries posted three, including No. 1-selling Rancho Vera Cruz in Tustin.

TOP-SELLING DEVELOPMENTS (ATTACHED AND DETACHED)

Project Developer Community Type Rancho Vera Cruz Irvine Pacific Tustin Attached California Ridge Kaufman & Broad Trabuco Canyon Detached California Court Kaufman & Broad Mission Viejo Attached Cinnamon Tree Cinnamon Tree Partners Placentia Attached Pacific Grove Pacific Gateway Aliso Viejo Detached Vintage Place II Kaufman & Broad Anaheim Hills Detached California Terrace Kaufman & Broad Mission Viejo Attached Vineyards John Laing Homes Foothill Ranch Attached Mandevilla Irvine Pacific Tustin Attached Cantada Calif. Pacific Homes Tustin Attached

Project Homes sold Rancho Vera Cruz 124 California Ridge 96 California Court 94 Cinnamon Tree 88 Pacific Grove 83 Vintage Place II 81 California Terrace 80 Vineyards 80 Mandevilla 78 Cantada 75

TOP-SELLING DETACHED DEVELOPMENTS

Project Developer Community Homes sold California Ridge Kaufman & Broad Trabuco Canyon 96 Pacific Grove Pacific Gateway Aliso Viejo 83 Vintage Place II Kaufman & Broad Anaheim Hills 81 Vintage Horizon Kaufman & Broad Anaheim Hills 67 Bel Air Bramalea Homes Mission Viejo 63 Crestmont J.M. Peters Trabuco Canyon 59 Flora Vista Centex Homes San Clemente 58 California Parke Kaufman & Broad Foothill Ranch 58 Fieldstone Legends Fieldstone Co. Placentia 57 Barcelona Fieldstone Co. Tustin 54

Source: Meyers Group; Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times

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