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HEARD ON THE BEAT / CORPORATE

Market for Bigger Homes Heating Up

September 27, 1996|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER; John O' Dell covers major Orange County corporations, manufacturing and economic issues for The Times

Action in Orange County's new-home market is no longer limited to the low end of the price scale. After several years in which just about every builder in the region concentrated on so-called starter homes, bigger move-up homes for second-, third- and fourth-time buyers are going up.

U.S. Housing Markets, a nationwide review of housing data published quarterly, says that move-up buyers are "creeping out of their foxholes" in Southern California. There's been a 20% increase in single-family home permits in Orange County during the first half of the year, and homes priced at up to $600,000 are selling briskly, the report says.

The busiest spot in the county's new-home market, the review says, was Newport Coast, the upscale Irvine Co. planned development that hugs the ridgeline separating Newport Beach from Irvine (it is actually unincorporated county territory, but Newport Coast sounds a lot better in marketing brochures).

Overall, U.S. Housing Markets reports this month, Orange County ranked 29th in the nation in new home and apartment permits issued in the first six months of the year. Local builders pulled permits for 3,274 single-family homes (36th highest total in the nation) and 1,889 multiple-family units (20th best nationwide).

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