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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

High Prices? Who Cares? Homes Just Keep On Selling

March 31, 2000|DARYL STRICKLAND | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

The record prices of homes, particularly in upscale Orange County areas, seem almost beside the point as buyers continue their strong purchasing habits.

Since January, for instance, PLC Land Co. in Huntington Beach has sold 107 homes in its new Huntington Seacliff master-planned community. The developer generated $63 million in revenue for the quarter, its best ever.

"We're close to the end, and the opportunity won't be there if people wait to purchase a home much longer, so there's a sense of urgency," said Philip Yasskin, a vice president at Christopher Homes, PLC's building arm. "There's more demand than we have product to offer the market."

In the resale market, housing also is growing tighter.

The average number of days needed to sell an existing single-family home was 38 in February, compared with 50 days for the same period a year ago, according to the California Assn. of Realtors. Moreover, the state's inventory of available homes shrunk to about a 4 1/2-month supply, compared with 6 1/2 months a year ago, indicating there is less choice for buyers.

Increases in home prices have shown no signs of slowing down in Orange County or across the state, for that matter. In February, the California Assn. of Realtors said a typical home in Orange County cost a record $306,150, a 12.5% increase over the same month last year.

Some observers believe Orange County's housing prices are headed toward Silicon Valley's, even though a significant difference still exists between the areas. Santa Clara County reported the typical home price at $479,530, up 31% from a year ago.

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