It was almost a decade ago that the Irvine Co.'s new town of Woodbridge made its spectacular debut.
Hundreds of willing and would-be buyers lined up and camped out to signal the start of tremendous--and historic--sales activity. The demand was so great that lotteries were established to make sure every eager buyer had a chance to buy--a dream situation for the sales department.
The June 27, 1976 opening of Woodbridge became a milestone in marketing because after that date, the entire housing market in Southern California went into one of its historic and cyclical binges. It turned out to be, in the immediate years following, one of those great "up" periods in home buying.
That included escalation of prices and leaps and bounds in the rate of inflation. Housing tracts opened and "sold out"--and were quickly resold by many fast-buck and entrepreneurial people, including many brokers who had a field day, much to the dismay of the home builder.
The builder, not to be outdone in that frenzied period, simply announced that his homes in the next phase would be "$10,000 more," assuring himself of a sell-out in the initial offering at a very handsome profit.
Today, with interest rates at their lowest levels in eight years, lending activity hereabouts and throughout the nation is taking place at a very active pace, although not--(yet?)--in the fever-pitch of the late 1970s.
Refinancing of homes is playing a major role in the present boom, as buyers of homes and properties during the recent high-interest rate period take advantage of today's lower rates, around 10%--give or take a fraction or two--for conventional, 30-year mortgages and in the single-digit zone for adjustable rates.
Home-sale reports from throughout the Southland paint a vivid picture of steady sales and great interest. (Also see story on Page 2.) Following are examples of what is happening:
At PGA West, in La Quinta, 240 condominiums and home sites have been sold since its opening in August.
At Rancho San Diego, 62 Maravilla homes have been sold since Feb. 1.
At New Country II, Ontario, 66 homes are at the sell-out stage.
At Stonebridge, Covina, 40 homes were sold in two weeks.
At Del Mar Place, Carmel Del Mar, 29 homes were all sold during one weekend. At Del Mar, 48 of 66 homes and 70 of 84 homes were quickly sold in Alta Mar and Torrey Glen, respectively.
At Valley West, Canoga Park, 17 units were sold in four weeks.
At Park Shadows, Baldwin Park, nine homes were sold in a week.
At Starlight Ridge, Rancho California, six homes were sold in a week.
At Creekwood at RiverRun, Mission Valley, San Diego, 13 sales were reported over one weekend.
At Rams Hill, Borrego Springs, eight sales were reported in quick fashion at the opening of the Sante Fe Series.
At the new town of Rancho Santa Margarita, in Orange County, more than 4,000 names have been listed as potential buyers. Shades of Woodbridge?
At Laguna Sur Luxury Villas, South Laguna, despite a glitch in an informational toll-free telephone number, interest in buying there has been "overwhelming," a spokesman said.
At Brisas Del Mar, in Del Mar, more than 300 inquiries have been received.
And from Torrance, comes information about the selling time for three-bedroom homes, priced in the $160,000-$170,000 range. Three months ago, it was 30 days before being sold; a month ago, it was on the market for 15 days; today, it sells in 10 days.
Finally, from Sacramento, comes word for all members of the State Public Employee Retirement System, urging them to take advantage now of the system's own home loan program to buy a home or refinance a loan.
Although it does not permit below-market rates, the state program offers up to 95% financing and is highly competitive with lending institutions in the matter of points and fees, commitment period, assumable loans, and choice of fixed or variable rates, according to State Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh who always knows a good thing.