REAL ESTATE : Some Home Builders Discovered Ways to Survive a Down Year

Compiled by John O'Dell, Times staff writer

Well, it's official.

The California Building Industry Assn., in a survey of home builders across the state, has found that 1991 was a "trying year" for the industry.

In Orange County, the past year was a bit more than trying for the residential development industry.

Still, a few builders did well during the year.

A recent market survey by the Meyers Group found that the best-selling new home projects in Orange County through the first nine months of 1991 had several things in common:

* All were stucco with tile roofs.

* Most were in South Orange County.

* Most were in large, planned communities.

* Most of the detached homes were built by the same companies.

* All of the attached homes were priced under $200,000 and more than half of the detached homes were offered for less than $300,000.

Ironically, considering that high pries have been blamed for a lot of the area's housing woes, the two best-selling detached projects were also the highest priced.

In the No. 1 slot was Cypress Classics, in Cypress, built by the Fieldstone Group of Companies' Cypress Homes unit. A total of 85 homes were sold in the first nine months, at prices ranging from $342,990 to $403,990.

Cypress Homes also built the second-fastest-selling project, called the Cypress Collection, adjacent to Cypress Classics. By the end of September, 83 of those homes had been sold, at prices ranging from $399,990 to $491,990.

In third place in the detached home category was Kaufman & Broad Homes' California Reflections project in Aliso Viejo, where 62 homes priced from $202,990 to $232,990 were sold through Sept. 30.

Newport Beach-based Fieldstone Co., under its own name, also accounted for the fourth- and fifth-place projects: Valle Vista in Rancho Santa Margarita, where 62 homes sold at prices of $220,990 to $242,990, and Fieldstone Collection in Laguna Niguel, where buyers closed escrow on 57 units priced from $244,990 to $282,990.

In the attached or condo category, the five best sellers were:

1. Tijeras Creek Villas, by the San Juan Group, located in Rancho Santa Margarita. A total of 115 units were sold at prices ranging from $106,490 to $142,490. The builder is headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita.

2. Seagate Colony, by Aliso Viejo-based Kathryn G. Thompson Development Co., in Aliso Viejo. Buyers gobbled up 113 units priced from $106,900 to $163,900.

3. Los Portillos in Rancho Santa Margarita, by Newport Beach-based Shawntana Co., 88 units sold at prices of $103,990 to $131,990.

4. The Villas in Aliso Viejo, by Akins Development Co. of Irvine, 70 units sold at prices from $151,900 to $191,900.

5. Montecido in Trabuco Canyon, by the Baldwin Co. in Newport Beach, 66 units sold at prices of $132,900 to $161,900.

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