Housing Market Stays Hot in Usually Cool 4th Quarter


Some markets heat up. Some smoke.

Orange County’s new-home market steamed through 1997 with 10,170 sales, up 14% from 1996, according to The Meyers Group, a real estate consulting service.

But last quarter, it began throwing off sparks. From October through December, 65% more homes sold than a year earlier, Meyers data show. The fourth quarter often is far slower than the third, as potential buyers’ thoughts turn to school activities and the holidays. However, in Orange County this past quarter, the decline was only 6.8% as 2,623 new homes sold.

That left the supply of new detached homes and condominiums for sale at just 928, down 57% from late 1996 and the lowest level since the late 1980s. It was the third quarter in a row in which demand outpaced supply, a trend that will tend to push prices up, said Meyers consultant Stephanie Ayres in Irvine.


The median price of a new detached Orange County home during the quarter was $273,990--up 13% from a year earlier, though down 1% from the third quarter. New condos were selling for a median price of $155,990, up 1% from a year earlier.

The top-selling project in the third quarter was Catellus Residential Group’s Vidorra development in Irvine, with 52 sales. Tied for second place with 48 each were California Pacific Homes’ Trieste in Irvine and Lewis Homes’ El Dorado in Tustin.


E. Scott Reckard covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at