Construction continues on homes in the Cypress Village development near the Great Park in Irvine on Monday, November 28, 2016. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)
It was a record-setting year.
Median home prices reached all-time highs. That was driven by new homes, which hit their own peak.
Developers made strides in changing the Orange County landscape, dramatically. A massive mixed-use center in Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle won approval this fall. So did a 25-story luxury condominium that would replace the Orange County Museum of Art near Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
Landmark homes scored headlines, too. In Laguna Beach, an iconic house built into a boulder on the sand was sold. The PCH water tower home of Sunset Beach finally changed hands, with the new owners opening the house for tours and drawing long lines of looky-loos.
But Orange County’s housing market has a downside, especially for everyday buyers faced with affordability and inventory challenges.
“The real estate market was hot again due to low interest rates and an extremely low supply of homes on the market,” said local analyst Steve Thomas of Reports on Housing.
A U.S. Census-based analysis published in June showed that in recent years, the Orange County and Los Angeles markets have had the most financially stressed homeowners among the largest U.S. metro areas.
And though rents soared, a newly released study showed that evictions in Orange County have numbered in the thousands.
Here’s a look back at the highs and lows of 2016.
The median price of a newly built Orange County home – or the price at the midpoint of all sales – hit a record $934,250 in October, up 3.8 percent from the record set in October 2015.
The Anaheim City Council in October unanimously approved LT Global’s LT Platinum Center. The $450 million mixed-use development will include a hotel, high-rise office buildings, stores, entertainment, apartments and condominiums on a 15-acre lot at State College Boulevard and Orangewood Avenue in the city’s Platinum Triangle area near Angel Stadium. Construction on the center is slated to start soon, with completion due in 2022.
A secluded, six-bedroom oceanfront house on a half-acre in guard-gated Irvine Cove is currently the most expensive house on the Multiple Listing Service in Orange County. The 10,000-square-foot, Mediterranean Revival-style home, named Villa Dei Tramonti, or villa of sunsets, is set beyond its own gate and is one of only five Irvine Cove houses with direct access to the beach. The house, with 180 linear feet of frontage on the sand at the end of the cove, is the largest and most private of the five homes, Rob Giem of HOM Sotheby’s International Realty says in the listing.
The median price for all homes sold in October – new and existing – was $655,000, tying the all-time high reached in June. That was up $54,000, or 9 percent, from October 2015.
Developers filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission in November, seeking more than $490 million in damages for its failure to approve a project that would have turned a 401-acre oilfield between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach into a housing and retail development. Newport Banning Ranch is appealing the Coastal Commission’s Sept. 7 decision to reject a plan that would have cleaned up the land and built a park, 895 single-family homes, a 75-room resort, a hostel and commercial space. Builders said a scaled-down counterproposal is not economically feasible.
The number of stories planned for a luxury condominium to replace the Orange County Museum of Art at 850 San Clemente Drive in Newport Beach. The building would be one of the six tallest in Orange County. The Newport Beach City Council approved the project in November. A group opposing it is trying to get it before voters.
The average asking rent for an Orange County apartment hit $1,781 a month this summer, following 61/2 years of steady hikes, according to Reis Inc.
About 6,600 Orange County renters and their families were evicted in 2014, equivalent to one eviction for every 63 tenant households in the county, online real estate broker Redfin reported in December.
The Laguna Beach “rock house,” built inside a large boulder on the sand, sold for $6.5 million in November. The unique residence was on and off the market, with a $15 million price tag in 2014 dropping to $9.99 million in 2015 and most recently to $8.5 million. Acclaimed Orange County architect Brion Jeannette designed the 3,000-square-foot, steel-and-glass house a couple of decades ago for software entrepreneur Dennis Morin, who died in 2012. Sean Stanfield of HOM Sotheby’s International Realty handled both sides of the transaction.
The price that investors paid in July in an off-market sale of the iconic PCH water tower house of Sunset Beach, which had been for sale for years, at one point with an asking price of $8 million. The new owners provided public tours earlier this month and placed the four-bedroom home, billed as “the world’s ultimate beach house,” on vrbo.com, where it’s offered for $675 or $995 a night and $4,500 or $6,750 a week.
A 2,520-square-foot condominium listed at just under $6 million in Corona del Mar is the most expensive condo now on the market. The home at 2525 Ocean Blvd. B4-C4 originally was two separate units built in 1963 at the Channel Reef complex. The two condos have been merged and reconfigured into a single waterfront spread by architect Brion Jeannette and interior designer Frank Pitman. Modern finishes, custom glass and a wide balcony create the feeling of being on a luxury ocean liner, say the listing agents, Sandra DeAngelis and Peggy Desantis of Seven Gables Real Estate.
Twin Points, a Laguna Beach estate with a double promontory extending hundreds of feet into the Pacific Ocean, sold for $45 million, setting an all-time record sale price in Orange County. The property included a three-bedroom cottage, originally built in 1928, and a guest house set on the lush, 2.3-acre parcel between Shaw’s Cove and Crescent Bay. Stairs lead from the bluffs to a cove and adjacent saltwater lagoon. Rob Giem of HOM Sotheby’s International Realty handled both sides of the deal.
A three-bedroom, ocean-view home at 3 Stickley on the grounds of the Montage Resort became the priciest condo sale on the MLS this year, going for $6 million in March. The 2,900-square-foot condo came with some perks: Homeowners in the development adjacent to the hotel easily can stroll to the spa and restaurants, and a concierge and housekeeping are available. John Stanaland of HOM Sotheby’s International Realty was the listing agent; John Cain of the same company represented the buyer.
The number of underwater Orange County homes dwindled to 1.6 percent of all residences with a mortgage, the latest sign of how far the local housing market has come from the depths of the foreclosure crisis, CoreLogic’s latest report on home equity showed.
*All data as of mid-December
Staff writer Jeff Collins contributed to this report.
Source: Orange Country Register