You can hear it between the crunch of your taco at the Spectrum. The sound is audible over the waves as you lay on the golden sand at Crystal Cove State Park; your ride on the Great Park Big Orange Balloon sways in time to the rhythm of it.

Throughout the county, excavators are rumbling, nails are flying, stucco is being sprayed, and freshly minted driveways being poured as the slow tsunami surge of new home construction pushes over hill and up canyon wall.

I’m talking production homes, of course. The new tract home market. Brand name stuff. CalAtlantic Homes née Standard Pacific. Lennar. The New Home Company. Taylor Morrison. Shea Homes. California Pacific. TriPointe Homes. Those guys.

The marketing emails pour in at a steady pace. “New Homes in XXXX in YYYY”. “Brokers Welcome at XXXX in YYYY.” “Last phase release at XXXX!” If I set my phone alert on “random conga drum” for every new home email I received it would be like an Afro-Cuban jazz band in my pocket at all hours of the day. (maybe I should try that)

esencia-rancho-mission-viejo-road-building-2015.jpg Road building at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo, CA, 2015

Whether or not you can believe it, I only cover twenty cities with facility. Yes, yes, only the small minor half of Orange County from Newport Beach to Tustin to Coto de Caza to San Clemente, everything in between and back up again are my real estate ranchin’ lands. I’m sure there are agents who handily work the turf from San Francisco to San Diego, but not me, nope. I’m a simple local’s-only kinda guy.

Need something in Santa Barbara? I know a guy.

Beverly Hills? I got a gal.

This little ol’ south OC swath of real estate is enough to keep me gainfully busy.

So, as self-elected laird and surveyor of my lands, I must keep an eye out on developments as they arise. For example, Who hath mighty capital and prepareth for long term land & home battle? Lennar. Who shall they lock lances with on the field of glory? The Irvine Company, of course. Which Development Dukes storeth up the finest in real properties? Rancho Mission Viejo and The Irvine Co layeth up the land in great measure. From whence did The New Home Company cometh? The venerable Laing Luxury Homes née John Laing Homes is where.

So much to know, so little time.

So, be ye visitor or resident, pull up a chair to your electric screen and take in my brief state of the south OC new home boom.

beacon-park-grand-opening-irvine-2015.jpg Prospective Beacon Park buyers boarding the bus to be ferried two blocks away, Irvine, CA, 2015


Ah, the City of Irvine and The Irvine Company (TIC); has there ever been a city more entwined with a collaborative corporate body?

The TIC is in the business of real estate, of course. They build apartments, retail & commercial space on Irvine Ranch lands, then sell the surrounding land to developers to build & sell homes so TIC business tenants have places to sleep at night. Unless, of course, those employees want to rent from TIC, which is, you know, cool by them. They’ve got it wired. When the economy was in the pits, they were building new apartment complexes like Noah built the Ark; people sat back and scratched their heads – “Building? Now?” and then the flood of tenants came. But that’s another story. This story is about new home construction in Irvine.

If you love options, you’re going to love Irvine. I just checked and at current count in Irvine, there were seventy (70!) new home tracts being built and sold. Almost every one of those tracts offers three home choices (some go as high as six)… at a minimum, that is 210 different new homes to consider. I don't have the historical records, but I suspect that might be an all-time high for simultaneous new home projects in the city, but who knows – the Quail-Hill-Oak-Creek-Turtle-Ridge-Northwood-Northpark-Woodbury boomtown days were fat cows, too.

beacon-park-construction-irvine-2015.jpg New home construction at Beacon Park, Irvine, CA, 2015

Barring another catastrophic economic collapse, I suspect we’ll see steady new home construction in the city for years to come. Portola Springs has plenty of land left to build on. Orchard Hills has the same. Eastwood has arrived. Stonegate is chugging along. Hidden Canyon is being discovered. And - The Great Park Neighborhoods? They’re just getting going. Pavilion Park was a smashing success and Beacon Park is just getting going; there are several more developments to come there. And then there is the land at the north end of Jeffery - certainly those hills will be gridded, graded and finely ground to perfection.  

level-1-newport-beach-construction.jpg In-fill construction in Newport Beach, CA, 2015

Newport Beach

The Banning Ranch project. I’m not as up to speed on this development, but from what I gather, it’s close to getting green lit and should be the biggest thing to hit the city in some time.

There has been vociferous opposition to the development for years, and I get it, though the “ranch” in question has always looked like a shaggy stand of dogwoods, Johnson grass and oil derricks to me. Heck, I guess I understand. That’s someone’s shaggy stand. The Banning Ranch Conservancy is concerned with the vernal pools, the migrating birds and the desire to keep the space preserved for future generations (agree). Nevertheless, it looks destined for a scaled-back development of approx 900 homes laid out over 400 acres.

As an aside, I’m looking at the developer’s Newport Banning Ranch page and I feel like I’m joining a cult. Anyone else? My advice to the copy folks - Ease back on the “all good” messaging. It’s never all good. It’s just sometimes mostly good. And the messaging here – not good. If there was a “Send me a free Kool-Aid and white robes” button, I wouldn’t be surprised. That site gives me the willies.

A couple of recent articles on the development -

There are a handful of small in-fill developments (10-30 unit) happening around the periphery of the Costa Mesa/Newport borders as well. See the Superior Pointe & Echo 56 projects by Taylor Morrison and Costa Mesa West Place by City Ventures (I’m a fan of this company & their developments. Hello, Herb.)

There’s rumor of a 26-story condo tower at Fashion Island as well – I’d love to see & sell that someday. My guess is, it will face opposition and get cut to 18 stories or thereabouts. Next time, ask for 35 stories.  

tustin-legacy-construction-2016.jpg Hangar at former Tustin MCAS & Tustin Legacy new homes under construction, Tustin, CA, 2016


Developers have been churning out homes for years in the area surrounding (and now on) the defunct Tustin MCAS. The newest neighborhood to arise from the soil is the “Greenwood in Tustin Legacy” neighborhood. I don’t quite know what the “Tustin Legacy” refers to, but we’ll go with it. Go get some, Tustin. Here’s a link to the city’s Tustin Legacy official site stuff.  

grand-monarch-st-regis-dana-point-2015.jpg Grand Monarch under construction, Monarch Beach, CA, 2016

Dana Point

The Grand Monarch on the grounds of the St. Regis is the only new home production I can think of at the moment in Dana Point. Of course, I could Google “new homes dana point” to actually find out what’s being built in the city, but I prefer my brain’s indexing system. As The Donald says, “I got a good brain.” And I consult it often.

The Grand Monarch is a collection of 37 luxe townhomes being built by William Lyon Homes. Owners get access to the St. Regis grounds & facilities and can have room service sent to their flats; heck, owners can probably have St. Regis concierge meet them at their front door everyday if they wanted. I’m pretty sure residents have access to the private Monarch Bay Club, but as I understand it, St. Regis’ right to access the Club expires in 2020 and is subject to negotiation at that point.

Off topic, but relevant to the area - speaking of the lovely private gated Monarch Bay neighborhood – yowza – grab your popcorn and get ready to watch a first-rate real estate poker match unfold in slow motion over the next four years as the leased land/lots in Monarch Bay are offered for sale and residents grapple with the new lot valuations. Buy, Sell or Hold, there will be losers and big winners galore. It’s happening right now; the cards are being dealt and people are lifting up their hands. Another story for another post.  

Huntington Beach

Surf City get’s a mention for its Pacific City project on PCH even though it’s out of my bailiwick and I think the developers (DJM Capital Partners) blew it by not building & selling the condos that were originally spec’d for the development (they’re just going to be plain old amazing apartments and I can’t do much with apartments.) That would’ve been a bitchin’ project to sell; I'm sure it wasn't their call. Some other investment partner said "Why in God's Good Name would we sell the condos when we can lease 'em forever?" Now you're thinkin'!

P.S. – DJM is rad; I had the pleasure of watching them host a town hall meeting on Lido Isle for their Lido Marina Village project a year or so ago. They faced a room packed to the gills with Newport’s oldest, greyest, most-moneyed families and handled the meeting with aplomb. So far, their re-work of the Lido Marina Village has been A-OK excellent and I hope they keep hacking at areas that need improving in the area.

Personal plea - please do a mixed-use residential project somewhere in South County. Please. Partner up with City Ventures; you both have great style. One of the models needs to be a big artist studio done in brick, white stucco, rusted steel, old oak beams, poured concrete and huge windows.  3,500 sqft should be enough for me. I accept your offer to take that unit for free for inspiring you to build them; the pleasure was mine.  

sea-summit-san-clemente-2015.jpg Canyon & ocean view from Sea Summit project in San Clemente, CA, 2016

San Clemente

Taylor Morrison’s Sea Summit community is well under way at this point with models done and homes selling. Consisting of four collections – Azure, Sapphire, Aqua & Indigo – the homes range in sizes from 2,500 sqft to 5,500 sqft . And - if their sales reps at their Hidden Canyon project are any indicator, they should be wonderful to work with as well. From what I can tell, the front-row home should have good ocean views and the whole project is certainly very ocean-close. I think the target market is the move-up Talega buyer, the north San Diego buyer (c'mon up - we like San Diegans) or maybe the buyer who wants Crystal Cove but is priced out of that neighborhood.  

esencia-rancho-mission-viejo-grading-2015.jpg New road building & grading at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo, CA, 2016

Rancho Mission Viejo

Holy smokes and sakes alive, this is really city-building at work and I desperately need to cover the existing and coming Rancho Mission Viejo projects better. The Sendero project at the intersection of Ortega & Antonio is essentially all sold out (ten tracts) and the newest neighborhood – Esencia (12 new tracts) – is now selling. We have clients moving into a first-phase home that will be completed in May (Hooray! Congratulations! First phase!!) and there is much more – so much more – to come.

Esencia is a hidden gem and I think will be one of those neighborhoods you ask yourself why you didn’t buy in when they were first offered for sale… The contours of the hills, the vistas, the trees… going to be a lovely place to be…

Projected to have 14,000 homes by the end of its completion, the Rancho Mission Viejo Plan will consist of five new, distinct neighborhoods that bracket Ortega Highway. The RMV projects are without a doubt the largest developments foreseeable on the horizon for the county and will be a blast to be a part of as they arrive.  

portola-hills-lake-forest-ca-terraforming-2016.jpg Worker putting the fine touches on the terraforming along Glenn Ranch Road in Lake Forest, CA, 2016

Lake Forest

Hello, Baker Ranch! Lots of homes being built at the Baker Ranch project on the Lake Forest/Irvine border right now. They've been selling handily the past few years and, like some of the other larger developments, there are many more to come. The architecture, the range of price points, good schools and the fact that homeowners do not have to pay Mello Roos (the owners of the project paid the Community Facilities District (CFD) fees in advance ) – all make for compelling selling points. I think this neighborhood would be selling even faster if it weren’t for the jail nearby in Irvine.

A jail you say?

Yes, there is a jail next door in Irvine, which, I know, is like putting a medical waste incinerator at the Spectrum food court. I don’t know how it happened, but I think Irvine lost a bet. Or someone in another city had something on Irvine – “Here’s the deal – you’re going to accept the prison and like it or elllllllse…”

Across town in Lake Forest, there is new construction underway in the Portola Hills area. CalAtlantic Homes is developing "The Oaks at Portola Hills" which apparently will consist of “seven distinct neighborhoods within a gated community”; looking forward to seeing those homes.  

finao-newport-coast-2016.jpg Fiano model homes in Pacific Ridge neighborhood, Newport Coast, CA, 2016

Newport Coast

As far as I can tell, the last two tracts to be built in Newport Coast are underway and will probably be sold out by the end of 2017 if not sooner. Coral Crest & Coral Canyon in Crystal Cove are being built on lots that were originally meant for the late-phase Nautilus 2 homes that got sidelined in the Great Recession. The New Home Company is building the new projects and slowly releasing info, though early registrants are already being allowed to put down deposits. Expect prices in the $4.5 - $7M range.

The homes will be “Italian & Mediterranean-inspired” much like their stately progenitors at the Fiano project that just wrapped up sales last month in the neighboring Pacific Ridge neighborhood. Given that the Coral Canyon lots are located where they are, I don't think they'll have any ocean views. The Coral Crest lots will have western-oriented ocean views looking across the canyon corridor.

So – here it is – Coral Canyon & Coral Crest are it for new tract home construction in Newport Coast.


The last new tract homes.

Want a new home in Newport Coast? Get in line and buy one of these before they’re gone. And do please call me first before you go see them.  

the-oaks-farms-san-juan-capistrano-2016.jpg View from backyard of model home at The Oaks Farms in San Juan Capistrano, CA, 2016

San Juan Capistrano

The largest development in San Juan Cap has been the Oliva neighborhood for the past year, built by The New Home Company. That is a very fine project in a good location but the real news in San Juan Cap is a small pocket of luxe homes being built by a San Diego builder, Davidson Communities.

Dubbed “The Oaks Farms”, the project is tucked off of Ortega Highway and abuts a fabulous new equestrian facility also recently built by the developer on land that was once Joan Irvine Smith’s. The homes are beautiful, the setting is sublime and the prices are very good for what you get. Not surprisingly, they are selling at a brisk clip. There are 32 homes and I think 10 are spoken for already (in just a few weeks of being on the market).

If Davidson Communities was trying to make a name for themselves in Orange County, this project has certainly done it. I really hope we see them come back and build again in the area; maybe Rancho Mission Viejo?  

beacon-park-grand-opening-irvine-2015-02.jpg Opening day at Beacon Park in Irvine, CA, 2016

The Takeaway

Buyers have never had more options to buy a new home and the competition for their attention (dollars) is fierce - developers have to keep ratcheting up the amenities in their homes & neighborhoods to stay competitive. Interest rates are still jaw-droppingly low and I’ve just about given up on telling people to take advantage of the rates because no one believes me that they’ll go up anymore…

All of that said, the seemingly endless array of available choices can be downright dizzying, like a post-war Soviet standing in a US grocery aisle - paralyzed by the range.

So - here's my advice - if you're in the market for a new home, don’t get paralyzed; call me and I'll walk you through it. It's a snap if you know what to look for. - Jesse Brossa (949) 292-9786

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