The Supply Side – Orchard Hills

There has been plenty of discussion on the issue of the fundamentals of why housing prices in Orange County are indeed, not rational. One of the most common metrics cited by those with or without a basic economics background is the rent versus buy ‘price’ (monthly payment). These prices are the net output of a large number of variables, including (very importantly) what amount can be mortgaged, as IrvineRenter has explained in previous posts. I would like to take an opportunity to focus on the supply side of the equation, to help frame the discussions. Some of this is for statistical consideration, and some is simply to discuss the housing product and this blog community’s view of the current and future marketplace offerings.

One of the commonly-recited phrases heard in defense of high housing prices, especially in Orange County, is “they aren’t making any more land.” There are a number of technical arguments to refute the idea that (even if true) this justifies high levels of appreciation, which is not the point of this post. While Irvine is extremely desirable, it is far from built out, and it appears to this blogger that there is significant rental and new home inventory available and coming available even as sales continue their sluggish pace.

One area of particular interest is Orchard Hills in Irvine. As has been discussed on the forums, this area has attracted plenty of interest for those hoping for something less remote than Portola Springs and more scenic than Woodbury or the Villages of Columbus. Any hopes for something reasonably affordable in a nice location have been dashed by the recent market survey postcard showing prices starting at $1.25 million and going up from there. It would appear that The Irvine Company is attempting to take the Turtle Rock experience and move things even further upmarket.

Fewer than 4,400 homes are planned – reduced from the 5,903 in the existing General Plan for the city of Irvine, and dramatically fewer than the 11,800 units in Irvine’s original General Plan. This will allow for 3 units per acre – fewer homes per acre than Irvine’s original hillside village, Turtle Rock.

While these lower densities sound desirable, this is obviously coming at a price.

The area is large, and I have a preview of construction that has begun at the southwest corner near Jamboree and the 261. Some pictures from Sunday walks show the state of progress.

Retail overview

The new retail center, scheduled to open this summer.

Retail detail

Closeup of the Orchard Hills brickwork style at the retail center. This same rustic-looking brick is seen on the grand entrance walls in the residential areas.

Culver and Settlers

Culver and Settlers, from the hill, looking west.

Gated Entrance

Settler’s multiple lanes of gated entrance off of Culver, with the Irvine/Costa Mesa skyline in the distance.

Settlers trees

Trees ready for planting along Settlers, looking east

Apartments 1

IAC apartments on Whispering Trail, looking west from near the retail center

Apartments 2

View of the apartments looking east, near the 261 toll road, with the privacy wall in progess for the homes up the hill. There is approximately 30 feet of elevation change down to the street level of the apartments.

Is the market ready for Orchard Hills?

Frankly, I’m a bit skeptical that more premium apartments and premium homes are what this market is looking for right now, and I foresee a bit of a miscalculation (or at least mis-timing) on the part of The Irvine Company. But TIC is well known for savvy market research and planning, so it will be interesting to watch unfold.

Regarding the apartments, we know that certain specific apartments at Woodbury Lane have yet to see their first rental, despite being available for over 10 months. If one checks the inventory at the newly-opened Portola Place, unit after unit has multiple available “now,” status which indicates plenty of supply. I don’t yet know the exact number of units they are building at Orchard Hills, but to my eye the number appears large compared to nearby communities such as Estancia, Anacapa, and Somerset.

Regarding the homes, we keep hearing reports about how the upper end of Orange County’s housing market is holding up well, perhaps because the folks with all the millions are not subprime borrowers. But the housing food chain cannot be deprived of its plankton forever without impacting the big tuna. Given the challenges the homebuilders are having at the Villages of Columbus and Portola Springs, the continuing trend of increasing inventory and decreasing sales in the resale market could make for a rocky ride ahead.

70 thoughts on “The Supply Side – Orchard Hills

  1. IrvineRenter

    Great post!

    I wonder how much of the lower density was a factor of the topography as opposed to any burning desire by the Irvine Company to reduce density. Also, isn’t this in the Tustin School District? Will people pay that much money for homes out where it is hotter and in the wrong school district? I really don’t see what makes this any more desirable than Portola Springs? Maybe if you worked in Riverside and wanted to live in OC?

    If the Irvine Company sticks with its up-market sales plan, they may be building up there for 10 years or more. Of course, they have patient money and a near-zero land basis, so they may opt to do just that.

  2. lee in irvine

    List of major issues for the homebuilders:

    a) Affordability – The extreme cost of Orange County RE (Irvine in particular) is now taxing the average household more than half of their gross income. This is unsustainable in a market that doesn’t appreciate.

    b) Loss of jobs – The local REIC is hemorrhaging jobs at a rapid clip, and this will almost certainly increase and compound as the nations RE market continues to rollover.

    c) Net outflow migration – This is already happening in most of the county, and will undoubtedly increase as affordability & the net loss of RE jobs continue to bleed the system.

    d) Mortgage lending – We all know that subprime is all but dead, however the lending standards are increasing weekly across the spectrum for all borrowers, including those with 800 plus FICO scores. This ultimately impacts the plankton chain.

    These 4 issues are all connected to chain that has allowed this BIG LIE to occur, and will ultimately lead to the inevitable decline.

    All this equates to a train wreck for the homebuilders who continue to bring inventory to the market.

  3. No_Such_Reality

    Is the 3 homes per acre, three homes per acre or is it “three” homes per acre of the development, including the retail space? More importantly, building plans change. But, yes, TIC is right, there’s a hoarde of people wanting out of the denser neighborhoods around Tustin Marketplace and think they’ve got an wad of equity.

    On a side note, are the rest of you seeing the same surge in tagging that HB/NB is? Tagging is rebounding in the OC and is making a heavy migration into the coastal & south county enclaves, IMHO. I don’t know if I should chalk it up to a leading indicator that the economy is going in the tank, or a lagging indicator that the subprime mess moved some of the ‘subprime’ into the south county enclaves.

    Granted, HB used to be a rough little surf punk town, it will be again IMHO. But I’ve seen more tagging in Newport, Irvine, San Clemente, RSM just driving through. Some places like Irvine, it get’s cleaned up quickly, but it’s still occuring.

  4. awgee

    Truthfully, I don’t know much about the new home market, but I am going to venture a guess that the Irvine Company and the homebuilders will do fine selling homes in Orchard Hills just by lowering prices. Labor costs will reflect market prices enabling builders to lower prices and IC will lower land prices to stimulate building. The ugliness is going to be in the existing home market for upside down mortgage holders. Anyways, it’s just a guess.

  5. lendingmaestro

    The Irvine company is unlike any other builder. Remember they own the land which is a non-performing asset. If they own the land they figure they might as well develop it. If you look at any IC apartment complex they always have a generous vacancy rate, and they are comfortable with that.

  6. Irvine_Native

    Amazing. They can’t even sell what they already have in Portola Springs and they are building more.

    Re: tagging: When I worked for the woodbridge village assoc, there was new graffiti every day. We would have it cleaned and painted over by 7:00AM. It exists in Irvine, but we hide it well 🙂

  7. Ranger Rick

    I talked to a friend over the weekend. This guy bought property in Oregon about 10 years ago. He said that similar properties were going for 10X what he paid. He said that if you didn’t have rich parents or already did not own property that you would likey never own property. He was speculating on a new caste system in the USA. I did not agree with him but then I was listening to the economists that were saying in 2001 that one should get out of debt…. and we all know now that you really wanted to do was get in debt to the max…what do I know….

  8. lowrydr310

    They’re not fools. They keep prices high to keep certain people away. By maintaining this, crime is kept low, schools stay good, and the rest of Irvine retains it’s status as a highly desirable place to live.

  9. GrewUpInIrvine

    4400 homes? Starting at 1.25 million and going up from there? Did I mistakenly read something? Are there really 4400 households sitting out there ready, willing, and able to purchase a 1.25 million dollar home? With 20% down, that works out to 6k per month BEFORE property tax ($1875/mo) and HOA’s ($300?/mo)… so 8K per month? (For the “entry level home”) Working backwards a bit, at 40% of gross for monthly mortgage paymenys, that’s about a 250K per year income for 4400 households? In a city with an average household income of 85K?

    Please tell me what these 4400 households do for a living! I’m smart and hardworking, and its not too late for my wife and I to ditch the practice of law and start over in a real money making career!

    What survey of employment and affordability could TIC possibly be relying on?

  10. lee in irvine

    “In a city with an average household income of 85K?”

    According to Melissa Data, who gets their info from the IRS, the adjusted gross income actually remained stagnant or declined in 6 of 8 Irvine zip codes from 2000 – 2004. And at the same time, Irvine home prices doubled. That makes a lot of sense, huh?

  11. socalhousingbubble

    awgee, I agree that the zero-cost land basis is quite a trump card in a down market. It gives TIC a better opportunity to wait things out.

    But this power is not abosolute, because TIC still relies primarily on other builders to buy lots and build homes in these communities.

    TIC sends the message through their (reported) price approval process that they aren’t willing/interested in “just lowering prices.”

    I’d love for more affordable product to become available, but I doubt that TIC thinks that is a viable choice.

    maestro, I’m not sure how the money TIC makes on the sale of the land compares to the recurring money the make in taxes and Mello Roos. So chosing the best point in time to begin the asset performance might be more of an issue for them than most companies that want to get in and get out.


  12. fumbling

    I have to say, I’m interested in this development if the prices come down a bit. $1.2m for 2700sf sounds steep to me. The development itself seems attractive, next to open space. If you get a place close to the foothills it can be quiet and spacious. Is this a lot hotter than the Irvine closer to Newport Beach like the UCI area? Is it 5 degrees warmer or 10 degrees or more difference? I’ll have to drive down and check this out. Great post, I like finding out about new places like this.

  13. EvaLSeraphim

    Interestingly, TIC changed the original plan of having about 250 “estate” lots (0-1 house per acre), along with getting rid of 1,350 low density units (0-5 homes per acre) to add 110,000 to 160,000 square feet of retail space. Based on that, I think TIC will wait out the residential market and squeeze profits from the increased retail income. Those 1,600 extra units were added to the Woodbury East plan – just what that overly dense little area needs.

    For a great discussion of the development of Orchard Hills and Woodbury East, see here:

    I particularly liked the discussion of air quality during construction at pg. 11.

  14. EvaLSeraphim

    I found a cached page that discusses Liang’s plans at OH. “Currently, [Liang] is developing plans to use low VOC paints, carpet with 25 percent or more recycled content, and green flooring options like bamboo in the homes at the new Orchard Hills project in Irvine, California, which will open in June 2007.”

    Here’s an interesting article on future TIC residential plans dated 1/1/07.

  15. lendingmaestro

    I was referring more specifically to the rental complexes that they build, but I’m sure it benefits them as well to develop homes in other areas.

  16. Krip

    Not’s not how it works. Most of the buyers will be people who are moving up after cashing in on equity built from more than 10 years of owning. I don’t know if there has been a survey on how many new people are coming in to Irvine to buy those new homes as opposed to Irvine dewellers. These people take their tax free equity, put a huge down payment to keep their monthly outgoings manageable and manage to get by, while they leave their used and outdated more modest accomodations to be purchased by those moving into Irvine.

  17. Sylvester

    GrewUpInIrvine — You’re assuming everyone that will be buying in this new neighborhood is already a resident of Irvine. I don’t think the target market of Orchard Hills is your average move-up renter.

    Think of Shady Canyon. At the time it was being developed, the median income Irvine resident couldn’t afford to live there either. Yet TIC managed to sell off a whole bunch of $1 mil+ lots.

    Or Dana Point, where the median income is below that of Irvine, but the over 100 $4 mil+ lots in the Strand development sold out in a few hours.

    It’s not that hard to believe that there is a great deal of pent-up demand for $1.3 mil+ new housing in SoCal.

  18. socalhousingbubble

    Eval- interesting nuggets in those links.

    We’ll have to dig further to find out more about how fixed the Orchard Hills timeline really is.

  19. NanoWest

    actually…..I didn’t see any orchards or hills…..

    Why dosnt’ the irvine company start calling this a beachfront village?

  20. socalhousingbubble

    It is actually quite hilly, although terraced. And I only visited the lower portion. It would take a few hours to walk the perimeter.


  21. No_Such_Reality

    The Strand, much like Liberty Station in San Diego was the result of speculation.

    Take away doubel digit price gains, the speculation goes away and in reality, you find few if any buyers willing to pay the price. Hence, you get what you see, 30 sales a month in 92603.

    4400 homes at 30 sales a month is roughly twelve years of inventory.

  22. Irvine Soul Brother

    I appreciated the OH write up, thanks! I’d driven by it, and was wondering. . . I must my my obligatory ISB school comment, so here it goes.

    TUSD, of which I am a product has one “bad” high school, Tustin High. Foothill, where I went is great, lots of parental involvement, AP classes, great teachers, etc. Beckman will be even better. The problem with TUSD is that they pull from some really low SES areas of Tustin (those kids are bussed into FHS and Beckman, woo hoo) and that brings aggregate test scores down.

    On the other side of things, a lot of the Asian families who go to the IUSD schools push their kids really hard, but are minimally involved with the school. It creates less community, etc. (Sorry for stereotyping, I love the Asian folks, and this was overwhelmingly my experience).

    My parents were involved with FHS, contributing both time and donating money and I went to a top UC school, and my younger siblings both went to top Ivys. If you reduce your understanding of a particular school to a single number, you can only understand so much. If the school has the tools and teachers that a kid needs to succeed, then it’s in their court.

    So, the Beckman vs. Northwood argument falls flat with me!

    P.S. Why did you pull the Westpark write-up?

  23. Jesse

    Of course you didn’t see the orchards…they’re being bulldozed to make room to build the houses! No joke.

  24. fumbling

    The existing HS in OH is Northwood, right? How old is it and is it a good school?

  25. Girl in the OC

    It’s my understanding… and I could be wrong. But a realtor told me the 4400 homes includes the apartments as well. So, when you take into consideration Apartments, Condos, Townhomes, Attached Homes and Single Family Detached Homes… this number seems about right. My bet is that there will not be as many detached homes as we would hope, this leading to the high prices for the more desirable purchases.

  26. bkshopr

    The cut off line I think is an imaginary straight line projected north of Culver. To the left of it would be TUSD and to the right of it would be Irvine School District. The current area under construction falls into the TUSD.

    I have seen TIC advertise its premier communities in some LA glitzy magazines. The customer demographic target may be beyond the vicinity of Irvine. May be TIC is after the top 2% income earners from outside of Irvine. There just may be other wealthy individuals from outside of OC.

    These homes are beyond affordable for most of us. Some residents of Irvine are extremely into brands. They are the one with the Mercedes and BMWs and have much more than the Jonese.

    This pretentious address will have certain appeal to them. I think some will stretch their family budget and take the juice out of their kids’ sack lunch to pay for this pretigeous address. The power of a status driven individual is really hard to predict and understand.

    In the center of this community is a very large existing commercially harvested avocado grove. It extend well up into the rolling hills.

    Most community streets will tee into a community loop road around the avocado orchards.

    When Irvine Company released Shady Canyon 6 years ago. Skeptism was there also. How could a community without an ocean view buried behind the canyons and the zipcode is Irvine could be worth this much? The power of status!!!!

    Orchard Hills is like the one who can’t afford the real Mercedes and Beamer and buys a baby mercedes and 300 series. This is the group who wishes for Shady Canyon but couldn’t.

    If this community sells well then all the theories presented on this blog become incorrect. I am sure the bears and the bulls will keep a very close watch on this one!

  27. Lost Cause

    Seriously, I heard that there will be a crime wave in South Orange County, as soon as the families with kids become families with teenagers. Could a demographic answer explain the tagging?

  28. graphrix

    socal – Welcome to the team! I have always enjoyed your comments and judging by your first post I am going to really enjoy your topics.

    You bring up a great point with the supply side and “no more land” myth. There are so many units in the pipeline from the builders that we know of more we do not know of. Compound the fact that there are way too many condo towers which were a big hit with wanna be investors that will come on the market. This will eventually create an over supply. Huh you would think that the same people would be around that were here from the 90s to see this problem coming. But I guess it is different this time. By the way TIC was the last company to do the layoffs in the 90s and I am sure it will be the same this cycle.

    For the question of orchards not being there and I could be wrong but when I worked for the builder the rumor was the avacado orchards where a TIC development being built was going to save the avacado trees. Even if your home had an avacado tree that you hated in the CC&Rs you couldn’t chop it down. Anyone else know of this?

  29. Lost Cause

    because TIC still relies primarily on other builders to buy lots and build homes in these communities.

    Wait until their customers, the builders, go belly up and/or start declaring bankruptcy. Then they will see the light.

  30. Lost Cause

    This is really a savvy move by TIC — putting in the retail. People like to walk somewhere — usually the store. But I am not sure the people in the high ground are going to enjoy the walk back!

  31. Lost Cause

    I think it is much warmer — 10 degrees easy, but you should check it out yourself on a hot day. There can be more smog up against the hills too. For those two reasons, I can’t figure out why people live in the hills — it must be the views.

  32. Lost Cause

    Some residents of Irvine are extremely into brands.

    There is a street near here called Westfeild, as in the mall chain.

    Great post SCHB. I always read your blog. I almost thought that you were IR — same smooth and savvy style.

  33. Irvine Soul Brother

    Northwood is an awesome school, it’s ranked just behind University, and above Irvine and Woodbridge. My point though is that you have to dig a little bit deeper than the rankings to understand about the quality of a school: the difference between the experience (and college acceptance) that the kid is going to get at Beckman vs. Northwood is going to be all in what he puts in, both are quality schools.

  34. awgee

    Does anyone know how many of the Shady Canyon lots have sold, and how many of the homes are being lived in by end users? We drove through there, and it seemed to be that there were many empty lots and spec homes for sale. It sure would be interesting to know just how many of the lots have been sold and how many of the built homes are being lived in.

  35. IrvineRenter

    The Westpark post will come back Saturday. There were some technical problems.

  36. socalhousingbubble

    I am not. I think I’ve seen him comment on Lansner’s blogs. I typically sign off with “SCHB” to try to keep things clear.


  37. socalhousingbubble

    Thanks graphrix, and to everyone for the support on my first post! Thanks to Zovall and IrvineRenter for inviting me into the fold.


  38. No_Such_Reality

    You bring up a great point with the supply side and “no more land” myth.

    Speaking of the land myth, have any of the blogs tracked and graphed the population change and housing unit change from 1996 to 2006?

    If I recall correctly, the build out glut last time in apartments and what not pretty much got absorbed by 1996 when I think rents and prices basically bottomed.

    It would be interesting to see the population change, overlaid with the demographic change, with the housing units built metric. The demographic change is important because SoCal is seeing a significant out-migration of established middle class domestic families. What replacing them and keeping the population level or growing is immigrant families, which have a much higher person to household model for living.

    Have we in affect for OC been building 12000 units a year when our population is only growing by 8000 a year? Or something like that?

  39. momopi

    Does anyone know what will happen to Rattlesnake res? Will it become part of their new HOA with fishing permitted for residents?

  40. Beach Renter


    Thanks for a great post. I got the same postcard that says homes will start at $1.25 M. However, there are a lot of housing developments (e.g. Villages of Columbus, Woodbury, etc.) that have homes starting in that range but also have neighborhoods with single family homes in the $800-900k range.

    Until I read your post, I was under the impression that Orchard hills would offer a mix of homes, not just $1.25 M and up. Isn’t it possible that newer, more affordable neighborhoods will also open in Orchard Hills? Thanks again.

  41. socalhousingbubble

    Beach Renter, good question. I wish I had scanned the card before sending it back, but I believe it said something like “please indicate the home price level that interests you” and they didn’t offer choices lower than $1.25m.

    It seems that TIC is trying to set expectations with the price structure suggested. I don’t know, but believe, that at this point they don’t intend to offer anything below that price.

    Some, like EvaLSeraphim, voiced their displeasure with “write in” prices that were lower, which is commendable and could help send a message.

    We’ll have to wait for more information before we know.


  42. nirvinerealtor

    Currently the inventory for $1.5+M homes in North Irvine is scarce and demand is high. TIC is just responding to the market condition.

    I see a good amount of families with income in the $400K+ range relocatiing and searching for homes in North Irvine.

  43. socalhousingbubble

    I suspect that even if there is currently excess demand at the $1.5m mark, the transaction numbers are so low that it won’t take much inventory to saturate this segment and more than meet the need.

    How many thousand people making >$400k do you think are heading to OC over the next few years? I don’t know, but we should all look into the employment numbers to see how congruent this might be with near-term historical job creation.


  44. momopi

    I just got off the phone with IRWD, Rattlesnake reservior in Orchid Hills will remain under their administration. It will not become part of the HOA, nor will the residents be allowed to “interact” with it, meaning no fishing or even shore access permitted, other than enjoying the view.

  45. nirvinerealtor


    I would be interested to know the employment numbers too. Last 6 months I personally worked on 10 transactions. 9 of 10 were relocations. Half with income of $400K +, others $300K, only 1 was just below $200K.

  46. nirvinerealtor


    If you have children, you would know North Irvine is a hot spot. I am glad this is a public blog and that you are not my client; otherwise, I would look “steering”. Steering is illegal for realtors.

  47. Jennifer Palmquist

    I very much take offense to your comment on the Tustin school district being “the wrong school district”. I am a top realtor in Tustin Ranch. The Tustin school district actually has excellent schools and many of our Tustin schools rank higher in API scores than the Irvine schools. Actually Tustin Ranch has the highest ranking elementary school in all of Orange County. Also you refer to it being “hotter” up here. That is so absurd!! I rarely run my airconditioner in the summer. Maybe a total of 4 days during the summer on the really hot days. Please do not comment on things you are unaware of. Tustin and Tustin Ranch is a fabulous place to live. We are very excited to have Orchard Hills in our school district. Orchard Hills is going to be an extremely beatuiful place to live.

  48. Sparta

    North Irvine maybe a “hot spot” as you say.
    How many families are in that 400K+ income category?
    If we made a 400K+, we’d re-locate as well.
    Either to Newport Coast or Corona del Mar,
    and not Orchard Hills.

  49. skeptic


    How many of those incomes were verified? How many were “stated?” Given the “liar loans” that have been so prevalent, I had to ask. Thanks in advance.

  50. nirvinerealtor


    Nearly all are W2’s, working for corporations in Irvine or nearby area.

  51. tonye

    Yep, it’s a lot hotter inland -and cooler in the winter too.

    In summer days we’re often stuck in “June Gloom” in Turtle Rock until noon or later, then we keep getting a strong breeze all day and the low clouds return in the evening. That keeps our tomato plants frustated but the house stays cool.

    OTOH, if you drive inland to the “flat lands” East of the 405 it gets pretty hot.

    Often it’ll be 73 degress in TR but Cox will report 89 degree in “Irvine”.. ie: City Hall in Westpark.

  52. tonye

    Whether Tustin Unified is better than Irvine Unified is a moot point. Otherwise why do people drive huge SUVs when smaller, nimbler cars are safer and more fuel efficient?

    It’s all in the marketing and the perception. Yes, most people are fools -this should be obvious in this forum- but their foolishness drives the market.

    People THINK that Irvine has better schools than Tustin.

    And those “Irvine” villages that are under the domain of Tustin Unified won’t command as high a price because of that perception on by the public.

    My kids go to University and Rancho. We agree on the “typical” Chinese parents. They push their kids to get a GPA of 5.5. Huh? And they do not participate in the school as much as other ethnicities.

    Nothing about race here… my wife is Japanese and very few of my friends are NOT WASPS. It’s just a fact we’ve observed over the years. And some of my ethnic chinese friends are not “typical” in this respect… but that’s why we’re friends… we share values.

  53. tonye

    I should have said that very few of my friends are WASPs…. sorry for the double negative there. Can I edit a post?

  54. JP

    Actually there are a ton of Tustin Ranch residents that are just waiting for Orchard Hills to open up. You will see a huge influx of Tustin Ranch residents moving over to Orchard Hills. People in Tustin Ranch love the schools are are very excited that their kids can remain in the same school district and have the beautiful backdrop of the foothills and larger lots.

  55. irvinemarketing

    All homebuilders including Taylor Woodrow, Pardee, Richmond, KB, Cal Pac, Brookfield and Standard pacific have backed out of their Orchard Hills deals because of the unrealistic costs TIC has imposed. TIC wanted Brookfield to reuse Ziani and the Strand from Newport Coast bearing a similar price tag. TIC had Pardee bid with a Scheuer Architect product that was supposed to be priced at 2million…Come on, Newport Coast pricing that’s so far inland?…The only builders going forth with Orchard Hills projects are John Laing and Laing Luxury (because of their limitless funding from their parent company EMAAR). Everyone else knows that if Portola is not selling, what’s gonna happen to Orchard Hills?

    Right now, Pardee currently refuses to open Prado in Portola Springs because of market conditions. Pardee has layed off their entire Orange County office and has shut their division down. They are trying to sell the project to the Toll Brothers. Smaller products are dead in the water there and Taylor Woodrow and Standard Pacific are selling decently. Let Portola Springs be prime example of high TIC costs/fees/pricing hurting the market.

    My suggestion is to completly wait on Orchard Hills for thre to four years! Let inventory rates go down and build anticipation for Orchard Hills in the coming years. Let OH be the pinnacle of the Irvine Ranch lifestyle. As for now, it’s just a soon-to-come overpriced neighborhood soon to flood the market with Woodbury II, Woodbury East, Portola Vilages 3-6 and Laguna Crossing!

  56. Beinformed

    I am amazed how many buyers (new/experienced) of new homes do not do their homework on new homes that are built on existing occupied land. I learned that the villages of columbus homes that were built on the marine base might not be such a good buy, since the land was tainted with toxic material. I drove by the site everyday as I went to work, when they were building the homes. The builder said that the toxic dirt would be removed, I did not see any dump trucks on the site as I drove by everyday. So what did they do with the toxic dirt? My guess is that it is still there, where all the young families are living today. Do your homework!!!

  57. Major Schadenfreude

    I used to make “vapor extraction units” which were essentially vacuum pumps with filters. A matrix of wells would be dug in the contamined area and then the extraction unit would pull a vacuum on the wells for an extended period of time. At various intervals measurements would be taken to ascertain the toxic level.

    The point being that the dirt was not physically removed and replaced. Perhaps a similar set-up was done at the marine base.

    However, I would certainly look into it prior to buying a home there. I imagine something like that would have to be recorded and available for review.

  58. Beach Renter

    Beinformed & Major Schadenfreude,

    Thanks for your comments. Do you know of any web sites that can be used to research this area?

    I recently read an article about a guy who provides research reports to potential homebuyers. The reports mainly talk about the effects of natural disasters if global warming continues, but I would think there would be similar reports that address toxicity. Any resources would be much appreciated.

  59. sandybeach

    Woah, wait a minute there. Our school’s PTO board and members are half Asian, and they are one of the most involved parents in the school contributing both time and money for the benefit of the school. Plus, parent involvement is not just about spending hours on campus, it also includes the more important role of overseeing homework and supporting your child’s education at home.

    While it may have been true years ago that many Asian parents didn’t spend much time on campus (most likely due to limited English skills, intimidation, and working long hours), things are changing.

  60. fumbling

    The $1.25 million starting price for homes in OH sounds like 2005/2006 developer wishing prices when everything was going up and blue skies were everywhere. However, the fantasy Phase I pricing back in 2006 when cracks started appearing in the RE markets, for VoC and Woodbury and Portola and similar developments no doubt crushed the Phase I buyers with many examples of Phase 2 and Phase 3 prices $100,000 to $200,000 below Phase I pricing. Hopefully more realistic OH starting prices might be sub $1 million in light of the negative real estate market and subprime explosions.

  61. socalhousingbubble

    They may be 2005/06 wishing prices, but they might be Irvine Company’s and not necessarily the builders’.

    I won’t be surprised if the number of units goes back up a bit in a replan-to-come, and the push to get starting prices at nine ninety nine, ninety nine.


  62. Suzanne

    Get ready….I live down the street and am sure that there are many folks who can afford these homes. 250K is not that much if both parents work and share the costs and the homes sound like they will be beautiful!

  63. socalhousingbubble

    Suzanne, how have the houses been described that lead you to believe they will be beautiful?


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