New-home communities in Irvine, Ontario and near Mission Viejo among nation’s fastest sellers

The backyard of a model home at the new community Viridian at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo, CA, on Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Southern California was home to four of the fastest-selling new communities in 2018, according to two fresh rankings.

Creating such a list is part art and part science. Results can be swayed by both the metrics of the tabulator and the level of cooperation from the developers.

Still, both long-time tracker RCLCO and relative newcomer John Burns Real Estate ranked in their respective Top 25 these major Southern California “master-planned” new-home projects: Irvine Ranch (by Irvine Co.); Ontario Ranch (by Brookfield, Lennar, Lewis and Stratham); Rancho Mission Viejo (by Rancho Mission Viejo LLC) and near Mission Viejo; and Great Park Neighborhoods (by Five Point Communities) in Irvine.

Here’s how the sales trends and rankings in 2018 compared for these local project, according to the two reports:

Irvine Ranch: 1,000 sales by the Burns math — No. 5 nationally — vs. 1,814 in 2017 — No. 2. That’s a 45 percent drop. RCLCO saw 1,322 sales in — No. 3 — vs. 1,814 in 2017 — No. 2. That’s a 27 percent drop.

Ontario Ranch: 950 sales by the Burns math — sixth-best nationally — vs. 712 in ’17 — No. 11. That’s a 33 percent gain. RCLCO pegged Ontario Ranch at 1,005 sales — No. 6 nationally. A year earlier, the New Haven slice of the project was ranked 39th with 353 sales.

Rancho Mission Viejo: The Burns count had 610 sales — No. 12 in the U.S. — flat vs. 610 in ’17 — No. 12. According to RCLCO, there were 640 sales last year — No. 10 — vs. 595 in ’17 — No. 11. That’s an 8 percent gain.

Great Park Neighborhoods: 480 sales by the Burns math vs. 830 a year earlier, a 42 percent drop. Burns ranked this community in 2018 at No. 20 vs. 2017’s No. 9. RCLCO ranked it No. 21 last year vs. No. 9 in ’17.

Additionally, RCLCO ranked the new Sundance project in Beaumont by Pardee Homes No. 40 nationally for 2018 with 347 sales last year.

It’s just not the health of the local housing market that causes sales activity and the resulting rankings to ebb and flow, though 2018 was a challenging year for many builders. The number of homes available to sell is also a key factor.

Take Baker Ranch in Lake Forest by Toll Bros. and Shea Homes. It went unranked in 2018, a year after it was ranked as the nation’s 18th-best seller from Burns and No. 17 from RCLCO.

Why the switch? The community is nearly completely built out, so sales dwindled last year.

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