See how Orange County homebuilding soared in 2016

Homebuilding and new home sales soared in Orange County last year, driven by job growth, rising demand and an abundant supply of new home projects to choose from, industry reports show.

And O.C. stood apart from neighboring Southern California counties, where construction and sales either grew at a more lackluster pace or declined.

Orange County developers took out 12,157 building permits in 2016, the most since 2000, according to Construction Industry Research Board data.

The last time Orange County saw this many homes being built, Hillary Clinton still was in the White House – as first lady. John Paul II still was the pope. The 9/11 terrorist attacks still hadn’t occurred. And iPods, iPhones and YouTube hadn’t been invented yet.


Figures from the CIRB report, which tracks building permits in the state, also showed:

• Of the 12,000-plus new homes built, 7,962 were either condos or apartments. Although CIRB doesn’t track how many were for-sale units and how many were rentals, apartments most likely dominated since CoStar figures show there were 10,000 apartments under construction by the end of last year.

• For-sale housing was booming as well. Single-family permits (the best indicator of for-sale activity) totaled 4,195 last year, the most in 12 years.

• Renters and buyers were flocking to absorb all that new product. Even though thousands of new apartments came on the market last year, vacancy rates remained below 4 percent. In addition, Orange County builders sold 4,690 new homes in 2016, CoreLogic figures show. That’s the highest new-home sales tally in a decade.

“It’s based on a shortfall in housing stock, both resale and new, in the Orange County and L.A. market,” said Bill Holford, president of Olson Communities, a Seal Beach-based homebuilder. “There’s such a shortfall. … People are clamoring for those (new home) communities.”

O.C.’s anomalous rise…

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