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Welcome to our August newsletter, where we’ll explore residential real estate trends in Orange County and across the nation. This month, we examine the state of the U.S. economic recovery using Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1, the potential effects of the Delta variant on the housing market, and the ways in which the homebuyer profile changed over the last year.

In terms of GDP, which is the broadest measure of goods and services produced, our economic recovery stands at about 70% of where we would likely be if the pandemic had never happened. Unfortunately, the Delta variant has diminished the likelihood of the pandemic ending with any sort of speed and caused a return to mask mandates in many parts of the country. Although full lockdowns are unlikely, high case counts and a return to near-universal masks and social distancing will disrupt our economic recovery. 

The uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant and its effects on the economy caused rates to fall. Participants in our financial markets know that the Federal Reserve will try to stabilize the U.S. financial markets in times of uncertainty. At this point, it’s a given. The further decline in interest rates reflects that. Mortgage rates are now extremely close to the all-time low. At the same time, however, prices have risen, and the profile of homebuyers has shifted. More homebuyers are investors and full-cash buyers. With low-rate financing and a high number of qualified buyers, the rising prices haven’t reduced the demand for homes as one might expect. 

As we navigate this period of high buyer demand and low supply, we remain committed to providing you with the most current market information so you feel supported and informed in your buying and selling decisions. In this month’s newsletter, we cover the following:

Key Topics and Trends in August

We’re about a year past the initial economic devastation caused by the pandemic. The second quarter of 2020 saw the largest single-quarter drop in GDP in history (-9%). GDP and employment together reveal much about the economic climate and typically trend with housing prices, but they do not explain the current rise in home prices. We’ll still discuss GDP and employment, however, because they are useful longer-term indicators. 

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported a 1.6% quarter-over-quarter gain to GDP in 1st Quarter (1Q) 2021, which is about 1% higher than the long-term quarterly growth rate of 0.6%. We need to outpace the long-term growth rate to get back to pre-pandemic levels. If it weren’t  for the Delta variant, we might actually get there. The substantial infusion of cash into the economy has boosted GDP, but we’re still only at 70% of pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, there are about 10 million fewer jobs due to the pandemic. As the Delta variant runs through the country, our recovery will likely stall and the loss in GDP could be permanent. 

The chart below illustrates the cost of a recession. While it depicts U.S. GDP from 2016 to 1Q 2021, it also illustrates economic patterns that occur in all recessions. GDP tends to grow at a fairly consistent rate during economic expansions. The green line illustrates the expected GDP had the pandemic never happened. As that green line shows, we are 30% below where GDP was expected to be in 1Q 2021. In other words, we’re still underwater despite the impressive quarterly increases in GDP.

The fresh uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant caused rates to drop. The Federal Reserve is expected to support the financial markets by infusing money into them, which lowers rates and, in this instance, causes inflation to rise. As shown in the chart below, we’re currently hovering at historically low mortgage rates, which will likely remain for the rest of the year. Low rates and inflation both incentivize buying. When consumers know that the dollar’s purchasing power is diminishing quickly, it makes more sense for them to buy a home sooner rather than later.

As we look at the last 12 months of annualized home sales in the chart below, we can see that sales rose significantly since last June. Although the rate of sales decelerated from January to May 2021, it rose again in June, which is a seasonal norm. More homes are coming to market and being bought quickly due to the excess demand. In 2020, incentives to purchase a home translated to the most homes sold in a year since 2006. Although we’re only halfway through 2021, it’s safe to say that home sales will outpace those in 2020.

Demand for homes hasn’t diminished as prices soared over the last year. In a typical year, we would expect that a 20% increase in home value would price many potential homebuyers out of the market, thereby causing a price correction. In this instance, we’ve found that to be half true. First-time homebuyers are usually the first to get priced out of the market. Over the past year, we are seeing fewer first-time buyers coming into the market. However, even though there may be fewer buyers in one category, there are plenty of buyers in other categories to make up for them.  In this case, we are seeing more investors coming into the market. Cash sales have jumped considerably, and homes are selling extremely quickly. As a result, it looks like prices will climb higher in the near future.

While the market remains competitive for buyers, conditions are making it an exceptional time for homeowners to sell. Low inventory means sellers will receive multiple offers with fewer concessions. Because sellers are often selling one home and buying another, it’s essential that sellers work with the right agent to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

August Housing Market Updates for Orange County

During July 2021, in Orange County, the median price for single-family homes fell from the all-time high reached in June. Condo prices rose month-over-month, reaching all-time highs. Year-over-year, single-family home prices rose 23%, while condo prices rose 19%.

Single-family home inventory began to climb in February and March 2021, which is when more sellers typically enter the market, but quickly reversed, declining from April through July. To fully understand current inventory, we must look at it in the context of last year. In 2020, fewer people wanted to leave Orange County than wanted to move to the area, which drove inventory down to record low levels. New listings, therefore, improve the current market conditions. Since the start of 2021, more new listings have been coming to market, but these have not increased total inventory because of the high sales volume relative to the available inventory. In July 2021, Orange County had over 2,000 fewer homes for sale than it did in July 2020: a 31% decline. Furthermore, when we compare the current inventory to July 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels, the number of homes for sale has declined by 47%. The sustained low inventory will likely cause prices to appreciate throughout 2021.

Similar to single-family homes, the number of condos on the market has declined during 2021. Demand for condos has risen as new listings entered the market.

Both single-family homes and condos spent far less time on the market in July 2021 than they did in July of last year. As we’ll see, the pace of sales has contributed to the low Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) over the past several months.

We can use MSI as a metric to judge whether the market favors buyers or sellers. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three means that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI means there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). In July 2021, the MSI reached one month of supply for single-family homes and condos, indicating that the market favors sellers.

In summary, the high demand and low supply present in Orange County have driven home prices up. Inventory will likely remain low this year with the sustained high demand in the area. Overall, the housing market has shown its value through the pandemic and remains one of the most valuable asset classes. The data show that housing has remained consistently strong throughout this period. 

We expect that the number of new listings will continue to increase in the remaining summer months. The current market conditions, however, can withstand a high number of new listings coming to market, and more sellers may also enter the market to capitalize on the high buyer demand. As we navigate the summer season, we expect the high demand to continue, and new houses on the market to sell quickly.

As always, we remain committed to helping our clients achieve their current and future real estate goals. Our team of experienced professionals are happy to discuss the information we’ve shared in this newsletter. We welcome you to contact us with any questions about the current market or to request an evaluation of your home or condo.

Orange County is famous for so many places and things to do.  DisneylandKnott’s Berry FarmDisney California Adventure, and so much more.  These destinations are great for visitors to Orange County or new residents to the area.
But have you ever thought of getting off the main road of Orange County tourism and checking out some of their hidden gems and secret spots.  From secret outdoor spots like beaches and parks to hidden shops and restaurants Orange County has it all.
So if you’re a long-time resident of Orange County looking for a change, a tourist who isn’t afraid to go on the unexplored path, or just looking for new destinations to explore then keep on reading.  There’s something for everyone.

Register to receive a copy of our Orange County white paper for information and insights into the current real estate market.

1. Victoria Beach

Location: Laguna Beach, CA

Victoria Beach is the first destination that is hidden away from the general tourist population.  It is usually occupied by locals who love the blue water and the seclusion from the chaos of the busy beaches.
This beach is one of the more secluded beaches of Southern California making it a great place for any explorer.  You will find people doing a variety of activities while on the beach from skim boarding, swimming, fishing, and playing beach sports.

Victoria Beach is also home to a famous stone structure called the ‘Pirate Tower’, but you can learn more about that later.
As for the Beach it’s a beautiful place for anyone that is willing to make a small trek down some stairs to the beach.  Unlike the popular beaches, Victoria Beach is only accessible from the stairs since you park up higher, but many locals and others say the stairs are worth it for the amazing views and the sunsets.

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2. Pirate Tower

Location: 2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Pirate Tower is located right on Victoria Beach.  The tower shoots up to 60 feet high and was built in 1926.
It is more than a spectacle for visitors to Victoria Beach.  The tower serves as a enclosed staircase to a private cliff-top home.  Some owners of the home have been William E. Brown, a California state senator, Naval officer Harold Kendrick, and Bette Midler.
Many people love to come to see the Pirate Tower.  It makes for an excellent feature piece of photographs.  They say it is worth the drive or the walk down the stairs to see it.
Though unless you knew about this little feature of Victoria Beach you could probably end up missing it.

3. The LAB (Anti-Mall)

Location: 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
This isn’t your typical shopping mall.  The LAB or as some call it the Antimall is a secluded and easy to miss hidden gem of Orange County.
To a passerby or a quick glance you’d think behind some trees it was nothing more than an industrial park.  If you look further though you’ll find yourself in something way different.
In order to get access to the “mall” you walk through a small, shaded pathway that opens up into a marketplace.
The market is filled with little boutique shops, restaurants, and art such as live music, art galleries, poetry readings, and sometimes seasonal festivals.
An eye catching and worth seeing feature of the LAB is the one art gallery called ARTery.  Unlike other art galleries that are normally in buildings or shop fronts, ARTery is a gallery that displays artists’ works in a shipping the container.  If you don’t have a thing against small places be sure to check it out because the container is only 8 feet wide.
The best part of this hidden gem is that all the shops and restaurants are locally owned giving it a true local experience.

4. Marina Park

Location: 1600 W Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92663

Marina Park is a wonderful place for families.  Unlike most parks, or beaches for that matter, Marina Park offers a safe and memorable experience for children while on the lovely Newport Beach Harbor.

For parents and kids alike swimming in the ocean while wonderful sometimes poses some challenges.  A few examples might be that the water may be rough that day, you could have a strong undercurrent or if you are like my wife and are afraid of “sea monsters”.  Well at Marina Park you don’t have to worry.  Swimming in the calm waters of the harbor perfect for little ones.  Little to no waves, plenty of boats to look at driving by and if your kids prefer to run around and play rather than swim, Marina Park has a gorgeous playground for young ones.  They can run, jump, climb, and slide on all the playground equipment including their very own light house.

Even if you don’t have kids take the time to visit.  Nothing is more fun and picture perfect than letting your inner child come out as you play and take pictures on the park’s playground.

Many people love to travel to Marina Park because it’s a clean, safe park in an amazing location.  There are also picnic tables available for a day out or you can sit and look out at the boats in the water.

Regardless of your age or family size Marina Park is one of those hidden gems of Newport Beach that you cannot pass up seeing.  If you want to purchase a home on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach reach out to David Feldberg today!

5. Great Park Balloon

Location: Marine Way and Sand Canyon, Irvine, CA 92618
Great Park Balloon is more than a hot air balloon.  Unlike most hot air balloons that carry 2-3 people, this hot air balloon ride is meant for 25-30 people at once!
The ride itself isn’t very long only lasting 25 minutes, but you get a great view.  The balloon lifts to a height of 400 feet giving you and everyone else a 360 degree of the world around you.  People say you can see for miles and on clear days all the way to downtown Los Angeles.
Don’t worry though.  This massive balloon ride isn’t free to the breeze.  The entire time it is attached to rope that is locked to the ground.  No worries about floating away for longer than you expected.
Whether you want to do it for some great pictures or to just say you did it, be sure to check out this hidden gem on your next trip.  If you are thinking of purchasing a home in Irvine, CA contact David Feldberg today!

6. Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Location: 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA 92823
Redwood trees are a famous staple for tourists and many others when they think of California.  These massive trees that shoot out of the ground to reach unthinkable heights.  It’s almost unreal.
The best part of Carbon Canyon Regional Park is that they bring the amazing redwoods to Southern California rather than them being concentrated up north.
The Coastal Redwoods of Carbon Canyon can get as high as 100 feet and to experience it there is 1.1-mile-long nature trail in the park.
The best part is that the trail is great for all ages.  It’s not too long, but not too short and you can get some amazing pictures in this mini redwood forest.

7. The Blind Rabbit

Location: 440 S Anaheim Blvd., Ste 104, Anaheim, CA 92805
Taking a step away from exploring nature and doing adventures, don’t forget to stop by The Blind Rabbit.  A great destination for any food or drink lover over the age of 21.
The Blind Rabbit can be hard to spot if you don’t know about it.  It is tucked away in the Anaheim Packing District.  Once you do find it you’ll find yourself thrown back to the time of speakeasys.
Filled with a great atmosphere and unique decor any customer will find themselves having an amazing experience here.  By the words of past customers, the place has great food, great drinks, and great service.
If you do plan to stop by this little speakeasy be sure to call ahead.  They do require reservations, but if you can only do the spontaneous stop in then between the hours of 2-4 it is first come first serve seating.  Any time after will need a reservation.
Really don’t let that stop you from checking out a great place to eat and get a drink.

8. The Wedge

Location: E Ocean Front, Newport Beach, CA 92663

The Wedge is a known spot of Orange County locals and surfers around the world.  This hidden gem sits at the furthest tip of the Balboa peninsula and the views here are breathtaking.

Surrounding the Wedge are multimillion dollar beach homes that are more like beach cottages.  Rocks scatter the shoreline and boats travel through the waters.

As for what make this place a worthwhile visit is the the waves basically break on the sand and they are BIG!  When a large swell is coming in you can see 15-30 foot waves break 25 feet in front of you with world class surfers trying to catch a wave.  Its not uncommon during a large swell to see 200-300 people just sitting on the sand watching the waves crash. 

The Wedge is a hidden gem of Orange County.  You can sit and watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic.  You can take a long the sandy beach and jump along the rocks dotted about.  You can take the time to take photos of the surrounding landscape or of you on your Orange County adventure.  There is endless options as to what you can do here.

So while you’re in Newport Beach take the drive down the Balboa Peninsula to the Wedge.

9. Juliette Kitchen and Bar

Location: 1000 Bristol Street N, Ste 11, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Another hidden gem of a restaurant in Orange County.  Juliette Kitchen and Bar has become a popular place for lunch and happy hour to the Newport Beach area.
Many people come for the delicious food and drinks while receiving great service from staff.  The dishes are unique and compliment the amazing decor of Juliette Kitchen and Bar.
What makes it a great hidden gem is that it’s not well known to people other than locals.  So unless you knew a local, overheard someone, or found this place online you could end up missing it.
Be sure to call ahead to place your reservation and dine in a hidden gem.

10. California Scenario – The Noguchi Museum

Location: 611 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
The Noguchi Museum is both a hidden gem and secret spot to Southern California.  The place is filled with rocks of all shapes and size, fountains, and other water features.  One of the most prominent features is shown above.  A low pyramid with streams of water running beneath it.
It may be small in size so you probably won’t be spending your whole day here.  What does make it worth mentioning here is the fact you can take some awesome pictures here.  Many people love to take a picture of themselves jumping across the streams with the pyramid in the background.
So for amateur photographers or someone who is looking for a great social media picture both are encouraged to check this place out. 

11. Crescent Bay Point Park

Location: Crescent Bay Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Crescent Bay Point Park is another hidden gem to Southern California.  The place offers relaxing views of the ocean in a nice, clean park.  It is almost picturesque once you find yourself there.
The park tends to be pretty quiet with not many people walking through it.  You can sit back and listen to the waves crash and spend hours here without even knowing it.
The park has become a popular wedding spot for couples who are looking for a smaller, more intimate location to share their special moment. 
The park contains a small semi-circle sitting arena and a small amphitheater that overlooks the ocean.
Found in a little quaint and eloquent neighborhood is worth sitting down and unwinding here.

12. Heisler Park

Location: 361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Heisler Park is located in the heart and center of Laguna Beach.  The park gives its visitors a remarkable view of the Pacific ocean and the California coastline.
The park has a path that leads to the beach where the water isn’t too rough.  For young swimmers, it’s a great place to play in the ocean because the waves aren’t too rough for them.
If swimming in the ocean wasn’t something you wanted to do while there, then explore the park.  There are little coves dotted along the water and tidal pools to look and explore in.  They’ll be filled with wildlife and give an opportunity to teach your kids, if you have any, about ocean creatures.
Spending an afternoon there is definitely a doable thing.  There are grass areas to have picnics and BBQ grills for cookouts.  If not, then there are some nearby restaurants to the park including a coffee shop.
With rocks to climb on, wildlife to find, and a place to relax Heisler Park is a worthwhile hidden gem for stopping by.

13. Shake Shack

Location: 7703 East Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, CA 92657
The Shake Shack has been an icon to Crystal Cove Beach since the 1940s.  The place became famous for their signature date shakes.
But other than their famous shakes, Shake Shack serves burgers, fries, snacks, and other sandwiches.
Customers of Shake Shack can walk up, bike up, or drive and park to get food from here.
Nothing beats a milkshake and a beach with a breathtaking view so check out a place that’s been around since the 1940’s.  While you are in town if you want to search homes for sale in Newport Coast contact David Feldberg today!

14. Back Bay Loop Trail

Location: 600 Shellmaker Rd., Newport Beach, CA 92660

Back Bay Loop Trail explains itself really.  The trail isn’t a traditional trail where it is an old dirt path or a hike through some trees, it is a trail through the bay.

Back Bay Loop Trail is part of one of Orange County’s nature preserves, Back Bay.  Back Bay itself doesn’t just sit in the bay, but in an estuary giving people a terrific opportunity to see some of Orange County’s wildlife.

Now for the hidden gem that is the Back Bay Loop Trail.  Many people love to frequent here because there are so many options as to what you can do and how you travel the trail.  You will find when you arrive here that there are bikers, runners, walkers (and dogs as long as they’re on a leash), horses, and even hikers that explore the trail.

There are even some people in the waters of the bay that are using stand-up paddle boards.

At the Loop Trail you have options as to what direction you take.  There is an upper and lower trail.  If you’re up for the challenge you could do both!

The upper trail is more of the dirt path trail that gives you an overlook to the east section of Back Bay.  The lower trail is better for seeing wildlife.  You can encounter various bird species and other wildlife along here.

It’s best to keep in mind before you hop in your car to come check out Back Bay Loop Trail is that the trail can be a trek.  The trail can be over 10+ miles at points depending on how you travel the trails so be sure you are prepared for this endeavor.

Other than that, this is a worthwhile spot to visit whether you do a quick walk and turn around or you want to walk all over.  It’s an amazing time to be surrounded by nature while enjoying the scenery.

15. Pitcher Park

Location: 204 S Cambridge St., Orange, CA 92866
Pitcher Park is another small park found in Southern California.  This isn’t a typical park in terms of what it has.  Rather than have places to run or field to play in, it is just a small, pocket park in Old Town Orange County.
But it isn’t terribly small either.  It’s a perfect place for a picnic, some nice pictures, or learn about some of Orange County’s history in the barn that gives small presentations on it.
This park makes for a great backdrop for pictures whether it be wedding or social media ones.  You can take short walks and shake things up from your daily exploring routine to take a step back and unwind.

16. Fairview Park

Location: 2501 Placentia Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92628

Fairview Park is great for everyone.  Some of the best features of Fairview is that it is close by to the Talbert Nature Preserve and Santa Ana River Trail giving guests a ton of options as to what they want to do.

The park itself is filled with a multitude of different trails based on what you want.  There are paths for walkers, joggers, runners, and special paths just for bikers.

Not only that, but they do offer a small course and trail with some mounds for BMX bikers to enjoy.  

Locals of the area love to go to here to fly model planes around in the expansive land.

There’s a lot to explore in the park and some people describe walking around it as desolate and lonely, but not in a negative context.  But a more respect and appreciation for nature as you stand out in the fields.

So check out Fairview park to do some bike riding or walking because it is a great place for families or anyone really.

Plus you can check out the nearby nature preserve and another trail to keep you entertained all day.

17. Pirate’s Cove

Location: 2900-2998 T St, Newport Beach, CA 92625

Up next on our list is Pirate’s Cove.  This place is quiet compared to other places on this list and it’s a relaxing place if you enjoy a more secluded beach experience.
You can find yourself here all day if you wanted to.  There are little caves dotted along the shoreline that you can spend the day exploring.  There are also trees to provide shade to relax under as you listen to the crashing waves and look out over the ocean.  By the end of day, you find yourself settled on the California coast watching the sun go down on a secluded beach.
The best time and the quietest time to come here is during the week when most people would be in school or at work.  All it takes to get down to the beach is to go down a set of stairs or climb over some rocks for the more adventurous.
But whichever path you choose you’ll find yourself in a small cove near the ocean that opens to the rest of the beach.
If anything is a worthwhile stop in Southern California hidden gems and secrets spots it’s here.  It’s an unforgettable place that can give you an unforgettable experience.

18. Thousand Steps Beach

Location: 9th Ave. & Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92652

It’s not calledThousand Steps Beachfor nothing.  There are 230 steps you must walk both down and up to enjoy this beach. But don’t let that turn you away from the Orange County iconic hidden gem. 

This beach is filled with things to do.  Many people walk up and down the shoreline here to enjoy the ocean and the sun.  Others love to swim in the California water’s, but be warned the water and waves can get a bit rough if you’re not expecting it.

Thousand Steps Beach is unique just like all the other beaches.  It’s secluded, clean, and quiet which are the three key things to make something a hidden gem and not a tourist spot.

If you decide to take the challenge of Thousand Steps Beach then make sure you know where you’re going.  It can be hard to miss sometimes if you’re not looking close enough.  So take the challenge and visit another one of Orange County’s more secluded beaches for a memorable trip.

19. Sawdust Art Festival

Location: 935 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The Sawdust Art Festival isn’t really a secret being that it attracts over 200,000 visitors each year but it is definitely worth a visit!  Open each year for the months of July and August this festival was really created to feature all of the wonderful art created in Laguna Beach each year.  

You will find all local artists creating ceramics, clothing, glass blown items, Jewelry, paintings, photography, sculptures and woodworks just to name a few.  

You can easily lose yourself for a couple of hours walking the sawdust covered paths looking at amazing works of art and speaking with the local artists themselves.  

Its a wonderful experience and located in Laguna Canyon its usually a very comfortable temperature.

20. Black Star Canyon Trail

Location: Black Star Canyon Rd., Orange, CA 92676

Black Star Canyon Trail is a wonderful walk through wilderness for any outdoor loving person or someone who enjoys walks and wants a challenge.

The trail spans 6.8 miles that has light traffic throughout it.  Found in Silverado, California it has features along the trail such as a waterfall, but be warned the trail is rated by many experienced hikers as somewhat difficult.

Don’t worry though, just because it is rated difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.  It means that if you want to do it you just need to be in some physical shape and have the correct footwear to be able to traverse certain parts of the trail without too much issue.

If you also happen to have a pet they can come along on you day hike through the Orange County wilderness and see the waterfall too.

So, if you’re willing to take the journey on Black Star Canyon Trail you best be prepared.  Many people who have hiked here recommend that you wear hiking shoes because running shoes or gym shoes aren’t as suitable for the terrain ahead.  They also recommend wearing long pants to protect your legs from the low-lying shrubs on the forest floor.

Really though, this is most likely one of the best hidden gems of Orange County.  Beaches are great, but after a while they can seem the same.  So step out of beach tourism even if they are hidden gems and find yourself out for the day hiking.

Many amateur hikers and beginners were able to hike the trail so any level beginner to professional should make a day for this while in Orange County or as a day trip if you’re a local.

It’ll give you that feeling of satisfaction as you climb and hike your way through the forest.  But most of all you can say you’ve explored one of Orange County’s hidden gems.

If you know of any more hidden gems or secret spots of Southern California leave a comment of where it is.  Now add these places to your next visit and explore on!

Your dream of owning a home is within your reach!! But when should you reach out and talk to a mortgage lender? Listen in while long time broker, David Feldberg speaks with Beny Rabuchin of New American Funding to answer this important question.

Who doesn’t like to save money? Listen to all the ways you can save money on your insurance.  Sit down with State Farm Agent, John Kerkes, and see what he has to say on the topic.

When you are buying a home your home inspector is likely going to find a number of problems in the home. What should you be concerned with and what should you consider just normal for a home. Join us while we sit down with Ryan Howell a home inspector with Coastline Home Services and see what he has to say on the topic.

There are many homeowners associations that cover some insurance, so do you need to purchase your own homeowners insurance? Sit down with State Farm Agent John Kerkes and hear what he has to say on the topic.

Andrea Hebard is a born and raised Southern California girl who has worked with Coastal Real Estate Group for 2 years now. She has had the pleasure to work on some of the best sales teams throughout her career in real estate and brought her expertise to our brokerage!

Not only is she a real estate agent for Coastal Real Estate Group, but she is also an interior designer. Being an interior designer makes her stand out as a real estate agent for many reasons. One of which is the fact that she can fully visualize her client’s tastes and offer a vision of what the house can and will be for their family. By offering this vision to the buyer, she can start crafting a story of the home before they’ve even walked in the front door.

In many cases, after Andrea sells a home she starts working on the design of the home for the family as well! With her extensive construction background, she has worked on the full reconstruction of homes, assisted with architecture, while estimating cost and managing budget associated with the remodels for her clients.

It is exciting for her to continue to get to know new up and coming areas as well as niche communities within the OC as our beloved community continues to grow, thrive and change. However, she doesn’t close the doors on any opportunity. She recently has broadened her community outreach outside of Orange County as well.

Staying on top of new trends, the market, and the communities around her, she has a stellar career here with us at Coastal Real Estate Group and we are proud to have her on our team.

For more information on her interior design business visit:

Eight Orange County ZIP codes are among the Top 100 most expensive in the nation based on 2017 home sales, says real estate website Property Shark.

The priciest local ZIP is Newport Coast’s 92657, at No. 12, with a median sale price of $2.95 million.

That ZIP saw the highest single home sale on the Multiple Listing Service in O.C. this year, when an estate located on nearly 12.5 acres with an asking price of $55 million sold for $39,999,999.

The top three spots in the U.S. are ZIP codes in California, New York, and Florida.

Atherton’s 94027 is in the Silicon Valley, Manhattan’s 10013 is lined with TriBeCa’s luxe condos, and 33109 in Miami Beach’s Fisher Island is an exclusive island community.

California captured the highest number of ZIPs in the ranking – 77.

The list of closed residential property sales includes single-family homes, condos and co-op units.

Here are the Top 10 ZIPs nationwide with median sale prices:

San Mateo County, CA.

New York

Miami Beach

New York

Beverly Hills

Santa Monica

Palo Alto
Santa Clara County, CA

Los Altos
Santa Clara County, CA

Water Mill
Suffolk County, NY

Suffolk County, NY

Most of the Orange County ZIPs that made the list are in the Newport Beach area. One is Laguna Beach and one is in Sunset Beach.

The rankings:

Newport Coast

Newport Beach

Newport Beach

Corona Del Mar

Laguna Beach

Sunset Beach

Newport Beach

Newport Beach

You can check out the complete list here.

Original article written and composed by Marilyn Kalfus of The Orange County Register can be found here.


When we help someone from out of the area and they are looking to buy a home in areas like: Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine or North Tustin (just to name a few), one of the most important questions buyers ask is: What are the best activities in Orange County for my kids? Many people don’t realize just how “kid-friendly” Orange County is – the fact is there are hundreds of places to take your kids within a 15 minute drive of just about any part of the county. With that in mind, I decided to create a resource detailing the very best places (even being selective there are still over 100) and separate them by categories.

Special note: For many of these places, there are “insider tips” that not even most locals know about.

Best Amusement Parks in Orange County

Adventure City

Adventure City is one of Orange County’s “hidden gems” with rides, games, and a petting zoo. It’s amazing how few Orange County-ites visit Adventure City: At $16.95 per person for unlimited rides and attractions Adventure City is the easiest on the pocketbook for an occasional outing.  A trip to one of the larger Orange County amusement parks can entail 2 hours of your day just getting from the parking lots into the park and back at day’s end.  

Disneyland/ California Adventure

While Disneyland and California Adventure don’t really need any introduction, any list of the “best places for kids” would be pretty poor without these two parks on the list.

What you may not know: there are tools you can take advantage of as a local to avoid going to these two parks at the busiest times of the year: IsItPacked is a website dedicated to  letting you know how busy the parks are at any given time, and has a calendar as well with daily crowd predictions. TouringPlans has an iPhone and Android app for $12.95 per year that not only gives crowd predictions, but also gives minutely updates on estimated waits for different rides and activities in the park.

Knott’s Berry Farm

While it certainly isn’t as popular as the Disney Parks, Knott’s is known for some of the fastest rides (and, according to some) the best fried chicken California has to offer.

For 6 payments of $34 (sounds like an infomercial, right?) you can get an annual pass that includes dinner and lunch every time you visit the park.

Balboa Fun Zone

The Balboa Fun Zone is free to visit, and features rides (which aren’t free), carnival food and games. Right on Newport Harbor, there is plenty to do.  The Fun Zone Boat Company offers great online deals if you’d like to do a harbor tour, including a sea lion watching and gray whales (in season) for just $10.

Goat Hill Junction Railroad

The Goat Hill Junction Railroad in Costa Mesa is another hidden gem that a surprising number of Orange County residents have never heard of. The railroad covers 5 miles (yes, 5 miles) of track in Fairview Park and is a non-profit. Rides are free, although donations are gladly accepted.


While Boomers parks can be expensive (that is, unless know the trick, which I’ll share in a minute) your kids will have a blast. The Boomer’s Parks have miniature golf, batting cages,  go carts, rides, laser tag and games, along with a water park opening this summer at the Irvine Location.

Going to Boomers once is expensive, but for just $49.99 (infomercial time again) you can buy a 3-month pass that offers unlimited golf, rides, batting cages and any video games that don’t offer prize tickets.

Camelot Golfland

Similar to Boomers, Camelot Golfland in Anaheim features miniature golf, bumper boats, cars, laser tage and waterslides.   While season passes aren’t offered, a one-time trip is considerably less expensive than Boomers.

After 3 PM, the waterslides are only $6 – bargain alert!

Best Dining for Kids in Orange County

Medieval Times

Medieval Times is something you take your kids to once or twice, but well worth the price if you haven’t been. You eat with your hands while you watch knights joust and yell and scream – perfect for the little ones.

The Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau offers 30% off coupons if you order online.

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, while less “well-known” than Medieval Times, is no less fun. It’s a dinner theater concept and, though it’s a little pricy, your kids will have a blast. tracks coupons for this show  and when the good specials are on, you can save 50%.

Chuck E Cheese

If you haven’t been to Chuck E Cheese in a while, you’ll notice a major change if you go back: the pizza is actually edible now.  While you’re not really going for the pizza, it’s nice that the adults don’t have to try to choke down sludge – and of course your kids will have a great time playing the games and watching the dancing mouse.

If you join the Chuck E Club on the website you’ll get monthly offers for discounted food and games.                                    

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor

You had me at ice cream parlor, right? Aside from the fact that actual ice cream parlors are an endangered species, Farrell’s makes the experience particularly kid-friendly with songs, beating drums, and gigantic ice cream sundaes.

John’s Incredible Pizza

An alternative to Chuck E Cheese, John’s Incredible Pizza is similar, but features an all-you-can eat pizza buffet at reasonable prices and features more rides and games than Chuck E Cheese, including bowling and laser tag.

There are always special promotions which you can find on the website before going.

Best Bowling for Kids in Orange County

Lucky Strike

Lucky Strike was voted as one of the top 10 places for a kid’s birthday party by Parent’s Magazine. For  bowling? Yes, bowling. They make bowling fun, with colored lightweight balls, and feature other kid-friendly enhancements such as bumpers and ramps.

One of the ways Lucky Strike sets itself apart from other bowling alleys is by maintaining an upscale atmosphere, which includes enforcing a dress code, so be sure to check out the dress code before going. 


One of the reasons bowling has increased in popularity in recent years is the rise of clean bowling alleys with a party atmosphere, many of which provide a far different experience than the seedy run-down image (although plenty of those type of bowling alleys still exist). Bowlmor is another entry in the “loud, colorful and clean” category of bowling – making the sport here what it should be for kids – fun. 

Costa Mesa 55 Tavern + Bowl

Yet another entry in the “bowling is supposed to be fun category”, Costa Mesa 55 Tavern & Bowl features flashing lights and rock music making it fun for everybody.

Cheap Movies

The Picture Show at Main Place Mall

While it may not have the glitz and the glamour of many movie theaters in Orange County, the Picture Show offers movies for $2before 6 PM, $3 after 6, and 3d movies all day for $4.  

Woodbridge Movies 5

One of the nicest of the “cheap movies” locations around, Woodbridge Movies 5 also features $2 tickets before 6, $3 after 6, $4 3D movies and $1 hot dogs.  

Charter Center Cinemas

Charter Center Cinemas in Huntington Beach features $3 movies all day (but a $2 surcharge for 3D films).  

 Brea Plaza 5

Brea Plaza 5 is another bargain, showing $3.25 matinees and $4 evening shows.

Creative Fun

Build-A-Bear Workshop

Build-A-Bear is a very fun experience where your child gets to create their very own stuffed animal, choose the name, and “accessorize”, including picking out scents and even songs that the bear can play when you squeeze the toy.

If you are a Disney Passholder, the Anaheim location (within Downtown Disney) offers a ten percent discount. 


Similar to the “Build-A-Bear” concept, except kids have the opportunity to build their own remote control car.

While Ridemakerz is not one of the “cheaper” options on our list, as the final product can easily costs between $50 and $100, there are always plentiful coupons for Ridemakerz online. Just Google “Ridemakerz Coupons” and you’ll find plenty of discounts.  

The Lego Store

More than just “toy stores”, Lego Stores are fun because of the huge Lego sets showcased within the stores, as well as the Lego structures unique to each store (the store in Downtown Disney has a life-sized Incredible Hulk built out of Legos as well as a Dragon on the roof). Each store has play areas for your children to build smaller Lego creations and the opportunity to buy individual bricks. Lego 

Color Me Mine

Color Me Mine is a chain of “paint your own pottery” stores where your kids (or you) can pick among dishes, animal figurines, and a host of other objects for a fun and creative time. The stores offer a great way to keep your kids busy and creative for a good 2-3 hours.

One promotion to definitely take advantage of is “kids night out” – you can drop your kids off for a night of painting, games, pizza and movies while the parents have free time to grab dinner or a movie. 

Fired Up

Fired Up is another ceramics studio, but is privately owned, rather than being a large franchise. Like other ceramic studios, this is a great place to take your kids, and provides a fun atmosphere.

Timree Paint Studio

A fun atmosphere that provides painting classes for kids and adults alike, Timree offers summer camps, after school activities, and private lessons.
If you’re at a loss for what to do for your child’s birthday, Timree Paint Studio offers paint parties, both in studio or at your home.  

The Ceramics Studio

The Ceramics Studio, similar to other paint-your-own-pottery venues, also offers the chance for your kids to play with wet clay. Ceramics classes are also offered.

Fishing & Boating

Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching

Fishing and whale watching are great fun for kids, and Davey’s locker offers both. Open all year, Davey’s locker has been in business for more than 60 years. They also offer boat rentals to fish in the harbor for $105 (half-day) or $135 (full day) including frozen bait.

Before going fishing, it may be helpful to check if the bite is “on” recently. You can check Davey’s Locker’s and other local harbors’ fish counts at   

Newport Landing Whale Watching and Sportfishing

Just a few hundred feet away from Davey’s Locker is the also venerable Newport Landing. Offering the exact same services, Newport Landing is another fantastic choice for either fishing or whale watching.

The company’s home page has links to several articles about local fish and best techniques for catching each of them.

Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari

One of the only businesses in Orange County that specializes in only offering aquatic mammal watching, Captain Dave’s vessels feature all sorts of whiz-bang gizmos such as underwater viewing pods and underwater remote control vehicles.  

Santa Ana River Lakes

One of the few public areas for lake fishing in Orange County, Santa Ana River lakes offers three lakes stocked with Trout, Catfish, Tilapia, Sturgeon and Bass.

Younger children are well suited for Huckleberry Pond, an “overstocked” fishing hole for younger children – where they are *guaranteed* to catch fish.

Irvine Lake

Irvine Lake is stocked with trout, catfish, bass, crappie and sturgeon, and also offers camping.

The Kid’s Lagoon, for children under 12, is heavily stocked and meant to teach your kids how to fish.

Indoor Fun

Sky High Sports

You may remember how fun trampolines were as a kid…. but all we had back in the dark ages was those 6 X 6 backyard trampolines… What about wall-to-wall trampolines? How great would that be? Sky High Sports has that… plus trampoline dodgeball.

While Sky High Sports can be a little pricey at $14/hr, there are numerous specials listed online at their website. 

Sky Zone

Another entry in the new genre of indoor trampoline parks, Sky Zone is another wall-to-wall trampoline house offering trampolines, plus the trampoline versions of dodgeball, cageball and basketball. 

From 7-9 PM Sunday through Thursday, Sky Zone offers 2 hour “all you can jump” for $15. 

Big Air Trampoline House 

Big Air Trampoline House is another trampoline park, this one with several different fun twists beyond just wall-to-wall trampolines, including jousting over a foam pit, wall climbing over a foam pit, and launching from a trampoline into a foam pit. (See any pattern here?)

The best of the trampoline parks for your littlest ones, Big Air offers “toddler time” for all kids under 6 for just $7 on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 AM to 1 PM.   

Funtopia At Sender One

Funtopia is an indoor rock-climbing center inside the Sender One gym. With stellar reviews online, if your kids would enjoy indoor rock climbing, Funtopia is the place to take them.  

While indoor rock climbing is never a “cheap” activity, Funtopia offers a weekday membership for just $59/ month for one hour per day Monday through Friday.

K1 Speed

K1 Speed is a chain of indoor go kart facilities which both kids and adults alike can participate in. They have facilities for both older kids and younger ones, though all racers must be at least 48 inches tall. 

Frogg’s Bounce House

A “bounce house” that is more geared towards the younger kids, Frogg’s Bounce House is one of Orange County’s hidden gems, filled with bouncers, air hockey tables, a movie lounge, and other fun things for the kids.

Frogg’s offers a 1 year membership for just $109 or a month-long membership for $29.

Museums & Nature Centers

Discovery Science Center

A large museum in Santa Ana specifically tailored to children with several rotating exhibits that change throughout the year, Discovery Science Center is a fabulous place to take kids of all ages. The exhibits at the Science Center do a wonderful job of taking popular children’s themes (such as Star Wars and Lego’s) and using them as both an entertaining and educational experience.   


ExploreOcean is a fun and educational museum with the Balboa Fun Zone that offers a “maker lab” where kids can create their own robots, radios, and other items, a “touch tank” with ocean creatures and other educational-but-fun things to do.  

Pretend City

Pretend City is a Children’s Museum that is best for the 7- and under crowd. With several exhibits that mix learning and play, this is an activity to be sure to visit while your children are young enough to appreciate it.

Memberships, which start at $70 per year ($140 for a dual-membership) include daily “members-only” hour from 9-10AM with special activities, as well as access to after-hours events that are only offered to members.

La Habra Children’s Museum

The La Habra Children’s Museumis a wonderful place for younger kids, with dinosaurs, life sized animals, and several hands-on exhibits for interactive play.

Bowers Museum

Bowers Museum features a “Kidseum” (open only on weekends, from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM) which is designed for younger kids with full interactivity.  

Environmental Nature Center

The Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach features many exciting exhibits and programs to get kids excited about nature and the environment, including a butterfly house.  

Peter Mary Muth Interpretive Center

The Peter Mary Muth Interpretive Center is a 10,000 square foot facility built into one of the bluffs on Newport Bay and features a number of exhibits to teach youngsters (and adults) about the life in Upper Newport Bay.   Admission is free.  

Shipley Nature Center

Shipley Nature Center is a large park with a lake in Huntington Beach that few in Orange County even know about. In addition to trails and hikes are a number of exhibits and activities for the kids.  

Best Pools & Water Fun in Orange County

Knott’s Soak City Water Park

Just across Beach Blvd from Knott’s Berry Farm, Soak City features the usual waterslide attractions, including fast slides, kiddie slides, and a lazy river.

Memberships are cheap: $79 per year (which you can split into 4 payments) for a basic membership, or just under $100 per year scores a membership to both the slides and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Buccaneer Bay Water Park

Buccaneer Bay, part of Splash! (La Mirada’s “Regional Aquatic Center”) is another great waterslide choice, offering waterslides, a lazy river, and a kid’s water playground with a pirate theme.

Memberships are $74 per year, nut if you buy early in the year they can buy bought for as low as $54. 

Camelot Golfland Water Slides

Less elaborate than many of the other water slide areas in and around Orange County, but also much easier on the wallet, the Water Slides at Golfland work great if paired with some of the other activities also at this facility. 

The waterslides at Camelot Golfland are some of the least expensive in Southern California, at just $9 per person ($6 after 3 PM) 

Sigler Park Splash Pad

A great place to take very young children on hot days, the Splash Pad in Sigler Park is basically a large playground with water spraying everywhere. The best part about the Splash Pad is that admission is *Free* 

Harry Dotson Park “Wet Saloon”

This small park in Stanton features a pirate theme, 2 playgrounds, and an absolute gem of a splash pad area. Highly recommended.  

Atlantis Play Center Splash Pad

The Splash Pad in Atlantis Play Center is a great place for kids. At just $2 admission, the area also features playgrounds with fun nautical themes.


Holiday Skate Center

Holiday Skate Center in Orange is one of the few actual roller skating rinks you can still find. A relic from the 80’s – this adds to the nostalgia!  

Fountain Valley Skating Center

Another “old school” roller skating rink, Fountain Valley Skating Center does not disappoint. 

Check their website for “family night” – just $17 for the whole family (up to 5 people)! 

The Rinks

The Rinks constitutes a number of  Orange County rinks some of which offer inline skating and some ice skating. All also offer hockey leagues and lessons.   

Ice Palace

The Ice Palace, with locations in Aliso Viejo and Lake Forest offers ice skating, both adult and kids hockey, figure skating lessons, and broomball.

Best Orange County Zoos

Zoomars Petting Zoo

Zoomars is one of the places for kids in Orange County that not enough people know about. With animals to pet, trains to ride, and “gold” to mine this is a great place for your kids.   

Santa Ana Zoo

A small zoo, but still the largest within Orange County, the Santa Ana Zoo is known for having a lot of monkeys – at least 50 at all times. Also within the zoo, along with other animals, are a train ride and a carousel.

A whole family membership is just $79 per year, and includes free or discounted entry to more than 150 zoos across the US.

Orange County Zoo

Located in Irvine Regional Park, the Orange County Zoo is a small but fun zoo to take the kids to. At just $2 for visitors over the age of 3, plus $3 (weekdays) or $5 (weekends) to enter the park, the Orange County Zoo is certainly an economical choice.

If you have a membership to the Santa Ana Zoo, entry to the Orange County Zoo is *FREE*

The Reptile Zoo

If your kids are into reptiles, the Reptile Zoo in Fountain Valley is a must. At just $5 per person admission (adult admission is normally $10, but as the facility is currently under expansion, adult admission is discounted to $5), the reptile zoo is a treat.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Technically not a “zoo”, but the mammal center in Laguna Beach is a great place to go. The Pacific Marine Mammal center rehabilitates seals and sea lions and offers free admission – a fun and educational experience for the kids.

Parks & Playgrounds

Orange County Great Park

Still in development, the Great Park in Irvine has many fun things for the kids, including a carousel, a hot air balloon and other fun activities.  

Mile Square Park

Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley is a huge 625 acre park with lots of trails, ducks, archery, a golf course, a lake with water activities including pedal boats, and rotating exhibits throughout the year.  

Irvine Park

Irvine Park (which is actually in Orange) is a huge park that many Orange County residents don’t realize exists. It includes the Orange County Zoo, the Irvine Park Railroad, Pony Rides and a host of other activities for the kids.  

Yorba Regional Park

Another enormous park in Anaheim, Yorba Regional Park features a lake, numerous hiking trails, many playgrounds, and boat rentals.  

Heritage Park

Heritage Park is a large park in Irvine with a small pond filled with turtles, ducks and fish, a pool, a playground, and courts for numerous sports including tennis, racquetball, and basketball along with one of the best libraries around.  

Northwood Community Park

Also known as “Castle Park” (because there is a big brick castle on the playground) and “Parrot Park” (due to parrots that reside in the trees) Northwood Community Park is a favorite with a large playground and always plenty of kids. 

Atlantis Play Center

Atlantis Play Center in Garden Grove features a huge playground replete with concrete animals, including a 50-foot slide in the shape of a sea serpent.  

Citrus Park

Tustin’s Citrus Park, a 17-acre park features 2 large playgrounds with a “citrus” theme.  

Main Beach Park Laguna

Right on the beach, Main Beach Park in Laguna Beach is one of the only true playgrounds in Southern California with an ocean view. Parking can be a hassle but it is worth the effort.  

Adventure Playground

Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach is a fantastic playground with fun things to do such as paddling a wooden “raft”, a rope bridge, a tire zipline, and a tree house building area. At just $3 per child (all visitors over 16 are free) this is a “must do” in Orange County.


Crystal Cove Beach

One of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches around, Crystal Cove Beach has beautiful views, tide pools and gorgeous walkways. 

Little Corona Del Mar Beach

Located in Corona Del Mar, this beach has plenty of rocks to climb and tide pools to explore.  

Treasure Island Beach

Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in all of California. With wonderful seashells to view (but not collect), awesome marine life to see, and the relaxed Laguna Beach atmosphere, this is one to definitely visit. 

Shaw’s Cove

Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach is a small, but less crowded than many, beach in Laguna Beach. This beach area is particularly good for snorkeling.  

Heisler Park Reserve

Heisler Park Reserve is a beach setting but really more of a park, with tide pools and nature walks, picnic tables, and park benches to just watch the spectacular views. 

Crescent Bay

Crescent Bay is another Laguna Beach park/beach with amazing flora, breathtaking views, and, of course, the ocean.

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