The good life

A family enjoys sunshine, parks and views in Orchard Hills.

New homes in the Village of Orchard Hills, where Derek and Tin Westen live, are nestled among avocado orchards in Irvine’s Lomas de Santiago Hills.

Derek and Tin Westen moved to Irvine from Los Angeles in 2012 after they instantly fell in love with how beautiful and clean this master- planned community is.

Since then, the couple has upgraded to new homes twice, thanks to steady increases in property values.

“It is a great investment because Irvine is a master-planned community,” Tin Westen said. “I can say that we have no regrets moving to Irvine. And we are happy that we did.”

When you look at the numbers, it’s no surprise the Westens and many other residents share that sentiment.

The median home value in Irvine rose 44% in the last decade, compared with 32% nationwide, according to real estate research firm Zillow.

Teri Cho, Realtor at Realty One Group in Irvine, said there’s a strong demand for homes in Irvine from people who already live in the area, like the Westens, and those looking to move here.

Families are drawn to Irvine’s schools, safety and parks – all tops in the nation. Young professionals are also flocking to Irvine because of the abundance of job opportunities.

“Irvine is great because there are always parks and a recreational area within each community,” Cho said. “That makes it convenient for families to get out and enjoy the sun and enjoy the California weather.”

Everything is so close by – the movie theater, grocery, shopping,” she added. “The Master Plan helps people enjoy a better quality of life.”

Irvine’s median home values rose 44% in the past decade, according to real estate research firm Zillow.

Master-planned for value

One reason for the city’s success is the Master Plan’s assurance of balance throughout the city.

Irvine’s mix of homes, condos, apartments, schools and parks makes the entire city desirable. While office campuses, retail centers and a major university mean everything is close by.

“In Irvine, when home prices go up, it goes up a lot higher than other parts of Orange County,” Cho said. “And when prices drop, they don’t drop as much as neighboring cities. It’s much more stable.”

The Westens, who live in Orchard Hills with their two young children, said Irvine is a perfect place for families like themselves. They take advantage of the city’s robust recreational programs for children, such as ballet, soccer and swimming classes.

“We have amazing weather,” Tin Westen said. “We can go to the beaches, to the mountains. We are in the middle of everything.

“In Irvine, you get what you pay for.”

Check out the view

You can walk through model homes in Orchard Hills, where the Westens reside. Homebuilder Irvine Pacific has model homes there and in Eastwood, Portola Springs and Barcelona, a new community in the Irvine Spectrum District.

Irvine Pacific recently won 14 national awards at the annual Eliant Homebuyers’ Choice Awards for its homes in these communities.

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