What are Orange County’s Top Drivers, Challenges?

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GlobeSt.com

IRVINE, CA—When the editors of GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum polled Orange County subscribers on specific questions in terms of how they rank some key topics today, some of the answers came as a surprise. For example, not a single of those polled said that high taxes were a challenge facing the Orange County market—something panelists at Tuesday’s RealShare Orange County conference disagreed with.

“I am surprised by the 0%,” said panelist Randall Parker, principal of Cresa. “It is a big issue.”

The top responses for “challenges facing Orange County” included “strong competition from investors was driving up prices—there is a lot of capital chasing too few deals;” and “a lack of developable land and land is being converted to residential.” And the panelists, who reviewed the survey answers and offered their feedback, agreed.

“The lack of supply has exacerbated,” said panelist Ed Hanley, president of Hanley Investment Group.

Another challenge panelists pointed to included traffic, something Jim Proehl, EVP and managing director of the western division at PM Realty Group, said would become a bigger challenge going forward. “We have done very little to help mass transit.”

And one more challenge facing the region, according to one audience member, was housing affordability. “It is difficult for employers to find employees that live in the area…not everybody can live on the coast,” he told moderator Michael Desiato, ALM’s VP and group publisher.

The RealShare Conference Series is produced by ALM’s Real Estate Media Group, which also publishes Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com.

When polled about the most important economic drivers in the market, 59% said lifestyle. “Users are drawn to Orange County because it helps them attract and retain talent who love the climate and proximity.” And panelists agreed.

Dan Kelley, SVP of governmental relations and corporate communications at Rancho Mission Viejo, pointed out to the nearly 700 in attendance that “If you can be in Orange County and be successful here, where else would you be? Orange County is a vital and successful place you want to be.”

Michael Dorsey, managing principal of Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance, said that as far as the employee base, “we have a lifestyle, weather, good paying wages. Employers relocate, not employees…There will always be a strong employee base of highly educated strong people that are always coming in.”

Parker adds that Orange County now more than ever is much more diverse in its employers and employees. “We have grown 135,000 jobs from the bottom of the recession,” he said. “That will bode well for investors and is a great opportunity going forward.” What was shocking to Parker was that values have been so low for a number of years.  

Check back in the next day or so for part two from this panel and more coverage from RealShare Orange County.

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