The 20,000 square foot, lagoon-style pool at Ranch Cove is adjacent to Ranch Camp in Rienda, the newest village at Rancho Mission Viejo. Ranch Cove also features a wading pool and a cascading stream bed, on Thursday, March 3, 2022. The village will open in the Spring of 2022. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Southern California is home to three of the nation’s 50 fastest-selling master-planned communities.

The trio – the Inland Empire’s Ontario Ranch and Great Park Neighborhoods and Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County – sold a total of 2,187 homes last year – up 70% vs. 2022, according to annual rankings by new-home tracker John Burns Research and Consulting. The 50 best-selling communities nationwide sold 34,000 homes last year – up 24% from 2022.

Master-planned communities benefitted from a healthy supply of lots for construction, and builders willing to help lower house hunters’ mortgage rates – costs that slowed overall homebuying to record lows in 2023.

Here is how the three ranked Southern California projects fared, according to the report …

Ontario Ranch, No. 5 nationally: 1,027 sales last year vs. 646 in 2022 – a 59% jump.

“New homebuyers quickly and strongly responded to the wonderful and unique lifestyle found at our ShadeTree community in Ontario Ranch, which completely sold out in March 2023,” said Patrick Higgins, vice president of Southern California sales and marketing for Landsea Homes. “Ontario Ranch creates a welcoming sense of place and offers much-needed and attainable housing in a rapidly growing area of the Inland Empire.”

Great Park in Irvine, No. 19: 628 sales last year vs. 326 in 2022 – a 93% jump.

“The demand is driven in large part by the award-winning neighborhood parks we have built and the amenities that surround the community — top-ranked schools, an abundance of employers with high-wage jobs, pedestrian walkways and bike-friendly trail networks, and access to world-class healthcare,” said Dan Hedigan, CEO of the project’s developer, FivePoint. “The strong sales activity is proof positive there is continued demand for new homes in desirable and land-constrained markets such as Irvine.”

Rancho Mission Viejo, No. 31: 532 sales vs. 311 in 2022 – a 71% jump.

“We are very pleased with the way homebuyers have responded to our new Village of Rienda since its grand opening in April 2022. The first phase of Rienda is nearly sold out, with more than 840 homes sold to date,” said Stephanie Walker, Rancho Mission Viejo’s vice president of marketing.

Across Southern California, new homes are the relative “bargain” housing.

November’s median new home price across the six counties was $673,000 vs. $740,000 for the overall market, according to CoreLogic. Builders have upped prices by 15% in three years vs. a 23% jump for the entire market.

Still, only 14,829 local new homes sold in the year ended in November in six local counties – off 28% in a year.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

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