IRVINE, CA-Eight land sales that have closed recently for atotal of $39 million and 335 acres indicate that buyers and sellershave adjusted to the new reality of the marketplace, says a brokerinvolved in the sales. "While the land market has changed, buyersand sellers have finally adjusted to the reality of current marketvalues. Land values have reset to 2003/2004 levels,” says LesWhittlesey of Irvine-based Whittlesey Doyle, which had theexclusive listings in seven of the eight sales, four of which wereREO sales.

According to Whittlesey, co-founder and principal of the firm,one of the most interesting aspects of the transactions was theirdiversity. "At one end of the spectrum, we sold a graded super padsite in Temecula to a builder for a project that will open forsales next year, and, at the other end, a raw un-entitled land sitesold to an investor doing an assemblage in the Banning market," hesaid.

Whittlesey says that investors have entered the market for thesame reason as builders: “They want to buy entitled land so part ofthe 'heavy lifting' has already been completed. Their plans are topurchase, hold the property and then take it to the market at theappropriate time." Finding developed lots is difficult because ofhow long it takes to get through the entitlements and thedevelopment process.

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