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Rock-Bottom Prices Make It a Buyer’s Market for Orange County Mansions

December 29, 1995

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Forget the post-Christmas sales at the malls in California’s bankrupt Orange County. The best bargains are the mansions along the county’s rolling canyons and picture-perfect coastlines.

Thanks to financial woes such as the county’s $1.64 billion loss on risky investments last year, mansions have lost a third or more of their value.

But with rock-bottom prices and falling interest rates leading the way, the number of mansion sales jumped 27 percent in 1995, with 278 homes selling for at least $1 million, according to Dataquick of La Jolla, Calif.

``People out there are swooping in to get the deal of a lifetime while they can,″ said John Karevoll, an analyst for the research firm. ``There are some great bargains now in Orange County.″

One of those ``bargains″ is the most expensive home ever sold in the county, a Newport Beach estate repossessed from Hong Kong businessman George Yao in June. He purchased it in 1991 for $13.8 million.

The 18,000-square-foot mansion boasts 46 sets of French doors framing waterfront views and an exterior of Texas limestone. The estate on the tip of exclusive Harbor Island is currently listed for $8.9 million.

The house is expected to sell, but potential buyers may be waiting to see if interests rates fall again, said broker Bill Cote.

Earlier this year, a hilltop estate formerly owned by developer Ross W. Cortese sold for $5 million after it was marketed for two years at $7.5 million.

The most expensive estate on the market is Pacific Reflections, an 11,000-square-foot, mahogany-clad house on a Laguna Beach cliff. A rotating bed allows its occupants to gaze at the stars through a domed ceiling. If met, the asking price would set a new county record: $16.5 million.

A 30,000-square-foot Tustin Hills home, formerly owned by Clothestime retail executive Mike DeAngelo, has been discounted by more than half its list price six years ago.

The house sports a hair salon and a disco equipped with a fog machine. The 10-bedroom, 13-bath mansion, featured on ``Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,″ is listed at $9.9 million, down from $22 million.

``We’re close to getting an offer for that home,″ said Barbara Amstadter, a broker with Prudential California in Newport Beach. ``It’s a wonderful deal now.″

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