Ten miles south of Santa Ana, Newport Beach, California, is just over 100 years old and is located in Orange County, the famed Southern California area known for its luxurious and high-priced real estate. The city was ranked in 2010 as the richest city in the U.S. by Porfolio.com, with more than a quarter of households reporting annual household income of more than $200,000 and the median home value topping $1 million. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Newport Beach real estate market is a hot one, with never a shortage of buyers interested in snatching their portion of this pie.

The Orange County real estate market has seen great fluctuations over the past several years, as it first saw a crash with the onset of the greater U.S. financial crisis and subprime mortgage meltdown, resulting in a rise in the number of foreclosures in Newport Beach and a plummet in the values of all homes in the area. Since the recession has begun to ease, the Newport Beach market has fluctuated with continuously rising and falling sales volume levels and prices. The market remains highly volatile and whether prices will go up or down in a year is anyone's guess.

According to the monthly Orange County Register zip code chart, the Newport Beach homes for sale during the month of July saw mixed signals. Of the city's four zip codes, two saw major increases in the median sales price while two saw significant declines year-over-year. All but one of the zip codes saw an increase in sales volume, and the one area that saw a decline experienced only a minimal drop of 2.7% in sales volume.

Median prices remain high. The highest-priced zip code saw a median sales price of $2.3 million, up 37.3% annually, while the second highest saw just the opposite: a 56% decline in the median price to $1.4 million. The next zip code saw a 31.7% increase in median price to $1.3 million, while the lowest-priced zip code saw its median price fall 41.9% to below a million, coming in at $840,000. These prices all represent rises from their respective zip codes' median prices at the end of 2009, a sign that may promote optimism among buyers wanting to snag homes that will rise in value and sellers who hope to sell their homes at higher prices, but because the market remains volatile, it will take time to see whether these trends are permanent or only fleeting.