Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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What does it mean to be “priced out of the market”?

In a nutshell, it means that while a few months before, you could afford the type of house you wanted (more or less), but prices have risen so fast that now you feel that you cannot buy anything at all. You feel that it’s no longer worth it to buy – so you continue to rent. And you continue to watch prices rise, both for the home you wish you had bought but also the rents over which you have no control. The gap between what you could have bought (but didn’t) and what you can buy now can mean the difference between feeling able to buy a home and not.  When the gap gets too big, you are “priced out of the market”.

Have you been patiently waiting for just the right house to come on the market?  It may not be forthcoming.  It is very possible that while you watched the market last year, prices were getting primed for a rebound of sorts. It’s now underway and guess what?  What you could afford a year ago is no longer possible today!

This is one time when waiting does not pay off!

Why do buyers wait when they might do better to jump in?

they may be unrealistic as to what the market will bear (sometimes despite the statistics)they are cautious to the point of being unable to move forward they are listening to bad advice (at work, from friends etc.)

This is no time to fiddle and watch Rome burn. If you want to buy a house in Orange County and have been sitting on the fence, this may be the time to get off and dive in.

While I’m not a ‘pushy’ agent but an informational one this argument is an important one to pass on.

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What may your cold feet costing you?

Almost every one of my clients says at one time or another – ‘I really blew it not buying that house years ago’.  The reason they didn’t buy was they thought the market or house couldn’t go up any higher and there has to be a correction.

I remember when I first moved to Laguna in the 70s and people were saying I can’t believe that place sold for $200k, a perceived ridicules high price. Probably worth a couple million now.

But you know everything increases in price (even after a correction) and a new ‘price bar’ is set. You name it – stocks, cars, tickets to ball games, meals at restaurants – they all go lower during tough economic periods and then they bounce back with a vengeance,way past the level they were during the good times before.

And a new ‘normal’ price level is set and people get used to it and move forward. Hopefully, there’s a new ‘normal’ in pay as well.

The following is an example of what it could cost you in a year’s time if you waited another year to buy with rates going up:

Purchasing Power uploaded by Sean McCracken

It remains a strong seller’s real estate market in Orange County, with many properties selling quickly and at full price, but there’s an undercurrent of concern that we are the near the peak of pricing.  That has some buyers nervous even with the local economy is strong.  For those who are a little nervous, sometimes it turns into cold feet – and it’s costing them.

Oh yes there will be a correction some time in the future but real estate economist say that it won’t be anything like the last one since mortgages are being written at a much higher standard.

Lastly, in an appreciating market, as we have right now, it should be noted that often the next house or townhouse or condo will be more costly or in worse shape than the one you could not decide to get serious about.  Stay nervous too long, and you could ultimately really impact how much home you can buy at all.  Worse yet, take too long and you may price yourself out of the market entirely.

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Interesting OC market information on the turnover rate of homes per city

Check out Laguna Beach turnover rate – With 4% turnover in 2015 (410 homes sold out of 9,300 homes in Laguna) It’s is taking 23 years to sell all the homes in Laguna

Gone are the days of homeowners moving every 7 years.

So, why aren’t homeowners moving like they did a decade ago? There are a number of factors that illustrate why they are staying put. The homeownership rate for 18 to 34 year olds has been dropping since reaching a height in 2005, and about a third of all millennials live with their parents. Ultimately, that delays would-be empty nesters from downsizing. Also, there aren’t as many new homes being built in Orange County, especially below the $1-million mark. This used to create a lot more real estate activity as many locals bought new, but had to sell their existing homes first. With the county running out of vacant land, this will be an ongoing issue.

Another factor that helps explain why homeowners are not moving as often as they used to is that owning a home long term and paying off the mortgage is now in vogue. The severity of the Great Recession rattled our collective psyche and people now look at home ownership a bit differently. As is typical in the Midwest, people want to hang onto their homes and dig in their roots.

One of the biggest factors, that is talked about in the real estate trenches on a daily basis, is that homeowners are afraid to sell their home only to turn around and find nothing available to buy. Essentially, the low inventory is preventing would be sellers from coming on the market, which only exasperates the problem. Yet, there are ways around this dilemma. A double move is a solution, where a homeowner sells their home, moves into a monthly rental, and then takes their time to isolate the most ideal home for their family. Moving companies work with the double move scenario often and can crate and store whatever will not be used at the short term rental. Another solution is for a seller to accept an offer to purchase with the condition that they are able to find a replacement property within a specific time period, 30-days being most common. If they are unable to find a replacement home within the given time period, then the contract is cancelled or additional time may be negotiated.

The current trend of an underwhelming annual inventory and a low housing turnover rate is not going to change anytime soon. With that knowledge, buyers and move-up (or move-down) sellers need to approach the market with realistic expectations and plan accordingly, utilizing the expertise of a professional REALTOR®.


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Tick, Tick, Tick the Spring market is coming upon us

Just when the January ‘going into escrow’ numbers for Laguna showed a potential slowdown in demand it bounces back with a 50% increase in February.

  • Homes going into escrow (a true sign of what is happening today sales wise) jumped from 30 homes to 47 homes by March 1. This is below other year levels but not by much.
  • Inventory has climbed from 162 homes for sale in January to 195 homes as of the end of February an increase on 30 homes and accelerating.  This is still low compared to past years but not by much.
  • Go figure. There were only 17 homes sold in Feb. a 6 year monthly low after 29 homes sold in Jan. a 6 year high.
  • Looking at this data it looks like most of the sales activity is below $2.5M


See the rest of the charts and graphs

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1972 United California Bank Robbery

Local Bank Robbery is the U.S’ Largest Ever – An Incredible Story

That’s right, the largest bank heist in U.S history, of $30m (the equivalent of $100m today), happened in our own Monarch Beach in 1972, at the United California Bank located in the shopping center at the corner of Coast Hwy and Crown Valley. It is currently a vacant store next to Chase Bank.

The story has a whole cast of characters, from the mob to the President of the United States, very interrogate planning and execution and a quirky ending with the burglars being caught by dirty dishes.

In 1972 Monarch Beach was a sleepy, low key part of the OC Coast right next to South Laguna. Many of the current communities were just being built or not built at all at that time.

There was one patrol officer covering a 20 mile radius, and the banks weren’t open on the weekends like they are today.

Meanwhile, back East, in Youngstown, OH, which was the cradle of the mafia at that time, a criminal mastermind, named Amil Dinsio, heard of a great opportunity to steal from what he thought was another crook.

Amil had heard, through his den of thieves, that President Nixon had a $10 million dollar campaign slush fund in a bank located near his summer White House in San Clemente.  He was told that the dairy lobby was buying his influence, as the administration was considering discontinuing the cash subsidies to the dairy industry.

Amil assembled a gang of six proven specialist, put together a detailed plan, and flew off in March 1972 to LAX. He and his gang took a taxi to his sister’s house in South Gate and Amil tipped big with a $100 bill. This would later come back to haunt him.

They hired a realtor to find them a condo to rent in the East Nine just off the El Niguel golf course along Crown Valley that had a vantage point of the bank.

They were extremely meticulous in their planning, having previously done this type of robbery back home, and bought a used car and went throughout the county to buy their tools at different locations so they wouldn’t be to obvious.

They started their operation on Friday night by blowing a hole in the bank’s reinforced cement roof with dynamite.  No one even reported the resulting loud boom. They compromised the alarm and dropped down into the bank.

What they found was a room of safe deposit boxes which they opened with great glee in hopes of finding Nixon’s private box.

But they didn’t find it since Nixon’s money was at Bank of America in San Clemente.

Since they didn’t find it they decided to come back the following night. They put a mirror on the covered hole that reflected light up to the condo.  Only after seeing the mirror’s reflection the next day did they go back on Saturday night and then again on Sunday night till just before opening on Monday.

When bank employees tried opening the vault on Monday morning, they were unable to. The bank called for the police, who called for the vault experts to get the door open. Upon examining it, it was found that the timing mechanism of the vault necessary to open it was jammed from the inside. Upon opening the vault door was a mount of cement and gray dust; safety deposit boxes, stocks and bonds, bonds, and photographs were scattered all over the floor.

While it’s hard to say exactly how much they got since it was undeclared jewels and cash, it is estimated at about $30 million (100 million by today’s standard).

They did a magnificent job of trying to make a clean get-away. They scrubbed the condo in great detail with the exception of one thing – they forgot to wash the dishes and their finger prints were found. The car with their robbery tools in the trunk was also found.

But the thing that put the huge team of FBI agents in the right direction was they interviewed all the taxi drivers at LAX and the driver remembered them due to the $100 tip and took them to the sister’s house.

For his role in the crime, Dinsio is sentenced to 10 years in prison.