Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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A Hilarious Laguna Story – The Saga of Melvin Miller

A Peoria, Ill tractor foreman becomes a U.S. fascination in Laguna Beach


‘OK, who took my car?’ said a more than tipsy Marine Captain Joe Geston.

Joe was finishing up his Friday night’s/early Saturday morning’s ‘end of the week fun time’ at the Marine pilot’s favorite hangout, the Sandpiper, aka The Dirty Bird.

During the 50’s and early 60’s the club was the ‘Mecca’ for the local Marines wanting to blow off steam. As a matter of fact, to this day the Sand Piper still has the Marine badges from those troops displayed on their wall (see photo).

Well on this particular night, Joe went out to find his car to no avail. Perplexed and inebriated he stumbled back into the bar and confronted his comrades who all denied taking it.

He then asked ‘then who did?’

No one is quite sure who said it, but one guy said maybe someone from Peoria, Ill took it. Pretty random to say the least.

But it sounded logical to the Captain and without hesitation he went over the phone booth and called Peoria information and (again) randomly asked for Melvin Miller.  He copied down the number and called Melvin while surrounded by his other fun loving Marines who urged him on.

Now while its 1 am in the morning in Laguna its 4am in the morning in Peoria and Marvin picks up the phone from a dead sleep and says ‘Hello’.

Captain Geston, in a very liquid voice, says ‘What did you do with my car?’

Melvin, who’s a ‘salt of the earth mellow’ guy and a foreman with Caterpillar tractor, goes along with it and he learns that Joe is in some place called Laguna Beach and that Joe lost his car and he thinks Melvin took it and he should bring it back.

The other Marines listening in were going nuts and Melvin patiently explains they are 2,000 miles apart and it would have been quite difficult for him to drive back his car even if he did have it.

Well the Marine comes back the following day and sees his car in the exact place he left it. He also comes across Melvin’s number and after a few ‘eye openers’ he gives him a call again and they continue this non seneschal conversation.

In fact, the word gets out about Melvin and other marines start calling him as well and they even send him Christmas cards from the different cities the pilots went to around the world.  It would be nothing for someone at a party to call Melvin to pick up some ice.

Again Melvin in his Midwestern dry humor goes along with it and the word about him spreads throughout the Corp.
One Marine even visited him at his house and got his picture which was promptly displayed behind the Sandpiper bar.

This inspired one Marine to say ‘let’s bring Melvin out’.

They put a howitzer shell on the bar and the pilots start throwing their change in it.  Next they make tee shirts and hats and the word gets out in Laguna about the loveable Melvin.  In a matter of a week they’ve come up with $300 and they invite Melvin and his wife out, though she declines for ‘The Melvin Miller Week’.

So the next thing you know the word on Melvin gets out throughout Southern California and the U.S. and everyone wants to participate.

The Marines charter a bus to pick him up at the Los Angeles airport, he has lunch with Jayne Mansfield, he goes on the Tonight show, and he’s in the papers nationwide as well as Newsweek magazine.

Finally when he gets to Laguna Beach they hold a ‘Melvin Miller parade’ where he went down the Coast Hwy in the back of a convertible Cadillac which is preceded by a miniature tractor that his employer, Caterpillar, sent.

After a couple nights of ceremonies at the Sandpiper and sunning himself in his own personalized chair and umbrella he’s whisked off again for more adventures.

The Del Mar horse track holds a ‘Melvin Miller Sweepstakes’ and in Mexico they name a bull after him for one of the fights.

But to top things off the whole Marine base gathers for a farewell ‘fully dressed’ inspection for him.

And finally as their escorting back to the airport after a whirl wind week of adventure they ask him what he thinks and he calmly responds ‘I got to get back, I got work tomorrow’.

Long live Melvin.

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Panoramic views - Aliso Canyon and ocean view

150 People Enjoyed the ‘Get Together’ at the Top of the World Hexagon House

For Sale – Best deal in town – get a’ toe hold’ in Laguna Beach for $1.525m (less than $500 a sqft). Unbelievable views from an unbelievable house.

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House Sold – represented buyer – beautiful Chris Abel designed house on Alta Vista – $2.3m

Great folks, Keith and Jane Irwin, from Northern California, are joining the Laguna tribe



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Sean McCracken Picture

Do you want me to set up a Property Search for you?

It’s not your typical property search.  I’ll vet the mls listings before I send them to you.

I’ll make comments about its positives and negatives taking out much of the guess work.

Just send me the area you’re looking, the house features and the price range.

I currently perform this concierge service for about 40 people.

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Surterre Logo

Laguna Market Review as of March 2015


  • March’s 42 closed transactions is the best month since April of last year
  • Click here to see homes that sold in March
  • It also was the best March we have had in more than ten years.
  • Just as important, the 67 Pending Sales is the highest number of Pending Sales since September, 2012.  Pending sales show the actual pulse of the market since they are the homes that just went into escrow.
  • Inventory was going up dramatically over the last 6 weeks (up 40 homes) but it has leveled off and actually went down 15 homes to 210 homes. There were only 10 homes last week on broker preview.


Closed Sales MARCH2015Active Sales MARCH 2015  pending Sales MARCH 2015 Laguna Market Analysis MARCH 2015Sold Homes By Month MARCH 2015

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Laguna Friends of Architecture – An Intriguing Architecturally Historical Story of a Quaint Prefab House in Laguna Beach

Laguna Friends of Architecture – An Intriguing Architecturally Historical Story of a Quaint Prefab House in Laguna Beach

Bring your wine and goodies and join your friends at 1150 Temple Terrace (the one with the different colored garages) for an incredible story of history and architecture.

Dave, the owner of the house says:

“Six Degrees of separation are not required. Two or three are all you will need, once inside this house, to be connected to Albert Einstein, Tojo and Yamamoto, Walter Gropious, Adolph Hitler, Ray and Charles Eames, Picasso, van der Rohe and about everything that happened in the world of architecture and history in the first half of the 20th Century.

The house may exist in Laguna Beach, but its story has never before been told to Lagunans, although it has been the subject of tours for architectural historians from other places and is known to MoMA and at least three museums n Europe including the Akademie der Kuste, Berlin.

If all significant architecture is experimental, then this building-though insignificant in presence-was architecture at its greatest.”

As you can see its not going to be your typical meetup.

Sunday, March 15th, 4 to 7pm

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Laguna Market Update as of Febuary 2015

Market update for the first two months of 2015 

Some interesting facts to think about: 

  • The number of sales is up more than 15% from a year ago.  Given the lower inventory this is very impressive
  • Inventory is still below what it was at same time last year but the number of Pending Sales (sales in escrow) is up more than 20% from a year ago.  Again, given the poor inventory this is very impressive.  
  • From the statistic it shows it’snot the best time to sell the higher priced homes. There are currently 66 homes listed ‘For Sale’ above $4,000,000 and in the first two months of this year only two have closed escrow.  Both those closed sales happen in January so presumably they actually went into escrow in 2014.  There are only two Pending Sales priced above $4,000,000.  Lastly, in February the most expensive home sold for $3,200,000.
  • Bragging on Surterre.  Consider this:  there were 22 homes sold in February.  Surterre represented six of the sellers for a 27% market share and seven of the buyers for a 32% market share. 
  • Loans: Rates are beginning to rise a little in anticipation of the Fed raising rates this summer or fall. However, rates are still quite low with fixed rates hovering around 4%. ARM rates are lower.
  • Jumbo loan programs are plentiful with qualifying guidelines loosening up and stated income programs are available – Call Rick Cirelli, (949) 413-5091 for more information



PendingSales2015   market analysis