Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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2049 Ocean Way Laguna Beach CA 92651 2

Press Articles on Orange County Real Estate

Surterre’s Weekly Financial and Market Update
Week Ending 6/25/2012
“Glass Half Full” Perspective


Jonathan Lansner


California’s housing rebound is picking up steam. Homes in May moved statewide at the fastest pace – and had the biggest year-over-year gain – in three years.
·        Homes sold at an annual rate of $572.260, up 21.5 percent from May 2011
·        That’s the biggest year over year sales increase since May 2009
·        The median number of days it takes to sell a single-family home was 46.6 days vs.52 days in May 2011


Jeff Collins


35.2% increase in home sales in O.C.’s beach-close ZIP codes last month, the biggest in Orange County.


Jonathan Lansner


With a tight supply of homes for sale and shoppers actually buying – we were bound to see hints that prices could be rebounding too.

Curiously, we’re seeing the strength most at the upper end of the market. O.C. sellers of higher-end homes are raising prices to levels not seen in 20 months, as discounts still are not the norm at the more affordable end of the spectrum. Over two years, we’ve sees a 5.4 percent increase in prices set by sellers of these upper crust local homes. Cuts are 24.2 percent over 5 years


Jonathan Lansner


O.C. increases average $72 or 4.7 percent after 5 straight quarterly boots. O.C are 94.8% full.


Jonathan Lansner


As of May 24th, 428 residence are listed in the MLS with 296 new deals opening in the past 30 days


Jonathan Lansner


DataQuick numbers show sales jumped 23.1%  over same month last year. Median price rises 2.4%.


Jonathan Lansner


In O.C. in April, home prices – including distressed sales – declining by 1.2% vs. a year ago.


G.U. Krueger


In California the economic outlook is kind of beige, i.e. colorless. However there is no double-dip-just no boom.  Some stimulus is beginning to come from real estate in general. All this is good, and not bad.


Jeff Collins


Demand for O.C. homes at 7 year high. O.C homebuyers signed 3,701 pending sales contracts in May, the best posting since May 2005. It is 21 percent stronger than a year ago and 12 percent stronger than 2 years ago.

Beach towns – 620 homes sold in these ZIP codes in the 22 business days ending May 8, up 25.3 percent from a year ago. This was the largest year to year gain among the four regions we tracked.

It would take 1.27 months theoretically to sell all Orange County homes listed under $1 million at the current sales pace.


Jonathan Lansner


Local homebuying  is back at 2006 levels.


Alejandro Lazo


Southland’s median home price rises in April as fewer sales involve foreclosures. Foreclosures made up the smallest share of sales in four years.

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31561 Table Rock Dr 418 Laguna Beach

Buyers – 1 way to speed up the loan approval process, 2 foreclosure videos, and a big ocean view single story TLC property

First, a big thanks to all of you forwarding the newsletters to your friends. It’s greatly appreciated

Buyers – Loan Approvals: Know the Difference between Each Type

Sellers are holding buyers to difficult 17 day loan approvals

With the recent surge in home buying, I am discovering that many home buyers and Realtors are not familiar with the three types of Loan Approvals. I thought it would be a good time to explain process and how you can help to assure closing on time.

The Pre-Approval should be obtained in advance of the borrower making their offer. To be reliable it needs to include a thorough review of the borrower’s income and asset documentation and include a credit report. The Borrower’s Loan Application and Credit Report are input into a Loan Processing system and uploaded into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting system. This provides an electronic underwrite that is accepted by all lenders for loans up to $625,500 that are to be sold to these two agencies. Borderline files should also be reviewed by an underwriter for extra assurance. Jumbo loans larger than $625,500 may be underwritten to the same Fannie/Freddie guidelines and usually are, but the acceptance of the Fannie/Freddie automated underwriting can vary by jumbo lender. Beware of any lenders that issue a Pre-Approval without first reviewing the borrowers Income, Assets and Credit.

Conditional Approval:
Once we have all of the borrower’s documentation plus the purchase agreement, preliminary title report, etc., – basically a complete package except perhaps the appraisal – the loan is submitted to the Lender for underwriting approval. The underwriting is a manual process whereby the underwriter verifies all documentation and matches it to the original Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac automated report. The underwriter then issues a “Conditional Approval” listing the conditions or requirements.

The conditions of approval are always broken down into two categories: “Prior-to-Doc” and “Prior-to-Funding”. Prior-to-Doc conditions are conditions that can affect the qualifications of the buyer and therefore must be approved prior to the lender issuing closing documents. Prior-to-Funding conditions are typically details that don’t impact the borrowers’ qualifications but are still necessary and often can’t be obtained until the time of funding.

This Conditional Approval can usually be obtained within 17 days of loan application assuming the borrowers were prompt in providing the documentation needed. If the borrowers were previously pre-approved, it helps to expedite this portion of the process. Most Buyers will remove their loan contingency at this point.

Final Approval:
When we receive the Prior-to-Doc conditions, they are submitted to the Lender. Lenders require that all Prior-to-Doc conditions be submitted at the same time. Once received, the underwriter can clear the Prior-to-Doc conditions and issue the Final Approval with only the Prior-to-Funding conditions yet to be cleared. These conditions are typically cleared at the time of closing. Closing documents can be ordered at this point in time.

The key to a smooth closing and to closing on time is to have the borrower pre-approved prior to finding a property. If the mortgage broker can have all of the borrowers documentation in advance, there will be fewer Prior-to-Doc conditions and closing deadlines will have a much better chance of being met. When the borrower is unprepared and possibly disorganized, there file will inevitably take longer.

With purchase and refinance loan volume near all-time highs, its best to set reasonable expectations for buyers, sellers, real estate agents and all parties. Each step of the process takes time and many lenders (but not all) are quoting several weeks to issue approvals once they receive the file. Add more time to receive appraisals, clear conditions, prepare closing docs, etc. and a transaction that used to take 30 days may now take 60 days.

Understanding the Approval process can help to minimize the time required to close a purchase transaction.

Mortgage Rates This Week:

This highlight of the week was the Fed meeting held Tuesday and Wednesday. It was “expected” that the Fed would extend what is known as “Operation Twist” and it was “hoped” that they would at least hint of future quantitative easing. They did extend Operation Twist whereby they will sell its holding of short-term securities and Notes and purchase longer-term Notes and Bonds such as 10-year Treasuries and 30-Year Mortgages to try to keep long-term rates lower. But the market was disappointed by the lack of any talk about future easing.

The mortgage market reacted negatively with rates rising Wednesday afternoon after the Fed statement. But by Thursday, rates came back down due weaker jobs data and global concern about weaker growth in China plus the ongoing problems in Europe.

Be sure to read the Daily Rate Lock Advisory on my website for information related to the day to day factors affecting the mortgage markets. Its updated daily:

Foreclosure – Ocean Front Laguna Condo for $1.15m

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report + Photos

TLC opportunity panoramic view in Mystic Hills for $1.1m – Trust Sale

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report

Foreclosure – 1937 Cottage in the Village – $699k

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report + Photos

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31644 2nd Ave Laguna Beach

Videos of 2 New Laguna Foreclosures and 1 Well Priced South Laguna Property


The Laguna market is still on fire with 37 homes already going into escrow  this month alone and its only the 19th of June.   And the inventory is still low at 232 properties. Lots of multiple offers.  Why? Prices are still at 2003 levels, 30% off the high of 2007 and mortgage rates are below 4%.

And it not just happening here. The following is last Sunday’s LA Times front cover headlines.,0,1637144.story


Foreclosure – Ocean View Condo above the Montage for $550k

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report + Photos

Foreclosure – Single Story Temple Hills house for $1.025m

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report + Photos

SoLag (South Laguna) 1400 sqft cottage for $845k

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)

Client Brief Report + Photos

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No May Gray in Laguna’s sales figures plus Beach Close Properties for around $1m

Lots of Closed Sales and Low Inventory

continue into Mid 2012
May Highlights:

  • 40 closed sales in May, the highest monthly total since May 2005 Client Short Page
  • 242 homes for sale is the lowest June 1st number since 2005
  • 72 properties are in escrow which again is very high.
  • 18 sales were $1 million and under / 21 sales between $1M – $2.5M / with 1 sales greater than $3 million

Click Here to See All Graphs


Videos of Laguna Houses around $1m:
Circle Drive – Ocean side of Coast Hwy for $1.475m

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)


Client Brief Report + Photos
Terry Road – 5 minute walk to Victoria Beach for less than $1m

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)


Client Brief Report + Photos
Holly – In the famed North Laguna Tree Streets for less than $1m

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)


Client Brief Report + Photos
Look what you get in San Clemente for less than $800k
Big house, ocean views, private large lot

(Click Here or Image Above to Play Video)


Client Brief Report + Photos

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April 2012 Laguna Sales Summary

  • Closed sales transactions remain High (31 properties)
  • Property inventory remains relatively low (240 properties)
  • Properties going into escrow remain high (78 properties)
  • Properties below $1m are 50% of all sales transactions
  • Properties between $1m and $2m are 35% of all sales transactions
  • Properties over $2m are 15% of all sales transactions

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March’s Sizzling Stats for Laguna Beach

March’s Sizzling Stats for Laguna Beach

Pretty impressive highlights:

  • 86 Pending (in escrow) Sales, the highest EVER
  • 241 Active Listings, the lowest number in more than four years and only a 3% increase since the first of the year (the average increase from January to April is more than 15%)
  • 88 closed sales in the first quarter of 2012, the highest first quarter in as far back as my data goes!!!  39 closed sales in March – 15 were less than $1m Client Short Page , 16 were between $1m and $2m Client Short Page , 6 were between $2m and $3m and 2 were over $3m Client Short Page

There continues to be 2 markets – Below $2m which is a seller’s market and above $2m is a buyer’s market. Half the active listings (119) are above $2m and there were only 6 sales (all in gated communities) in this price range.

(Click Here to view reports for Active, Pending & Closed)
Interesting Info on Orange County Foreclosures, Inventory and Demand
Wave of Foreclosures (NOT):

Since the end of 2008 there has been barely a ripple, let alone a wave, of new foreclosures. For those that have been banking on a wave of foreclosures to hit the market, it is time to face reality and put that surfboard away, there simply is not going to be a new wave of foreclosure activity. According to Sean O”Toole of, 89% of the properties that were set to go to sale at courthouse steps across California, also known as the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale, were either postponed or cancelled over the last month. 7% were taken back by the bank to be sold as foreclosure sales listed through a REALTOR and 4% were sold to third party investors.

Lenders are slowly absorbing their non-performing assets at a methodical rate. At the current rate, we are looking at another four years of foreclosures, short sales and loan modifications.

Distressed Market:

Only 6% of the active listing inventory is a foreclosure but there are only 392 active listings that are foreclosures in all of Orange County. The total for all distressed listings, both foreclosures and short sales had shed an additional 174 homes in the past couple of weeks and now totals 1,830.  Last year at this time there were 3,858 total, that’s 2,028 additional home or more than double. The short sale active inventory has dropped 1,079 homes since the beginning of the year and now totals 1,438, levels not seen since the distressed inventory was just beginning to build back in 2007. The expected market time for short sales is 1 month.

The Active Listing Inventory

The active listing inventory dropped to levels not seen since July 2005. To date in 2012, the inventory has dropped nearly 1,500 homes.


In the past month demand has increased by another 8%. Overall, Orange County demand, the number of new pending sales over the past month, increased by 102 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 3,840. That’s 16% stronger than one year ago today. For homes priced below $750,000, demand is HOT and the expected market time is 1.3 months. From $750k to $1 million, the expected market time is 2.7 months.  From $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time is 3.5 months. For all homes priced above $1.5 million, the expected market time is 9.3 months, a sharp contrast to the lower ranges.

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32013 Point Place, Laguna Beach CA

Modern/Contemporary Home Week in Laguna Beach

It’s Modern/Contemporary Home Week in Laguna Beach

When people think of Laguna, most of the time they think of cottages, bungalows and craftsman style houses.
Well, Laguna is also the home to many contemporary style homes, which gives Laguna a unique combination of traditional and leading edge architecture.

Ever since the great fire in 1993, which hit Mystic Hills, Top of the World and Emerald Bay especially hard, many of the destroyed homes were replaced by concrete contemporary/modern homes.

While there were contemporary homes built throughout Laguna Beach in the 1980’s the fire presented an opportunity to develop whole streets of contemporary homes.

This 2 minute video shows contemporary

homes on the streets of Laguna:

(Click Here or Click Image To Play Video)

I have to say that I had the typical ‘knee jerk’ negative reaction to seeing these contemporary homes for the first time, but I have to say they really grow on you. They’re many different contemporary types that some of the well known local architects, such as Horst, Singer, and Parker, designed.  Some are the minimalist stark homes, while others have a much more homey feel. Whatever the style they all take advantage of the surroundings with huge views and a certain flow with the natural environment.

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Mortgage Interest Rates March 15 2012

Should You Pay Points When Getting a Mortgage?

From my Rick Cirelli, President RTC Mortgage

With interest rates at or near record lows and so many people buying or refinancing, the question always arises: “Is it worth it to pay points in return for a lower interest rate or to accept a lender credit to apply toward closing costs”?

The answer isn’t the same for each borrower and your mortgage professional should present the options to each borrower to demonstrate the difference and guide them to the best decision.

Here’s what you should know:

  • Paying points enables a borrower to “buy down” the interest rate on a mortgage in exchange for an upfront fee.  More (put in link to rest of article and mortgage rates and then put in loan workshop info here)
  • A point equals 1 percent of the loan amount, so paying one point on a $400,000 refinancing costs an extra $4,000 at closing.  Paying a point usually reduces the interest rate by 0.25% over its term, so for instance, instead of 4 percent, the rate is 3.75 percent.
  • The average points paid in the last 3 years according to a Freddie Mac survey, was 0.7
  • To decide if paying points is worthwhile, borrowers should consider two key decisions: How long they plan to live in the home, and how much they can afford in closing costs.
  • In most cases, if the borrower plans to live in the home for at least five years, paying points will help the homeowner to reap savings in the long run.
  • Lenders also offer a rebate or credit in exchange for accepting a slightly higher interest rate. The lender agrees to give the borrower a credit, which is used to pay for closing costs. As with points, a credit of 1 point will typically result in an interest rate .25% higher.

Loan Workshop in Laguna

The real estate market is heating up and more and more people are interested in buying a home but are concerned about getting a loan.

Join us on Meet Up:

This loan workshop will have three (3) different lenders who between them offer a full spectrum of traditional and ‘creative’ loans up to $10m.

Presentations will be made by traditional lender (RTC Mortgage), a nontraditional private equity lender (Collateral Group) and an institutional lender (Morgan Stanley).

The workshop starts at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 22nd at the DeBilzan Gallery, 224 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach.

There is no charge for this event.

For more information and to rsvp please go to Laguna Friends of Real Estate on or Facebook or email

Mortgage Rates This Week:

Mortgages Rates moved higher this week at their fastest pace in months.

There are several layers of causality.  A “perfect storm” of events drove rates higher: Greece’s bailout; a slightly more upbeat outlook announced by the Fed; slightly stronger Retail Sales, and the general trading dynamics that left bond markets “susceptible” to the weakness.

If you weren’t already locked and have been waiting to do so, rates are STILL close enough to historic lows that floating doesn’t make much sense. And, so far this morning rates have stabilized and even improved a little.

Watch the Daily Rate Lock Advisory on my website for the events that influence the day-to-day movement of mortgage rates and Mortgage-Backed Securities pricing:

Mortgage Intrest Rates
Rates as of Thursday, 15th March, 2012: