Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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One of Laguna’s best kept secrets, Architect Fred Briggs

The more I do these Laguna human interest stories the more I’m interested in people and families that have shaped our blessed town by designing the most iconic buildings and landscapes that Laguna is known for.

 Fred Briggs is one of those people and is probably one to the best keep secrets in town.

 From Main Beach’s design, to the library, to the most outrageous modern homes in Laguna, he did it all.

 And he’s one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 architects ever.

Fred Briggs was one of the early, pioneering, modern architects in Southern California. After serving in the Navy during World War two, he settled into Laguna Beach shortly after graduating from the USC school of Architecture in 1948.

He went on to establish what would become an extraordinary and successful architectural practice of 52 years which would impact architectural concepts will beyond California’s borders.

Fred’s innumerable contributions to the field of architecture were not limited to the spectacular and timeless residences for which he is best known.

One of his most successful and memorable contributions was the design of Main Beach in Laguna whose charm and warmth has drawn millions of visitors and residents alike, and the Lifeguard Tower is said to be one of California’s most photographed structures.

Fred also designed the Laguna Beach Library and the Dana Point Library. He sat on numerous boards, was instrumental in the early planning and design of the Master Plans for Laguna Beach and was directly responsible for the sign ordinance which continues to greatly enhance the look of the city today.

A 52 year member of the American Institute of Architects, Orange County Chapter, his work brought him extensive honors and recognition including being named one of the top one hundred residential architects in the world by Architectural Digest , AD100 Issue, professional awards and media attention, but Fred was most taken by the respect and admiration of his peers.

Some of his best well known projects in Laguna Beach are the Jeffries house at Rockledge, the downtown library and the fire station at the Top of the World.

Fred also completed significant projects outside of Laguna Beach, such as the Bornstein residence in Beverly Hills and the Sahm residence on Rancho Santa Fe.

Orange Coast article on Fred

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The Laguna Niguel ‘Horizon’ house – Part of a National Experiment to build houses without wood

The first home built in the master plan was the ‘Horizon’ house in 1963. The Horizon house concept was a nationwide effort by companies like Portland Cement to show how a house can be inexpensively built with concrete. Plus no fires and no maintenance for wood rot and earthquake proof. http://www.latimes.com/home/hometours/la-hm-horizon-homes-20160116-story.html

There are 150 Horizon houses across the country and 11 in Southern California with each being completely different and each built by a local architect and local suppliers.

They truly were/are the house of the future. Amazing what you could do with concrete – remember the Halliburton house.

They hired local architect George Bissell,(http://obits.ocregister.com/obituaries/orangecounty/obituary.aspx?n=george-arthur-bissell&pid=138334050), a future recipient of the American Institute of Architects California Council Lifetime Achievement award in 2000 (the highest award you can get) as the architect along with Hanns Baumann a world class engineer (http://www.hannsbaumann.com/abouthub.htm). Hanns is in the following videos and he tells how they made such an unusual mushroom shaped house.

But George, who typically did large churches, museums, LA Coliseum type of work didn’t stop at the Horizon house but went on to design midcentury modern houses on the same street, National Park, as the Horizon house.  Drive around and check them out.

So the first neighborhood in Laguna Niguel was modern houses which are far a few to find to this day in the town.

 


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Laguna Friends of Architecture invite you to tour the Horizon House

LFA’s most ‘talked about’ house tour

It’s a fascinating story of how one of the most unique ‘non-wood’ homes in the U.S. ended up in Laguna Niguel
It was the first home built in the planned city in the early 60’s
LFA’s favorite architectural historian and aficionado, Ted Wells, will be speaking about this most interesting architectural experiment

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This free self-guided Home Tour will include another chance for you to see the mushroom-shaped concrete shell “Horizon House”…please bring your friends and your favorite drinks and snacks to share!  

Ted Wells will begin his talk at 4:00.

Saturday October 29, 2014 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM at 31911 National Park, Laguna Niguel, near the Crown Valley Parkway.

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Did you know that the 7,000 acre Laguna Niguel was design by the ‘Father of the Mall’ architect Victor Gruen?

Have you wondered why up to recently there was no City Hall or downtown area – Find out why

Laguna Niguel and the malls he designed left a BITTER TASTE for the architect. They weren’t built the way he designed them and changed the US ‘for the worse’ he and others say

Back in the late 50’s an East Coast investment firm Cabot, Cabot and Forbes gathered 6,000 investors and started the Laguna Niguel Corporation. There were literally no houses at that time.

They hired the famous ‘Father of the Mall’ architect Victor Gruen to design the 7,000 acre planned community, the first in California.

Now Victor is a major shaper of the US culture. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Gruen). Because he invented the modern mall,Malcolm Gladwell, writing in The New Yorker, suggested that “Victor Gruen may well have been the most influential architect of the twentieth century.”

When he designed the first enclosed malls (of which he did 50 but also set the trend) he designed them so they were a newly integrated town with residential, schools, medical facilities and community gathering places like parks to be part of the surrounding area around the mall. Well, the developers stripped his integration ideas and just build the shopping part leaving to suburban sprawl and the death of the urban areas we have today.

In a speech in London in 1978, Gruen disavowed shopping mall developments as having “bastardized” his ideas: He said “I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments” meaning he would never shop at one.

Well the same thing kind of happened in Laguna Niguel where the planned city he designed was to be centered where the new city hall is built at Alica and Crown but it never was and it ended up being a town without any real integration and a sprawling bedroom community.

The Laguna Niguel ‘Horizon’ house – Part of a National Experiment to build houses without wood

The first home built in the master plan was the ‘Horizon’ house in 1963. The Horizon house concept was a nationwide effort by companies like Portland Cement to show how a house can be inexpensively built with concrete. Plus no fires and no maintenance for wood rot and earthquake proof. http://www.latimes.com/home/hometours/la-hm-horizon-homes-20160116-story.html

There are 150 Horizon houses across the country and 11 in Southern California with each being completely different and each built by a local architect and local suppliers.

They truly were/are the house of the future. Amazing what you could do with concrete – remember the Halliburton house.

They hired local architect George Bissell,(http://obits.ocregister.com/obituaries/orangecounty/obituary.aspx?n=george-arthur-bissell&pid=138334050), a future recipient of the American Institute of Architects California Council Lifetime Achievement award in 2000 (the highest award you can get) as the architect along with Hanns Baumann a world class engineer (http://www.hannsbaumann.com/abouthub.htm). Hanns is in the following videos and he tells how they made such an unusual mushroom shaped house.

But George, who typically did large churches, museums, LA Coliseum type of work didn’t stop at the Horizon house but went on to design midcentury modern houses on the same street, National Park, as the Horizon house.  Drive around and check them out.

So the first neighborhood in Laguna Niguel was modern houses which are far a few to find to this day in the town.

Video of previous LFA tour at Horizon House

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2016-10-25-18_38_17-ted-wells-at-horizon-house-1_1-youtube

2016-10-25-18_41_08-ted-wells-at-horizon-house-1_1-youtube

 


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Orange County Housing Report: Values Up, Affordability Down

Homeowners in Orange County have benefited significantly from a rise in values, pushing affordability considerably lower.

Values and Affordability: there are fewer and fewer choices below $500,000 in Orange County.

It has been nearly five years since the housing market reversed course and started its relentless climb from the depths of the Great Recession. When the Orange County housing market ignited at the beginning of 2012, the median sales price was at $400,000 and foreclosures and short sales accounted for 25% of the entire active inventory and 49% of all pending sales. Homes were flying off the market and housing was on the mend.

 Investors were first to the party, snatching up anything and everything they could get their hands on. It didn’t take long for regular buyers to jump into the mix. With low prices and low interest rates, it made sense to purchase. In many cases, it was actually cheaper to own than to rent. As a result, home values appreciated rapidly in 2012 and 2013. The appreciation continued in 2014 and 2015, just not at the same rapid clip as the prior two years. 2016 has been more of the same, slow, methodical appreciation.

 This year, the median sales price reached record levels, eclipsing heights reached in 2007. The median in August was at $649,000, that’s up 62% since the start of 2012. The tremendous appreciation translates to fewer properties for sale within the affordable price range of less than $500,000. More and more homes and condominiums have appreciated past the $500,000 mark.

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In April of 2012, the inventory of homes was nearly identical to today’s inventory. Yet, back then, there were 1,807 condominiums on the market. Today, there are 1,003; that’s 44% fewer. Believe it or not, there were 1,076 detached homes on the active listing market back then. Unbelievably, there are only 194 available today. That is a drop of 82%. Yes, there was a day when a buyer had plenty to choose from below $500,000, but that’s just not the case anymore.

Detached homes below $500,000 almost do not exist. In the past year alone, the numbers have dropped an additional 33%. Even with a slower, more methodical appreciation, more homes are climbing above the half-million-dollar threshold. And, soon, there will be fewer than a thousand condominiums available within this affordable price range.

 As a matter of fact, there used to be plenty of condominiums priced below $250,000. In April 2012, there were 938, compared to 145 today. That’s a jaw-dropping 85% decline.

 With home values slated to continue to slowly appreciate, it won’t be long before there will no longer be a detached home priced below $500,000, or a condominium below $250,000. The astonishing rebound in housing has almost completed its fifth year; as a result, there are fewer affordable choices.

Luxury End: Luxury demand dropped by 12% in the past couple of weeks.

In the past two weeks, demand for homes above $1 million decreased from 456 to 401 pending sales, a 12% drop, and its lowest level since March. The luxury home inventory dropped from 2,402 homes to 2,347, a 2% drop. With a significant drop in demand, the expected market time blossomed from 158 days to 176 days for all homes priced above $1 million.

 For homes priced between $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time in the past couple of weeks increased from 113 days to 128 days. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time increased from 165 days to 187 days, eclipsing the 6-month mark for the first time since January. For homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time rose from 245 days to 258 days. It was at 306 days just one month ago. Still, at 258 days, a seller is looking at placing their home in escrow right around the 4th of July in 2017.

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Active Inventory: The active inventory stopped dropping like a rock and declined by only 2% in the past two weeks.

In the past couple of weeks, the active inventory dropped by 135 homes and now totals 6,337. It’s not quite the 314 home drop posted two weeks ago, but it continues the cyclical trend of dropping without interruption through the end of the year.

The inventory will continue its descent until it reaches a low at year’s end, and will only reverse course after ringing in a New Year. 2017 will most likely start with fewer than 5,000 homes on the market, consistent with the anemic starts to the past four Januarys.

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 Last year at this time there were 6,509 homes on the market, 3% more. 

Demand: The recent surge in demand has subsided with a drop of 8% in the past couple of weeks.

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, decreased from 2,693 to 2,480, a drop of 213, or 8%. It is still the hottest October since 2012, but the year over year difference is getting smaller. Last year at this time, there were 147 fewer pending sales, totaling 2,333.

 With a giant drop in demand and the active inventory slowing its descent, the expected market time increased from 72 days to 77 days, a slight seller’s market.

Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • The active listing inventory dropped in the past couple of weeks, shedding 135 homes, or 2%, and now totals 6,337, the lowest level since mid-May. The inventory will continue to drop through the end of the year.
  • There are 21% fewer homes on the market below $500,000 compared to last year at this time and demand is down by 9%. Fewer and fewer homes and condominiums can now be found priced below $500,000.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, decreased by 8% from 2,693 to 2,480 in the past two weeks, the largest drop so far this year. Demand was at 2,333 pending sales last year. Today’s demand is 6%more than last year. The average pending price is $801,253.
  • The average list price for all of Orange County is $1.5 million.
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is HOT with an expected market time of just 52 days. This range represents 46% of the active inventory and 67% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 78 days, a slight seller’s market (between 60 and 90 days). This range represents 18% of the active inventory and 17% of demand.
  • For luxury homes priced between $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time is at 128 days, increased by 15 days in the past couple of weeks. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time increased considerably from 165 days to 187 days. For luxury homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time increased from 245 days to 258 days.
  • The luxury end, all homes above $1 million, accounts for 36% of the inventory and only 16% of demand.
  • The expected market time for all homes in Orange County increased in the past couple of weeks from 72 days to 77, a slight seller’s market(between 60 and 90 days).
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 2% of all listings and 3.5% of demand. There are 43 foreclosures and 90 short sales available to purchase today in all of Orange County, that’s 133 total distressed homes on the active market, increasing by5 in the past two weeks. Last year there were 208 total distressed sales, 56% more.
  • There were 2,745 closed sales in September, a 10% drop from July and up 2% compared to September 2015’s total of 2,680 closings. The sales to list price ratio was 97.9%. Foreclosures accounted for 1.3% of all closed sales and short sales accounted for 1.9%. That means that 96.8% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned equity sellers.