Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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Orange County – The housing market varies from one city to the next and also by price range.

Different Markets: Even though Orange County as a whole is HOT, there are plenty of cities and price ranges that are not.

It is not uncommon to hear a REALTOR® from one area express how the market is “dead,” while a REALTOR® from another area exclaims how they had tons of showings and homes are flying off the market. Yet, they are both right. The problem is that we all tend to focus on Orange County as a whole. There are 34 cities and 14 unincorporated areas. Orange County is HUGE. As a result, some cities come with a higher price tag, and others are much more affordable.

It is price that determines whether a market is hot or cold. Detached homes priced below $750,000 are hot. Condominiums priced below $500,000 are hot too. A detached home priced at $680,000 is going to attract a lot more attention than a home priced at $1.5 million. As prices rise, the pool of buyers able to purchase a home shrinks. So, it takes a lot longer to sell homes in the upper ranges compared to the lower ranges.

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The hottest markets can be found in cities and areas where the vast majority of their homes are priced within the hottest price ranges. For example, Fountain Valley has an expected market time of only 26 days. There are 46 homes on the market today and only 6 are priced above $1 million, 13%. On the other hand, Ladera Ranch has an expected market time of 117 days. There are 171 homes on the market today and 69 homes priced above $1 million, 40%. And, at the far extreme, Laguna Beach has an expected market time of 337 days. There are 281 homes on the market and 265 are priced above $1 million, 94%.

 The cities and areas with an expected market time of less than 60 days, the hottest markets, have an average list price of $669,000. About a third of Orange County is considered HOT. Conversely, the cities and areas with an expected market time of over 90 days, or three months, cumulatively have an average list price of $2.3 million. Nearly a third of Orange County is considered slow, or “dead” as some REALTORS® have described it.

 For buyers looking to purchase in the lower price ranges, the market is hot. Lower priced homes attract a lot more attention and are more inclined to generate multiple offers and plenty of activity. Buyers need to be on their toes in order to be successful; “you snooze, you lose.” Yet, in the higher ranges, the market is a lot slower. Buyers can afford to be a bit more patient.

 Sellers can price a bit more aggressively in the lower ranges. But, stretching the price too far, which many sellers initially do, results in less activity and no offers. In the upper ranges, sellers have their work cut out for them. Carefully pricing based upon recent comparable pending and closed sales is absolutely fundamental in order to achieve success. Sellers are not getting away with stretching the price in the upper ranges right now. There is just too much competition.

Luxury End: Luxury demand increased by 8% within the past couple of weeks.

Demand is calculated by the number of new pending sales over the prior month. Demand for homes above $1 million reached a height at the start of May of 542 pending sales. It dropped by 19% by mid-July and totaled 436. Within the past couple of weeks, it bounced back and added an additional 33 pending sales, an 8% increase.

 The inventory of homes above $1 million has been increasing all year long. It has grown from 1,523 homes at the start of the year to 2,756 homes just two weeks ago, an increase of 81%. It finally dropped for the first time this year, shedding 34 homes, or 1%, in the past couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. At the very least, the upward trend has taken a break.

 For homes priced between $1 million to $1.5 million, the expected market time dropped from 141 days to 120 in the past two weeks. For homes priced between $1.5 million to $2 million, the expected market time increased slightly from 158 days to 162 days. For homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time dropped from 345 days to 334 days.

 Active Inventory: The inventory dropped for the first time this year.

The active inventory shed 12 homes in the past two weeks and now sits at 7,317 homes. That’s the first time the active inventory dropped this year. The inventory typically peaks in mid to late August, so it will be interesting to see if Orange County just experienced an early peak, or if there’s a little more room for growth in the coming weeks. It will most likely grow a bit from here. The inventory is having a hard time continuing its trend in growth because demand is a lot stronger right now than it has been in years. More homes placed in escrow means fewer homes that remain within the active inventory.

 Last year there were 201 fewer homes on the market, 3% less.

Demand: In the past two-weeks demand increased by 3%.

Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased by 3%, or 83 homes, and now totals 2,866 pending sales, its highest level for this time of year since 2012.  The low interest rate environment has helped fuel the surge in demand. For perspective, demand is 10% off of its start of May peak of 3,196 pending sales. The expected market time dropped from 79 days two weeks ago to 77 days today.

image009Last year at this time demand was at 2,698 pending sales, 168 fewer than today, and the expected market time was 79 days.

Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • The active inventory dropped for the first time this year, shedding 12 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 7,317 homes. There are 201 more homes compared to last year at this time.
  • There are 18% fewer homes on the market below $500,000 compared to last year at this time and demand is down by 13% as well. As home values continue to rise, this range is slowly disappearing.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, increasedby 3% from 2,783 to 2,866 in the past two weeks. Demand was at 2,698 last year, 6% less than today. The average pending price is $798,617.
  • 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 51 days. This range represents 44% of the active inventory and 66% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 82 days, a slight seller’s market (between 60 and 90 days). A slight seller’s market is one with very little appreciation, but sellers still get to call more of the shots during negotiation. This range represents 19% of the active inventory and 18% of demand.
  • For luxury homes priced between $1 million to $2 million, the expected market time is at 131 days, decreasing by 15 days in the past couple of weeks. For luxury homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time dropped from 345 days to 334 days. The luxury end, all homes above $1 million, accounts for 37% of the inventory and only 16% of demand.
  • The expected market time for all homes in Orange Countydecreased from 79 to 77 days in the past couple of weeks, a slight seller’s market.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 1.9% of all listings and 3.4% of demand. There are 48 foreclosures and 88 short sales available to purchase today, that’s 136 total distressed homes on the active market, an increase of 8 in the past two weeks.
  • There were 3,116 closed sales in June, a 3% increase over May and 1% fewer than last year’s 3,141 closings. The sales to list price ratio was 97.7%. Foreclosures accounted for 1.4% of all closed sales and short sales accounted for 1.2%. That means that 97.4% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned equity sellers.

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First half of 2016 Laguna stats –

Still a ‘sellers’ market but the summer cycle is slowing things down

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Laguna Summary

  • In the first six months of this year 185 homes were sold compared with 200 in the previous year, a drop of a little less than 10%.
  • The number of Pending Sales is 51 about 15% lower than in 2015.
  • The current number of Active Listings is 272 an increase of 10% from the previous month and more than 15% from the previous year.  This number also represents the highest number of Active Listings since October of 2011, almost five years ago.
  • Looking at the closed sales for the last month more than 72% of the sales were below $2,000,000.  Translating this data:  Sales are off especially at the higher end of the market with inventory increasing rapidly.  If you have a home priced above $2,000,000 that has been on the market for more than 30 days it is time to consider the price.

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Click here to see Orange County Stats


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Orange County Housing Market Summary:

  • The active inventory added an additional 225 homes in the past two weeks and now totals 7,329 homes, a level not seen since October 2014. There are 394 more homes compared to last year at this time.
  • There are 17% fewer homes on the market below $500,000 compared to last year at this time and demand is down by 13% as well. As home values continue to rise, this range is slowly disappearing.
  • Demand, the number of pending sales over the prior month, decreased from 2,887 to 2,783 in the past two weeks, a 4% drop. Demand was at 2,810 last year, 1% more than today. The average pending price is $779,417.
  • The average list price for all of Orange County dropped from $1.5 million two weeks ago to $1.4 million today.
  • For homes priced below $750,000, the market is HOT with an expected market time of just 51 days. This range represents 44% of the active inventory and 68% of demand.
  • For homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million, the expected market time is 91 days, a balanced market that does not favor buyers or sellers. This range represents 19% of the active inventory and 16% of demand.
  • For luxury homes priced between $1 million to $2 million, the expected market time is at 146 days, decreasing by 2 days in the past couple of weeks. For luxury homes priced above $2 million, the expected market time increased from 322 days to 345 days. The luxury end, all homes above $1 million, accounts for 38% of the inventory and only 16% of demand.
  • The expected market time for all homes in Orange County increased from 74 to 79 days in the past month, a slight seller’s market that is pushing its way to a balanced market, 90 to 120 days, that does not favor buyers or sellers.
  • Distressed homes, both short sales and foreclosures combined, make up only 1.7% of all listings and 4.1% of demand. There are 46 foreclosures and 82 short sales available to purchase today, that’s 128 total distressed homes on the active market, a drop of 11 in the past two weeks and the lowest level since early 2007.
  • There were 3,116 closed sales in June, a 3% increase over May and 1% fewer than last year’s 3,141 closings. The sales to list price ratio was 97.7%. Foreclosures accounted for 1.4% of all closed sales and short sales accounted for 1.2%. That means that 97.4% of all sales were good ol’ fashioned equity sellers.

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Arhitect Lilian Rice

California master architect Lilian J. Rice left behind homes rich in innovative architectural craftsmanship, both retreats of beauty for those who lived in them, and now markers of great historical significance. Architect to some of the nation’s wealthiest achievers in the first half of the twentieth century, Lilian Rice has posthumously become a controversial figure. A woman in a man’s world, she was given an unprecedented opportunity in 1923 when her employer asked her to oversee the design of Rancho Santa Fe, a Southern California master-planned community catering to the rich and famous.

 

Eleven of Lilian Rice’s homes are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, scores more are county landmarks, and several garnered her honor awards from the American Institute of Architects. In her presentation, author Diane Y. Welch will shine a spotlight on Lilian J. Rice’s life, work and accomplishments. Signed, first-edition copies of her latest book, “The Life and Times of Lilian J. Rice, Master Architect” will be available for purchase.

Houses Designed by Lilian J. Rice

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Laguna Beach gets all its water from somewhere else. Scary when you think about it.

But how we got the water from other places during Laguna’s start up years is quite a colorful story with colorful people.
One such character is Gavy Cravath, who was such a good baseball player that it took Babe Ruth to break his home run records.

But first a little background:

Until the early 1920s, the residents of Laguna Beach received their water from a well located north on Laguna Canyon Road when cisterns in town ran out of rainwater. Summer visitors frequently stopped and filled jugs on their way into town.

One amazing feat was in 1905 when Howard Heisler (of Heisler Park) pumped running water from Laguna Canyon to each lot in his development of houses in Laguna Cliffs, which is today’s coveted North Laguna’s Tree Streets.  He subdivided and laid out the only streets in Laguna that run in straight right angles to one another.

In 1924, the growth of the village had been so rapid that the water system could not produce an adequate supply. The heavy pumping exhausted the surface supply and soon saltwater intrusion and well failure forced the closure of the water service.

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But local citizens pretending to be a Duck Hunting Club came to the rescue.

So when the water became scarce in 1925 the locals turned to one of the closest places to get fresh water, Huntington Beach home of the Santa Ana River Basin.

Knowing that Huntington Beach, 20 miles to the north, would want to keep its precious fresh water, a group of Laguna guys pretended to be a Duck Hunting Club and bought 120 acres (which is still owned).

The five men divvied up a $1,000 deposit out of their own pockets, with the balance to be paid at $400 an acre.

What they had bought was the City’s future water supply.

The Board of Supervisors called for an election on May 4, 1925, and residents went to the polls and approved the formation of the Laguna Beach County Water District by a vote of 359 to 0.

Here comes Gavey, the retired baseball pro turned real estate investor (and later the town’s Justice of the Peace) to make sure the huge $600,000 bond was passed.

About two days before election he sneaked down and turned on the Laguna Canyon pumps, filing the pipes with the brackish water. The people were trying to use it and were disgusted.

Then came voting day and they voted YES, 437 votes, for the $600,000 water bonds for Huntington Beach water.

The new water district built a new water system, constructed a 13-mile transmission pipeline, and provided service to Laguna Beach. The system was completed and water began to flow into the reservoirs in Spring 1927.

This was the only election in history with a unanimous ‘yes’ vote for that number of votes.

Securing our Water Supply

Introduction of water from wells in the Santa Ana River Basin solved Laguna’s water problems for several years, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. Other water producers in the Basin sued the District to prevent our groundwater production and export to Laguna Beach. In 1933, the Orange County Superior Court determined the right of the District to pump and export 2,025 acre-feet of groundwater from the Santa Ana River Basin each year.

Unfortunately, over time pumping from the basin increased, groundwater elevations fell, and sea water intruded into the basin. By 1941, Laguna’s water supply had again become salty and unreliable.

This deterioration in the quality of the groundwater caused the District to assist in the formation of Coastal Municipal Water District and to purchase Colorado River water through Coastal MWD from Metropolitan Water District in 1943. The District’s well field in the Santa Ana River Basin remained in operation until 1948.

More on Gavy Cravath – a true Laguna character

Clifford Carlton Cravath (March 23, 1881 – May 23, 1963), also nicknamed “Cactus Gravy”, was an outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the Boston Red Sox (1908), Chicago White Sox (1909), Washington Senators (1909) and Philadelphia Phillies (1912-1920).

Cravath was the first baseball player from the San Diego area to play Major League Baseball. He was born in Escondido, California. He is regarded as one of the first great sluggers in the game.

In 1915, Cravath hit 24 home runs, setting a single season record that stood until Babe Ruth broke it by hitting 29 homers in 1919.

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He changed baseball when he was caught in a run down between two players and as they were tossing the ball back and forth trying to catch Gavy he jumped up a caught the ball and threw it into the stands. He sauntered on to home plate and the rule was changed to never let that happen again.
Gavy Cravath managed the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League in 1921, then spent one year as a scout for the Minneapolis Millers, his last job in professional baseball.

Returning to Laguna Beach, California, where for years he’d leisurely enjoyed his off-season’s fishing the Pacific and accumulating property, he became active in the real-estate business.

In September 1927 Cravath was elected judge, and for the rest of his life enjoyed saying that he claimed the gavel quite by accident. He and two friends didn’t like the sitting judge in Laguna Beach so they drew straws to determine which of the three would run against him.

Gavy drew the short straw and won the election by an almost 3:1 ratio. Lacking any formal legal training, he claimed that he based his decisions on principles of sportsmanship he’d learned on the diamond.

Judge Cravath became known as a crusty jurist and stories abound from his years on the bench. Once, when two young robbers appeared before him and asked permission to join the armed forces as part of a probation sentence, Cravath said, “When I see a man in uniform walking down the street, I look at him with pride. You haven’t earned the right to wear such a uniform bearing the honor of our country. Six months in county jail.”

On another occasion, Cravath asked a Santa Ana motorcycle cop if he was heading back to the station after a hearing. The officer replied in the affirmative. Next the town drunk staggered into the courtroom and Cravath said, “Pete, you hop on the back of George’s bike and he’ll take you up to the county jail for a few days to dry out.” No stranger to due process, Pete objected, “You can’t do that, Gavy. Hell, I ain’t even been arraigned yet.” Cravath glared at the drunk. “Now look here, Pete,” he growled. “You know you were drunk and I know you were drunk. Now we’re not going to waste any of the taxpayers’ money on a goddam trial. Get on that goddam motorcycle and go to jail for a few days to dry out.” Pete grinned sheepishly and obeyed the order.

Well-known and widely respected, Judge Cravath was reversed only twice during his 36-year tenure on the bench. When he finally died at age 82 on May 23, 1963, few Laguna Beach residents even realized that in a prior life, the Honorable Clifford C. Cravath had set major-league home-run records that it took the mighty Babe Ruth to break.

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Cravath had a career .287 batting average with 119 home runs, then the fourth most in history, and 719 RBI in 1220 games. Mel Ott eventually tied his NL record of six home run titles; Ralph Kiner broke the record in 1952 with seven; and Mike Schmidt now holds the record of eight titles, set with the Phillies in 1986. Cravath’s 20th-century record of 119 homers was broken by Babe Ruth in 1921.

Cravath had a career .287 batting average with 119 home runs, then the fourth most in history, and 719 RBI in 1220 games. Mel Ott eventually tied his NL record of six home run titles; Ralph Kiner broke the record in 1952 with seven; and Mike Schmidt now holds the record of eight titles, set with the Phillies in 1986. Cravath’s 20th-century record of 119 homers was broken by Babe Ruth in 1921. Cravath returned to California, where he went into real estate and was elected magistrate judge (Justice of the Peace) in September 1927 in Laguna Beach, California; he died there at age 82. His nephew Jeff Cravath was head football coach at the University of Southern California from 1942–1950.

Clifford Carlton Cravath (March 23, 1881 – May 23, 1963), also nicknamed “Cactus Gravy”, was an outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the Boston Red Sox

 (1908), Chicago White Sox (1909), Washington Senators (1909) and Philadelphia Phillies (1912-1920).

Cravath was the first baseball player from the San Diego area to play Major League Baseball. He was born in Escondido, California. He is regarded as one of the first great sluggers in the game.

In 1915, Cravath hit 24 home runs, setting a single season record that stood until Babe Ruth broke it by hitting 29 homers in 1919.

Cravath was a career .287 hitter with 119 home runs and 719 RBI in 1220 games. After retiring, he became the Justice of Peace in Laguna Beach, California, where he died at age of 82.

Highlights

  • 6-time led league in home runs (1913-15, 1917-19)
  • 4-time led league in extra base hits (1913, 1915, 1917-18)
  • Twice led league in RBI (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in slugging average (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in total bases (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in on base percentage (1915-16)
  • Led league in hits (1913)
  • Led league in runs (1915)

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Laguna Cliffs – The North Laguna ‘Tree Streets’

From A Short History of Laguna Beach and South Laguna” by Karen Wilson Turnbull

“North Laguna, called Laguna Cliffs, was developed by Howard Heisler, L.C. McKnight and the Thumb Brothers. In 1905 they purchased the land north of Laguna Creek to Emerald Bay, from the Irvine Ranch Company. They subdivided and laid out the only streets in Laguna that run in straight right angles to one another. Water was piped in from Laguna Canyon, and this was the first neighborhood offering water with every lot.”

Howard Heisler, developer of the building, was an important real estate entrepreneur in the early days of Laguna. Along with L.C. McKnight he acquired most of the land which now compromises north Laguna from the Irvine Company and subdivided it in 1906 under the name Laguna Cliffs. This was the first tract in Laguna to have water directly piped to each lot, quite an achievement for its time.

This building on South Coast Highway is an important testimony to the memory of an important Laguna pioneer, H.G. Heisler.

“The Original Water Source for Laguna Beach”: Located at Laguna Canyon and El Toro Road, the remnants of the pump head were visible until a few years ago. The little tin cup was used to prime the pump. Carolyn Hobert Fisch Collection.

 


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