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Open House Review: 25 Carlina

Posted: 13 Jun 2013 05:00 AM PDT

About six weeks ago, 25 Carlina was on the market and went into escrow before I even had a chance to see it.  Well, that offer fell through and it’s back on again, so I toured the home on Sunday while I had the chance.  According to the realtor, the owners would accept an offer the following day.  When I checked Redfin on Monday, it was listed as Pending.

The basics:
Asking Price: $830,000
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.5
Square Footage: 2,100
Lot Size: 6,098
$/Sq Ft: $395
Days on Market: 41 (offer fell through; property was relisted on 6/6 and is now pending)
Property Type: Single Family Residence
Year Built: 1978
Community: Northwood - Amberwood

There are no HOA dues or Mello Roos taxes.

This home is situated on one of Northwood’s larger lots, with much of the extra land being in the front rather than the backyard.  It has a driveway big enough for four cars and a large grassy lawn leading up to a porch and the front door.  The backyard is an average size, with a small fountain in one corner, a built-in barbecue, and an extra wide side yard on one side.

The front door leads to a small entry way with a coat closet, then immediately turns into the living room.  Large travertine tiles cover the floor, extending into the dining room and kitchen as well.  These tiles didn’t feel homey to me at all and seemed better suited for outside than inside.  The living room has a cathedral ceiling.  The dining room is directly behind the living room, with a large window on one side and French doors leading to the backyard on another.

The kitchen is at the back of the house.  It has older, white tile counters that are in good shape but probably are original.  The cabinets have been updated to white melamine and all of the appliances (also white) are newer.  It includes a double oven and five burner stove.  There isn’t a breakfast nook and, though you could sit at the counter on the family room side of the kitchen, it doesn’t really have a big enough overhang to offer any leg room.

The family room is on the other side of the kitchen.  Unlike the other downstairs rooms, this one has gorgeous hardwood flooring that is much more inviting than the tile.  One wall has a built-in glass-fronted display cabinet.  Another wall has a fireplace in the corner and a sliding door to the backyard.  Like many of the rooms, this one has recessed lighting and crown molding.  There is a half bath off the family room.

Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, all off of one main square.  With the exception of one room, the entire upstairs has a light colored Berber carpet with many small stains/marks and signs of wear.  New owners will probably want to replace it. 

One of the secondary bedrooms is very large and has a huge built-in unit in one corner to provide a desk, bookshelves, and storage cabinets.  Windows flank both sides of the unit and a large, two-door mirrored closet takes up most of another wall.

The other two bedrooms aren’t quite as big as the first, but still offer plenty of space.  One has parquet floors, a two-door mirrored closet, two windows, a ceiling fan, and a small cut-out in one corner for shelves.  The other has only one window, a ceiling fan, and a newer looking mirrored closet.  All three bedrooms share a bathroom with a single sink set into a new vanity, a shower/tub combo and tile floors that I think are nicer than the downstairs tile.

The master bedroom is big.  It has a large mirrored closet and a very long, narrow walk-in closet.  One large window overlooks the backyard.  The master bath has been nicely updated with a double vanity.  The shower was designed to double as a bathtub, but it is all made of the same tile.

Overall, the house has been nicely updated, but still has room for more change.  The windows haven’t been replaced and the kitchen counters have not been upgraded.  Most of the house has attractive crown molding, scraped ceilings, and fresh paint.  Many rooms have recessed lighting and ceiling fans.  I’m not surprised that it sold quickly.

Irvine Housing Overview: May 2013

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 05:00 AM PDT

According to Altos Research, the Market Action Index (MAI) for Irvine’s single-family housing market is 45.84. So as defined by Altos, the Irvine single-family housing market is, as it has been most of this year, a seller’s market. (Above 30 is defined as a seller’s market; below is defined as a buyer’s market.)  Altos also states that the average single-family home in Irvine has been on the market for about 91 days as of May31, 2013.

Following is Irvine’s May 2013 housing market data provided by Redfin.

Type List Price/# Homes Listed Sold Price/# Homes Sold List Per SF Sold Per SF % Chg Y-O-Y Sold Price/SF
13-May $1,030/167 $890/113 $457 $411 21.60%
13-Apr n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
13-Mar $1,020K/101 $904K/62 $443 $381 13.40%
13-Feb na/109  na/272 $415 $354 n/a
13-Jan na/113 na/274 $409 $357 n/a
13-May $599K/177 $539K/144 $406 $386 30.40%
13-Apr n/a       n/a n/a n/a n/a
13-Mar $570K/111 $476K/88 $375 $344 21.60%
13-Feb na/100  na/301 $369 $325 n/a
13-Jan na/106 na/324 $377 $327 n/a
13-May $750K/371 $659K/274 $416 $393 26.80%
13-Apr n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
13-Mar $703K/219 $588K/151 $392 $359 18.90%
13-Feb na/209  na/573 $389 $334 n/a
13-Jan na/219 na/598 $389 $338 n/a

Open House Review: 1 Hopkins St.

Posted: 11 Jun 2013 05:00 AM PDT

University Park Single Family Home with Mixed Assets
1 Hopkins St.    $899,000

Turning off Culver onto Michelson and then winding back past the park to 1 Hopkins, I found a two level remodeled single family home that delivers some nice assets but also raises the question of nearby traffic.

CloseUp:  Sitting at the end of the cul-de-sac next to Michelson, this 3 bedroom, 3 bath home has a slick curb presence with a large driveway and an attached double garage. But as I walked up the drive, roamed around inside, and stepped out on the back patio, the sights and sounds of nearby traffic formed a constant background note.

On the plus side, the home has double paned windows, air conditioning and patio landscaping that could be expanded as a buffer. Local shops, markets and the freeway are easily accessible. 

Significant Numbers:  Built in 1965, the home has been on the market about 15 days. The home’s history shows  it was sold In June 2012 for $500,000  with a subsequent remodeling and price posted of $899,000. HOA dues are $123 a month, $/sq. ft. $386.   A remodel of this 2,329 sq. ft. home updated the space throughout, including the kitchen, customized patio,  5 bedrooms converted to 3 with a large master suite, and 3 baths.  The lot size is 5,227 sq. ft.  

As you approach the home, there is a walled front patio with a good sized spot for outdoor dining with double door access from the living room.  Moving inside, the slate flooring, recessed lighting and freshly painted earth tones with darker accents set an upbeat, sophisticated mood.

A dramatic entry opens to a light filled living room with a striking custom fireplace. A wrought iron stairway leads to the second floor bedrooms and a large family room is off to the right with a bath including shower off the hallway.  The formal dining room, kitchen and breakfast nook are off to the left.


The remodeled kitchen has stainless appliances including a double oven, and a bank of cabinets. The patio has a built-in barbecue, fire pit and seating area with landscaping that could be developed to absorb more noise and provide a more secluded atmosphere.

All of the bedrooms upstairs are carpeted. They include a huge master suite with a double set of mirrored closets, balcony, and  double vanity. 

Bedrooms, 3
Baths, 3
Double attached garage
Two parking spaces
Detached/no common walls
Central furnace, central air
Double pane windows
Laundry room
Association pool and spa
Irvine Unified School District

What will be weighed here? The extensive remodeling and fresh finish with a very functional floor plan in University Park will be weighed against nearby traffic and the price.  The lack of a downstairs bedroom might eliminate some buyers with older family members or visiting guests.  On the plus side, University Park offers an established community, a strong OC location, a regional park and award winning schools.

Who will choose 1 Hopkins?  Professional couples involved in the area with private businesses, or UC Irvine would find this location very convenient.  If they travel a lot, entertain, and have out of town guests, this property would handle everything.  A family with teens might be attracted to University High, the excellent recreational facilities, and the closeness to UCI. 

Recent listings:   11 Norton, $879,000;  33 Mandrake Way, $780,000.

Recent Sales: 4 Bascom, $740,000;   44 Gillman, $725,000

Eichler in Orange

Posted: 10 Jun 2013 05:00 AM PDT

Imagine I told you, amidst the jungle of the cookie cutter floor plans enlarged or reduced in the copier machine of the developer, there is an architect designed house, a piece of modernism, and a piece of history right here in Orange County? Eichler homes. Built by US American Real Estate Developer Joseph Eichler, there are 11,000 Eichler homes in California- Nine communities in North California, and three in Southern California. What makes these communities special is, these are not just tracts, they are communities that help people connect with each other, something that the modern society misses. (I hear the Eichler homeowners in the Fairhaven tract know each )

Last weekend, we were looking for something up the hills in Santa Ana, and as we came down the houses with panoramic views and nerve wrecking drive-ways, we saw an open house being hosted by our Realtor. We thought of dropping in to say Hello, and as we drove that way, I realized it was not just another Tustin-Santa Ana-Orange house with half acre lot, it was an Eichler! As soon as the car halted, I ran inside to see something I usually saw in the magazines. Bold colors, floor to ceiling glasses, a very unique design.. and an atrium to welcome us to the world of modernism. I fell in love, unfortunately the stage of life that we are in wouldn't allow us to buy this house- but for anyone with the slightest flair to art, architecture, and anything a cut from the rest, Eichler home is the answer.

What are the features of an Eichler home?

In these homes, traditional bearing walls are replaced by post and beam construction, and glass walls. The floor plans are open, making the house a bonding place for the family, but still giving each room the privacy it needs. The elevation is a typical low sloping roof, or a flat roofed single story structure without any front facing windows. If there is any glazing, it's usually closer to the ceiling, and sometimes frosted too.  Vertical 2" pattern wood siding is another prominent design feature along with clear geometric lines in the facade. There are skylights to make use of the natural light. Floor to ceiling glass windows/walls with glass transoms flood the house with natural light, bringing the outsides in. The atrium is the life center of the house, capturing all the activity from the various rooms of the house, and providing that airy feeling without constricting traditional hallways.

The homes are heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's style of Architecture- clean and simple. Joseph Eichler brought this exclusive and expensive style of architecture to mass market via San Francisco firm of Anshen & Allen, Jones & Emmons,  Claude Oakland. Architect designed tract homes without cookie cutter floor plans and planned pools and parks for the community to enjoy. When they first debuted in the market, they were priced at a very affordable $9,500, a far cry from the $2,395,000 this Eichler is listed right now in Palo Alto!

It's not all as rosy as the exotic pictures though. Even the iPhones had their own antennae issues.  Heating and cooling is an issue. The houses get too hot, or too cold. Some have solved that problem with radiant heaters beneath the floor, but lets' face it. They do need more maintenance than the regular air conditioning system. My almost teenager daughter pointed out that this house won't be convenient for sleeping in. Of course! All that light and bringing outside in will also bring the natural clock inside. Putting curtains will be blasphemy!  Then there is privacy issue too.. Lets' face it, having children in no way stops certain things from happening all over the house, but having glass walls and atriums into the kitchen and living rooms will. The homes stay low in elevation, and the lot size, fences give you the desired level of privacy from the neighbors, but then there is a certain need of privacy within the family also. Leaky roofs are another issue. When the roof is very flat, the 10 days a year California can be hard to deal with.

But there is a solution to every problem. The glasses from the days of yore can be replaced with the tinted glasses that control the temperatures. Low thermal emissivity glass can also be a solution. There are low profile roof top air-conditioning units that can be retrofitted on the roofs without compromising the integrity of the original design and construction. Kitchens can be upgraded via IKEA systems that are affordable and suit the Eichler styles. Rigid insulation spray helps with the roof, and there are Eichler roof upgrades offered by some roofing companies to make it sustainable and comfortable.

Another historical aspect of Eichler homes that might not make sense now, especially in Irvine where the Asian buyers are out-pricing any other buyer by a huge margin- When Eichler homes were built, Joseph Eichler took a stand against discrimination and issued a non-discrimination policy. Anyone could buy his Eichler homes, and be a part of the community. He sold homes to African-Americans breaking barriers. The consequence? He had to resign from National Association of Home Builders in 1958 because they refused to support his policy. In a way, he was the Martin Luther King of housing.

Even in this day and age where money can buy anything and everything, we see segregated housing - but it's mostly economic segregation. When the "company" lets low income families into Irvine, many take offense, talk about how they can't shield their children even after throwing so much money for an Irvine house. That makes up a whole different topic. Without digressing into the social and economic impacts of housing, let's get back to Eichler homes. End of the day like minded people flock together, and for Eichlers, it's the educated art and architecture enthusiasts.

Does the design of a house affect the thinking of the inhabitant?

Joseph Eichler lived in a rental Frank Lloyd Wright home. Steve Jobs lived in an Eichler home. Is it too soon to advertise the association of Eichler with invention? Most of the people living in the Eichler homes are well accomplished in their world, if not world famous. Does the open design open up their minds as well? Where do Irvine homes stand in that regard? Are our homes too constricting and cookie cutter to stifle our thinking? Is it all doom and gloom for our math, music and martial arts progenies thanks to their itty-bitty backyards? It might make up for great independent thesis study, but as a more generic statement, don't we all agree that the adversities bring the best out of a person, not an entitled life? I am in no way suggesting taking all those privileges away from a child, or questioning those who do it, but just trying to make a connection with housing and lifestyles defining success.

Here is the Eichler home we visited in Orange:  732 South Woodland Street, Orange CA

Virtual tour of the house: Orange Eichler

Offered at $769,000, it has four bedrooms and 1.75 bathrooms. Price/SF is close to Irvine standards at $445, but it comes with  a 9,148 lot. The Realtor's description says "Living in a home that is an architectural design statement is one of life's joys, and here is your opportunity to do just that. With wonderful, abundant natural light and terazzo tile flooring, this vibrant 4 bedroom, 2 bath Eichler classic brings all the beauty of the outside in. With great positioning on a huge 9,148 square foot lot, this lovely home was once featured in the pages of Sunset Magazine. Enter the front of the house into a plein-air atrium with soothing water feature that opens to the sky, perfect for casual summer dining or a relaxing cup of morning coffee. The spacious kitchen opens directly onto the family room, and the entire back of the house takes in the panorama of the huge backyard pool and free-standing spa, with endless room for huge parties. In the master bath is an open, step-in shower and the bedroom has a long, modern wall cabinet with frosted glass for extra storage. Imagine sitting in your front bedroom/office and being able to see all the way through your house into the backyard, through walls of glass! This beautiful home in the Fairhaven Eichler tract is located just a short distance to the popular Esplanade walking trail, and close to the Chapman corridor with shops, restaurants and plenty of shopping."

Would you buy an Eichler home? I would love to, but at this stage in life, public schools associated with the house aren't good enough, and private schools aren't an option. I don't mind the upgrades with the trade off being bragging rights. Compared to Palo Alto, this sounds a bargain, but the soil of Orange isn't as sacred and special as Palo Alto, or even Irvine. Eichler home is an empty canvas to express yourself and own the home your way, but what about Irvine homes?

Currently we live in a small and cute detached condominium designed by one of the prominent Orange County Architect, and again, like an Eichler, the Irvine homes are built as communities, not simply as tracts. It takes a great architect to design a mansion, and a greater architect to design something small and extremely functional. It's not a masterpiece yet, but going by what's being churned off the copy machine in the newer developments, and seeing how the same floor plan is aging in the sister community, I would say I am a happy Irvine homeowner!

Share your thoughts and comments at Talk Irvine. We love hearing from you. What is the best feature of your house? What's something you would have changed in your house?  


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