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Orchard Hills Overview 2: The Groves

Over the last several weeks, I have visited and reviewed the non-gated portion of Orchard Hills, including the parks, common areas, and all five sets of homes. Today, I will give an overview of The Groves at Orchard Hills, the gated portion on the west side of Culver. In the coming weeks, I will review each of the seven sets of homes.

All seven collections in The Groves are single family homes. Each one has three or four different models and all homes are two stories. Five different builders designed the homes. All of the homes in the Groves are part of the Tustin Unified School District. Currently, students will attend Hicks Canyon Elementary School from kindergarten through fourth grade, Orchard Hills School for fifth through eighth grade, and Beckman High School. However, Orchard Hills School is officially designated as a K-8 school, so as the population of the neighborhood grows, students will likely attend Orchard Hills beginning in kindergarten and will not be slated for Hicks Canyon. Potential buyers should always verify school information with the sales office and/or school district.

Here is a quick rundown of the collections, from smallest to biggest:

Collection

Sq Ft

Beds

Baths

Base Price

Builder

Capella

2,906 – 3,223

4

4 – 4.5

Low $1,000,000’s

Taylor Morrison

La Vita

3,400 – 3,942

4 – 5

4.5 – 5.5

Mid $1,000,000’s

Brookfield Residential

Messina

3,531 – 3,801

4 – 5

4.5 – 5.5

Mid $1,000,000’s

TRI Pointe Homes

Vicenza

3,654 – 4,014

3 – 6

3.5 – 6

Mid $1,000,000’s

KB Home

Saviero

3,795 – 4,050

4 – 5

4.5 – 5.5

Mid $1,000,000’s

Taylor Morrison

Amelia

4,215 – 5,181

4 – 7

4.5 – 7.5

High $1,000,000’s

The New Home Company

Trevi

5,095 – 7,030

5 – 7

5.5 – 7.5

Low $2,000,000’s

The New Home Company

Some homes have at least one model with a three-car garage, though most have a two-car garage. Many have an additional storage area, including some with options to convert the storage into an inside space instead (such as a craft room, prep kitchen, super laundry room, and more). Full details about the garages will come with each collection’s review.

There are two parks on this side of Orchard Hills. The Resort at The Groves is exclusively for the use of residents within the gates. It is located in the northwest corner of the neighborhood, surrounded by the Capella, Amelia and Trevi collections. Because it is higher in the hills, some portions of the resort have panoramic views of the city. Open use areas include grassy fields, picnic tables, a fireplace and shade structures. The resort includes a full basketball court and two tennis courts. Within the gated pool area, there is a junior Olympic pool, spa, and wading pool, along with both open and covered picnic areas. There is a multi-purpose room adjacent to the pool area. The Resort has a nice playground, with separate structures for older and younger children. The play equipment includes a small water feature, with a pump and tracks to flow into different buckets. Woven throughout the play structures are maps and historical information about Irvine.

The other park is Settler’s Park, which opened several years ago and is not behind the gates of the Groves. This six-acre park is open to the public. The sporting facilities include a sand volleyball court, two lighted basketball courts, and a huge soccer field. The picnic area includes both shaded and uncovered tables alongside several barbecues. Children love the bike/scooter track that surrounds the two play structures and sandbox. Settler’s Park has a walking path that circles the entire park, including the soccer field.

Orchard Hills School is just above Settler’s Park, with its main entrance on Culver Drive. As I mentioned, the designated K – 8 facility currently serves only grades 5 – 8, though it will eventually open for younger students. Parking is notoriously horrible around the school, with heavy traffic at pickup time, so residents who are close enough to walk will probably want to do so. The Groves will have a greenbelt running up the middle, making the school easier to get to from many homes. Since opening in 2010, Orchard Hills School has earned the California Distinguished School Award. As part of the TUSD technology bond measure, all students receive an iPad that is used daily to enhance the educational experience.

As I mentioned in my previous overview of Orchard Hills, the neighborhood already has an established shopping center at the corner of Culver Drive and Portola Parkway. The Orchard Hills Village Center houses a Pavilions and CVS, several restaurants (including Zov’s and La Sirena Grill), plus a bank, salon, yoga studio, and much more.

For those looking to experience nature, Orchard Hills boasts paths that weave along the avocado groves and trails that lead to open space around Loma Ridge. The trail is only open during scheduled, docent-led activities. Its double loop offers a 1.2 mile lower loop trail for beginners and 3.1 mile upper loop for more advanced hikers. On the trail, hikers can discover wildflowers, native birds, Eucalyptus trees, and enjoy panoramic views (including the ocean and Catalina on clear days). The elevation starts at 400 feet and ends at 815 feet if you take the upper loop. Docent-led activities include a sunset hike, full moon hike, morning nature hike and a cardio hike.

I am looking forward to touring the seven different luxury home collections and reporting back in the coming weeks.

Irvine Housing Overview: Condos and Houses—July 2014

Below are numbers provided by Redfin for Irvine’s July housing market. The numbers are broken down so that the statistics for condos and houses can be seen. The number of homes on the market in Irvine appears to be leveling off. And the number of homes sold has decreased when compared to previous months this year.

Also note that Altos Research states that the Market Action Index (MAI) for Irvine’s single-family housing market was 35.13 on August 8, 2014. According to Altos, above 30 indicates a sellers’ market, below 30 indicates a buyers’ market.

Following is Irvine’s 2014 housing market data as 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
Houses
14-Jul $1,068K/374 $865K/91 $449 $415 -4.40%
14-Jun $1,050K/379 $932K/98 $440 $433 4.60%
14-May $1,060K/334 $895K/100 $444 $448 8.50%
14-Apr $1,096K/270 $900K/97 $447 $440 11.70%
14-Mar n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
14-Feb $1,090K/203 $905K/57 $451 $420 10.50%
14-Jan $1,082K/170 $832K/62 $461 $429 22.20%
Condos
14-Jul $600K/388 $550K/101 $415 $396 0.08%
14-Jun $599K/381 $558K/130 $416 $403 3.30%
14-May $590K/332 $570K/125 $413 $402 5.20%
14-Apr $590K/310 $550K/125 $411 $394 4.50%
14-Mar n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
14-Feb $599K/248 $560K/80 $406 $395 13.50%
14-Jan $603K/226 $626K/58 $406 $392 20.60%
All
14-Jul $788K/839 $663K/215 $424 $406 1.20%
14-Jun $775K/832 $677K/257 $422 $412 4.30%
14-May $788K/704 $722K/238 $422 $421 7.40%
14-Apr $778K/618 $678K/247 $425 $409 7.60%
14-Mar $799K/487 $680K/na $435 $407 n/a
14-Feb $745K/479 $665K/145 $421 $400 10.50%
14-Jan $412K/422 $688K/130 $422 $412 23.40%

Open House Review: 6121 Sierra Bravo

Turtle Rock Detached Single Family 4 Bedroom Home in Sierra Ridge

6121 Sierra Bravo $1,295,000

Turning off of Turtle Rock Drive onto Sierra Lisa takes you to this single level, single family home on Sierra Bravo. On the market about 30 days, this property shows very well. According to the broker, it has $350,000 in upgrades and finishes. Recently I have seen several properties in this Sierra Ridge community, and this one competes well in space, overall finish and location.

Significant Numbers: Built in 1972, the home is 2,150 sq. ft on a 6,534 sq. ft. lot. It has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. HOA dues are $129 a month and the price per sq. ft. is $602. There are no Mello Roos taxes.

Close up: Nicely landscaped, from the curb on through a latticed side entrance with fountain, double doors open to a large entry.

On the left there is large family room with shuttered windows, wood floors and fireplace.

There is a formal dining room on the right. French doors access the immaculate garden areas in the wraparound patio and yard.

Straight ahead there is a comfortable atrium set up as an added outdoor family room. The kitchen and casual dining area conveniently open to a breezy covered patio dining area and a wrap around patio and yard with a professionally landscaped French garden effect. There is also a built-in barbecue.

To the left a formal living room has high ceilings, large windows with custom coverings and decorator paints.

Throughout the home the added baseboards, crown molding, recessed lighting, double paned windows, and skylights make the most of the good sized rooms.

The kitchen has custom cabinetry, a center island, garden windows, granite counters and stainless appliances.

The master suite opens to the atrium, has a large walk in closet, double vanity, granite counters, and a spa setting tub and shower.

There are three more bedrooms and another full bath, plus powder room.

More specifics:

Single family home

Bedrooms, 4

Baths, 2.5

Detached, no common walls

Central heat, central air

Attached two car garage

Two parking spaces

Laundry in garage

Association pool, spa

Irvine Unified School District

What should be considered? The extensive remodeling in a good sized 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath detached single family home in the Turtle Rock Sierra Ridge community should compete well in the Irvine market. Excellent elementary schools and two beautiful parks are nearby. The all on one level floor plan, along with the beautifully maintained French garden yard and patio on a good sized lot add appeal and value.

Who will move in? An active family with middle school kids or teens may see this home as very workable with UCI, excellent Irvine schools and Turtle Rock’s hiking trails close by. Families with mature members will be drawn to the single level light filled setting and families that entertain a lot will be attracted to the very functional flow of space inside and out.

Recent nearby listings: 23 Sunlight, $1,160,000; 18845 Tabor Drive, $1,188,888

Recent nearby sales: 6162 Sierra Palos Rd., $1,190,000; 6286 Sierra Sienna Rd., $1,555,000.

Open House Review: 19 Lucero East

This home is nicely located on a quiet cul-de-sac street with Santiago Hills Elementary within short walking distance, just on the other side of Yale. One of the 2 community pools is just steps away from the end of the cul-de-sac.

The basics:

Asking Price: $808,000

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2.5

Square Footage: 1,910

Lot Size: 4,792

$/Sq Ft: $424

Days on Market: 18

Property Type: Single Family Residence

Year Built: 1978

Community: Northwood – Park Paseo

HOA dues are $85 per month and there no are Mello Roos taxes.

With it being on a zero-lot-line there are no windows along one side of the home, but it is not apparent due to the large windows and good amount of light in each room. This house has a tile entrance, wood floor kitchen, carpeted living, dining and family rooms as well as carpeted staircase and secondary bedrooms. The bathrooms and master bedroom have vinyl tile flooring. The home has original features such as textured ceilings, windows, cabinetry that has been painted, and staircase railing. A mix of original and updated lighting and some outdated wallpaper is also found in home, but the overall layout is open and light. The kitchen and landscaping are updated and the downstairs windows are decorated with plantation shutters.

The front door is located on the side of the home. Upon entry, a short hallway and the staircase are directly in front of you. The living room is to the right and is a step down from the rest of the ground level. To the left, behind the open door, is the dining room, which fits a decent size table. The entire area has vaulted ceilings and an abundance of light. Built-in shelves and a set of lower cabinets furnish one of the living room walls.

Off of the dining room is one of the entrances to the kitchen. The kitchen is updated with new granite countertops, the original cabinetry is painted white and the appliances are black. Handles have been added to the cabinetry which gives it an updated look. Old panel lighting is still found in the ceiling. A nice garden window overlooks the nicely landscaped backyard. On the other side of the doorway is a two door pantry. A small casual eating nook sits nicely across from the pantry in front of a large window facing the backyard.

The eating area opens up to the one side of the rectangular family room. The original brick fireplace has been painted white and is located on the wall between the eating nook and the short hallway. A small wet bar which has a sink and lower cabinets sits in the back corner of the room. The half bath downstairs and the garage entrance are located off of a short hallway next to the wet bar. The bathroom has a plenty of counter space with a single sink with brass colored hardware. The original cabinets have been painted a light color.

A coat closet is found under the stairs.

The backyard is a nice size with a lattice covered patio and artificial grass. The patio cover looks a bit worn, but the backyard is a nice size for entertaining and it provides additional grassy space for children and pets.

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms. A set of linen cabinets sits at the top of the landing, outside of the secondary bedrooms. The two secondary bedrooms are similar in size, both with double sliding closet doors and a large window. The second bedroom has dark blue carpet and some dated wallpaper with a tennis racket design.

The shared bathroom has a single sink and ample counter space on both sides of the sink. The cabinets are original and the paint above the tub/shower combo is slightly peeling. The floors are a laminate tile floor and bathroom is wallpapered.

The master bedroom has a set of 4 large windows that run up to the vaulted ceilings and overlooks the lattice patio cover. The high ceilings and windows create a nice open feeling. The room and bathroom have outdated wallpaper and vinyl tile flooring, but it is a decent size with a good size walk-in closet. The bathroom is found through an open entryway. The cabinetry, countertops and lighting are original but the dual sinks’ faucet hardware are updated and the space is in great condition. The separate walk-in shower has newer glass sliding doors. The 4×4 tile surround looked original but is in very good condition.

19 Lucero East is a nicely laid out 3 bedroom home for a family. The home is in a great location on a quiet cul-de-sac street and steps away to the schools and community amenities. The home needs some updating, but the buyer will have the opportunity to remodel the home with the colors and designs they desire. The square footage price is on the higher side of what has been selling in the past few months but some people may consider location and layout when looking at the price.

Open House Review: 40 Sandpiper

Woodbridge Detached Remodeled Single Family Home Inside the Loop

40 Sandpiper $875,000

Turning off of West Yale Loop onto Stonecreek takes you to this single level 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family home on Sandpiper. This home raises some questions. It has a polished remodeling with added square footage, pristine outdoor setting, and inside loop Woodbridge location. But it has been moving slowly through the market. It was listed in May at $999,000 and has been reduced to $875,000. Traffic was busy at last week’s open house as a number of couples checked it out.

Significant Numbers: Built in 1976, this 1,900 sq. foot, single level home is $461 a sq. ft. HOA dues are $82 a month. The lot size is 4,356 sq. ft. There are no Mello Roos taxes.

Close up: As you pull up to the curb, the home is immaculate. Flagstone hardscape leads to a gated courtyard with raised flower beds that circles around the home to a sleek spa retreat in the rear.

Inside, the custom look continues. To the left there is a formal living room with built-in cabinetry, vaulted ceilings, dramatic windows, window seat, and large fireplace.

Straight ahead there is a formal dining room with custom lighting and wainscoting.

To the right, the kitchen has granite counters, center island, glassed cabinetry and a garden window.

A breakfast room with built-in window seat overlooks the patio along with the light filled family room that has French doors opening to the patio where there is a custom spa and built-in barbecue. The space is snug, but well used.

To achieve the deluxe master suite an original atrium was turned into a huge carpeted retreat complete with skylights and separate office/study with built-in cabinetry and two person desk. There is a double vanity and two closets. The bathroom has original tile.

There are two more carpeted small bedrooms and a full bath also with original tile. The laundry is in the garage.

Throughout the home gleaming hardwood floors and bedroom carpeting, custom cabinetry, recessed lighting and well placed windows work.

More specifics:

Single family home

Bedrooms, 3

Baths, 2

Detached, no common walls

Central air

Attached two car garage

Two parking spaces

Central air

Laundry in garage

Association pool, spa

Irvine Unified School District

What should be considered? Woodbridge’s community credentials, beach club ambiance and easy access to Irvine and Orange County will be plusses for this elegant single family home. Even though the home is inside the loop, the distance from the beach club will be compared. Other properties such as 11 Mandarin, that recently sold, are closer.

Who will move in? Someone looking for a detached single family home that is all on one level, and has been nicely remodeled and maintained, may consider this one. Professional couples, small families or mature buyers who want the home to be an easy extension of their lives will welcome the sleek spa and bbq, easy outside upkeep and comfortable master retreat. Good sized active families with middle school or high school kids may be tempted by the location and excellent schools, but find the outside space confining.

Recent nearby listings: 23 Alderbrook, $849,000; 20 Ashwood, $918,000

Recent nearby sales: 24 Sandpiper, $935,000; 11 Mandarin, $940,000

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A Review of the Strada Tract at Orchard Hills

The final collection of homes in the Orchard Hills II neighborhood is Strada. These homes are the biggest, ranging from 2,195 – 2,693 square feet. Again, these homes were built by Irvine Pacific. All homes have 4 bedrooms, 3 – 4.5 bathrooms, and some models also have a loft or bonus room. All homes have a two-car garage. In addition to the three standard models, there is also a Residence 2X and a 3X. All models have a main floor bedroom. The Strada collection is the first one north of Narrow Path when you enter the community. It surrounds Orchard Vista Park and some homes will have views of the avocado groves.

Some of the standard amenities in all homes include Kitchenaid stainless steel appliance package, including cooktop, oven, microwave, dishwasher and hood; white satin Thermofoil cabinets with adjustable shelves; granite slab kitchen counters with 6-inch backsplash and full backsplash at cooktop; stainless steel double basin sink with Kohler pull-out faucet; master bath with a sterling tub with 6” x 6” tile surround and separate shower; dual Kohler undermount sinks with marble countertops and backsplash; Kohler polished chrome faucets; ceramic tile flooring at entry, kitchen, dining, baths and laundry; plush carpet throughout living areas; pre-wired multi-media plate; fire-resistant concrete tile roofs; decorative front doors; high efficiency air conditioning and gas furnace; tankless water heaters; and energy efficient bathroom fixtures. All homes are Build it Green™ Certified.

Strada homes have four different elevations: Monterey, Northern Italian, Formal Spanish and Tuscan. The Strada neighborhood is actually split between the Tustin and Irvine Unified School Districts. Of the 224 total homes, 60 will attend Tustin schools and will be in the first several phases released. The remaining 164 homes will be zoned for Irvine Unified, with those phases coming after the initial 60 have sold. Students going to Tustin schools will attend Hicks Canyon Elementary, Orchard Hills School, and Beckman High School. Currently, Hicks Canyon serves grades K – 4 and Orchard Hills serves 5 – 8. Eventually Orchard Hills will be a K-8 facility. Students attending Irvine Schools will go to Canyon View Elementary, Sierra Vista Middle School, and Northwood High School.

Basic Neighborhood Financial Information

Approximate HOA Dues: $196 per month

Approximate Tax rate: 1.06%

Approximate Mello Roos for schools in Irvine Unified: $4512 per year (AD Tax: $2,650; CFD Tax: $1,700; other tax $162)

Approximate Mello Roos for schools in Tustin Unified: $4,554 – $5,104 per year (AD Tax: $2,650, CFD Tax: $1,800 – $2,350; other tax: $104)

Overall Effective Tax Rate: 1.5%

Prices start at around $970,000 for Residence One, $1,020,000 for Residence Two, and $1,088,000 for Residence Three.

Residence One

2,195 square feet

4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

Optional California Room, Optional Super California Room, Optional Conservatory

Base Price: $970,000 ($442 per square foot)

Residence One is modeled in the Monterey style and features a large balcony on the second floor. When you enter, there is a long hallway leading back to the great room and kitchen, with a doorway leading to the downstairs bed and bath on the right. Upgraded flooring and window treatments are found throughout the model.

The downstairs bedroom is pretty typical. It is average in size, has windows facing the street and side of the house, and has a somewhat small, standard closet. The model shows the optional French-style doors instead of the regular sliding closet doors. There are upgraded recessed lights and crown molding.

The adjacent bathroom features numerous upgrades. The single sink vanity is shown with upgraded cabinets, drawer pulls, Caesarstone countertop, backsplash and framed mirror. The vanity is a bit bigger than in many first floor bathrooms. The shower tiles, including the surround, decorative liner, and floor, are all upgraded. There is not an option for a bathtub.

The great room, kitchen and dining room are at the back of the house. The kitchen is on the right and is also shown with many upgrades. There is a center island with bar seating, as well as the sink and dishwasher. All of the other appliances are spread across one long wall. The oven, microwave and fridge come first, followed by a short counter, and then the cooktop. There is a longer counter on the other side that stretches all the way to the back of the dining room. Upgrades include the cabinets, refrigerator, beverage center, furniture package detail at island, brushed chrome tubular pulls, glass doors, pot and pan drawers, Caesarstone countertop and backsplash. The other appliances, plus the sink and faucet, are part of the standard package. This home also has a walk-in pantry at one end that is shown with a built-in unit instead of the standard shelves. The pantry doors are also upgraded.

The dining area is just behind the kitchen. It includes double sliders and a single French door, all leading to the backyard. There are no upgrades shown in the dining room.

The great room is adjacent to the kitchen. It resembles most other great rooms I’ve seen throughout Orchard Hills. A full wall of windows faces the backyard and an upgraded built-in unit sits on the opposite wall. The biggest difference between this great room and all the others is that the staircase to the second floor actually sits at the far side of the room, rather than off the hallway. A small alcove at the foot of the stairs leads to the garage access and a big closet with storage beneath the stairs.

The backyard of this model has a few different options and is shown with the standard trellis option, though the trellis itself is upgraded from the basic wooden structure. The yard is long and narrow and is shown with three fountains along the back wall. Buyers who don’t want the traditional trellis can opt for one of two California rooms instead. The basic California room is about as wide as the great room, not including the stairway area. The Super California room stretches all the way to the end of the house. Both options still have a French door from the dining room. The final option for this space is a conservatory, which is actually an indoor room. In this case, the windows in the great room become the wide doorway into the room, and the French door in the dining room is also just an open doorway. The conservatory would have French doors leading to the backyard and windows on the other wall. It would be the same size as the standard California room. Buyers choosing the conservatory would gain an inside room, but lose most of their outdoor space.

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, including the master. There is an optional tech desk at the top of the stairs. The master bedroom sits at the end of the long hall and the other bedrooms are off to the right.

As you go down the hall on the right, the bathroom is the first door on your right. It includes two sinks in a shared vanity, shown with upgraded cabinets, backsplash and counters. A door separates the vanity from the shower/tub combo, which is also shown with upgraded tile liners. The sinks and hardware are all standard. There is a small linen closet just opposite the bathroom. There is an option for a shower without a tub.

The laundry room is at the end of this hall. It has side by side machines, a sink, and upper cabinets. The countertop surrounding the sink, tile wainscot, and the cabinet style and finish are all upgrades.

Bedroom 2 is on the left and is the smaller of the secondary rooms. It has one window facing the street and two more facing the side. There is a standard closet with storage above, shown with upgraded doors.

Bedroom 3, which is on the right, is noticeably bigger. Like the other room, it has a standard closet and storage above. The recessed lights and crown molding are upgrades. Two windows face the side of the home; an additional window and French door face the street. The door leads to the large balcony that spans the full length of the bedroom and laundry room. Some elevations may only have a small, Juliette balcony.

The master bedroom is at the end of the main hallway. It is similar to most other masters I’ve seen, though it feels a little more spacious than some. The recessed lights, ceiling fan and crown molding are upgrades. The closet is just inside the main doorway, rather than being part of the bathroom as in most homes. It is shown with the standard pole and shelves.

The master bath features split sinks with the bathtub in the middle. Each vanity has upgraded cabinets, drawers, detailing, countertop, backsplash and framed mirror. The tub deck shares the same upgrades, plus is a jetted tub instead of the standard. Buyers could also choose a free-standing tub in the same space. The shower is a good size, but only has a tiny seat in one corner. The shower tile is upgraded but the enclosure and hardware are standard.

Aside from the staircase being at the back of the house, this home is pretty similar to Irvine Pacific’s other Orchard Hills homes. It has a very similar layout with a bit more square footage than the others.

Residence Two

2,480 square feet

4 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

Loft, Optional California Room, Optional Conservatory

Base Price: $1,020,000 ($411 per square foot)

Residence Two X

2,512 square feet

4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths

Tech Space, Optional California Room, Optional Conservatory

Base Price: Not Listed

The model is the basic Residence Two, shown in the Northern Italian elevation. In the Two, the entry is at the front; in the Two X, the entry is at the side of the house. The Two has a full bath downstairs that is adjacent to the bedroom. In the Two X, there is a full, en-suite bathroom and a separate powder room downstairs. The Two X also has an additional, coat closet in the downstairs hall (both models have a big closet under the stairs). The Two has a big loft upstairs, while the Two X has L-shaped stairs and an L-shaped tech area, with the space between open to the first floor. Two X units will always be on corner lots.

As in Residence One, the entry shows a hallway leading to the back of the house, with the downstairs bedroom off to one side (in this case, it’s on the left, because the home is shown in reverse).

The bedroom is a little bigger than in Residence One. Windows on three sides will let light in throughout the day. It has a fairly small closet. The recessed lights, crown molding and wainscot are upgrades. In Residence Two X, the standard, small closet is replaced with a walk-in closet.

The adjacent bathroom has a larger vanity with a single sink (shown in an upgraded, top-mount style). Though the countertop and backsplash are upgraded, the cabinets are standard. The shower and toilet are through a separate door; the shower has upgraded tile throughout. There is an option for a shower/tub combo. In the Two X, the vanity is smaller and the toilet is right next to it. The shower is still through a separate door, but there is not an option for a tub. The powder room in the Two X would have a pedestal sink.

As you move down the main hallway, the stairs are on the left and garage access is on the right. At the end of the hall, the great room is on the left and kitchen on the right. The great room, again, resembles all the other great rooms I’ve seen lately. This one has two windows on the side and three more on the back wall. It has an upgraded built-in unit on one wall and is open to the adjacent kitchen.

The kitchen is set up a little differently than some of the others, but is overall still similar. This one is a true L-shaped kitchen, with appliances, cabinets and counters taking up two full walls. The front wall has the oven, microwave, and fridge, plus the cooktop surrounded by counter space. The side wall has the sink and dishwasher, along with an optional mini fridge, plus plenty of counter space. The center island doesn’t have any appliances, but could have an optional sink (not shown). This kitchen has a fully upgraded Jenn-Air appliance package, plus warming drawers, glass cabinet doors, upgraded Caesarstone countertops, fully upgraded backsplash, and an upgraded sink and faucet. Aside from the glass doors, the cabinets are the standard white Thermofoil shaker cabinets with brushed chrome knobs. All of the extra counters make this kitchen feel much more spacious to me than some of the others. It also has a large, walk-in pantry in the back corner, shown with upgraded shelving units and a frosted glass door.

The dining room is behind the kitchen and is pretty similar to that of Residence One. The standard room has two sliding doors leading to the backyard and another slider leading to the (optional) California Room. As in Residence One, there is a standard trellis instead of the California Room or there is an option for a conservatory. Both the California Room and conservatory stretch all the way to the end of the house, so there isn’t a separate Super California Room option. If you choose the standard trellis, all of the sliding doors could be replaced with optional bi-fold doors.

Upstairs, this home has a loft and three bedrooms, including the master suite. The Two X has a tech space instead of the loft. I really like the loft space in Residence Two. It is just to the right at the top of the stairs and feels very bright, with light coming in from two sides. It isn’t a huge space, but seemed comfortable and was shown with an upgraded built-in storage bench.

The master suite is on the left at the top of the stairs. Like the loft, it has light coming from two walls (the side and the back of the house) and it feels bright even though the windows aren’t particularly large. It is bigger than the master in Residence One and has plenty of wall space. The recessed lights, crown molding, and tongue & groove ceiling are all upgrades.

The master bath is highly upgraded. There is a vanity with two sinks but not too much extra counter space around or between them. The open shelving, backsplash, counters and mirrors are all upgraded. The bathtub and shower sit across from the vanity. The tub deck, shower tile and shower enclosure are upgraded, too. The shower is a pretty good size, with a wide ledge shared by the tub and a small seat in one corner. There is an option for a free standing tub. The walk-in closet is very big in this home and is shown with an upgraded door and full built-in organizer.

The remaining rooms are down a hallway that is straight ahead from the top of the stairs. The laundry room is on the left and has side by side machines plus a sink. There are upper cabinets plus a full-height linen cabinet. The tile is upgraded but the hanging bar over the sink is included.

The secondary bathroom is on the right, across from the laundry room. The vanity has two sinks and is shown with only an upgraded backsplash. A door separates the sinks from the shower/tub combo, which is shown with upgraded tile. This bathroom has the option for a shower only.

Bedroom 2 is very large. It faces the front of the house and has French doors leading to a Juliette balcony. The spacious room has a standard closet with storage above, shown with upgraded cabinet doors. The recessed lights, ceiling fan, crown molding and wall paneling are all upgrades.

Bedroom 3 is much smaller. It has a large window facing the side of the house and a standard closet on the opposite wall. The storage above is shown without the upgraded doors. Besides being smaller, this room doesn’t have a ton of wall space. The recessed lights and chair rail are upgraded.

Overall, I liked this home more than Residence One. I think the layout of the kitchen and the extra loft space make it a much more desirable floor plan.

Residence Three

2,693 square feet

4 Bedrooms, 4.5 Baths

Bonus Room, Optional California Room, Optional Conservatory

Base Price: $1,088,000 ($404 per square foot)

This home also has two different base models, with the Three being a standard location and the Three X being a corner location. The model shows is of the Three X with a Tuscan elevation. Both variations have a side entry, but the Three has a separate door from the street leading to a private walkway. The only real difference inside the homes is the addition of a storage area in the laundry room in the Three X. Some elevations have a large deck over the garage.

When you enter the home, a wall is in front of you and the stairs (with a large closet underneath) are to the right. The downstairs bed and bath, powder room and garage access are down a hall to the left. The great room, kitchen and dining room are off to the right. Throughout the home, the flooring, window treatments, baseboards and recessed-style painted cabinets are upgraded.

The powder room has a pedestal sink and is shown with an upgraded tile wall, crown molding and framed mirror.

The bedroom is a little bigger than the downstairs bedrooms in Residences One and Two. It has windows facing both the front and side of the home. The closet is shown with upgraded French-style doors, though sliders are standard. The en-suite bathroom has a single sink and a shower, with an option for a tub. The countertop and sink, backsplash, and shower surround, liner and floor are all upgraded. The shower is a good size for a downstairs bathroom.

Once again, this home has a very standard great room. Two windows face the side of the house and an upgraded built-in fills one wall. The recessed lights and crown molding are included in this model. The regular setup would include more windows facing the backyard; however, this model shows the optional conservatory instead.

The conservatory adds extra depth to the great room. Shown here with a grand piano, this space could also make a nice office/tech area or mini playroom. There are windows on one wall and two sliders leading out to the backyard. As in Residences One and Two, the standard home comes with a trellis in this space; a California Room is also an option.

The dining room sits between the great room and kitchen. This open set up offers space for a much bigger table than when the dining room is at the back of the kitchen. Additional sliding doors lead out to the backyard and, when applicable, to the trellis or California room. Bifold doors are also an option with the standard trellis.

The kitchen isn’t as open as in the other models. Stacked upper cabinets also make it feel a little more closed in. This heavily upgraded kitchen includes a Wolf/Asko appliance package, sub-zero wine cooler, frosted glass doors on many cabinets, pot and pan drawers, Caesarstone “eggshell” countertop with full backsplash, a Kohler stainless steel apron front sink and a Kohler “sensate” stainless steel faucet. The center island is bigger than in the other models and is shown with the optional mini fridge but without the optional sink. Again, the walk-in pantry shows the fully upgraded organizer. The sink overlooks the backyard while the cooktop, fridge, microwave and oven are all along the other wall. While I usually like it when the sink looks out to the backyard, this yard is so small that it actually feels like you’re too close to the wall when you look outside.

Upstairs, the bonus room is just to the right of the stairway. It is basically the same as the loft in Residence Two, but called a bonus room instead. The media cabinet, ceiling fan and crown molding are upgrades.

The master suite is straight ahead of the stairs and has a small foyer before you enter the room. Windows overlook the backyard and sides of the house. The recessed lights and crown molding are upgraded. The huge master closet is accessible for a corner of the bedroom. The model shows the upgraded organizer.

The master bath has an option for a door dividing it from the bedroom. The vanity has two sinks and is shown with an upgraded furniture package, drawers and open cubbies, countertop and backsplash. The model shows the optional free standing tub, though the standard version is for a tub with a surrounding deck that is attached to the adjacent shower. The shower is pretty big, but without the shared ledge of the tub deck, it is left with only a tiny corner seat. The tile surround and floor are upgraded.

A hallway to the left of the stairs leads to the other rooms. The laundry room is first and it is very big. One wall has side by side machines and a sink, while the opposite wall has a counter and cabinets. The countertop and backsplash are upgraded. The extra storage, available only in the Three X, is at the back of the laundry room, shown here with upgraded built-in cabinets.

Bedroom 2 is down the hall on the right. The entryway to the room has a standard closet on the left and an en-suite bathroom on the right. The closet has additional storage above, shown here with added doors. The vanity in the bathroom shows the standard sink and countertop, though the cabinets and backsplash is upgraded. This room shows the optional shower in lieu of the standard tub. The shower surround, accent liner, floor and hardware are all upgraded. The bedroom itself feels spacious, especially because none of the walls are taken up by the closet. Windows face both the front and side of the house and, when applicable, this room would have access to the large deck over the garage. The recessed lights, crown molding and paneling are upgrades.

Bedroom 3 is at the end of the hall, also facing both the front and (opposite) side of the house. This room has a walk-in closet just inside the door, shown with the standard shelf and pole. The room has upgraded recessed lights and crown molding. This spacious room is even bigger than Bedroom 2. It also has an en-suite bathroom. Again, the vanity has upgraded cabinets and backsplash but the standard sink and counter. The standard tub is shown, though the decorative liners are upgraded. A shower-only option is available.

Overall, I didn’t like this model quite as much as Residence Two. Though I do like the spacious bedrooms and en-suite baths, the layout of the kitchen is the downfall for me. Strada is the final set of homes that Irvine Pacific built on the Orchard II side of the community. I am looking forward to visiting the seven sets of models located in the gated “Groves” neighborhood on the other side of Culver.

What a Difference Two Months Make in Drought Stricken California—And It’s Not Good

“The entire state has been in severe drought since May, but more of it has since fallen into more severe categories – ‘extreme’ and ‘exceptional.’ Nearly 22% more of California was added into the exceptional drought category in the last week alone.”—Joseph Serna, “California breaks drought record as 58% of state hits driest level,” Los Angeles Times

“Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is … and how bad it could be. There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.”— State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus

Intensity Levels:

Yellow – Abnormally Dry

Peach – Moderate Drought

Orange – Severe Drought

Red – Extreme Drought

Maroon – Exceptional Drought

The Drought Monitor focuses on broad-scale conditions. Local conditions may vary. See accompanying text summary for forecast statement.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that California is experiencing the worst drought since the federal government started releasing drought reports in the 1990s. And according to Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, this is the worst level of drought that California has had since the 1970s and 1920s.

Earlier this year Governor Brown asked California residences, businesses and public entities to voluntary reduce their water use by 20%. How did we do? Not so good. Most areas did reduce their water consumption, but not by 20%. The area with the largest reduction had a 13% water-use reduction. Unfortunately, the Orange County area was one of the few that increased, rather than decreased, its water use. Overall water use in California went up by about 1%. These are not good statistics, especially since we are in a severe drought that doesn’t show signs of letting up soon.

The result has been that the State Water Resources Control Board recently adopted new regulations that could result in fines for those who use water wastefully. These regulations, which go into effect in August, give cities and local areas the leeway to determine how to put these regulations into effect. However, local water agencies could receive fines of up to $10,000 per day if they are not implementing water-storage contingency plans, and individuals could be fined up to $500 per day by their local water agency if wasteful water practices are used. Some of the actions that could result in fines are allowing water from outdoor sprinklers to run onto streets or sidewalks, hosing down driveways and sidewalks, washing cars with hoses that do not have shutoff nozzles, and using water in decorative fountains that don’t recycle the water.

With all this in mind, now Is a good time to review some information from past posts that could help us all reduce our water use: IRWD Rebates for Outdoor Water-Saving Devices and IRWD Indoor Water-Use Rebates.

Open House Review: 7 Ensueno

Today I am reviewing a two level home in Northwood’s Park Paseo Community. It is the same layout as 40 Christamon West, which I reviewed in May. While 40 Christamon West had an oversized yard, 7 Ensueno West’s yard is even larger with a pool, spa, garden, large covered patio and space for a storage shed. 7 Ensueno is beautifully remodeled downstairs, but the biggest selling point is the 7,405 square foot lot located on a cul-de-sac street. 40 Christamon West sold for $880,000 and while each home has it’s different upgrades, is $918,888 a fair asking price for its upgrades and lot size?

Asking Price: $918,888

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2.25

Square Footage: 2,190

Lot Size: 7,405

$/Sq Ft: $420

Days on Market: 9

Property Type: Single Family Residence

Year Built: 1975

Community: Northwood – Park Paseo

HOA dues are $89 per month and there are no Mello Roos taxes.

The home is nicely located on a cul-de-sac street. It does not sit across the street from the Elementary School, like 40 Christamon, which some people may prefer due to morning and afternoon traffic, but it is close enough that you can get to the school by following the walking path located at the end of the cul-de-sac. The street is L-shape with home sitting on the bend. A little island sits in front of the corner homes, which provides more privacy. Although the property has a small portion of its back wall backing to Park Place, the home is set back from the street and Park Place is a not a high traffic street. The home has a wonderfully remodeled kitchen, new flooring and has nice extras such as a whole house fan system, new windows, newer roof, HEPA filtration and SEER 16AC unit, ceiling fans in every bedroom and a wine closet.

The front door is located up a few steps. Once inside, new tile flooring flows throughout the entrance area, living room, dining room and kitchen. The entrance area is a step up from the rest of the main level of the home. There is an abundance of natural light coming in from the extra-large windows throughout the living and dining rooms as well as the glass French doors and sliding glass door leading to the yard. The cathedral ceilings provide an open feeling to the rooms. To the left is a wide carpeted staircase leading straight up to the second floor. There is also a hallway with one of the entrances to the kitchen and a 3-step down family room. To the right is the step down living room and dining room.

The kitchen layout is very different than the original model. The wall between the lower level family room and the kitchen has been added to provide extra pantry and wall space for the appliances in kitchen, while the wall between the dining room and kitchen has been removed. The kitchen has been completely remodeled with top of the line stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, an island with bar seating, and built-in speakers. There is plenty of cabinet space plus a pantry for additional storage.

Walking out the other kitchen doorway brings you to the top of the 3 stairs which leads down to the family room. Built into the wall at the top of the staircase is a climate controlled wine closet.

After walking down the three stairs, a small nook and short hallway with a coat closet, garage entrance and bathroom are located to the left. The nook previously had a wet bar, but currently has cabinets and shelving for books or décor. The family room has the original brick fireplace in the middle of the wall. There are two large windows in the corner and a large sliding glass door leading to the covered patio. The family room is partially carpeted with new neutral colored carpet.

The half bathroom sits next to the garage entrance. It has a long frosted window across the top of the wall. The bathroom has the same tile flooring as the rest of the first level, updated hardware and mirror. The original cabinets were painted white and the countertop looks original but in good condition.

At the top of the staircase is one of the two sets of linen cabinets located in the hallway. All bedrooms are carpeted with slightly different carpet than the staircase and hallway. To the right are double doors leading into the master bedroom. The room is a good size and the large windows overlook the backyard and into the street. The original two-door sliding closet that sat next to the bed was removed and the nook is used as a desk area. If someone desired to have extra closet space, it appears doors can be installed. A step-up bathroom is found to the right, directly across from the bed. The double sinks are visible from the sleeping area and with a lack of a privacy door so the light and noise may affect a person that is still sleeping in the mornings and evenings. The carpet runs up to the vanity. The old fluorescent lighting still sits above the double sinks and the painted cabinets are starting to chip. To the left is the separate toilet and shower. The floor is tile. The walk-in shower has a bench but the 4×4 tiles, which are also used on the countertop of the vanity, look a bit dated. On the opposite end of the double sinks is a walk-in closet.

The shared bathroom has tile floors, updated lighting and the cabinets and mirror frame are painted blue. The tub is original and the 4×4 tile in the bath/shower combo are clean.

The two secondary bedrooms on the right side of the hallway are similar in size. The second bedroom appears slightly smaller than the first one. At the end of the hallway is the third secondary bedroom. It has double doors leading in to the room. It is slightly larger with a walk-in closet.

The home’s yard can be accessed from three back doors: the French doors in the living room, the sliding glass door in the dining area, or the sliding glass door in the family room. Walking out the French doors you walk onto a wood deck which leads you out to the nice sized pool. As you wrap around the corner, the attached spa is nicely located near the dining room’s sliding glass door. Outside the family room’s sliding glass doors is a large covered patio which provides plenty of space for entertaining. There is still plenty of grass and they have planted a small garden in the far corner. On the other side of the home, there is enough space for a storage shed.

7 Ensueno West is perfect for any family. Mid-way down the street, heading down the cul-de-sac is a walking path leading to the elementary school and community amenities. At the end of the cul-de-sac is a bike/walking trail which also leads to the school and community amenities. A child would not have to cross any streets to get to Santiago Hills Elementary School. If you are looking for a large yard in Northwood, this home is a must-see.

Irvine Housing Overview: Condos and Houses—June 2014

Below are numbers provided by Redfin for Irvine’s June housing market. The numbers are broken down so that the statistics for condos and houses can be seen. As has been true for recent months, the number of homes on the market in Irvine during June is continuing to rise. However, the number of homes sold shows a more mixed outcome.

Also note that Altos Research states that the Market Action Index (MAI) for Irvine’s single-family housing market was 35.82 on July 25, 2014. According to Altos, above 30 indicates a sellers’ market, below 30 indicates a buyers’ market.

Following is Irvine’s 2014 housing market data as 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
Houses
14-Jun $1,050K/379 $932K/98 $440 $433 4.60%
14-May $1,060K/334 $895K/100 $444 $448 8.50%
14-Apr $1,096K/270 $900K/97 $447 $440 11.70%
14-Mar n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
14-Feb $1,090K/203 $905K/57 $451 $420 10.50%
14-Jan $1,082K/170 $832K/62 $461 $429 22.20%
Condos
14-Jun $599K/381 $558K/130 $416 $403 3.30%
14-May $590K/332 $570K/125 $413 $402 5.20%
14-Apr $590K/310 $550K/125 $411 $394 4.50%
14-Mar n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
14-Feb $599K/248 $560K/80 $406 $395 13.50%
14-Jan $603K/226 $626K/58 $406 $392 20.60%
All
14-Jun $775K/832 $677K/257 $422 $412 4.30%
14-May $788K/704 $722K/238 $422 $421 7.40%
14-Apr $778K/618 $678K/247 $425 $409 7.60%
14-Mar $799K/487 $680K/na $435 $407 n/a
14-Feb $745K/479 $665K/145 $421 $400 10.50%
14-Jan $412K/422 $688K/130 $422 $412 23.40%

Open House Review: 11 Glenhurst

Woodbridge Upgraded Townhome in Outer Loop

11 Glenhurst #8 $614,900

Turning off of East Yale Loop onto Briarwood takes you to this two level, end unit, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhome on Glenhurst. In June it was listed for $628,888. Now on the market just over 40 days, the price has been reduced to $614,900. Over the weekend the home was attracting a fair amount of traffic with people lingering to ask questions. The home’s closeness to the lake and sleek upgrades will be noted.

Significant Numbers: Built in 1979, this 1,601 sq. foot, two level townhome is $384 a sq. ft. HOA dues are $348 a month.

Close up: As you pull into Glenhurst there is a rather snug feeling in this nest of townhomes and the front landscaping could use some upgrading. But the feeling of space and overall appeal Improves when you open double doors and step into the Travertine entry and then down to the Berber carpeted living room with custom fireplace and cathedral ceilings.

Straight ahead the carpeted formal dining room is ringed with shuttered windows overlooking the patio.

To the left, the kitchen has breakfast bar, garden windows and laminate flooring. Otherwise, the kitchen looks to be original in appliances with tiled counters. More upgrades would be welcome.

Left of the kitchen the family room has a practical laminate flooring for lots of family use. The area accesses the garage where there is more storage and the laundry. (A sign indicates inside laundry is planned in a space opposite the powder room.) Sliding glass doors open to the patio.

The patio is nicely tended and relatively private with room for dining and relaxing.

To the left of the entry there is access to the family room on the main floor, and steps leading to all of the bedrooms. The upper hall has built in storage.

The master suite has two large closets, mirrored doors, high ceiling, oversized spa shower and dual sinks. There are two more fairly small bedrooms and another full bath.

In upgrades, Berber carpeting in the bedrooms, living room and dining room, Travertine tile, plantation shutters, wood blinds and recessed lighting work well for this home.

More specifics:

Townhome

End unit

Bedrooms, 3

Baths, 2.5

Attached, one common wall

Attached two car garage

Two parking spaces

Central furnace, central air

Laundry in garage

Association pool, spa

Irvine Unified School District

What should be considered? Buyers will be weighing the costs and benefits of townhome versus single family, and outer loop versus inner loop locations along with closeness to the lake in this property. They will also be assessing upgrades. There are more that could be done, but the ones applied are effective. Woodbridge’s rich array of recreational assets, including North and South Lakes, beach lagoons and boat docks will give this property an edge in Irvine added to Irvine’s usual top schools at all levels.

Who will move in? With all of the bedrooms upstairs, this home could attract younger families and working couples looking for a first home in Irvine. Woodbridge’s strong community appeal and excellent setting make it an investment possibility too.

Recent nearby listings: 8 Greenwood, $685,000; 5 BlackOak $670,000

Recent nearby sales: 144 East Yale Loop, $685,000; 33 Orangegrove, $675,250

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