Castellina is a condo development built by Centex Homes in the gated village of Covenant Hills in Ladera Ranch. Those that can't stand the sight of some of the homes in Ladera (funky colors, packed housing, unattractive architecture) may be pleasantly surprised with some of the tracts in Covenant Hills. Covenant Hills is the only gated village in Ladera and is also the only village to have custom home sites. It's positioned to be the nicest part of Ladera and along with custom home sites there are also many luxury tracts here as well. I believe Castellina is the only condo tract in Covenant Hills as the others are all SFR. For more info, check here and here.
The Castellina tract caught my attention back in 2004. At the time, there was a lot of hype around Covenant Hills and Castellina was the most affordable product in the village. Centex had a Priority List and invited those on it to a very nice luncheon at the Dove Canyon Country Club. Models weren't ready so they had virtual tour videos. Everything about Castellina appealed to me - beautiful Tuscan architecture, spacious and well designed floor plans, outdoor loggias, great upscale location, garages with driveways (although some shared), and even some small private yards.
So, what was the problem? Why am I not living there right now? It's because there was no way I could justify the absolutely ridiculous HOA fees of $750/month! From what I understood, every home in Covenant Hills had a Ladera HOA of $400/month. On top of that, Castellina had it's own HOA of $350/month. When I specifically asked what that $350/month got me, I was pretty much lied to and told that it included the pools, blah, blah in Covenant Hills. That's BS because all of that is covered by the $400 Covenant Hills HOA. I was able to justify the $400/month Covenant Hills HOA fee(after all, Turtle Ridge Summit is about the same and Shady Canyon is even more). But how does an EXTRA $350/month for an attached product with NO additional amenities make ANY sense?
In the end we decided to pass on Castellina (just as we would on an Irvine high rise - hopefully another post for me). Although I kept abreast of the prices for a little while, I soon lost interest. Lately, while researching homes to blog about, I became curious and decided to look into what's happening with Castellina. Surprise, surprise.. Castellina has it's fair share of flippage. Out of the 82 homes in the tract, there are 9 Active and Pending on the market today:
- 18 Salvatore - MLS S465146 - 3bd/2ba - 2179 sq ft - Plan 1 (Villa Antica) Listed 11/02/2006 (32 DOM) at $829,000
- 25 Tuscany - MLS S444917 - 2bd/2ba - 2075 sq ft - Plan 2 (Villa Casali)Listed 6/11/2006 (172 DOM) at $823,521 by Centex
NOW Pending at $660,000
- 1 Tuscany - MLS S444916 - 2bd/2ba - 2339 sq ft - Plan 2X (Villa Casello) Listed 6/11/2006 (176 DOM) at $844,796 by CENTEX
NOW $685,650 and offering 3% broker co-op
- 25 Chianti - MLS S463737 - 3bd/2.5ba - 2084 sq ft - Plan 3 (Villa Frosino) Listed 10/23/2006 (25 DOM) at $755,832 by CENTEX
NOW Pending at $695,832
- 7 Salvatore - MLS S450335 - 3bd/2.5ba - 2200 sq ft - Plan 3 (Villa Frosino) Listed 7/18/2006 (133 DOM) at $850,876
NOW Pending at $875,000
- 21 Tuscany - MLS S439546 - 3bd/3.5ba - 2250 sq ft - Plan 4 (Villa Lucia) Listed 5/9/2006 (209 DOM) at $969,000
Purchased 3/23/2006 for $889,557
- 34 Tuscany - MLS S465237 - 3bd/3.5ba - 2246 sq ft - Plan 4 (Villa Lucia) Listed 11/6/2006 (28 DOM) at $955,000
- 10 Salvatore - MLS S450382 - 3/3.5ba - 2246 sq ft - Plan 4 (Villa Lucia)First Listing at $1,050,000, then reduced to $949,000 and then taken off the market after 175 days. Currently Listed on 7/19/2006 (138 DOM) at $918,900
Purchased for ~$850,000
Also available for lease - $3500/month
- 6 Salvatore - MLS S423559 - 4bd/3ba - 2600 sq ft - Plan 5 (Villa Spada) Listed 1/14/2006 (324 DOM) at $1,100,000
Purchased 9/26/2005 for $945,000
What I found really exciting was the drastic price reductions from the builder. 1 Tuscany and 25 Tuscany had price reductions of $100,000+ on 11/17/2006!
Here's what ZipRealty shows for 1 Tuscany right now:
Price Reduced: 09/12/06 -- $844,796 to $818,444
Price Reduced: 09/18/06 -- $818,444 to $806,455
Price Reduced: 09/25/06 -- $806,455 to $796,905
Price Reduced: 11/17/06 -- $796,905 to $685,650
Apparently getting rid of the inventory is more important to Centex than upsetting their customers who paid much more for the same product. Can you really blame Centex though? They are hurting as well.
Another item to note is the description for 21 Tuscany (possibly the same building at 25 Tuscany) says "Motivated seller will pay 5 yrs castellini hoa dues".
Obviously the builder has a lot more negotiating room than an unlucky flipper. I'm tempted to put an offer in to the builder for 1 Tuscany: $599,000 and credit for 10 years of HOA (Covenant Hills+Castellina). My goal would be to get on the Castellina HOA board and cut the HOA down to $150/month.
Originally posted: October 1, 2006
Address: 76 Alevera St., Irvine, CA 92618 (Oak Creek)
Plan: Plan 2 - 1200 sq ft - 2/2.5
MLS: S452336 DOM: 61
Sale History: 10/31/2005: $585,000
Price Reduced: 08/18/06 -- $625,000 to $615,000
Price Reduced: 09/29/06 -- $615,000 to $589,000
Current Price: $589,000
This is a detached condo in the Aldea tract in Oak Creek. This tract built by California Pacific Homes (a subsidiary of the Irvine Company), has been replicated many times throughout Irvine in various reincarnations: Sage in Quail Hill, Chantory in Turtle Ridge, Cortile in Woodbury.
It seems this Plan 2 was purchased as an investment property and now the owners have bought another investment property and need to sell this to make their 1031 exchange complete. Since the owners have already purchased their replacement property, they need to sell this one within 180 days to take advantage of the 1031 tax break. Because of this, as they get closer to the end of the 180 days, they will be more and more motivated to lower the price quickly if they aren't getting any offers. Also, it looks like they have quite a bit of equity built up in this property as I can find only a $300k loan after a quick search. Taking into account the slowing RE market in Orange County, the circumstances of their 1031 exchange, and also the financial situation which will allow them to lower the price big time if they MUST sell, this property could be very interesting to watch in the future!
If sold at the current asking price, the sellers will take a hit of $31,000 (assuming 6% commissions).
UPDATE #1 - December 4, 2006
Well, it looks like the sellers successfully unloaded this property at the price of $589,000. MLS shows that escrow closed 11/28/2006. It looks like their loss is $31,340 (assuming 6% in selling costs). It may be higher if they credited the buyer to closing costs.. but I guess we'll never know.
I have to admit, I'm a little surprised the price on this property didn't come down a little further. Based on this sale, prices in the Aldea tract are pretty much what they were a year ago.
Originally posted: September 29, 2006
Address: 714 Timberwood, Irvine, CA 92620 (Northwood)
Plan: 1400 sq ft - 2/2.5
MLS: R65177 DOM: 129
Sale History: 06/18/2004: $575,000
Price Reduced: 05/26/06 -- $575,000 to $567,000
Price Reduced: 06/02/06 -- $567,000 to $555,000
Price Increased: 06/22/06 -- $555,000 to $564,900
Price Reduced: 09/16/06 -- $564,900 to $545,000
Price Reduced: 09/25/06 -- $545,000 to $529,900
Current Price: $529,900
Wow! The owner here is going to be taking a HUGE hit. This property is well below it's 2004 price. Perhaps there's more to this than meets the eye. If this is legit, we're talking about a $77,000 loss (includes 6% in commissions).
UPDATE #1 - October 5, 2006
After 132 DOM, apparently this listing expired a few days after we mentioned it here. I'm not sure why but the agent bumped the price up to $545,000 right before it expired. Did the owners change their mind about selling? NOPE, the property is now back with a FRESH new listing and a LOWER price!
MLS: R70292 DOM: 3
Current Price: $499,900
Let's take a look at the price. The highest price that one of these Plan 4s sold for was $605,000 for 208 Timberwood on 4/27/2006. That buyer must be feeling pretty crappy right now. Our buddy here at 714 Timberwood is asking $105,000 less. That's a decline of over 17% in about 5 months!!
If sold for the new listing price, the seller will be losing over $105,000!
UPDATE #2 - October 24, 2006
Current Price: $530,000
Shortly after our last update, the property went into Pending status in MLS (typically meaning that it's in Escrow) at a price of $530,000. Perhaps pricing it at $499k generated some interest/offers. Unfortunately, a few days ago the status went back to Active and the price is now $530k. I'm going to wait until this actually sells to estimate the loss. Regardless, it will be a big loser.
UPDATED #3 - December 4, 2006
Thanks to the latest comment by almostgotbitten, I've confirmed in MLS that this property closed on 11/27/2006 for $520,000. Assuming 6% in selling costs, the seller lost at least $86,200 in a couple years!
Right now there are 4 other 2/2.5 units (all about 1267 sq ft) that are priced between $545-$560k. You would think the closing price of 714 Timberwood would motivate some of these other units to lower their prices. We'll see..
Nov 30th, 2006
Hi Fellow Bubbleheads,
No, I didn't disappear into the void, just been busy with, like, life and stuff. Been watching the housing market of course, but mostly via trolling on my fave blogs and not by doing my out and about stuff. Some of my previous out and about visits to open houses and model homes were on my lunch hour...I'm happy to report that my job, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, has been keeping me pretty busy for the most part so this hasn't been as feasible. 'sokay, tho'. When you really enjoy what you do, and like your coworkers, working hard isn't such a bad thing. (Especially when you make $120k a year!!!)
So I just had to check in to let you know that I got an email from my good friends over at Paloma at Portola Springs today. They wanted me to take an online survey, and if I was one of the first 100 respondents, I'd get a $5 Starbucks gift card.
Well, since I didn't open up this email til after dinner (7pm), I figured there'd be no way I'd get that gift card. However, I just LOVE giving people my opinion (imagine that?) so I dove into the survey nonetheless.
They wanted to know why I hadn't bought yet ("priced out" was my pick), how much I liked the different pictured floor plans and pictures, among other things like my annual income and number of adults and kids in my family. What I interpreted from the survey was a suspicion that they're planning on redesigning their models based on survey feedback (...did you like the furnishings in this picture?)
Uh, guys, your models are just lovely. I told you this already! Listen to mama!
It's the prices, stupid. Three quarters of a million dollars for a two-bedroom condo that also comes with bitingly high mello roos and HOAs? Come on! I'm too damn smart to do that to myself!
I'll try to do another out and about really soon, I swear!
Have a great day and BE PATIENT! Springtime is going to bring us a FASCINATING economic story to watch and talk about.
Update 12/01/06: I forgot to mention that I, in fact, was awarded one of the 100 Starbucks gift cards! I was surprised; but then, maybe not so surprised given the crash we are experiencing.
Garland Park is a tract built from 2004-2006 by William Lyon Homes in the village of Woodbury. These condos have a bit more privacy than the other William Lyon condos at Lombard Court. There are four models ranging from 1,355 - 1,971 sq ft:
- Residence 1: 1,355 sq ft - 2bd/2.5ba
- Residence 2: 1,737 sq ft - 3bd/2.5ba
- Residence 3: 1,878 sq ft - 3bd/3ba
- Residence 4: 1,971 sq ft - 3bd/2.5ba
In Garland Park, there are currently SIX plan 1's listed for sale in MLS. 4 of them are listed by flippers:
Address: 199 Wild Lilac, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S463131 DOM: 39
Price Reduced: 11/24/06 -- $579,900 to $565,000
Price Reduced: 11/25/06 -- $565,000 to $554,900
Current Price: $554,900
Address: 126 Chantilly, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S464403 DOM: 28
Current Price: $559,000
Address: 124 Chantilly, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S464852 DOM: 30
Current Price: $579,500
Address: 181 Groveland, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S444308 DOM: 172
Price Reduced: 07/17/06 -- $604,900 to $589,900
Current Price: $589,900
Adding to this inventory is the builder who is trying to unload 2 more of the same plan:
Address: 188 Guinevere, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S464397 DOM: 28
Prior Listing: $580,990 - 41 DOM
Current Price: $574,990
Address: 180 Guinevere, Irvine, CA 92620 (Woodbury)
MLS: S464399 DOM: 28
Prior Listing: $619,990 - 27 DOM
Current Price: $599,990
It looks like the flippers for the most part are lowering prices ahead of the builder. But the scenario could quickly change into one similar to that at Avenue One.
Address: 191 Streamwood, Irvine, CA 92620 (Northwood)
Plan: 854 sq ft - 2/1
MLS: S453757 DOM: 102
Sale History: 7/14/2005: $353,000
Price Reduced: 9/06/06 — $369,000 to $365,000
Price Reduced: 10/26/06 — $365,000 to $359,000
Current Price: $359,000
This Plan F? in the Irvine Springs tract in Northwood was purchased in July of 2005 and placed back on the market about 1 year later. The seller bought it with 10% down and listed it at $369k knowing that they would lose money on the deal after selling costs. A couple of small price reductions later, and this flip is going to be losing at least $15,000 (after 6% in selling costs).
There is also a similar model Pending Sale at $345,000 located at 112 Streamwood.
Address: 213 Lonetree, Irvine, CA 92603 (Turtle Ridge)
Plan: 1790 sq ft - 3/2
MLS: L20117 DOM: 203
Sale History: 9/13/2004: $750,000
Price Reduced: 06/01/06 -- $939,000 to $929,000
Price Reduced: 07/13/06 -- $929,000 to $879,000
Price Reduced: 08/15/06 -- $879,000 to $849,000
Price Reduced: 11/01/06 -- $849,000 to $810,000
Current Price: $799,000 - $810,000
This Plan 5 in the Whispering Glen tract built by Shea Homes in Turtle Ridge was purchased in September 2004 with 100% financing.
I wish I could find out what the original purchase price for this property was in 2003. Thanks to our visitor, Westpark, we know the original owner probably purchased in phase 1 and made a nice profit. The current owners will not be so fortunate.
The current owners put the property back on the market about 18 months after they purchased it. They were hoping to make over $132,000 this past April with the initial asking price of $939,000. In June, they also tried to rent the place out for about $3000/month. I don't think they were successful as the listing says this place is currently vacant.
If they had originally listed it at $799,000 they probably would have found a GF during the summer. If sold at the current asking price of $799,000 and assuming 6% in selling costs, the sellers stand to make a profit of about $1,000! But if the property has been vacant since June, there's probably another $23k in mortgage expenses they've had to pay.
Here's what else is available in the Whispering Glen tract:
- 211 Lonetree - Plan 1 - 1500 sq ft - $739,500 - 33 DOM
- 123 Roadrunner - Plan 1 - 1500 sq ft - $724,000 - 52 DOM (~148 DOM Before)
- 114 Roadrunner - Plan 3 - 1589 sq ft - $799,000 - 5 DOM
- 28 Gingerwood - Plan 3 - 1600 sq ft - $824,999 - 126 DOM
- 111 Roadrunner - Plan 3 - 1600 sq ft - $799,000 - 176 DOM
- 236 Lonetree - Plan 5 - 1800 sq ft - $925,000 - 45 DOM
- 124 Roadrunner - Plan 5 - 1800 sq ft - $957,000 - 33 DOM
It's amazing how the other Plan 5s are listed for over $100k more. Our seller is motivated and will likely continue putting pressure on the this tract to lower their prices.