Insulting Asking Prices

When buyers look for properties, realtors often try to intimidate them into making higher offering prices in order to avoid an “insulting offer.” How exactly making an offer on a property is insulting is beyond me, but the ruse seems to work, so realtors use it. However, isn’t the opposite also true? Isn’t it possible for an asking price to be so high, so ridiculous that it insults the intelligence of every buyer in the marketplace? I think so.

It was suggested in the comments on a previous post that perhaps our series on WTF pricing could shame sellers into setting reasonable asking prices. When an asking price is beyond ridiculous, there should be a sense of shame for the insult to potential buyers everywhere. There is a lack of respect in a WTF price: A lack which feeds the beast of schadenfreude currently dining on flips profiled by our blog. Just as realtors hope the fear of insult will cause the buyer to raise their offer, maybe the fear of insult will make a seller pause before listing an embarrassing asking price.

Today’s WTF award: Location, location, location.

Banyon Tree Map

Perfectly positioned to maximize road noise between the 405 Freeway and Michelson Drive is the small, old 3 bedroom offering for a mere $900,000:

Banyon Tree Front Banyon Tree Kitchen

Asking Price: $900,000

Purchase Price: $460,000

Purchase Date: 12/5/2002

Address: 13 Banyan Tree, Irvine, CA 92612

Beds: 3

Baths: 2

Sq. Ft.: 1,714

Lot Sq. Ft.: 6,500

Year Built: 1973

Stories: 1

Type: Single Family Residence

County: Orange

Neighborhood: University ParkWTF

$/Sq. Ft.: $525

MLS#: P566551

Status: Active on market

On Redfin: 80 days

From Redfin, “BEAUTIFUL HOME!!! EXCELLENT SCHOOLS!!! Large backyard with built in fire pit. Real distressed maple wood floors in kitchen and living room. New copper plumbing throughout. New gas range, kitchen sink and dishwasher.”



So is this really a WTF price? The asking price per square foot of $525 is the one of two properties in all of University Park over $500 — even including the small stuff which warrants a high per SF price. The other property, 46 Sequoia Tree Lane, has been on the market for 305 days. Based on a cost per square foot metric, this price is way, way too high.

Let’s see what $900,000 will buy in University Park today:

26 Tahoe Front26 Tahoe Kitchen


Irvine, CA 92612

Price: $879,900

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.5

Sq. Ft.: 2,778

Lot Sq. Ft.: 2,880

Year Built: 1976

Stories: 2

Type: Condominium

View: Park or Green Belt, Trees/Woods

County: Orange

Neighborhood: University Park

$/Sq. Ft.: $317

MLS#: S474582

Status: Active on market

On Redfin: 115 days

This unit has an additional bedroom, 1000 SF of additional living space, and a beautiful kitchen for $20,000 less.

Or how about this one:

53 Mann Front 53 Mann Kitchen


Irvine, CA 92612

Price: $849,000

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.5

Sq. Ft.: 2,291

Lot Sq. Ft.: 5,060

Year Built: 1965

Stories: 2

Type: Single Family Residence

County: Orange

Neighborhood: University Park

$/Sq. Ft.: $371

MLS#: P568091

Status: Active on market

On Redfin: 71 days

This one has two additional bedrooms, 500 SF of additional living space, and an upgraded kitchen for $50,000 less.



WTFFor being a greedy seller who needs to experience the shame for insulting the intelligence of buyers everywhere, the seller at 13 Banyan Tree wins our WTF award!

25 thoughts on “Insulting Asking Prices

  1. Justin

    I can’t believe someone would pay almost a million to live right ontop of a major freeway and main roadway. Not to mention its small and old but well maintained, still that doesn’t justify nearly a million in a falling market. WTF! see you in 12 months, I love seeing on the market for +300 days, nothing looks juicier 🙂

  2. Jason

    Come on, IrvineRenter…that built-in fire pit has got to be worth at least $50 grand right there. Why go to the beach or a park when you can roast marshmallows in the comfort of your own backyard while listening to rip-roaring freeway traffic?

  3. momopi

    What is that thing in the middle of the overhead map? It looks like a patch of grass surrounded by a road with some kind of wide drive way leading up to a square? It seems way too small to be a park.

  4. CalGal

    If you close your eyes the freeway noise can sound like waves at the ocean. Come on people, at least you don’t have to pay flood insurance. I think it’s worth OVER a million. Let the bidding war begin!

  5. MMG

    talking about insulting offers, I’m thinking of lowballing this idiot wiht a 300k offer. thats how muchl I’m willing to pay for a 1700 sqft built in the 70s.

  6. Chuck Ponzi

    OK, MMG, Mr. richy rich,

    I was thinking I’d offer him a swift kick in the nuts in exchange for the place, but I think you have a better offer.

    You couldn’t give me a house in that location if I had to live there. Even criminals will get better sleep, and are not subjected to carcinogenic fumes like you will be in that house.

    Just imagine… living like a pauper; even worse than a prison inmate stamping license plates or breaking rocks… all to say you live in Irvine. Of course, you’d need to be a CEO or major corporation shareholder to afford the place, but come on… just the price to pay to live in a 1970’s paradise.

    Has anyone who lives in Irvine ever stepped back and realized what a circus it is there?

    In most cities around the country, a piece of shite like this would be unsaleable.

    Chuck Ponzi

  7. oc-conservative

    It IS unsaleable.

    We should start following up on these WTF listings. Call the agent, and ask him/her WTF. Then report back here.

    Come on. Some of us have the free time at work, right?! It would just be comical and make for some unique blogging!

  8. Renting in Newport

    I just thought I’d share a story. Yesterday, I was flying into SNA and was speaking with the woman next to me. She mentioned that she just moved to Irvine. It turns out she and her husband just purchased a home with a 10 year interest only loan.

    Are you freaking kidding me? People are still getting these crazy loans while home values plunge? I didn’t explore the details of her loan any further, but I just can’t believe that this is still happening. It is these uninformed fools that are keeping hope alive for all of these doomed flippers. It’s no wonder homes are on the market for 300+ days. They are all hoping that some greater fool comes along with an interest only loan and will bail them out.

  9. Adam Smith

    Yeah, I’ve always felt 2.5x price appreciation in 5 years is insulting to me, where someone actually expects me to fund their bubble dreams… Screw them: it not my job to finance their $400k profit! Nice gig if you can get it, but the odds of finding someone to bail you out is increasingly dropping, as time goes by.


    A 10-year I/O loan is truly an “unaffordability loan”, a way to “buy” something you cannot afford, and never COULD afford to own. Use such a loan, only if you never intend to actually own the home!

    The REIC is hoping people will be willing to use these dangerous loans, thus allowing prices to rise higher and higher, without the banks ever having to actually transfer title to the “home-buyer”. Truly an idiot’s loan (but hey, you have 10 good years, at least). These are in reality “renter’s loans”, as all you’re doing is renting money from the bank, instead of renting property from a landlord. Eventually the bank will own more and more of housing (and let’s hope they choke on their inventory, in the greedy lust to snap up more and more).

    FWIW, pay attention to the ad on T.V. (you know, the one with Gary Coleman in it). The terms of the loan flash on the screen at the end, so I did a freeze-frame to read the terms…. Cashcall discloses 100% APR for these loans, with 60 months allowed to pay it back! Borrow $10k, and you’ll have to pay back $30-40k! INSANE!

    Who would be so stupid to take out such a ridiculous loan that should make even a loan shark blush? Turns out a lot of people/sheeple, I guess…..

    Deregulation of lending has all but insured that we’ll feel compelled to be equally stupid to get into a home, by taking out I/O (and other “toxic”) loans, just to keep up with the Joneses! Sad, ain’t it?

    Fortunately, it seems the hook is not completely set too deep in the fish’s mouth: I’m hoping we’ll see a much-needed revision to the mean (like every other asset bubble before)….

  10. lendingmaestro

    Actually the 10 year interest only loan w/o negatie amortization is the best loan out there, IMO. I would not do a loan with a shorter term than that.

    Prices are just too high to buy with a 30 year fixed. You can obviously make the argument that you shouldn’t be buying a home. I’ll make the argument that paying principal on a mortgage is assanine, unless you can comfortably afford a 15 year fixed mortgage. The only reason why 30 year mortgages were created was to keep the payments low.

    A 10 year IO would put you into 2017 before you’d be looking at any chance of adjustments. I think housing should have stabilized within 10 years. There is always a risk when your loan adjusts.

    If you can do a 10 year fixed interest only loan and have your interest, taxes and insurance = to rent then you should buy. I haven’t seen a single property that falls into that category.

  11. lendingmaestro

    Your argument about owning a home outright went out the door years ago. If you haven’t looked at an amortization chart lately, you should take a 2nd look. The duration of a 30 year fixed loan of 300k at only 6.25% is almost 20 years. This means that your interest payment is equal to or greater than teh principal reduction every month for 20 years.

    You are not buyingy your home from the bank if you do a 30 year fixed loan, you are renting it. Obviously you are slowly gaining equity. But what if the values start to decline. Why would you want to pay your after tax dollars into a depreciating asset? Sure you can always pay extra on a 30 year fixed rate and pay the house off sooner, but it that’s the case you should do a shorter term loan. Does anyone know somebody that paid a house off over the course of 30 years?

    There are many people who I work with who agree with me when I say the 30 year fixed mortgage is the biggest scam of them all. 30 year fixed rates benefit the bank. Negative amortization loans are nothing like your standard fixed interest only product. Most neg am loans, until recently were monthly adjustables as well.

  12. MMG

    I agree with you, how I reached 300k was taking 30% off the 2002 price .. I would lowball just for fun…….. I m not a big fan of irvine. its a nice place but not my cup of tea. I like Aliso viejo and surrounding areas much more.

  13. ockurt

    I believe SNA (Santa Ana) is the official federal govt. acronym used to recognize the airport. John Wayne is the local term.

  14. ockurt

    The first two listings in University Park are hard to compare because one is a SFR and the other is a condo.

    They are both overpriced, however.

  15. Mr Vincent

    Just an FYI: Your “Green Arrow” on the overhead pic is pointing to 7 Banyan tree. 13 Banyan Tree is three houses over to the left of that.

    Its location relative to the other houses makes it even more undesirable.

    Even the inaccurate Zillow gives it a value of 677k. My guess is that the seller obviously does not need to sell the place and is just looking for a sucker. I mean, I just cant see any other explanation for the price.

  16. Hope To Buy In Irvine Some Year

    I thought because the airport is officially in “Santa Ana Heights” but that’s not politically correct to snooby OC residents so you must call it “John Wayne Airport”

  17. IrvineRenter

    I call them kool aid loans. To take one of these out, you have to believe the correction is temporary, and you will be able to refinance in 10 years because your value will be higher. It took almost 10 years to come back last time, and the drop this time will be much deeper and take much longer to come back. In other words, they get to be stressed about losing their homes for 10 years before foreclosure. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

  18. IrvineRenter


    Form your comments, I can deduce you are selling 10-year IO loans.

    “A 10 year IO would put you into 2017 before you’d be looking at any chance of adjustments. I think housing should have stabilized within 10 years. There is always a risk when your loan adjusts.”

    This risk is greater than anyone is willing to admit. Plus your discounting the “ulcer factor” these people will go through when they are 40% underwater and they realize they will lose their homes in the future if prices do not rebound. It reminds me of the movie Logan’s Run where everyone got to enjoy the party until they turned 30 when they were all killed. These people will get to keep their homes for 10 years then lose it in foreclosure.

    Your argument about the 30 year loan is little better than interest-only misses one very important point: a 30-year fixed rate loan has no reset. If you can afford your payment — a payment which never increases — you cannot lose your home. This is not true of any interest only products (unless of course banks “innovate” with a perpetual interest only loan at a fixed interest rate where you really do rent from the bank).

    I agree with your argument about using a 15-year amortization. Personally, when I last had a mortgage, I paid my own version of an Option ARM where I paid the 15-year amortization amount in months when I could afford it. I did this about 1/2 the time. If I had owned the home longer and had pay raises to afford the larger payment, I would have paid on the 15 year schedule.

  19. buster

    It’s labeled as SNA because it is on county-owned land. Technically, any non-incorporated land (ie, land not incorporated into a city’s limits) is county land. And as Santa Ana is the “county seat” for Orange, any non-incorporated land will have the city designation Santa Ana. The airport was here far before John Wayne died, and it was designated locally as John Wayne after he passed.

  20. No_Such_Reality

    I drove by today. Top-down, radio blaring, engine running and I rolled through the round-about. Teenagers blabbing away as they walked by, couldn’t hear them, all I heard was the freeway. Yep, over the radio and engine, the fine howl of cars zooming by a surprisingly low noise wall.

  21. lendingmaestro

    I am doing a lot of 10 year IO programs, as well as the standard 30 year fixed conforming loan. We also have a 30 year fixed that carries an interest only option for 10 years. There is no reset chance with this loan. If you want a 30 year fixed, you’ll get one. If you realize you’ll never own a home at these prices, but can afford the payment on a long term fixed IO product, you’ll get one. I personally write very very few negative amortization mortgages, since the fully amortized rate is higher.

    Many people do not live in the same place for very long. Again, you can make the argument that they should rent, but there is still a benefit there. Even someone who makes 150,000 a year buying a home for only 300,000 a year is crazy. That same persom may not want to buy a car for 50k becuase it’s 1/3 of his gross income, but he’ll entertain purchasing something that is twice his annual income. Assanine. You can make the argument that if you have to calculate if you can afford the mortgage payment, then you shouldn’t be buying a home.

    Buying a home, I mean becomnig a homedebtor, is risky regardless of the loan program. Homedebtorship is a very serious thing. As a banker, I don’t get paid a crazy ass YSP like a broker, so I don’t try to push people into any particular type of loan. Since were retain the servicing rights we need to exercise more prudent lending then a wholesale lender would.

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