The $179K Bedroom

You’re in denial, you never will believe it’s you

Denial, you always hide behind the truth

You’ll never believe it, you never believe it’s you

You’ll never believe it, you never believe it

Secrets told you, dreamland holds you, secrets told you

You wouldn’t believe it, you couldn’t conceive it

Secrets told you…

Denial — Ozzy Osbourne

Link to Paranoid Video

This is a difficult time to sell a home. With some in denial and some in fear, sellers are unsure how to price their homes, so there is variety in pricing among similar products. However, there are some disparities that are so large that one has to ask, “Did you even look at the neighborhood comps?”

First our rollback…

5294 Plum Tree Front 5294 Plum Tree Kitchen

Asking Price: $499,999IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $124,999

Downpayment Needed: $99,999

Purchase Price: $565,000

Purchase Date: 9/27/2005

Address: 5294 Plum Tree, Irvine, CA 92612

1st Loan $452,000

2nd Mtg. $113,000

Downpayment $0

Beds: 2

Baths: 2

Sq. Ft.: 1,224Rollback

$/Sq. Ft.: $408

Lot Size: 2,988 sq. ft.

Type: Single Family Residence

Style: Ranch

Year Built: 1973

Stories: One Level

Area: University Park

County: Orange

MLS#: S505717

Status: Active

On Redfin: 13 days

From Redfin, “Fantastic opportunity to own a distinctive home with a modern feel and a abundance of amenities. A spiraling staircase leads to a enclosed loft that could be used as a office or an extra bedroom. Contemporary lighting throughout with vaulted ceiling and skylight in the living room. Exceptional association facilities with 2 pools, clubhouse, greenbelts, spas, and BBQ. Great location with easy access to freeways and shopping.”

This seller forgot to ask for the 99 and nine tenths of a cent. I guess this does put them under half a million…

Did you see the red spiral staircase? The only thing this apartment is missing is the stripper’s pole.



This owner is serious about selling their property. If they get their asking price, they stand to lose $95,000 after a 6% commission — well, actually the bank stands to lose that much.

Isn’t 100% financing great? It is a free call option. There is no risk of loss to the buyer, and they get all the upside.

5341 Plum Tree Front 5341 Plum Tree Kitchen

Asking Price: $678,000IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $169,500

Downpayment Needed: $135,600

Purchase Price: $582,000

Purchase Date: 5/28/2004

Address: 5341 Plum Tree, Irvine, CA 92612

1st Loan $465,600

2nd Mtg. $87,300

Downpayment $29,100

Beds: 3

Baths: 2

Sq. Ft.: 1,532

$/Sq. Ft.: $443WTF

Lot Size: 6,600 sq. ft.

Type: Single Family Residence

Style: Contemporary, Ranch

Year Built: 1975

Stories: One Level

View(s): Hills

Area: University Park

County: Orange

MLS#: S504269

Status: Active

On Redfin: 25 days

From Redfin, “One of a kind corner location, extra long driveway and great curb appeal. Large yard with extra privacy. Remodeled kitchen, new flooring, and much more. Hard to find SINGLE level home in a move in condition. Very close to shops, schools, parks, Freeway and UCI.”

One of a kind corner location? You mean one of a couple dozen similar corner locations? Plus, it is next to the collector street, so it is noisier.

This entire neighborhood is full of single story homes. They are hard to miss, not hard to find.



Kool Aid Man

This seller is not serious about selling their house. It is not the best comparable to the first property as it is 300SF larger and it has one more bedroom (I suspect they are counting the loft.) However, it is the same street, the same style, the same age, etc., and the purchase prices were almost the same. Basically, this seller is asking you to pay $179,000 more for the third bedroom. I believe 3 bedrooms should carry a premium over 2/2s, but not that much.

You tell me, would you pay $179K in premium for a bedroom?

40 thoughts on “The $179K Bedroom

  1. NanoWest

    I’m going to go out on a limb here…………….I would not pay $279K for a bedroom. In fact I would have a hard time paying $279K for either of these properties.

  2. carl

    I can afford the first house! Woo Hoo! Sanity is slowly returning! Irvine here I come….

    …in 2010.

  3. Flip Ninja

    I saw the 2988 sq ft on the first one and got excited that the price was actually good, until I read the ‘Lot Size’ next to it. Wake me up in 2010.

  4. SawItComing

    I especially like the German Shepard, ears laid back and looks like he is barking. Can you imagine what that tiny paved over backyard must smell like?

    The first realtor didn’t misspell anything, however I think misusing “a” and “an” is worse.

  5. fumbling

    Isn’t it $179,000 more? The first house is asking $499,999 and the bigger comp is asking for $678,000 so the difference is $179,001 to be exact.

  6. trrenter

    No what I would do is buy a second one bedroom house for myself for that amount.

    My wife and kids could live in the first home and I could live in the second home.

    Wait back to reality no I wouldn’t not even for the 179k.

  7. anteaterscientist

    Hahahha.. I was walking around that neighborhood over the weekend.

    BTW – the second house has a sign pitched on the lawn

    The area is not too shabby.. for some reason there were THREE garage sales going on that weekend too..

  8. Gray

    OMG! That spiral staircase is actually in the middle of the living room? For heaven’s sake, who wants that? The f***ing room looks smaller than the one I have in my 500 sqft (single) appartment. They can’t even place the couch at a reasonable place in that “residence”! That’s what you get for half a million bucks? Eeeek!

  9. CrucialTaunt

    When walking around did you happen to notice the sound of the crashing waves on the beach nearby (oh, sorry, that’s the noise from the 405 that is half a block away)?!

  10. American-Screamer

    What’s with the divided “yard” and why aren’t there any kitchen photos..hmm. This really looks like a condo to me.

  11. IrvineRenter

    It is $148K less, and it hasn’t sold in over 90 days. You do have to wonder what these people are thinking, or if they are thinking at all.

  12. Trooper

    179K for a third bedroom ? Sheesh, couldn’t you add a whole second story for about that much ?

  13. ice weasel

    Here’s another way of looking at it.

    For the most part, nationally speaking, real estate is in a tough situation. Values are declining. Let’s say you’re a city or an employer in a city. Let’s say Irvine. And when trying to attract people to your city (or employees to your business) this stuff is what they see. Half a million bucks for these “homes”.

    Now, unless you have no options as a person looking to relocate or as someone looking at a prospective employer, how does this compare to other cities/employers?

    I know this, if I was relocating or considering a new job and this is the crap that I found for these prices, I would have to be utterly desperate to move.

  14. bought_high

    call me crazy – but 6600 sq ft lot seems a lot larger than 2988 sq ft lot. I think that is where the price descrepancy comes from – not from 1BR.

  15. Genius

    No, we’re talking PRIME Irvine here and people should feel fortunate to be able to pay a premium to live there. XD

    I myself wouldn’t move into a location with superinflated costs of living, but most people don’t do their research. I’m shocked at the amount of people who relocate here for work and then say they are amazed by the price of housing. Didn’t they consider that when negotiating their salary?

    I’m not even so sure I want to buy a house anymore (but I will be here to watch everything go down, so to speak). Since I hit a certain watermark with my savings/investments, I’d rather let that sit and generate money for me than throw it all away on a down payment towards my enslavement. But that’s just me.

  16. Major Schadenfreude

    How many times did the owner knock his head on the stairs before he finally painted it fire engine RED!

  17. Lost Cause

    That house looks like half of Huntington Beach. It is the entry level house, which a year ago in summer would have cost $625k. Today an entry level house like that is $529k. Get out of your little bubble Irvine people. The wave is coming.

  18. tonye

    That stripper pole would fit into my bedroom. I wonder if my wife would get upset is I bought that for her upcoming birthday?

    I could use the smoke machines we use for Halloween and we already got a good stereo in the bedroom.

    Would it be: Va Va Voom! 😀

    Or would she get pissed off and do a Bam Bam BOOM! on my head? 😛

  19. anteaterscientist

    Actually you can’t hear the 405FWY from there, but you can hear it (REALLY hear it) around the homes on the other side of Jordan E – like around Chestnut.

    I think I partially lost my hearing when I went to pick up a flyer for that home.

    Beds: 3
    Baths: 2
    Sq. Ft.: 1,550
    $/Sq. Ft.: $342
    Lot Size: 4,650 sq. ft.
    Type: Single Family Residence
    Style: Contemporary
    Year Built: 1974
    Stories: One Level
    Area: University Park
    County: Orange
    MLS#: S494979
    Status: Active
    On Redfin: 93 days

  20. ice weasel

    I think the other point I wanted to make, but didn’t, was this; in a bubble with so many other self-reinforcing disincentives to buy, is this just more piling on? In other words, will cities such as Irvine be hit even harder given the standard of living one can get in other places. And I’m not making the “South Dakota” argument by any means, not in the least. I’m just wondering if this isn’t truly some of perfect storm we’re brewing here.

  21. Jeff

    I wonder how many of these homes are listed because people can’t refinance? Read my article about the looming disaster in prime lending for bubble markets:
    100% Home Purchase after 04 can’t refi!

  22. SawItComing

    “but most people don’t do their research. I’m shocked ….. Didn’t they consider that when negotiating their salary?”

    No, I don’t think many do, even with the amount of information available to us at our fingertips. When I lived in Woodbridge we know a young couple that had moved from Utah after, he was a software guy. They told us what a rude awakening they had once they started looking for a house. They were planning on spending, in 1999, about 90k and thought they could get a small house on at lease some small amount of land!

    Since moving I have discovered that people do an equally poor job of researching the other end. I have countless stories like this: In April this year I ran into a guy who had moved here 4 months prior. He had lost his job with a custom home builder in San Diego when the work ran out. He told me he moved here because houses were less expensive. He said he had his “resume” (whatever that consists of for a construction worker) out with several builders but “wages were ridiculous here”. Duh…

    We spent several months researching different areas, made some trips, did tons of reading, etc. I could not have moved here if I was not self employed. You can’t eat scenery.

  23. Regretful Relocator

    Dead on. I relocated here from the Midwest in July 2007. I started researching housing here in April 2006 and was shocked. I moved for a couple reasons…one is that the job I was recruited for here is fabulous. The other reason is that my employer here offers housing at more Midwest-type prices, so there was hope and my employer encouraged that hope.

    It didn’t become apparent until I was already locked into the move that in all likelihood, I will not move far enough up the waiting list for the employer-subsidized housing that I might actually purchase a house in my lifetime.

    My employer is currently recruiting and hiring quite a number of new people. What is happening is that people from around the country are declining the opportunity to live in an apartment that rents for more money than they pay for their mortgages in their current locale. The people who accept the jobs are all Southern California natives who are motivated to be here because their families are here. They are all talented and good people, but it sort of ruins my employer’s goal of bringing in a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds.

    I’m currently living in an apartment (also subsidized by my employer, but still not cheap). I’m not happy. I own a beautiful house back home. I am renting it to a family for one year. I expect that I will move back to the Midwest and my house when that year is up.

    I cannot fathom for even a minute that I would have considered the move were it not for the lure of the subsidized houses. I suppose I could have bailed on it once I discovered that I probably won’t get one of those houses anyway, but I’d made a commitment and I had to follow through. I can go home next summer knowing that I did the right thing. That might sound stupid to some, but that’s the way it is.

  24. Ed Ryan

    Regarding 5294 Plum Tree, Irvine, CA 92612:

    Way back in 1976 these units sold for 50 to 52 K. By 1979 they were selling for 90 to 95 K. These are very nice units in a very desirable condo association. However, on a per square feet basis, are currently overpriced.

    The micro-climate in this area is great – no air conditioning required.

    When prices get reasonable (2010 – 2011), I may move back!

    A bubble is a bubble. When I bought in 1976, I had a 20% down prime loan and the place cost 2.5 times my annual income. AS IT SHOULD BE!

    My only regret is I should have kept it in 1979 and rented it out as it would have been a positive cash flow.

    A 50% decline in real prices from 2005, may turn out to be a 20% decline in nominal prices.

    Today looks a lot like 1980.

  25. Irvine Mortgage

    Hmmm…$179k for a bedroom? That sounds about right…isn’t that the going rate in Irvine these days? Of course you could just rent it for 1/10th of the cost, but who’s keeping track.

  26. anteaterscientist

    For Sale Listings on Redfin that I’ve been “monitoring” have the STATUS: BACK UP OFFERS ACCEPTED

    What does that mean?

  27. Sad Brad

    Yeah, hey someone answer this, huh? I’ve been wondering, too. Someone gave a low-ball offer and they are thinking about it?

  28. Stupid

    Don’t know, but was interested in offering on a home once. Realtor called and said we just missed it, someone else had submitted an offer and it was accepted. However, there were accepting back up offers (ie. we write another offer, which they keep in a drawer in case their first offer falls out of escrow). We declined as there was no point (ie. all benefit for them, no benefit for us as it ties us up and can’t really offer on another place in the meantime).

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