Secret Gold

No sticks and stones can hurt us

Nor the liars or the thieves

We’ll use the stones to ring our garden

And the sticks to gather up the leaves

Brick by brick you know we built it up

Built a house to hold a dream

A shape that’s rising from the rubble

Where the shaking death had been

I found a map to buried treasure

Map to Buried Treasure — Crosby, Pevar & Raymond

Link to David Crosby Music Video

I think we have some buried treasure in Irvine…

42 Secret Garden Front 42 Secret Garden Kitchen

Asking Price: $1,250,000IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $312,500

Downpayment Needed: $250,000

Purchase Price: $998,000

Purchase Date: 9/15/2005

Address: 42 Secret Garden, Irvine, CA 92620

Beds: 4

Baths: 3

Sq. Ft.: 3,134

$/Sq. Ft.: $399

Lot Size: –

Type: Single Family Residence

Style: Mediterranean, ModernWTF

Year Built: 2006

Stories: Two Levels

View(s): Has View

Area: Northwood

County: Orange

MLS#: P601656

Status: Active

On Redfin: 14 days

From Redfin, “Private location! No neighbor behind! Exceptional upgrades T/O, stainless steel appliances and huge cook island w/ breakfast bar, greatroom style kitchen/DR/FR w/ fireplace. Massive office/bonus room above garage, slate decking at two patios with fountain & rock waterfall, built-in BBQ & frige, ceiling fans in all bdrms & FR, two balconies, porte cochere allows for 3 car storage plus long driveway! Best award winning schools, gated, clubhouse/pool/BBQ community areas”

I think these designs are very boxy. Plus, I would not want to back up through that little tunnel.



Despite the rollbacks in this neighborhood, this property has appreciated 25% since late 2005. When they landscaped the property, did they bury about $300,000 in gold in the back yard? That is the only way they can get this sales price. What makes me so sure? Let’s look at a neighbor…

36 Secret Garden Front 36 Secret Garden Kitchen

Asking Price: $1,079,000IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $269,750

Downpayment Needed: $215,800

Purchase Price: $1,000,000

Purchase Date: 9/20/2005

Address: 36 Secret Garden, Irvine, CA 92620

Beds: 4

Baths: 3

Sq. Ft.: 3,100

$/Sq. Ft.: $348

Lot Size: –

Type: Single Family Residence

Style: Contemporary

Year Built: 2005

Stories: Two Levels

View(s): Park or Green Belt

Area: Northwood

County: Orange

MLS#: S505877

Status: Active

On Redfin: 20 days






Kool Aid Man

These houses are identical. Well, they are mirror images of each other. They were purchased within a week of each other for a whopping $2,000 difference. These are the best possible comparables. The one that has been on the market longer is priced $171,000 less. That means our WTF winner above saw the listing and decided to list it for $171,000 higher. WTF?

Can’t you just hear the BS rationalizations why his house is worth $171,000 more? Give me a break.

73 thoughts on “Secret Gold

  1. rickhunter

    IR – It has a balconey relative to it’s neighbor. That must be worth $100K so I’m thinking there’s only $200K buried in the backyard.

  2. Flip Ninja

    Yea, and it has no neighbor behind it, and it has a balcony. No spelling errors, either. It is definitely worth the extra $171,000.

  3. Larrygg

    Imagine that, it cost a million bucks to avoid having another house behind yours! This one is worth about $800K tops.

  4. former_irvine_resident

    Foreclosure Filings Nearly Double

    Great article explaining the foreclosure filing statistics. The doubling they are referring to is year over year – September 2007 compared to September 2006. The unbelievers will cite the statistic that the September 2007 foreclosure number dropped some from August 2007. But we know the truth…. It isn’t a light at the end of that tunnel – it’s actually the foreclosure train.

  5. NanoWest

    These houses epitomize the result of a housing boom. When the markets are slow the builders have to build product that looks reasonably good and has high quality components.

    As the boom(bubble in this case) heats up, the quality goes down, down, down…….Until you end up with this sort of crap. This house is basically a box on a postage stamp. It is probably the largest box that you could build and get it approved by the city.

    In most cities, this would be considered a slum.

  6. Law_Student

    What a piece of crap – a builder’s dream.
    Can you imagine how easy that thing was to build?

    That balcony takes the cake.
    I can see them now bolting that thing on, all in one piece, then stamping on the fake shutters and cheezy front patio cover.

    $1M for that, plus association and mello roos? No way. Try $750k.

  7. John

    Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m paying over a mil for a house I’d want my front door to be more than 10 feet from the sidewalk and the lot to be at least the size of two postage stamps. No? Maybe even a pool of my own too. I guess you need to pay 2 mil for that.

  8. caliguy2699

    I’m not a fan of the boxy look either. In fact, they kind of remind me of many of the small LA apartment buildings, just newer and nicer and with a driveway tunnel instead of covered parking spaces at the front of the building.

  9. Mr Vincent

    Why did they not list the lot size? I really do not like either of these places. There is basically no lot at all.

    BTW, the 2nd prop used 100% financing and took out a huge HELOC in 2007.

    The listing desc for the first prop says that there are no neighbors in the back, but what does that matter. They have a courtyard which is overlooked by the next door neighbors house, and its so fricken close.

  10. harhar

    “This house is basically a box on a postage stamp. It is probably the largest box that you could build and get it approved by the city.

    In most cities, this would be considered a slum.

    But, but, but….. it has GRANITE COUNTER TOPS !!!!!!!!!

  11. Jan

    Does anyone agree that jst last two months, the house prices in north Irvine area dropped dramatically, I’ll say about 5% to 10%. I think there is somewhat different from the forecast chart IR made in a few months ago. I start believing the prices will go done much fast that the chart. Maybe at end of year we will see prices drops another 5-10%.
    That say maybe I only need to wait one more year, not two years to buy a house.

  12. IrvineRenter

    The scary thing about these recent price drops is that the foreclosure tsunami hasn’t hit yet. It is entirely based on a lack of available financing.

    The foreclosures we are seeing today which are helping push the market lower are from people who defaulted in 2006. The major ARM resets from 2007 and 2008 haven’t entered the foreclosure pool yet. These REOs will hit the market when there is very little in the way of available financing.

    This is going to get very ugly.

  13. Irvinexpat

    Quite right John. LA is filled with boxes roughly the same size, built in the 20’s and 30’s. Most of them have been converted into multi unit income properties, and we all know the results. Can you see it now, three families living a 5,000 sq ft reconfigured confinement on a 6,000 sq ft lot with no parking. They will have to demo the pool areas and construct parking structures.

  14. NanoWest

    I would say that this property is a sign of what’s ahead for the Irvine housing market. A home that sold for $706,000 a few years ago selling for $579,000. This is still overpriced by about $200,000.

    It will be interesting to see if a knife catcher jumps at the $579,000.

  15. ipoplaya

    Hey, and don’t forget about 57 Bamboo and 26 Teak Bridge:

    Methinks they are the same house as these two as well… Four of the exact same big boxes on the market at the same time. Going to be great to see the price war that breaks out after the first one to take $975K.

    Don’t think I like the room above the garage deal. Maybe it would be cool if you had teenage kids as a game/media room, but with little ones, you’d probably never use it. Not bad for a guest bedroom I guess.

    Style is poor and the lots are small, but if they came crashing down in price, I’d buy one not on Trabuco just for the square footage. It’d be nice to put a basketball hoop above the garage and have a nice area away from the street to play ball with the kiddies. If only they had made the driveway two cars wide…

    For $850K, I’d take one right now.

  16. lendingmaestro

    Who the hell designed these 2 story trailer homes with no depth and character? This has to be the ugliest design I’ve seen, other than that house that looked like a 3 car garage featured a while back.

    You’ve gotta hand it to the homebuilders. In the last seven years they’ve been able to quickly erect these stucco built homes and sell them at prices far outreaching te better built brick and mortar homes in other parts of the country.

    custom-built in California means cheaply-built.

  17. ipoplaya

    Hey, ya gotta have granite counters nowadays. As a matter of fact, there are a couple of guys demoing my lovely white tile kitchen counter right at this moment.

    You can get a bargain on granite counter upgrades right now since those guys aren’t getting much work nowadays. When I slap my place on the market next year so I can buy up, my realtor will be able to put GRANITE COUNTERS in the MLS description too…

  18. ipoplaya

    But Maestro, it has a studio/bonus room/mom-in-law/guest quarters above the garage.

    Doesn’t that make up for all its other shortcomings?!!

  19. ipoplaya

    Part of the bank’s problem is they gave the listing to a hack REO specialist. Based on my small experience, the realtors that specialize in REOs are the bottom of barrel in terms of skill, professionalism, savvy, etc.

    Rhodes at CVC sold a place in my neighborhood a few months back, matter of fact the exact same model as my house. Put a couple of shoddy pictures on the listing (one shot from the car with the window up – you could see the frame of the window of the car and reflection off the glass) and when they opened housed it, left trash and crap lying around in the house. Light fixtures were hanging off the wall, placed hadn’t even been cleaned. Unbelievable how little work that realtor does/did…

    Seems like they did a little better job with the QH listing though.

  20. brealivign

    anyone call the listing agent to find out the price difference? I wanted to bug her and see her thoughts. from redfin: Elain Nermon

  21. Major Schadenfreude

    Wait a second, so what you guys are saying is that the pool is NOT in their OWN backyard??!! Also, the shot showing the picnic tables is not part of their yard either??!!

    And for over a MILLION bucks!!!!!!!!!!!


    Please don’t tell me that the opposing window I see (under the hanging pot) on the balcony photo is their next door neighbor’s??!! No way!!! Don’t tell me that…

  22. tonye

    How much would it cost me to put Granite Toilet Seats in my home?

    That would really be the touch eh? GRANITE THRONES…. ;-D

  23. NanoWest

    I just realized something…….those bastards at the real estate convention are saying that housing will fall only 4% next year. They know that this is complete crap……………they know that the asking prices are down 6% in the past 3 months.

    They are going to start telling people that the most risk they have in purchasing a home is just a 4% reduction in value…..and that the prices will increase that much in the next few years…..not so much risk.

  24. ipoplaya

    The CAR projections forecast a 2% drop in median between this past August and the end of this year. A paltry 6% between the credit crunch and the end of 2008?! How the hell has my place fallen $100K since last year and the median only to move down 6%?! Gotta be impossible.

  25. MMG

    thanks larry, I agree, most likely will shoot down to 650k if credit standards go back to normal 🙂

  26. MMG

    I notice, alot of people are pissed about designs, I’m sorry to inform you that most of Irvine is designed that way form Woodbury, Quail hill, TR, and even nicer areas.

    some of the nicer designs are the older houses designed in the 70s-80s and early 90s. every thing during this boom is fugly. that’s why I recently moved out of Irvine to Laguna where it’s more family friendly and houses look like houses not boxes. just MHO

  27. smf

    In Sacramento, where the same speech you are giving now was given here not long ago, it is easy to find houses that have dropped 30% in value. And that is not from listing price, that is from previous sale price.

    And here it is getting easy to see the higher end mansions lose value (from previous sold price) in the good areas.

    We started to see the downturn in 2006.

    LA area is next.

  28. Stupid

    Somehow, I don’t think the -4% makes a very convincing pitch anyhow.

    Ex. “This is a great sweater isn’t it? You can buy it today and it’ll only cost you 4% more than it would if you came back next week”
    -not the greatest sales pitch 🙂

  29. FamilyGuy

    Sacramento is widely reported to be one the major epicenters, along the Riverside and San Bernardino Countys, Vegas, Phoenix, etc…. For crying out loud, that’s where was born!

    My point has never been that Irvine / the OC is immune from the impending downturn, but rather that it will not be the chicken little scenario that many proclaim it will be.

    Will we see declines? Sure.
    Are foreclosures going to spike? Of course.
    Are there still going to be out there looking to buy? YES
    Will life go on? Absolutely.
    Am I tired of interviewing myself? Definitely.

  30. Kim

    I don’t get the Southern California attraction to ceramic tile. Is it cheaper to install than other (better) flooring options? It’s bad enough that everything here is built on concrete, but then to put a hard surface like ceramic tile on top of that concrete is just idiocy.

    The thing that surprises me most, though, is that people put laminate flooring in homes they want to sell for a million dollars. Actually, I guess it surprises me no matter what the selling price is.

  31. JimmyJoe

    “How much would it cost me to put Granite Toilet Seats in my home?

    That would really be the touch eh? GRANITE THRONES…. ;-D


    Now that’s CLASSIC !!!!

  32. JimmyJoe

    “Digging for the gold under my rented Woodbridge patio!”

    I have a jack hammer, and backhoe if you need help digging
    for that shiny yella. 😉

  33. Sue

    Tracking Countrywide
    If you haven’t noticed, we enjoy numbers and statistics on this blog. Today Countrywide reported its operational statistics for September, which we took as an opportunity to lay out some recent metrics for Countrywide — which we consider the best proxy out there for the entire mortgage industry.

    Month Mortgage fundings Delinquencies* Foreclosures**
    March $43.2 B 4.29% .69%
    April $40.5 B 4.45% .69%
    May $44.4 B 4.71% .71%
    June $45.3 B 4.98% .74%
    July $39.1 B 5.10% .79%
    Aug. $34.4 B 5.05% .89%
    Sept. $21.2 B 5.87% .92%

  34. Stupid

    Beazer Homes Reports Surge In Cancellations of Orders

    Beazer reported that 68% of its prospective home buyers canceled their orders in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 30. The cancellation rate was almost double the 36% of customers who canceled orders and gave up deposits in the prior quarter.

  35. Sue

    Quite a few interesting statistics in there

    The United States of Subprime

    High-rate mortgages accounted for 29% of the total number of home loans originated last year, up from 16% in 2004. About 10.3 million high-rate loans were made in the past three years, out of a total of 43.6 million mortgages. High-rate lending jumped by an even larger percentage in 68 metropolitan areas, from Lewiston, Maine, to Ocala, Fla., to Tacoma, Wash.

    To examine the surge in subprime lending, the Journal analyzed more than 250 million records on mortgage applications and originations filed by lenders under the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Subprime mortgages were initially aimed at lower-income consumers with spotty credit. But the data contradict the conventional wisdom that subprime borrowers are overwhelmingly low-income residents of inner cities. Although the concentration of high-rate loans is higher in poorer communities, the numbers show that high-rate lending also rose sharply in middle-class and wealthier communities.

  36. Stupid

    Rather reminds me of the origins of the phrase “don’t let the cat out of the bag”.

    Supposedly, back in the Dark Ages, when you sent to sell a pig, you put it in a bag so it couldn’t run away.

    Sometimes, dishonest people put a cat rather than a pig in the bag, as pigs cost more than cats.

  37. Stupid

    Ah, that explains the 4 airplanes with banners I saw flying over Quail Hill today. Saw the WaMu logo on one, assume it’s refi offers.

    Guess the Fed helicopter cash drops weren’t enough, so they had to send in a few more planes … 🙂

  38. Eric

    I actually like the design. Some of the designs were meant to resemble the homes of “Old Hollywood,” and you see many of this type in the LA area. Not all home designs are for everyone. This one could use a could of small trellises in the front.

    What I don’t like about it is the kitchen. The major stations, stove/ovens, sink(s), and refigerator, are too spead out and also violate the “triangle” rule. I would be constantly running between the three. No thanks! My 30-year-old house in Northwood has a smaller but well-designed kitchen.

  39. Sue

    Ah, there’s the CAR positivity….”It’s a moderation in the pace of decline, so from that perspective I guess it is positive,”

    Housing slowdown is likely to persist
    Realtors predict ’08 sales and prices will decline

    Still, the association said a drop in volume of 9 percent in existing single-family homes would be an improvement over this year’s projected drop of 23 percent.

    “It’s a moderation in the pace of decline, so from that perspective I guess it is positive, but we’re certainly getting to a relatively low level of sales,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, the association’s chief economist.

  40. Sue

    State’s housing market agony predicted to deepen next year
    Sales and prices will plunge even further after worse-than-expected ’07, Realtors say

    “This is the weirdest downturn in the history of California,” said GU Krueger, vice president at Irvine’s IHP Capital Partners, one of the largest U.S. investors in residential development. “Most previous downturns were driven by super-high interest rates or very weak economic fundamentals. This one is neither. It’s driven by prices getting ahead of incomes and by the drying up of financing that was making the run-up in pricing possible.”

    Most economists agree a turnaround won’t come until the excess inventory of new homes is burned off, foreclosure sales peter out and prices decline to a level enticing to buyers.

    “It’s what happens the morning after the party is over,” Krueger said. “We were overvalued, and now we’re depreciating – it will help with affordability, there’s no doubt about that.”

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