Hit Me

I’ve been thinking ’bout what you have done to me
The damage is much deeper than you’ll ever see
Hit me like a hammer to my head
I wonder were you pushed or were you led?

Why did you do it? Why did you do that thing to me?
Why did you do it? Why did you do that thing to me?
The only one who knows the truth,
Man it’s him, me and you.

Why Did You Do It? — Stretch

Link to Music Video

People who bought during the rally must feel like they have been hit in the head. Do you think anyone who bought in 2004 thought they would be selling at a loss? Since most people are adverse to taking responsibility for their own decisions, many will blame the market itself. They wonder, why did you do it? That evil market, who can predict it?

On September 22, I wrote a post titled the Lowest Priced 3/2s in Irvine. I thought it might be interesting to see where we are now.

Our new low price leader…

Price: $389,999

93 Tarocco
Irvine, CA 92618
Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,000
$/Sq. Ft.: $390
Lot Size: –
Type: Condominium
Style: Other
Year Built: 1983
Stories: One Level
Area: Orangetree
County: Orange
MLS#: S503783
Status: Active
On Redfin: 63 days
Located adjacent to Irvine Valley College this unit with three bedrooms is ideal for investors as the areas location makes it attractive for student leasing. Originally a two bedroom unit, the owner added a very nice third which increases the income potential. The property is close to all major roads and convenient for the post office, parks, golfing, eating and entertainment.

Notice how they are trying to sell this as investment property. Unless this is getting about $3,500 a month rent to turn a positive cashflow, only a speculator betting on appreciation would pay this price. It is worth about $180,000 to an investor demanding positive cashflow.


Sales History
Date Price

05/03/2004 $395,000

As you can see, this is another 2004 rollback. In the race to the bottom, this property has surpassed the competition.
From the old post…

BriarwoodBriarwood Kitchen

Old Price: $425,000

New Price: $395,000 IrvineRenter

177 Briarwood, Irvine, CA 92604

Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,150
$/Sq. Ft.: $370
Lot Size: –
Type: Condominium
Style: Other
Year Built: 1978
Stories: One Level
Area: Woodbridge
County: Orange
MLS#: S486749
Status: Active
On Redfin: 139 days
Unsold in 90+ days

From Redfin, “* * FANTASTIC BUY * * 3 BR 2 BA single level with HUGE backyard, come see the rose garden. Great Location. Everything has been upgraded, from the neutral tiled floors to the granite counters, kitchen cabinets & appliances. 3 Large bedrooms & 2 upgraded bathrooms also with granite & newer cabinets . Newer mirror closets with organizer. It is very lite and brite and definately a 10++ Newer water heater. Walk to all the fantastic amenities, pool, spa, park, tennis, basket & volleyball, schools & shopping.”

HUGE backyard. It is a freakin’ patio! Give me a break.

A 10++? Maybe on a scale from 1 to 100.

” lite and brite and definately” Three misspellings in 5 words, congratulations. I hope she is thankful for the word “and.”

How can realtors say stupid things like this?

Oval FrontOval Kitchen

Old Price: $429,000IrvineRenter

New Price: $419,000

133 Oval RD #2, Irvine, CA 92604

Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,110
$/Sq. Ft.: $386
Lot Size: –
Type: Condominium
Style: Other
Year Built: 1972
Stories: Two Levels
Area: El Camino Real
County: Orange
MLS#: S495498
Status: Active
On Redfin: 78 days


WHY THE ALL CAPS? I find all caps to be very hard on my eyes. It is painful to read that description.

Are any of you impressed by Brazilian Cherry Wood floors? Sounds rare and exotic, doesn’t it?



As you can see, we are now below the $400,000 barrier for 3 bedroom 2 bath homes in Irvine. Another milestone on our journey to the bottom.

41 thoughts on “Hit Me

  1. ice weasel

    Two things…almost OT but here they are anyway.

    First, granite is clearly the cheesy home accessory of this decade. It’s this decade’s “solid oak” furniture of the 80’s. It’s like the worst badge of noveau riche one could place on themselves. Enough already. Granite looks greats, works…well…not quite as well. And granite is certainly not going to transform an 1150 square foot apartment into a “home”.

    Which brings me to my second point. And I don’t want to indulge in the usual sport of slamming every home posted as though it were some ramshackle home made from used pallets in the Arkansas hills. But can we please find a way to better define our terms. Calling apartments “homes” which makes one think of “houses” which apartments certainly are not, is misleading at best and just sloppy at least. And I’m not critiquing IR. It just irks me when we start blurring all the basic descriptions of properties such as these three.

    That’s all. I’ll calm down now and sit back and read the more intelligent commentary from the rest of you.

  2. And another thing...

    Squeezing a third bedroom into a 1000 square foot condo means all the bedrooms are pretty tiny. Interesting how none of the photos show any of the bedrooms.

    I agree with Ice Weasel… these are just glorified apartments. You can tell just by looking at the living room furniture. I am pretty sure they threw blankets over the couch and chair to cover up the worn fabric underneath. Even the patio furniture is of the folding variety.

    I am not insulting their home furnishings as much as saying why live like this when you can spend half the money, rent, and use some of the leftover to look like you own the place?

  3. lawyerliz

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Stainless steel and granite are the harvest gold and avocado of the future. I buy off white appliances and my countertops are a corian knock off which can be repaired and also is kinder to breakables when you drop stuff on it, and is cozy looking, not harsh.

    Houses should not be fashionable, in the sense that a dress or suit of clothes are, unless you can afford to change with the fashion. You just end up looking stupid or nouveau riche (sp?).

    Looking like you are pretending to be rich actually renders you looking stupider than if you looked like you were just settled into a comfortable poverty.

    Unless you just happened to like granite and stainless. My high end developer buddy has moved on to something else, but I don’t remember what. Of course, he won’t be building any more high end homes for a while.

  4. Jim Jones

    “It just irks me when we start blurring all the basic descriptions of properties such as these three.”

    I think it was (still is?) the buyers who decided properties like these qualified as “homes.” Me, I never understood how anyone could consider units like these to be anything other than an apt, something only an invester would purchase at a price that would generate positive cash flow.

  5. Irvinexpat

    Irvine Co should purchase these “townhomes” back and turn them into “apartment homes” as a service to the city. I’m sure they have the resources to buy and manage them.

  6. Alan

    From what I’m reading, it seems the bottom for these properties will be about $250,000. Assuming prices decline at 20% per year that means 2 more years before we hit bottom.

  7. Terry

    “Stainless steel and granite are the harvest gold and avocado of the future.”

    I’ve been thinking the exact same thing but couldn’t quite figure out how to articulate it. Thanks, Liz! You put it perfectly.

    Makes me wonder what will be next.

    It’s sort of like the chapter in baby naming in “Freakonomics.” Once the new, fashionable names sink down to the masses, the upper class drops them like hot potatoes and they lose their cache. Now that granite and stainless steel are in condos, are mobile homes next? What will the rich do next to differentiate themselves from the masses?

  8. buster

    How do you turn a 2/2 into a 3/2? I have a place there, the exact same as 93 Tarocco (well, they’re all the same since they’re condos), and there is no friggin’ way to make this into a 3/2. Did they put a bed in the washer/dryer closet? I don’t think subdividing the 12×15 master bedroom qualifies as another bedroom.

    By the way, there are eight of 144 units on Tarocco for sale and they’re all racing to the bottom. The winner as of today is 165 Tarocco listed at $389,999 but the flyer reads $359,000 and still not selling. Peaked last year at $415,000.

  9. mark

    That was too funny ice weasel. Granite certainly has become the best lipstick to slap on the pig this decade.

    And it’s cool to “indulge in the usual sport of slamming every home posted as though it were some ramshackle home” as long as you’re having fun with it; rather than ripping the home apart with every ounce of anger and hatred you can muster ignoring the possibility that the home could possibly sell for anything more than free.

  10. mark

    I’m not sure what’s worse, using fashionable finishes like stainless steel appliances and granite countertops with the sole intent to impress others, or judging others as nouveau rich and stupid assuming their intent to so impress… Wait, I am sure…

  11. vanity smurf

    I hate the misuse of the word “home” to substitue for “house.” A “home” is where you keep your crap and collect mail. A “house” is the structure in which you do it. Nobody buys a “home” you buy a “house.”

    Whenever I see things like, “the home has ….” or “home sales are….” I just want to slap somebody and scream, “it’s a GD HOUSE!”

    I refuse to rent any apartment where the complex has “apartment homes” anywhere on it.

    Also, Condos are just apartments one purchases. Why is this so hard for people outside NYC to understand? You are buying an apartment and no amount of abuse to the English language can change that.

    That is all.

  12. lowrydr310

    I used to live in one of the units on Lemon Grove which is in the same development so I know what these things are like inside. They’re nice condos (when configured with 2 bedrooms) that are great for a small family, though I personally don’t think they’re worth anywhere near $389K. Half of that price sounds about right.

  13. Iblis

    OT, but amusing. From dictionary.com:

    The great jurist Sir Edward Coke, who lived from 1552 to 1634, has explained why the term mortgage comes from the Old French words mort, “dead,” and gage, “pledge.” It seemed to him that it had to do with the doubtfulness of whether or not the mortgagor will pay the debt.

  14. Iblis

    Exactly why the marketing ghouls use the word “home.” You are not meant to view the purchase as a building of wood, glass, sheetrock and granite. You are meant to picture yourself in a new home.

  15. Stupid

    I like stainless too – beats having to baby a light colored porcelin kitchen sink! Brushed stainless steel kitchen sinks are awesome.

    I like granite too, but only if it’s done right (ie. a nice thick slab) – the cheapo wrap around “granite” counters on flips are awful.

  16. shhhhh

    OT also … but I can’t figure this out.

    A house in a community that I’ve been eyeing wasn’t selling for $825K so, after several months on the market, the seller lowered it to $815K.

    Why in the world do they think that, by knocking off $10K, someone would suddenly be interested?

    Any help?

  17. shhhhh

    There just can’t be many people out there saying, “Man, if that was $10K cheaper, I’d snatch it up.”

  18. 7

    I love etymology. The following is from AHD:

    WORD HISTORY: The great jurist Sir Edward Coke, who lived from 1552 to 1634, has explained why the term mortgage comes from the Old French words mort, “dead,” and gage, “pledge.” It seemed to him that it had to do with the doubtfulness of whether or not the mortgagor will pay the debt. If the mortgagor does not, then the land pledged to the mortgagee as security for the debt “is taken from him for ever, and so dead to him upon condition, &c. And if he doth pay the money, then the pledge is dead as to the [mortgagee].” This etymology, as understood by 17th-century attorneys, of the Old French term morgage, which we adopted, may well be correct. The term has been in English much longer than the 17th century, being first recorded in Middle English with the form morgage and the figurative sense “pledge” in a work written before 1393.

  19. NanoWest

    the 10K price reduction is suggested by a brain dead real estate agent……sellers trust their agents and the agents are too stupid to understand what is happening in the market……you don’t become a real estate agent because of you analytical skills……this is one of the saddest parts of this down turn. Bad advice…….when sellers should be running for the doors, or taking their home off the market, the agents are saying things like:

    a) interest rates are falling, there will be more buyers.

    b) the spring will be better

  20. NanoWest

    There used to be a great etymologist on NPR…..a guy name John Chiarde…he had a show called……a word in your ear.

  21. IrvineResident

    Senior VP of NAR can’t sell his house!

    I’ll admit right at the top here that what I’m about to do is cheesy, but honestly, I just can’t resist. A little over a year ago, mid-September 2006, there was a little blurb in the Washington Post about the then-president of the National Association of Realtors, Tom Stevens, not being able to sell his Virginia home. It was really the beginning of our coverage of the housing downturn, and so we found it marvelously ironic.

    The house had been on the market for a year, with an unchanged price of $1.45 million. Being the annoying reporter that I am, I cornered him after a hearing on the Hill, just to needle him a bit and see what he’d say: “I didn’t listen to my agent. That’s what consumers need to do. They need to listen to their agent. If the agent says you need to adjust the price, then you need to adjust that price, we’re in a different market today,” Mr. Stevens admitted politely.

    And it’s an even more different market today. Stevens, who is a Senior VP of NRT, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage, still can’t sell the house. I have to give a shout out to whoever is behind the handle soldatthetop@xxx who pointed out the info in http://www.paper-money.blogspot.com (I’m so netty!).

    Mr. Stevens pulled the house off the market in early 2007, and now it’s back for $1.285 million. So if you start from the top, that’s approximately 766 days on the market, $165,000 price cut, and still no bites. Talk about a REALTY CHECK!!

  22. Alan

    At least Mr. Stevens house in Virginia looks like a $1.2M home on 2 acreas. I agree, he may have to drop the price another 10-20% to sell, but at least this is not a WTF price like those in Quail Hill… looking at this blog a similar house there would still be listed at $2.5-4M.

  23. lawyerliz

    You don’t. Legally, anyhow. Usually you need permission to do anything to a condo (at least in Fla). Usually you don’t get permission. Usually the Declaration of Condo says how many people are the max that can live there. Usually 2 per bedroom. Usually,
    there are building/zoning rules and regs that also say how many people can live there. Tho if you unexpectedly had triplets I doubt that anyone would bother you.

    I imagine we are talking about dividing up the inside. Don’t you have to get permits for that? Surely you can’t add on to the exterior of a condo without jumping thru an impossible number of hoops. Dividing up the interior would at the very least involve electrical work.

    Which isn’t to say I could tell you some very amusing Florida stories.
    Such as the condo assn which illegally renovated a management office and then sold it to some poor sucker. Who couldn’t resell it; I don’t even know what they used for a legal description. One of my former secretarys added a 2nd kitchen to the inside of her place preparatory to renting part of it (illegally of course). Someone turned her in and she had to pull out the cabinets.

  24. skek

    I think the activity, meaningless as it may be, jumps the property to the top of the “hot sheets” for brokers and potential buyers watching that neighborhood or price range. In theory, anyway. Don’t know too many people watching these days.

    $10k reduction just keeps the listing “fresh” on the MLS.

  25. No_Such_Reality

    I must be jaded, $100K price slash barely scratches my interest since I know most places have so far to fall.

  26. tonye

    Nope….it’s not the materials but what you do with them and the balance you do. There are kitchens from the 70s that used natural colors that are still around today.

    And stainless steel, well done, will last forever too. I used to cook when I was young and our kitchens were always stainless steel.

    We got quartz countertops (Caesarstone), Stainless steel on the Viking, Bosch and GE… but the huge built in 4 foot wide fridge has a maple veneer that matches the custom cabinetry.

    Besides, quartz has a depth and uniformity that you can not get with Corian and granite.


    It’s as expensive ( or more ) than granite but it will last forever and will not look dated.

    OTOH, a cheap range with a cheap stainless steel cladding and a slapped on granite will definitely wear like the Brady Bunch’s orange and avocado kitchen.

  27. Ron

    I live just a few doors down from the Briarwood property. I’m in the same complex, bought my place in 1993 for $120,000 and thought I was overpaying at the time. The best thing I can say about this complex is that it has good location, has no mello-roos, and is comparatively inexpensive. So when the million dollar houses are losing $500,000 in value, my $400k condo will drop to $200k. I kind of like the idea that real estate would have to drop 80% for me to have an LTV near 100%.

  28. JoeBob

    “How can realtors say stupid things like this?”

    Its probably Holly Nguyen at it again….


  29. kurtyboy

    I sold my house north of Seattle last Spring. In December, I trotted a few realtors through to get their feeling for the value of the place, which was a 5/3 built in 1979. I had updated the baths and kitchen–the kitchen got brand new Kenmore appliances and good old laminate counters, and the baths got inexpensive ceramic tile and “cultured marble” counters, along with vinyl floors.

    Almost to a man, the realtors told me that if I had only used stainless and granite, I’d have gotten another 15K outta the place. I figure I saved about 10k of that ($3/ft for laminate, slightly more for granite, etc.) and I think it still fit in with the neighborhood. Bottom line, I made 165k over my basis on a house I lived in for seven years. Might have gotten another 10k out of it if I’d sat on it longer, but I am happy.

    I am now renting a place with granite and stainless, and lemme tell you–I’ll never own the stuff. The stainless is not. The granite breaks or chips every plate that hits it.

  30. kurtyboy

    Mr Stevens needs to adjust his ask one more time, I think. Great Falls isn’t exactly a booming market right now—in fact anything in the DC metro region that represents more than a 45 minute commute has been absolutely hammered in the last two years.

    I have been tracking properties inside of DC, and the asking prices of homes have gone from about 150% of the tax assessment to about 110%. I’ve got to think that outside of the beltway, the numbers are closer to par, with further concessions at closing. I would guess that in order to attract some offers, Mr. Stevens ought to set the ask right at the assessed value of $1.08mm, and be ready to accept an offer 3-5% lower than that.

    But I am no real estate perfeshun’l, so what the hell do I know?

Comments are closed.