FSBO – For Sale By Optimist

Don't Dream It's Over — Crowded House

You don't need a realtor to sell a house. A title company can take care of most paperwork, and an attorney can draft the rest for a minimal fee. Realtors are supposed to be experts at sales and marketing, but if you possess these skills, there is no need to pay someone 6% to draft a poorly written property description and sit in your house on the weekends. You can do it yourself and save a great deal of money. There are advantages of to selling on your own. You don't have to base your asking price on comparable properties. You can make up a number and put the property for sale for whatever price you want. There is no neutral market observer to tell you your price might be too high. Who needs to pay attention to comps? Also, you don't have to worry about the time and money your realtor is going to spend marketing your home because you will pay all those expenses yourself.

Today's featured property has been featured on IHB before. The previous owner was unable to sell it using a realtor, and it went back to the bank in foreclosure. The current owners bought it from the bank. Surely, they will find the buyer who appreciates the unique qualities of this home and obtain their asking price. It is just a matter of good sales and marketing and a healthy dose of optimism (real estate optimism tastes best when mixed with kool aid.)

Sweetan Front14712 Sweetan Kitchen

Asking Price: $749,500IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $187,375

Downpayment Needed: $149,900

Monthly Equity Burn: $6,245

Peak Purchase Price: $729,500

Peak Purchase Date: 11/21/2005

Flipper Purchase Price: $540,500

Flipper Purchase Date: 1/18/2008

Address: 14712 Sweetan St., Irvine, CA 92604


Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,500
$/Sq. Ft.: $500
Lot Size:
Property Type: Single-Family House
Year Built: 1975
Seller Type: By Owner
County: Orange
Listing #: 768421118
Source: Oodle
Status: Active
On Redfin: 78 days

Swimming pool/Jacuzzi w. solar heating; 3 Bedrooms, 2 baths,Living Room, Knife Catcher AwardDen, office, kitchen;

Granite countertops; Bosch dishwasher; Smooth cooktop self cleaning oven; Microwave/convection;

Coffered ceiling light & Ceiling fan; Granite fireplace in den;

Ceiling fans in every room;

2 skylights;

New tumbled stone shower in master bath; Approx. 1500 sq.ft.;

Central AC; recently remodeled;

new landscaping; walk to schools;


The seller's name and contact information on the link above does not match the property records. Whoever she is, please refrain from using her name in the comments. Thank you. If you want to call and make an offer, well… that is up to you.



The previous owner and the bank shared in the losses on this property. The owner put 20% down ($145,900), and the bank put up $583,600. At the foreclosure auction, the lender paid $607,901 which probably represents the original balance plus all the missed payments. When they sold the property for $540,500 to our flippers. The lender lost $67,401. The total loss on the property was $213,300. The lender's loss is our flipper's gain. If they manage to get their asking price, they stand to make $209,000.


WTF? Are you kidding me?

This property was for sale forever in the $600s before the credit crunch. I suppose if you completely ignore all the comparable inventory priced $200,000 less (and dropping daily) this price might be attainable. Oh wait, they must have spent $20,000 on pergraniteel and added $209,000 in value in the process. I guess that makes the asking price reasonable… Not. Don't let me spoil the bubble rally. Don't dream it's over.

Perhaps there are some drawbacks to selling without a realtor after all…

I hope you have enjoyed this week at the Irvine Housing Blog. We set a new record this week when we had over 10,000 unique visitors on Wednesday. I guess it really was The Ultimate Post. Come back next week as we continue chronicling ‘the seventh circle of real estate hell.’ Have a great weekend.



Crowded HouseThere is freedom within, there is freedom without

Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost

But you'll never see the end of the road

While you're travelling with me

Hey now, hey now

Don't dream it's over

Hey now, hey now

When the world comes in

They come, they come

To build a wall between us

We know they won't win

Don't Dream It's Over — Crowded House

70 thoughts on “FSBO – For Sale By Optimist

  1. cara

    No, no, no, the added value is in their fabulous taste in paintings covering every square inch of wall space.

    Yup $209,000 in 4 months! Nice work if you can get it!

    1. ConsiderAgain

      [i]No, no, no, the added value is in their fabulous taste in paintings covering every square inch of wall space.[/i]

      Almost universal sign of “staging”.

      1. AZDavidPhx

        I noticed the same thing.

        Why not just find some wall-paper that is a medley of a million different paintings?

        1. lynn

          To AZDavidPhx: You missed your calling as a wall-paper designer – you are very creative.

          1. AZDavidPhx

            Thank you.

            We could have designer housing-bubble wallpaper to complement the pergranteel flipware.

            You can go with the “Flipper Underwater” bathroom, the “Dr. Evil” home office, or the “Irvine Sacred Land Trust” living room which instantly adds 100K value to the home upon drying.

  2. NoWow!way

    What neighborhood is this in? Please don’t say it’s in the Willows. It looks like maybe Greentree.

    Remember: THIS Spring there was supposed to be a big recovery and the flippers were going to make a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    I mentioned that we met a flipper guy at a party during Xmas who was planning on a big recovery this spring. Well, his teacher wife got a pink slip and he stopped all work on some Capo property immediately and sold it, so they could “sleep at night”. He didn’t want to sell the property for what the buyer was offering, but his wife INSISTED on it. They sold it to another flipper who was going to resume the work not yet finished. Bah!!!!!!!!!!

    I am telling you: There is WAY too much speculation left in this market. It’s going to take more years to come to hammer it all out.

    One other thing: according to the pool plaster guys who are doing a local job, they are building, on average, ONE POOL PER DAY out in the new developments of Rancho Cucamonga (sp?).

    I am thinking it is a developer upgrade thrown in to entice new buyers. I cannot believe that people could afford to put in new pools themselves after taking on a brand new mortgage for a brand new home. I wonder if they have Mello Roos taxes like we do? Is that a statewide thing or just in certain cities?

    1. AZDavidPhx

      Yup. I was saying this the other day. Too many people trying to time the market and jump in at the bottom to snap up some investments.

      Expect to see a quick rally at the bottom where the last wave of speculators jump in. Credit will be tighter so most will be restricted to purchasing only 1 extra property. The values of these “investment” properties are going to flatline at the bottom while the “owners” attempt to wait for the next bubbly rise (which will not occur). After a couple years they will be tired of maintaining a place that is not bringing significant gain and they will opt to sell for around break even and dump their cash into the next emerging bubble in some other area.

      If you are one of these people who are looking to flip at the bottom – you might want to consider that such plans are not original. Tons of other people are hatching the exact same plan. You are probably much better off thinking a little more outside the box and buying your tulips in some other market while all the masses are still under the effects of real-estate tunnel-vision.

      In 2010, if you prance around telling people that you are a real-estate investor, they will laugh at you behind your back saying “That is so 2006”.

    2. IrvineRenter

      Mello Roos are everywhere in California.

      BTW, it sounds like your friends wife is the only one with financial sense in the family.

  3. NoWow!way

    It was kind of awkward, to say the least. This guy is a friend of the host/hostess and the first time we’ve been to a party with all their friends.

    I am trying to not look shocked when he tells me that he flips houses for “a living” in December and goes on about all the rally deal going down in spring. I don’t know this guy and I for sure don’t want to have the host/hostess offended by comments I could make that would ruin the guy’s evening.

    We had dinner together with the host/hostess a couple of weeks ago when it came up that his wife had gotten the pink slip and then they sold the property.

    These folks are not weirdos. They are in their 30’s and real estate good times are their reality, still.

  4. Don from the Tanning Salon

    I’ve honestly never seen so many (ugly) paintings on a wall in a home. It reminds me of a home that I once toured that had a huge tapestry in the middle of a hallway. I peeked under it and noticed a huge dent. Maybe the owner of this FSBO hits golf balls inside the house? Or has a Chinese Throwing Star collection? Or bangs his head against the wall for being such a stupid Flipper.

    1. springmom

      Hmm. Maybe the owner painted them. They kind of have that look to them don’t they? πŸ™„

  5. TheNumbersNeverLie

    This is from the washingtonpost.com

    39 Republicans Join Democrats As Mortgage Bill Passes House

    “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as 500,000 homeowners will benefit from the program. But more than a third of those borrowers are likely to default, the CBO estimates, forcing the FHA to pay off their loans and take possession of their property at a cost to taxpayers of $1.7 billion”.

    If George Bush does not Veto this legislation, he will officially become the worst republicrat in history.

    1. TheNumbersNeverLie

      This from seekingalpha.com…

      Please call and/or email the White House to voice your support of a presidential veto of any housing bailout bill:

      Phone: 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111

      Just say, “I am calling to ask you to veto any housing bailout that comes out of Congress.”

      1. NewToTheArea


        I just called and spoke with Richard Shelby’s office in D.C. I told them I would like to leave a message for Mr. Shelby. They listened to me and said that he will not give in to the democrats. I just calmly and respectfully told them how I felt and why. They said they are noting all of the calls and that they will be passing them along to Mr. Shelby. It takes about 60 seconds to do something for your country.

        The phone number is 202-224-5744.

    2. Kirk

      I cannot believe that I will actually support Bush if he vetos this. How is it that the biggest dipshit in history can be right about this? While a broken clock is right twice a day, this guy is right twice a lifetime.

      1. cara

        It’s rare but it happens. He was also right about substituting money for buying food locally for wordl food aid rather than insisting on it always being US agriculture that directly benefits from world famine. And his immigration reform, while not necessarily the right plan was at least not bigoted hooey. It’s crazy, I do occasionally agree with him.

        1. Kirk

          Although I like Carter as a person, I agree that he was not a good president overall. It makes me sad to say that because he has really redeemed himself as an ex-president.

          But, as far as the dipshit part:

          Carter big time screw ups:
          1) Economy
          2) Iran

          Carter big time accomplishments:
          1) Camp David Accords – and they stuck

          Bush big time screw ups:
          1) September 11th (He ignored terrorism despite repeated warnings)
          2) Afghanistan (Not invading, but the actual handling of the war)
          3) Iraq
          4) Economy
          5) Iran (Iran had loosened up until the Axis of Evil idiocy – we’ll probably bomb them this winter)
          6) Darfur (We could have ignored this, except Bush made a big deal about how compassionate we were to go into Iraq where nobody was being slaughtered at the time. The slaughter happened years before. Then we sit on our hands when an actual genocide is going on in a non-oil rich country. Guess we’ll invade Sudan in another decade.)

          Bush big time accomplishments:
          1) The do-not-call list

          You’re right. Carter was much much worse.

          1. Kirk

            OMG, I blocked out the Katrina debacle. Still, I’m going to agree that Carter was worse. Nothing will convince me otherwise.

          2. CapitalismWorks


            September 11th was bound to happen. This country was (and is) asleep.

            Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars are inherently messy. If we applied the same idealistic, up to the minute media reporting model, to past conflict we would never have won a single war. If the result so of the D-Day invasion were reported under current media and national emotional standards, we would have left Europe to the Germans that very day. The prosecution of war is a terrible thing, however it is a reality that must be addressed with the understanding of a determination to do what is necessary to succeed (see Hiroshima).

            Bush has donr reasonably well on the economy. Blaming the president for the business cycle is like blaming weatherman for the weather. I would say Bush’s leaning toward protectionism has me concerned, however the tax cuts demonstrate a support of capitalism and a reliance on the private sector as the engine of growth.

            Iran was and is no closer to dethroning the mullahs. Iran is a determined source of evil in the world, and I find it refreshing that Bush uses the word EVIL accurately. Reminded me of Reagan and the evil empire.

            Darfur. Africa is a disaster, but Bush’s record on Africa policy in commendable. He has allocated resources to AIDS, food relief, Malaria, economic development, etc. in levels that far exceed any past administration.

            He may be dumb (and possibly the worst public speaker in presidential history), but he is not evil.

          3. irv

            Actually, he’s not dumb. I think his fatal flaw is he values loyalty above competence, and in return has hung onto people too long after they’ve let him down.

            He is a poor public speaker, although he’s pretty good in a more conversational setting. That’s why he and Kerry couldn’t easily agree on debate formats. Kerry wanted to deliver speeches, Bush wanted the ability to work the audience.

            Darnit, I broke the IHB’s “no politics in the blog” rule again. Sorry, IR!

          4. IrvineRenter

            “Darnit, I broke the IHB’s β€œno politics in the blog” rule again. Sorry, IR!”

            I was thinking about chiming in on this thread as well, but it is a slippery slope…

          5. LC

            You were brainwashed by Bonzo’s co-star. Carter won a Nobel Prize, while Reagan just wet his Depends. Kirk, you disappoint on so many levels.

    3. Laura Louzader

      It’s our bum luck that the housing shake-out has to happen in the year of the presidential election. What we see here is bipartisan pandering on an epic scale.

      No party has a corner on the desire to pander to voter’s self-indulgence and sense of entitlement.

  6. DeadBeatRenter

    I am calling the President today. Since I am the only American that still thinks he,s doing a fine job I am sure he will take my call.

  7. buster

    You are all being WAY too hard on Congress. Why shouldn’t prudent savers, renters and people who are responsible bail out Chinese billionaire investors who bought all this crappy paper? Or flippers who found no chair when the music stopped? Or the fools who believed (honestly) that their payments would be paying 1% interest forever when the banks were paying 5% on deposits.

    You bunch of stingy capitalists…

  8. Mike

    I just called the president and asked him to veto that bill. He said he’ll get right on it.

    1. mike in irvine

      Did he talk to you about his executive order which automatically reduces the list price of all Irvine houses by 15%. He said he signed a bill but doesnt remember which one, he wanted to veto one and approve one…its tough to be the prez πŸ˜‰

    2. buster

      I’m gonna crash daugher Jenna’s wedding tomorrow and speak with President Monkey Breath about vetoing this bill. I figure if I bring a couple six-packs of Lone Star (or is that Loan Stunned) they’ll let me in with no problem.

  9. r€nato

    Realtors are supposed to be experts at sales and marketing, but if you possess these skills, there is no need to pay someone 6% to draft a poorly written property description and sit in your house on the weekends. You can do it yourself and save a great deal of money.

    WOW you are going to get burned at the stake for that bit of heresy!

    I don’t plan on selling my home anytime soon; but when that day comes, you better believe I’ll do it myself, just as you suggested here. I happen to live in a desirable neighborhood with great schools in a very convenient part of town. Why do I need a realtor to market it? I have the savvy to do that; I would consider it a job that pays 6% of the purchase price.

    The only upsides I see to getting a realtor, is if you can find one who possess the sales experience to talk a buyer into a higher price than one could get one’s self; the value of having a third-party to mediate between the buyer and seller (avoiding the likelihood of either party taking personal offense at bargaining tactics); and the sense of the market conditions to establish a selling price which is reasonable and likely to attract the right kind of buyers.

    I’m not saying realtors are always useless; however in my personal situation – as a business owner – I think I have the smarts to do all that myself.

    1. r€nato

      oh… now I see you were being sarcastic. OK then. I still maintain my original point; you don’t necessarily need a realtor if you possess the time and savvy to do your own marketing, the patience and thick skin to deal with all the types of potential buyers one will encounter, and the business savvy to dispassionately evaluate the market and your house.

      It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure… but I plan on doing that if and when the day comes.

      1. AZDavidPhx

        It’s true.

        You would certainly think that real-estate firms would at the very least require their agents to be skilled enough to use the “Spell Checker” feature of Microsoft Word.

        You would also think that they would review some of the agent’s former “work” so that they could weed-out the agents whose marketing expertise cannot come up with anything better than “come home to live to OC lifestyle today” or other such lame cliches that a 16 year old high school student might come up with on a minimum wage hourly rate.

      2. IrvineRenter

        I was mixing my sarcasm with real truths. The statement you responded to was truth.

    2. Rehm

      I bought my house in 2003 and used one of those discount agents that let you do all the legwork while he works out the paperwork. This is how it went down;
      1) He would fax me listings every few days and my wife and I would drive by after work, this lasted about 1 month before finding the house we wanted
      – Total time spent – less than 20hrs
      2) We met our realtor at the property and he drafted our offer to buy.
      a. Total time spent – 2hrs
      3) He negotiated the sale and we got the home
      a. Our time spent – 0
      4) We were responsible for getting the inspections done and doing the walk-thru.
      a. Our time spent – 10min to schedule an inspection with a home inspector + 2hrs to follow the guy around during his inspection.
      5) We were responsible for making sure all the escrow papers were signed and set out on time and that they were processing properly.
      a. Our time spent –15hrs
      6) Final walk thru – 1hr

      So we spent less than 40hrs of our own time because we hired a discount realtor and for that, our agent cut us a fat check for $8,000 (2%). Our fist house we bought we used a full service agent and he did Jacks#*t for us. I will never use a full service agent again.

  10. houseonlegs

    We have to keep track of this property to see what it sells at, if it ever does. I wonder if this is the flippers only property?

    1. mmg

      as I have been saying, 200$ per sf, here we come. and that is for newer places. older one will be in the late 170s. and yes that includes Irvine πŸ˜†

      1. CK

        MMG — So if Irvine settles at $185 sq ft as you seem to indicate (since probably half the stock is “older”), does that mean AV and MV settle at $135 sq ft?

        What would a place in the IE cost? Something commutable off Green River exit would go for maybe $50 sq ft? Is Norco free, you just have to be able to afford the HOA and Mello Roos?

        1. mmg


          AV and MV has some very nice houses, while irvine is better located compared to others+schools, it may command a slight premium, if you look back in the 90s, Irvine median was close to these other two towns. what do you think sq ft should cost in Irvine $600 πŸ˜†

          A friend of mine a brand new house(actually featured on this blog) 5 years ago for 500k(2500 sf) what has changed in Irvine in the last 5 years beside the economy softening, financials struggling. look no further than IHB to see Irvine is dropping like everywhere else.
          what do you think?

          1. CK

            MMG —

            I’m thinking Irvine at about $250 psf in 2010 (and hovering at that level for a few years). AV and MV at about $200-$225 psf. IE between $90 – $120 psf depending on the commute.

            That would give Irvine a likely median of around $450k. 2,000 sq ft house would be $500k. About $250k for a similar 2,000 sq ft house in Corona. Do you really think it is going lower than that?

          2. IrvineRenter

            I think those levels represent stabilized values, but it is entirely possible we will have overshoot due to the large numbers of foreclosures.

          3. mmg

            yes, if the economy gets weaker, credit tightens more and ofcourse dont forget psychology of buyers.

  11. PadreBrian

    Asking Price: $749,500
    Income Requirement: $187,375
    Sq. Ft.: 1,500
    $/Sq. Ft.: $500
    Lot Size: –
    Property Type: Single-Family House
    Year Built: 1975


    For that price you can get a new place and 1000SQ more in Irvine/Tustin/Landora. Take your pick.

  12. Laura Louzader

    Hi, everyone.

    This is off the thread, but I offer it for your amusement. Here is a $5 Million foreclosure in downtown Chicago:


    This is by no means the only upper-bracket foreclosure in Chicagoland, just one of the most egregious cases of obvious fraud. There was, a number of months back, a mansion in Hinsdale that sold for $3.4 million, foreclosed, and was auctioned for $1.4 million, that’s a loss of TWO MILLION DOLLARS. I’ll post the link when I dig it up.

    As you can see, SoCal and Miami don’t exactly have a corner on lunacy and mortgage fraud.

    1. AZDavidPhx

      I used to visit Hinsdale pretty regularly back in the late 90’s into 2001. The were tearing down houses in every neighborhood and putting up McMansions all over the place. The whole place reaked nouveau riche. I figured it was just where all the rich people were moving – now I know it was just easy credit and over-leveraged home debtors trying to play millionaire.

      1. Laura Louzader

        Hinsdale is actually solidly affluent and always has been, but it will still never approach the affluence or status of the elegant old north shore suburbs like Lake Forest, Kenilworth, Winnetka, or even Wilmette.

        And never less than now, for the outer suburbs are beginning to lose value quickly relative to really fine older burbs that are located closer to the city, are set up like cozy small towns, and have good, frequent rail service to the city.

          1. Laura Louzader

            I gather, from comments I’ve been reading on this site, that Lake Forest, CA does not resemble Lake Forest, IL.

  13. Lord

    The best buys are always FSBOs. ROFLOL.

    Actually there is good reason this is FSBO. No serious agent would touch this.

    1. nvest80

      “Actually there is good reason this is FSBO. No serious agent would touch this.”

      You’re right about no serious agent touching this. It’s funny though how there are still many agents in the Real Estate business that list (many) overpriced listings (like this one) in hopes of finding a qualified buyer that not only spent the past couple of years frozen in a time capsule but also has the downpayment to qualify….

  14. NewToTheArea


    Everybody who comments and reads this blog needs to take 60 seconds and call the Whitehouse and Richard Shelby’s office and tell them you support the Veto of the housing bailout. It doesn’t take long and it is hopefully a little more productive than our justified rants on this blog. We will pay for the estimated 33% of the homes that will enter this bailout program and still default. The Washington Post already wrote a piece about it.

    Just pick up the phone and call. It’s easy.

    The Whitehouse – 202-456-1414

    Richard Shelby’s office in DC – 202-224-5744

  15. Chuck

    Did anyone else see this? A realtor that I know just sent this over to me. The article includes some pretty questionable stats to support their premise that “The dire headlines coming fast and furious in the financial and popular press suggest that the housing crisis is intensifying. Yet it is very likely that April 2008 will mark the bottom of the U.S. housing market. Yes, the housing market is bottoming right now.”


      1. LC

        Wait until they get around to the characteristics of a bubble. Especially the last one — they always blow up, and never again reach those crazy prices.

  16. Food

    Could IPOP or someone also post the financial transactions of the ones closed in escrow? That should be public information after escrow closes. What I mean by financial transaction is mainly the down payment.


    If I were the bank holding on to these toxic mortgages, I would entertain another creative finance. Since only buyers with the least to put down would bid the highest amount, this way banks should alleviate their losses at least in the short run. If so, that is another factor to be considered in house pricing.

    1. grabasnorkel

      Funny how it works in the current environment.

      –> I’d say amongst people who would want to buy a house today, most of them would like 95%-100% financing. They are either stupid (which could explain why they don’t have a down payment) or they are smart and understand that money down == risk, especially now.

      –> Sad thing is, most of the 95%-100% loan product is evaporating.

  17. darms

    Bought a house with a “Jacuzzi w/solar heating” in Austin, TX 1992. Don’t know how it works for the rest of you, but here, when it’s actually cold enough to enjoy the hot tub (<40 degrees F), there's one little problem - the skies are overcast, meaning the solar panels do not work. I converted this to electric heat so that it could be used...

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