Charge It to the House

She Works Hard for the Money — Donna Summer

HELOC abuse is just as prevalent among women as it is among men. With all the free money floating around, it is to be expected that a woman who wanted to have the finer things in life would become accustomed to a lifestyle well beyond her means. Today’s featured property is owned by a woman (as the decor makes obvious,) and she managed to borrow and spend herself out of her home. There is a certain Shakespearian Tragedy element to stories like these. Today’s seller made a series of bad decisions which lead to her downfall. How are we supposed to feel when we see these situations? Part of me is sad that this woman is losing her home, and part of me is not sad because she brought this fate onto herself (and I suppose a little schadenfreude is mixed in as well.) The emotions we all feel when confronted with these stories serve to teach us all not to do what she did.

434 Monroe Kitchen

Asking Price: $357,642IrvineRenter

Income Requirement: $89,410

Downpayment Needed: $71,528

Monthly Equity Burn: $2,980

Purchase Price: $174,000

Purchase Date: 6/26/1998

Address: 434 Monroe, Irvine, CA 92620

Beds: 2
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 1,142
$/Sq. Ft.: $313
Lot Size:
Property Type: Condominium
Style: Townhouse
Year Built: 1985
Stories: 2 Levels
Area: Northwood
County: Orange
MLS#: S534175
Source: SoCalMLS
Status: Active
On Redfin: 1 day

New Listing (24 hours)

QUICK SALE!! Fantastic value on this 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, two story
townhome with 2 direct access car garage through private patio. Open
and airy floor plan. Fireplaced family area and kitchen with granite
counter tops, upgraded appliances, and plumbing fixtures makes for a
gourmets dream. Laminate and tile floors. Show and Sell Today!!!!!

The exclamation points are back. Hurray!!!!!!

Fireplaced family area? WTF?

gourmets dream? (needs an apostrophe) Does that mean I can use the gourmet kitchen graphic?

So how often did this woman go to the housing ATM? Let’s look at the bullet point recap:

  • The property was purchased for $174,000 on 6/26/1998 with an FHA loan of $165,900 and a $8,100 downpayment.
  • On 10/31/2001 the first sip of kool aid was a refinance for $180,000 pulling out her downpayment and an additional $6,000.
  • On 6/4/2002 she opened a stand-alone second for $28,000.
  • On 8/20/2003 she refinance for $189,000.
  • On 12/30/2003 she opened a HELOC for $101,000.
  • On 6/8/2004 she opened a stand-alone second for $8,000.
  • On 9/22/2004 she opened a stand-alone second for $40,000.
  • On 12/30/2004 she refinanced for $350,000.
  • On 2/1/2005 she opened a HELOC for $64,000.
  • On 12/9/2005 she opened a HELOC for $10,500.
  • On 9/26/2006 she refinanced with an Option ARM for $422,400.
  • On 9/26/2006 she opened a stand-alone second for $52,272.
  • On 7/12/2007 she opened a stand-alone second for $5,300.
  • Total debt on the property is $422,400 + $52,272 + $5,300 = $479,972.

That is quite a finance history. Her return-on-investment is excellent. She put in $8,100, got it back in 3 years, plus she took out and additional $305,972.

If this property sells for its asking price, her lenders, Washington Mutual and Apex Mortgage Services stand to lose $99,501 after a 6% commission on a property which would be selling at a profit of $183,642.

The lenders were pretty stupid, weren’t they?

Thus concludes another week at the Irvine Housing Blog. Come back next week as we continue chronicling ‘the seventh circle of real estate hell.’ Have a great weekend.



She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
so you better treat her right

She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
so you better treat her right

Onetta there in the corner stand
and wonders where she is and
it’s strange to her
some people seem to have everything

Nine a.m. on the hour hand
and she’s waiting for the bell
and she’s looking real pretty
just wait for her clientele

She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
so you better treat her right

She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
so you better treat her right

Twenty five years have
come and gone
and she’ seen a lot of tears
of the ones who come in
they really seem to need her there

It’s a sacrifice working day to day
for little money just tips for pay
But it’s worth it all
just to hear them say that they care

She works hard for the money
so hard for it honey
she works hard for the money
so you better treat her right

She already knows
she’s seen her bad times
she already knows
these are the good times

She’ll never sell out
she never will
not for a dollar bill
she works hard

She Works Hard for the Money — Donna Summer

66 thoughts on “Charge It to the House

    1. edW

      Its a great place to have a gourmets dream that involves plumbing fixtures. Barf on brother.

  1. Bob K

    It may have been decorated by a woman, but apparently it was a woman who moved out of a trailer park.

  2. Jack Dawson

    I’m always tempted to ask where did all that dough go?

    So you buy a car, do some remodeling, take a trip, go big screen, get a new outfit, etc., but $300,000?

    And where was I when she was dishing it out?!

    Story of my life.

  3. George8

    Even though she was a single, she had had two incomes for 8 years. The second income was extra sweet and efficient – earning $40k a year tax free, care free, car free, argument free, clothing free, food free, space free…

    She was a pro.

  4. Sid

    What’s scary is that I remember the number of drink-the-Kool-Aid newspaper stories back three and four years ago about allegedly how more and more single women were buying houses, and then I figured it was a scam. Not the idea of single women buying houses, mind you, but the whole “This is your last chance before you’re priced out of the market!” mindset that also fuels the number of stories about the increased cost of weddings. These articles were also accompanied with huge listings on the wonderful things that should be in that 4/3/2 monstrosity, and I’m honestly not surprised that a lot of fresh college graduates bought into the fantasy of ever-increasing house value. Unfortunately, they’re also the individuals who are most likely going to be hurt when property values fall and they’re stuck with a house they can’t sell.

    1. ET

      The problem wasn’t that they bought the house – the original price was reasonable – the problem was that doesn’t seem to have controlled her spending (or used the equity she had gotten as an ATM).

      Her problem wasn’t listening to advice on singles (no matter gender0 buying real estate, her problem was that she believed all those who said real estate valuations were going to escalate so fast she could still spend like a drunken sailor but just refinance herself out of trouble.

  5. Jon

    Just out of curiosity, how do you find out the financial history of a house? HELOC use, refinances, and such?

    1. IrvineRenter

      All the information is in the public records. There are many data services which provide this information.

      Notice that we never post the owner’s names.

  6. Laura Louzader

    Silly, silly me.

    It never even once occurred to me, whilst I’m sitting here saving up my 20% down plus repair reserve and retirement funding, that I could buy a place for almost nothing down and then pull $300K out of it.

    I don’t know how the laws stand in your state, but in one recent foreclosure case that included a cash out refi, the judge ruled that the couple could totally go Chapter 7 on the HELOC money for, even though the borrower was clearly irresponsible, the lender was still more so and much more at fault, for they failed to perform a minimum due diligence on the borrower and defaulted on their responsibility to verify the borrower’s information.

    For all we know, this woman could have a substantial portion of that dough concealed somewhere, or at least had quite a spending spree, courtesy of her lender, who is just plain stuck with the debt, most likely. Can’t figure out what she spent it all on, looking at the place, but she is going to get off extraordinarily easy, as will most defaulting borrowers.

    1. ???

      For someone to have decorated their home like a permenant Valentine’s Day, I’d say the likelyhood of having concealed a substantial portion of that dough is next to none.

  7. ipoplaya

    Please realtors, if you are going to take the time to shoot the pics, at least take down the a$$ pictures off the wall… Staging 101, no naked pictures, porn, etc. as decoration or otherwise strewn about the house.

    1. Pianist

      And no toilet pictures. We all know bathrooms contain a toilet, so what’s up with the prominent featuring of the same. Is is a $ Toto special?

    2. Genius

      Over the bed no less… I wonder if the price includes a sizable VHS collection.

      My anti-spam word was reached66. I ‘reached’ 32 yesterday. Weird.

  8. Kelja

    Where’s the compassion? What’d you say lets bail this poor missy out of her problem. I mean collectively do it through our all-knowing, all-powerful, wonderful FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!

    It’s making me sick.

    1. Zardeenah

      You know, I think the government has to do something…but not on the end of bailing people out…On the end of regulating banks, mortgage brokers, and builders…prosecuting fraud (corporate and individual)…and providing additional police presence in neighborhoods with lots of forclosures to keep people safe from the crime that comes with that…Not to mention the CDC presence needed to drain the pools to prevent mosquito borne diseases…Helping to fund food banks, homeless shelters, free school lunches for kids whose families fell into poverty or homelessness because of forclosure…You know, all that “establish justice [prosecutions], insure domestic tranquility [police],…promote the general welfare [preventing disease]” stuff.

      So there’s plenty the government can do to help…but not by giving away free money.

  9. picflight

    [b]My Offer[/b]
    After giving this property a thorough look, my offer today is [b]$109,000.00[/b]. I believe this is what this property is worth.

      1. anela

        i think all the pink is clouding pic’s judgement on this one – either that or the doll on the bed is really freaking him/her out. that doll scares me.

        1. ipoplaya

          Doilies, dolls, and butt pictures? Don’t really seem to go together to me, but then again, I’m not cuckoo…

          1. ConsiderAgain

            Female 101:

            ANY female can see a male butt whenever they
            wish. It may not be the butt they want to
            see, but some sort of male butt is always
            available to a female. Almost on demand.

          2. Dave

            Mom, I suspect you are quite correct
            about the butt. And that saddens me.

            I have a mental picture of this woman.
            It’s heartbreaking. This cannot have
            been anything other than a good-hearted,
            though very foolish woman.

            Her deception is even more profound,
            as she slaves away in a dead end
            job, waiting, as she has for decades
            (she’s about 35), for Prince Charming
            to sweep her off her feet.

            The doll saddens me.

            Life isn’t what this woman thought it was.

            Should we bail her out? No, of course
            not. But I don’t have any schadenfreude
            at all in this case. Just sadness that
            she allowed herself to be deceived.

          3. Dave

            I strongly suspect she about 40 lbs
            overweight, otherwise rather petite.
            (The chairs wouldn’t support an
            obese woman.)

            As a man, the frou frou tells me she
            either 1. has massive game, such that
            men are comfortable in her little
            nest, or 2. her game is weak as hell,
            she doesn’t have much experience with
            men, good chance she is a drama queen,
            and she as a lot of trouble keeping
            men around. There isn’t much in
            between in my experience.

            The doll tells me #2 is more correct.

            I don’t pity this woman, but I still
            feel very sad for her.

          4. Major Schadenfreude

            Oh please. How can one be deceived about taking money and then not thinking that it has to be payed back.

      2. picflight

        I had to change my formula. [i]Condoms[/i] have less value in my opinion and should be priced as such.

    1. Matt

      My offer is $1.2 million.

      Hear me out.

      If I were to live there, amidst all that pink and red and hearts and such, I would kill myself. At $60K a year, I will make $1.2 million over the next 20 years, which is the common advice on life insurance: to provide for your spouse/dependents for 20 years.

      So, if she paid me $1.2 million, I’d live there.

  10. JesusCrispy

    The interior is horrible. It looks like she’s heading back to the trailer where her furniture will fit in nicely.

  11. ipoplaya

    Aw shucks, you have me blushing SM. I told my ex to take down that picture of me but I guess she just can’t part with it… 🙂

  12. alan

    She’s going to have an awful time trying to sell this with the pink paint job and fru-fru curtains. She should pull the pic’s off the walls, repaint to a neutral color, take down the fru-fru and stage the place properly. I get constipated just looking at the pic’s (not to mention the a$$ in the bedroom)

    1. picflight

      She probably didn’t do all that because she could be out of cash and deep trouble.

    2. ???

      No man would be able to last more than an hour in this place–then again, that may have been her intention.

    3. David

      Given the level of English practiced by many of the realtors on these posts, perhaps they DID stage this place!

    4. houseonlegs

      I don’t think she really cares about what it sells for or when, it will either be a short sale or it will go back to the lender. She’s screwed either way.

    1. alan

      shouldn’t that be “crappy old apartment week”

      or “crappy old flat week” for the Brits in the audience.

      or in line with PBS… “This crappy old apartment”

  13. Laura Louzader

    Adam, money doesn’t equal taste.

    I once worked in between jobs at a temp spot at Bradford Collectibles here in Chicago… you know, the folks who make all the crappy “collectible” decorative plates to palm off on people who suffer bad cases of consumeritus.

    Well, you would not believe the addresses. We looked up orders by address, and I once, on a slow night, entered the addresses of every snotty multi-million dollar cooperative on N. Lake Shore Drive here in Chicago, that redoubt of snotty old midwestern money and co-ops with $4,000 a month assessments, that folks pay cash to buy. And not just one customer per building, or one plate per customer, either. Ten customers or so in almost every building, and each of these women (yes, this is a female disorder) had purchased HUNDREDS of these kitchy pieces of trash- “precious moments” and Disney charachters and Kinkaid reproductions, all that crapola. Thousands and thousands of dollars per customer, $45 a plate average, cost of manufacture about $3.00, and they were forever confusing their orders with us, with stuff they’d bought over at Franklin Mint.

    I dreaded to think of what their apartments looked like.

  14. Major Schadenfreude

    She obviously had the bank on speed dial the past 7 years or so: “Um, bank? I need more money…” [Bank] “Sure, no problem!”

    I imagine she will now be on the other end of that speed dial: [Bank] “Yo! Where’s my mona!!!” [Girl]”Um…I don’t know. Leave me alone!” Click.

    1. Homeseeker

      “Permanent Valentine”….hahaha….that’s precious. Sometimes I wonder what kind of IQ these people have. I can just see that scene….

      pinklady: “umm yes, an i wanna have baby pink walls all over”
      contractor: “uhh…ok…ur’e the boss”

      How do you be like this and still get away with over $40k a year in free money? This system was so broken it makes me sick.

      That “perma-valentine” is now going to be a “perma-midnight”.

  15. picflight

    [b]Hold on for more trouble and lower prices[/b]



    1. picflight

      The tentacles of the housing market collapse and associated financial market turmoil could still grab smaller banks and financial institutions that have so far avoided disaster, a top expert at the Federal Reserve warned Friday.

    2. picflight

      The brackets in the link are transforming the link with htmlencode.

      Copy the link and paste the link directly in the browser to make it work, do not click on it.

  16. Homeseeker

    This is just the tip of the iceberg…..the small banks have not yet started imploding…..hold on tight for that ride

  17. lynn

    Some of the remarks about the decorating have been unkind, and, worse, inaccurate (this isn’t trailer trash – not at all.)

    The problem is she has too many themes going on at the same time – pink, flowers, roses, hearts, frilly, etc., and she’s over-the-top on all of them. It’s always good to stick to one theme.

    For instance, I’ve never seen a pink kitchen and don’t expect I ever will. A good psychologist could probably explain her decorating style.

    1. Dave

      Heh… I’ve “dated” a few of these women, let’s
      just say that many of them have
      unrealistic expectations of dating, men, and
      relationships in general. The decor doesn’t
      bother me at all. Then again, I wouldn’t ever
      live in such a place.

      You’re quite right, this is not at all trailer
      trash. “Dated” some of those as well. (s’all
      good!). This is thoroughly conventional middle
      class frou frou from an morbidly romantic,
      eternally single woman.

      I still feel very bad for her. I don’t get the
      feeling she is a “bad” or “dishonest” person,
      just deceived and perhaps a little delusional.
      Not that delusional is bad, of course, just that
      one must careful of which delusion to indulge in.
      Very careful.

    2. centralcoastobserver

      I thought perhaps she was connected with Mary Kaye Cosmetics…. isn’t that about her shade of pink????

  18. madhaus

    Okay, I am a female (not single) and there is no way I would live in a place like that. When I was a single, I did not decorate like that. My condo was a pink and grey decoration scheme with some black trim and elements of art deco. No hearts, no roses. I don’t know what Ms. Precious Moments would think of a my decoration scheme that included snails.

    I think I need a high-pressure eyewash after going over to Redfin to look at all those photos. Also the a$$ shot was the only piece of art I could look at without throwing up in my mouth.

    1. minou

      “Pink and grey decoration scheme with some black trim and elements of art deco”?? Sounds like someone was single in the 80s. Not sure if that would much better than pink lady and her horrible mish mash of crap. 🙂

      1. madhaus

        Yup I bought and decorated that place in the 80s, glad I’m such a stereotype. But at least it didn’t have pink wallpaper, let alone different kinds of pink patterned wallpaper.

        1. Dave


          Stereotypes are so annoying when they are accurate.

          I kind of gotta go with minou with this one: can’t see how it would be that much better than the listing.

          However, my girl is thoroughly entranced with
          mid-century modern at the moment (wtf?), so I
          probably don’t have any room to laugh.

          It’s all good!

  19. Major Schadenfreude

    Hey, I just noticed that there is a “Recent Comments” column on the right side of the web page! Now we can link to the latest comments.


    Thanks Zovall!

  20. SteveForReal

    I am a lurker who finds the need to post. As an addicted investor who has profited being on the short side of many bubble burstings, i believe the NY Times article on the renter becoming an owner is timely – yet not accurate.

    It is only when the first ( and second) knife catchers capitulate that a bubble has completely burst. All markets have down legs, backfilling, false rallys.

    The current downside is giving many an opportunity to buy, but this thing has not played itself out and , because it involves homes and many different markets, will be very complex.

    The embarrassment and humilation factors mean there are many “under the radar” who will hold out until the bitter end. But it will play out like all other bubbles – with absolute capitulation and no buyers whatsoever to be seen for years.

    Again, different markets will be different. Noone and I mean noone times these things perfectly. Not you, Not I , not the pros and not the author of that article.

    Those whose portfolios or lives are balanced or just lucky enough to ride out the storm will be OK.

    This issue will take at least 5 years maybe more.

    Money was being created out of NOTHING “pergo-granite-steel” i believe was the mantra.

    All economic theories indicate this is the first leg and these theories are never wrong because human nature never changes.

    1. Laura Louzader

      I believe your analysis is spot on.

      We’re all so desensitized to outrageous prices that it’s easy to be suckered in by the steeply lower prices these days, while forgetting that we’re comparing them to prices that were flat out absurd.

      In my city, prices downtown are dropping in eye-popping increments of 40%, yet if you do a rent-parity test, they are still out of line, and 6,000 more condos are about to come online in downtown Chicago, in a market where only 201 units sold in the first few months of the year. Sales downtown dropped an incredible 83%.

      We will probably over-correct because of the staggering inventory alone, even if we weren’t looking at yet another wave of bad mortgages resetting in the next year.

      And financing is still amazingly easy to get. Most lenders are at least requiring 10% down for extremely good credit, but some are still fronting no-down mortgages, and there are still some people trying to flip stuff.

  21. stepping_up

    I have zero sympathy for people that had a house and used it as an ATM to consume a bunch of crap that they didn’t need. People who did it for medical bills, they have my sympathy.

  22. Schadendude

    I’m wondering how the photographer managed to avoid capturing any of the 9 cats this woman likely had…

  23. LC

    It is just too bad that you can’t just spray the place white all at once in five minutes. It would add thousands to the price.

  24. Soapboxpolitico

    Just getting caught up on posts after being outta town for a few days. Then I saw this one, WOW go figure!

    As it happens I used to own a 2/2 in this very same development. Bought it in 98 for $128K, which seemed a princely sum even then but I rather liked the area and needed a place to live. Sold it two years ago for $235K and thought I was robbing the folks, little did I know I could’ve held out for $300K but I saw this all coming and convinced my new wife at the time that it was smart to sell the place and sit on the cash. Turns out to be the wisest thing I’ve ever done.

    I always wondered where all the new Lexus’ I saw in the complex were coming from, now I know for a fact. For some reason or another the Lexus brand is VERY popular in that complex. I also wondered what my fellow association members homes looked like, now I know that too. YIKES!!!

    I sometimes miss the old place … ah well. Many to choose from soon enough.

  25. emergency plumbers

    Mother Of God! I saw her last night in concert and she was genius. What a voice. She held a note during MacArthur Park forever.

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