Good Karma

Have you every done something good for no reason and watched the good flow back to you?

Today’s featured property is a Portola Springs homes struggling to find a bottom.

68 Bell Chime   Irvine, CA 92618  inside

Asking Price: $698,500
Address: 68 Bell Chime Irvine, CA 92618

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right

Here Comes the Sun — The Beatles

In life there are periods of growth and expansion followed by periods of rest and consolidation.


Spiritually, I am in a phase of reflection as has spilled over into my writing for the blog. My style is to be open and creative and filter as little as possible; it is why my writing is authentic. Like any phase, this will pass, and I will live on — hopefully at a higher level with a greater quality of life. Until then, you will see the occasional Friday post like this one.

I had a friend from High School email me recently and tell me he was beginning chemotherapy. I think about him often, as does the rest of our circle of friends. News like that makes you ask if you are (1) spending enough time with your family, (2) doing enough good in the community and (3) living your life by your own standards.

There are many reasons for my reflective moods, not the least of which is the story I am going to tell you today.

Clarity of Purpose

When I started writing for the IHB, I wanted to get the word out about the impending collapse of home prices. I wanted to save people. I still do.

I had no other motivation for writing other than to convince people not to buy; prices were not going to rise forever, and if that is why they were buying, they were making a big mistake. Each person I convinced not to buy was a person I saved from a major financial disaster. With the conviction of a religious zealot, I set out to tell the Truth about The Great Housing Bubble.


Back in March, a long-time reader came to the IHB gathering and told me his IHB story. In early 2007, this reader was contemplating buying an expensive home in Portola Springs. A colleague of his had discovered the blog and told him to check it out before making any purchase. After reading the blog, he decided not to buy right at the peak in Portola Springs.

This reader is convinced he would be hundreds of thousands of dollars underwater right now if it were not for my writing, and he is very grateful. As it turns out, he has connections with people in the land development industry, and when he became aware of a large project, he made some introductions and got me involved. When the initial planning of this project goes forward the recession will be over for me. The sun is poking through the darkness.

This reader did not have to bring me in to that project. He saw an opportunity to send some good back to me, and he made it happen, not because he owed my anything, but because he wanted to. How cool is that?

It doesn’t matter if I benefit in any way from this, it was the gesture that was so great. This is my public thank you to my anonymous friend.

Thank You

While I am thanking anonymous do-gooders, I thought I might mention a gentleman I worked with about 6 years ago when I first arrived in Irvine. He is a local developer with deals over the Southwest. When we first met, he liked me, so he offered me a chance to work with him. As it turned out, he needed someone with greater expertise in land acquisition.

Rather than sending me packing, he told me it is easier to find work when you have work, so I had 60 days to search — on his dime — and he would make some calls to help me. How cool is that?

He was going to gain nothing from doing this for me, and I was going to cost him a fair amount of money. What motivates a man like that?

I found new work quickly, and I did not need to take him up on the full term of his generous offer. I always remembered what he did.

Last year I had occasion to visit his office, and at the conclusion of our meeting, I closed the door, retold the story and thanked him for his generosity. I also told him I feel he is an outstanding human being. He is.

Maybe I make too much of this. Perhaps this is not new to you. If you have been living a life of service to others and you have seen goodness come back to you, these events would be an everyday occurrence. I have not been so saintly.

I have never been in a position to do so much good for so many people — at least that I was aware of — and I have never acted on the opportunity before the IHB. The experience has changed my life for the better.

The Connection

One of the features of my writing has always been the connection between the macro and the micro. I often tie big issues and statistics to individual properties. The owner of today’s Portola Springs property did not discover the IHB in 2007, and now they are ruined. They did not lose much money as this was a 100% financing deal, but their credit is trashed, and they are losing their home.

These issues are important, and the decisions people make have long-term impact on their lives.

68 Bell Chime   Irvine, CA 92618  inside

Asking Price: $698,500

Income Requirement: $174,625
Downpayment Needed: $139,700

Purchase Price: $790,500
Purchase Date: 3/28/2007

Address: 68 Bell Chime Irvine, CA 92618

Beds: 4
Baths: 4
Sq. Ft.: 2,260
$/Sq. Ft.: $309
Lot Size: 3,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Condominium
Style: Contemporary/Modern
Stories: 3+
Floor: 2
Year Built: 2007
Community: Portola Springs
County: Orange
MLS#: S588030
Source: SoCalMLS
Status: Active
On Redfin: 1 day

Gorgeous Remodeled Detached End Unit in Portola Springs! Beautiful Open kitchen with Huge Island complete with Granite Counters, Travertine Floors & Back Splash. Both Bathrooms up have Travertine floors including Master bath. Third Floor loft has Brazilian Cherry wood floors with Slate flooring in bathroom. Great new community recreational facility, clubhouse with Olympic size pool, spa, toddler pool, basketball and tennis courts, Irvine Unified School District. Future retail center only blocks away. Pictured home is the exact property.

The future of Portola Springs is uncertain. The Irvine Company has stated it plans to build out Woodbury East before it returns to Portola Springs and Woodbury. When they start building again in the new neighborhoods, it will be interesting to see what price points they are getting. If they can maintain a $300/SF price, then these communities will not be severely disrupted by the new product. It will bring down prices on units like this one further, but it will be easier on the resale market than if they restart at $240/SF — which is where the market might be in 2011.

There is a risk when writing a post like this one that readers will think the worst of me. I can’t control the thoughts of others, nor would I care to try. I don’t wish to say or imply that anyone who reads the blog owes me anything; expectation and obligation are paths to the Dark Side. I have no expectation, and you have no obligation. I wanted to share this story because it is represents a major event in my life, and I thought the reason it occurred was fascinating.

I write for the joy of giving and the belief I am doing good in the world, and I will continue as long as that is true.

If you want to share your stories of goodness, I would be delighted to read them….


And so concludes another week at the Irvine Housing Blog, chronicling the Irvine home market since September of 2006.

Have a great weekend.


77 thoughts on “Good Karma

  1. Art Student in Atlanta

    Congrats on the good karma. There is nothing wrong with getting work, as long as the work does not create a conflict of interest. Just please continue your work on this blog. You are doing a great service and the MSM is only now beginning to report on the totality of the banking and housing mess. It is a great service that you are doing in chronicling one of the most significant disasters in the banking and housing industry since the Great Depression, a disaster that is still unfolding.

    IR, thank you for your work. You deserve every good thing that comes your way.

  2. Thankful Reader


    Your writing has definitely saved my wife and I from getting crushed in this housing market.

    While your writing focuses on Irvine, I applied your analysis posts to Westchester County NY, and it made me realize how out of line home prices here are. Rather than buy, we decided to move back home with my parents and continue to add to our down payment.

    We now have the flexibility to move, and my wife is looking forward to returning to where she grew up. I’ll continue to read everyday so when we make the move to Irvine, we’ll know whether it makes best financial sense to rent or buy.

    Thanks for the time and effort you’ve been into this blog. It’s completely changed our lives.

    1. SeattleDave

      Do you have a link to this information? A quick Google search revealed nothing about FHA down payments being increased. If this is true, I think it will be a game changer!

    2. thevendor

      uhhh…make a statement like this with no link to an official release. How dare you? Something like this is a game changer. Have some respect by posting a link otherwise don’t bother to post. I can read junk rumors on other message boards.

    3. ME

      It came from my real estate agent yesterday. It has not hit the presses yet. Inside word from Washington.

      I’m just taking his word for it.

      1. cara

        and yet, I still want to spread this further… resisting urge, difficult…

        It’ll be like Christmas in July(september) I’ll just wait to break the news when it’s news.

        was this condo only or generic? There is a new condo thing coming…

          1. cara


            This is the known change. That streamlined approval for the condo development will no longer be allowed.

            There’s a limit that 80% of FHA loans in a development must be for owner-occupied, as well as a limit on the percent of units in a development that can have FHA funding.

            There being any new downpayment requirement would be news. Sometime soon though, the GSE’s are upping the minimum DP to 25% for condos in order to avoid getting hit with a fee. (but you can just pay the 1 time fee)

          2. DarthFerret

            This is a game-changer, in my opinion. From the article: “As a result, lenders are opting to manage this risk by electing not to accept FHA loan applications for condominiums.”

            No more condo loans from FHA means the beginning of a steep drop in condo prices. What’s more, it’s a sign that HUD/FNA/FRE are finally starting to wake up and try to limit their risk exposure. It’s only a matter of time until similar rules eliminate low-DP loans for SFR’s as well.

            The use of the housing market by the politicians as a social engineering experiment is finally starting to come to an end.


      2. SeattleDave

        Let me get this straight — the FHA, who is a major player, has decided to make a HUGE change in their down payment requirements, effective in three weeks, and nobody knows about it except your RE agent?

        “Inside word?” Gimme a break!

        Another excellent example of the intelligence of RE agents.

        1. ME

          Ok I did some more
          Digging. The FHA is going to reasses all developmets. If you live in an area with 20% dfault rate the requiremnt goes up to 15% down payment.
          I will post more detail when I get home.
          I apologize formthe brief statement. This is an acress the board change. Only in areas thatnhave high default rates.

          1. ME

            Ok here is the scoop:

            HUD has taken huge losses on condo projects. Doing FHA loans on condos will almost be imppossible after Oct1.

            1.Spot approval process for condos is eliminated.
            2.All current condo dev’s will be invalid after Oct1. Going forward all projects will require re-certification every 2 years.

            I don’t want to type out all the details, but they are getting much more stringent.

          2. cara

            Which would change the DP to ~15% because that’s what Fannie and Freddie now want as a minimum in regions with down-ward housing prices, or something like that…

          3. ME

            Looks like we are heading back to the conventional days. Too bad we are riding in The Greatest Recession at the same time and nobody has any money. Except for the gov’t and the banks.

            Wow, haven’t we been down this road before?

        1. ME

          No rumor my friend. The FHA is going to reacess
          Every development period. You better hope yours is in good shape or else HUD won’t even touch you.

  3. jumpcut

    IR, do you have newer info on Woodbury and PS than was given in the conference call? Because on the call TIC said it was completing all current villages — Woodbury, PS and WE — before starting new ones. Have you since heard that PS and Woodbury are being put on the back burner in favor of WE, as you indicated above?

    1. IrvineRenter

      It was my recollection from the conference call that they were not going to start building in Woodbury or Portola Springs until 2010 whereas they were going to build in Woodbury East in 2009.

      1. Irvine5

        they are building on Vintage in woodbury now, the famous California style homes. why build more new units when half of the community is already underwater? sigh, when I moved in here they were supposed to build a Middle School on this plot.

  4. SoOCOwner

    I fully believe in Karma. I find that the less I expect from people, the more pleased I become when my good deeds come back to me in some unexpected way. It’s hard to be disappointed when you expect nothing in return. I find this to be the best way to approach life.

  5. Happy Knifecatcher

    I don’t comment often because I don’t think that I am the typical reader for this blog. I don’t live in CA, and I also don’t have a lot of money and I’ve been looking at lower end properties.

    In 2006 I was working as a bank teller making $12 an hour my second year out of college. I was offered a mortgage of $200,000 by the bank that I worked at to buy a one bedroom condo in a new suburban high rise (like the North Korea Towers.) My realtor told me that living in a community like this there would be a lot of young professionals and that it would help my social life.

    Thanks in part from your blog, I walked from the deal and found a reasonably priced rental. I got a better job and was able to spend the three years saving for a down payment. In two weeks, my fiancé and I will close on my dream house, a three bedroom two story home with a big back yard like I have always wanted. I will be buying this home with 20% down for $100,000. The monthly payment will be less than the rent on my apartment. I am so grateful to you for letting me know that being priced out was a myth. At the time I walked from the condo deal, you were the only one I heard saying that. You are still the only one I hear talking about rental parity when buying a house.

    1. Long Time Lurker


      You deferred gratification and you and your family will be a big winner for it over time. I enjoyed hearing your story.

      Now, if you were only representative of SoCal.

  6. NewportSkipper

    Attached homes in Portola Springs (like 50 Homeland and 56 Homeland) are still closing in the mid $700s. This owner is upside no more than $50,000 on this detached home, and maybe not at all. Too bad they can’t hang in there.

      1. muzie

        So “only” a 50,000$ is small potatoes nowadays?


        Even assuming they have a great income and make 500$/day net of taxes, that’s still three years of your life spent just working for the house. I’m sure they’d rather have those three years back.

    1. DarthFerret

      If they are updside-down “no more than $50,000”, and they can pay the difference, then they should sell ASAP. A year from now, that $50K will be $150K or more. Nicer homes like this have a LONG ways to fall still.


  7. NewportSkipper

    While the numbers are correct, those properties on Homeland are detached. It’s interesting to note that 35 Arrowhead (Paloma) just closed at $780,025. The same home at 52 Conservancy closed a year and a half ago for $779,000. You have to admit Irvine is stable.

  8. tenmagnet


    I’m glad you shared those stories.
    Putting your heart into your writing has allowed you to be blessed in all areas of life.
    You heard the call and answered it.
    You’ve helped countless people here locally and even further beyond the boundaries of Irvine.
    That’s a very significant achievement in my eyes.

  9. AbroadThankGod

    The macro-micro angle of the IHB is what keeps me coming back and what separates it from other bubble blogs. Fundamental economics like DTI are universal, despite what the banks and Realtors may have been saying for the last decade.

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you for the blog. I am glad some good from it has come back to you – you put in many long hours to keep it going.

  11. Sue in Irvine

    Beautiful writing today IR. You made me tear up. You’re a compassionate guy. Mrs. IR is a lucky lady. As you can see from your readers, you have a lot of loyalty.

  12. d92782

    Although I have recently purchased in Tustin, I would say your blog kept me from wasting my money in Irvine, we get all the same amenities in Tustin without Mello Roos and $300 sq/foot prices. If we want to enjoy Irvine’s parks or shopping, it’s a 5 minute drive. We got a house for our money in Tustin instead of an attached condo in Irvine. Timing is everything in real estate, I tried to time it and wait for the bottom, it’s impossible. Your blog information helps educate people. Keep it up.

  13. ockurt

    IR, I guess I have to kiss your butt a little and thank you as well for all the insight and knowledge you share everyday.

    I thought I had a good knowledge of r/e, but once I started reading your blog I felt like I woke up.

    As I’ve said before here we finally bought a nice property and thanks to you I feel like I did my homework and got a better deal than I would have otherwise.

    Thanks again, and I hope your buddy pulls through.

  14. awgee

    I do not believe in karma.
    That said: IR, you have been a blessing to me and my family.
    We pray for you and thank God for you on a consistent basis.

      1. DarthFerret

        Is it really necessary to disparage someone’s beliefs? He isn’t saying that they have to be facts; they are his beliefs. By definition, someone else’s beliefs do not have to make sense to you.


        1. muzie

          I think he was merely pointing out that believing in God while at the same time believing that God will let good deeds go unrewarded is a somewhat unconventional position.

    1. IrvineRenter

      1 Corinthians 13:

      “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

      Perhaps God applies Karma to facilitate His will on Earth?

  15. Quail Hill Renter

    I still want to live in Irvine, but reading your blog has definitely made me not rush the process despite the pressure from the in-laws to buy. They ended up buying a new 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1300 square feet detached house in Woodbury for around $560,000 but it’s so cookie cutter like that I’m waiting for an older more unique looking house in Irvine with more space from your neighbor. Because we waited we finally have 20% down and don’t have to get any assistance from our parents.

  16. tea

    Need a little help here. Could anyone comment on this house? Does it really worth 800K? My co-worker is trying to buy this house with big down payment. I tried to persuade him to wait until 2011, but he just doesn’t listen. He kept telling me that he was constantly bid out by others for newer house within 700K to 800K, so he thought the housing market is recovering.

  17. English Rose

    Could they not afford to install the built-in fridge — or has it already been removed and sold?

    At $300/sf plus, I would expect that hole to be filled by a Sub Zero.

    Just sayin’.

  18. tnye

    Hey, nothing like being nice to people, giving everyone the benefit of doubt and always leave some money on the table. If they screw you at least you feel good about yourself. You were true to your own values.

    However, if they try to screw you the second time… because in their ignorance they think you’re weak -not principled- well sirree, Oy Vey, out come the Big Stick. 😉

    From our side, because of a coworker and this blog we moved our 401Ks into bonds on January 08. Dude, I owe you guys… ;-D

  19. bill shoe

    Small example of good Karma coming back to me and my family-

    We live in an apartment and often get the wrong mail. We always drop it off at the doorstep of the correct unit instead of throwing it away. I also recently found an unmarked front door key lying on the ground in the parking lot and went to the trouble of giving it to the office. Then two days later my wife left baby formula ($$$) in a shopping cart at COSCO and drove off without it. Some stranger bothered to take it in and leave it at the customer service desk where my wife picked it up 20 minutes later.

    1. IrvineRenter

      There are still good people in the world.

      Several months ago, my wallet fell out of my pocket in South Coast Plaza in the big space where they put the Christmas tree. I discovered it 20 minutes later, and I ran through the mall in a panic.

      Someone found my wallet and returned it to customer service. Everything was still in there — even the cash.

      I did not get the chance to thank them, until now.

  20. gld42

    I am totally moved by your today’s post. Life is hard, but a lot of good things happen in our life, thank you for remembering them and be grateful.

    What I really need is a grateful heart!

  21. desmo

    Writing a blog on housing has little to do with somebody with cancer. Most people who read housing blogs have the same opinion as you and are just looking for some reinforcement, myself included. Stop patting yourself on the back, good deeds are done for less fortunate people who are just trying to get by, not people trying to make or save a buck. You sound like “Housing Blog Guy of Orange County”

    1. muzie

      That’s a little harsh… though there is a grain of truth here.

      For every person convinced not to buy here there is another person unable to find a buyer who will suffer instead. So net net, you could say it all ends up being the same.

      I’m still grateful to IR myself. For those who have decided to educate themselves, it would be very difficult to assemble the wealth of information he has assembled here.

      Thanks IR!

      1. MalibuRenter

        In the bigger picture, and longer term, a good understanding of housing helps prevent unnecessary units, and oversized units, from being built.

        If people are not unduly optimistic about home prices, it is less likely an undue number of homes are built.

    2. DarthFerret

      He’s not patting himself on the back. He’s extolling the virtues of helping others and using his personal experience to inspire others to do the same. I’m sure that there’s a much better place for you to do your trolling.


      P.S. I think that perhaps the “Shadow Inventory” article of a few days ago has made this blog a little too popular.

    3. Aquagirl

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing some humanity to a housing blog and reminding people of what’s truly important in life.

  22. LC

    I hear that you get a lot of extra karma points if you make friends with a spanish-speaking person, Mr. Ferret.

    1. DarthFerret

      No hablo espanol. Lo siento.

      Go peddle your filth elsewhere.


      P.S. If you are asking yourself ‘wtf are they talking about’, see the comments section from yesterday’s article. Apparently, people that prefer to live in Irvine are racist bigots.

        1. DarthFerret

          By calling me a racist? Well, I won’t claim that I was pleased by having a troll refer to me by name.

          Apparently, the other posters are already wise to your game:

          Astute Observation by CK
          2009-09-11 04:29 PM
          Don’t mind LC, Darth. This same joker was on here a year or more ago pounding his chest about how Irvine was “not that different from Hemet”. Yah, whatever buddy.

          Now I am too. IR, could we get an ‘ignore’ button? 😉


          1. LC

            There are persian bigots, black bigots, all kinds of bigots. I’m surprised that you have never met any.

            big?ot??/?b?g?t/ –noun

            a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

        2. bengalaxy

          LOL at how blind you are to your own prejudice.

          Somehow you can intimate that the vast majority of Irvine-residents are bigots…..but that doesn’t make you prejudiced in the slightest. Nope not at all.

          Oh yes, and this gem from yesterday’s comments: “You are afraid of brown people, and there is nothing whatever to do in Irvine. It is boring vanilla-ville, unless you are thrilled by spending money at a strip mall.”

          I got no bones with anyone who thinks Irvine is not the place for them, but to make a comment like that. Hmmmmmm…..who’s the prejudiced one here.

          What a tool you are.

  23. winstongator

    I have enjoyed the blog and have benefitted from not stretching our finances to get into the most home we could afford.

    I have always tried to be fair with and good to people to stay on the plus side of karmic balance, but thinking about it, I’ve received far more than I’ve given. Something I need to keep in mind.

    The least I could do for IR was make a stop at for a copy of the Great Housing Bubble.

  24. LC

    I apologize for bringing forth such ugliness, when the topic of this post is kind of the opposite. When somebody says “I don’t mean to be snobby, but…Santa Ana is the ghetto…scary turks in Germany…You calling me a racist?” — well, I was raised to speak up.

    1. IrvineRenter

      Life happens; it isn’t always perfect and beautiful. That tangent of anger in this otherwise peaceful thread will stand as a reminder that real life intrudes and must be accepted as is.

  25. Gemina13

    I have no plans to buy in Irvine, or, in fact, to ever again live in California. However, I do applaud the work you’ve done here. Many people like myself suspected what was going on as far back as 2003. You and others like you who tried to enlighten people to the real estate bubble had a hard and thankless task–but those of us who faced nothing but ridicule and dismissal from others who’d swallowed the Kool-Aid were grateful to you then. As you can see, we’re grateful to you even now.

  26. Paul P.

    (1) spending enough time with your family, (2) doing enough good in the community and (3) living your life by your own standards.

    A brilliant end to your writings, if you stopped right here. For me, #3 is the big-ticket. There were song lyrics “Lost the friends that needed losing” and that’s what drove me out of my very-upscale Irvine rental 6 months ago into a brand new home (beautiful!) in Inyokern for $900/month.

    “Life on my terms”. Like heaven…

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