Good Planning

Good land planning does add value. Part of Irvine’s success is directly attributable to its superior design and lifestyle engineering.

14 Whitewood Way   Irvine, CA 92612  kitchen

Asking Price: $590,000
Address: 14 Whitewood Way Irvine, CA 92612

I, I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

Im pickin up good vibrations
Shes giving me excitations
Im pickin up good vibrations

Good Vibrations — Beach Boys

In 1968 there were few large-scale master plans, and many of the principals of urban planning were in their infancy. There were many good ideas but little empirical evidence that planned communities would be superior to their unplanned counterparts. Now that these visionary communities of the 60s and 70s are established, we can review and appraise the success of the features the planners got right. University Park was one of these planned communities.

I have lived in University Park for as long as I have been writing for the IHB. I have been able to enjoy some unique neighborhood features that came about by design.

Back when University Park was developed, the majority of housing being built was ranch-style homes from 1,200-1,800 SF. There were very few townhome projects being completed, and few of those were being developed out on the fringe — which Irvine was back in 1968. The planners made a simple supposition: if you cluster development into townhomes, you can obtain a better yield than a conventional subdivision, and you could set aside land for parks linked together by a walking trail.

It worked. University Park is a classic example of what is possible with good planning. Creating a higher quality of life for residents adds value.

University Park does not sell at a premium to other Irvine neighborhoods partly due to its age and party due to the exceptional planning in newer neighborhoods; however, University Park does trade at a premium to similar townhomes in nearby communities. Some of that premium is due to the schools, but in my opinion, most of this value is due to good land planning…. Of course, I could be biased

14 Whitewood Way   Irvine, CA 92612  kitchen

Asking Price: $590,000

Income Requirement: $111,703
Downpayment Needed: $118,000

Purchase Price: $760,000
Purchase Date: 5/3/2006

Net Gain (Loss): -$205,400
Percent Change: -22.4%
Annual Appreciation: -6.6%

Address: 14 Whitewood Way Irvine, CA 92612

Beds 3
Baths 1 full 1 part baths
Size 2,268 sq ft
($260 / sq ft)
Lot Size 2,880 sq ft
Year Built 1968
Days on Market 23
Listing Updated 9/17/2009
MLS Number P701953
Property Type Single Family, Residential
Community University Park
Tract V2

According to the listing agent, this listing is a bank owned (foreclosed) property.

Wonderful two story condo in a great location. Large open floorplan with three bedrooms plus bonus room and two baths. Spacious kitchen has tile floors and counters; open living room with fireplace; main floor bedroom and bathroom with dual sinks; two car attached garage; enclosed front courtyard and large rear patio; new upgrades include new paint and carpet.

Good planning may add value, but it does not justify a housing bubble price. The guy who bought this place for $760,000 used a $608,000 first mortgage, a $59,200 HELOC and a $92,800 downpayment. Ouch!

Irvine Master Plan

For more information, please see Good Planning Goes a Long Way.

57 thoughts on “Good Planning

  1. winstongator

    I agree on the value of planning, and the flip side of how haphazard development can create problems and reduce values. The value of planning should be solely captured in the value of the lot, not in the home. During the bubble, people overvalued both the structures and the land, but I think were bubblier with the structure values.

    1. DarthFerret

      There’s one in each of the 3 major shopping centers on Alton from Culver to Jeffrey, and there’s another at Culver and Barranca. There was another at Barranca and Creek, but I think it shut down recently, apparently from lack of use. There are more all along Culver and Main and most of the other arterial roads throughout the center of Irvine. It took me about a minute to think of more than a dozen within an easy bike ride from my house. I’m not as familiar with the Northwood/Northpark/Portola neighborhoods, but I think they have some as well. I know that Woodbury and Westpark both have several. How many gas stations do you need?


      1. christian

        Costa mesa has lots of gas stations price 3.04 per gal this area of Irvine 3.19 and this area has three stations two on culver and one on university. If three is enough for good competition why are these people paying a 5% premium ?

        1. DarthFerret

          That’s easy: higher rent. And cost of labor, and etc., etc. The same reason that you can rent an apartment or hire a housekeeper cheaper in Costa Mesa than in Irvine. I just fill up at Costco and don’t worry about it, because Costco is always the cheapest gas in town.

          By the way, the price of gas has almost nothing to do with competition.


          1. BHC

            I’m guessing the comment about the lack of gas stations was in sarcasm.

            Each community is served by at least one shopping center that has both a grocery store and a gas station.

            Woodbury has one on Sand Canyon and Irvine Blvd that has an Albertsons.
            Quail Hill has one on Sand Canyon and 405 that also has an Albertsons.

            There’s an Albertson+Arco at Trabuco and Jefferey.
            There’s a 99-Ranch+Chevron at the 5/Walnut and Jefferey. A couple blocks south on Alton, is a Gelson’s as well as an Albertsons (stradeling each side of Jefferey. Each of those have their own gas station, iirc.

            On Culver, there’s one at Walnut (anchored by Ralphs) as well as a semi-hidden Shell station on Trabuco and Culver servicing the freeway entrance. Going north on Culver, there’s an Albertson at Irvine Blvd that has a gas station. Finally, on Portola where Culver practically ends, there’s a Pavilions & Cheveron(?).

            I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, but pretty much every major intersection has a grocery store + gas station combo.

  2. OCRefugee

    Out of curiosity, up until the mid 90’s, Jamboree Bl was always planned to cross Anaheim Hills and connect to Weir Canyon Rd. That was stopped when the tollway (261) went through. Anyone know if this is still planned or dead permanently?

      1. DirkDigler

        Well you have to admit… IrvineRenter has played by the rules his entire life… he’s stayed out of jail… he’s avoided crack… he’s married young… he’s gone to school to get a degree… a masters even! And I’ve done the same… so… why shouldn’t we be able to live the dream, own our home, raise a family… seek happiness just like our parent’s wanted?

        My point is that ‘planners’ failed miserably in Irvine. Their zoning has rationed the use of land and constrained it from its highest and best use. And so the young adult community of Irvine, those who’ve seemingly done everything ‘right’, are constrained from enjoying the benefits of their positive contribution.

        In case you’re looking for the best places to live as a young person in America… Irvine it ain’t. According to WSJ, the Next Hot Youth-Magnet Cities are elsewhere:

        1. BHC

          If you count 36 as still ‘young’, then I don’t get what you’re saying regarding Irvine being a miserable failure. My wife and I enjoy living here. We frequently walk Hick’s Canyon trail to get to the nearby Albertson’s (a nice short walk, saves on fuel, and get some exercise too)

          There’s [decent] food of all sorts of ethnicity near by. Decent Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Middle-Eastern, are all within city limits (heck, most are on Culver). If we want non-chain Mexican, we can venture up to Santa Ana.

          If it wasn’t for work, or to get to South Coast Plaza, Fry’s, Ikea, and the OC Performance Art stuff near South Coast Plaza, we rarely have to venture outside the city limits. one thing we did miss recently is the disappearance of Black Angus in Tustin Marketplace. 🙂

    1. CA

      I agree…the history behind the business transactions and how the land changed hands over the years are quite interesting.

  3. Lee in Irvine

    Schwarzenegger is about to sign a bill completely changing the loan-mod process in Ca. Attorneys will no longer be able to retain any type of prearranged fee prior to a modification, therefore changing the incentives to take on new cases.

    I talked to my buddy who does loan mods for a large law firm, and he told me that they’re not accepting any new cases. He’s finishing up the final files he has, and will be out of a job within weeks. He says the banks will now be able to cherry pick the clients who receive loan modifications, without any type of check & balance mechanism.

    BTW, this house is surrounded with distressed and future distressed properties.

    Mayapple Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $664,126 3 bed 2 bath
    “This property is a Notice of Foreclosure Sale.

    14 Mayapple Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $584,000 3 bed 2.5 bath
    “This property is a Pre-Foreclosure.

    Meadowsweet Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $514,591 3 bed 2 bath
    “This is a Pre-Foreclosure property (Notice of Default).

    Whitewood Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $645,231 3 bed 2 bath
    “This property is an REO (Real Estate Owned).

    Whitewood Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $558,214 3 bed 2 bath
    “This is a Notice of Foreclosure Sale property and will go through an Auction process.

    6 Norton St, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $592,000 3 bed 2.5 bath
    “This property is a Pre-Foreclosure.

    Sandburg Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $496,960 3 bed 2 bath
    “This is a Notice of Foreclosure Sale property and will go through an Auction process.

    Foxglove Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $623,346 4 bed 2 bath
    “This is a Notice of Foreclosure Sale property and will go through an Auction process

    Bayberry Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $622,046 4 bed 2 bath
    “This is a Notice of Foreclosure Sale property and will go through an Auction process.

    Mandrake Way, Irvine, CA? – more info »
    $363,552 2 bed 2 bath
    “This property is an REO (Real Estate Owned).

    1. IrvineRenter

      “He says the banks will now be able to cherry pick the clients who receive loan modifications, without any type of check & balance mechanism.”

      That sounds like attorney spin to me.

      Another feature of cutting out the attorneys is that these attorneys will stop taking the last few dollars out of people on their way to foreclosure while adding no value. There is nothing an attorney can help with that the borrower could not accomplish on their own by calling their lender. Attorneys were charging borrowers to make phone call for them. Hmmm… I bet borrowers could get that task completed for less than $300/hr.

      The attorneys should have plenty of work to keep themselves busy doing collections on bad debt and filing lawsuits related to mortgage servicing. Those are the growth areas over the next few years.

      1. Modguy

        “He says the banks will now be able to cherry pick the clients who receive loan modifications, without any type of check & balance mechanism.”

        I disagree. Lenders and Servicers that agreed to participate in Obama’s mod program (HAMP) – and all the big ones have signed-on – are being audited by Fannie Mae. Reporst are sent outlining ALL those that applied, were granted, or denied (and why). Also, since HAMP is driven by formulas and procedures agreed upon by all those participating, I don’t see the need for 3rd party involvement. The bank takes your info and runs it through the calculations and tests. No need for “negotiation” anyway.

        1. Lee in Irvine

          My attorney friend says his success rate for the modification is about 80%, and without his help less than half of his clients would get the mod.

          He knows where and how to bend the rules on the financial disclosure forms, and the entire loan-mod process.

          1. Modguy

            This confirms what I’ve been saying all along… You only need a 3rd party, if you have to phony-up some numbers to qualify. Not really a good argument for them, Lee 🙂

      2. Lee in Irvine

        I’m not defending attorneys. I don’t trust them (except the few that I personally know), and think their methods are sometimes crooked.

        My loan-mod friend says attorneys have an interest in achieving 100% success rate in the loan-mod process, and the banks have an interest in less than half of applicants getting any help.

        He said most of his clients are on the margins of getting the modification (5% to 20% income necessary). He gave me a few examples where he understood the law, and helped people who would not have got the mod without his help. He talked about adult children disclosing that they pay rent (even if they don’t), changing private school to daycare or after school care, etc. He talked about ways he can defer the bank seizing the property.

        He also said many more homes will end up in bank owned inventory after the gov. signs the bill.

        BTW, I told him I think the best way to mitigate this problem is the foreclosure process. He somewhat agrees.

        1. gman

          “I’m not defending attorneys. I don’t trust them (except the few that I personally know), and think their methods are sometimes crooked.”

          So, all the attorneys you know are honest. But, somehow, despite this situation you still think all other attorneys use crooked methods.

          If anyone ever took the time to investigate the lawyer-bashing, they might notice that attorneys have the most sophisticated and demanding ethical structure of any business. If mortgage brokers and real estate agents had anything even remotely close, with a real fiduciary duty, most of them would be in prison right now.

          Generally, you very much can trust almost all attorneys if they’re working for you on an hourly basis. People just don’t value professional services like they do a flat screen TV. Something tells me a couple of hours at $300/hour for someone who has a ton of experience negotiating these things is money well spent if you’re going through a loan mod on a $600K house.

        2. Geotpf

          Well, the one you know who did those mods WAS crooked-you just admitted it yourself:

          “He talked about adult children disclosing that they pay rent (even if they don’t), changing private school to daycare or after school care, etc.”

          So, basically he told his clients to commit fraud (by lying about rent and private school). Nice.

      3. jmatthew

        Actually, this is one area where attorneys can do some good. In North and South Carolina, where an attorney is required by law for all real estate transactions, including loan modifications, the average closing costs per $100,000 of financing are lower than the national average, and the typical attorney fee for the entire transaction is $300-400, not $300 per hour.

        The banking industry has fought hard against these state rules because they know that with an attorney representing the borrower, they can’t get away with as much.

  4. jumpcut

    These are my favorite kind of posts. They add value to the site and don’t become dated. Your detailed descriptions and photos of some of the other villages elsewhere on the site are great too. I wish you could analyze every village in Irvine like this. It would be a great service to people considering buying in Irvine and a good counterpoint to the marketing materials from TIC.

  5. fumbling

    Great masterplan map, I’ve only seen the map of certain areas, never the “whole” big picture view. I didn’t know that the northerly parts of the map (Anaheim, Orange, near the Irvine Lake) were within the master plan of the Irvine Company. Very interesting for potential buying consideration in the very long term…

  6. bill shoe

    Irvine voters passed an initiative in the 80’s (I think) to require certain amounts of open space in new development. How much of the current Irvine development look/layout is due to complying with this initiative and how much is due to Irvine Company planning philosophy that would have happened anyway? If Irvine Company was already doing planned communities with lots of public open space then why did the initiative come up?

    I don’t like the idea of governments telling developers how to develop, but I have a genuine interest in what made a difference and why.

  7. Dano

    Anyone else think the Ideal Home Brokers site is difficult to view? Black letters on a dark blue background is really not a great design…

    1. InAgreement

      I would have to agree with you there, it is a bit hard to read and the zebra striping with the darker colors dosen’t help. I find the pictures of the house to be a bit too small and don’t want to view the full size ones, the ones on RedFin seem to be quite a bit bigger. I like the calculator and built in Zillow, but miss the last sales prices.

      1. IrvineRenter

        Yes, we need to change those colors. I don’t find it comfortable on my eyes either. We will experiment with that soon.

      2. Geotpf

        I must say Redfin’s web page for properties is nearly perfect. They give sold comps, active comps, previous sales, previous listings, price drops, tax value, five estimates (Zillow, eppraisal, cyberhomes, a number based on the sold comps, and a number based on the active comps), a graph of values in that zip code, Google Street View, Google Maps overhead shot with property lines, Microsoft’s Bird’s Eye View, and more. It’ll be really hard to beat that.

        1. phil

          I second that. I wouldn’t want to be a buyer’s realtor as my future job competing against them (or the Internet at large).

          Good riddens I say.

        2. DarthFerret

          I also back up this endorsement of Redfin. I understand that Irvine Housing Blog (IHB) is trying to promote Ideal Home Brokers (IHB), but you don’t help your cause by offering an inferior product and pushing it. There’s gotta be a better way to promote IHBrokers than by pushing their website as an alternative to Redfin. And let’s face it, no matter how hard you try, IHBroker’s website will never be a superior product to Redfin. You guys are good, but there’s just no competing with perfection.

          It kind of reminds me of when Google came out with the Chrome browser. Being an adoring user of Firefox, I just had to sit back and ask myself why. Why would they feel the need to compete in that space when there’s an open-source, highly customizable product that is extremely responsive to users and nearly perfect? Just didn’t make any sense to me. Seemed like a very Microsoft thing for Google to do: “we must own and control everything!”


  8. Craig

    Good planning obviously helps add value, but poor planning is worse than no planning. Most of the poorly planned urban and suburban areas in SoCal and elsewhere are the result of misguided zoning laws that keep land out of its most economically valuable role.

    I would like to see more mixed-use neighborhoods, where office parks have apartment buildings within walking distance.

  9. HKLong

    I agree with prior comment that we should not worry about whether attorneys will be getting new work after closing down their loan mod profit centers.

    “attorneys should have plenty of work to keep themselves busy doing collections on bad debt and filing lawsuits related to mortgage servicing. Those are the growth areas over the next few years.”

  10. cracked lid

    I find the way Irvine is planned makes me want to avoid living there. I can’t speak for individual neighborhoods as my time there was spent in UCI campus housing, but I hated the way the city as laid out. Traffic doesn’t move well and you have to drive all over the place to get things done, often to neighboring cities. I have lived in Laguna Hills and currently am in Dana Point, and find both cities far more enjoyable to live in than Irvine.

    1. Director Mitch

      I’ve lived in Irvine a year after being in East Side Costa Mesa for a decade and I agree with you. It is Stepford Wife fake, but that makes it comfortable at the same time. Running errands is difficult, but once you’re home you can cacoon and be insulated.

      The comment above about lack of gas stations is particularly spot on. And traffic – not only the volume, but the quality of the drivers poking along at 10mph in their mini vans acting like they have all day, because they do.

      Like any community pluses and minuses, the scale tipping on depending on what you find appealing.

  11. jmatthew

    I don’t want my lifestyle engineered. Everything about Irvine seems forced and fake. There is no real culture or history. It’s the Esperanto of cities.

    1. Freetrader

      I love that comment. “There is no real culture or history.” In Irvine, a city founded in 1970. Bagdhad was founded in 800AD, and has plenty of culture and history. You can always go there.

      1. jmatthew

        That’s a straw man argument. Of course I don’t think everywhere with “history and culture” is a good place to live. I simply don’t find a place made up of strip malls and tract homes to be appealing. There’s no character. It’s all plastic. It’s Stepford, except they forgot to build the men’s club.

        1. Freetrader

          “There’s no character” is probably a better critique than “there is no culture or history.” However, it is an equally meaningless comment. Perhaps you mean that you don’t think the community has any charm because the houses lack individuality? That comment of course, presumes they do elsewhere.

          1. jmatthew

            Have you ever actually left Irvine? Houses in other places do have individuality. Those communities also have museums, art galleries, *good* restaurants, unique stores, and stories a whole lot more interesting than “Some guy owned this land and thought he’d make a bunch of money by subdividing it and selling houses.”

            My point is that while good planning can make good-looking, orderly communities, it also makes boring ones.

          2. Freetrader

            When someone has no argument, they get personal in their attacks — which is what you are doing. I actually don’t live in Irvine (although I do own a house there). Currently I live overseas in a place with lots of history and ‘culture’ and it isn’t really any better than Irvine. I miss Irvine a lot, and I am originally from San Francisco, which if nothing else has lots of ‘character’. You are simply a would-be snob who doesn’t like planned communities — which is fine, if you just leave it at that. You ignore the great stuff about Irvine, and more fundamentally, ignore that it does a great of providing a nice place to live for the families who choose to live, recreate, and educate their families there. You state that houses in other communities have ‘individuality’ — I would be intrested to know what mass market tract homes you are familiar with that possess ‘invdividuality’. The fact that Irvine doesn’t need a ‘creation myth’ to be a great place to live seems to carry a lot of weight with you; it doesn’t matter to me in the least.

          3. jmatthew

            You know there are places without tract homes, right? I’m talking about those places.

            And I guess I’ll own the “would-be-snob” remark, because I’m not ignoring the great stuff about Irvine. I don’t think that there is anything great about it. I don’t even think it does a great job of providing a nice place to live for families. I certainly would never raise a child there. There are countless places better.

          4. Freetrader

            “A world without tract homes.” Ah yes, so many middle class communities have custom-built housing. Actually, well, I must have missed that suburb.

            “I would certainly never raise a child there.” You are so focused on defending your initial foolsih remark, that you’ve started to resort to unsupportable non-sequiturs. Yes, indeed, Irvine is famous for being a lousy place to raise children.

            As for me, I’m moving to South Central.

          5. jmatthew

            That’s another straw man argument. Why are you so narrowly focused on suburbs? Why do you assume that they all have to be tract homes? And yes, you did miss that middle-class community. You apparently missed a lot of them. They’re everywhere, if you know where to look.

            And it isn’t a non-sequitur. It was in direct response to your contention that Irvine is a nice place to live for families.

            The post talks about lifestyle engineering, which I think is a repugnant notion. The majority of people may think that Irvine is a great place to raise children, but in my opinion, they’re mistaken.

          6. Freetrader

            You comment is simply nonsense. You refuse to state exactly what you mean as far as what communities you wouldn’t find “repugnant”. Public housing perhaps? Individual small farmers living off the land? You make a veiled reference implying a hatred of suburbs, but you don’t provide any information about what you would consider ‘acceptable’. I am forced to conclude that you are simply a nut.

  12. James Gallagher

    Community planning is always driven by the builders view of what type of housing will generate the most profit. Zoning is what is used to balance the builders need to make a profit with what the city fathers vision is for the commumity.

    The problems occur when the city fathers have no vision and they allow the builder to build whatever they want.

  13. E

    I think that the planned nature of Irvine allows us to follow the rise and fall of the bubble in a much more coherent manner.

  14. george8

    IR and company:

    I am curious about this type of property: condo for senior living that include dinners and weekly cleaning.

    I wonder if anyone can educate me and the blog by commenting on this listing:

    24055 Paseo del Lago #1262
    Laguna Woods, CA 92637
    Price: $123,500
    Beds: 2
    Baths: 2
    Sq. Ft.: 1,033
    $/Sq. Ft.: $120
    Lot Size: –
    Property Type: Condominium
    Style: Contemporary
    Stories: 1
    Floor: 12
    View: City Lights, Golf Course, Mountain, Panoramic
    Year Built: 1974
    Community: Laguna Woods
    County: Orange
    MLS#: S582455
    Source: SoCalMLS
    Status: Active
    On Redfin: 73 days

    PRICE REDUCTION!! Best value in the Towers for this outstanding unit with 180 degree panoramic views! The living room separates the 2 bedrooms each with their own bathroom. This home is elegant, pristine clean, and move-in ready. The kitchenette has plenty of storage and includes cook-top, refrigerator, and sink. Custom counter with additional storage. Senior living with all the amenities and comforts. Daily dinner and weekly housekeeping service is included together with all the activities available in Laguna Woods. Free bus service within community and to all local business and shopping centers. All utilties except phone are also included, even cable TV. Come see this great opportuntity!

  15. norcal

    Yes, the University Hills neighborhood is very pleasant. But it’s getting surrounded by ever more townhouses and cars and smog and traffic. Can you really justify $590K for a 40-year-old 3 br townhouse? What are the HOA fees like there? Is the Irvine median income still about $100K per household? Even if that income has held steady, this place is a 6:1 price-income ratio, when it should be 4:1 max to satisfy common household financial prudence.

    1. Freetrader

      You mean University Park, I think. It is an older neighborhood for Irvine, but after a certain point the age of a neighborhood stops being an issue. Your point though, I think, is that other neighborhoods have newer housing that is certainly true. I won’t try to justify the housing but the HOA fees are about $200/mo.

  16. Joseph

    Not a whole lot I’ve found to disagree with on this blog, but how do you figure that clustered townhomes on tiny lots are an example of “good planning”? I’ll take the 1200-1800 sqft ranches with 10,000+ sqft lots any day. You want a “better yield”? Live in a high-density real city and use mass transit. Irvine-style “planning” is, IMHO, exactly the problem: too low-density to reap the benefits of city living, and too crowded to enjoy the space and privacy (and other benefits) of suburbia.

    I’ve lived in big cities (west L.A., Minneapolis, Chicago) and smaller towns, and I’ve loved them both: I loved my apartments in the middle of the energy and chaos of city life, and I loved my pine trees and wooded ravine of the quiet ‘burbs. Why the hell would I want to hear my neighbor’s alarm clock in the “suburbs”? And a topheavy new-ish townhome instead of a modest ’50’s ranch? No thanks.

    Oh well–no accounting for taste, I suppose.

Comments are closed.