Monday, October 15, 2012

what is wrong with this house?

I pass by this newly constructed, crisp & clean, MODERN home at least once a week.  I have attended open houses there a dozen times. Frankly, it is my fantasy house -- an open plan, built around a courtyard, no yard, flat roof, plank ceilings, ocean view, not too big, and not too small. It has been on the market for 511 days.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA
711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA. Over view compliments of Google Maps.

A year and a half unsold? What is wrong with this house?

When the house was first listed May, 2011 at $3.8M, it was over priced considering the massive recession. But, the price has continued to drop for nearly 18 months with the latest drop to $3.1M a few months back (from the former low of $3.25M.) And still it sits. And houses around it, not newly constructed, are selling for $3.6M, $3.7M, and as high as $5.2M within the last six months. So there are CLEARLY buyers with the money. What is the problem?

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA
Picture by Eric Olsen, the architect.

Here is what I know about this little gem. It was built upon the site of a 1966 mid-century modern that had been abandoned by the owners due to a fire. It sat empty for several years, as the real estate market plummeted. It was finally sold to spec developers in April, 2007 for $1.6M (data at Zillow) which may seem like a lot for a burned out house, but there was an ocean view. It may have still been too much as the market was still fairly soft. 

The spec developers hired Eric Olsen to architect the house. Erik does great work. He happens to have a house in our development which looks super cool from the outside. And back in the early days of his business in Southern California, he did a really nice modern patio hardscape for a friend of mine.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

Here is what the Weir Properties real estate listing says:
Newly constructed, custom home by residential designer Eric Olsen. 3415 s.f. of living space in a split level soft contemporary home that takes advantage of 180 degrees ocean and bay views. High volume entry space with floor to ceiling glass provides strong indoor/outdoor connection to a private courtyard landscaped with water-wise plantings and mature Olive Trees. Landscape provides serene environment for outdoor dining and lounging. High end finishes throughout including custom walnut cabinetry and Viking appliances in kitchen, and unique marble and limestone and walnut vanities throughout bathrooms. Master Bathroom includes a Stark soaking tub, and a private outdoor shower area. 

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA
I love this landscape. Remind you of anything

This Pool/TV room is under the kitchen, just off the garage entry door (which is street level). It is unusual in this neighborhood to have two levels, due to a 14 foot construction roof limit maintained by the homeowners' association. This house got away with it because it is on a hill and the garage was dug down into the hill (clever architect).

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


The view is a rooftop view as opposed to a full ocean view. This should provide a bit of a discount from a true unobstructed ocean view.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


This is a guest bath. The house actually officially lists at 3 bedrooms and 4 baths. Yes, it has one more bathroom than bedrooms.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA
Do the bathrooms remind you of anything?
 This is a living area right off the front entrance. The window to the right exposes an office.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


The mini office. Even though there is just the one window at the back, I would still close down the view window into the living room on the left. Our office is not fit for human eyes.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


 Sitting area off the second level kitchen.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


Master bath. Shower behind the bathtub. Outdoor shower to the left.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

The bit of land in the distance is Catalina. The palm trees are on Balboa Island.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

Master bedroom. Master bath is to the right. The sliding barn doors are all the rage right now. Frankly, I don't dig them.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


This is how I want our future kitchen to look. They used Blizzard Caesarstone like we did in our remodeled bathrooms.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


View of outdoor shower from a second bathroom. The outdoor shower is "cool," although it is in a slightly uncomfortable location. It sits on the street side of the house, which runs parallel to Pacific Coast Highway (which is truly a highway). And the house is under the John Wayne airport flight pattern. One may feel a tiny bit exposed out there soaping off.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


Another view of the master bath.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

This is the front entry gate, before you get to the courtyard. Really spectacular. I may copy someday.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

 Outdoor shower and private sun patio.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA\


And the view.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

Great picture of interior courtyard. The square box against the back wall is a water feature that has never been turned on.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


 Master shower. Tub is on the other side of this wall.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

Guest powder room.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


Could there be any profit in this house left? The investors are paying property taxes of at least $21K a year according to Zillow not to mention whatever loans they procured to purchase and build the home.

View from dining area into the kitchen.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

View from dining area into the upstairs sitting area.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA

A guest bathtub and shower.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


Another view from kitchen to dining to sitting area. Love the chandelier by the way.

711 K'Thanga Drive, Corona del Mar, CA


So why hasn't it sold? I think bad timing combined with a few unfortunate features. For example, the office with the window into the living room cannot be counted as a bedroom and the pool room cannot be counted as a bedroom (if memory serves right, no closets and no doors). And the initial listing price of  $3.8M for 3,405 square feet was probably just too rich in the 2011 economy. The comparable houses are all in the 4,000 plus feet level. If I had $3.1M, I would buy it. At this price, it is a bargain.

Would you buy this house if you had $3.1M? 
(Plus annual property taxes of $31K?)

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14 comments:

  1. I think it's a beautiful home, and I'm as puzzled as you are about why it's been on the market for so long.

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    1. Man you are fast. And it is late your time little missy. I am puzzled. I feel for the developers.

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  2. So, who would buy this kind of a house in CA? Empty nesters or families with kids? I live in Chicago, so I am just curious.

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    1. That is exactly the right question. Who was the target? I think it must be focused on empty nesters, or simple couples without kids, who love to entertain. This house is very much set up for entertaining.

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  3. It's GORGEOUS. It's STUNNING. It's... just for looksies. I honestly can't imagine making a home there. It's not for kids. It's not for a couple. Its the kind of house that very few people could really love, use and afford. When they find that person, it will sell.

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    1. I don't think it is for kids. I don't think it is for older people (kitchen is up the stairs). Have they axed themselves out of most potential markets? I could really see a wealthy bachelor living there, or younger couple that has chosen to skip the kids. I think the target market for this house is the issue. Who was the buyer they were targeting?

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  4. Curious as to why the outdoor shower. There is no outdoor pool. Maybe to give Google Maps an interesting view??

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    1. I honestly think, because it is "cool." No real reason for it as there is no Jacuzzi, no pool, and not steps away from the beach. And, the particular micro-climate this house is located in is grey and overcast 60% of the year (e.g. London). Wow, the more we all talk here, the more I am getting why it hasn't sold.

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  5. I think it lacks a bit of soul. Even all frocked up it has a cold feeling about it...this could be because it's unlived in, I'm not sure...I'd rather buy the real Mc Coy myself.

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    1. Kylie maybe you are right. New houses are that way and very modern houses can sometimes have that clean/cold feeling. Not to mention, this one has sat EMPTY for 511 days. Poor baby. I will be curious who buys it eventually. Maybe I will win the lottery, buy it and then rent it to some swinging bachelors. :)

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  6. I think this house is perfect for kids with some edits. It's very similar in layout to mine (in terms of the tri-level thing) and we have 2 smallish kids. I'd make the pool room into an office/kid's workroom/playroom. Put in built-in desks, big bean bag chairs, etc. Is perfect because it's hidden and it can be a mess. The upstairs office would become Grandma's guest room. I think the bigger problems are as follows:
    1. Has a formal living room away from the kitchen - all people hang out in the kitchen area at a party (at least at mine) and living rooms are passe in homes these days. I think it's sort of a waste of space. Maybe put the pool table there. I know it's at the entrance, but I'm ok with a little eccentricity.
    2. Outdoor space is great, but it's too far away from the kitchen - people probably wouldn't end up outside too often. Might want to consider an outdoor kitchen - but might be too noisy out there.
    3. Builder didn't finish the detail. No build out for laundry area; Fountain area is unfinished; Closets aren't built out. I expect that for over $3MM.
    4. House is going to be noisy (to your point) because of PCH and flight patterns
    5. Alot of money would have to put into it to make sense for a family with 2.2 kids.

    Positives:
    1. You live next to a big pool called the Pacific Ocean.
    2. House is right down the street from a perfect small beach by the lifeguard building. Perfect for launching paddleboards, swimming, volleyball, et al.
    3. Great size house - not too big, not too small
    4. Everyone has their own bathroom
    5. Very nice finishes
    6. Like the outdoor shower, I would just put a teak overhang over it for privacy. If you want extra-extra privacy, there were some great teak outdoor shower enclosures at the Dwell Home Design show.

    So my net is that I'd offer $2.5MM - you'd need to spend a fair amount of extra money to get it working right.

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    1. Excellent comments and analysis of the house Kerry. If I may summarize, the price and location are right, but the future owners may need to use a little creativity and dollars to make the existing layout and spaces work harder. I do like the outdoor kitchen idea, you could do that with the non-working fountain space (it is a mystery to me why they didn't turn that on). I could make this house work!

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  7. Apparently nothing wrong now...it sold 4/26/13 :-))

    http://www.redfin.com/CA/Corona-Del-Mar/711-K-Thanga-Dr-92625/home/3252567#main

    I'm actually friends with the new owner

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    1. AWESOME! From the date of this post, you know how long I have been watching this beautiful home. Tell your friends hello from me! I drove by on my way home tonight and saw the "for sale" sign was down. FINALLY! Congrats all around and what a fantastic price. Honestly.

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