Jan212012

Laguna Altura: Cortona



Last week, I covered the high-end community of Toscana in the Village of Laguna Altura. The overview of Laguna Altura is from that post:

Laguna Altura is an Irvine Company Village located at the intersection of Highway 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) and Interstate 405. The proximity to the Irvine Spectrum and nearby offices are ideal for local workers who desire a short commute. The ease of access to Interstate 405 and Interstate 5 cuts down the commute time of anyone working at a greater distance. This adjacency to the freeways does make the community a bit noisy despite efforts to buffer the sound. Further, the main entrance is on Laguna Canyon Road, a busy thoroughfare bringing traffic from Laguna Beach and other south county commuters linking from the 73 toll road. The traffic situation at the entrance is less than ideal.

The Village has no commercial center and no community center. The absence of these features is a notable negative to the Village. The nearest grocery store is in Quail Hill across Laguna Canyon Road which will serve to put a great deal of traffic through this intersection. There are a number of parks, and walking trails around the community that lead into the adjacent preserved land. The parks are typical of the nice parks built in Irvine Villages during the 00s, but it does not seem as richly amenitized as earlier developments. Early proposed plans had more parks than the final design.

The Village of Laguna Altura is composed of four communities: Siena, San Remo, Cortona, Toscana. The communities are ordered from the lowest priced being near the negatives of the freeway road noise and pollution to the highest priced being near the quiet solitude of the surrounding preservation area. The layout is notably efficient in a traditional neighborhood design. No space went to waste. This efficiency does create some monotonous long sightlines and a general lack of variety. The attractive landscape does serve to mitigate the weakness of the layout, and some interesting framing mounds creates a feeling of isolation despite the proximity to suburban sprawl.

The house designs have been touted for their innovative designs, although it is difficult to ascertain how exactly these are innovative. The designs are certainly efficient, and if innovation is defined as being livable at the least possible construction cost, then these houses are certainly innovative.

When touring the models, one is immediately struck by the similarity between all the floorplans. In fact, the downstairs of each model in each community is basically a minor variation on the same general layout. The proportions subtly change, and some areas are expanded in one and curtailed in others, but all of them contain the same basic elements with a large great room with a kitchen and family room with a dining room and covered California room at the back of the house. Notably absent are formal living rooms at the front of the house.

The larger homes, which are the ones profiled here are the most comfortable and spacious. The smaller and less expensive products are scaled down and somewhat more awkward versions of these floorplans. It is rather unusual for a homebuilder to create one basic floorplan and create several variations. If a potential customer does not like this floorplan, there is no product offered by the Irvine Company which serves as a viable alternative. This may create an opportunity for other OC homebuilders to create alternate floorplans which appeal to buyers dissatisfied with the current Irvine Company offerings.

The real problem with these properties is the price. Laguna Altura is positioned as a premium community similar to nearby Quail Hill, Turtle Rock, or Turtle Ridge. However, it doesn’t have the views those communities have, and it doesn’t have the amenities or commercial center to justify the higher price. When you consider the cost of ownership is well above rental parity — even with sub-4% interest rates — this community is simply priced too high relative to the value delivered. Sales so far have been sluggish, and with the lack of a move up market, sales will continue to be sluggish for years to come.

Cortona Residence One

The flooplan has the Irvine Company standard offering with a kitchen, great room and California room at the back of the house. The great room in this layout is set forward more than others, and it doesn’t work for watching TV in the kitchen. The den could function as a guest bedroom with some additional closet storage. The upstairs is efficient in its layout except for the unusually large hallway connecting the rooms. There is some space here which serves no purpose other than circulation. The master has good privacy with plenty of separation from the bedrooms. The bedrooms themselves are of adequate size.

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Proprietary Irvine Housing News home purchase analysis   [raw_html_snippet id=”post snippet”]

$855,000    ……..    Asking Price

Cost of Home Ownership
——————————————————————————
$855,000    ……..    Asking Price
$171,000    …………    20% Down Conventional
3.93%    ………….    Mortgage Interest Rate
30    ………………    Number of Years
$684,000    ……..    Mortgage
$192,499    ……….    Income Requirement

$3,238    …………    Monthly Mortgage Payment
$741    …………    Property Tax at 1.04%
$485    …………    Mello Roos & Special Taxes
$214    …………    Homeowners Insurance at 0.3%
$0    …………    Private Mortgage Insurance
$295    …………    Homeowners Association Fees
============================================
$4,973    ……….    Monthly Cash Outlays

($745)    ……….    Tax Savings
($998)    ……….    Equity Hidden in Payment
$231    …………..    Lost Income to Down Payment
$127    …………..    Maintenance and Replacement Reserves
============================================
$3,587    ……….    Monthly Cost of Ownership

Cash Acquisition Demands
——————————————————————————
$10,050    …………    Furnishing and Move In at 1% + $1,500
$10,050    …………    Closing Costs at 1% + $1,500
$6,840    …………    Interest Points
$171,000    …………    Down Payment
============================================
$197,940    ……….    Total Cash Costs
$54,900    ……….    Emergency Cash Reserves
============================================
$252,840    ……….    Total Savings Needed
——————————————————————————————————————————————-
This property is available for sale via registered agents.
Please contact Shevy Akason, #01836707
949.769.1599……
[email protected]…..

Cortona Residence Two

This floorplan would would work well for someone who planned to use the front den as a home office. It doesn’t work near as well as a guest bedroom. It doesn’t have good privacy or a closet. The upstairs layout had a computer workspace that is too small to use as a gameroom or TV hangout location. It’s probably also too small for two children to share while doing homework. Further the front bedroom is tiny. The master bedroom has good privacy, and the master closet is of ample size. The laundry room and adjacent closet are large and useful.

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Proprietary Irvine Housing News home purchase analysis   [raw_html_snippet id=”post snippet”]

$960,000    ……..    Asking Price

Cost of Home Ownership
——————————————————————————
$960,000    ……..    Asking Price
$192,000    …………    20% Down Conventional
3.93%    ………….    Mortgage Interest Rate
30    ………………    Number of Years
$768,000    ……..    Mortgage
$212,431    ……….    Income Requirement

$3,636    …………    Monthly Mortgage Payment
$832    …………    Property Tax at 1.04%
$485    …………    Mello Roos & Special Taxes
$240    …………    Homeowners Insurance at 0.3%
$0    …………    Private Mortgage Insurance
$295    …………    Homeowners Association Fees
============================================
$5,488    ……….    Monthly Cash Outlays

($937)    ……….    Tax Savings
($1,120)    ……….    Equity Hidden in Payment
$259    …………..    Lost Income to Down Payment
$140    …………..    Maintenance and Replacement Reserves
============================================
$3,829    ……….    Monthly Cost of Ownership

Cash Acquisition Demands
——————————————————————————
$11,100    …………    Furnishing and Move In at 1% + $1,500
$11,100    …………    Closing Costs at 1% + $1,500
$7,680    …………    Interest Points
$192,000    …………    Down Payment
============================================
$221,880    ……….    Total Cash Costs
$58,700    ……….    Emergency Cash Reserves
============================================
$280,580    ……….    Total Savings Needed
——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Cortona Residence Three

As shouldn’t be surprising, the largest floorplan is also the best. The downstairs has the typical Irvine Company offering toward the back of the house. The den in front has more privacy than the other plans in this community. The upstairs has a bonus room separating the two children’s bedrooms. I liked this arrangement as a game room or teen hangout place. I didn’t like how the master bedroom shared a wall with one of the bedrooms. The noise transfer might make some people uncomfortable….

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Proprietary Irvine Housing News home purchase analysis   [raw_html_snippet id=”post snippet”]

$1,042,865    ……..    Asking Price

Cost of Home Ownership
——————————————————————————
$1,042,865    ……..    Asking Price
$208,573    …………    20% Down Conventional
3.93%    ………….    Mortgage Interest Rate
30    ………………    Number of Years
$834,292    ……..    Mortgage
$228,160    ……….    Income Requirement

$3,949    …………    Monthly Mortgage Payment
$904    …………    Property Tax at 1.04%
$485    …………    Mello Roos & Special Taxes
$261    …………    Homeowners Insurance at 0.3%
$0    …………    Private Mortgage Insurance
$295    …………    Homeowners Association Fees
============================================
$5,894    ……….    Monthly Cash Outlays

($1,018)    ……….    Tax Savings
($1,217)    ……….    Equity Hidden in Payment
$282    …………..    Lost Income to Down Payment
$150    …………..    Maintenance and Replacement Reserves
============================================
$4,091    ……….    Monthly Cost of Ownership

Cash Acquisition Demands
——————————————————————————
$11,929    …………    Furnishing and Move In at 1% + $1,500
$11,929    …………    Closing Costs at 1% + $1,500
$8,343    …………    Interest Points
$208,573    …………    Down Payment
============================================
$240,773    ……….    Total Cash Costs
$62,700    ……….    Emergency Cash Reserves
============================================
$303,473    ……….    Total Savings Needed
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