Although Part 3 is at a “luxury” home price point, times have definitely changed where a buyer is focusing more on value as opposed to “the bling” one would expect from these builders. These communities have definitely toned down fancy upgrades and two of them have gone back to a lost art: large backyard spaces.
Case in point, we’ll start with Blackstone’s flagship community, the “Castillian” community has living spaces from 4,200 square feet all the way up to 5,003 square feet and is ideally located about 1-1/2 mile North of the Brea Mall. [Update: Castillian is SOLD OUT] Standard Pacific did a great job at creating updated designs: upstairs loft areas, outdoor living spaces, and large gourmet kitchens. Plan 1 has the most impressive entryway of all the designs. It has a side courtyard where guests would enter through an arch or other facade before passing through the first outdoor living space. Although the model doesn’t do a good job enhancing this area, it’s easy to imagine an outdoor fireplace, fountain, or gathering area. The preferred lots will be the homes facing south-west where you can see all the way to Catalina Island on a clear day. There are a few lots that face Downtown Los Angeles where if the smog permits, you can actually see the downtown skyline. I especially like the fact that Standard Pacific didn’t continue the trend of shrinking backyards. These lots are huge — even for 1980’s standards. (You know, the time when kids actually played outside?)
Standard Pacific is the same builder who created a masterpiece called, “The Tides” in Newport Coast. They have a floorplan that is featured in several architectural and luxury home publications. Outdoor living spaces galore, majestic views of the Pacific Ocean, and attention-to-detail you’d expect in a $7M home. I was disappointed when I saw almost none of these touches for Castillian. I know we’re talking about a home almost 1/7th the cost, but you’d think that a few of these details could’ve made it over. Although the lots are large, the designs do very little to embrace the outdoors. No sliding doors that disappear into the walls, no balconies overlooking the outdoor areas (except the master), and no grand entryways. Plans 2 and 3 are very ordinary looking from the street. I’m sure the builder wanted to keep the costs down, but it would’ve been nice to have some of these as an option.
Also in the Blackstone Community, Jade by Shea Homes is very similar to Shea’s last development in Brea called, “Walden Estates.” When Walden Estates was introduced in 2007, it was one of the first designs to eliminate the living room (makes sense because very little “living” is done in the living room) and rename the family room as the “Great Room.” While Jade has made the living room available once again, it brought over some of the design attributes from Walden such as upstairs lofts, available tandem garages, generous backyard spaces (for today’s standards), and impressive curb appeal with front-facing balconies. All floorplans have at least one bedroom that would be perfect for guests or inlaw quarters with its own full bathroom.
It took me 2 visits to finally discover what didn’t feel right about this community. At first, I thought it was Blackstone’s crowds making me feel pressured or rushed. So, I decided to visit during work hours and had the models to myself. Something still felt unsettling. I finally was able to describe the odd vibe from these homes when speaking with another agent in my office: Floorplans 1 & 2 feel like confusing mazes with no open spaces. There is no “flow” to those floorplans: No landing from the 2nd story to look below, no complete line of sight from hallways, no “wow factor” — just square footage built on top of square footage. Plan 3 was done in a manner I’d expect from Shea with high volume ceiling areas open to the 2nd floor, large sun windows, and a centrally-located kitchen where you have line of sight from 3 sides of the kitchen island.
Also, just like all Blackstone neighborhoods, there’s mello roos (varies by floorplan and community) and HOA dues near $300 per month. Jade seems to be the closest to the active oil wells. Most home sites are built on “capped” oil wells. While this will concern some buyers, one has to remember that a significant amount of land in Brea, Yorba Linda, and Placenta have been built on land with former oil use. If you read some of the requirements for former oil land or former industrial use land, you’ll see that the testing and standards are overboard. The last thing a large builder such as Standard Pacific Homes or Shea needs is a lawsuit on their hands. You can count on them complying with all local and federal requirements.
In Yorba Linda, former “S&S Homes,” now called “Shappell Homes,” offers Corte Bella consisting of single family homes from 2,405 to 3,021 square feet in living space. Some of the home sites have views to Anaheim Hills and Catalina on a clear day. Although the homes may seem smaller on paper compared to Jade, the layouts are done in a manner where the home will feel far bigger through high volume ceiling areas and plenty of windows. Just like any Shapell product, the standard features have what most builders would charge for as an “optional” item such as Hand-crafted IWP entry doors, paneled interior doors, and maple raised cabinetry. Brand-new Yorba Linda High School is across the corner along with its newly completed stadium. The school will have it’s first seniors this fall.
If you’re a freeway commuter, Corte Bella will be a good distance from the 91 and 57 freeway onramps. Although the city is widening nearby Bastanchury Avenue, it can easily add 20 minutes before you’re in the expected Orange County traffic. Most nearby residents are willing to make this sacrifice when considering all the advantages of Yorba Linda: great schools, diversity, low crime, and plenty of places of worship nearby.
Greenbriar by MBK homes is completing their final phases in the golf community of Vista Del Verde. These homes are very similar in size and price to Corte Bella. With homes in the mid-800s to high-900’s, Greenbriar has 4 floorplans to choose from. Just like Corte Bella, the layouts have plenty to offer: upstairs loft areas, available 3rd garage spaces, downstairs bedrooms, and optional decks for outdoor entertaining. While the elevation of the community may be lower than its neighbors near Black Gold Golf Course, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how far you can see.
From the street, the available exteriors are very similar creating a very “cookie cutter” feel for the neighborhood. Yes, this is a tract home, but at this price point I thought I’d see more variety from outside. It’s unfortunate because the homes are really designed well inside. Additionally, just like the other new homes in Yorba Linda, Greenbriar is a pretty good distance from the freeway. Lastly, if you’re looking to have your teenager attend Yorba Linda High, you’d have to apply for a “Choice Transfer” because this community is in the school boundaries of El Dorado High School (also a very good high school).
Obviously, Castillian is in a different league than the other 3 communities. If you’re looking for a large home very close to the action, Castillian is a great choice. For $200k less, Jade, Corte Bella, and Greenbriar battle it out for the buyer who wants a new 3,000 square foot home. Before deciding, ask yourself these questions:
1. Which school district do you prefer? All communities have the preferred schools in Brea High, El Dorado High, and brand-new Yorba Linda High. Of course, if your kids/teens are already attending one district, they might want to stay with their friends.
2. Do you prefer a quiet, suburban area? Or do you prefer to be closer to the action? Yorba Linda has no night life or shopping while Brea has the Brea Mall, Downtown Brea, and nearby Downtown Fullerton.
3. Are you a freeway commuter? If so, Corte Bella and Greenbriar are about 7 miles from the 91 and 57 freeways. If you catch the majority of traffic lights during the communting times of the day, it can add 20 minutes to your busy day.
I estimate at least 50% of the buyers of these homes will be “move-up” buyers who own smaller homes. If you fall into this category, “Trading equity” (assuming you have equity in your home) creates a few challenges with your transition. I’ll have a video summarizing your options for moving along with the possible outcomes. I have pulled off “contingent on sale of current property” purchases and it can be one of the most emotionally draining experiences. Managing your risks with an experienced Real Estate agent and loan officer will be key to making a smooth transition. I’d be glad to be of assistance determining your home’s value to estimate your proceeds for downpayment and which community would best suit your needs.
Are you interested in selling your home in order to purchase? Call me for a free consultation to estimate your new payment, proceeds from your home, and options for your transition.