South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Curious About Baker Ranch, New Homes in Lake Forest?

Are you curious about the huge new community being built in Northern Lake Forest, between Bake Parkway, and Alton Parkway?  I certainly was, and went to a special preview for Realtors, yesterday. ( The builders will pay an agent a commission IF that agent accompanies you, on your first visit to their model homes.  Possible advantage to you?  Many agents, myself included, will rebate some of that commission back to you, which can help cover some of the closing costs, you’ll encounter.  Amounts vary – and some agents do NOT offer such incentives – but up to half of their commission is not unusual to be able to negotiate.  In most cases all your trusty Realtor friend – like me – has to do, is introduce you to the builder.  They then, do ALL the paperwork in the purchase.  It can be a pretty sweet deal, for an agent. )


So what about the community?  This weekend is the grand opening for six neighborhoods, built by two builders, Shea Homes, and Toll Brothers.  They seem to be nice quality houses.  They range in size from a 1,273 sq. ft. condo, priced from the mid $400’s, to a 3,268 sq. ft. single family house, priced from over a million dollars.

Advantages to the community?  NO Mello/Roos taxes. ( More on that ploy, later.)  Access to commutes, via both toll roads, and nearby freeways.  An existing surrounding infrastructure – close to schools shopping, and entertainment.  And, something increasingly rare in South Orange County – a brand new home! ( Albeit, priced at a SUBSTANTIAL premium, over nearly resale homes.)

Disadvantages?  If you want a single story house, you’re out of luck.  There isn’t a solitary single level plan.  Want a 3 ( or 4+.)  car garage?  No such animal.  Zip! Nada.   There is also rather scant room for yard sizes, or guest parking. ( Parking seems to be at a premium, throughout the neighborhoods.)  Not much in the way of views, either.

How about the pricing?  Pretty steep, in MY humble opinion.  My thought was that they’ve reverse engineered the lack of Mello/Roos taxes, into their pricing.  Kind of a “let’s pay extra to the builder, instead of the community”.  I may be wrong, but I’ll be curious for YOUR feedback, on my theory.

So, should you check them out?  If you’re thinking of buying a house, why not?  In addition, there ARE  some other new home choices in South County, in various pockets of our geography, including those from Laguna Niguel, and Rancho Mission Viejo.

In my opinion, though, you should also include a look at resale houses, if for no other reason than to compare pricing. ( Remembering that new houses come pretty bare boned, with you having to divvy up more for decor, draperies, and landscaping, all of which are typically included with a resale house, and usually for a LOT less money.)  Also, consider that many resales have been substantially updated, OR, may offer a price low enough, to build in your own decorating and landscape choices, on a larger piece of property.

Can I get rebates on the commission, in buying a resale house?  You can ask, and SOME agents – like me – will offer them. ( Perhaps not as much as on a new home, because on a resale transaction, we actually have to do all the work.  Still, a rebate can help to cover some of your escrow costs, and other closing fees.)

Let me know if you’d like to talk about your options for checking out buying your next home. ( And possibly selling your present one, or turning it into a rental.)  That’s been my job for the past 37+ years, here in South Orange County, and I would be thrilled to discuss the possibilities with you.  In the meantime, have a great weekend!


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