Neighborhood Spotlight–Harbor Highlands

Harbor Highlands is arguably the most affordable Newport Beach address for single-family homes on the Newport Harbor High side of the bay…

1521 Mariners Drive in the heart of Harbor Highlands

DESCRIPTION:

Harbor Highlands is arguably the most affordable Newport Beach address for single-family homes on the Newport Harbor High side of the bay (as opposed to the Corona del Mar High School side).  With lot sizes starting around 7,000 square feet and going up to 11,000 feet, these parcels allow for comfortable sized homes while maintaining great yard space.  The homes range from original 1,200 square foot 3 bedrooms to new construction with 5+ beds and well over 3,000 feet.  Harbor Highlands is divided into two halves, called in the real estate world Harbor Highlands 1 and 2.  They are often casually called the girl or sister streets.  Depending on who you ask, the builder named the streets after former girlfriends or sisters.  The latter would require a large family and a mother with an affinity for pregnancy.  Unlikely, I think, due to the high number of streets.

Harbor Highlands homes were built in the 1950s and 1960s.  Many are on raised foundations, which make for easy and more affordable remodels.  Harbor Highlands 1 does not have sidewalks, while Harbor Highlands 2 does, with slightly larger homes and lot sizes.   No formal Homeowner’s Association exists, so residents pay no additional dues and enjoy relative freedom to improve their homes as they see fit, so long as the City approves their plans.  No restrictive design review board will tell you to add shutters or change your paint color, though most homes do conform to the neighborhood with many ranch, craftsman, and traditional style homes.

Residents enjoy the proximity to Mariners Elementary School and Park, as well as the Branch Library, fire station, and Westcliff/17th Street shops & services.  It’s a short drive, bike, or walk to Back Bay trails and the Newport Aquatic Center, with great PCH, 55 and 405 freeways, and 73 Toll Road access.

LOCATION/X-STREETS: On both sides of Mariners Drive bordered by Dover, Irvine, Highland, and Nottingham.

ACTIVE LISTINGS:

Address Bed/Bath Sqft. List Price Days on Market (DOM)
2018 Highland Dr 3/2 1,729 $899,000 154
1924 Highland Dr 3/2 2,100 $969,000 25
1507 Priscilla Ln 3/2 1,900 $1,169,000 14
2006 Deborah Ln 4/4 2,847 $1,447,500 57
1507 Warwick Ln 5/4 3,325 $1,849,000 19
Average List Price Average Sqft. Average price per sqft. Average DOM
$1,266,700 2,380 $532.23 54

PROPERTIES IN ESCROW:

Address Bed/Bath Sqft. List Price Days on Market (DOM)
1500 Ruth Lane 4/3 2,112 $1,000,000 546
1621 Dorothy 3/2 2,381 $1,275,000 176
1521 Mariners Dr 5/3 2,198 $1,229,000 25
Average List Price Average Sqft. Average price per sqft. Average DOM
$1,229,003 2,115 $581 249

2010 YEAR-TO-DATE RECORDED SALES:

Address Bed/Bath Sqft. Sales Price Days on Market (DOM)
1812 Beryl Lane 3/2 1,358 $782,000 75
2105 Highland Dr 3/3 1,729 $850,000 85
2012 Dover Dr 4/2 1,640 $862,500 41
1514 Warwick 5/4 3,400 $1,010,000 413
Average Sales Price Average Sqft. Average price per sqft. Average DOM
$876,125 2,032 $431 154

TWO PREVIOUS YEAR’S ACTIVITY:

Year Sales Qty. Avg. Sales Price Avg. Sqft. Avg. Price/Sqft. Avg. DOM
2009 13 $956,000 1,855 $515 104
2008 10 $1,007,160 1,668 $603 134

SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

In 2010 we are on track for a similar sales volume as 2008-2009 in Harbor Highlands, likely in the 10-12 range.  Prices continue to feel downward pressure.  This is a result of bank REO and short sale activity.  For Newport Beach neighborhoods, Harbor Highlands continues to be in high demand.  Activity follows our seasonal cycles, with the majority of purchases in spring and early summer.  Families with children favor the neighborhood because of award-winning Mariners Elementary School, and seek to be settled before the school year begins in September.  Fourth quarter sales do occur, but with less frequency.  Lower offers often come in the fall, the result of sellers softening after their homes remain on the market without selling over summer.  With the average sales price now under $1 Million, many buyers can afford to get conventional financing and are taking advantage of the historically low interest rates.  So, the homes that sell are those perceived as values for the neighborhood.  That being said, buyers will still—even in today’s climate—pay a premium for well-maintained, updated, turnkey properties.  The trick will be getting the appraisal through on homes pushing the upper price ranges, as banks are exceedingly conservative today.  The trend of difficult credit does not seem to be easing up.

Regardless of a slowly recovering economy, I believe that prices will remain flat to down slightly over the next year.  If short sale and REO listings hit the market all at once, then we could see another sizable drop in prices.  However, if they continue to trickle out slowly, then inventory levels could shrink again and bolster prices.  The Federal Government is doing a lot to see that banks explore all options before going down the short sale road.  Those efforts, combined with an improving job market could keep things stable and lead us out of this mess.

If you have any questions about any of the properties listed above, feel free to call.  There is a good chance I’ve either sold it, been through it, or know the particulars of the sale that could give you insight.  Additionally, if you are considering selling or are just curious about the value of your home, give me a call at 949.677.0111 or email grant@bixbyresidential.com.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Newport Beach Public Library, Mariners Branch

Newport Aquatic Center (NAC)

Muth Interpretive Center (Back Bay Nature)

Environmental Nature Center (ENC)

Harbor Pediatrics

Mariners Elementary School

Ensign Middle School

Newport Harbor High School

Writing a Good Short Sale Hardship Letter

If you are a seller in default on your mortgage, the short sale hardship letter is your firm communication to the lender that you intend to short sell your home.  You should make this decision only after consultation with your legal and tax representatives and a licensed Realtor so that you understand what lies ahead and the potential consequences of a short sale.  The hardship letter makes the case to your bank for approval to move forward IN COOPERATION with the bank on a short sale.  This decision should be your last resort after reviewing finances and discussing loan modifications or “work outs” with your lender.  The next step is foreclosure, and you need to tell your lender clearly that you are trying to do the right thing and work with them for a better outcome.  With a short sale, the bank loses LESS money and incurs LESS risk than a foreclosure, and you as the seller can rebuild your credit score sooner.

Your short sale hardship letter should be honest and open, clear and direct.  Any statement made in the letter should be backed up with documentation in your hardship package.  Make sure you include the following:

  • First sentence stating clearly your intention to short sale your home, after difficult and thoughtful deliberation of all your options.
  • Include your loan number, property address, and correct borrower names on top right corner of all pages (suggest you have a stamp made at FedEx/Kinkos or Staples, as you and your Realtor will need this on many pages throughout the short sale process).
  • Explain your current hardship situation and how it came about.  Be detailed.
  • Discuss measures you have taken to correct the situation (if possible).  Give the results of those actions.
  • State clearly what will happen if you do not sell the home.
  • List what you have included with the letter in your hardship package for supporting documentation.
  • Be nice to the bank, as you need their cooperation to get through this.  No blame games or name calling.

Before sending to the correct Short Sale/Loss Mitigation/Homeowner Assistance Department contact (ask your bank), run the letter by several sets of people within your circle of trust.  Do not rush this letter, as it must be businesslike and also heartfelt.

Good luck!  As a longtime friend of mine often says, “This too shall pass.”