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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.”

Short Sale Hardship Packages–What's Inside

What’s in a short sale seller’s hardship package?

Answer:  A lot of paperwork.  The bank will require you prove hardship and back up your story with documentation.  If you are considering a short sale (see  Short Sale Hardship–The Hard Part) you’ll need to begin your data collection sooner than later.  Below is a list of what you’ll need:

  • Hardship letter (written by you and explains  your situation in a couple pages)
  • Two year’s tax returns
  • Most recent pay stubs (W2s)
  • Profit & Loss Statement (if self employed)
  • Household budget
  • Three months of bank statements
  • Copies of bills or other debt
  • Personal or business bankruptcy documentation (if relevant)
  • Anything else on your bank’s requirements list.

In order to determine your hardship package requirements, contact your lender’s short sale, loss mitigation, and/or homeowner’s assistance department.  Any misrepresentation on the part of the borrower/seller can result in financial and/or criminal penalites.  A lender may even refer to the original loan application to check on your story.  So, proceed with caution and your integrity in tact.

Up next:  Writing a good short sale hardship letter

Short Sale Hardship–The Hard Part

Tired of making your payment? Maybe thinking it will take too long to recoup your investment and just think it would be easier to short sell? Well, sorry to spoil your plans, but a bank won’t think so highly of your strategy.

What does short sale hardship mean?

It is not enough to have a big 1st loan, a fantastic remodel (and therefore hefty 2nd mortgage), and own a home worth less in today’s market than the sum of the two loans.  Tired of making your payment?  Maybe thinking it will take too long to recoup your investment and just think it would be easier to short sell?  Well, sorry to spoil your plans, but a bank won’t think so highly of your strategy.

For a bank to approve a short sale, as the seller, you must prove hardship.  If you’re a commission salesperson and you’ve had a slow month, or if your bonus this year was less than last year, join the club.  This will not suffice.  Hardship needs to be major financial distress.  It needs to be over a sustained amount of time, for uncertain duration, and verifiable; meaning, the bank will ask you to back up your statements with lots of documentation.  Making stuff up won’t cut it, and will possibly put you at risk for fraud with legal and financial repercussions.

How will the bank decide if I qualify for short sale hardship?

Bank short sale departments (also called Loss Mitigation, Home Owner’s Assistance, Home Retention, etc. departments) look for the 3 M’s:  Money, Medical, and Marital hardship.  All three involve money–usually a lack of it or a great need for more–and a future need to conserve savings.  Here is a short list of possible short sale hardships that a bank will take seriously:

  • Loss of job
  • Closing of business
  • Personal or business bankruptcy
  • Prolonged loss of rental income
  • Death of spouse/income earner
  • Major health problem and expense
  • Divorce or separation
  • Military deployment resulting in loss of income.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of what a bank might consider a legitimate short sale hardship.

Next up:  What’s in a short sale hardship package?

Short Sale Snoop…Recording Vs. Receipt of Funds

I just closed escrow on a short sale where I represented the seller.  The first lien holder (lender), approved the short sale, provided that the they were in “…receipt of funds no later than June 25, 2010.”

As luck would have it, the new buyer’s loan did not fund until the afternoon of the 25th.  This posed a problem, as the title company could record and close escrow by the deadline, but they would miss the afternoon wire cutoff, and the lender would not receive their funds until the following Monday.  Title, therefore, would not record and close escrow without something in writing from the lender expressing their approval to receive funds after the 25th.

When I explained title’s concern to the lender’s short sale negotiator, she said that what we were requesting was an extension, and any extension request must be submitted to the audit department, approved by the investor, and would require daily penalties to be paid by the buyer.  This was looking like it would drag on well into the next week.

Further complicating the matter was the lender’s refusal to communicate directly with escrow or title, as they were not an approved third party to the agreement, and so they were not authorized to discuss the transaction with anyone other than the seller, and me, the listing agent.  So, I would have to be available to receive and distribute any communications between all parties.  Mind you, I was preparing to leave on a vacation Sunday.

Frustrated, I reminded the negotiator that we weren’t actually extending, and in fact wanted to close that afternoon.  We put our heads together and she said, “How about an email from me that says we’ll just accept the funds on the 28th?”

“Done,” I answered.  So, with that email in hand, I called the title officer who then informed me that would suffice.  We recorded to meet the lender’s deadline for closing, and they received funds three days later on Monday.

The moral of the story?

  • Keep it simple–no formal request or letter, “just email me”
  • Have Seller authorize escrow and title officers as 3rd parties with short sale lender
  • Have a listing agent who is hands on and technologically savvy.

Rad Pad–Bygone Era Captured in Newport Harbor's Bay Island Home

16 Bay Island is one of those properties that doesn’t come around often.  It is one of just 23 homes on Newport Harbor’s most exclusive island, a former gun club established in 1903 when birding was more popular than boating.  Bay Island sits around the bend from prestigious Newport Harbor Yacht Club. The home captures the early California beach cottage era, but could easily be at home back east with its traditional shingled-style and vintage touches, like rowing skull oars for staircase handrails.

The home was featured in the August 2007 edition of California Homes Magazine.  Interior designer Sue McKeehan transformed this 1915 home into one of Newport’s finest. Gracing the shores of Bay Island, the home features spectacular vistas of Newport Harbor’s main turning basin, all of its boating activity and, in winter, the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains.  Residents here commonly own a tennis court, wide sandy beach, and lush mature botanical & cutting gardens. The home’s private pier and slip for a large boat and side-tie scream for a classic Chris-Craft.

A foolish buyer would tear down this treasure and build a monster.  With luck that won’t happen.  Whomever takes over this property should cherish this rare combination of classic architecture, a premier and exclusive location, and a wonderful history to pass on to the next generation.

Price and details available on request.  To inquire click here.  This Rad Pad is listed by Steve High and Evan Corkett.

Brown Issues Warning about Rise of Short Sale Fraud

Brown Issues Warning about Rise of Short Sale Fraud

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined the California Department of Real Estate and the State Bar of California to warn homeowners about an alarming rise in short sale fraud across California in a field “rife with scam artists”.

A short sale is an arrangement in which a homeowner sells his or her home for less than the outstanding mortgage, with the consent of the lender. 

”While short sales can provide homeowners with a last-ditch alternative to foreclosure, this market is rife with scam artists,” Brown said. “Homeowners and buyers, agents, and lenders should beware of short sale negotiators who operate without licenses, use straw buyers or charge illegal fees.”
Continue reading “Brown Issues Warning about Rise of Short Sale Fraud”

Rad Pads–Exceptional Homes for Sale

Rad Pads is the Post for those who appreciate that little extra something that makes a home unique.  I might select a property for any of the following reasons:

  • Inspired architecture
  • Spectacular siting
  • A one-of-a-kind lot
  • Inventive use of materials
  • Creative design
  • Historic appeal
  • An enlightened vista
  • A surprising yard or garden.

My Rad Pad choice might be a combination of these or other attributes.  Posts will be made approximately monthly, as I intend to be selective.  It will NOT be–in most cases–one of my own listings.  After all, you will be the ultimate judge as to whether or not my choice is worthy of the Rad Pad title.  Stay tuned for Rad Pad number one.

Eccentric Homes Are A Marketer's Dream

Bubblegum Alley

A common refrain I hear from Newport Beach residents goes something like this, “That neighbor is killing my property value with their BLANK (insert eccentric detail here, with expletive).”  Maybe so.  But I doubt it.  The Realtor who fails to notice the upside in these BLANK situations loses out for himself, and for his client.

Take, for example, the sailboat being refurbished in the side yard or the large motorhome that is visible from the street.  If I have the listing next door (or possibly, the “offending” home) I promote the following:

  • NO design and review committee to shoot down your dream remodel
  • NO restrictive homeowner’s association with high associations
  • NO surprise assessments for upkeep
  • NO lawsuits that affect entire HOA
  • NO worries about the bounce house for your kid’s birthday party
  • NO guest pass for visitors to park in front of your home
  • NO hassle of calling the gate for every last delivery or repairman.

Or, how about the funky building that doesn’t “fit” within the neighborhood?  Take, for example, the famous Bubblegum Alley in downtown San Luis Obispo.  To some this is a disgusting place full of germs.  But for many, this is what makes SLO special.  It’s unique.  It draws traffic.  It shows character.  My kids love this place.  It’s a marketer’s dream that brings shoppers downtown, lures families with kids, and is a favorite stop for students.

For every oddity, there is appeal.  A good Realtor will find that audience and bring them to the table.