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Regular Contributor
SunshineTax
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎01-14-2013
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Tell me about Laguna Niguel

What is the housing stock like? Is there any worries about the city? A realtor told me that Laguna Niguel has problems with geo issues and houses sliding, more on hills of course. 

What about termites? Is that a big problem?

Also about the city in general. Is it kid friendly, what is there to do there? 

Any help appreciated from people who know the area.

Trusted Contributor
Seneca
Posts: 186
Registered: ‎02-13-2012

Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

I like LN plenty, but of course it has its ups and downs.  It's probably not the #1 SOC city associated with kids -- that is more typically Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, or if you have the money Ladera Ranch.

 

It has distinct divisions. Down near the coast you have the huge Monarch Bay resort area, which is very expensive and not for kids at all.  I think it's actually part of Dana Point or Laguna, though.  There is the "old" section, near city hall, with some charming old houses high up in the hills, Pacesetter and Niguel Hills south of Crown Valley, La Veta, Niguel Woods and Niguel Summit on the north.  Pacesetter and Niguel Hills have very nice views and no HOA, houses are often smallish (1800 sq ft) with large lots (8-10,000 sq ft) but often mostly hill.  The schools are generally pretty good.    Up high on the north side of Highlands there are some million-dollar estates with horse trails, something like Nellie Gail, which is between LN and Mission Viejo on a bit of Laguna Hills that sticks south.

 

There are some massive developments, e.g. Beacon Hill off of Golden Lantern towards Dana Point, and Kite Hill along Alicia. I don't know much about them, but the prices of houses in them are pretty high.  Probably you'll need to start at 600k for a 3BR/2BA 1800 sq ft minimal family house.

 

One area that seems friendly to young families seems to be the Niguel Heights and Rancho Niguel area, between La Paz and Moulton.  Houses here are smaller and cheaper, and you seem to find more families with young kids there.  Some have access to a really awesome association, the name of which I forget, which has pools and facilities galore, activities and whatnot.  Laguna Niguel Elementary in that area has a very good reputation.  It also seems a little more mixed, racially and ethnically, than other parts of LN, although that means mostly more Persian and Asian, not that much more Hispanic, and not more black.  There's also a lot of parents who buy along Chaparosa Road off Golden Lantern, so they can put their kids in George White Elementary, which also had a good reputation.  (Malcolm Elementary, which I think serves Beacon Hill, also has a very good reputation.)  One complication worth bearing in mind is that LN doesn't have a high school of its own, so kids go to Dana Hills -- which also serves Dana Point, and is merely adequate -- and Aliso Niguel, which also serves Aliso Viejo and is probably much better.  There is a very good private Catholic high school (JSerra CHS) close, in San Juan Capistrano, FWIW.

 

There are some nice big parks, including some with good hiking trails, and the lake.  Pretty much about the same availability as most SOC cities, excepting Irvine (which as more) and Ladera (which has even more), or Coto, which is all about park.

 

What you "do" there, however, is live.  It doesn't have the commercial presence you find in Aliso Viejo, nor the lakes of Mission Viejo and RSM, nor the massive child-friendly activity engine of Ladera.  If you are thinking of stepping out to the club or finding a cute ethnic cafe, any of that twentysomething yuppie stuff, this is not the town for you.  It certainly has its share of wholesome Little Leaguey kind of kid activities, however.    I think it's a town for fairly well off people, some with kids, who like their privacy, safety and quiet.

 

The weather is very good, if you like California coastal, generally cool and sunny.  It doesn't get as hot as Mission Viejo, still less Irvine, Lake Forest or RSM; you seem to get a good cooling breeze up from the coast.  It's quite hilly, more so I'd say than nearly any other SOC city excepting Laguna.  You can get to the coast relatively easily, down Crown Valley (which takes you to the Coast Highway just south of Laguna) or Golden Lantern (which takes you into Dana Point), so your beaches are pretty close, if you like that.  Dana Point is funky interesting in some ways, too, with a big harbor, stuff going on down there, a tall ship festival, Doheny Beach, which gets huge amounts of family use because it is one of the flattest beaches in OC (hence safer for little kids in the water).   Laguna is lovely to visit, even with kids; there's a great candy store, a walkable town near the beach, and a nice cliff walk.

 

I would say you should look there if you like living on hills, if you are looking for older more funky houses than in Aliso, if you like cooler weather, if you like quiet and privacy, if you aren't the last bit interested in raising hell, and above all if you have at least $550k and more likely $650k to spend on a basic 3BR/2BA 1800-2000 sq ft house.   If you have less to spend, and want to be 100% sure your kids get into a top-notch public elementary school, then a lot of parents gravitate towards Aliso Viejo and parts of RSM and Mission Viejo.  If you have the same money, and are willing to see a lot of it go towards HOA and Mello Roos, and want a full schedule of very family oriented community events, then Ladera Ranch is worth a look (property values there seem to be more unstable, however).  If you look at Ladera, be sure to look at the north side, where your kids can go to Tesoro instead of San Juan Hills high school.  If you want good schools, and are Asian, or like the Asian style of learning, then Irvine is your place to be.

 

 

Trusted Contributor
Seneca
Posts: 186
Registered: ‎02-13-2012

Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

Sorry, I didn't say anything about geo issues, but there's nothing you can say in general about that.  LN is not built on artificial hills or anything, and it's been around a long time.  If you have geo issues, they are generally specific to the house.  Use your head when looking at properties and I expect you'll know whether it's something to be considered.

 

As for availability -- I think right now it's awful, like much of SOC.  Quite honestly, when I think of the best possible places to live for families in SOC, with very good public schools, nice neighborhoods, and decent houses not much above $550-600k, I have seen squat recently.  It's like some huge conspiracy where everybody who owns such a house just has zero interest in selling it.

 

In theory that might change in about 2-3 months.  People with kids will want to close in June, to maximize the price and be moved before school starts again in the fall.  So they might put their houses on the market in March to April.

Regular Contributor
SunshineTax
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎01-14-2013
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Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

Seneca you rock. That gives me a great overview of the city. Are you a long time LN resident?

We're thinking of putting an offer on a house off Golden Lantern and St. Christopher. Seems like a really nice area, close to shopping (ralph's down Golden Latern), and a Kindercare near by.  I did all the research, low crime, good schools, close to the beach. 

Our price range is $600,000 to $750,000(max). In any case, we'd be putting 25% down. I feel like we should be competitive, but I just don't know. We were outbid on a house in Aliso Viejo in the $550,000 range. We offered over, and had over 25% down and still came in at #2 (they made us backup just in case #1 falls out).

 

Maybe we should just wait. That's the general feeling I'm getting. Our current rent for an old 3 bedroom house is only $1,700 a month. 

Trusted Contributor
Seneca
Posts: 186
Registered: ‎02-13-2012
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Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

No, but I don't live too far away, and I spent a lot of time looking at houses in LN.  That area sounds pretty good.  You're up high, the weather will be great.  Hopefully you're in George White's attendance zone -- and well within, if possible, so if Capo changes their attendance boundaries a little you're still OK.  You might ponder whether you want to keep the option of a private HS open if the kids have to go to Dana Hills otherwise.  I really like the park at the end of Chaparosa, which is very close to that area.  I think there's a lot of activity stuff that goes on down there. 

 

It sounds like a solid choice to me.  Like I said, unless you are looking for yuppie excitement, or you fret about sufficient local culture, or you are going to be straining yourself financially, I'd guess you'll get along pretty well there.  Your commute may not be that bad either, since you can drop down Golden Lantern to the 5 or 73.  I think those houses hold their value pretty well.

 

Your buyer's agent can hopefully tell you whether the price is a good deal, e.g. whether you're at least close to rental parity.  Putting 20% down is out of fashion in these free money from the Fed days, but I approve.  You escape PMI, and you have the security of knowing you're not nailed there if prices take a modest hit.  I don't know if the extra 5% means anything -- your buyer's agent can advise.  I would speculate having the highest offer and/or having credentials that suggest you can close really fast may be even more important.   Personally I might reserve the extra cash if I could for some upgrades to the house after you've lived in it a bit.  It can be nice to have a new floor, new cabinets, redo the back deck or master bath, put in a hot tub or a playhouse for the kids.

 

But it's a weird market, so who knows what's best?  Follow the advice of your professional.  Best of luck.

Trusted Contributor
Seneca
Posts: 186
Registered: ‎02-13-2012
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Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

Waiting is a personal decision, of course.  It depends on many factors.  For example, if you have kids that will start school soon, I wouldn't necessarily wait.  Switching schools, and their new school friends, is a pain.  If you're getting the house at rental parity, if that is still possible these days, then financially it's a sound decision, whereas if it's way over rental parity, that's not a good sign.

 

There's also a question of how long you'll be there.  The longer it will be, the better a buy now is, since few expect interest rates to drop further, so you'll be locking in a historically very low rate.  A lot of people expect the current crazy monetary policy to lead to significant inflation, sooner or later, and good houses tend to be decent inflation hedges, unless accompanied by very serious recession -- which, alas, could be in the cards, depending on how soon we can get rid of our present deeply corrupt and profoundly stupid national leadership.

 

Additionally, I don't think anybody expects supply to seriously ratchet up in the next 2 or 3 years.  A lot of people are hunkering down.  You get a lot less mobility when jobs are scarce -- fewer people up sticks and move for a new or better job.  So many people refinanced recently into record low rates, and that low interest rate will be a factor that will keep them from wanting to sell, particular if rates rise even a little.  Plus a lot of the move-up market has been slaughtered with the evaporation of equity, and prices in the high end (above 750k) may still have some more correcting, so the number of people wanting to sell a house in your price range in order to move up may not be high in the next few years.  In short, if you choose to wait, I personally would want to be confident I was willing to wait more than 5 years if necessary.  I am not confident waiting only 1 or 2 years would give you a markedly better result.  If I found a house that was financially responsible, not wildly overpriced, and which I liked -- I'd probably go for it.

Super Contributor
bukowski
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎04-21-2010
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Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

"crazy monetary policy..." huh? Actually, I'd call it just adequate enough in order to allow households to deleverage and families to be employed long enough to get to economic and housing recovery at last. Thank you, QE.

 

As for LN, it is conservative and a bit dull. Perfect for families. Plenty of parks. Marina Hills HOA has a nice pool/clubhouse. Niguel Rd (and adjacent hiking/running trail) take you to PCH, past the St Regis and Ritz Carlton. Chapparosa Park is nearby.

 

Capo Unified was a banana republic for a while, but has been re-reformed again. White Elementary/Niguel Hills Middle School/Dana Hills HS are good schools. Some LN public schools have a majority of latinos enrolled. LN is mostly white (70%?) with many latino households in Apartments along Golden Lantern. Ironically, White Elementary is the school most popular among whites in my neighborhood in an unofficial survey I've undertaken--more popular than the school in our own neighborhood that heavily serves nearby apartments.

 

Early 2012 was a good time to buy here. 3% mortgages are you kidding me! It's time to buy,buy,buy. Low inventory at the moment in LN, though. 

Trusted Contributor
Seneca
Posts: 186
Registered: ‎02-13-2012

Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

[ Edited ]

bukowski wrote:

... I'd call it just adequate enough in order to allow households to deleverage and families to be employed long enough to get to economic and housing recovery at last....


Sure.  You keep sipping that Kool-Ade, and maybe it will actually happen at long last.  Don't let the fact that monetizing the debt and "deleveraging" a.k.a. defaulting has been held out as the Miracle-Gro of economies since Nero devalued the denarius in AD 65.  It's never worked before -- not once in 4000 years of recorded history and hundreds of delusional attempts, promoted by hucksters and believed by credulous naifs who think there might be a free lunch, after all,  but...hey! maybe this time it'll be different.

 

And maybe The Savior is coming next Thursday to judge the living and the dead, too.  You never know.

Regular Contributor
fourpheb
Posts: 95
Registered: ‎12-21-2012
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Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel


Seneca wrote:

bukowski wrote:

... I'd call it just adequate enough in order to allow households to deleverage and families to be employed long enough to get to economic and housing recovery at last....


Sure.  You keep sipping that Kool-Ade, and maybe it will actually happen at long last.  Don't let the fact that monetizing the debt and "deleveraging" a.k.a. defaulting has been held out as the Miracle-Gro of economies since Nero devalued the denarius in AD 65.  It's never worked before -- not once in 4000 years of recorded history and hundreds of delusional attempts, promoted by hucksters and believed by credulous naifs who think there might be a free lunch, after all,  but...hey! maybe this time it'll be different.

 

And maybe The Savior is coming next Thursday to judge the living and the dead, too.  You never know.


It's different this time.

Regular Contributor
SunshineTax
Posts: 94
Registered: ‎01-14-2013

Re: Tell me about Laguna Niguel

[ Edited ]

We got it! 

Looks like I'm a South County resident for the forseeable future! :smileyvery-happy:

 

Haven't been a member of these forums for a long time, but appreciate all the advice and helpful people. Not sure how much I'll be browsing redfin anymore these days, but thanks for creating such a wonderful website.