Eric Figge

As in other markets, the competition for foreclosed-upon homes is fierce in Simi Valley, Calif. But Tri Pointe Homes of Irvine, Calif., is answering a pent-up demand by offering detached, zero-lot-line homes ranging from 1,300 square feet to 1,500 square feet and starting at $380K. After an initial grand opening at the end of January, the project is now selling its second phase. The homes are designed by Irvine-based JZMK Partners.

Eric Figge
Fonda Bernardi & Hohman

The houses at Los Arboles, a high-density community, are hitting a sweet spot amongst a wide range of buyers—singles, single-parent households, young couples, and move-down buyers. "We’re competing against a resale market with quite a bit of distress, and that’s what drove the price point," says Tom Mitchell, Tri Pointe’s president and CEO. "We see buyers putting in multiple offers on short sales and getting shut out," he adds. "They need to buy homes." While growing families require a home with a certain amount of outdoor space for kids to run around in, the garden-style setups at Los Arboles appeal to buyers whose lifestyles don't require a yard, Mitchell points out. The zero-lot homes have 16-foot-wide side-lots, as well as 18 feet of driveway from curb to garage door, enough  space to fit a couple of parked cars so guests can park on the street. Homes are built on a paseo-oriented plan, with a landscaped walkway that serves as a "central spine." Garages are rear-loaded. The homes have outdoor space in the form of side lots that are a generous 16 feet wide, but the developers intend for the pleasant walkways and attractive public spaces to encourage gathering in the 43-home community.

Floor plans are open, with sightlines through the house, amply-sized windows, and a blur between indoors and outdoors. All this serves to make the spaces appear bigger than they otherwise might seem, and Mitchell is observing that it’s a pleasant surprise to dubious buyers. "We’ve had buyers tell us that they didn’t think this would be enough house, but they’re glad they came to look," he says.

Courtesy Tri Pointe Homes
Courtesy Tri Pointe Homes
Courtesy Tri Pointe Homes


A focus on amenities is another way that Tri Pointe is keeping sales moving. Master bathrooms are configured in a suite setup, with both a tub and shower. In the kitchen, "today’s consumer wants stainless," says Mitchell, who at the same time observes that many buyers don’t have the discretionary income to do upgrades on an existing home. "The more you can give them in the base, the more they’ll feel like they’re getting value," he says. "That’s what gives you an edge."

Amy Albert is a senior editor at Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.