By now you’ve all had a chance to watch the entire fourth season of “Arrested Development,” right? Well, if you haven’t, we should warn you that the following article includes plenty of spoilers.
A central theme of the new season of “Arrested Development” is the crash of the real estate market in 2006 and the havoc it wreaks on most of the characters. We took a look at where the characters would be if “Arrested Development” was set in 2013, in today’s housing market.
Michael Bluth – Sudden Valley
Sudden Valley, the subdivision that Michael borrowed $700,000 to build, ended up a disaster; the real estate market crash of 2006 left him with around 20 homes he couldn’t sell. In season four, a map of Sudden Valley shows its location northeast of Mission Viejo and Las Flores, putting it approximately in the location of Rancho Santa Margarita, California. In the show, there were no roads to the community, no internet access, and no cell phone service. Michael’s brother, G.O.B. Bluth, ended up selling the homes to sex offenders, because the community is located far enough away from schools to meet parole guidelines. G.O.B. also cons his nephew, George Michael, into purchasing one of the homes, which results in George Michael becoming the object of desire for the entire subdivision.
Michael would have to borrow a lot more than $700,000 from Lucille Two if he wanted to invest in Sudden Valley in 2013. In today’s market, a new community of 20 average single-family homes in Rancho Santa Margarita would be worth nearly $13 million dollars. And because there are so few homes on the market right now, it is likely Sudden Valley would sell suddenly, even without a paved road or internet access. “Right now people are getting frustrated at the lack of homes on the market, and are willing to make compromises. They might even be willing to wait for the city to build roads and cable lines. A community like Sudden Valley would sell quickly if the potential buyers didn’t do a home inspection. We all know those homes weren’t exactly top-of-the-line when it comes to quality,” said Marc Raine, a Redfin real estate agent in South Orange County.
Michael’s brother G.O.B. would have made almost $780,000 in commission, and if he worked for Redfin, he would have refunded as much as half of that to his clients. And – fortunately for George Michael – G.O.B. wouldn’t have been so desperate as to con his nephew into buying a home.
Tobias and Lindsay – The Mediterranean-Style Mansion
Tobias and Lindsay decide to buy a new home together and talk to a real estate agent named James Carr, who is forthright about being “a parasitic agent who is getting people in over their head.” Even though Lindsay tells Carr they have no income, no jobs, and no assets (NINJA), Carr convinces them to take on a NINJA loan for a sprawling Mediterranean-style mansion with two master bedrooms and a gatehouse in Orange County. The narrator, Ron Howard, reminds us, “this was a time when banks were eager to create as much debt as possible.” Not surprisingly, they end up defaulting on their loan, and abandon the home. Their daughter, Maeby, moved in with them at first, but was forced to take refuge in Lucille’s penthouse when they lost the home.
Tobias and Lindsey wouldn’t have defaulted on their loan – because they never would have qualified for it in the first place. With no income, no jobs, and no assets, the two would have a tough time getting any kind of loan, let alone one for a multimillion dollar mansion. They’d have to crash at Lucille’s penthouse until they could save money for a down payment. Their best option would be to get a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which allows a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.
Lucille Bluth – Newport Beach Penthouse
Lucille Bluth is sent to prison after her adopted son Annyong turns in evidence against her to the SEC. She abandons her luxury penthouse, which is located in a fictional apartment complex called Balboa Towers in Newport Beach. While she is away, each member of the Bluth clan crashes at the penthouse for a short period of time.
It is likely Lucille would face stiff penalties from the SEC, so it would make more financial sense for her to sell her penthouse than leave it empty while she’s in prison. An average two-bedroom luxury penthouse in Newport Beach goes for more than $1.4 million. With that money, she could afford to build the wall on George Bluth’s land on the border of Mexico…
George Bluth – Land on the California/Mexico Border
George Bluth cons his twin brother, Oscar, into selling him his 400 acres of land on the border between California and Mexico. George’s plan is to convince local politicians to build a wall between California and Mexico, and gouge the government on the land when they decide to build it. When the wall plan starts to fall through, he creates a sweat lodge retreat for executives who are looking for a spiritual experience. However, he soon finds out that he owes $15 million on the land, and starts to cook up another scheme with Lucille.
We’re not privy to any U.S. plans for a wall between California and Mexico, so we can only judge the value of George’s 400 acres based on the real estate value. Although there are no plots of land right on the border for sale in California, there are 516 acres just north of the border currently on the market for $1.2 million. At that price, George would definitely have to execute some kind of scheme to make the land more valuable and pay off his $15 million debt.