Buying a Home in Hidden Meadows
Allen Polk Hemphill
We have about 1,450 custom homes in The Meadows, about half of them surrounding the golf course and about half in a less formal setting. All are custom except that we have some 203 semi-custom homes (read "tract") built by Greystone Homes in 2003.
The 550 custom homes around the golf course are referred to as being "In the Covenant" because they are under a strong set of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&Rs) controlled by The Meadows Homes Association.
Everyone in The Meadows can belong to the Association of Resident Owners (ARO). That group organizes the social activities of the area including the Newcomers Club, a computer club, several bridge clubs and many other activities.
We have a few condos (60), a few town homes (24), a few tract homes (203), and many custom homes (1250).
Although many residents have been, or still are, in charge of something, no one is in charge of Hidden Meadows. We don't have a Mayor. Don't want one either. We are officially designated a "Country Town" by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, but we don't think any of them know where we are. Good! We hope we can keep it that way.
We hope you will consider becoming a member of our community. Just don't tell too many people about Hidden Meadows. Unlike many people in real estate, we are happy to sell only homes of the residents, without seeking more development.
Come join us in an ideal community. Just don't tell too many people about us.
Little room was left for commercial business in Hidden Meadows, and the community was designed to be a cul-de sac town, with only one paved way in and out. This design left the community with little traffic and almost no crime – because criminals do not like areas from which there is a single means of escape.
Over the years, little has changed in the community, and it has grown slowly. The golf course has improved and more custom homes have been built. Today, the stability of the community is assured.
Hidden Meadows homes that are on the sewer, located around the golf course, and covered by CC&Rs (private zoning restrictions) are referred to as being "In the Covenant." All other homes are "Out of the Covenant." These homes are (usually) not on the sewer, and are on larger parcels of land (more than an acre) to accommodate septic system.
Beginning in the 70’s, development really began in earnest around the golf course. Because all the homes were custom built, the age of the homes varies. New homes are being built in and out of the Covenant each day, usually one home at a time.
Many residents move within the community, selling smaller homes and building larger ones, or selling a larger one and "moving down." Some of these owners keep their smaller home and rent it, or give it to their children to live in – just like a small Midwest town. Some owners move back into their smaller homes when the larger one becomes unmanageable, or they wish to spend more time traveling. Residents are always moving within the community, and if you purchase a home here you will understand why. Short of illness or a major job transfer, few residents leave this community, and everyone who does leave does so with great reluctance.
Even though Hidden Meadows is a small town, there are different sections of the community. While these sections do not have names, and the community is not at all cliquish, it is easy to see the differences – most of which are lifestyle and not necessarily economic.
Some people live a lifestyle based on raising commercial fruit or flowers for nurseries, while others prefer small home-sites around the golf course, and still others want enormous panoramic views. All of these lifestyle selections are accommodated in Hidden Meadows.
The community is run by volunteers. The Covenant area of approximately 550 homes has its private restrictions (CC&Rs) overseen by the Meadows Homes Association (MHA). I was the President of the MHA Board for 1998 and 1999. The Association owns and operates the Meadows Community Center, which consists of a near-Olympic-size swimming pool, two night-lighted tennis courts and a pavilion – all on about 5 acres of land. In early 2004, Greystone Homes invested $200,000 in pavilion-area improvements.
The Association also enforces the restrictions, and tries to keep peace and tranquility in our area of responsibility. All homes within the Covenant must pay dues to the Meadows Homes Association. Those dues are currently $295 per year. You can drive any street and easily tell if you are in the Covenant area by the size of the lots – small lots (1/4 acre) are in the Covenant. Lots that are more than 1 acre are out of the Covenant. Naturally, there are exceptions, just to keep you on your toes.
All residents of the community may belong to the Association of Resident Owners (ARO), for $20 per year per family. This organization is primarily responsible for beautification and social activity in our community. Some of their activities include a Newcomers Club, where new residents have monthly social activities in each other’s homes. There are five such groups of "Newcomers" and each group is limited to 15 couples. You are no longer eligible for the Newcomers when you have been here five years (that is now "optional"), but the concept is so good that we now have a "Graduate" group. Additionally, there are Bridge groups, Men’s and Women’s Golf groups, travel groups and many other activities.
In Hidden Meadows you can be as active, or as private, as you wish to be. And you can change, dropping into or out of activity, when you wish. There are no "in" or "out" people in this community. Everyone in the community is more than just a little smug about having found this place, and the community has more than its share of eccentrics, but they are benign eccentrics.
The Meadows is undergoing a massive demographic change. Populated for the past forty years primarily by retired people who loved the golf game, we have, for the past ten years been the community of choice for successful business families from the San Marcos, Rancho Bernardo, Vista, and Escondido communities. Consequently, our average age is dropping.
The Covenant area occupies the center of the community. Primarily, these homes are on ¼ to 1/3 of an acre, are on sewer, and subject to the CC&Rs held by the Meadows Homes Association. Because many of these homes are built in the least hilly part of the community, the majority of single level homes are found in this section of the community. The size of the homes in this section range from 1,500 square feet to over 4,000 square feet, and prices from the low $400,000s to the upper $800,000s. (Several are over a Million Dollars.) Streets in this area are off the Meadow Glen Way East main road and include Sage Hill, Grassy Way, Moonview, Par View, Treeside and Rim.
The North Section features views. Generally built on two or more acres, many of these homes are multi-level because of the topography. It is that topography that permits some never-to-be-forgotten views. Some of these homes are valued at more than $1 million, but most are in the $800,000 to $1,250,000 range. Streets in this section include Cerveza Baja, Meadow Mesa Lane, and North View Court.
Privacy is the hallmark of this area. Many avocado groves, larger parcels, and private living are part of the Eastern Section. If you are looking for a slightly more remote area, without isolation, perhaps the Alps Way road area is one you should explore. Homes in this area are usually in the $800,000 to $1,250,000 range. Some homes easily exceed the two million dollar mark. Streets in this area include Alps Way and Turner Heights Road. Turner Heights is approaching "isolated" – but that is what some Buyers seek.
Like all the areas of the community, it is not easy to categorize this section, but I can generalize. The major portion of this section is part of the Covenant, and on smaller parcels of land, but some of this area features large homes on private estates. Homes in this section can vary from $450,000 to $800,000. Streets in this are include Sage Hill Way, Glenmeade, Indian Creek, Kettering, and Sandhurst. The far reaches of Sandhurst are out of the Covenant and feature very large estate homes easily exceeding the million dollar price range.
Sometimes called the Legend Rock or High Vista area, because of the famous rock formation that dominates the area, this is a beautiful section of the community. This section is the nearest to the I-15 corridor, and has many of the newest and most expensive homes, some on very large parcels and with major Western and ocean views. Homes in this area can easily reach or exceed the $1 million mark, but few of them ever come on the market. Streets in this area include Legend Rock, High Mountain Road, and High Vista.
The Holiday House Condos are at the entrance to the community. There are 60 one-bedroom condos of 560 square feet each. These are ideal for couples who work long hours, or who travel often. Many of these are rental units, either on a long-term basis or to "snowbirds" who are escaping the bad weather of North Dakota. These units have a $150 monthly condo fee. Renters pay more than $950 a month for long-term leases, and "snowbirds" pay more than $1,200 a month during the winter, so they make good rentals These condos are so popular that they seldom come on the market, but are sold privately for about $125,000.
The Oak Meadows Town Homes occupy a little-known area just behind the Meadow’s Deli and Grocery, or "Alex’s Deli" as it is commonly known in the Meadows. The town homes community consists of twenty-four, primarily two-story, homes on six acres of common ground with a shared pool and spa area. The homes are ideal for people who do not like yard work because all the watering and cutting are part of the association fee of approximately $160 a month. The homes range in size from 2,200 square feet to more than 2,400 square feet, and the prices range from $400,000 to $600,000. The gated entrance and exit, and one single street, are excellent for security.
It may seem a bit gratuitous to go through the steps of selecting a home, particularly since most Buyers in Hidden Meadows have bought several, or even many, homes, but when emotion takes over we tend to forget the basics.
Therefore it is smart, before you get too emotionally involved with a home, to just remind Buyers that they should concentrate on buying their requirements that can’t be changed. The community, the street, and a view come immediately to mind. You will not find a better community than Hidden Meadows. Stop any resident in Alex’s Deli, or ask any resident who drops in, about Hidden Meadows, but prepare for a long visit.
If you want a view, and the property you are looking at does not have a view, spending a million dollars on the property will not make it have a view. On the other hand, buying a home you do not particularly like with a great view might make sense because you can change the house. In the extreme, you can bulldoze the house and start again – but you can’t change the view.
Most Buyers want "this home on that lot" – but the lot is one of the things that cannot be changed. It is not just commercial real estate that is all "location, location, location." It is true with homes as well, so buy those things that cannot be changed, the community, the street, the lot, and don’t worry about the yellow bathroom. Your agent will be glad to repaint the bathroom for you, but can’t do a thing to fix the view if a view is a high priority
Many homes in the Meadows are dated, but popcorn ceilings are easily removed, and carpets are quickly changed. Kitchen appliances are not difficult to replace. If you want to live in Hidden Meadows, you might have to do some cosmetic changes to some of the older homes. If you are not willing to go through the bother of remodeling an older home, look for one that has already been remodeled – many have.. The price of the home should reflect its current condition.
Almost 8% of the homes in the Meadows still have shake roofs. Roofs are expensive to replace, so make certain that the price reflects the condition of the home. My rule of thumb is that if kitchen appliances or carpets are more than 8 years old, they are outdated even if they work.
In the home itself, look for "good bones." If the structural integrity of the home, its positioning on the lot, and its basic layout are satisfactory, the rest can be easily changed. Obviously, you don’t want to change any more than absolutely necessary, but if changes must be made you want them made to the least expensive parts of the property. I know how easy it is to fall in love with, or take an instant dislike for, furnishings – and those can influence decisions, but the furnishings leave with the Seller and need to be discounted.
Today, (May, 2009), we have a Buyers market. Two years ago we had 50 or so homes on the market, last year 80 a this time, and today we have about 45 -- but we were down to 9 during July of 2004, and on June 1 we had 11. The last 145 days has been very slow...but this month has been a strong sales market. 10 sales in three weeks!
In Hidden Meadows, the market is never as hot as it is in Rancho Bernardo, for example. Our market is cold, and not semi-warm as in Rancho Bernardo.
In this volatile market, the final arbiter of the price is not even the Buyer or the Seller – it is the Bank Appraiser. The Buyer can agree to pay the most outlandish price for a property but the Bank will only lend so much on any given property, and that really sets the upper limit of the price.
The more money the Buyer puts into the property, the less risk the Bank has, and the more lenient the Bank will be on appraising the property.
Predicting the market is chancy at best, but we have historical precedent both for sales frequency and price rises. It is not a straight-line function. The market follows more closely the model called "Punctuated Equilibrium" wherein there are HUGE jumps followed by modest gains. Hidden Meadows had one of those cataclysmic jumps in April and May of 1998, again in early 2002, 2003, and it looks like it will not happen again this year. From December 2002 to December 2003 the average price of homes sold in Zip Code 92026 rose 24%! May 2003 to May 2004, this zip code average price rose 46%! May 2004 to May 2005, 20%. (The market has now cooled...because we could not sustain those rates.) Generally, all homes in North County appreciated $100,000 each year for several years. Until this past two years...
Even though I was designated an Expert Witness on Real Estate before the Superior Court of the State of California as long ago as 1978, I cannot predict the future. I can observe that, generally, the market in Hidden Meadows cools from November through March. My guess, for what it is worth, is that prices will STABILIZE for the remainder of 2009.
If you have any questions, please call me at my office, 749-2654. That number should chase me down and get me 24/7. That number follows me everywhere, but the Meadows is notorious for cell phone reception so I may be in a dead cell when you call.
Demographic and Crime Statistics forHidden Meadows
While the community ofHidden Meadows neither collects nor publishes statistical information, there are public and private sources that maintain such collections. The following statistical reviews are the latest available. Obviously, toward the end of a 10 year National Census, the information is not as good as it is right after the census is taken, but we must wait a few years for the latest and best information.
The area called "Hidden Meadows" comprises the census tract numbered 060730191052, and that demographic data has been updated as of 2000.
This booklet was written by Allen Polk Hemphill. Other available booklets on this site include:
Copyrighted, 1998. 1999, 2000,2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2010 by Allen Hemphill, Broker-Associate, Dolphin Realty. Allen Hemphill is a Real Estate Broker at the offices of Dolphin Realty
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