Am I getting old, or does it seem like 2006 was not seven years ago, but more like seven months ago? It seems like just yesterday that all eyes were glued on our TVs watching the rapid spread of bird flu from Asia to Europe; the announcement that North Korea had tested its first nuclear weapon; the breaking news that Saddam Hussein had be sentenced to death; and most importantly, the last episode of “Arrested Development.”
To me, at least, this real tragedy of tragedies seems like it was mere moments ago, but alas it has actually been seven long years since a new episode has aired.
But that’s all about to change.
On May 26, not just one new episode, but an entire new season of “Arrested Development” will be released on Netflix. Commence Celebratory Chicken Dance… now.
In the spirit of this momentous occasion, I decided to do a little investigating to find out just how much the Bluth family home would be worth—you know, in case Michael ever decides to boot the Funkes and sell. In crunching the numbers, my best guess is that the Bluth home, a.k.a. the “Seawind Unit,” would cost about $882,000. Clearly this is no Iron Man’s home in Malibu, which is about 140 times as expensive. But hey, this is just your average house in the suburbs (minus the suburb), for your average American family (subject to debate.)
How I Did It
Like any good fantasy real estate listing, in order to find the price for the Bluth home, I needed three things: location, size, and comparable properties. Luckily, exploring the Bluth home was much easier for me than coming up with the numbers for Hyrule Castle. For the Bluths, I relied mostly on the oh-so-extensive Arrested Development Wiki, photos and video clips of the house, and actual real estate listings for the area.
So, let’s start with the area.
Sudden Valley: A Salad Dressing or Suburb in Newport Beach?
Michael: What do you think of when you hear the word, “Sudden Valley?”
George Michael: Salad dressing, I think. But for some reason I don’t want to eat it.
As George Michael says in the quote above, Sudden Valley, the name of the fictional subdivision where the Bluths live in Newport Beach, California, sounds more like an unappetizing salad dressing than a neighborhood. And investors seem to agree, which is probably why the Bluth’s model home remains the only unit ever built throughout the show (well, except for this catastrophe).
So: a model home, in your typical Newport Beach subdivision—minus the subdivision. This made finding comparable properties a little bit tricky, but I think I came pretty close.
As Tobias Knows, Size Matters
While Google wasn’t much help in finding any “Newport Beach model homes in unfinished neighborhoods” for sale, I was able to find several comparable properties, which gave me a good estimate of the Bluth home’s size.
According to both the Arrested Development Wiki (and my obsessive watching of the show), the Bluth home has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, one “secret room,” a living room, dining room, attic, and a kitchen with appliances circa 2003. It is two stories, has a landing upstairs to overlook the living room, in which there is a fully stocked bar—until Lucille gets there anyway.
So to find the rough size of the Bluth home, I perused several listings of homes with these specifications until I came across one that seemed to fit the bill. This real life home has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, an office (the equivalent of the secret room), kitchen, upstairs landing, dining room, and even looks to be of a similar size and layout when eyeballing the pictures (a very scientific method.) This house is 3,000 square feet, so with science and “eyeballing it” behind me, I guessed that the Bluth home is roughly 3,000 square feet as well.
So how much is their 3,000 square foot home worth?
More Money than in the Banana Stand
Gob: What you need to know… Is that it’s magic.
George Michael: Wow. It’s so much like stealing.
Okay, so maybe it is a little like stealing, but I like to think of it as more of a magical coincidence that the real world listing I used above to find the Bluth’s home size also happened to have several other commonalities with the fictional family’s home. So, finding the price was pretty simple.
This real world comparable home is not only the same size, with similar amenities and layout, but it is also located in Newport Beach and was built around the same time as the faux home on the show—2003/2004.
So how much would the 3,000 square foot 10-year-old Model Home cost? Roughly $299 per square foot, or $898,000.
But that was too easy. Take into consideration that our comparable real world house priced at $898,000 comes with a front and back yard of just 6,140 square feet, or .1 acres. In Newport Beach you gotta pay for your privacy, and it’s not exactly cheap. Property here goes at about $7,000 per acre, and if you’ve seen the show, you know that the Model Home is surrounded by nothing but land. I’d assume that in buying this property, you’d get at least two acres of land. So we’ll tack on about $14,000.
That’s $912,000—for any normal, 3,000 square foot home on two acres in the area. But the Sudden Valley model home is no ordinary home: it’s poorly built and after just three seasons, the refrigerator falls into the garage, frames, windows, and molding drop from the walls, and the living room collapses into the ground.
Gob: Nothing works in this house.
Michael: Tell me about it.
Lindsay Funke: Is that a shot at me?
So if we’re selling as-is, let’s knock off a good $30,000 for the beyond abysmal craftsmanship—a complicated foundation fix can cost as much as $20,000, plus about $10,000 just to fix all of the other little snafus.
Putting it All Together
To get the final price of the Bluth’s model home, I took the location, the price per square foot, the bonus acres of land, and threw in a “crappy home” discount of $30,000, bringing the grand total in at $882,000. Of course, you could always save yourself nearly a million dollars and go for a Lego version of the home like this guy did—it’s portable, it’s more economical, and it’s probably better made.