Live/work and loft homes are one of the newest housing trends in Orange County, California. These units may consist of a residence with concrete floors and exposed piping, a home combined with office space, a work room, or main floor retail space, or a mix-used (commercial/residential) building in an older area of OC. With the rise in telecommuting and small business entrepreneurship, many people are choosing to live where they work or reside right above their businesses. Reminiscent of many small, mom-and-pop business residences on the east coast, this a new and growing housing concept in Orange County to help satisfy the growing number of stay-at-home professionals, technicians, artists, designers, and small business people living in the county. Whether it is a loft condo with additional office space or a mixed structure with a residence above and retail space below, live/work homes are the choice for many stay-at-home workers or small retailers. These homes may also have the added benefit of providing additional tax write-offs, as they do provide a home-office or employment space (check with your CPA).
|Aliso Viejo||Anaheim||Brea||Costa Mesa||Ladera Ranch||Santa Ana||Tustin||Misc|
|Vantis-City Walk||Harbor loft condos||Brea Lofts||All live/work||Ladera Ranch||Santiago Street lofts||Prospect Village||Custom / one-off units|
|Stadium loft condos||Brickyard||Front Street||City Place||Mixed use|
|Fullerton||Orange||Long Beach||Corona||* Other Counties|
|Soco Walk||Depot Walk||Long Beach Lofts||Dos Lagos||Live/work homes|
Please note: If any of the above links display zero homes, it means there are none currently for sale in that area. There are only a small number of live/work complexes, so if you would like to be kept informed, please contact me. I'll set up an automated e-mail for you that will notify you by e-mail, whenever a new listing comes to the market!
* Live/work homes in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.
There are a limited number of live/work units that are available for lease. Use the link below to view some of the current residential/commercial or loft units for lease. If you are interested in leasing in a specific area or housing tract, please contact me. Note: I have been receiving a lot of calls from people inquiring on large work spaces, like 1,000 sq ft or larger. Most live/work homes have modest work areas on the ground level. Many are the size of a 2 car garage, i.e. 200 to 400 sq ft. If you are looking for larger, you may want to look into a commercial space, which I can also help you with .Most cities have commercial business park properties available for lease that include a front office and warehouse with 1,000 sq ft or larger.
High-rise loft homes are modeled after the re-purposed industrial lofts that are popular in cities like Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The Orange County version of the loft home can be found in chic, high-rise complexes like Harbor loft condos located in downtown Anaheim. These upper floor units consist of a fully adaptable space with bare, concrete floors and an abundance of windows. Aside from the builder-installed kitchen and bathrooms, each home owner is left to define and configure the remaining space, including the floors, walls, doorways, etc. The "pure" loft home does not include a work or retail space on the ground level.*
Live/work lofts are the same as above, combined with a ground level retail or work space. The lower "work" section mirrors the loft's industrial feel, with exposed pipes, concrete floors, and a metal staircase separating the units. The whole package is contained in a hip, urban style, high-rise building that may also include amenities like a pool, gym, restaurants, and shopping. Examples of live/work loft homes include Vantis Latitude North and Vantis City Walk in Aliso Viejo, and Prospect Village in Tustin.
Live/work condos in master planned communities are a type of home designed to blend unobtrusively into some of Orange County's planned residential neighborhoods. The structure looks for all appearances like typical town home. The only difference is a street level business space, which can be used for a service or light retail business. An example would be the Bannister Street and Front Street condos in Ladera Ranch.
Mixed use, residential/commercial properties are found in older, non-master planned areas of north and coastal Orange County. These properties consist of a commercial section at street level, combined with a residential section, which may be contained in the same building or in separate structures. Many of the commercial sections are used as retail store fronts or office space, while larger properties may be zoned for light industrial or a service-type businesses (e.g., an auto repair facility).
* Also see Irvine high-rise luxury lofts and condominiums in the airport area here :
Note: These types of homes are difficult to search for, as there is currently no field for "live/work" in the multiple listing service. Most agents list these as "condos" and may add "live/work" or "loft" to the description, I have done my best to pluck out these types of homes form the MLS for the links above, but I cannot guarantee that they are 100% accurate. Keep in mind also, that there are very few live/work complexes, The homes do sell quickly and homes only come on the market occasionally.
I put this FAQ together to help address many of the questions we get on these homes. I will add to this section as new questions come up
What type of business may I run in one of these units? Is my business OK?
I answered this question to some degree previously in this FAQ, but since then I have received much more information from several of the complexes, so I thought I would address it again here. I have had this question asked probably more than any other and I have also received HOA docs with specific guidelines from several complexes, so that has made it easier to address this. Generally, what is NOT allowed by most complexes are: A church or school, a tattoo parlor, hotel or motel (or any kind of lodging), medical, dental, or veterinary services, massage parlor, nail and hair salon, a gym or personal training, plant nurseries, fortune tellers, bars or night clubs, liquor or drug sales, any kind of adult entertainment (pornography, books, videos, you get the picture), a pet shop or kennel, or any business that uses caustic chemicals, There may be some exceptions to a few of these in certain areas, but please just call or write me and I can help you find the answers before you buy or rent.
Are there restrictions as to what type of business I may operate?
See update above - Yes, and this varies a bit by the complex. Generally speaking, they are designed for office and light retail . If you are running a tax accounting business, travel agency, music lessons, a show room, or a hair and nails facility, it may be suitable. If your business involves hazardous chemicals, manufacturing, excessive noise, lots of deliveries, or a business with many employees, it will not be allowed. In most cases also, it is best suited for customers or clients who come by appointment rather than walk-in. This is because parking is usually very limited. I can help you determine if your business would work.
I am a personal trainer. Can I operate this business in one of these homes?
Maybe. The issue is that you cannot make excessive noise or disturb the adjacent units. If you will be working with weights or aerobic training that will involve lots of noise, it will not be allowed. Update Nov 2018 - The answer is no. Most complexes do not allow a gym, health club, martial arts studio, or similar businesses.
I would like a live/work home along the coast or in a city like Irvine or Mission Viejo
Unfortunately, live/work homes have only been constructed in certain cities. They are only in the areas where I have links above. They are primarily in Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Costa Mesa, with smaller numbers coming up for sale in Brea and Ladera Ranch, There are also units in Aliso Viejo, Tustin, Fullerton, and Orange, although these are rare on the market. There are a few mixed use (commercial/residential) units that come up on the market in other areas, but these are one-off buildings and their availability is very random and unpredictable.
I will need a large work space, like at least 1,000 square feet
Sorry, the work spaces for these types of homes are much more moderate, ranging between 200 and 400 square feet . If need larger space, you really need to rent a commercial office space or a warehouse. There are plenty of commercial offices and industrial parks that you can rent for your business. There are also "nixed use" properties that come up for sale in areas like Santa Ana or Laguna Canyon, where you can buy a home combined with a commercial building.
I really want a unit in a particular complex, Can you put me on a mailing list?
Sure, no problem, There are only a small number of live/work homes that come up for sale. If you are set on a city or complex, I can set up a search that will alert you when one of these units comes on the market.
I want a live/work unit that has several bedrooms and a back yard for the family
Most of these homes will not have a back yard. They are mostly multi-story condominiums. There is a work space and a garage or car port on the first level, with living quarters in the upper stores (or in a separate unit, like some of the facilities in Brea). They all have HOA dues to cover the common areas, Fire insurance,and maintenance. Some of the units are more industrial, with exposed pipes and steel stairways, while others are more like a traditional townhouse with carpeted stairs, etc. Keep in mind that classic Live/work units are in a condominium complex, not a complex of single family homes with yards. If you do wish to have a residence with a work space and yard, you will need to look at "mixed use", or commercial/residential units. These are all one-off custom homes, with many found in locations like Santa Ana or along Laguna Canyon Road, in Laguna Beach. Also, the other exception are some of the units on Front Street, in Ladera Ranch. These units are classified as single family homes and they do have a front office plus a back yard or patio.
Can I also utilize the garage for my business?
Not really allowed by the HOAs. I suppose you could use part of the garage (discreetly) for storage or other business, but generally the rules state that the garage is for parking your cars (guest parking is very limited). I have seen complexes that have garage space for two or more cars (ie, lots of space) but if you use part of it for business, do so at your own risk.
Can I live in the upper unit and rent out the work space?
In some cases, yes. A lot will depend on the individual unit and if it has adequate separation between the work and living space. Many of the units in Santa Ana have a lower work space with a bathroom and a lockable door for the upper living space. One of the complexes in Brea has the work space in a separate building, so these would be ideal for renting out while you live in the other space. In other complexes like those in Ladera Ranch, there is direct access to the living space from the work space, so renting out part of the space would be difficult.
Am I allowed to have signage for my business?
Yes, you are allowed to have an outside sign to advertise your business. The ground floor work space is used by many people as a store front, so you are allowed to have signage and even some level of displays in the windows.
Are pets allowed?
Yes, you are allowed to have a pet, just like in any other condo.
Do these homes have different models with 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms and different square footage?
Most complexes have several models with varying square footage in the home and work space, plus the number of bedrooms. Call me to discuss your needs.
Can I get a floor plan for a particular home?
Yes, see below. I have access to floor plans for many of the units, which I can send to you by e-mail.
I prefer to lease a live/work home
I do work with leases, but, 1) in most cases there are very few homes that come up for lease and 2) many people look, but do not wind up completing a lease. Because of this, my team will now be very restrictive in showing any units for lease . If you do wish to lease, please be sure that you fully understand these types of homes and are 100% committed to following through on the lease.
Do any of the units have an elevator?
Yes. Many of the live/work units at Artist Village in Santa Ana have a built-in elevator. Call me to discuss!
Please DO NOT request a floor plan if you are an appraiser, if you are not serious about buying or leasing a home, or if you are working with another real estate broker -- Thank you for your understanding!
What is old, is new again! Historically, the concept of living above your store or business was quite common. This type of dwelling is in fact still the norm in many parts of the world. The changing economy and entrepreneurial spirit of Orange County, CA have revived this concept. Now there are many cities in OC where you can live above your business. I'm happy to help you find your prefect live-work or loft home. Call me to schedule a viewing!