Architecture Design Real Estate


Architect Anders Lasater and real estate agent Mike Johnson collaborate for their clients

Real estate professional Mike Johnson’s clients were considering buying a house in Monarch Beach. They loved the location and the view, but were unsure if the existing house could be remodeled into the home they needed it to be, or if they’d be better of building a new one.

So, Johnson called in a trusted colleague—Laguna Beach architect Anders Lasater. 

“Getting an experienced architect like Anders involved with clients early on, even before the decision to purchase has been made, is a huge benefit,” Johnson says. “Anders often finds unique aspects to a property that are really special and would have been overlooked without his trained eye. This helps our clients to have a clear understanding of what the real possibilities can be.”

To help Johnson’s potential Monarch Beach buyer, Lasater visited with the client at the house and discussed their future, their goals for retirement, and their lifestyle preferences and values. “It was clear that there were many things about the existing house that worked in their favor,” he says. “But there were an equal number of things that did not work. A remodel could certainly solve some of them, but a new house solution might do a better job and get them closer to their ideal lifestyle.”

From that meeting, it was clear to the homebuyers that they had options—either to remodel the existing house or build a new one. Either way, they felt confident enough to make the purchase. They closed escrow on the house, and Lasater and his design team at Anders Lasater Architects began working on a preliminary remodel solution. They consulted builders and solicited preliminary construction prices. That exercise revealed that, for the money it would take to remodel the house, the homeowners would do better to simply start over with a new home that truly meets their needs.  

The new homeowners loved the dramatic views of Dana Point from their site, but didn’t love the limited indoor/outdoor living spaces of the exisitng home. Anders Lasater and his team created a dynamitic living room and kitchen solution that opens to the outdoors for seamless indoor/outdoor living.

“We started a new house design for them and are moving through the HOA approval process now,” Lasater says. “The homeowners are pleased because they know confidently this solution will give them the kind of home and lifestyle they want.”

Johnson often calls Lasater in to help clients understand the constraints and the opportunities of a property they are considering buying. “You really need to know that you’re getting into when you move into some properties,” Johnson says. “The lifestyle in a coastal community, if it’s not what your used to, can be very different than expected. Not understanding that can lead a buyer to purchase the wrong property and find themselves in a bad place,” says Johnson. 

Collaborating with design professionals can help clients understand the unique, idiosyncratic nature of development in coastal Orange County. “Setbacks, height limits, neighborhood compatibility and patterns of development—these are the things that we as architects manage on a day-to-day basis,” Lasater says.

Having an architect as a trusted team member gives real estate agents the ability to answer their clients’ questions confidently and effectively, which gives them the ability to act quickly on purchasing a home. And Lasater appreciates the opportunity to collaborate.

A welcoming entry that invites visitors, while also offering privacy from the street, was key to the homeowner’s lifestyle.

“We love working with serious and sophisticated real estate professionals like Mike who have the client’s best interest in mind and who know they can trust in our expertise to bring added value and confidence to the homebuying experience,” the architect says. “He knows that we can help them find the answers to his client’s questions about what they can do to their home, what it will cost, and how long it will take.”

Well-balanced, and abundant natural light was high on the homeowner’s must-have list. Lasater embraced the idea and incorporated a series of thoughtfully placed skylights into the new house design, such as this long and narrow opening leading from the entry through to the living spaces.

Johnson says he relies on the talent and expertise of architects like Lasater, “but just as importantly, I need someone who listens to my client and understands their needs. Too much is riding on a transaction to let my client down, so honesty and reliability are key. At times the client is not really ‘heard’ by some design professionals, and the results are never good. That’s never the case with Anders.” 

“Sometimes the results of a design consultation with Anders are surprising,” he says. “I’ve had clients who thought they had their design all figured out before engaging with him. He’s a great listener, but also not afraid to present alternate plans. The final result is often much more than my client could have imagined going in.”

Anders Lasater Architects | 384 Forest Avenue, Suite 12, Laguna Beach | 949.497.1827 |

Mike Johnson Group | Compass | 540 South Coast Highway, Suite 202, Laguna Beach | 949.207.3735 |


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