May 23, 2006

Crime Rate Comparison: San Francisco Vs. New York

I saw this the other day and found it pretty surprising:

Crime Rate Comparison: San Francisco Vs. New York


It really does clash with the stereotypes of New York.

On the other hand, I never realized how dangerous Houston was:



Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 22, 2006

Brainstorming ideas for Boycott Housing

I was thinking about BoycottHousing this weekend. Personally, I’m not sure that this will be effective – after all, when you boycott buying a house, it just means someone else will. Unless everyone participates in the boycott it won’t succeed. Just look at the success (or lack thereof) of the AFA boycotts against Disney, P&G, Wells Fargo, American Airlines, Ford, Target, and others.

If folks really want to drive down housing prices, they’ll have to be proactive and inventive. Here are some ideas that I had in a quick fun brainstorming about the situation – note that most of these ideas should not be pursued:

  1. Create a panic by posting lots of new ads on various sites offering homes and gradually decreasing prices every day. Obviously if you go and post 20 ads about 3br/2ba’s at $100,000 in Cupertino, that won’t be believable. Instead post one house at a “market price”, then every few days update it with a lower price and add phrases like “motivated seller” and “all offers considered”.
  2. Remember Flashmobs? Why not organize a few flashmobs at some open houses. You all show up, compliment the wonderful blah blah blah, chit chat, and then start a reverse auction where everyone clamors to pay a lower price. $800,000! $760,000! $600,000! Then move on to the next house.
  3. Add more For Sale signs to your neighborhood. Imagine if every house on a street had a For Sale sign. “Motivated Seller”. That probably wouldn’t help property prices. (Please don’t do this. You’re probably going to be trespassing or littering.)
  4. Hire a spinner – you know, the guys holding those giant signs at the corner? Perhaps the sign would say “Distressed Properties ->”.
  5. Write your congressman/senator and ask them to tighten lending standards so that not everyone and their dog can get a mortgage.

Yeah, a lot of these really do require work – expensive, risky, and/or illegal. So you shouldn’t do any of these. Perhaps just waiting might work!

Do you have any ideas for lowering real estate prices?

Edit: Changed one idea

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 21, 2006

‘Own A California Home With 600 Easy Payments!’

The Housing Bubble Blog » ‘Own A California Home With 600 Easy Payments!’
“You, too, can own a home in California, with 600 easy monthly payments! Just get a 50-year mortgage! With any luck, you’ll have paid it off before you die!”

“The 50-year mortgage won’t keep monthly payments very low because it’s not really a 50-year mortgage at all. It’s an adjustable-rate mortgage with a 50-year amortization (meaning it’s paid off after 50 years). The interest rate is fixed for the first five years, then moves up or down thereafter, meaning the monthly payment fluctuates as well.”

“‘The monthly payment on the 50-year mortgage would actually be higher than it would be on the 40-year, because the (higher) interest rate overwhelms the (longer) term,’ Kieth Gumbinger explains. Someone who takes out a 50-year, $300,000 mortgage will repay $300,000 in principal and $714,000 in interest over the life of the loan. That compares to $382,000 in interest for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, and $543,000 in interest for a 40-year fixed-rate.”

Wow… that’s a lot of interest payment! But you have to do what you can to buy a place in the Best Place On Earth(TM).

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 1:47 pm

What is a Median Home Price ?

Well here’s something to stew over during your Sunday morning coffee…

What is a Median Home Price ? information at the Largest Online Home Improvement and Repair Center.

Changes in median price measure changes in market activity. When there are more buyers buying less expensive homes than there are buyers buying more expensive homes, the median price falls. Conversely, when there are more buyers buying more expensive homes than there are buyers buying less expensive homes, the median price rises.

The median price indicates which price range is most active. Not all price ranges experience the same market activity at any given time.

So, when you read that the median home price increased 6 percent in the last year, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your home increased 6 percent in value. It could have increased more or less in value. Likewise, if the median price were to drop 5 percent, this wouldn’t necessarily mean that home values dropped by 5 percent. In fact, they might have dropped more.

For example, in California, the median sale price of existing single family homes dropped from approximately $202,000 in May of 1989 to about $185,000 in April of 1994. But during that time, the actual market value of homes in some areas of Southern California dropped a whopping 40 percent.

So does that mean prices are falling really rapidly here?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 19, 2006

What does $425,000 buy you in Durham, NC?

It’s Friday! Time for a break from the Bay Area.

Now, I don’t know much about the Raleigh, NC area – except that I’ve heard that there are lots of professionals. Heck, GlaxoSmithKline is there. So, let’s take a look at what you can buy in that area for the price of a condo in Santa Clara!

North Carolina Real Estate Listing
4308 Pine Bark Trail
Durham, NC 27705

Essential Information
MLS Num: 856826 Bedrooms: 5
List Price: $425,000 Full Baths: 4
Heated SqFt: 3,100 Half Baths: 0

Hm… all that for just $425,00 – 65k less than the median condo in Santa Clara.

The downside is that you might have too much money left over. What would you do with it? And… more importantly, you’re not in California anymore.

Yeah, this is definitely a rotten deal. Don’t leave the bubble!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:01 am

May 18, 2006

$1,150,000 for a gigantic garage in Sunnyvale

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 618893
Sunnyvale, CA 94087


This Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 618893 Approx Age: 51 Years Approx Sq Ft: 2875
Detached Single Family 2 Stories 5 Bedrooms
2 or More Master Suites 3 Bathrooms 2 or More Stall Showers

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that it looks like the garage was the focus of this house? I mean look at it!

And what’s going on with that lawn?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 17, 2006

$789,000 for a piece of grass

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 625427
Mountain View, CA 94040


This Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 625427 Approx Age: 55 Years Approx Sq Ft: 974
Detached Single Family 1 Story Ranch
3 Bedrooms Ground Floor Bedroom 1 Bathroom

There’s actually nothing terribly wrong with this house (other than the fact that it is $789k for 974 square feet) – but you’d think with this much money on the line, the realtor would put the right picture as the default on MLS.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 16, 2006

Bonus studio in this East Palo Alto house! $589,950

I saw this picture, and I thought there was something strange… but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it hte staircase that looks like it is held together with Elmer’s glue? Is it the retro gas stove?


Fortunately the description helps reveal what’s going on:

EBRD (East Bay Regional Data)

Listed By:


2 Bedrooms
1 Full Bath(s)
860 Estimated Sq. Ft.

Listing #: 40158911

Ah yes. There’s nothing more beautiful than a studio with a garage door as the door.

Isn’t this kind of stuff… illegal?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 15, 2006

Hockey sticks everywhere!

Alright boys and girls. Time for a pop quiz!

What do you call this kind of graph?


Not sure? That’s ok. let’s look at this one:


Still not sure? Well, the answer is: hockey stick.

See, graphs like this usually represent situations like a company going public, or an amazing introduction of an amazing product/service. 

So… what do you think these graphs were from? My portfolio, perhaps? My stock options, perhaps? Nasdaq? S&P 500?

Nope. The answer is: Real estate!

Here’s the first graph again…  


Ah yes… the county of Santa Clara – the heart of Silicon Valley. I thought that was pretty impressive until I saw Sacramento:



It’s amazing to me how people’s incomes have almost quadrupled since 1997 in Sacramento – after all, house price increases usually reflect job growth right? Oh wait…

Well it must have been because they stopped building homes in Sacramento in 2004, hence the spike! Oh wait…

Maybe it was because Sacramento suddenly shrunk so there was less land… because they started making more farms so we wouldn’t have to import our food from South America and Asia! Oh wait…

I’m stumped. What do you think?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

May 14, 2006

Housing Boycott

Housing Boycott
Housing Boycott
San Francisco Bay Area

send suggestion | mailing list

What is this?
My wife and I are tired of the insanity of Bay Area housing prices, and want to fight back. Most of our friends — and we suspect, you — do too. So we created this website to start a grass roots movement to stop the insanity, through a synchronized boycott, and through education. We CAN make a difference. Read more here.

This reminds me of those “If we all stop buying gas, they’ll have to lower the prices!” campaigns.

I’d rather just make fun of the bubble.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:03 am