March 31, 2009

$1.25 million 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhouse

1 POPPY Ln, San Carlos, CA 94070 | MLS# 80911914
1 POPPY Ln San Carlos, CA 94070
Price: $1,250,000

Beds: 2
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,800
$/Sq. Ft.: $694
Lot Size: 2,100 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Townhouse
Style: Mediterranean
Year Built: 1986
Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
View: Bay, Green Belt, Canyon, Neighborhood
Neighborhood: Beverly Terrace
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 80911914
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 7 days

Wowsers! Thanks to Burbed reader Bill for this find! However, when Bill sent this to me, he felt it was overpriced by $300k-$400k.

Frankly, I’ll have to disagree. First, this house has more bathroom than bedroom. That’s +$50k right there. Then it has a free flat screen TV – that’s another +$50k right there. Remote Control for lights and temperature? Another +$50k. This goes on and on and on… and then BOOM – $1.25 baby!

Come on… this isn’t just a townhouse! It’s a corner unit townhouse!

Congratulations San Carlos – at $694 per square foot, you truly are the city of good living.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:23 am

March 30, 2009


5674 San Felipe Rd, San Jose, CA 95135 Evergreen MLS# 80785209 – Property Details



* Status: Active
* Bedroom: 4
* Bathroom: 3
* Year Built: 1975
* Lot Size: 74923
* Square Footage: 3200
* List Date: 3/17/2008
* Garage Spaces: 3
* MLS#: 80785209


Burbed reader Sonarrat had this to say:

It’s the most expensive house in the whole ZIP code, the fireplace has a horrible case of backne, and they’re using one of those OMG MOTIVATED SELLRS realtors. Not sure how this could be considered a good deal, even with two acres. There’s a plot of 18 acres available on San Felipe for $1.95M.

Uh… but sonarrat you missed something:


This house comes with a tree house. Just look at picture #5! Hello, just think of the revenue opportunities of that tree house! You could totally rent it out and help pay down some of your mortgage!

See sonarrat, you’re simply not groking the entreprenurial spirit that Silicon Valley is so famous for. I think it may even have its own address! Cha-ching!

Personally, I would buy this house, then try to flip the treehouse separately. I wonder how much that would go for. Here! I’ll even write the copy for you: “cozy cottage w/ez access to fresh air, great views good schools”. Sweet!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:16 am

FAIL! “Bay Area housing is now affordable”

Bargain home prices attract investors, novices

Many homes here have returned to the realm of reasonable prices, with the median sale price hovering below $300,000. That means that even people with incomes around the Bay Area’s median of $80,000 or so can find properties within their price range.

— Pricing. The Bay Area reached a peak median sales price of $720,000 in spring 2007. In February, the median was $295,000. That doesn’t mean that all homes lost half their value – although many did see appreciation erode significantly – but it does show a major shift in the composition of homes being sold.

The first-time buyers

Cori Belew, 27, teacher; Dillon Westbrook, 27, masonry contractor

House: 3 bedrooms and bonus room, 1,228 square feet, Oakland

Price: $279,000

Previous price: $514,909 in November 2006

Mortgage: FHA loan at 5%; Monthly payments, about $1,900

Is it any wonder why newspapers are going out of business? Those are not in the Real Bay Area.

What we need is a focus on the Real Bay Area.

Luckily, sites like Movoto have the real scoop:

Mountain View City Description

The median house price in Mountain View is $800,000, with an average of 490 properties sold a year. Mountain View has a population of 70,000 residents, with a mean household income is $69,000. The headquarters of Google, MSN/XBOX, and the NASA Ames Research Center are just a few of the companies that fuel the technological production of Mountain View, working side by side with major telecommunications offices such as Nokia and WebTV. A benefit of being located so centrally within Silicon Valley, Mountain View will be the first city in the country to be provided with complete wireless internet access, creating a gateway between this progressive town and the online world. Keeping up with technological advancement is Mountain View’s impressive educational record: Mountain View High School scored the highest possible Academic Performance Index.

Phew. I feel better already.

Let’s get some real journalism out there!

Comments (60) -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:28 am

March 29, 2009

A real solution to the housing crisis – green cards!

Solving the Housing Crisis
by John Mauldin
March 21, 2009

This last Tuesday the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by my friend Gary Shilling and Richard LeFrak. They offer a simple solution for the housing crisis: give foreigners who will come to the US and buy a home resident status (green cards). This is a very important proposal and one that deserves national attention and action. Gary was kind enough to send me two lengthier white papers offering more facts. In this week’s letter we are going to look at this proposal in more detail than the small space that an op-ed can offer. And while this letter will be somewhat controversial in some circles, I ask that you read it through, giving me the time to make the case. I will also add a few thoughts as to why this could not only help solve the housing crisis, but help put the nation back into growth mode.

Long-time readers know that I have been growing more and more bearish of late. I have been writing for a long time that we are in for a long period of slow Muddle Through growth as the twin crises of the housing bubble and credit bubbles require time to heal. Today we look at a serious proposal for cutting the time to healing for at least one of those bubbles (housing), and at least keep the other (credit) from getting worse. This is the most serious idea I have seen that could actually make a real positive contribution to the economy and help put us back on a growth path.
I will post Gary’s papers and a link to the actual op-ed piece for those who want to do further research, but let me make one point at the beginning that he did not emphasize: the US is already allowing roughly 1 million immigrants a year into the country (which for a variety of reasons I and most serious economists of all stripes believe is a very good thing). We are suggesting that we simply change the nature of what constitutes the conditions for acceptance, so as to jump start the housing industry and the economy. We are not suggesting additional immigrants, although nothing would be wrong with that. I will also post a link for you to send this e-letter to your congressmen and senators.
Let me put up front a few benefits of a program that would allow legal status to immigrants buying a home. Housing values would stabilize and in many cases rise. The massive losses because of bad loans that are being subsidized by US taxpayers would be stemmed, saving many hundreds of billions, if not a trillion or more dollars. The excess inventory of homes would quickly disappear and the millions of jobs that were lost as home construction fell into a deep depression would come back. If housing values rise, many families would be able to refinance their homes at lower rates and have more income left over after paying their mortgages. $12 billion in commissions would end up in real estate agents’ pockets, helping a very battered and bruised group. Hundreds of billions will flow into local businesses, as these new immigrants will need to furnish their homes. This could mean as much as a half trillion dollars in sorely needed stimulus in the next few years, without one penny of taxpayer money and actually adding taxes back to governments from local to national. And we are not bringing in 1 million foreigners, we are attracting 1 million mostly middle-class new Americans, which, if we are smart in how we do this, will result in more jobs for all Americans. So let’s jump right in and look at the details.

Wow… if there was ever a good idea on how to help the Real Bay Area, this would be it!

Sure this would encourage more people to buy their way into America, thus boosting housing prices. But there’s more!

This would reduce the costs for local employers (who are wasting gobs of money on lawyers trying to get greencards for their employees), thus freeing up money to pay higher salaries! (As we all know, that’s what happens when employers reduce costs – they pass it on to employees via higher salaries.) This in turn will boost housing prices.

Win WIN WIN!!!

This will help the Real Bay Area soar! Contact your Congress critters today and tell them that this is what you want!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:45 am

March 28, 2009

Foolproof roadmap to riches without risks or hassles

The WealthLoop Series Beginner’s Guide to Building Wealth Buying Houses: The Foolproof Roadmap to Real Estate Riches Without the Risks and Hassles of Landlording

Wow. Talk about the perfect book for everybody! It’s foolproof! It’ll ensure riches! There are no risks! There are no hassles!

What more could you ask for?

Well… you could ask for a book that is an “underground hit” as well.

Click the picture above now and buy it before THE MAN finds out and takes it away. This only surfaces for a few months at a time, before it goes deep deep deeeeeeeeep underground. This will be the best $16.47 you have ever spent. Trust me!

Comments (16) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:49 am

March 27, 2009

Where to buy? What to buy? When to buy?

Personally, I warms my heart when I see people helping each other out on Burbed. Those are the comments I love to see. It’s the powerful community in action.

In case you missed it… or you want to chime in… here is yesterday’s moment:

First, a question:

SoonToBeDad Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Long time listener, first time caller here.

I’m going to be a dad soon. The “host” is demanding we buy a place.

The 2br rentals in Mountain View and Sunnyvale are all about 1800 and they suxxors.

I think I can spend up $3500 in PITIZKLMUOK8J (everything all in) at most.

Downpayment is a mixed story.
I put it all in the stock market. Stooooooooooooopid me.
I think have $100k left.

What should I do? I’m thinking of a 2br /1ba . You guys have scared me away from condos and townhouses with HOAs.

Where should I buy? What should I buy?

Will it go up in value? (Just kidding. If it is RBA, I know it will. lolz!)

The first piece of advice?

nomadic Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

The “host.” LOL. The kid isn’t even born and it’s already a parasite? 😉

2BR/1BA? With all due respect, why bother buying? Save up some more, wait until next year.

Wait until next year. Ok. Next piece of advice?

smart dads rent Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Hi new Dad, I’m in the same boat. We sold our house in 2006 to move to CA and are we are renting a house. Equity was put in the stock market (it seemed less likely to loose money than the housing market!).

We are now renting, and will rent at least until the kids are school age. My current rent is less than the interest payment would be to buy a similar house.

Unlike the inefficient housing market, the stock market is much quicker to correct to economic reality. At this point, stocks are much more likely to appreciate while housing prices may continue to decline (except the RBA!).

My advice is to move to a rental house and let your landlord eat the depreciation. I know it is hard for aspiring homeowners to understand, but owning a house (and the headaches of ownership) is overrated.

Then, some clarification:

SoonToBeDad Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 3:34 pm

To Madhaus: Have I considered school districts? Yes. Anywhere in the RBA.

To nomaidc: 2br/1ba is the minimum. Ideally I’d like to see 3br/2ba. Or more!

Is $3500 and $100k for downpay not enough? Is that what people are saying?

To: Smart Dads Rent
Interest rates. So low. Cannot resist. They’re goin go back up.

I don’t have an MBA. How can I calculate/justify renting a $3500 a month house versus paying a $3500 all-inclusive payment mathematically? How do I justify it to “the host”?

Followed by this referral:

nomadic Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

dad – I think steve originally posted this link. It’s a pretty good calculator to play with:

Figure about 1.1% for property taxes.

Some encouragement to buy ASAP:

Real Estater Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 3:54 pm


I think you’re making the right move. You’re planning for the future, instead of living day to day. You really can’t argue with the fact that now is a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are at historic lows, and home prices in the BA are about as low as you’re likely to see. You may not catch the absolute bottom, but the upside is way bigger than the downside at this point. Most importantly, you can’t put a price tag on raising your kids in a home of your own.

But then there was a difference of opinion:

smart dads rent Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

To Realeater: Actually, my returns would have been much worse than the stock market if I had bought another house in 2006: I would have negative equity right now. Leverage works both ways you know.

To Dad: the point is that I can rent a much nicer house than it would cost me to own. Home ownership in the Bay Area only makes sense if you have substantial price appreciation (which we are not likely to see for years

Some disheartening advice:

DreamT Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

“Is $3500 and $100k for downpay not enough? Is that what people are saying?”
Not enough for RBA cigars. In fact, not enough for grey area either. Unless you land a foreclosure or a fixer-upper, and you’re prepared to beat 50 other offers.

The city of Santa Clara’s housing plan – 1st draft – is out today at
check p. 11 and p. 111 for population growth figures, p.119 for income figures, p.120 for rent figures, etc.

.. and SoonToBeDad – you can buy a condo with $20k down and be in a good school district. Considering your budget, if education is a priority, you should definitely consider this alternative.

But wait… then Karen steps in and says:

karen Says:
March 26th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

SoonToBeDad – please don’t buy yet!!! somehow convince the mom-to-be that renting is okay. I have incredibly fond memories of the rental places that we lived in when I was little (grad student housing and then a place very near to the beach that my parents could never have afforded to buy). my parents bought when I was about six, when they could genuinely *afford* to. this reduces stress!!!

why not rent in a nice apartment complex with lots of other families with little kids? It’s really fun for little kids to have loads of other little kids around. and while your kid is a baby, there will be plenty of other moms around for your wife to commiserate with.
Prices are going to keep going down, because the job market is going to get worse, and the resets are coming. better to invest now in loads of ice cream and milk shakes (mom bribes) and buy a house or apartment later.

p.s. have you looked at rentals in Redwood City? my impression is that the schools are not so good (I don’t have kids, so ask someone else), but that ought to mean that you can get a better rental deal while your kid is too young for school. you can then move to a rental (or buy) in three years or so, in a better school area.

Finally, some more advice:

smart dads rent Says:
March 27th, 2009 at 12:01 am

New dad, the best thing to do is to compare rentals to the interest expense of owning. If you buy, remember that moving will cost you 6% in realty fees and you will pay 1% a year in property tax.

There is no need to live in a good school district until your child is old enough for school. Until then you can rent more cheaply and invest the difference.

Wow. I love it when the community steps in to help.

Agree? Disagree? Chime in!

Actually, if you look carefully, one of the original questions is never answered: “where to buy?” – this is your chance to jump in with your favorite microneighborhood…. like WOEISME (West Of El Camino, Intersection of  Stanley & Miramonte Ave)

Let’s help a fello Burbian out!

Comments (154) -- Posted by: burbed @ 6:17 am

Yet another Green house in Redwood City

It’s Herve week at Burbed! I’m catching up on all the listings that Herve had sent me. I could probably have another week of Herve houses… but I have to give other people a chance. Here’s the 5th day!

1165 CLINTON St, Redwood City, CA 94061 | MLS# 80842227
1165 CLINTON St Redwood City, CA 94061
Price: $599,900

Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,640
$/Sq. Ft.: $366
Lot Size: 5,700 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Mediterranean
Year Built: 1931
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Neighborhood: Central Park
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 80842227
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 133 days
Unsold in 90 days
Character- Filled Mediterranean Home with Cathedral Windows. Three Bedrooms, Two Bathrooms (Permits Unknown on Second Bathroom) Living Room with Fireplace, Hardwood Floors Throughout, Separate Dining Room and Updated Kitchen with Breakfast Nook. This Home Offers Beautiful and Original Details Throughout.

Living green is in these days. And here is yet another green house in Redwood City.

That said, I think it is a bit of a toss up as to which one is better. I kind of like this one more:

The Clinton house just seems too slick. I prefer the MacArthur house because it has more character. It’s more gritty.

Of these two green houses, which one would you choose?

Comments (4) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:17 am

March 26, 2009

Relive the 1920’s and 1930’s at 948 Rincon in Mountain View

It’s Herve week at Burbed! I’m catching up on all the listings that Herve had sent me. And now, Day 4:

948 RINCON St, Mountain View, CA 94040 | MLS# 80848932
948 RINCON St (Unable to map) Mountain View, CA 94040
Price: $1,299,950

Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 2,036
$/Sq. Ft.: $638
Lot Size: 4,080 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Craftsman
Year Built: 2008
Stories: 2
Neighborhood: Grant
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80848932
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 89 days
Located on Los Altos side of El Camino, w/ in walking distance of Downtown Mtn. View, Miramonte Park is an exclusive collection of 58 SF homes with all the charm of the great Calif neighborhoods of the 1920’s & 1930’s. Nearby is the premier performing arts theatre on the Peninsula as well as outstanding schools & parks.

Apparently when Herve saw this listing, it said something different:

“Located on Los Altos side of El Camino, w/ in walking distance of Downtown Mtn. View, Miramonte Park is an exclusive collection of 58 SF homes with all the charm of the great Calif neighborhoods of the 1920’s & 1930’s. Nearby is the premier performing arts theatre on the Peninsula as well as outstanding schools & parks. Offering a graduated Broker referral- 3% 1st sale, 4% 2nd, 5% (3 or more sales) “

Here’s what Herve had to say:

Charm of the 1920’s and 1930’s? What could that possibly mean?
– no Prop 13
– racial segregation
– great depression

Err… well… uh… that’s possible. Let’s look at this timeline of Mountain View to see some of the events of the 1920’s and 1930’s:

1920 – Hoping to become a major deep water port, South Shore Port Co. dredges slough at the old Jagels Landing at the end of Whisman Road. Ferry and freight service to San Francisco begins in 1923. The port project includes an amusement park and large saltwater swimming pool called Kingsport Plunge that opens in 1925. The company declares bankruptcy in 1927.

1924 – The city’s first high school opens on El Camino in 1902. In 1924 a new school designed by noted architect William Weeks opens on Castro Street. The building is demolished in 1987.

1930 – Sunnyvale chosen as site for West Coast air base and research center. President Hoover signs legislation Feb. 20, 1931, to accept the land and approve development. July 31, 1931, land is transferred to U.S. Navy at a cost of $1. In 1933 Moffett Field Naval Air Station opens on the border of Sunnyvale and Mountain View as a base for Navy dirigibles.

1937 – Bayshore Highway (101) opens on the Peninsula after 13 years of construction at a cost of $7 million.

1939 – Flight research begins at the Ames Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA).

Check that out! You can relive the building of 101. How historic!

Comments (47) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am

March 25, 2009

A storm is brewing in Palo Alto – it’s called: you missed it

It’s Herve week at Burbed! I’m catching up on all the listings that Herve had sent me. And now, day 3:

993 Embarcadero Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94303 | MLS# 80908639
993 Embarcadero Rd Palo Alto, CA 94303
Price: $995,000

Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,704
$/Sq. Ft.: $584
Lot Size: 6,050 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Year Built: 1948
Stories: 1
Neighborhood: Green Gables
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80908639
Source: MLSListings
Status: Pending Without Release
On Redfin: 18 days
Beautiful three bedroom, two bath traditional style home with a family room in North Palo Alto. Within walking distance to schools, parks, the Cultural Center, Main Library, & the Lucie Stern Center this home is a wonderful opportunity. New landscaping, freshly painted inside & out, dual pane windows, new kitchen floor, new freestanding oven/stove, & new wall to wall carpeting.

Wow. I bet you feel like a loser for missing this stunning deal. At just $584 per square foot, this house is way in the affordable category. And now it will be someone elses.

Any guesses on how much this will close for? I’m betting $1 million even.

Come on… it’s Palo Alto!

FWIW, this is what Herve had to say:

Are we paying realtors enough? If 3% is not enough to have them take another picture when the sky is blue, maybe we should consider increasing the commission to 4%, or even 5%. It’s only fair.

That’s ok, you were probably thrown off by the stormy photo. But you know what that storm really represents? “You’re going to be priced out forever.”

It’s a message that some fence sitting buyers definitely took to heart!

Comments (78) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:56 am

“Is California setup for a brain drain?”

Scobleizer: Technology, innovation, and geek enthusiasm » Blog Archive Is California setup for a brain drain? «
But that’s just my stories. For California as a whole I’m sensing that the whole state is primed for a major brain drain.

Why? Our state is bankrupt. What was the response? Lay off a bunch of teachers. Our education system is already in the toilet, but this will make it worse. Other states, like Texas, that aren’t bankrupt and aren’t laying off teachers, are looking more and more attractive to parents. It’s that, or spend 10s of thousands on private schools.

There’s a general feeling that crime is getting worse. That’s part a PR problem due to four Oakland police officers getting killed last week, but how will we solve those problems if we don’t have any money to hire more cops, build more prisons, etc, etc? Callers to KGO radio yesterday made it sound like the crime problem is getting worse. Rubbed into the wound is the fact that as a state we’ve decided to stop spending money on education and I predict we’ll see the problem get even worse as uneducated kids hit the job market and find no one is willing to hire them. The crime rate is about to head up big time because of this.

Finally, entrepreneurs are figuring out that they can start companies elsewhere and do just fine. A month ago I visited Tatango up in Bellingham Washington. If you can start a startup in Bellingham you can start it anywhere. I have to admit that the small town life of Bellingham has many advantages for a startup. For one, your employees are going to be more loyal. For two, they will need less pay because housing costs 1/7th to 1/12th what it does in Palo Alto. For three, the whole community is vested in helping you out (they are the only tech startup in town).

Egad! Is Robert Scoble, eternal optimist going to give up on California? Will he move to Texas? Is this a sign of tech trends? Will Silicon Valley be doomed?

Nah. Don’t be silly!

Here’s your relief!

In California’s defense, it’s still going to be hard for someone like me to leave because of the ecosystem that exists here, the weather, and generally the ability to ask anyone on the street what their Twitter address is and get back more than just a blank look, but the Texas Governor made it clear he was going to come after California’s entrepreneurs and what he’s offering workers and entrepreneurs is more and more attractive every day.

Which is backed up by this comment:

I can say our Golden State has qualities that Texas, RTP, Colorado, and the rest cannot match. First is the weather. It’s more pervasive and important than people realize. Try being productive on a hot, humid day. Or bone-chilling one.

And there you go folks. The reason why Silicon Valley will always be the king, the center of the universe, the most important place in the world?

The Weather.

Can you imagine trying to develop a ground changing, economy shifting service like FaceBook when it is 100 degrees outside, and you’re in your 72 degree fishbowl/cube/”open plan”? Or trying to develop an earth shattering, populace empowering service like Twitter when it is 30 degrees outside, and you’re in your 72 degree fishbowl/cube/”open plan”?

It’s impossible!

Phew. Close call there!

Comments (6) -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:00 am