April 11, 2010

What are the best real estate tips that you have?

Thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for this post:

Rumors of increased activity for house flippers have been circulating, so it’s time to share some basic rules of flipping.  Anyone who undertakes a house flip should be focused on using their funds wisely (think style over substance) and not tying their money up any longer than absolutely necessary.  In that spirit, these tips are short – inspired by a blogger who calls them “triplets:”

Use maximum leverage.

Always landscape first.

Brazilian hardwood floors.

Travertine all bathrooms.

Granite kitchen countertops.

Stainless steel appliances.

Red front door.

Staging: angle bed.

Plant bright flowers.

8s in price.

Plus a bonus tip for every seller based on my experience at numerous open houses:

Vacuum dead bugs.

What tips would you add?

Comments (22) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:57 am

April 10, 2010

Northern California Home Prices Jump 20 Percent

Rather than shilling for Amazon like usual on Saturdays, let’s try some other content.

Northern California Home Prices Jump 20 Percent

A tracking firm said the median home price in Northern California rose 20 percent last month from February 2009, its fifth consecutive year-to-year increase.

San Diego-based MDA DataQuick said in a report released Thursday that the increase was due to a dip in foreclosures and an increase in sales within high-end markets.

The firm said the median for the nine-county Bay Area increased to $354,000 from $295,000 in February 2009. Last month’s median was up about a percent from $350,000 in January. The report said 4,987 new and resale homes were sold in February, up 2.8 percent from January but down 0.9 percent from the same time last year.

San Francisco had the highest median sale price in the Bay Area at $627,500; Solano County had the lowest, at $208,500.

A little old, but still important nonetheless. If this isn’t proof that the Bay Area is set for its god given 15% year over year appreciation, I don’t know what is!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:22 am

April 9, 2010

A handyman’s special in Portero Hill! Lots of potential!

Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,565
$/Sq. Ft.: $415
Lot Size:
Property Type: Single-Family Home
Style: Victorian
View: Partial, City Lights, Twin Peaks
Year Built: 1900
Community: Potrero Hill
County: San Francisco
MLS#: 367021
Source: San Francisco MLS
Status: Contingent This means the sellers have accepted on an offer on the property, but success may still depend on passing a home inspection or the buyer’s financing approval. It may still be possible to tour these properties and submit a backup offer in case the current one falls through.
On Redfin: 28 days
Potrero Hill with lots of potential. Bring your contractor. Please do not walk property

Thanks to Burbed reader Jeff for this find!

In particular, these are some pretty interesting photos!


Ok everyone. It’s Friday! It’s story writing time! Break out those creative juices!

Write a brief story that explains what happened to this house, and how it will benefit the buyer. Challenge: you cannot say that it is a handyman’s special.

Comments (27) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:56 am

April 8, 2010

Gated Ghettos

And now, a guest post from Burbed reader Madhaus! Take it away, Madhaus:

From bucolic bliss to ‘gated ghetto’

Willow Walk bank-owned homeHemet’s Willowalk tract was family-friendly. Then the recession hit.

March 30, 2010|By Alana Semuels, LA Times

Home foreclosures have devastated neighborhoods throughout the country, but the transformation from suburban paradise to blighted community has been especially stark in places like Willowalk — isolated developments on the far fringes of metropolitan areas that found ready buyers when home prices were soaring but then saw an exodus as values crashed.

Vacant homes are sprinkled throughout Willowalk, betrayed by foot-high grass. Others are rented, including some to families that use government Section 8 vouchers to live in homes with granite countertops and vaulted ceilings.

The Los Angeles Times describes a gated community turning into a slum in just a few years.  Most of the properties sit empty, or are rented to large numbers of people.  Meanwhile, underwater homedebtors not only watch their investment fail, their supposedly safe and secure neighborhood is vandalized and taken over by street toughs.

Welcome to Willowalk. Oh, Willowalk isn’t in the Bay Area, it’s in Hemet.  People bought this far away from LA because they could get a luxury home in a gated community for under half a million.  The 5000 sf home bought by Eddie and Maria Lopez for $440,000 is now worth about $170k according to neighborhood comps.

Think it wouldn’t happen here?  It already has.  Hemet to Los Angeles is about a hundred mile commute.  Have you priced anything around Stockton (America’s Most Miserable City!) (80 miles) lately? Prices are at 2001 levels.

Google Maps Link showing commute from Hemet
Google Maps Link showing commute from Stockton
Link to Stockton Real Estate Prices over 10 years

Comments (33) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:15 am

will california house prices drop

It’s search engine result Thursday!

Recently someone found this site by searching for: will saratoga california house prices drop

But really, let’s broaden this out to be: will california house prices drop

The answer? Maybe.

Gasp! Shock! OMG! WTF!

It’s true! If you live anywhere but Saratoga, Palo Alto, Atherton, and a few other select cities, house prices may drop. Just look at Stockton.

Now… on the other hand, when house prices go up, being in California gives you a leg up because everyone wants to move here (except for all the people moving out.)

So… in summary… the answer is: maybe, for California and certainly not for Saratoga.

Real estate in California will always be a great proposition (like Proposition 13), but do be careful where you buy. Generally speaking, if you’re not paying at least $600 per square foot, you’re putting yourself at risk.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am

April 7, 2010

Adult condominium in Palo Alto

And now, a guest post from Burbed reader Herve. Take it away, Herve:



Beds: 2
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,548
$/Sq. Ft.: $598
Lot Size: 800 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Condominium
Style: Mediterranean
Stories: 4-8 (Mid Rise)
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1997
Community: Downtown
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80922328
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 330 days
Enjoy luxurious retirement living at The Hamilton, downtown Palo Alto’s elegant over 55 adult condominiums. This is a lovely two bedroom, two bath unit with a den. The building is beautifully maintained and has 24 hour security, elegant common areas, serves gourmet meals in an inviting dining room, provides indoor pool, fitness room, & apartments for out-of-town guests. See showing instructions.

You’re thinking Playboy mansion now, right? Well, take your mind out of the gutter and imagine luxurious retirement living instead. For only $925,000. Heck, for that price I would be willing to put up with Barbara Walters, Oprah, Scrabble and 5pm dinners.

The catch? Well, it’s a condominium so it comes with HOA fees of course! $4,086 a month. Or $49,000 a year. Or $134 a day. Any way you look at it, it’s a lot of money (although you can save money by having only one Netflix subscription for everyone). But I have to admit I plead ignorance here. What can possibly be included for that price? Sushi? Chippendales?

This means one thing and one thing only: you have to buy a house NOW in the Real Bay Area. Then when you’re finally done paying your 50-year mortgage you can trade it for such a condo (and watch Barbara Walters on TV every day). The leftover money will pay for HOA fees. Hopefully. Maybe. Or not.

Comments (64) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:11 am

April 6, 2010

Gables End 2.0

A special guest post today from Burbed reader Herve! Take it away Herve!

It’s been a while since we last featured our favorite community and I thought it was about time to give everyone an update…


First, Gables End went all Web 2.0 on us without any warning. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… The Full Monty!

Second, as you can see construction is still going on and advertisement is key with some of the smartest potential census workers holding signs and both 101 South and 101 North being targeted. Over 60% of the units are sold and they are looking for a few angel investors to sweep the last few units. You can get one with a view on the ginormous freeway sign but obviously you’d have to pay extra for that.

It can only mean one thing: they are getting ready for IPO. With a new 4-bedroom floor plan, this can only skyrocket. Booyah!

Comments (52) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:39 am

April 5, 2010

Any mobile home experts can explain this rent-buy ratio?

Beds: 1
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 576
$/Sq. Ft.: $64
Lot Size:
Property Type: Single-Family Home
Community: Brisbane
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 368217
Source: San Francisco MLS
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 4 days
MOBILE HOME attractive clean pleasant w/ newer appliances, near 101, airport, and near Brisbane school district.

Thanks to Burbed reader Jeff for this find.

OK all you finance and MBA types out there… what’s up with this? How can this be on sale for $37k, but rent for $775?

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Rent for $37 a month, sell for $775k?

Any ideas?

Comments (19) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:52 am

April 4, 2010

America’s Real Dream Team – Cupertino

America’s Real Dream Team

Thomas L. Friedman

Linda Zhou, Alice Wei Zhao, Lori Ying, Angela Yu-Yun Yeung, Lynnelle Lin Ye, Kevin Young Xu, Benjamin Chang Sun, Jane Yoonhae Suh, Katheryn Cheng Shi, Sunanda Sharma, Sarine Gayaneh Shahmirian, Arjun Ranganath Puranik, Raman Venkat Nelakant, Akhil Mathew, Paul Masih Das, David Chienyun Liu, Elisa Bisi Lin, Yifan Li, Lanair Amaad Lett, Ruoyi Jiang, Otana Agape Jakpor, Peter Danming Hu, Yale Wang Fan, Yuval Yaacov Calev, Levent Alpoge, John Vincenzo Capodilupo and Namrata Anand.

No, sorry, it was not a dinner of the China-India Friendship League. Give up?

O.K. All these kids are American high school students. They were the majority of the 40 finalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search, which, through a national contest, identifies and honors the top math and science high school students in America, based on their solutions to scientific problems. The awards dinner was Tuesday, and, as you can see from the above list, most finalists hailed from immigrant families, largely from Asia.

Before the dinner started, each contestant stood by a storyboard explaining their specific project. Namrata Anand, a 17-year-old from the Harker School in California, patiently explained to me her research, which used spectral analysis and other data to expose information about the chemical enrichment history of “Andromeda Galaxy.” I did not understand a word she said, but I sure caught the gleam in her eye.

My favorite chat, though, was with Amanda Alonzo, a 30-year-old biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif. She had taught two of the finalists. When I asked her the secret, she said it was the resources provided by her school, extremely “supportive parents” and a grant from Intel that let her spend part of each day inspiring and preparing students to enter this contest. Then she told me this: Local San Jose realtors are running ads in newspapers in China and India telling potential immigrants to “buy a home” in her Lynbrook school district because it produced “two Intel science winners.”

Congratulations to the Cupertino and the Bay Area!

We are America’s Real Dream Team.

Take that New York and your useless bankers and Broadway stars!

Comments (102) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:16 am

April 3, 2010

Let’s try charity 2

On most Saturday’s, there’s a plug for a book sold on Amazon, with unique commentary about why the book was chosen. And then a plea for funds to help keep this site running.

By all measurements, this has not been a success.

In the spirit of trying new things, Easter (do other religions have something going on around this time?), and general good heartedness, I figured I’d feature a charity instead this week – just like last week.

I chose:


If you don’t find contributing to this site a worthy cause, then please consider the National Kidney Foundation.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am