June 30, 2010

This house needs finishing touches – like walls



Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,110
$/Sq. Ft.: $387
Lot Size: 6,450 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1912
Community: Carlmont
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81001900
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 162 days

Thanks to Burbed reader Sam for this find!

Here’s what Sam had to say:

Not that Belmont is ghetto or anything, but something about this house reminds me of whistle-tips- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnzw_i4YmKk

Check out that new siding!  Dayumn!  That’s not a contractor’s special- that is modern art!  It’s a statement about the cost of conformity!  Why, oh why would the bank want to get rid of this post-post modernist masterpiece?  This is installation art taken to its next level!  I mean, hell, if a shark in formaldehdye can sell for $12M  (http://www.stuckism.com/Shark.html) this place ought to be worth at least $6M.  If this place came with some shark’s teeth, it might be worth $12M too.  Shark’s teeth are frickin cool!

To the realtor’s credit, the disclosures are made openly- “HOME NEEDS FINISHING TOUCHES”.  This kind of statement speaks volumes about perspective.  When I think about finishing touches, I think about adding outlet colors, picking color schemes, hanging drapes, etc.  These guys think about $100K remodeling jobs.
But the realtor really nails it with his/her description- “THIS PROPERTY HAS A LOT OF POTENTIAL!!”  Like potential energy.  Like potential to be blown over in the next storm.


Uh, Sam… they’re practically giving this house away. All you need to do is add a little elbow grease… and some walls… and… uh… some innovation.

Personally, I think this house enables you to express your freedom. Therefore, if you hate this house, you hate Freedom. Why do you hate freedom this close to July 4th? Are you a terrorist?

Comments (7) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:59 am

June 29, 2010

Hardy Palo Alto Property

870 GUINDA St, Palo Alto, CA 9430


Hardy pioneers are conquering one of America’s last frontiers, erecting entire towns overnight in Oklahoma’s land rush… while in the old world, hardy visionaries bring consternation and ire by erecting an odd iron tower in the center of Paris.
Palo Alto, CA, won’t be upstaged, and hardier builders rush to complete the erection of a towering home on a cherry street.
This property, which survived the Titanic and several world wars almost undamaged, makes a new glorious entrance on the real estate market. Now Mature and Charming, the house is the pride of the neighborhood, imperiously guarding a corner with no less than five streets, and swelling with newfound ambitions.
At 485+ days on the market, the property valiantly deflects multiple offers on a weekly basis, going so far as to forcing an enterprising buyer out of his job.
Still proudly floating despite a 9.6 earthquake and the mother of all floods, the now-wrinkled property graduates from Stanford University and decides that, maybe, it is finally time to agree on a suitor.
Comments (131) -- Posted by: DreamT @ 5:01 am

June 28, 2010

$205,000 off a fine house in San Jose

490 Valroy Ct, San Jose, CA 95123


Thanks to Burbed reader EV for this find!

Let’s take a look at the price history:


Wow. Is this a deal or what? $205,000 off!

I’m not sure why the price has dropped so much in the last 2 months… haven’t these people ever heard of Spring bounce? This is practically the opposite.

But hey, their bad pricing is your gain! At just $372 per square foot, they’re practically giving this house away. Think of it as $205,000 waiting to leap into your pocket! Hello sweet instant equity!

Comments (5) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:46 am

June 27, 2010

Urban Sprawl Leads to Burning Summers… and Falls

Here’s a news story from yesterday that has some impact on the Bay Area – maybe even the Real Bay Area (RBA).  After all, anyone who lives here knows the hottest time of year in the Bay Area isn’t July and August.  It’s September and October.

Sprawling Cities Getting Hotter Faster

livescience.com Sat Jun 26, 12:20 pm ET

The number of extreme hot summer days is increasing around the world with global warming, but sprawling cities are racking up these sweltering days faster than more compact cities are, a new study finds.

This finding could be important to city planners, particularly because heat waves are a killer worldwide (heat waves kill more U.S. residents than any other natural disaster) and the number of hot days is expected to increase as climate change ramps up.

Researchers at Georgia Tech examined the number of very hot days in 53 U.S. metropolitan regions between 1956 and 2005 to see if there were any differences in the number of hot days between both kinds of cities. (By the U.S. Census Bureau definition, a metropolitan region includes some counties surrounding a city proper.)

The article was clearly written by someone in flyoverland, because unimportant cities such as Atlanta, Tampa, and Grand Rapids (Michigan) were presented as examples of sprawling cities, as contrasted with “compact”  ones. Named as the cooler cousins were Boston, Chicago, and Baltimore, where two out of three of them are near a real ocean, and the third near a convincing analogue.

Brian Stone of Georgia Tech (told ya!), an urban planner who authored the study, noted that severe heat waves are responsible for more deaths than any other type of dangerous weather.  “Residents of sprawling cities may be more vulnerable to this significant health threat posed by climate change," said Stone.

One could even wonder if the “compact” cities cited are keeping cooler due to ocean breezes rather than tree removal on a large scale.  Deforestation in sprawling cities occurred at twice the rate of that in more densely populated areas from 1992 to 2001.  This leads to the “urban heat island effect,” where asphalt, roofs, and other artificial surfaces absorb more heat than in rural areas with greater amounts of vegetation.  The urban heat island effect shows a temperature increase of 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than a nearby rural region.

The actual data showed the sprawlers had 14.8 more “very hot days” on average while the chunkers only had 5.6 of them.  These outlying days were identified from the National Climactic Data Center’s “heat stress index” from 187 cities.  Heat data were used from 1956 to 2005, but based on city definition in 2000.

Cities were defined as compact or sprawling using the sprawl index, where only the top and bottom 25%were included in the study.  This metric uses population density, building proximity (both commercial and residential), also known as neighborhood mix, strength of downtowns and other activity centers, and street network patterns, based on 2000 UC Census data.  Stone notes that sprawl is also a factor of the historic development of a city.  For example, Boston grew around streetcars, while Atlanta developed during the age of the automobile.

The only Bay Area metropolitan area included in the study was San Francisco.  Classified as very compact (big surprise), San Francisco also reported a large increase in very hot days, as did more spread-out Fresno.  Los Angeles showed a much smaller increase in hot days, as did San Diego.  But take a look at Stone’s map of cities included in the study.  Notice something a little odd?


Just in case it doesn’t jump right out at you, here’s another view:

image              image

See it now?

How is Atlanta considered more sprawling than Los Angeles?  Sure San Francisco is compact (the city is only 49 square miles!), but see how Fresno, LA, and San Diego are all in the same classification of the second most compact group?  Los Angeles wrote the book on sprawl, as LA county is tremendous (4061 square miles).  It may have millions of people, but most of it is suburban.  And yet, Stone relies on Reid Ewing’s measure of the sprawl index, which cites a measure showing Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco as being some of the most compact cities in how they handled population growth (see page 9).  And then on page 27 is this fascinating note:

The highest ratings on the density factor go mostly to the central PMSAs of large CMSAs. The
New York PMSA is in a class by itself, having a factor score more than five standard deviations
above the mean. While the smaller Jersey City PMSA ranks second, this is followed by other
large PMSAs: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami PMSAs. Also high on the
density factor are secondary PMSAs of these same CMSAs: Anaheim, San Jose, Newark,
Oakland, and Ft. Lauderdale. Their large housing and labor markets drive up the bid rent curves
of these CMSAs, making accessible central locations particularly valuable. Valuable land is
naturally developed at higher densities, as housing producers and consumers both seek to
minimize expensive land inputs. The simple correlation of the density factor for 2000 with the
population of the MSA or PMSA is high (r = .614).28 The simple correlation with the population
of the MSA or CMSA is even higher (r =

Wow, looks like we’re back to higher rents, higher density, and higher smarts.  Location, location, location!  Low on the density scale are the Southeastern cities, and they have the lower rents to match.  While we in the Bay Area think of Los Angeles as sprawling, that’s only compared to San Francisco.  When it’s stacked up against Atlanta, Los Angeles is downright concentrated.

At the bottom of density rankings are medium-size metros in the Southeast, in ascending order:
Knoxville, TN; Greenville–Spartanburg, SC; Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point, NC;
Columbia, SC; Raleigh–Durham, NC; and Birmingham, AL. These are places whose growth
has mostly occurred during the automobile era, and has been without topographic or water-related
constraints that restrict development elsewhere in the Sunbelt. Still, the clustering of low
densities in this particular region is striking and requires further investigation.

And what does Los Angeles have to do with the Bay Area?  Simple.  Los Angeles is San Jose writ large.  And that’s where the Bay Area take on this study comes in.  Compared to San Francisco, San Jose also sprawls, despite its attempts to have an urban core with the fake city of Santana Row, and the out of place luxury high-rise of 360 Residences.  So if we in the RBA need to take anything from Stone’s study, it’s this.  Sprawl means more extreme heat waves.  Heat waves mean more deaths.  And old people dying of heatstroke in their RBA homes is the only way those places this Special will ever come up for sale.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

June 26, 2010

I’m shocked, shocked to find scamming going on in here!

Scamming the system for $8,000 tax credits

By Les Christie, staff writer
June 25, 2010: 10:24 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Some homebuyers are angling to claim the $8,000 tax credit even though they missed the deadline.

To claim the credit, buyers had to sign contracts by April 30 and close the sales by June 30. But real estate agents say some buyers are demanding quick closing dates to meet the June 30 deadline, even though they failed to meet the April 30 deadline.

And because the IRS doesn’t require paperwork specifically proving the contract date, they might get away with it.

Can you believe it?  People are claiming a tax credit they aren’t eligible for!  Gee, who saw that one coming?

irs5405 CNN/Money reported yesterday that people are falsely submitting IRS Form 5405, the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, along with the required settlement statement (which is received at closing, not when the contract is signed).  5405 asks for the purchase date, and specifically whether the buyer was in contract before May 1st, 2010. The settlement statement only has to be signed by all parties if local law requires it, although the IRS suggests that the taxpayer sign it nonetheless.

Good luck figuring out whether you are entitled to claim the $8000.  It appears that a “long-term homeowner” (someone who lived in the same primary residence for 5 of the last 8 years) can also qualify for a $6500 tax credit.  Furthermore, this tax credit isn’t new this year.  What is new is the credit doesn’t have to be paid back over 15 years, as it was in 2008. But the IRS directions are quite clear that the deadlines are April 30th, 2010 for purchase and June 30th, 2010 for closing.

The IRS is keeping mum about how much it knows about this kind of fraud, except to say they have vigorous manual and systemic checks to detect potentially false claims. Anyone who submits fraudulent documentation to support any entries on their tax returns are filing false returns and risk possible civil or criminal penalties.

And even the Treasury Inspector General is keeping quiet, despite releasing a report on Tuesday about other abuses of the homebuyer tax credit – including prisoners claiming the benefits.

Wow, some people have all the luck.  Three squares a day, a roof without a mortgage, and homebuyer credits.  But if the idea of people scamming the US Treasury doesn’t surprise you, have some fun with these scenarios the IRS put together about the First-Time Homebuyer Credit.  Here’s my personal favorite:

image S6. I have been estranged from my spouse for over three years and file married filing separate. I don’t know if my spouse has owned a main home in the three-year period, but I did not. If I bought a house in 2009 that otherwise qualifies for the first-time homebuyer credit, can I claim the credit?

A. Section 36(c)(1) requires that the taxpayer and the taxpayer’s spouse not have an ownership interest in a principal residence within the three years prior to the date of purchase. While individuals do not have to be married to get the credit, marriage (and legal separation) imputes ownership of a previous home upon the other spouse. If your spouse has not owned a main home in the last three years, then you may claim the credit.

Nothing like those zany folks at the IRS expecting you to know what your estranged spouse is up to!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

June 25, 2010

What is Dat? Da Playboy Mansion? It’s Ridiculous!

Today’s house is another in our continuing series of seven-digit properties, but the location is a bit of a surprise.  Let’s just say it’s not exactly Real Bay Area.  Thanks to burbed reader sonarrat for this find!

41752 Vargas Rd,  Fremont, CA 94539


Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 5,237
$/Sq. Ft.: $549
Lot Size: 5 Acres
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Colonial
STORIES: Tri-Level
VIEW: Greenbelt, Hills, Mountains, Panoramic, Valley
Year Built: 1996
Community: Mission
County: Alameda
MLS#: 40461526
Source: EBRD
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 70 days

Stand out Panoramic view, warm and inviting house for any family, huge and usable completely fenced lot with retreat house, gazebo and plenty parking. 2 parcels in one. Automatic gates. 1.2 miles to Mission High. Potential for livestock or horses. http://yefimraysbergrealtor. shutterfly. com

imageFinally!  An expensive house that knows how to say “I got money and power!”  That’s right!  MAWBUL CAWLUMS!  Elegant, stoidy, and boisting with class!  Put them in your living room!  Your kitchen!  Your bathroom!  Your bedroom!  Your driveway!  What you wanna bet the car pullin’ up to dat driveway is a Rolls-Royce?

Hey, lookit dis one!  It’s in da hallway!  How crazy is dat?  Who lives here, da Pope?  Dis place looks like a PALACE!

Imagine going up to your house and seein’ dese and goin’, "Oh, my God! I live here!"

And notice what’s in the dining room?  A Chandelier! Delicate, sparkling, and boisting with CLASS! Nothing says "I’m loaded!" like a CHANDELIER!


Look! Are you kiddin’ me? If you had one of dese in your house, you could look like a millionaire! Like da King of England! Like da King of France, or somethin’.  We got one in every room in da house, and yes, dat does include da GARAGE!

If da King of France, or somethin’, lived in Fremont.

Imagine how crazy it would be to say I LIVE HERE!  It seems the agent had a little trouble visualizing it:

image image

imageThe panoramic view and the retreat house look a little bit blurry.  Maybe that’s from drinking all that wine under the chandelier, but look at DIS ONE!  Dere is no excuse for DIS ONE on da right being blurry! 

Notice something in dis room?  Dat’s right!  CAWLUM!

For 2.75 really really big ones, dey could make sure we can see da MAWBUL CAWLUM in da picture!  Ya think?

‘Cause nothin’ sez “I got money and power” like a photo of a MAWBUL CAWLUM.  You can stick dese dings EVERYWHERE!  Can you believe it?  It’s ridiculous!

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

June 24, 2010

We Finally Got a Piece of the Pie

There once was a TV sitcom about an upwardly mobile African-American family called The Jeffersons that ran from 1975 to 1985.  (It was a spinoff from All in the Family, if you care about that sort of thing.)  This was the theme song:

Well we’re movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

George and Louise Jefferson moved from a duet home in working-class Queens to a big apartment in a ritzy doorman building, somewhere in Manhattan’s East Side.  Can you imagine them singing that song of triumph and accomplishment if they had found the way to San Jose instead?  No, neither can I.  Too bad nobody told the developer who brought us today’s featured listing.

360 MARKET St, Unit 3I, San Jose, CA 95113


Beds: 2
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,345
$/Sq. Ft.: $394
Lot Size: –
Property Type: Condominium
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 9+ (High Rise)
Year Built: 2007
Community: Central San Jose
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81027052
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 21 days

Destined to become an iconic landmark rising 23 stories above San Jose’s fashionably city center, these 213 exquisite one-, two- and three-bedroom residences are available for occupancy! 24/7 doorman, rooftop pool with spa, gym, and clubroom. Sales Center open daily 11am – 6pm, closed Wednesdays.

San Jose is definitely short of iconic landmarks.  There’s the statue of Quetzalcoatl, and there’s, um…  I suppose we should cheer The Mark Company for even trying.

Fish don’t fry in the kitchen;
Beans don’t burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin’,
Just to get up that hill.
Now we’re up in the big leagues,
Gettin’ our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it’s you and me baby,
There ain’t nothin wrong with that.

You might ask, “Why is anyone opening a luxury apartment tower in the middle of the worst economic situation since the 1930s, where there weren’t even any TV sitcoms?”  And there is a very good answer to that question!  360 Residences started taking deposits in 2007!  Remember 2007?  Anyone who could fog a mirror could get a loan, and anyone did.  And that is why someone thought there ought to be a luxury apartment tower in downtown San Jose.  Maybe they figured the Jeffersons would get tired of New York winters and surly sidewalk denizens, but still would want to live down the hall from wacky neighbors and a tip-cadging doorman.

Rosy views were still the norm in 2007, and here’s what the project director of another luxury apartment building in San Jose had to say about the economy, back in 2008:

McGoff also noted the depressing effect of the housing slump on San Jose, but suggested at least some of the problem is political, rather than economic.
“It’s the nature of the politics of a presidential election cycle that everyone is just holding off until the outcome,” he says. “I still think it’s a very good market in San Jose, but it’s at a time and a place where people are hedging their bets.”

image Yes, you could say bets were being hedged,  360 Residences was delayed for many reasons including a building inspectors strike and soil liquefaction onsite.  Oh, and some problems with the lender and two million dollars worth of liens.  You know it’s not a good day when the promised financing on your huge construction project is taken over by the FDIC.

Despite selling 90 of the units, the economic downturn has led some would-be buyers to move on and (unsuccessfully) ask for their deposits back.  But their loss is your gain, as prices have come down!  20 percent instant equity, baby!

Don’t quite like this unit?  Check out the different apartment types available if you want to be movin’ on up.  Perhaps you’d like to be more in the sky than this third-floor unit.  Perhaps you can!  There are 213 to choose from, including six penthouses, and one has to have your name on it!  It better!  Association fees are $655 a month for this two-bedroom condo.  Now how long will that pool will stay heated if nobody moves in and starts paying them?

Ralph the doorman says please move in, he needs the tips.

Well we’re movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

Comments (62) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

Thanks to Burbed reader Eric for his donation!

Thanks to Burbed reader Eric for his donation!

Your support is definitely appreciated!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 12:21 am

June 23, 2010

The Real Bay Area is back, and with a vengeance

36 LYELL St Los Altos, CA 94022



Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 1,466
$/Sq. Ft.: $750
Lot Size: 6,969 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 1
View: Mountains, Neighborhood
Year Built: 1946
Community: North Los Altos
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81020948
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 53 days
Location Opportunity! Downtown Village charm, private fenced back yard, majestic oak tree. Room for garden. Bonus room. Nice house, 4 bedrooms, 3 updated baths. 4th bedroom suite off garage. So dont miss bonus room off the garage!

Thanks to Burbed Gallileo for this find. Here’s what G had to say:

Sold in February 2010 for $975,000, now on the market for $1,099,500. With no improvements over the past four months listed in the description, that is a work and investment free annualized appreciation of 43%! Now that is what I call the real bay area!

You heard it here folks… Real Bay Area real estate is about to resume its place as the world’s best and safest investment.

Bernie Madoff eat your heart out!

Comments (6) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:01 am

June 22, 2010

This House is NOT a Lot

Today’s house is featured thanks to burbed reader Jeff, who notes “This house is not staged.”  Thanks, Jeff!

442 21st Ave, San Francisco 94121


Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 2,160
$/Sq. Ft.: $347
Lot Size: –
Property Type: Single-Family Home
Style: Edwardian
Year Built: 1914
Community: Central Richmond
County: San Francisco
MLS#: 371209
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: 24 days

Finally a 2-level Edwardian Home that has NOT been staged, glossed over, painted/refinished & /or remodelled-grand home’s untouched good bones with all its glory have original details intact!Main level opens onto a large foyer across the width of the home w/ skylit staircase, living room w/ fireplace & built-ins across front of house. Dining Room w/ fireplace & box-beam ceiling across from foyer opens through french doors to deck & yard. Eat-in Kitchen, Laundry & BA. Upstairs:3BR+Sunroom & split BA. More 2 follow.

This home’s description is like one of those bad science-fiction novels where you ask yourself if you really want to keep reading it all the way to the end, and you actually stick it out to the end.  Only then you find out that this is just Book 1 of at least a 5 book series, so you don’t really know what’s going to happen after all. 

That’s what “More to follow” suggested after seeing this listing that has NOT been staged.  Also NOT been glossed over, NOT been painted/refinished and/or NOT been remodeled.  What is going to follow that?  Has the house also NOT been hooked up to utilities?

For those of you who come to here to learn something about Real Estate, here’s a handy tip.  If a listing says a house has “good bones,” it’s a very indirect way for the agent to tell you it’s a “Contractor’s Special” or “Handyman’s Delight,” or, more honestly, “Money Pit.”  Or maybe it means there are a good number of bones buried in the yard, since this house has been standing almost a hundred years.

Speaking of the yard, not only has this house NOT been staged, there are a lot of things the agent also did NOT do.  First, let’s admire said lot


That shape is so familiar, now what is it?  Wait, wait, don’t tell me… Ah, it’s a minus sign!  Like your equity!

Next, look at the house description, and note that there is no figure given for the lot size.  Finally, check this from the list of features:

Lot Information
  • Regular
  • Level
  • Dimensions (Approximate): 25′ x 120′

Math class is hard, but how difficult could it be to find somebody out there to multiply 120 by 25?  Hell, you can type “25*120” into fracken Google and find out the answer!  This agent is NOT trying very hard! Not only is the house NOT staged, neither is the listing!  Don’t you just want to run over to this place and check out the NOT glossed-over, NOT painted/refinished, NOT remodeled interior?  Look at this photograph!image

Whoahhhh…. this looks like someone took a 2 hour Introduction to Scrapbooking class and only remembered something about grids.  You know, Redfin has some very nice features on their site, and one of them is that they allow nine photos per listing.  Perhaps one picture at a time would have been more… viewable?

Oh who cares, the place is pending, the price has eights in it, and good bones will always tell.  Just don’t dig too deeply in the yard.  There might be aliens in the sequel.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:22 am