June 15, 2010

truly exemplifies the belvedere

You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t possibly sell this problematic house to anyone fortunate enough to live in the Real Bay Area.


101 Belvedere Ave Belvedere, CA 94920

Beds: 6
Baths: 6.5
Sq. Ft.:  7,063
$/Sq. Ft.: $3,894
Lot Size: 0.69 Acres
Property Type:
Residential, Detached, Single Family
Style: Custom
Stories: 3
View: Bay, Bridges, City, Lights, Marina, Mountains, Water
Year Built: 1987
Community: Belvedere
County: Marin
MLS#: 21014179
Source: BAREIS
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 19 days

Sited on the western-most promontory of Belvedere Island w/ the Bay directly below & unobstructed views from Mount Tam through Sausalito, the GG Bridge & the entire SF skyline, this property truly exemplifies the belvedere. Warren Callister designed, west-side waterfront w/ 5 bedrooms, 4 full & 3 half-baths in the main residence & separate 1-bedroom, 1-bath guest apartment w/ kitchen & living room.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one, so let’s get the biggest problem out of the way first.  This house is at least 45 miles from Silicon Valley.  I’m sure you could handle a lot of your business via email, Skype and SMS, but.  But.  You’re still 45 miles, that’s an hour and half in traffic, from the people you need to see.  There’s something to be said for “smart” communities, and Belvedere wasn’t anywhere on the list.  Face it, with a density of 1856 people per square mile, you’re not going to find 1259 of them being college grads as you will in San Jose.

Next problem: Serious water hazard.  I mean, would you LOOK at this?


And that isn’t a koi pond.  That’s San Francisco Bay, and it’s 56 degrees in there.   Brrrrrr.  So don’t waste your money on koi.  They’re freshwater.

Now, let’s look at one of those words the listing agent used.  “Promontory,”  No, not promissory, promontory,  As in exposed, windswept cliff.  As in “I sure hope you have a lot of liability insurance, because you are going to need it when your daughter’s best friend starts playing Wuthering Heights on that promontory.”  As in, “Did you hire a geologist to see if the whole house is going down in the drink because a big chunk of promontory just collapsed?” 


Promissory probably doesn’t pertain to this property.  At an asking price of $27,500,000, your loan of $729,750 will leave you to come up with a 97.3% down payment.  There is good news!  With that much cash up front, there’s almost no chance of a low appraisal sinking the deal!

Next problem: Isn’t the entire point of buying rather than renting so you can water your own lawn?  This property seems to have neglected the lawn.  Big minus.

Another big lose for this property is the Golden Gate bridge toll.  What is that up to now, six dollars? Five with FasTrak?  Your only way around that is to take the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and come down I-880.  Well, that or put in a helipad on the roof.

Now, did you take a look at this interesting number?  Price per square foot: $3,894.  I’m going to say that again.  Three thousand, eight hundred ninety four.  Most of the properties on burbed are smaller than that in square feet, let alone cheaper per square foot.  This might indeed be a record.  What is this place made out of, unobtanium?  And for this kind of money, are there any marble columns?

image Nope.  There might be some marble in the bathroom, but none of it was column-shaped.

What a rip-off.

And speaking of rip-off, note how the listing gives and then takes away.  It said 6 BR/6.5 BA, didn’t it?  What you don’t find out until you read the fine print is that one bedroom and one bath are in the guest apartment.  So you’re really only getting 5 BR/5.5 BA in the house, and that 5.5 BA is really 4 full and 3 half bathrooms.  That’s right.  3 of the “bathrooms” don’t have a bath or a shower.  If that isn’t false advertising, I don’t know what is.

It’s that kind of cheap fitting out that leads people to say rude things about contractors.  And let’s just note one thing about the home’s designer, Warren Callister.  He is responsible for Rossmoor.  That’s a retirement community.  In Walnut Creek.  Walnut Creek is even less RBA than Belvedere, because the former is a suburb of Oakland.

imageHere’s another problem with this property: can you imagine having to wash all these windows?  I can’t either.  Keep looking at the pictures in the listing, because this isn’t the only room where one window would have been enough, so Callister put in six.  Did he own stock in Andersen or something?  I mean, if you’re going to spend so much on fixtures, why not throw in a few marble columns instead?

Yup. I’ll say it again.  Custom home, not one marble column.  It’s like they weren’t even trying.  It “truly exemplifies the belvedere.”  A belvedere is a structure built to take in a commanding view, usually above a building or city.  So this house, in not having one, truly exemplifies it.

Comments (27) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

27 Responses to “truly exemplifies the belvedere”

  1. Alex Says:


  2. maryjane Says:

    No dock, no elevator, no beach. True it’s a little disappointing. But I think we need to redefine the RBA. If you can’t see the bay from the ‘important’ rooms of the house, it’s just not RBA – period. This one does seem to squeak by.

  3. maryjane Says:

    I’m starting to warm up to this house. When your acquaintances from Omaha come out and expect to stay with you at least you have a place to put them while you cavort with your Real Bay Area friends. There is just so much to be said for the guest apartment. And it seems they didn’t even have to sacrifice the garage to build it.

  4. Joe Says:

    Wow, what planet did these sellers come from. I wouldn’t buy it at $27M even if I hit the lottery.

  5. DreamT Says:

    very nice piece of prose

  6. maryjane Says:

    Come on, Joe. It’s true the lot size is a bit small but they aren’t making any more promontories, at least until the next Big One. And you’ve got that who global warming thing covered.

  7. maryjane Says:

    Whole global warming thing

  8. madhaus Says:

    I hadn’t thought of it that way, maryjane. You’re right. They aren’t making any more promontories. Or promissory notes at these prices.

    So who lives there? We know it isn’t the Pope, because… No mawbul callums.

  9. nomadic Says:

    heh, you’re worried about the commute? This would clearly be the weekend home. During the week, you live in that place-whose-name-shall-not-be-mentioned.

    You could drag your minions out from the garage start-up to wash your windows too.

  10. madhaus Says:

    Heh, wonder what the HPR would be on this place? I’m thinking about 60,000.

  11. SEA Says:

    “An artwork reflecting the times we live in.

    Landscape artist Kane Cunningham has used his credit card to buy a house that is about to fall into the sea.
    A bungalow at Knipe Point in Scarborough, North Yorkshire – near the scene of the infamous Holbeck Hotel
    cliff collapse 16 years ago has been condemned after a fresh landslip. Cunningham states:

    ‘I’ve bought a house that will be the next one to fall over the cliff. It feels like I have no choice. I’m going to rig the house with cameras and film the last sunrise before nature claims its bounty’.

    ‘It’s the perfect site-specific installation – a stark reminder of lost dreams, financial disaster and threatening sea levels. It’s global recession and global warming encapsulated. This little house is feet away from the edge of the cliff – it can go at any moment. The idea is to create an artwork on a scale never been seen before in North Yorkshire and to stimulate within the imagination of the public the idea that this house falling into the sea can become a work of art. If the aim of art is to stimulate discussion and debate on issues, then surely this will get people talking.'”


  12. WillowGlenner Says:

    At an asking price of $27,500,000, your loan of $729,750 will leave you to come up with a 97.3% down payment.

    Wait a minute. $729,750 is a jumbo loan. We don’t want to wind up in the exact same situation with overleverage now, as we did in the last decade. I say the buyer on this place needs to scrimp and save and come up with $27,083,000 in order to utilize the max conforming mortgage of $417K. Keeping the loan amt low he will save on rate, of course. Minor issue is the need to unearth $27 mil somewhere. The $83K can be dealt with with a standard HELOC.

  13. WillowGlenner Says:

    Whats funny is I know someone who bought a place on Pierce road in Saratoga for $20mil recently. He had dozens of real estate agents looking for a place and they finally found this one, which really was just a desirable Saratoga lot with a rancher/shack on the property. He then had to apply with the city to remodel the entire place- he doesn’t want a Mcmansion so there will probably be no problems with Saratoga planning- but still, the guy got a shack on a lot for 2/3 of what this palace is selling for.

  14. A. Lewis Says:

    madhaus, you are an artist. Thanks for this listing.

    As an avid sailor, I’m truly disappointed it doesn’t come with private dock. I don’t see anything – not even a nice pathway. I guess if you can afford $27M, you could put one it, but still.

    Also, it has that the Laundry has hookups only. Wow – that’s a dealbreaker.

    Think of what the staging must be costing them – holy crap! Is that furniture included?

    That’s an amazing price. Can someone take a look around the world and see what else you can buy for $27M? Or less? I’m just trying to understand how great a deal this really is – so I need comps.

  15. A. Lewis Says:

    #13 – good lord, WG, what’s the acreage of the Saratoga place you are talking about?

  16. A. Lewis Says:

    Hmmm – let’s say you can ‘afford’ $20M, or $27m for a house. How rich does that imply you are? I mean, unless your income is north of $5M a year, I don’t think you’re getting a bank loan. Does that happen on the high end? Say $5M down, loan for $22M? Or do they just say forget it – you pay all cash.

    If it’s all cash, I’m guessing you better be worth $50M or more to ‘afford’ this.

    So, who wants to look up: what is the total number of people in the US/World worth more than $50M. Or, what is the total number of people with annual income $5M or more?

    Just sizing the market…

  17. Alex Says:

    A Lewis, for $27 million, I can buy a mansion in the ritziest part of Beverly Hills…and it’ll even come with Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan or (insert your favorite skank here).

  18. madhaus Says:

    Wait a minute. $729,750 is a jumbo loan. We don’t want to wind up in the exact same situation with overleverage now, as we did in the last decade. I say the buyer on this place needs to scrimp and save and come up with $27,083,000 in order to utilize the max conforming mortgage of $417K. Keeping the loan amt low he will save on rate, of course. Minor issue is the need to unearth $27 mil somewhere. The $83K can be dealt with with a standard HELOC.

    HELOC my ass. Put the damned house on my American Express Black.

  19. PA-S Says:

    a 4 bed rooms for 25,000,000.


  20. SEA Says:

    How can one be overleveraged in the RBA?

  21. madhaus Says:

    How can one be overleveraged in the RBA?

    Answer: You can’t. But the problem with this house is underleverage, which is why it isn’t in the RBA.

  22. sonarrat Says:

    madhaus, you are truly magnificent when it comes to lampooning high-dollar properties. I insist on more of this type of posting.

  23. WillowGlenner Says:

    The Saratoga house I was thinking of is on 7.9 acres. And sorry I meant it sold for TEN million not 20 million, I was thinking of the Belvedere house when I wrote 20 million. I don’t know the actual sales price but it was something in that ballpark. I just looked it up in Zillow and the zestimate is now $13million so its gone up!

  24. Sio2 Says:

    WG, A Lewis,
    wow, $10m for the lot. That’s wild, you can buy an actual house, fairly nice, for $2m or so. I guess if the lot could be subdivided into 5, then the price makes sense because 1 acre lots could be $2m.
    Your friend must like solitude to want an 8 acre lot!

  25. With an Amazing Curve Apreal | Burbed.com Says:

    […] even better reader reactions.  Usually they have something notable about them, such as being insanely expensive, or having a lousy location, or not bearing much resemblance to a residential structure.  This […]

  26. Updated: For Halloween Weekend, Here’s a Scary Treat for You from Burbed! | Burbed.com Says:

    […] next most expensive listing is for $21.9 million (and more importantly, was featured on Burbed), so perhaps this one isn’t quite as “alone in its class” as it claims.  Also I call “this […]

  27. Several Building Pads to choose from and Existing House [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] Yesterday’s listing was an unsuitable property in a challenging location.  Today’s house is within reasonable commute distance so there shouldn’t be as many complaints.  Also, more eights in the price today so it’s LUCKY. […]

Leave a Reply

Please be nice. No name calling, no personal attacks, no racist stuff, no baiting, etc. Let's be nice to each other in the true Bay Area spirit! (Comments may be edited/removed without notice.)