August 24, 2010

Lonely Spec House Needs Care, Decor, and Your Bank Account

Here’s a house that’s been on the market almost half a year.  Not only is nobody living in it now, nobody’s lived in it ever. burbed agents worked hard to find out why,

26462 Purissima Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022


Beds: 6
Baths: 7.5
Sq. Ft.: 11,000
$/Sq. Ft.: $808
Lot Size: 2.03 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Year Built: 2010
Community: Los Altos Hills
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81010120
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 173 days

This extraordinary new estate is adorned w/ Old World Roman architecture. Spanning 2 levels, the approx. 10,000+/- sq ft main house offers 4 bedrooms, 2 offices, theatre room, & fitness room. Guest house includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, & full kitchen. Other amenities include 7 fireplaces, waterfall, pool w/ spa, sauna, wine bar, optional elevator, & room for tennis court. Excellent Palo Alto schools

purissima1You know what Old World Roman architecture means, don’t you?  If you don’t, I’ll give you a hint.  Dat’s right!  MAWBUL CAHLLUMS.  I think this property might set a burbed record for its sheer columnosity.  These pictures were lovingly borrowed from the property website and should give you the idea.  Just look for the helpful red arrows so you can count how many columns are in each picture.

Go ahead, count the arrows.  I definitely agree this new estate is extraordinary, but then again, things can be extraordinary without necessarily being good.  Like extraordinary rendition.


purissima4 purissima5



No, you aren’t seeing things.  There are columns in the MUD ROOM above.  Why a house in a semi-arid region like Northern California needs a mud room is something for you to ponder on while you check your bank account.

purissima9 purissima10

purissima11 purissima12

Had enough of that magnificent stairway?  Let’s check out the back yard.  Column WIN!  The structure in the center of the first picture below is the guest house.  Only 4 columns.  Not even as much as the decorative set of arches by the pool.

purissima14 purissima15

purissima16 purissima17

But… problems in paradise: there were cracks forming on the paving under that big balcony in that last picture above.  The house was finished this spring.  Should have used real marble!  That’s a waterfall in front of the guest house (columns foreground).  It was a great idea, but not for the reason you may think.


That’s the guest house on the left (above).  So, you thought the mud room was a funny place to put marble columns?  How about taking Mike’s advice and put some in your kitchen!  Or your bathroom!  Oooh-la-la!

purissima7 purissima13

Unfortunately, those MAWBUL CAHLLUMS not only weren’t sold by Fred Armison personally, they aren’t even made of marble!  They’re hollow tubes of concrete!  You’d think for almost nine million dollars the builder would spring for the real stuff?

You’d also think for that many big ones they’d spend a little bit to stage this place properly?  You’d think wrong.  This is what you see when you view each bedroom:


Nothing says, “I’ve got money and power” like a completely empty room.  And when I say empty, I mean there isn’t even a thumbtack on the inside of a closet door.  This house just reeks of empty, as you can see from playing Debbie Does Doric above.  There’s even empty spaces where the builder couldn’t figure out what to do with them, so he turned them into randomly shaped closets in unexpected places.  It’s like those tiny balconies on the second floor of the front of the house.  Those balconies were barely a foot deep.  So you have a room with no window, just a french door to a decorative balcony.

Oh yes, the waterfall.  The waterfall is there to deal with the reality of the lot:


Not quite easy freeway access, but almost!  The waterfall is there so you won’t hear the gentle susurrations of Interstate 280.

In summary, I think this house is still empty because it looks like it was designed by someone who grew up poor and thinks this is how rich people live.  You know, as many faux marble columns as possible.  Faux!  That’s French!  That’s good, rich people speak French!  Heck, call it a faux mansion!

But there is one fantastic feature the agent forgot to mention.  Since nobody ever lived in this house, nobody ever died in it either.  It’s guaranteed to be ghost-free!

Comments (67) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

67 Responses to “Lonely Spec House Needs Care, Decor, and Your Bank Account”

  1. maryjane Says:

    This one is bound to become a Burbed classic! I love everything about it.

  2. maryjane Says:

    I love that it’s on Purissima Road – great name – and that it’s been reduced by $3,000,000.

    This house has everything a Burbed reader could want – except maybe a major sewage spill.

  3. Real Alex Says:

    Classic Roman architecture meets asian lucky number. This may happen only in RBA.

  4. SEA Says:

    Does the neighbor’s driveway count as an added highway?

    madhaus- “Debbie Does Doric”

    Thanks for the laugh.

  5. nomadic Says:

    I love how the $8,888,000 price works out to $808 per square foot. How lucky! A red front door would be icing on the cake.

  6. Gallileo Says:

    Good grief, this builder is an idiot. This is the RBA and faux-marble columns are sooooo tacky and cheap.

    Now, if this build had used *REAL* marble columns, this house would have already sold for seventeen million dollars. Because marble columns make your house more expensive–and therefore more valuable–every single time.

    The real problem here is just that the house isn’t expensive enough.

  7. SanMatean Says:

    I’ve driven by this mega-house a number of times, and always shake my head when I see it- it is ridiculously out of place among the more modest (albeit large) ranch homes that dominate the area. 2 acres of flag-lot just isn’t enough space for a house like this.

    With the notoriously difficult permitting process in LAH, I’m surprised this project didn’t get killed at the planning stage. I’m sure the adjacent neighbors are *thrilled* to have their formerly private backyards now dominated by this mini-Versailles.’

    Oh, and madhaus, I think this is your best write-up yet; you have channeled burbed’s mirth!

  8. Alex Says:

    Geezus, this is an interesting property but as usual…


    Can you throw in a bit of snark at least?

    I like burbed’s style much better. Concise. Succinct. And full of snark.

  9. mike Says:

    the red arrows pointing to the vast number of marble columns made me giggle like a little asian school girl.

  10. DreamT Says:

    Bonus if you visit the property: the tiny stable filled with hay, next to the guest house. No pig or pony ever died inside!

  11. nomadic Says:

    You know, as many faux marble columns as possible. Faux! That’s French! That’s good, rich people speak French! Heck, call it a faux mansion!

    This house just needs a Frenchman with a suitcase full of cash. A blind Frenchman… (The stereotype doesn’t allow a Frenchman with no taste to exist.)

  12. Alex Says:

    Holy mawbul cawlums, Batman! LAWL

  13. madhaus Says:

    #11, Why would a Frenchman want Old World Roman architecture? A Frenchman would want a real mini-Versailles! Versailles has Ionic columns, anyway.

    This builder forgot to include the soft, Corinthian leather.

    #8, you’re just mad because I don’t invite you to lunch with any of my hot Asian friends. Maybe you can find another redhead to give you a faux MAWBUL CAWLUM dance because there aren’t any poles in this palace.

    The stereotypical Frenchman would give you serious envry because he’d have a different mistress in each of those 6 bedrooms.

    #10 That Italianate facade for the stucco barn/stable is another great joke about this place. It doesn’t have a door, so a horse could easily head for 280 anytime he wanted. And that was the only staged room: there’s HAY on the floor. The barn is the southernmost building on the lot, and is blocked by the arches in those shots.

    #1, 4, 7, 9, thank you very much.

  14. sonarrat Says:

    There’s also apparently an “optional elevator.” Does that mean it’s your option to use either the elevator or the stairs? I love it when houses give me choices!

  15. nomadic Says:

    Maybe it’s optional because they put in the shaft (hehe) but not the elevator car.

  16. A. Lewis Says:

    Epic post, madhaus! Love it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the signs of decadence that signal the empire is crumbling. Other times, it’s visible from I-280, and posted on Redfin with lots of 8’s! This is the latter.

    P.S. Your post is not too long! Alex just has a short attention span – I love long posts!

  17. maryjane Says:

    I, for one, wish it had a family chapel. And doesn’t anyone have live-in help anymore? Where’s their wing? No vault room for the jewels and silver? A greenhouse and a turret or two would have been nice. Don’t you hate it when they take shortcuts?

  18. madhaus Says:

    I tell you, #17, this place was designed by the NOKD. Servants’ wing? Vault room? Not even a place to add them in later. What were they thinking?

    I’m stunned there’s no wine cellar or butler’s pantry for goodness sakes! And how can they expect us to entertain properly without a music room? That dreadful home theater labeled on the plans gives the game away, Muffy. Not just arriviste, but nouveau arriviste. I’m not asking for that certain je ne sais quois, but this embarrassment of a house just shrieks je ne sais pas.

    Nine million, and it’s on a subdivided lot. The lower classes are just not like tu et moi.

  19. maryjane Says:

    I’ve always been sorry ballrooms seem to have fallen out of favor. How can you hold a fundraiser in the entry hall? And without holding fundraisers there just isn’t any way to move up in ‘old’ society.

  20. madhaus Says:

    And without holding fundraisers there just isn’t any way to move up in ‘old’ society.

    Some of us are more concerned about people like this builder trying to move “in.” Upstarts. Reminds me of those brash Rockefellers. Why can’t they be content with the place in life we’ve made for them?

  21. Alex Says:

    #13 madhouse,

    you don’t have any hot Asian friends. And hot redheads can dance on my pole any day. LOL

  22. steve Says:

    must come out of retirement to give madhaus crazy props for a string of excellent contributions.

    ps can I come to lunch with your hot asian friends?

  23. Real Estater Says:

    >>ps can I come to lunch with your hot asian friends?

    No need to come out. Just use your imagination. That’s where all his friends are.

  24. anon Says:

    Psst…. Double Dippin’!!!!!!!!!

  25. Real Estater Says:

    For most of the country, now is not the time to sell. Instead, it is a great time to buy a home. Dumb people do exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

    Unfortunately, the news is not applicable to the real Bay Area. I still get frequent letters from local realtors soliciting interest to sell my house. The letter says that despite what you read in the news, the local market is strong, and multiple offers are common.

  26. anon Says:

    Realtors soliciting with lies in hopes of squeezing out themselves a commission? And you believe them?

    You define sucker, real estater. Enjoy your PB&Js…

  27. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > I still get frequent letters from local realtors soliciting interest to sell my house.

    Realtors don’t care if home prices are up or down. As long as there are transactions, they will make money.

  28. Real Estater Says:


    What’s with your animosity toward realtors? Don’t you realize that everyone squeeze profits from you, and not just realtors? It happens every time you go to a restaurant, pump gas, or shop for groceries.

  29. anon Says:

    Not diggin the PB&Js, RE? Not surprising. That’s a quintessential american food. I figure you’re more of a white rice and sardines kind of guy…

  30. SEA Says:

    “Realtors don’t care if home prices are up or down. As long as there are transactions, they will make money.”

    Reminds me of attorneys–no matter if you are right or wrong, your attorney gets paid.

    “Don’t you realize that everyone squeeze profits from you, and not just realtors? It happens every time you go to a restaurant, pump gas, or shop for groceries.”

    Are you describing a zero sum game?

  31. Pralay Says:

    Unfortunately, the news is not applicable to the real Bay Area.

    The above line sounds so familiar! Where did I hear that, where did I hear that?

    Oh, I remember that the word from Jacksonville (Florida) realtor. He was saying that all the bad news are NATIONAL news….which is not applicable to Real Bay Area Jacksonville.

  32. Pralay Says:

    I still get frequent letters from local realtors soliciting interest to sell my house.

    Occasionally I get similar letters too………from car dealers, citing that my car has great value as used one.

    Sometime they mail me the keys of new cars. I believe them.

  33. Pralay Says:

    The letter says that despite what you read in the news, the local market is strong, and multiple offers are common.

    Quite credible…..just like “8 cash offers well over asking (all over $1M)”.

    BTW, that Clara Dr property was sold for $980K.

  34. madhaus Says:

    #28: Realtors prey on people’s deepest hopes and dreams for themselves and their families. Last time I pumped gas I didn’t even talk to an attendant, the restaurant served me exactly what I ordered, and the grocery store has the prices pretty clearly marked.

    In order for the gas station, the restaurant, and the food store to be as morally bankrupt as the realtards, well, it would look like this:


    Attendant: Good morning! May I interest you in our Premium Line of Petroleum Products? Now is the time to buy, because the price will only keep going up with oil shortages.
    Me: That’s ridiculous. Prices go down after the summer travel season.
    A: That’s a misconception. Back to School bounce is here!


    Waitron: Hi, my name is Kassadyye! I’ll be your server tonight!
    Me: Lovely, I’ll be your customer.
    W: We’re having a special today, a 24 ounce Porterhouse steak, only two dollars.
    M: Two dollars? You’re losing money before you even cook it let alone serve it!
    W: You’d like the special, then?
    M: You bet!

    … after dinner

    M: Excuse me, miss, this bill says the steak cost $129. You told me it was a two dollar special.
    W: It is a two dollar special! If you get a loan to pay it back in two hundred easy payments, they’re each two dollars!
    M: I don’t need to take out a loan to have dinner out.
    W: If you don’t need a loan, it’s $129. If you’d like to finance it, it’s just two dollars a week!

    And at the grocery store

    Me: Hey, you charged me six hundred dollars for a pound of pasta!
    Cashier: But this isn’t any ordinary pasta! This is RBA pasta! The price doubles every ten days!
    M: But the price in the aisle said 79 cents! I don’t even buy this brand, I got it because that was a pretty good price.
    C: A lot of people want to try this pasta, so the price is moving up faster than we can relabel the aisles.
    M: Did you know having one price in the aisle and another in the cash register is illegal? And that you have to give me double the difference you overcharged me, up to it being FREE?
    C: Ha, ha, ha! This RBA pasta is never free! Don’t you want your children to have the best pasta possible? Because if you don’t want it, the lady behind you certainly wants to feed it to her children, and then they’ll be more special than yours!
    M Give it to her. If she buys six hundred dollar pasta, she’s a fool.
    C Eight hundred.

  35. Pralay Says:

    Instead, it is a great time to buy a home. Dumb people do exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

    Real Estarer is playing that “right time to buy” broken record since January 2008. And that qualifies him to be NON-dumb personality.

  36. Tuno Says:

    ha, ha, ha, what a ridiculous enormous POS, right next to 280!

    great post.

    of course, no need for a library, since they have a Media Room. and no need for the family chapel that maryjane suggested, since if you’re This Grand the stall with hay is for the Baby Jesus, no need to deal with His reps.

  37. Pralay Says:

    A Frenchman would want a real mini-Versailles! Versailles has Ionic columns, anyway.

    Another Versailles is sold in east coast. Just wait and watch. Our Silicon Valley Versailles will be sold pretty soon. The realtors said to our real estate expert that “the local market is strong, and multiple offers are common”.

  38. SEA Says:

    madhaus- #34

    Now is the time to buy pasta! In fact, I’m thinking buy a truckload, but make sure it’s all RBA pasta. Let’s call it, “adding to your retirement nest egg.”

    Maybe you could specialize in special tulip colors.

    Just like RBA housing, it will be very difficult to know when to sell–you will probably have to hold that pasta until death, you know, so you can pass it on to the next generation…

  39. nomadic Says:

    While madhaus’ examples in #34 were hugely entertaining, I’ll give you a more serious answer, RE. People gripe about real estate commissions because they are a percentage of the transaction rather than being tied to any semblance of value for the services rendered.

  40. SEA Says:

    “People gripe about real estate commissions because they are a percentage of the transaction rather than being tied to any semblance of value for the services rendered.”

    In the RBA the “over-bidding” takes care of the sales commissions.

  41. A. Lewis Says:

    As usual, RE is exactly wrong. It’s absolutely the right time to sell in the RBA. You can get out near the top. It is usually good advice to do the opposite of what RE suggests. Gosh, you could almost make an investment strategy out of it.

    RE, I’d like to place some bets, so in addition to your prediction that RBA real estate values will go up from here, could you tell me right now:

    Should I buy or sell the S&P 500 index?
    Will US 10 year treasury rates go up or down?
    Will the US dollar go up or down vs. the Euro, and vs. the Yen?
    Should I buy or sell gold?

    Thanks very much for the value you bring.

  42. nomadic Says:

    maryjane? if you’re out there, I found the house for your charity events. They say you can fit 300 people “for a seated affair.” It has some token columns at the front entry.

  43. SanMatean Says:

    Looks like a place down the street just became available:

    So… $2M for a 2K sqft 3/2 house on 1.75 acres, or $8.8M for le petite Versailles 2 houses down? A 6.8 million dollar differential in houses 100 yards apart. That means those columns are worth like 100K apiece!

  44. SEA Says:

    A. Lewis- Real Estater’s logic goes something like this:

    1. You should look at past performance to predict the future.

    Using this basic logic, I am wondering how much should I offer on a home. You know, if I offer too little, I might wreck the past performance. So by paying less, I am actually getting a worse deal.

    2. The “over-bidding” will take care of your kids’ educational needs.

    Using this logic, how much should one offer on the home with the near 18 year old triplets, and that’s not to mention the 16 year old twins? How much would “worried mom” offer? She wants her kids’ education taken care of too. See #1.

    3. It’s special in the RBA. Very special. As Alex knows, every redheaded Asian is unique, just like every other. Every crow thinks her chicks are the blackest.

    4. It’s not a RBA problem; it’s a hater problem. You know, sour grapes. (Sour grapes are not found in the RBA. Nope. Never. — If you are not getting the results you wanted, you may have paid too little, see #1. Or possibly you didn’t produce enough teen children, see #2. Maybe your property is not special, see #3. If none of those apply, you must be a hater, RBA wannabe.)

  45. A. Lewis Says:

    They can call me a hater, but they can’t make me overpay for a home.

    Interesting: Renowned housing bear, IrvineRenter thinks that some property in Las Vegas is definitely worth investing in!

    It’s an interesting point of view. But it does assume finding renters, and rents not going down. I don’t know enough about the Las Vegas rental market to opine cogently, but I thought they had a pretty big overstock of homes…

  46. SEA Says:

    A. Lewis- I imagine that Real Estater considers me a hater too. Oh well.

    If we make some nice assumptions about future rents, prices have come down to the point where it makes sense to purchased based on operations rather than finance.

    Renting a place at less than 5% of the purchase price? So many people suggested how horrible that was, even if the interest of the mortgage was more than 5%. You know, pay 5% interest on an asset that is going up by 10%-15%, or more. Prices cannot go lower. Rents never go lower. You know the rules.

    What? You mean prices can go lower? No way!

    Since prices are falling faster than rents, the annual rent as a percent of market value is increasing.

    I’ve been looking at what should have been RBA property, and my own personal non-scientific sample suggests that real RBA property is very difficult to find, based on historic results. Based on recent sales, I am finding many homes that were actually outside of the RBA. But then again, RBA homes do not come on the market often. Who knows, maybe we will have a full year of no RBA sales. My guess is the year of no RBA sales is 2005.

    Maybe Real Estater can find a few Real RBA homes that sold in 2005 and again in 2010 that went up by more than 40%, with only light bulbs and Drano for maintenance, repairs, etc.

  47. maryjane Says:

    Nomadic – you found my dream home! I’ve spent YEARS looking for a tasteful mixture of Craftsman, Cape Cod and Country English with an old world feel. I get bored so easily and in this palace I could just walk from room to room whenever I need a change of architecture. It has a library so people will think I read books and I can entertain 300 of my closest friends at those sit down dinners I throw every Thursday night. Two master suites are perfect since Pitch, the love of my life, picked up that nasty little bug on his trip to Thailand. But why would I, the Lady of the Manor, have to pay Homeowner’s Dues to some peasant organization? I’m afraid I don’t understand. Who is this HOA which thinks they have a right to even have an opinion about what I do with my dream castle?

  48. nomadic Says:

    The HOA? Why, that’s Les Chateaux de Notre Dame of course! They send out footmen on horses to sweep the street each week.

    Now, about my finder’s fee… 😉

  49. maryjane Says:

    Les Chateaux de Notre Dame. Hmm. Do they have the chapel and do I have to share?

  50. Real Estater Says:

    SEA spends way too much time indulging himself in worthless thought.

  51. Pralay Says:

    Will the US dollar go up or down vs. the Euro, and vs. the Yen?

    May 14th: 1 Euro = $1.23
    Today: 1 Euro = $1.26

    What a “BOUNCE”!!!

  52. SEA Says:

    Real Estater- “SEA spends way too much time indulging himself in worthless thought.”

    It’s ticking away with my sanity…

  53. madhaus Says:

    #52 — what a video. We have a pair that look like they should be working in a NY pizza parlor (or maybe a numbers racket): the keyboardist and the drummer. Looks like Buster Brown is the lead vocalist, and they found a Viking to play lead guitar. The bass player ought to be running the numbers joint.

    Seriously, that vocalist ought to do something about his eyeballs. If he keeps rolling them around like that, they’ll get stuck that way.

  54. madhaus Says:

    #22: Anytime, steve, anytime. Have your people call my people at My secretary, Petsmart Groomer, will get back to you.

    #33: But that was a year ago! It’s probably worth even less now!

    #36: Thank you, and you’re right, the lack of a library is another sign we’re dealing with post-literate proles.

    #42: That’s an interesting property you found. No library, though, plus it’s five years old, so I’ve got to depreciate it a bit. A hundred dollars for the HOA? Can’t afford it!

    #43: Another housing WIN! I love what they did with the, um, lawn.

    #47: Oh my dear Muffy, you are TOO much.

  55. nomadic Says:

    #54, yes it does have a library. (First pic, second row.)

    I’d be more concerned about how the house almost appears to be sinking in the front view.

  56. SEA Says:

    Asking price update: With the ever increasing RBA market, it was time to increase the asking price $100,000, net of the $80,000,000 price cut.

    Jan 30, 2011 Price Changed $8,988,000 — MLSListings #81104229
    Jan 30, 2011 Listed (Active) $89,880,000 — MLSListings #81104229
    Jan 07, 2011 – Delisted (Expired) — — Inactive MLSListings #1

  57. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Reduced to $7.4M.

  58. SEA Says:

    “BIG PRICE REDUCTION!! Unsurpassed Construction and Architectural Design in Silicon Valley’s most desired location close to Stanford University, Sand Hill Rd(VC Alley), Great Access to the Best Hi-Tech Companies. Rare 11,000 sqft estate on 2 acres, with 6bdrms, offices, theatre Rm, Fitness Rm, + 2bed/2bth, full Kitchen. Resort style Backyard with Pool/spa, Sauna, winebar, Award winning Palo Alto Schools.”

    Since it’s ‘average tech guys’ who buy multimillion dollar homes, they need to be informed that there is access to the ‘Best Hi-Tech Companies.’

  59. nomadic Says:

    #57, I’m aghast. When you said it was reduced to $7.4M I figured you were rounding from $7,388,888 but they really do have a “4” in the price! WTF?

  60. SEA Says:

    Priced for ‘average tech guy,’ not China man with suitcase of cash.

  61. madhaus Says:

    I can’t believe they’ve held onto this place as long as they have without either a price reduction or springing for some staging furniture (at least there wasn’t any when I visited the place last year). The photos on Redfin and the Virtual Tour still show the place is even emptier than a museum, as a museum has the occasional bench and some art on the walls. (The old virtual tour mentioned in the article above is gone, but the new one looks similar. Annoying light jazz, though.)

  62. Petsmart groomer Says:

    This place needs more columns.

    About the music, they should go with something like this instead.

  63. sonarrat Says:

    Still for sale, $7,188,000. Over two years without a buyer now.

    “Magnificent architecture with palatial features in heart of Silicon Valley. Spanning 11,000 sqft, no detail overlooked in solar powered house. Main house offers 4 bedrms, 5.5 bathrms, fitness rm, 2 offices & a theatre along with a 2 bed and 2 bath guesthouse. All with an entertainment complex with pool/spa, waterfalls recalling the best of French architecture on sun-swept 2acres-Palo Alto Schools”

  64. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Reduced to $6,998,000. The best part? “Sellers may look at a long term lease.”

    At least now it is staged.

  65. Elegant, stoidy, and boisting with class [] Says:

    […] since we featured this empty spec house, Burbed readers have asked for more homes in KawlumVision.  Today’s featured listing says […]

  66. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    Can’t wait for it to get down to sub 5 mil. It MIGHT sell then.

  67. madhaus Says:

    Sold on June 29th for… $6,150,000.

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