August 11, 2010

Cupertino Schools, Santa Clara utilities



Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,392
$/Sq. Ft.: $538
Lot Size: 6,615 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1958
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81036828
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 7 days

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for this find.

Best of both worlds indeed! You simply can’t imagine all the times I’ve heard “Wow, if only this house didn’t have those dreaded Cupertino utilities attached.”

But now… you have the opportunity to get fresh Santa Clara spring water. Yum yum! And Cupertino schools. Hurray!


Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear that there are only sprinklers in the front yard.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:44 am

August 10, 2010

It’s Search Engine Tuesday!

Recently someone found this site by searching Google for “low income housing mountain view ca.”  How trashy!  If you’re going to search Mountain View for low-income housing, then use a low-income search engine, preferentially one that isn’t located in Mountain View.

Here’s just one result the lucky looker found!  Affordable housing’ bad for quality of life – Mountain View.  That sounds like a NIMBY worldview, absolutely perfect for a Real Bay Area (RBA) city like Mountain View!  It’s much better quality of life to spend half your income on rent, or even better, 2/3 of it on buying a house!

It turns out that there are enough results for “affordable housing” and “mountain view” on burbed that this is a starred site for that search term!

Well.  We had better do something about that.  Everyone knows there is no affordable housing in the RBA.  If it were affordable, anyone could move in.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

August 9, 2010

Survey: Bay Area workers highest paid in 2009

Survey: Bay Area workers highest paid in 2009
Data shows workers in nine-county Bay Area earned 20 percent more than national average

Workers in the Bay Area were the highest paid on average in the nation last year, according to data released Friday, July 23, by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data showed workers in the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland metropolitan area earned 20 percent more than the national average in 2009, the agency said.

The survey included the nine-county Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, in that category, according to bureau economist Todd Johnson. The data showed above-average wages in all of the employment categories surveyed, but particularly among construction jobs, service jobs, sales, office and administrative jobs, and professionals.

Workers in the Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, metropolitan area on the U.S.-Mexico border were paid the least, earning 79 cents for every dollar earned by workers nationwide, the agency said. Bay Area workers also were the highest paid in 2008, earning 17 percent more than the national average, according to Johnson.

— Bay City News Service

No wonder everyone’s still dying to move here! And that can mean only one thing: $800 per square foot is here to stay!

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

August 8, 2010

Rates That Couldn’t Possibly Go Any Lower Go Lower

Mortgage rates hit another low: 4.49 percent for 30-year fixed loans

By Alan Zibel, Associated Press

Posted: 08/05/2010 12:23:31 PM PDT
Updated: 08/05/2010 05:29:43 PM PDT

WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates dropped to the lowest level in decades for the sixth time in seven weeks, offering the most attractive opportunity for those who qualify to refinance or purchase a home.

Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.49 percent, down from 4.54 percent last week. That’s the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed loan dropped to 3.95 percent, down from 4 percent last week and the lowest on record.

Rates have fallen since spring as investors seek the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds. That has lowered the yield on Treasurys [sic]. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.

The last time home loan rates were lower was during the 1950s, when most mortgages lasted just 20 or 25 years.

Time for someone to call  the bottom again, meanwhile mortgage rates have dropped even more.  Has everyone doubled down on their underwater houses like the Wall Street Journal suggested?  Should we have a pool on what the mortgage rates will be on December 31st this year?  Now that’s an “up or down vote!”

National Average Contract Mortgage Rate

National Average Contract Mortgage Rates, 1963-2010
Reproduced with the permission of

There’s one little tidbit in the article above that had me scratching my head: it says mortgages in the 1950s had a shorter term of 20 or 25 years.  That implies the typical 30 year mortgage came later as housing stock grew more expensive relative to income.  The suggestion of the 40 year mortgage was embraced with the same positive enthusiasm that met New Coke.

But here’s an academic paper from our old friend Robert J. Shiller (yes, the Shiller in Case-Shiller). He maintains the 30 year mortgage was introduced in the 1950s, pushed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), see page 15.  In 1934, the FHA had recommended 20 year fixed rate mortgages. The previous year, a new agency called the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) required fixed 15s over the old way to buy a house: five year loans with balloon payments rolled into new loans when due.  Hey, those became fashionable again, they’re called 5/1s!  What was that about those who don’t learn from history?

So, all clear for take-off?  Not so fast.  Despite historic low interest rates, new mortgages and refinances are barely up from the previous week.  Meanwhile the usual complaints about high unemployment, tight credit, and slow job growth continue to depress the housing market.  Fewer buyers signed home purchase contracts this June than any time since 2001.  Maybe things will improve when the banks start paying the buyers interest instead of the other way round!

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

August 7, 2010

The Joy of Open Houses

Today’s item was sent in by burbed reader Pralay.  Wow, this is disturbing!  Thanks for making sure we’ll never look at an open house the same way again!

Thieves targeting open house events in the West Valley

By Chris Vongsarath

Posted: 08/04/2010 04:42:52 PM PDT
Updated: 08/05/2010 08:02:29 PM PDT

It seems thieves in the West Valley are using houses on the market as a marketplace to do their own brand of shopping.

Reports are starting to circulate in the real estate community about people attending open house events and walking off with more than the listing price. The crime usually involves an individual or group of people pretending to be interested in the home and then stealing valuables when nobody’s looking.

Police departments are starting to hear more about the crimes recently, but some real estate agents say they have been taking place for several months. The most recent case happened on Walnut Drive in Campbell last weekend and resulted in an arrest, thanks to the homeowners being alerted prior to the open house event.

"In all my years, I’ve never had anything ever stolen or taken," said Derek Deaton, a Realtor with more than 20 years of experience.

The article goes on to describe some alert Campbell homeowners who staked out their own property during an open house and nabbed themselves a repeat thief.  They caught a woman red-handed who was helping herself to perfume and vitamin supplements.  Vitamin supplements?  Guess that’s what’s worth stealing in Campbell.

I’ve heard of attending open houses for the free cookies, but this is a little too much.  Have you any experience with either having something taken during an open house, or actually seeing a theft while attending one?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

August 6, 2010

Best places for the rich and single in the Bay Area

Thanks to Burbed reader BK for this find!

6. Milpitas, CA

Milpitas, CA

Population: 67,503

Single: 30.4%

Median family income: $113,735

Ever dream of flying? Give it a try in this Silicon Valley town, which serves as the epicenter of Northern California’s hang gliding and paragliding community. Milpitas has one of the largest ratios of residents to parkland in the San Francisco Bay area. All that wide-open green space and a warm, Mediterranean-like climate make it great for outdoor sports all year-round, and young singles enjoy hiking, fishing and cycling in Ed R. Levin Park. Plus, the dog park there can be a great place to find puppy love. –A.C.

Go Milpitas! What? No mention of… The Smell?

7. Sunnyvale, CA

Sunnyvale, CA

Population: 133,876

Single: 30%

Median family income: $110,276

Geek is chic in this hub for tech companies, where you’re likely to meet an engineer from Yahoo!, Honeywell, Palm or Lockheed Martin at the latest Tweetup or “Tech and Beer” happy hour. Flirt over the latest gadgets and a cup of Joe at the Sunnyvale Art Gallery’s café, where Thursday is open mic night. Or take a romantic walk through the historic Murphy Avenue area downtown — a popular place for bar-hopping, open-air summer concerts and farmers markets. –A.C.

Congrats Sunnyvale! Nothing says chic like big box office buildings that you have to cross a giant parking lot to get to. Nope, nothing at all.

8. Mountain View, CA

Mountain View, CA

Population: 73,093

Single: 34.8%

Median family income: $109,215

With NASA and Google in town, Mountain View is the perfect place to find a rocket scientist. Googlers alone range from former neurosurgeons, CEOs and puzzle champions to alligator wrestlers and Marines, so there’s no shortage of interesting dates. But since eligible bachelors outnumber women in this town, the savviest singles may want to head to wine-tasting classes, get involved in a local charity, or try yoga — instead of standing around in a bar. –A.C.

Woot Mountain View! Wait… eligible bachelors outnumber women in this town? Only this town? No way!

BTW, where is this photo taken?

10. Santa Clara, CA

Santa Clara, CA

Population: 110,200

Single: 34%

Median family income: $105,516

European-style streets lined with upscale shops, spas and restaurants give this Silicon Valley `burb a sophisticated appeal. Stroll along Santana Row for luxury boutiques and bars. Like many of Santa Clara’s neighboring towns, you’re likely to meet wealthy techies here, but that’s not all. Since the 49ers are headquartered here, you can also rub elbows with eligible single football players and cheerleaders. –A.C.

So true. You can’t walk a foot without bumping into a 49er.

Ok, confession: I did not know Santana Row was in Santa Clara. It’s so confusing over there.

15. San Jose, CA

San Jose, CA

Population: 948,279

Single: 31.3%

Median family income: $100,219

There’s a reason San Jose’s residents jokingly refer to their city as “Man Jose.” Since men outnumber women in Silicon Valley’s high-tech jobs, the dating scene is disproportionately male. Meet the dot-com millionaire of your dreams in the city’s downtown area, which offers a technology museum, several parks, free concerts, an outdoor ice rink in the winter and — great for those nerdy dates — the world’s largest outdoor Monopoly board. –A.C.

Dot-com millionaires? Whoa… dated. But nonetheless, congrats to Man Jose!

Comments (9) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:23 am

August 5, 2010

Old Palo Alto Exits the RBA

Today’s listing and comments are thanks to burbed reader Gallileo.  Many thanks!  Remember, if you see an interesting property for sale and would like to see it featured here, please email us a link to the listing and anything you have to say.  Alright, give it up for Gallileo!

Old Palo Alto, feeling ashamed at being only the third leading income city in the nation, has decided to leave the RBA (Real Bay Area).

1227 Fulton Street, Palo Alto, CA  94301

1227 fulton

SQ. FT.: 2,114
$/SQ. FT.: $639
LOT SIZE: 5,625 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Community Center
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81036220
STATUS: Pending Without Release
ON REDFIN: 14 days

Cozy 2-story home in highly desirable Palo Alto Community Center; 4b2bth, spacious LV & Dining rm; Private master bdrm upstairs; Quiet bckyrd w/ mature trees along property perimeter; Tree lined street, quiet neighborhood, surrounded by houses of stylish architectural details; Walking distance to libraries, community center, parks, schools; Short Distance to downtown shopping and restaurants

A nice old house on a nice old Palo Alto street, on the right side of Middlefield Road.  You can walk to Steve Jobs’ house, the children’s library, downtown and Rinconada park.

This area has just left the RBA because this house sold for $1.7 million in 2007 and is now on the market as a foreclosure at $1.35 million.  It was on and off the market all of 2009 at a wide variety of prices (always less than the 2007 price) but it didn’t sell.  A sad day for Old Palo Alto, but we’ll always have 94306!

Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

August 4, 2010

Very affordable Cupertino house–close to 280. Real close.

10690 STOKES Ave Cupertino, CA 95014



Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,666
$/Sq. Ft.: $599
Lot Size: 7,455 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1970
Community: Cupertino
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81016634
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 116 days
* Open house Sat-Sun 7/24-25 1:30-4:30 * Ditz Crane builder home. Spacious floor plan. Formal living & dining room. Large family room kitchen w/ fireplace & breakfast bar. Hardwood flrs under most carpeting. Xlnt Cupertino schls: Stevens Creek Elem/Kennedy Middle/Monta Vista High! Oversized back yard. Walk to park. Desirable n’hood. Minutes to 280/85 DeAnza College, shopping & other public amenities.

Thanks to burbed reader A/GQ for this find!

Wow! It’s a Ditz Crane builder home. That means… uh… it’s a Ditz Crane home.

I like the positioning that this is just minutes from DeAnza. Is this house supposed to be a great deal for parents who are looking to buy their student children a home – as an investment? Perplexing.

But let’s get to the meat of the matter – why is this so darn cheap? Just $599 per square foot? This is insulting! Where’s the $888 happy ending? Shouldn’t people be “stoked” for this house?

Oh… wait…


Oh. Yeah. That sort of explains the oversized back yard. But look at the power lines! Free energy possibility?

Another thing that’s inaccurate about this listing? It’s really seconds to 280.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:37 am

August 3, 2010

What Ever Happened To…

Here’s a find from burbed reader Eric, who noticed something odd in Los Altos:

Subject: Los Altos short sale – what happened to 919 Lundy?

Hi,I browse though you site every once in a while – here’s a Los Altos home that seemed to have sold for a lot less than its last sale price – 33%! I’m wondering if there was a lot split or something since the price dropped so much.  If you find it interesting, too, maybe you can post it to to see how your readers react to this?

A 33% haircut?  That could never happen in the Real Bay Area!  Let’s take a look.

919 Lundy Ln, Los Altos, CA 94024


Beds: 6
Baths: 3.5
Sq. Ft.: 3,729
$/Sq. Ft.: $536
Lot Size: 0.49 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Spanish
Stories: 2
View: Mountains, Neighborhood
Year Built: 2005
Community: Country Club
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81011846
Source: MLSListings
Status: Sold

This is it! Beautiful custom built home with all the upgrades! Enchanting Spanish style home is located next to the exclusive Los Altos Country Club. The home features expansive cozy gourmet kitchen with hi-end Thermador Appliance, gas stove, breakfast bar, granite and marble finishes, family great room with cathedral ceilings, distressed wood floors and fireplace. Absolutely Enchanting!

The agent sure seems excited about this place, the expensive, sorry “expansive cozy gourmet kitchen” has a “hi-end Thermador appliance” and the wood floors are quite distressed.  I’d imagine the seller was distressed, too, at these numbers:

Property History for 919 LUNDY Ln

td>Inactive MLSListings #1

Date Event Price Appreciation Source
Jul 21, 2010 Sold (Public Records) $2,000,000 -8.9%/yr Public Records
Jul 20, 2010 Sold (MLS) $2,000,000 Inactive MLSListings #81011846
Mar 23, 2010 Delisted Inactive MLSListings #81011846
Mar 12, 2010 Listed $1,879,999 Inactive MLSListings #81011846
Apr 07, 2009 Delisted Inactive MLSListings #3
Feb 21, 2009 Price Changed $2,698,000 Inactive MLSListings #3 posted on burbed
Jan 21, 2009 Listed Inactive MLSListings #3
Nov 25, 2008 Delisted Inactive MLSListings #2
Oct 15, 2008 Price Changed Inactive MLSListings #2
Oct 01, 2008 Price Changed Inactive MLSListings #2
Sep 10, 2008 Price Changed Inactive MLSListings #2
Jun 10, 2008 Listed Inactive MLSListings #2
Mar 15, 2006 Sold (Public Records) $3,000,000 65.7%/yr Public Records
Nov 28, 2005 Delisted Inactive MLSListings #1
Oct 18, 2005 Listed
May 27, 2004 Sold (Public Records) $1,210,000 45.4%/yr Public Records
Sep 09, 2003 Sold (Public Records) $925,000 3.8%/yr Public Records
Aug 08, 1989 Sold (Public Records) $545,000 Public Records

Wow, the 2003 flipper must be pleased, but the 2004 owner did even better!  Buy an older house, tear it down, and rebuild in 2005.  The best hint I can find on how old: 923 Lundy next door was built in 1950.  No hint about a split lot, as 923’s owners have been there since 1994.

The sale records for 919, though, are fast and furious. Plus, according to PropertyShark, the 2004 buyer was not the 2006 seller.  A quick trip to the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office (website) reveals a March, 2005 transaction, where the four owners of the house added an additional two more. Wow, is this a house or a hot potato?  Then, in 2006, all six owners sold the new construction to today’s featured knifecatcher.  And that lucky liener was under a $2,051,000 variable mortgage from IndyMac.  Anyone who realizes that this is $51,000 more than the house sold for last week gets a gold star.

Another couple bought the house in July, but the story doesn’t end with the new happy homeowners.  There are a few documents from the July sale, and one of them is a “Deed of Trust and Request Notice of Default” from Charles Schwab Bank. Anyone in a title capacity want to explain what that means?  The sale had the usual Grant deed, then a power of attorney from one buying spouse to the other, and a subordinate mortgage between the buyers and the Schwab bank.  But a NOD right on the day of acquisition?

I know!  We can ask California Notary Public Service!

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

August 2, 2010

Toxic-Waste Sites Haunt Silicon Valley

Toxic-Waste Sites Haunt Silicon Valley

The situation in East Palo Alto is a reminder that even as Silicon Valley positions itself as an eco-friendly clean-technology center, the tech industry’s underbelly continues to scar the region. Many toxic sites in the region are a byproduct of local operations like semiconductor manufacturing that flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, says Jim Blamey, hazardous materials program manager for the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health.

While semiconductor manufacturing has since largely moved offshore, "the legacy is still here," says Mr. Blamey.

Overall, Santa Clara County has 23 National Priority List sites—the sites eligible for financing from the Superfund, a federal cleanup program for abandoned toxic sites—the most in the nation ahead of Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County, which has 17 such sites, according to the EPA. Alameda County has three such sites. And while San Mateo County has no National Priority List sites, it has 21 Brownfield sites, which the EPA has identified as possibly being "complicated" by contamination. That includes the area around Romic.

All of this is costly for local companies. Chip giant Intel Corp. has paid a "substantial" amount of money over the years to clean up toxic waste left over in part from its past manufacturing operations in Silicon Valley, says a spokesman. Similarly, Applied Materials Inc. has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for local cleanups in recent years, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. paid approximately $2.7 million between 2004 and 2009 for cleanup activities of three groundwater contamination sites in Sunnyvale, according to the EPA and the companies

The 12.6-acre parcel where Romic’s plant stood was used for recycling toxic waste as early as 1956, according to documents from state environmental agencies. Romic began officially operating in 1964, processing materials from clients like Hewlett-Packard Co. The EPA’s Mr. Leach says Romic pumped waste directly into the ground—which was legal at the time—until the 1970s, when the regional water-quality board intervened.

According to documents from California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, Romic was cited 53 times between 1999 and 2004 for violations including storing waste in unauthorized areas. In 2005, the company settled with the state over the violations for $849,500, while admitting no wrongdoing.

A year later, a leak at Romic’s facility led to the release of a visible cloud over the area. DTSC investigators later found the cause was 4,000 gallons of used solvent that was improperly mixed in a tanker truck. Romic settled with San Mateo County over the incident for $350,000 but admitted no wrongdoing, according to the DTSC.

All of this may sound negative, but really – it just adds to the specialness of Silicon Valley. It’s got “character” … heck, maybe even “flavor”!

Comments (8) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:25 am