September 21, 2010

Original DecoratedShow House with Taste of Elegance

Here’s another peek at what Redwood City has to offer in 2010: 2006 pricing!  Thanks to burbed reader sonarrat for all of these wonderful finds in that Special place with Climate Best by Government Test!

941 4th Ave  Redwood City, CA 94063

image Beds: 2
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 900
$/Sq. Ft.: $700
Lot Size: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1937
Community: Dumbarton
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81030485
Source: MLSListings
On Redfin: 94 days

A 1937 Bungalow, an Original DecoratedShow House, updated with a taste of elegance, all new appliances in a Gourmet Designer Kitchen with Natural Caesar Stone Countertops. Original Parquet floors with feature strips. Dining Room with Coved Ceiling enhanced by indirect lighting. Updated Bathroom with all new fixtures. The latest energy saver Tankless Water Heater. 2 Car Garage, Carport & Workshop.

Small homes built in 1937 definitely had huge mouthfuls of elegance.  The economy was just booming then, so it was very important to impress all the neighbors!  Do you think those are original Natural Caesar Stone Countertops, too?  Maybe some crazy kazillionaire imported them direct from Rome! 

I just can’t wait to read those feature strips on the Original Parquet floors.  Maybe they’ll have some classic Krazy Kat or Little Orphan Annie for you to enjoy. If there’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century I might buy this place myself just for that floor.  You’re going to need some kind of entertainment if you buy this place, because there certainly won’t be enough room in your budget for cable.

So what does it mean when this place features a 2 Car Garage, Carport & Workshop?  Sounds like there’s more square footage in the outbuildings than the house.

image Speaking of that taste of elegance, just what the heck is going on with this fireplace?  A shrine?  A giant mousehole to accommodate Rodents of Unusual Size?  A crater?  The Trompe-l’œil tunnel that the high-speed locomotive comes roaring out of to flatten poor Wile E. Coyote?

Check out the mini palm trees on the mantle.  They make the whole living room wall look like a pleasant tropical isle… that’s about to erupt and cover your Original Parquet floors with molten lava.  Feature strips included.

That wouldn’t be so bad, though.  You can sell this place to the next sucker homedebtor by touting the “Custom Obsidian floors” with “feature tips.”

You’re laughing, but when this place goes for $629,950,000,000 in the 25th Century because of the Original Parquet floors with feature strips, that seller will be laughing even harder. 

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

September 20, 2010

A perfect house for Asians who luv 2 txt

114 HOBART Ave San Mateo, CA 94402



Beds: 2
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,330
$/Sq. Ft.: $489
Lot Size:
Property Type: Townhouse
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1977
Community: Aragon
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81043938
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 1 day
New Listing (24 hours)

STUNNIG!Totally remodeled w/ nothing but the very best. U have 2 c it 2 believe it. Rare TOWN HOUSE In Baywood Scools. Fabulous Hom w/ designer touches. Custom H/WFLOORS downstairs & Custom carpeting upstairs. Remodeled Kitchen w/ Nu Cabinetry, Granite C. Tops, S/Steel Appliances. 2 many upgrades to list. U will be PROUD 2 show. Laundry Area inside, 2 Car parking, 6 units only. Escrow:1st. American, Burlingame

Thanks to Burbed reader Jeff for this find!

This is a perfect house for Asians who luv 2 txt. Look, it ends with 888! That means it is Asian friendly. Look, it uses phrases like “u have 2 c it 2 believe it”! That means it is friendly for texters.

Look, the community is called Aragon – LOTR fans where are  you?

Without a doubt, this is the very best you can get for $489 per square foot. Just look at the pictures… err… picture.

I’m not sure what you’re waiting for… oh, you’re not a txting 8zn that luvs lotr? uh… well… how about your co-workers then?

Comments (68) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:09 am

September 19, 2010

California has 2.3M homes underwater–but what about the Real Bay Area?

California has 2.3M ‘underwater’ homes

San Francisco Business Times – by Steven E.F. Brown

California is one of five states with the most “negative equity” in its home market, according to a report by CoreLogic Inc.

The Santa Ana business (NYSE: CLGX) said 33 percent of residential properties with mortgages in the Golden State were “underwater,” meaning the property is worth less than is owed on the loan. The figures are for the end of the second quarter.

That works out to 2.26 million underwater properties in the state. Another 286,000 homes were “near negative equity.”

Total outstanding mortgage debt in California was $2.03 trillion at the end of the second quarter, according to the report.

Though California’s rate of negative equity dropped 1.3 percent from the first quarter to the second, a quick rate of decrease, that was “primarily due to foreclosure, not the stabilization or small increases in prices in some markets,” the report said.

Thanks to Burbed reader Mark for this find!

Now sure this might seem gloomy at first, but think about it – this is about California as a whole. This includes places like… the Indio and the East Bay. Of course it’s going to look bad.

The real question, of course, is: what is it like in the Real Bay Area?

My hunch – 102% of houses (maybe not condos or townhouses) are above water.

Does anyone have data on this?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am

September 18, 2010

WSJ’s Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Home

Many thanks to burbed reader nomadic for sending in this provocative essay. And if there’s one thing we can rely on the Wall Street Journal for, it’s got to be meaningless flamebait!

10 Reasons To Buy a Home

Columnist's name

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership. Brett Arends explains why owning a home is a good thing.

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.

Sure, maybe there’s more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare “Owning a home may no longer make economic sense,” it’s time to say: Enough is enough. This is what “capitulation” looks like. Everyone has given up.


The Sept. 6 cover of Time magazine: This is what capitulation looks like.

After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. “Home Sweet Home,” declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: “Will your house make you rich?”

But it’s not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it’s good to buy a home.

1. You can get a good deal.
2. Mortgages are cheap.
3. You’ll save on taxes.
4. It’s your house; you can do what you want with it.
5. You’ll get a better home then a crappy rental property.
6. It offers inflation protection.
7. Sooner or later real estate prices will head up again
8. It’s forced savings.
9. There is a lot to choose from.
10. Sooner or later, the market will clear.

I had no idea The Wall Street Journal was a wholly-owned division of the National Association of Realtors.  The calendar says it’s September, not April, so this isn’t a joke they’re playing on us either.  Either this writer just came back from a Kool-Aid party or he’s heavily long in residential construction.  Then again, it seems this isn’t the first time he’s made a complete idiot of himself just to generate traffic.

This is the most bizarre mix of naiveté, insouciance, and out-and-out Lawrence Yunnery.  Just as an example, here’s Arends’ reasoning for #5:

In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you’re better off buying.

I don’t know where these “many parts of the country” are, but I suspect they’re in places where homes are so cheap, anyone who can buy already has.  In high-income, high-housing cost regions, such as New York City, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, rentals are readily available.  Knowledge workers are often on the move, and either won’t commit to buying, or simply rent their home out when jetting off to another assignment.

I’m sure burbed readers will find plenty of fault with this list, and so conclude with this simple rebuttal:

Top 10 Reasons Not to Buy a House Now

10. Enjoy the bankruptcy-free lifestyle
9. Can live close to work no matter where work ends up being
8. No public record in county recorder’s office of where you live
7. Time Magazine finally catches up with a trend that you’ve been ahead of for years
6. When you’re tired of being underwater, you just climb onto the shore and towel off
5. Three words that don’t apply to you: Monthly equity burn
4. You want to have all your cash on the sidelines with interest rates this low
3. Payback for those smug jerks showing off the toys they bought in 2006 from mortgage equity withdrawal
2. Landlords have plenty of people to evict ahead of you if you’re a few days late with the rent

And the Number One reason not to buy a house now:

1. It’s the economy, stupid.

Update: Looks like several burbed readers couldn’t wait for this article and the party has already started.  Here are some of the lists they’ve come up with so far.

From burbed reader Alex:

Top 10 reasons to delay buying a home

1) better deals are coming
2) mortgages will get cheaper
3) you’ll save more by avoiding the impending price drop
4) you don’t have to maintain the house (change light bulbs, draino) if you rent for a while longer; if your big sh*t clogs the toilet, just call the property manager
5) for the same amount of money, you can get a much better rental than a crappy house
6) you’re protected against deflation
7) it’s forced saving by not throwing your money away at depreciating assets
8) real estate ain’t going up for a loooooong time
9) there will be even more to choose from in a few years
10) the market will clear in a few years when the shadow inventory is finally put up for sale and the government stop d*cking around with their feeble market-propping measures

This would be a perfect list if only the author had properly spelled out the word “ducking.”

From burbed reader DreamT:

Top 10 reasons to buy a home now

1. If you don’t buy it, someone else will. You wouldn’t want to be a loser, would you?
2. Grass will be greener than your current place, which has none.
3. You can mock the renters, or treat them with contempt, or just haughtily ignore them
4. Now you Belong!
5. Your wife’s happy. Your kid’s happy. If your family’s normal, you’re therefore happy.
6. Nothing worse than idle money sitting on a savings account. Make it work for you! An empty savings account is a good savings account.
7. [Another burbed reader] will be your friend, or your BFF if you’re Chinese and like to eat at Dynasty.
8. You’ll get promoted, just like [Another burbed reader]. It’s inevitable.
9. You can stop wondering when is a good time to buy. Done!
10. You missed your chance yesterday. Care to make the same mistake again today?

Top 10 reasons not to buy a home

1. Surprise – you don’t own it – the bank does, then whomever you pay property tax to who can repossess your property.
2. No matter how many times you water the plants, they still die – or they grow too fast.
3. That roof shingle flew off again, and what’s up with that toilet anyway. Oops, what’s that sound, was that the tree?
4. You’d only get pissed off at the renters who don’t keep up their grass and litter the sidewalk. Not to mention the ruffians who dare walk on Your neighborhood park.
5. There’s no money left for a good old hostile takeover.
6. You can walk away when the meth lab in the garage explodes. The owner’ll clean it up.
7. You’ll have enough money left to buy that promotion.
8. You don’t have to suffer any kind of kinship to [Another burbed reader].
9. You can mock the homeowners who turn blue every time a foreclosure rears its ugly head in the neighborhood. And nothing compels you to check zillow valuations six times a day.
10. You were smart enough not to buy in 2006, you’re not going to be dumb enough to buy now!

Please add your owns lists on the best reasons to buy or not to buy.  That is today’s question.

Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:19 am

September 17, 2010

An amazing deal in the Real Bay Area–Palo Alto!



Beds: 4
Baths: 3.5
Sq. Ft.: 2,347
$/Sq. Ft.: $639
Lot Size: 7,840 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Mediterranean
Stories: 2
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 2005
Community: Ventura
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81040389
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 24 days
Exquisite 5 Year Old Home with beautiful finishes through out. Custom built with formal entry, formal dining room with crown molding, coffered ceiling and wainscoting. The family room kitchen opens to the patio and backyard. Large master bedroom with balcony, walk-in closet and luxurious master bathroom with jetted tub. Groud floor bedroom with full bath. Neighborhood with new and upcoming homes!

Thanks to Burbed reader Brendan for this find!

Wow! Palo Alto for just $639! What an amazing deal! But wait… it gets better!


That’s right! The house is right next door to Boston Market! Dinner’s served! No wonder this neighborhood is new and upcoming!

Here’s some notes from Brendan:

    1. The next door neighbor is the boston market parking lot. The lot goes way back behind the property, has garabage and graffiti everywhere. I assure you it’s really great at night time.
    2. Behind the house is a stagnant creek that routinely stinks
    3. Busy el camino real is right there
    4. I’ve personally witnessed guys hanging out in the park near the house during the day rapping at the top of their lungs. NO JOKE

Oh… so it’s lively and colorful as well!

Why move to San Francisco when you can live on the the King of Roads & Boston Market!

Comments (48) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:43 am

September 16, 2010

Bargain of the Year

Today’s listing is yet another incredible find from burbed reader sonarrat.  Obviously this regular has a nose for quality… and then turns away from it to find us stuff like this!

596 MOORPARK Way Mountain View, CA 94041


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 679
$/Sq. Ft.: $928
Lot Size: 9,600 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1945
Community: Sylvan Dale
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81042985
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 16 days

Bargain of the year. Property located in a desirable neighborhood with substantial value. Great investment property or for the right family.

Let’s see that desirable neighborhood with substantial value, because they sure don’t want us to see the house.


Convenient to both 85 and 237!  And what’s that across the street?  Could that be a… trailer park?  Wow, this is substantial value all right.  That cloverleaf must have cost millions to build.

The seller said no pictures, but the Googlecam drove by anyway, so, let’s take a peek.


Do you remember that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they have to slay the evil monster and the enchanter points at the cave and says, ‘”There he is!” and one of the soldiers replies, “Where, behind the rabbit?”  The joke is that the monster is the rabbit.  So in this photo, is the house behind the tree or is it the shack to the right of it?

$928 a square foot, that is a substantial value!  You get $60,000 of instant equity as soon as you add this property to your investment portfolio.  Unless you’re the right family for this unique offering.  It’s selling shortly, so now is the time!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

September 15, 2010

Pants on Fire in Cordilleras Heights

Redwood City Spectacular continues with another great find from Burbed reader sonarrat. Here’s a typical “A million dollars for THIS?” kind of house.  I mean, a million dollars is a lot of money.  For a million dollar property, the listing ought to be grammatically correct, relatively free of spelling errors, and use lower case letters as well as capitals.

778 Canyon Rd Redwood City, CA 94062


Beds: 4
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,310
$/Sq. Ft.: $801
Lot Size: 6,700 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 2
Year Built: 1948
Community: Cordilleras Heights
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81039024
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 32 days

THIS HOME HAS 2,220 S. F. OF LIVING SPACE. IT IS 12 YEARS OLD ONLY, TOTALLY REBUILT IN 1998. FABULOUS EMERALD HILLS LOCATION!!! Desirable location. 4 bed, 2.5 baths. Kitchen has professional Vicking chef stove and Birch cabinets. Master suite has custom windows and stone fireplace. Seller is very motivated bring your offer.

So much for the request for lower case.  Can’t wait to see the Vicking chef stove!

Recently a new Burbed reader spoke out in favor of honest and experienced Realtors.  So is this listing honest? Let’s review, shall we?

Redfin Property Description Agent’s Listing Description
Sq. Ft: 1,310 THIS HOME HAS 2,220 S. F. OF LIVING SPACE.
Community: Cordilleras Heights FABULOUS EMERALD HILLS LOCATION!!!

Hmmmm.  Which to believe, which to believe.  First, the neighborhood.  Is it Emerald Hills or Cordilleras Heights?  Let’s ask City Data.


The dark border is City Data’s definition of the Emerald Lake Hills neighborhood, or at least something called Emerald Hills.  The two names are used almost interchangeably.  Let’s see where this house is using the map above:


Why, it’s not in the brown-bordered area at all.  Is this map saying that the house in question is NOT in “Emerald Hills”?  (Those colorful areas are Census tracts, showing income ranges.)  Let’s look at a street map to be sure about the neighborhood.


Anywhere near the actual hills?  Barely.  And closer to Alameda than the lake.  Let’s do a hill check.  Good thing there’s a topo map available.


The house is either just above or just below the 100 foot line.  Not much in the “hills” when the lake the neighborhood in question is named for is over 400 feet up.  This house barely qualifies as in the foothills, also known as Piedmont, which is in the East Bay, which is so Not Real Bay Area, which therefore kicks this house out of the RBA by association alone.

Now, what about this huge discrepancy on the size of the house?  Which is it, 1310 or 2220 square feet?  Perhaps propertyshark (account required) can explain matters:

Sq. ft. 1,310
Finished sq. ft. 1 1,110
Building sq. ft. 2,250
Basement sq. ft. 200
Basement unfinished sq. ft. 940
Garage sq. ft. 940
Lot size 6,700
Acreage 0.15

The building is 2,250 square feet, of which 940 is an unfinished basement (or maybe a garage), and 200 is presumably a finished basement.  And amazingly, 1,110 (finished square feet) plus 940 (unfinished basement or garage) plus 200 (finished basement) is… 2,250… building square feet.  Within 30 sf of what the listing said.  Except you aren’t supposed to count the garage or unfinished basement in a building’s square footage. That’s why the house is quoted as 1,310 sf, which is the finished house plus finished basement.

And the year built is pretty dubious too.  Unless the house was torn down, bulldozed, and a completely new house put up in 1998, what the listing says above is misleading at best and probably close to the l-word (and no I do not mean love).  And if the county doesn’t know about the original house getting scraped, then obviously nobody bothered to get a permit.  Even a remodel requires permits, and remodels don’t change the year a structure was built in the first place.

Then again, propertyshark says this place is a 2 bedroom 1 bath, so something funny is going on.  And that would explain how a house “totally rebuilt” in 1998 is only assessed for $101,000.

Perhaps the lights on either side of the exterior are kept lit in search of that honest Realtor.

UPDATE: Price dropped to $989,000 after 35 days on market.

Comments (94) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

September 14, 2010

House that needs TCL in San Jose



Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 927
$/Sq. Ft.: $351
Lot Size: 5,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1953
Community: Central San Jose
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81037679
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 39 days

Thanks to Burbed reader sonarrat for this find!

Seriously… if you can’t afford this, you can’t complain that there’s no affordable housing in the Bay Area. Now, it might not be Real Bay Area, but this is still the Bay Area nonetheless (and it’s not Gilroy).

I mean, just look at the magnitude of this opportunity! It’s BOGO: Buy one get one free!

Now granted, it’s not really clear to me where this second unit is, or why this house requires knowledge of Tool Command Language, but hey’ it’s a good investment opportunity. You can’t trust your stock broker to provide advice like that, but surely you can trust a real estate agent!

This is a short sale – which means its going to be sold shortly. Better snatch it up now!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:36 am

September 13, 2010

Math Class is Hard

Let’s return to Redwood City, where burbed reader sonarrat has sent in another “2006 priced” house for us.  However, 2006 was one of the few years this house was not listed for sale.

587 Douglas Ave Redwood City, CA 94063


Beds: 2
Baths: 3
Sq. Ft.: 770
$/Sq. Ft.: $688
Lot Size: 6,200 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1930
Community: Dumbarton
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81033895
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 60 days

Fabulous opportunity! Renovated house on large fully landscaped lot! 2 bedroom 1 bath in house, 1 bedroom 1 bath separate guest unit and unfinished basement under entire house for possible family room, bonus room or storage. Deck off kitchen overlooking large back yard. Attached garage with laundry and full bath. Easy access location close to Costco, school and 101. Must See!

You know all those jokes about real estate agents writing misleading copy?  Not here!  When this one said close to Costco, they weren’t kidding:


imageAnd it looks like the large back yard was a go as well.  That is, until you look at the house’s numbers.  Lot size: 6200 square feet.  Hmm.  That’s not an especially large lot, is it? 

It is if the house is 770 square feet.  Or is the house PLUS the guest unit that’s 770 square feet?  Good thing there’s a second building on the property or this place would just get lost in a lot that ginormous.

But wait, I’m trying to add things up and I’m confused.  2 bedroom, 1 bath in the house.  1 bedroom, 1 bath in the guest unit.  Full bath in the garage.  (Full bath in the garage?  WTF?)  What kind of math results in 2 bedrooms, 3 baths?  Does the basement have negative space?  Is this a special math class you have to take when you get your real estate license?

But while you’re here, please check out that renovated kitchen, because something needs to explain how this house is worth $334,000 $$264,800 more than it was 10 months ago in a declining market in a Not So Special zip code.

image image

Shiny, happy kitchen!  Nothing like a bunch of new stainless-steel appliances to make your guests ooh and ah.  That is, as long as you keep them in the kitchen.  Oh, my.  imageLooks like the seller ran out of funds before the makeover made it over to the guest house.  Guess if you want to impress your guests you’d better not let them in that other building.

That is a truly amazing set of mismatched counter depths, heights and color.  Is it supposed to be an artistic statement? 

Have you looked up how much this place went for when it was foreclosed on in 2008?  (Yup, foreclosure, then flip, and now the current FB thinks it’s worth 2006 prices because of the stainless and a hundred feet of sod.  Plus the modern art gallery in the guest house as pictured.)  Go on, make a guess and then I’ll tell you.

Did you guess $151,000?  Because if you did you’re $100,000 too high.  What’s really amazing is that the house sold for $178,000 in 2000.

Definitely a must-see.  If you look at the Google Streetview Cam, this is what it sees:


Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.  And in 2006, this place might have sold for over five hundred thousand dollars.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

September 12, 2010

Housing Fades as a Means to Build Wealth, Analysts Say

Housing Fades as a Means to Build Wealth, Analysts Say


The wealth generated by housing in those decades, particularly on the coasts, did more than assure the owners a comfortable retirement. It powered the economy, paying for the education of children and grandchildren, keeping the cruise ships and golf courses full and the restaurants humming.

More than likely, that era is gone for good.

“There is no iron law that real estate must appreciate,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate site Zillow. “All those theories advanced during the boom about why housing is special — that more people are choosing to spend more on housing, that more people are moving to the coasts, that we were running out of usable land — didn’t hold up.”

Does this make any sense to you? How is it possible that there’s no law that real estate must appreciate, considering that was the law just a few short years ago in 2004?

I mean, just a few years ago, the rallying cries were that “They’re not making any land”, that “Banks are conservative – that’s why they want you to invest in real estate, because it’s a can’t lose proposition”.

And now… real estate isn’t guaranteed wealth?

How does this make any sense at all?

Guess what- it doesn’t. This is just “new thinking”. It’s a fad. It will pass.

We’re running out of usable land in the Real Bay Area. This article is in the evil New York Times based in Manhattan, where there is plenty of unused land (cough cough central park cough cough.) If anything, you should buy soon before it is too late.

And, of course, we have Prop 13. Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile

Comments (186) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:23 am