October 31, 2010

The Most Expensive Zip Codes – The Series You Hate, The Cities You Loathe

Welcome to Part 5 of the least popular series ever on burbed, ever.  You’re welcome.  Forbes thanks you too, since we’re making fun of their mistakes when they wrote an article on the 500 most expensive zips, and hired Altos Research to do their data crunching.

Here are the first four parts for you masochists who can’t get enough numbers, maps, and boring fascinating statistics.

Today we’re going to cover the zips ranked 151-200.  But to reduce the complaining just a tiny bit, we’ll leave out anywhere that isn’t within reasonable commuting distance to the Googleplex.  Actually if I left out everywhere more than 10 miles from Google we’d only have four cities today, which might not be such a bad thing.

image #151 – 94306 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,270,424
Median Price Change: 4%
Average Days On Market: 67
Inventory: 69 properties
Median Household Income: $82,314

At least this time we’re going to start much closer to where the jobs are.  This is a very important zip code.  If you remember this article, 94306 is the only zip code that’s left in the Real Bay Area (RBA) anymore, if you define RBA as the place where prices don’t go down.  So despite being the #2 zip in Palo Alto (94301 came in at #73 on the list), it’s #1 in the RBA.  It’s also last in the RBA, because none of the other zips qualified at all.

The real reason 94306 went up while prices everywhere else collapsed is because it’s the cheap section of Palo Alto.  This area, formerly the city of Mayfield, featured small homes on small lots which people now tear down and put in oversized mini-mansions that loom over the remaining bungalows.  Unfortunately, real estate statistics are oblivious to such trends, such as someone paying money to remodel or replace a house.  Instead you see crazy price increases and think the neighborhood is red-hot rather than full of sawdust and paint fumes.  If the sale price stats subtracted out the money paid for construction, there’s a good chance 94306 would have dropped as much or even more than the other zips around it.

#160 – 94549 Lafayette

Median Home Price: $1,225,110
Median Price Change: -4%
Average Days On Market: 88
Inventory: 126 properties
Median Household Income: $101,555
Ignored Because: In the East Bay

#170 – 94941 Mill Valley

Median Home Price: $1,185,211
Median Price Change: NA
Average Days On Market: 106
Inventory: 197 properties
Median Household Income: $91,283
Ignored Because:  Model for Hill Valley in Back to the Future

#171 – 94563 Orinda

Median Home Price: $1,184,089
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 101
Inventory: 101 properties
Median Household Income: $119,832
Ignored Because: In East Bay, even closer to Oakland than Lafayette

image #173 – 94303 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,175,241
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 59
Inventory: 34 properties
Median Household Income: $64,256

It’s a pretty safe bet that the median home price hasn’t been contaminated by East Palo Alto (which shares this zip code), but take a look at that median household income.  It’s about $20,000 less than 94306, which has a fairly similar set of residents (in the Palo Alto part of the zip, anyway).

While the zip shares with the Oaklandesque East Palo Alto (hey, at least it brought you IKEA), it also has some nice areas in midtown as well as the West Marine on San Antonio Road.  (Remember, yachties spend like drunken sailors because they are drunken sailors.)

Since 94303 has just everything in the whole city that hugs US 101, that isn’t helping matters.  Some of the lower-cost Eichlers in South Palo Alto that get torn down and replaced by monster houses are in 94303, too.  Hope they put in triple-pane windows like they did at Gables End.

#175 – 94965 Sausalito

Median Home Price: $1,173,479
Median Price Change: -11%
Average Days On Market: 149
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $76,808
Ignored Because: Has stupid song written about it

#179 – 94705 Berkeley

Median Home Price: $1,152,174
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 70
Inventory: 30 properties
Median Household Income: $68,112
Ignored Because: Shares zip code with Oakland, lousy state-funded college

image #184 – 94025 Menlo Park

Median Home Price: $1,134,946
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 88
Inventory: 179 properties
Median Household Income: $89,572

When you realize that this zip stretches from the foothills near I-280 all the way to the slums of Belle Haven, that median home price is rather impressive.  Not every city the size of Menlo Park has to make due with a single zip code.  Palo Alto has four distinct zips, and Redwood City has five.

And while a ranking of 184th most expensive zip code in the country is clearly not good enough for the RBA, perhaps Menlo Park could petition the
postal service to split the city into East and West postal zones, in hope of the western half aspiring to the RBA.

Nah, prices down 9%.  Forget it.

image #185 – 94062 Redwood City

Median Home Price: $1,133,462
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 97
Inventory: 111 properties
Median Household Income: $96,677

Ha ha!  What was I just talking about above?  Redwood City is nowhere as high on the snootiness index as Menlo Park, and yet by having several zip codes, they managed to get one of them to qualify for the Forbes list.  And this is the one zip that shares with Woodside, which is quite a bit higher in the rankings (#41). 

Oh, speaking of Woodside, you’ll never guess what Forbes says their median household income is.  That’s right. $96,677.  Nice going, Forbes.  That means the Woodside median should be higher and the Redwood city number lower, but you managed to miss yet another muck-up.

This part of Redwood City includes the Emerald Lake Hills area, which is a delightful mix of new construction and bizarre old places featuring old cars in the front yard.  You know how some places in Atherton look like Greenwich, Connecticut?  Well, Emerald Lake Hills looks like Appalachia where half the residents won the lottery.

#193 – 94515 Calistoga

Median Home Price: $1,102,625
Median Price Change: -17%
Average Days On Market: 140
Inventory: 67 properties
Median Household Income: $44,320
Why Ignored: Can’t take place named after bubble water seriously

#194 – 94610 Piedmont

Median Home Price: $1,094,846
Median Price Change: -51%
Average Days On Market: 64
Inventory: 7 properties
Median Household Income: $49,066
Why Ignored: Not only down 51%, but completely surrounded by Oakland.  Completely.  Rival zip 94611 is #74 on list.  I also call BS on Forbes for that median household income.  It’s probably mixed up with the part of OAKLAND this zip shares with.  Oakland, it’s full of Oakland.

image #199 – 95032 Los Gatos

Median Home Price: $1,079,587
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 111
Inventory: 183 properties
Median Household Income: $93,118

It’s the home of Netflix!  Woo-hoo!

The second-best zip in Los Gatos (95030 came in at #38), this zip features delightful estates in the foothills and higher, as well as ho-hum tract houses in the flats near freeways.

Now, take a look at that median home price, above.  It’s barely over a million smackeroos, and we’ve almost hit the 200 mark.  That means the next installment (if there is one) will feature houses in “expensive zip codes” that are under a million dollars dollars for a median price.

Think about that for a moment.  Where we live is so Special that we think of houses under a million dollars as not particularly worth commenting on.  At least most of the zips we’ve shown so far are above the average price for a house in this area.  But as we work our way down that list of 500 zips, we’re going to start to see some very ordinary places that are still more expensive than 44,000 other zip codes in the entire country.

Coming Soon: burbed guest editor forcibly retired for not stopping worst series ever, assailed by mob with pitchforks and torches.  Plus, Part 716 of Bing Maps Galore!

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

October 30, 2010

Google Bidding Around $2B For Infested NYC Office Building

Now we know how Google feels about rent versus buy!

Google Among Bidders for $2 Billion Building


Google Inc. is a front runner to buy the massive building it occupies as its New York City headquarters in a deal that could be worth nearly $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Other buyers from around the world are also chasing the block-long, 2.9-million-square-foot building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the person said. If the deal is done near $2 billion, the building’s sale would make it one of the largest acquisitions of a single property in New York.

Google, if it completes the deal, would be jumping into a real-estate market in which sales of well-located office buildings occupied by financially strong tenants—like Google—have been sparking bidding wars. Most recently, Boston’s tallest skyscraper, the John Hancock Tower, drew a flood of bids and a $930 million sale price.

image The building, known as both 111 Eighth Avenue and 76 Ninth Avenue, was a Port Authority of NY and NJ property, and is filled with backup generators, huge electrical power capacity, fiber optic cabling, and internet-ready offices.  Google is leasing half a million square feet of office space, including inside the building they hope to purchase.

At a $2 billion selling price, the deal works out to $690 a square foot for the 2.9 million sf, 18-story building in the fashionable Chelsea district.  The market for New York City office space has been selling for $400-500/sf, but $1500/sf was not uncommon during the bubble in 2007.

I hope Google is really determined to stay there, because, like several Manhattan office buildings, bedbugs have been discovered at Google-NYC.

“Like several other businesses in New York City, we’ve discovered bedbugs in a small area of our office,” the spokeswoman said. “We have notified employees and are taking steps to treat the affected area.”

I think they should get a vermin discount.  What do you think is fair?

No matter what anyone says about buying in the Real Bay Area, at least Mountain View office buildings are bedbug-free.  Are you listening, Google?

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 29, 2010

Downtown Palo Alto for Under a Million

Now don’t get too excited, but you can walk to anywhere from here: University Ave shops, theater, library, train station, even Steve Jobs’ house!  Best of all, the asking price on this charming vintage bungalow is less than you’d pay for a boring 1950s tract house in Sunnyvale.

352 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94301


Beds: 2
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,360
$/Sq. Ft.: $734
Lot Size: 5,600 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Craftsman
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built:1914
Community: Downtown
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81051038
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 8 days

Classic Dwntwn Craftsman w/ countless period details: coved ceilings, hardwd floors, true-divided light windows, substantial moldings, trim, & built-in buffet. Remodeled kitchen & baths. Enclosed front porch. Yard is garden oasis. Deck off kitchen for al fresco dining. Pergola in backyd for entertaining. Small sun room off of master bdrm serves as nursery/office. Walk down cellar for extra storage.

I love period details!  So if this place was built in 1914 I should expect an outdoor privy, gas lighting, a wood stove for cooking as well as heating the entire house, and maybe a delightful row of tiny headstones in the back yard — for all those infants who passed away before penicillin and routine vaccinations.

But the real reason this house is here today was our Caption Contest Winner, ymous, wanted a house in 94301 selling for at least 10% less now than in 2006.  I’ll keep looking for just such a house, but I think I found an even better one.  Just check out this property history:

Property History for 352 MIDDLEFIELD Rd

Oct 20, 2010 Listed $998,000 — MLSListings #81051038
Feb 28, 2001 Sold (Public Records) $830,000 — Public Records

Yes, you read that right.  This house sold for 15% less than today’s asking price… nine and a half years ago.  So if this house goes for the wishing price, the owners will have made a whopping 1.96% a year on their investment, and if we take out the standard 6% for the agents’ commissions and 1% for moving and related expenses (7% total), that’s a net profit of 1.18% a year.  I bet they’re so glad they bought this house and not a bag of useless gold coins!

Sure it’s on a busy street, just one house away from an even busier street.  I guess neither of those streets were busy in 2001 when it traded hands then.  Yeah.  That must be it.

Comments (38) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 28, 2010

A Great Land Bank Opportunity

Today’s listing was sent in by burbed reader nomadic.  Thanks very much!

14050 Shannon Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032

image Beds: 6
Baths: 8
Sq. Ft.: 6,138
$/Sq. Ft.: $1,384
Lot Size: 31.53 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: French
Stories: 3
View: Green Belt, Mountains, Canyon, Valley, City Lights
Year Built: 1998
Community: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80788192
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 941 days

Sellers found their next property-Bring your offers. .This stunning residence captures the timeless refinement set on approximately 31.5 acres of gently rolling, pristine landscape. Annexation is complete in the town of Los Gatos Check with the Town on lot min 2.5 acres. 6 bdrms, 7 baths & 2 1/2 baths. This makes this home a great land bank Opportunity.

imageHere’s what nomadic had to say about this stunning residence:

On the market for 932 days. is that a record?  It’s been listed on and off for NINE years without a sale.  The price has been cut $2.3M since 2008 – that’s more instant equity than 1.5 median houses in this zip code.  The
realtor is keeping his optimism in the first line of the listing, “Sellers found their next property-Bring your offers.”

Wow, 932 days.  That’s like 932 years in Silicon Valley time measurement.  Let’s take a look.   If burbed readers can figure out why yesterday’s house wasn’t selling, I’m sure they can do it again!

And it’s Style: French.  How do you say, “You have got to be fracken kidding me” in French?  Or “Don’t you think they over-Photoshopped the green in that exterior shot?”

imageI don’t know if I’d call this style French.  These overdone rooms with saturated colors that belong on evening gowns rather than wall decor remind me of somewhere… Ah yes!  Another house that isn’t selling!

Mais non, nomadic, your submission is not a burbed record, because that house has been on Redfin for (zut alors!) 1284 days.

Maybe there is something about houses with curved stairways landing on white tile with black inset, or fussy little rooms in a color that will drive you mad inside of a week.  Do these properties have that certain je ne sais quoi?  Problem is, all the buyers are certain to have that je n’ai rien.

The Annexation is complete in the town of Los Gatos!  Toute résistance est futile.

Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 27, 2010

Definitely the Best Value in Sunnyvale. Definitely.

When a property has been listed for a year and hasn’t sold, there’s a problem somewhere.  Your mission today is to find out why the house with the lowest price per square foot in 94087 can’t get a closing date.

1058 Lois Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

image Beds: 6
Baths: 4
Sq. Ft.: 2,930
$/Sq. Ft.: $324
Lot Size: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 2
Year Built: 1953
Community: Sunnyvale
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80948844
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 379 days

Great home for a large family or for a family that needs inlaw quarters. Lowest price per sf ($324) in 94087 area code. 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and bathroom downstairs can easily be inlaw quarters. Bonus room, office, family room, living room, large kitchen, large dining room, large backyard, large utility room. Homestead High School, Cherry Chase Elem. Definitely the best value in Sunnyvale.

94087 used to be in the RBA, but this house ensured that zip will never be invited back.  This traitor to doubling every ten years sold on 10/31/2001 for $680,000.  It was listed in April 2009 for an unknown amount, and taken off the market in October.  October 2009.  Then it was listed again for $998,888, with the price reduced to $950K in March.  Taking away all those eights didn’t improve its luck.

Maybe the problem is the vanishing second floor.  When you look straight at it, it disappears.  It even fooled the GoogleCam.  You can see daylight through the trees.  That’s just like not seeing a vampire in a mirror, only it’s a Halloween house and a camera, and you can see the bottom floor fine.  Plus all the trash cans!


Meanwhile, the poor lonely house is still waiting for a suitor.  Can you give it some dating advice before another Halloween passes by?

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 26, 2010

Walk in Masterbedroom Closet

We had so much fun in Santa Clara last week, we’re going to do it again!  burbed reader Herve has another find for us in the Mission City.

2410 Robinson Ave Santa Clara, CA 95051


Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,336
$/Sq. Ft.: $336
Lot Size: 5,800 Sq. Ft.
imageProperty Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1952
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81018633
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 192 days

Adorable home surrounded by fruit trees near shopping plazas and San Tomas Expressway. In addition to a cozy fireplace with hardwood floors and a walk in masterbedroom closet, there is a large patio in the back perfect for entertaining during the summer.

 Herve says: “What can possibly be on the picture above the toilet?”

While you ponder that, check out where the house is located.  You’re right in the middle of all the action, near shopping plazas and San Tomas Expressway!  How near?  How about 20 feet?


I wish they had thrown in a picture of the fireplace with hardwood floors.  No logs required.

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

October 25, 2010

Offers Will Not Be Reviewed

Happy Monday everyone!  And here to start your work week off is Burbed reader sonarrat with this guest post.  Please give a warm burbed welcome to sonarrat!

Let’s go a little south of usual, shall we? After all, we still need people to pick the strawberries and attend the McDonald’s drive thru window. If you’re willing to make the drive over the Hecker Pass into Santa Cruz County every day, you can find some mighty affordable digs. So let’s take a look at an example of how our true working class lives.

42 9th St,  Watsonville, CA 95076


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 612
$/Sq. Ft.: $173
Lot Size: 8,624 Sq. Ft.
Property Type:
Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1930
Community: Watsonville
County: Santa Cruz
MLS#: 81050457
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 8 days

Bring it on! Classic 1930’s cottage-style home needs some love. Opportunities abound for those willing to put in the work. Very central location, towards the end of a not-through street. Days 1-7: Offers will not be reviewed. Days 8-12: Offers ONLY from NSP buyers, Municipalities, Non-profit organizations and Owner-occupants will be reviewed. Days 13+: We will consider offers from all buyers.

At $106,000, this little charmer is certainly within the reach of the working class. It’s on a dead end street for privacy, but just one turn from the highway.


Let’s look at the sales history:

Oct 15, 2010 Listed $106,000 — MLSListings #81050457
Feb 12, 2010 Sold (Public Records) $135,000  — Public Records
This home was foreclosed and bank-owned.
Apr 22, 2009 Delisted — — Inactive MLSListings #2
Apr 11, 2009 Price Changed * — Inactive MLSListings #2
Apr 11, 2009 Relisted — — Inactive MLSListings #2
Apr 05, 2009 Delisted — — Inactive MLSListings #2
Apr 02, 2009 Price Changed * — Inactive MLSListings #2
Mar 27, 2009 Price Changed * — Inactive MLSListings #2
Mar 04, 2009 Listed * — Inactive MLSListings #2
Feb 27, 2009 Delisted — — Inactive MLSListings #1
Jan 30, 2009 Price Changed * — Inactive MLSListings #1
Jan 15, 2009 Relisted — — Inactive MLSListings #1
Jan 09, 2009 Delisted — — Inactive MLSListings #1
Sep 12, 2008 Price Changed * — Inactive MLSListings #1
Jul 08, 2008 Listed * — Inactive MLSListings #1
Nov 03, 1994 Sold (Public Records) $133,000 — Public Records

What a terrific investment! Look at that historical return of, uh, well, you can still rent it out, right? Once upon a time, people said that anywhere in California was a good investment that could only go up. Clearly, though, there must be a reason why this Bay Area property is listed lower than its price in 1994 – not a boom time for real estate by anyone’s measure. So let’s take a look at the copy:

Days 1-7: Offers will not be reviewed. Days 8-12: Offers ONLY from NSP buyers, Municipalities, Non-profit organizations and Owner-occupants will be reviewed. Days 13+: We will consider offers from all buyers.

Oh, of course! There are so many people clamoring to own this small, crappy corner of the Bay Area, they can’t even list the property without a 7-day grace period to hire a crack staff of 50 people to review the mountain of offers. Sweet! The boom is back, everyone!

Comments (44) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

Caption Contest Results – The Winner

Last Thursday we presented this photo of a Bank of America branch in Palo Alto, and asked you to write a better caption.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  The entries which received at least one vote are:

#9, RealEstater

Welcome to Palo Alto, Mr. Obama! (vote by #10*)

#17, bob

Early Wednesday morning workers at a local Bank Of America were surprised to find a lone bicycle wheel parked in one of their bike racks. After a careful cross examination the wheel told Police that it suffered serious depression from living in the East Bay and one night simply couldn’t take it anymore and thus freed itself from it’s owner’s bike and rolled itself all the way to Palo Alto where it had always wanted to live. His snobby friends had told him Palo Alto was where all the “Cool, rich, and successful bicycles and wheels lived” The wheel told officials he’d only stopped to rest at the bank but fell asleep.(#22, 82*)

#80, Alex

Dude, where’s my bike?
(or the adult version – bitches, where’s my bike?)  (#91)

The Winner

#2, ymous

“The primary assets of Bank of America bank are seen in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Bank officials stressed that they had secured the complete bicycle with “a really good lock” over the weekend, and that despite losing everything but the front wheel of the second bicycle in a theft on Friday afternoon, they were “confident” it would fetch a solid price at auction.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)  (#16, 22*, 57, 79, 82*) 

* asterisks mean a commenter voted for more than one entry.

Congratulations, ymous, for a creative and popular caption!  You may nominate which zip code or actual property listing should be featured by emailing burbed@burbed.com or posting in comments.  Also a golf clap to our second-place finisher bob, who knows that the second-best offer gets nothing, but the second best caption gets a zip or listing suggestion anyway.

Comments (22) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:00 am

October 24, 2010

The Bottom 400 of the Top 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes, Part 4 of a Series that Will Never End. Ever.

We can thank Forbes Magazine’s The Most Expensive Zip Codes for selecting the prestige postal zones and then managing to mess them up.  So far we’ve caught them describing one town while showing houses from another, forgetting the difference between a zip code and a town boundary, mixing up their data sets, and showing a zip code 10 miles and $2 million away from what they labeled.

Since we don’t concern ourselves with other parts of the country where prices go down, homes need maintenance, streets get busy, and airports allow planes to land while children are sleeping, we’ve been looking at the Bay Area zips only.  In case you want to refer to the previous articles, you can click over to:

  • The 25 most expensive zip codes in the entire country, featuring Atherton, Belvedere, Los Altos Hills and Hillsborough!
  • The next 25 zip codes, not quite as Special.  Portola Valley, Los Gatos, Woodside, and other places too far away from Google to matter make their appearances.
  • The 50 after that, at cut-rate prices compared to the first 50.  These entries in the Corridor of Not Quite include Los Altos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Palo Alto.

Again, data crunched by Altos Research, info prepared (not always perfectly) by Forbes, criticisms (I’m starting early today) entirely home-grown at burbed.  The very first entry on Forbes’ Page 2 list is one of our own!  We may not be in the Real Bay Area (RBA) anymore, but remember, these zip codes are still more expensive than at least 44,000 others!

image_thumb[1] #101 – 94507 Alamo

Median Home Price: $1,513,739
Median Price Change: -11%
Average Days On Market: 139
Inventory: 113 properties
Median Household Income: $139,997

I just said we weren’t in the RBA anymore.  It’s never a good sign when the very first listing is in the East Bay.  That 11% drop isn’t surprising anybody.

Besides, pretty soon the home price medians are going to drop below a million and a half, and then where would we be?

Right.  In the East Bay.

image_thumb[3] #106 – 94946 Nicasio

Median Home Price: $1,484,615
Median Price Change: 5%
Average Days On Market: 176
Inventory: 13 properties
Median Household Income: $76,194

You should have heard of this town before.  It was featured in burbed because of this listing.  Jerry Garcia’s house has been holding up this zip’s entire market.

Clearly Alamo and Nicasio are for two different demographics.  Alamo is for people earning good money now.  Nicasio is for people who already earned good money and want to get away from the people in Alamo still earning.  Then they can chillax and just enjoy it.  The money, I mean.  I’m still getting my head around trying to fill the closet in Jerry’s master bedroom.

Unfortunately, by not keeping enough cash coming into town, the residents of Nicasio let down the team.  Yes, the median home price is under one and a half million now.  Who knows what kind of vagrants and transients are living in those houses?  It’s not surprising one of them joined a rock band.

image_thumb[5] #120 – 93921 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

The income is down even more here at the other end of the Bay Area.  The Monterey Bay Area.

Carmel is a touristy little town that is expensive to live in, doesn’t sell anything useful to residents, and has a beach nobody can use since parking is between impossible and utterly impossible.  You shouldn’t have taken your time reading this.  They just ticketed your car.

Does that little bit right outside the zip environs, lower right corner, really say Trailer Park?

image_thumb[7] #120 – 93921 Carmel-By-The-Sea

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

This is only a test to see if you’re paying better attention than Forbes did when they put this article together.

Yes, it is entirely possible that two cities can share a common zip code.  We’ve had many examples of it in the first hundred entries.

But what are the odds of the same zip code, the same ranking, the same data, and the same map just sitting there for two cities with practically the same name, and nobody noticed a damned thing?

image_thumb[9] #121 – 92603 Irvine

Median Home Price: $1,406,399
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 120
Inventory: 227 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Irvine has entered the building!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses.  I know that Irvine is not in the Bay Area, Real or otherwise.

But Irvine’s real estate issues have been so instructive, and the seminal Irvine Housing Blog so important to anyone trying to make sense of what happens when bubble
s pop.

And as much as there have been problems with the real estate market up here, one of our zip codes doesn’t have 227 properties in inventory, and so far we’ve avoided Mello-Roos taxes, too.  There’s a good reason we’ve avoided Irvine’s problems.  It’s because they’re not making any more land up here.  And that’s because they’re making it all down there, complete with Mello-Roos!

We now return you to our regular Bay Area real estate presentation, already in progress.

image_thumb[11] #125 – 93923 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,384,643
Median Price Change: -7%
Average Days On Market: 191
Inventory: 298 properties
Median Household Income: $67,315

Now if i am reading this map correctly, this zip code includes Carmel and Carmel Highlands, but not Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel Valley.  Or the other part of Carmel that is covered by a simple street map and includes all the high-priced art galleries and jewelry stores.

This zip also has a bigger inventory than Irvine’s.  Thanks for making us look bad, Carmel, when everyone at IHB clicked over to read this.  You’re making all of us look really pathetic to those Southern Californians.  We might have to ask you to move over there, permanently.  You and your 298 unsold properties.  Maybe when you get they’re you’ll be placed in a Mello-Roos district, too.

(I thought those 298 listings had to be a mistake on Forbes’ part, but it isn’t.  Entering this zip into Redfin yields 270 listings.  And just because the zip covers around 200 square miles isn’t going to get it off the hook.)

image_thumb[13] #131 – 94104 San Francisco

Median Home Price: $1,365,346
Median Price Change: 3%
Average Days On Market: 162
Inventory: 11 properties
Median Household Income: $14,609

Finally!  A zip that makes you really sit up and take notice.

A zip that not only includes a bunch of ginormous skyscrapers (well, ginormous as long as we don’t go comparing them with anything in Los Angeles, or Chicago, or Manhattan), but has the brass rivets to say LOOK AT ME.  The median home price here is $1.36 million and the median income is $14,609.  That’s right!  It would take the average resident here a hundred years to buy the average residence.

Only a zip code with serious chutzpah could issue a message like that, a message that says, “Want to buy here?  Sorry.  You’ve been Priced Out Forever.”

image_thumb[15] #132 – 94965 Muir Beach

Median Home Price: $1,364,462
Median Price Change: 7%
Average Days On Market: 34
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $76,808

This tiny town is located right where California Route 1 cuts overland to the Pacific and heads north up the coast (that line mislabeled 1 is actually US 101.  I’m watching you Forbes.  Always watching.) This tiny town has about six streets.  Muir Beach shares a zip with Sausalito, which ought to be showing up at some point.

Muir Beach.  Like Bolinas, only closer and more expensive.  Water meters not included.

image_thumb[17] #134 – 94574 Saint Helena

Median Home Price: $1,354,277
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 186
Inventory: 102 properties
Median Household Income: $60,964

Looks like it takes half a year to sell a typical property in Saint Helena.  That means they named the place well.

Saint Helena was the second and final place that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to, and he died five and a half years later.  And there isn’t anywhere nearby called Elba, because that would mean you could escape.  Although you can at least drink heavily.

Able I was ere I bought in St. Helena.

image_thumb[21] #147 – 95452 Kenwood

Median Home Price: $1,294,385
Median Price Change: 46%
Average Days On Market: 152
Inventory: 19 properties
Median Household Income: $58,421

Honey, I shrank the zip code.

I had to.  When it took up about 20% of the page, the only thing I could find was State Highway 12 and Mt Hood Regional Park.  I figured Kenwood was somewhere between Santa Rosa and Fairfield but wasn’t quite sure which was closer.

And St. Helena is in convenient exile distance.  I suppose I should find something nice to say about the place because the prices are up 46%, but seriously, unless you’re cultivating 200 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon or really want the Smothers Brothers as neighbors, you should be looking a little closer to Facebook HQ.

image_thumb[23] #150 – 94705 Oakland

Median Home Price: $1,283,731
Median Price Change: 28%
Average Days On Market: 217
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $68,112

Somebody is playing a joke, but I can’t figure out who the joke is on.

We started today’s batch of runner-ups to the runner-ups in the East Bay.  Not only are we going t
o finish there, we’re going to finish in one of the least RBA-like cities in the East Bay.

Then again, the zip includes a bunch of UC property in Berkeley, so that’s kind of cheating.  Plus the Claremont Hotel.  I bet the Claremont Hotel would sell for more than $1,283,731.

And the zip is up… twenty eight percent.  With the same kind of unobtanium inventory we saw in Muir Beach.  That’s it.  I’m out of here.  I know when I’m licked.

Next installment: The Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Richmond Flats between Cutting Boulevard and Solano Avenue.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 23, 2010

Family Breaks Into Former Home, Moves Back In, Claims Foreclosure was Fraudulent, Lots of Legal Maneuvers

Thanks to a burbed reader for sending this in.  I know it looks like another TL;DR, but trust me, this one’s worth it.

Family reclaims foreclosed house, Simi clan moves in after home sold

By Stephanie Hoops, Ventura County Star
Posted October 12, 2010 at 2 p.m., updated October 13, 2010 at 6:58 a.m.
Photos by Karen Quincy Loberg, VC Star Staff

simi_family An 11-member Simi Valley family who claimed they were wrongfully evicted after a foreclosure forced their way back into the house over the weekend in a move meant to block the new buyer from moving in.

Jim and Danielle Earl and their nine children used a locksmith to help retake possession Saturday, despite an investor who spent $697,000 to purchase the house at a foreclosure sale in January and remodeled and sold it to people ready to move in Tuesday. The two-story house in the 5800 block of Mustang Drive has nearly 4,000 square feet, six bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

Police officers were on hand when the Earls changed the locks Saturday but did not intervene. The Earls’ lawyer, Michael Pines of Encinitas, held a news conference to announce the family was taking back the home and reportedly filed a complaint against the real estate broker and investor when police arrived at the scene.

Pines said the Earls are not concerned about the possibility of being charged with trespassing.

The Wall Street Journal covered this story too, and they said we may be seeing more of this.  Now it’s not enough for a bank to go through through all the steps of foreclosure and eviction on determined deadbeats.  You never know when they’ll turn around, hire a lawyer and a locksmith, and move right back into the house you sold out from under them in good faith! Your team of robo-signers worked hard forging a pile of documents and backdated every single one of them, and all for naught.

image Actually this story gets more and more complicated depending on which version you read.  But the basic facts are, the Earl family bought the house in 2001 for $539,999.  Being Southern Californians, they considered mortgage equity withdrawal a religious rite rather than a guaranteed method of ruining their credit and their future, and owed $880,000 on the first mortgage, when they were finally shown the door of their former residence.  Total debt and unpaid costs on the property was over a million dollars, according to foreclosure documents.

The house was bought by investors for $697,000, who put $40,000 of improvements into it (including the mandatory granite countertops) and flipped it for $800,000.  With the new owners scheduled to take possession within a few days, the Earls (both parents and 9 children) broke in and moved their stuff back.

A number of items are in dispute, which is where the fraud claims come in.  This may be a question of which party are the bigger slimebuckets, as absolutely nobody comes out looking good in this story.

The Earls had some financial difficulties, and in trying to set their mortgage right, say that a catch-up payment of $12,500 they made to GRP Services was never credited to their loan.  Danielle Earl says she then stopped making payments because the loan had been repeatedly reassigned to different lenders, she believed, fraudulently.  “They clearly didn’t want us to catch up,” she explained.  Their lawyer elaborated:

The Earls’ fraud claims are twofold, [Michael] Pines said: The loan was originated and serviced with improper documents, and the foreclosure and eviction were created with new and phony documents. He said there were multiple instances of people signing the foreclosure documents who were not authorized to do so.

Foreclosure documents says GRP Financial Services owns the loan.  The Earls’ mortgage was from WaMu, which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase, and went to B of A the same day the Notice of Default was sent.  The Earls claim Chase never properly acquired their loan and therefore had no right to sell it.  Not surprisingly, the group acquiring the house doesn’t see it that way.

“They broke in and are proceeding to squat in there,” listing agent Chris Garvin of Troop Real Estate, told HousingWatch. […]

Garvin was not only the listing agent but also the acquisition and sales partner for his client, Conejo Capital Partners, the investors. He says that he purchased the home in good faith for $697,000 in January on behalf of his client, at an auction on the courthouse steps.

In June, a judge refused to seat a jury for trial, claiming it was another delaying tactic by the Earls.  Conejo had been trying to get them out of the house since February.

In 1994, the Earls have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and they began two serial and voluntary Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings after their house was sold at auction  The judge claimed the bankruptcies were yet another delaying tactic.  Their liabilities exceed one million dollars, with creditors including both the IRS and the state tax board.

At the close of the trial, however, [Conejo attorney Stanley] Yates said of the whole matter: “I will say this, that the (Earls) are an indefatigable source of stalling and red herrings.”

The Earls are asking for damages of over one million dollars on the fraud allegations, and claim this means they own the house free and clear plus additional money owed them.

Good luck with that.

Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am