October 22, 2010

Investors/Contractors Delight with Many Possibilities!

What is your favorite kind of problem property?  Do you like 100+ year old termite havens?  How about severe price reductions chasing the market down?  Or does an eye-popping you-have-got-to-be-insane wishing price make your day?

Here’s what burbed reader nomadic, who sent in today’s featured listing, had to say about this trifecta:

$2.5M for a tear-down on .47 acres in LG?  That backs up to townhouses?  How much is it worth to be a short walk to the middle school?  Whatever it is, it’s probably off-set by the headache of all of the traffic that will
accompany it.

You know what the agent would say: the value is in the land!

16922 Mitchell Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95032


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,200
$/Sq. Ft.: $2,082
Lot Size: 0.47 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1900
Community: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80823053
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 821 days

Investors/Contractors Delight with many possibilities! 3 Lot subdivision capability to build 3 new homes. Remodel existing home and build two new homes at site. Replace/remodel existing home on large lot. Property walkable to Los Gatos shopping and schools. Huge price reduction for this in-demand LG location.

Yes you read that right, 110 years old, 1200 square feet, with each one of them priced over two thousand dollars, and it’s been on the market for 821 days.  It’s like every single metric of horrible all rolled up in one.  All we need is a wrecked foundation and a clouded title.  (Um, wait… why is there an earthquake disclosure?)

So let’s see what nomadic meant about the neighborhood.


“Backs up to townhomes” wasn’t a figure of speech!  But speaking of Many Possibilities, how about checking out the other MLS listing for the same location?  Same price, same address, but they’re marketing the property as Residential Land and ignore the house.

Guess the Investing Contractors are in, demanding another Huge Price Reduction before delighting.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 21, 2010

B of A Lost $7.7 Billion and All I Got Was This Stupid Photo


Update: Please vote for your favorite caption in comments.  We’ll announce a winner on Monday.

We’ll return to our regular programming of insanely priced houses, terrible listing copy, ugly home photography, and endless lists of zip codes tomorrow.  Today, we’re going to take a little break.

burbed reader Herve sent in the photo at right. It accompanied a Yahoo Finance story about Bank of America having a $7.7 billion dollar loss, due to some “special charge” they made concerning debit and credit card reform rules changes.  Yes, it can be Special in the banking biz, too.  Note the photo caption:

The exterior of Bank of America bank is seen in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Bank of America has lost $7.65 billion during the third quarter due to a one-time charge related to credit and debit card reform legislation passed over the summer.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Your mission is to write a better caption for this photo.  All the elements are there.  Huge bank loss due to Specialness, or the government’s fault, or something.  In Palo Alto.  And a bike parked outside with a spare tire.

Needless to say, real estate references are strongly encouraged.  The fact that B of A did better than expected “due mainly to a sharp drop in losses tied to defaulting loans,” should get you started.  Feel free to refer to the article or just completely make something up.  Show your True Bay Area Spirit!

First Prize: Your choice of Bay Area zip code or for sale listing featured in burbed.  (Not valid in East Bay.  Kidding!)

Second Prize: Due to budget cuts, there is only one prize.  But you will win the respect of your friends, family and co-workers, plus your entry will be indexed by web robots for years to come!

Judging: The winner will be chosen by consensus of whoever shows up.  If there is no clear decision, the moderator will toss a bike tire and see which side of El Camino it rolls to.

Comments (92) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 20, 2010

Great INVESTMENT in Downtown San Jose, If Downtown Means 26th St

Last summer, burbed reader sonarrat sent in this listing for a house in “Central San Jose.”  Some of you were a little disparaging of the wishing price.


If they’re not making any more land, then here’s a half-acre of it, right near the freeway.  I can’t understand why it wasn’t sold at twice the price, especially with that guaranteed monthly rental stream of $800.  So let’s see how Julian Street fares today.

1279 E Julian St San Jose, CA 95116


Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 828
$/Sq. Ft.: $495
Lot Size: 0.49 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1920
Community: Central San Jose
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81024656
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 151 days

HUGE PRICE REDUCTION TO SELL NOW! Long, deep 1/2 acre lot w/ two homes has potential residential or commercial application, great for storage, trucks/RVs possible, more. Great INVESTMENT in downtown San Jose close to Freeway, commercial areas. Big 1/2 acre lot, value is in the land. Seller loss is your gain so dont wait! Home currently rented at $800.00/month. Also another building and storage shed.

So while the house is now offered at less than half what it was last year, the rent hasn’t changed!  Now do you see why buying is always better than renting?  You still get your rent check every month and it stays the same no matter how much property values plummet realign. Plus, when you own property, you get action and excitement.  Just look at the nail-biting thrills trying to find a bigger sucker naive knifecatcher smart investor!


Nothing timid about these price adjustments!  Clearly we’re dealing with a seriously effed borrower go-for-it decision maker!  Do you want to be the one who avoided certain bankruptcy didn’t take action by snatching up all the instant equity in this financial quagmire prime land?  Plus $800 a month, every month!  It’s like getting the other building and storage shed for free!

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 19, 2010

Of Course I Used Two Coats!

Let’s visit Santa Clara, an under-appreciated city which hasn’t been made fun of enough lately.  Thanks to burbed reader Herve for helping spread the joy around to all deserving locations.

1776 Bowers Ave Santa Clara, CA 95051

image Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,722
$/Sq. Ft.: $357
Lot Size: 8,640 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1956
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81042128
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 52 days

This totally remodeled and updated single-level home offers three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and attached 2 car garage! Kitchen with granite counter-top and stainless steel appliances. Hardwood flooring in living room, kitchen and hall ways. Berber carpets in bedrooms and family room. Grand Family room with fireplace. Living Room with Fireplace. Huge beautiful back yard. Dual Paint Windows.

Herve points out two great features of this listing:

  • Dual Paint Windows.
  • And you need to get your own fridge.

This place has a great sales history and perfectly captures the beginning, middle, and end of the bubble:


Absolutely perfect with the house selling for less in 2010 than ten years earlier.  Except, this should have ended in April.  Flipping is sooo 2006.

Comments (27) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

October 18, 2010

Ghetto Living in Los Altos

burbed readers have been asking for particular kinds of listings.  There were a number of requests for poor quality homes in bad neighborhoods with bank documentation piled to the third floor.  Then a new reader notes that nobody wants to see boring everyday homes, people want to see expensive, overdone places they could never afford.

How can we please everyone?  Good thing burbed reader sonarrat sent this listing over!

986 Seena Ave, Los Altos, CA 94024


On a charming Cul-de-sac, superb neighborhood near wonderful Rancho Center that includes botiques shops, resturants, & gourmet grocery. Top rated Los Altos Schools. Spacious Family kitchen granite Countertops, Sub zero Refer, Thermador Appliances Wine Cooler. Garage conversion done with out permits(4th room) prior owner. Tenantive sketches of outrageous new floor plan O/H Sunday 1:00-4:00

This is great burbed listing copy.  It isn’t in all caps, but it mangles the English language.  Plus, it blames the previous owner for turning the garage into extra living space.  Cool! This place will feel just like Redwood City near 101!  But wait, there’s more!  There’s an outrageous new floor plan overhead.  Maybe it’s near the botiques shops, resturants & gourmet grocery.

Too bad we missed the open house yesterday, but it was only tenantive.  That means they were just showing the the converted garage.  You know.  The rental unit.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 17, 2010

The Most Expensive Zip Codes: The Also Rans

Any zip that isn’t in the Top 50 shouldn’t qualify for Real Bay Area (RBA) status, right?  Here are the Bay Area zips in Forbes Magazine’s Most Expensive Zip Codes #51 through 100.  Since these aren’t good enough to have made the cut, we can assume any city featured here is no longer fit to inhabit the RBA.  So enjoy reading about these loservilles, that are still more expensive than most anywhere else in the country.

In case you missed the previous entries in this series, the Top 25 appear here, and #26-50 can be found here.  I encourage you to check them out, as obviously they are better places to live than what you’ll find in this article.

image #53 – 94920 Tiburon

Median Home Price: $2,046,939
Median Price Change: -22%
Average Days On Market: 126
Inventory: 116 properties
Median Household Income:$106,492

Yeesh, down 22%.  No RBA for you, Tiburon.  Wait, we already saw this zip.  It’s also #8.  So, um, they split Belvedere from Tiburon?

Well, well, well, there are 39 properties for sale in Belvedere (median home price, $3.28 million), and 116 here.  And yet both places have (what a surprise) the exact same median household income.

You blew it again, Forbes.  Am I going to have to rewrite that entire article for you?

image #59 – 94588 Danville

Median Home Price: $1,922,523
Median Price Change: NA
Average Days On Market: 276
Inventory: 4 properties
Median Household Income: $92,644

Be sure to check out this East Bay interloper: the idiots at Forbes got the wrong map.  They can’t tell Danville from Dublin. And with only 4 properties on the market, they have no idea if it’s up or down.

Maybe those East Coast provincials ought to be told they’ve managed the equivalent of confusing Westhampton Beach with Levittown.


image#62 – 94904 Kentfield

Median Home Price: $1,911,822
Median Price Change: 6%
Average Days On Market: 99
Inventory: 40 properties
Median Household Income: $82,528

This Marin County city is right next to Ross and may even manage to get more precipitation.  Why people would want to live here when they could buy a palace in San Jose is beyond me.  Plus San Jose only gets 11 inches of rain a year.

And San Jose is so much closer to Google!  Priorities, people!


image #69 – 94970 Stinson Beach

Median Home Price: $1,790,196
Median Price Change: -7%
Average Days On Market: 232
Inventory: 27 properties
Median Household Income: $88,184

Stinson Beach can’t be in the RBA, it’s down 7%, and next to Bolinas, home of the high-priced water meter.

First one to make a joke about this zip code’s ranking and “Sex on the Beach” is going to be asked to leave the room.

No, I do not want to hear about what that peninsula with Seadrift Road looks like.  You all have filthy minds.  Yes, especially you.

image #71 – 94024 Los Altos

Median Home Price: $1,746,928
Median Price Change: -6%
Average Days On Market: 91
Inventory: 67 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Down 6%, and another zip-splitter.

Seriously, is there anything funny to say about Los Altos?  Other than the featured listing that’s running tomorrow, that is?

Well, that and the dude with the cellular antenna farm.

And the fact that this same zip in Los Altos Hills is ranked so much higher at #18.  And that Forbes couldn’t tell the difference between the two and showed houses from Los Altos when featuring The Hills Hills.  And yet, 67 properties here, 15 properties there. Household income, not available here, not available there. Oh, oh. They match.

image #73 – 94301 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,730,889
Median Price Change: -6%
Average Days On Market: 128
Inventory: 58 properties
Median Household Income: $97,758

We already knew this zip code wasn’t in the RBA anymore.  Its low ranking merely proves it.  As does this listing which hasn’t sold in more than 2 years.

Didn’t we all agree not to talk about Palo Alto anymore?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Oh yeah, Steve Jobs lives here!


image #74 – 94611 Piedmont

Median Home Price: $1,709,577
Median Price Change: -3%
Average Days On Market: 96
Inventory: 23 properties
Median Household Income: $68,853

Down 3%, and suspiciously Bradburylike.  Oakland, I tell you, it’s surrounded by Oakland!

And a freeway runs through it!  Just like Oakland!

And this place hasn’t sold yet. And neither has this one.  This city is FAIL: 100% of its listings on burbed unsold!


image #83 – 95070 Saratoga

Median Home Price: $1,652,013
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 124
Inventory: 177 properties
Median Household Income: $138,206

Down 1%.  That’s borderline for remaining in the RBA, but coming in at #83 just cannot be allowed.

Can anyone remember why Saratoga used to be in the RBA?  What exactly did it do to get there in the first place?  Why should a city with seven different school districts thinks it’s real anything?

I say no, not until they manage to sell this house.

image #84 – 95030 Monte Sereno

Median Home Price: $1,647,239
Median Price Change: -34%
Average Days On Market: 142
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $117,564

Stop me if you’ve seen this zip code before.

Down 34%. Wait, it’s right next to Saratoga.  Plus borrowing Los Gatos’ zip code.  84 properties?  WTF?  In a town of 3,483?  And only 53 properties listed in Los Gatos (#38), population 28,592?  That’s a real knee-slapper!  Now can you tell me the one about the Santa Claran, the San Joseite, and the Saratoger?


image #92 – 94123 San Francisco

Median Home Price: $1,609,753
Median Price Change: 9%
Average Days On Market: 58
Inventory: 63 properties
Median Household Income: $84,710

burbed, voted best real estate blog in San Francisco, would like to welcome 94123 to the list of Most Expensive Zip Codes!  This is the first zip in San Francisco to make the cut.  And that is really awful, because several New York City and Los Angeles zips have already shown up.  Congrats, you losers.

Up 9%.  This is the Marina District and includes some of Billionaire’s Row.  Yes, including the place selling for $45 million.

image #93 – 94506 Blackhawk

Median Home Price: $1,604,976
Median Price Change: 19%
Average Days On Market: 143
Inventory: 51 properties
Median Household Income: $142,459

Up 19%.  Wait, this is the East Bay.  Prices don’t go up in the East Bay.  The proper expression is “Blackhawk down.”

Seriously, this is a developer-designed golf-course community that didn’t even exist before 1980.  Having this zip appear right after one full of history, architecture, design, and taste is just wrong.


image #94 – 94022 Los Altos

Median Home Price: $1,600,139
Median Price Change: -28%
Average Days On Market: 87
Inventory: 53 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Wait, is today Groundhog Day?  Didn’t I just say something about Los Altos Hills, and that we already saw this zip, and that… someone must have hit me over the head, because I’m seeing double.  Los Altos Hills in this same zip is #15 on this list, with a median home price of $3.04 million.  And (what a coincidence), 58 properties.  Sloppy work, Forbes, very sloppy.

This place doesn’t even have the cell phone antenna farm!

And that’s it for the Also Rans of the Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Whole Fracking Country.  Except… the list goes to 500 zips.  If you don’t want to see anymore of these Bing Maps, commence whining.

Next installment in this thrilling series: The Most Expensive Zip Codes, Volume 714,

Comments (59) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

October 16, 2010

School Budgets Cut Again, Ho-Hum

Another day, another school staving off impending doom.

Teachers, school staff OK salary freeze

by Nick Veronin,  Mountain View Voice Staff

Teachers and staff of the local high school district have agreed to forego salary increases for two years.

The pay freeze, together with a change in retirement benefits for some staff members, will help the Mountain View Los Altos high school district save money, officials said.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the high school board approved salary freezes for teachers and school staff represented by the California School Employees Association.

The teachers union and the local chapter of the CSEA went along with the district’s plan, which ensures that salaries will not increase for employees represented by either union until the 2011-2012 school year at the earliest.

Cupertino Unified School District added five furlough days to this year’s calendar as part of the staff contribution to covering a $3.4 million shortfall.  San Jose Unified schools took last week off.

State legislators budget deal, after 100 days of no action on allocations, does not pay schools the full amount they are owed.

Some schools are asking the voters for help.  Three school districts have placed parcel taxes on the November ballot, including Cambrian (Measure L, $96 a year), Foothill-DeAnza (Measure E, $69), East Side Union HSD (Measure I, $98),  Another four are seeking bond measures: San Jose/Evergreen (Measure G, $268 million), Santa Clara Unified (Measure H, $81.1 million), Franklin-McKinney (Measure J, $50 million), and Moreland (Measure K, $55 million).

The parcel taxes require a 2/3 vote to pass, the bond measures require 55%.  And if you want some political intrigue, two neighborhood associations have organized against the San Jose/Evergreen bond measure, claiming the community college district has wasted money on unneeded projects, needless travel, and consultants.  The best quote from the arguments against the measure is “The San Jose Mercury News has said that their fiscal credibility on a scale of 1 to 10 is zero.”

How are things in your school district(s)?  Any stories of treachery in budgeting?  Wait, isn’t Los Altos in the Real Bay Area?  Why are they dealing with budget issues?  What do you bet nobody read down this far? 

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 15, 2010

For Lulz, Let’s Follow Up on Luz

Here’s a burbed featured listing from last November.  This condo is as low-priced as a 13-year-old trailer mobile home, and it’s moving about as quickly.  The Alum Rock townhouse-style unit was $99,000 then, and it’s still at that same bargain price now!


Here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Eleven months later: same photos, same price, same description.  The only thing that’s changed is the number of days on Redfin.

2137 Luz Ave  San Jose, CA 95116


Beds: 2
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 956
$/Sq. Ft.: $104
Lot Size: 871 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Condominium
Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1973
Community: Alum Rock
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80942348
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 404 days

Affordable townhouse!!! Perfect for first time buyers or investor. Kitchen-tile counter, wood cabinets, and new tile bathroom floor. Close to freeways, stores and hospital.

Good thing it’s close to the hospital.  This isn’t exactly the safest part of San Jose, but at this price, why would you care?  You could afford to live in the intensive-care unit full-time with how much you’d save compared to the Real Bay Area (RBA).  Plus, with all the Section 8 apartments around, nobody at the hospital would bother running your credit if you told them you can’t afford health insurance.

Something else changed too.  Looks like the FB and the agent were having some differences of opinion.


Last November, the condo was “30 year fixed mortgage of $425 and the HOA of $280.”  But now, with interest rates down, your mortgage will be even less!  Think the homeowner fees have gone much since last year?

And you can save even more, because:


If this place isn’t worth Redfin’s time, it’s got to be worth somebody’s!  It sold for $389,500 in 2006. That means there’s more than a quarter million in instant equity waiting for you to unlock it!  What are you waiting for?  Somebody might buy that foosball table any minute!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

October 14, 2010

I’m Shopping Around for Something to Do that No One Will Like

That’s a Jerry Garcia quote, but he wasn’t talking about his house.  Maybe someone will like it (the house, not the quote).  Maybe you could own it.  But unfortunately the previous owner sold all the Garcia fixtures to raise money for charity.  So you cannot have The Jerry Garcia Toilet.

55 El Mirador Dr Nicasio, CA 94946


Beds: 5
Baths: 6
Sq. Ft.: 7,189
$/Sq. Ft.: $556
Lot Size: 10.47 Acres
Property Type: Residential, Detached, Single Family
Style: Spanish/Mediterranean
Stories: 2
View: Canyon, Forest/Woods, Hills, Mountains, Panoramic, Ridge, Valley
Year Built: 1989
Community: Nicasio
County: Marin
MLS#: 21025911
Source: BAREIS
Status: Active
On Redfin: 32 days

Former Estate of Jerry Garcia. Gated, private – situated on top of a sunny ridge with beautiful views. 5bd/5 full and 2 1/2 baths, 6 car garage, Artist Studio that was Jerry’s, pool w/ waterfall, organic garden, children’s playground, Fabulous for entertaining in this exquisite mediterranean estate with access to the outside grounds from most rooms. Close to SF.

Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist of The Grateful Dead, owned this house at his death in 1995.

Alas, the estate doesn’t even have a Deadhead name like Terrapin Station or (Crap) Box of Rain.  And while the current owner claims to have lots of stories about Garcia and the remaining members of the band, none of them were included in the listing.

And do check that listing out, as it is so overflowing with houseporn you’ll doubt Jerry ever had anything to do with this place.  Here’s just a sample of the purple prose that awaits when you read the property features:

The Master Suite is elegantly appointed with dark teak flooring, wood-burning fireplace, Fortuni chandelier, four door access to a paver deck overlooking the pool and back patio offering views to the East and South. This elegant sleeping area has two entrances. The Master Bath brings together function and form with his and hers sinks marble tops Elgin fixtures, and ample mirrors. Further in are private toilet and bidet with telephone accessibility. The master also offers full length glass enclosed Sauna with one-way glass enclosure to the outside grounds. The walk-in marble shower is also fully enclosed and contains two facing shower heads enclosed in a marble finish and with length size bench. The water pressure would make a power washer jealous. The Master Closet is a room in and of itself. One would be hard pressed to fill this closet and itis a room that has to be seen to understand how true that is.

It is easier to fill a large closet if you own a lot of crap.  Perhaps the agent doesn’t understand how true that is.  So, you think the above language is overdone?  There’s also clunky language:

Along with the stunning architecture and overall design of the house itself, the grounds boast impeccable landscaping.  Its rolling lawns, along with mature palm trees mix spectacularly with the surrounding native forest. Its 73,000-gallon swimming pool and enormous spa are complemented by palms, lawns, and rose gardens adjoining a spacious sun drenched patio area beneath sunlit skies during the day and moonlit skies at night.

It’s a good thing this isn’t one of those ordinary properties that has moonlit skies during the day and sunlit skies at night.  I hate when that happens.

But the agent got one thing right.  Two photos of the hot tub,  (George HW Bush wrote an apology to Marin County residents, saying he’d never use the phrases “Marin County” and “hot tub” in the same sentence again.)

This is the perfect place to celebrate Proposition 19 passing, in a Marin County hot tub, formerly owned by Jerry Garcia.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:23 am

October 13, 2010

Mixed Use Property, Mixed Up Agent

burbed reader sonarrat is back with another unpretentious property in a zip code that’s never been called Real Bay Area (RBA).  sonarrat’s comment on this listing:

What kind of business would you put in this colorful neighborhood?

Let’s see what colorful delights await.

1657 Alum Rock San Jose, CA 95116


Beds: 4
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,176
$/Sq. Ft.: $553
Lot Size: 0.83 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: 1 House on Lot, Detached
Year Built: 1928
Community: San Jose
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 10036818
Source: MetroList
Status: Active 
On Redfin: 156 days

MIXED USE property, retail space upfront and SFR in the back. Motivated seller. see also listing # 10036818

Did you look up the other listing?  I’ll just wait here while you do that.  Also I’m calling shenanigans on the lot size.  Have a look at the neighborhood:


Wouldn’t you say the property appears to be the smallest visible in this aerial view?  So either commercial space on State Route 130 is quite generous, or the agent’s description of the lot size as 0.83 acres is wildly off from the 90 x 40 foot description in the listing detail.  An acre is 43,560 square feet, 0.83 acre is 36,155 sf.  90 x 40 feet is 3600 square feet.  Wow, that’s a 900% error.  I think the technical term for this is “wrong.”

In addition, the cross street for this Alum Rock Ave address is given as “Alum Rock,” the school information, for both Elementary, Junior High, and High School, is “Other,” for that matter so are the Bathrooms, Heating and Cooling, and it says the lot has a gravel road.  But speaking of what kind of business could be here, there’s already a link to another blog post on the Redfin site.  It’s for raw dog food.  I am not even going to ask.

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