February 8, 2011

It’s Like Living in a Pop-Up Book!

So much to admire about this house, so little they’re willing to show us!  It must be full of awesome sauce inside!

3601 Howe Ct, Fremont, CA 94538


SQ. FT.: 1,640
$/SQ. FT.: $255
LOT SIZE: 7,134 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Alameda County
COUNTY: Alameda
MLS#: 81019451
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 289 days

Property in a cul-de-sac; 3 bdrms 2 baths, the garage was converted into a bedroom legality unknown by the seller. Good size backyards. Living room with a fireplace, kitchen with a granite countertops & double sink. This house needs some TLC.

Oh come on, how come none of these listings ever come right out and say “this is an illegal conversion, we’re sorry”?  Legality unknown?  The only thing unknown is why the agent thinks nobody could figure that out.  I mean, look at the place, the garage conversion was done by such unpleasant people that the second floor is trying to make a break for it.

This house needs some TLC, alright.  Some TNT Lit and Combusting.  If you use enough, you can blow the back fence out, too.  Then enjoy watching the trains go back and forth right behind where the house used to be.


Whoo-whoo!  But hey, it’s got granite countertops.

Update: Thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for calling out this amazing Street View!  Wow!


What’s really great about this is it makes the next-door neighbor’s entire house look like it’s the detached garage for the featured place, right down to the echo of the green Yen sign in the housepaint.  Extra points for the yellow vehicle having the hood up.

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

February 7, 2011

New floors! Great lot in Cupertino–just $1M

Beds: 4
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,640
$/Sq. Ft.: $566
Lot Size: 4,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1962
Community: Cupertino
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81049495
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 92 days
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!! Beautiful home in the highly desired Monta Vista neighborhood! Brand new hardwood floors, tile kitchen countertops, furnace, fixtures, completely remodeled bathroom, and much more! Top rated Cupertino schools! Great lot for a rebuild!!

I think it’s really generous and underappreciated that homeowners are willing to invest in new hardwood floors, and tile kitchen countertops right before you level the house for the lot and rebuild. These are the things you simply won’t find anywhere else.

There are so many things I love in the pictures – like the cars in the hero picture. Check out the one on the left. Talk about classic. And I love the parking lot style arrangement of the front yard. Maybe you could turn this into a Sonic!

But then there’s the artistic style as well… like this photo:


Great angled nature huh!

Another great deal to start off the new year.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:15 am

February 6, 2011

Luxury Downtown SJ Condos Transforming Into Apartments

In case you were wondering if downtown San Jose needed more luxury condominium towers, looks like the answer is a big, fat no.  Thanks to Burbed reader sonarrat for alerting us to this story.

Struggling downtown San Jose condo tower to switch to rentals

By Joe Rodriguez, SJ Mercury News –  Posted: 02/02/2011 04:45:28 PM PST, Updated: 02/03/2011 08:34:16 AM PST

imageThe Three Sixty Residences, a luxury condominium tower offering panoramic views of Silicon Valley, has done a 180-degree fizzle. The downtown San Jose project will become a rental apartment building.

Condos or rentals, who cares?

That’s how downtowners feel after waiting years for four large condominium projects to dump thousands of new residents onto sidewalks and into coffee houses, restaurants and retail shops. So far, sales at the projects are creeping along after the housing market tanked.

Thank heaven that nonsense is over.  The idea of building apartment towers and selling off the interior units one by one was a great way for developers to make money.  As long as real estate kept going up, it was even a great way for condo owners to make money.  However, the game of musical chairs came to a halt and a number of condo owners find themselves under water.  Units filled with renters, or even worse, units filled with nobody, means the condo lifestyle isn’t at all what they imagined.  Homeowner fees climb even faster when not everyone is paying them.

imageSo take a look at this diagram from the article.  How did The Three Sixty manage to not sell a single condo if they used to have 90 of them under contract?  Did they just cancel them all?  Did the would-be owners get their deposits back?

And do you see what’s wrong with this picture?  Actually what’s wrong is the statistics.  We don’t care how many floors versus sold units there are in each building.  What’s important is how many units didn’t sell, because that would tell us how well these other three projects are doing.  Or, more likely, how not well.

Edward Tufte, where are you and why aren’t you publicly calling out the graphic designer for this image?

Since the Merc didn’t bother to tell you what you need to know, we will.  Here is how well each of the four major downtown high-rise condominium projects have sold.

Project Year Built Total Units Units Sold % Sold
City Heights 2007 124 99 80%
Axis 2008 329 138 42%
The 88 2008 197 117 59%
Three Sixty 2010 213 0 0%


And an even more important thing you need to know: Three Sixty Residences has been featured in Burbed, back when there were units for sale. So much for “finally got a piece of the pie.” Only owners get pie.  Renters just get to sniff it coming out of the oven.

The solution?  Make the pie higher!

Comments (40) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

February 5, 2011

Psst, Want to Buy an Island? Part Deux

Owning your own private island is one way to show you have arrived.  8 bedroom mansion?  How vulgar!  900 acre winery?  That means you’re in trade.  But a private island?  Now that is landownership.

Thanks to Burbed reader CLS for passing this along.


Last island we featured was a bit wanting in the location, location, location chops.  Not this one.  It’s in San Francisco Bay, with views, views, views!  And it even made the national newsYahoo picked up the story (that’s their photo above), and it’s been around some other sites, too, but this local blog may have kicked it back into collective consciousness.

0 Red Rock Is, San Francisco, CA 94109


SQ. FT.: –
LOT SIZE: 5.78 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Lots & Land, Other
VIEW: Bay, Bridges, City, Hills, Lights, Panoramic
COMMUNITY: San Francisco County
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 21022212
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 186 days

Red Rock Island is the only privately held island in San Francisco Bay and is offered at $22M for the mineral rights and bragging rights. It forms the confluence of San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin Counties. The largest portion of the island is the 4.114 acres in Contra Costa County. It rises to an elevation of 172 feet above the water with fantastic views in all directions and is North of the fog belt. The price includes the mineral rights.

imageAnd it’s a good thing the price includes the mineral rights, because it doesn’t include building rights, water rights, or permit rights.  All you get on are some old stories of possible pirate gold buried here, and, of course, bragging rights. 

Of course, the island has its own website!  It needs to, in order to explain that you aren’t merely buying an island.  You’re taking on a whole new paradigm of land use, such as being divided among three different counties (SF, Marin and Contra Costa), including the City of Richmond, and who knows how many state agencies, plus there’s a 1932 Executive Order signed by Herbert Hoover that prohibits destruction or disfigurement of the island.

Not every real property has to deal with so many government entities, but this one is Real Special!

imageThe Associated Press stated that the current owner bought the island in 1964 for $49,500, and attempted to build a 20 story hotel and casino complex.  The project was blocked by the City of Richmond.  He’s also considered turning the place into a quarry and practicing a little mountaintop removal.

Property Shark has never heard of the place (they say the address simply doesn’t exist), and the San Francisco Assessor’s Office software went all Three Mile Island trying to find it even when I spotted it the parcel number. 

So maybe you ought to consider buying it just to avoid bill collectors and process servers.  Plus if any county deputies come after you, all you have to do is step over the line into your choice of two others!

Really, if Zillow can’t find this place, you’re golden:


And puh-leeze on the listing being only half a year old.  The owner’s been trying to ditch this sandbar since at least 2007, and look!  It’ was for sale in 2005 for a quarter the price!  According to Yahoo, the asking price was $10 million in 2008.  Somebody better tell the listing agent that the price is supposed to double every ten years, not every two.

Here’s owner David Glickman on why the price keeps going up:

At the time, I thought I’d sell it. The island has a good spot for a marina, and it’s in the bay, so the marina would be useful," he said. "But each time I thought I was going to sell it, something happened to make it worth more money.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

February 4, 2011

This is Fixer Up

Who says there’s no affordable housing in Silicon Valley?  Obviously they didn’t look in the right neighborhood!  Remember, it’s all about location, location, location, and there’s no location like Alviso.  Not many places have the entire zip code declared a Superfund site, but after 25 years the EPA says all the asbestos is cleaned up.  That means the time to buy is now!

1585 Wabash St, San Jose, CA 95002


SQ. FT.: 1,124
$/SQ. FT.: $178
LOT SIZE: 3,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Santa Clara
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81058707
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 37 days

Home for inverstors, No FHA Loan, Three bedroos and two baths, this house is divided in two houses. This is fixer up.

imageThis house is divided in two house.  Um.  Ruh-roh, Rabe Rincoln.  A house divided against itself cannot stand. 

So you’d better nip over to the 95002 and pick this up before it sits down.  Or falls down. Or gets crammed down. It could even burn down now that all the asbestos is gone.

Plus you have your choice of which of the two houses in one house to live in, the one with the power lines in the yard, or the one with the rustic fence.  Decisions, decisions!  Choose your favorite, then rent out the other for that on-site landlord experience. 

And here’s something the agent forget to mention.  Your new home is close to a private lake!  Er, is asbestos green?


Plus, like a fine wine, this home’s foreclosure was aged to perfection as well.  None of that mid-2000s Johnny-come-lately bank seizure for this home.  These homes.  In one house.  Whatever.  This house home for inverstors was foreclosed on back in 1998!  Now, that’s success secession.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

February 3, 2011

Rare Opportunity to Own an Eichler that needs TLC

Here’s a house for anyone who wants the incredible benefits of Sunnyvale utilities and Santa Clara schools. This is truly the best of… well, it’s the best house available at this address.

1109 Lorne Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94087


SQ. FT.: 1,770
$/SQ. FT.: $480
LOT SIZE: 7,200 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81055965
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 64 days

Rare Opportunity! Atrium Model Eichler Home in Lovely Cul-De-Sac * Courtyard in Front * Spacious Floorplan w/ Open Living & Dining Area, Fireplace, Floor-to-Ceiling Windows * Open Kitchen w/ Granite Slab Counters, Wood Cabinetry, Breakfast Bar and Family Sitting Area * Bamboo Flooring * Mature Backyard w/ Pool and Patio * Attached 2-Car Garage * Laurelwood Elem * Lots of Potential, Just Needs Some TLC *

imageI didn’t realize Eichler was still building houses in 1973.  Shouldn’t they have locked him up by then in the giant Libby’s can for crimes against architecture? Anyway, in this case, TLC stands for Thoroughly Level this Cul-de-sac.

But look at all the instant equity you get in this place.  It last sold in 2005 for $925,000!  Yet the seller is willing to offer it to you at a discount so you can reap the rewards of living the Santa Clara lifestyle at a Sunnyvale price.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

February 2, 2011

Please DO NOT disturb next door neighbor (pink house behind subject)



Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 2,352
$/Sq. Ft.: $162
Lot Size: 1.63 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 1
View: Valley
Year Built: 1925
Community: Alum Rock
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81036177
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 173 days
Property is on a hill, which provides a great view of the city and the valley. Off Mt. Hamilton Rd. country styled area, modern home on a flag lot. Plenty of room to roam around. Home has been newly rebuilt in the recent years. Unique floor plan. MUST SEE! SELLER LOOKING FOR AS-IS OFFERS. Please DO NOT disturb next door neighbor (pink house behind subject).

Hm… what do we have going on here? A recently rebuilt house with…


mismatching appliances…


… and columns to make it classsssy. How peculiar!

Fortunately, Burbed reader T has the inside scoop on this house! Take it away T!

Hi Burbed, I have been house hunting every day for 7 months and been
involved in two short sales so far… so I read Burbed and I love your
blog…And,  I keep seeing this house

10495 CROTHERS RD San Jose – Other, CA 95127 ( Mt Hamilton, Alum rock)
Which I have gone to see. If you ever need a house that has so many
complications and its price is about 1/3 of what it started at… This is
it. Bizarre story included, which is not listed in the agent copy. I got it
from the son of the sister.

Brother and sister split a lot there were two small 1940s houses on it. They
share utilities…Brother remodeled front house ( by himself) kind of a
“bury the old house.” His house is a Persian palace style, including palm
trees. He did nothing about the old foundation which the house fell off of.
He did not have the money to remedy.They may have other complications like
sharing more then utilities, driveway and yard.

When I first started looking it was listed near $800,000 I think.  Of course by this point, everyone probably has looked at this house that is looking in the East Hills! I am sure your readership is very broad though, and it is an interesting story of a house gone wrong. Of course the story is hearsay at this point.

It is for sale for $380. Now… foreclosed. A good deal?

Wow talk about a soap opera. Personally, I think this is a great deal in that you could buy it and turn it into the next Winchester Mystery House (ignoring the fact this house is one of the 101 Places Not To See Before You Die [alongside with BART]).

Come on, it’s got columns! This has got to be a good deal!

Comments (11) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:01 am

February 1, 2011

Bonus Post: Watch This Place Skyrocket!

If you read the news about possible congestion pricing on the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges, then you’re an informed, savvy real estate investor!  So why not start picking up some Peninsula properties now, because they’re going to be HAWT, HAWT, HAWT!

1227 Sevier Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025


SQ. FT.: 1,916
$/SQ. FT.: $198
LOT SIZE: 5,750 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: East of U.S. 101
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81041407
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 165 days

Short sale approved at this price. Large remodeled home with nice touches. Maple cabinets, granite counters, pergo flooring. Great price for this much square footage. Outside needs works in the back. Great Opportunity!!!

See, even the bank knows this one will be selling shortly, so they raised the asking price after the last contract fell through!  I bet those bank vice-presidents know some people on the bridge committee, too!  It really is all about who you know, and this one’s going to be selling for a thousand a square foot real soon now!  Don’t you want to be able to tell your friends that you snagged it at $198 a foot?  Of course you do! Hurry, before something happens in the back, like your worst enemy closing on this place before you can pick up the phone!

This is a no-brainer, everyone!  It’s in Belle Haven, and you know anything French is just tojours l’amour to rich people!  I bet it even includes a free staircase inside!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:39 am

The Vast Conspiracy to Raise Peninsula Real Estate Prices

And, lower East Bay prices too!  Win-win-win!

Officials push for higher tolls during rush hours on San Mateo, Dumbarton bridges

By Mike Rosenberg, The Oakland Tribune

Posted: 01/31/2011 07:23:07 AM PST, Updated: 01/31/2011 09:26:52 AM PST

imageDrivers crossing the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges would pay higher tolls during rush hours under a plan Peninsula officials are urging Bay Area leaders to adopt.

A group of city, county and transportation officials this week released the new San Mateo Countywide Transportation Plan, which includes support for congestion pricing on the two bridges that connect the Peninsula and East Bay.

"I think it’s a shame they haven’t done congestion pricing," said Rich Napier, executive director of the county’s congestion management agency, which is overseeing the transportation plan. "It does work."

(Photo, above right: Drivers crossing the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges would pay higher tolls during rush hours under a plan Peninsula officials are urging Bay Area leaders to adopt. File photo, The Oakland Tribune.)

Now, some readers of this site are really clever people, and will simply glance at the headline above and figure it out immediately.  Others of you need to be taken by the hand and have a few things spelled out really slowly and carefully.

Congestion pricing, in case you haven’t tried driving across the Bay Bridge during commute hours, means that the toll is higher during rush hour when everyone else is going to work.  At present, Bay Bridge congestion pricing is $6 during peak commute hours and $4 other times.  The San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges have a $5 toll at all times, rush hour or not.

Now, here’s the part you should have already worked out:

Drivers at the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges typically wait less than two minutes to get through the toll booth, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.

Still, officials said traffic data shows many of the logjams on Highway 101 are caused by commuters who take advantage of cheaper housing in the East Bay and cross the bridges for their jobs in the Peninsula. Slowing traffic on the bridges during the commute could have a ripple effect on Highway 101, where officials have struggled for years to ease bottlenecks, they said.

Ooooh, ripple effect!  Double rainbow all the way!  Across the sky!  By making commuting more expensive or more inconvenient, homes on the Peninsula close to jobs will become even more valuable.  Meanwhile, “cheaper housing in the East Bay” won’t be such a bargain once the commute costs more time and money.  Expect that desirability deficit to work itself into pricing homes in the East Bay if congestion pricing moves to Peninsula bridges.

In related bridge toll news, the Golden Gate bridge authority is getting rid of all their human toll-takers and switching to an all-electronic system.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am