March 31, 2011

Tree Fell on Home, Buyer to Verify

Burbed gets some pretty amusing listings sent in, but this one stands head and shoulders above most of them.  Or should I say it made quite an impact.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for sharing it.  

21431 BERTRAM Rd, San Jose, CA 95120


SQ. FT.: 852
$/SQ. FT.: $205
LOT SIZE: 6,348 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Almaden Valley
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81104744
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 56 days

SHORT SALE. Contractor Special!!! Beautiful Creek Setting. Tree Fell On Home. Buyer to Verify Allowable Re-Build With County. In A Historical District. Do Not Go On The Property!!! View From The Street. Offers are still being taken. They will be presented to 1st lender when negotiations are completed with second.

I really appreciate truth in advertising, and real estate is one field where creative descriptions (which is a rather fancy way to say “lies”) are the norm.  So a listing that calls it like it sees it is truly more than a breath of fresh air.  Observe the economy of prose that tells nothing but the unvarnished truth.

imageSHORT SALE.  Ahoy, bank trouble ahead.  Contractor Special!!! Yes, that often goes with Short Sale, usually. Lots of exclamation points, agent is excited.  Maybe agent owns a hardware store? 

Beautiful Creek Setting. That’s true, and here’s a nice picture of the beautiful creek setting.  So far, this listing reads like most of the distressed properties we’ve seen FBs lose when they couldn’t pay their bubblicious loan payments.  So, no surprises yet, but wait, there’s more!

imageTree Fell On Home.  Oh. My. Definitely. Short, descriptive, and resonant.  Hemingway couldn’t have said it better. 

Buyer to Verify Allowable Re-Build With County.  Beautiful.  A few choice words with just a hint of endless bureaucracy and red tape.  This property is a complete crapshoot: you pays your money and you may not get to do anything with it. We’ve moved from Hemingway to Kafka.

imageIn A Historical District.  See. this place isn’t a complete loss!  Here’s a lovely picture to show why you’d want an uninhabitable 1923 structure.

Do Not Go On The Property!!! View From The Street.  Now the writer injects a note of warning into what had been informative and down-to-earth beforehand.  The plot thickens!  Plus they don’t want you on the property because this is one ginormous liability suit just waiting to happen. 

imageOffers are still being taken. The listing concludes on a note of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

They will be presented to 1st lender when negotiations are completed with second. Hope, with a bemused eyeroll.  This admitted disaster is not only a short sale, there are negotiations with not one, but two banks.  That’s going to make dealing with the county planning department as easy as falling off a log.

Wow! Now tell us the bad news.

This listing spoke the whole truth. This is definitely a Contractor Special, in the sense that certain kids are “Special.”  View it from The Street!

with treeUPDATE: Burbed reader nomadic sent in two more pictures taken right at the site later today (3/31/11) plus some on-site commentary.  I hope they were viewed and taken from The Street as advised. 

Here’s what the tree house looks like now.  I didn’t take a long shot to show that 2/3 of the house wasn’t crushed – it appears that the front room (main living area) was flattened, but not the rest.  Too bad another picture I took was too dark to show the kitchen where one wall was missing.  There were GRANITE countertops!

firewoodIn the background you can see how massive the fallen branch was.  There is more of the same tree hanging over the next door neighbor’s house.  To be fair, I’m not sure the owner would have known what a risk there was.  The tree doesn’t look completely dead.  It’s one of those scrubby looking oaks or something.  There are many huge trees all along that street and nearly every home could have one fall on it.

Here’s the firewood pile nearby; I’m pretty certain it was the fallen branch.

The firewood had better be included for $175,000.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

March 30, 2011

From the archives: UNSTOPPABLE PRICE APPRECIATION: Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino

Let’s take a look at the way back machine. Flashback to this day in 2007:

March 30, 2007

UNSTOPPABLE PRICE APPRECIATION: Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino

San Jose Mercury News – In Silicon Valley, real estate market has two faces
In the area comprising Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, it would take 27 days to sell out the houses on the market this week – a bit less than the 36 days worth of supply from a year earlier, according to data compiled from the local multiple listing service database by Richard Calhoun, owner of Creekside Realty in San Jose.Calhoun collected the data based on groupings of cities or neighborhoods that tend to be priced similarly and “for the most part are geographically contiguous with one another.” His data measures how long it would take to sell all the listed houses given sales pace during the preceding 35 days. Condos and townhouses were not included in the data.

Martine Schepers and her husband, Wim Verhaert, put their four-bedroom Sunnyvale house on the market March 15, priced at $928,000, which they knew was a bit low compared with recent sales. “We hoped we would get $950,000,” Schepers said.

Five days later, their agent, Dave Clark of Coldwell Banker, showed them a stack of 14 offers. A few were for more than $1 million. “We were looking at each other like `this can’t be happening,’” said Schepers, who is hoping to move back to Belgium, where she and her husband were raised. “We kind of heard it was hot, that the market was pretty good,” she said. “We did expect offers to come quickly, just not so many and not this much overbidding.”

Undeterred by national news of turmoil in the subprime mortgage sector or the stock market, buyers are competing for some homes in these communities, especially those in the most sought-after school districts, such as Cupertino, Los Altos and Los Gatos. Job growth is also bolstering the market, and many house-hunters are seeking short commutes to tech company jobs.

Demand for homes in these areas is such that some sellers are specifying the date upon which they’ll review offers – just like during the boom years from 2003 to mid-2005 – and insisting on “as-is” sales.

“I’m sorry for the buyers, to be frank with you,” said Coldwell Banker agent Stacy Chung as she toured a newly listed Cupertino home Thursday. Other agents agreed that the four-bedroom home – perfectly staged, with granite kitchen counters, stainless steel appliances and immaculate wood floors – would sell for more than its $928,000 list price. Chung told of a recent attempt by one of her clients to buy a Saratoga house priced at about $1.4 million. “We put in $120,000 more and didn’t get it.



The Bay Area continues to go strong with multi-million dollar houses!

Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino – 1 word: UNSTOPPABLE!

Oh yeah! We rock. We so rock. Better start bidding 35% over if you want to be a player!

You are so priced out forever.

It appear that some things have changed. But as we all know, real estate comes in cycles. Is this the year we reached this peak again? Or will it be next year?

I won’t rest until every house in the Real Bay Area gets 88 offers!

Comments (36) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:06 am

March 29, 2011

The importance of a comma

burbed guest editorLet’s give a warm welcome to longtime Burbed reader sonarrat, Burbed’s newest regular blogger!

Please, save your rotten tomatoes and rioting until the end. To celebrate the interment, er, I mean introduction of our new contributor, let’s make a day trip to beautiful scenic Santa Cruz.


1165 Thompson Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,317
$/Sq. Ft.: $235
Lot Size: 0.34 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1948
Community: Live Oak
County: Santa Cruz
MLS#: 81056459
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 114 days

Non-Conforming Residential located on a parcel zoned M-1 Light Industrial. This property is located directly across from the ProBuild Door & Window Design Company. This property is eligible under the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative through 12.15.2010. Seller is offering a 2 year home warranty limitations, do apply ask for details.

imageLionel Hutz: All right, gentlemen, I’ll take your case, but I’m going to have to ask for a thousand-dollar retainer.
Bart: A thousand dollars? But your ad says “No money down”.
Lionel Hutz: Oh, they got this all screwed up… (scribbles) “Works on contingency basis? No, money down!”
Bart: So, you don’t work on a contingency basis?
Lionel Hutz: No, money down! Oops, it shouldn’t have this Bar Association logo here either.

A comma can be a powerful thing. Let’s ignore the home warranty limitations for now, though, and focus on the property. We have some of the Burbed standbys: the low-maintenance lawn, garage pre-boarded for the next tsunami, and your very own dumpster, which has the added effect of harboring wildlife! This is truly the perfect house for Santa Cruz’ tender-hearted liberal sensibilities. You also have the possibility of using the house as a workshop, seeing how it has M-1 zoning.  And look at the instant equity!

The last sale was for $425,000, before The Bubble even began. Clearly, then, that must be the baseline, because there could never have been any real estate bubble in California before The Bubble. No, The Bubble was a one-off that has never happened before and will never happen again!

Comments (27) -- Posted by: sonarrat @ 6:00 am

March 28, 2011

There was one room in her house that was always kept locked… It was the garage!

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for finding this fascinating property that is today’s featured house. 

956 TERRA BELLA Ave, San Jose, CA 95125


SQ. FT.: 5,000
$/SQ. FT.: $495
LOT SIZE: 0.36 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Tudor
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Willow Glen
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81103858
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 59 days

Custom Tudor estate close to downtown Willow Glen restaurants and shops! Formal entry has 28’ceilings, red oak hardwood floors, dramatic chandelier, formal spiral staircase. Formal dining/living rooms with wet bar over sized fireplace. Epicurean granite kitchen has top quality appliances. Expansive 2,000sf game room and 7 tandem car garage. Backyard with granite outdoor kitchen! And SO much more!

Here’s what nomadic had to say about this house:

I was checking out the most expensive houses in Willow Glen, wondering "who in their right mind would spend $2.5M to live there?"  Then I found this house.  This house has a seven car tandem garage.  It is two cars wide.  Check out the satellite view.  A house perfect for the car collector who doesn’t like to enjoy their cars and just keeps them in the garage all of the time.

Okay, check out the satellite view we shall!


Looks like the garage is the same size as the entire house.  Somebody had their priorities straight.  And I must say, a seven car tandem garage is pretty amusing, especially because the agent called it a “7 tandem car garage.”  Plus it’s got granite, both inside and outside, so you can have that bubbly mid-oughties feel.  But there’s a bonus in today’s feature, one I am very excited about.  I am so delighted because I get to break out the red arrows again!



Look, everyone, it’s the return of the MAWBUL KAWLUM.  Even in this master bedroom picture, there are all kinds of KAWLUM-like objects.


And the rooms that spared themselves KAWLUMnosity are almost as silly.  Like the dining room where the swag matches the built-in cabinets and the picture frame.


Or the wine cellar.  Nothing says grapes aged to perfection like halogen track lighting and both walls and ceiling painted to match Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup.


imageAnd what is that in the backyard at the right rear?  Looks like the covered wagon was left in place, to remind them of their pioneer roots. And they value their history so deeply they’d leave that hayseed dispenser on the grounds despite destroying the entire house and erecting this neo-Tudor with a bunch of fourdoors in the tandem garage.  There’s just the littlest hint of that 7 car garage in the upper left, showing how far they’ve come from horse-drawn farm vehicles.

Update: nomadic found the link to the virtual tour, so enjoy the 7 tandem car garage!


And a “bunus” picture FTW:


Comments (57) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

March 27, 2011

Foreigner with Huge Suitcase of Cash is Real

One of the recurring arguments for Real Bay Area (RBA) prices to never go down is that even if the local economy is in the tank, prices will be pushed back up by foreigners with suitcases full of cash.  Yeah, the idea has become a bit of a joke meme on Burbed, but looks like it has a kernel of truth.

Thanks to Burbed readers nomadic and Perfect Angel for sending this one in.

Mystery surrounds buyer of hilltop mansion in Los Altos Hills

By Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News

Posted: 03/24/2011 03:30:25 PM PDT, Updated: 03/25/2011 11:30:02 AM PDT


Satellite view of the home on La Paloma Road in Los Altos Hills.

Someone paid $75 million last month for a 25,500-square-foot mansion in Los Altos Hills — complete with its own carwash — the biggest price tag for a house in Santa Clara County history. The big mystery is who.

What is known is that the buyer is La Paloma Property, according to county records. That is a limited liability company registered in Delaware, where business laws protect the identities of the principals in companies and partnerships.

The blog TechCrunch quoted “multiple sources” saying the buyer was Yuri Milner, the Russian venture investor who founded the investment fund Digital Sky Technologies, now known as DST Global.

Milner, a former particle physics graduate student, has made a splash in Silicon Valley with large investments in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. And he’s been shopping for a home in Silicon Valley, real estate agents said.

Wow, who knew the Merc was still such a digital dinosaur?  I mean, seriously, how difficult would it have been for them to link to the TechCrunch article?  Yeah, it’s a little thin, but it’s got an angled overview of the house and it also says Milner isn’t planning on living there much anyway.

TechCrunch and the Merc didn’t print the address, but we will, because this is a housing blog.  This metastasized monstrosity is at 13310 La Paloma Road, Los Altos Hills.  Redfin only details the 1997 sale for $5.3 million, which was before the house in question was built.  The 2009 property tax bill lists the site valued at around $4M for land and $21M for additions, with a total bill of $200,644.


The house and 11 acre parcel belonged to Fred Chan, founder of Fremont-based ESS Technology, and was held under Evershine III.  The 5-bedroom, 9 bath house, when construction began in 2003, was going to be the largest private home in the county.  Assessor info says the house was built/renovated in 2009, which means planning and construction took six years from start to finish. Again, the Mercury news says they covered the home groundbreaking, but couldn’t be bothered to link to its old article (no doubt only available as a for-sale-from-our-archive item).  Looks like Chan found a place he liked better: the largest waterfront property in Oahu.

imageWhile some sources claimed the purchaser was not Yuri Milner, the Merc has followed up on its on story and said Milner is definitely the February 3rd buyer of the property.  Milner’s spokesman Leonid Solovyev did deny that pre-IPO shares of Facebook, or any other stocks were used to pay for the home that Milner doesn’t plan to live in much.

Looks like we’re back to the really big suitcase full of cash.

But if Milner doesn’t plan on living there much, maybe he could rent the place out when he’s elsewhere.  Zillow’s rent Zestimate is $4301 a month, which seems a touch low.  I’m sure he could get the upper end of the range, which is $2200-8600 a month.

Comments (64) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:28 am

March 26, 2011

Thanks to

Thanks to for their sponsorship of Burbed! I truly appreciate it!

Find qualified San Francisco Bay Area real estate agents at

Comments (3) -- Posted by: burbed @ 12:23 pm

March 25, 2011


Sometimes I forget Burbed had its roots in overpriced horrid housing.  Today’s listing reminds us of those humble beginnings that have brought us five years of ridiculously expensive crap.  Remember, any neighborhood can have cheaply built housing, but only the Bay Area can boast the most expensive domestic don’ts in the universe.

836 DWIGHT Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086


SQ. FT.: 822
$/SQ. FT.: $395
LOT SIZE: 4,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81112615
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 1 day

HAVE HAMMER? WILL SAVE. Spruce up this 2 bedroom the heart of Sunnyvale, needs TLC. Bonus room in rear and 2nd bath – permits unknown. Convenient to freeways, shopping, services, and public trans. Possible candidate for renovation financing. Clean up is underway. Corp-owned and sold AS-IS; no warranties or inspections provided by seller.

“Needs TLC” is realtardspeak for about to collapse as soon as a toddler breathes on it.  And it’s got permits unknown, your assurance of a good many days in the Sunnyvale Planning Department.  No wonder it’s selling AS-IS.  No inspections provided by seller, so you don’t have to waste your money on your own.  It’s AS-IS, that means, of course it’s got problems, it’s one continuous problem.

Like the “Clean up is underway” comment.  I don’t think they meant vacuuming the carpets:


Haven’t we discussed this neighborhood before?  Of course we have, this is the Super Fun place!  So when they talk clean up, let’s just say that if you want concrete countertops there will probably be plenty left over for that.

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

March 24, 2011

Spectacular View… of a chain-link fence

It’s about time we heard from Burbed reader sonarrat, isn’t it?  Of course it is, now that we’ve escaped from our Visit to Vallejo.

1314 WEATHERSFIELD Way, San Jose, CA 95118


SQ. FT.: 1,176
$/SQ. FT.: $616
LOT SIZE: 7,227 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Green Belt, Mountains, Lake, Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81100244
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 78 days

Move in ready! Completely new kitchen! Cherry cabinets with features today’s cooks are looking for. Granite counter tops, prep sink, two disposals, stainless steel appliances(except fridge), double convection/microwave ovens, gas cooktop, tile flooring. Master bath and hall bath remodeled. All this, plus Almaden Valley & Cambrian schools, a view you will never grow tired of. Come see for yourself

It’s rarely a good sign when the first picture in the listing isn’t of the house itself, but “a view you will never grow tired of.”  That means the chain-link fence is just as stunning at high noon.image


The house?  Well, having just returned from Vallejo, we’ve seen worse.  Like the screaming tomato-red “accent wall” in the… is that the living room?  WHAT did they do to that fireplace?

But let’s stick to the outside for now (we know the inside has the features today’s cooks are looking for, or is it just the cabinets only that are so equipped?  At least the agent admits that the stainless treatment didn’t extend to the refrigerator.


Here’s the actual view of the house so you can see how well you’re going to get to know the neighbors.  They will be parking in front of your house because there isn’t room for guests,  Also note the great condition of your new street.

Meanwhile I hope you like wildlife.


Because it looks like this house backs onto the mother of all mosquito breeding programs.  Come see for yourself

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

March 23, 2011

Very Vital Venture Value in Vibrant, Vigilant Vallejo

imageHope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s Vallejo field trip, because we’re returning to the first California city to declare bankruptcy!  Despite managing to stay current on its bond debt, any place of comedy gold such as homeowners pouring cooking oil on their fences to repel excess prostitutes has to have real estate worthy of the Burbed treatment.

And fortunately for you, Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer has found just the place.  You are going to love this one.

745 Georgia St, Vallejo, CA 94590


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 3,382
$/SQ. FT.: $228
LOT SIZE: 6,500 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Victorian
COMMUNITY: Vallejo Heights
COUNTY: Solano
MLS#: 40148113
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 222 days

Located in the heart of Vallejo, this 3382 sq. ft home has 7 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in the Heritage Area of downtown. Extra rooms downstairs can serve as study and/or work rooms. Recently renovated, this home has hardwood floors. Escrow#502-7525 in Placer Title Vallejo

Here’s what sfbubblebuyer has to say about this house:

$770k to live in Vallejo.  Still within walking distance of the hookers.  It sold for 766, then foreclosed for under 300k.  Then bought for even less, now flipped back on the market for more than the peak pricing.

imageWalking distance of the hookers?  That’s not a bug, that’s a feature!  Can you say… bordello?  Come on, this place has 7 bedrooms, plus extra rooms downstairs that can definitely serve as study and/or work rooms.  The property history came from BAREIS, wink wink nudge nudge.  The agent all but spells it out: this home has hardwood floors.

Just imagine all the work you could get done in this one featured room alone, at left! Century-old brickwork ensures nobody leaves without payment in full.

Now look at this location, location, location for a high-traffic business!


imageConvenient to Highway 29, on a corner for easy access, plus you can put in a discrete exit for your high-powered clients.

See the lucky guy in the mirror on the left?  Bet he didn’t know about the home’s built-in videocam system, clearly the inspiration for Vallejo’s plans to deal with aggressive street business.  So not only will the city’s police efforts drive traffic to your (closed) doors, you can generate a second line of income by selling souvenir photos!  Your clients will be delighted to pay premium rates for exclusive copies, too!

Don’t let a little thing like this place going pending after 222 days stop you!  Obviously it’s not really in contract, since the listing history isn’t updated.  That’s just a marketing trick to make you get more excited, wondering how firm the other offer really is.  You need to batter down the agent’s door and make your best overbid so you can start doing Vallejo business now!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

March 22, 2011

All the Prestige of the Belvedere Name, All the Hookers of a Vallejo Address

burbedguestbloggerVallejo isn’t a place we’ve spent a lot of time in on this site, but that’s about to change.  Despite being not even remotely part of the Real Bay Area (RBA), Vallejo has many fascinating features.

Please welcome Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer to the front page as today’s Guest Blogger, here to educate you about what pleasures await you in beautiful, thriving Vallejo.  Let’s all give sfbubblebuyer a warm, RBA welcome!

imageimageFear not, would be social climbers! That elusive island living on Belvedere might be closer than you think! Or at least the illusion of it! Now you can associate yourself with the name Belvedere while still maintaining easy access to ample hookers! That’s right, a new luxury condominium complex, The Belvedere, has opened and is accepting wild eyed, mouth frothing bids!


You heard right! When people ask where you live, you can smugly smile and say “Belvedere…” with only a small, plaintive, almost suicidal cry from the back of your brain saying “…in Vallejo….”


As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about pesky cops pulling you over in your fancy sports car! After declaring bankruptcy and laying off a large percentage of their police force, you’d have to be firing rockets out of your microbus at a fleeing DeLorean before the cops take notice.

Never fear, however! You’ll be at the CLASSY end of Vallejo, where you won’t have to smell the cooking oil home owners have been pouring on their fences to keep the prostitutes from leaning against them at all hours of the day. (But to be honest, why would the prostitute object to being pre-lubed?) No, you’ll be near Costco and Kohl’s! A brisk 5 minute walk and you’ll be buying croissants in bulk to decorate your new granite smeared kitchen!


I’m sure it won’t be long before you are living the TRUE Belvedere luxury lifestyle, and the money you save by living in a crime infested hellhole town that embraces the free market in ALL its forms means you can hire this guy:


Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am