March 21, 2011

Zrent vs. Zbuy

Zillow, the website that brought you the Zestimate, now has a brand-new feature to make fun of.  We’ve all chuckled over how surprisingly off the Zestimate of a home’s value could be.  Well, in the words of Mr. Family Guy, “You think that’s bad?”

Zillow has just introduced the Rent Zestimate.  Yes, now we can compute the Zrent Zratio, using two estimates that may or may not have anything to do with reality!  Let’s try it with a few houses previously featured on Burbed!


Here’s Friday’s house, the Tangrams Set with the High-Tech name.  Once more, the Zestimate has no relation to real life, because if it did this place wouldn’t be sitting unclaimed for 113 days at $200K less than Zillow’s amazing valuation model’s prediction.  To compute the Zrent Zratio, divide the Zestimate by the annual Rent Zestimate.  For this house, $762,000 divided by ($3081 * 12) is 20.6, a number that says rent, don’t buy this house.  (A number above 15 says rent, a number below 15 says buy.)

Although I think the answer is really don’t rent or buy this house, so let’s try again with something a little more desirable.  So let’s stop and smell the roses.


Well, here’s a Zestimate a little more down to earth, as this Beautiful Specious Home is listed for $239,000.  The Zrent Zratio is $217,500 / (1345 * 12) or 13.5.  Buy!  Buy!  BUY!

And here’s our most recent run-in with MAWBUL CAWLUMS, it’s the Shrek House.


Ready?  Oh oh, this place has a Zestimate about 30% of the asking price.  I didn’t say 30% lower, I said it’s 30% of the asking price.  I’m sure the FBs will be happy to set Zillow straight on this.  And the Zrent Zratio is… $1,427,000 / (5587 * 12) = 21.3.  Rent.  Definitely rent.

Okay, now for grins, we’re going to compute the rent ratio using the wishing prices of all three homes, and Zillow’s Rent Zestimate.

  • Poinsettia: $575,000 / (2979 * 12) = 16.1 (weak rent, buy it if you love it)
  • Gibraltar: $217,500 / (1345 * 12) = 14.8 (buy or rent, it’s a wash)
  • Butch: $4,999,000 / (5587 * 12) = 74.6 (rent rent rent rent rent rent are you kidding me?)

So, what do you think of Zillow’s new made up numbers?  Do any of these rents have anything to do with reality?  And if you divide one invented number by another, does the nonsense cancel itself out?

Comments (80) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

March 20, 2011

2010 Census Data Displays Diverse Diversity Diversions

Thanks to Burbed reader Real Estater for nominating this article by posting it in the comments on Friday.


Image from USA Today

East Bay tops among California’s most diverse places

By Eric Kurhi and Matt O’Brien, Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/18/2011 03:20:18 PM PDT

HAYWARD — Close to the geographic center of a city known as the “Heart of the Bay,” Luciano Ruiz peered out the pickup window of a burger joint in what is, by one measure, the most racially diverse neighborhood in California.

“There’s been a mix of people here ever since I grew up,” said Ruiz, 18. “It’s always been mainly Latino down here in South Hayward, but now you see more African-Americans, a lot more Asians. I’ve seen a little increase in Middle Eastern people.”

The 2010 census shows a collection of census tracts in the Hayward flatlands as the most diverse in California and a microcosm of the state’s likely future. Latinos are the largest group, but share the space with many other people. Multicultural churches, mosques and businesses are in walking distance.

Thirty-five miles away, in the Walnut Creek retirement community of Rossmoor, a cluster of census tracts reflect an older, less integrated California. About 90 percent of residents are white and less than 1 percent are African-American in the Bay Area’s least-diverse neighborhood.

“It’s probably accurate,” said Rossmoor resident David Smith of the newly released statistics. “Our population is overwhelmingly white.”

imageSince this is from the Contra Costa Times, there’s little about neighborhoods in Santa Clara or San Mateo County, and which would be the most or least diverse. East Palo Alto was specifically called out as one of the 10 most diverse communities in California. The diversity index is the probability that two randomly picked people from the area would be of different race or ethnicity. Maybe you might have an idea which neighborhoods you’d nominate?

imageAnyway, I looked up the data, and East Palo Alto has a DI of 83.4 (the highest was 86.4 and Hayward was 85.1).  Oakland was 81.1. Not mentioned in the article are Sacramento, 79.6, South San Francisco, 79.0, San Jose, 77.1, San Bruno, 76.3, Santa Clara, Cholula Half Gallon - Click Image to Close71.8, and Sunnyvale, 70.7.  On the other end of the scale we find Belvedere, 16.4, Portola Valley, 22.3, Woodside, 25.2, and Boulder Creek at 26.  Don’t assume that a low DI means white-bread; the Central Valley’s Mendota is 96.6% Hispanic and has a DI of 26.0.

In case you’re wondering how some areas end up with lots of diversity, here’s the secret, according to the above article:

It didn’t happen overnight,” Bogue said. “Just like anywhere, somebody puts a house up for sale, somebody looks at it and somebody buys it.”

Yeah, that couldn’t happen in Atherton, where houses are bequeathed.  But while houses are occasionally listed for sale in homogenous census tracts, the diverse ones, such as Richmond, San Pablo, Pittsburg, Hayward, Vallejo, Oakland and San Leandro have another interesting thing in common.

imageLocal historian Frank Goulart said affordability has also long attracted a broad spectrum of people to parts of Hayward.

“If you want an honest answer, it’s the cheap housing,” Goulart said.

He said many of the homes in the city’s most diverse tracts “were built like shacks.”

There you go.  Diversity is code for crapboxes (like this one above, in Hayward, the City of Diversity).  But don’t worry about it.  The majority of California public school students are now Hispanic, so the Diversity Index must be heading down (see Mendota, above).  That means housing quality will go up, so the Real Bay Area will get bigger!

imageThere’s no danger of that in Silicon Valley, though.  Santa Clara County’s index is a kumbayah 74, almost as multicultural as Alameda County’s state-topping 78.  The least diverse Bay Area County?  Marin, at 45. The overall state index is 72.9, second only to Hawaii’s 81.1.

But what’s more important is housing!  And the county with the highest percentage of vacant housing units goes to Alpine, with a whopping 71% of its housing sitting empty.  For the Bay Area, the winner is Sonoma, with 9.2%, imagebut Santa Cruz’s 9.7% would have beaten it had any of the county physically come into contact with the Bay.  Meanwhile San Mateo and Santa Clara county are both in the 4’s, while San Francisco managed double: 8.3% of the housing units sitting empty.

There’s stats, stats, stats to play with, so have fun courtesy of USA Today.  Data is available by city as well, so go wild and wonder why the city (town?) of Almanor has 100% of their 75 housing units empty.

Photo above: foreclosed home in Hayward, showcasing diversity.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

March 19, 2011

Chastity: A Cardinal Virtue on the Shuttle

Spell the ALE in YALE.  A-L-E.  Okay, smart guy, now spell the SEX at STANFORD.


Right.  There isn’t any.  Now can anyone come up with a decent caption for this bus sign?  Our thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for spotting this one over here.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:00 am

March 18, 2011

Dsys1-7 offers will not be reviewed

Today’s listing is thanks to Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer, who sent it in for everyone’s reading pleasure, or financial opportunity.  You just never know!

200 POINSETTIA Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,950
$/SQ. FT.: $295
LOT SIZE: 9,240 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Cape Cod
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: San Mateo Village/Glendale Village
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81055396
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 113 days

Dsys1-7 offers will not be reviewed. days 8-12: offers ONLY from NSP buyers, Municipalities, Non -profit organization and Owner-occupants will be reviewed. Days 13+: We will consider offers from all buyers.

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

Check the listing description, then the days on market…

imageWhat’s 113 days?  Don’t you know how long it takes to get a place foreclosed around here?  It’s already bank-owned?  Well, no problem then!  Looks like the bank took it back in October, 2009 and waited until November 2010 to list the place. Since then it’s only been pending twice. 

So clearly this house has seen a lot of action and the bank is ready to respond quickly to your overbid!  You remember Monday’s house where you deserve a Yes?  Just imageimagine what you deserve here!

To find out, head to the front door of today’s featured house. They want you to admire that front door first, since they didn’t bother showing the inside of the house. Now pretend you’re Opportunity Knocking!  You never know who might answer the door.

I mean, this place is great!  It looks like a giant Tangrams set!

Sold to the FB for $830,000 in 2005, the house has a cool $255K in instant equity, just waiting for someone like you to come and get it.  All you have to do is wait until Days 13+, which will come around again in another 100 days.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

March 17, 2011

It’s got the copy and the listing history to be famous


As any regular Burbed reader knows, the East Bay is no way no how never was, never is and never will be part of the Real Bay Area (RBA).  But there’s plenty to be found in the East Bay!  Plenty of great houses for Burbed treatment, that is.

So, speaking of the East Bay, please welcome A Lewis, in his very first appearance as a Burbed Guest Blogger!  Please give him a warm RBA welcome!

8190 TERRACE Dr, El Cerrito, CA 94530


BATHS: 3.5
SQ. FT.: 3,973
$/SQ. FT.: $138
LOT SIZE: 6,630 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Brown Shingle
COMMUNITY: Country Club Ter
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40513365
ON REDFIN: 4 days

VIEWS! Views! Views! Enjoy the views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge! Huge Potential with plenty of space. POOL, possible inlaw apartment downstairs for extended family. Contractors Dream! HUGE, HUGE upside potential!

imageFirst, the listing copy is so Excited, EXCITED! VIEWS! POOL! That is one crappy pool in lieu of a small back yard Great hazard for families with small children.

That’s strange, no interior pics?

And 3 of the worst view pics you could imagine. Why would you take your view pics on a hazy grey day and then reduce them to an unviewable resolution? Do they teach that in realtor-school?








But the listing history is what makes this worth a second look – first off, there HAS got be a law made so you can’t call a listing ‘new’ just because you took it off Redfin for five seconds. Second, look at the almost unbroken monthly activity since 2008. This house needs a rest – it’s getting more action than a $5 hooker.


But it’s got $444k of instant equity! Multiply by 2 and you’ve got three 8’s! it’s only been foreclosed on once, and then it sold for $400k just one week ago. Now it’s ready for a new owner! How was that 7 days of owner-occupied bliss, anyways?

What the heck is happening on the inside of this place – I know they say Contractor’s special, but what have they been doing with it all these years? This one looks ripe for a fraud investigation. But at a rock-bottom $138/sqft, how can you pass it up? And it has a POOL!

Comments (48) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

March 16, 2011

Beautiful Specious Home

What, it’s Wednesday already, and no submissions from Burbed reader sonarrat yet?  Better fix that oversight right now now.

4094 GIBRALTAR Dr, Fremont, CA 94536


SQ. FT.: 884
$/SQ. FT.: $270
LOT SIZE: 1,312 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Townhouse
STYLE: Cape Cod
COUNTY: Alameda
MLS#: 40495747
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 131 days

Open Home Sat & Sun 1:30 – 4:30 Beautiful specious home with crown moldings and oak laminated floors throughout. Plenty of double pane windows. Gourmet kitchen with beautiful cherry wood cabinetry, granite tile countertops and stainless steel appliances. Inside full size washer and dryer.

Here’s what sonarrat had to say about this, um, place:

If ever there was a perfect Freudian slip, it would be this listing.

Yes, even over in Fremont, better known as Six Cities in Search of an Offer, lower-end housing has succumbed to the obligatory stainless and granite.  This place features all the charm of a Motel 6 coupled with the convenience of monthly homeowner’s association fees ($211).  But hey, you get Common Hot Water for those HOA dues!  Plus pink roses poorly Photoshopped right outside your lot line!

So let’s check out the neighbors!


Diversity rocks!  If you want an integrated neighborhood, you got it! Integrated with apartments, townhouses, single-family houses, a park and what appear to be a bunch of scattered cargo containers.  Maybe they were dropped here by some hurried vessel captain who couldn’t find Alviso?

Better grab this one fast, as it’s been temporarily de-listed, no doubt by canny sellers who know it will lead to multiple offers over asking!  Hurry!

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

March 15, 2011


Yet another terrific find came up in comments.  Our thanks to Burbed reader Tuno for finding this… indescribable property, where thought, labor and love… couldn’t come up with a copywriter who could pass high school English.

2544 Butch Dr, Gilroy, CA 95020


BATHS: 9.5
SQ. FT.: 10,300
$/SQ. FT.: $485
LOT SIZE: 10.21 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Mediterranean
VIEW: Mountains, Valley, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Morgan Hill/Gilroy/San Martin
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81105945
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 19 days


Here’s what Tuno had to say about this, um, listing:

pretty incredible, esp. for Gilroy

Then Burbed reader nomadic nails it:

The first pic look straight out of a Shrek cartoon.

imageToo bad this owner EXSPENDED so many YEARS with THOUGHT, LABOR and LOVE, because this property is the OWNERS VISION OF THE ULTIMATE EQUESTRIAN ESTATE.  Perhaps it would be yours too? 

As featured in the most recent Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, gallery tour of East Tracy.  I think that means he doesn’t use very much paint.  Like just one coat.


Maybe the exterior is by Kinkade, but this staircase at right was obviously designed by M.C. Escher.  They could have used something like this in Inception to keep the assassins from finding them so fast.  Also wouldn’t it be great to see a freight train knock down that statue?


Oh dear, is that… our first sighting of… that hallmark of CLASS and KULCHUCH?  It’s hiding in the back left.


No I must have imagined it.  Nothing but overdone French provincial dining set, probably not even included with the house.




A sky you can’t believe in.  They must have had Kinkade paint that too.


The horse facility is actually better than most of the houses we feature, although that really isn’t saying much.  W 8STALL.  But remember, this is on the ADJOINING 10AC PARCEL.


All set to put in a vineyard… as long as you can come up with about four million acre feet of water.  And once you do, then you’ll have your RESORT LIKE OAIS.

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

March 14, 2011

You deserve a Yes in San Jose


Beds: 4
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 1,182
$/Sq. Ft.: $270
Lot Size: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1975
Community: Alum Rock
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81058715
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 55 days
Beautiful home! Great opportunity. Finally what you were looking for. you deserve a yes.

I’m not sure what it means to deserve a yes, but if you deserve one, then this house is for you!

Heck, you could probably even spell out Yes with those tress in the front yard!

Did you want some instant equity? Yes?


Yes! This house is below it’s 2001 price. That means this is an incredible deal.

Yes Yes Yes!

You deserve all this instant equity, so go for it today!

Comments (34) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:18 am

March 13, 2011

Mysterious Secretive Consortium Really Pissed off that They Can’t Buy State Landmark Buildings in Sweetheart Deal that would Cost California Billions in Needless Rent, Sez They’ll Sue

Remember this story?  A bunch of well-connected cronies wanted to buy all those state buildings and rent them back, with the deal rushed through the waning days of the Governator’s final term? It’s Ba-a-a-a-a-a-ack!

Miffed Investors Sue State over Building Sale

The mysterious consortium goes to court after Gov. Brown nixes deal to sell 11 buildings

By ELIZABETH LESLY STEVENS, Bay Citizen on March 11, 2011 – 4:34 p.m. PST

Photo, right: Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen

The California Public Utilities Commission Building is included in a controversial plan for the state of California to sell 11 office complexes to a group of private investors, then lease the space for 20 years

The controversial deal to sell state office buildings is headed to court.

Late Thursday, attorneys for the would-be buyers, California First, filed suit in a state court in Los Angeles, trying to get the court to force the state to go ahead with the deal. “A deal is a deal,” California First says in the suit. No further information about the identity of the California First partners appears in the legal filing, and the group’s attorney did not immediately return a call requesting comment. The group also appears to be paving the way to sue the state for damages if the sale does not go through.

That’s the American way, all right.  If you don’t get your insanely profitable deal done via friends in high places because a bunch of crybabies point out your doing so is probably illegal, sue their pants off!  Also, sue their pants off while refusing to identify exactly who you are, maybe by hiding your faces with those pants you collected.  Yes, we still don’t know exactly who wants to buy these buildings, but they’re mighty unhappy the sale was blocked and they’re going to court to make it happen.

Just remember what we learned last time we covered this topic: it’s probably a bunch of foreigners with cash not only on the sidelines but in both end zones and all the luxury boxes.  According to the Matt Taibbi article we linked to, there’s a good chance it’s oil money.  The last thing they need is for anyone to find out who they are.

Can we declare a moratorium on selling infrastructure to foreign investors? There must be a few Google gazillionaires who want their very own bridge or judicial building.  Maybe Jerry Brown would be okay selling to in-state private investors instead.  Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t bought himself a house yet, think he’d like to own something with a big state seal on it?  And Larry Ellison, he’d buy it just so Jim Clark couldn’t buy it first.  Problem solved!

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

March 12, 2011

Palo Alto is the New Cupertino

And now, some local news from one of our favorite location, location, locations.

Census: Big spike in Palo Alto’s Asian population

City’s Asian population increased by 73 percent over the past decade, fueling overall population growth of 9.9 percent

by Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Online Staff

Palo Alto’s population spiked by almost 10 percent over the past decade, fueled in large part by a growing Asian community, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

The data, which the bureau released Tuesday afternoon, indicate that Palo Alto’s Asian population jumped from 10,090 in 2000 to 17,461 in 2010 — a 73 percent increase. While Asian Americans made up 17.2 percent of the city’s population 11 years ago, the proportion spiked to 27.1 percent last year, according to the census numbers.

Statewide, the Asian population went up by 31.5 percent over the past decade, census data indicate.
The new data confirm what many Palo Alto officials have publicly acknowledged in recent meetings: The city’s population is growing and become more diverse. The city’s listed total population grew from 58,598 in the 2000 census to 64,403 in the new one — an increase of 9.9 percent. At the same time, the city’s population of white residents dropped from 44,391 to 41,359 over the past decade — a 6.8 percent decline.

Well, isn’t that special?  Seems whatever made Palo Alto so different than its neighbors is less and less the case every day.  Yes, they knew they were rich, but they could also say they were white.  Oh, where are those restrictive covenants when you need them?

Time for a little history, then.

California used to have the Alien Land Law which prohibited non-citizens from purchasing land, but was used primarily to prevent Asians from purchasing property.  The law was found constitutional in 1923 and upheld in 1946, despite the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 (which grew out of wartime diplomacy rather than any concern for civil rights).

When the Supreme Court overruled themselves and barred restrictive covenants in 1948, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) quickly came to the aid of racial separatists with this delightful item added to their ethics code:

“A realtor should not be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or use which clearly will be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.”

California law also permitted school districts to set up different schools for Asian students, and if such a school was set up, all Asian students must attend that school.  San Francisco had such a school and triggered an international incident in 1906 when they required Japanese-American children to attend this hitherto Chinese-American school.  Yet California never specifically set up schools for black students, as was typical in the Southeast.  Racially segregated schooling, at least by statute, ended in 1954 after Brown v. Board of Education.

Also look out for the legal phrase “alien ineligible to citizenship” when reading these old laws and statutes.  That’s code for Asians again, and which Asians was spelled out in terms of longitude and latitude.  It sure didn’t apply to Russians and Middle Easterners.  It wasn’t until 1952 that racial restrictions to naturalization were done away with.

And now, in 2011, Palo Alto is getting a little bit more diverse than it has been.  Formerly a city for wealthy, high-achieving white people, Palo Alto will become a city of wealthy and upper-middle class high-achievers, of both European and Asian ancestry.  Diversity rocks!

Meanwhile, we can celebrate the return of de jure segregation, as the article mentions Hoover Elementary School has 78 percent of their students with Asian ancestry.  The photo at left shows what Hoover classes looked like back in 1951.

Check out the highly-charged comments in the online story, the editors of Palo Alto Online are yanking quite a number of them.  Seems there’s a few longtime (or not so longtime) residents who don’t appreciate any changes coming to Palo Alto, because, after all, It’s Special Here.

Comments (37) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:34 am