April 30, 2011

Another High Asking Price Where it’s Special

Remember the $75 million Los Altos Hills property that Yuri Milner bought?  It turned out that he actually paid $100 million, making it one of the most expensive private residential sales in the United States.  We’re #1!  We’re #1!

This one isn’t #2, but it’s still a pretty healthy chunk of change.

Silicon Valley Estate Hits Market for $59.5 Million

The Wall Street Journal, Private Properties, April 29th 2011

imageA 12-acre Silicon Valley property that belonged to a great-grandniece of Levi Strauss is asking $59.5 million.

The sellers of the Atherton, Calif., property, called Pine Brook, are the children of San Francisco philanthropist Madeleine Haas Russell, who died in 1999. The family has owned it for a century and used it as a summer retreat. There’s a main, English Tudor-style house of more than 11,000 square feet. There’s also a 6,500-square-foot guest house, a swimming pool, pool house, tennis court and gardens.

The family members say in a statement that they always intended to eventually sell the land. Listing agent Mary Gullixson of Alain Pinel Realtors says the estate is an unusually large offering.

Can’t find it on Zillow or Redfin, but a search for “Pine Brook Atherton” yields the address 237 Atherton Avenue, owned by Pine Brook LLC.  And that property is a 5 bedroom, 2 bath, 2050 square footer, with another 2280 unfinished.  And it’s sitting on… 414,600 square feet?  That’s nine and a half acres.  In Atherton.  So how did they get 12 acres, do they own some of the other parcels too?


Here it is from the back, best view there is.


But the WSJ piece says that the property has an 11,000 sf English Tudor main house and a 6,500 sf guest house.  Wonder who at the assessor’s office missed all that?  They sure fooled Zillow; the Zestimate on this place is $1,913,500, and you should be able to rent it for just $7828 a month.  And if you want a comp, here’s ten acres in Atherton with a much larger house that was offered for $22.5 and scooped up for only $18 million.

In 2007.

Obviously this listing is so hush hush that the agent won’t even feature it on her website.

Comments (35) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 29, 2011

You won’t find anything like this available for sale within 20 miles

A couple of weeks ago we featured this, um, charming house in Palo Alto.  Within 7 days, the price went up $150k, because if house was featured here, it was obviously worth far more than that lazy realtard had suggested!  Obviously he/she just wanted a quick commission and didn’t care how little money the bank netted after eating the first mortgage, the second mortgage, the HELOC, the hazardous cleaning team, and the poo guy.

But after making the front page of Burbed,  the Beautiful Eichler with Pool got a more upscale description: “Live down the street from $7,495,000 home.”

So without any further ado, here is the $7.5M house!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for mentioning this house in comments.

1535 EDGEWOOD Dr, Palo Alto, CA 94303



BATHS: 5.5
SQ. FT.: 7,743
$/SQ. FT.: $968
LOT SIZE: 0.43 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Green Gables
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81117522
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 4 days

Incredible Hampton Style home with all the bells and whistles. Great North Palo Alto location, large lot and terrific Palo Alto schools. A rare opportunity to get a move-in home of first class quality and design. Designed and built for family living, you won’t find anything like this available for sale within 20 miles, let alone in Palo Alto.

imageWe’ve already discussed that a homedebtor can list a house for whatever s/he wants, but it’s what a buyer will pay for it that determines the “value.”  Back in the heady days of Pay Option ARMs and OPM and PPM (whoops, that refers to how much poo per million in the swimming area), a buyer would look at the asking price and offer 15% above that. Then they’d hope the homemade cookies, the family photo, and the offer to hand-wax the seller’s Porsche for the next five years would lead to an offer being accepted.  Now, with the housing market in freefall, anything goes, which unfortunately includes agents too lazy to include the full nine pictures on Redfin when six will do.  Just six pictures, for a house with an asking price of $7.5 million.

imageSo, is this house actually worth $7.5M?  Don’t forget that it’s “down the street” from the Beautiful Eichler, let alone in Palo Alto.  0.7 miles “down the street.”

The good news is that for an extra $6.5 million, you aren’t next to a freeway exit ramp, so you have a better chance of pretending you’re in the Hamptons.  The bad news is you’re next to East Palo Alto instead. 

I mean next to EPA, not “down the street” from itRight behind the back yard on the other side of the creek is Collective Roots, a nonprofit that teaches sustainable gardening and food system change (I think that’s PC for eating stuff that was actually alive).  It’s educational, which means lots of East Palo Alto kids visit their site, which is behind this house.

Let’s take a good look at what kind of neighborhood you get for $7.5 million.


Yeah, you won’t find another $7.5 million place next to this much high-density housing within 20 miles!

Comments (38) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

April 28, 2011

Perfect Hideaway, if You have Something to Hide

Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for calling this listing out in comments!  This is quite a find, quite a find indeed.

1959 BELLE Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070


SQ. FT.: 3,050
$/SQ. FT.: $639
LOT SIZE: 5,750 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Mediterranean
VIEW: Bay, Mountains, Neighborhood, Valley, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Howard Park
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81105544
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 57 days

One of the most desirable areas in San Carlos! Plans for a 5 bedroom, 4 bath Tuscan Home with authentic architectural details. Walk to downtown, highly rated public and private schools, parks and youth center. Large parcel to accomodate outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and fire pit. Quiet two block long street.

imageThat agent had me going there!  Full sentences, proper use of capital and non-capital letters, failure to indulge in string of exclamation points, correct spelling, he definitely will accommodate… oops!  Didn’t run that copy through spell check, I guess.  Computer class is hard.

But I think the agent really needed a class in How to Present Your Listings by Emphasizing Positives and Minimizing Problems.  He got off to a great start by putting up a site elevation instead of various photos of a construction site, but… um…

Well, let’s admire some of the photos that this real estate professional thought were the most effective way to persuade someone to buy a two million dollar house.





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

Perfect for someone looking to get rid of a body

This is another one of those properties where you have to dream the dream, visualize the possibilities, and assume the general contractor is as skilled and organized as this agent.  So let’s get another sense of what it means to be a real estate professional, such as having a keen understanding of the market:


Wow.  Marketing class is hard, too.

Let’s have a look at where this dream home is going to be, on a “large parcel” (of less than 6,000 sf). For two million smackeroos, it better be on a larger parcel than any of the neighbors, at least!


Whoa!  What’s this?  Zillow thinks this is now a double lot!


And that is very, very odd, because the Redfin listing says it’s a 5750 sf lot.  So the Zillow listing should be over 10,000 sf, right?


imageWow!  Anyone want to calculate the FAR for this?  I suspect it might violate a few city zoning ordinances.  Anyway, time to wake up from the dream and check out Google Streetview, always a fun virtual outing.  So let’s see what that double lot looks like.

Uh, let’s enjoy the single lot the way it was when it was sold in 2007.  Wow!  Is all of THAT included, too?  Dibs on the blue bin!

imageAnd the neighbor across the street on the (shhh, don’t look!) much bigger parcel?

The good news is the neighbor’s house won’t make you feel like a serf, but the bad news is it does sit nice and high lording it over you.  Until you go to your second floor balcony and look them right in the eye.  After all, you have a two million dollar house, and they don’t.

Comments (24) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

April 27, 2011

A House for a Sci-Fi Fan

Thanks to Burbed reader Overheard in San Carlos for this fascinating find!

2015 SAN CARLOS Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070


SQ. FT.: 1,570
$/SQ. FT.: $445
LOT SIZE: 5,663 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Beverly Terrace
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81114457
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 15 days


Here’s what Overheard in San Carlos had to say about this house:

CRAZY front photo… The house looks like some sort of robot face or something.

Let’s see the Streetview!



Oh noes, it’s going to EAT that station wagon!  I can’t look!

Hey, you want to really feel like this house is in a Science Fiction film?  Let’s see it in 3D mode!


Dang, left my red and blue 3D glasses at my other house.  But don’t worry, the Three Laws of Robotics assure us that it won’t eat any cars with humans inside them. 

Bonus: House sold for $825K in 2006.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

April 26, 2011

Homes of the Rich discovers Atherton Pricing

Thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for alerting us to another housing blog that stumbled upon Real Bay Area Pricing and had trouble coming to terms with it.  Burbed readers, welcome to… Homes of the Rich.

Wow this site looks like it was designed by a MySpace refugee with a Detroit Tiger fetish.  All it’s missing is blinking text.


Charming $17.5 Million Home in Atherton, CA

This charming 2007 built home is located at 224 Park Lane in Atherton, CA. It boasts 9,956 square feet of living space with 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 3 half bathrooms, walnut floors throughout, wool carpeting in all bedrooms, Rumford-style fireplaces, masterfully finished millwork, great room with vaulted beamed ceiling, home office, gourmet kitchen with beautiful center island, wine cellar, home theater with 8 massage chairs, bar, swimming pool with spa and waterfall, outdoor firepit and fireplace, BBQ,guest house and a detached 3+ car garage. It is listed at a hefty $17,500,000.


Tags: California, gym, home theater, swimming pool, wine cellar

And the “click here” is a dead link.  Yowza.  Fortunately, I findz it anywayz with teh internets:

224 PARK Ln, Atherton, CA 94027


BATHS: 7.5
SQ. FT.: 9,956
$/SQ. FT.: $0
LOT SIZE: 1.01 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: El Camino to Alameda
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81105759

Custom home built in 2007 near the Menlo Circus Club. Tall ceilings, walnut floors, wool carpeting in all bedrooms & lower level, Rumford-style fireplaces, masterfully finished millwork. LOWER LEVEL has wine cellar, theatre w/ 8 massage chairs, exercise room (6th bd) w/ steam shower, 2nd FR w/ full bar. Pool/spa w/ waterfall, firepit, BBQ center, outdoor FP, GH w/ bath MP schools

Hey, we can guess how much this place sold for as well.  But back to Homes of the Rich.  Reading the comments reminds us just how different prices are here compared to almost anywhere else.  Plus, a little bonus: Here’s the ad running under the Atherton house right now:


Yeah, that tells me all I need to know about that site’s readership.

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

April 25, 2011

Stop Me If You’ve Seen this One

It’s been too long since we featured a house in Palo Alto, or heard from Burbed reader Gallileo.  So today we’ve got both!

443 Ferne Ave, Palo Alto, CA  94306



SQ. FT.: 1,884
$/SQ. FT.: $848
LOT SIZE: 7,519 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: South Palo Alto
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81113445
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 12 days

Exquisite Eicher Designed & Updated by Award Winning Team * Cherry Cabinets with Stainless Steel Counters & Appliances * Slate Floor in Kitchen/LR/DR * Built-In Shelves in LR * Remodeled Baths w/ Tile Floor, Cherry Cabinets & Custom Lights * Insulated Walls & Roof * Indoor Laundry Room * Mature Landscaping with Beautiful Trees * Convenient Location Near Schools & Shops * Top Palo Alto Schools-Gunn High

Here’s what Gallileo had to say about this listing:

imageLike a moth to the flame, I keep looking at Palo Alto real estate. We now know that south Palo Alto isn’t a part of the RBA:

443 Ferne came back on the market today. Last sold in 2008 for $1.795 million, the current ask is $1.58 million, for a capital only carrying cost of $205,000 over twenty-seven months, or almost $7,600 a month.

And that’s before the owner paid for commissions, property tax and Draino.

It’s a nice house–as insulationless, energy-bleeding, uneven-floored california 50’s tract-Eichlers go anyway. What is the OER for a place like this?

image443 Ferne is back on the market?  Somebody page steve over in Portola Valley.  He was always talking about that house, see here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  It’s amazing that it was never featured on Burbed when it sold in 2008.  For One. Point.  Seven.  Nine.  Five.  Million.  Dollars.

BAM.  And it’s pending without release as of April 13th.  Any guesses as to the selling price?

Comments (56) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from Burbed!

How are you going to celebrate Easter?  Will you have an egg hunt?  A brunch or dinner with family?  A sunrise service at a church?  Or maybe you’re lining up all the houses you’re going to look at now that Spring Bounce has arrived almost as late as possible. 

The latest Easter can ever be is April 25th, if you wondered… unless you follow the Eastern church’s calendar, where it could fall as late as May 8th.

Easter is a “moveable feast,” meaning the holiday is not set to the Gregorian calendar we regularly use.  Instead, it has an easy-to-understand algorithm mixed with a more complex one.  The one anyone can follow is this:  Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox.

That’s the easy part, even if we throw in that we’re talking about the date of the equinox in Jerusalem.  The difficult part is when the Catholic Church decided that “full moon” was going to be the 14th day of a lunar month (on a calendar that was a lot like, but not quite, the Jewish calendar, probably because they worried about getting sued for copyright), not what anyone could observe by merely looking in the sky.  Furthermore the equinox was always going to be March 21st, even though the astronomical equinox can actually take place on March 19th, 20th or 21st.

imageAnyway, you will be pleased to know that the Church has computed Easter Sunday for the next six thousand years.  Thus an institution dedicated to their Savior’s return is hedging its bets against that occurrence well beyond the foreseeable future. 

And that is also the reason the housing market is still in the toilet: Late Spring Bounce this year.

This is an open thread.  There are probably no Open Houses today, but you can peruse listings online, maybe send in a favorite for us to write up as a featured house, or you could just share it in comments.

Let Spring Bounce begin already!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am

April 23, 2011

What’s Your Home’s Walk Score?

imageZillow has added Walk Scores to homes on their site.  You can look up your house on Zillow or on Walk Score and see how walkable your neighborhood is, according to their formula.  The score is by the maps are on your house’s page.  Do you agree with your home’s walk score?

My neighborhood has a Walk Score of 65, or “moderately walkable.” However, there’s a new beta feature on Walk Score called Street Smart, which adds in number of intersections per square mile and block length in calculating the score, and on that measure my neighborhood goes down to 54, or only “Somewhat Walkable.”  What it doesn’t measure is how pleasant or unpleasant the walk is, based on number of shade trees or how well the sidewalk is maintained.

imageOh, it’s got some bugs, like calling a catering company run out of someone’s house a restaurant, but the idea makes sense.  I just don’t see being within 100 feet of a commercial zone as a good thing.  When I ran the same scores on a house across the street from some commercial zones near Fremont and Mary in Sunnyvale, the scores went up to 80 (Very Walkable, Walk Score) and 65 (Somewhat Walkable, Street Smart).  But another house behind a different big batch of retail centers at the corner of Hollenbeck and Homestead got scores of 66 and 69.


Feel free to report your Walk Score, or vehemently disagree with the algorithm, or bring up any topic you wish.  This is an Open Thread.  Remember, tomorrow is Easter, so late start to Spring Bounce this year!

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 22, 2011

Cambrian life in Alviso

Here’s a charade today.

For $39,900, I will be your Cambrian home (and I will be Magnificent!)

For $29,900, I will be your Alviso home (and I will be Priced to Sell!)

For $19,900, what will I be?

and just as important… WHERE will I be?

Ahhh Mobile Homes. They just CAN’T stay still!

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

April 21, 2011

Party House in Los Gatos

Here’s a find from Burbed reader nomadic, who keeps unearthing all sorts of delights in Los Gatos.  Thanks very much!

15681 KENNEDY Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032


BATHS: 12.5
SQ. FT.: 12,405
$/SQ. FT.: $604
LOT SIZE: 3.58 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: French
VIEW: Mountains
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81037550
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 263 days

Everything you ever dreamed of is right here in this magnificent French Chateau Estate. Main house 9,000sf, 6 complete suites, gold leafed fireplace, music room, library, wine cellar. Guest house is 3,500sf with guest suite, caterer’s kitchen, ballroom, theater, game room, onyx bar. Infinity pool, impressive portico, band and dance area many more special features. Incredible estate.

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

imageDo you suppose this house comes with the band, and requires you to board all of the guests seated around the table? I guess for $7.5M you should get live-in entertainment included.

We already had a house ready for a party back at the beginning of the year, but this may be the first time the photos featured a party actually in progress.  Do you think the guests will sue or are they Facebooking their friends to say “Did you see I made Redfin?”  Actually from the age of this crowd I should ask if they’re telexing their friends, that is if they can’t get the houseboy to run down to Western Union.


Another thing to ask is just what this agent was trying to accomplish with this particular selection of photos.  It’s not so much that they’re bad photo, they aren’t.  But there’s a sameness about them that seems curious in trying to sell a home of this type.


Also I refrained from breaking out the little red arrows, but we have some mawbul kawlums going on here, or at least kawnkrete.


Okay, I’ll say it.  Seven and a half megageorges for this house, and they can’t be bothered to photograph the inside?  Maybe they’re trying the exclusivity angle by restricting the view to qualified buyers only.  But I’ve seen enough people pretending they have money when the whole financial structure is cantilevered atop playing cards and toothpicks, or in the real estate world, Different Piles of Other Peoples’ Money.  The upside of leverage is the profit when home prices go up, and the downside, well, if you aren’t smart enough to work that out then you get what you deserve.

Maybe they didn’t show the inside because the FBs can’t afford to furnish the place.

Okay, that was a cheap shot, but Redfin didn’t have a link to any other pictures.  I did go over to Zillow, intending to get the missing listing prices, and they had inside pictures plus they link to the virtual tour.  In a way, I’m kind of sorry I found it.  Not only is this place overdecorated like a simulacrum of “rich people’s furnishings,” the audio track is pseudo-wealthy music, too: the goddamned Pachelbel’s Canon in D.


I hate Pachelbel’s Canon with a passion.  Maybe that’s why the house hasn’t sold in more than two years. (253 days on Redfin, my sackbutt.)


This house may not be on VH1’s I Love the 1680s, but it sure loves 2006.  I say it’s going to party like it’s 1999.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am