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

24 Responses to “Perfect Hideaway, if You have Something to Hide”

  1. SEA Says:

    First I read, “Perfect for someone looking to get rid of a body”

    Next I read madhaus suggest, “Dibs on the blue bin!”

    Excuse me…
    Let me ask one favor from you
    Won’t you give me three steps.

  2. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    You’ve got it backwards! This WAS a big lot, and they bought it for 1.5 and are now trying to build two houses on it (say 750k for each house) and sell it for 2.5 million each, for a net profit of 2 million minus carrying costs.

    Sadly, they ran out of money to finish building them, so they’re hoping to sell the house before they even build it. Unfortunately for them, their estimates of what they would sell for appear to be off as well since they can’t seem to get 2 million for their non-existent houses. My estimated break even point for them would be 1.5 million without considering carrying costs.

    I’d say these guys are hurting. Hurting HARD! If they get some sucker to buy a house at 1.5 or above, they’re going to be cutting every corner and slapping in the cheapest components they can find to try and not hemorrhage any more money.

    Wait for a few years and buy the lots from the bankruptcy auction or from the bank. The most likely scenario is some OTHER developer gets these two lots for around 150k apiece and builds more normal sized houses on them (400k max) and sells them for 800k.

  3. SEA Says:

    What is included in “carrying costs?”

  4. jimbo Says:

    and here’s the owner… a realtor, of course.


  5. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    #3: Taxes, interest (or opportunity cost), insurance. It’s got to be considered an attractive nuisance.

  6. SEA Says:

    He offers an ‘exclusive’

    1961 Belle Ave

    “Location: 1961 Belle Avenue, San Carlos, CA 94070
    Price: 2,295,000.00
    Status: Exclusive
    Bedrooms: 5
    Bathrooms: 5
    Approx Square Feet: 4350
    Approx Lot Size: 5250
    Year Built: 2010
    Elementary School: Brittan Acre Elementary
    Middle School: Central Middle School
    High School: Carlmont High School”

    So neither lot has sold.

    Let’s revisit this:

    “I’d say these guys are hurting. Hurting HARD! If they get some sucker to buy a house at 1.5 or above, they’re going to be cutting every corner and slapping in the cheapest components they can find to try and not hemorrhage any more money.”

    This is exactly why I would only buy after the product has been built, even if it’s being built to agreed specifications.

    Let’s say there is a problem, as outlined, as a buyer who has already funded the project, how likely are you to get any significant problem promptly fixed? I have no idea about this guy’s financial condition, but, generally speaking, it’s next to impossible to get bankrupt people to fix much, especially on a multi-million dollar deal.

  7. SEA Says:

    #5- Reminds me of the banks who carry foreclosed homes at full book value.

    Take a home that everyone knows is worth $500k, or less, but the lender foreclosed at $1M. The lender is not required to write down the home until it’s sold. Instead of selling it, it’s held (or offered for sale at $1M), but then it becomes a drag on financial performance. If the lender has too many, it gets to be too heavy.

    If you sell, you realize a big loss on sale. If you don’t sell, you have to maintain the property, but you can always hold out hope. What do you do?

  8. madhaus Says:

    Sorry about the bizarre text wraparound with the pictures; again, it doesn’t look like that in preview and I can’t see what it will look like until it publishes.

    So the other lot is for sale as well, and the seller is a Realtard! Great work #4 and #6! My, my, my, this is just so many shades of awful, isn’t it? Maybe there really are some bodies buried onsite.

    #2, how did you know the lot was subdivided rather than merged? Yeah, that’s usually what happens, but when every other lot on that side of the street is half the size…

  9. madhaus Says:

    Oh this just keeps getting better and better. 1961 Belle was listed on 9/24/09 and delisted on 12/08/09. Redfin has it as an off-market property. Also, it’s not the other half of that bulldozed lot, there seems to be a house there. I suspect that’s a Redfin or Google Maps error, as that would make the other half of the lot 1959 1/2 Belle.

    Here’s Zillow’s listing history on 1961:

    Price History
    Date Description Price % Chg $/sqft Source
    11/10/2010 Listed for sale * $2,295,000 — $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    09/14/2010 Listing removed * $2,295,000 — $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    08/15/2010 Listed for sale * $2,295,000 — $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    05/20/2010 Listing removed * $2,295,000 — $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    04/19/2010 Price change * $2,295,000 — $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    12/18/2009 Listed for sale * $2,295,000 21.1% $527 Intero Real Estate Services
    12/11/2009 Listing removed * $1,895,000 — $435 Intero Client Services
    09/26/2009 Price change * $1,895,000 -13.1% $435 Intero Client Services
    09/06/2009 Listed for sale * $2,180,000 — $501 Intero Client Services

    Same bizarre price inflation with lack of offers we see for 1959.

    Zillow’s little Zestimate map says that 1961 lives in the front yard of 1965 Belle, and that 1959 is a double lot.

  10. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    #8: Go back in the sales records and you see it selling with a 10k plus lot size. They obviously bought it in 2007 and subdivided it.

    Also, nobody buys two lots and merges them. Cities hate to lose taxable money, so they don’t like it. Profit margins and taxes are higher on two properties than on one, so no developer and no planning commission ever has any incentive to merge lots.

  11. nomadic Says:

    Also, nobody buys two lots and merges them.

    Unless you’re Larry Page, but even then I think Palo Alto ultimately didn’t allow it.

  12. madhaus Says:

    Steve Jobs got to do that. Remember? He put in an orchard where the house was next door.

  13. nomadic Says:

    I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of putting two giant houses on two tiny lots, surrounded by a neighborhood full of small houses on tiny lots and then trying to sell them for 2x the typical neighborhood house…

  14. nomadic Says:

    There are some cool stories on that site, madhaus. Like the surliness of William Shockley and the Jewish “honorary Aryan” Nazi spy.

  15. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    I think Jobs just bought the house and bulldozed it instead of ‘merging’ the lots. The only complaints was that he was tearing down a ‘historic…ish’ house to do it. He pays property taxes on the separate lots, I think.

  16. madhaus Says:

    Nope, they are merged, it was how he got around the historical rebuild rule. Here’s more on the issue from Palo Alto Weekly:

    However, since the bungalow is also considered a “contributing” historic home, to demolish it the city’s new historic regulations require it be replaced with an architecturally compatible structure. Jobs and his attorney have cleverly maneuvered around this minor bureaucratic obstacle by combining the lots. Since a single lot can only have one primary residence on it, that allows Jobs to offer his “landmark” home as the replacement structure.

    To guard against the lot ever being resubdivided, the city required Jobs to place a restrictive covenant on the property to ensure that if he or any future owners want to build a new house on the site that it comply with the compatibility standards.

  17. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    I stand corrected.

  18. SEA Says:

    The gallon of milk test?

  19. madhaus Says:

    Stafford County sheriffs said they went to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant for a disturbance call, and the responding officer saw a man — not in a cow suit — there that seemed to match the culprit.

  20. FOCUS-LIVE-ENDURE! In San Carlos! Again! [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] this construction site gave us some serious déjà vu, and for good reason.  Find out why, after the […]

  21. Michael Armanini Says:

    I nice to know that the above comments from these citizens do not contain any average economic and real estate development knowledge………go ahead and comment ignorately!

  22. nomadic Says:

    “Ignorately?” Ahh, sweet irony.

    How did I guess you work in real estate?

  23. nomadic Says:

    (BTW, I didn’t notice this was your listing until just now. Better luck selling next time.)

  24. SEA Says:

    He also is the same guy who didn’t get the job done.

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