May 31, 2011

Shenanigans with Short Sale in Old Palo Alto

Here’s a find from comments, from Burbed reader San Matean,  San Matean wants to know what kind of games the bank is playing with this short sale in Palo Alto.  We know that a short sale means “selling shortly,” but going pending the same day it’s listed sounds more like an inside job.

1520 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA  94301


SQ. FT.: 1,500
$/SQ. FT.: $553
LOT SIZE: 5,600 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Spanish
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Professorville
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81123457
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 1 day

Location! Location! Location! The following was remodeled in 1997 Kitchen; Master Bathroom; 2nd Bath; Hardwood Floors underneath carpeting. Newly Landscaped rear yard. Large Kitchen great for gathering. Enclosed front with beautiful park like setting.

Wow, they were in such a hurry to “list” this property they didn’t even bother including any photos.  It isn’t any different on the agent’s own site, so let’s take a peek at the Googlecam.


Not bad, although this is an 80 year old house.  It may need new light bulbs and Drano.


It also looks like some other building has preempted the back yard.  The property lines suggest that this house and its next-door-neighbor have gone halvesies on their own meth lab:



Back to San Matean’s concern: this property was listed and went pending the same day.  That’s not the real puzzler, though. This house is in 94301, a Really Special Place, yet not only didn’t it double in ten years, it actually may have lost value.  Unless, of course, the bank decided that the overbidding would take this house right where it needed to be.

imageAnd the reason this house is now essentially owned by the bank, instead of the couple who bought it with a $706.5K conventional variable mortgage, is they refinanced it in 2005 for $962.5K (also variable). They must have liked the extra cash so much that they did it again a year later.  In 2006, the purported owners became FBs when they refinanced with a variable first mortgage of $990K, and a variable second mortgage of $198K, or $1,188,000 total.  That is, coincidentally, just $17,500 more than this place’s current Zestimate.

So, our question for you, Burbed readers: How much do you think this house sold for? We have so many fun factors in the mix: Busy street, around the corner from an even busier street (Embarcadero), bank owned property, mystery structure eating up a couple back yards, asking price a whopping 30% below the Zestimate, and a transaction that not only doesn’t look arms’ length, it suggests someone has a banker by the balls.

Comments (52) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 1:36 am

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Memories

imageMost Memorial Day blog posts urge the reader to remember the sacrifice others have made so they can have a cookout.  Not here.  This Memorial Day entry will urge you to remember the sacrifice others have made to buy their RBA homes at the peak of the market so you can unlock all that instant equity. 

Do you know how much effort it took to qualify for 100% financing?  Banks expected to you sign your name and fog a mirror, both!  Some particularly fussy institutions even asked for documentation showing you were earning $400,000 a year as a strawberry picker!  It’s not like you had an HR department onsite who could help with that sort of thing!  And then, the nerve, when it was time to refinance and pull another hundred or two kay out of the property for a few new vehicles, they wanted you to sign your name again!  Who did they think we were, John Hancock?

Haha.  That was a joke, because Memorial Day was instituted to honor those who gave their lives during the American Civil War, and John Hancock is an insurance company in Boston!  Then again, you come up with someone who got shot in the Civil War and signed as many papers as a temporary bank VP in 2006.

Imagine how hard everyone in the mortgage business had to work just five years ago.  All those home inspections to delay, all those bank officers to look busy, all those properties to record with a dubious agency nobody heard of instead of county clerks who would probably lose your paperwork on their lunch break.  It’s a wonder the courts let the banks win anything with how little work they actually did, given how much there was!

That’s why we promise to keep bringing you as many overpriced houses that look like garbage as we can find. It was an amazing time, and we don’t ever want to forget it.  So, million dollar crapboxes on a busy street, we got your numbers, and we’re overbidding them!

This is an Open Thread.  Happy Memorial Day!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am

May 29, 2011

Open Houses, Open Thread, Not So Open Libraries

Isn’t everyone on vacation?  No?  Well, you can worry about this, then.

April 29, 2011

Santa Clara County Library Authority to Charge New Library Card Fee for Non-Residents of Library District

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.‑ In response to dramatic reductions in State funding and an increasing demand for library services, on Thursday the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority approved an $80 annual library card fee for non-residents of the District, effective July 1, 2011.

Since 1988, the State has reimbursed public libraries for lending materials to non-residents of their district, and any resident of California could get a card at any public library in the state. Demands for service have increased to a point that the Santa Clara County Library District lends far more books to non-residents than District residents borrow from other libraries. At one time, the Library received over $2 million annually to partially reimburse the cost of this service.

In the midst of an increasing deficit, the Governor’s proposed budget includes the elimination of $30.4 million in state funding for three of California’s most valuable public library programs: The Public Library Foundation, the California Literacy Program and the Transaction Based Reimbursement, a cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books that has existed statewide for several decades. The State Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 eliminates all funding for public libraries, including those that are part of the Santa Clara County Library District.

Bet you skimmed the article and thought, okay, they’re dinging nonresidents of the County for using the libraries.  But that’s not what it said.

Cough up another $80 even if you live in Santa Clara County but happen to have picked one of the cities that didn’t ally with the County Library System.  Those unlucky cities, for those of you foolish enough to have chosen where to live without researching your library services first, are:

  • Los Gatos
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose
  • Santa Clara
  • Sunnyvale

You free-riders have been using the Country Library System long enough without paying extra property taxes.  No more!  The party is over on July 1st.  Now if you try to check a book out of a County Library, you’ll be called out as the illegal aliens you are!

But don’t worry, since it’s a holiday weekend, the libraries are probably all closed!  So go check out some Open Houses and let us know what’s HOT!  Or use this Open Thread to bring up anything at all, like you’re working too hard to go on vacation.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:43 am

May 28, 2011

San Francisco to have Most Expensive Cab Fares in the Country

SFMTA Ponders Most Expensive Cab Fares in the Country

taxicab.jpg At tomorrow’s Board of Directors meeting, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency will review a proposal that would raise taxi meter rates to 55 cents per fifth of a mile or minute of waiting in traffic. If passed, those 10-cent increases to the current rates (plus another ten cents per fifth of a mile in potential fuel surcharges) would make our taxis the most expensive in the country according to a 12-city study conducted by the SFMTA. Adding insult to injury are the proposed two- and three-dollar fees for booking your ride through a dispatcher, meaning a phoned-in evening pickup could cost you over six bucks just for getting in the cab. The agency will be taking one last round of community input at tonight’s final taxi town hall meeting before voting tomorrow to authorize all or some of the new rates and surcharges. [Chron] [SFEx]

Long time Burbed readers know that one of the fundamental beliefs of this site is that the more expensive and unaffordable the Bay Area is, the better it is because that keeps people hard at work and delivering innovation.

So, I for one applaud this move. We should make transportation as incredibly expensive and painful as possible, so that people will feel the need to stay in more, and work on the next big IPO that will result in higher house prices.

Because… as we all know… higher house prices are the goal of any desirable area.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:36 am

May 27, 2011

welcome this property permits unknown buyers to verify

Here’s this week’s find by Burbed reader Tracy.  It’s a house, I think.  It’s just not as big a house as it’s pretending to be.

1515 Pomona Ave, San Jose, CA 95110


SQ. FT.: 2,225
$/SQ. FT.: $125
LOT SIZE: 8,033 Sq. Ft.
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Central San Jose
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81120310
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 17 days

welcome this property has 2 units 2/1 in front unit and 3/2 unit in back permits unknown buyers to verify. The property is a fixer upper .

Here’s what Tracy had to say about today’s house:

What’s behind the blue curtain? Worst photography, ever, all that’s missing is a man peeing. The property seems to have a very large unit in the back, with no permits…

At least the price seems right, as this place is a dump! But pictures of dirty laundry? Shame!

Piles of dirty laundry?  For real?







And you asked what’s behind the blue curtain, but do you dare open the door and see what’s behind that red one?  Wow, this house is in even better shape for the real estate photos than the two dudes chillin’.  I bet this place is in just as fabulous a neighborhood, too.


Also, piles of instant equity in this place for you to unlock; sold for $650,000 in 2005!  What are you waiting for?  I’m waiting to figure out how to view the house in the back with more bedrooms and maybe even some permits that unknown buyers are to verify!  Think they put away their laundry?

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

May 26, 2011

Santa Row, Then and Now

Okay, please hold the pedantic corrections, we know it’s called Santana Row.  “Santa Row” is a Burbed inside joke because of this listing.  (Someday I am going to create a Burbed page of all the inside jokes with links to the original first misuse.  Please send in your contributions for this project and you can get your handle on a permanent Burbed page.  Wow!)

Anyway, here’s a look at all the terrific appreciation an investment in a Santa Santana Row Home would add to your balance sheet!  Get ready to shout… INSTANT EQUITY!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for some of these fascinating stats, which I find almost as scrumptious as zip code lists.  Of course I had to throw in some BUNUS listings.  (That’s another one.)


333 Santana row #340

688k (05/25/2007)
$390k today (short sale)  “Enjoy of the night life of Santana Row.”


333 santana row (sorry, no unit number given, might be this one, pending 5/4/11)

$690k (03/01/2006)
$599k today


333 santana row #336

$590k (12/23/2005)
$440k today (pending) “full length silk curtains w/ remote”

There’s much, much more after the break.  Much, much, much more!


Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

May 25, 2011

Something is rotten in the state of… Delaware?

Sale Pending (MLS-listed)
Listed at: $199,000

Beds: 1
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 740
$/Sq. Ft.: $269
Lot Size: 5,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1912
Community: Parkside
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81120671
Source: MLSListings
Status: Pending With Release

On Redfin: 9 days
1bd/1ba land value only. Please do not disturb occupants.

That looks like a pretty fine house. I wonder what’s wrong with it.

But here’s what Burbed reader Sam wanted to bring to our attention:

I see this kind of thing from time to time- a short sale property that goes pending the same day it is listed.  I have to wonder how the underwriting bank- who is taking a loss on this kind of transaction- can permit this to happen.  Of course, the bank may not agree to the sale, but if they do it sure smacks of some kind of rigged game/insider shenanigans. Since sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, I’m hoping that burbed can shine some light on what appears to be something rotten.

Let’s look at the history real quick:


Looking at this listing, what I see is that the listing price is $199k. But we’ll have to wait and see what the final selling price is! Will be $500k? $750k? $1M?

Only time will tell…

Comments (12) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:40 am

May 24, 2011

Pending five times? Is there a portal to hell in the basement?

burbedguestbloggerWell, you Burbed readers are a tough crowd.  I’ve been recovering from a nasty bout of fever, so I dialed in a quickie Open Houses and Open Thread on Sunday.  You guys, I swear!  I don’t think any column in Burbed ever got 5 negative votes before.  Even a listing credited to a commenter who collects thumbs downs the way East San Jose collects foreclosures did better than that!  

Good thing Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer sent in a great listing with commentary ready to go, so I can hide under the covers in my depreciating former RBA house until the recession is over.  Keep those contributions coming in, it means the zip code entries will be put off a long, long time!

Please give sfbubblebuyer a big, warm Real Bay Area welcome with today’s Guest Post from beautiful downtown Burbank San Carlos!

885 SUNSET Dr, San Carlos, CA  94070


SQ. FT.: 1,610
$/SQ. FT.: $465
LOT SIZE: 8,100 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Bay, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Beverly Terrace
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81008742
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 452 days


imageThis house is a short sell WAY below the prices of other houses in San Carlos, yet it has fallen out of escrow four times. (It’s in escrow again! Let’s see how long THIS one lasts.) Why would it be falling out of escrow when it’s almost not-a-lot-of-money less than other houses in the neighborhood? Nearby houses range from 1.1 to 1.6 million! Clearly there is a gaping portal to hell disgorging denizens of the netherworld into the house’s crawlspace! Or perhaps it has foundation issues that would make Bill Murray’s makeup artist blanch with fear. Perhaps Gilbert Gottfried lives in the house next door?


imageWhatever the reason, this house is slowly crushing the current owner’s balance sheet into a fine paste. Now’s the chance to buy it, slap in some mawbahl cawlums and flip it for 1.5! Get busy! I mean, think of all the flat screen televisions you could have! And you’d finally have the confidence to start that harem you’ve always wanted! BUY BUY BUY!

(But be sure to keep the Ghostbuster’s number handy in case that portal to hell thing turns out to be true.)

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

May 23, 2011

Gourmet kitchen has 2 car garage!


Beds: 4
Baths: 4
Sq. Ft.: 2,566
$/Sq. Ft.: $370
Lot Size:
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Mediterranean
Stories: 3
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 2010
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81057271
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active

On Redfin: 160 days
Located in Cupertino school district this never occupied Mediterranean home in the heart of Silicon Valley has the added benefit of Santa Clara’s historic low utility costs. Easy access to shopping and freeways and quality craftsmanship with high end materials. The gourmet kitchen has granite counters, custom cabinetry and stainless appliances as well as a two car garage and AC.

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for this find!

Wow! Will the innovation never stop in Silicon Valley? A gourmet kitchen with a 2 car garage and AC! What will the dreamers of the Valley think of next?

And what’s this… Santa Clara’s historic low utility costs? Fantastic! Fortunately the past is a strong predictor of the future!

It’s a shame that this unit next door doesn’t have these benefits:

April 28, 2010

Condo living in Santa Clara for under a million

Thanks to Burbed reader DreamT for this guest post!

67 CABOT Ave Santa Clara, CA 95051



I guess this is version 2 of the unit with all these new innovations!

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:31 am

May 22, 2011

Open Houses and Open Thread

It’s a beautiful day, the world didn’t end, Spring is bouncing, and the house with a Dragon out front is open today!

Share any houses you plan to see, or anything at all in this Open Thread.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 8:46 am