May 21, 2011

Neighbors from Hell, On Both Sides

The Greater Seattle Area isn’t usually part of the RBA, but this is such a great story that Burbed reader nomadic sent in, we thought you’d really enjoy it. (That is, if by “enjoy” we actually mean “take great delight in the woes of these nuts.”)

Neighbors’ dispute escalates into all-out legal war

A neighbors’ dispute that began with a wrecked motorcycle has escalated into a saga of police investigations, allegations of dog poisoning, ruined careers and the disbanding of the Sultan Police Department.

By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times staff reporter

Photos: MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES.  Two very different gated homes near Echo Lake in rural Snohomish County are the scene of a bitter feud between neighbors. Gayle and Ray Harvie, above, are seen with one of their mastiffs. Neighbor Caroline Pepperell lives in a yellow manufactured home.

Gayle and Ray Harvie were at Disneyland when they learned a troubled neighbor had stolen, and then crashed, their new $12,000 Yamaha motorcycle.

The 18-year-old thief was fine, but the Harvies, who’d raised three boys themselves, thought he needed to be taught a lesson. They called police and pressed charges.

When his mother, Caroline Pepperell, and Ray Harvie spoke a few days later, Harvie insisted she or her son pay for the damage. Pepperell refused. They hung up.

That was the last conversation between the Harvies and Caroline Pepperell for nearly six years. In that time, their dispute metastasized into a saga involving three separate police investigations, a dead dog, Adolf Hitler’s secretary and allegations of forgery and organized crime. It led to the conviction of a decorated cop, the disbanding of the Sultan Police Department and, in March, a $79,146 judgment after a four-day jury trial.

You really have got to read the entire story to get the sense of how completely out of hand things got.  It would not be fair for me to summarize this incredible story (other than to say it’s the Hatfields vs the Jarndyces, the Trash vs the Cash, or maybe The Rubes vs a poorer Larry Ellison by way of Half Moon Bay or something).

Gayle and Ray Harvie have the white fence, and Carole Pepperell the brown one next door in a rural neighborhood that seems anything but peaceful in light of their long, costly, complicated feud. After years of personal havoc and legal conflict, neither side is ready to back down.

And even the article isn’t enough, the arguments go on in comments, where one poster suggests the article itself was solicited by the Harvies’ attorney, and goes on to accuse the Harvies (these are the people with the big house and the big dogs) of paying neighborhood teens to “vandalize and harass other neighbors.”  Oh, and supposedly the Pepperell son had a key to their place all along, which is why he “borrowed” the motorcycle.  Pepperells = the trailer trash.  You can feel the contempt in the house descriptions:

The Harvies’ 3,200-square-foot gated home sits among more modest houses — including Pepperell’s yellow manufactured home — on a 4-acre plot in the woods southwest of Monroe. The Harvies own a successful concrete-design firm and proudly note one of their three sons is a scout for the Los Angeles Angels.


It didn’t take too much trouble finding their respective houses, above.  That’s the Harvies’ place on the left, and the Pepperells’ on the right.  The article implies the Harvies are some modern Lords of the Manor, or at least of the block, and doesn’t inform that there are other large houses on their street, some with even bigger lots.  This one, literally around the corner and sitting on a ten acre lot, is for sale, and for a lot more than the Zestimate of the Harvie place.  That said, Zillow pegs Harvie House at more than twice ($541K) the value of Pepperell Palace ($224K).  Both lots appear to be similarly sized.

Yowza.  Good thing the worst neighbor problem I had was yappy dogs.  No biting, no poisoning, no stolen motorcycles.

Left, Motion-sensor lighting, an array of video surveillance cameras and some signs on tree trunks, all on the Harvies’ property, reflect the ongoing feud between neighbors.

Oh, and these guys have now appeared on Good Morning America.  Guess the newspaper wasn’t enough free publicity.  Plus the Harvies are the sort of people who quote George W Bush when they create web pages proclaiming justice was served.

Don’t feel any sympathy for Pepperell because of the Harvies’ politics.  She’s lost police jobs not once but twice for using police computers for her own personal issues.  Pepperell was fired for using police databases against the Harvies, and lost a previous job at a different department for running license plates of men she wanted to date.  Note: a judge ordered her reinstated to the Sultan police department, where she managed to get fired a month later for some other unrelated reason.

Above, Fred Walser resigned as Sultan police chief in 2008 and pleaded guilty to a crime after the feud led to a cover-up scandal. Walser regrets his plea and says the city acted out of fear the Harvies would sue.

Do these people remind you of anyone featured on Burbed before?  Maybe these jerks?  We have a follow-up here, their lawyer has had his license suspended and is now being held on various felony charges in San Diego.  But they never managed to get any police departments shut down.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

May 20, 2011

This parcel use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s

Here’s a house full of win, first mentioned in comments by Burbed reader Real Estater

418 BRYAN Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086


SQ. FT.: 828
$/SQ. FT.: $639
LOT SIZE: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Cottage/Bungalow
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81110948
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 63 days

VALUE IS IN LAND, but this home was lived in. Zoned R2, approx Lot Size is 6,000. 150 x 40.’Quant, Livable’ 2 bdrm 1 bathroom Home w/ Inside Laurnry Room and mudsill foundation made of Redwood beams with ‘uneven’ Fir Flrs & free standing gas stove. Grunt & shove windows. This parcel use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s. Tons of history & POTENTIAL! Within walking distance to Downtown Sunnyvale.

imageI sure am relieved to hear this home was lived in.  I can’t tell you how many 97 year old houses I have toured that never had a single inhabitant, especially the parcels that use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s.

Having lived in Sunnyvale during a few years of the 1900’s, there were former Black Smiths all throughout the neighborhood.  It was an epidemic.  This is the real reason there was a housing bubble in the early 2000s: parcels that use to be Black Smiths.  Now they either call United Parcel Service and move to busy streets, or just sit around and get taxed by busybody PTA Presidents.

imageOMG I didn’t know they still made clotheslines like the TV Antenna/Umbrella combo above, which was very common in the early 1960s. In New Jersey.  That’s just a few bits of the Tons of history and POTENTIAL to be found here, every pound of which you get to pay to have hauled to the dump.

It really is not a good sign when there are no photos of the inside (they said it was Quant, Livable), and when the front of the house is the last photo rather than the first one.

Also check out this angled shot from Google Streetview.  I think we can call this place a Fence Fail.


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

May 19, 2011

The Home that Comes with a Dragon

Many thanks to Burbed reader Heidi for this “very unique” find in Santa Clara.

2222 PRUNERIDGE Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050


SQ. FT.: 1,350
$/SQ. FT.: $474
LOT SIZE: 6,270 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Santa Clara
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81121280
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 3 days

The house with the Dragon out front. Wonderful home conveniently located in Santa Clara. Wow! There are so many ‘special and unique’ upgrades that your fussiest buyer will appreciate. Bright, airy and open layout. Hardwood Floors, upgraded bathrooms, extra large and spacious 800 sq. ft garage. .. . and YES, the Dragon is included in the sale 🙂

Here’s what Heidi had to say about the house with the Dragon out front:

Either this is the home that comes with a dragon or the dragon that comes with a home.  This home has had "Coming Soon" on the sign for about five months.  I’m glad it’s finally on the market so I can share it with you.  Burbed is my new guilty pleasure.  I love the cawlums and my husband can’t stop laughing about the "two dudes chillin.’"

imageSorry, Heidi, not every house comes with two dudes chillin’, you have to pay the big bucks for Palo Alto if you want a House With Dudes. But in a more affordable place like Santa Clara you can buy The House with the Dragon out front.  I don’t get why the agent bothered mentioning ‘special and unique’ upgrades when it has a Dragon out front. 

Plus the house number adds up to 8, 2+2+2+2.  What the hell was that Realtard thinking coming up with a price with no 8s yet with a 4 when it has a Dragon out front?  It’s like he wasn’t even trying.

imageSpeaking of not even trying, check out the back yard.  There may be a Dragon out front, but doesn’t good fung shui need some balance with a water element or something (and a hot tub would be a mix of fire and water so that doesn’t cut it)?  They could really learn a thing or two from Beautiful Eichler with Poo house.

The house with the Dragon out front is open this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so you have absolutely no excuse to not check this place out.  It has a Dragon out front, what more do you need?

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

May 18, 2011

A Must See with Great Potential

Here’s another, um, property find from Burbed reader Tracy.  Tracy’s wasted day checking this out is Burbed winning!  The value isn’t in the land, because there’s three whole acres of it for not a lot of money, and it certainly isn’t in the house, either.

14750 CLAYTON RD, San Jose, CA 95127


SQ. FT.: 1,232
$/SQ. FT.: $396
LOT SIZE: 3.15 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
VIEW: Bay, Mountains, Neighborhood, Valley, City Lights
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81119401
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 11 days

BANK OWNED _ Located on a 3 acres lot of the EAST VALLEY hillside, with magnificent view of the whole Santa Clara Valley and only 3 miles up Mt. Hamilton road, this contractor dream house was expanded with unfinished works – There are one bedroom guest house and a storage building on the property lot. A must see with great potential.

imageI think they mean a must see with great potential energy, as in think about what would happen if the whole thing were shoved down the hill.

So why did they call it a “contractor dream house”? Because this is a project that could take years to finish! Imagine the cost overruns that led to this place being owned by the bank in the first place.

And what did they mean by “expanded with unfinished works”?  That sounds like a composer’s oeuvre, not a contractor’s dream house.  I think whoever the contractor was here must have been smoking something after reading Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland.


Yeah, let’s not build any corners, it might make it too easy to get from one end of the house to the other.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:17 am

May 17, 2011

Own a piece of history in Half Moon Bay!


Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.:
Lot Size: 24.66 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cape Cod
Stories: 2
View: Ocean
Year Built: 1940
Community: Canada Cove
County: San Mateo
24.65 acres of expansive flat land with breathtaking ocean frontage. Property extends from Highway 1 to the beach affording unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean; located 15 minutes from the Peninsula and a short walk to the Historic Town of Half Moon Bay, the Ritz Carlton and two championship golf courses. Existing structures include a residence, barn, in-law apart. ,artist studio, garage.

Thanks to Burbed reader John for this find!

Here’s what John had to say:

Noticed from the price history of the following property that it was sold in foreclosure recently for $425,000 and appears to have been put right back on the market for $4,900,000. Anyway, thought some of your readers might be interested in it as it has been listed as high as 35 million in the past few years. It was originally owned by the DuPont family and had a airstrip for air races to entertain their guests – you can still see what’s left of the airstrip on northern edge of property.

Wow, that’s a lot of history. Just think, if you buy this right now, you’re picking up $30M in instant equity! And… your own airstrip for those times when you need to get away!

Alternatively, you could rent out parts of it – that’d be pretty cool too.

Either way, this deal is hard to beat. Now… if only stated income loans were still available!

Comments (25) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:36 am

May 16, 2011

I Left My Equity in San Francisco

burbedguestbloggerPlease welcome Burbed reader SEA back to the front page with a piece that got held up in comment moderation.  SEA agreed to let us move this to the the featured listing of the day instead, so you could all enjoy every bit of this, um, amazing, um, uh, well read on for today’s Guest Blogger’s view.

Please give SEA a big, warm Real Bay Area welcome and check out this amazing price cut incredible value in Baghdad by the Bay!

Here’s a prime example of a not of money lost, but I’m happy it’s not my money:

627 La Salle Ave #73, San Francisco, CA 94124


SQ. FT.: 1,360
$/SQ. FT.: $55
PROPERTY TYPE: Condominium
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Panoramic, Bay
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 377644
SOURCE: San Francisco MLS
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 203 days

Sold: July 2005 $400k
Listed: October 2010 $100k (75% lower than last sale–Christmas in October, maybe?)
Listing price reduced: January 2011 to $75k

imageIt did go pending in October 2010, so who knows what’s up with the January price reduction, but who was it that paid $400k for this place, and when will it be worth $400k again, even if the local/national economy suddenly looked very good? I sure don’t see a neighborhood suddenly going from $100k sales to $400k sales (to get back to 2005 pricing), and then, for those who purchased in 2005, it would need to go significantly higher to realize a reasonable return on investment. Here it is some six years later, and let’s use the “double every 10 years” standard, that suggests that this place would need to sell for $800k in just four years. Yes, that’s right, from under $100k to ~$800k in four years. The freakin’ RBA cannot compete with that.

imageAlternatively, Let’s say the price does not go from $100k to $800k in four years, but rather the selling price doubles in four years. This means that similar homes in the area would be worth ~$200k, so those who purchased at $400k would be down 50% after 10 years. And I think I’m being a bit generous to suggest the prices will double in that area in just four years–first prices need to stop going down, and then double.


All this while people kvetch about an extra buck for a gallon of gas. You know the routine: So many complain that gas is ‘unaffordable,’ yet they dream about buying million dollar homes. Million dollar homes cannot be the problem–let’s go to war over a few bucks each week in gas expense.

And before you tell me how special this place is on the lower end, there is at least one other in that area: 132 Dolphin Ct.

Purchased June 2005 for $410k.
Sold February 2011 for $108k.

Is that close enough to say 75% off? When will the selling price get back over $400k?

I know:

empty houseEvery home is sacred.
Every home is great.
If a home is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Every home is wanted.
Every home is good.
Every home is needed
in your neighborhood.

God loves those who treat
their homes with more care.

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

May 15, 2011

Trade Your Gift Cards in to Pay Your Mortgage!

Turning gift cards into mortgage payments

The Tech Chronicles, SFGate
Posted By:
Ellen Lee (Email) | May 11 2011 at 04:50 PM

Consumers with gift cards to spare will soon be able to use them to pay their utility, car and mortgage bills.

Plastic Jungle, a website where consumers can buy and sell gift cards, announced today it had partnered with ChargeSmart, an online bill payment service.

Wow, this is even better than gathering up all the pennies in my couch cushions to make the monthly nut!  I tell you I’ve been carrying around this stupid Jamba Juice card like forever.

So this is something that could work, trade in those useless birthday and holiday gift cards to pay to keep a roof over your head while your home value may make some adjustments.

And in case you think this means times are tough, don’t be silly!  This is innovative, just like the return of seller financing!  If the government won’t help, the free market will provide… um… something.

This is an open thread, but then again, al of them are.  Seen any good Open Houses?

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:35 am

May 14, 2011

Another Dude Who Wants to Die in His House

Here’s a piece from a blog that covers many things San Francisco, but not necessarily real estate.  What caught my eye was a few familiar themes.



There’s been lots of articles in the paper recently about owning a home being a bad thing. I was always scratching my head about this until I realized I’m one of the few people left that was born and raised in San Francisco and is STILL HERE. Most of the people you’ll find in San Francisco are lucky to have lived here for twenty years at most, so it’s time I gave you a little history lesson about San Francisco real estate.

Now for most people here they don’t remember the time when a house was affordable because they aren’t, well, old like me. I was born in 1962 and my parents had bought their four bedroom house in the Sunset in 1954 for a whopping $18,300. Yes, you saw that right, there isn’t a couple of extra zeros on that number. The builders, McKewan Construction were asking $23,500 and my parents underbid the asking price and got it. The early 50′s was a buyer’s market.

Head on over and check it out, it’s not a very long piece but manages to hit most of the Heavy Hitters of the Real Bay Area:

  • Prop 13 is awesome, because
  • You should have bought 35 years ago
  • My parents were smart about real estate
  • It’s Special Here, and if you don’t see this
  • You’re Not From Around Here
  • I Intend to Die in This House

And this dude is younger than I am.  He sounds like my grandfather:

I used to hate the crotchety old guys who would sit out in front of their houses in a lounge chair watering their lawns talking about why, I remember back when we… fill in the snide comment of your choice. I want to be that guy when I’m in my 70′s.

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:54 am

May 13, 2011

Too late, Blinked and we missed it! Huge opportunity GONE

Here’s an interesting listing sent in by Burbed reader Tracy.  Unfortunately the listing was canceled last week after almost constant price reductions over an entire year.  That can only mean one thing: Rising prices are back, baby!

618 Genine Ct, San Jose, CA 95127


Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 1
Sqft: 1,182
Lot size: 11,000 sq ft / 0.25 acres
Property type: Single Family
Year built: 1940
Parking type: —
Cooling system: —
Heating system: —
Fireplace: —
Last sold: November 20 2003

Priced Right For A Deal! Country Ranch-Style 4 Bedroom Home on Huge/Massive Lot in Cul-de-Sac Location-Room to EXPAND & GROW. QUIET NEIGHBORHOOD. Tremendous Value. Mostly Hardwood floors under carpets. Detached 2 car garage with extra workshop. Great backyard for entertaining, bbqs, room for expansion and huge garden. Ready for your finishing touches. Come by and feel the love. GREAT DEAL!

First, here’s what Tracy had to say about this house (before the listing was canceled):

This is a weird one with monthly "huge" price reductions, a HUGE
lot with "nice" neighbors... 

Guess we missed the love, and that’s a shame, because Redfin agent Keith Wong toured the place twice!  Here’s what Keith had to say about this house.


Keith Wong – Field Agent on Redfin’s Southern East Bay Team

"Property has potential to be converted to a bigger property. Current property out of date but with the right buyer who is looking to do a possible tare down or a complete make over, this is the lot to do it"


Possible tare down?  We better have an actual look at this place.


Wow, has that shade of green been used by an auto manufacturer since 1958?  Oh, it’s the tarp!  Never mind, then.  I figured if they threw in the car this deal might actually cash flow.

Speaking of cash, here’s the listing history from Zillow (Redfin helpfully deletes the prices when a listing is canceled, the spoilsports).  Quite a tare down:


See, that’s the kind of can-do initiative the Bay Area is famous for!  Here’s someone selling a place they picked up for only $50,000 at the beginning of the bubble and trying to convince everyone it’s actually worth an order of magnitude more, when almost everything else in that part of town is selling for 1999 prices!  And that’s why the listing got canceled.  Someone will give it a tare down, or maybe just a complete make over, and it’s going to sell for $800K.  Alum Rock’s gonna be hot, hot, hot!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:14 am

May 12, 2011

A house in Mountain View that’s the perfect summer blockbuster!

Beds: 3
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,047
$/Sq. Ft.: $544
Lot Size: 5,000 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1954
Community: Whisman
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81112525
Source: MLSListings
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.

This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
more info
On Redfin: 44 days
OPEN HOUSE April 3 from 1:30-5pm. Remodeled Kitchen & Bathroom, wood floor, new windows in 2007. Cute & Cozy 3BR, 2 car garage, great commute to 101/85/237. Close to Downtown. Regular sale.

Thanks to Burbed reader Herve for this find!

What a perfect tie in to this summer’s hottest blockbuster: Fast and Furious 5!

Do you have a 10 second car? Then this house is perfect for you! Quick, snatch it up before it zooms away! It’s a steal!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:47 am