July 6, 2011

Menlo Park for well under a Million! (Please check availability.)

Today’s house hasn’t been sitting on the market for a year, isn’t on the wrong side of 101, has four digits of square footage, and doesn’t have an East Palo Alto address.

2162 MENALTO Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025


SQ. FT.: 1,010
$/SQ. FT.: $682
LOT SIZE: 5,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Willows/O’Conner Area
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81127301
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 15 days

Great starter home in The Willows. Excellent condition. Updated kitchen. New roof. Painted in and out. Double paned windows. Updated electrical. Menlo Park schools. (Please check availability. )

imageNow, the agent wants you to know this home has an updated kitchen, but not enough to bother showing it to you. Pictures of the outside, only!  And the house sold in 2009, for $445K, Yowza, up a whopping 54% in just two years! Do you know what this means?

It means SELLERS MARKET, baby! It means if you want to buy anything on the Peninsula, even this crapbox, you’re going to have write a personal note to the sellers, along with four dozen homemade cookies and an earnest money deposit of about fifty thousand (not refundable).

And those double-paned windows?  You’re going to need them.


But your commute to Facebook will be sweet!  I suggest you snap it up before the market comes to its senses and overbids this back over seven digits.

Comments (53) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

53 Responses to “Menlo Park for well under a Million! (Please check availability.)”

  1. Overheard in San Carlos Says:

    Don’t kid yourself about that mailing address. “Menalto” is shorthand for “Menlo Park address, but really in East Palo Alto.” Drive down it sometime…

  2. SEA Says:

    Instant Equity: Now we can start to discuss not a lot of money more than not a lot of money.

    Just a few doors down, in the wrong direction, is 2085 ADDISON Ave. Sure it’s in the wrong zip code (94303), but we’re talking instant equity, cash flow positive from day one.

    “Jul 01, 2011 Listed (Active) $280,000
    Jun 20, 2007 Sold (Public Records) $786,000
    Jul 16, 2004 Sold (Public Records) $530,000”

    That’s right, $506k in instant equity. Alternatively, the instant equity is 180% of the listing price (Or 90% based on the 2004 sale). How could one go wrong with such a deal?

    Besides, don’t we have the Facebook Effect to save the world? Or does the Facebook Effect only apply to the RBA?

  3. JuJu Says:

    Does it have real Menlo Park schools?

  4. nomadic Says:

    No thanks. Don’t wanna trade my car for a ghetto cruiser.

  5. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    Real Menlo Park Schools, but I believe it manages to go to the one terrible grade school in Menlo Park. So you’d only buy there to get into Menlo-Atherton High, and the listing said “Check Availability” which is code for “It’s full, so you’ll be going to Sequoia.”

  6. madhaus Says:

    I knew someone who lived on this street 25 years ago. It was a sh*thole then, and I assumed it still was now. Sorry the sarcasm wasn’t obvious enough, #1. And #5 definitely cracked the code.

  7. A. Lewis Says:

    Must read:


    Everybody knows that napa is not special like the RBA – they were only fooling themselves! Despite lots of all-cash buyers who could ‘hold out longer’ than the rest of us…the piper must now be payed.

    It’s the best time to buy a vineyard (in the same way 2007 was the ‘best’ time to buy residential real estate)!

  8. A. Lewis Says:

    payed=paid, sorry.

    There are so many gem quotes in that article…

    “We went in like blind fools,” Sutherland said. “We didn’t really expect to get the loan, but felt committed when we did.”

    I like the equation: Wine prices drive grape prices drive land prices.

    OK, I could believe that for Napa, which also has some fairly nice weather going for it. Not much else.

    So what drives RBA prices so very high?

    1. Good Public Schools
    2. Nearby jobs
    3. Nice weather

    So since all the non-RBA places have dropped in value much more than the RBA (by definition, really), do you think new young families are changing the equation for RBA-buying? Specifically, if private school for K-12 is $X, and you have 2 kids, you might pay up to $2X more to live in the RBA with good public schools than a nearby town with private schools.

    So, what do you think $X is these days, and are more people choosing to just pay private schools but get cheaper housing (of which there is much to be had, compared to RBA)??

  9. SEA Says:

    “Specifically, if private school for K-12 is $X, and you have 2 kids, you might pay up to $2X more to live in the RBA with good public schools than a nearby town with private schools.”

    I hate to rain on the party, but please remember, in the RBA a few things happen:

    1. Housing Price Appreciation takes care of everything.
    2. If you live in the RBA you send your children to private school, no matter the cost, even if the public schools are good.
    3. When you go to sell, the so-called overbidding will fund the kids’ college education.
    4. The only maintenance that’s necessary is Drano and light bulbs.

    Outside the RBA, not only do you need to consider the added cost of necessary private schools and maintenance, but you must consider the housing price depreciation. Also remember that while there are no rentals in the RBA, renting is always higher cost than buying, no matter how fast prices are going down, or how good of a deal on the rental you get.

  10. A. Lewis Says:

    #9 – awesome, you make it all so clear. There’s no need for all these silly questions!

  11. nomadic Says:

    #7, you’re a year late to the party.

  12. A. Lewis Says:

    #11 – oh well, Greg Fielding fooled me by posting it today:


    I got over-excited and didn’t look at the date. I haven’t posted in weeks here, and felt like stirring the pot. I miss our long debates/analysis of why one should/shouldn’t pay a super-premium for housing.

  13. DreamT Says:

    A – Each choice comes with a premium – financial, social, cultural, safety, quality-of-life (including commute), or otherwise. In “our debates”, we only end up arguing the relative and subjective importance of each, or worse glossing over it. Few people get married purely for pecuniary reasons, similarly few people make a housing decision purely based on “financial” equations. Unless your audience mostly consists of Asperger types, or unless you’re considering investment properties as opposed to primary residences (where your own cost of renting isn’t a factor).

  14. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    #12 : Don’t feel bad. Napa was boned in 2010, and it was boned even harder in 2011. 2012 will leave it in a puddle of sweat and tears in a back alleyway.

    That being said, it’s pretty up there. The ‘botique wineries’ will wither on the vine, but the long term places will see a chance to expand their wine growing holdings, and true ‘private’ vinyards could show up with actual rich people (not financed and think they’re rich people and who need to sell the wine to make the mortgage) buying up small parcels for weekend retreats and vanity wine-hobbying. The prices they’ll sell at will be much, much lower than the peak. And when those rich get bored with making wine, and they will, the places will sell to the next generation of more-money-than-sense moneybags who want to give making wine a go.

    If only I could be one of them. 😉

  15. DreamT Says:

    I’d rather we discuss what makes any one neighborhood different. The types of houses, the development history & planned future, the demographics mix and trends, the half-secret places only local residents know… Here it’s always about a specific property and about money. The few times someone has something to say like WillowGlenner, he ends up getting chased away, or presumably gets bored by the dull infighting in the comments.
    If not neighborhoods, then property care and maintenance. Some stories about improvements gone right or wrong. Dreams and aspirations, as opposed to unwarranted and unsupported opinions about others.

  16. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    #15 : Here you go, a minor discussion of MY neighborhood: I bought a house in Redwood City. It’s a pretty crappy city, as far as RBA-ness goes, but I bought in the Emerald Hills area. I wouldn’t consider living in much of RWC, but the edges along San Carlos and up in the hills are pretty nice. They’re nice because they have decent schools and proportionally higher property prices. They’re overpriced when I bought, and overpriced still. They are established neighborhoods with largely middle-class white demographics that are changing to upper-middle class mixed neighborhoods.

    They won’t maintain their current pricing levels, but I don’t think ANYWHERE will, but they will maintain a premium over RWC, and will always be cheaper than RBA Menlo Park/PA/Woodside.

    Since I have two kids (and a third under discussion) the schools are important to me. I liked the house because of the size of the lot. (15kish, mostly flat.)

    The area is unlikely to have reverse gentrification as it’s one of the more affordable ‘decent school’ areas, but it will never have the RBAness of the big-name highschools. (You’re stuck with Sequoia or Woodside.)

    So far, the ‘lightbulbs and draino’ are goign to cost about 20% of the purchase price, but 10% or so of that is massive improvements in the retaining walls for the non-flat area which I COULD ignore for another 20 years (50% lost is my best guess), 5% is installing a great backyard (at least 50% lost), and 5% was deferred maintenance and upgrades when we moved in (Almost completely lost. The house is way more salable, but not really ‘worth’ more. Refinished floors, double paned windows/etc. Terrible 70’s wood paneling ripped out. That kind of stuff.)

    The price was about 30-35% off of peak pricing. My guess is it will be worth about 50-55% of peak pricing at the bottom, meaning I’m well and truly boned from that perspective, but at least my wife is happy. And the money I spent was pulled out of the market at Dow 13,000, so at least I didn’t get reamed on the crash with that money.

    I bought at what everybody in the neighborhood assumed was the bottom in 2009, and was congratulated on my timely purchase. I told them I figured we had another 20% to go. Prices are now getting close to that 2009 trough, and I expect them to be passed on the way down by late 2011/early 2012.

  17. madhaus Says:

    #15, if that’s what you want to discuss, and I say this with nothing but respect for your choices, then why the fvck don’t you post such a discussion of the day since you are a fvcking guest editor? I love a good rant and all, but you’re one of the few people here who can get something on the front page any time you want!

    And if anyone else wants to start a topic not being covered, write it up and send it to me. If it makes sense, I will run it as a front-page guest blog. Believe me, I love guest posts! Your name in lights! Okay, your name in bold, but still!

  18. DreamT Says:

    madhaus – this was not a critic directed to you or your posts, so no need for the color. I was referring to the daily comments ecosystem rather than the front-page posts, where each poster has equal access and influence (when uncensored).
    I have no time to contribute front page posts currently, as you know – that may change, but I still wouldn’t have most of the content to contribute.. whence an impassioned call for content! Also, I am wishing for general tone and content redirection, not a one-time thread.

    Thanks sfbubblebuyer, that’s the spirit. madhaus lived in your neighborhood before and shared a few refreshing tales about it… in the comments section 🙂

  19. * Says:

    “Also, I am wishing for general tone and content redirection”

    every real estate forum i’m on has bickering, name calling and general unpleasantness.

    in this way it’s similar to a heated discussion about religion or politics. it’s easier (and often more entertaining) to attack the person than attack the argument.

    i think it will be difficult to tone it down as that would require a degree of maturity from the contributors.

  20. Petsmart groomer Says:

    From the page source:

    <meta name=”description” content=”The San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, San Jose Real Estate Home and Mortgage Insanity Blog”/>

    What else can you expect?

  21. SEA Says:

    Regarding the generalized bickering:

    The days of “I’m an owner and I expect have a personal note with all offers, along with four dozen homemade cookies and an earnest money deposit of about fifty thousand” seem to have disappeared.

    Sure the sellers still expect that, but buyers simply aren’t willing anymore. Reminds me of airline deregulation–the end of the days of having to pay regulated prices caused similar friction.

  22. Real Estater Says:


  23. Real Estater Says:


    I think your post begs the question: Why did you buy the housing knowing it would go down another 20%? After all, there are plenty of good real estate bets in the Bay Area. Losing money on real estate is just not acceptable.

  24. Real Estater Says:

    >>madhaus – this was not a critic directed to you or your posts

    It better now be, because otherwise it will be removed.

  25. Real Estater Says:

    >>madhaus – this was not a critic directed to you or your posts

    It better not be, because otherwise it will be removed.

  26. Real Estater Says:

    Cash flow property in Palo Alto! 3/2, 1 car garage + 1 car carport. Hurry!

  27. nomadic Says:


  28. sfbubblebuyer Says:

    #23 : Because I believed the stock market was bout to lose me a ton of money (it was), the wife wanted to own a house for the kids, and after the down payment, it wasn’t TOO much over the cost of renting.

    As for you, I’d rather listen to Cramer pick stocks than take your advice on real estate. I’ve owned property before, both single family and rental, and I know they’re not an easy path to riches.

  29. Real Estater Says:


    A couple of things.

    You knew the stock market was going to lose a ton of money, which means you should’ve shorted the market, and made a ton of money.

    Your wife wanted a house, but she didn’t say they wanted a money-losing house, right?

  30. nomadic Says:

    Let me translate the listing copy from the house in #26:

    This property boasts loads of limitless potential & offers great opportunity for someone to build their dream home.

    ~This un-maintained POS is falling down, falling down…

  31. SEA Says:

    Yup, he should have bought in Tracy.

  32. madhaus Says:

    Sorry for the little temper tantrum our little troll threw earlier. He’s been given another time-out and I cleaned up the mess.

    #18, it wasn’t so much my thinking you were critiquing my posts as my desire that you contribute to the front page some more. Clearly you have some good ideas for discussion. I don’t know what we could say about this neighborhood in Menlo Park that #1 and #5 didn’t already sum up perfectly.

    #12, wonder if the East Bay heat is getting to Greg Fielding. He should move over here so he can think more clearly.

    #28, you really don’t have to justify why you bought a house, you know. And for what it’s worth, I love that neighborhood and we did consider buying there. Walkability and consistently good public schools won out; we like walking to stores etc, and you just can’t do that in Emerald Lake Hills. But the scenery up there is about a million times better than the ennui that is tract house Sunnyvale.

  33. Real Estater Says:

    I love my wife very much, but if she tells me to buy into a money losing, leveraged investment, I’d say no. If you calculate the percentage loss to your down payment, it’s an easy no-go decision. sfbubblebuyer, it’s actually your job to educate your wife. Remember the Garden of Eden story?

  34. Sunny(vale) Kim Says:

    I am Sunny(vale) Kim, the real estate investor. Let me tell you the Secret of Real Estate Investment:

    There are two types of houses
    1. Money-making house
    2. Money-losing house

    If you buy a dilapidated house at the right side of Middlefield but wrong side of Oregon Expwy for $799,950 TODAY, that would be a money-making house.

    If you bought a house at wrong side of Middlefield but right side of Oregon Expwy for $2M in 2008 and have to sell it for $1.5M TODAY, that would be money-losing house.

    Wait for my next session of Secret of Real Estate Investment.

  35. SEA Says:

    Darn–I wanted a break-even house. You know, I didn’t want to lose money by paying taxes, and I didn’t want to have a loss on sale.

  36. Real Estater posting with insulting name Says:

    I am removed, the professional house renter. Let me tell you the Secret of Renting:

    There are two types of rentards
    1. Money-losing rentard
    2. Money-losing rentard

    If you rented a dilapidated house in Santa Clara school district, you are the first type of rentard. If you rented a nice house in the CUSD for $3000/month in 2008, you have have lost $108K by 2011. That makes you the second type of rentard.

  37. SEA Says:

    At least those rentards took full advantage of Prop 13.

  38. Sunny(vale) Kim Says:

    I wanted a break-even house.

    That’s simply not possible with only one house. Either your house makes money or it loses money. The only way you can make “break-even” by buying two houses. For example, one in Palo Alto (money-losing house) and one in Tracy (money-making house).

    I am Sunny(vale) Kim, the real estate investor.

  39. Sunny(vale) Kim Says:

    I love my wife very much, but if she tells me to buy into a money losing, leveraged investment, I’d say no.

    Sunny(vale) Kim, the real estate investor, completely agrees. In addition, it is not good idea to give your wife any serious responsibility, except “finishing touches and in decorating”.

  40. Real Estater Says:


    Rich dad is holding a seminar in Austin.

  41. Real Estater Says:

    >>If you rented a nice house in the CUSD for $3000/month in 2008, you have have lost $108K by 2011.

    Think about it, with that kind of money, you could’ve paid for 4 years of tuition at the University of California, plus bought a Honda/Toyota/Mazda that will last you a least 10 years.

  42. very amused Says:

    I am very amused to see RE act like an ass. Again. The secrets of real estate investing was a special treat!

  43. JuJu Says:

    Very amused is very pissed?

  44. nomadic Says:

    I think Real Estater should change his handle to removed. It actually reads pretty funny, and for a moment I thought he was calling himself that.

  45. A. Lewis Says:

    I want credit for stirring the pot and bringing notable commentary out from DreamT, who has been missing about as much as I have!

    Props to sfbubblebuyer for an awesome discussion of a neighborhood, cool anecdote of his personal experience, and opinions on prices.

    And no thanks to generalized bickering…

  46. A. Lewis Says:

    BTW, I am still renting, and still watching prices fall in my East Bay neighborhood.

    I have seen a dearth of ‘good’ supply – the recently remodeled, non-short-sale, homes. There is an excess of crap (original owner from 1955 who never remodeled the place died or is cashing out, or just other crap).

    So price drops are very common, and long waits to sell, sprinkled with a few nice homes that get snapped up in one week. I haven’t seen a sold price in excess of 10% of original list for the last 12 months. I have seen a LOT of wishing prices reduced 30%.

    Most homes are selling at 2000-2002 prices. A few command 2004 prices, but those are the gems. The crap is heading back to 1997, but that seems to be a true bottom.

  47. nomadic Says:

    I haven’t seen a sold price in excess of 10% of original list for the last 12 months.

    Say wha? A sold price within 10% of original list maybe?

  48. A. Lewis Says:

    #47, I mean if list was X, the sale price is X+10% max. I haven’t seen any bidding wars taking it to say X+20%.

    So the rare ones go for 10% over list, and the rest go for as much as 30% under list. I guess it’s just commentary on how well the realtors are doing at listing above/below what the market will pay.

    But in the bubble years, people seemed to regularly (not rarely) pay 10% over list, and price reductions and accepted underbids were very rare.

    So there ain’t no bubble goin’ on in my ‘hood. Youknowwhatimsayin’?

  49. madhaus Says:

    #39, mr madhaus agrees with you. That’s why he makes the important decisions, such as what we think Obama should do about the budget stalemate or what the Fed should do about interest rates, while I am in charge of trivial domestic matters such as where we live, what school the children attend, where to invest our money, etc.

  50. nomadic Says:

    That’s good, #49. Worry causes wrinkles and we wouldn’t want the little lady doing anything to diminish her trophy appearance.

  51. SEA Says:

    #48- The bigger questions are:

    1. How does a seller maximize selling price?
    2. How does a buyer minimize purchase price?

    Does the list price even matter?

    I see the same thing with auctions all the time. People think that the starting bid of $1 is a good thing, yet the final sale price is often much higher. There have been many auctions that I have wanted to just move faster, so I place a ‘big’ bid, that immediately is ‘over-bid.’ In one example, the bidders were playing around under $1,000 on a car that should easily sell for $7,500. After hearing them dink around with small bids, I called out $5,000. Zoom, the price continued going up and ended ‘right up to where it needs to be,’ or whatever the right term might be. Why do people play around with tiny bid increments? So I ‘over-bid’ by a very large amount, relative to the bidding increment, but in the end, it made no difference in the final selling price.

    Maybe the larger question that I should ask is why do buyers expect that no other buyer will offer above asking price? Is there some sort of buyer code of ethics out there that’s being violated?

  52. sonarrat Says:

    Relisted again. $299K!


  53. nomadic Says:

    Looks like they’re expecting over-bids to bring the price up to “where it needs to be?”

    From the listing:

    Listing Information
    * Auction (Reserve)

Leave a Reply

Please be nice. No name calling, no personal attacks, no racist stuff, no baiting, etc. Let's be nice to each other in the true Bay Area spirit! (Comments may be edited/removed without notice.)