August 31, 2011

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Grow Shade

Here’s a listing sent in by Burbed reader Erin.  Glad to see some agents are forward-looking.  Really forward.


525 FAIRMONT Ave, Mountain View, CA 94041


SQ. FT.: 1,430
$/SQ. FT.: $605
LOT SIZE: 5,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81123846
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 92 days

This 3 bedroom, 1 bath house is located on a quiet side street 1/2 blk from a small park. Just 4 blks from downtown shops and restaurants on Castro St. An enclosed patio is the surprise bonus room for children’s play and office/media room possibilities. Two large sycamore tree line the street with a young Red Oak growing near the garage for future driveway shade.

imageHere’s what Erin had to say about this house:

Just imagine how nice and cool this house’s driveway will be in 30 years when your investment in future shade will finally be realized!

And while you’re waiting, you can sit in this appropriately-painted room and pretend you watched all the trees grow tall!

I’m still trying to envision using that surprise bonus room for children’s play and office/media room possibilities.  At the same time.

I’m having trouble figuring out why this hasn’t been snapped up.  The seller even pulled the “raise the price when the sale falls through” trick.



Yeah, sounds like an awesome playroom!  You could have the little nippers play “Who can climb in the window fastest without bleeding on the rug.”

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

August 30, 2011

Fastest Flip in the West!

Just last week, Burbed reader and frequent Guest Blogger Divasm shared with us the tale of the teenaged sleepover, complete with beer and boys, discovered while touring a house for sale.  But Big D visited the place a few weeks ago, and waited until the house sold before sharing it here.

Yesterday, the property was back on the listing service.  So I’ve asked Divasm to please give us a report on Stony Hill 2.0.  Before I do, here’s a look at Stony Hill 1.0 from last week.


Now please give D your biggest, warmest Real Bay Area welcome!

926 STONY HILL Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061


SQ. FT.: 2,130
$/SQ. FT.: $562
LOT SIZE: 7,840 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Bay, Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Farm Hills Estates
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81137487
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 1 day

You will love this gorgeously updated 4/3 flexible floorplan home. Enjoy new kit w/ granite, stainless appliances inc. 36″ italian gas range. New baths, hardwood, new windows. Backyard views from deck & lush lawn. Spacious living & family rooms w/ fireplaces. Slate walkways & porch. Awesome nghbrhd & Roy Cloud school. Open House 8/29 from 5-7pm w/ wine & cheese. Virtual tour & more photos tonight.

SHspreadLadies and Gentlemen, it’s the event of the season, the wait is over…yes, that’s right, I give you the FASTEST FLIP IN THE WEST! In 29 days, we went from “pass the PBR,” to “Pardon me, would you happen to have any Grey Poupon?” Last night’s opening reception for this newly remodeled RBA home featured a spread of enough food to win over even the most cranky neighbor (probably kept up 24/7 with construction noises).

shbacklawnCouldn’t make it to the gala? Never fear, we’re here to fill you in…behold the new backyard! Every single piece of vegetation (especially the trees) appears to have disappeared, replaced by this lovely patio and lawn big enough for your child to frolic!

And don’t forget the bartender…yes, you read that correctly…to serve you celebratory champagne! 926 Stony Hill, you’ve come a long way from discarded pizza boxes in the basement, baby!


Speaking of dingy basements, it’s now split into two rooms – a game room and a guest room/family room.



And the front yard, well, I am still confused about how they appeared to actually level the street, I feel like it’s something you’d see at the Exploratorium. The house layout is much the same, as it turns out, just completely redone, refloored, repainted – to the point of being rather amazingly unrecognizable. This all courtesy of Sequoia Realty Services, which seems to consist of some grouping of these folks we see in the listing:

  • SHcrackAgent has Financial Interest
  • Seller is Licensed Real Estate Agent
  • Broker has Financial Interest

Speaking of repainted, the contractor said the foundation issues turned out to be cosmetic, by which it appears he meant “I painted over the cracks” – you might recognize the old crack, but now it’s sage colored! So much better on the eyes. But the floors upstairs are indeed level, so perhaps the issues weren’t such a big deal. Go ahead and plunk down your $1.2 mil and find out. If you serve PBR at your housewarming party we can make it the Burbed event of this Fall!

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:16 am

August 29, 2011

Price Reduced Again! And Again! And Again! And Again!

Last week we featured a home in Sunnyvale with a series of deep price cuts, and asked what was wrong with the house that required a 30% price cut.  Here’s an even more extreme example.  We had to go a little (okay, more than a little) further afield this time, so please enjoy this listing courtesy of Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer!


22 STORY Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924


SQ. FT.: 3,258
$/SQ. FT.: $135
LOT SIZE: 1 Acre
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Valley
COMMUNITY: Village Views
COUNTY: Monterey
MLS#: 81102444
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 221 days

This bank owned home in the heart of Carmel Village features over 3200 sq ft of living space on a 1 acre property. Home has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, separate family room, an oversize office above the 3 car garage. This is a great opportunity and a contractors dream.

imageOne the great realignments after the housing bubble popped was the death of the exurbs.  Homes requiring far-flung commutes were no longer desirable, while closer-in properties held their values better. 

Monterey County was hit with a double-whammy.  Not only are people less willing to drive a long way to work in Silicon Valley, the entire county is being hit extra hard by the new conventional mortgage limitations that are scheduled for October 1st (and already implemented by several large banks).  In most of the high-priced Bay Area, this limit is lowering from $729,750 to $625,500.  But Monterey County now has a much imagelower median home price than the Bay Area counties to the north, so they are being cut all the way back to the default limit: $417,000. If you want to borrow more than $417,000, you’ll have to get a jumbo mortgage.

Meanwhile, a much higher number of homes in Monterey County are under water (the FB owes more than the house worth) than in the Bay Area counties (Solano County is a special case). 

But what happened to this house?  Here’s the listing history from Zillow.


That’s some price chopping! And not mentioned in the Zillow history, but on Redfin, is when the homeloaner stopped fighting the inevitable:


imageSo not only was this house not worth the $1.65M the owners wanted when they were trying to sell it themselves, it’s not clear it’s worth much more than a quarter of that now that the bank has it. 

imageLet this be a lesson to you.  Don’t build a big ol’ house on an acre of land and then put in linoleum everywhere.  Also, don’t buy a house on a street with the same name as an infamous one in a really crappy part of San Jose.

Or at least do a better job of hiding your mistakes.  Is it 22 Story or 2 Stories?  Can a 2 Story house be a Ranch Style?  How about a 22 Story house?

Meanwhile, what do you think this house is going to sell for?

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

August 28, 2011

What is Shadow Inventory?

Burbed doesn’t usually feature home listings on weekends.  Instead we either have thoughtful wonky pieces, commentary on news articles about the wonderful world of real estate, or just random filler for an Open Thread.  Our readers aren’t in their offices avoiding work wasting time performing valuable research by visiting here, so it really doesn’t matter what we run on Saturday and Sunday.  Everyone is out enjoying the beautiful weather and the Open Houses.

Today, we have a Reader Submission appropriate for a weekend piece.  Please enjoy this look at “shadow inventory” by Burbed reader MS.  Thanks very much!

What is shadow inventory?  According to a friendly Realtor’s blog, there’s “nothing to see.”


The proof, she says, is REO vs. regular sales.


Month REO Sales Regular Sales
January 3 72
February 2 59
March 4 75

How many short sales are called “regular” sales here? Half?  A Redfin search of SFRs (Single-Family Residences) under 500K in 94401 shows that six of 14 are short sales. Like this one:


120 HURON Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401


(Back from being pending, tenant occupied, listed since 2010.)  And down the street


Finally, shadow inventory comprises properties that have received NODs (notice of default) and/or are scheduled for foreclosure auction, such as these (318 in San Mateo County):


MLS listing isn’t required to be on the auction block at Redwood City (and if a house is MLS-listed, it can still be auctioned off.)


So that, Miss Realtor, is your shadow inventory.

Comments (94) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

August 27, 2011

Steve Jobs’ Old Los Altos House Now Apple Fanboi Destination

Steve Jobs’ Childhood Home Draws Tourists; Stepmom Laments Resignation

By Avni Nijhawan, Los Altos Patch, August 25, 2011

Jobs’ childhood home is a modest 3-bedroom, 2-bath house on Crist Drive in Los Altos, where his stepmother still lives. Credit Avni Nijhawan

The modest home on the quiet Los Altos street where Steve Jobs grew up—and where Apple was born—has long been a tourist attraction for those in the know.

But Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after one of the most iconic CEOs in the world resigned from Apple, it became an even stronger magnet, as strangers and even relatives grappled with the idea of Apple without Jobs at the helm.

That includes Jobs’ stepmother.

Hesitantly answering the door at the Crist Drive house, Marilyn Jobs lamented Steve’s resignation.

“It’s sad. It’s very, very sad,” said the 78-year-old, who has lived in the 1,793-square-foot home for 20 years.

imageThe above article includes the obligatory neighbor who gets tourists mistakenly ringing the doorbell asking to see the famous garage.  I do want to remind everyone that Jobs resigned, but he isn’t dead yet.  But if the pictures on TMZ can be believed, he isn’t looking too great, either.

Now, let’s take a look at this “modest” Los Altos home with a Zestimate of $1,208,600.

It’s in Los Altos, but it doesn’t have Los Altos schools.  Instead, if you lived here, your children would have to attend the inferior schools of the Cupertino and Fremont Union districts.  Sure, they educated both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but I bet you didn’t name any of your children Steve.

Next, it’s not on a busy street, but it’s pretty close to one: Foothill Expressway.  Just pretend the traffic noise is ocean surf!


Finally, on what planet is an almost 1800 square foot house considered “modest"?  Sure it is, in Texas, where land is cheap and construction workers can be paid in beer.  But in Santa Clara County?  And even throughout the entire United States (think cheaper land and building costs), the median square footage of new construction didn’t top 2000 square feet until the late 1990s.  By 1952 standards, this was a good-sized house.  The 9,375 sf lot is a little small for Los Altos but looks typical of the tract it’s in.  It’s certainly generous for Santa Clara County.

Oh, I know why the writer described this house as modest.  She was thinking of his current place.


Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:35 am

August 26, 2011


Here’s a find from Burbed reader nomadic, who wants to know how this house managed to sell.  That’s easy, nomadic!  It’s in the best zip code in Sunnyvale, and that’s really saying something.  It’s just like owning the best model Chevrolet builds.


1109 ROBIN Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Listed for $729,000 after 3 reductions, Sold for $692,000


SQ. FT.: 1,860
$/SQ. FT.: $372
LOT SIZE: 8,800 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81118566

Impressive 4 Bedroom 2 Bath with a Large country kitchen that has been remodeled with Beautiful corean counters, Stainless steel Appliances and Gorgeous cabinets. Large spacious Bedrooms, Beautiful built in heated pool with a lovely covered patio. AWARD WINNING SCHOOLS CHERRY CHASE ELEM, SUNNYSIDE MIDDLE, HOMESTEAD HIGH.

What school district a house is in matters to most purchasers.  If it didn’t matter, this agent wouldn’t have put the schools in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS like THIS.  Then again, if schools were that important to making a sale, you would think the agent would GET THE NAME OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOL RIGHT.

There are two middle schools in the Sunnyvale school district: Columbia and Sunnyvale.  This house is Special, though.  It has Super Secret Extra Bunus middle school: SUNNYSIDE!  Or the Realtard can’t be bothered to learn school names, which are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BUYERS WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE PROPERTY.  Sunnyvale, Sunnyside, what’s the difference?


Not much difference at all!  So let’s move on to the house itself.  Fortunately Team Redfin has been working together and sharing everything to find us our perfect home!


Whoa, major wear and tare?  Does that mean a noxious Biblical weed infestation or that we have to subtract the weight of the shipping containers the house came in?

Okay, enough sniping at silly spelling mistakes.  Some people are made to be copy editors, some create first-person shooter games, and some have a talent for selling houses worth over half a million dollars by making charming mistakes throughout the reams of paperwork.  The agent did make the effort to take several shots throughout the property.  So let’s admire all the photos of this house.


And I won’t even shrink them down, they are at their full 90×120 resolution!  But here’s something that did shrink, and quickly:


Should I praise this Realtard for making some seriously deep price cuts when the house didn’t sell quickly, or bury him for starting so high in the first place? 

Comments (25) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

August 25, 2011

Nice house… Pass the PBR

Today’s featured house was toured, selected, and written up by Burbed reader Divasm.  Thanks very much for serving as Guest Blogger on Burbed!  Remember, if you have a great listing (and you know by “great” I actually mean “atrocious”), great photos, or a great price history, you can write it up and have fame and fortune by appearing on the front page!  Or you can send it the listing and have us muck it up for you!

Please give Divasm a big, warm Real Bay Area welcome.

Now that this house has sold I have an amusing story about our tour of it that I thought Burbed readers might enjoy.


926 STONY HILL Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061
Listed for $928,888, Sold for $847,000


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 2,130
$/SQ. FT.: $398
LOT SIZE: 7,840 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STORIES: Bi/Split Level
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Farm Hills Estates
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81111598

Charming 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home in Farm Hill Estates. Wonderful floor plan w/ large family room downstairs. Also includes master suite, eat-in kitchen, fireplaces in living room & family room and 2 car garage. Patio deck leads down to large back yard with beautiful park like setting. Within walking distance of award winning Roy Cloud School ((K-8th). Fresh paint.

My husband and I had an appointment with our Redfin agent to visit this house at 9am on a Sunday. It’s pretty apparent from the listing photos that this place is unoccupied, right? Well, sort of. We started our tour in the living room, and when we moved into the kitchen I noticed a pair of flipflops on the floor under the table. As we continue down the hallway, the first door is closed. I open it a crack and see somebody on the floor on a sleeping bag with a blanket pulled over their head!

stonyhillfoundationWe quickly decide to head outside and look at the backyard, giving the person time to perhaps wake up and regroup before we come back inside. As we are outside we notice a big crack in the foundation, which takes this “needs updates” house in a nice neighborhood past the realm of fixer upper (we looked under the house and could see signs of major shifting as well), especially at the listing price of $928K.

We go in and head downstairs, where we find a couple mattresses with sleeping bags, empty pizza boxes and some barely concealed bags containing Pabst Blue Ribbon cans (sorry, no photos of the contraband to show, we were stonyhillplayhousetoo busy laughing). Aha! It all becomes clear! The girl who once occupied that darling playhouse in the backyard has apparently grown up enough to throw a party in her childhood home, and forgot about the fact that her parents are actively trying to SELL the house.

We go back upstairs and my husband knocks on the closed door, pokes his head in and says that we’re going to look around upstairs and then leave. I hear several teenage girl giggles as he closes the door. He said he saw at least 3-4 girls in their PJs in the room, and a couple who wouldn’t take blankets off their heads…we finally deduce those must have been the BOYS. 🙂

Despite the shaky foundation and best efforts of teenage partiers, the house went pending a week later and sold very quickly after that – I’m assuming to an investor – and some private school teens were left without their PBR party hotspot. Awww.

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

August 24, 2011

Don’t Just Sing Folk Songs, Live in One!

Here’s another flipping find from the Redfin Bay Area forums, thanks to Lysistrata. Wow, talk about a convenient location, upgraded kitchen, and generous oversized lot!  Too bad a flipper got to it ahead of you! Now you have to pay a premium to live here!


46 CARMEL Ave, Daly City, CA 94015


SQ. FT.: 1,150
$/SQ. FT.: $400
LOT SIZE: 3,400 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Westlake Heights
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81129477
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 29 days

Reduced! Just remodeled, this 3 bed 2 bath home boasts an updated kitchen, stainless steel appliances, new hardwood floors, a new furnace, recessed lighting, and fresh paint inside and out. With an open, inviting floor plan and landscaped front and rear yards, this beautiful home just steps to the ocean is not to be missed! Close to Northridge Park, shopping and freeway access for an easy commute!

imageHardwood, granite, and stainless may await inside, but the real surprise will be finding out who would pay for them given where this house is located!  No wonder the first picture is the kitchen rather than the front yard, but we’re sure you want to see the exterior shots.  In fact, we insist!

Convenient to San Francisco and I-280, this house is perfect for the two-income couple, one with the trendy creative class career in SoMa and the other with an equally high-powered position in Silicon Valley!  Perfect, that is, as long as you never let your colleagues know where you sleep at night.

imageFace it, you should have snapped this opportunity up and sold it to one of your less-entrepreneurial associates.  But there’s hundreds more just like it up and down the street, and all the other streets, so don’t despair!

And “steps to the ocean”?  Looks like about 500 steps.  Anyone know how easy it is to step down that sea cliff?  There is nearby Thornton Beach State Park if you head somewhat north (more than a few 500s of steps), but dang, the state has closed it.


Malvina Reynolds wrote a song in 1962 that epitomized the blandness of tract-house suburbia, built from shoddy construction materials.  What place inspired this classic folk song (called the most sanctimonious song ever by no less than Tom Lehrer)?  Was it Levittown, New York? 

Hell, no, this was an authentic Bay Area composition, triggered by Westlake in Daly City.  Now you can live in the very place that inspired a folk song!

imageThere’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.


And Live the Ticky Tacky Life!

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

August 23, 2011


Here’s a listing with a rather intriguing backstory.  I wonder if any heads will roll over this monumental mismanagement in Mountain View.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for sending this in.  Except what PG sent in isn’t what you’ll see when check out the Redfin link.


505 CYPRESS POINT Dr #30, Mountain View, CA 94043


SQ. FT.: 645
$/SQ. FT.: $341
LOT SIZE: 2,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Condominium
STORIES: 1-3 (Low Rise)
COMMUNITY: North Shoreline
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81135529
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 7 days

Beautiful 1 bedroom and 1 bath, single story townhome. Spacious living room, nice and quiet neighborhood. Prefect for 1st time home buyers. Great location, close by parks, schools and shoppings. Must See Now!

imageUm, okay, yet another cubicle condo so your homelife can be just like your work life.  But what PG sent me isn’t what’s on Redfin now.  Here’s what was sent in:

Update: lots of photos follow, so come see them after the break.  This is kinder to the front page in the true Real Bay Area Spirit.  Or something.


Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

August 22, 2011

Don’t miss the opportunity… to be annexed to Campbell!

Here’s an on-the-ground report from Burbed reader Sam Adu, direct from comments.  In case you were wondering if they were making any more land, it looks like they are.  Unfortunately, this county land is going to end up in Campbell.  Hurry, offers are due Wednesday! Thanks very much for the Open House report, Sam!

The best ‘burbed-esque house I visited yesterday was, of course, in Campbell…or should I say a soon-to-be annexed part of Campbell.


1125 SHAMROCK Dr, Campbell, CA 95008


SQ. FT.: 791
$/SQ. FT.: $480
LOT SIZE: 9,558 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81135861
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 5 days

Ready for expansion or to bring out the city gardener in you! Adorable home on an almost 10,000 sf lot. Updated – Kitchen, bathroom, dual paned windows, hardwood floors, electrical panel, foam insulation. Schools, Farnham, Price, Branham. This county area to be annexed to Campbell. HAFA approved short sale-can close in 45 days! Open Sat 8/20 1-4pm. Don’t miss this opportunity. Offers 8/23.

imageI’m always captivated by homes with huge walls surrounding them (i.e. 183 Dillon, Campbell). It must be how they remind me of my very short stay in a Ghanaian prison during some unrest we had in the late 90s. I wasn’t mistreated in there but all the guys on my street were definitely fearful and we were surrounded by these humongous walls in prison.

Anyways, we visited 1125 Shamrock yesterday. There is a zero lot line in the rear of the house with a giant rear hotel wall (easily seen in pics) abutting the property.

The real estate agent recommended that we paint a mural (or graffiti?) on the hotel wall to pretty it up. I liked to imagine myself throwing a tennis ball against that wall all day long for my lab and waking up all the hotel guests. Who the hell would be getting a hotel room in that part of Campbell though?


imageRedfin picture #3 of the place has a ‘cat on a dresser’, which is almost as good as ‘dudes on a couch’. It was funny visiting the place because that dang cat was sitting in the exact same spot when we were there.

Right next to that cat (and cropped out of the picture) is a bookshelf full of scientology dvds+books. Black cat + Scientology material + foreboding wall = Mr. and Mrs. Adu high-tailing it out of there.

Too much bad ju-ju at that house for us…not to mention that the house is smaller than the Adus’ current apartment.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am