October 31, 2011

A Scary Neighborhood for Trick or Treating!

Happy Halloween!

Burbed reader Moxie Girl has a suggestion for you on where to look for Halloween Treats.  Or Tricks.  Or lots and lots of instant equity.  So please give Moxie Girl a big, warm Real Bay Area welcome for this Guest Column on a great new neighborhood for you to check out tonight!


imageI’ve been reading your blog for awhile, and find it horrifyingly (and refreshingly) informative. I currently rent in RBA Mountain View, also known as the 900-sq.-foot-house-on-the-weensiest lot-available-asking-price-$1M capital of California.

Anywhoo, I was tootling along minding my own business, and as I cast my keen eye over Redfin this morning, found this (see attachment) in Redwood City. Let me backtrack first and say that Redfin has been updating the mini neighborhoods in cities for those of us not in the know (Birdland Neighbors in Sunnyvale? Castro City in Mountain View? Sign me up!). And apparently Redwood City has a new neighborhood. Who knew?

image

image*Possible Contamination* is the new, hot, move-in mess you’ve been waiting for. Adjacent to Woodside Plaza and in sniffing distance of Alameda de las Pulgas (Street of the Fleas…perhaps this is linked to the contamination problem?), Possible Contamination is your dream destination: houses built in the 1960s with an asking price of $800K+, which are all basically tear downs just waiting to happen. Then you can spend another $500K building the house of your dreams while being hemmed in by average schools and weird neighbors. But hey, isn’t Redwood City’s motto “Climate Best by Government Test“?

I can only imagine that your other eagle-eyed Burbed readers will want to know and move to this neighborhood ASAP. Our own mini-me Chernobyl site! Does that make RWC a sister city to Alviso? Or would that be Three Mile Island?

p.s. This aberration is attributable only to Redfin’s site–if you check out RWC on Google maps, *Possible Contamination* is not there.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am






October 30, 2011

Updated: For Halloween Weekend, Here’s a Scary Treat for You from Burbed!

imageOoops, my bad.  It’s a trick.  It’s a trick!

You see, Forbes has their new list of the 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes out, and it’s time to see how much of the Real Bay Area (RBA) can Occupy The Forbes Zip List!  Since this series is a perennial Burbed favorite, we’re going to devote the next five hundred weekend posts to lovingly analyzing every single aspect of this new set of delicious demographic domicile data.

Today: The Top 50 Most Expensive Zip Codes

Hey wait, come back!  This is going to be really good!  We’re going to see which zip codes gained or lost ground since last year!  Maybe some of them get kicked out of the RBA for this!  This is a Burbed exclusive, too, Forbes didn’t bother doing any analysis of their own list changes.

imagePlus this year’s Forbes feature has the top 50 places show the most expensive house so we’ll link to each listing, plus what you can get for a mere million. That means nothing in the RBA except one crapshack in Los Gatos despite their featuring 20 different “expensive” zips.  Ha ha!  Our expensive zips are so Special we don’t let any stinking one million dollar properties in!

We also love to catch Forbes in mistakes, so if there’s something more expensive they missed, or if they otherwise screwed up like last year, we’ll be sure to let them know with as much obnoxious chortling good-natured ribbing as possible.  It’s going to be awesome!

Updated: And the TRICK is on Forbes for a Burbed Treat!   They have screwed up very, very badly.  Badly enough that I’m wondering if their (bad, really bad) mistakes made it to the print version of this feature.  If anyone has a copy, please let us know in comments.

I’ve grabbed the Days on Market (DOM) from the big table as Burbed readers Divasm and nomadic point out every single zip had a DOM of 200.  That’s highly unlikely.  Nice going, Forbes!  I can’t wait to see if your other numbers disagree too!  (Yes, they’re fvcked.)

I’m also putting a break in right after the first entry, because this article is not one of our shorter pieces.  And now, here they are!  Every Northern California entry in Forbes Top 50!

#2: Atherton 94027

  • Median Home Price: $4,295,000
  • Median Price Change: +7.1% ⇑
  • Average Days On Market: 200 162
  • Inventory: 162 41
  • Rank Last Year: #2 (no change)  Exclusive BURBED content, Not on Forbes!
  • Most Expensive Home: $20 Million (52 Tuscaloosa Avenue)

imageOh little town of Atherton
How high we see thee lie
Above thy rich and floodless ditch
You burst with equitie
Yet in they dark streets shineth
No mortgage meltdown mess
The hopes and quips of other zips
Are met in thy address

Oops, Tuscaloosa now listed for $18.9 million.  Sorry about that!  Are you Astonished?

Also I found this $24M home, listed a month ago.  Guess they missed it when putting their article together, since it ran a couple of weeks ago.  But Homes of the Rich found it too.

More after the break!  Much more!

(more…)

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

October 29, 2011

Chinese Property Bubble? Here’s how they’re making more land!

It’s Halloween Weekend, so we’ve got a couple of creepy pieces for you both days.  Today, another dispatch from Beijing, courtesy of The New York Times.

Harassment and Evictions Bedevil Even China’s Well-Off

By ANDREW JACOBS,
Published: October 27, 2011

Photo, right: Yan Lianke outside his house, to be demolished.  (Shiho Fukada for NYT)

BEIJING — It is a familiar tale of modern China with a sadly predictable denouement. A group of people wake up to find demolition notices affixed to their homes. After they reject the government’s compensation as too meager, a dark campaign of harassment ensues. The bulldozers arrive in the dead of night. Score another win for the boundless authority of the state.

But the struggle unfolding at Huaxiang World Famous Garden, a gated, suburban-style community on the exurban fringe of the capital, is not like a majority of redevelopment battles that each year lead to the forced eviction and dispossession of countless families.

image(Photo, left: A banner vows to sacrifice “our blood and lives” to save homes.  Shiho Fukada for NYT.)

The residents involved are by and large middle class and privileged — doctors, financiers, retired government bureaucrats — who thought they were immune to such capriciousness. Among their ranks is one of China’s most successful fiction writers, Yan Lianke, whose satirical novels about famine, AIDS and the cruelties of the Cultural Revolution plumb the suffering of ordinary Chinese.

Just as notable is that their subdivision is new, the oldest house no more than five years old. At least three of the homes were completed this year. The local district government, however, says the residences and their pampered gardens must give way to a road-widening project that was announced in July. Everyone was given just three weeks to leave.

This is what happens when the rule of law is a complete fiction.  Moneyed interests, working hand in glove with a powerful government, and even supposedly rich people end up losing their homes… to even richer people who want that well-situated land.

imageAren’t you glad we live in the United States?Instead of obnoxious sound trucks, nasty text messages, mysterious thugs and early morning bulldozers, we just have the banks forge some title documents and claim they own your house because some ginormous spreadsheet somewhere says they do.  And didn’t we have Alan Greenspan propose burning houses down as the low-cost strategy?

This is why the word “Occupy” combined with any geographic place name is now banned as a search term in China.

And if you think this is scary, just wait until you read tomorrow’s article. Meanwhile, this is an Open Thread.  What Open Houses are you visiting and what Tricks will you play there?

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

October 28, 2011

A San Mateo Dream (or maybe nightmare)

Thanks very much to Burbed reader sprezzatura for this San Mateo short sale.  Not only will it be selling shortly, but also often!

 

369 N CLAREMONT St #2, San Mateo, CA 94401
$279,000

image

BEDS: 2
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 1,237
$/SQ. FT.: $226
LOT SIZE: -
PROPERTY TYPE: Townhouse
YEAR BUILT: 1991
COMMUNITY: Eastern Addition/Downtown Area
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 80939018
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 781 days

Price right for a fast sale, ready to move in with great financing available including FHA or 100% financing. Closed to Shopping, schools and transportation.

Here’s what sprezzatura had to say about this, um, piece of property:

imageThis San Mateo short sale has gone pending 4 times and still never sold! Always a bridesmaid, poor condo.

The realtor has thoughtfully included photos of both bathrooms and what I assume is the living room, but nothing else. I suppose since the seller will be taking close to a 50% haircut since buying at top of the market, the realtor thought only photographing half the house was appropriate.

I think for only $279,000 we should be delighted to see three photos of the interior.  Yesterday we had a place for almost ten times as much with just a crappy shot of the outside.  It was pending, too.  That’s two quick pending in two days.  And 100% financing?  I tell you, the Bay Area real estate market is BACK!

image

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Comments (28) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 27, 2011

Los Gatos home with 45% negative equity, great for family and kids

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this rather intriguing high-price, low-photo listing in Los Gatos!

 

14880 LAS FLORES Ln, Los Gatos, CA 95032
$2,200,000

image

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 4
SQ. FT.: 4,428
$/SQ. FT.: $497
LOT SIZE: 1 Acre
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Mediterranean
STORIES: 2
VIEW: Mountains, Neighborhood
YEAR BUILT: 2003
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81141712
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 4 days

country location four bedrooms and four baths three car garage huge yard great for family and kids

Here’s why nomadic thought you’d like to see this house:

  • Weird history
  • $3.4M in loans
  • Short sale listed at $2.2M
  • Last “sold” in 2010 for $600k

Let’s have a look at that history.

image

What? No previous foreclosures?  No “not an arms-length transaction”? The seller isn’t a licensed real estate agent?  It wasn’t sold in 2006 for twice the asking price?  The Zillow history makes the above look a little stranger.  Note the July, 2010 sale.

image

And $3.4 million in loans on the house sounds like something straight from Irvine Housing Blog.  But here’s something you won’t see on IHB:

image

Yes, that’s this house in Google Streetview plus Burbed KawlumVision.  No wonder the place went pending in only 4 days.  I’m sure the bank will rush that offer right on through.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

October 26, 2011

Now THIS is an Undisclosed Location, Location, Location!

A while back we featured a trailer park house mobile home that a reader sent in.  Then the owner of said home appeared in comments and after a nasty free-for-all lively discussion, either the Owner or the Sender asked that the writeup be removed

Well guess what? We’ve got another place from the Exact Same Trailer Mobile Home Park, and it’s even more Burbed-worthy!  Thanks very much for Burbed reader SEA for alerting us to this opportunity.

 

2151 Oakland Rd #301, San Jose, CA 95131
$109,900

image

BEDS:3
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 1,440
$/SQ. FT.: $76
LOT SIZE: –
PROPERTY TYPE: Mobile Home (Double Wide)
YEAR BUILT: 2008
COMMUNITY: Berryessa
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81134644
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 63 days

Beautiful 3bed/2ba 2008 Champion Model. Living room has pergo & towner dormer with skylight. Family room has wire for phone and cable. .Eat-In kitchen has a refrigerator, dishwasher & skylight. Guest bed has ceiling fan with light and carpet. Guest bath has tub & shower & linoleum. Master bed has walk in closet and wire for cable. Master bath has separate tub & shower. Space rent $825.01.

imageWe’re still disappointed that the other doublewide got taken down, but this one is so much better, and only a few thousand more!  It’s much newer, built in 2008.  But the awesomeness is just beginning! 

Buy this container house and nobody will have any idea where you live.  Yeah, the original Casa del Lago doublewide was purported as “Live at an Undisclosed Address,” but there were directions to find the place in the MLS detail.

imageNot here!  Not only do we have no idea what street this is on, the agent won’t even show us what the outside looks like!  There’s no way you’re going to find this place short of taking a tour of every single metal box luxurious manufactured home in the park until you find this interior paint job!  With every single room painted a different color so you’ll never get lost, it’s all ready for you to start a preschool in here! Ka-ching!

Plus all the delights of Casa del Lago, including rapacious, bloodsucking landlords enthusiastic on-site management ready to assist your move in with a sixty-page rental agreement you won’t be able to take off the premises after you close on the place.

image image

imageimage

imageimage

What are you waiting for?  This one won’t last long!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 25, 2011

A Tour de Force? This is at least a Tour de Sixce

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Overheard in San Carlos for this find nowhere near San Carlos.  Even though this was sent in a couple of months ago, it’s still on the market.  If you read Saturday’s piece on Astonishing Homes, that fact won’t astonish you in the least.

If you’re asking yourself why it took a couple of months to run this listing, then you’ll realize there are many great submissions to choose from.  At some point we many need to start running houses on weekends, which would be a terrible shame.  That would mean no more zip code articles, ever again, and they were such a reader favorite!

So, on to today’s featured home in Los Altos Hills!

 

11580 OLD RANCH Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94024
$6,850,000

image

 

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 5
SQ. FT.: 7,825
$/SQ. FT.: $875
LOT SIZE: 1 Acre
PROPERTY TYPE: Attached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
STORIES: 2
VIEW: Green Belt, Neighborhood
YEAR BUILT: 2010
COMMUNITY: Los Altos Hills
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81134148
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 79 days

Serenity, Privacy, Seclusion. This Komo Construction Contemporary masterpiece provides an incredibly spacious floor plan of approx. 7,825 sq. ft. plus approx. 1024 sq. ft. bonus room, up to 25 ft. soaring ceilings. The lush resort style backyard, complete with infinity pool and relaxing spa, is perfect for entertaining and quiet enjoyment.

Masterpiece, spacious floor plan, soaring ceilings, lush resort, perfect for entertaining, quiet enjoyment. That’s about five too many real estate clichés for one listing, and we haven’t even gotten to the title they’ve given the virtual tour: “A Tour de Force of Contemporary Design.”

I hope you know what “Contemporary Design” means.  That’s right.  NO MAWBUL KAWLUMS.  It also means “This place is perfect for Unhappy Hipsters captions.”  Here’s a couple of my suggestions.

image

The captive dwarf cypress glared at the locked cell door while the bench covers continued their mockery.

image

The fern reported every door barred on the second floor, while the electrified fence prevented a leap to the possibility of freedom below.

Many more pictures await you, so have at it!  Meanwhile, watch the seller try to explain the asking price with that ZEstimate of $2.4 million.  Then it’s a Tour de Twoce.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

October 24, 2011

Please show with extreme caution

We’ve spent far too long with overpriced real estate in Google’s back yard.

Let’s return to the other City By the Bay (San Pablo Bay), and see what bargains are to be had in Vallejo real estate.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Scott for sending in today’s featured house.

 

1115 Lewis Ave, Vallejo, CA 94591
$11,500

image

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 1,860
$/SQ. FT.: $6
LOT SIZE: 0.28 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Residential, Detached, Single Family
STORIES: 1
YEAR BUILT: 1959
COMMUNITY: Vallejo
COUNTY: Solano
MLS#: 21127170
SOURCE: BAREIS
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 5 days

This property has been partially burned and is not habitable. No roof, electrical or plumbing. Please show with extreme caution.

imageIf you haven’t already read Michael Lewis’ “California and Bust,” on how our state and municipal budgets are doing in today’s economy, I strongly recommend it to you.  He closes his look at Golden State finances with a look at the bankrupt city of Vallejo.  To say city services have been cut would be like describing strip-mining as thinning.  In his meeting with City Manager Phil Batchelor, Lewis mentions there is one other employee; when she takes a break she has to lock up the entire office because nobody else is there.

“Do you know that some cities actually pave their streets?” says Batchelor. “That’s not here.”

Maybe that explains why, if the value is in the quarter acre of land, that the value barely heads into five figures.  At these fire sale prices, you can rebuild or scrape it down!  Heck, you can rebuild AND scrape it down, then build something else! So many possibilities!

imageimage

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

October 23, 2011

Prop 13: Insidious Budget Cancer or Fiscal Terrorist Threat?

Well, that certainly got your attention.  I’d like to direct you to an excellent, dare I say seminal piece of reporting on the elephant in the California real estate room: Proposition 13.  I’ll quote a few grafs here, but I really would like you to read the entire piece.

California Diminished by 1978 Tax Revolt Shows U.S. in Decline

By Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg/Businessweek
October 17, 2011, 12:23 AM EDT

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — California voters approved Proposition 13 to rein in property taxes that had doubled in 10 years. More than three decades later, that rebellion has mortgaged the state’s future, saddling it with the nation’s highest debt and lowest credit rating.

The measure led to reductions that dropped per-student school spending from seventh to 29th nationally, prompted cities to pursue sprawling retail development to compensate for lost revenue, and pushed the state into budget gridlock, including a $705 million revenue shortfall announced Oct. 10, by requiring two-thirds approval for any tax increase.

“Proposition 13 set up an unfair and dysfunctional two- tiered system of property taxes,” said Kevin Starr, a history professor at the University of Southern California and the author of a series of books on the state. “It choked off a source of revenue, and the lack of that revenue has brought California to the edge.”

The measure, approved in 1978, was the inspiration for an antitax movement that has taken hold of the public discourse in Washington and in state legislatures throughout the country. It caps real estate levies at 1 percent of a property’s most-recent sale price. Before it passed, local governments could raise revenue as they saw fit.

imageHere’s a few more colorful quotes from this story:

  • “You couldn’t invent a crazier system,” [Santa Clara County Assessor Larry] Stone said in a telephone interview.
  • “It’s had a profound impact on multiple levels,” said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan research group in Sacramento. “The one that’s underestimated is the shift in decision-making from the local level to the state. All of our public systems have been affected by our seemingly perpetual budget crises.”
  • “Prop. 13 has had the unintended effect of favoring commercial property owners at the expense of homeowners,” [Los Angeles Mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa said Aug. 16 at the Sacramento Press Club. “Let’s apply Prop. 13’s protections to homeowners and homeowners alone.”
  • “This is a nightmare,” said Mohammad Islam, San Bernardino’s assistant superintendent who has worked in school finance for 22 years. “It’s impossible what the state is doing to us.”

Yet despite all California’s budget woes (as described by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair), there is no organized movement toward either doing away with, or even modifying Proposition 13 to a homeowners-only tax adjustment.  While presented as a way to keep senior citizens from losing their homes to skyrocketing property taxes, Prop 13 has become a windfall for commercial and corporate property owners instead.

imageMeanwhile, California’s public school system has declined from seventh in per-pupil spending to 29th according to this article. If you go by this NEA report, it’s 36th. According to this article from KQED, it’s 42nd.  Or 43rd.  Or 46th.  More importantly, education quality has dropped as well.  California ranks 46th of 51 (50 states plus District of Columbia) on test scores in 2003.  This more recent ranking had California come in 30th (but this appears to be a different series of grades).

That NEA report said we’re #3 in prison spending per capita, though!  Woot!

Now, if you don’t think an educated citizenry is an important goal, then you can tell me to shut up already about school funding.  But I suspect most knowledge workers (such as Silicon Valley engineers or San Francisco creative class members) would want our schools to return to their previous high quality, and that means starving them is not in our interest.

image

Let’s hear from someone else who doesn’t agree with that.  Furthermore, this is someone who writes a San Francisco real estate blog.  Here is his complete takedown of that 2600 word Bloomberg piece.  Ready?

Prop 13 Isn’t Squeezing Anything

Bill Quick, San Francisco Real Estate Blog

The political big spenders absolutely hate Prop 13, because it cut off their unlimited access to the piggy bank of private property taxation.

The truth is, our spending on essentials like education, public safety, and other bottom-line items is not being constricted by Prop 13. It is being choked off by the propensity of governments at both the local and state levels to spend money on tens of thousands of pet projects and pet constituencies, rather than paying for services that voters feel are the most basic. We’re not broke because our state “salary” (taxes) is too low, it’s because we spend way too much on non-essential fripperies.

Wow, I’m speechless from that relentless chain of brilliant logic!  And to be fair, when I called Quick on his heavy use of facts and supporting evidence, he did respond with this:

imageEnjoyed your sarcasm! I’ll be looking forward to your piece supporting runaway property taxes and booting retired boomers into the street, too. Of course, California’s housing economy is in such great shape that property tax hikes should be just the ticket for rocketing us to even greater heights!

Right.  Because interest rates and inflation are exactly the same as they were in 1978, and property tax assessments are rising faster than college costs.  Then there’s this:

Here’s a bunch of stats on California’s tax and business climate. Short takeaway: We’re in awful shape, with one of the highest overall tax burdens in America.

imageThe bunch of stats are from the Tax Foundation, so I looked into just who they are and what their real motives are.  They’re funded by high-minded humanitarians such as the Koch Foundation (as in Koch Brothers) and ExxonMobil. They obviously have your interests in mind rather than those grabby one percenters!  Would you expect anything less from a group founded by the CEOs of General Motors and Standard Oil other than whether grannies are getting taxed out of their Cayman Island Corporations and have to bunk in their Swiss bank deposits?

Paul Krugman (a know-nothing economist who won a stupid Nobel) accused this group of committing “deliberate fraud” in their evaluation of Obama’s jobs proposal.  This isn’t the first time he’s questioned their methodology, either. But let’s drink to “the tax is too damned high” Kool-aid that the Tax Foundation is pouring.

It’s a lot cheaper than actually fixing things.

Comments (64) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 22, 2011

Silicon Valley Luxury Real Estate’s Most Astonishing Webpage Ever

I read a lot of real estate sites in order to bring you Burbed-worthy features.  Recently, I found an agent’s special “Astonishing Homes” page that looked absolutely scrumptious.  Plenty of seven and even eight-figure high-end properties on acres of land with great schools.

Now I know absolutely nothing about this particular agent, but all these homes were on MLS. Member agents can detail any MLS listings in their region, and Sophia Delacotte put together a webpage with nicer luxury properties for people to get some real estate pr0n action.  But something was amiss when I took a closer look at the actual listings.

image

With ten different houses, that’s ten front facades and ten sets of details.  I have all that waiting for you inside, but before you join me, make your prediction how many of these ten estate properties:

  • Sold (pending within 7 days)
  • Sold (pending within 30 days)
  • Sold in a longer timeframe
  • Are still active on MLS
  • Had their listing withdrawn
  • Had a price reduction at some point

For “bunus” yucks, guess how many of these ten estate homes have marble columns.

Got your guesses ready?  Good.  Now, let’s see these Astonishing Homes and find out if you’re as Astonished as I was.

(more…)

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am