January 31, 2012

“Average Silicon Valley Tech Salary Passes $100,000”

Average Silicon Valley Tech Salary Passes $100,000

Average annual salaries for Silicon Valley technology workers surpassed the $100,000 mark last year, according to a new survey, pushed higher by the strength of the region’s latest boom.

Tech-jobs website operator Dice Holdings Inc. said salaries for software and other engineering professionals in California’s Silicon Valley rose 5.2% to an average $104,195 last year, outstripping the average 2% increase, to $81,327, in tech-workers’ salaries nationwide. It was the first time since Dice began the salary survey in 2001 that the wage barometer broke the $100,000 barrier, said Tom Silver, a Dice senior vice president.

Silicon Valley’s job-market strength has also had a halo effect on bonuses. Silicon Valley tech-worker bonuses jumped 13% last year to an average $12,450, versus an 8% increase to $8,769 nationwide, according to Dice. Meanwhile, hourly contractor rates in Silicon Valley rose 11% last year to an average $74 an hour, compared with $63 an hour nationally, said Dice.

Between this, and the impending Facebook IPO, I think I’m being conservative when I forecast that house prices in the Real Bay Area will go up 49.5% by the end of the year.

This is going to be intense!

And that’s for people who are here already! It’s simply amazing how much money is pouring into the Bay Area. I hear that many bags at SFO’s international baggage claim are overweight because they are stuffed with bales of RMB!

How much has your salary gone up this year so far? Are you getting weekly raises? Or just monthly ones?

Salary check!

Comments (39) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:06 am






January 30, 2012

Save 40% in Redwood City… Oops, too late!

Redwood City is always full of delightful surprises!  Today, Burbed reader Mole Man has one to share with all of you.  Unfortunately, it’s pending, but let’s enjoy it anyway.  Oh wait… they pulled the listing.  WTF?

1363 Gordon St
Redwood City, CA 94061
Sold on 4/21/2006 for $760,000

120126-gordon-redfin-nolisting

Fortunately, Burbed will stop at nothing to scour teh internets to find you photos, listing history, prices, anything we can, no matter how slimy the rock it’s under or how icky the bits in that old cache are.  Let’s see if we can come up with anything.

Ding! Ding! Ding!  Look what we found on Sawbuck!  Six photos and some listing lusciousness!

120126-gordon-sawbuck

Bedrooms : 2
Bathrooms : 1
Lot Size : 0.18 ac
Finished Sq Ft : 840 sq. ft.
Type : Detached Single Family
Year Built : 1946
Subdivision : Central Park Etc.
Stories : 1
MLS# : 81145133
WalkScore™ : 66 (Somewhat Walkable)

BANK-OWNED! Adorable starter home in move-in condition; hardwood floors throughout; updated bath; 6-car garage in the backyard perfect for car collectors. Hurry this won’t last! Sold AS IS! Bank of America Prequalification REQUIRED on all offers! Plus Proof of Funds! "Cash transactions are subject to special deed restrictions."

120126-gordon-kitchenHere’s why Mole Man thought this property belonged on the front page:

Check this redwood city gold mine out:

  • Sold for $760k in 2006
  • Now listed at $467,850
  • You save nearly 40%!

And don’t worry about the flood zone stuff– it’s been years since there was high water around there.

120126-gordon-garage-wtfUm… what flood zone stuff?  Is that why they pulled a pending listing?  And it looks like the price was cut some more, to $450,000, after Mole Man sent it in.  Somebody sure wanted a new house for the New Year, going into contract on December 30th.

Plus a six car garage?  Let’s say that again, an 840 square foot house with a SIX CAR GARAGE.  That means the garage is bigger than the house, as a two-car garage is 400 sf.

When I first saw this photo, I thought I was looking at a barn, and wondered where the riding tack was.

120126-gordon-bathAs you admire the rest of the photos (not available on most other sites!), remember, they really knew how to build them in 1946.  Look at those hardwood floors, and those hardwood floors!

And yet another Home Depot Bathroom Sink Special right up against the bathtub.  You can’t great design like this just anywhere.

Hurry, this won’t last.  That’s why it’s being sold as-is.

120126-gordon-emptyroom-2

120126-gordon-emptyroom-1

Any idea what the “special deed restrictions” might be for all-cash transactions?  At least they’re saying this place is Special.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

January 29, 2012

Oakland Tribune: SJ, SF are Special, East Bay Ain’t

This article won’t tell you anything you didn’t already know, but it’s interesting to see them admit it.  At least as far as the local economies go, things are much worse in the East Bay than in the SF or SJ Zones of Awesomeness.

South Bay expected to recover lost jobs by 2014; recovery slower in East Bay

By George Avalos, Oakland Tribune
Posted: 01/25/2012 05:48:06 PM PST, Updated: 01/25/2012 09:09:30 PM PST

The current economic boom will be robust enough for the South Bay to recover the jobs it lost during the recession by 2014 — but the East Bay and the San Francisco metro regions might need until at least 2015, the chief economist with the Bay Area Council Economic Institute said Wednesday.

“Every industry in the South Bay is growing except for construction and retail,” said Jon Haveman. “The East Bay is very much hurting, and it may continue to do so for a while.”

Haveman gave his divergent outlooks at a downtown Oakland conference sponsored by Torrey Pines Bank.

One big reason for the differing paces of recovery is that the East Bay tumbled into a much deeper economic abyss, an analysis of state Employment Development Department figures shows.

120126-oakland-fail

The article goes on to say that East Bay job growth during the oughties was fueled by the real estate boom: construction and the mortgage industry.  Alameda and Contra Costa Counties lost 105,000 jobs from peak employment in August, 2007.  Both San Francisco (defined as the City by the Bay plus Marin and San Mateo Counties) and the South Bay (undefined, but including at least Santa Clara County) lost much fewer jobs, which were each in turn a much smaller percentage of jobs lost.

And the conclusion of the article shows that the East Bay will be getting the trickle-down until they reinvent themselves as something other than manufacturing (gone), real estate (gone), or back-office space (still an option).

The best hope for an East Bay economic upswing may be to capture overflow tenants from its neighbors.

“Tech companies are filling spaces in the South Bay and rents are rising,” [director of a realty brokerage Edward] Del Beccaro said. “As office rents rise in San Francisco and Santa Clara County, you will see some companies migrate to the East Bay.”

120127-santana-row-win

Where do you see the job growth in the next few years?  Is President Gingrich going to have us all working on a Moon Colony Program?

 

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:13 am

January 28, 2012

FHFA Director Edward DeMarco: Please Resign Immediately

Today we have a guest post by Burbed reader Greg Fielding. This post is reblogged from his site, Bay Area Real Estate Trends, and appears here in its entirety. 

Now, I think this passionate piece on the Federal Housing Finance Agency is a great springboard for discussion, but it’s completely irrelevant to what’s going on in the Real Bay Area.  Unlike where Greg lives (hint: East is Least), It’s Special Here.  We don’t have to worry about underwater mortgages or massive foreclosure meltdown, but maybe some of you know some underprivileged people who don’t live in the RBA. 

Anyway, please give Greg a big, warm, RBA welcome!  And next time, Greg, don’t hold back.  Let everyone know how you really feel.


Dear Edward DeMarco,

Your position regarding principal reduction for underwater mortgages illustrates just how unfit you are to be running the FHFA. You argue against principal reductions, because it might cost “marginally” more than principal forbearance, yet you completely ignore all of the data suggesting that negative equity leads to strategic defaults and a potential death spiral for housing.

Home prices are still falling. Without principal reduction, more and more homeowners will make the financially-prudent decision to walk away. This epidemic can be slowed or even halted with bold action and leadership from people in positions like yours. More of the same simply isn’t going to cut it.

You are an impediment to the recovery of the housing market and our economy. Please submit your resignation, effective immediately, for the good of the Country.

Thank you,

Everyone in the world who is not currently invested in mortgage-backed securities

The head of the FHFA is either corrupt or a fool. Either way he is not the leader we need right now at that position.

The Wall Street Journal reports: DeMarco: Principal Write-Downs Expensive, Benefits Uncertain

Last week, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, sent lawmakers a detailed analysis of why cutting loan balances doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint, given the regulator’s mandate to “preserve and conserve” Fannie and Freddie’s assets.      […]

Edward DeMarco, acting director of the FHFA, argued that doing so would cause taxpayers to spend more money on the mortgage giants’ rescue than other foreclosure-prevention strategies. Fannie and Freddie have been propped up by taxpayer support for more than three years, a rescue that’s cost taxpayers about $151 billion

“Any money spent on this endeavor would ultimately come from taxpayers and given that our analysis does not indicate a preservation of assets for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac substantial enough to offset costs, an expenditure of this nature at this time would, in my judgment, require congressional action,” DeMarco wrote in the letter.

About 3 million borrowers with loans backed by Fannie and Freddie owed more on their homes than their properties were worth as of last summer. That’s about 10% of the loans they own or guarantee. A write-down of all 3 million of those mortgages would cost taxpayers $100 billion, Mr. DeMarco estimated.

Fannie and Freddie do offer forbearance plans, in which lenders don’t require any payments on a portion of the loan for up to 12 months. What they don’t offer is forgiveness, where that portion of the loan is wiped out.

Mr. Demarco, in his letter to lawmakers, said FHFA’s analysis concluded that “forbearance achieves marginally lower losses for the taxpayer than forgiveness, although both forgiveness and forbearance reduce the borrower’s payment to the same affordable level.”

DeMarco and the academic-econo-forecasters who put this study together have completely ignored the element of social mood. IF people increasingly feel like there is no hope, they will give up and strategically default. Their study assumes no increase in the total number of foreclosures. It’s as if they are expecting the world to stand still while their economic model runs it’s course in a vacuum.

[…] “Unless there is an expectation that principal forgiveness will reduce losses, we cannot justify the expense of investing in major systems upgrades,” he wrote.

[…] Fannie and Freddie would also risk giving up money if they reduced loan balances because they could no longer recover money from mortgage insurers, which cover some losses for borrowers who have a down payment of less than 20%.

What exactly are the expenses he can’t justify?

Let’s take a look at a chart from his letter. (click for a bigger view)

DeMarco argues that the taxpayers, who are paying for these losses, will save the money outlined above by offering principal forbearance instead of principal reductions. In the four scenarios they outline, these losses range from 5.5% to an actual gain of 1.15%.

Not only are these petty savings to begin with, but the data behind them assume that falling equity will NOT lead to more foreclosures. Even if falling equity only leads to a handful more foreclosures, those additional losses would offset any initial savings. Moreover, down in the trenches, a lot of underwater homeowners are holding out hope for a principal reduction. If they don’t get it, they will rationally stop paying. Edward DeMarco is out of touch with what’s happening at the street-level of the industry he oversees.

Consider Laurie Goodman’s analysis of the situation:

She figures that there will be about 10.4 million more foreclosed homes over the next 5-6 years. She assumes:

  • 90% of the existing non-performing loans will eventually end in foreclosure
  • 65% of the re-performing loans will end up in foreclosure (these are loans that have been modified).
  • 40% of loans with 120% or more LTV will default
  • 15% of loans with 100-120% LTV will default
  • 5% of loans with less than 100% LTV will eventually default

These numbers are based on performance of similar loans over the last few years. The frightening part is the side-note from the exhibit:

Assumes no change in overall housing prices, interest rates,
or new home construction

So, if 10 million more homes get lost to foreclosure in the coming years, it is reasonable to assume that the that additional distressed inventory would continue to drive home prices even lower. Which, would force adjustments to the 10 million figure, making it even worse.

And so on.

Laurie discusses this “death spiral:”

However, the (housing) overhang means that home prices, despite being very affordable, are likely to decline further. This may recreate the housing death spiral—as lower housing prices mean more borrowers become underwater. We have determined LTV is the single most important predictor of default. So more underwater borrowers means more defaults; more defaults means more inventory, more overhang, and even further declines in home prices. While home prices can go down another 5% without re-igniting this housing death spiral, a 10% decline would certainly re-ignite the spiral in our opinion.

This “death spiral” is the doomsday scenario that Ben Bernanke and crew are doing everything they can to avoid. But Case-Shiller home prices are already declining at a healthy clip – how far away is that “death spiral” really?

Time and time again, policymakers make decisions based on models that can never account for the mood on the street. Or, they know the mood and risks, but are completely corrupt. I’m not sure which camp DeMarco is in, but he is clearly not the leader we need at the FHFA to help get housing back on track.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:17 am

Your Weekend Moment of Zen. Or Zin.

bay_area_map

Click for a larger version.  This is an open thread.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:59 am

January 27, 2012

This house blue me away

What’s this, another find from the East Bay?  Yes, we’re back in El Cerrito, courtesy of Burbed reader Becca.  This may not be the Real Bay Area, but the house is definitely Burbed-worthy.  Read on to find out why.

1120 Lawrence Ct
El Cerrito, CA 94530
$405,900

120126-lawrence-redfin

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,992
$/SQ. FT.: $204
LOT SIZE: 4,200 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Contemporary, Fixer/Handyman Special
STORIES: 2
YEAR BUILT: 1969
COMMUNITY: El Cerrito
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40554395
SOURCE: EBRD
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 44 days

Submit all offers- seller wants this sold NOW!! Large home on quiet court. This home has lots of potential with great floor plan. Some finsh work and updating will really make this shine. Buyer responsible for all compliance issues- property sold "As-Is". $75 buyer doc fee at COE.

120126-lawrence-livroomHere’s why Becca thought this house was worth looking into:

I’ve been reading Burbed for a while, and I was happy to see that you featured something in my neck of the woods today.  If you care to show another house in El Cerrito, this one has some interesting attributes:

This one was listed earlier this spring for ~$600k, cash only, and the description of the house mentioned that it had been a "pot house".  I don’t know if the hideous blue color all over everything helps the plants grow faster.

No luck recovering a cached version of the one hit I got for this address and “pot house.”

120126-google-pothouse

120126-lawrence-backyardLooks like the back yard would suit just fine.  Although it’s what’s behind the back yard that made this place so well-suited for its former function.

Remember that house we just featured in San Mateo?  What’s a bug for a residence is a feature for a grow house! 

Feast your eyes on the satellite shot!  There’s no way this blue beauty is subject to any power outages!

120126-lawrence-satellite

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:51 am

Good news, bad news

Some good news! A lot of the missing content was restored! Hurray!

Some bad news! Everything posted since yesterday is gone.

Hopefully the site will be a lot more stable now though!

-Burbed

Comments (5) -- Posted by: burbed @ 2:21 am

January 26, 2012

Looking for photo submissions!

Do you have some photos that you feel truly represent the Bay Area housing scene, and would like to see them in the banner area?

Send them my way!

-Burbed

(Real Bay Area preferred. Thanks.)

Comments (5) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:55 am

A Beach House for Fantasy Fans

Recently we ran a rather unusual house that would make a great West Coast toehold for the White Castle burger chain.  Yes, it was an actual fracking CASTLE in the back of an otherwise normal home in Los Altos. Burbed reader Tracy is crazy for castles, and has been deploying the trebuchet to hurl several into the inbox.  Here’s another one if you can’t wait until April for Season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, this castle, like so many homes built on fantasies and empty treasure chests, was taken off-market.  So we’ll do our best to get the information to you, no matter how many real estate sites we have to scour to find it!

81 PUFFIN LN,
Watsonville, CA 95076
$1,795,000, delisted on 12/12/2011
Originally listed for $1,895,000

image

Beds: 6
Baths: 4
Sqft: 2,864
Lot: 9,146 sq ft / 0.21 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1971
Last sold: September 22 1999 for $353,500

Beautiful ocean views, convenient beach access, private parking front and rear, quality remodel, 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, custom home in Pajaro Dunes – Turnkey! Remodeled kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, roof, siding, windows, appliances. Pajaro Dunes is perhaps Northern California’s best kept secret! To live here or just to visit is an experience to be treasured. Come see for yourself!

imageWe’ve provided all 9 photos, because most of the other sites took them down when the listing got yanked.  Thank heavens for ZipRealty!  And we used Zillow to fill in all those missing pieces, like whether the castle actually had any rooms and was built after the Year 0.  Redfin provided the neighborhood plot layout at the bottom of this post.  Finally, this expired agent page provided the listing copy above.

The very first thing you’ll notice looking at the front of the house is that there isn’t any garage.  And that’s a good thing!  If you’re imagethe kind of person who wants to live in a castle, you don’t want any newfangled technology such as horseless carriages and wireless music using airwaves.  A six bedroom house means you can keep your own horn section to play flourishes when you enter each room.  And really, nobody should be waving except your courtiers.

So the plastic furniture really has to go.  Just set up some trestle tables and benches and you’ll be ready to serve up the wild boars.

imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

I tell you, it’s being able to build a castle out of a 1971 tract house that makes this country great, even if said castle would be more appropriate on its lonesome on ten acres in Inverness, rather than on a 9000 square foot lot right next to traditional beach homes.

image

America, F*** YEAH!  Although the tennis courts ought to be replaced with a jousting pavilion, and the flag with one from, say, 971.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

January 25, 2012

Yes the site looks funny…

Yeah, the site looks funny. I’m trying to rebuild it to improve performance. More changes to come!

-Burbed

Comments (9) -- Posted by: burbed @ 8:40 am