April 10, 2012

You’ll appreciate the lower cost Santa Clara-owned utilities

Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer week continues, now featuring this fine find in superb Santa Clara! Who needs to drive all the way to San Francisco for overpriced property when you can do that in your own backyard?  But it’s hot, hot, HOT in the Valley too!  This is place not only went pending in five days, the listing photos were yanked down everywhere I looked.

Thank Woz for Movoto!

3086 Arthur Ct
Santa Clara, CA 95051 


Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Size: 1,104 sqft
Type: Single Family House
Year Built: 1954
Lot Size: 5,148
Days on Movoto: 14 days
Neighborhood: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81210711
Status: Off Market
Views: 58

This contemporary-style hm on a cul-de-sac has ample natural lighting w/many windows&skylights*warm wood ceilings in the living rm&kitchen add to the ambiance*fully fencedyard(incl front)offers privacy&outdoor areas to use*you’ll appreciate the lower cost Santa Clara-owned utilities & award-winning Cupertino schools*convenient location for freeways,shopping&parks*Shows nicely too!

120405-arthur-livingroomPoor Movoto.  Seems all they’re good for is for finding expired listings that everyone else dutifully removed when asked.  Burbed readers send in links to housing finds using Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, ZipRealty, even Realtor.com. 

It’s been a long, long time since a contribution linked to Movoto, and they once were the Official Burbed Listing Link.  Does anyone use them? This poor house only had 58 views, and 54 of them were probably from our putting today’s feature together.

Anyway, the listing copy demonstrates the usual proof that real estate agents are highly-esteemed professionals.  And while you’re trying to decipher that copy, enjoy these photos, after the break.  Someone associated with this house may be asking Movoto to take them down real soon now.


Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

April 9, 2012

A perfect pied-a-terre, if you only stand on one foot

San Francisco continues to be hot hot HOT, with just about everything getting offers no matter what the problem may be.  That’s bad news for buyers but great news for Burbed readers.  Agents will put anything on the MLS figuring they can sell it!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for this find in the Civic Center area!  In fact, we’d like to thank Petsmart Groomer so much for so many quality submissions. With the official opening of the Spring Selling Season, this is going to be Petsmart Groomer WEEK.

83 McAllister St #305
San Francisco, CA 94102


SQ. FT.: 252
$/SQ. FT.: $853
HOA DUES: $285/month
PROPERTY TYPE: Condominium, Studio
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: City Lights
COMMUNITY: Van Ness/Civic Center
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 393741
SOURCE: San Francisco MLS
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 52 days

A beautifully restored landmark in the heart of the City’s evolving cultural, arts & entertainment district; built in 1908 & completely remodeled in 2006, The Book Concern Bldg blends classic architecture w/ contemporary loft-style living, featuring anopen interior, artful decor & high ceilings. This corner unit boasts lg windows, fantastic urban outlooks, hdwd flooring, Murphy Bed & stainless steel counter & sink. Laundry facility & fitness center in bldg. Secured bldg w/ electronic access to entry & elevator. Perfect pied-a-terre in the city! Enjoy city living just a few blocks from Union Square, transportation & world-class restaurants & shopping all at your fingertips!

120405-mcallister-bigroomLet’s review some of this listing copy, shall we?

in the heart of the City’s evolving cultural, arts & entertainment district:

The key word here is “evolving,” which means in the realtard’s wildest dreams, this building fronts onto Union Square or the Opera House, but in reality it’s much closer to the stripper bars.

120405-mcallister-sinkbuilt in 1908 & complete remodeled in 2006

This is an overly creative use of the “YEAR BUILT” field in MLS.  And by “overly creative” I actually mean “pants on fire.”

blends classic architecture w/contemporary loft-style living

Really old building with high ceilings and even higher prices

120405-mcallister-windowanopen interior, artful décor & high ceilings

You thought I was joking about the high ceilings?  They just mean it will cost you a fortune to heat or cool the place.

This corner unit

Traffic from TWO different streets!

boasts lg windows, fantastic urban outlooks,

This is the neighborhood for urban outlooks.  Panhandlers, hookers, pimps, drunken bar hoppers, it’s all here!

120405-mcallister-bathroomhdwd flooring, Murphy Bed & stainless steel counter & sink.

Be the star of your own zany movie!

Secured bldg w/ electronic access to entry & elevator.

It’s got locks and a keycard.

Perfect pied-a-terre in the city!

All 252 square feet!  It sure isn’t a pieds-a-terre!

120405-mcallister-fakeskyEnjoy city living just a few blocks from Union Square,

A few very important blocks.

transportation & world-class restaurants

If you can walk there safely at night, because the cabs won’t stop here.

& shopping all at your fingertips!

If you have an internet connection, you have shopping all at your fingertips, but don’t let that rain on the Market Street Parade you’re facing in the wrong direction to see from this tiny studio.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

April 8, 2012

Lights Out for Los Gatos Painter Thomas Kinkade

Here’s something to deepen your observation of Easter.  While devout Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today, this man’s passing on Good Friday leads to a kind of different kind of immortality, and we are not talking about paintings.

Thomas Kinkade, one of nation’s most popular painters, dies suddenly in Los Gatos at 54

120407-kinkade-2002By Mike Rosenberg, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:  04/06/2012 06:43:30 PM PDT; Updated:  04/07/2012 03:41:26 AM PDT

Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54.

His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.

“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,” his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”

120407-kinkade-tasteHis paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand — famed for their painted highlights — not commonly seen in the art world.

“I’m a warrior for light,” Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. “With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel.”


Now, if you want to instead refer to the Los Gatos Patch (an AOL-owned series of hyperlocal blogs), Kinkade actually died in Monte Sereno, while with his live-in girlfriend, as he had been estranged from his wife for two years.  That would explain why his family was in Australia at the time of his death.  Kincade’s passing is indeed relevant to the Real Bay Area, since he lived in Los Gatos.  Or Monte Sereno, depending on which reported version you prefer.  But this scan of the firefighters’ frequency shows an engine was dispatched to 16342 Ridgecrest Ave, due to a 54 year old male “drinking all night, not moving.”  That address is owned by someone named Kinkade, and also had an “under influence of drugs/alcohol” arrest there last year.  The address is missing from most property databases, though, including the Recorder’s Office.

120407-kinkade-vallejo-village-at-hiddenbrookeKinkade certainly has his staunch supporters and determined detractors.  This Mercury News article generated 150 comments in just a few hours and had more than 250 by the following afternoon.  Most Merc articles draw under 20 comments.  The NY Times obituary generated an even more derisive stream of criticism, while the Washington Post put the negative commentary in the article itself.  The daddy of all Kinkade-dissing news items has to go to this 2006 Los Angeles Times piece, though.

But there’s an aspect of Thomas Kinkade that had managed to elude us all this time.  It turns out that his kitschy paintings of cottages in the woods inspired multiple housing developments.

That’s right, for the fan who isn’t content with buying a snowglobe or a throw rug, there were plans for actual tract houses trying to look like his paintings.    And one of the first such developments, the Village at Hiddenbrooke, was built in Vallejo right as dot.com went dot.bomb in 2001.  4259 Andover, The Villages at HiddenbrookeThe homes were 1800-2600 square feet on 4000 square foot lots.  The large photo above is interior décor from one of those model homes.  Most of the links to the builder and the development in the Salon article are now defunct.

It’s not easy figuring out which streets in Hiddenbrooke are part of The Village.  And given that the builder was London-based, that’s a particularly interesting name for a community accused of being somewhat, um, ersatz.  Here’s a home that sold last year, and do check out its history, because it sold for less in 2011 than when it was sold new nine years beforehand.  You can check out the neighborhood on Redfin but nothing seems to be for sale there now.

However, Kinkade did not stop with just the one housing development in Vallejo.

Architect Rann Haight, left, financier Roger Stewart, center, and builder Steve Torres have signed a deal to build luxury homes that will be based on the Thomas Kinkade paintings on the table in front of them in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, April 21, 2006. The luxury homes, to be built around Lake Coeur d'Alene, will cost $4 million to $6 million. (AP Photo/SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, Jesse Tinsley)The photo at right shows the team planning for five Kinkade-inspired $4 to $6 million luxury homes around Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho named The Gates of Coeur d’Alene.  This project was launched in (of course) 2006, at the height of bubblicious housing insanity.

Plans for 100 homes based on the cottage paintings were being developed later that winter for a project in Columbia, Missouri called The Gates at Old Hawthorne.  Prices were expected to come in at $500,000 to $1 million.  It’s not clear if any of these plans came to fruition, as the builder’s website no longer seems to exist.  This 2007 article reflects the typical attitude of housing boosters, acknowledging the slowdown but insisting that It’s Special Here and full steam ahead for the Kinkade development:

120407-kinkade--missouriThe homes are being built at a time when the U.S. home market is declining. However, Columbia and Boone County have been able to avoid the national trend. The median price for new single-family homes in Boone County has steadily increased, going from around $136,000 in May 2003 to a little over $188,000 in May of this year. And while the price of new homes is rising, the number of homes being built has decreased from 79 single-family units in May 2003 to 52 this May.

“In general, our home market is good, (but) it’s not as good as last year’s,” said Brent Jones, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors. According to Jones, the present home market is a buyer’s market. The effects of the market are even more apparent in the sale of high-end houses, like the Kinkade homes. […]

“News stories give the idea that the market is homogenous,” Jones said. He cited cities that have experienced extreme home appreciation, and are now experiencing just as extreme depreciation. The Columbia market is relatively stable and hasn’t had the appreciation that other markets have experienced, .

However, market fluctuations are not a concern for HST.

“One of the reasons we came to Columbia is because Columbia’s economy is so strong,” Stewart said. Sales of the Kinkade houses are surpassing the inventory, Stewart added.

120407-kinkade-empty-caveThere is no evidence that either of these Kinkade-inspired home developments were ever built.  Most references to them are from 2006, when everyone was drunk on Kool-aid.  Here’s an application for an alternative use for the Missouri land, which suggests nothing was ever built from the Kinkade project.  The Gates of Old Hawthorne website is gone, and here are some empty lots for sale from that project.

Just like the empty cave in today’s Holiday Story.

Have yourselves a Happy Easter, and remember: This means Spring Bounce has begun!

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

April 7, 2012

Foreclosures, Ho!

Americans brace for next foreclosure wave

120405-foreclosure-waco-belongingsBy Nick Carey, Reuters
GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio | Wed Apr 4, 2012 7:09pm EDT

(Reuters) – Half a decade into the deepest U.S. housing crisis since the 1930s, many Americans are hoping the crisis is finally nearing its end. House sales are picking up across most of the country, the plunge in prices is slowing and attempts by lenders to claim back properties from struggling borrowers dropped by more than a third in 2011, hitting a four-year low.

120405-foreclosure-fullerton-evictBut a painful part two of the slump looks set to unfold: Many more U.S. homeowners face the prospect of losing their homes this year as banks pick up the pace of foreclosures.

"We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010," said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.

"Last year was an anomaly, and not in a good way," he said.

In 2011, the "robo-signing" scandal, in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly reviewing individual cases, prompted banks to hold back on new foreclosures pending a settlement.

120405-foreclosure-ny-busBut nobody in the Real Bay Area got foreclosed on, right?  This is what happens in flyover states.  And flyover cities, like, um, San Jose.

And while nobody would mistake the Bay Area for the troubled city of Stockton (where home values are not expected to hit 2006 values again until the year 2030), the resumption of the Foreclosure Express by many banks will be leading to more short sales and bank-owned properties.

Blame it on the settlement that 49 states made with the major banks.  Now that the process is no longer under so much uncertainty, foreclosures that have been put on hold will resume.  And this time around, the lucky participants won’t be brought in courtesy of high-interest, no-down subprime loans.  Plain old unemployment will be the cause of most of the unpaid mortgages.

Zillow is projecting all kinds of gloom and doom because of this, including a housing market that won’t hit bottom until next year, and stay on the bottom until 2016. 

"The hangover from this crisis will far outlast the party of the boom years," said Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries.

Share your predictions on how this economic tragedy that could evict millions of homeowners will affect the Real Bay Area.  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

April 6, 2012

Holy Toledo in San Francisco

We’ve been spending too much time in the Valley.  Today’s photopalooza is courtesy of Burbed reader Kevin.  And Kevin’s writeup, coupled with the amazing pictures of this thousand a foot Marina manse, are all that’s needed for a give-it-up Guest Post.

Please give Kevin a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome as today’s Guest Blogger!

73 Toledo Way
San Francisco, CA 94123


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,842
$/SQ. FT.: $1,004
PROPERTY TYPE: Attached, Full, Modified, Single-Family Home
STYLE: Spanish/Mediterranean
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 392612
SOURCE: San Francisco MLS
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 86 days

Great Neighborhood and wonderful home. Close to transportation, shopping, schools, and more. House has been well taken care of. One Block from Chestnut, Completely remodeled from previous owner with Seismic Upgrades, Quality Workmanship Throught, Custom Light Fixtures, Hardwood Floors, Fireplace, Custom Kitchen Cabinets/Stainless Steel Appliances, Granite-Marble-Stone Used throught Kitchen & Bathrooms, Laundry Room, Deck & Patio, Mature Landscapping, LARGE 3 CAR Tandem Parking & Stroage Area, Alarm System, Expansion potential in garage area, and more. Seller reserves the right to refuse any and all offers. Please confirm and verify all information stated in listing. The information provided is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

In the category of “bad real estate listing photos”, I’d like to nominate this one:

The photos are pretty priceless:


1.  two front views looking directly into the sun (perhaps to hide how ugly it is from the curb?)


2.  a kitchen photo with as little light as possible.


3.  several of the photos were not rotated 90 degrees.  Classy.


4.  laundry stacked on the washer/dryer.


5.  kitchen counter top stacked high with food.


6.  last but certainly not least, photos of *both* bathrooms have a plunger standing next to the toilet. In case the buyer had any doubts about the plumbing I guess.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

April 5, 2012

Updated: 3 level executive estate in midtown Palo Alto in a cul-de-sac

It’s been far too long since we’ve heard from Burbed reader dollarbin.  Let’s check in with this palace in Palo Alto!

Palo Alto, CA 94303


SQ. FT.: 5,255
$/SQ. FT.: $618
LOT SIZE: 8,712 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81146955
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 147 days

Elegant newly constructed (2010)3 level executive estate in midtown Palo Alto in a cul-de-sac * One of a kind quality & workmanship with mahogany paneling & hand carved custom doors * Gourmet kitchen with S/S appliances, granite counters, custom cherry cabinets & a breakfast bar * Brazilian teak flooring & imported marble floors throughout * Includes library, exercise & media rooms.

120403-randers-crapperHere’s what dollarbin had to say, when passing this parcel along:

Anybody send you this one yet?

Who says Palo Alto is free of McMansions? I had given up the dream of spending less than $700/sq ft in Palo Alto, but this Spec House PA-lightup-signmisadventure proves it saves to buy in bulk. Plus it has a totally classy fountain burbling in the front yard.

This listing caught my eye because I noticed they have a flyer sign out on Colorado Ave that actually lights up at night, so I looked up the Redfin knowing it would be full of win.

Wait… spec house misadventure?  How can anyone have a misadventure when they’ve lit your way there?  Although the price history may tell us a thing or two.


120405-randers-columns-addedAnd here we thought the misadventure was the .60 FAR or the 11 HDR.  So let’s help this poor spec house.  What is keeping it from generating dozens of overbids?

Bunus: Mawbul kawlums are rectangular!  Break out the red arrows!

Update 10:41 am: Two more kawlums lurking on the right of this picture, noted by Burbed reader SEA.  Mawr red arrows, please!

Comments (44) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

April 4, 2012

Post-modern style meets post-modern price in Los Gatos

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for finding this luscious living situation in Los Gatos, one of Silicon Valley’s few celebrity domiciles!

Los Gatos, CA 95032


BATHS: 6.5
SQ. FT.: 7,500
$/SQ. FT.: $667
LOT SIZE: 1.19 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Modern/High Tech, Contemporary
VIEW: Canyon, Valley
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81207180
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 38 days

This exquisite 7500 sq/ft, 6 bedroom, 6.5 bath home on 1.19 acres nestled in the Los Gatos Mountains, combines post-modern style with majestic natural views. It is a natural abode for light and warmth. Recently re-designed and renovated, this home was originally built by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc. and retains several of his most unique design elements.

120402-santarosa-loudcolorsHere’s why nomadic sent us this natural abode for light and warmth:

The former Wozniak house.  Featured on burbed many moons ago, and now listed for $5M.  Look at its history.

We don’t have anywhere as many celebrities in Silicon Valley, but Woz is one of the few that we ought to look into a house he had built.  So let’s have a look at how this house was marketed back in the early end of the bubble days of 2008, right after the break!


Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 3, 2012

Palo Alto duplex home is 2 units $1950 each or maybe $1500

Real estate is a great investment that can pay you to live in your house.  That is, it pays you to live in your house if you rent some of it out.  Here’s an investment opportunity too good to miss from Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer.

3799 PARK Blvd
Palo Alto, CA 94306


SQ. FT.: 2,236
$/SQ. FT.: $514
LOT SIZE: 6,930 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81207935
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 30 days

Duplex home set up as a two separate units of 1,100sq feet each rents for $1,950. 1 level is a 2 bedrooms/2 baths and the other unit is a 1 bedroom/1 bath rents for $1,500 on a month to month. 1 car garage is rented for $100 a month. Home can be shown by appt only every TuesdayRight fence to be fixed before close of escrow.

imageThe market is hot, hot, HOT here at Ground Zero of the Google-Facebook Nexus.  I don’t understand why this one hasn’t been snatched up yet.

Any ideas why some dot.com entrepreneur hasn’t moved into one unit, rented out the other, did some internets magic in this amazing Garage, and raked in the Profit?

Is it because the listing copy has even Redfin too befuddled to compute a rent ratio?

If we just add up all the dollar amounts mentioned above, we get $1149000 / ($1950 + $1500 + $100) * 12 = 26.97.  That ratio would say “RENT!” anywhere but in Palo Alto.  Here, just getting the privilege to bid on a neglected rental property in a dynamic neighborhood right on the cusp of High Speed Rail is such an honor, the agent won’t show you the inside.  Even though today is Tuesday.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

April 2, 2012

Double payne windows in Sunnyvale

Here’s the very last house on a very long list of quality finds, thanks to Burbed reader sonarrat.

Sunnyvale, CA 94086


SQ. FT.: 1,078
$/SQ. FT.: $509
LOT SIZE: 5,661 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81200122
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 89 days

Remodeled Kitchen and Bath a few years ago and still looks new, large back yard. Double payne windows. Central Heat and air conditioning. Concrete patio, big back yard. Walk to Ellis Elementary school. Room to expand drive way for 2 car off street parking. Even though this is on Fairoaks the back of the homes where the bedrooms are is very quite so you can sleep in easily.

120401-fairoaks-tableIs this supposed to be the dining room, right next to the front door?  Now that’s innovation, which is practically Silicon Valley’s middle name!

What sort of lens would get that stretched-out effect on the front door while making the table look like it’s all the way in Santa Clara?

Have a look at some of the other photos of this house and see if you notice how space and time have completely taken leave of their senses.


Remember, this is house is barely over a thousand square feet, but you can store an unlimited amount of potential here!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

April 1, 2012

New Directions: A Serious Post

While Burbed remains a highly valued and award-winning website, our readership levels have been dropping even faster than home prices in places outside the Real Bay Area.  Clearly it’s time to take some serious stock of what this site is for, what it’s trying to do, and whether to set some new goals.

120331-red-flagThe Problem: Burbed was created to show the insanely high housing prices for insanely poor quality homes in the Bay Area.  Today, as long as you’re not looking too close to Google, Facebook, or whatever neighborhood in San Francisco is trendy this week, you can find nicer properties at some of the most affordable prices since the 20th century ended.   Meeting our mission is difficult and increasingly irrelevant.

120331-green-checkThe Solution: People want guidance on how to buy or sell a home without any game playing.  What few readers we have left have learned to be wary of agents, but trust us completely.  Therefore, effective immediately, Burbed will stop pointing and laughing at badly marketed homes, when we could make a lot more money buying and selling them.

120331-univ-sonarThat’s right.  We are now, starting today, Open for Your Business!  That means we won’t be bad-mouthing real estate professionals, showing homes with poorly-maintained property or messy rooms, or cracking wise on unrealistic asking 120331-stjoseph-homesaleprices.  And in the current real estate market, the sky is the limit on asking prices, so who are we to object?

List your home with us and we’ll get it out to the customers who would otherwise never read real estate ads.  Hire our team of informed and lively agents to find you the perfect place to live in, while entertaining you during the drive from one house to another.  (Some of them even own vehicles with room for more than one other rider!)

120331-dranoPlease patronize all our brand new sponsors you see on this page.  You’ll be seeing a lot more ads for them and other exciting products and services, throughout the site as our new business 120331-ge-llight-bulbsmodel takes shape.  Things are going to get very exciting around here, so we may have to limit comments if there are any difficulties.

Thanks again for visiting Burbed.  Often.  And remember, Now is the Time to Buy or Sell a House!


Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:01 am