May 9, 2012

Going, going, GONE in San Mateo

120508-not4saleIt’s becoming more challenging to provide a good variety of listings on Burbed.  Readers from all over send in their nominations for housing fail.  We work our way through the inbox looking to produce a good mix of home types, locations, submitters, and price range.  Lately, by the time we’re ready to write up a reader-suggested domestic disaster, all traces of the listing have been removed from the MLS. 

Back in the post-bubble doldrums when sellers had to promise a years’ worth of weekly car waxes and grocery delivery, an accepted offer wouldn’t lead to the agent yanking photos and description.  So what’s happening now?  Listings are evaporating faster than a YouTube video with a DMCA takedown notice.  Is this just another sign that there’s so little inventory, the selling agents feel besieged?

Today’s featured property is a San Mateo teardown that didn’t collect any dust, courtesy of Burbed reader SMParkster.  And since Redfin’s removed the info, time to play eenie-meenie-miney-mo with the other real estate websites.  Today’s “winner” is Trulia, which we thank very much for taking their time.

249 West Poplar Avenue
San Mateo CA 94402


Status: Pending
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Property type: Single-Family Home
Size: 3,121 sqft
Lot: —
Price/sqft: $721/sqft
Year built: 1906
Added on Trulia: 18 days ago
Neighborhood: San Mateo Park
Zip: 94402

Absolutely spectacular estate in San Mateo Park. Sprawling lot size of 24,000 square feet. High-reaching palm trees and mature redwoods welcome guests as they approach the main house down a gently winding driveway. This truly unique offering has been carefully maintained by the same family for the last fifty years.

120507-poplar-facadeHere’s why SMParkster passed this carefully maintained winner along:

I walk past that property all the time and the lot is truly really nice, but the house is set back much much further than any other house in the neighborhood and I’ve always kind of wondered about the owners.

120508-poplar-fireplaceThe MLS listing says the current owners have been there 50 years which doesn’t really surprise me.  I was just surprised that the asking price is about in line with what a decent house on that size lot would currently go for (I think) around here, but the house clearly needs either tearing down (what the real estate agent seems to be implying) or major updating at the very least.

More photos inside, so click on in!

120508-poplar-bedroomBut there are only six photos of the house provided, and none of them shows a kitchen or bathroom.  Obviously they’re so impressive that the agent didn’t want to allow any online looky-looing when it was carefully maintained by the same family for the last fifty years.

We admit it.  That it a really diplomatic way to say this place needs to be scraped, or at least gutted.  And the rest of the listing copy is surprisingly literate.  The lot size field got left blank, though.

You can see a little hint of the bath décor in this view of the bedroom.  And the agent was really proud of this shot, because it appears twice.

120508-poplar-yellow-bedroomWhich means there are actually only five photos of a three thousand square foot house, with over half an acre of grounds.  Either you had to check it out in person or make an offer based on this limited view. It’s like the agent was offering just a few crumbs, but wouldn’t give away a free slice of bread when he’s selling the whole bakery.

Here’s the last of the five pictures, in case Trulia hears from the photo police.

One piece of good news about this place selling quickly: the 2011 property tax bill was only $3,300.  The new owners will get a few dozen feet of paved road plus two contractor kickbacks named after them.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

12 Responses to “Going, going, GONE in San Mateo”

  1. z2amiller Says:

    I am noticing the disappearing listings in my neighborhood. I’ll favorite a house in redfin, and then a week later it has just disappeared. If I happen to remember the exact address, I can get to the listing and see that it had gone directly from Active to Pending (Do Not Show).

    Right now there is not a lot of inventory, but more importantly there are a lot of people talking about there being not a lot of inventory. I wonder if the disappearing listings are a way of the realtors keeping that narrative alive? If the pending houses drop off of all of the Real Estate sites, the listing data looks pretty sparse.

    re: the property tax/prop13 thing — why don’t cities/counties sweeten the pot and pay old people to move out of their houses? You could toss the owners 100 grand to move to Florida and make up the property taxes in <5 years.

  2. magdalena Says:

    I’ve been noticing that houses that were worked over by flippers are lingering on the market but houses that haven’t been touched in 50 years are priced low, sell for way over asking and fly off the shelf. There’s demand out there but the people who can get mortgages would rather do the work themselves rather than correct a flipper’s botched job. A lot of the cheap work that was done in the early 2000’s is starting to look worn and tacky 10 years later.

  3. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > why don’t cities/counties sweeten the pot and pay old people to move out of their houses?

    If money does not work, time will.

  4. SEA Says:

    “why don’t cities/counties sweeten the pot and pay old people to move out of their houses?”

    I suspect the ones ready to move would quickly take the deal. I’m not so sure about the others.

  5. gallileo Says:


    Because prop 13 saves a many-thousands of dollars every year for a homeowner who has been in their house for thirty years. Payouts would need to be in the high-four-figures at the very least to get people to move, and way more for the truly valuable properties. No county or city has the budget for that.

  6. PK Says:

    Any unemployed engineers want to write a script for OP which dumps out all the relevant listing info into a folder? I’ll take the answer no to be bullish!

  7. madhaus Says:

    Breaking: Obama voices support for same-sex marriage.

    So does Burbed. That means more people buying houses.

  8. nomadic Says:

    #1, you don’t have to know the address if you made a house your favorite on Redfin. Just go to your account and look at your favorites. They’ll stay there even after they’re pulled off the market.

  9. SMParkster Says:

    Funny to hear the talk of property taxes… according to our PTA member in charge of actually going to the school board meetings, at a recent SMFC school board meeting there was talk about how FC putting up more nice senior housing will lead to a property turnover and thus more property taxes. The funny (in a sad way) part of that is that it seemed to our PTA member that that was actually a leading pillar or strategy of increasing funding for our district.

  10. madhaus Says:

    SMParkster, you do not want to get nomadic started on old people. But that’s an intriguing story, so thanks for sharing their strategy here.

    Most cities here are all built out, so building more houses only works if you tear down something else.

  11. nomadic Says:

    Yeah madhaus, I’m going to be worse when I get back from vacation.

    Sounds like Foster City has a great idea for countering the scourge of Prop 13. If the old people stay in their houses they can pass their tax basis to the kids. Put ’em in senior housing and enjoy a rising tax basis.

  12. SEA Says:

    “Put ‘em in senior housing and enjoy a rising tax basis.”

    To enjoy ever increasing tax revenue, keep lowing the age for mandatory senior housing.

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