July 11, 2012

COMPLETELY UPDATED: $4.2 million teardown in Belvedere

Burbed has visited this high-priced peninsula before, but we’ve never reported on a teardown at Hillsborough-with-Baywater.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Pkamp3 for the find.

A $4.2 Million Tear-Down House in Belvedere, California

By ALAN FARNHAM | ABC News – Fri, Jun 29, 2012

120710-belvedere-abcIn Marin County, California, where people tend to have money, people in Belvedere tend to have more. Even so, a recent decision by Clark and Sharon Winslow of 337 Belvedere Avenue to buy the home next to theirs for $4.2 million — and then tear it down — might seem extraordinary.

It’s not, say locals and real estate professionals.

“There are houses being torn down all the time,” says Bill Smith, realtor and ex-mayor of Belvedere. In neighboring Tiburon, he says, a buyer not long ago paid $20 million for the home of tennis star Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf, then announced his plan to raze it.

While the article specifically mentions the house that isn’t being torn down, we’re left to guess which property is getting the extreme makeover.  And we think it’s this one.

Update 9:30 AM: And we are completely wrong.  Burbed reader gallileo provided the evidence that it’s the house on the OTHER side.  Correct info added to end of article, because we hate to waste a good housing rant.

341 Belvedere Ave
Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920
Sold on 01/14/2000 for $2,100,000


120710-belvedere-satelliteSource: Public Records
BATHS: 2.5
LOT SIZE: 8,400
STYLE: Single Family Residential
COUNTY: Marin County
APN: 06022128
LAST UPDATED: August 24, 2011

The interesting thing about buying and tearing down a perfectly good house isn’t that someone with way too much cash went ahead and did it.  It’s how much the house was worth in the first place.  Zillow says… ZEstimate of $1,876,100.  Which means the new “owners” spent more than twice what this house may be worth just to make more land.

Yes, the purchasers live in that 9524 square foot housing tumor on the left.  Let’s see what they got for $4.2 million!


Oh yeah.  Perhaps they’ll be tearing down this place next, since it’s blocking their Bay access.  (See #42.  Only 1017 days on Redfin!)

Update: Here is the correct house.  gallileo provides a link to SocketSite with the story, and there’s a further link to a piece in the Marin Independent Journal.  So, without further adieu, the actual house that was purchased for $4.2 million only to be torn down.  That and more, after the break.


Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

July 10, 2012


Here’s another San Jose Special from one of our frequent correspondents, Burbed reader Tracy Tea House!  Thanks very much for this Berryessa beauty, which has been snapped up by some lucky buyer. 

11260 CANYON Dr
San Jose, CA 95127
Listed for $699,000; Sold for $640,000 on 6/16/2012


120708-canyon-wood-panelsBEDS:  3
SQ. FT.:  2,952
$/SQ. FT.:  $217
LOT SIZE:  0.48 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY:  Berryessa
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81213632
SOURCE:  MLSListings


Here’s what Tracy had to say when submitting this property to our attention:

120708-canyon-saunaSomething is probably truly wrong with this house! But what? We fell in love with the massive decks, tiki torches, groovy pool, amazingly large rooms, with indoor sauna and all over swag. The tee is directly out the back door and people are literally hitting golf balls feet from the deck. I think my dogs would have gone crazy!

Now the down sides. Shorty short sale, the price is very, very low, considering, and there are water problems. Some obvious, but I suppose, some hidden much deeper, with the big hill 120708-canyon-stainedglassabove. The house was pending shortly after we looked at it, and fell out, so its back on the market. A true treasure? Or a California size boondoggle?

All this, and only 3 MUNITES DRIVING TO SAN JOSE.  Are MUNITES more or less time than MINTUES?  We know, the unit of time used on the WORLD RENOWN SAN FRANCISCO PENINSULA are MINTUES.  But if you know the way to San Jose, you can conquer both time and space.

Don’t believe us?  Look at all 25 pictures of this listing and figure out what’s missing.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Did you figure it out?  Here’s a hint, courtesy of teh Google.


Yes, 25 pictures (several of the same exact tree), and not one of what the house itself looks like.  No wonder you have to ENJOY IT ON THE DECK instead.  At least you would be SURROUNDED BY MULTI MILLION DOLLAR HOMES.


Um.  Thank you, Zillow.  Opportunities to play with the Red Arrows are always appreciated.

Too bad the realtard didn’t find a dictionary in the HUGE LIBRIRY.

Comments (21) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

July 9, 2012

How is the real estate market in Silicon Valley?

People sometime ask me, “How is the real estate market in Silicon Valley?”

Well, let’s look at this e-mail I got recently:


Townhouses across the street from train tracks, light rail, a high way, and a major road – starting at $624 per square foot?

If you ask me, the market is doing pretty darn well. Everything is back on track, just as nature intended. Finally the Real Bay Area is back on track to eventually overtaking lesser places like Manhattan, London, and Tokyo for most expensive real estate.

The real question is: will you be lining up for 3 days or 3 weeks on the street to get one of these units?

Thank goodness!

Comments (20) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:20 am

July 8, 2012

Open Thread and Game Time

While you’re waiting for the realtards to show up at any Open Houses this weekend, why not play a board game with your loved ones?


It’s a little difficult to make out the street names, so here’s the list.  See how many of the cities representing each color group you can identify!  And do let us know which streets  you would use instead of the ones we picked.













Alas, we were not permitted to rename the utilities PG&E and SANTA CLARA VALLEY WATER DISTRICT.  Do you have any good ideas for some Chance and Community Chest cards?

And yes, this is also an Open Thread.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

July 7, 2012

Was this home a Meth Lab?

Some of the homes we feature on Burbed are in craptacular shape.  They’re held together only by the termites hugging, or they’ve been exposed to weather, or pets ran amok without benefit of a dedicated rest area.

And we’ve even made jokes about homes that might have been meth labs.  But there’s a site out there that shows you what to look for in case a home really was used as a drug factory.  Let’s take a look at a web site devoted to the problem of buying a property and discovering it is uninhabitable due to former methamphetamine production.  Welcome to Meth Lab Homes.



The site was started by someone whose son unknowingly bought a Tennessee house that was a former meth lab.  (No Tennessee jokes, please.  Meth labs are found all over the United States, including the Bay Area.  Including the REAL Bay Area.)

So here, as a public service to all you househunters, are some ways to tell if the house you want to buy might have had a former life as a meth lab.  Thanks very much to Meth Lab Homes for the photos and initial guidance on identifying signs that a home was used to produce meth.

Since this is Burbed, we couldn’t help but add more advice.

Chemical Stains

120706-methlabs-stainsIt’s hard to make an omelet without breaking some eggs, and it’s hard to make meth without spilling some hydrochloric acid.  If you see floors or walls with stains like this, you may have found yourself in a meth lab.  Of course, if you see brand news floors or carpets, you may also be looking at a meth lab.  Burbed advises that you rip up all the carpets and floors to check.  You can never be too sure!

Burnt Grass or Plants

One way to avoid telltale meth cooking odors is to cook outdoors.  Even if the house had meth cooked inside, the chemicals may be dumped in the yard.  Any sign of burning probably means you’re looking at a meth lab, because no Californian would otherwise start a fire outdoors in a drought climate.


Kitty Litter

120706-methlab-kitty-litterMeth lab cooks use household kitty litter to absorb the chemicals they work with.  So if you see any sign of kitty litter in, around, or near a house, there’s a good chance it was a former meth lab.

They probably kept actual cats to mislead you, so don’t believe any excuses about the former owners being pet lovers.  Also pet urine does a fantastic job hiding any meth chemical odors, so be on the lookout and give your potential house a good sniff test.

Good Housekeeping

According to the website, meth users and makers don’t care about anything except meth.  Keeping the house clean and neat will not be a priority.  So if you see something like this when you inspect a home, the former owners or tenants were probably meth-heads.

120706-methlab-toiletDon’t believe nonsense about how engineers and software developers don’t care about hygiene.  Engineers and software developers don’t bother coming home to make a mess in the first place.

This is a great toilet shot.  We should send this one in to this website, as they seem to enjoy these kinds of pictures.

Bizarre Plumbing, Venting, and Electrical

120706-methlab-plumbingIf you’re considering a house and any of the pipes, vents, or electrical connections make you wonder if the contractor was on meth when putting them together, it’s a good bet you’re looking at a meth house.  Bizarre plumbing and venting could point to the need to keep telltale odors away from nosy neighbors.

If you find electrical outlets in places where nobody would want to plug in a television or a toaster, you may be looking at a meth lab.  Why else would anyone need an outlet in a garage?

Buy yourself a brand new condo instead.  Trust us, it will produce much fewer headaches.

Covered and/or Painted Windows

120706-methlab-windowMeth lab operators don’t want attention, and often cover or paint all windows near operations.  If you tour a house and see covered or painted-over windows, RUN, do not walk away.

You do realize that by “covered windows” we most certainly do mean draperies, curtains, blinds, and shades.  Remember, only people who live in glass houses have nothing to hide.  A covered window means a damaged homelife!

Glass and Plastic Containers

120706-methlab-containersMeth is produced in containers, usually in glass or plastic.  If you find any glassware or plastic bottles in a house you are considering, there’s an excellent chance you’re looking at a former meth lab.

Be sure to check all cabinets for any sign of glasses or plastic bottles.  Don’t be fooled by bottles with liquids in them.  Meth lab operators will fill their empties to lull buyers into a false sense of home security.

Danger, Will Robinson!  Danger!

Just about every house you consider could have been a meth lab at one point.  To be absolutely 100% sure you are not moving into a dangerous, chemically-infested hellhole, we suggest that if you must purchase a used home, that you burn the entire structure and grounds to fully consume all latent chemical byproducts.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

July 6, 2012

Seller will finance w/ NO qual.

Here’s a little something to consider while another weekend is coming!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this luscious listing in Los Altos Hills.

11195 HOOPER Ln
Los Altos Hills, CA 94024


120705-hooper-frontBEDS:  4
SQ. FT.:  4,700
$/SQ. FT.:  $872
LOT SIZE:  1.86 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
COMMUNITY:  Los Altos Hills
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81217362
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  57 days

Seller will finance w/ NO qual. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Private, Secure, Quiet, Serene, with City and Bay Views, and proximity to town are UNIQUE and RARE in this wooded ~2 Acres property. Update or rebuild the existing Comtemp. Style home in this Executive Estate. Detached cottage w/ Full Kitchen is ideal for backyard living/entertain w/ no direct visuals to any neighbors.

120705-hooper-kitchenAnd you thought the market was hot, hot, HOT?  Then what’s with this seller financing deal, w/ NO qual.  That’s probably short for “quality.”  Plus you can “update or rebuild” which means the “existing Contemp. Style home” isn’t exactly turnkey.  More like turkey.

There’s a virtual tour, if you really want to see how a 1957 house can be Contemp. Style.  Maybe that stands for the “contempt” the sellers must have, as they’ve been trying to get out from under this place since 2007.  Here’s the listing history, courtesy of Zillow.

Price History

Date Description Price Change $/sqft Source  
05/11/2012 Listed for sale $4,099,000 -14.6% $872 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Los Altos
08/07/2011 Listing removed $4,798,000 $1,020 Keller Williams Realty
05/06/2011 Listed for sale $4,798,000 -8.6% $1,020 Keller Williams Realty
08/14/2009 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 NRT California
02/25/2009 Listed for sale $5,250,000 $1,117 NRT California
11/15/2008 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
09/20/2008 Listed for sale $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
06/13/2008 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
06/01/2008 Listed for sale $5,250,000 -0.8% $1,117 TourFactory
01/04/2008 Listing removed $5,294,000 $1,126
08/26/2007 Listed for sale $5,294,000 521% $1,126 Agent
10/08/1996 Sold $852,000 1.4% $181 Public Record   
08/19/1994 Sold $840,000 $178 Public Record

Wrap that up with a ZEstimate range of $2.68 to $4.09 M and maybe some Facebook millionaire will take it off their hands by 2015.


Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

July 5, 2012

This Property is not Buildable

Hope everyone had a very happy 4th  of July.  Now that we’ve declared our Independence, let’s get back to looking at some housing win.  Today’s entry is from Burbed reader Tom Paine, to which we say, thank you very much for this superb structure in Sebastopol.

Sebastopol, in case you’re checking, was not, is not, and never will be part of the Real Bay Area.  However, the market is so hot, hot, HOT… even this place is pending.

8680 Bodega Hwy
Sebastopol, CA 95472


120704-bodega-windowBEDS:  1
SQ. FT.:  625
$/SQ. FT.:  $100
LOT SIZE:  5,663 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Residential, Detached, Single Family
STYLE: Bungalow
COMMUNITY:  Sebastopol
COUNTY:  Sonoma
MLS#:  21211920
STATUS: Contingent (Show)
ON REDFIN:  51 days

This property is not buildable. The septic system needs to be replaced and the property is too small for the County of Sonoma to allow that. There is no well. County will NOT allow this property to be refurbished. Land only.

120704-bodega-roofHere’s what Tom had to say about this lucky listing:

You can’t build on it and you can’t get a permit to fix it because there’s no room for a septic system. Soooo $65k for .130 acres with a structure that needs to be demolished because it is an attractive nuisance. On floodplain. Who could pass this one up!

The real question is, which one of the neighboring property owners snapped this up?  Because there isn’t a good reason to buy this if you don’t own the lot adjoining it, is there?  Maybe our readers can solve this mystery!



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

July 4, 2012

Fireworks for July 4th in San Carlos

Usually Burbed doesn’t visit the same city two days in a row, but today’s a holiday, and we need to celebrate!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Overheard in San Carlos for passing along this celebration.

San Carlos, CA 94070


120703-chesham-windowsBEDS:  4
SQ. FT.:  2,420
$/SQ. FT.:  $682
LOT SIZE:  10,760 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY:  Beverly Terrace
COUNTY:  San Mateo
MLS#:  81224328
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  5 days

Stunning masterpiece. 4 bedrooms plus additional Zen space. Kitchen is a chefs dream. G. E. profile double oven with warming drawer, two dishwashers, Thermador side by side Refrigerator/freezer, Viking 5 burner cooktop. Property has Home Works lighting system. Custom sound system with source and volume control. Radiant Heat system with 7 thermostatically controlled zones. True Gem.

120703-chesham-grillHere’s what OSC had to say about this purposed property.


Where was I that day when the sky turned this color?   The sky was so intense that it literally ate the roof off of this house.

Fortunately if you go inside things won’t get any less exciting, although we can’t promise anywhere as much Cherenkov radiation.  How about… More cowbell!

Happy July 4th  everyone.  Enjoy another round of the colorful bursts from this fine listing as you enjoy your the day off.  Don’t worry, the work will be waiting for you tomorrow.  And so will we.


Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

July 3, 2012

Secret Morse Code Message in San Carlos

Burbed_guest_bloggerWho doesn’t love flips?  Buy a house for cheap, fix it up for cheap, sell it quick for way more money.  Let’s take a look at a flip courtesy of Burbed reader NorthernAutumn.  Thanks very much for sending in this guest post.  And see all those dots in the listing copy?  That has got to be a secret message that says: Start your overbidding!

Please welcome NorthernAutumn to the front page as today’s Guest Blogger!

San Carlos, CA 94070


120702-alameda-concreteBEDS:  2
SQ. FT.:  890
$/SQ. FT.:  $763
LOT SIZE:  6,500 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY:  El Sereno Corte
COUNTY:  San Mateo
MLS#:  81221878
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  22 days

Complete interior remodel, new maple kitchen cabinents with granite counters. Remodeled bath. .. .New hardwood floor and new berber carpeting. .. .New Roof, all new windows and landscaping. .. extra large lot. .. property is set back from street. Open house Sunday July 1.. .. from 1-4

120702-alameda-livingroomI pass by this house frequently.
It was always interesting – it lacked a fenced front yard, it sits on small weirdly-shaped lot with lots of shade along Alameda (and only about half a block from the fire station).
It was one of those houses that you could look at and think ‘hey, mine’s not THAT bad’.

Then it got put up for sale earlier this year and (surprisingly, to me at least) sold relatively quickly.
I saw the new owners were doing some work but instead of living in the house – a new ‘for sale’ sign appeared and I thought ‘ok, so someone is flipping it’.
I decided to check out what they wanted for the house.
They are asking for $679K which is $179K more than what they bought it for.

120702-alameda-kitchenDid the remodel really cost that much?  I assume the investor wants a 50% return on their investment so that would give an estimate of $90K in remodelling costs?  Too high?  Too low?
Would Burbed readers pay this for the house?  I mean, you get good San Carlos schools, easy access to a few churches, the fire station nearby and walking distance to the annual ‘CandyCane Lane/Xmas lights extravaganza’ held on nearby Birch lane….but is that worth $679K?

It’s not quite the cheapest house in San Carlos but it’s almost (I found a 1/1 listed on redfin for $610K but it’s further away from downtown and the Xmas lights extravaganza (and I can’t testify to the availability of churches, fire stations and other amenities)….


Comments (33) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

July 2, 2012

Following Up on an RBA Foreclosure

It’s always fun to revisit a house that’s previously been given some Burbed love.  Today’s house is a foreclosure with an unpermitted garage conversion, exactly what you’d expect to find in Old Palo Alto.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for today’s cognitive dissonance.

Palo Alto, CA 94301
$1,888,000, Reduced from $1,988,000 on 6/7/12
Reduced from $2,198,000 on 5/15/12


120701-coleridge-monaBEDS:  4
SQ. FT.:  2,235
$/SQ. FT.:  $845
LOT SIZE:  6,696 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Country English
COMMUNITY:  Old Palo Alto
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81221385
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  25 days

Amasing 4 bd 4 ba in old town palo alto . newly remodeled with new presidential comp roof, new paint and fixtures, refinished hardwood floor, double pane windowes, stainles still appliances , lots of closets. garage had been converted to a family room and aditional room including full bath by the previous owner , permit unknown. this may not been included in sf. huge price reduction.

120701-coleridge-ivyHere’s what Wendie had to say about this house:

Didn’t you highlight this house a few months ago as a short sale? I think it was listed as 1.2 back then….

Why yes, we certainly did mention this house, but it was last September, and it was on bank auction list.


120701-coleridge-seller-is-agentBut back then the agent wasn’t mentioning all the excitement in the former garage!  And this house is just full of excitement.  A huge price reduction!  A foreclosure last October!  Yes, a foreclosure, not just in the Real Bay Area, but in Old Palo Alto.  Who knew that Larry Page could walk to a foreclosure in his own neighborhood?  (We would have said Steve Jobs, what with all the “walk to Steve Jobs’ house” comments about this neighborhood, but he could not walk to this house when it foreclosed as he passed away one week earlier.)

And if the garage and the price and famous dead neighbors isn’t enough excitement about this house for you, here is the icing on the cake.  You’d be buying the house from the agent herself.

Be sure to read all contracts carefully, because based on that listing copy, this may not be one of those agents who pays attention to silly little details.  Annoying little details such as spelling or capitalization or prices or whether a contract is actually signed.  And if you’re not a detail person either, then the two of you are a match made in heaven.  Or at least Old Palo Alto, which is practically the same thing.



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