October 5, 2012

UPDATEDx2 with a MURDER: WOW! Sunrise and Sunset included! PRICED TO SELL !!!

9:50 AM: See end for update.  It’s worth it.
12:09 PM: Another update on the other murder.

It’s time to play Build a Ginormous House Somewhere Not As Expensive As The Real Bay Area and then try to find a buyer! Ready?  It’s Burbed reader J from Alameda‘s turn with this lovely Lafayette listing.

121004-hunsaker-redfin1901 HUNSAKER CANYON Rd
Lafayette, CA 94549

4 Beds
3.5 Baths
6,200 Sq. Ft.
$322 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 2003
Lot Size: 13.50 Acres
On Redfin: 39 days
Type: Detached
Stories: 3+
Community: Burton Valley
MLS#: 40587017
Style: Other
View: Canyon, Carquinez, City Lights, Forest, Hills, Mountains, Mt. Diablo, Valley
County: Contra Costa

WOW! $1+M price reduction! What a buy!! 13+- acres. Gated 360% View! Italian Villa/ stone, hardwood fls, custom & antique lighting. Finest materials including stone, hardwood, beautiful moldings and mllwork. Sunrise and Sunset included ! Rm for pool tennis/guest house/vineyard. PRICED TO SELL !!!

121004-hunsaker-kawlums-archHere’s why J from A sent this in:

As promised, a lovely chateau – in the Lafayette hills. Of note: a million dollar price reduction, a reasonable $322 a square foot and lots of columns.

Somehow it seems that 3.5 bathrooms spread across 6,200 sq feet of living space is not quite the usual ratio – a new way to measure houses – bathrooms per square feet? I am sure the buyer will be happy to have an elevator to navigate all those stories. Enjoy!

121004-hunsaker-kawlums-balconyYou’re right, J. We’ve noted the business of beaucoup bathrooms in ginormous houses for people with too much money and not enough taste. No wonder this place had a million dollar price reduction.  According to the LA Times, this house needs at minimum 8 rooms for waste disposal and sluicing.

Good thing it was PRICED TO SELL !!! We’ve seen enough houses that were priced to stay empty or priced to sit on the listing service for years and years.

Like, um, this house:


Even Zillow thinks the house is worth $2,169,784. Instant equity!  Ka-ching!

Update 9:50 AM: Burbed reader magdalena alerts us to this 2005 SF Chronicle article that specifically mentions the house.  In a this-would-never-be-believed-as-fiction tragedy, the wife of criminal defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz was murdered in “the entryway of the home.” Wikipedia says she was murdered in a mobile home on the property while their “dream house” was being completed.  The murder occurred four days after the beginning of a high-profile trial where Horowitz was defending Susan Polk, accused of killing her husband in their Orinda home. Horowitz had taken the case after Polk had fired her previous lawyers for encouraging her to plead insanity.

This led to a mistrial, but as Horowitz prepared for Polk’s second trial, she fired him, convinced that he had something to do with his wife’s murder.  16 year old Scott Dyleski was convicted of the murder; supposedly he intended to kill a neighbor who had run over his dog and went to the wrong house.  Polk’s story manages to get even more bizarre after Horowitz was fired (this Dateline NBC link confirms the mobile home claim from Wikipedia).

WOW!  Sunrise and sunset is just the entryway of what’s included with this house!

Update 12:09 PM: Murder kills home values as well as people.  Check out Susan Polk’s house.  We found a listing e-flyer, and Redfin has the price history:



Comments (29) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

29 Responses to “UPDATEDx2 with a MURDER: WOW! Sunrise and Sunset included! PRICED TO SELL !!!”

  1. magdalena Says:

    I don’t think the lack of bathrooms matters as much as the murder.


  2. gallileo Says:

    This baby is pending!

  3. CB Says:

    Bludgeoned to death in the entryway. That’s the spot, right there in the first pic.

    What a dark and twisted website Burbed has become.

  4. madhaus Says:

    #1: Holy crap! We missed the real story of this house!

  5. mabeldu Says:

    kawlums! there’s been a dearth of kawlums for so long. glad someone is looking out for our Special requirements.

    comment on redfin: Unique property in the hills of Lafayette. Private road, septic, well water and propane. Outstanding value. Remote.

    2 mill and you’re living on propane? does pg&e even know about this place? i’d have figured it the perfect place for high power lines to amble thru the hills. obviously the water district/lafayette reservoir don’t want anything to do with this place.

    and a tar & gravel roof?! really???

  6. mabeldu Says:


    wow, now i remember this story: rich teen gone amok.

    whoever made the original connection gets the gold star for today!

  7. Alex Says:

    Ghost of the Major Mawbul Kawlums.

    Coming to a theatre near you.

  8. SEA Says:



  9. SEA Says:

    From the link above:

    “Hi Susan,

    It’s me, Pamela Vitale! I know, I know … we haven’t talked in so long. Believe it or not, I am STILL building our house!!!!!!!! We had quit a bit of bad luck. Our original builder ABANDONED the project when it was just 60% done (he told us it was 85% done). He stole a bunch of our money, left the state, the rains began up here, we had EXTENSIVE water damage throughout the house, and when we contacted his insurance company to inform them we would be submitting a claim, we found out the he had given us a FORGED insurance certificate!!!!!! It was a disaster …..materially, emotionally, and financially. Luckily, a friend of a friend came out of retirement to help us out and take over the project. It took 6 1/2 months just to repair the house and get it back to a state that we could continue moving forward on the building of it. THAT is why you have not heard from me. Sorry.

    I’m still incredibly busy and overwhelmed, but just wanted to get this message to you to let you know that I think of you and look forward to the time when things have settled done (sic) and I can properly communicate on a regular basis. WE should be moving in around Xmas.

    How are you? Any new research?

    Best Regards from your old Darge relative.


  10. Divasm Says:

    Wow, that is an interesting site. It does make a plausible argument that an innocent teen just trying to experience his loner goth period ended up getting railroaded in court.

    I can never remember, is there an actual law in California that you have to disclose something like that to a buyer?

  11. magdalena Says:

    California Civil Code Section 1710.2

    (a) No cause of action arises against an owner of real property or his or her agent, or any agent of a transferee of real property, for the failure to disclose to the transferee the occurrence of an occupant’s death upon the real property or the manner of death where the death has occurred more than three years prior to the date the transferee offers to purchase, lease, or rent the real property…

    (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to immunize an owner or his or her agent from making an intentional misrepresentation in response to a direct inquiry from a transferee or a prospective transferee of real property, concerning deaths on the real property.

    Lawyer Talk > The statute affirms that a death on a property need not be disclosed if it occurred more than 3 years prior to a sale, but the statute does NOT say that a death within 3 years must be disclosed. If a death occurs on a property within 3 years of sale, and the circumstances of that death are otherwise material to the value of the property (it was a violent or publicized death, or affected the reputation of the property), it must be disclosed.

  12. SEA Says:

    Also, from (d), If asked, the seller must be honest about what he knows and disclose, no matter how long ago the death occurred.

  13. nomadic Says:

    Divasm, I think deaths in a house only have to be disclosed for three years afterward. If this one was in a mobile home on the property, then it probably wouldn’t have to be disclosed at all. It really looks like it was factored into the price in 2006 though – and probably explains why the owners thought they could more than double their money in just three years.

  14. SEA Says:

    “If this one was in a mobile home on the property, then it probably wouldn’t have to be disclosed at all.”

    I am not an attorney, but I doubt the legislature meant to exclude deaths that happened in vehicles “upon the real property.”

  15. magdalena Says:

    Nomadic – interesting point about the murder happening in the mobile home and not in the house. I wonder if a murder anywhere on the property would fall under the law.

    I remember this was such a big case because Susan Polk’s case was getting day by day coverage and Horowitz had a connection with Court TV and Nancy Grace. I can’t imagine anyone buying the house wouldn’t know what happened there. You couldn’t open the paper or turn on the TV without getting the latest update.

  16. madhaus Says:

    I remember this was such a big case because Susan Polk’s case was getting day by day coverage and Horowitz had a connection with Court TV and Nancy Grace. I can’t imagine anyone buying the house wouldn’t know what happened there. You couldn’t open the paper or turn on the TV without getting the latest update.

    I can imagine someone not knowing it. All it would take is someone transferring into the area who didn’t follow the story. We already had a recent discussion of someone who bought a house wildly out of character for the neighborhood not realizing it would be an issue with both her neighbors and her home’s value. They bought the house before moving from the East to the West Coast.

    And for what it’s worth, I was not familiar with this story.

  17. SEA Says:

    #16- And that same person would have never considered anything on burbed worthy of her consideration.

    Even if one knows the story, the connection between the story and this specific property must be made.

  18. nomadic Says:

    …the connection between the story and this specific property must be made.

    Exactly. It’s not like there were pictures of the house all over the news. Being out in middle of nowhere, the house reminds me of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

  19. nomadic Says:

    WTF is with Redfin? How do agents hide listing history?
    Listing Price Information
    Original Price: $1,998,000
    Previous Price: $1,998,000
    Listing Information
    Contract Date: Saturday, September 8, 2012
    Listing Date: Monday, August 27, 2012
    Status Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012
    Possession: COE

  20. madhaus Says:

    Another update added. I found Susan Polk’s Orinda house.

  21. magdalena Says:

    Very woody – inside and out. Too much for me but sort of nice in an east bay kind of way.

  22. mabeldu Says:

    ooo! what a juicy day on burbed! and it started so simply, with such quiet joy of seeing new kawlums.

    no need to pick up the pulp fiction novel tonight.

  23. Alex Says:


    Looks like we scared off Carol. LOL

  24. Jb Says:

    Definately the Shining vibe. maybe that could be a new category…..

  25. Facebook Investor Says:

    Looks like Burbed is doing pretty good job in covering homes involving murder. The previous one.

    Pink houses and Murder mystery houses – quite a contrast.

  26. nomadic Says:

    Previous one? I thought she killed herself.

  27. madhaus Says:

    I thought it was a murder-suicide and her ex-boyfriend did the killing.

    Speaking of murders and Burbed houses, remember this story writing contest? Maybe I ended up as content editor here because I turned the listing photos into a murder mystery.

  28. Extreme privacy in Lafayette [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] If you were thinking this street name sounded awfully familiar, you were right.  Can anyone find a murder at this house too, preferably San Jose […]

  29. Harry Says:

    Thanks for the story! Notice the pictures of the trailer where Daniel Horowitz and his wife the murder victim (Pamela Vitale) lived @ http://scottdyleski.org/? Wow, what trash pit.

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