October 21, 2012

We’re Number… Three?

We lost out to both New York City and Washington DC, this time in the contest for the town with the highest earnings.  Here are the Top Ten, courtesy of CNN/Money, of the places with the highest median family incomes.

1 Bethesda, MD $184,606
2 Greenwich, CT $167,502
3 Palo Alto, CA $163,661
4 Newport Beach, CA $156,928
5 Lower Merion, PA $153,309
6 Ashburn, VA $146,093
7 Newton, MA $145,639
8 Hoboken, NJ $140,780
9 Brookline, MA $139,756
10 Fairfield, CT $136,808

People, this is not good. Not only did High Tech lose out to High Finance and High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but there’s Highly-wood right behind us. Also this list is disturbingly full of Least Coasters.

Here’s what they thought of The Specialest Place of Them All (Not Including Mountain View, because for Pete’s Sake, Palo Alto may be Special but it does Not Have Google Anymore).

3. Palo Alto, CA          3 of 25

121020-highincome-paPopulation: 65,260
Median family income: $163,661
Median home price: $1,225,000

Nestled in California’s Silicon Valley, Palo Alto has attracted a pile of tech companies — and their CEOs. Not only does tech granddaddy HP have its headquarters here, but so do newbies like Pinterest and Ning. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a house in Palo Alto, as did Steve Jobs. Stanford University, which falls within its boundaries, adds to the city’s prestige.

Palo Alto nurtures startups and the money that results from their successes. Its residents reap the rewards. Area schools are exceptional, while the city has 35 parks and a Mediterranean climate that varies by only 20 degrees year-round.

See complete data and interactive map for Palo Alto

Did you know that Palo Alto’s climate was More Special than that of any of the surrounding Not As Special cities?  Perhaps Redwood City (Motto: Climate Best by Government Test) is going to have to come over and punch them out for getting airs.

Oh yeah, and Mark Zuckerberg is mostly hanging out in San Francisco these days.  Could he have picked up this little pied-a-terre?  Just kidding, that place was sold to a school, which is now awash in neighborhood NIMBY lawsuits.  But have a look at this SocketSite discussion and see if you can figure out where Mark bought.  Two possibilities: 366 Liberty or 376 Hill.

121020-highincome-mark

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am






October 20, 2012

Economists say it costs too much for Bay Area to have an economy

More complaints that living where it’s Special isn’t all rainbows and unicorns:

Bay Area’s business climate is less friendly to startups than other parts of California, says study

By George Avalos, Contra Costa Times
Posted:   10/18/2012 10:43:17 AM PDT, Updated:   10/19/2012 08:10:22 AM PDT

121019-jobstudy-downgraphRelatively expensive housing, coupled with the high cost of living and doing business in the Bay Area, has made the nine-county region less hospitable to new companies than other big urban centers in California, according to a study released Thursday that urges improvements in what it describes as this area’s burdensome regulatory climate.

“You have to ease the regulations that people face when they want to launch a new venture,” said Jon Haveman, chief economist with the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute, which produced the report. “If somebody is trying to start a small business and spend a small fortune on a new home, they will probably start that business elsewhere.”

The Bay Area lags major rivals such as Los Angeles and San Diego in jobs created by startup companies, the study determined.

The strengths of the region are reflected in household income and other factors, the report stated. The region has increasingly specialized in high-value industries such as professional, scientific and technical services, along with information services and products.

121019-jobstudy-boromirSo what the Institute is complaining about is it’s difficult to start cheap-ass startups where it’s expensive?  That isn’t a bug, that’s a feature.  If it’s expensive to live here, it should be expensive to work here. Besides, if you need money for a lower-capital startup, you should sell one of your vacation homes, or write put options for what’s under all the couch cushions at your furniture factory.

The article waits until graf 7 to admit there’s no problem with the Bay Area job market after all. Actual quote from report: “The Bay Area economy is one of the most productive and prosperous in the country.”  Sounds awful. Then again, engineers are being bought and sold like excess office furniture by a Bain Capital-funded startup, which decided staying in business was too much trouble.  The buyer?  Apple.

We swear we are not making any of this up.  Let us know of your ease or difficulty in starting a business in the Real Bay Area (summary: 90% say it’s Special here even though it’s expensive. So?)  Or read the full 68 page report yourself, and comment on it before falling asleep.  Or discuss anything you wish in this Weekend Open Thread.

 

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 19, 2012

Not a cornr lot

Happy Friday!  Let’s finish out the week with a super structure in Saratoga, courtesy of Burbed reader wahnny!  And break out the red arrows, because we’re hunting mawbul kawlums!

121018-bellecourt-redfin15181 BELLECOURT Ave
Saratoga, CA 95070
$6,000,000

5 Beds 
5.5 Baths 
6,600 Sq. Ft.
$909 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 2003 
Lot Size: 1.02 Acres 
On Redfin: 10 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
County: Santa Clara
Style: French
Community: Saratoga
MLS#: 81236964

This unbelvble Gorgeous French Style Masterpiece Estate is spanned graciously on one level. Magestic & quality craftd, combind w/ architctural excellnce. Nestld in most desirble & prestigious area of SAR * Situatd on a Flat Acr+, * Guest Hse * amazing Media Rm/cinema * Game Rm * Exercise Rm w/ steam showr * 2Family Rms/wings * invitng grounds w/ Pool & Spa perfect4 entertainng * Orchrd * Nr downtwn-sar schls-Not a cornr lot

121018-bellecourt-entryWas this house listed on Twitter before they put it on MLS?  With 6600 square feet of living space, certainly the broker could make room to stage some more vowels.

Now heeeeeeeeeere’s wahnny on why this wigwam’s a winner!

It’s been a while since multimillion+ RBA houses were featured on Burbed, but I just came across one that seems to go overboard in its ostentatiousness.

121018-bellecourt-diningThe house looks like an ad-hoc mishmash of architectural styles, with each room having different themes, some with painted ceilings, and of course, mawbul kawlums galore!

Curious who the seller/realtor thinks will be attracted to such a place, especially at their asking price.

We’re curious how high the overbidding on this kawlumned kastle will be when it’s so unbelvble.  We’ve included some more pictures for your perusal in case you doubt its awesomitude.  But we’re thinking of calling shenanigans on the home theater.  Either every high-end installation looks and photographs exactly the same, or the picture’s been nicked from another listing.

121018-bellecourt-marble-everywhere121018-bellecourt-guesthouse121018-bellecourt-firepit121018-bellecourt-fireplace121018-bellecourt-study121018-bellecourt-theater

Bunus: See if you can figure out how this one acre property on the corner of Bellecourt and Highway 9 is not a cornr lot.

121018-bellecourt-satellite

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

October 18, 2012

First time on the market in 40+ yrs

Want to live on the Peninsula but don’t have a million dollars?  Have we got a house for you!  Not just a lower price, but a unique opportunity on a regal rarely-seen ranch, now on the front page of Burbed!  And of course it’s in Redwood City!

121017-lyons-redfin1146 LYONS St
Redwood City, CA 94061
$649,950

3 Beds
2 Baths
1,380 Sq. Ft.
$471 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1953
Lot Size: 6,160 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 10 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
View: Neighborhood
County: San Mateo
Stories: 1
Community: Central Park
MLS#: 81236863

First time on the market in 40+ yrs. 3 bdr, 2 ba. Kitchen and bathrooms updated in 2004. Bonus room off the garage is perfect for a tv room, exercise rm or home office space. Backyard swimming pool and covered patio enhance outdoor entertaining. Garage is finished w/ panneling and vinyl flooring and versatile for 2 cars parked inside or use as a big game room. Laundry room in garage.

121017-lyons-paneling-vinylThey don’t build them like they used to! No wonder Sothebys International is representing this primo property.  This house must have been masterly staged, or maybe it’s sitting on a 14 karat gold foundation.

Not every garage is finished w/ panneling and vinyl flooring! So versatile! Park 2 cars inside or use as a big game room.

Although if 121017-lyons-treestandyou want to use the garage as a big game room, wouldn’t you need a place to mount the shotgun racks as well as a ground-based hunting blind?  Sheesh, at least you’d want a Tree Stand?  Just be sure none of this gets in the way of the laundry room.

Plus the Redfin agent has some food for thought:

121017-lyons-redfin-agent

Interesting Eichler house but needs significant amount of work. Interior is a bit dark and bedrooms are on the smaller side. There is a bonus room with a fire pitoff the garage – permits should be verified.

Why verify permits? If there’s a fire pitoff the garage, some accidents were meant to happen on purpose.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 17, 2012

RV Access Parking is a PLUS!

Today’s featured home was sent in by Burbed reader waiting_for_the_fall.  We’re delighted to receive it, not only because this is the first contribution from this long-time regular we’ve seen in a while (or maybe even ever), but also because it’s from a part of the Bay Area we don’t cover as often as Silicon Valley.  This house is in the East Bay, and a part we don’t get too many nominations for, and best of all, it’s selling for less than not a lot of money.

Remember, if a house is in Northern California, it too can be Burbable!  Send your favorites on in to one of the email addresses in the upper right corner.

121016-briarwood-zillow8633 Briarwood Ln
Dublin, CA 94568
$425,000

Zestimate® $406,121
Est. Mortgage $1,489/mo
Beds: 4
Baths: 2
Sqft: 1,338
Lot: 7,649 sq ft / 0.18 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1963
On Zillow: 1030 days
MLS #: 40562786
View Virtual Tour (opens new tab)

This is a four bedroom/two bathroom home with 1338 sq. ft. The roof is approximately nine years old and Dual Pane Windows throughout. Plus Converted garage into a large beautiful family room w/storage. The living room has a gas burning fireplace. Huge private backyard with a large patio and tall trees. RV Access Parking is a PLUS!

121016-briarwood-livingHere’s what wftf said when sending us this place:

Will you please check out the price fluctuations on this craptastic house?  It made me dizzy reading the wild price gyrations on zillow.
And it is pending!

I give up.  The banks are winning.

Did you know you can’t spell wftf without wtf?  Because wtf is definitely the best reaction to the price gyrations on Zillow.

121016-briarwood-price-history

121016-briarwood-bedroomSo is this house in the Real Bay Area or isn’t it?  It more than doubled in the ten years between 1996 and 2005, but then… not so much.  Since buying this house for 630 big ones, the current owner has tried listing it at $674K just two years later, and then started throwing prices at the wall seeing if any of them would stick.  Not sticking in addition to $674K were just under $600K (with lucky 8s!!!), reducing it to $429K (just 3 months later). 

Price goes down, price goes up.  Plus at least four different agents, at four different brokers.  It all adds up to an eyepopping over thousand day old listing!

Then again, perhaps this lovely room is what’s keeping the buyers away, since it appears to have girl cooties.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

October 16, 2012

Burbed’s Election 2012 Voter Guide to California Propositions and more – Part 2

Burbians,

Yesterday I said I would publish a voter’s guide to our state’s amazing propositions. I have a lot of respect for our proposition system. After all, we all know that California (especially Silicon Valley) is only full of smart people who can enable direct democracy to work.

Proposition 30 Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding

Burbed recommends: No

Why? Because this increase the personal income tax on people who make over $250,000. These are the most important people in the Bay Area – the House Price Creators. Instead, this proposition seeks to redistribute their income to schools and whatnot. As we all know, Home owners are our nation’s future. Not children. Children are a terrible tax drain. They’re so obnoxious with their demands that we even banned them from working because they were so distracting to people who were adding value to our economy, and paying mortgages.

Save Home Price Creators! Vote no!

Proposition 31 State Budget. State and Local Government

Burbed recommends: No

Why? Because this is too complicated and if it doesn’t make sense in 30 seconds, it probably is bad. Also, I can’t see how a Yes for this would directly raise house prices. Pass.

Proposition 32 Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates

Burbed recommends: Yes

Forget the union aspect of this – let’s focus on the economics. Every $1 that is deducted for political contributions is a $1 that cannot be spent on a mortgage – which is a $1 that won’t go towards helping increase housing prices. If I could, I would ban all political contributions – except from the National Association of Realtors, of course, because their voice needs to be heard.

Help your union friends pay their mortgages! Vote yes on this. And if they lose their jobs/benefits/pay because they can’t collectively bargain anymore, then that’s ok – we don’t want poor people living here in the Real Bay Area anyway. $250k or bust!

Proposition 33 Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage

Burbed recommends: No

It’s a good idea, but this doesn’t go far enough. I like the idea of insurance companies being able to charge a 200% surcharge for having a gap in insurance coverage (as it happens in other states) that have passed something like this. Let’s face it, if we don’t make this state more expensive to live in, we’ll attract more undesirables.

But the reality is that it doesn’t address the biggest problem: that renters should be charged more for auto insurance than real citizens – aka homeowners. Everyone knows that renters have no respect for law or lives – they’re a daily threat, clogging up streets that homeowners pay (almost nothing thanks to Prop 13) for.

Send the message that this doesn’t go far enough. Vote no.

Proposition 34 Death Penalty

Burbed recommends: No

California spends $200M a year on special death row housing and other expenses apparently. This money has to go somewhere! If we get rid of the death penalty, what will happen to all the lawyers that deal with death penalty cases? How will they be able to afford their homes.

Sure it’s kinda unfair that some people get executed wrongly. But it’s also unfair to live next to a death penalty expert lawyer, and then see your house price drop because they have to do a short sale.

Sorry death row inmates – you’ve gotta take one for the team on this one. Greater good and all that.

Proposition 35 Human Trafficking. Penalties

Burbed recommends: No

Let’s face it, human trafficking is terrible. Instead of penalizing these pimps, we need to retrain them to become recruiters for Dice so that they can grow their business and buy more billboards on 101. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing those – it’s a great reminder of how awesome the hiring scene is in the Valley, and that in turn drives up housing prices.

Proposition 36 Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties

Burbed recommends: Yes

Personally I think we need fewer people in jails, so we can make more room for renters who don’t pay on time. But until that becomes a criminal violation (fingers crossed!) let’s get more people on the street so that we can train them to become eventual homeowners. More demand is always a good thing. And, since we don’t really do much in the way of retraining for prisoners here in California, we can assume these folks will end up back in courts and jail – gotta think of those lawyers!

Help the lawyers, help the world. Yes on Prop 36.

Proposition 37 Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling

Burbed recommends: No

Slippery slope my friends. First, we require companies to label food that may rise up and revolt in our stomach. Next, realtors will be required to verify claims in the descriptions in MLS. This is simply too dangerous. Less disclosure is always a good thing – moral hazard and all that.

Proposition 38 Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs

Burbed recommends: No

See Prop 30. Repeat after me: “Children are not our future. Baby boomers are our future.”

Proposition 39 Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding

Burbed recommends: No

This ends tax breaks for companies. As we all know, when you give tax breaks to companies, they pass these savings on to the employees in terms of higher wages. Just like how if you are constipated, the key is to buy more toilet paper because the supply will stimulate demand.

That said, this proposition does guarantee money for green projects – which could lead to even more hype for CleanTech which would mean more multi-trillion IPOs which would mean Manhattan level housing prices even in Redwood City.

This one’s a tough one. I’m going to have to stick with no for now though.

Proposition 40 Redistricting. State Senate Districts

Burbed recommends: No

Why? Because there apparently is no opposition. That’s got to be a trap. Vote no just to be on the safe side.

And there you have it folks, a guide to voting for the propositions this year!

Make me proud!

How many of these recommendations will you take?

Comments (14) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

October 15, 2012

Burbed’s Election 2012 Voter Guide to California Propositions and more – Part 1

Burbians,

I long contemplated whether or not I should write a voter’s guide for this election year. The fact is that I’m pretty jaded about the election process because of the rampant voter fraud.

Yes. Rampant voter fraud.

What?? You don’t know about the rampant voter fraud? Well, in that case, like my friend in this video says: “All you have to do is study it out.

The short version is this: Why do we allow renters to vote?

As we all know, renters are the collection of every worse stereotype you can imagine. Take everything we all hate about the poors, the gays, the blacks, the rich, the asians, the breeders, the hispanics, the liberals, the non-hispanic whites, the conservatives, the rednecks, the lazy youth, the elites, and the greedy boomers – put them in the blender you bought at Costco, and boom: Renters.

It is an absolute travesty that we allow these people who smell, are snobby, are flamboyant, don’t value education, drive too fast, keep popping out babies, drive too slow,  do drugs, are close minded, are too green, are too lazy, strive too hard, ruin our schools, are here illegally, pretend to be victims, oppress others, pay by check, make our schools too competitive, and are (UGH) vegan take part in our political process. First it was renters… what next? Should we let cougars (the mountain lion kind, not the aggressive kind) vote?

Fraud. That’s what it is.

Now, there are some who would argue that making home ownership a prerequisite discriminates against poor people. To that I have two points:

  1. This is exactly what our Founding Fathers wanted. They only wanted propertied people to vote. Trust me, I saw a documentary on the Declaration of Independence (Nicholas Cage did a fantastic job.)
  2. Poor people can own homes. Strawberry pickers buy a $720,000 houses all the time.

BOOM. The argument store is now closed.

But, as a journalist, it is my responsibility to educate you. And educate you I will.

So despite my reservations, I will indeed publish a voter’s guide tomorrow.

However, this guide will be limited only to the state-wide propositions.

I cannot endorse Obama or Romney. Neither of them support my plan to restore our economy by taking the Mortgage Interest Deduction, and turning it into the Mortgage Interest Tax Credit. That’s right… under my plan, you wouldn’t be able to deduct interest – instead you would get that money back directly. This would help our starving banks who, as we all know, are doing God’s work.

Before I publish this guide tomorrow some questions for the Burbians:

  1. What are the (true) stereotypes that you hate the most about renters?
  2. Should homeowners get one vote, while condo owners get .5 votes? Discuss.
  3. What should I recommend for each of the propositions?

-Your humble Burbed

Comments (22) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:51 am

October 14, 2012

Oh Noes! Politicians hating on mortgage deduction AGAIN!

Tax deduction for mortgage interest could be targeted

By Pete Carey, Posted: 10/12/2012 04:21:11 PM PDT, Updated: 10/12/2012 05:03:23 PM PDT

121013-mortgage-mittSAN FRANCISCO — The mortgage interest tax deduction beloved by many Americans is a logical target for raising revenue to deal with growing deficits, a leading housing economist said Friday.

“For fiscal sustainability, we need to get revenue,” said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. The alternative to shrinking the tax break is raising taxes, he said at a forum on California’s housing market sponsored by the Lusk Center and the online real estate service Zillow.

“My judgment is it’s better to do something about tax expenditures,” Green said. “One of the largest is the home mortgage interest deduction.”

The issue has been a hot button in the presidential campaign, as Democrats challenge Republicans to disclose what tax “loopholes” they would close to pay for their proposed tax cuts.

We are doomed.  DOOMED!  Once they come for our mortgage deductions, there is no more point to living.

Comments (60) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

October 13, 2012

What do you think about all the spamlicious selling stuff?

121010-spam-wallBurbed, like most blogs, gets its share of spam in the comments.  We use some spam-blocking tools to keep those to a minimum, but no tool is perfect. And sometimes some of your legitimate posts end up in the spam bin, where our hardworking staff has to rescue them by sorting through hundreds of offers of gay porn and Louis Vuitton ripoffs.  That means some of your comments sit alone, in the dark, with nothing but dozens of identical posts in Portuguese to keep them company until we dig them out them days later.

We’ve been dealing with some of the odder contributions by posting them without whatever sites they linked back to, as a Moment of Zen feature.  We’d like to know if you find these interesting or if this is wasted effort on our part, when we could be out looking at Open Houses to not write up.

Here are some of the latest additions to comments that really did belong in the spambucket, but are now standing on an equal footing with your own contributions. Please let us know if you think we’re taking the right approach toward responding to these. Do you enjoy them or should we just have left them in the spam Portal to Hell? It’s the hope of finding a #winning entry that keeps us checking the queue while rescuing those of you unfairly discarded with the Xbox cheat codes for only $49. The earnest, badly spelled, improper use of English while selling services on another continent comments are a “bunus,” but do let us know if these are worth our trouble.  Remember, these tend to released after most of you are done with the thread they sought out.

Or complain about something else.  This is an open thread, you know.  Post away. Attempts to sell us something are subject to further scathing editorial commentary.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

October 12, 2012

Mountain View: Sure to Impress

One of the problems with buying a house in Mountain View is that much of the housing stock is old yet expensive.  And by “old” we don’t mean “charming,” we mean “out of style” and “needs major renovation.”  We’re still talking about cookie-cutter tract homes, but in Mountain View, they’re million dollar cookie-cutter tract homes.

Not today’s property!  Burbed reader Michael Boltonestater found us a new property, so new we’re having trouble figuring out where it is.  And that’s where you come in!

121011-geary-movoto291 Geary Way
Mountain View, CA 94041
$1,249,900

Loan Payment:  $4,283/mo
Bedrooms:  4
Bathrooms:  4
Size:  1,744 sqft
$/Sqft:  $716/sqft
Type:  Single Family House
Year Built:  2012
Lot Size:  1,768
Days on Movoto:  48 days
Neighborhood:  Downtown
MLS#:  81231702
Status:  Pending – Do Not Show

121011-geary-angledThis gorgeous new 4 bedroom home is sure to impress with its stunning wrap-around balcony. This Home is in a prime location on the park AND it is an end-unit! The open floor plan is spacious and fully equipped with all the latest interior finishes. The first level has a bedroom and full bath which is perfect for a guest or the in-laws. Hurry in before it’s too late!

You didn’t hurry in and now it’s too late!  Despite the lack of interior photos, you cannot buy this house (for $1.25M!!!!) because someone’s already beaten you to it.  And note that by “house” we really mean “who are they kidding, if they admit this is an ‘end unit’ then why not just call it a townhouse?”

121011-geary-playgroundNote the clever home type: “Single Family House.”  Nothing about whether it’s attached to or detached from anything (other than pricing sanity). 

Does anyone know where this complex is and if anything is still for sale there?  Could it be this one?  Because if it is, you have better like trains.  And by “like” we mean “like listening to them.” Lots of them. Most realty sites don’t map the location, and the one that did seems to be somewhat lost.  (Hint: Fremont is not a neighborhood in Mountain View.)

More importantly, are you impressed with its stunning wrap-around balcony?  PS: If you liked this house, you might also like this one, which is on the same street but not too late.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am