November 10, 2012

“Home Prices Near Highs in Some Cities”

It’s been an emotional week, so let’s end on an upbeat, high note!

Home Prices Near Highs in Some Cities

By AMIR EFRATI

As housing prices nationwide start to recover from their depths, home prices in Silicon Valley are close to an all-time high.

Many Silicon Valley cities have come nearly all the way back from the real-estate bust of just a few years ago, in terms of how much buyers are willing to pay per square foot for existing single-family homes.

Driven by technology employees looking to buy and a constrained housing supply, Los Altos, Palo Alto and Burlingame have registered the strongest comebacks. During the third quarter of this year, home prices in those cities were just several percentage points away from peak levels in 2008, according to new data from research firm DataQuick

[snip]

20121108a

WOOT!

Congratulations Bay Area. We are officially back and on track.

This weekend, go out and put a bid on every house. I predict that 2013 will be the year that the starting price of every home will be $1,000,888!

If we all pull together, I know we can do it.

Nothing can stop us now!

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:28 am






November 8, 2012

Two mirror image suites in Basements; two detached oversized

And — holy cow, it’s Friday already.  How about something aspirational for those of you with some seriously studly stock options?  Check out this little lulu in Los Altos!  Thanks very much to long-time Burbed reader/first-time caller RM for this find.

121108-holly-redfin1380 HOLLY Ave
Los Altos, CA 94024
$3,495,000

6 Beds 
6.5 Baths 
4,559 Sq. Ft.
$767 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 2009 
Lot Size: 0.28 Acres 
On Redfin: 20 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
View: Mountains, Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara
Stories: 2
Community: South of El Monte
MLS#: 81238438

Quality built architect designed custom home. Features top rated Los Altos School. incl. Oak Ave School. Close to schools and park. Easy access to hwy 85,Foothill & 280.Gourmet Kitchen Overlooking rear Patio, Great master suite. Two Bedroom suites on main floor & Two Mirror Image Suites in Basements. Spacious Livingroom w/ Vaulted ceilings. 4 car garage two car attached two detached oversized.

121108-holly-kitchenThis was built in 2009?  Srsly?  Just a casual glance gave me all these 1974 tingles.  Now, let’s hear from RM on why this house belongs on the front page.

This is a very odd house for sale in my neighborhood. Garage in the center of the house, two basement bedroom suites, and a giant detached garage in the back, with no paving for the driveway to the back. (And no pictures.) Lap pool combined with swimming pool in a very constrained space.

121108-holly-satelliteCheck out the google maps for a good overhead view of the oddness. And confetti colored tile in the kitchen and baths. Whoever buys it will be really sorry if they do not remove the redwood by the front driveway, or if they pay $3,495,000.

Wait, there’s a pool?  Is it in the Basements?

When did “confetti tile” become A Thing?  Didn’t we ran a house recently that had the same fascinating design choice?  Well, there was this.

Alas, this Quality built architect designed custom home is 441 square feet too small to merit the ginormous tag.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 9:08 pm

“San Francisco Rental Market Drives Applicants to Extremes”

Now that this silly, inconsequential, election is over, we can focus on what we do best here in the Bay Area – increase housing prices. I’m so glad the election is over because now everyone can stop spending on campaigns, and spend more on buying homes. Or paying more in rent.

Recently, I read this piece and… well… frankly I was infuriated:

San Francisco Rental Market Drives Applicants to Extremes

by Sam Harnett | October 23, 2012 — 7:57 AM

San Francisco’s rental market usually cools down in the fall, but not this year. The average asking price for a one-bedroom in the city is now $2,673 a month, up more than 10 percent from last year. This big rent increase reflects a housing shortage fueled on one side by the recent wave of tech hires and the other by an absence of new units. In response, apartment hunting has returned to the frenzy of the dot-com boom, with prospective applicants packing open houses, forking over application fees and even engaging in bidding wars just to secure a temporary place to live.

I experienced this superheated market firsthand. My girlfriend and I spent three months this summer searching for an apartment. We saw over two dozen one-bedrooms, most for more than $2,200 a month, and almost all of them completely horrible. We’re talking shag carpet, mold, and converted garages with no windows. Even the worst places we saw drew crowds. The open houses were like some twisted beauty contest where you had five minutes to tell your entire life story, woo the landlord, and leave everyone else in the dust. Emil Meek puts it perfectly: the process “turns you into a monster.”

I met Meek and his girlfriend Alma Freeman outside of a packed open house in Potrero Hill. They are in their mid-30s and both have that stretched-out look of put-on smiles and constant heartbreak. Meek is a landscaper and Freeman works for a non-profit downtown. They have great credit and collectively earn $110,000 a year, but they still can’t find a place. Freeman says “it feels a little bit like you are looking on the sidelines and not really able to compete.” The desperation of the search has made them manic. They are arriving to open houses as much as an hour early, peeking into the windows to try and scope the place out, and doing everything in their power to get their application in before anyone else.

Even more worrisome Meek says, is how the process corrupts everyone involved. At one place they saw, the landlord was running a bidding war like it was some kind of game show. The couple had actually met the same landlord a week earlier at a different apartment, and there he had said he was looking to fill the vacancy with “just the right person.” At the second place, the “right person” had come to mean whoever was willing to pay the most money. He looked around at all the applicants and then said “sorry, it’s San Francisco!” As disgusted as the couple was, it didn’t stop them from putting down a bid of their own.

[snip]

Good grief.

1. These people should be pouring their money into mortgages and driving up prices, instead of being selfish, non-citizens and renting. Sheesh.

2. These landlords are such novices. Really? Only judging people by their incomes. You can do better than that! Let’s look at how professionals do it. Time for a flash from the past:

Home Front: Sellers can be choosers

June 17, 2005 12:00 am

By Amir Efrati / The Wall Street Journal

Within a month of putting her two-bedroom house in San Francisco on the market recently, homeowner Linda Gao had five offers, each one above her asking price of $699,000. So before accepting the most-attractive bid, she threw in an extra condition: If you want to buy my house, you have to feed the squirrels.

Two weeks later, she and the buyer hammered out a contract that included feeding the backyard wildlife, which Ms. Gao has done three times a week for the past two years. "I don’t think it matters if it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market," Ms. Gao says. "Anyone with a good heart would feed them."

In this booming real-estate market, prospective home buyers are encountering some unorthodox requests. As sellers are barraged by eager bidders, they’re seeking not only the highest price or wrangling over who’ll pick up taxes and closing costs — but some also are asking to stay in the house months after the deal closes, or requesting fixtures that typically stay with the property, such as refrigerators and diving boards. In Tempe, Ariz., one seller invited bidders to sit for interviews until he found one he thought his neighbors would like. A homeowner in San Antonio was happy to let her house go, but only to a buyer who promised not to renovate it.

"As a buyer you have no leverage in this market," says Bruce Ross Bernor, an agent in San Francisco. "You have to bite your tongue and go along with it."

[snip]

Some buyers aren’t eager to give ground. After Lisa Lai Fook offered the $499,000 asking price for a town house in Oakland, Calif., last month, the seller asked her to write a letter describing her background. Ms. Lai Fook walked away. "I’m really busy," says the 33-year-old chemical engineer. "To sit there and write a letter to someone I don’t know after I’ve put down a ridiculous sum of money is insulting."

Let’s face it… if you’re a property owner (a good person), if you’re not being demeaning and cruel to non-property owners, you’re not doing your job in helping those people understand their place in society.

Landlords! It’s time to turn up the heat! Demand that free cuddling be part of the lease! Demand that the renters feed the neighborhood capybara. Don’t have a capybara? Get one so that they have to feed it! Ask them to take a Meyers-Briggs test – but then throw it away just to make them understand you wanted them to waste their time.

Do it for the good of the Bay Area!

If you were a landlord, what would you do to renters?

Comments (9) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:55 am

November 7, 2012

Bleary-Eyed Morning After Late Night Election Returns Special

Um.  Here’s your listing of the day.  It’s in Mountain View, so you can’t lose on this (as long as you don’t buy it).

121106-reinert-redfin2148 REINERT Rd
Mountain View, CA 94043
$800,000

— Beds 
— Baths 
— Sq. Ft.
Built: — 
Lot Size: 0.25 Acres 
On Redfin: 22 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Planned Unit Development Land
County: Santa Clara
Community: Rengstorff
MLS#: 81237824

As per city can be built 2 homes on it, buyer to verify this information with the city.

Right.  As the Burbed reader who sent it in quipped, “Department of redundancy department?”

Keep calm and carry on in comments.  If you happen to mention elections we won’t complain, but verify with city first.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

November 6, 2012

Election Day Special

If you haven’t already sent in your absentee ballot, today is the day for you to vote.  There’s a clutch of candidates who made speeches and some of them are going to get elected.  Burbed has not endorsed any specific candidates, but we have a guide to the state propositions based on how much each would increase the value of your house.

Now, here’s the house we’d vote for if it were on the ballot.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader MJ for nominating it!

121105-wolfe-trulia1430 South Wolfe Road
Sunnyvale CA 94087
$728,888

Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
175 days on Trulia
33 views
Property type: Single-Family Home
Size: 1,768 sqft
Lot: Ask agent
Price/sqft: $412/sqft
Year built: 1949
MLS/ID: 81218044

REGULAR SALE, NOT A SHORT SALE!!!NOT A SHORT SALE!!! NEWLY REMODELED PROPERTY!!! 1,768 SQ FT. GRANITE COUNTER TOPS, NEW BRAZILIAN CHERRY CABINETRY, NEW CARPETING IN ALL THE BEDROOMS, MARBLE IN BATHROOMS & HALLWAY, HOUSE IS IN A GREAT LOCATION. CONVENIENT ACCESS TO HWY 280, 85 AND LAWRENCE EXPY. IN OTHER WORDS A TURNKEY HOME FOR YOUR BUYER.

121105-wolfe-stove-1Here’s MJ’s nominating speech.

I’ve read the blog for a while but never felt compelled to send anything in. Until now. I believe I found a home with every Burbed cliche. It is a crapshack. It has a sweet price history, quadrupling in price in fourteen years, eights in the listing price, garage converted to “living unit with two bedrooms and a kitchen”, awful location on a busy road (though oddly the listing copy mentions its proximity to a different busy road), seven photos of the stove, and insane listing copy noting twice it isn’t a short sale. It even has DHO, see the reflection in the patio door.

121105-wolfe-reflectionI don’t feel like I can take credit for this. The realtor really deserves it all.

Oh it gets better. My wife found out it come with Sunnyvale utilities but Santa Clara schools, four Redfin agent comments, and the first shot is a Google street view. We really have hit every Burbed cliche except pink house.

But was it a former meth lab?  Got ya there, huh?

121105-wolfe-redfinMJ sent us a link to Redfin, which was perfectly fine when we checked it out a couple of days ago, but this is what we see now.  Another Burbed cliche, the listing got pulled the day we wanted to write it up.  Fortunately it’s still on almost every other real estate site (for now), so we’re going to grab those pictures while the grabbing is good.

Whoa, how’s this for a cliche?  Search for the house by address, click on the Trulia listing, and get the wrong house in the wrong town.  We swear we’re not making this up, but the Google link to the house was sending us to 1395 Jefferson in Santa Clara.  Whew!

At least the Redfin comments are still there, even if the 24 photos were taken down.  See some of what you missed, after the break.

(more…)

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

November 5, 2012

2x better than a DHO? Belmont house with CHO!

We do enjoy a few inside jokes here at Burbed, and sometimes our new readers may not understand all the mysterious terms.  If you ever wondered what we mean by the acronym DHO (which even has its own tag), today you’re going to find out!

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Divasm for this beautilicious battlement in Belmont!

121104-elder-redfin16 ELDER Dr
Belmont, CA 94002
$1,229,500

4 Beds 
2.5 Baths 
2,490 Sq. Ft.
$494 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1974 
Lot Size: 0.26 Acres 
On Redfin: 108 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Community: Belmont Woods
MLS#: 81227108
Style: Ranch
View: Bay, Green Belt, Mountains, Canyon, Marina, City Lights
County: San Mateo

Sweeping views of SF skyline, Bridges, East bay. Public rooms on main level:L shaped living/dining rm w/ vaulted ceilings, kitchen w/ granite counters, family rm w/ vaulted ceilings and Fplc. Kitchen/family rm opens to deck. Bedrooms including master suite on lower level open to deck. New in 2006-roof, gutters, decks, driveway, garage door, copper plumbing, carpets, granite counters, water heater. Lot is 11,480 sqft

121104-elder-walkwayHere’s what Divasm had to say when passing this place along:

Bunus! House comes with couple hanging out watching the news!

This house worried me at first – more than half of the photos (13 of 23), including the first 9, are all of the exterior. Three of them feature the family minivan, and pic 6 is of a random stone walkway. So I thought, it must be horrible inside – you know, a contractor’s dream, etc. But it’s not, it seems well taken-care of, actually, It’s just that the current owners seemed to not want to bother with this pesky “staging” thing.

121104-elder-sinkI think the agent probably tried suggesting that maybe they remove some personal things while he took photos – like the dishes in the sink, for example – and they declined. So there they are, sitting in the kitchen at the table, apparently watching the television, which seems to be on some sort of news program from what I can tell.

What’s also weird is the listing history. It appears to have been listed July 19 at 1,295,000, sold on August 17 for 13,000, then Pending Without Release on August 22, now it’s back at $1,229,500. Is the real estate agent as incompetent at MLS history as he is at managing his sellers? He must be, otherwise there would be 8′s in the price.

121104-elder-cho121104-elder-tv121104-elder-cho-zoom121104-elder-tv-zoom

121104-elder-kitchenBut what I really want to know is if that CHO comes with the house…maybe they are the live-in staff. That explains why it says “Public Rooms on main level” in the copy – because your maid and butler stay there (where do they sleep, the minivan?). If so I’m going to need their resumes and references before I buy the house.

If you clicked on the DHO tag, you might have figured out it meant somebody got caught in a listing photo. We have to go back to this house with not one but two Dudes Hanging Out to find the birth of this Burbed meme.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

November 4, 2012

Worst Realtard Ad Ever?

Yes, this is an actual ad, even though it ran in The Onion.  This is definitely one of the more interesting approaches to pounding the pavement for new clients (he’s certainly pounding something), and we first found it at The Fiscal Times, in a slideshow featuring more listing fail.  Guess we managed to miss it when it hit the big time on Boing-Boing.

121103-wanket

This is in a completely different class of self-promotion than, say, writing cute little jingles about yourself.  Then again, as long as the jingles aren’t NSFW, the jinglemeister won’t have Wanket’s results:

Calls and emails to Mr. Wanket were not returned and an Edina Realty spokesperson said the ad didn’t adhere to their guidelines and he’s no longer with the company.

In case you’re wondering just exactly why this ad does not adhere to Edina Realty’s guidelines, we have their answer:

“Well, first of all, it didn’t have the required Fair Housing notification on it,” [Vice President of Marketing Lynn] Clare said.

Let us know about how other real estate agents grab your attention, either in a good way, or if they unintentionally end up beating you off.  P.S. Wanket is no longer in the real estate industry.  Can’t imagine why.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

November 3, 2012

Stockton: Gateway to Exurban Misery

Burbed has often featured links to real estate and economy pieces on the weekends, provided by both local and national news sites.  Today’s article comes from The Guardian, based in the United Kingdom.  Its excellent reportage capturing the civic death throes of California’s 13th largest city (4th largest in the Central Valley), and its British perspective offers an outsider’s look at some of our issues we can’t see ourselves.

Stockton, California: ‘This economy is garbage’

The middle-class families Obama claims as his bedrock are suffering in a city where foreclosure and violence are rampant

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, Friday 2 November 2012 13.12 EDT

121102-stockton-gatedIn some towns, visitors are warned to keep an eye on their stuff, or to watch out late at night. In the Californian city of Stockton, the anxiety is more precise – and it kicks in early. “Take care downtown after 5pm,” one local person told me. “Don’t hang out too long.”

A few hours later, I saw what she meant. Almost as soon as the offices shut, the city centre empties. Then the sun goes down and a different cast takes to the streets: the homeless, the drug dealers, and clusters of young men patrolling up and down on bicycles.

Stockton ranks among America’s 10 most dangerous cities, and everyone here seems to operate under a self-imposed curfew. The commuter admits she doesn’t dare go to the cinema after 8pm; the father expects his 18-year-old daughter home by 10 – “and she totally gets why.” Others prefer not to go out at all. All give the same reason: the spiralling number of violent crimes.

Last weekend, the city notched up its 60th murder of the year, up from 24 for all of 2008. At just under 300,000 residents, this river port has about the same population as a London borough. Imagine a couple of your neighbours getting killed every week, and you’ll understand why almost all the conversations here touch on a recent homicide.

TL;DR: Sucks, crime, cuts, crash, foreclosure, not the Real Bay Area, affordable big houses, long commutes, upside down, civic decay, life downgrade, bust redevelopment loans, abandoned shops, cheap rentals, farmland. We highly recommend this piece but warn you it has a somewhat high bummer factor.  If you’re the type who gets weepy and emotional reading about mortgage rates going up 0.1 percent, we suggest you read this with either a supportive friend or a drink with plenty of kick.  This is a news feature with a Steinbeck vibe by way of Manchester.

Fortunately, this is also your weekend open thread, so you don’t just have to talk about this essay, or Stockton, or the crap house you toured today that might as well be in Stockton, or the demographics of Weston Ranch versus Brookside. 

You’re all ready for our Fantasy Real Estate League, right? This is going to be great!

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

November 2, 2012

Unbelievable

Here’s a find from Burbed reader hikelife.  Did you always want to live in a million dollar mansion?  If you have that million you could live in Sunnyvale instead!

121101-labella-redfin1354 LA BELLA Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
$1,000,000

3 Beds 
1 Baths 
1,034 Sq. Ft.
$967 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1950 
Lot Size: 9,576 Sq. Ft. 
On Redfin: 1 day
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara
Stories: 1
Community: Sunnyvale
MLS#: 81239620

Unbelievable

Does this house look familiar?  It should, because it showed up in comments yesterday.  We’ll let you use that worthwhile section to admire how hard this agent is working for that $60,000 commission.  A word and a photo, both!

We’ll leave you with a peek at the actual house (which would have raised the agent’s commission to $80,000).

121101-labella-streetview

Super bunus!  Ginormous trash bin!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

November 1, 2012

Elegant Dark Engineered wood floors in Alameda

It’s a new month, Spring Bounce is just around the corner, and the Real Bay Area continues to be awesome sauce.  But what about those outside the Zone of Ever-Climbing Real Estate Values? Let’s check in with Burbed reader J from Alameda, who found something in the treat bag for us.

121031-court-movoto1315 Court St
Alameda, CA 94501
$970,000

Loan Payment:  $3,377/mo
Bedrooms:  4
Bathrooms:  4&1/2
Size:  3,193 sqft
$/Sqft:  $303/sqft
Type:  Single Family House
Year Built:  1905
Lot Size:  4,000
Days on Movoto:  14 days
MLS#:  40593343
Status:  Active

Beautiful Remodel. New Kitchen with Granite and SS appliance. Shining New Bathrooms remodeled w/ Marble. Elegant Dark Engineered wood floors. New Plush Carpet. New Paint Inside & Out. New Roof. All make this property shine. Open House Sat 1-4

121031-court-kitchenGood news! We’d hoped a house that’s 107 years old would have at least one appliance eligible for Social Security.  Better buy it quick before Congress decides to implement Dishwasher Death Panels.  We hope the paneling will match the engineered floors.

Here’s what J thought about this property:

Here is a question to ponder: investor buys house. Puts some money into it. Then ups the price – was it $400,000? No, more. Be that as it may, for that huge profit, do you think they could hire a real photographer? One with a clean lens (photo 9)? Who can take a bathroom photo without appearing in it (photo 10)? This is in a lovely neighborhood but I predict it will sit. Something about that 3,000+ sf house on a 4,000 sf lot does not bode well.

121031-court-lens121031-court-mirror

It looks like its raining in photo 9.

It’s raining instant equity!  Bunus: Buy this house for almost a million dollars and you get to choose whatever washer and dryer you want!  That’s right, hookups only.  Super Bunus: Zillow sez: “This home is done! Just move in your belongings!”  Laundry appliances are belongings, too.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am