February 4, 2013

Today in Portola Valley: Guest Blogger on Guest House

burbed_guest_bloggerWe haven’t had a guest post for a while, so we’re going to sleep in while Burbed reader Dr. Jim takes over today’s column.  Thanks very much!  Please give Dr. Jim a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome to the front page as today’s guest blogger!

And now we’re going back to bed.


130203-portola-redfin451 PORTOLA Rd
Portola Valley, CA 94028
$6,495,000

4 Beds
5 Baths
4,200 Sq. Ft.
$1,546 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1912
Lot Size: 1.13 Acres
On Redfin: 88 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: Tri-Level
Community: Brookside/Willowbrook Area
MLS#: 81240340

Stunning historic estate originally built by Herbert E. Law completely renovated with state of the art contemporary finishes. Turreted castle main residence (3 br) incl. 1000 sq. ft new construction, stone guest cottage, 1200 sq. ft workshop. 1.2 flat ac. in prime PV, western views, pool, bocce court, enclosed rose garden, diamond plaster top quality appliances incl. La Cornue stove, Miele appl.

130203-portola-gatehouseCheck it out: 

They expect to make $4,645,000 profit on a house that they bought 1.5 years ago for $1,850,000!  That’s $1106/sf for remodeling.  And the cottage and workshop were there already.  Granted, the land is valuable, but that’s already accounted for in the original purchase price.  Let’s say they spent a ridiculous million dollars on renovation.  That’s still a 28% ROI, which is wildly ambitious.

130203-portola-ladderA couple of notes on the listing copy: (1) This is not the Herbert E. Law estate, this is the former GATEHOUSE for the Law estate (Villa Lauriston).  (2) A La Cornue oven, oh boy!  It looks like the $35,000 model (Chateau 120).  If they had put in a $299 Kenmore range, I suppose they would be asking $6,460,299.  Not really much difference.

Thank goodness for the Internet.  Just a few years ago, prior sale info was more difficult to obtain.  I think part of the current real estate slump is due to all of the information on the web: people are no longer being duped as readily by realtors.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

8 Responses to “Today in Portola Valley: Guest Blogger on Guest House”

  1. SEA Says:

    Very hot real estate market…

    June 28, 2010 Listed for $2.30M
    October 4, 2010 Reduced to $2.20M
    February 7, 2011 Reduced to $1.95M
    July 12, 2011 Sold for $1.85M

    November 8, 2012 Listed for $6.50M

    The property features are a bit funny.

    “Property Features
    220 Volts in Kitchen, Double Pane Windows, Gas Hookup in Kitchen, Gas Hookup in Laundry Area, Gas Water Heater…”

    So you are looking at a place with a $6.5M listing price, and 220 volts in the kitchen is a feature? How much would it cost to get an electrician out to run the wire? Even if a new 400A service was needed, plus running the wire to the kitchen, would this be a deal breaker? Alternatively, with the 220 volts in the kitchen, is that a deal maker? I simply don’t see where it makes much of a difference one way or the other.

    I can almost hear it now:

    Yes, I was looking at a house with a $6.5M listing price, but I found out it didn’t have 220 volts in the kitchen, so I decided to pass. Can you believe that, it didn’t have 220 volts in the kitchen.

    RBA answer:

    Yes, I was looking at a house with a $6.5M listing price, but once I found out it had 220 volts in the kitchen, I knew I had to buy it.

    One day I might write a description of a $300k car the way some REALTORs write descriptions about $6M houses.

    “Features include wheels, tires, seat belts, radio, …”

  2. gallileo Says:

    They also missed the “Next door to a large apartment complex” and the busiest street in Portola Valley details. Hey, it’s a Portola Valley apartment complex, and the masses of bikers across your driveway every Saturday and Sunday morning of every year will keep you in shape–vicariously!

  3. mabeldu Says:

    ha! you had me at “turreted castle…” what a waste of rocks.

    that’s one ugly, overpriced flipper reno thingy.

    what an odd mish-mash of unrelated architecture & decor. the only room i liked was the final pic, the top floor bowling alley; nice beams.

    money can’t buy taste. proven yet again.

  4. Warrior Wart Says:

    The “house” is mind-blowingly close to the road, so close that you need an additional insurance rider to cover the case when a drunk hedge fund manager and/or his trophy wife plows their car into your living room.

  5. Dr. Chorillo Says:

    Warrior Wart … If you buy this house, YOU ARE a drunk hedge fund manager.

  6. nomadic Says:

    Reduced to $5.6M and OPEN TOMORROW! Burbed meet up!

    Then we can go drink green beer.

  7. shark Says:

    Now it’s reduced to $4.995M. Will probably go lower as the months pass by…. What do you all think the property is worth, heckling aside? I know the rocks aren’t for everyone. I’ve seen the house. My issues are the lack of a large family room (in the same house anyway), and a driveway that dominates the landscaping. But I like other things about the property. Although… the statement that the main house is 4200 sq ft doesn’t seem right to me. The top floor is only accessed by a pull down ladder thing, and there are no windows in the top floor — it’s a finished attic. So I don’t see how this can legitimately be included in the total sq ft of the main house…….. I’m NOT a realtor, just curious.

  8. nomadic Says:

    My SWAG: it’ll sell for $3.5M – $3.8M


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