November 18, 2012

NAR survey says their website gets more traffic than anyone else

121117-survey-searchInman News has a fairly long piece about a new National Association of Realtards survey.  There’s plenty of self-serving results to this 120 item questionnaire that was sent to 93,000 homebuyers and gave them a whopping 8% response rate.

One eyebrow raiser is the net gain on sale of a home held 11 to 15 years.  Now, if you live in the Real Bay Area, you already know the answer to that because your money would have doubled in ten years.  But the survey says the typical seller gains 31 percent, or $54,000.  So the gains aren’t anywhere near enough, and this says the typical house is worth $174K. Since you can’t even buy a playhouse for $174K in the RBA, we know this survey was sent to the wrong kind of people.

And that explains some of the other curious results.

54% of buyers who used the internet used their local MLS site.  Can you even name your local MLS site?

More popular than “other” websites (such as Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, etc.) are local real estate agent sites and then realtor.com.  Followed by broker company sites. Uh-huhhhh.  And that doesn’t include mobile apps.

Nine out of ten buyers who used the internet to find their new home used a realtard in the transaction, compared to seven out of ten of those who live in 1950 and used the newspaper.  The discrepancy is explained by the fuddy-duddies either buying from a builder direct or buying a house from someone they already knew.  Not mentioned was the non-internet users also not familiar with another realtard tool: the telephone.

121117-survey-agentsMost important factor in choosing a neighborhood was its quality, followed by commute time, affordability, and closeness to family and friends.  Not mentioned at all was the #1 driver of home sales in the RBA: school quality.  Who gives a crap about the neighborhood if the kids get into a school with APIs over 900?

Buyers chose a realtard based first and foremost on their reputation, which is like saying people decide who to vote for in an election based on a politician’s honesty.  Whoops, that’s the second most important thing buyers look for.

And what did buyers expect the realtard to do for them?  The most popular answer was “Help me find the right home.”

You can see some highlights from the NAR report on their website.  Want the full report?  It will run you $150.

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






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

“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 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

October 28, 2012

Innocent Ingenues, Allergy Antagonists or School District Scammers?

Here’s a great story we found via Inside Los Gatos, and by “great” this time we actually do mean “great.”  It’s got a number of hot buttons, so fire up your righteous outrage!

Los Gatos Family Continues to Fight School

Edwards family says school won’t let their kids attend because of nut allergies. Los Gatos Union School claims the family doesn’t live in the right district

By Stephanie Chuang, NBC Bay Area, Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012, Updated 9:15 PM PDT

Edwards family says school won’t let their kids attend because of nut allergies, school claims the family doesn’t live in the right district

In a story we first told you on NBC Bay Area last Friday, the tension between one South Bay family and the Los Gatos Union School District (LGUSD) is coming to a head.

Tuesday morning, the Edwards family walked 9-year-old Ella and 7-year-old Sarah into the Van Meter Elementary school office – only to be greeted by the superintendent and two police officers.

“That’s when my heart sank, when I heard there were police officers just to prevent my girls from going to the school they belong in,” said Shuly Edwards, the girls’ mother, before she began to cry.

121026-vanmeter-ella-sarahThis story has a mom claiming her daughters have been kicked out of five different schools because of their nut allergies.  It has a district superintendent retorting the family is scamming the district because they actually live elsewhere.  It’s got threatened lawsuits. And of course, it’s got video of the girls being cute on cue. 

Due to all the highly pressurized and flammable contents, we hope this will lead to a veritable flamefight lively discussion. And just to pour some gasoline on the fire, we’ll get you going with some of the ruder observations from ILG’s own commenters.  Below is the first video, with more background on the Edwards’ nut allergy claims.

121026-vanmeter-policeHere are some of the juicier rumors from Inside Los Gatos. (Burbed provides the comment summary as-is and without any implied warranty for accuracy. Some material appearing herein may not have been meant as a factual statement.)  The photo at right is also from the blog.

  • This family has a home in Campbell mom’s sister is renting from them
  • The same family was asked to leave Mulberry School (private) because of unreasonable food demands of others; mom is a troublemaker.
  • The same mom was in a different news story about her chronic migraines (Confirmed!)
  • Van Meter Elementary already has a nut-free lunch table
  • Family provided two addresses and the first one was fictitious; were investigated for 5–6 weeks.  They have until next Wednesday to provide all paperwork or they’re out again.

We laugh at the foolish reporter in the follow-up video (top) for comparing Los Gatos Elementary to Moreland and Campbell school districts. Stephanie Chuang asked administrators at the latter two if they had ever called police to resolve a residency dispute.  As all readers of Burbed know, only Real Bay Area cities have Real Bay Area schools worth lying to get your kids into.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

October 27, 2012

Mountain View: A Super Fun Site

Thought all those problems with toxic groundwater and Superfund site cleanup was in the past? Guess again.

121026-epa-mewmap

Turns out that parts of Mountain View are still dealing with problems from the TCE from not one but two different plumes.  What kind of problems?  Well, a higher incidence of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma than expected, according to the California Cancer Registry.

Now MEW can mean two different realty problems. Not only does it stand for Mortgage Equity Withdrawal, it also is an acronym for Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman, the area the EPA is monitoring for vapor intrusion.  You see, there is too such a thing as being on the Wrong Side of Middlefield.

121026-epa-hangar1TCE (Tricoroethylene), a cleaning solvent that’s been sitting in the ground since the early days of the semiconductor industry, is the apparent culprit.  Oh yeah, and the military dumped it as well.  Vapor intrusion is when these chemicals lead to outgassing into buildings over the TCE plume in the ground.  Researchers note it’s difficult to clean up because the area near Moffett Field is made up of… well, mud. 

There is good news.  The plume is migrating toward the Bay, away from residences.  There’s also bad news: the plume is migrating toward the Bay.

Do you live near any of these problem areas, or know someone who does? How much would you overbid for the opportunity to meet cute EPA scientists or cancer researchers?

Or if this topic is way too depressing for you, talk about anything you’d like in this Open Thread.  When you’re not worried about getting cancer from TCE, there’s always the Fantasy Slut League, coming to a high school near you!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 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 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 7, 2012

Palo Alto plagued by home burglaries

Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for bringing this to our attention.  Seems all isn’t as perfect as proclaimed in Palo Alto.

Residents fight burglaries with lights, cameras, action

Neighbors devising crime-fighting strategies

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff, Friday, October 5, 2012, 8:59 AM

121007-burglaries-incidentsMany Palo Alto neighborhoods are organizing in ways they have not since the rise of Neighborhood Watch programs in the 1980s, following a string of home burglaries that have plagued the city.

From surveillance cameras to neighborhood-warning signs, residents are strategizing to deter and perhaps even catch the thieves, who have made off with tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, cash and electronics since late last year.

Email lists from Crescent Park to Barron Park are crackling with the latest news about suspicious vehicles cruising residential streets. Last week, concerned north Palo Alto residents discussed a white van seen on their streets and gave information about it, complete with license number, to the Palo Alto police.

Neighbors’ increasing vigilance might help nab thieves like the ones who on Sept. 24 pilfered UPS parcels from a Crescent Park front porch within 30 seconds of the delivery. The resident, who asked that her name and home information not be made public, has shared images from her surveillance video with her neighbors and with police, she said.

121007-burglaries-94301What’s this? Crime rate up in Palo Alto, the most perfectest amazingest, wonderfulest Specialiest place in the universe? Nooooooooooo!

But we here at Burbed are confident that this approach of crowd-sourcing suspicious incidents will lead to these lowlife scum getting caught… until, as is often the case with crime in a wealthy neighborhood, the victims discover that the perpetrators were the teenaged children of their own neighbors.  We already know what those spoiled brats have been up to, hurling milkshakes at innocent pedestrians.

And don’t get too smug looking at that incident map on the top right. While that was what spotcrime.com generated for “Palo Alto, CA,” entering specific zip codes yields more crime events away from the Middlefield and Embarcadero area.   This incident map for 94301 shows more burglary and theft further northwest, and in only half the time period covered.

And dang it, that time period reported just missed the hurled milkshake.  But good news. There has been at least one arrest for car burglary.

 

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am