June 20, 2010

Letters, We Get Letters

full mailboxHere’s another guest post from madhaus, who noticed that burbed has been letting the mail pile up.

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend, although some of you are working two or three jobs each to afford living here.  Then again, I better not assume all of you have jobs either!  That’s the fun of living in the Real Bay Area in 2010.  It’s so Special here, nobody has any idea whether you just made ten million in stock options or minimum wage at the yogurt shop.  Unless you wear your YoGoGoGo apron to Open Houses.

So this is a great time to catch up on some reader mail!  Let’s dig into the ol’ Inbox and see what our Readers have to say!

Dear burbed, Am I on the air?
— Nervous

Yes.  Do you have a question?  Rats, Nervous hung up.  Readers, don’t email unless you want an answer.  Let’s go to our next entry.

Dear burbed, I make about $120K a year working at [company withheld].  I saved up $80K for a down payment, and I could tap into my 401K if I had to, there’s about $60K there.  What can I afford that will give me the best value?  I don’t have kids so school district doesn’t matter.
–Now is the Time

Dear Now, of course school district matters.  You’re asking the wrong question.  Instead of asking about value, you should ask about preserving your investment.  Buy in the best school district you can afford. In your case, I think that would be Hemet.


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

June 19, 2010

A time for change…

A serious post.

Burbed.com has been around in its current form since February 2006 – nearly a decade in Silicon Valley time. Unfortunately, a few months ago, I experienced some life-changing, personal tragedy.

I would like to thank madhaus, sonarrat, herve, DreamT, and the countless lurkers who have written guest posts, and sent me links in the past. Your help has been invaluable.

It has been fun running this site. I have never been the best admin, so I think all you readers who have stuck through all the downtime, spam blocking, and other wackiness this site has experienced. I hope you have enjoyed reading the content on this site.

I picked this day to post this piece, because my life is also at the crossroads in some way. What do I want to do? What should I be doing? And how does Burbed fit into the overall picture?

At this point, I’ve decided that I’d like to reduce my involvement with this site permanently. I’ve considered switching Burbed to a phpbb-style forum, but I’m not sure that would work so well. I’m open to keeping the site open, and only posting content occasionally, and allow more people to have guest posting privileges. I’m also open to the idea of a sunset – simply shutting down the site on a specific date in the next few months.

Unique visitors to this site dropped 26% from October 2008 to October 2009, 27% from April 2009 to April 2010. These are not encouraging trends. To be open and honest, I’m leaning towards the last option.

This site is not, and has never been a democracy. But that said, I’d like to hear your thoughts on what you would do, or what you would like to see me do, given how I feel about this site.

Thanks for reading.

Comments (82) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:41 am

June 18, 2010

Are you a first time buyer who wants to be on TV?


How are you? I was just browsing your blog, and I thought you might be interested in this. I am the Associate Producer of Casting for HGTV’s “My First Place.” We are currently conducting a casting in the Bay Area, and I’m trying to get the word out to as many first-time homebuyers as possible!

I was wondering if it would be possible to post something about this on your blog?

I’ve attached a press release to this email. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and let me know if you can help me get the news out to your readers!

Please feel free to share this information with any professional and/ or personal contacts you think of.


Cole Schneider

Associate Producer, Casting

“My First Place”–HGTV



Comments (17) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am

June 5, 2010

twenty to thirty year olds making a good salary

Recently someone found this site by searching for: twenty to thirty year olds making a good salary 

That, my friends, is the definition of the Bay Area. I can’t think of anyone twenty or thirty year old who isn’t making at least $85k. And, that’s a good salary. Sure it almost qualifies you for government assisted housing in Mountain View, but it’s good. Unfortunately, this can happen in other areas as well.

The key is the stock! Cha-CHING! So… the right search should have been “twenty to thirty year olds making millions through stock” – and then the Bay Area would be the definitive winner!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:30 am

June 4, 2010

Live at an Undisclosed Address! – removed

At the request of the owner of this house, this post has been removed.

Comments (125) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:52 pm

May 31, 2010

It’s Memorial Day – how are you celebrating it in the Bay Area?

It’s Memorial Day – how are you celebrating it in the Bay Area? How many open houses will you attend to help show interest and drive up prices?

Comments (73) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:10 am

May 25, 2010


Thanks to Herve for this guest post….

So you’re 30-something. You listened to the stock options sirens and moved to the Bay Area in 2000… Ten years later:

– your options are worthless

– the sirens turned into 2 roommates playing WoW who haven’t showered for 3 days

– your 1996 Civic will hopefully last you another 10 years

More importantly, your dreams of early retirement shattered. But don’t despair, there is an easy solution.
Yes, you can own your own RV (Retirement Vehicle), park it in the Bay Area, build your own stairs, get your own mailbox (that’s the black box by the stairs) and come back every evening after a long day at work thinking you made it. On week-ends, drive your home to Safeway or Walmart, take pictures and send them to your parents. They will be proud of you and tell all their neighbors their only son invented the Internet in 2002 (that’s ok, nobody will know there). Remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.

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

May 17, 2010

Two Years Later, Who’s in the RBA Now!

And now, a guest post from Madhaus. Pretty thought provoking!

Two Years Later, Who’s in the RBA Now!

Just about two years ago, burbed ran this post, picking up my comment predicting which Special places in the Bay Area were going to become a little less Special.  Home prices in income-challenged regions of the Bay Area had been crashing for more than a year, and foreclosures were starting to mount in far-flung exurbs such as Stockton (and closer ones such as Gilroy).  But most in the Real Bay Area thought they were immune from the oncoming tide of equity retreat.

With my battle cry of “Here’s my prediction of which areas will be removed from the RBA next, in order, with RBA defined as ‘where prices never go down,’” I invite you to Real Bay Area, Then and Now!

And the surprising conclusion?  Only ONE ZIP CODE remains in the RBA.  That’s right.  ONE.  And it’s in Palo Alto!

td valign=”top” width=”108″>565


Locale 2008 $/sf 2010 $/sf Annual % change
West Redwood City 94062 $576 $499 -6.9%
S. Santa Clara 95051Maywood Park/CUSD $465$796k $348
South Sunnyvale 94087non-CUSD
Central Mountain View 94040 573 550 -2.0%
South Mountain View 94041 644 572 -5.8%
Willow Glen 95125
redfin neighborhood
468 350 -6.4%
West San Jose CUSD 95129 567 485 -7.5%
Los Altos 94022 764 649 -7.8%
Cupertino 95014east of Bubb
west of Bubb
Los Gatos 95032 572 457 -10.6%
Los Gatos 95030 719 603 -8.4%
West Menlo Park 94025
actual Redfin neighborhood
793 724 -4.6%
Palo Alto 94303Midtown 706
Palo Alto 94306 580 724 +11.7% (!)
Saratoga 95070 671 559 -8.7%
Palo Alto 94301 907 801 -6.0%
Los Altos Hills 94024 739 647 -6.4%
Woodside 94062 847
Portola Valley 1,060 648 -21.8%
Palo Alto 94304 1,070 771 -15.1%

Zip code $/sf data from redfin, comparing April 14, 2008 with April 12, 2010 sales prices per square foot.  If a neighborhood is unrepresentative (read: way more Special) of its ZIP code, I picked a house in the neighborhood and compared Zestimates for the beginning of May 2008 and 2010.  Yes, completely unscientific and unrepresentative, but until Redfin lets me pick a neighborhood by school district, or pick a neighborhood that has a name they don’t want to acknowledge, tough.

Wasn’t that a surprise?  The fairest ZIP code of them all is South Palo Alto.   Who knew?  South Palo Alto 94306 – up an incredible 11.7% annualized!  Yes, scraping tiny homes off small lots and replacing them with McMansions pays off!

And let’s have a round of applause for our lovely runners-up, those areas that lost less than five percent annual value in the last two years.  Yes, two years, so you have to more than double those percentages to figure out how much value the average house lost!  Here they are, the lucky ducks!

  • · Central Mountain View 94040 -2.0%
  • · South Sunnyvale 94087 -4.1%
  • · West Menlo Park 94025 -4.6%

Sorry North Mountain View (94043), you’re only down -3.3% a year, but you never were in the RBA in the first place.

Many predictions were made in 2008.  Discuss.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:25 am

May 6, 2010

average high school donation

It’s been a while, but it’s time for Search Engine Result Thursday!

Recently someone found this site by searching for: average high school donation 

Great question! I think the average in the Bay Area ranges from $250-$10,000. It’s a function of how much you care about your child’s education, and how much you care about the welfare of the senior citizens, landlords, and corporate land holders that pay 1/10th of what you pay in their property tax.

How much do you donate to your school?

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

April 24, 2010

Top 29 Cities to live in for men – San Francisco beats New York in cost of living!

Top 29 Cities to live in

1: New York City



10: San Francisco



I think this is a case of good news/bad news. The good news is that San Francisco scored 9.2/10 for cost of living, while our mortal enemy New York scored a mere 8.9/10. WOOHOO!

That said, it’s clear the methodology of this report was wrong. They should’ve been comparing Silicon Valley!

Comments (76) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:57 am