November 29, 2008

At least we’re Top 10….

S.D. home prices fall but sales are brisk
While nearly 39 percent of San Diego homes sold were affordable in the third quarter, the New York City area was deemed the least affordable with only 10.6 percent of homes sold at a median $500,000 and within reach of the median-income household earning $63,000.

Four of the least-affordable markets were in California: San Luis Obispo, 13.4 percent; San Francisco, 16.6 percent; Los Angeles, 20.7 percent; and Napa, 23.2 percent.

To be clear, these are definitely tough times. With house prices not going up as fast anymore, there’s definitely some gloom. It saddens me that we still can’t beat New York City in unaffordability, but we sure beat them in median income  (wtf, $63k? cafeteria chefs make more than that here!)! And, it should hearten some that we are at least in the Top 10 for being unaffordable.

Mixed signs for sure.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:11 am






November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Usually I publish the annual Thanksgiving price comparison – which shows that groceries in the Bay Area are dramatically more expensive than they are in our competitors of Seattle and Washington DC (also known as the “The other places where there are Safeways”). You can see last year’s edition here.

Unfortunately, this year I waited too long, and as a result, Safeway started having crazy sales which made direct comparisons impossible. Whoops. My bad on that.

So, instead, this year I will list what I am thankful for, and I hope you share as well:

  1. That I have this site.
  2. That the Bay Area is still incredibly special.
  3. That the comments on this site are still pretty darn good (compared to… say… youtube comments!)
  4. That people keep reading this site.
  5. All the fine people who have donated to the site. Most recently – a $50 contribution from madhaus! Thanks a lot! (You too can contribute!)

Of course, there’s plenty more I’m thankful for, but I’ll leave it short and sweet for today.

What are you thankful for?

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:30 am

November 24, 2008

“NorCal median home price plummets 41 percent”

NorCal median home price plummets 41 percent
A real estate tracking firm says the median home price plunged 41 percent last month in a nine-county region around San Francisco Bay, as homebuyers snapped up homes that had been foreclosed and otherwise discounted.

Figures released Thursday by MDA DataQuick show the median sale price in the region declined to $375,000 October, compared to $631,000 in the year-ago period.

October’s median was down 6.3 percent from September and nearly 44 percent below the peak median of $665,000 in the summer of 2007.

Last month’s home sales climbed nearly 39 percent from a year ago to 7,613 and nearly 5 percent from September.

Foreclosure resales accounted for nearly 45 percent of preowned homes sold last month.

Bay Area H8ters will probably celebrating this news and throwing it in our face. But let’s be clear, this refers to the 9-county region in Northern California. I can’t even name all 9 – can you?

Come on folks, please write letters to the editor explaining to them the concept fo the Real Bay Area. It’s all about (most of) Santa Clara, (some of) San Mateo, and San Francisco county.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:13 am

November 16, 2008

1 in 7 homes in Santa Clara County is ‘underwater’

1 in 7 homes in Santa Clara County is ‘underwater’ – San Jose Mercury News
In Cupertino, for example, only 1 percent of owners who purchased their homes since 2003 were underwater — also called “upside-down” — in the third quarter. In San Jose’s 95122 ZIP code, 62 percent of recent buyers had negative equity. In Gilroy, 51 percent did.

That’s bad news for many homeowners in the San Jose metropolitan area. But, said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s vice president for data and analytics, “When you compare it to other major metro areas in California, it actually fares very well.”

Seriously? People are talking about Gilroy when they talk about the Bay Area? Still? Come on MSM (Main Street Media)! Get with the times!

Here’s a corrected map of the Real Bay Area:

Let’s focus on the real news:

Humphries noted that home values in Santa Clara County cities such as Cupertino and Mountain View finally began to slip in the third quarter, despite the fact that other parts of the county already have seen double-digit depreciation.

“Prior to this quarter we were thinking of those as oases,” he said. “It’s very evident just how much the San Jose metro region has been buoyed by the tech sector.”

In Cupertino, Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, the company said, the median estimated value of all homes declined between 1 and 2 percent in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier. Monte Sereno was the only community in the county where values rose compared with third quarter 2007, rising 1.3 percent.

Good! Good riddance. All those Real Bay Area wannabees will finally be purged, so we can focus on retaining the best Real Bay Area homeowners. So 2008 isn’t going to end with a bang… that just sets us up to be in an even better position for 2009! OH YEAH!

BTW, Monte Sereno, you are my new BFF.

Comments (55) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am

November 15, 2008

Bay Area homeowners owe more than home’s worth

Bay Area homeowners owe more than home’s worth
Twenty percent of Bay Area homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to a study being released today. This dubious distinction has entered the American lexicon as an all-too-familiar term – being underwater.

Tsk tsk tsk… once again the MSM (Main Street Media) gets it wrong. Yes there are houses underwater in the Bay Area. But what does it really look like in the Real Bay Area? Who cares if Snoopy’s doghouse is upside down in Santa Rosa (heck, he sleeps on the top anyway), what matters is how are house prices in Palo Alto and Cupertino.

Here’s a remix of their misleading chart:

Sure, the Real Bay Area is hurting a little these days. But this is great news – this just means that next year, prices will rocket once people get over their pessimism and start to spend spend spend. Hey, didn’t LinkedIn just get more funding? Didn’t Obama promise to support alt energy startups?

The good times are coming back soon – now’s the best time to buy.

Comments (267) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

November 10, 2008

My apologies for the awful downtime…

My apologies for the awful downtime. I am investigating why that happened.

Comments Off Posted by: burbed @ 10:27 pm

November 8, 2008

Funky Scams on Craigslist

Moving Chronicles (08v9) Scams-I
Recent house price weakness makes us feel good about renting. Recent stock price weakness contributes to the idea house price weakness may continue.
To recap, discounting the months of uncertainty and extra workload while we continuously searched for a new rental, we found a new place, moved in during the summer and declared victory.
There are a couple more “lessons” we learned along the way which we will now presume to share with our readers.
The rental ad below seems like a very nice price for an area which many enjoy. Portions of Cambrian are zoned for good schools, so it is imperative to understand the exact location.
The first thing we asked this agent was the address: (The typos and spelling issues are they appeaed in the ad.)

Pretty interesting read. Be sure to read the Part 2 as well.

Seen any interesting scams in your neighborhood lately?

Comments (120) -- Posted by: burbed @ 8:45 am

November 5, 2008

Some comments from RealEstater

Some comments from Madhaus [Burbed.com]

RealEstater Says:
November 1st, 2008 at 9:38 pm e

Here are some of the most recent data on RBA sales:
324 Valparaiso Ave, Atherton – Sold for $2.15M. Previous sale: 6/00, $1M

1172 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park (note: a high traffic street) – Sold for $1.65M. Previous sale: 4/97, $670K

161 Eunice Ave., Mountain View – $1.2M. Previous sale: 6/00, $747K

565 Minton Lane, Mountain View – $1.035M. Previous sale: 9/03, $695K

1664 Notre Dame Drive, Mountain View – $1.359M. Previous sale: 9/96, $390K!

881 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto (Note: High traffic street) – $1.25M. Previous sale: 1/04, $886K

2741 Carolina Ave., Redwood City – $939K. Previous sale: 3/93 – $312K

What have you noticed lately in your neighborhood?

Comments (149) -- Posted by: burbed @ 4:40 am

November 4, 2008

It’s Election Day. Go vote to preserve the Real Bay Area

Sorry for the re-run, but it is Election Day after all. Go vote!

One of the best and biggest advantages of living in California is that you are able to make a giant impact through Propositions! For example, in 1978, voters ignored their callous politicians (who they had elected), ignored greedy corporations like Bank of America and Standard Oil that the idea would lead to ruin, and enacted the world famous Prop 13 – ensuring that real estate prices would stay high forever, ensuring that our schools and services would have no funding, ensuring that corporations would have a huge tax loophole forever, and ensuring that once you own land in California, you are king. Strong family values.

Well, it’s now that time of year again! Election season! Time for you to make an impact. Here’s Burbed’s guide to the Propositions!

Proposition 1A. Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train — State of California (Bond Act – Majority Approval Required)
To provide Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and high gas prices; to provide good-paying jobs and improve California’s economy while reducing air polution, global warning greenhouse gases, and our dependence on foreign oil, shall $9.95 billion in bonds be issued to establish a clean, efficient high-speed train service linking Southern California, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area, with at least 90 percent of bond funds spent for specific projects, with federal and private matching funds required, all bond funds subject to an independent audit?

Vote No! This will destroy some of our most fragile downtowns – like Mountain View, Burlingame, and others. Furthermore, do we really need access to SoCal? Clearly there’s no reason to go down there, the Bay Area is the most important part of California. Thus, this is being proposed so cultureless SoCal’ers can come up here. Forget about it – this won’t help boost real estate values in the Bay Area. Now… if they were going to build a high speed rail to Moscow, Shanghai, or Mumbai to attract more foreign dollars which are pouring in to buy real estate in world famous Cupertino – that’d be a different story!

Proposition 2. Standards for Confining Farm Animals — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall certain farm animals be allowed, for the majority of every day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around?

Vote Yes! This will require farms to expand, thus causing land to become even more valuable and expensive. This will help real estate prices for sure!

Proposition 3. Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall $980,000,000 in general obligation bonds be authorized for construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of eligible children’s hospitals?

Vote No! Come on! Californians voted for Prop 13 30 years ago to send a strong signal: children are not our future. Not only will this not help our most valuable citizens – the baby boomers, our future retirees, this will hurt them by preventing more seniors hospitals from being built. And seniors are the kind of people we need to attract! Can you imagine if we had more world class elderly hospitals? Think about all the cash and equity rich retirees that would be pouring in from Florida, the United Arab Emirates, New York, and London! Think about it: do children have money? No! So why do we want more?

Proposition 4. Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy – State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment – Majority Approval Required)
Shall the California Constitution be changed to prohibit abortion for an unemancipated minor until 48 hours after physician notifies minor’s parent, legal guardian, or, in limited cases, substitute adult relative?

Vote Yes! We need to eliminate abortion. Think about it: more fetuses, more people, more need for houses. Eliminating abortion can only help boost real estate prices (though we may need more police as well if you believe in Freakanomics….)

Proposition 5. Nonviolent Drug Offenses, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall $460,000,000 be allocated annually to improve and expand treatment programs?

Vote Yes! Just think about how amazing it would be if we could turn these small time drug dealers into something more productive and relevant: mortgage brokers and realtors. Exactly! This is the future right here! With their skills, even more people will be talked into buying houses. “What are you chicken? All the cool kids are buying condos!” Also, with more criminals out and rehabilitated, there will be more demand for housing. Real estate wins again!

Proposition 6. Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall of minimum of $965,000,000 of state funding be required each year for police and local law enforcement?

Vote Yes! Just incase Prop 4 and Prop 5 pass – this may be helpful. Besides, more police will help house prices.

Proposition 7. Renewable Energy Generation — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall government-owned utilities be required to generate 20% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2010, a standard currently applicable to private electrical corporations? Shall all utilities be required to generate 40% by 2020 and 50% by 2025?

Vote Yes! Who doesn’t like clean skies? This will raise real estate prices.

Proposition 8. Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry — State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment – Majority Approval Required)
Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California?

Vote No! We need gays and lesbians to marry! Why? Once people get married, they will instinctively want to settle down. And what does settling down mean? That’s right! Switching from renters to homeowners. More married same-sex couples will mean more demand for homes. And more demand means higher prices!

Proposition 9. Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole — State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall notification to victim and opportunity for input during phases of criminal justice process, including bail, pleas, sentencing and parole be required? Shall victim safety be a consideration for bail or parole?

Vote No! We need more people outside of jail – not behind bars. What good are people behind bars? They have free housing! We need to get them out, and get them into some sub-prime mortgages! Sorry victims!

Proposition 10. Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds — State of California (Initiative Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall $5 billion in bonds paid from state’s General Fund be authorized to help consumers and others purchase certain vehicles, and to help research in renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicles?

Vote No! We all want cleaner air and less traffic. The solution is to make sure that only those who can afford to drive clean air cars are allowed to drive! If that were to happen, the Bay Area would be even more progressive! And progressive areas attract the smartest and richest people. Win win!

Proposition 11. Redistricting — State of California (Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute – Majority Approval Required)
Shall the authority for establishing state office boundaries be changed from elected representatives to a commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and representatives of neither party selected from the registered voter pool in a multilevel process?

Vote Yes or No! Who cares?

Proposition 12. Veteran’s Bond Act of 2008 — State of California (Bond – Majority Approval Required)
Shall a nine hundred million dollar ($900,000,000) bond be issued to provide farm and home aid for California veterans?

Vote Yes! Duh. This might as well say “Do you want the future generations to pay for homes for veterans of today and boost your real estate prices?” Duh!

Well… these are the official stances of Burbed.com on how you should vote on this year’s Propositions!

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear ‘em!

Comments (92) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:19 am

November 1, 2008

Who says homeownership in California is unaffordable?

California Cities Cut Police Budgets – WSJ.com
After Sept. 11, California municipalities moved to increase wages and benefits to attract police officers and firefighters. Vallejo joined a consortium of cities in the region, including Oakland and San Francisco, that used each city’s salary and benefit increases as a guide for labor contracts.

Before that, in 1999, state lawmakers had adopted a measure called “3% at 50″ that allowed local and state police officers and firefighters to retire at 50 years of age with 3% of their highest annual salary — multiplied by the number of years served. The legislation granted thousands of public-safety workers a retirement payout of 90% of their former salaries for life. The benefit, bolstered by post-9/11 recruiting, swiftly became a major staple for most California cities.

Those full-natured benefits created a bidding war among Northern California cities, and Vallejo negotiated lucrative wage increases with police and firefighter unions to stay competitive. Three years ago, the city agreed to a 20% pay increase between 2007 and 2009; an average police officer now makes $121,000. When benefits are included, the number rises to more than $190,000. By 2007, 80% of Vallejo’s budget was dedicated to police and firefighters.

[snip]

Vallejo also finds itself in competition with Bay Area cities that can still afford to attract officers. Joe McCarthy, a Vallejo detective, says 10 surrounding cities have contacted him with job offers. He plans to leave soon.

Check out how much the average Bay Area police officer makes. See? Housing is plenty affordable for our public servants. They’ll help keep prices up!

Comments (5) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:07 am