May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Memories

imageMost Memorial Day blog posts urge the reader to remember the sacrifice others have made so they can have a cookout.  Not here.  This Memorial Day entry will urge you to remember the sacrifice others have made to buy their RBA homes at the peak of the market so you can unlock all that instant equity. 

Do you know how much effort it took to qualify for 100% financing?  Banks expected to you sign your name and fog a mirror, both!  Some particularly fussy institutions even asked for documentation showing you were earning $400,000 a year as a strawberry picker!  It’s not like you had an HR department onsite who could help with that sort of thing!  And then, the nerve, when it was time to refinance and pull another hundred or two kay out of the property for a few new vehicles, they wanted you to sign your name again!  Who did they think we were, John Hancock?

Haha.  That was a joke, because Memorial Day was instituted to honor those who gave their lives during the American Civil War, and John Hancock is an insurance company in Boston!  Then again, you come up with someone who got shot in the Civil War and signed as many papers as a temporary bank VP in 2006.

Imagine how hard everyone in the mortgage business had to work just five years ago.  All those home inspections to delay, all those bank officers to look busy, all those properties to record with a dubious agency nobody heard of instead of county clerks who would probably lose your paperwork on their lunch break.  It’s a wonder the courts let the banks win anything with how little work they actually did, given how much there was!

That’s why we promise to keep bringing you as many overpriced houses that look like garbage as we can find. It was an amazing time, and we don’t ever want to forget it.  So, million dollar crapboxes on a busy street, we got your numbers, and we’re overbidding them!

This is an Open Thread.  Happy Memorial Day!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am

May 29, 2011

Open Houses, Open Thread, Not So Open Libraries

Isn’t everyone on vacation?  No?  Well, you can worry about this, then.

April 29, 2011

Santa Clara County Library Authority to Charge New Library Card Fee for Non-Residents of Library District

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.‑ In response to dramatic reductions in State funding and an increasing demand for library services, on Thursday the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority approved an $80 annual library card fee for non-residents of the District, effective July 1, 2011.

Since 1988, the State has reimbursed public libraries for lending materials to non-residents of their district, and any resident of California could get a card at any public library in the state. Demands for service have increased to a point that the Santa Clara County Library District lends far more books to non-residents than District residents borrow from other libraries. At one time, the Library received over $2 million annually to partially reimburse the cost of this service.

In the midst of an increasing deficit, the Governor’s proposed budget includes the elimination of $30.4 million in state funding for three of California’s most valuable public library programs: The Public Library Foundation, the California Literacy Program and the Transaction Based Reimbursement, a cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books that has existed statewide for several decades. The State Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 eliminates all funding for public libraries, including those that are part of the Santa Clara County Library District.

Bet you skimmed the article and thought, okay, they’re dinging nonresidents of the County for using the libraries.  But that’s not what it said.

Cough up another $80 even if you live in Santa Clara County but happen to have picked one of the cities that didn’t ally with the County Library System.  Those unlucky cities, for those of you foolish enough to have chosen where to live without researching your library services first, are:

  • Los Gatos
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose
  • Santa Clara
  • Sunnyvale

You free-riders have been using the Country Library System long enough without paying extra property taxes.  No more!  The party is over on July 1st.  Now if you try to check a book out of a County Library, you’ll be called out as the illegal aliens you are!

But don’t worry, since it’s a holiday weekend, the libraries are probably all closed!  So go check out some Open Houses and let us know what’s HOT!  Or use this Open Thread to bring up anything at all, like you’re working too hard to go on vacation.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:43 am

May 22, 2011

Open Houses and Open Thread

It’s a beautiful day, the world didn’t end, Spring is bouncing, and the house with a Dragon out front is open today!

Share any houses you plan to see, or anything at all in this Open Thread.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 8:46 am

May 14, 2011

Another Dude Who Wants to Die in His House

Here’s a piece from a blog that covers many things San Francisco, but not necessarily real estate.  What caught my eye was a few familiar themes.



There’s been lots of articles in the paper recently about owning a home being a bad thing. I was always scratching my head about this until I realized I’m one of the few people left that was born and raised in San Francisco and is STILL HERE. Most of the people you’ll find in San Francisco are lucky to have lived here for twenty years at most, so it’s time I gave you a little history lesson about San Francisco real estate.

Now for most people here they don’t remember the time when a house was affordable because they aren’t, well, old like me. I was born in 1962 and my parents had bought their four bedroom house in the Sunset in 1954 for a whopping $18,300. Yes, you saw that right, there isn’t a couple of extra zeros on that number. The builders, McKewan Construction were asking $23,500 and my parents underbid the asking price and got it. The early 50′s was a buyer’s market.

Head on over and check it out, it’s not a very long piece but manages to hit most of the Heavy Hitters of the Real Bay Area:

  • Prop 13 is awesome, because
  • You should have bought 35 years ago
  • My parents were smart about real estate
  • It’s Special Here, and if you don’t see this
  • You’re Not From Around Here
  • I Intend to Die in This House

And this dude is younger than I am.  He sounds like my grandfather:

I used to hate the crotchety old guys who would sit out in front of their houses in a lounge chair watering their lawns talking about why, I remember back when we… fill in the snide comment of your choice. I want to be that guy when I’m in my 70′s.

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:54 am

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from Burbed!

How are you going to celebrate Easter?  Will you have an egg hunt?  A brunch or dinner with family?  A sunrise service at a church?  Or maybe you’re lining up all the houses you’re going to look at now that Spring Bounce has arrived almost as late as possible. 

The latest Easter can ever be is April 25th, if you wondered… unless you follow the Eastern church’s calendar, where it could fall as late as May 8th.

Easter is a “moveable feast,” meaning the holiday is not set to the Gregorian calendar we regularly use.  Instead, it has an easy-to-understand algorithm mixed with a more complex one.  The one anyone can follow is this:  Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox.

That’s the easy part, even if we throw in that we’re talking about the date of the equinox in Jerusalem.  The difficult part is when the Catholic Church decided that “full moon” was going to be the 14th day of a lunar month (on a calendar that was a lot like, but not quite, the Jewish calendar, probably because they worried about getting sued for copyright), not what anyone could observe by merely looking in the sky.  Furthermore the equinox was always going to be March 21st, even though the astronomical equinox can actually take place on March 19th, 20th or 21st.

imageAnyway, you will be pleased to know that the Church has computed Easter Sunday for the next six thousand years.  Thus an institution dedicated to their Savior’s return is hedging its bets against that occurrence well beyond the foreseeable future. 

And that is also the reason the housing market is still in the toilet: Late Spring Bounce this year.

This is an open thread.  There are probably no Open Houses today, but you can peruse listings online, maybe send in a favorite for us to write up as a featured house, or you could just share it in comments.

Let Spring Bounce begin already!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am

April 23, 2011

What’s Your Home’s Walk Score?

imageZillow has added Walk Scores to homes on their site.  You can look up your house on Zillow or on Walk Score and see how walkable your neighborhood is, according to their formula.  The score is by the maps are on your house’s page.  Do you agree with your home’s walk score?

My neighborhood has a Walk Score of 65, or “moderately walkable.” However, there’s a new beta feature on Walk Score called Street Smart, which adds in number of intersections per square mile and block length in calculating the score, and on that measure my neighborhood goes down to 54, or only “Somewhat Walkable.”  What it doesn’t measure is how pleasant or unpleasant the walk is, based on number of shade trees or how well the sidewalk is maintained.

imageOh, it’s got some bugs, like calling a catering company run out of someone’s house a restaurant, but the idea makes sense.  I just don’t see being within 100 feet of a commercial zone as a good thing.  When I ran the same scores on a house across the street from some commercial zones near Fremont and Mary in Sunnyvale, the scores went up to 80 (Very Walkable, Walk Score) and 65 (Somewhat Walkable, Street Smart).  But another house behind a different big batch of retail centers at the corner of Hollenbeck and Homestead got scores of 66 and 69.


Feel free to report your Walk Score, or vehemently disagree with the algorithm, or bring up any topic you wish.  This is an Open Thread.  Remember, tomorrow is Easter, so late start to Spring Bounce this year!

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 17, 2011

Join the Realtor Party!

We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country.

Now more than ever, it is critical for REALTORS® across America to come together and speak with one voice about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities. From city hall to the state house to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on the bottom line of REALTORS® and their customers. Through the support of REALTORS® like you, the REALTOR® Party represents your interests.

As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you…

Vote for REALTOR® Party Candidates.

Act on REALTOR® Party Issues.

Invest in RPAC.

So now it’s time to…

Join the REALTOR® Party.

Get other REALTORS® involved

Download the mobile app!

Learn how the REALTOR® Party is forging a new path with a bipartisan, issue-oriented approach to politics.

Learn about the issues the REALTOR® Party will be fighting for this year.

Take Part in the "We Are the REALTOR® Party Photo Challenge!

Learn more about the REALTOR® Party

Share on Facebook: Share

Yesterday I mentioned that the National Association of Realtors feels they are fighting for their very survival.  To do so, they are rallying their members to join their political arm (and doubling their dues in the process).

But you don’t have to be a NAR member to join in the fun.  Head on over to the Realtor Action Center and find out how you can make sure Realtors aren’t threatened by all these woes that they had nothing to do with, such as mortgage fraud, irresponsibly marketing homes to people who couldn’t afford them, or misrepresenting real property as an investment by people who aren’t qualified to be investment advisors.

The above copy from NAR shows what consummate professionals they are.  The very beginning of this new mission begins with a sentence fragment.  You can be assured there isn’t a single member of this fine organization who has any idea why that’s a mistake, either.

This is an Open Thread.  Feel free to weigh in on the the NAR, the Realtor Party, or any housing topic you wish.  Seen any cute Open Houses yesterday?  How about cute Realtors?  No?  Then check out these hot numbers, like Zebra Lady.  Rrowl!  Which one do you want to personally handle your escrow?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:13 am

April 9, 2011

Open Houses and Open Thread


The above Burbed word cloud was generated on Wordle.  Thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for suggesting that site!

It’s Saturday!  Which open houses are you going to check out this weekend?  Feel free to post anything of interest now that Spring Bounce is here.  I can feel the offer prices climbing as I type this!

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

April 2, 2011

Bay Area Open Houses, and Open Thread

It’s Saturday! Feel free to post your most interesting finds from Craigslist, down the street, around the corner, and any other sources in the comments!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:24 am

April 1, 2011

Burbed to be Acquired by Redfin

We’ve got some big changes coming, folks.

burbed by redfin

redfin logoSEATTLE, WA – April 1st, 2011 – Redfin, the internet-savvy online real estate firm, has announced an agreement to acquire the award-winning Silicon Valley real estate site Burbed and all its subsidiaries.  Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman explained at an industry conference that their strategy of thinking outside the box meant they had to wander further than most people expected.  “Customers appreciate our online tools and our agents who work on salary, plus our rebating part of the commission back to the customer,” he explained in an interview with Instant Equity Today.  “But we’ve pretty much maxed out on finding clients who know they want to buy property.  Those people tend to come to us.  Now we’re going to find the people who say they don’t won’t to buy.  We’ve found if we can identify those people and give them the right message, they tend to spend even more than the motivated buyer.”

Burbed mastheadBurbed, based in the renowned Gables’ End complex in Mountain View, CA, has generated quite a following among home aficionados who love to criticize the excesses of the housing market. “Anyone who would buy in this environment must be smoking something,” opined one regular commenter on the site.  The typical fare found on Burbed features home listings that few would consider desirable.  Part of the site’s appeal is its ability to demonstrate how out of whack pricing is with current market reality, although there is also a strong interest in seeing just how bad some of the offered property can be.  And Redfin couldn’t help but notice that all Burbed listings come direct from Redfin’s search tools.

image“Yesterday they had this place that a tree fell on,” enthused a regular reader in Gilroy, home of the internationally famous Gilroy Garlic Festival.  The listing had three pictures of this house completely crushed by this humongous dead tree.  Timber!”  Other regulars described the typical Burbed listing as either an overpriced “crapbox,” or a house with no visual appeal whatsoever, or an even more overpriced house with serious flaws the seller was blind to.

Kelman said such strong passions among Burbed’s readership indicate a desire to own a house, and Redfin will find a way to get those people locked into imagediscount-priced mortgages (also sold on Redfin).  “Look, my orders are to get as many people obligated to my financial overlords for the next thirty years.  This is the best way to find people who can buy but don’t want to.  Hey, I’d prefer you not print what I just said.”

Burbed’s CEO and majority shareholder, who would not identify him/herself other than by “burbed,” admitted that the current site content creators might not enjoy working for their new owner.  “But look, they can buy a million dollar place and save $12,500.  That’s a lot more than I was paying them.”  One of the content creators, when asked to comment on the news, unleashed a stream of profanity and turned her guitar amplifier up to 11.

imageKelman also admitted part of his interest in buying the Burbed syndicate, which was accomplished via a 10% first mortgage, a 5% HELOC, and an undisclosed number of suitcases of cash, was so he could have first crack at any Real Bay Area listing featuring marble columns.  “Damn, those are some of the best houses out there.  I want one.  I want to pinch myself and say I live here!  How ridiculous is that?”

Both firms, coincidentally, were founded in February, 2006.  Burbed will move its headquarters to Seattle but maintain its RBA presence.  “I don’t’ see how we can update that RBA map if we don’t,” explained burbed, while dodging a falling piano.  A Seattle version of the Burbed site is expected by the third quarter.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am