November 20, 2010

I’m Shocked! Shocked!

Why, there are dishonest people with real estate licenses in California! 

Many suspected, convicted of fraud still have real estate licenses

By Robert Lewis, Sacramento Bee

Published: Friday, Nov. 12, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010 – 1:03 pm

bad_agent In February 2009, Sacramento-area mortgage broker Christopher Jared Warren [photo, right] was caught trying to cross from Canada into the United States with 4 ounces of platinum and $70,000 hidden in his shoes.

The arrest made nationwide news, and Warren became yet another face of greed and alleged criminality in the mortgage finance business.

You’d never know that, however, if you were to check with the California Department of Real Estate. Warren, whose fraud trial is ongoing, is still a licensed broker and has no disciplinary action on his record with the department, which promotes its online licensing database as a tool for consumers to make sure they’re dealing with reputable professionals.

This is not an isolated case. The Bee found dozens of real estate professionals – people who have been charged with real estate-related crimes or sued by the state for fraud- related misdeeds, or who have pleaded guilty to such wrongdoing – who are still licensed and have no notations, flags or disciplinary sanctions listed on their records with the Department of Real Estate. This means they are authorized to sell homes and originate mortgage loans.

We already know from reading copy on many listings that there are dumb real estate agents out there.  Now the Sacramento Bee found out there are criminals, too.  Let’s hope they’re all dumb criminals.  Like imagine one presenting you with closing documents and the top page said I GIV MY AJINT PERMISHUN TO FIL OUT ALL THEEZ FORMZ FOUR ME.  AND SHUT UP TYTUL COMPANNY ITS’ MY RITE TO DO IT THIS WAY.  JUST SHUT UP.

Where do I sign?  Hey thanks for filling out all that paperwork for me!  You’re definitely earning your 6% commission, dude.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 31, 2010

The Most Expensive Zip Codes – The Series You Hate, The Cities You Loathe

Welcome to Part 5 of the least popular series ever on burbed, ever.  You’re welcome.  Forbes thanks you too, since we’re making fun of their mistakes when they wrote an article on the 500 most expensive zips, and hired Altos Research to do their data crunching.

Here are the first four parts for you masochists who can’t get enough numbers, maps, and boring fascinating statistics.

Today we’re going to cover the zips ranked 151-200.  But to reduce the complaining just a tiny bit, we’ll leave out anywhere that isn’t within reasonable commuting distance to the Googleplex.  Actually if I left out everywhere more than 10 miles from Google we’d only have four cities today, which might not be such a bad thing.

image #151 – 94306 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,270,424
Median Price Change: 4%
Average Days On Market: 67
Inventory: 69 properties
Median Household Income: $82,314

At least this time we’re going to start much closer to where the jobs are.  This is a very important zip code.  If you remember this article, 94306 is the only zip code that’s left in the Real Bay Area (RBA) anymore, if you define RBA as the place where prices don’t go down.  So despite being the #2 zip in Palo Alto (94301 came in at #73 on the list), it’s #1 in the RBA.  It’s also last in the RBA, because none of the other zips qualified at all.

The real reason 94306 went up while prices everywhere else collapsed is because it’s the cheap section of Palo Alto.  This area, formerly the city of Mayfield, featured small homes on small lots which people now tear down and put in oversized mini-mansions that loom over the remaining bungalows.  Unfortunately, real estate statistics are oblivious to such trends, such as someone paying money to remodel or replace a house.  Instead you see crazy price increases and think the neighborhood is red-hot rather than full of sawdust and paint fumes.  If the sale price stats subtracted out the money paid for construction, there’s a good chance 94306 would have dropped as much or even more than the other zips around it.

#160 – 94549 Lafayette

Median Home Price: $1,225,110
Median Price Change: -4%
Average Days On Market: 88
Inventory: 126 properties
Median Household Income: $101,555
Ignored Because: In the East Bay

#170 – 94941 Mill Valley

Median Home Price: $1,185,211
Median Price Change: NA
Average Days On Market: 106
Inventory: 197 properties
Median Household Income: $91,283
Ignored Because:  Model for Hill Valley in Back to the Future

#171 – 94563 Orinda

Median Home Price: $1,184,089
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 101
Inventory: 101 properties
Median Household Income: $119,832
Ignored Because: In East Bay, even closer to Oakland than Lafayette

image #173 – 94303 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,175,241
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 59
Inventory: 34 properties
Median Household Income: $64,256

It’s a pretty safe bet that the median home price hasn’t been contaminated by East Palo Alto (which shares this zip code), but take a look at that median household income.  It’s about $20,000 less than 94306, which has a fairly similar set of residents (in the Palo Alto part of the zip, anyway).

While the zip shares with the Oaklandesque East Palo Alto (hey, at least it brought you IKEA), it also has some nice areas in midtown as well as the West Marine on San Antonio Road.  (Remember, yachties spend like drunken sailors because they are drunken sailors.)

Since 94303 has just everything in the whole city that hugs US 101, that isn’t helping matters.  Some of the lower-cost Eichlers in South Palo Alto that get torn down and replaced by monster houses are in 94303, too.  Hope they put in triple-pane windows like they did at Gables End.

#175 – 94965 Sausalito

Median Home Price: $1,173,479
Median Price Change: -11%
Average Days On Market: 149
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $76,808
Ignored Because: Has stupid song written about it

#179 – 94705 Berkeley

Median Home Price: $1,152,174
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 70
Inventory: 30 properties
Median Household Income: $68,112
Ignored Because: Shares zip code with Oakland, lousy state-funded college

image #184 – 94025 Menlo Park

Median Home Price: $1,134,946
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 88
Inventory: 179 properties
Median Household Income: $89,572

When you realize that this zip stretches from the foothills near I-280 all the way to the slums of Belle Haven, that median home price is rather impressive.  Not every city the size of Menlo Park has to make due with a single zip code.  Palo Alto has four distinct zips, and Redwood City has five.

And while a ranking of 184th most expensive zip code in the country is clearly not good enough for the RBA, perhaps Menlo Park could petition the
postal service to split the city into East and West postal zones, in hope of the western half aspiring to the RBA.

Nah, prices down 9%.  Forget it.

image #185 – 94062 Redwood City

Median Home Price: $1,133,462
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 97
Inventory: 111 properties
Median Household Income: $96,677

Ha ha!  What was I just talking about above?  Redwood City is nowhere as high on the snootiness index as Menlo Park, and yet by having several zip codes, they managed to get one of them to qualify for the Forbes list.  And this is the one zip that shares with Woodside, which is quite a bit higher in the rankings (#41). 

Oh, speaking of Woodside, you’ll never guess what Forbes says their median household income is.  That’s right. $96,677.  Nice going, Forbes.  That means the Woodside median should be higher and the Redwood city number lower, but you managed to miss yet another muck-up.

This part of Redwood City includes the Emerald Lake Hills area, which is a delightful mix of new construction and bizarre old places featuring old cars in the front yard.  You know how some places in Atherton look like Greenwich, Connecticut?  Well, Emerald Lake Hills looks like Appalachia where half the residents won the lottery.

#193 – 94515 Calistoga

Median Home Price: $1,102,625
Median Price Change: -17%
Average Days On Market: 140
Inventory: 67 properties
Median Household Income: $44,320
Why Ignored: Can’t take place named after bubble water seriously

#194 – 94610 Piedmont

Median Home Price: $1,094,846
Median Price Change: -51%
Average Days On Market: 64
Inventory: 7 properties
Median Household Income: $49,066
Why Ignored: Not only down 51%, but completely surrounded by Oakland.  Completely.  Rival zip 94611 is #74 on list.  I also call BS on Forbes for that median household income.  It’s probably mixed up with the part of OAKLAND this zip shares with.  Oakland, it’s full of Oakland.

image #199 – 95032 Los Gatos

Median Home Price: $1,079,587
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 111
Inventory: 183 properties
Median Household Income: $93,118

It’s the home of Netflix!  Woo-hoo!

The second-best zip in Los Gatos (95030 came in at #38), this zip features delightful estates in the foothills and higher, as well as ho-hum tract houses in the flats near freeways.

Now, take a look at that median home price, above.  It’s barely over a million smackeroos, and we’ve almost hit the 200 mark.  That means the next installment (if there is one) will feature houses in “expensive zip codes” that are under a million dollars dollars for a median price.

Think about that for a moment.  Where we live is so Special that we think of houses under a million dollars as not particularly worth commenting on.  At least most of the zips we’ve shown so far are above the average price for a house in this area.  But as we work our way down that list of 500 zips, we’re going to start to see some very ordinary places that are still more expensive than 44,000 other zip codes in the entire country.

Coming Soon: burbed guest editor forcibly retired for not stopping worst series ever, assailed by mob with pitchforks and torches.  Plus, Part 716 of Bing Maps Galore!

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

October 24, 2010

The Bottom 400 of the Top 500 Most Expensive Zip Codes, Part 4 of a Series that Will Never End. Ever.

We can thank Forbes Magazine’s The Most Expensive Zip Codes for selecting the prestige postal zones and then managing to mess them up.  So far we’ve caught them describing one town while showing houses from another, forgetting the difference between a zip code and a town boundary, mixing up their data sets, and showing a zip code 10 miles and $2 million away from what they labeled.

Since we don’t concern ourselves with other parts of the country where prices go down, homes need maintenance, streets get busy, and airports allow planes to land while children are sleeping, we’ve been looking at the Bay Area zips only.  In case you want to refer to the previous articles, you can click over to:

  • The 25 most expensive zip codes in the entire country, featuring Atherton, Belvedere, Los Altos Hills and Hillsborough!
  • The next 25 zip codes, not quite as Special.  Portola Valley, Los Gatos, Woodside, and other places too far away from Google to matter make their appearances.
  • The 50 after that, at cut-rate prices compared to the first 50.  These entries in the Corridor of Not Quite include Los Altos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Palo Alto.

Again, data crunched by Altos Research, info prepared (not always perfectly) by Forbes, criticisms (I’m starting early today) entirely home-grown at burbed.  The very first entry on Forbes’ Page 2 list is one of our own!  We may not be in the Real Bay Area (RBA) anymore, but remember, these zip codes are still more expensive than at least 44,000 others!

image_thumb[1] #101 – 94507 Alamo

Median Home Price: $1,513,739
Median Price Change: -11%
Average Days On Market: 139
Inventory: 113 properties
Median Household Income: $139,997

I just said we weren’t in the RBA anymore.  It’s never a good sign when the very first listing is in the East Bay.  That 11% drop isn’t surprising anybody.

Besides, pretty soon the home price medians are going to drop below a million and a half, and then where would we be?

Right.  In the East Bay.

image_thumb[3] #106 – 94946 Nicasio

Median Home Price: $1,484,615
Median Price Change: 5%
Average Days On Market: 176
Inventory: 13 properties
Median Household Income: $76,194

You should have heard of this town before.  It was featured in burbed because of this listing.  Jerry Garcia’s house has been holding up this zip’s entire market.

Clearly Alamo and Nicasio are for two different demographics.  Alamo is for people earning good money now.  Nicasio is for people who already earned good money and want to get away from the people in Alamo still earning.  Then they can chillax and just enjoy it.  The money, I mean.  I’m still getting my head around trying to fill the closet in Jerry’s master bedroom.

Unfortunately, by not keeping enough cash coming into town, the residents of Nicasio let down the team.  Yes, the median home price is under one and a half million now.  Who knows what kind of vagrants and transients are living in those houses?  It’s not surprising one of them joined a rock band.

image_thumb[5] #120 – 93921 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

The income is down even more here at the other end of the Bay Area.  The Monterey Bay Area.

Carmel is a touristy little town that is expensive to live in, doesn’t sell anything useful to residents, and has a beach nobody can use since parking is between impossible and utterly impossible.  You shouldn’t have taken your time reading this.  They just ticketed your car.

Does that little bit right outside the zip environs, lower right corner, really say Trailer Park?

image_thumb[7] #120 – 93921 Carmel-By-The-Sea

Median Home Price: $1,412,704
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 153
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $53,750

This is only a test to see if you’re paying better attention than Forbes did when they put this article together.

Yes, it is entirely possible that two cities can share a common zip code.  We’ve had many examples of it in the first hundred entries.

But what are the odds of the same zip code, the same ranking, the same data, and the same map just sitting there for two cities with practically the same name, and nobody noticed a damned thing?

image_thumb[9] #121 – 92603 Irvine

Median Home Price: $1,406,399
Median Price Change: -9%
Average Days On Market: 120
Inventory: 227 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Irvine has entered the building!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses.  I know that Irvine is not in the Bay Area, Real or otherwise.

But Irvine’s real estate issues have been so instructive, and the seminal Irvine Housing Blog so important to anyone trying to make sense of what happens when bubble
s pop.

And as much as there have been problems with the real estate market up here, one of our zip codes doesn’t have 227 properties in inventory, and so far we’ve avoided Mello-Roos taxes, too.  There’s a good reason we’ve avoided Irvine’s problems.  It’s because they’re not making any more land up here.  And that’s because they’re making it all down there, complete with Mello-Roos!

We now return you to our regular Bay Area real estate presentation, already in progress.

image_thumb[11] #125 – 93923 Carmel

Median Home Price: $1,384,643
Median Price Change: -7%
Average Days On Market: 191
Inventory: 298 properties
Median Household Income: $67,315

Now if i am reading this map correctly, this zip code includes Carmel and Carmel Highlands, but not Carmel-by-the-Sea or Carmel Valley.  Or the other part of Carmel that is covered by a simple street map and includes all the high-priced art galleries and jewelry stores.

This zip also has a bigger inventory than Irvine’s.  Thanks for making us look bad, Carmel, when everyone at IHB clicked over to read this.  You’re making all of us look really pathetic to those Southern Californians.  We might have to ask you to move over there, permanently.  You and your 298 unsold properties.  Maybe when you get they’re you’ll be placed in a Mello-Roos district, too.

(I thought those 298 listings had to be a mistake on Forbes’ part, but it isn’t.  Entering this zip into Redfin yields 270 listings.  And just because the zip covers around 200 square miles isn’t going to get it off the hook.)

image_thumb[13] #131 – 94104 San Francisco

Median Home Price: $1,365,346
Median Price Change: 3%
Average Days On Market: 162
Inventory: 11 properties
Median Household Income: $14,609

Finally!  A zip that makes you really sit up and take notice.

A zip that not only includes a bunch of ginormous skyscrapers (well, ginormous as long as we don’t go comparing them with anything in Los Angeles, or Chicago, or Manhattan), but has the brass rivets to say LOOK AT ME.  The median home price here is $1.36 million and the median income is $14,609.  That’s right!  It would take the average resident here a hundred years to buy the average residence.

Only a zip code with serious chutzpah could issue a message like that, a message that says, “Want to buy here?  Sorry.  You’ve been Priced Out Forever.”

image_thumb[15] #132 – 94965 Muir Beach

Median Home Price: $1,364,462
Median Price Change: 7%
Average Days On Market: 34
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $76,808

This tiny town is located right where California Route 1 cuts overland to the Pacific and heads north up the coast (that line mislabeled 1 is actually US 101.  I’m watching you Forbes.  Always watching.) This tiny town has about six streets.  Muir Beach shares a zip with Sausalito, which ought to be showing up at some point.

Muir Beach.  Like Bolinas, only closer and more expensive.  Water meters not included.

image_thumb[17] #134 – 94574 Saint Helena

Median Home Price: $1,354,277
Median Price Change: -5%
Average Days On Market: 186
Inventory: 102 properties
Median Household Income: $60,964

Looks like it takes half a year to sell a typical property in Saint Helena.  That means they named the place well.

Saint Helena was the second and final place that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to, and he died five and a half years later.  And there isn’t anywhere nearby called Elba, because that would mean you could escape.  Although you can at least drink heavily.

Able I was ere I bought in St. Helena.

image_thumb[21] #147 – 95452 Kenwood

Median Home Price: $1,294,385
Median Price Change: 46%
Average Days On Market: 152
Inventory: 19 properties
Median Household Income: $58,421

Honey, I shrank the zip code.

I had to.  When it took up about 20% of the page, the only thing I could find was State Highway 12 and Mt Hood Regional Park.  I figured Kenwood was somewhere between Santa Rosa and Fairfield but wasn’t quite sure which was closer.

And St. Helena is in convenient exile distance.  I suppose I should find something nice to say about the place because the prices are up 46%, but seriously, unless you’re cultivating 200 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon or really want the Smothers Brothers as neighbors, you should be looking a little closer to Facebook HQ.

image_thumb[23] #150 – 94705 Oakland

Median Home Price: $1,283,731
Median Price Change: 28%
Average Days On Market: 217
Inventory: 3 properties
Median Household Income: $68,112

Somebody is playing a joke, but I can’t figure out who the joke is on.

We started today’s batch of runner-ups to the runner-ups in the East Bay.  Not only are we going t
o finish there, we’re going to finish in one of the least RBA-like cities in the East Bay.

Then again, the zip includes a bunch of UC property in Berkeley, so that’s kind of cheating.  Plus the Claremont Hotel.  I bet the Claremont Hotel would sell for more than $1,283,731.

And the zip is up… twenty eight percent.  With the same kind of unobtanium inventory we saw in Muir Beach.  That’s it.  I’m out of here.  I know when I’m licked.

Next installment: The Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Richmond Flats between Cutting Boulevard and Solano Avenue.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 23, 2010

Family Breaks Into Former Home, Moves Back In, Claims Foreclosure was Fraudulent, Lots of Legal Maneuvers

Thanks to a burbed reader for sending this in.  I know it looks like another TL;DR, but trust me, this one’s worth it.

Family reclaims foreclosed house, Simi clan moves in after home sold

By Stephanie Hoops, Ventura County Star
Posted October 12, 2010 at 2 p.m., updated October 13, 2010 at 6:58 a.m.
Photos by Karen Quincy Loberg, VC Star Staff

simi_family An 11-member Simi Valley family who claimed they were wrongfully evicted after a foreclosure forced their way back into the house over the weekend in a move meant to block the new buyer from moving in.

Jim and Danielle Earl and their nine children used a locksmith to help retake possession Saturday, despite an investor who spent $697,000 to purchase the house at a foreclosure sale in January and remodeled and sold it to people ready to move in Tuesday. The two-story house in the 5800 block of Mustang Drive has nearly 4,000 square feet, six bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

Police officers were on hand when the Earls changed the locks Saturday but did not intervene. The Earls’ lawyer, Michael Pines of Encinitas, held a news conference to announce the family was taking back the home and reportedly filed a complaint against the real estate broker and investor when police arrived at the scene.

Pines said the Earls are not concerned about the possibility of being charged with trespassing.

The Wall Street Journal covered this story too, and they said we may be seeing more of this.  Now it’s not enough for a bank to go through through all the steps of foreclosure and eviction on determined deadbeats.  You never know when they’ll turn around, hire a lawyer and a locksmith, and move right back into the house you sold out from under them in good faith! Your team of robo-signers worked hard forging a pile of documents and backdated every single one of them, and all for naught.

image Actually this story gets more and more complicated depending on which version you read.  But the basic facts are, the Earl family bought the house in 2001 for $539,999.  Being Southern Californians, they considered mortgage equity withdrawal a religious rite rather than a guaranteed method of ruining their credit and their future, and owed $880,000 on the first mortgage, when they were finally shown the door of their former residence.  Total debt and unpaid costs on the property was over a million dollars, according to foreclosure documents.

The house was bought by investors for $697,000, who put $40,000 of improvements into it (including the mandatory granite countertops) and flipped it for $800,000.  With the new owners scheduled to take possession within a few days, the Earls (both parents and 9 children) broke in and moved their stuff back.

A number of items are in dispute, which is where the fraud claims come in.  This may be a question of which party are the bigger slimebuckets, as absolutely nobody comes out looking good in this story.

The Earls had some financial difficulties, and in trying to set their mortgage right, say that a catch-up payment of $12,500 they made to GRP Services was never credited to their loan.  Danielle Earl says she then stopped making payments because the loan had been repeatedly reassigned to different lenders, she believed, fraudulently.  “They clearly didn’t want us to catch up,” she explained.  Their lawyer elaborated:

The Earls’ fraud claims are twofold, [Michael] Pines said: The loan was originated and serviced with improper documents, and the foreclosure and eviction were created with new and phony documents. He said there were multiple instances of people signing the foreclosure documents who were not authorized to do so.

Foreclosure documents says GRP Financial Services owns the loan.  The Earls’ mortgage was from WaMu, which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase, and went to B of A the same day the Notice of Default was sent.  The Earls claim Chase never properly acquired their loan and therefore had no right to sell it.  Not surprisingly, the group acquiring the house doesn’t see it that way.

“They broke in and are proceeding to squat in there,” listing agent Chris Garvin of Troop Real Estate, told HousingWatch. […]

Garvin was not only the listing agent but also the acquisition and sales partner for his client, Conejo Capital Partners, the investors. He says that he purchased the home in good faith for $697,000 in January on behalf of his client, at an auction on the courthouse steps.

In June, a judge refused to seat a jury for trial, claiming it was another delaying tactic by the Earls.  Conejo had been trying to get them out of the house since February.

In 1994, the Earls have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and they began two serial and voluntary Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings after their house was sold at auction  The judge claimed the bankruptcies were yet another delaying tactic.  Their liabilities exceed one million dollars, with creditors including both the IRS and the state tax board.

At the close of the trial, however, [Conejo attorney Stanley] Yates said of the whole matter: “I will say this, that the (Earls) are an indefatigable source of stalling and red herrings.”

The Earls are asking for damages of over one million dollars on the fraud allegations, and claim this means they own the house free and clear plus additional money owed them.

Good luck with that.

Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 17, 2010

The Most Expensive Zip Codes: The Also Rans

Any zip that isn’t in the Top 50 shouldn’t qualify for Real Bay Area (RBA) status, right?  Here are the Bay Area zips in Forbes Magazine’s Most Expensive Zip Codes #51 through 100.  Since these aren’t good enough to have made the cut, we can assume any city featured here is no longer fit to inhabit the RBA.  So enjoy reading about these loservilles, that are still more expensive than most anywhere else in the country.

In case you missed the previous entries in this series, the Top 25 appear here, and #26-50 can be found here.  I encourage you to check them out, as obviously they are better places to live than what you’ll find in this article.

image #53 – 94920 Tiburon

Median Home Price: $2,046,939
Median Price Change: -22%
Average Days On Market: 126
Inventory: 116 properties
Median Household Income:$106,492

Yeesh, down 22%.  No RBA for you, Tiburon.  Wait, we already saw this zip.  It’s also #8.  So, um, they split Belvedere from Tiburon?

Well, well, well, there are 39 properties for sale in Belvedere (median home price, $3.28 million), and 116 here.  And yet both places have (what a surprise) the exact same median household income.

You blew it again, Forbes.  Am I going to have to rewrite that entire article for you?

image #59 – 94588 Danville

Median Home Price: $1,922,523
Median Price Change: NA
Average Days On Market: 276
Inventory: 4 properties
Median Household Income: $92,644

Be sure to check out this East Bay interloper: the idiots at Forbes got the wrong map.  They can’t tell Danville from Dublin. And with only 4 properties on the market, they have no idea if it’s up or down.

Maybe those East Coast provincials ought to be told they’ve managed the equivalent of confusing Westhampton Beach with Levittown.


image#62 – 94904 Kentfield

Median Home Price: $1,911,822
Median Price Change: 6%
Average Days On Market: 99
Inventory: 40 properties
Median Household Income: $82,528

This Marin County city is right next to Ross and may even manage to get more precipitation.  Why people would want to live here when they could buy a palace in San Jose is beyond me.  Plus San Jose only gets 11 inches of rain a year.

And San Jose is so much closer to Google!  Priorities, people!


image #69 – 94970 Stinson Beach

Median Home Price: $1,790,196
Median Price Change: -7%
Average Days On Market: 232
Inventory: 27 properties
Median Household Income: $88,184

Stinson Beach can’t be in the RBA, it’s down 7%, and next to Bolinas, home of the high-priced water meter.

First one to make a joke about this zip code’s ranking and “Sex on the Beach” is going to be asked to leave the room.

No, I do not want to hear about what that peninsula with Seadrift Road looks like.  You all have filthy minds.  Yes, especially you.

image #71 – 94024 Los Altos

Median Home Price: $1,746,928
Median Price Change: -6%
Average Days On Market: 91
Inventory: 67 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Down 6%, and another zip-splitter.

Seriously, is there anything funny to say about Los Altos?  Other than the featured listing that’s running tomorrow, that is?

Well, that and the dude with the cellular antenna farm.

And the fact that this same zip in Los Altos Hills is ranked so much higher at #18.  And that Forbes couldn’t tell the difference between the two and showed houses from Los Altos when featuring The Hills Hills.  And yet, 67 properties here, 15 properties there. Household income, not available here, not available there. Oh, oh. They match.

image #73 – 94301 Palo Alto

Median Home Price: $1,730,889
Median Price Change: -6%
Average Days On Market: 128
Inventory: 58 properties
Median Household Income: $97,758

We already knew this zip code wasn’t in the RBA anymore.  Its low ranking merely proves it.  As does this listing which hasn’t sold in more than 2 years.

Didn’t we all agree not to talk about Palo Alto anymore?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Oh yeah, Steve Jobs lives here!


image #74 – 94611 Piedmont

Median Home Price: $1,709,577
Median Price Change: -3%
Average Days On Market: 96
Inventory: 23 properties
Median Household Income: $68,853

Down 3%, and suspiciously Bradburylike.  Oakland, I tell you, it’s surrounded by Oakland!

And a freeway runs through it!  Just like Oakland!

And this place hasn’t sold yet. And neither has this one.  This city is FAIL: 100% of its listings on burbed unsold!


image #83 – 95070 Saratoga

Median Home Price: $1,652,013
Median Price Change: -1%
Average Days On Market: 124
Inventory: 177 properties
Median Household Income: $138,206

Down 1%.  That’s borderline for remaining in the RBA, but coming in at #83 just cannot be allowed.

Can anyone remember why Saratoga used to be in the RBA?  What exactly did it do to get there in the first place?  Why should a city with seven different school districts thinks it’s real anything?

I say no, not until they manage to sell this house.

image #84 – 95030 Monte Sereno

Median Home Price: $1,647,239
Median Price Change: -34%
Average Days On Market: 142
Inventory: 84 properties
Median Household Income: $117,564

Stop me if you’ve seen this zip code before.

Down 34%. Wait, it’s right next to Saratoga.  Plus borrowing Los Gatos’ zip code.  84 properties?  WTF?  In a town of 3,483?  And only 53 properties listed in Los Gatos (#38), population 28,592?  That’s a real knee-slapper!  Now can you tell me the one about the Santa Claran, the San Joseite, and the Saratoger?


image #92 – 94123 San Francisco

Median Home Price: $1,609,753
Median Price Change: 9%
Average Days On Market: 58
Inventory: 63 properties
Median Household Income: $84,710

burbed, voted best real estate blog in San Francisco, would like to welcome 94123 to the list of Most Expensive Zip Codes!  This is the first zip in San Francisco to make the cut.  And that is really awful, because several New York City and Los Angeles zips have already shown up.  Congrats, you losers.

Up 9%.  This is the Marina District and includes some of Billionaire’s Row.  Yes, including the place selling for $45 million.

image #93 – 94506 Blackhawk

Median Home Price: $1,604,976
Median Price Change: 19%
Average Days On Market: 143
Inventory: 51 properties
Median Household Income: $142,459

Up 19%.  Wait, this is the East Bay.  Prices don’t go up in the East Bay.  The proper expression is “Blackhawk down.”

Seriously, this is a developer-designed golf-course community that didn’t even exist before 1980.  Having this zip appear right after one full of history, architecture, design, and taste is just wrong.


image #94 – 94022 Los Altos

Median Home Price: $1,600,139
Median Price Change: -28%
Average Days On Market: 87
Inventory: 53 properties
Median Household Income: NA

Wait, is today Groundhog Day?  Didn’t I just say something about Los Altos Hills, and that we already saw this zip, and that… someone must have hit me over the head, because I’m seeing double.  Los Altos Hills in this same zip is #15 on this list, with a median home price of $3.04 million.  And (what a coincidence), 58 properties.  Sloppy work, Forbes, very sloppy.

This place doesn’t even have the cell phone antenna farm!

And that’s it for the Also Rans of the Most Expensive Zip Codes in the Whole Fracking Country.  Except… the list goes to 500 zips.  If you don’t want to see anymore of these Bing Maps, commence whining.

Next installment in this thrilling series: The Most Expensive Zip Codes, Volume 714,

Comments (59) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

October 11, 2010

Psst, Hey, Want to Buy an Island?

Burbed reader sonarrat called me over and slowly opened the trenchcoat.  What illicit product could I buy?  Darn, no chocolate, just real estate.  Here’s what sonarrat has to say about today’s amazing listing:

I don’t have the time to get into why this is so great, but isn’t this a far better use of the money than some crap shack in Cupertino??

Indeed it is!  For one, crapshacks in Cupertino are reachable by anybody.  But this place is boat access only.  For two, move here and don’t worry about truant officers! “Nearby schools are unavailable” per Redfin.

20251 W Bacon Island Dr  Stockton, CA 95201


Beds: –
Baths: –
Sq. Ft.: –
Lot Size: 348 Acres
Property Type: Agricultural/Residential Land
View: Bay, Lake
Community: San Joaquin County
County: San Joaquin
MLS#: 81026676
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 134 days

SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE. The island is flooded with 350 acres of lake water from 8′ to 12′ and surrounded by nearly 4 miles of levee frontage. High recreational use for boating, fishing & hunting. Incredible bass fishing! Unique opportunity, call for complete brochure. High unused mitigation benefits. One owner, one island, one reclamation district. Big tax benefits. Possible Mitigation.

When a property listing mentions mitigation twice that’s never a good sign.  348 acres, 350 acres of lake water.  That means two acres are flooded twice.  No wonder it has a lake view, plus “water available at site” yet “Sewer not available.”

Let’s have a look at this SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE, with high recreational use for boating, fishing and hunting with incredible bass fishing.  Perhaps the listing agent thinks the island is in Louisiana.


Unfortunately when the map is sufficiently pulled out to show the entire property (above), the lot lines vanish.  It’s shaped like a wide rectangle running from the water curve on the right to the inlet on the left where the little tree marker is.  Here’s a closer-in view created by merging two map images together.


Doesn’t look like much of an island, and doesn’t look flooded either.  But why not pick this one up instead of a Cupertino crapshack in Rancho Rinkydinky?  Then you can truthfully tell your friends and family that all your bass are belong to us.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

September 19, 2010

California has 2.3M homes underwater–but what about the Real Bay Area?

California has 2.3M ‘underwater’ homes

San Francisco Business Times – by Steven E.F. Brown

California is one of five states with the most “negative equity” in its home market, according to a report by CoreLogic Inc.

The Santa Ana business (NYSE: CLGX) said 33 percent of residential properties with mortgages in the Golden State were “underwater,” meaning the property is worth less than is owed on the loan. The figures are for the end of the second quarter.

That works out to 2.26 million underwater properties in the state. Another 286,000 homes were “near negative equity.”

Total outstanding mortgage debt in California was $2.03 trillion at the end of the second quarter, according to the report.

Though California’s rate of negative equity dropped 1.3 percent from the first quarter to the second, a quick rate of decrease, that was “primarily due to foreclosure, not the stabilization or small increases in prices in some markets,” the report said.

Thanks to Burbed reader Mark for this find!

Now sure this might seem gloomy at first, but think about it – this is about California as a whole. This includes places like… the Indio and the East Bay. Of course it’s going to look bad.

The real question, of course, is: what is it like in the Real Bay Area?

My hunch – 102% of houses (maybe not condos or townhouses) are above water.

Does anyone have data on this?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am

July 25, 2010

California Mortgage Defaults down, Foreclosures Up

Mortgage defaults in California at 3-year low

The number of default notices in the second quarter falls 43.8% compared with the same period in 2009. Meanwhile, banks step up repossession of foreclosed homes.

By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times

The number of Californians entering foreclosure slid dramatically in the second quarter to a three-year low as the fallout from the worst of the housing crisis continued to abate.

Default notices, the first stage of the foreclosure process initiated by banks on troubled homeowners, plummeted 43.8% in the second quarter over the same period last year to 70,051, and 13.6% from the first three months of the year, research firm MDA DataQuick of San Diego said Wednesday.

DataQuick Notice of Defaults Q2 2010

Well, we’ve got some good news, and we’ve got some bad news.  The good news is fewer Golden State homedebtors are defaulting on their mortgages.  The bad news is that there’s plenty of already defaulted property for the banks to foreclose on, and foreclose they did.  The average loan has taken 9.1 months from Notice of Default to foreclosure, and the number of California NODs peaked in the first quarter of 2009.

"We are now three-plus years into the housing crisis, and at this point of time we are seeing stabilization across the board," said Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA‘s Ziman Center for Real Estate. "The stabilization is in fits and spurts … but it is evidenced in a variety of indicators."


One of the things that the subprime mortgage meltdown has led to are a rash of professors at actual accredited institutions of higher learning using the word “evidence” as a verb.  You’ll have to read the article yourself to find out what the Real Estate Erudite from Cal and USC have to say.  Well, I’ll give you a hint.  The guy from USC thinks fewer people are going to walk away from underwater mortgages than predicted, but didn’t bother to share any actual reasoning for this supposition other than home prices trending back up.  It’s fairly easy to find experts suggesting that housing prices will stay down and could go even lower, so I definitely want a glass of that SoCal Kool-Aid.

But don’t forget the “Bad News” portion: 4.4% more trustee’s deeds were filed on California properties from the same quarter a year earlier, and 11.2% from the previous quarter, for a total of 47,669.  The last stage of foreclosure is recording the TD.  Foreclosure filings were up 38% nationally, and California was well represented in those numbers.

Mortgage rates went down this week, from 4.57 to 4.56 percent for a 30 year fixed conventional loan.  (These are national averages, and California rates are usually higher.)  That last .01 percent is going to be the trigger for everyone who refinanced at 4.59% to jump in for a new set of appraisal documents.  And all those newly foreclosed homeless are going to jump at this opportunity, right?  Best of all, you’re all going to get a chance to refinance at 4.55%, because Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve, but you knew that) says as the economic outlook is “unusually uncertain” he may have to lower interest rates even more!

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

May 23, 2010

PTA, Bunch of Others Sue State of California

And now, may I present a guest post.  Take it away, madhaus.  Why thanks, madhaus, don’t mind if I do.

Sacramento Bee: Education Coalition Sues California Over School Funding

California’s system for funding public schools is irrational, unstable and in need of overhaul, a lawsuit filed Thursday asserts, and prevents 6 million students from receiving the education they are entitled to under the state Constitution.

The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of students, parents and education groups against the governor and the state, puts California on a growing list of states slapped with what lawyers call "adequacy" suits

Thirty-three states have faced adequacy lawsuits, in which plaintiffs argue that a state does not give schools enough money to achieve that state’s academic standards. In most cases, experts said, the states have lost in court and been forced to come up with more funds and a new way of paying for schools.

image Now that’s the American way.  Something’s broken?  Sue ‘em.  The lead plaintiff in this case, Robles-Wong v. California, is a junior at Alameda High School.  Yay, Bay Area, We’re #1!  We’re #1!  And despite a press conference in Sacramento, the suit itself was filed in Alameda County.

A spokesman for the group noted California had some of the highest educational standards in the country, with some of the lowest funding rates.  Yeah, take that, New Jersey!  We do more with less!  We’re the best at writing standards, and the best at failing to meet them!  Boo-yah!

The article also described the method of determining each California school district’s unique funding as “a complicated funding formula.”  This is akin to noting that the General Theory of Relativity is “kind of tough,” as there are only four people in the entire world who understand how the state school funding algorithm actually works.  One of them has an unlisted phone, one refused to respond to repeated requests for comment, and the other two were driven insane by the process of mastering it.

Okay, assuming you were actually reading any of this, by now you’re saying, madhaus, you are just making that part up.  Am not.  See?

San Jose Mercury News: Schools, PTA sue California over education funding

For most of California’s roughly 1,000 school districts, the state budget crisis has caused per-student funding to fall for two years. But the complaint reaches beyond current cutbacks. For decades, California schools have budgeted according to a complicated funding mechanism determined by multiple laws and court rulings and resulting in unpredictable and different per-student amounts for each district. For example, in 2008-09, Evergreen Elementary School District in San Jose received $7,787 per student, but Palo Alto Unified received $14,214.

The suit contends that the state has neglected to do what the constitution requires: prioritize school funding.

See?  See?  “Complicated funding <miscellaneous noun>.”  Told you so.

Can’t get enough of this?  Read the lawsuit (PDF, 59 pages) by clicking here.

Comments (72) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

February 21, 2010

Solution to California’s Budget Woes: Tax Renters

Let’s face it, California’s budget is a mess.

It’s revenues are mostly from income, which means that in bad times a vicious cycle develops (layoffs->lower tax revenue->government layoffs->reduced consumption->layoffs->etc).

It’s expenses are locked in by voter initiatives. Now, as we know, California has the smartest people in the world – and that’s why voters pass propositions that result in situations where schools are required to have after school programs like teaching juggling and sushi rolling, while cutting teachers for basic programs. Innovative!

But there’s hope. Because California, especially the Bay Area, has the smartest people in the world, there’s a lot of innovation. Like the highly innovative Prop 13 – which enables companies to pay less property taxes than some homeowners, and enables some homeowners to pay 1/10 the property taxes than their neighbors. Coming up with a tax scheme that only impacts families in the future and immigrants to the state, while creating a landed-class, is definitely the kind of out of the box thinking that the state is famous for.

So now, let me share with you this fantastic proposed solution to California’s budget woes from the Mercury News’ message forums:

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 9:32 a.m. PST — Why don’t they just start taxing renters?

Renters are using the same services as homeowners, so why don’t they just pass a renter’s tax?  Maybe that would get a lot of the lazy people off their butts and get them to buy a house and really be a part of their community – rather than just a transient drain on their neighborhood until they move on to some other short-term situation.  There are so many renters out there that there must be a way to monetize them.  Maybe pass a residency tax that affects everyone, but if you’re already paying property tax, you get exempted from the new residency tax.  Then, force landlords to get a SSN from all renters and make sure the IRS has their address – just to make sure that the illegals don’t get away without contributing to their society the way homeowners have been doing for years.

Oh my god! This is an even better idea than the tuition tax, and other taxes on children, floated on this site earlier! Why aren’t we taxing lazy renters?

But wait, there’s more!

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 6:55 p.m. PST — Stay in school, then

Take a walk through most communities that are rental-majorities.  Sure the majority of renters would love to participate in ownership but *news flash* they’re uneducated or undereducated for this region.  Maybe if they started applying themselves and showing some initiative, then they’d start making the kind of money it takes to own something.  Also, *news flash* if you can’t afford a house in this market and you want one, you’re definitely in the wrong place.  Move to the hills of Tennessee or something.  Houses here are afforable now, and available to anyone who has a good education and is willing to invest in a long-term future and not live month-to-month.

Is it really a privilege to own property? Didn’t the homeowners pay taxes on the money that they earned to buy that property (think double-taxation)?  Aren’t most of them under water on their mortgages (you don’t need to think about that one)?  Doesn’t it take money to maintain that property to what the community and renters deem appropriate levels (think code enforcement)?  Don’t homeowners need to maintain insurance in case some dumb_ss falls on their doorstep (think lawyers)?  Maybe with your logic, there should be a tax placed on getting sick – because that’s about as much of a privilege as what you’re alluding to.  No, ownership is a right if you have the initiative and guts to do it – and nobody should tax a right.

Renting is a privilege more than ownership. Renters use up a huge chunk of community services and they don’t pay squat for it – and then they get to deduct a portion of their taxes because the landlord already paid property taxes that they’re benefitting from.  That’s just stupid.

Seriously. Mountain View’s a great example – it’s very affordable now, yet 50%+ plus of the population still rents. Those people should be deported!

But wait, there’s more!

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 6:40 p.m. PST — HomeyDogg doesn’t even know what clue means

First of all, I’m not a ‘sir’, but I suppose a predjudiced person such as yourself might assume I’m a ‘sir’ because I made what you feel are good arguments.  I shudder to think what you would have called me if I had made no sense.

Just because you are a renter, and probably paying less in rent than the property owner is paying in property taxes for your little unit, doesn’t mean it’s right or fair.  Watch the news – most property owners are completely screwed in this economy and the renters are reaping all the rewards of their hard-earned investment.  The property owner is just trying to make ends meet and usually being taken advantage of by the deadbeat renters out there who could care less what happens to their community because they’ll just be moving out once they miss enough rent payments, do enough damage to burn through their security deposit, or have too many bill collectors or bounty hunters stalking them at their residence.  Grow up.

Indeed. Did you know that in the California Constitution it guarantees that landlords will have profits? Oh wait… it doesn’t? WE NEED A PROPOSITION FOR THAT, STAT!

(BTW, most major landlords have their tax rates set in 1978… so… uh…)

But wait, there’s more!

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 10:12 a.m. PST — I don’t think that’s

I don’t think that’s completely true – I know of a lot of landlords that had their property taxes go up year-over-year yet they had to reduce rents because of the poor economy.  If their taxes went up, yet the renters are paying less, then something that was ‘factored in’ all of a sudden got ‘factored out’.  Since most rental real estate is a money losing proposition, and rents are still a heck of a lot lower than the relative cost of ownership, renters are getting a great deal.  They should be taxed to help ‘spread the wealth’ and pay their fair share of the services they’re using.  Everyone knows that renters have more police calls per capita than homeowners, and crime rat
es are higher in predominantly renter-heavy neighborhoods than owner-occupied neighborhoods, so why not tax them to pay for the services they’re using?  Homeowners have been paying huge amount of tax and carrying the burden of public services forever – yet many of those services go to people who don’t own a home and pay property taxes.  Why is that fair?  I say tax them and the problem will be solved.

Also, if they’re getting a ‘renter’s credit’ then how is that fair?  Get rid of the renter’s credit and make them pay their fair share.

Finally – this gets to the heart of how we can solve California’s budget woes: tax the poor.

If we tax the rich, they’ll leave! Local stores like French Laundry will layoff thousands. But if we tax the poor, they’ll leave! And then we won’t have poor people to support, or to look at!


Uh oh… there’s a dissenting view on the site:

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 10:25 a.m. PST — Sick of Prop 13!

My neighbors bought their house 30 years ago during a time when home values were more in line with salaries. Now, they are only paying $1700 a year in taxes receiving a pention and sucking from Social Security that I may never see! How are they contributing to our schools and other programs? I pay close to $20,000 a year in my property tax and I live right next door with a similar house. How is that fair? They are taking from our community and giving nothing back! When are we going to change Prop 13 so we can STOP taking from our children? What is wrong with CA? STOP prop 13!!! Even if we only increased their taxes by 3% this state would be in a better situation!

Three words: Socialism Loving Nazi.

It gets worse…

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 3:17 p.m. PST — And another thing on Prop 13

Thank you “your daddy” and shame on you Fat Granny for making such an uneducated comment about “rich yuppies” paying too much for homes!  That is the most rediculous thing I have heard!  We are living here because we are entrepreneuers and if it weren’t for us, you wouldn’t have some of the programs that we do!  Also, as “your daddy” stated, why can’t I live in the area I grew up?  I want my kids to grow up in a nice area so I had to pay this price!  Do you realize Fat Granny and all you other people who are for prop 13 that in 1978, before prop 13 we had a surplus!  Since then, we have had to cut public services, raise other taxes (CA sales tax is amoungst the highest in the nation!), drop school funding (we went from #5 in the nation to #40 in 1985 and is still dropping), road maintenance is down and because you empty nesters wont move we now have ugly tract homes covering our east foothills to make room for new homebuyers!  You see… property taxes are how we pay for things where we live.  Because of Prop 13 limited the sales tax to 1% of the assessed value of each property; and  limited annual increases in assessed values to the lesser of 2% or the increase in the cost of living for the year, with the exception that upon the sale of a property, the assessment would be updated to the transaction price. The effects of this have been a huge impact on the well-being of Californians.  If you can’t understand what I am saying, let me explain… THAT CAUSED HOUSE PRICES TO SOAR! Not rich yuppies paying too much for homes.

Even Warren Buffett commented on the iniquities and inequities of this system and pointed out how he bought a home in CA in the early 70’s with a current market value of $4M and was only paying $2,200 a year in taxes but bought another home in that same neighborhood for half the value in the mid 90’s and was paying $14,000 a year.  His point you ask?  The tax rate on the second house — same neighborhood, same owner, same ability to pay — is roughly 10 times the rate on the first house.  The emphasis is on “the same ability to pay”!!

This might be too hard for you to understand Fat Granny so maybe you should just go eat a dougnut!

This Socialism Loving Nazi is using facts as if they’re the truth. And he has typos.

Everyone knows that facts come from the gut. And only arguments with typos are valid.

Let’s call him on it:

Tuesday, 2/02/2010 – 7:32 p.m. PST — Are you really an entrepreneuer?

“Entrepreneuers” like you should be ashamed of yourself – and I hope your endeavors don’t include anything related to proper spelling, or we’ll all be in a “rediculous” situation, at least those “amoungst” us who have anything to do with what your endeavors produce.  Maybe you own a “dougnut” shop and it just doesn’t matter…

Maybe you are a rich yuppie like you portend in your writing – and studies have clearly shown that most rich yuppies are stupid, so your spelling might therefore be part of your genetic disability.  In that case I’m sorry for pointing it out.  Or, maybe you just got outgrown by this area and you’re so mad that you can’t keep up with it that your brain has stopped working.

BOOYAH. You got owned! Studies show that young people are stupid.

It’s clear what the next steps are:

1. California needs to pass a proposition to tax renters and to guarantee that landlords will have increasing profits every year.

2. California needs to pass a proposition to tax poor people. Let’s drive’em out of the state for good.

3. California needs to pass a proposition to limit voting to people who own houses and are 55 years old+,

Are you with this plan? Or are you with the terrorists?

Comments (241) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:35 am