July 19, 2013

Another atrocious East Bay listing when you should buy in Mountain View

It’s time to point and laugh at the East Bay again, and Burbed reader Bob in Oakland has got just the place. Thanks very much for keeping us apprised of all the wanna-bes who won’t be living in the Real Bay Area no matter how much they try overbidding. After all, anyone can show 365 percent profit when houses like this were selling for way less than Not A Lot Of Money.

130719-yuba-redfin2612 YUBA Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Sold for $903,000

3 Beds
2.5 Baths
2,570 Sq. Ft.
$351 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1926
Lot Size: 7,000 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Jun 28, 2013
Status: Sold
Type: Detached
Stories: 2
Community: Mira Vista Estates
MLS#: 40614765
Style: Tudor
View: Bay, City Lights, Downtown, Partial, San Francisco
County: Contra Costa

Gorgeous Tudor/arched entry, Juliet balcony, sunken LR/ exposed beam ceilings. Perfect combination of old & new. Upgraded kit/caesarstone/ tiled backsplash & stainless appliances. Updated baths. Plus rooms. Lovely yard/ brick patio. Super house for entertaining. Close to BART, shop. & restaurants.

130719-yuba-decorOk, Bob, why did you nominate today’s Tudor?

365 percent appreciation in El Cerrito!

Actually that appreciation was just from March to August of last year:  375k to 745k in five months.
It just sold AGAIN – the third time in 16 months.
Listed at 779k, went pending in two weeks, and sold for 903k (16 percent over asking).
Yes, it’s a good-sized house on a good-sized lot. But 240 percent appreciation in 16 months – W…T…F!!

130719-yuba-kitchenWTF, indeed, where do you get 365 percent increase going from 375 to 903? One percent for every day this year. Is that East Bay math?

Maybe the way it works is that this house gets extra price increase boosts, because the value of a typical listing is actually dropping simply by being exposed to other homes located in the East Bay.  Think of it as a belt of lead weights, or a heavy chain connected to a big ol’ Oakland anchor.

130719-yuba-bedroomWhy would anyone buy this house for $903,000, when it’s full of exposed hardwood and the living room is sinking plus it has a frighteningly large kitchen? It makes much more sense to buy a fixer-upper in Mountain View instead. Think of all the time you’ll save when everything is at your fingertips because the rooms are so conveniently close-in. And the Bay views from El Cerrito will lead to woolgathering when you’ll be needing to focus on work. Mountain View Eichloids don’t have those distractions! Besides, it’s not like you’d be leaving Google during daylight hours anyway.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

May 6, 2013

UPDATED: Kawlums! Mawbul kawlums! Git yer kawlums he-uh in El Cerrito!

It’s been far too long since we’ve heard from one of our favorite correspondents from the East Bay, Burbed reader A Lewis.  A (he says we can still call him A) writes in to let us know that there is still real estate worth following in his favorite city of El Cerrito. Let’s have a look and listen in.

130505-barrett-redfin6332 Barrett
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Sold for $1,200,000

3 Beds
2.5 Baths
3,441 Sq. Ft.
$349 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1941
Lot Size: 0.54 Acres
Sold On: Apr 19, 2013
Type: Detached
Stories: 2
County: Contra Costa
Style: Colonial
Community: Miravista Highls
MLS#: 40608299

a classic Colonial Revival on a 1/2 acre estate. Custom built with lavish attention to detail. Features include a 2 story tall portico at the entrance a wide spiral staircase to the upper floor inside, and fabulous access to patios and gardens from various entry level rooms. Ideal for entertaining

130505-barrett-windowTake it away, A!

Update 6:45 pm: A says it’s fine to include the following graf that we thought was social chitchat just for us.

** Sorry I abandoned the site – but I’ve been priced out forever, and Real Estater was right about the stock market, so I just had to admit my own limitations and tried to spend time thinking about things besides real estate. I’m still a renter. But I can’t stop myself from occasionally looking at Redfin in my neighborhood, which you will recall is the hills of El Cerrito – 94530 baby! **

Here’s a house I know that tried to sell in 2008 for $1.2M, failed pitifully because of the ‘crash’, but they waited it out, and lo and behold, they got their price last week! And I wanted to share the listing because the first pick has 6, yes 6 columns showing!

130505-barrett-2windowsSo in my mind, prices in the hills of El Cerrito are back to peak levels, and appear to be rising.

I don’t know if that qualifies us for RBA status, but we seem to be back to where we were in 2007 (oh, except for having about 25% of the inventory), a crazed over-bidding environment on places that need a lot of work. People writing letters with their offers to beg for the privilege of buying with no contingencies, etc…

I guess another difference is how much buying is all-cash – in 2007, I think there was a lot more leveraging.

130505-barrett-anotherviewIt’s a great time to sell a house, that’s for sure. But I can’t afford to buy one – oh well! I’d say I missed my chance, which was about Q1 2012, but prices hadn’t dropped enough for me to afford things even then.

Maybe the next crash will be harder. Maybe not – I bought a lotto ticket last month as an alternative way to solve the problem…

Looking at how bekawlumned this house is, we don’t understand why A didn’t sell every vehicle, video, and spare family members to own this house. Every bedroom just screams, “Oh my God, I live here!”  Why this is almost as impressive as what you can get in Palo Alto for a similar asking price.

Can you imagine what you’d have to pay for kawlums in The Real Bay Area?

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

January 27, 2012

This house blue me away

What’s this, another find from the East Bay?  Yes, we’re back in El Cerrito, courtesy of Burbed reader Becca.  This may not be the Real Bay Area, but the house is definitely Burbed-worthy.  Read on to find out why.

1120 Lawrence Ct
El Cerrito, CA 94530


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,992
$/SQ. FT.: $204
LOT SIZE: 4,200 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Contemporary, Fixer/Handyman Special
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40554395
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 44 days

Submit all offers- seller wants this sold NOW!! Large home on quiet court. This home has lots of potential with great floor plan. Some finsh work and updating will really make this shine. Buyer responsible for all compliance issues- property sold "As-Is". $75 buyer doc fee at COE.

120126-lawrence-livroomHere’s why Becca thought this house was worth looking into:

I’ve been reading Burbed for a while, and I was happy to see that you featured something in my neck of the woods today.  If you care to show another house in El Cerrito, this one has some interesting attributes:

This one was listed earlier this spring for ~$600k, cash only, and the description of the house mentioned that it had been a "pot house".  I don’t know if the hideous blue color all over everything helps the plants grow faster.

No luck recovering a cached version of the one hit I got for this address and “pot house.”


120126-lawrence-backyardLooks like the back yard would suit just fine.  Although it’s what’s behind the back yard that made this place so well-suited for its former function.

Remember that house we just featured in San Mateo?  What’s a bug for a residence is a feature for a grow house! 

Feast your eyes on the satellite shot!  There’s no way this blue beauty is subject to any power outages!


Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:51 am

January 19, 2012

It’s Baaaaaaaaaaack!

Today we have a guest post from Burbed reader A Lewis.  Burbed tends to spend too much time in Silicon Valley, so it’s good we’ve got a frequent contributor to remind us that there’s listings full of Burbed Win all over the Bay Area, not just within three miles of Google.

Please give A a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome as today’s guest blogger, revisiting his very first Burbed posting.

One of my favorite features on Burbed is follow-up stories from previous listings.

Cast your mind waaaaaaay back to the dim past of March, 2011 (just think how much the Republican primary field has changed since then! And who would have bet the 49ers would have clinched their division?) and this thread:


We actually ended up with a pretty good conversation full of East Bay Love (TM)!

Well, I’m sure you will be as excited as I am that 8190 Terrace was not snapped up by an ordinary buyer who intended to live in it for years…No, it was clearly a flipper who has renovated it and is ready to pass the instant equity on to you at the low low price of $849K $799K! 

Have a look inside to see what they did!


Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

December 14, 2011

20 foot vaulted ceilings and 81 sf “bedroom”

We have another Guest Post for you today, this time from all the way across the Bay!  Yes, live, from El Cerrito, it’s Burbed reader A Lewis!  A (he says I can still call him A) is a big fan of Burbed because we love the East Bay so much.  And there’s so much to love, if by “love” we really mean “POINT AND LAUGH!”

So share the love, enjoy today’s visit to the East Bay, and give A Lewis a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome as today’s Guest Blogger!

6601 Gatto Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530


SQ. FT.: 1,279
$/SQ. FT.: $281
LOT SIZE: 3,534 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Bay, Bay Bridge, City Lights, Panoramic, San Francisco
COMMUNITY: Junction Heights
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40547115
STATUS: Pending – Subject to Lender Approval
ON REDFIN: 62 days

Sweeping panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay seen through the walls of glass in this beautifully modern home in the El Cerrito hills. Beautifully remodeled two bedroom, two bath plus home office features 20 foot vaulted ceilings in the living room and kitchen. Master bedroom w/ walk in closet.

"Distinctive" Staging, the ladder to nowhere, and a listing history only a mother could love!

It’s time for some East Bay goodness – here’s a local favorite I’ve been watching struggle since Aug. 2010.  So many fun things happening with this listing. First, the interior layout:


Yes, it does have a great view, but only if you can tear your eyes from the 100% carpeted stairs jutting diagonally into the dining/living combo. That metal railing – oooh, shivers of delight. And what better place for those intake vents then the stairs? I have got to talk to the architect!


Fortunately for the realtor, these bizarre stairs give you the opportunity for a ‘make it look way bigger than it actually is’ picture of the kitchen & nook. Which I actually kind of like, except for that gigantic free standing cabinet jutting out of the wall. It looks like an alien artifact posed to open a portal from another dimension and unleash demons into our world. But maybe that’s just me. Don’t miss the awesome view of the gravel roof of your neighbor’s house only 18 inches away from the kitchen sink! But wait, there are MORE pictures of this room taken from the top of the stairs!


Mmmm, close up view of that metal railing on the stairs – and nice detail visible on the non-vacuumed carpet. Oh the color of that carpet is just so….so….help me out here. Is this thing staged or is this how they live in it? Let’s move on to the best room in the house:


The only thing to say about this ‘special’ room is WTF. One 90-degree angle is all you need to enjoy 81 square feet of dim crampedness. Looks like the non-permitted 3rd bedroom I’ve been dreaming of! Not seeing a closet. But now we know this thing MUST be staged. A ladder to nowhere? That’s the true gem in this listing. I LOVE this ladder. I come back to this listing time and again just to gaze at that ladder. It gets my vote for best-attempt-by-an-overpaid-stager-to-turn-a-sub-100-square-foot-room-into-the-idea-of-a-massive-library-via-use-of-a-ladder! (I admit, we do get very few entries in this category each year). But c’mon, people, put your hands together for that shiny black ladder! It matches the desk!

On to the location:


It’s not just a corner lot – it’s an almost 180-degree turn! With absolutely no yard space! Look at that efficient use of a lot that should never have been developed! At least it’s on awkward, hilly terrain – who wants a level lot these days, anyways?

If that isn’t enough for you, let’s sit back and enjoy the listing history, shall we?

From Redfin:


That’s what we like to see – put ingredients into Redfin listing on ‘low’, add a "not an arm’s length transaction" into the pot to pique the curiosity, and stir occasionally every month while adding nothing of value or taste. Step 3 = ????. Step 4 = Profit! It’s pending! For the 4th time!

Let’s pop over to Zillow for the full price history, shall we?


imageAw, it’s not all here! My faint recollection says they started at $600k in 2010. But after a few slaps in the face, they were willing to bite the bullet and move to a lower asking price than what they paid of $499,900 starting in April of 2011. Tried the old ‘make it new again!’ trick of pulling it off Redfin for 20 minutes and re-listing trick a few times. How’d that work out for you? Looks like it only cost you ANOTHER $140k so far! And they’ve been willing to switch between the incredible services of "J. Rockcliff Realtors" and "Distinctive Home Tours" not once, but three times! The competitive marketplace of real estate in action. I bet "Distinctive" paid for the staging and pictures the first time, and J. Rockcliff has just been coasting on their hard work ever since.

How will the story end? Wonder what that pending offer is…I’ll let you know if it sells! Thanks for joining me in this distinctive jaunt over to the East Bay!

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

May 2, 2011

Who Needs Marble Columns when you can have Arches?

burbedguestbloggerPlease welcome Burbed reader A Lewis back to the front page, with another thrilling listing from, you guessed it, the East Bay!  We know it can’t possibly be in the RBA because that entire part of the region is a chasm of no-can-do, but let’s see the place anyway!

Please give A your bestest, warmest Real Bay Area welcome!

A few details in this East-Bay, non-RBA listing make it stand out:

1733 Elm St, El Cerrito, CA 94530


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,723
$/SQ. FT.: $334
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Other
VIEW: Hills, Wooded
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40519704
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 14 days

Built in 2007 by Arch John Rolf Hattam One block from BART, Separate APN from Sister build behind. Well designed spaces that create privacy throughout. Arch features everywhere, private and separate backyard, 2 car garage w/ interior acc. Eat in kitchen, laundry, home office rm, pier & grd bm foundtn

image#1) The Arches! So important, the architect added the word "Arch" to his name: "Built in 2007 by Arch John Rolf Hattam" "Arch features everywhere".

#2) Built in 2007 (OK, great!), and it’s a short sale (oooops!). I think whoever gave them the construction loan is now crying their way to insolvency.

#3) You get a twin sister for your home – and it’s so close, you can reach out the back bedroom windows to touch it! "Separate APN from Sister build behind." I don’t know what an APN is, so who cares, I bet it just means instant equity. If you look at the picture on Zillow, you can see the foundations:


The second one doesn’t seem to be for sale – maybe the builders are living there – and I’m sure you’ll get to know them VERY well.


image#4) The pictures, my god, the pictures. The place actually looks pretty nice from the thumbnails (and I was DYING to see those ARCHES!) – but the Realtor who stands to earn 3% by selling this beauty couldn’t be bothered to check his Redfin posting to find out he uploaded the thumbnails for the full-size pics. Let’s play a game: how few pixels do you need to tell a bathroom from a bedroom? Contestant #1: "Burbed, I can name that room with 250 pixels!" Contestant #2: "Burbed, I can name that room with 100 pixels!". Burbed: "NAME THAT ROOM!". 

image#5) The listing history: they bought the empty lot for $225k in 8/2004. Finished building in 2007 and started selling in 2009 (whew!), for $749k (thanks, Zillow, for filling in the blanks – Redfin, you are falling behind!), then a steady game of de-list, drop price, re-list, leading us to today’s bargain price of $575k for an almost-townhome in a decidedly non-RBA neighborhood. If you look at the estimates, you will see he is on the WRONG SIDE OF ELM St. to be listing over $500k. It gets better as you go ‘uphill’ around here, and sorry, this house ain’t uphill.


Nice and close to BART, though.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

March 17, 2011

It’s got the copy and the listing history to be famous


As any regular Burbed reader knows, the East Bay is no way no how never was, never is and never will be part of the Real Bay Area (RBA).  But there’s plenty to be found in the East Bay!  Plenty of great houses for Burbed treatment, that is.

So, speaking of the East Bay, please welcome A Lewis, in his very first appearance as a Burbed Guest Blogger!  Please give him a warm RBA welcome!

8190 TERRACE Dr, El Cerrito, CA 94530


BATHS: 3.5
SQ. FT.: 3,973
$/SQ. FT.: $138
LOT SIZE: 6,630 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Brown Shingle
COMMUNITY: Country Club Ter
COUNTY: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40513365
ON REDFIN: 4 days

VIEWS! Views! Views! Enjoy the views of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge! Huge Potential with plenty of space. POOL, possible inlaw apartment downstairs for extended family. Contractors Dream! HUGE, HUGE upside potential!

imageFirst, the listing copy is so Excited, EXCITED! VIEWS! POOL! That is one crappy pool in lieu of a small back yard Great hazard for families with small children.

That’s strange, no interior pics?

And 3 of the worst view pics you could imagine. Why would you take your view pics on a hazy grey day and then reduce them to an unviewable resolution? Do they teach that in realtor-school?








But the listing history is what makes this worth a second look – first off, there HAS got be a law made so you can’t call a listing ‘new’ just because you took it off Redfin for five seconds. Second, look at the almost unbroken monthly activity since 2008. This house needs a rest – it’s getting more action than a $5 hooker.


But it’s got $444k of instant equity! Multiply by 2 and you’ve got three 8’s! it’s only been foreclosed on once, and then it sold for $400k just one week ago. Now it’s ready for a new owner! How was that 7 days of owner-occupied bliss, anyways?

What the heck is happening on the inside of this place – I know they say Contractor’s special, but what have they been doing with it all these years? This one looks ripe for a fraud investigation. But at a rock-bottom $138/sqft, how can you pass it up? And it has a POOL!

Comments (48) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

January 20, 2011

A nightmare on Glen Mawr


Beds: 3
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,406
$/Sq. Ft.: $142
Lot Size: 6,300 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Contemporary
Year Built: 1950
Community: El Cerrito Hills
County: Contra Costa
MLS#: 40502277
Source: EBRD
Status: ActiveThis listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 10 days
A fixer in a very convenient location. Contractor’s special.

At first I was hesitant to post this as this is in El Cerrito, which is one of those cities that I have to check a map to make sure that it isn’t in Costa Rica or something – but that photo. WOW. Almost, JWOWW… but just WOW.

Here’s what A. Lewis who submitted this had to say:

I’m really sorry there are only 2 pictures. I have driven by this home many times over the years, and it’s got quite a history. I think it was Christmas 2009 when they started making exciting changes – it was some boring normal color, and then they spray-painted "Merry Christmas!" in big sloppy letters on the garage door. Then a lot of random paint colors were used on a lot of random patches around the house. I kept wondering what the heck was going on – and how they could stand it. I think it was early 2010 when the garage turned bright orange, and then the rest of the house started to follow. The exciting variety of trim colors were added piecemeal, too.

It reminded me of when my parents took down some old wallpaper in our kitchen, and decided to allow us to draw wha
tever we wanted for a while. They were planning to re-paint, so they said what the hell, go nuts, we’ll fix it in the end. We painted a big Turkey in November, then a big Christmas Tree in December, and lots of mini art projects in the corners whenever we wanted. Crayon, paint, permanent markers – anything was allowed! It was great. Then they painted it over after a few more months.

Well, this house didn’t seem to do the ‘fix it in the end’ part. They just let the kids do whatever they wanted! Right up until it’s time to sell! And it’s an awesome prominent location, right next to a K-8 school, and near a BART station so a lot of commuters see it twice a day.

It’s also a DEAL! Now I know the East Bay doesn’t even qualify to smell the RBA’s dirty laundry, but similar houses nearby have easily gone for $300-500k. It’s not like Tracy or something. Maybe when they say ‘fixer’ they really mean it. Gosh, what does "Probate/Court Approval" mean in the Redfin details? Don’t let that scare you away…I think it has a view of the Golden Gate bridge!
Remember, the value’s in the land!

You tell him A-Man!

Personally, I’m just fascinated by the “very convenient location” comment. Let’s look at this location:


This nightmare house really should bill itself as being on Elm St. “Yeah, just take Cutting Blvd,and then slash over to Elm St”. It’d be awesome of the buyer was Freddy K.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

July 2, 2008

Rent: $4200/month. Sale Price: $1.6m. El Cerrito

601 Bonnie Dr., El Cerrito, CA
New Tuscan style villa overlooking the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay
4BR/4BA Single Family House

offered at $1,596,880
Year Built 2007
Sq Footage 3,860
Bedrooms 4
Bathrooms 4 full, 0 partial
Floors 2
Parking 2 Car garage
Lot Size 5,500 sqft
HOA/Maint $0 per month

Overlooking the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay, this new, Mediterranean masterpiece was build without compromise, reflecting only the best melding design and décor to excite the senses. Featuring magnificent living and dining areas with exquisite detailing, sky-high ceilings, tiled terraces, the finest quality materials & craftsmanship and every luxury amenity one would expect in a world class residence. Almost 3900 sqft. with four plus bedrooms four full bath this residence is offered to those who appreciate the very Best!

Normally Burbed doesn’t feature much in the East Bay, as this is a blog that focuses on the Real Bay Area. In fact, I had to double check on a map where El Cerrito is. But nonetheless, what Burbed reader Aaron had to say caught my attention:

Hi Burbed,

Thanks so much for what you do.

I am an East Bay renter looking to buy when sanity returns. I always peruse the rentals and for sale listings in Albany/El Cerrito, to see if I can do better than what I rent now.

Found this gem today in a nice part of El Cerrito:


Rent: $4200/month. Sale Price: $1.6m. Isn’t that awesome? Recently reduced from $1.8m!

It gets better – the comments on zillow indicate friction between these folks who built up this house and the 2 lots adjacent and their neighbors, and some suggestions of shoddy construction. Also has some of the sales history, etc.


I can’t afford $4200/month in rent, but if I could, this a steal – you can live in this place (which does seem awfully nice, and I love the neighborhood) for like 1/4 of what it costs to own it. Maybe more. Figure $1800/month in property taxes alone! Then insure this puppy!


Well Aaron, there are some downsides to renting this – among other things, you wouldn’t be able to modify it, or paint the walls, or even water the lawn. Where is the pride of homeownership?

Frankly, I can’t make too many snarky remarks about this because I don’t know diddly about El Cerrito. Can someone fill me in on what’s there? What the scoop is? Should it be a candidate for the Real Bay Area?

Help me out! (And thanks Aaron!)

Comments (44) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:28 am