May 9, 2012

Going, going, GONE in San Mateo

120508-not4saleIt’s becoming more challenging to provide a good variety of listings on Burbed.  Readers from all over send in their nominations for housing fail.  We work our way through the inbox looking to produce a good mix of home types, locations, submitters, and price range.  Lately, by the time we’re ready to write up a reader-suggested domestic disaster, all traces of the listing have been removed from the MLS. 

Back in the post-bubble doldrums when sellers had to promise a years’ worth of weekly car waxes and grocery delivery, an accepted offer wouldn’t lead to the agent yanking photos and description.  So what’s happening now?  Listings are evaporating faster than a YouTube video with a DMCA takedown notice.  Is this just another sign that there’s so little inventory, the selling agents feel besieged?

Today’s featured property is a San Mateo teardown that didn’t collect any dust, courtesy of Burbed reader SMParkster.  And since Redfin’s removed the info, time to play eenie-meenie-miney-mo with the other real estate websites.  Today’s “winner” is Trulia, which we thank very much for taking their time.

249 West Poplar Avenue
San Mateo CA 94402


Status: Pending
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Property type: Single-Family Home
Size: 3,121 sqft
Lot: —
Price/sqft: $721/sqft
Year built: 1906
Added on Trulia: 18 days ago
Neighborhood: San Mateo Park
Zip: 94402

Absolutely spectacular estate in San Mateo Park. Sprawling lot size of 24,000 square feet. High-reaching palm trees and mature redwoods welcome guests as they approach the main house down a gently winding driveway. This truly unique offering has been carefully maintained by the same family for the last fifty years.

120507-poplar-facadeHere’s why SMParkster passed this carefully maintained winner along:

I walk past that property all the time and the lot is truly really nice, but the house is set back much much further than any other house in the neighborhood and I’ve always kind of wondered about the owners.

120508-poplar-fireplaceThe MLS listing says the current owners have been there 50 years which doesn’t really surprise me.  I was just surprised that the asking price is about in line with what a decent house on that size lot would currently go for (I think) around here, but the house clearly needs either tearing down (what the real estate agent seems to be implying) or major updating at the very least.

More photos inside, so click on in!


Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

March 31, 2012

Is there a Grow House in your ‘hood?

120330-31st-growhouseRecently, there was a rather notable marijuana bust in San Mateo that netted 530 plants, due to a tip from a “concerned citizen.”  Every one of us probably has some kind of self-appointed concerned citizen living in our neighborhoods, and it’s thanks to people like them that we can discover there’s a pot house in an otherwise quiet, suburban subdivision.

Like this one.  Someone recently updated the Redfin record despite it not changing hands in nine years.


Check out the neighborhood, courtesy of Zillow.  This does not look like the meth district.  And the house isn’t just on the West side of El Camino, it’s on the West side of Alameda.  And on the Peninsula, West means more prestige, more appeal, and more Real.  If any part of San Mateo is going to aspire to Real Bay Areahood, this is a good place to start looking.


The local San Mateo Patch has some helpful hints on how you too can be a concerned citizen and rat your neighbors out for running a grow house.  Here’s how to tell what they’re up to:

Manheimer and Alcantara encourage the help of citizens in locating neighborhood grow sites. Each suggested some indicators that there might be an operation in your neighborhood.

"You’d hear whirring noises," says Alcantara, "because they need to have filtration inside the house. They need to get the oxygen out, and the carbon dioxide in for the plants, so they have filtration systems set up.

120330-31st-minivanYes, definitely call 911 at the first sign of a ceiling fan.  Those fiendish fixtures are a gateway appliance to high-energy lamps.  Here are some more tips from the San Mateo police:

  • Infrequent visits by individuals who stay for a couple hours and then leave.

Because everyone knows that suburban get-togethers last all the livelong day.

  • Lights in the house appear to be regulated, and on timers. Sometimes, rooms inside seem perpetually lit.

120330-31st-remodelI wonder who it was who suggested putting lights on timers (see Home Safety).

  • Initial construction and the noise that comes from that work.

Because nothing says grow house like noise from contractors.

  • A "skunky" marijuana odor, and other odors, such as those from mothballs, air fresheners or chlorine, which are used in an attempt to mask the marijuana smell.

120330-31st-cleanerIn fact, call 911 if you smell anything other than the approved chocolate chip cookie dough used during Open Houses.

  • Unusual garbage strewn across lawn. Items used for growing marijuana, such as wiring, PVC piping and nutrient containers, may be discarded and left around the house.

So that’s why we’re seeing so many nominations for the Burbed Good Housekeeping Tag of Approval.

  • Windows covered in dark plastic or newspaper.

Better have them check out the goth teen across the street for the blackout curtains, too.

  • 120330-31st-fenceExtra security, such as guard dogs, fences, or cars loitering for long periods of time.

Remember the words of Robert Frost: Bad neighbors make good fences.

Let us know about any questionable signs your neighbor is running something nefarious, or any interesting things you see when touring Open Houses.  This is an Open Thread, so open up.

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

January 11, 2012

Do not go direct to San Mateo

imageOne of the interesting things about reading so many real estate listings is noticing just how few agents have a decent command of the English language.  When the market was red-hot back in the mid-oughties, listing copy was slapdash because the homes, RBA or not, essentially sold themselves.  And now that market action is found at the very high and very low ends, nothing says low-end like a listing that doesn’t even try to scan.

Today’s housing horror, from Burbed reader MS, is a good example of this.  The copy sounds like a Monopoly instruction.  The only question is whether this property is in the Dark Purples (now Browns) or the Light Blues, because it sure as heck isn’t Boardwalk.


San Mateo, CA 94401


BATHS: 5.5
SQ. FT.: 1,804
$/SQ. FT.: $277
LOT SIZE: 5,610 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: North Shoreview/Dore Cavanaugh
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81148666
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 42 days

Tenant occupied. Two large dogs. Do Not Go Direct. As Is Sale, No Seller Warranty, Additions may or may not have permits

imageHere’s what MS had to say about this fantastic find:

All tenant-occupied places mean you have to call agent for appointment. . Just to get the point across about how real this short is,  these tenants have TWO LARGE DOGS that make showings even more difficult, not that you planned to! And then there’s the unpermitted additions. What are they in a 3/5.5?
How’d they add onto it, to get that configuration?
I’m stumped. I’ll go if someone goes with me.

Have a look.  It seems like they just kept moving on back.


Whoah.  Come for the “may or may not have permits” additions, stay for the high-voltage transmission lines.  And if you’re ever worried about not having enough power to run your flatscreen television collection, just tap in behind your fence.


“Bunus”: Golf course right across the street means random broken windows!

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

December 26, 2011

House in San Mateo–great for interrogations!

San Mateo, CA 94401



It looks like the art of writing great real estate copy has been lost in this new decade. Just look at the primary photo! Doesn’t this call for some reference to the enormous parking opportunities that this house has to offer? Just look at all the vans and suv’s that can fit in that driveway.

You know what this house really is right? It’s a safe house. Yep. Part of the CIA’s “black site” network. (Or CTU – you never know.) Those vans and suvs in the driveway? Disguised.

Let me show you where they use enhanced interrogation techniques:

15 S NORFOLK St, San Mateo, CA 94401

This house is what’s keeping freedom and liberty alive in America. You’re welcome, citizens.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:45 am

December 22, 2011

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS: Cheapest House in San Mateo!

We know, you’re busy holiday shopping!  So we’ll make your shopping really easy with this DEAL in San Mateo!

318 S DELAWARE St, San Mateo, CA 94401


SQ. FT.: 740
$/SQ. FT.: $269
LOT SIZE: 5,500 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81120671
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 223 days

1bd/1ba land value only. Please do not disturb occupants.

imageThis house has practically everything you want in a listing from Burbed. 

We’ve featured it before!  It has no value as a residence, yet there are people living in it.  Plus the tenants living there mean you can’t look inside the house, and the agent isn’t going to show you any interior pictures.  It’s been pending for more than half a year!  It sold for $401,000… ten years ago.  Talk about instant equity!

imagePlus you get this AWESOME sign that matches the house paint, right in front of the white picket fence, reminding you of the other places you could have chosen to find a DEAL.

If only this house were closer to the freeway or built on a Superfund site.  Then it would be the Absolutely Perfect Burbed Property.

But it isn’t, and that means the $199K is just a starting point for your overbidding.  HURRY, WON’T LAST!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:01 am

December 12, 2011

Exciting San Mateo Neighborhood Features Storied History!

Today’s find is from Burbed reader MS, bringing you another scrumptious sampling of Superb San Mateo!  Here’s a house that combines the luxury of a detached single family house in bucolic suburbia with the exciting night life of the nearby big city!  Okay, I didn’t say which city.

What could possibly go wrong with a one-two combo like that?

200 N KINGSTON St, San Mateo, CA 94401


SQ. FT.: 1,610
$/SQ. FT.: $276
LOT SIZE: 5,148 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: North Shoreview/Dore Cavanaugh
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81145428
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 44 days

Great home for first time buyers or investors! Spacious with large eat-in kitchen, formal living room and dining area plus a den. All with fresh paint and new carpet. Detached garage (partially converted) all on a corner lot.

Here’s what MS has to say about why this home deserves your attention.

imageHome was is occupied/partied in by relative’s sometimes violent descendants for years and years. The sheriff brought numerous backup units to evict "struggling family" terrorizing the neighborhood through October.

If you’re a potential owner-occupier, there are some of the best neighbors in North Shoreview right there. Change the locks, you should be good to go.




imageThere’s more excitement right at the corner of Mount Diablo. Yes, where the house is. Not enough? How about this friendly block party?

Plus, the garage is only partially converted, so you’ll only need obtain a partial permit to partially fix things with the city.

Best of all, you won’t be dealing with those troublesome relatives. All you have to do is convince the bank you want the house more than they do!

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

December 6, 2011

A Scary Time in San Mateo

Here’s a great find from Burbed reader Tracy, in sunny, I mean spooky San Mateo!  Ooooooooo!

210 N IDAHO St, San Mateo, CA 94401


SQ. FT.: 770
$/SQ. FT.: $643
LOT SIZE: 4,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Attached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Eastern Addition/Downtown Area
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81105556
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 301 days


One photo, one line of copy, and the truth about the garage conversion!  What more could you want, other than a better look at the house in the daytime…


Gorgeous!  And maybe a look around the neighborhood…


Yeah!  What’s not to like for half a million dollars?  All this and an honest agent, too!  You should be kissing this seller’s feet and offering $600,000!

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

November 18, 2011

Total square footage of 2200 sq ft not formally recorded

Today’s luscious listing is a superb short sale in San Mateo, courtesy of Burbed reader Divasm!  Thanks for this fantastic find, featuring fun photos, plenty of deferred maintenance, and the ever-popular “The dog ate my permits” excuse.

324 MIDVALE Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403


SQ. FT.: 1,610
$/SQ. FT.: $342
LOT SIZE: 5,056 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
COMMUNITY: Westwood Knolls
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81119319
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 168 days

Contractor Special! House has 4 bdrms 4 ba on record but total square footage of 2200 sq ft not formally recorded. Owner states that 2 bdrms, 2 ba & family rm addition were built w/ permit. Close to shopping & schools. Needs maintenance. Has a lot of potential. Swimming pool and spa in bkyard. Legality of 4th bath not warranted.

imageHere’s Divasm’s thoughts on today’s house:

This short sale has been around for over 150 days and been in and out of pending. It’s nothing new, same old story…but it’s a great example of when to just NOT include pictures of the house because they’re really not doing you any favors. The outside pic has so much glare and lens flare you think you’re in a JJ Abrams movie, and the inside pics look like somebody intentionally trashed their house…at Christmas time.

imageBut hey, maybe in a couple months the season will come back around and it will appear festive! And I guess we should be happy there are no Dudes or Cats hanging around, there is that…

I think this shot of the kitchen is a 10.  A 10 on the “I’m selling my house for more than half a million bucks and can’t be bothered to clean the kitchen before taking a few snaps.”

They couldn’t even bother to move the trash can out of the frame.  This is so beautiful, it’s bringing tears to eyes.  Or maybe that’s the onions in the trash can.

imageThe permit issues are just the icing on this delectable cake of contractor concern!  Good thing the owner states that most of the additions were built w/ permit!  The extra square footage not appearing on the county records is just a quibble you can work out with the friendly folks at the Planning Department and the Assessor’s Office.  You’re going to be spending a LOT of time with those folks getting approvals for all the maintenance this place needs, so you might as well ask them why there’s 600 square feet “not formally recorded.”

Maybe they’re hiding behind all the crap in this bedroom.

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

October 28, 2011

A San Mateo Dream (or maybe nightmare)

Thanks very much to Burbed reader sprezzatura for this San Mateo short sale.  Not only will it be selling shortly, but also often!


369 N CLAREMONT St #2, San Mateo, CA 94401


SQ. FT.: 1,237
$/SQ. FT.: $226
COMMUNITY: Eastern Addition/Downtown Area
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 80939018
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 781 days

Price right for a fast sale, ready to move in with great financing available including FHA or 100% financing. Closed to Shopping, schools and transportation.

Here’s what sprezzatura had to say about this, um, piece of property:

imageThis San Mateo short sale has gone pending 4 times and still never sold! Always a bridesmaid, poor condo.

The realtor has thoughtfully included photos of both bathrooms and what I assume is the living room, but nothing else. I suppose since the seller will be taking close to a 50% haircut since buying at top of the market, the realtor thought only photographing half the house was appropriate.

I think for only $279,000 we should be delighted to see three photos of the interior.  Yesterday we had a place for almost ten times as much with just a crappy shot of the outside.  It was pending, too.  That’s two quick pending in two days.  And 100% financing?  I tell you, the Bay Area real estate market is BACK!



Comments (28) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 12, 2011

Drive way on the side of the property

Today’s listing was sent in by Burbed reader MS.  Thanks very much for this MUST SEE NOW in San Mateo!


1235 TERMINAL Pl, San Mateo, CA 94401


SQ. FT.: 1,040
$/SQ. FT.: $433
LOT SIZE: 4,050 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: North Shoreview/Dore Cavanaugh
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81114350
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 189 days

MUST SEE NOW! Completely remodeled 3 BR 2 full baths including a new roof, double pane windows, new kitchens cabinet, granite counter top and new stainless steel appliances. Pergo floor throughout the house, recessed lighting throughout the house, new interior, exterior paints. Detached two car garage. Drive way on the side of the property.

imageHere’s what MS had to say about this home:

This house is Really for Sale. It has really not sold in 170 days.

Actually it took a while to run this, so now it’s more than 190 days.

The house foreclosed at $260K, came BOM at $500K, and has been stuck at $450K for going on three months.  It is not selling because the flippers did not fix the obvious and did not take into account what could not be fixed.

  1. It’s very close to the 101 retaining wall.image
  2. The garage is an unpermitted conversion from a one-car to a two-car, is sagging, and backs right up to an alley shared with an chain-linked parking gate for a not-nice apartment building.image
  3. The crawl space goes about halfway through the house. How you get to the other half is unknown.
  4. The water heater and w/d hookups are in exposed enclosures outside.
  5. The neighbor across the street has an 18-foot junk mountain behind his fence with “beware of dog” sign. A mattress is perched at the apex.



I agree it’s never a good sign when the lead picture on MLS isn’t the front of the house.  But surprisingly, the front exterior is not the picture of most concern.  Here’s a look at the side and that unpermitted garage.


Hmmm.  The Redfin agent toured it four times and concluded:


imageAnd we haven’t even started looking inside yet!

The seller just isn’t thinking BIG enough.  Close to SF, close to Silicon Valley, close to biotech jobs, and really, really, really close to 101.

There’s a garage (with no access for a car) which you can instead use for the next Web 3.0 startup incubator opportunity.  Now all that’s needed is a Web 3.0 price and a reminder to drive way on the side of the property.  Way, way on the side.

I’m thinking… $995K.  Who’s in?

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am