May 26, 2013

UPDATED: A Bay Area School Ranking Mysteriously Heavy on the East Bay

Now how did this happen?  ZipRealty has produced a school ranking report that justifies buyers staying in its own East Bay backyard. A number of news sites ran completely uncritical parroting of this news release.  Let’s take a closer look to find out exactly how this happened, because there’s a reason there’s a Real Bay Area and the East Bay will never be part of it.

See updates below.

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Top Schools and Affordable Homes: East Bay Dominates ZipRealty’s List of Best Places to Live for Families

San Ramon Valley, Sunol Glen and Piedmont schools top the list.

EMERYVILLE, Calif., May 16, 2013 – ZipRealty, Inc. (http://www.ziprealty.com) (NASDAQ: ZIPR), the leading online residential real estate brokerage and technology provider, has released its first annual ranking of the Best Places for Families to Live: Top School Districts with Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area. The public school rankings were compiled by factoring each school district’s School Score on ZipRealty.com with median price per square foot in that district. To be considered, at least 10 home sales must have closed in that school district over the course of 2012.

"We all know lots of factors – not just price per square foot – go into determining home values," says ZipRealty CEO and President Lanny Baker. "Among the most important of these factors for many families today is the quality of local schools in relation to the price of their local real estate. In our ongoing effort to help home buyers make important decisions, we are thrilled to bring these two sets of data together."

ZipRealty’s proprietary School Score ratings measure the performance of each school district, including elementary, middle and high schools on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. ZipRealty calculates School Score ratings based on test-score data as well as student/teacher ratios, says Jamie Wilson, Senior Vice President of Technology.

130525-zipr-supermodelNotice that dateline? Emeryville. You think a realty portal located in a region with an inferiority complex is going to play fair with school rankings when up against the Real Bay Area? Ha. You can see how this is shaping up with the name of that list: “Best Places for Families to Live: Top School Districts with Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area.”

Now if you’ve been reading Burbed for more than a couple of weeks, you already know that “Top School Districts” and “Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area” are Two of Those Things That Don’t Go Together. It’s kind of like finding America’s Top Supermodels Who Live In Trailer Parks.  Only the supermodels are probably easier to locate because there’s less overbidding.

But it was the Top 10 on this list that made us write in to ZipRealty to ask just how the heck this list came to be.  Have a look:

  1. San Ramon Valley Unified: School Score 9.1/Median Price per SF $304
  2. Sunol Glen Unified: School Score 9.3/Median Price per SF $356
  3. Piedmont Unified: School Score 9.5/Median Price per SF $539
  4. Palo Alto Unified: School Score 9.2/Median Price per SF $885
  5. Castro Valley Unified: School Score 8/Median Price per SF $265
  6. Dublin Unified: School Score 8.4/Median Price per SF $265
  7. Pleasanton Unified: School Score 8.6/Median Price per SF $332
  8. Albany Unified: School Score 8.6/Median Price per SF $419
  9. Benicia Unified: School Score 7.8/Median Price per SF $181
  10. Martinez Unified: School Score 7.8/Median Price per SF $185

Okay, what the heck? Not only is every single school district on this list but one on the East side of the Bay, every single one is also single.  Where the hell are the non-unified school districts?  And look who’s sticking out like a sore thumb on this list. Yes, everyone’s favorite Palo Alto, sailing in at a Most Affordable Housing Price of $885 a square foot (which is too low because they calculated it more than a week ago).

Needless to say, that Most Affordable Housing figure made us write to ZipRealty’s media contact and ask just how this list was ranked.  Their answer is they put all the 9s in one bucket, then ranked the per square foot prices within the rank, then did the same for the 8s, the 7s, etc.  The school score itself was calculated based on “test-score data as well as student/teacher ratios.”  So Palo Alto and its sky-high price per foot represented the “worst” or Least Affordable of the Most Affordable of the 9s category, which had all of four school districts in it.

We were also sent the full list of 70 school districts, and there actually were some non-unified organizations therein. The highest scoring non-unified district was Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District, with an 8.3 (and a Most Affordable Housing Price of $601 a foot, which then pushed it below the Tamalpais and Fremont Union HSDs, which scored lower but were much more Most Affordable, reinforcing what we said above about those supermodels).

130525-zipr-overcrowdedComparing a high school district (grades 9-12) to a unified district (grades K-12) is batshit insane pretty silly, though.  Elementary schools have lower student-teacher ratios because, and stop us if this concept seems a little too technical, but State Law mandates smaller student-teacher ratios for elementary classes.  Therefore a Unified district would score more highly, benefitting both from that smaller student-teacher ratio and the resulting higher school test scores than a district that only has high schools.  You know, because high schools have… larger classes… and more students in the school from more diverse backgrounds than elementary schools.

Talk about a stacked deck: Alameda County has no high school districts at all, only unified districts.  Same with Solano County.  And you know else how they shuffled the cards funny?  Where the HELL is Cupertino Union School District?  You may have heard of them, they’re the one that scores 998 on the danged STAR tests from a couple of their elementary schools. But they’re nowhere to be found on the list.  And that’s rather interesting, because we looked up a house in the district on ZipRealty, just to find out CUSD’s ranking.

It’s 9.4, which means it beats every other district on the list except Piedmont (which got a whopping 9.5, or 10.2 on the list of 70 we were sent, which makes us wonder about their copyediting). Yet for some reason there’s no mention of Cupertino at all. Maybe it’s that Most Affordable Housing Price of $750 a foot – except that’s still less than Palo Alto.

130525-zipr-unfairfightPerhaps they only wanted to include school districts that had high schools? Maybe, but that doesn’t explain the presence of two (yes two out of 70) elementary school districts on the list (Howell Mountain and Pope Valley, both toward the bottom).  How many of the 70 were unified school districts? 53. And 14 high school (only) districts.

Sorry, that’s whacked, comparing unified districts with high school only.  We can run similarly helpful lists, showing East Bay city values jumping by huge margins… and forgetting to mention that they utterly imploded after 2006.  Oh wait, that’s what realtards do every time they tell you that NOW IS ALWAYS THE TIME TO BUY.

We’ve helpfully pulled out all the high school districts from the ZipRealty list, to get a better idea of how they rank against each other, since we don’t see the value in comparing apples with horse apples.  The two numbers after each high school district are the price per square foot, and the ZipRealty School Score. 

Updated 4:30 PM: The number in parenthesis in front is the rank amid all those unified districts. And we’ve separated them into their respective school score buckets, which is how the entire list was ranked (first digit of score, followed by ranking price per foot from least to most).

(11) TAMALPAIS UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $486  8.1
(12) FREMONT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $545  8
(13) LOS GATOS-SARATOGA JOINT UHSD  $601  8.3

(17) WEST SONOMA COUNTY UNION HSD  $255  7
(19) ACALANES UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $307  7.6
(24) SAN MATEO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $474  7
(25) MOUNTAIN VIEW-LOS ALTOS UNION HSD  $626  7.6

(27) LIBERTY UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $124  6
(32) SAN RAFAEL CITY HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $338  6.4
(36) CAMPBELL UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $408  6
(38) SEQUOIA UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $515.5  6.8

(45) SAN BENITO HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $153  5.5
(52) EAST SIDE UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $272  5.7
(54) JEFFERSON UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $344  5.8

Jefferson was 54th out of 70 districts, which means it still managed to beat out 14 unifieds despite the structural handicap of not having any K-8 students.

Update 4:30: Just for giggles, let’s take a look at the bottom 10 schools on their list. East Bay in yellow, and the two WTF elementaries in green (both in Napa County).

61. HAYWARD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $192  4.2
62. HOWELL MOUNTAIN ELEMENTARY SD  $201  4.7
63. OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $210  4.9
64. SAN LORENZO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $211  4.8
65. SAN LEANDRO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $218  4.6

66. PAJARO VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $247 4
67. SONOMA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $269.5 4.4
68. CALISTOGA JOINT UNIFIED SD  $405  4.7
69. POPE VALLEY UNION ELEMENTARY SD  $55  3.8
70. EMERY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $270  3.6

No RBA here!

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We rank this press release 4 Pinocchios and 5 Lereahs

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And seriously, shame on Yahoo Finance and HuffPo Parents for not doing the slightest bit of due diligence on it. Do we have to do everything?

Update 4:30 PM: We’ve asked ZipRealty to explain their mooshing together unified and high school districts, as well as the two elementaries in their list. We will run any response of theirs in full.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am






May 25, 2013

Why Everyone Loves Realtards: Part LXIV

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Self-serving arguments: what else would you expect?  Item for discussion: which is cheaper, a divorce or a bigger house? Be sure to indicate where said house would be.  And if you push for downgrading your school district while upsizing your residence, the divorce may well follow on its own.

It’s the weekend! In fact, it’s a three-day weekend! Will you look at more or fewer Open Houses?  Will you post more or fewer comments in this Weekend Open Thread?

Photo from Funny Signs website.

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

May 24, 2013

Overbids: Now on twitter

Today we’re going to follow up on a tweet that highlights the market in San Bruno.  Thanks very much to @davnic4.

Just in case that embedded tweet doesn’t share the photo attached, here it is:

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Can you believe it indeed?

130522-fleetwood-redfin3445 FLEETWOOD Dr
San Bruno, CA 94066
Sold for $660,000

3 Beds
2 Baths
1,440 Sq. Ft.
$458 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1964
Lot Size: 0.34 Acres
Sold On: Mar 28, 2013
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Community: Monte Verde
MLS#: 81308204
Style: Contemporary
View: Neighborhood
County: San Mateo

First time on the market! This San Bruno fixer offers 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with open floor plan with plenty of natural light and inviting garden . Great potential to make this gem shine. MUST SEE!!!

Let’s see what else it offers.

130522-fleetwood-kitchen130522-fleetwood-fireplace130522-fleetwood-wallpaper130522-fleetwood-view130522-fleetwood-patio130522-fleetwood-yard130522-fleetwood-carpet

This carpet looks like it has more chlorophyll than the grass.  Now, check out the aerial view (because there’s no streetview). Looks like you’re going to get to know the neighbors really well!

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And what’s that in the backyard?  A freeway (CA 35) PLUS high tension power lines! Win-win-win!

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

May 23, 2013

This charming home is in the process of being highly updated

Let’s check in with Burbed reader J from Alameda, who seems to be spending a lot of time not in Alameda of late.  Once more J has a house for us in Walnut Creek. Is it Burbed-worthy?  You know the answer!

130522-buena-trulia2215 Buena Vista Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
$599,000

(Overlook)

4 bedrooms
2 full bathrooms
1,416 sqft
Single-Family Home
For Sale / Resale
$2,682 / mo
20 Days on Trulia
476 views
Bungalow Architecture
Heating: Gas
Lot Size: 6,860 sqft
Built in 1930
Neighborhood: Overlook
MLS/Source ID: 81314840
Zip: 94597
1,416 sqft

2215 Buena Vista Ave Built in the 30?s this charming four bedroom home is in the process of being highly updated throughout property inside and out. Buyer can choose colors if upgrade work has not begun. Walk to BART, freeway around the corner and other amenities.

130522-buena-backWell, we thought where it says Overlook up top that was an order. But J sent it in to us anyway. Here’s why, despite it being in the East Bay and everything:

More freeway! At least the agent almost told the truth – Joe says the freeway is around the corner but it’s really across the street. Of the 16 listings photos how many are the same? Finally, no inside pictures? I want to see the freeway view!

130522-buena-streetviewYour wish is granted.  That’s the streetview from the house.  Bunus: trash bins!

We apologize for not using Redfin today (that’s what J sent in) but they occasionally take their system down when we’re writing, so we had to give someone else a turn.  So helloooooooooo Trulia! Also this is another chance to complain about Redfin not linking to our posts anymore.

Oh, and we counted up the photos. We think there are only actually 3 of them.

But you can choose your colors if you hurry!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

May 22, 2013

So much potential nestled on the hill

Yesterday we had a place in hot, hot, HOT Mountain View that has been on the market for more than a hundred days.  That was a fun game, so let’s play Why Won’t This House Sell yet again.  Today we move to San Mateo County and the delightful breezy bivouac of Brisbane!

130521-sierra-redfin772 Sierra Point Rd
Brisbane, CA 94005
$629,000

3 Beds
1.5 Baths
1,400 Sq. Ft.
$449 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1968
Lot Size: —
On Redfin: 130 days
Property Type: Single-Family Home
Community: Brisbane
MLS#": 403999
View: Bay
County: San Mateo

So much potential nestled on the hill, great floor plan. SF Bay views from almost every room, kitchen breakfast bar, living room with fireplace, 2 car garage, deck in front, back yard has stairs leading up to tiered gardens of peach, lemon and Japanese plum trees, absolutely gorgeous when in bloom. Yellow roses, and room for your gardening dreams. Inside open stairway with wall of colored/obscure glass that could be replaced with windows with more SF Bay views. Low E Dual pane windows only 4 years old, Furnace only 7 years old and new water heater. Broken window and minor wall repairs will be done by sellers. House is dated and needs some TLC for sure.

130521-sierra-windowsIs this the wall of colored/obscure glass on the left? Better not break any of it, as it’s going to be a long look through lots of old, musty catalogs finding where to replace that.  And really, who cares about the house anyway? Value is in the land, because what you’re paying for is this view of the Bay.

And of the power lines.

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Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

May 21, 2013

House in Mountain View Still for Sale!

We’ve been discussing where all the hot markets are in the Bay Area, and Mountain View is hot, hot, HOT! So today, let’s play Why Isn’t This House in Mountain View Selling?  Thanks very much to Burbed reader LomaLuvr who sent this in and Burbed reader Real Estater who mentioned this house in comments.

130520-independence-redfin753 INDEPENDENCE Ave
Mountain View, CA 94043
$698,000

3 Beds
2 Baths
1,347 Sq. Ft.
$518 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1946
Lot Size: 6,720 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 103 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Community: Rengstorff
MLS#: 81303560

Great Potential in Monta Loma Neighborhood. Open Floor Living, Dining, Kitchen. Some Marble Floors. Remodeled Kitchen, Granite CounterTops. Stainless Steel Appliances. Large Master Bedroom Suite Completed 2003. Central Heating. Dual Pane Windows throughout. Large Patio Deck. Large BackYard. Long RV Parking-Near Silicon Valley, Google, Schools, Transportation-Few Blocks from Monta Loma Elementary School.

Not only has this house been on the market more than a hundred days, it got relisted!  Let’s see what’s inside to get just a taste of what it has to offer.

130520-independence-fireplace130520-independence-beds130520-independence-kitchen130520-independence-kitchen2130520-independence-master130520-independence-toilet2130520-independence-toilet130520-independence-sink

And, WOW! Can you say FIVE different Redfin agent tour insights?  Okay, one of them posted twice.

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130520-independence-racewayWho cares about natural light? Probably some Googler is going to buy this house and never come home during daylight hours because there’s free food for every meal.  And noticeable sloping means MARBLE RACEWAY!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

May 20, 2013

Oppulent Half Moon Bay Home, is just the one, you’ve been waiting for!

Let’s get back to business. Homes are awaiting your overbids, like this one!

130519-highland-redfin635 HIGHLAND Ave
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
$1,199,900

4 Beds
3 Baths
3,130 Sq. Ft.
$383 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1995
Lot Size: 8,625 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 73 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Community: Highland Park
MLS#: 81307076
Style: Contemporary
View: Neighborhood
County: San Mateo

This spacious & extensively remodeled home, in a wonderful neighborhood, is just the one you’ve been waiting for! The inviting floor plan flows effortless from room to room and features a great-room with a large granite entertainment island, chef’s kitchen with stainless Viking appliances and direct access to the sunny deck, luxurious master suite with oppulent marble bathroom. Huge 3-car garage!

It also features extra commas and way too much High on that Dynamic Range.  Sheesh, they must have dialed that sky up to 11.  This listing is definitely in the picture is worth a thousand words category.

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Nothing like a house marketed during Spring Bounce reminding us that Christmas comes but once a year.  However, boat tchotchkes seem like they’re sailing in constantly.

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Not only does the TV work, there’s some semblance of a back yard to this place.

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However since wine is not a boat, the racks are empty.  We’re also showing the laundry room because these appliances might not quite go with the carpet.

We also have a theory why this house isn’t selling in such a sizzling hot market. It has something to do with that sunny deck above, too.  There may be good reasons to stay inside by the ginormous granite island instead.

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Bunus: Virtual Tour complete with animated book reminds you this isn’t Hogwarts.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

May 19, 2013

Real American Area: No Bubble. Real Bay Area? Otherwise.

Here’s part 1643 of Proof there is indeed a Bay Area Bubble 4.0.

Housing Bubble Unlikely, Home Price Appreciation Should Slow – CoreLogic

BY JANN SWANSON, Mortgage News Daily
May 16 2013, 11:10AM

CoreLogic said today that home prices are projected to increase 3.9 percent on an annualized basis between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the same quarter in 2017.  However, a new housing bubble is not likely as market dynamics shift for both supply and demand.  Prices rose 7.3 percent in 2012.

The CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index report notes that the increase in 2012 was the strongest rate of appreciation in nearly seven years and projected that prices will continue to improve in 2013 and beyond in the more than 380 U.S. markets it tracks.  The company’s current analysis says that, "Cities at epicenter of housing bubble/crash are clocking highest rate of appreciation, largely driven by investor demand."

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This map comes to us thanks to Burbed reader PKamp3 over at DQYDJ.net, who linked us to the story in Business Insider. However they got the story from Jim the Realtor’s BubbleInfo blog, who in turn got it from Mortgage News Daily.  And it’s a good thing we traced the map (and story) all the way back to the original article, because it has some seriously amusing conclusions to anyone who lives Where It’s Special.  And that’s without making fun of the name of the Chief Economist for CoreLogic/Case-Shiller.  Nah, we’ll just make fun of his opinions of whether there’s a housing bubble:

Dr. Stiff tamped down concerns of another housing bubble. "Even if double-digit price appreciation were to continue in the former bubble metro areas, there is no reason to believe that new home price bubbles are forming. That’s because single-family homes in these markets are still very affordable, even after last year’s large price gains. Consider Phoenix, where home prices rose 27 percent since the market hit bottom in 2011, making it the strongest residential real estate market in the U.S. Yet, home prices there are still 45 percent below their 2006 peak," Stiff continued.

Yes, if you would consider living in a hellhole like Phoenix with summer daytime temperatures routinely above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, of course you’d note that these markets are still very affordable. But nobody uses the words “Real Bay Area home prices” and “affordable” unless they are separated by some sort of negating construction.

Lest you think we are making this up, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City metro is the least affordable in the entire country, with only 28.9 percent of homes affordable by a median income household. That’s right, we’re Number One again, beating out 221 other metros for the crown!  Santa Cruz-Watsonville is #4 (37.1%), while San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara isn’t far behind at #6 (43.3%) and Salinas (44.4%) at #7.

130518-homeprices-paragonWhere’s Phoenix, the brick oven that’s still 45 percent below their 2006 peak? They’re at number 57 in unaffordability.

Let us remind everyone that San Francisco and San Mateo Counties never dropped 45 percent below peak. The reason the San Francisco Case-Shiller numbers dropped as much as they did is because they’re completely weighed down by Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

It’s the East Bay that dropped like a rock after 2006, not the Real Bay Area.  And like a pair of cement overshoes, the East Bay took the whole SF Case-Shiller index down with it. Even the upper tier (the top third of home prices) is affected by this home distribution.

130518-homeprices-paloaltoAnd let’s check those East Bay numbers.  Oakland-Fremont-Hayward turns in a respectable #24 in the You Can’t Touch This index, showing it’s no Phoenix, either.

So we have some words for that Stiff Doctor: There is too a Bay Area Bubble 4.0. We see it every single day even outside the Real Bay Area. We see peak pricing. We see bidding wars. We hear from readers reporting lines to enter Open Houses, or appraisals coming in higher in just a few weeks, or as-is cash overbids on homes where the would-be buyers didn’t even bother going inside.

Inotherwords, Dr. Stiff, maybe you need to get over your Phoenix fixation and check out the parts of the country where the housing bubble is very much back.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

May 18, 2013

Is it the weekend already?

And if it is, does that mean time to look at Open Houses?  Let us know what’s out there.  We hear overbidding happens sometimes.  Let us know about it because we’re going back to bed.

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This is also your weekend open thread! Speak up before somebody croaks.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

May 17, 2013

WOW! So many exclamation points in Walnut Creek all done with permits!

To finish out the workweek, let’s check out a place perfect for the athlete in us all. Thanks very much to Burbed reader J from Alameda for this well-sited wonder in Walnut Creek.  (You can laugh about our including yet another East Bay listing, but we have just one word to say about that. PENDING!)

130516-bonita-redfin1261 Bonita Ln
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
$649,000

3 Beds
2 Baths
1,356 Sq. Ft.
$479 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1948
Lot Size: —
On Redfin: 15 days
Type: Detached
Stories: 1
County: Contra Costa
Style: Contemporary
Community: Walnut Creek
MLS#: 40612878

WOW! Immaculate 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home in cul-de-sac location with separate 1 bedroom/1 bath cottage all done with permits! Gleaming hardwood floors, designer colors, and more. Nicely landscaped yards with Jacuzzi and lighted SPORTS COURT! Walk to Olympic in 2 minutes on nearby trail!

130516-bonita-sportscourtHere’s why J sent this house in:

This is a first: freeway noise wall in a listing photo! Granted its a photo of a cool basketball court but still. Cute house but what’s the air quality going to be like? Forget asking about noise issues. I’ve heard the freeway noise in these neighborhoods described as ‘a waterfall’, ‘white noise’, ‘rushing water’. Will it go over asking? Will it get multiple offers? Could a house with a freeway wall in the backyard ever sell in a market that is not red hot? Discuss.

130516-bonita-collectionsYou see a freeway wall, J. We see a lighted SPORTS COURT!

And note the Redfin Collections this house is part of. Is this a new category we’ve managed to miss until now? How can you even tell a property is subject to a bidding war unless you’re one of the people bidding on it?

Or was this one of those places where you had to wait in line to get into the Open House, where you felt obligated to submit an overbid when it was finally your turn to tour the interior?

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