September 29, 2012

Signs of the Times

Under Water around the Bay Area has been taken off SFGate.  This was an interactive feature that showed what percentage of each zip code’s homes had mortgages on them for more than they were worth.  While it was a great idea, the data hadn’t been updated in several years.  Thanks to Burbed reader JF for reporting the broken link; we’ve removed it from our collection.

120928-waverly-redfinMeanwhile, when Burbed readers send in listings to some neighborhoods, we can’t write them up fast enough.  This cute Palo Alto house sold for over $300K, or 23% over the asking price.  And the Redfin agent says it’s impossible to park nearby! 

With this crazy overbidding, can the $800,000 crapshacks of 2006 be far behind?  Is Burbed about to discover that what’s old is new again?  This is going to be GREAT!  We can rerun every single house from six years ago and nobody could tell the difference!

Tell us what you’re seeing at Open Houses, or about anything.  It’s Open Thread time!

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am






September 7, 2012

Excellent Los Gatos and San Jose Public & Private Schools

And we’ll finish up this shortened week of accommodation awesomeness with some new construction in Los Gatos!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for yet another example of Truth in Real Estate!

120906-panorama-redfin116 PANORAMA Way
Los Gatos, CA 95032
$1,999,000

4 Beds 
3.5 Baths 
3,000 Sq. Ft.
$666 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 2012 
Lot Size: 10,100 Sq. Ft. 
On Redfin: 126 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Community: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
MLS#: 81216707
Style: French, Mediterranean
View: Mountains
County: Santa Clara

New Construction. Excellent Floor Plan; Gourmet Kitchen with Custom paint & glazed Cabinets with Professional grade Bosch Appliances; Walk-in Pantry; Alarmed Security Systems; Smart Wired for CATV/HDTV & custom audio system; Laundry with custom built Cabinets with Granite Countertops & skylight.

120906-panorama-tubNot another one of those backwards houses!  And by backwards we mean a “luxury” type McMansion that has an impressive address, but forgot to bring the school district along for the ride.  Let nomadic explain:

New construction for a premium in the slums of Los Gatos!

I’m calling them out because on the “features” tab it says: “Excellent Los Gatos and San Jose Public & Private Schools.”  They must be referring to private schools in Los Gatos, because the public schools (while quite good) are in the Union Elementary and Campbell Union High School districts.

120906-panorama-virtual-tour-features

120906-panorama-streetview-from-unionRedfin has the location all wrong for these houses on the Google map, which makes me think they’re taking liberties with the lot sizes too.  If you look on the map and pan down Union Avenue to just north of Leewood Court, you can see the two of them nuzzled together on the construction site. 

Wow, it looks AWFUL on the satellite view – worse than the view from Union. 

120906-panorama-redmap

The better-looking but much too close companion chateau finally went Pending a couple of weeks ago.  And given how lovey-dovey these two homes are, who wants to guess that the lot size of 10,500 is for both of them?  (Lot size of 117 is conveniently provided in acres to make comparisons quick and easy!  That’s 11,326 sf.  You’re welcome.)

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

September 2, 2012

CNBC: You’re Doing It Wrong in the RBA

Yesterday, we took a look at a CNBC piece on the difficulty of finding a million dollar home in the Real Bay Area, and how badly they missed the real story.  Two days later they tried again, and ran this piece (below) on Friday.  Not even close but no cigar, CNBC. More like in Lodi with little to smoke. 

Take a gander at this piece, clearly written to complement their first article, and discuss whether your like their housing examples or Burbed’s examples.  (Hint: the correct answer is CNBC.  That is if by “correct” we really mean “completely wrong.”)  They had the right idea, but they just couldn’t find the listings that show how awesome the RBA is.

What $2 Million Buys You in Silicon Valley

By Robert Frank and Paul O’ Donnell | CNBC – Fri, Aug 31, 2012 11:21 AM EDT

120901-cnbc-2-saratogaSilicon Valley’s dynamic, tech-based economy has inflated home prices in the area for more than two decades. But lately, thanks to a rash of IPO’s and the mobility of global wealth, relatively modest properties in the suburban towns south of San Francisco have been going for mansion-like prices.

Sales of homes for $1 million or more doubled in the towns south of San Francisco in the past year, passing Beverly Hills and Miami, where the sumptuous palaces snapped up by the rich look more the part.

The current boom is not the result of an avalanche of tech start-ups. Instead, the Valley has been flooded by employees of established companies like Facebook and Google, who enjoyed a personal “liquidity event” when their companies went public in the past few years.

This article is basically the other article, sentences scrambled around, and a few pictures of presentable homes to go with.  There is one and only reason we alert you to this article, and that’s the wretched hive of scum and villainy called the comments.  It’s the usual “Silicon Valley has fine dining, beach, mountains, biking all close by, and the weather is fantastic” versus “Are you kidding, I can buy a house like that for $105K here in East Fumbuck, Nebraska!”

Yes, but then you have to live in a house in East Fumbuck, Nebraska.

 

Comments (34) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

August 12, 2012

Send not to know for whom the house Tolls… it took thy deposit

120808-producersRemember the basic premise of The Producers?  If you oversell interest in a Broadway show, and then deliberately produce the worst musical you can, none of your investors will complain when they lose all their money… and you keep their 40,000% ownership.  So our intrepid producer duo went off in search of the worst script they could find, and… hilarity ensues.

So why hasn’t anyone tried this idea with real estate as well?  Maybe it’s because not enough in the industry figured out the same trick: in a market downturn you can make more money not selling houses than you can selling them.  Read on to know it Tolls for thee.

How did Toll Brothers survive the housing slump? By keeping buyers’ deposits

By Matthias Gafni, Contra Costa Times
Posted:   07/27/2012 09:12:51 AM PDT, Updated: 07/27/2012 05:00:58 PM PDT

120808-tollbros-lotAs newly minted empty-nesters, Daven Sharma and his wife, Anu, spent 2010 searching for a spot for their dream house with views of San Francisco Bay. They found it in the Hayward hills, within a Toll Brothers development.

Shortly after plunking down about $100,000 in deposits, the couple’s dream fizzled. The Sharmas lost not only the house, but their deposit, attorney and arbitration fees — and a sense of justice.

Critics say and records show that Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers — the nation’s largest luxury homebuilder, with developments in Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — has made it a regular practice to collect forfeited deposits from prospective homebuyers. In fact, it was the builder’s No. 1 source of profit during the down years of the housing market, according to a Maryland class action lawsuit.

From fiscal years 2006 to 2011, according to its own SEC reports, the publicly traded company retained $123 million in forfeited deposits from 3,300 prospective homebuyers.

120808-tollbros-sharmaRead that again: during the housing slump, the number one source of profit was forfeited deposits.  At least that’s what one lawsuit says.

There are 155,000 results for the search Toll Brothers LawsuitThis website has quite a story to tell.  While it’s about severe construction problems, the other part of the story is the lengths their attorneys would go to to avoid fixing the house.  Ellen Nevens has been fighting Toll Brothers for twelve years.  That’s a lot of time and effort to build a house badly and then not fix it.  It would be much easier to not build it in the first place. 

And that’s what happened to Daven and Anu Sharma when they put a $98K deposit on a Hayward hills homesite in a Toll Brothers community.  The Sharmas found out what many others have previously experienced: the sales contract has little flexibility on loan funding.  And if, or maybe we should say when, the loan isn’t funded, the contract says no loan means Toll keeps the deposit.  The Sharmas indeed lost in arbitration, plus they had to pay another $5600 in fees.

120808-producers-posterJim Daman had to sue to get some of his $104K deposit back on a home in Danville.  When Toll Brothers didn’t build his house within the promised six months, he watched its market value sink.  He eventually settled for $70K.   Compared to the Sharmas, he did well.  Someone the corporation won the arbitration, claiming that customization had been done and they had outlays.  Yet the photo of the dirt lot above is all that was in place when the Sharmas cancelled their contract because their current house didn’t sell.

Here’s the contract language that one attorney called confusing, Daman called “99.9 percent in their favor” and another tried diagramming on a whiteboard to understand it:

Buyer’s failure to fulfill any of such conditions or the termination or expiration of the mortgage commitment after it is received, for any reason, shall not release Buyer from its obligations under the Agreement.

120808-tollbros-arundelA latter attorney notes that Toll offered some of his Pennsylvania clients loan commitments with conditions that made no financial sense, such as amounts far larger than the agreed sales price.  When buyers balked, then Toll would keep the deposit, claiming they were in breach.

“They can make more money by not building the house,” he said.

While the Sharma’s Arundel Drive homesite is not listed, this nearby home on Stonebrae Road is.  It looks quite lovely when photographed with a sunset, and it’s “within the gates of TPC Stonebrae Country Club.”  According to the virtual tour, the builder is not Toll Brothers, but a firm called True Life Communities who seem to be avoiding any hint of describing themselves with specifics.

But given the story of the Sharmas and their Arundel Drive site being so nearby, we assumed it was the same community.  (In fact there are several different builders.)  And if you buy this house you’ll have quite the run of neighbors to entertain!

120808-stonebrae-satellite

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:19 am

July 4, 2012

Fireworks for July 4th in San Carlos

Usually Burbed doesn’t visit the same city two days in a row, but today’s a holiday, and we need to celebrate!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Overheard in San Carlos for passing along this celebration.

248 CHESHAM Ave
San Carlos, CA 94070
$1,650,000

120703_chesham_redfin

120703-chesham-windowsBEDS:  4
BATHS:  2
SQ. FT.:  2,420
$/SQ. FT.:  $682
LOT SIZE:  10,760 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STORIES: 1
YEAR BUILT:  2009
COMMUNITY:  Beverly Terrace
COUNTY:  San Mateo
MLS#:  81224328
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  5 days

Stunning masterpiece. 4 bedrooms plus additional Zen space. Kitchen is a chefs dream. G. E. profile double oven with warming drawer, two dishwashers, Thermador side by side Refrigerator/freezer, Viking 5 burner cooktop. Property has Home Works lighting system. Custom sound system with source and volume control. Radiant Heat system with 7 thermostatically controlled zones. True Gem.

120703-chesham-grillHere’s what OSC had to say about this purposed property.

HDR on LSD.

Where was I that day when the sky turned this color?   The sky was so intense that it literally ate the roof off of this house.

Fortunately if you go inside things won’t get any less exciting, although we can’t promise anywhere as much Cherenkov radiation.  How about… More cowbell!

Happy July 4th  everyone.  Enjoy another round of the colorful bursts from this fine listing as you enjoy your the day off.  Don’t worry, the work will be waiting for you tomorrow.  And so will we.

120703-chesham-faucet120703-chesham-sunroom

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

July 2, 2012

Following Up on an RBA Foreclosure

It’s always fun to revisit a house that’s previously been given some Burbed love.  Today’s house is a foreclosure with an unpermitted garage conversion, exactly what you’d expect to find in Old Palo Alto.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for today’s cognitive dissonance.

633 COLERIDGE Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
$1,888,000, Reduced from $1,988,000 on 6/7/12
Reduced from $2,198,000 on 5/15/12

120701-coleridge-redfin

120701-coleridge-monaBEDS:  4
BATHS:  4
SQ. FT.:  2,235
$/SQ. FT.:  $845
LOT SIZE:  6,696 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Country English
STORIES: 2
YEAR BUILT:  1941
COMMUNITY:  Old Palo Alto
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81221385
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  25 days

Amasing 4 bd 4 ba in old town palo alto . newly remodeled with new presidential comp roof, new paint and fixtures, refinished hardwood floor, double pane windowes, stainles still appliances , lots of closets. garage had been converted to a family room and aditional room including full bath by the previous owner , permit unknown. this may not been included in sf. huge price reduction.

120701-coleridge-ivyHere’s what Wendie had to say about this house:

Didn’t you highlight this house a few months ago as a short sale? I think it was listed as 1.2 back then….

Why yes, we certainly did mention this house, but it was last September, and it was on bank auction list.

120701-coleridge-11sept20

120701-coleridge-seller-is-agentBut back then the agent wasn’t mentioning all the excitement in the former garage!  And this house is just full of excitement.  A huge price reduction!  A foreclosure last October!  Yes, a foreclosure, not just in the Real Bay Area, but in Old Palo Alto.  Who knew that Larry Page could walk to a foreclosure in his own neighborhood?  (We would have said Steve Jobs, what with all the “walk to Steve Jobs’ house” comments about this neighborhood, but he could not walk to this house when it foreclosed as he passed away one week earlier.)

And if the garage and the price and famous dead neighbors isn’t enough excitement about this house for you, here is the icing on the cake.  You’d be buying the house from the agent herself.

Be sure to read all contracts carefully, because based on that listing copy, this may not be one of those agents who pays attention to silly little details.  Annoying little details such as spelling or capitalization or prices or whether a contract is actually signed.  And if you’re not a detail person either, then the two of you are a match made in heaven.  Or at least Old Palo Alto, which is practically the same thing.

 

 

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

June 29, 2012

Equisite English Gardens in Los Altos

Let’s finish the week on an up note, with this super structure from the seventies!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader hsjb for this luscious listing in Los Altos.

1450 REDWOOD Dr
Los Altos, CA 94024
$1,695,000

120629-redwood-redfin

120629-redwood-gardenBEDS:  4
BATHS:  3
SQ. FT.:  2,502
$/SQ. FT.:  $677
LOT SIZE:  9,317 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
STORIES: 2
VIEW: Bay, Neighborhood, City Lights
YEAR BUILT:  1975
COMMUNITY:  Highlands
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81223371
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  7 days
This is the home you have been waiting for. Beautiful 4bd/3ba with views. Beautiful light filled rooms with new hardwood floors and carpet. The home has high lofted ceilings with views from the upper floor. 3 bd 2 ba upstairs, 1 bed and full bath downstairs. Equisite English Gardens and sparkling pool with blue/black bottom. PRIVATE back yard. Two new decks off both floors. Don’t miss it.

120629-redwood-bedroomHere’s why hsjb thought this home was Burbed-worthy:

Take a look at picture 13. There’s a sickly green glow [I know it’s HDR] but what could it also be?

1) Extra-terrestrials cowering at the side of the bed?
2) The agent forgot to clean the nuclear fuel on the floor?
3) Someone forgot Excalibur on their home tour?
4) The briefcase full of cash the owners are going to take to the bank?

While you’re on this home…check out the discrepancy of the pool size in two pictures. Image 20 makes it look HUGE! Image 22 makes it look puny!

120629-redwood-pool-huge120629-redwood-pool-tiny

Poltergeist in the bedroom?  Call 1–800–GHOSTBUSTERS!  Meanwhile, did you notice who is selling this property?  This place must be “corporate owned,” because the agent’s name is, I kid you not, Kimberly Clark.  That’s Kimberly Clark.  Makers of these fine paper products which have a lot in common with real estate agents.

Kc products

They both need frequent changing, for the same reason.

Should you buy today’s house?  Depends. 

120629-redwood-satellite

How much do you love freeways?

 

Comments (24) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

June 8, 2012

Live-in, remodel to suit, or build anew

Let’s finish up the week with a visit to the wonderful world of Woodside.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this rococo residence that may have you ralphing.

110 KENMORE Way
Woodside, CA 94062
$1,699,000

120607-kenmore-redfin

120607-kenmore-doorknobBEDS: 3
BATHS: 3.5
SQ. FT.: 3,460
$/SQ. FT.: $491
LOT SIZE: 1.04 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
STORIES: 1
VIEW: Mountains
YEAR BUILT: 1955
COMMUNITY: Woodside Hills
120607-kenmore-libraryCOUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81218775
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 21 days

Enjoy this spacious, single-level, View Contemporary features 3 Bedrooms, 3.5 Bath plus formal Library/Study, on a quiet, private cul-du-sac in the highly sought-after Woodside Hills community. Live-in, remodel to suit, or build anew to take advantage of this huge 1.04 * acre lot with sweeping western hill views. The home at its prime was featured in Architectural Digest and Gentry Magazine.

120607-kenmore-too-much-furnitureThat first sentence doesn’t scan at all.  It starts off telling you to enjoy the house but gets lost in panting over the features.  Just because you’re spending over a million on a house doesn’t mean you should expect a realtard capable of proofing his own copy.  Anyway, here’s why nomadic sent this property in:

This house isn’t that bad, but a phrase in the 120607-kenmore-laundrycopy is amusing: “the home at its prime was featured in Architectural Digest and Gentry Magazine.  When?  I’d guess around 1960.  Hmm, according to their website, Gentry Magazine (apparently a pretentious publication) was established in 1993.  That hardly seems possible!

120607-kenmore-gentry

120607-kenmore-kawlums1993?  Then what’s with the mermaid on the website?  Splash came out in 1984, and even The Little Mermaid beat the 90s by a month and a half.  But if you read the current issue online, page 5 has a much pricier place in Woodside with the same high-falutin’ terms as eBay.  Yup, a minimum bid and a Buy it Now price.

120607-kenmore-mantleOkay, back to this house.  “The house isn’t that bad”?  How could it be bad?  It has mawbul kawlums!  Some of the other photos, though, suggest someone with too much money and no understanding of the term “less is more.”  Because when it comes to the photos of this house, more is definitely not more.  Maybe someone should tell the agent that plastering his name prominently across every single listing photo only adds to that “gilding the gold-plated fixtures” feeling.

120607-kenmore-little-gentryAnd that doesn’t include the utterly pedestrian street name.  Look, if you have enough wealth to buy in Woodside, you do not want to live on a street that reminds you of your mother’s crappy dishwasher.  Maybe you could make a donation to the Mayor’s favorite charity in return for a declaration renaming the street Miele Manor or Bosch Boulevard.  If you need inspiration, start leafing through Gentry Magazine.

Coming soon!  We can’t wait!

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

April 17, 2012

UPDATED: Two Million Dollars for a Sunnyvale House. Good Luck with That.

Recently, we took a look at a house in Midtown Palo Alto that a number of commenters thought was overbuilt for the neighborhood.  That reminded me of a similarly situated structure in Sunnyvale, so I pulled it up for nostalgia’s sake.  What a delightful surprise to discover that it’s once again for sale!  It was relisted just in time for April Fool’s Day, and at the same attractive price as it was three years ago.

1474 VALCARTIER St
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
$1,999,000

120406-valcartier-redfin

BEDS: 6
BATHS: 4.5
SQ. FT.: 4,790
$/SQ. FT.: $417
LOT SIZE: 8,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: French
STORIES: Tri-Level
VIEW: Neighborhood
YEAR BUILT: 1991
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81211851
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 7 days

Extraordinary six-bedroom, four and one half-bath custom estate perfect for executive lifestyle of luxury and unmatched class. Within this showcase home you will find a remodeled ONE-OF-KIND gourmet kitchen featuring best-in-class appliances with close access to the formal dining room, casual family room and truly alluring outdoor venue that is perfect for entertainment.

120406-valcartier-kitchenThis time around, they’re not letting us see the inside.  And it would need a lot of pictures, because this property has a FAR of 0.60.  That can’t even be LEGAL in Sunnyvale. 

But, this is a Custom Bahl Home!  And if you haven’t heard of Bahl Homes, they built a few tracts around Silicon Valley, including some zero lot line curiosities and the snout-house “patio homes” just around the corner from this place. Now that they’re done with building tracts, they remain as a real estate company. Fortunately for us, today’s house has its own webpage on Bahl’s site, with pictures even!  We don’t know when these were taken, though, as it’s been listed and sold many times since its construction.  Have a look at those pictures and more, after the break.

(more…)

Comments (67) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

April 6, 2012

Holy Toledo in San Francisco

We’ve been spending too much time in the Valley.  Today’s photopalooza is courtesy of Burbed reader Kevin.  And Kevin’s writeup, coupled with the amazing pictures of this thousand a foot Marina manse, are all that’s needed for a give-it-up Guest Post.

Please give Kevin a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome as today’s Guest Blogger!


73 Toledo Way
San Francisco, CA 94123
$1,850,000

120403-toledo-redfin

BEDS: 3
BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 1,842
$/SQ. FT.: $1,004
LOT SIZE: –
PROPERTY TYPE: Attached, Full, Modified, Single-Family Home
STYLE: Spanish/Mediterranean
YEAR BUILT: 1925
COMMUNITY: Marina
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 392612
SOURCE: San Francisco MLS
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 86 days

Great Neighborhood and wonderful home. Close to transportation, shopping, schools, and more. House has been well taken care of. One Block from Chestnut, Completely remodeled from previous owner with Seismic Upgrades, Quality Workmanship Throught, Custom Light Fixtures, Hardwood Floors, Fireplace, Custom Kitchen Cabinets/Stainless Steel Appliances, Granite-Marble-Stone Used throught Kitchen & Bathrooms, Laundry Room, Deck & Patio, Mature Landscapping, LARGE 3 CAR Tandem Parking & Stroage Area, Alarm System, Expansion potential in garage area, and more. Seller reserves the right to refuse any and all offers. Please confirm and verify all information stated in listing. The information provided is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

In the category of “bad real estate listing photos”, I’d like to nominate this one:

The photos are pretty priceless:

120403-toledo-front-1120403-toledo-front-2

1.  two front views looking directly into the sun (perhaps to hide how ugly it is from the curb?)

120403-toledo-kitchen

2.  a kitchen photo with as little light as possible.

120403-toledo-range-rotated120403-toledo-desk

3.  several of the photos were not rotated 90 degrees.  Classy.

120403-toledo-washer120403-toledo-sink

4.  laundry stacked on the washer/dryer.

120403-toledo-kitchen-rotated

5.  kitchen counter top stacked high with food.

120403-toledo-toilet-up120403-toledo-plunger

6.  last but certainly not least, photos of *both* bathrooms have a plunger standing next to the toilet. In case the buyer had any doubts about the plumbing I guess.

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