November 4, 2012

Worst Realtard Ad Ever?

Yes, this is an actual ad, even though it ran in The Onion.  This is definitely one of the more interesting approaches to pounding the pavement for new clients (he’s certainly pounding something), and we first found it at The Fiscal Times, in a slideshow featuring more listing fail.  Guess we managed to miss it when it hit the big time on Boing-Boing.

121103-wanket

This is in a completely different class of self-promotion than, say, writing cute little jingles about yourself.  Then again, as long as the jingles aren’t NSFW, the jinglemeister won’t have Wanket’s results:

Calls and emails to Mr. Wanket were not returned and an Edina Realty spokesperson said the ad didn’t adhere to their guidelines and he’s no longer with the company.

In case you’re wondering just exactly why this ad does not adhere to Edina Realty’s guidelines, we have their answer:

“Well, first of all, it didn’t have the required Fair Housing notification on it,” [Vice President of Marketing Lynn] Clare said.

Let us know about how other real estate agents grab your attention, either in a good way, or if they unintentionally end up beating you off.  P.S. Wanket is no longer in the real estate industry.  Can’t imagine why.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am






November 3, 2012

Stockton: Gateway to Exurban Misery

Burbed has often featured links to real estate and economy pieces on the weekends, provided by both local and national news sites.  Today’s article comes from The Guardian, based in the United Kingdom.  Its excellent reportage capturing the civic death throes of California’s 13th largest city (4th largest in the Central Valley), and its British perspective offers an outsider’s look at some of our issues we can’t see ourselves.

Stockton, California: ‘This economy is garbage’

The middle-class families Obama claims as his bedrock are suffering in a city where foreclosure and violence are rampant

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, Friday 2 November 2012 13.12 EDT

121102-stockton-gatedIn some towns, visitors are warned to keep an eye on their stuff, or to watch out late at night. In the Californian city of Stockton, the anxiety is more precise – and it kicks in early. “Take care downtown after 5pm,” one local person told me. “Don’t hang out too long.”

A few hours later, I saw what she meant. Almost as soon as the offices shut, the city centre empties. Then the sun goes down and a different cast takes to the streets: the homeless, the drug dealers, and clusters of young men patrolling up and down on bicycles.

Stockton ranks among America’s 10 most dangerous cities, and everyone here seems to operate under a self-imposed curfew. The commuter admits she doesn’t dare go to the cinema after 8pm; the father expects his 18-year-old daughter home by 10 – “and she totally gets why.” Others prefer not to go out at all. All give the same reason: the spiralling number of violent crimes.

Last weekend, the city notched up its 60th murder of the year, up from 24 for all of 2008. At just under 300,000 residents, this river port has about the same population as a London borough. Imagine a couple of your neighbours getting killed every week, and you’ll understand why almost all the conversations here touch on a recent homicide.

TL;DR: Sucks, crime, cuts, crash, foreclosure, not the Real Bay Area, affordable big houses, long commutes, upside down, civic decay, life downgrade, bust redevelopment loans, abandoned shops, cheap rentals, farmland. We highly recommend this piece but warn you it has a somewhat high bummer factor.  If you’re the type who gets weepy and emotional reading about mortgage rates going up 0.1 percent, we suggest you read this with either a supportive friend or a drink with plenty of kick.  This is a news feature with a Steinbeck vibe by way of Manchester.

Fortunately, this is also your weekend open thread, so you don’t just have to talk about this essay, or Stockton, or the crap house you toured today that might as well be in Stockton, or the demographics of Weston Ranch versus Brookside. 

You’re all ready for our Fantasy Real Estate League, right? This is going to be great!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

October 28, 2012

Innocent Ingenues, Allergy Antagonists or School District Scammers?

Here’s a great story we found via Inside Los Gatos, and by “great” this time we actually do mean “great.”  It’s got a number of hot buttons, so fire up your righteous outrage!

Los Gatos Family Continues to Fight School

Edwards family says school won’t let their kids attend because of nut allergies. Los Gatos Union School claims the family doesn’t live in the right district

By Stephanie Chuang, NBC Bay Area, Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012, Updated 9:15 PM PDT

Edwards family says school won’t let their kids attend because of nut allergies, school claims the family doesn’t live in the right district

In a story we first told you on NBC Bay Area last Friday, the tension between one South Bay family and the Los Gatos Union School District (LGUSD) is coming to a head.

Tuesday morning, the Edwards family walked 9-year-old Ella and 7-year-old Sarah into the Van Meter Elementary school office – only to be greeted by the superintendent and two police officers.

“That’s when my heart sank, when I heard there were police officers just to prevent my girls from going to the school they belong in,” said Shuly Edwards, the girls’ mother, before she began to cry.

121026-vanmeter-ella-sarahThis story has a mom claiming her daughters have been kicked out of five different schools because of their nut allergies.  It has a district superintendent retorting the family is scamming the district because they actually live elsewhere.  It’s got threatened lawsuits. And of course, it’s got video of the girls being cute on cue. 

Due to all the highly pressurized and flammable contents, we hope this will lead to a veritable flamefight lively discussion. And just to pour some gasoline on the fire, we’ll get you going with some of the ruder observations from ILG’s own commenters.  Below is the first video, with more background on the Edwards’ nut allergy claims.

121026-vanmeter-policeHere are some of the juicier rumors from Inside Los Gatos. (Burbed provides the comment summary as-is and without any implied warranty for accuracy. Some material appearing herein may not have been meant as a factual statement.)  The photo at right is also from the blog.

  • This family has a home in Campbell mom’s sister is renting from them
  • The same family was asked to leave Mulberry School (private) because of unreasonable food demands of others; mom is a troublemaker.
  • The same mom was in a different news story about her chronic migraines (Confirmed!)
  • Van Meter Elementary already has a nut-free lunch table
  • Family provided two addresses and the first one was fictitious; were investigated for 5–6 weeks.  They have until next Wednesday to provide all paperwork or they’re out again.

We laugh at the foolish reporter in the follow-up video (top) for comparing Los Gatos Elementary to Moreland and Campbell school districts. Stephanie Chuang asked administrators at the latter two if they had ever called police to resolve a residency dispute.  As all readers of Burbed know, only Real Bay Area cities have Real Bay Area schools worth lying to get your kids into.

Comments (26) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

October 27, 2012

Mountain View: A Super Fun Site

Thought all those problems with toxic groundwater and Superfund site cleanup was in the past? Guess again.

121026-epa-mewmap

Turns out that parts of Mountain View are still dealing with problems from the TCE from not one but two different plumes.  What kind of problems?  Well, a higher incidence of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma than expected, according to the California Cancer Registry.

Now MEW can mean two different realty problems. Not only does it stand for Mortgage Equity Withdrawal, it also is an acronym for Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman, the area the EPA is monitoring for vapor intrusion.  You see, there is too such a thing as being on the Wrong Side of Middlefield.

121026-epa-hangar1TCE (Tricoroethylene), a cleaning solvent that’s been sitting in the ground since the early days of the semiconductor industry, is the apparent culprit.  Oh yeah, and the military dumped it as well.  Vapor intrusion is when these chemicals lead to outgassing into buildings over the TCE plume in the ground.  Researchers note it’s difficult to clean up because the area near Moffett Field is made up of… well, mud. 

There is good news.  The plume is migrating toward the Bay, away from residences.  There’s also bad news: the plume is migrating toward the Bay.

Do you live near any of these problem areas, or know someone who does? How much would you overbid for the opportunity to meet cute EPA scientists or cancer researchers?

Or if this topic is way too depressing for you, talk about anything you’d like in this Open Thread.  When you’re not worried about getting cancer from TCE, there’s always the Fantasy Slut League, coming to a high school near you!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

October 20, 2012

Economists say it costs too much for Bay Area to have an economy

More complaints that living where it’s Special isn’t all rainbows and unicorns:

Bay Area’s business climate is less friendly to startups than other parts of California, says study

By George Avalos, Contra Costa Times
Posted:   10/18/2012 10:43:17 AM PDT, Updated:   10/19/2012 08:10:22 AM PDT

121019-jobstudy-downgraphRelatively expensive housing, coupled with the high cost of living and doing business in the Bay Area, has made the nine-county region less hospitable to new companies than other big urban centers in California, according to a study released Thursday that urges improvements in what it describes as this area’s burdensome regulatory climate.

“You have to ease the regulations that people face when they want to launch a new venture,” said Jon Haveman, chief economist with the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute, which produced the report. “If somebody is trying to start a small business and spend a small fortune on a new home, they will probably start that business elsewhere.”

The Bay Area lags major rivals such as Los Angeles and San Diego in jobs created by startup companies, the study determined.

The strengths of the region are reflected in household income and other factors, the report stated. The region has increasingly specialized in high-value industries such as professional, scientific and technical services, along with information services and products.

121019-jobstudy-boromirSo what the Institute is complaining about is it’s difficult to start cheap-ass startups where it’s expensive?  That isn’t a bug, that’s a feature.  If it’s expensive to live here, it should be expensive to work here. Besides, if you need money for a lower-capital startup, you should sell one of your vacation homes, or write put options for what’s under all the couch cushions at your furniture factory.

The article waits until graf 7 to admit there’s no problem with the Bay Area job market after all. Actual quote from report: “The Bay Area economy is one of the most productive and prosperous in the country.”  Sounds awful. Then again, engineers are being bought and sold like excess office furniture by a Bain Capital-funded startup, which decided staying in business was too much trouble.  The buyer?  Apple.

We swear we are not making any of this up.  Let us know of your ease or difficulty in starting a business in the Real Bay Area (summary: 90% say it’s Special here even though it’s expensive. So?)  Or read the full 68 page report yourself, and comment on it before falling asleep.  Or discuss anything you wish in this Weekend Open Thread.

 

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

October 14, 2012

Oh Noes! Politicians hating on mortgage deduction AGAIN!

Tax deduction for mortgage interest could be targeted

By Pete Carey, Posted: 10/12/2012 04:21:11 PM PDT, Updated: 10/12/2012 05:03:23 PM PDT

121013-mortgage-mittSAN FRANCISCO — The mortgage interest tax deduction beloved by many Americans is a logical target for raising revenue to deal with growing deficits, a leading housing economist said Friday.

“For fiscal sustainability, we need to get revenue,” said Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. The alternative to shrinking the tax break is raising taxes, he said at a forum on California’s housing market sponsored by the Lusk Center and the online real estate service Zillow.

“My judgment is it’s better to do something about tax expenditures,” Green said. “One of the largest is the home mortgage interest deduction.”

The issue has been a hot button in the presidential campaign, as Democrats challenge Republicans to disclose what tax “loopholes” they would close to pay for their proposed tax cuts.

We are doomed.  DOOMED!  Once they come for our mortgage deductions, there is no more point to living.

Comments (60) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

October 7, 2012

Palo Alto plagued by home burglaries

Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for bringing this to our attention.  Seems all isn’t as perfect as proclaimed in Palo Alto.

Residents fight burglaries with lights, cameras, action

Neighbors devising crime-fighting strategies

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff, Friday, October 5, 2012, 8:59 AM

121007-burglaries-incidentsMany Palo Alto neighborhoods are organizing in ways they have not since the rise of Neighborhood Watch programs in the 1980s, following a string of home burglaries that have plagued the city.

From surveillance cameras to neighborhood-warning signs, residents are strategizing to deter and perhaps even catch the thieves, who have made off with tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, cash and electronics since late last year.

Email lists from Crescent Park to Barron Park are crackling with the latest news about suspicious vehicles cruising residential streets. Last week, concerned north Palo Alto residents discussed a white van seen on their streets and gave information about it, complete with license number, to the Palo Alto police.

Neighbors’ increasing vigilance might help nab thieves like the ones who on Sept. 24 pilfered UPS parcels from a Crescent Park front porch within 30 seconds of the delivery. The resident, who asked that her name and home information not be made public, has shared images from her surveillance video with her neighbors and with police, she said.

121007-burglaries-94301What’s this? Crime rate up in Palo Alto, the most perfectest amazingest, wonderfulest Specialiest place in the universe? Nooooooooooo!

But we here at Burbed are confident that this approach of crowd-sourcing suspicious incidents will lead to these lowlife scum getting caught… until, as is often the case with crime in a wealthy neighborhood, the victims discover that the perpetrators were the teenaged children of their own neighbors.  We already know what those spoiled brats have been up to, hurling milkshakes at innocent pedestrians.

And don’t get too smug looking at that incident map on the top right. While that was what spotcrime.com generated for “Palo Alto, CA,” entering specific zip codes yields more crime events away from the Middlefield and Embarcadero area.   This incident map for 94301 shows more burglary and theft further northwest, and in only half the time period covered.

And dang it, that time period reported just missed the hurled milkshake.  But good news. There has been at least one arrest for car burglary.

 

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

October 6, 2012

Story Time!

121005-shadow-storyWow, what a week!

We started off with a bang, or at least a toilet that could have used some blowing up.  We had an abandoned construction project featuring garage space for seven cars. Not only did we have a Burbed-style debate, our Friday feature wasn’t just the usual mawbul kawlum love.  No, that house turned out to have had a murder take place on the property… while the owner was in court defending someone accused of an even more infamous murder just a few miles away.  That’s the East Bay for you!

Good thing we’re just going to sit back and read a delightful children’s story now.  It’s all about you and your shadow… inventory.  Thanks very much to the shadowy folks at Movoto for this terrific tale.  You can check out their blog for other real-estate-related tomfoolery.

Have an idea for other great kids’ books that would do double-duty explaining real estate trends?  Share them here, or share anything you want in this Weekend Open Thread.  Any Open Houses in your book?

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

September 23, 2012

Hillsborough: Perfect Place for a Mitt Romney Fundraiser

The San Francisco Chronicle breathlessly reports that the Mitt Romney For President Campaign (nickname: UnMittigated Disaster) paid a visit to the Real Bay Area.  The Romneys were welcomed by co-hosts Meg Whitman and George Shultz… and a very SF Bay protest group.

Romney collects funds in Hillsborough

120922-romney-protestCarla Marinucci, SF Chronicle; Updated 12:45 p.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has had a trying week, what with the surfacing of a video in which he appears to dismiss 47 percent of Americans as government freeloaders.

So he was probably looking forward to being among friends at a high-dollar fundraiser in Hillsborough Friday evening. But in the solidly Democratic Bay Area that meant he first had to experience an enthusiastic greeting from about two dozen protesters as his motorcade drove through the wealthy neighborhood where the event was held.

Some of those protesters carried signs reminding him of the video, in which Romney appears to denigrate supporters of President Obama. Others jabbed at his release Friday of his 2011 tax returns.

120922-romney-blockshopperWhat this article neglects to cover is the Hillsborough house.  Fear not!  Burbed has #factchecked the reportage!

The house used for Romney’s fundraiser belongs to Ada Regan and is, according to the Los Angeles Times, “a 13,820-square foot manse with nine bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms…”  And what did Mr. Romney think of it?

Speaking about a dinner held for him in the Bay Area the previous night, Romney noted on Saturday that the driveway to the estate appeared at least a mile long.

“It’s like, Oh my goodness, how in the world? And then we came to the home, and it was like San Simeon, you know, the Hearst Castle,” Romney told donors at a different fundraiser on Saturday. “It was this beautiful home with gardens, manicured gardens, and a pool and a topiary and so forth.”

120922-romney-satelliteOMFG Oh my goodness! A topiary!  Bet they don’t have those in La Jolla.  You know what else they don’t have?  A house on 48.26 acres. Check this parcel out (right)!

We also arranged for a UAV with a camera to bring you these ultra-secret aerial photos of the house itself.  (Drones: they’re not just for assassinations anymore!) Remember, no mile-long driveway can keep Burbed from reporting to you on current house events!  The only way to stay off this page is to keep your house off the entire internet!

120922-romney-zoomin

120922-romney-iphone5

“Bunus:” Zillow thinks this ginormous house on 2 million square feet of land is worth five million dollars.  That would be about right if the house came with one acre.  Can’t win them all, Zillow.

Now, let’s take two recent items in the news.

  • Secret video of Romney taken at a Florida fundraiser causes no end of headaches for the Republican Presidential candidate
  • The iPhone 5 is released yesterday

Hmmm.  Are you thinking what we’re thinking?  Keep an eye on YouTube for more amazing MittVid in full 1080p.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

September 22, 2012

America’s Dirtiest Cities ignores Silicon Valley

120922-dirtiest-coverTravel & Leisure magazine really enjoys making all kinds of lists of cities, and their newest one is a doody.  Whoops, we mean a doozy, sorry.  They’ve just released a list of America’s Dirtiest Cities, which is merely a reverse ranking of the Cleanliness category on their Quality of Life index. They do love making lists.

T&L offers lists of the best city for singles, or for culture, or fine dining on their website, and they do an annual America’s Favorite Cities ranking that adds up a number of those qualities.  But one thing you won’t find is any mention of America’s tenth largest city, San Jose.

120922-dirtiest-tandlThere are only 35 cities on T&L’s lists, and as far as they’re concerned, San Jose is merely a very remote suburb of smaller but way more famous San Francisco.  (San Francisco ranks 14th in population and is a quarter the physical size of San Jose.)  The only other California cities on T&L’s rankings are Los Angeles and San Diego, both of which are larger than either Northern California nexus.  Cities they deem more worth your notice than San Jose include Baltimore, Portland (Maine), Savannah, Providence, and Kansas City.

Here’s the SF entry on the dirtiest cities list, and we’ve got the entire list for you as well.  (Spoiler: NYC wins again.)

120922-dirtiest-sf

No. 11 San Francisco

The foodie capital of the nation ranks near the top of the AFC for its fine dining, ethnic cuisine, and cafés. But all that takeout can pile up. A recent study found that one of the biggest culprits for pollution in the San Francisco Bay is food containers—though ironically, they may be floating in from neighboring cities. Voters also commended the locals for being brainy and diverse.

See all the America’s Favorite Cities survey results!

The ten cities with even less civic hygiene than San Francisco are:

  1. New York City –  If you can make a mess here, you can make it anywhere.
  2. New Orleans –  The Simpsons defamed them far better than we could.
  3. Baltimore –  Quoth the raven, “Close the compactor door!”
  4. Los Angeles –  You’ll never get out of your car, so you’ll never know.
  5. Atlanta –  The litter gets moved around rather than be Gone With the Wind.
  6. Philthydelphia –  Sorry, couldn’t resist.
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth –  Everything’s bigger in Texas.
  8. Miami –  Why clean up? Another hurricane’s just around the corner.
  9. Memphis –  Elvis has left the building, but his trash hasn’t.
  10. Houston – See Dallas.  Then note they rank #7 and #10, showing that everything’s merely said to be bigger in Texas.

If you’re interested, this T&L link covers how SF has fared on all their lists.  The City by the Bay earns plenty of Top Ten rankings, and only hit bottom on Affordability, Filth, and (you didn’t see this one coming, did you?) Barbecue and Hamburgers (the latter only according to residents; we prefer the travelers’ rankings).  Worst city for barbeque: Anchorage, Alaska.

And bad news, New York City beat us again on Least Affordable.  We really have to work on that.  How about raising the price of cable car tickets to thirty bucks?  The only #1 ranking San Francisco got on anything was its residents’ vote for Ethnic Food.  Otherwise, there was plenty of Number Two all over SF.  And that brings us back to today’s topic.

120922-dirtiest-coyotecreekSee the trash in that photo on the left?  That’s Coyote Creek earlier this month (the WINNER!!! in an SF Chronicle piece on dirtiest Bay Area waterways), so San Francisco’s got nothing on us!

You can discuss the relative filth of any city you wish, including the one you live in.  Or anything at all, because this is Your Weekend Open Thread.  How filthy were the Open Houses you visited today?

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:16 am