January 23, 2012

Apologies for the downtime…

Hey everyone,

I wanted to apologize for the downtime this weekend. I also wanted to thank those for reporting problems.

As you may have heard, Dreamhost, the hosting provider of this site, was hacked.

In theory, this security event should not have any impact on this site.

However, at around the same time, it appears that this site’s memory consumption has soared. I’m trying to understand why.

The next few days will be rough as I seek to figure out how to fix this. I apologize in advance.



In the meantime – how will Burbed’s terrible uptime impact the real estate market in the Real Bay Area? Discuss!

Comments (12) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:49 am

December 31, 2011

This year in Burbed–2011 [A serious post]

2011 was a year of transitions. Some things ended too soon (Steve Jobs), some things finally concluded (the Iraq War). For me personally, 2011 was also a year of transitions – second order impacts of the challenges of 2010.

I would like to thank the entire Burbed community for continuing to make this such an interesting, funny, educational place to be. I would like to thank all the commenters – quality, trolls – all alike (except spammers – thanks but no thanks.) I would like to thank the sponsors of Burbed for helping keep the site running. I would like to thank all those who sent in their “finds” – there were some awesome finds this year.

I would especially like to thank Madhaus for keeping this site going. To be frank, without Madhaus there wouldn’t have been a Burbed in 2011. Madhaus’ perseverance in delivering great posts on the site has amazed me, as is her persistence in getting me motivated to do some of the behind the scenes chores that I so suck at. (Like site uptime…)

It goes without saying that 2012 will be another interesting year for all. My involvement on Burbed will likely continue at its current level due to ongoing personal challenges. I look forward to continuing to see the great “finds” that you folks keep sending in.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Thank you for your support.

Comments (21) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

December 24, 2011

Your Holiday Weekend Open Thread

Last year, when we wished everyone the best wishes of the Season, we suggested you buy a house for some of your loved ones.  Looks like somebody took us seriously.


Look at the last bullet on the flyer:


imageSome home buyers purchase homes as gifts.  Hmmm, maybe by “some” they mean “I read this on a Real Estate website.  Therefore, somebody somewhere out there must have actually purchased a home as a gift.  Given that my income is about five percent of what it was in 2005, I will suggest almost anything to increase it in hopes that there is at least one suggestible person out there sitting on carloads of cash.”

Well, sure, this is a Bay Area real estate website, and we did indeed suggest buying a homes as a gift.  Whether these agents understood we were using the literary technique of humorous exaggeration to make a point is one of life’s eternal mysteries.

This is an Open Thread.  How many houses are you planning to purchase as gifts?  Are they all in the Real Bay Area?

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 17, 2011

It’s Search Engine Saturday!

imageWe haven’t had a Search Engine Saturday for a long time.  Do you know why?  It’s because there have been enough on-topic items to cover for our weekend open threads.  Search Engine entries mean either nothing’s worth discussing or I’m too lazy to write a real article.

And after researching and writing six very long pieces on zip codes, it’s time for a break.  For us.

Recently, someone used a Search Engine (I won’t say which one, but it rhymes with kugel) and found their way to Burbed using the term Palo Alto house crazy.  I’m pleased to report that Burbed comes up second on that term, losing out only to CineArts @ Palo Alto showtimes and tickets.  (Burbed readers are invited to speculate just why a foreign film theater would be of interest to off-their-meds real estate enthusiasts.)

I suspect that the searcher probably wanted this article from Palo Alto Online covering the crazy difficult time people are having in renting a place there.  But perhaps they were looking for the YouTube video with a crazy DUI high-speed crash in East Palo Alto.

That’s the great thing about using a Search Engine.  You can’t look for Palo Alto without getting its neighbor to the north as a “bunus.”  Anyway, this is an Open Thread, so have yourself a house crazy time today.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

December 4, 2011

OMFG is this THE END of those %$#@ Zip Codes? Rly?

What with all the excitement from our Black Friday and Beyond DEALS, you may not have noticed that our last zip code installment finished out the 301-400 level of Forbes’ Most Expensive Zip codes.  You know what that means!

Yes, this article, the Bottom 100 of the 500 Most Expensive, is The End of the Delivery Route.  Really.  Well, until 2012, when Forbes puts out a brand-new list, but there’s a good chance the world will end before then.  There’s an even better chance that Forbes will only have 5 places on that list instead of 500, with all the mistakes they made this year.  So you’re going to want to pay attention to every single zippy digit in this last entry for 2011!  But first… here’s your chance to catch up if you missed the earlier entries in this exciting, edge-of-your-seat-on-the-mail-truck, most beloved Burbed series of all time!  (Or was that most belittled?)

Previous Entries in the Most Expensive Zip Code Series:

Hold onto your mailbags, folks!  We’re entering an area with all the median prices under $750,000!  Watch out, there may not be any sushi available.

#406: San Anselmo 94960

  • Median Home Price: $749,000
  • Median Price Change: -17.4%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 129
  • Inventory: 129 52
  • 2010 Rank: 267 (-139 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $20.5 Million

imageA $20.5 million dollar house in Marin makes sense, but in San Anselmo?  I can’t find anything for eight digits anywhere near San Pablo Bay, and this zip’s most expensive place at 178 W Oak Knoll Drive comes in at only $3.4 million.  That’s very different. This 6000 square foot hotel-like structure on almost 10 acres has been on the market for just about half a year, so you’d better hurry!

Now, we know plenty of high-end places get yanked at the end of warm weather season.  But I find the idea of a $20 million ask going without comment pretty unlikely.  This Marin real estate blog didn’t note it under San Anselmo.  Or anywhere else.  The most expensive sale logged in MLS this year was only $8.75 million, in nearby Ross (#30 last year and mysteriously absent this one).

Zowie!! More zip code inZanity after ze break!


Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

September 3, 2011

Pictures, We Need Pictures

Burbed has been using this image for a few months to accompany reader Guest Posts.

I love this picture, but I have no idea where it was taken.  And I haven’t been able to find it again since I snarfed it from Google Images however long ago.  I’m suspecting this was hurricane damage to a new development but it would be nice to know.

I’d like to have a few more photos to use to label Guest Blog posts from our excellent Reader Contributions, especially some from this area.  Here’s a few I’ve been thinking of using. Let me know what you think, or link to some you like!

imageOn the left is one of my favorite photos from a Burbed listing.  We had to give the agent props for including this in on MLS, because it was awfully hard to shoot around it.

Best of all, this place has been pending for almost six months!

This one below is such a favorite, it generated its own number.  Yes, because the House Came With Dudes, we now have a Dudes Hanging Out (DHO) Index for any real estate photos that include people unwilling to clear out.


There’s the typical Silicon Valley crapbox, and then there’s the crappy Silicon Valley crapbox:


Or this kitchen that was supposed to help sell a $3.1 million dollar house.


Or say it with class!  MAWBUL KAWLUMS!  With lots of RED ARROWS!


So these are some starting points, but please share your favorite ugly house pictures from the Real Burbed Area!  This is an Open Thread.  (Not that not declaring an Open Thread ever stopped any of you.)

Comments (22) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

June 18, 2011

Movoto Moves Recent Sales Beyond Space and Time

imageIn a previous column, I was giving real estate site Movoto a little bit of friendly ribbing over how they “helpfully” provided high schools that were far from a featured home, while ignoring much closer (but lower-scoring) schools.  I suggested that they deliberately “lost” their distance data so they could upsell site visitors, who would see the high test scores and decide to buy a more expensive house.

Seems I’m not the only one wondering what’s up with Movoto and their data.  Here’s an observation from Burbed reader Robert:

You guys have a link to Motovo.com on your website. When I looked at San Jose, CA market stats on Motovo.com I get some strange data out… http://www.movoto.com/statistics/ca/san-jose.htm Over 5,000 new listings, but only 11 sales, in the last five months. How can that be?

Just in case Movoto actually reads the other column and fixes whatever was munging their data, here’s some screenshots to show what Robert is talking about.  This is the first part of Movoto’s San Jose statistics page.


Since that’s not the easiest thing to read, here’s a close-up of the monthly listing and sales numbers:


Notice the number of price reductions and listings sold or expired.  Robert is right.  What the heck happened here?  First, let’s see if the problem is everywhere or just this one site.  What does Redfin have to say about sales in San Jose?


According to Redfin, sales dropped but not by several orders of magnitude.  Is Movoto showing weird numbers for all cities?  Here’s Santa Clara:


Interesting: sales plummeted, but in March rather than January.  Let’s check a few more cities.  Everybody’s favorite: Sunnyvale!


The elevens dearth continues.


Cupertino’s numbers didn’t crash until April, and didn’t crash as badly, either.


And Los Altos almost looks normal, except for May.


Here’s the real answer: they don’t care about the South Bay.  Palo Alto’s numbers look okay, and that’s all that matters.

Comments (36) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:04 pm

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Memories

imageMost Memorial Day blog posts urge the reader to remember the sacrifice others have made so they can have a cookout.  Not here.  This Memorial Day entry will urge you to remember the sacrifice others have made to buy their RBA homes at the peak of the market so you can unlock all that instant equity. 

Do you know how much effort it took to qualify for 100% financing?  Banks expected to you sign your name and fog a mirror, both!  Some particularly fussy institutions even asked for documentation showing you were earning $400,000 a year as a strawberry picker!  It’s not like you had an HR department onsite who could help with that sort of thing!  And then, the nerve, when it was time to refinance and pull another hundred or two kay out of the property for a few new vehicles, they wanted you to sign your name again!  Who did they think we were, John Hancock?

Haha.  That was a joke, because Memorial Day was instituted to honor those who gave their lives during the American Civil War, and John Hancock is an insurance company in Boston!  Then again, you come up with someone who got shot in the Civil War and signed as many papers as a temporary bank VP in 2006.

Imagine how hard everyone in the mortgage business had to work just five years ago.  All those home inspections to delay, all those bank officers to look busy, all those properties to record with a dubious agency nobody heard of instead of county clerks who would probably lose your paperwork on their lunch break.  It’s a wonder the courts let the banks win anything with how little work they actually did, given how much there was!

That’s why we promise to keep bringing you as many overpriced houses that look like garbage as we can find. It was an amazing time, and we don’t ever want to forget it.  So, million dollar crapboxes on a busy street, we got your numbers, and we’re overbidding them!

This is an Open Thread.  Happy Memorial Day!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am

May 29, 2011

Open Houses, Open Thread, Not So Open Libraries

Isn’t everyone on vacation?  No?  Well, you can worry about this, then.

April 29, 2011

Santa Clara County Library Authority to Charge New Library Card Fee for Non-Residents of Library District

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.‑ In response to dramatic reductions in State funding and an increasing demand for library services, on Thursday the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority approved an $80 annual library card fee for non-residents of the District, effective July 1, 2011.

Since 1988, the State has reimbursed public libraries for lending materials to non-residents of their district, and any resident of California could get a card at any public library in the state. Demands for service have increased to a point that the Santa Clara County Library District lends far more books to non-residents than District residents borrow from other libraries. At one time, the Library received over $2 million annually to partially reimburse the cost of this service.

In the midst of an increasing deficit, the Governor’s proposed budget includes the elimination of $30.4 million in state funding for three of California’s most valuable public library programs: The Public Library Foundation, the California Literacy Program and the Transaction Based Reimbursement, a cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books that has existed statewide for several decades. The State Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 eliminates all funding for public libraries, including those that are part of the Santa Clara County Library District.

Bet you skimmed the article and thought, okay, they’re dinging nonresidents of the County for using the libraries.  But that’s not what it said.

Cough up another $80 even if you live in Santa Clara County but happen to have picked one of the cities that didn’t ally with the County Library System.  Those unlucky cities, for those of you foolish enough to have chosen where to live without researching your library services first, are:

  • Los Gatos
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose
  • Santa Clara
  • Sunnyvale

You free-riders have been using the Country Library System long enough without paying extra property taxes.  No more!  The party is over on July 1st.  Now if you try to check a book out of a County Library, you’ll be called out as the illegal aliens you are!

But don’t worry, since it’s a holiday weekend, the libraries are probably all closed!  So go check out some Open Houses and let us know what’s HOT!  Or use this Open Thread to bring up anything at all, like you’re working too hard to go on vacation.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:43 am

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from Burbed!

How are you going to celebrate Easter?  Will you have an egg hunt?  A brunch or dinner with family?  A sunrise service at a church?  Or maybe you’re lining up all the houses you’re going to look at now that Spring Bounce has arrived almost as late as possible. 

The latest Easter can ever be is April 25th, if you wondered… unless you follow the Eastern church’s calendar, where it could fall as late as May 8th.

Easter is a “moveable feast,” meaning the holiday is not set to the Gregorian calendar we regularly use.  Instead, it has an easy-to-understand algorithm mixed with a more complex one.  The one anyone can follow is this:  Easter is the first Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox.

That’s the easy part, even if we throw in that we’re talking about the date of the equinox in Jerusalem.  The difficult part is when the Catholic Church decided that “full moon” was going to be the 14th day of a lunar month (on a calendar that was a lot like, but not quite, the Jewish calendar, probably because they worried about getting sued for copyright), not what anyone could observe by merely looking in the sky.  Furthermore the equinox was always going to be March 21st, even though the astronomical equinox can actually take place on March 19th, 20th or 21st.

imageAnyway, you will be pleased to know that the Church has computed Easter Sunday for the next six thousand years.  Thus an institution dedicated to their Savior’s return is hedging its bets against that occurrence well beyond the foreseeable future. 

And that is also the reason the housing market is still in the toilet: Late Spring Bounce this year.

This is an open thread.  There are probably no Open Houses today, but you can peruse listings online, maybe send in a favorite for us to write up as a featured house, or you could just share it in comments.

Let Spring Bounce begin already!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:21 am