March 6, 2013

Bay Area Bubble 4.0: The Old is New Again

We’re covering the housing bubble 24/7 now that everyone’s paying attention to real estate again.  Today we have a lovely home in Redwood City that you may have seen before.  Take another look, while you still can!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for an excellent surveillance operation.

130305-esther-redfin715 ESTHER Ln
Redwood City, CA 94062

2 Beds
1 Baths
750 Sq. Ft.
$600 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1929
Lot Size: 4,790 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 33 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Community: Cordilleras Heights
MLS#: 81303054

Beautiful view of bay and city lights. Additional 6900sqft lot to be sold with the property. The additional 6900 sq ft parcel of land CANNOT be developed upon per city and county building department. Building square footage 1130sf on public profile is incorrect, actual living area is about 750sf, Fixer-upper Sold "As Is" may not qualify for FHA.

This house’s list of tag may be bigger than it is.  Not only that, it has a history!


Here’s something it didn’t have last year (besides an extra hundred thou of instant equity you get now!): Redfin Agent Insights!


“Dead End,” “Completely gutted” and “Killer Views,” three phrases that don’t go well together after watching certain movies.  How about Zero Dark Thirty?

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

February 20, 2013

Oh Please Oh Please Oh Please in Woodside

Sometimes we run across some terrific properties where the listing is canceled before we can feature it. And as long as we can still find the information online somewhere, we’ll still share it with our fans.  Today’s featured home spent more than TWO YEARS waiting for a suitor and finally went home from the Ball, alone and dejected.  But now the housing bubble is back, at least in the Real Bay Area.  So we’re hoping to see this house on the market again Real Soon Now.

130219-northgate-movoto125 Northgate St
Woodside, CA 94062

Loan Payment: $35,366/mo
Bedrooms: 6
Bathrooms: 8
Size: 16,900 sqft
$/Sqft: $591/sqft
Type: Single Family House
Year Built: 1934
Lot Size: 124,973
Days on Movoto: 755 days
Neighborhood: Woodside Heights
MLS#: 81054806
Status: Cancelled

BOARDER OF ATHERTON! LOS LOMITAS SCHOOLS! 2.89 ACRES! OVER 17,000 SAUARE FEET! The Buck Estate. Designed by noted architect Albert Farr, who modeled Buck after Hampton Court in Middlesex, England, a 16th century royal family residence. Brick & stucco cut stone, high Gothic arches, slate roof,& bay views. Ornate plaster details, beautiful rooms of original carved wood panelling.

Wait a minute, this place looks very familiar.


And the current listing photos on Movoto are exactly the same as the ones from almost two years ago. What isn’t the same is the price.  Looks like this charming cottage took a 22% haircut before leaving the barber’s chair.  Let’s have another look inside.


These pictures look way worse blown up larger (click ’em!). And now that any fool can take HDR photos on an iPhone, maybe this is all we should expect.  After all it is the BOARDER OF ATHERTON.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

February 4, 2013

Today in Portola Valley: Guest Blogger on Guest House

burbed_guest_bloggerWe haven’t had a guest post for a while, so we’re going to sleep in while Burbed reader Dr. Jim takes over today’s column.  Thanks very much!  Please give Dr. Jim a big, warm, Real Bay Area welcome to the front page as today’s guest blogger!

And now we’re going back to bed.

130203-portola-redfin451 PORTOLA Rd
Portola Valley, CA 94028

4 Beds
5 Baths
4,200 Sq. Ft.
$1,546 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1912
Lot Size: 1.13 Acres
On Redfin: 88 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: Tri-Level
Community: Brookside/Willowbrook Area
MLS#: 81240340

Stunning historic estate originally built by Herbert E. Law completely renovated with state of the art contemporary finishes. Turreted castle main residence (3 br) incl. 1000 sq. ft new construction, stone guest cottage, 1200 sq. ft workshop. 1.2 flat ac. in prime PV, western views, pool, bocce court, enclosed rose garden, diamond plaster top quality appliances incl. La Cornue stove, Miele appl.

130203-portola-gatehouseCheck it out: 

They expect to make $4,645,000 profit on a house that they bought 1.5 years ago for $1,850,000!  That’s $1106/sf for remodeling.  And the cottage and workshop were there already.  Granted, the land is valuable, but that’s already accounted for in the original purchase price.  Let’s say they spent a ridiculous million dollars on renovation.  That’s still a 28% ROI, which is wildly ambitious.

130203-portola-ladderA couple of notes on the listing copy: (1) This is not the Herbert E. Law estate, this is the former GATEHOUSE for the Law estate (Villa Lauriston).  (2) A La Cornue oven, oh boy!  It looks like the $35,000 model (Chateau 120).  If they had put in a $299 Kenmore range, I suppose they would be asking $6,460,299.  Not really much difference.

Thank goodness for the Internet.  Just a few years ago, prior sale info was more difficult to obtain.  I think part of the current real estate slump is due to all of the information on the web: people are no longer being duped as readily by realtors.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

February 17, 2012

Fresh air and no one above you, only eagles

It’s time for a weekend getaway!  Burbed reader Tracy has just the spot: yet another installment in our collection of castles for sale!

San Jose, CA 95120


BATHS: 3.5
SQ. FT.: 5,740
$/SQ. FT.: $296
LOT SIZE: 12.53 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Mountains, Lake, Valley, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Almaden Valley
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81203188
STATUS: Pending Without Release
ON REDFIN: 20 days

3 story Almaden Castle on the top of Mountains. 3 years old. Custom built. 180 degree view. Endless Opportunity and freedom to add your own finishing touches, arrange your wine cellar in the basement. Master bedroom on the top floor. Patio, deck, balconies. Two garages 2 car each. Gated community. Top rated Almaden schools: Graystone, Bret Harte, Leland. Fresh air and no one above you, only eagles

120215-cinnabar-stairsFreedom!  Freedom like the eagles above you, no one else!  Freedom to add your own finishing touches!  Freedom to arrange your wine cellar in the basement!  That’s realtard-speak for the owner ran out of their own freedom, I mean money.  Their misfortune is your opportunity!  Endless Opportunity!


Here is your Endless Opportunity to add your finishing touches to the kitchen.  Can you figure out what is missing from these pictures?


120215-cinnabar-platesYou can enjoy nine more pictures than Redfin provides, as this castle has its very own website.  On the right is one of several extra photos showing the Endless Opportunity you will have getting all the electrical plates, switches, and outlets to blend in a bit more unobtrusively with the paint scheme.

Nothing like living in a three story castle with no one above you.  That means your family has to live in the dungeon.

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

Did you know that Burbed turned six last week?  Our very first post was on February 4th, 2006.  Here’s a peek:


What’s really great about the very first house on Burbed is it’s a castle on Buckingham Avenue!  That’s like finding a ski chalet on Zermatt Street, or a tilt-up industrial building on Technology Drive!

If you look up the listing history on Redfin, we can see just how good a job the agent did with that $555K asking price.


What do you think this house would sell for in today’s fever-pitched market?  Close to Facebook… I would say $888K FTW!


Any suggestions for celebrating six years of Burbed content?  This is an open thread.

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

February 3, 2012

Castles in the Air… or at least in Castro Valley

Here’s another vaguely castle-like home from Burbed reader Tracy.  See how many castle-ish amenities you can identify.

Castro Valley, CA 94546


SQ. FT.: 5,180
$/SQ. FT.: $153
LOT SIZE: 0.5 Acres
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Custom
COMMUNITY: Castro Valley
COUNTY: Alameda
MLS#: 40555097
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 45 days

Custom home located in a nice quiet Castro Vally neighborhood. Has possible in-law or 6th bedroom. 6th bedroom. Great amenities throughout the home. Must see to appreciate!

I’ll spot you one: It used to be worth a lot more money.  Or at least not a lot more money.  It sold in 2004 for $1,375,000.  Then again, the overbidding could have taken this baby right back to where it should be.  If you’re not sure where it should be, check out the similarly sized castle across the street.


Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

January 26, 2012

A Beach House for Fantasy Fans

Recently we ran a rather unusual house that would make a great West Coast toehold for the White Castle burger chain.  Yes, it was an actual fracking CASTLE in the back of an otherwise normal home in Los Altos. Burbed reader Tracy is crazy for castles, and has been deploying the trebuchet to hurl several into the inbox.  Here’s another one if you can’t wait until April for Season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, this castle, like so many homes built on fantasies and empty treasure chests, was taken off-market.  So we’ll do our best to get the information to you, no matter how many real estate sites we have to scour to find it!

Watsonville, CA 95076
$1,795,000, delisted on 12/12/2011
Originally listed for $1,895,000


Beds: 6
Baths: 4
Sqft: 2,864
Lot: 9,146 sq ft / 0.21 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1971
Last sold: September 22 1999 for $353,500

Beautiful ocean views, convenient beach access, private parking front and rear, quality remodel, 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, custom home in Pajaro Dunes – Turnkey! Remodeled kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, roof, siding, windows, appliances. Pajaro Dunes is perhaps Northern California’s best kept secret! To live here or just to visit is an experience to be treasured. Come see for yourself!

imageWe’ve provided all 9 photos, because most of the other sites took them down when the listing got yanked.  Thank heavens for ZipRealty!  And we used Zillow to fill in all those missing pieces, like whether the castle actually had any rooms and was built after the Year 0.  Redfin provided the neighborhood plot layout at the bottom of this post.  Finally, this expired agent page provided the listing copy above.

The very first thing you’ll notice looking at the front of the house is that there isn’t any garage.  And that’s a good thing!  If you’re imagethe kind of person who wants to live in a castle, you don’t want any newfangled technology such as horseless carriages and wireless music using airwaves.  A six bedroom house means you can keep your own horn section to play flourishes when you enter each room.  And really, nobody should be waving except your courtiers.

So the plastic furniture really has to go.  Just set up some trestle tables and benches and you’ll be ready to serve up the wild boars.


I tell you, it’s being able to build a castle out of a 1971 tract house that makes this country great, even if said castle would be more appropriate on its lonesome on ten acres in Inverness, rather than on a 9000 square foot lot right next to traditional beach homes.


America, F*** YEAH!  Although the tennis courts ought to be replaced with a jousting pavilion, and the flag with one from, say, 971.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

January 17, 2012

White Castle Service… It Takes Just a Minute….

That was a little jingle I remember from ages ago for Ohio-based burger chain White Castle, which made the tiniest (and not particularly good) hamburgers I’ve ever seen.  I suppose today they’d be called sliders, but back then, a square-stamped piece of beef product that looked like a die’s five-spot was what you got at a White Castle.

imageWhite Castle Service, It takes just a minute
For the classy little box with the hamburger in it
For you health we never fry them, we steam them on a bun
Buy White Castles by the sack cuz nobody eats just one!

Now if you’re from White Castle territory, maybe you had some thoughts of setting up a franchise on the West Coast and vacuuming up all the nostalgia-seeking East Coasters who moved here but miss the bad food of their youth.  If you see this as a reasonable business model, here is the perfect house for you.

This home has been noticed by several Burbed readers, including Swan, Tracy, and Lucia, thanks very much for lowering the drawbridge.


Los Altos, CA 94024


SQ. FT.: 2,911
$/SQ. FT.: $566
LOT SIZE: 0.49 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: French
VIEW: Mountains, Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Country Club
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81138713
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 130 days

Unique 1/2 acre property nestled between the beauty of the mountains and closeness of town. Main house is a 3/2 with 2112 sq ft and Castle is a 1/1 with 800 sq ft. 4 open-space areas shared with 2 neighbors adds another 6/10th acre to main property. New carpet and paint in main house. Close to highly regarded Waldorf School.

imageThis house comes with its own fracking castle.  I mean, did you take a look at that thing?  Holy crap.

I realize the flag is a bit of an anachronism, since our royalty prefers buildings with mawbul cawlums instead of crenellations, but you can always substitute something more appropriate, such as some heraldic beastie on its hind legs, or better yet, a White Castle Burger Flag, if they made any. 

imageLucia notes:

There’s a fully functional, to code (I’m guessing) tower in the backyard. Perhaps it’s going so inexpensively because it once housed a poor adoptee/kidnapped girl who was never allowed to leave or cut her hair??

Tracy thinks it’s too bad this castle is so close to 280, but there’s more castles being catapulted into the Burbed queue via trebuchet.  Finally, here’s Swan’s observation why you should immediately buy this property.

imageThe dude is upset that he put in a pool and not a guest castle like the house below. Who needs a guest cottage, when you can have a guest castle?

Note, this is a “must buy.”

The observation deck on the castle will come in handy when those nasty invaders start scaling the walls of 280. Should the invaders storm the castle, the open space shared with the neighbors will come in handy as a battlefield.

Or you could start up the franchise in your back yard and wait for Harold and Kumar to show up.  Plus this place is a lot more defensible than your standard burger franchise, which is something to think about if you’re going to stay open until 3 in the morning.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

August 9, 2011

You could live next to a castle!

I’m going to conduct a little experiment today.  Here’s guest blogger Divasm with a fine write-up of a visit to a house previously discussed in comments.  Now, it just so happened that I also wrote the same place up, as the listing just begged for the Burbed treatment.

But Divasm actually visited the house, and, better yet, took pictures!  So at some point in the future, no doubt when I’m scrambling for new material, I’ll run the column I wrote on this house, based on nothing but the listing itself. Then you can all tell me how much it sucks compared to this in-person, on-the-ground report.

So please give a warm, Real Bay Area welcome to Divasm with today’s featured listing in Redwood City, complete with on-site photos!

3676 HIGHLAND Ave, Redwood City, CA 94062


SQ. FT.: 2,320
$/SQ. FT.: $327
LOT SIZE: 7,800 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Bay, Mountains, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Cordilleras Heights
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81015121
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 492 days



First omen that this house will be, ahem, interesting is the freaking castle next door! Seriously, look at it – all you’re missing is a dragon and a moat.

highlanddoorThen you are welcomed by the lovely stained-glass homage to seagulls at sunset as you make your way into the house…

highlandfridgeYou’ll notice that either you are falling down drunk, or the floors are just a wee bit sloped as you travel back towards the kitchen where you find – holy 70’s chic Batman – wood paneling everywhere…I mean everywhere, including the fridge doors!

highlandwallcrackThen we go up the spiral staircase (yes, you read that correctly) to find that with the sloping floors downstairs come cracked walls upstairs…Highlandblueframenot just small cracks, some of these are big enough to someday open a portal to hell, I suspect. The best one is traveling diagonally through a blue painted window frame…apparently the owners spent all their dough on custom wood paneling for major appliances and couldn’t afford interior window sills?

According to the Redfin agent  notes there’s a view to be found up there so that makes it all ok I guess? But alas Burbed readers, this treasure is already pending, so you’ll have to find your own castle-bordering Mystery Spot of your own!

Comments (48) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

July 19, 2011

Albion Castle produces 10,000 gallons a day of spring water

Today we have another terrific find from Burbed reader sonarrat!  Unfortunately, it’s been sitting in my inbox so long it’s growing mold, and what’s worse, those fickle sellers have yanked it from Redfin!  So, if you could convince them to sell again, how would you like your own castle?

881 Innes Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124


DAMN, missed it!  And look at the location it’s in, too!  Sounds classy! Foxhounds and riders and horns, oh my!  Here’s what sonarrat had to say about the place:

Albion Castle.. produces 10,000 gallons a day of spring water.. sounds great! …it’s WHERE??!

It’s in San Francisco! Let’s see where exactly… after the break, because I’ve got more to show you.


Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am