September 3, 2012

UPDATED: This Labor Day, Imagine Doing Less Labor

Are you working three jobs, or one job for 140 hours a week, just so you can become a Real Bay Area homeowner?  This Labor Day, why not just win an RBA house instead?  Burbed reader Divasm informs us of a charity raffle where this Menlo Park house is first prize.  The raffle tickets are $150 each, and yes, there is a quantity discount.


120902-dream-ybcaFirst of all, does anyone know where this house actually is?  All the raffle site would say was “Central Menlo Park”  and “leisurely stroll to downtown.”  Perhaps one of our readers recognizes this 2006 Georgian joint.  Send it in and we’ll add more details about the home, but for now we’ll tell you it’s a 5 BR/5 BA and just under 5 thousand square feet (which means it missed it by that much on the ginormous tag) on a 10 thousand foot lot.  Plus the mawbul kawlums!

Second, did you know if you buy a raffle ticket like this, even though it’s for a legitimate charity, it is not tax-deductable? To be more specific, it is not tax-deductable unless you actually win something. Then you can offset the prize income with what you spent on the raffle tickets.

And finally, in trying (unsuccessfully) to locate the house, we came upon this older SF Gate story about house raffles.  It turns out that raffle prize homes are usually not claimed.  Winners usually prefer money instead of the house, so the first prize is not usually owned by the charity.  The actual owner usually leases it to the charity, with an option to buy should 120902-dream-suitcasethe winner prefer the house instead of the suitcase full of cash.

Why do winners prefer the money over the house?  If the prize is worth more than $5,000, get ready to fork over 25% of its value to the IRS.  So if you won this house, supposedly worth $4.1 million, you’d have an instant million dollar Federal tax bill before you can say “clear title.” 

But wait, there’s more!  Winning this house also means you’d have to pay closing costs.  And property taxes.  (That’s another $44,000, at least.)  And they’ll probably stick you for the transfer tax as well.

Now what would you pay?  Because if you don’t live in California, and you win a raffle like this from a California charity, then state income tax gets withheld off the top as well.  You’re supposed to pay it even if you do live here, but it won’t be withheld up front if you’re already an RBA resident.

120902-dream-ticketSo maybe you’re thinking, “Hey wait, I’m sitting in this non-RBA underwater house!  Why don’t I raffle it like these charities do?”  Sorry.  That’s illegal.  Private owners and commercial enterprises cannot run raffles.  Charities couldn’t either, until Prop 17 passed in 2000.  And the charity must register the raffle with the Attorney General’s office

Or maybe not.  The article is 3 years old, and there aren’t any raffle registrations beyond 2010 on the AG’s site.  With all those budget cuts, maybe you can get away with raffling your house after all!

And if not, enjoy your Labor Day.  We’ll be back tomorrow with more ridiculous realty.

Update: Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer, we now know where the house is! Thanks very much!

120903-dream-patricia3 Patricia Pl
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$3,999,999; listing removed 7/1/12

Beds: 5
Baths: 5
Sqft: 4,961
Lot: 10,890 sq ft / 0.25 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 2006
Parking: Garage – Attached
Zestimate: $3,396,723
Rent Zestimate: $8,161/m

DELIGHTFUL PROPERTY ON A PERFECT MENLO PARK LOCATION: Elegant and classic home in prime Central Menlo Park- Built in 2006 5 Bedrooms / 5 Bathrooms on 4, 961 SqFt – Size Lot 10, 800 SqFt Three levels with 4 bedrooms on 2nd floor Media Room – Wine cellar – Exercise room – Office – Laundry Room 5th bedroom and bath on lower level Graceful circular staircase – Brazilian cherry floors – OPEN HOUSE SATRUDAY JUNE 9, 2012:1:30PM – 4:30PM

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

July 1, 2012

You Know You’re Really from X When You Y

Recently seen in the San Francisco Chronicle:

You Know You’re a Real Marinite when you…120630_marin_kids

…Think a redhead adds “diversity” to your kid’s class… (Deanne Fitzmaurice / The Chronicle) / SF



120630_sunnyvale_libbysHa.  If we only see three Priuses parked anywhere around Google, it’s only because the rest of the vehicles are plug-in electrics.

So… let’s hear your suggestions for X and Y, where X is your city or town, and Y is whatever you come up with to best exemplify its essence.

We’ll start.  You Know You’re Really from Sunnyvale, when you can’t come up with anything other than the general case using the letters X and Y where X equals “Sunnyvale” and Y remains undefined for now but might have something to do with a gigantic can of fruit cocktail.

But we’re sure you can do better with whatever place you call home.  RBA-only entries not required, but please confine your suggestions to Northern California locales.  (We do have SOME standards around here.)


You can also nominate your entire region, such as “You Know You’re Really From Silicon Valley when you 1. See a billboard like this, 2. Understand it, and 3. Contact the advertiser for a better job.”

The best examples will be featured in a future weekend column, complete with random photos!  Your name or handle on the front page!

Okay… go!


Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

June 23, 2012

Saturday Open Thread: Rename that Island

Happy weekend! Going on a vacation? Of course not! The Real Bay Area is so awesome, you’ll staycate all summer. And what could be better than going to work, anyway?

Unless your name is Larry Ellison, and you can afford to buy most of a Hawaiian island for yourself.

Your mission is to rename the island to something more appropriate. Like Larai.

Update: Oh yeah, this is also an open thread. Duh.


Comments (35) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 25, 2010

Caption Contest Results – The Winner

Last Thursday we presented this photo of a Bank of America branch in Palo Alto, and asked you to write a better caption.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  The entries which received at least one vote are:

#9, RealEstater

Welcome to Palo Alto, Mr. Obama! (vote by #10*)

#17, bob

Early Wednesday morning workers at a local Bank Of America were surprised to find a lone bicycle wheel parked in one of their bike racks. After a careful cross examination the wheel told Police that it suffered serious depression from living in the East Bay and one night simply couldn’t take it anymore and thus freed itself from it’s owner’s bike and rolled itself all the way to Palo Alto where it had always wanted to live. His snobby friends had told him Palo Alto was where all the “Cool, rich, and successful bicycles and wheels lived” The wheel told officials he’d only stopped to rest at the bank but fell asleep.(#22, 82*)

#80, Alex

Dude, where’s my bike?
(or the adult version – bitches, where’s my bike?)  (#91)

The Winner

#2, ymous

“The primary assets of Bank of America bank are seen in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Bank officials stressed that they had secured the complete bicycle with “a really good lock” over the weekend, and that despite losing everything but the front wheel of the second bicycle in a theft on Friday afternoon, they were “confident” it would fetch a solid price at auction.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)  (#16, 22*, 57, 79, 82*) 

* asterisks mean a commenter voted for more than one entry.

Congratulations, ymous, for a creative and popular caption!  You may nominate which zip code or actual property listing should be featured by emailing or posting in comments.  Also a golf clap to our second-place finisher bob, who knows that the second-best offer gets nothing, but the second best caption gets a zip or listing suggestion anyway.

Comments (22) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:00 am

October 21, 2010

B of A Lost $7.7 Billion and All I Got Was This Stupid Photo


Update: Please vote for your favorite caption in comments.  We’ll announce a winner on Monday.

We’ll return to our regular programming of insanely priced houses, terrible listing copy, ugly home photography, and endless lists of zip codes tomorrow.  Today, we’re going to take a little break.

burbed reader Herve sent in the photo at right. It accompanied a Yahoo Finance story about Bank of America having a $7.7 billion dollar loss, due to some “special charge” they made concerning debit and credit card reform rules changes.  Yes, it can be Special in the banking biz, too.  Note the photo caption:

The exterior of Bank of America bank is seen in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Bank of America has lost $7.65 billion during the third quarter due to a one-time charge related to credit and debit card reform legislation passed over the summer.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Your mission is to write a better caption for this photo.  All the elements are there.  Huge bank loss due to Specialness, or the government’s fault, or something.  In Palo Alto.  And a bike parked outside with a spare tire.

Needless to say, real estate references are strongly encouraged.  The fact that B of A did better than expected “due mainly to a sharp drop in losses tied to defaulting loans,” should get you started.  Feel free to refer to the article or just completely make something up.  Show your True Bay Area Spirit!

First Prize: Your choice of Bay Area zip code or for sale listing featured in burbed.  (Not valid in East Bay.  Kidding!)

Second Prize: Due to budget cuts, there is only one prize.  But you will win the respect of your friends, family and co-workers, plus your entry will be indexed by web robots for years to come!

Judging: The winner will be chosen by consensus of whoever shows up.  If there is no clear decision, the moderator will toss a bike tire and see which side of El Camino it rolls to.

Comments (92) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

September 12, 2008

Did another earthquake just hit San Francisco? $932 per square foot?

372 Arleta Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134 Visitacion Valley MLS# 346045 – Property Details

* Status: Active
* Bedroom: 1
* Bathroom: 1
* Year Built: 1947
* Lot Size: N/A
* Square Footage: 460
* List Date: 8/21/2008
* Garage Spaces: 1

This is a conservatorship sale subject to court confirmation. Fixer upper. Enter at your own risk. 50 x 100 lot with small home and older garage. Property to be delivered as is, loaded with the personal property and effects of the decedent left in place. Some view toward south bay.

Well… so far not too bad. Some view of the bay, free personal property, small hill.

Let’s look at some more pictures shall we?






So… $429,000 for this. Ok, I can see that. Maybe you can clean this up a little (Junk King anyone?) and flip it for $800k. After all, it’s San Francisco – and they’re not making anymore San Francisco (except where they are.)

Frankly though, I’m simply amazed by this – and I bet you are too. I thank the two Burbed readers who sent me this (Heather and sonarrat) for this find.

Now… it’s Friday, and that means only one thing – story writing contest!

Who amongst you can come up with the most clever story to explain this fine piece of Real Bay Area Real Estate? Was there another earthquake? Corporate shake up? Let’s hear it!

Comments (16) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:19 am

August 29, 2008

“Complete fixer!!! Everything needs replacing. Do not enter.”

2222 Francisco BLVD, Pacifica, CA 94044 West Sharp Park MLS# 80821476 – Property Details

* Status: Active
* Bedroom: 1
* Bathroom: 1
* Year Built: 1948
* Lot Size: N/A
* Square Footage: N/A
* List Date: 7/14/2008
* Garage Spaces: 1
* MLS#: 80821476

Complete fixer!!! Everything needs replacing. Do not enter. Property is sold “As Is”. Trash and garbage have not been removed. Public records do not state Sq Ft of lot nor building. Age is an estimate. Bulldoze and start from scratch.

Burbed has seen a lot of strange properties, but this find by Burbed reader sonarrat really takes the cake. The outside isn’t great – but it’s not super bad either. Let’s take a look at some interior photos:

Wow. Just wow.

But just think: buy it, bulldoze it, build a new house? Hey – suddenly you’ve got a pretty nice piece of real estate in Pacifica.

And this brings us to Friday’s “Write a story about what happened here” contest.

So… what do you think happened here? Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

Comments (64) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:03 am

May 9, 2008

Story writing contest for a Cupertino house

728 Stendhal Ln, Cupertino

* Status: Active
* Bedroom: 4
* Bathroom: 2
* Year Built: 1961
* Lot Size: 6000
* Square Footage: 1516
* List Date: 4/1/2008
* Garage Spaces: 1
* MLS#: 788429
Description of 728 Stendhal La, Cupertino
Charming Cupertino Eichler-styled home, Features include 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, Wood Ceiling with Foam Roof, modern kitchen, spacious counters and lots of cupboard space, large living/dining room for entertaining. This home is perfect for a large family with school age kids – schools are within walking distance. Large front atrium with glass throughout for viewing common areas. Internet Access.

Sweet! It’s a see through home. And it’s got a foam roof. (Does that mean asteroids will bounce off of it? What the heck?)

But wait… there’s more!

Alright Burbed readers! It’s Friday! That means it’s: “Write a story day”

My challenge to you: write a short story that explains what’s going on in these photos, why this person is selling, and what the guy in the photo saying to the potential customers.

Ready? Get set! Go!

Comments (42) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:10 am