September 9, 2013

We’re all Bozos on this Google Bus

We thought about bringing up the Google Gossip about Sergey leaving his wife for Google Glass Gal, but we thought better of it. Nothing more predictable than yet another dude with too much money having a midlife crisis and discovering the joys of a relationship with a younger woman.  Instead, we bring you a different Google story, which is actually real-estate related.

Mapping Silicon Valley’s Gentrification Problem Through Corporate Shuttle Routes

20130908-googlebus-mapBY ERIC RODENBECK, Wired Magazine
09.06.13 9:30 AM

Digital flows of information and the capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical landscape.

Here’s an ironic thing: I spend a good part of my day designing maps and data visualizations that represent change, while working out of one of the most change-resistant corners in the city of San Francisco.

For the past dozen or so years, the 16th and Mission Street BART plaza below the studio where we work has steadfastly hosted a diverse, rotating cast of characters — from drug dealers and preachers to musicians and hipsters, cheek by jowl with families, social activists, Social Security poets (sadly a shrinking population), and, increasingly but haltingly, young workers in the great technology fields to the south.

It’s proven a remarkably resilient situation: It was this way when I watched it in 2001, at the nadir of the dot-com crash. And it’s this way in 2013, at the mid-point of what some are calling the next big tech boom, the bastard love child of late 1990s Delusion 1.0. Yet the city is just bursting with change these days, if construction is an indicator. When I look out my window, I see at least nine active construction cranes at any given time (and that number would be even higher if it weren’t for the new scaffolding blocking my view of the rest of the city).

Neighborhoods that just 10 years ago were once written off as un-developable are seeing barriers to change break down every day. Why? It’s tough to point to a single cause, but it seems abundantly clear that digital flows of information and the attendant capital that it’s generating are having a material input on the physical urban landscape.

130908-googlebus-posterNow, the title above is completely off the mark.  This article isn’t in any way about Silicon Valley’s gentrification problem.  It’s about San Francisco’s gentrification problem because of those high paying jobs in Silicon Valley.  You would never know from reading the Wired piece that there are “Google buses” all throughout Silicon Valley and its exurbs, not just running various SF to Mountain View routes.  We’ve seen the luxury shuttle buses in San Ramon, in Los Gatos, and in Scotts Valley.  Every one of those buses means the employees onboard are not driving their own vehicles to work, and they are free to come up with brilliant ideas during the commute thanks to onboard WiFi.

They’re also free to play video poker, just like hardworking Senator John McCain.  And like Senators, taking private shuttle buses insulates tech workers from having to deal with ordinary people on public transit. You would be amazed at all the resentment there is toward the Google buses.  Maybe it’s because all those highly-paid tech workers are driving up rents and sales prices, forcing everyone else to move to the East Bay.

Meanwhile, in order to figure out the unpublished list of private shuttle bus stops, Wired had to hire a bunch of bike messengers to follow the buses… and scribble notes on paper.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am






February 6, 2013

What’s Special and Vintage and Oh So Cute and only costs $350,000?

So many times we hear the refrain, “I would love to buy a house, but I can’t afford anything.  It’s just too expensive here.” And so many times we have found affordable houses that YOU could go and buy.  Today we have yet another exciting opportunity for YOU, the would-be homeowner.  Just imagine yourself watering your very own lawn!  Or even better, your very own Rose Garden!

130205-forest-redfin1951 FOREST Ave
San Jose, CA 95128
$350,000

1 Beds
1 Baths
525 Sq. Ft.
$667 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1915
Lot Size: 3,600 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 70 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Community: Central San Jose
MLS#: 81241926

This home is located in the desirable Rose Garden neighborhood. Needs a lot of work. Not livable now. Contractor’s special. Located on a 3,600 square foot lot. Has a lot of potential. Great opportunity for someone looking to move into a fantastic area.

130205-forest-satellite

This property is Special for a number of reasons, and we don’t just mean for Contractors.

That’s a Streetview shot on this property listing.  The realtard didn’t even bother cropping it a little to strip out the Google logo.  It also, LUCKY YOU, conveniently fell out of contract just a couple of weeks ago, and is relisted at the same attractive price. 

Speaking of attractive, let’s swing that Streetview camera just a little to the right (below).  While the white truck is intriguing, the station wagon is vehicular WIN.  And from the satellite shot on the left, we can see exactly why this is such an attractive proposition: this looks like a Hoarder House.  Can you imagine what sorts of “bunus” loot awaits the lucky buyer of this affordable home that wears its 98 years proudly?

130205-forest-streetview

Bunus Specialtude: This home has been featured as the cover photo of our brand new Facebook Page for a couple of days.  Keep checking over there for new cover photos, and play “Find That Crapbox!”

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

February 3, 2013

They Like Us! They really, really Like Us!

130202-fb-calloutNotice something new in the right-side column?

At long last, we’ve set up a Facebook Page, and we’re collecting Likes.  We’re not really sure what we’re going to do with them.  Maybe there’s a Mortgage Equity Withdrawal program out there who wants every one of your names.  But more likely we’ll just wonder which Facebook Name goes with some of the more interesting handles our commenters have used.

Anyway, please click that Like button if you have a Facebook account, because right now we’re still in single digit territory, and Patrick.net is threatening to beat us up behind the gym.

This is also your opportunity to grouse about Facebook, or its policies, or its stock price, if you don’t find the housing-related piece today to your taste.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: madhaus @ 8:06 am

August 25, 2012

Your Weekend Open House Crawl

120824-bedroom-snakeIt’s the weekend!  You don’t feel like working and neither do we.  So head out to the beach, to the mountains, or to your favorite Open Houses! 

On second thought, better not.  Some of the sellers will forget to lock their pets up.

Tell us about your favorite (and not so favorite) Open House experiences.  Or talk about anything you want, because this is, indeed, Your Weekend Open Thread.

Will Facebook stock fall at the same rate or drop exponentially now that they’ve hired a Big Name Architect to design more footprint at the new campus?  Is this an important moment on the road to total dominion, or the waters to a shark jump?  (This metaphor, incidentally, is nowhere as tortured as you think.)  Or discuss out what Apple can do with another billion dollars.

Photo credit: This listing in Kansas City, via Hooked on Houses.

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:20 am

August 19, 2012

Bye Bye Bubble

Here’s some sobering news for those of you expecting the Facebook Effect to rescue the Real Bay Area’s housing values.

Zuckerberg Admits Facebook’s Plummeting Stock Is ‘Painful’ To Watch During A Company-Wide Meeting

120817-facebook-zuckerbergSeth Fiegerman, Business Insider  | Aug. 17, 2012, 6:43 AM

Facebook is finally acknowledging that its employees may be just a little bit concerned about the company’s plummeting stock.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the stock’s decline is “painful” to watch for some employees during a company-wide meeting earlier this month.

The meeting itself was reportedly part of a larger initiative to boost company morale. Zuckerberg had previously avoided talking about the stock with employees, preferring that everyone stay focused on their work, but in recent weeks, Facebook’s senior management started worrying that the stock’s poor performance might hurt employee performance.

Guess watching Facebook’s plummeting stock is just fine from the comfort of your own office.  But don’t count on cashing in those options to buy yourself an RBA mansion.  The employee lockup period is still in effect, but early investors are dumping shares now.

Now check out this article, from the same publication.

DEAR FACEBOOK EMPLOYEES: Here’s The Truth About Your Stock Price

120817-facebook-zuckerberg-2Henry Blodget, Business Insider  | Aug. 17, 2012, 11:59 AM

Facebook’s stock has dropped by half since the IPO three months ago.

And the stock price is now well below the level at which most employees have been granted stock in the past 18 months.

This means that most current and former Facebook employees are worth far less than they were a few months ago.

Facebook’s stock crash is also hurting morale at the company, and damaging perception of the company’s business and brand. The impact is big enough that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has been crystal clear about his desire to ignore the stock price, admitted at a company meeting that the stock crash has been “painful” for everyone.

Here’s the important consideration from this more in-depth piece:

With the Facebook employee lock-up releases coming in October and November, this isn’t just an issue of morale and “paper net worth.” Current and former Facebook employees have been counting on the stock to buy things (houses, for example). So it’s a matter of near-term financial planning.

So, are home values dropping in Facebook-friendly commute zones?  Let’s have a look.  First, here are Redfin’s stats for Palo Alto home sales.  The advantage of Palo Alto over Menlo Park is that there are very few questionable areas in the former.

120817-facebook-pa-redfin

120817-facebook-mp-altosYou could look at the listing prices one of two ways.  Either the 22% post-IPO listing per-square-foot increase was nothing but irrational exuberance, or Spring Bounce was unusually quick this year.  If we exclude the May and June numbers, we could look at the chart as showing a slow climb for 2012.  That’s if you ignore the 18% drop between mid-January and mid-February, though.

120817-facebook-mv-zillowAltos Research’s Market Action Index agrees with this graph, showing a peak right at IPO time and falling back almost (but not quite) to 30, which is a balance between a buyers and a sellers environment.  (31 indicates the ball is still in the sellers’ court.  Mostly.)  The MAI graph above is for Menlo Park, or ground zero for Facebook.

Unfortunately Zillow’s valuation tools are too laggy to show the post-IPO collapse, with the most recent valuation dated to June.  We’re looking at Mountain View this time, which is no doubt polluted by the conflicting Google Effect.

How would you recommend we best demonstrate whether Facebook stock’s disappointing results are affecting the RBA housing market?  What statistics would you recommend, and from where?  One thing we’re seeing is fewer homes going into Double-Secret-Probation Pending-Do-Not-Show status where the listing photos get yanked until the home closes.  And that’s good news for all fans of this site.  Not only does a picture equal a thousand words, it also equates to many more thousands of dollars.

We aren’t going to say in which direction those thousands are moving.

 

Comments (28) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

May 19, 2012

CNN blogger creams himself over Facebook Effect

Have we discussed the price adjustments (up! up! up!) in both buying and renting in San Francisco due to the Facebook IPO?  Not enough!  Let’s see what happens when CNN lets one of its bloggers write a tl;dr post that makes our zip code pieces look like tweets by comparison.

The Facebook effect on San Francisco real estate

By Julian Hebron, contributor @CNNMoney May 17, 2012: 1:27 PM ET

120517-sf-facebook-effect(StockTwits) — The Basis Point is a popular mortgage and housing blog that tracks consumer critical issues and data. It is edited by Julian Hebron, a retail mortgage lender who runs the San Francisco branches of RPM Mortgage.

Three weeks ago, some clients wrote a $1.25 million offer on a 1,400 square foot 3-bed, 1-bath house with original kitchen and bath near San Francisco’s Dolores Park. They weren’t even close. There were 51 offers. It sold for $1.4 million and closed 8 days after offers were due.

That’s the most offers I’ve seen in 10 years. And a different property at that week got 23 offers.

Two weeks ago, another client offered $245,000 over list price on a 3-bed, 2-bath Pacific Heights condo. One of the other 9 offers was the winning bid in this $1.6 million to $1.9 million market segment. That was my client’s fourth rejected offer. He’s looking at two properties in this price range this week, and the listing agents are reporting similar demand: about 10 serious buyers circling.

That’s the norm. It’s what some are calling The Facebook Effect on San Francisco real estate.

That’s the norm: 10 serious buyers circling.  StockTwits goes on at very great length to explain why this is happening, and mentions “The Facebook Effect” as if the term were newly minted.  Here’s what Hebron said in much fewer words.  (The charts are all linked from his article.)

1. Everyone not already working for Facebook is trying to buy before millions of Facebook employees get their license to print unlimited money

You will love this quote from the article:

The San Francisco buyer mindset is that they want to get in before they’re priced out, but they either haven’t reaped their firm’s windfall yet or don’t expect much if any windfall from their firm.

That’s right.  They’re all worried about being Priced Out Forever.  And this has never, never, ever happened before!

120517-sf-facebook-house-prices

2. Ed Lee’s reelection as SF Mayor means tech employers can demand payroll tax adjustments

Twitter threatened to leave SF over the 1.5% payroll tax, what with all the high salaries and the stock option financials on top of that, Lee negotiated an adjustment with a maximum annual tax, and now all the other tech companies will expect similar easements.  Which means they’ll stay in SF, which means high-paid twentysomething technogeeks will continue to buy real estate there, which means you can’t afford anything.

And this is all very interesting, except Facebook is not in SF.  So why isn’t this article called “The Twitter Effect”?

3. Constricted housing supply.  Really, really, really constricted.  Plus rising rents.  Did we mention constricted housing supply?

120517-sf-facebook-inventory

The key takeaway is that there were only 500-600 annual SF home sales above $1.5 million.  Now, how many people do you think will be wanting one of those better places once the IPO cash hits?

120517-sf-facebook-sales

And is it maybe possible that more homeowners would cash out when they start seeing more of these prices? 

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

May 12, 2012

Facebook IPO: How is it impacting you?

The Facebook IPO, the epic event that people will be talking about for generations to come, is near.

Already, I’ve heard rumors that they are working to pave the streets in Menlo Park with gold. That the Fisker dealership is sold out until 2089. That every house has 1204912 bids and every rental unit is facing a 13850% rent increase next year.

But these are just unsubstantiated rumors.

Let’s hear from you: How has the impending Facebook IPO impacted you?

Comments (28) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:55 am

April 15, 2012

The Worst Company in America is in the Bay Area!

120413-consumerist-mastheadLast year was an exciting March Madness playoff leading to a nail-biter of a final playoff.  Which was the Worst Company in America?  Was it BP, which destroyed an entire ecosystem, or was it Bank of America, which merely melted down an economy?

Those who voted for second-place B of A may have been hoping for another chance this year, but there’s a new Winner (and by that I mean Loser) in town.  According to the 2012 March playoffs hosted by The Consumerist, the worst company in America is… drumroll please… EA!

And EA was not content to merely ignore this ignominious achievement.  Nooooo!  EA, showing that the voters knew damned well what they were doing, actually made this stupefyingly ill-suited statement:

We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.

120413-consumerist-eaBP wasn’t even in the running this year because they won last year in a very closely contested contretemps. But Bank of America was back, of course.  And once more B of A (it stands for Bunch of A’**holes) failed to “survive” the final death match.

Also, AIG won in 2009 and Halliburton won the very first WCIA contest in 2006.

Other Bay Area companies nominated for this dubious honor include:

120413-netflixNetflix, who lost its first match against GameStop.  This one was a blowout final sale.

120413-wellsWells Fargo also failed to advance when it was locked in the vault by CitiCorp.

120413-googleGoogle similarly lost its maiden match to Apple by 404.

120413-appleBut Apple shouldn’t get a swelled AirBook over the experience, as it was easily short-circuited 2 to 1 by AT&T.

120413-paypalPayPal was knocked out in the quarter finals by WalMart in a Photoshop finish. But PayPal got that far by defaulting on CapitalOne in a walkover, and similarly slammed the receiver down hard on Charter.

120413-facebookFacebook had a much stronger string of worsts.  It cut the power to Sprint by 4 to 1, and gave the US Postal Service a definitive Return to Sender, before falling to AT&T, who wrote the book on bad service.  Facebook simply didn’t have enough Dislikes. 

120413-eaAT&T was in turn Ctrl-Alt-Deleted by EA, with 3 out of 4 voters gunning for the gaming goon.  EA shut down Sony, closed out Best Buy, and blacked out Comcast to qualify for the semifinal with AT&T.

Which company do you think should have won the WCIA this year?  And which Bay Area companies that weren’t nominated do you think should have been?

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

April 12, 2012

Want an investment property close to Facebook? TOO LATE

Burbed continues with Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer week, and now we return to Palo Alto.  Ah Palo Alto, home of high prices for working-class residences.  This fine investment property/teardown/whatever cannot be yours because it went pending in just six days.  Let’s drool on it and hope the sale falls through.  We’ll use Zillow this time because Redfin already took the listing copy and pictures down.

2316 Amherst St
Palo Alto, CA 94306
$1,498,000

120405-amherst-zillow

Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sqft: 2,025
Lot: 6,098 sq ft / 0.14 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1959
Parking: —
Cooling: —
Heating: —
Fireplace: —
On Zillow: 9 days
MLS #: 81211442
County: Santa Clara
Legal description: —
Parcel #: —
Per floor sqft: 2,025
Zillow Home ID: 2120434658

Sold in conjunction with 2320 Amherst. Two buildings: 2316 is spacious 1/1 with hardwood & updated kitchen. 2320 has 2/1 downstairs with refinished hardwood & updated kitchen; small 1/1 upstairs with huge deck and lovely views of the hills. Both buildings have laundry facilities. Legally 2 lots, zoned R1. Fabulous College Terrace location – Move in, buy for investment or build a new home! [Listing information © MLSListings Inc. All rights reserved.]Brokered And Advertised By: Dreyfus Properties, Inc.Listing Agent: Lucy Berman

120405-amherst-patioThis one is a Wow!  As in Wow, that photography really hurts to look at.  We’ll include a number of pictures in case the listing is scrubbed from teh internets forever.

You can also try your luck with the Virtual Tour, which has the same pictures, only in much sharper focus.  The color intensity is still dialed up to 11, though, so you keep that feeling you accidentally wandered into The Bee Movie.

120405-amherst-virtualtour-gardenThis photo at right is from the Virtual tour.  It’s the only one not on Zillow as well, and lucky for us, it’s got that riot of color so distinctive of this photographer.  The kind of buyer who wants an investment property in Palo Alto will definitely appreciate this effort that makes it look like a Henri Rousseau painting.

The rest of the photos, available after the break, are straight from Zillow.  That way you can enjoy the blurry effect on top of the bright colors.

(more…)

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

February 7, 2012

Paint and carpet and you should be good to go… away

Are you all excited about the Facebook IPO?  I know I am!  Local used house salespeople are expecting to make out like bandits from all the Facebook money that will be snapping up nearby real estate!  Here’s just one example of what Facebookers will be calling home.

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for this superb short sale in Menlo Park!

311 SHERIDAN Dr
Menlo Park, CA 94025
$749,000

120205-sheridan-redfin

BEDS: 3
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 2,360
$/SQ. FT.: $317
LOT SIZE: 5,940 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
STORIES: 2
VIEW: Neighborhood
YEAR BUILT: 1947
COMMUNITY: Flood Park Area
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81135539
SOURCE: MLSListings
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 174 days

This is a Short Sale. Big home in Menlo Park’s Suburban Park neighborhood. Home is in great shape, has been remodeled, but needs some TLC. Paint and carpet and you should be good to go. Located next to the German School.

120205-sheridan-staircaseHere’s what Wendie had to say about this terrific opportunity!

Look at these photos of this house!  The realtor could not bother to take the garbage out of any of the rooms? The realtor  just went crazy snapping photos of every part of the house, clearly not caring about the crap spewn everyone! And the carpet on the staircase; yuck!!!!

120205-sheridan-trashcan120205-sheridan-bedroom120205-sheridan-patio120205-sheridan-kitchen

Clutter.  What better way to show the world how busy you are?

Comments (86) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am