July 20, 2013

Another fine home!

Today’s Real Estate Photo Win was submitted by Michael Boltonestater, who notes that this screengrab came from the TV show Arrested Development.

130719-carr-foreclosed

Wait, there’s cupcakes at Open Houses? We’ve been seriously missing out! When we visit an Open House, we’re happy if the agent puts out bottled water.

Let us know what kind of snacks you find this weekend, as this is your Weekend Open Thread!

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:03 am






June 16, 2013

Fed Study: Angeleños really did use houses as ATMs

In the latest installment of Formerly Middle Class People Deserved To Lose All Their Money, the Wall Street Journal informs us of a study from the Federal Reserve Board’s Steven Laufer. Not too surprisingly, the paper says these longer-term FBs would have been fine if they hadn’t kept taking equity out of their houses just because they could.

Study: How Using Homes as ATMs Fueled Foreclosures

130614-la-townhomesBy Nick Timiraos, The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2013, 11:58 AM

The conventional wisdom of the housing crisis goes something like this: Too many people bought homes as the housing bubble inflated. Some were unlucky in their timing, while others overextended themselves by putting too little money down. All of these top-of-the-market purchases led to an explosion of foreclosures once home prices dropped sharply and the economy hit the skids.

Amid the current debate about whether a new bubble is forming in the housing market, it’s worth looking at a paper published in March that challenges conventional wisdom by showing that a significant share of foreclosures came from people who bought their homes before 2004.

So why did so many people who bought their homes before the housing bubble fully inflated end up losing their homes anyway?

20130614-la-freemoneyThe paper concludes that if only California had laws like Texas (which forbids borrowing more than 80% of home equity), not only would fewer FBs gotten F’ed, but homeowners (as opposed to homedebtors) would have had more money to spend because houses wouldn’t have cost so much.

Which is ridiculous, because why do you think these FBs borrowed all that equity in the first place? They sure as heck didn’t invest it in infrastructure.  Heck, no.  They spent it.  We’re cheered to see Larry Roberts (OC Housing News) agrees with us.

Then again, that study also says people defaulted because (among other reasons) they assumed their home prices would keep going down. This shows why the study was in Los Angeles instead of the Real Bay Area. Everyone knows in the RBA, prices only go up.

There’s also a very important reveal in the paper. Laufer’s model shows that home prices would be 14% lower if all that equity extraction hadn’t taken place. And as we know, the Real Estate industry will simply not allow that to happen.  They might as well throw away tax-deductibility of mortgage interest too.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

June 12, 2013

Huge electrical tower in front of house in Sunnyvale

Let’s take a look at a house with some location fail. When we use the term “location fail” we’re referring to uncorrectable defects that are a function of where the house is. The only way to fix them is to move. Let’s move on to this Sunnyvale house and see how the Tower of Power is treating it.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Michael Boltonestater for wiring this over.

130611-remington-redfin1113 REMINGTON Ct
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
$1,199,999

4 Beds
2.5 Baths
2,006 Sq. Ft.
$598 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1975
Lot Size: 6,527 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 11 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Community: Sunnyvale
MLS#: 81318908

Huge electrical tower in front of house. House has additional bedrooms and baths, half garage has been converted to a studio, all done professionally without permits

We feel cheated.  There’s a huge electrical tower in front of the house and the listing photo doesn’t even show it. Why mention such an important feature if you’re not going to show it off?

130611-remington-streetview

You’re welcome.

Bunus: Look what we found on Zillow.  All we were trying to do is figure out what they were asking for this place in 2012 when it went pending twice but never actually changed hands. 

130611-remington-zillow

We’re pretty confident this place will be selling shortly.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

February 17, 2013

How do you tell the difference between the RBA and Not the RBA?

Answer: The RBA is being bought up by foreigners with suitcases full of cash going to individual sellers.  Not the Real Bay Area is being bought up by investors with envelopes full of cashiers checks going to banks.

Report: Investors buy nearly half of Oakland’s foreclosed homes

Real estate firms turning properties into rentals, becoming "massive landlords" in some neighborhoods, critics say

130216-investors-suitcaseby Aaron Glantz, Bay Citizen — June 28, 2012, 11:01 a.m.

The rental listing advertises a “gorgeous remodeled craftsman-style house” with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a converted basement, a large deck and a backyard for $2,595 a month.

Eight months ago, this West Oakland home was owned and occupied by Theodros Shawl, a local chiropractor. Shawl bought the house in 2004, his first since emigrating from Ethiopia in 1990. Over the years, Shawl said, he rebuilt the home’s foundation and replaced its aging plumbing and electrical systems.

“I liked the fact that it was an older home, that I could repair and paint and fix there on the weekends. I was always at Home Depot,” said Shawl, 40. “I was living the American Dream.”

Last October, after being sidelined with a wrist injury, Shawl lost his home to foreclosure; in May, Bank of America sold it to a real estate investment firm, REO Homes 2 LLC, a company founded in 2010 by Bay Area businessman Neill Sullivan.

130216-investors-cashiersLest you think this is a trend only in the depressed parts of the Bay Area, we assure you that it isn’t.  Real Estate Investment Trusts are back, mostly because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of places to get reasonable returns these days.  A recent article in The New Republic covers the growing national trend of paying cash for foreclosures and turning them into rentals.  Needless to say, actual would-be buyers are finding themselves aced out of the bottom-feeding.

Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street

130216-investors-hedgeHedge funds are snatching up rental homes at an alarming rate

BY DAVID DAYEN, The New Republic, February 16, 2013

Housing analysts have been giddy for the past year about the comeback of their industry, whose collapse led to the Great Recession. Sure, 2012 was actually the third-worst year for housing ever—but it still beat 2010 and 2011. New and existing home sales, housing starts, and prices jumped in 2012, and experts expect an even stronger recovery for 2013.

It’s clear why people are so excited: Housing typically leads economic recoveries. As more people build equity in their homes, they feel more free to spend disposable income and increase economic activity, a phenomenon known as the “wealth effect.”  So a bullish outlook for housing would seemingly augur a long-awaited recovery to Main Street. But the more you look into it, the clearer it becomes that it’s not being driven by the typical American families who lost their homes in the economic crash. In fact, it’s being fueled by the banks and hedge funds whose speculation caused that crash in the first place.

If you’ve signed a lease in the past year, there’s a good chance your landlord wears a tailored suit and works on Wall Street. One of the hottest trends in the financial sector is known as “REO-to-rental.” Over the past couple years, hedge funds, private equity firms and the biggest banks have raised massive amounts of capital to buy distressed or foreclosed single-family homes, often in bulk, at bargain prices. Their strategy is to convert them to rental units for a while before reselling them when prices appreciate. The Wall Street firms are scooping up properties in the hardest-hit areas, promising high returns for the rental revenue streams—up to 10 percent annually —and starting bidding wars that have driven up some prices well above national averages. It’s the next Wall Street gold rush, with all the warning signs of a renewed speculative bubble.

Enjoy the Open Houses you’ll be making offers on but not buying because some sovereign wealth fund is outbidding you.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:18 am

December 8, 2012

No entry allowed under any circumstances

121122-blackfridayThis is our last CHEAPEST HOUSE IN THE WHOLE COUNTY OMFG entry.  With Solano County’s turn, we’ve run out of Bay Area counties to feature in our Black Friday Deals Deals DEALS, which of course will run right up until Christmas Day.  Future deals will find you the best value in select Bay Area cities (and by “select” we actually mean whatever we want that to mean, optimizing for maximum pointing and laughing).

121207-adams-redfin1328 Adams St
Fairfield, CA 94533
$30,000

3 Beds 
1 Baths 
1,277 Sq. Ft.
$23 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1954 
Lot Size: 5,227 Sq. Ft. 
On Redfin: 17 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Residential, Detached, Single Family
Stories: 1
County: Solano
Style: Ranch
Community: Fairfield
MLS#: 21226257

Home sold for land value only. Home has suffered extreme fire damage and is unsafe in current condition. No entry is allowed under any circumstances.

Maybe you could pick this one up for Chanukah tonight? It will cost less than many new cars, and remember, they’re not making any more land! With prices like these, even the furthest reaches of the Bay Area are hot, hot, HOT! (Disclaimer: Property currently at ambient temperature.)

There’s instant equity galore, as this house sold for $112,000 in (hold on to your jellybean bag) 1990.  This is not only a fire sale, but a foreclosure too.  Here’s what it looked like back in 2009.

121207-adams-streetview

There’s something about the feng shui of this house that led to fire prevailing against the overdone water element.

And a quick glance around the neighborhood in 2009 shows it was reasonably well-kept, but there’s an unusually high pickup truck to automobile ratio.  But on the bright side, it has a Walk Score of 72.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 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

July 11, 2012

COMPLETELY UPDATED: $4.2 million teardown in Belvedere

Burbed has visited this high-priced peninsula before, but we’ve never reported on a teardown at Hillsborough-with-Baywater.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Pkamp3 for the find.

A $4.2 Million Tear-Down House in Belvedere, California

By ALAN FARNHAM | ABC News – Fri, Jun 29, 2012

120710-belvedere-abcIn Marin County, California, where people tend to have money, people in Belvedere tend to have more. Even so, a recent decision by Clark and Sharon Winslow of 337 Belvedere Avenue to buy the home next to theirs for $4.2 million — and then tear it down — might seem extraordinary.

It’s not, say locals and real estate professionals.

“There are houses being torn down all the time,” says Bill Smith, realtor and ex-mayor of Belvedere. In neighboring Tiburon, he says, a buyer not long ago paid $20 million for the home of tennis star Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf, then announced his plan to raze it.

While the article specifically mentions the house that isn’t being torn down, we’re left to guess which property is getting the extreme makeover.  And we think it’s this one.

Update 9:30 AM: And we are completely wrong.  Burbed reader gallileo provided the evidence that it’s the house on the OTHER side.  Correct info added to end of article, because we hate to waste a good housing rant.

341 Belvedere Ave
Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920
Sold on 01/14/2000 for $2,100,000

120710-belvedere-redfin

120710-belvedere-satelliteSource: Public Records
BEDS: 3
BATHS: 2.5
FINISHED SQFT: 2,831
UNFINISHED SQFT: –
TOTAL SQFT: 2,831
FLOORS: –
LOT SIZE: 8,400
STYLE: Single Family Residential
YEAR BUILT: 1964
YEAR RENOVATED: 1975
COUNTY: Marin County
APN: 06022128
LAST UPDATED: August 24, 2011

The interesting thing about buying and tearing down a perfectly good house isn’t that someone with way too much cash went ahead and did it.  It’s how much the house was worth in the first place.  Zillow says… ZEstimate of $1,876,100.  Which means the new “owners” spent more than twice what this house may be worth just to make more land.

Yes, the purchasers live in that 9524 square foot housing tumor on the left.  Let’s see what they got for $4.2 million!

120710-belvedere-streetview

Oh yeah.  Perhaps they’ll be tearing down this place next, since it’s blocking their Bay access.  (See #42.  Only 1017 days on Redfin!)

Update: Here is the correct house.  gallileo provides a link to SocketSite with the story, and there’s a further link to a piece in the Marin Independent Journal.  So, without further adieu, the actual house that was purchased for $4.2 million only to be torn down.  That and more, after the break.

(more…)

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

July 2, 2012

Following Up on an RBA Foreclosure

It’s always fun to revisit a house that’s previously been given some Burbed love.  Today’s house is a foreclosure with an unpermitted garage conversion, exactly what you’d expect to find in Old Palo Alto.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for today’s cognitive dissonance.

633 COLERIDGE Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
$1,888,000, Reduced from $1,988,000 on 6/7/12
Reduced from $2,198,000 on 5/15/12

120701-coleridge-redfin

120701-coleridge-monaBEDS:  4
BATHS:  4
SQ. FT.:  2,235
$/SQ. FT.:  $845
LOT SIZE:  6,696 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Country English
STORIES: 2
YEAR BUILT:  1941
COMMUNITY:  Old Palo Alto
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81221385
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  25 days

Amasing 4 bd 4 ba in old town palo alto . newly remodeled with new presidential comp roof, new paint and fixtures, refinished hardwood floor, double pane windowes, stainles still appliances , lots of closets. garage had been converted to a family room and aditional room including full bath by the previous owner , permit unknown. this may not been included in sf. huge price reduction.

120701-coleridge-ivyHere’s what Wendie had to say about this house:

Didn’t you highlight this house a few months ago as a short sale? I think it was listed as 1.2 back then….

Why yes, we certainly did mention this house, but it was last September, and it was on bank auction list.

120701-coleridge-11sept20

120701-coleridge-seller-is-agentBut back then the agent wasn’t mentioning all the excitement in the former garage!  And this house is just full of excitement.  A huge price reduction!  A foreclosure last October!  Yes, a foreclosure, not just in the Real Bay Area, but in Old Palo Alto.  Who knew that Larry Page could walk to a foreclosure in his own neighborhood?  (We would have said Steve Jobs, what with all the “walk to Steve Jobs’ house” comments about this neighborhood, but he could not walk to this house when it foreclosed as he passed away one week earlier.)

And if the garage and the price and famous dead neighbors isn’t enough excitement about this house for you, here is the icing on the cake.  You’d be buying the house from the agent herself.

Be sure to read all contracts carefully, because based on that listing copy, this may not be one of those agents who pays attention to silly little details.  Annoying little details such as spelling or capitalization or prices or whether a contract is actually signed.  And if you’re not a detail person either, then the two of you are a match made in heaven.  Or at least Old Palo Alto, which is practically the same thing.

 

 

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

May 20, 2012

Putting the DUH back in Florida

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for passing along this fascinating news item via IP.  That stands for Infirm Pigeon, which explains why it’s not as timely as our usual articles.

$1.2 million mansion for $10K?

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com,
Monday, July 4, 2011, Posted: 9 am ET

120518-florida-scamsHere in Florida, the Foreclosure State, we thought we’d already cataloged every genus responsible for this plague on all our houses, from the predatory lenders to the oblivious robosigners androcket dockets to the no-mod-for-you bank Nazis. That was, until we caught wind of the HOA chasers.

The St. Petersburg Times recently profiled an opportunistic little industry that discovered a loophole in the state’s foreclosure laws and is milking it for all it’s worth.

Florida law allows homeowners associations, or HOAs, to foreclose on properties when dues are in arrears and does not require the HOA to notify the primary mortgage lender. Florida has 40,000 homeowner and condo associations, many struggling to keep basic services going with so many owners behind in dues. The HOA’s lawyers encourage them to foreclose because, if the bank beats them to it, they usually won’t see a cent.

Here’s where opportunity creeps in: Since most homeowners owe less than $15,000 in association dues, the HOAs can file their foreclosure cases in county court rather than in circuit court, where caseloads are backed up. This allows the associations to get final judgment on a foreclosure in as few as 270 days verses the 617 days it now takes for the average bank foreclosure.

120518-florida-mapThe piece goes on to explain that with the long wait times on foreclosure trials, coupled with county courts not notifying banks of the HOA lien foreclosure, scammers grab “temporary” control of these properties for years.  What do they do with them?  Live in them?  Share extras with all their friends?  Have blowout parties in a different locale each weekend, because they can?

Better yet, rent them out!  Fill them with renters who don’t know the foreclosure clock of doom is counting down.  And this is all completely 100% legal!  At least it’s legal in Florida.  I don’t know why everyone keep ragging on California real estate problems.  Florida is clearly the champion when it comes to Real Scammery.

Now, Florida is far away, so feel free to also discuss things closer to home.  Scams in the Bay Area?  Open houses?  Maybe some more about the Facebook IPO?  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

April 26, 2012

Alum Rock Adventure Awaits! Um… TOO LATE!

Burbed loves East San Jose, because some of the best properties can be found here.  That is, if by “best” we actually mean “Can you believe this?”  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Tracy Tea House for proving once more, that when it comes to housing, Alum Rocks!

1412 Mount Herman Drive
San Jose, CA 95127
$300,000

120425-mtherman-trulia

Status: Withdrawn
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Property type: Single Family Residential
Size: 1,368 sqft
Lot: 0.12 acres
Price/sqft: $219/sqft
Year built: 1961
Added on Trulia: 180+ days ago
Neighborhood: Alum Rock
Zip: 95127

The property has been maintain by sellers. With the converted garage, you have additional living area. Lots of parking space, nice front yard, rear room converted! Brokered And Advertised By: PN Real Estate Group Listing Agent: Louis Montalvo

120425-mtherman-concrete[4]Here’s why Tracy thought you’d love this place:

Here is a shack that proves the point, interior pictures are unnecessary anymore. Now if you can just “maintain” yourself, all rooms are converted. Even the car  has been covered, and probably converted.

These photographs have so much artistry in them, and such a unique point of view. The detail shot of the concrete is inspiring me. As a bonus, you will not be able to leave the house by car twice a day. If you want to walk however, the school has crossing guards.

Now wait, this house is Special.  It has been maintain by sellers, something one rarely finds in buying a house from them.

Bunus: the reason this house was withdrawn is that it got foreclosed on April 2nd

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am