January 18, 2013


Burbed got its start almost seven years ago, featuring very expensive houses in very questionable locations in very poor repair.  But housing win isn’t all crapboxes and open potties and questionable listing copy.  Sometimes there’s much to enjoy with a premium listing as well.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader SMParkster for following up on a fantabulous feudal feast!

130117-greer-redfin331 GREER Rd
Woodside, CA 94062

9 Beds 
8.5 Baths 
9,000 Sq. Ft.
$9,444 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1946 
Lot Size: 91.94 Acres 
On Redfin: 60 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Community: Central Woodside
MLS#: 81241344
Style: Colonial
View: Mountains, Lake
County: San Mateo


130117-greer-gullixsonWait, this place looks familiar.

Flood estate in Woodside is for sale… $85 million.  Perfect example of why Prop 13 needs to go…. the most recent property tax was under $8000. 

That estate doesn’t look flooded at all, but we admit we didn’t check all 92 acres of it.  Maybe that lake used to be the golf course. 

And what’s this “On Redfin 60 days”?  SM sent this in four months ago.  When we went to check the listing history for further hints, we found only an MLS listing entry from November, plus an announcement that the seller didn’t want any estimates of the property’s value, so no links to any of the automated home valuation websites would be provided.

Like this one.


They’re awfully sensitive about any of you finding out that you could rent this place out for $6500 a month instead of Buying It Now for $85M.  As the agent helpfully points out, “You never see this kind of land.”

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

October 1, 2011

Another Blast from the Past: Stop Prohibition in Los Gatos!

Here’s an interesting picture sent in by Burbed reader nomadic.  It’s from the Los Gatos Library (motto: At least we don’t charge $90 for a library card like Saratoga!) and you might enjoy a look at life over a century ago.

Here’s what nomadic had to share about these pictures:

The lower level of the Los Gatos library is lined with historic pictures of the town.  I thought the one attached was pretty funny, as well as interesting because it had four parcels of land for sale for $1250.  The year was 1909 and the property owner was protesting a local prohibition law.  The second picture is a close up of the signs – be sure to read the top one.  The one on the right in the first shot says “Los Gatos” inside the graphic of the casket.

So, have a look!


Have a better look at the signs. 


Wait, what’s this about TAX RATE INCREASED 20%?  Can’t you read my lips?


And one more close-up.  Can you imagine what that land would be worth today?


Whoops, it would probably be on the Wrong Side of some street that hasn’t even been built yet.  And where’s the other house, anyway?  Note the early version of “Buy now or be priced out forever!”

This is a Weekend Open Thread.  Have at it.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

September 25, 2011

Cherry Blossom Time in Sunnyvale, Then and Now

image      Cherry Blossom Time
      Classical haiku subject
      Indicating Spring

Here’s a find from the Sunnyvale Historical Museum: an ad for an apartment complex in a book given out to Lockheed workers transferring here from Van Nuys.


No full-color pictures, just a wall of text and a little map so you can barely tell what street the rentals are on.  But wow, oh, wow: shuffleboard!  And $97.50 a month.  In 1965.  I suspect the place will rent for a tad more than that now, if it’s still standing.



This place is indeed still standing.  And you can Apply On-Line!  Just check out what you get when you throw away your rent money:

Community Amenities*
  • imageCovered Parking
  • Large Private, Enclosed Patio
  • Pool (Out Door)
  • Storage Space
  • OnSite Maintenance
  • Assigned Parking
  • 2 24hr Laundry Rooms
  • OnSite Management

What? No more shuffleboard?

The rent is now $1,399 for a 615 square foot 1 bedroom apartment (complete with hand-drawn floor plan!).


Completely different text now:

Welcome to Cherry Blossom Apartment Homes. We are conveniently located near El Camino and Wolfe Rd in Sunnyvale. Great Quiet, Neighborhood! Our One bedroom/One bath are all Single Story(no one living above you.) Quite Spacious, and Airy. We are in walking distance to public transportation, grocery stores, restaurants, Santa Clara Schools(Including Ponderosa and Braly Elementary) and (Peterson Jr. High), Sunken Gardens Golf Course, Parks and Starbucks. We accept cats with a small security deposit and have no pet rent! Also included with your rent is water and garbage! Call or Stop by for a tour, and don’t forget to ask if there is any specials. We are professionally managed by FPI, and thrive to make your home a happy one!

Wow, they give you garbage for your rent!  Worth it for the extra $1301 they’re charging for a place built before 1965.  But no shuffleboard.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

September 11, 2011

Orchard Park: As Seen in Better Homes & Gardens, 1950!

imageHere’s a real blast from the past from Burbed reader Swan.  You’ve probably noticed all the 1950s-era tract houses in Silicon Valley, as they’re the reason there’s so little room to build anything new except next to high-value spots like freeways, train tracks, airports and power lines!  But did you ever wonder what it was like for people buying these houses when they were new?

Now you can get just a taste of that idea, because look what Swan has to share.  Here’s the actual SALES BROUCHURE for the Orchard Park development in Santa Clara. The builder was Kaiser Homes.

Let’s put on our fedoras or our cloches (and no cross-dressing, that was not acceptable where we’re headed) and take a ride back to Santa Clara, 1950!

Orchard Park Brochure 1

Oh my, California “Rancho” models!  Looks like using lots of quote marks was quite the thing in 1950. Even the name of the development is in quotes, and there’s also 3-bedroom smartly styled “1950 Creations” (note no period).

The picture above is the “Studio Rancho” model, just in case you’ve seen one lately.  Anyway, let’s continue with our trip down memory lane.

Orchard Park Brochure 2

Whoa, lots of text here, some quite tiny. I’ll type it up so you don’t have to squint, right after the break.


Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

May 17, 2011

Own a piece of history in Half Moon Bay!


Beds: 3
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.:
Lot Size: 24.66 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cape Cod
Stories: 2
View: Ocean
Year Built: 1940
Community: Canada Cove
County: San Mateo
24.65 acres of expansive flat land with breathtaking ocean frontage. Property extends from Highway 1 to the beach affording unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean; located 15 minutes from the Peninsula and a short walk to the Historic Town of Half Moon Bay, the Ritz Carlton and two championship golf courses. Existing structures include a residence, barn, in-law apart. ,artist studio, garage.

Thanks to Burbed reader John for this find!

Here’s what John had to say:

Noticed from the price history of the following property that it was sold in foreclosure recently for $425,000 and appears to have been put right back on the market for $4,900,000. Anyway, thought some of your readers might be interested in it as it has been listed as high as 35 million in the past few years. It was originally owned by the DuPont family and had a airstrip for air races to entertain their guests – you can still see what’s left of the airstrip on northern edge of property.

Wow, that’s a lot of history. Just think, if you buy this right now, you’re picking up $30M in instant equity! And… your own airstrip for those times when you need to get away!

Alternatively, you could rent out parts of it – that’d be pretty cool too.

Either way, this deal is hard to beat. Now… if only stated income loans were still available!

Comments (25) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:36 am

March 12, 2011

Palo Alto is the New Cupertino

And now, some local news from one of our favorite location, location, locations.

Census: Big spike in Palo Alto’s Asian population

City’s Asian population increased by 73 percent over the past decade, fueling overall population growth of 9.9 percent

by Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Online Staff

Palo Alto’s population spiked by almost 10 percent over the past decade, fueled in large part by a growing Asian community, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

The data, which the bureau released Tuesday afternoon, indicate that Palo Alto’s Asian population jumped from 10,090 in 2000 to 17,461 in 2010 — a 73 percent increase. While Asian Americans made up 17.2 percent of the city’s population 11 years ago, the proportion spiked to 27.1 percent last year, according to the census numbers.

Statewide, the Asian population went up by 31.5 percent over the past decade, census data indicate.
The new data confirm what many Palo Alto officials have publicly acknowledged in recent meetings: The city’s population is growing and become more diverse. The city’s listed total population grew from 58,598 in the 2000 census to 64,403 in the new one — an increase of 9.9 percent. At the same time, the city’s population of white residents dropped from 44,391 to 41,359 over the past decade — a 6.8 percent decline.

Well, isn’t that special?  Seems whatever made Palo Alto so different than its neighbors is less and less the case every day.  Yes, they knew they were rich, but they could also say they were white.  Oh, where are those restrictive covenants when you need them?

Time for a little history, then.

California used to have the Alien Land Law which prohibited non-citizens from purchasing land, but was used primarily to prevent Asians from purchasing property.  The law was found constitutional in 1923 and upheld in 1946, despite the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 (which grew out of wartime diplomacy rather than any concern for civil rights).

When the Supreme Court overruled themselves and barred restrictive covenants in 1948, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) quickly came to the aid of racial separatists with this delightful item added to their ethics code:

“A realtor should not be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or use which clearly will be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.”

California law also permitted school districts to set up different schools for Asian students, and if such a school was set up, all Asian students must attend that school.  San Francisco had such a school and triggered an international incident in 1906 when they required Japanese-American children to attend this hitherto Chinese-American school.  Yet California never specifically set up schools for black students, as was typical in the Southeast.  Racially segregated schooling, at least by statute, ended in 1954 after Brown v. Board of Education.

Also look out for the legal phrase “alien ineligible to citizenship” when reading these old laws and statutes.  That’s code for Asians again, and which Asians was spelled out in terms of longitude and latitude.  It sure didn’t apply to Russians and Middle Easterners.  It wasn’t until 1952 that racial restrictions to naturalization were done away with.

And now, in 2011, Palo Alto is getting a little bit more diverse than it has been.  Formerly a city for wealthy, high-achieving white people, Palo Alto will become a city of wealthy and upper-middle class high-achievers, of both European and Asian ancestry.  Diversity rocks!

Meanwhile, we can celebrate the return of de jure segregation, as the article mentions Hoover Elementary School has 78 percent of their students with Asian ancestry.  The photo at left shows what Hoover classes looked like back in 1951.

Check out the highly-charged comments in the online story, the editors of Palo Alto Online are yanking quite a number of them.  Seems there’s a few longtime (or not so longtime) residents who don’t appreciate any changes coming to Palo Alto, because, after all, It’s Special Here.

Comments (37) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:34 am

February 5, 2011

Psst, Want to Buy an Island? Part Deux

Owning your own private island is one way to show you have arrived.  8 bedroom mansion?  How vulgar!  900 acre winery?  That means you’re in trade.  But a private island?  Now that is landownership.

Thanks to Burbed reader CLS for passing this along.


Last island we featured was a bit wanting in the location, location, location chops.  Not this one.  It’s in San Francisco Bay, with views, views, views!  And it even made the national newsYahoo picked up the story (that’s their photo above), and it’s been around some other sites, too, but this local blog may have kicked it back into collective consciousness.

0 Red Rock Is, San Francisco, CA 94109


SQ. FT.: –
LOT SIZE: 5.78 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Lots & Land, Other
VIEW: Bay, Bridges, City, Hills, Lights, Panoramic
COMMUNITY: San Francisco County
COUNTY: San Francisco
MLS#: 21022212
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 186 days

Red Rock Island is the only privately held island in San Francisco Bay and is offered at $22M for the mineral rights and bragging rights. It forms the confluence of San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin Counties. The largest portion of the island is the 4.114 acres in Contra Costa County. It rises to an elevation of 172 feet above the water with fantastic views in all directions and is North of the fog belt. The price includes the mineral rights.

imageAnd it’s a good thing the price includes the mineral rights, because it doesn’t include building rights, water rights, or permit rights.  All you get on are some old stories of possible pirate gold buried here, and, of course, bragging rights. 

Of course, the island has its own website!  It needs to, in order to explain that you aren’t merely buying an island.  You’re taking on a whole new paradigm of land use, such as being divided among three different counties (SF, Marin and Contra Costa), including the City of Richmond, and who knows how many state agencies, plus there’s a 1932 Executive Order signed by Herbert Hoover that prohibits destruction or disfigurement of the island.

Not every real property has to deal with so many government entities, but this one is Real Special!

imageThe Associated Press stated that the current owner bought the island in 1964 for $49,500, and attempted to build a 20 story hotel and casino complex.  The project was blocked by the City of Richmond.  He’s also considered turning the place into a quarry and practicing a little mountaintop removal.

Property Shark has never heard of the place (they say the address simply doesn’t exist), and the San Francisco Assessor’s Office software went all Three Mile Island trying to find it even when I spotted it the parcel number. 

So maybe you ought to consider buying it just to avoid bill collectors and process servers.  Plus if any county deputies come after you, all you have to do is step over the line into your choice of two others!

Really, if Zillow can’t find this place, you’re golden:


And puh-leeze on the listing being only half a year old.  The owner’s been trying to ditch this sandbar since at least 2007, and look!  It’ was for sale in 2005 for a quarter the price!  According to Yahoo, the asking price was $10 million in 2008.  Somebody better tell the listing agent that the price is supposed to double every ten years, not every two.

Here’s owner David Glickman on why the price keeps going up:

At the time, I thought I’d sell it. The island has a good spot for a marina, and it’s in the bay, so the marina would be useful," he said. "But each time I thought I was going to sell it, something happened to make it worth more money.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

December 20, 2010

Cheapest House (not) in Portola Valley

Face it, the real estate sector is having a few bumps, so we continue our Black Friday DEALS all the way until Xmas!  To help get the market into the black before the year is out, today we’ve got a much higher-end place for you!  Operators are standing by to take your call.

250 Gabarda Way, Portola Valley, CA 94028

image Beds: 4
Baths:  3
Sq. Ft.: 2,730
$/Sq. Ft.: $548
Lot Size: 0.45 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Contemporary
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1964
Community: Ladera
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81048520
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 77 days

Large home for the money. Flexible floor plan with possible 5th bedroom. Sunny Liv/din rm has vaulted ceilings & large picture windows flanking a wood burning frplc. The kitchen has updated appliances & a breakfast bar that opens up to the family w/ attached bonus rm/office & full bath. The home has an attached one bedroom in-law unit w/ sep entrance, kitchen, with liv rm & frplc. New roof in ’09.

The broker has used as many abbreviations as possible to pass the savings ON TO YOU.  Another way to ensure you get the MOST for your MONEY is putting this Portola Valley house not in Portola Valley. It’s in a neighborhood built as cooperative housing, all on county land.  You get the Portola Valley mailing address with none of the attendant headaches like their school district. Win-win!  Some of your friends will hear “Ladera” and might even think you live in (gasp) Menlo Park.  Talk about prestige!

image And this house and its flexible floor plan could easily be repurposed into anything you want.  I see this room and those beautiful hardwood strips and I’m thinking bowling alley.  Maybe you’re looking at all the stainless steel in the kitchen and imagining an aircraft assembly plant.

Hey, don’t laugh.  This is county land.  If you want to come up with something to drive your neighbors nucking futs, like putting up a bunch of cellular towers in your front yard, go right on ahead.  As long as you can get some big corporations involved and a few handshakes with the Planning Commission, the sky’s the limit.  Or 55 feet, whichever comes first.  Which means you’re going to need a few more handshakes to fit in that 63 foot bowling alley.  Better go with building fighter jets in the kitchen.

Remember, Black Friday DEALS will continue all this week!  If you’re planning on picking up last minute stocking stuffers for the the family, let us know where and we’ll see if there are any DEALS waiting for you!

Comments (183) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am