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

September 5, 2011

How many 8s does it take to cancel a 4?

I’m delighted to invite Burbed reader Divasm back to the front page as today’s Guest Blogger.  Unlike all the many deluded sellers out there with wishing prices straight out of 2006, today’s home has had not one, but two price reductions since this piece was first sent in!

Please give Divasm a big, warm Real Bay Area welcome, with this rather, um, interesting-looking listing from SFO del Sur, or as it’s called on Google imageMaps, Millbrae!

One more thing: Yeah, I know it’s Labor Day today.  So what?  You should consider yourself fortunate if you still have a job.  Why the hell do you expect a day off, too?  Do you see THIS BLOG taking a day off?  Damned communists!  I’m sure there’s someone in an offshore telecenter someplace who’d be delighted to mangle most of your job responsibilities for eighty cents an hour.

Now get back to work!

200 PALM Ave, Millbrae, CA 94030
Was $1,488,888, then $1,148,888, now $1,098,888


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 2,100
$/SQ. FT.: $523
LOT SIZE: 5,760 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Spanish
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Highlands
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81133416
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 35 days

Spanish style home with large master bedroom suite addition. Features family room , large yard , three car garage , large yard with deck. Dual paned windows, hardwood floors , close to downtown and schools.

photo 2I had the pleasure of visiting this million-plus-dollar mansion (well, 3/2.5, 2100 sq feet actually) recently at an open house. I had to see for myself if this abode in Millbrae, originally listed at 1,488,888 (recently lowered to $1,148,888) was really worth that much more than Zillow’s median of $933k.

imageWell, the bad news is there’s no bidet. But, the agent on site was quick to tell everyone that almost everything in the house is new or redone, and to prove it, there are blueprints and specs on the dining room table for your perusing pleasure, which prove that the teeny tiny kitchen you see in photo 5 of the listing (right) is actually new!

photo 3And that spacious backyard? State of the art basketball court, look for yourself! But even better, they don’t even mention that the utility room doubles as an office!

photo 4

It’s clearly a mystery why this place hasn’t sold yet, especially with all those 8s in the price…unless…it’s the 4! Everyone knows 4s are very bad luck, if they just raise the price to $1,888,888, it should move immediately. That’s my prediction, you heard it here first.


Update: Hey, price just went down again on this house – it’s now 1,098,888. Two price reductions in a month! It would have been so much better if it had stayed at 1,488,888 though, that’s just obscene.

photo 1

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

September 6, 2010

What are you laboring for?

It’s Labor Day! Everyone’s favorite holiday!

This is the day where we celebrate our privilege to work in Silicon Valley!

It’s where we celebrate the fact that we can spend all year, working in cubes (if you’re lucky), on the next game changing disruptive social sharing music video coupon synergy open graph mobile app! And BECOME RICH from it!

That’s why you’re reading this at work. Because you want to!

So… what do you do for a living? And how many hundreds of thousands of dollars do you get paid?

(Do you agree with the assessments on

Comments (45) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

September 7, 2009

San Francisco, San Jose, cost of living comparisons for Labor Day

It’s Labor Day! That means you should be laboring to ensure your company remains innovative and profitable (as measured by page views, eye balls, friends collected, downloads, etc).

To help celebrate, let’s look at some cost of living comparisons! You know… to see what you’re laboring for.

But first, we need to agree on what salary to choose for comparison. I’m going to pick $100,000 for an easy number to compare (though we know that most make generously more than that!)

Here we go!

Unfortunately, CNN’s calculator doesn’t have Real Bay Area as a destination (yet), so first we’ll have to decide between SF vs SJ:


Alright… we’re going to with SF as the comparison.

So let’s look locally first – what about other parts of this great state – California. Let’s look to Los Angeles:


Wow… it’s kind of a shocker that groceries are so much cheaper in SoCal! What’s up with that? They’re probably eating all junk food, not “Alice Waters approved only” food that everyone here in the Real Bay Area eats. (BTW, San Diego was even cheaper, so I decided to leave it out.)

Ok, let’s look at our arch nemesis – New York City! But wait, there’s a few possibilities, so we’ll look at all of them, including its Cupertino-wannabe-suburbs:


Alright! A pretty good showing! We haven’t quite licked Manhattan yet, but we’re making progress. And we’re definitely more important now that Wall Street is over and green tech is the new wave of the everyday-millionaire in the future. It’s great to see that we’ve beaten nearly all the places where people who work in Manhattan live (Queens is a draw – and look who lives there… just look at their King!). How can Goldman Sachs employees living in Nassau County possibly compete with the fine fine people that we have in San Jose? If we looked at the San Francisco, this would be a total home run except for Manhattan. Great work everyone!

Ok, now let’s look at some fake Silicon Valley contenders:


Now, you might be tempted to move to one of these pretenders, lured by their incredibly cheap cost of living.

Don’t fall for it!

Did you know that in most of these cities, brilliant engineers, the true saviors of the world, are paid only minimum wage? And that no only do they not get Aeron chairs, Dual Quad Proc machines with 30″ LCDs, but instead they have to use folding chairs and Commodore 64’s with tape drive and acoustic coupler modems. Seriously. As for sushi? Let’s just say you’d better get used to eating Chicken of the Sea. Santana Row? Fry’s? Nope. Better get used to doing all your shopping at Walmart Outlet, and Radio Shack Factory Store. Don’t even get me started on the weather – people die there because of the weather. Have you ever heard of people dying here in the Real Bay Area due to natural events (excluding earthquakes which never happen)? Why else do you think it is so cheap in these places? There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

I hope you enjoyed and appreciated this thorough analysis of what it is like to live in other places. Enjoy your labor day!

Comments (74) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:18 am

September 4, 2006

Happy Labor Day – Check out this funny video

Happy Labor Day!

Check out this funny video – I think it’s a lesson learned too late for many.

Update 4/27/13: Video available on Hulu.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:37 am