January 11, 2014

Online Realty Pricing Sites: Do They Work?

Yes, they work. But are the prices valid? That’s another story. Let’s listen in as the San Jose Mercury News (motto: We’re a newspaper just like Burbed is a real estate blog, haha!) explains why the valuation models don’t agree with each other.

Online sites can help tell you what your home is worth

141010-avm-unioncityBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
POSTED:   12/27/2013 05:00:00 PM PST; UPDATED: 12/28/2013 06:17:12 AM PST

You’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling if you look at what your home is worth on Zillow, Trulia or any of the other real estate sites that provide values for millions of houses. Home prices have risen rapidly, and the value these sites assign to your home is sure to reflect that.

But don’t carried away by a single Zestimate, SmartZip quote or Trulia estimate. While they are fine for spotting trends, these home valuation services come with a caveat: they offer rough approximations by computer programs. If you want a more precise estimate, hire an appraiser, talk to a real estate agent or check around your neighborhood and see what homes are selling for.

The sites all use what’s called "automated valuation models," or AVMs, to make sense of mountains of data, typically drawn from recent sales, property history, size and number of rooms, market trends and other factors that influence price.

We can’t believe they spent all that trouble writing an article that says, “If you want to really know what your house is worth, hire an appraiser.” There are multiple models out there, but this piece won’t tell you how they differ, or why. We did learn that Santa Clara County prices are more likely to be correct than Alameda County, but again, no explanation why.

We know why!  It’s because the Real Bay Area’s prices only go up, and all the models built that in.  Feel free to speculate on what’s going on with the AVM of your choice and why your house is So Special that the price estimates are Way Too Low.  Unless you’re buying, in which case they are Way Too High.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:11 am






November 10, 2013

Building a new house is easy!

Nobody even noticed we had a new article yesterday. And it was on topic and everything! So just for that, we give you a lame-ass Ikea rip-off on what to do if they ever made any more land. And you managed to get some.

131109-houss-instructions

This is your weekend Open Thread.  Heck, this is probably going to be your Open Thread for the whole effing month of November at the rate we’re going.

We would love to properly credit and link to the author of these instructions. Let us know if you can figure out who it is.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:02 am

October 19, 2013

San Francisco & San Jose: Two Different Metros. WTFF? WHY?

131014-sfsj-bayareaThe conventional definition of the Bay Area was always the nine counties that touched SF Bay somewhere.  These were:

  • San Francisco, which everyone used to acknowledge as The City, because it was a City and a County both!
  • Alameda, its close-by yet cheaper urban commuter residence, home to Oakland, Berkeley, and of course, Hayward.
  • Contra Costa, further away, and featuring the lovely features of Richmond contrasted with the excitement of the I-680 corridor.
  • San Mateo, the nicer bedroom county. Not as nice as Marin, but easier to get to, and more importantly now, waaaaay closer to Google.
  • Santa Clara, formerly the valley of fruits and nuts, now home to the real economic engines. As in Google and Apple and Facebook and Intel and Cisco and a bunch of other places that make it possible for you to read this blog every day.
  • Marin, home to aging hippies and even more aging real estate, it’s the whitest part of the Bay Area
  • Sonoma, rural and removed from, well, everything above.
  • Napa, even more rural and removed except when the tourists clog up the wineries.
  • Solano, our very own Stockton on the Bay. That’s a reference to their finances, not their cattle ranching. Vallejo has a different economy.

Yet The Bay Area is often missing from lists comparing different parts of the country because the Census Bureau (now in shutdown mode!) decided to break The Bay Area into two different metropolitan areas.  There’s the San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area, and there’s the San Jose one.  San Francisco also got Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin counties. 

What did San Jose get?  San fucking Benito.  Thanks a LOT, Census anal-retentives.  You take the fifth largest metro area in the country and bust us into number 11. And number 34. Thanks a fucking lot, people counting geeks.  We really appreciate all the respect for our geographic integrity.

131014-sfsj-commuter-map

Breaking SF and SJ into different metros is utterly stupid. Also, SF gets San Mateo AND Alameda Counties, which have plenty of commuters crossing into Santa Clara County.

I finally found some actual commuting numbers in this chart here.  72 thousand San Mateo County residents commute to SF and 61 thousand commute to Santa Clara County.  But… this was in 2010. Lots more people even in SF taking the Google Bus now.  (SF-to-SCC commuters was 18K, the reverse was 7K)

You know what else is stupid? This graph. The size of the arrows seems to have little to do with how many commuters they represent when compared to the same size arrow in another county.  That big-assed snot-green one coming out of Contra Costa to Alameda?  It actually is the biggest inter-county commute, with 120 thousand people crossing the line to get to work. But the two opposed arrows out of San Mateo County, going to SF and Santa Clara County?  The baby shit brown one is longer but the purple one represents 10,000 more people.  Similarly, the same two colors coming out of Alameda?  That fabulous purple arrow is longer and just as wide, but there’s 6,000 more people heading to Silicon Valley than The City.

The chart key says arrow width is what matters, not length. But that’s bad design.  A stubby arrow connotes direction but also represents area.  A longer arrow should either show a longer commute or also more commuters.  And both SF vs SJ (well, SCC) arrows are not equilinear, yet the danged chart doesn’t tell us why that is.

131014-sfsj-commuteThere are more jobs in SCC than any other county in the Bay Area, too, 953K.  The next biggest job center is Alameda County with 737K, and The So-Called City is third with 621K.

Feel free to talk about your commute, where your job is in relation to your house, or anything you want. It’s not like we’ve ever removed a post for being off-topic.

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:01 am

September 14, 2013

Smug techies commission uber-pimped pads

Want to read another self-congratulatory article about how much money everyone is spending in Silicon Valley? You didn’t? See you tomorrow, then!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader PK for alerting us to this important development that nobody at all saw coming.

Silicon Valley techies spur home building and remodeling boom

130913-svbuilding-lahBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
POSTED:   09/10/2013 07:04:31 PM PDT | UPDATED:   3 DAYS AGO

Taking advantage of Silicon Valley’s robust economy, affluent techies are building or remodeling homes, transforming parts of the area’s older housing stock and fueling a boom for Bay Area architects and interior designers.

"The problem is finding time to sleep," said architect Roger Kohler, of Palo Alto, whose firm has more than 20 projects in construction or just completed in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton.

The tech workers range from midlevel engineers at startups or at tech giants like Apple (AAPL),Facebook and Google (GOOG) to older CEOs or founders selling their companies. Some are doing relatively straightforward, if pricey, remodels, while others are leveling old homes and building new ones with basement game rooms, large garages and the latest in high-tech features.

Catherine Jhung, a vice president at Cleantech.com, and her husband, Brian Buchholz, who works at Google, are including "a lot of the new technologies for green building" in the San Carlos Craftsman-style home they will soon break ground on. The existing home — which they bought seven years ago — was torn down. Construction bids are coming in at $270 to $285 a square foot, or about $900,000.

130913-svbuilding-steampunkThere really isn’t much to say about the article itself, although do check out the photo in the extended gallery of the steampunk bathroom pipes. No, once more the fun is in the comments.  Here are some we really enjoyed.

Oops here comes the haters. Techies forget they live in the bubble. Outside of the bubble, is the long lines of haters.

Wait, we live in a bubble?

This is the kind of Silicon Valley self-congratulatory stuff that is typical of the Mercury News. I can hardly believe that anybody smart enough to make that much money would be dumb and vulgar enough to flaunt it in print like this.

Yeah! Go hide your money in a Swiss Bank Account like we do!

Steampunk? 20 years ago we called it postmodernism. Don’t see any compelling reason to invent a new term when a perfectly good one exists.

You, my friend, do not get steampunk.  Then again, not sure the architect did either.  There’s a distinct lack of gears, valves, and, well, steam.  This looks more like the Rube Goldberg ball machine at the Tech Museum.

The final comment is our personal favorite, in reply to this section of the story:

130913-svbulding-exterior-lahTim Williams and his wife, Renee, both work in biotech and were "half looking around" when they found a lot in Los Altos Hills for sale on Craigslist. "We’re not in the 1 percent," said Tim Williams, "so it was a bit of a stretch for us."

CONTEMPORARY DESIGN

The couple lived in an old cottage on the property during construction of the 3,100-square-foot, contemporary home, designed by Bahi Oreizy and Mariela Pfennig-Mahmud of 360 Design in Los Altos. The new home is stucco, metal and wood on the exterior and has tile floors, under-floor heating and lots of south-facing windows to help sunshine warm the home in winter.

not 1% ??? bought a lot in Los Altos and put up 3100 sq ft home with heated floors? I got news for you, YOU ARE in the 1%. and your just too stupid to realize it.

I got news for you, when you call someone stupid, you’d better not confuse the difference between your and you’re.  Not that we don’t 100% agree with this, as we did stick the home photo in next to the text for some serious cognitive dissonance.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:02 am

September 8, 2013

Department of Duh: More House for Your Money in East Bay

And now we present yet another story about people having to move to the East Bay and insisting that it was a great idea.

Families flee S.F. for East Bay with cheaper homes

130907-flight-smithCarolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle
Updated 9:45 pm, Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Family flight" out of San Francisco is nothing new. But now, real estate prices in the city have risen so steeply – much more so than in the East Bay – that there’s an extra incentive for longtime San Francisco homeowners to cash out their equity and head across the bay seeking more house for less money.

After 20 years in San Francisco, John Perryand Rob Picciotto, along with their children, Ben and Louisa, and three dogs, transplanted themselves to Oakland. "I didn’t think we would ever leave San Francisco, but a convergence of things made us consider moving," said Perry.

In 1998, Perry and Picciotto had stretched to buy their Bernal Heights house and make it work as their family grew. In June it sold for more than triple what they’d paid, a windfall that allowed them to pay cash for a less expensive house in Oakland’s Leona Heights neighborhood in the hills above Mills College.

"We don’t have a mortgage anymore, which is awesome," Perry said. "We doubled our square footage on more than an acre of land, and have phenomenal neighbors. Oakland is so diverse; it’s a whole new world to learn and explore. There’s more space, more mix."

We’ve pointed out many times in the past that the East Bay was not part of the Real Bay Area because it hasn’t benefitted from the same batshit insane price increases found in places West of the Bay. Outmigration serves as a release valve on the price hikes. When SF gets too expensive compared to Oakland or Walnut Creek (two places mentioned as where SF sellers moved to), people will move East because they get more house for the money.

Three things of note from this article:

  1. Moving from SF to Silicon Valley will NOT gain you a damned thing.  The prices have gone up just as much in Googleville.  These bargains are only to be found in the Nickle and Dime or Nine and a Quarter area codes.
  2. The exact same newspaper has a another feature on how the batshit insane SF home prices are leveling off, which isn’t exactly demonstrated by this piece.
  3. San Francisco has fewer residents under 18, by percentage, than any other major city.  This really still remains as a Family Flight From ‘Frisco story. The only difference is more people moving to Montclair instead of Marin.

This is also your Weekend Open Thread. Are you considering moving further afield because trading up where you already live is too expensive?

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:06 am

September 3, 2013

Renters Ruin it for Rest of Real Realty Realm

Stay up late driving back and forth across the new Bay Bridge? Let’s ease you back into your workweek with some good old-fashioned rentard reaming and homedebtor hating.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for ensuring we didn’t miss this.

As Renters Move In, Some Homeowners Fret

130902-renters-2homesBy SHAILA DEWAN. The New York Times
Published: August 28, 2013

MEMPHIS — Beneath the spreading shade tree in Laura Holcomb’s front yard, there are some 70 varieties of hosta, stands of elephant ear and a Japanese maple. For the 17 years she has owned the brick house on Rose Trail Drive in the Hillshire subdivision, Ms. Holcomb has devoted herself to her home and garden.

Across the street, Carl Osborne and his family have been tenants for two years, moving in after the previous owner lost the house in a foreclosure. They are happy to have a decent place to call home but, like many renters, they have not done much to improve the appearance or join the community.

They are not alone: the family behind Ms. Holcomb, the one two doors down, and several in the cul-de-sac across the way are among the renters who have been supplanting homeowners in this blue-collar, suburban neighborhood as investors buy single-family homes and convert them to rentals.

“Used to, we knew our neighbors,” Ms. Holcomb said. Then she gestured toward the few remaining owner-occupied houses nearby. “Except for the two that have been here, I don’t know any of my neighbors.”

Yeah, because who wants to bother getting to know a bunch of renters? They dress different, they talk different, and they certainly do not devote themselves to their home and garden. Check out the photo above, proof that rentards leave boats on the lawn. With tarps. OLD tarps. Next thing you know they’re letting the grass die.

130902-renters-chartIf you live in an apartment complex, then everyone’s in the same boat on the front lawn… renting.  If you live in a condo or townhouse complex, you might have a mix with some units rented out and some filled with proud homeloaners.  And some single-family home neighborhoods are more renter-ful than others.  California always had more renters than most other states, mostly because our property is so expensive more people have to rent who would otherwise want to buy. It’s much more difficult to rent a single family home in other states. That is, it was more difficult until investors snapped up all the foreclosures.

130902-renters-lowlifesWhat kind of hood do you live in, and are you the typical resident or the oddball? That is, are you the lone renter in a block of SFHs, or the owner of the apartment building that you actually live in (along with those rentard lowlifes who are always late with the monthly nut)?

We’ll leave you with this thought from the piece:

Even conscientious landlords and tenants invest less in their property than owner-occupants, he said. “Who’s going to paint the outside of a rental house? You’d almost have to be crazy.”

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

August 31, 2013

I don’t want a roommate, but an Arch-Nemesis

Why oh why can’t roommate ads in Silicon Valley be like this?  Here’s an ad that caught Burbed reader NYC Exile’s attention. Why NYCE was reading NYC Craigslist is a mystery for another day.

And we’re reprinting the whole thing because Craigslist ads are about as temporary as 2.8% mortgage rates.

$1 Seeking an Arch-Nemesis Roommate (Williamsburg)

130827-arch-vennI’m looking to fill the vacant room in my small, two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with a roommate who is respectful and financially sound, and can double as my arch-nemesis.

If you haven’t closed this page yet — which if you did, even though you wouldn’t be reading this, would be very arch-nemesis of you — allow me to elaborate.

My arch-nemesis roommate will provide constant combat in the apartment. After living with far too many passive folk, I can say with certainty that I AM READY for this. I’m not looking for a bad roommate, per se (i.e. someone that doesn’t clean their dishes or someone that sleeps in my bed when I’m gone), but I am looking for a roommate who is willing to regularly kick my ass, or at least attempt to, so we can create an authentic hero (me) vs. arch-nemesis (you) living arrangement.

Here are my arch-nemesis roommate requirements:

1. You keep our feud inside the apartment. I don’t want to fight you outside of the apartment, even if we leave to get groceries or cleaning supplies. Also, I’m not looking for someone that’s planning some sort of world domination. Let’s keep this between us.

130827-arch-ad2. You adhere to a standard of cleanliness. This is a big one for me. "Neat Freak" is NOT my hero name, but I am seriously a neat freak. The only time you can choose to not be neat is if it’s an initiation for battle, like you filling my room with fertilizer, in which case, get dirty. It’ll pay off.

3. You have a normal work schedule. I don’t want any freelancers or work-from-homers. I’d like you to have a standard nine-to-five. When I’m at work, you’re at work. When I’m home, you’re home. Most importantly, when I’m ready for battle, so are you.

4. You don’t bring the party home. The only time "bringing the party home" is appropriate is if it’s a party with a staged hostage situation. I will try to free the hostage; You will try to stop me. Alternatively, you could just throw a really good party and not invite me.

5. You put your arch-nemesis weaponry away when it’s not in use. This is a SMALL apartment with even smaller rooms and even smaller closets. Any weapons, tools, and/or metal suits should be kept to a minimum, and at the very least, should fit comfortably under your bed.

130827-arch-venn36. Your powers must match or exceed mine. My "powers" are never forgetting to set my alarm clock, playing a few chords on the guitar, and making a decent omelet. In addition to being able to kick my ass, you should be able to sneak into my room to turn off my alarm clock, play the major and minor guitar chords, and make eggs in other variations besides the omelet.

7. You are truly my arch-nemesis. You HAVE to be my arch-nemesis and not just a "villain." There’s a big difference. My arch-nemesis is the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker, the salt to my slug, the orange juice to my toothpaste. We are the same person, but at the very same time, we’re complete opposites.
8. You pay rent on time. Speaks for itself!

DISCRIMINATION WARNING: I’m NOT looking for anyone that actually thinks they are superhuman. If you think you can fly, or are just good at climbing buildings, then good for you. If you can’t do these things, you should still feel free to apply. Also, I’m totally okay with a female arch-nemesis. I’m not one of those guys who thinks females weren’t "built" to be arch-nemeses. That’s silly.

130827-arch-tshirtIf you think you are truly my arch-nemesis and meet the roommate requirements outlined above, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more about the apartment. Or, maybe I won’t and that’s where things will truly begin.

  • Location: Williamsburg
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Posting ID: 4029623636
Posted: 2013-08-27, 4:14PM EDT
email to a friend

NYC is one of our many arch-nemesis metros (because Silicon Valley is so awesome we have to have several), so we need some better ads than this to defeat them. Please share if you can find any, and if you can’t, then write something better for a rented closet in a Campbell Crapbox.

Update: Heard back from NYC Exile, who says this ad was written by comedian Alex J. Mann.  (We’ll have you know we found the matching pictures ourselves.) That’s kind of a shame that this is professional work product. Could you imagine the roommate wars from a software engineer who needs an arch nemesis just to chill out?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am

August 10, 2013

Chuck Norris Doesn’t Host An Open House

Chuck Norris decides you will buy his house. Chuck Norris also decides which agent you’ll use. Chuck Norris.  Thanks very much to Chuck Norris for deciding that Burbed reader nomadic would send this in.

Chuck Norris’ ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ house is for sale

130809-chuck-norris

By Patrick Kevin Day, Los Angeles Times
July 24, 2013, 8:05 p.m.

They say Chuck Norris doesn’t host an open house. He decides you’re going to buy his house.

Norris doesn’t want the Dallas-area home that once served as the on-screen domicile of his alter ego Cordell Walker on "Walker, Texas Ranger," so he’s listed it.

Chuck Norris also decides there will be massive overbidding. And since this is Your Chuck Norris’ Weekend Open Thread, this is where Chuck Norris decides which other Open Houses you will go to this weekend. Chuck Norris has also decided you will post about your experience in comments.

What do you mean you’re not checking out our comments? Chuck Norris says you most certainly are.

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:08 am

July 28, 2013

For the Rich, $5 Million is the new $1 Million

Discuss, particularly as it pertains to Real Bay Area home values. 

From The Wall Street Journal, which also believes poor people are Lucky Duckies.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

July 27, 2013

Coming to a listing near you

130726-bowers-placementProduct placement in movies and television have been going on for a while.  Remember the Reese’s Pieces in E.T.? If you see a brand in a movie or other video, you can be sure it was put there deliberately.

Well then… why haven’t realtards tried product placement in listing photos? After all, buyers are such a fickle lot, underbidding during bubbles and expecting freebies thrown in like refrigerators and kitchen cabinets when the sellers have every right to keep them. At least if they had product placement to fall back on, there would be some bucks in it for them, whether or not the house sold!

Let’s have a look at a really egregious example of product placement. We’re not talking about a loving paean to Andersen Windows or Bosch dishwashers that are features of the house for sale, either.

130726-bowers-greygoose

130726-bowers-greygoose-farHere’s the Redfin listing, where you’ll find another photo of the booze.  The even better Bunus portion of this amusing photo is where we found this REGULAR SALE!

Would you buy your next house from this realty firm?

And it’s Open Thread time! Tell us what products you saw placed when you looked at open houses!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:07 am