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






July 6, 2013

Fake Realty Win: North Side of made-up city is “better”

Any reader of this blog knows that some parts of the Bay Area are just better than others, and that’s what we call the “Real Bay Area.” Do you know where the RBA is? According to this study, it’s probably north of you.

Study Points to Bias Toward a City’s North Side

People tend to see the north as more desirable and affluent, in turn fueling stereotypes about where the rich live

130705-north-mapBy Sanette Tanaka, The Wall Street Journal
SPREAD SHEET, July 4, 2013, 8:14 p.m. ET

North, south, east or west, researchers find north seems best.

Most people, knowing nothing else about a city, would rather live in the northern half of town than in the southern, says Brian Meier, associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. People tend to see the north as more desirable and affluent, in turn fueling stereotypes about where the rich and the poor live.

"For some reason, people see the north and south as very different," Prof. Meier says. "When all else is equal, people have this bias to think that northerly areas are better or more affluent.

Prof. Meier and co-authors Arlen Moller of Northwestern University, and Julie Chen and Miles Riemer-Peltz, both of Gettysburg College at the time, conducted four studies with groups ranging from 28 to 87 participants to see how "north" and "south" affects housing preferences. The study, "Spatial Metaphor and Real Estate: North-South Location Biases Housing Preference," was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in August 2011.

130705-north-heatscWe’re going to note a fairly seriously flaw in this study (or at least Tanaka’s description of it) right off the bat: the participants aren’t identified in terms of where they live. We know what schools the researchers did the study out of, but this article doesn’t indicate if the participants were from the surrounding regions, randomly chosen throughout the United States, or were a worldwide sample. And that’s actually an important bit of data. How could they possibly assume that all people, everywhere, prefer the north side of a city when we don’t know if anyone from the Southern Hemisphere was represented? Maybe South is the “better side” in Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and Christchurch.  Maybe South is superior if you get too far north as well, as it would get more sun.  Northern exposure isn’t a good thing if you want sunlight.

130705-north-mapmvThis silly study suggests people are so used to thinking of north as “up” on a map, that they conflate the direction with the emotion. We’ve just found that prices keep heading north as long as you’re looking at the RBA.  Although the heat map of Santa Clara County above suggests that high prices are found not in the north, but the northwest and to a lesser degree, the northeast. North Central, though, does not impress..And the map at right shows sales for hot, hot, HOT Mountain View, hottest in the part that is the Exact Opposite Of North.

And… open thread! What direction are you heading to check out Open Houses this weekend? Or, if you’re on vacation and can’t stay away from us, what direction did you head for your getaway?

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:22 am

May 19, 2013

Real American Area: No Bubble. Real Bay Area? Otherwise.

Here’s part 1643 of Proof there is indeed a Bay Area Bubble 4.0.

Housing Bubble Unlikely, Home Price Appreciation Should Slow – CoreLogic

BY JANN SWANSON, Mortgage News Daily
May 16 2013, 11:10AM

CoreLogic said today that home prices are projected to increase 3.9 percent on an annualized basis between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the same quarter in 2017.  However, a new housing bubble is not likely as market dynamics shift for both supply and demand.  Prices rose 7.3 percent in 2012.

The CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index report notes that the increase in 2012 was the strongest rate of appreciation in nearly seven years and projected that prices will continue to improve in 2013 and beyond in the more than 380 U.S. markets it tracks.  The company’s current analysis says that, "Cities at epicenter of housing bubble/crash are clocking highest rate of appreciation, largely driven by investor demand."

130518-homeprices-map

This map comes to us thanks to Burbed reader PKamp3 over at DQYDJ.net, who linked us to the story in Business Insider. However they got the story from Jim the Realtor’s BubbleInfo blog, who in turn got it from Mortgage News Daily.  And it’s a good thing we traced the map (and story) all the way back to the original article, because it has some seriously amusing conclusions to anyone who lives Where It’s Special.  And that’s without making fun of the name of the Chief Economist for CoreLogic/Case-Shiller.  Nah, we’ll just make fun of his opinions of whether there’s a housing bubble:

Dr. Stiff tamped down concerns of another housing bubble. "Even if double-digit price appreciation were to continue in the former bubble metro areas, there is no reason to believe that new home price bubbles are forming. That’s because single-family homes in these markets are still very affordable, even after last year’s large price gains. Consider Phoenix, where home prices rose 27 percent since the market hit bottom in 2011, making it the strongest residential real estate market in the U.S. Yet, home prices there are still 45 percent below their 2006 peak," Stiff continued.

Yes, if you would consider living in a hellhole like Phoenix with summer daytime temperatures routinely above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, of course you’d note that these markets are still very affordable. But nobody uses the words “Real Bay Area home prices” and “affordable” unless they are separated by some sort of negating construction.

Lest you think we are making this up, the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City metro is the least affordable in the entire country, with only 28.9 percent of homes affordable by a median income household. That’s right, we’re Number One again, beating out 221 other metros for the crown!  Santa Cruz-Watsonville is #4 (37.1%), while San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara isn’t far behind at #6 (43.3%) and Salinas (44.4%) at #7.

130518-homeprices-paragonWhere’s Phoenix, the brick oven that’s still 45 percent below their 2006 peak? They’re at number 57 in unaffordability.

Let us remind everyone that San Francisco and San Mateo Counties never dropped 45 percent below peak. The reason the San Francisco Case-Shiller numbers dropped as much as they did is because they’re completely weighed down by Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

It’s the East Bay that dropped like a rock after 2006, not the Real Bay Area.  And like a pair of cement overshoes, the East Bay took the whole SF Case-Shiller index down with it. Even the upper tier (the top third of home prices) is affected by this home distribution.

130518-homeprices-paloaltoAnd let’s check those East Bay numbers.  Oakland-Fremont-Hayward turns in a respectable #24 in the You Can’t Touch This index, showing it’s no Phoenix, either.

So we have some words for that Stiff Doctor: There is too a Bay Area Bubble 4.0. We see it every single day even outside the Real Bay Area. We see peak pricing. We see bidding wars. We hear from readers reporting lines to enter Open Houses, or appraisals coming in higher in just a few weeks, or as-is cash overbids on homes where the would-be buyers didn’t even bother going inside.

Inotherwords, Dr. Stiff, maybe you need to get over your Phoenix fixation and check out the parts of the country where the housing bubble is very much back.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

April 28, 2013

Bay Area Bubble 4.0: The Real Bay Area is Real, too

We told you there was a Bay Area real estate bubble. This mercurynews.com (motto: we were once a newspaper, really!) article caught our attention. Not only does it lend support to everything we said about peak housing prices in northwest Silicon Valley and other prime real estate markets, there’s another interesting reveal as well.

Bay Area housing recovery spreads from Silicon Valley to East Bay

130427-svpeak-mapBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   04/26/2013 06:54:33 AM PDT, Updated:   04/26/2013 06:54:55 AM PDT

The Bay Area’s overheated housing market is restoring thousands of homes to their pre-crash peak values in a ZIP-code-by-ZIP-code recovery that is rapidly spreading from Silicon Valley to the East Bay.

Thirty-four of 185 ZIP codes in five counties have regained or surpassed their bubble-era peak home value or are less than 1 percent from it, according to this newspaper’s analysis of February median values for all homes from online real estate site Zillow.

Another 49 ZIPs are within 15 percent of their previous highs, including 18 in the East Bay. A year ago, only part of leafy Palo Alto had regained the value it lost after Bay Area home values crested in 2006-07.

"Seven or eight years ago, there was really a bubble," said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. "Now it’s just good real estate where values are returning to near past peaks."

Yes, This Time It’s Different 4.0.  This is “good real estate” as opposed to Bay Area Bubble 3.0 which was also considered “good real estate,” as we can see by looking at some of the stories they ran in 2006.  Here’s one:

MercuryNews.com | 10/03/2006 | ‘Burdened’: Area owners pay a big chunk of their income for housing
Lenders and other home buying experts said they’re not surprised by the numbers, which they said reflect a long-running trend in the Bay Area. And some questioned whether the 30 percent figure was outdated, saying many people can afford to pay more.

[snip]

Lenders and real estate experts said home buyers in the Bay Area are used to paying more for housing than home buyers elsewhere, and that many, like Singer, use their homes as a savings plan. Most have figured out how to manage the extra debt, they said. In some cases, borrowers are making smaller down payments than previous generations of home buyers.

“(They) are going to make the lifestyle change necessary to own a home, which may mean that 50 percent of their income goes to their mortgage. . . . (They) don’t go out to dinner, they don’t go shopping anymore. It’s about changing their lifestyle,” said Andrea Lanier, a mortgage broker with the San Mateo office of Bankers Preferred Real Estate Loans.

But what we’d also like you to pay attention to is the map pictured above.  Green represents home values above the 2005-08 bubble previous peak, and red means the current value is below the pre-crash peak.  And by “values” they mean those Zestimate numbers that Zillow not only made up, they keep changing the historical data retroactively. Hope that’s science-y enough for you because we’re sure convinced! 

The first thing we noticed was that there’s green where we expect to find it: along the 280 spine.  Where’s the red? Why the East Bay, of course.  Now, let’s look at this map next to a few others we’ve featured in the past.  As always, you can click on any map to see a larger version.

First, here’s the map above next to a recent Zillow map of negative equity.  Difficult to have high home values when the homes are worth less than the “owners” owe on them.

130427-svpeak-map

Next, the infamous “Whole Foods vs Walmart” location maps.

And finally, the some of the “Real Bay Area” maps we’ve provided in the past.  2010 is on the left, 2008 on the right.

And here’s the granddaddy.

Hate to say we told you so, but we told you so — about ten kajillion times.  Eventually Bay Area Bubble 4.0 will raise East Bay home prices above the last peak, by which point The Real Bay Area (which most certainly does not include the East Bay) will be so expensive that even dual-income Google couples will be Priced. Out. For-EVEH!

Until Bay Area Bubble 4.0 goes all Bubblepopcalypse on us and we start preparing for Bay Area Bubble 5.0. As you load up on gold bars and dried beans, let us know what Open Houses you were checking out, because this is also your Weekend Open Thread!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

March 17, 2013

If the Bay Area Were a High School…

Found while perusing The Atlantic Cities and submitted for your consideration need for a weekend giggle:

‘Rich Kid Who Wears Pastel Shirts’ of the Day: Connecticut

130316-hstypes-redditHENRY GRABAR | The Atlantic CITIES | MAR 11, 2013

Sometimes, the hive mind just does it better.

This weekend, thousands of Redditors brainstormed an exciting new method of stereotyping American regional identity. If the U.S. were a high school, which states would fulfill which high school stereotypes?

A few of the top answers:

Oregon, by DVDAmoog: "Oregon is that white dude with dreadlocks."

Washington by GoopyCheese: "Washington would be that awesome kid who’s cool enough to roll with the cool kids, but not too cool to hangout with the weird kids."

Alaska, by JoeTromboni: "Alaska is the fat kid with a beard who wears flannel, and gets A’s in shop class."

130316-hstypes-map

Okay, you get the idea: let your worst stereotypes run wild. We’ve included the link to Reddit so you can find more, but while this is a fun game, we need remember that on Burbed, all real estate is local. What would each city or neighborhood in the Bay Area be like if they were a typical high school kid?

Let’s see…

Alviso is the runty guy on reduced lunch who lets off Silent But Deadlies on the staircases. Even Milpitas won’t sit next to him anymore.

Emerald Hills (Redwood City) are twin girls. One wears Juicy Couture and tries to hang out with Woodside and his gang but they usually blow her off.  The other Emerald Hills girl buys her clothes at Goodwill, cuts most of her classes, and spends all day in the Art studio.  Nobody can figure out what she’s making.

Mission San Jose (Fremont) used to be a pretty fun dude but once he got those 2380 SATs back he’s just unbearable.

Go.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

March 14, 2013

Whole Foods versus WalMart

This image has been bouncing around teh Intertubez this week.  Perhaps you’ve seen it:

Bay Area Explained WF vs WM

130313-wfwm-wfThis tweet from Jarrett Barrios credits someone else, but we can’t find an earlier use of the map.  (Could be this,) It’s a lovely image that clearly sets up Real Bay Area versus Not the Real Bay Area, with the oddball exception of the WalMart in Mountain View.  Other than that, It’s 280 versus 880.

130313-wfwm-wmBest comment on this map: Mountain View’s town motto is "Even our poor people are rich."  Don’t know if that’s true, but the Whole Foods and the WalMart are less than a block apart.

Note: Google Maps only creates ten pins per image.  Those little red dots are additional location, location, locations.  So yes there are Whole Foods stores, 3 of them, in Marin.

We’d like to know if you can you come up with other easy-to-map measures for RBA versus Not the RBA.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

March 2, 2013

Ever wonder why the East Bay isn’t in the RBA?

This is why.

130301-negeq-norcal

This is Zillow’s map of negative equity by county in Central California.  The more red, the more they bled.  You can look at the map by state, by county, and by zip code.  At the county level, we can see that the only Bay Area regions that aren’t about to terminate from failure to clot are Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin Counties.  Santa Cruz County is looking a little pink around the neck (it’s 22% underwater) but it’s downright alabaster compared to the abattoir north and east of San Jose.  Here are the county by county numbers for 2012.

Bay Area County Percent of homes w/mortgage underwater Median Zillow Home Value Index Decline from peak value
Alameda 25% $447,100 -30%
Contra Costa 33% (highest 20% in US) $334,200 -46%
Marin 16% $716,500 -20%
Napa 30% $365,100 -42%
San Francisco 10% $771,100 -3%
San Mateo 15% $689.900 -15%
Santa Clara 15% $642,600 -13%
Santa Cruz* 23% $503,400 -31%
Solano 54% (highest 1% in US) $202,400 -58%
Sonoma 29% $357,800 -40%

And here’s a live version for you to play with, although you can also head over to Zillow and see it in action wherever you want to examine.

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:14 am

January 26, 2013

Yet Another Map of California

Submitted for your edification.  At least this time we have a link, but it’s to a site that doesn’t know where it came from either.

130125-CA4beginners

This is, of course, your Weekend Open Thread as well.  Tell us what you love about California.  If you hate something about California, it’s because you don’t live in the Real Bay Area.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

January 6, 2013

A New Mapping Tool that is Completely Useless in the RBA

We love real estate tools.  Maps are awesome.  Here’s a new one with the cute name Rich Blocks Poor Blocks that Burbed readers wahnny and Divasm both sent in this week when someone posted about it in Redfin Forums.  (No link, Redfin, until you resume trackbacks to our featured homes.  Neener neener.)

It’s a fairly good idea: take ACS income data for each official Census tract and show graphically how much they vary.  As they say on their main page, “See how much money people make in every neighborhood in every city in America.”  In theory you could use it to see how Special each part of the city is.  Here’s what it looks like when it’s working as the authors intended.

130105-blocks-chicago

Each state uses its own scale, applying the color key to its own income range.  In the case of Illinois, above, the deep red, lowest income is under $23,120 and the deep green, highest income is over $106,503.  There appear to be 20 different segments in the color key, although we think there’s far too much green and not enough in the red, orange, and yellow. 

130105-blocks-nj

Since these are Google Map tools, you can zoom in and out to your heart’s delight, but you can only map one state at a time.As you can see in in the case of New Jersey, above, this tool isn’t that useful with metros that span multiple states.  Fortunately, that’s not an issue even in the furthest exurbs of the Bay Area.

No, the Bay area has different issues.  See what happens when we map the core RBA.

130105-blocks-mountainview

Too. Much. Dark. Green.

The California income scale ranges from $28,183.65 to $122,762.90.  We hope you’re beginning to see the problem: the top 5% income for all of California seems to apply to an awful lot of Census tracts in the RBA.  Or even places that are NOT in the RBA. Like this part of Santa Clara with the Oracle campus:

130105-blocks-nsj

Contrast with an RBA tract we know is loaded: Los Altos Hills.

130105-blocks-lah

It’s the exact same shade of green, because the danged scale tops off far too early for the RBA.  According to this map, there is no difference between northeast Santa Clara and Los Altos Hills even though the latter’s median household income is 72% higher.

If a tract in the Triangle of Lost Equity can have median household income above 95% of California, Rich Blocks Poor Blocks in the Real Bay Area might as well be called Five Red Tracts of Suck Amidst A Sea of Deep Green Money.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 5, 2012

Far from the maddening crowds [sic] in Napa County. Rural Napa County.

121122-blackfridayYou thought we forgot about our Black Friday Deals Deals DEALS? Of course not!  We’ll be throwing in our rock-bottom sale items whenever the mood strikes us, and right now, the mood slapped us silly while saying, “Hey, how about you find another Cheapest In The Whole County” item?  We’ve only got two counties in the Bay Area left, so today we’re headed up to the Whine Country!

Warning: This is definitely not The Real Bay Area.

121204-lariat-redfin205 LARIAT St
CA 94567
$89,900

3 Beds 
2.5 Baths 
2,504 Sq. Ft.
$36 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1993 
Lot Size: 0.74 Acres 
On Redfin: 181 days
Status: Active
Property Type: Residential, Single Family
View: Canyon, Hills, Mountain, Valley
MLS#: Lc12071394
Style: Two Level
County: Napa

Far from the maddening crowds. .. your own private sanctuary located in Berryessa Estates! This home features parquet flooring in the dining area and living room. The living room has a fireplace with bench seating, two decks on either side while offering open access to the dining area right off the kitchen. The Master is located on the main floor and also 121204-lariat-kitchenoffers access to one of the two decks. Master bath features jetted tub to chase the cares of the day away. Downstairs is an oasis with a large family room with pellet stove and 2 additional bedrooms, bath, laundry room and the patio. Decks overlook the valley, what a great way to unwind! True there is work to be done but if you’re seeking seclusion, put this property on your list and take advantage of this great price reduction!

True there is work to be done.  Maybe it could start with rounding up this home a city to go with its street address.

121204-lariat-stairsWhat else needs to be on your list?  That is, aside from the bills from Cal Fire, the problems with the water and sewer services, and the growing number of foreclosures in the area due to residents unable to pay the huge water and sewer service bills. And bonds.  And fines for sewage spills.

Looks like if you move here, you’ll be tied up with all these exciting challenges!  But not as challenging as the previous owners who bought it in 2004 for $355K and were lassoed into foreclosure seven years later! 

Now when we said this place was rural, we weren’t kidding. You’ll be getting along your little dogie for a spell finding the place.


View Larger Map

Now will someone give this realtard a copy of the Hardy novel

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am