July 12, 2010

Florentine? Isn’t that a Restaurant on De Anza?

So, what should it be today, overpriced teardown or overpriced prestige listing?  That’s the beauty of the Real Bay Area, plenty of both!

5050 ALPINE Rd  Portola Valley, CA 94028


Beds: 7
Baths: 6
Sq. Ft.: 16,000
$/Sq. Ft.: $1,250
Lot Size: 20.93 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 3
View: Bay, Canyon, Valley, City Lights
Year Built: 1920
Community: Central Portola Valley
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81032274
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 5 days

One of the nation���s finest private residences, the hand-crafted Villa Lauriston is incomparable and unique. Commissioned in the 1920���s, this 20 room Florentine Villa features the finest historic materials and artifacts from San Francisco mansions and European palaces and churches. This architectural jewel is set in a private 28.4 acre park-like parcel, surrounded by 1,000 acres dedicated as open

image When you’re looking for a house and you find a listing that has a name instead of an address, you know you’re not in Milpitas anymore.  When it’s offered for sale by Sotheby’s International instead of RE/MAX, that’s a hint this is no crapbox in Campbell.  Why bother putting on pretty photos on Redfin?  Heck, they didn’t even care enough to remove those unprintable characters above.  So what?  This is an “incomparable and unique” Florentine Villa in Portola Valley.  A Florentine Villa!  Wow!  That means there’s spinach on top.

And this “incomparable and unique” property has “materials and artifacts from European palaces and churches”?  In some circumstances, that could be due to art theft, or looting.  I hope these were paid for, as last time I checked out European palaces and churches, there weren’t any price tags on the fine historic materials and artifacts, just a few knock-offs in the gift shop.  And they called the house an “architectural jewel” too!  Remember the diamond in the rough a couple of weeks ago?  What does that make this place, the Hope on the putting green?

Speaking of golf metaphors, there is no golf course on the grounds.  (Hmpf, even a spread in Cupertino had two holes for golf!)  But you do get tennis courts, a pool and spa, an historic pool (which means it isn’t usable and they didn’t feel like taking it out), and a reflecting pool.  Let the website tell you all about it (for twenty million dollars, this place had better have its own website):

The property includes the main residence, a cottage or caretaker’s house, four car garage, and a estate landscape featuring a one acre main meadow with dolphin fountain and two river god sculptures, reflecting pond, conservatory/sunken garden with fountain, old swimming pool/stage, two acre 600-vine vineyard, vegetable garden and cutting flower beds, tennis court, picnic area with arbor, natural waterfall and stream, bee hives, lavender/Italian cypress path, and much more.

image Lavender?  Forget it.  For $20 million they should have put in a danged saffron crocus field.  Saffron grows in Mediterranean climates (like this place is trying to pretend it’s from) and sells for up to $11,000 a kilogram.  If you had one of those, you could afford to put in some more MAWBUL CAWLUMS.

Be sure to spend some time perusing the property website.  I’m still trying to figure out where they store the “riding lawn mores” and what the heck a “Hebraic wood splitter” is.  Does it clip off the branch tip first?

Villa Lauriston is both a grand estate and an expression of one man’s personal vision.  The 13,000-square-foot, 20-room Villa and the surrounding acres of formal gardens, ponds and pools was the creation of the English-born entrepreneur Herbert Edward Law. Law was a businessman, a real estate magnate, a connoisseur and a man of the arts.  Law is perhaps best known for having purchased, with his brother, San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel just days before the great earthquake of 1906.

Quick!  Follow in the footsteps of Herb Law!  Hurry up and buy this place so we can get The Big One over with.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

June 30, 2010

This house needs finishing touches – like walls



Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,110
$/Sq. Ft.: $387
Lot Size: 6,450 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1912
Community: Carlmont
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81001900
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 162 days

Thanks to Burbed reader Sam for this find!

Here’s what Sam had to say:

Not that Belmont is ghetto or anything, but something about this house reminds me of whistle-tips- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnzw_i4YmKk

Check out that new siding!  Dayumn!  That’s not a contractor’s special- that is modern art!  It’s a statement about the cost of conformity!  Why, oh why would the bank want to get rid of this post-post modernist masterpiece?  This is installation art taken to its next level!  I mean, hell, if a shark in formaldehdye can sell for $12M  (http://www.stuckism.com/Shark.html) this place ought to be worth at least $6M.  If this place came with some shark’s teeth, it might be worth $12M too.  Shark’s teeth are frickin cool!

To the realtor’s credit, the disclosures are made openly- “HOME NEEDS FINISHING TOUCHES”.  This kind of statement speaks volumes about perspective.  When I think about finishing touches, I think about adding outlet colors, picking color schemes, hanging drapes, etc.  These guys think about $100K remodeling jobs.
But the realtor really nails it with his/her description- “THIS PROPERTY HAS A LOT OF POTENTIAL!!”  Like potential energy.  Like potential to be blown over in the next storm.


Uh, Sam… they’re practically giving this house away. All you need to do is add a little elbow grease… and some walls… and… uh… some innovation.

Personally, I think this house enables you to express your freedom. Therefore, if you hate this house, you hate Freedom. Why do you hate freedom this close to July 4th? Are you a terrorist?

Comments (7) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:59 am

June 16, 2010

Several Building Pads to choose from and Existing House

Yesterday’s listing was an unsuitable property in a challenging location.  Today’s house is within reasonable commute distance so there shouldn’t be as many complaints.  Also, more eights in the price today so it’s LUCKY.

21631 Hicks Rd  Los Gatos, CA 95032


SQ. FT.: 1,704
$/SQ. FT.: $1,174
LOT SIZE: 24.02 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
VIEW: Mountains, Canyon, Lake, Valley, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81025440
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 24 days


Another description in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.  Seems URGENT.  Let’s READ IT before REDFIN starts making sure the AGENTS know how to USE a COMPUTER KEYBOARD PROPERLY before POSTING A LISTING.

This seems straightforward enough.  There’s a rather ugly, boring, run-of-the-mill house that would go for about a hundred thousand in flyover country and about three hundred thousand in the non-RBA (Real Bay Area) part of San Jose.  But these out-of-state greedheads want two million dollars for it because it’s GATED.  And they think they’re going to get it because while they say they’re selling this (ugly, boring, overpriced) house, they’re really selling 24 acres of land with an ugly, boring, overpriced house that just happens to be on one of them.  This house can’t be too Special or we’d get to see a photo or two inside.  Maybe it’s all one giant open space when you walk through the front door?

In a way, they’re being honest about it. VALUE IS IN THE LAND = House is worthless, but you can’t finance this place if we tear it down.  They admitted it was still standing TO OBTAIN FINANCING.  And you could use this PERFECT FOR TEMPORARY RESIDENCE DURING CONSTRUCTION.

So, what happened between 1998, when the owners paid $275,000 for this place, and now? The wishing price is almost eight times higher!  Doesn’t RBA property only double in ten years?  Why have they tried to sell this place once a year, every year since 2004?

But there’s a bit of a mystery to this place.  Why are there SEVERAL BUILDING PADS TO CHOOSE FROM?  Did they hire several different contractors and fire each one of them before they built anything permanent? Or did they intend to invite NASA to move in when they lose Moffett Field,?  How many BUILDING PADS is SEVERAL, anyway?  The Redfin description doesn’t say, but this older listing says that not only has the house gotten 300 sf smaller, there used to be POTENTIAL FOR 8 BUILDING SITES.  And something about a BARN.  A BARN!  There’s nothing about a BARN in the current listing!  No wonder they reduced the price from last year’s $2,288,000!  If only they’d added some more eights.

And why did they take the TourFactory Video down?  Is there something on those BULDING PADS they don’t want us to see?  Maybe it’s the collapsed 300 sf part of the house.

Are you a BUYER WITH VISION?  Do you WANT PRIVACY?  Do you have a broom for some SWEEPING VIEWS?  There’s probably a fascinating backstory to all those abandoned BUILDING PADS, and it can be yours for just two million dollars.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

June 11, 2010

Contractors Special? More Like Contractors Special Olympiad

Today’s house, courtesy of burbed reader VC, reminds us that only the Best of the Best can make it in Silicon Valley.  Why should only software developers and chip designers have all the fun of healthy cut-throat competition and failure of market acceptance?  Builders need a challenge too. Anyone can throw up McMansions on flat land with city services already installed.  But this property is for only the most able, willing, daring, and liquid of contractors.  How would you like to live the dream?

23633 Schulties Road, Los Gatos Mtns 95033


SQ. FT.: 895
$/SQ. FT.: $553
LOT SIZE: 7.8 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE:  Detached Single Family
VIEW: Canyon, Valley
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos Mountains
COUNTY: Santa Cruz
MLS#: 80947132
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 251 days

Very nice piece of property with over 7 acres and Los Gatos Schools. This is a real contractor special, but wil a great upside potental. Current house is a small 2 bedroom home which could be fixed up nicely. Second home on property needs to be moved, then it would be a nice 3/2 with approximately 1900 sq. ft. The lot next door is also available. Total 13 acres for around 600K, great deal!!

You can’t go wrong on a place “wil a great upside potental,” can you?  Find out just how much work it is to fix up the current house!  It’s a small 2 bedroom home which could be fixed up nicely!  In fact it’s so small, part of the challenge is finding it in the picture above.  Once you do, see how nicely you can fix it up!  The sky’s the limit, along with your bank account.

But you might object, “What’s the excitement in remodeling a little cottage in the woods?”  Prefer a large 3/2 with approximately 1900 sq. ft.?  That second home is here somewhere on property, and all you have to do is move it.  And maybe fix it up at little.  Or a lot.  Perhaps once you do it expands, and it “would be a nice 3/2?”  That should be a quick and easy project, since there are no walls or exteriors to get in the way of the 16 forklifts you’re going to need.image

And once you remove all that scaffolding, it will move even quicker!  Maybe you can borrow the wheels off the pickup, which looks more stable than the structure behind it.

Wondering why the second home had to be moved?  Check out that geologic/flood report!  Meanwhile, a little birdie told me there’s a stipulation with Santa Cruz County to do some grading and retaining wall work.  I hear “some” could mean two hundred thousand worth, but that’s only a rumor.  Some could also mean zero!  Just how much upslope can a little driveway have?

image Now, this project is going to keep you driving to Home Depot a few thousand times, so you’d best buy in bulk.  In fact, the seller is way ahead of you, and is willing to supersize the deal by adding in the lot next door!  And just like those 167 Tool Specials, most of them are drill bits in sizes you already own or socket sets in shapes you don’t need.  In this case, the bonus 6 acre parcel has no improvements, no permits, can’t be subdivided, and doesn’t have a well, sewer line, or septic tank.  But it’s only “around $600K” for both!  If you enjoy bargaining, this is even more fun than buying 60 square feet of granite countertop and making sure it all matches.

Remember, this property thinks it can take you.  Are you going to let it get away with that?

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

May 27, 2010

Really Angry Renter Ruins Real Palo Alto for the Rest of Us

Surprise!  Here’s another guest post from madhaus, who hasn’t contributed since… yesterday.

130 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301


SQ. FT.: 2,114
$/SQ. FT.: $613
LOT SIZE: 7,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
COUNTY: Santa Clara 
MLS#: 81024985
STATUS: Active 
ON REDFIN: 3 days

Tenant has lived in the house for over 18 years- needs work. Reports available. Fifth bedroom was dining room.

Here’s a rare opportunity to buy a house in Downtown Palo Alto at a Cupertino price!  Sunnyvale, even!  But unlike Cupertino or Sunnyvale, this is no tract home that looks just like every one of its neighbors.  This is an 85 year old house with lots of character, traditional styling, architectural interest, and serious damage.

So, what’s this about a tenant?  Someone’s lived here for 18 years?  Oh dear!  Homes built in 1925 shouldn’t have 18-year tenants!  The place must have been absolutely perfect before a tenant moved in!  Why, tenants could have done all kinds of things to this house in the last 18 years!  Rusted the pipes, made the roof leak, filled the place with termites, splashed hard water all over the bathtub!  Let’s see how much work is going to be needed to bring the house back to habitable condition.


Oh no!  There are no inside pictures!  It must be some hecka damage.  You’d best read those reports that are available.  Are they police reports?  Arson reports?  Suppose that tenant ate crackers in bed or left the milk carton open?  Even… gasp… both!  And goodness knows what happened to the dining room.  The tenant, or somebody, turned it into a fifth bedroom!  The nerve!  If it’s a bedroom, how are you doing to put a dining room table there?  It’s going to leave no room for the nightstands!

This is what happens when Angry Renters are allowed to live in a “good” neighborhood: there go the property values for everyone.  But their loss is your gain!  A little bit of spackle where the pushpins went in the wall, sand off that window that got painted shut, replace the missing floors and staircase, and you’ve got a beautiful house!  They really knew how to build them in 1925, so you won’t have to worry about much else.  Except the dining table in the fifth bedroom.

Comments (135) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

May 18, 2010

Needs Some TLC… and Equity

For Sale (MLS-listed)


3238 AGATE Dr Santa Clara, CA 95051


Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,040
$/Sq. Ft.: $327
Lot Size: 6,500 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1955
Community: Santa Clara
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81014108
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 39 days



The above description does not do justice to this property.  If a home is a contractor’s special, why do you have to see it?  Fire up the bulldozer and plonk down a McMansion!  But that only works in the RBA.  If tthe whole street is full of crapboxes, there’s not much point in putting lipstick on a pig.
And here’s what the place looked like when the GoogleCam drove by.  Do you think the agent took one look and said “Mr. Seller, tear down that fence!”

There was a time when this property sold for more than $339,900, and I only say this because nobody wanted to buy it for $359,900 a month ago.  Even burbed.com noticed when this lovely home went for… $600,000???   Just about four years ago.  My, how time flies!  Now the bagholders passed the bag to the mortgage company, who sold it for $360,000 in early February — to other banks.
But no matter how quickly Silicon Valley’s economy comes back, this place will never be in the RBA.  Look what’s it’s conveniently located next to.
Yes! CalTrain right across the street!  And someone bought this place for $600,000.  It’s the people who sold it in 2006 who were geniuses.  They paid $24,000 for it in 1971.
And here’s what burbed had to say about this and all the other overpriced crap on the market:

Ah… to have bought a place in California before 1980. Better than working.

Nothing like the ol’ generational transfer of income. Massive mortgages, peak oil, falling incomes, implosion of social security – interesting times ahead!

Nobody could have predicted!

[Thanks to Madhaus for this guest post.]

Comments (44) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:52 am

May 4, 2010

Not Inherent Value

Listed at: $650,000
Beds: 2
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 734
$/Sq. Ft.: $886
Lot Size: 10,143 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Victorian
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1929
Community: Willow Glen
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81012515
Source: MLSListings
Status: Pending Without Release This listing is in escrow, past inspections and waiting for loan funding. “Without Release” indicates that the current buyer doesn’t need to sell a home to buy the new home.
On Redfin: 46 days
Check out this wonderful lot. Dimensions are appx. 69 x 147sf or 1/4 acrew. Existing houseon lot is older and has not inherent value. Build your dream home as the market for custom homes is great. Builders can alos see the upside down. Please be careful if you want to go into the house. Take your time and walk the lot.

Thanks to Burbed reader Madhaus for this find and guest post! Here it goes:

This property has a number of things going for it.  First of all, this older home has “not inherent  value,” which is better than having no inherent value.  Second, it claims to be in Willow Glen, which, like the RBA, can expand to fill the entire 95125 zip code, or contract to the corner of Willow and Lincoln.  The northwest corner.  And third, it’s being shown by the prestigious Realtards at Alain Pinel, so you know somebody is paying top dollar to move this pile of wood. But best of all, despite the snooty pretensions of the agency, here’s an ad for an older home (if eighty years is older, I’d hate to see what they call “decrepit”) with so many typos, were this a ninth grade essay I’d be giving it a D and I’ve only read the first paragraph.  Shall we have a little fun?  We shall.

Check out this wonderful lot. Dimensions are appx. 69 x 147sf or 1/4 acrew.  Oh dear, somebody misspelled
Existing houseon lot is older and has not inherent value.  houseon lot?  Don’t they mean housing lot?
Build your dream home as the market for custom homes is great.  Especially during an economic downturn
like nothing since 1933.
Builders can alos see the upside down.  Whoops, misspelled ‘alas.’  As in, ‘Alas, I
can see the upside down.’
Please be careful if you want to go into the house.  since you may never be seen
again due to the sinkholes, especially the sinkhole your equity is headed for.
Take your time and walk the lot.
Yes, indeed, take lots of time.  Maybe wait about six years until you make an offer on this place.

Somebody didn’t take their time.  It’s pending.  I hope they were careful when they went in the house.

UPDATE: Fixed an editing error.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:25 am

March 15, 2010

If you like sewage, you’ll like this San Mateo house

Beds: 4
Baths: 2.5
Sq. Ft.: 2,480
$/Sq. Ft.: $363
Lot Size: 8,362 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Year Built: 1971
Community: Laurelwood
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81011291
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 5 days
Enter at your own risk. 1st floor is flooded with sewage. recommend wearing a mask before entering.

Thanks to Burbed reader Wendy for this find!

Wow what a great way to start the week! No wonder this is such an amazing deal… at just $363 per square foot, this would’ve been a mistake. But this is simply because of a bum pipe. How much could that possible cost to replace? And… then… just a little cleanup. I’m sure “flooded” is an exaggeration. I mean, how could that have possibly happened in a house this nice?

There’s a whole lot of instant equity waiting for you in this house. Just bring a mop and some bleach – boom! Watch that $ per square foot soar!

Comments (26) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:02 am

February 22, 2010

Affordable house in Burlingame – contractor’s special

Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 1,340
$/Sq. Ft.: $444
Lot Size: 9,400 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Ranch, Traditional
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1941
Community: Burlingame Gardens
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81005669
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 6 days
CONTRACTOR’S SPECIAL: Turn a blight into a beauty. Deferred maintenance residence on a mixed use street. Triangular shaped lot. Bonus rooms and bath behind garage (legality unknown), some dual paned windows, hardwood floors and period details.

Thanks to Burbed reader Jeff for this find!

Guess what everyone! Burlingame is now officially affordable! You heard it here first.

That stuff in the roof? Probably just some dirt that needs to be painted away. I mean, it’s located a little close to a few cars:


So… it’s probably just a little soot. Nothing some paint can’t fix.

That said. If you could keep the interior as is, you might be able to charge admission for it:


Hey… Is that a Hidden Mickey?

I think there’s a lot of potential here. And just think of all the opportunities with that funky interior, and the nifty triangular lot on the outside! The Burlingame Mystery Mansion perhaps?

Comments (5) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:54 am

February 17, 2010

Seller prefers no photo for San Jose house




Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 863
$/Sq. Ft.: $521
Lot Size: 3,920 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Stories: 1
View: City Lights
Year Built: 1915
Community: Central San Jose
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80955470
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active This listing is for sale and the sellers are accepting offers.
On Redfin: 61 days
Short Sale. Seller still waiting for lenders approval. Property needs TLC ( Repair)

Privacy is becoming an increasingly precious commodity these days. Fortunately, the owner has thought ahead for you, and has protected the image of this house from being shown so that when you become the owner, the paparazzi won’t be able to find you right away!

Or… may be this is one of those shy houses – the kind of house that shirks away when you try to take a photo it.

If this street view image is correct, there’s nothing to hide really:


Personally, I’m just glad it is clarified that this house needs the repairs kind of TLC – rather than, say, emotional support, counseling, or other sorts of tender, loving care. Good to know!

Comments (21) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am