May 20, 2012

Putting the DUH back in Florida

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for passing along this fascinating news item via IP.  That stands for Infirm Pigeon, which explains why it’s not as timely as our usual articles.

$1.2 million mansion for $10K?

By Jay MacDonald ·,
Monday, July 4, 2011, Posted: 9 am ET

120518-florida-scamsHere in Florida, the Foreclosure State, we thought we’d already cataloged every genus responsible for this plague on all our houses, from the predatory lenders to the oblivious robosigners androcket dockets to the no-mod-for-you bank Nazis. That was, until we caught wind of the HOA chasers.

The St. Petersburg Times recently profiled an opportunistic little industry that discovered a loophole in the state’s foreclosure laws and is milking it for all it’s worth.

Florida law allows homeowners associations, or HOAs, to foreclose on properties when dues are in arrears and does not require the HOA to notify the primary mortgage lender. Florida has 40,000 homeowner and condo associations, many struggling to keep basic services going with so many owners behind in dues. The HOA’s lawyers encourage them to foreclose because, if the bank beats them to it, they usually won’t see a cent.

Here’s where opportunity creeps in: Since most homeowners owe less than $15,000 in association dues, the HOAs can file their foreclosure cases in county court rather than in circuit court, where caseloads are backed up. This allows the associations to get final judgment on a foreclosure in as few as 270 days verses the 617 days it now takes for the average bank foreclosure.

120518-florida-mapThe piece goes on to explain that with the long wait times on foreclosure trials, coupled with county courts not notifying banks of the HOA lien foreclosure, scammers grab “temporary” control of these properties for years.  What do they do with them?  Live in them?  Share extras with all their friends?  Have blowout parties in a different locale each weekend, because they can?

Better yet, rent them out!  Fill them with renters who don’t know the foreclosure clock of doom is counting down.  And this is all completely 100% legal!  At least it’s legal in Florida.  I don’t know why everyone keep ragging on California real estate problems.  Florida is clearly the champion when it comes to Real Scammery.

Now, Florida is far away, so feel free to also discuss things closer to home.  Scams in the Bay Area?  Open houses?  Maybe some more about the Facebook IPO?  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (30) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

May 1, 2012

There is nothing wrong with any house that price cannot fix

Remember the above and remember it well if you are trying to buy or sell a house.  Here’s an example from Los Gatos from Burbed reader nomadic!  Thanks very much.

Remember, if you have a listing that you think belongs on the front page, please send it in to one of our emails on the right hand column.  “Bunus” points if you let us know why you’re sharing it.

Los Gatos, CA 95032


SQ. FT.: 4,146
$/SQ. FT.: $506
HOA DUES: $23/month
LOT SIZE: 1.01 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Tudor
VIEW: City Lights
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81146396
STATUS: Pending Without Release
ON REDFIN: 177 days

JUST REDUCED PRICE by $400k!Enjoy striking 180 degree views from this hilltop Tudor mansion. Formal dining room has sculptured ceilings, soffet, hrdwd floors. Kitchen open & bright w/ walnut plank wood floors. Freshly painted interior. Approx. 350sft studio (could be additional 2 car garage)Backyard has wrap around deck, built in spa, garden, landscaped w/ many fruit trees. Top Union Schl

120429-harwood-deckHere’s what nomadic had to say when sending in this 834-square-feet-too-small-to-merit-the-ginormous-tag tumor.

Check out the last 3 pictures in this listing (#23-25).

“Agent related to Seller” – $400k price reduction, kitchen and baths need to be gutted, and HDR at its worst.  Nice combo. 

I 120429-harwood-citylightswas actually looking at this house because I thought it was a REO, but I guess it isn’t.  And this definitely isn’t the RBA!  Twenty years later they’re trying to eke out a price double.  You won’t have to worry about this house going pending before you feature it.

Au contraire mon frère! It indeed went pending before we featured it! The market is hot, I tell you, hot, hot, hot!


But OMG look at that HDR.

In case you don’t know what HDR is, have a look at this recent article where we covered the joy of High Dynamic Range as used in real estate photography.    And it’s no coincidence whatsoever that that example of what not to do with HDR is also in Los Gatos.

In particular, look for the odd glow whenever sky meets, well, anything else.  See how the tree on the left is emitting some serious Cherenkov radiation?  Maybe those Los Gatos Mountains have an actinium mine below.  Or maybe whoever bought this house, before moving in, needs to do a radon test.


At right is another egregious example of bad HDR in the listing photos.  Look at the windows.  Notice the dark ovals in the middle?  That’s what’s actually outside.  The HDR process created the lighter artifacts around the inside of the window frames.

Holy crap, when was that kitchen last done?  It’s got tiled countertops.  Better get some glittery hair gel to go with.

Now check out the bathroom.


Does something here look kind of familiar?

Can’t quite put a finger on it, but this bathroom photo is producing some serious déjà vu.  Or maybe in this case, déjà vomutu.

Bunus: HOA fees!

What do you predict this house finally sold for after half a year?  And how much overbidding was involved after all the price reductions finally fixed this house?

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 25, 2012

Living not quite so large in Los Gatos

Let’s have another look at Los Gatos, as it’s one of those Real Bay Area cities.  You can tell it is when you see a property listed for twice as much as it sold for in the bubblicious days of 2005.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this peerless property.

Los Gatos, CA 95032


BATHS: 2.5120424-red-arrow-hoa
SQ. FT.: 1,582
$/SQ. FT.: $561
HOA DUES: $85/month 
LOT SIZE: 3,484 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81211027
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 31 days

Beautiful 7 yr new home walking distance to Courtside, Netflix, LG trails, restaurants and shopping within Los Gatos school district. Regular sale, shows like a model, with high ceilings, recessed lights, granite kitchen & stainless appliances, hardwood floors in the family room/kitchen areas. Large, bright master with over sized tub and walk in closet. Private back yard and large 2 car garage.

120424-smithranch-insideNote the HOA fees prominently listed next to key features such as size of the house, size of the lot, and how many beds and baths.  When did Redfin start doing that?

Now here’s what nomadic had to say about the house.

Purchased two weeks ago at foreclosure (auction?) for $730k and now listed for a lucky $888k to cash in on $158k of instant 120424-smithranch-backyardequity!  It’s on a postage stamp lot that backs up to the 85 off ramp at Winchester.  The most recent sales on the street were in June 2010 for $460/sf, but those were about 1/3 larger – maybe the price isn’t as ridiculous as it seems…

Let’s see if Zillow agrees with “ridiculous.”


Um…whoa.  Those ZEstimates are all OVER the place.  And the “bunus” is the railroad tracks (shown as the dashed line) that run behind the homes across the street, the cherry on top of the awesome sauce that is Winchester plus the freeway ramp.

What do you think this home should sell for?  What do you think this home should sell now that you know it has “corporate ownership” plus “agent has financial interest”?  Usually corporate ownership means you’re looking at an REO, but in this case the place is owned by “Petwun LLC,” and the agent is the “manager” of said entity.

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

April 4, 2012

Post-modern style meets post-modern price in Los Gatos

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for finding this luscious living situation in Los Gatos, one of Silicon Valley’s few celebrity domiciles!

Los Gatos, CA 95032


BATHS: 6.5
SQ. FT.: 7,500
$/SQ. FT.: $667
LOT SIZE: 1.19 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Modern/High Tech, Contemporary
VIEW: Canyon, Valley
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81207180
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 38 days

This exquisite 7500 sq/ft, 6 bedroom, 6.5 bath home on 1.19 acres nestled in the Los Gatos Mountains, combines post-modern style with majestic natural views. It is a natural abode for light and warmth. Recently re-designed and renovated, this home was originally built by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc. and retains several of his most unique design elements.

120402-santarosa-loudcolorsHere’s why nomadic sent us this natural abode for light and warmth:

The former Wozniak house.  Featured on burbed many moons ago, and now listed for $5M.  Look at its history.

We don’t have anywhere as many celebrities in Silicon Valley, but Woz is one of the few that we ought to look into a house he had built.  So let’s have a look at how this house was marketed back in the early end of the bubble days of 2008, right after the break!


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

March 11, 2012

The Ultimate Man Cave in Carmel Valley. Or anywhere else.

If you’re willing to drive a little, you could either save a lot, or you could have it all.  Thanks very much to Burbed readers CLS and nomadic for sending this tidbit in.

21,000 Square Feet of Cold War Memories for Sale, Satellite Dish Included


By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN, The New York Times, Published: February 9, 2012

CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. — Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes the ultimate gift for the Dr. Strangelove in your life: the 21,000-square-foot Jamesburg Earth Station, a satellite relay base from the 1960s that was built to survive a nuclear attack.

120309-jamesburg-dishPerched on a remote hillside overlooking the Ventana Wilderness here on California’s Central Coast, it is a white elephant that costs $3 million, a tech-lover’s paradise on 161 acres equipped with a 97-foot satellite dish. (Though the signs reading “Danger: High Voltage” are perhaps not the best marketing tool.)

In its glory days, this sprawling bunkerlike redoubt on Comsat Road played an essential role in national life. Built in 1968 by the Communications Satellite Corporation, the Jamesburg Earth Station and nearly a dozen others like it helped bring the first televised images of Neil Armstrong on the moon and President Richard M. Nixon in Beijing into America’s living rooms. They also pulled in signals from satellites in geostationary orbit that made international telephone calls fast and easily accessible for most Americans.

“It’s the ultimate man cave,” said Jeffrey W. Bullis, a Silicon Valley electronics mogul, who bought the property in 2004 for $2 million from AT&T and is now selling it, complete with the hand-carved Tiki gods from Vanuatu that he placed at the entrance as a homey touch.

120309-jamesburg-welcomeIf you have a spare $3.5 million burning a hole in your pocket, I can’t think of a better use for it than a historical satellite dish made obsolete by fiber optic technology.  Especially because this 21,000 square foot bunker can also be used as an indoor shooting gallery.  Imagine the fun you will have with your remaining family members here!

While the 102 acre property including the satellite dish and its adjacent 46 acre parcel are currently “off-market,” the listing agent still features it on his website, and the current owner would be delighted to see it placed with someone who would appreciate just what this property is.

120309-jamesburg-houseThis is a must-have property for anyone who remembers the glory days of Apollo 11, and wants to own some of the technology that made it possible. 

Or you could just tear all this crap out and build 28 McMansions on 5 acre ranchettes and go bankrupt much more quickly.

Oh yeah, there is a house on the property somewhere, so you don’t need to bring a tent.  Also, lots and lots of room for storage, and by lots I think they mean enough room to fill a Saturn V.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:30 am

January 21, 2012

Your Weekend Open Thread

It’s another weekend in the Real Bay Area, so what better time to discuss anything you want about real estate, or all the sites that went on strike Wednesday, or anything at all. 

Here’s a photo sent in by Burbed reader nomadic to get you started. Photo source here.


Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

November 17, 2011

Excellent Starter Home waiting for a sale to finish

Did you like yesterday’s cute little house at an affordable price?  Then you’re going to love today’s find from Burbed reader nomadic, from that same thread on Redfin forums.  Today’s house costs 80% less, yet is 25% bigger!  Best of all, this place is much, much closer to Silicon Valley, yet offers all the same advantages of living in a big city.

181 N 34TH St, San Jose, CA 95116


SQ. FT.: 572
$/SQ. FT.: $385
LOT SIZE: 3,600 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81141730
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 33 days

Excellent Starter Home 2 Bedroom and 1 Bath home.

Here’s what nomadic has to say about the property:

Here’s a funny listing someone on the Redfin forum linked to:

Homeowner? check
Luxury German auto? check
Up next, trophy wife!
Chicks dig guys who own a home right?  (Please don’t notice this is a short sale!)

I didn’t notice it was a short sale because I was too busy wondering just how many drinks the surveyor had when platting out this neighborhood:


I wonder if he was working in an office where his colleagues enjoyed playing practical jokes, like the old “substitute tissue paper for drafting paper” trick.  Unfortunately, Mr. Five Martini Surveyor was too looped to notice and nobody had the heart to tell him he had to do it over.

Also, did you notice this house is Pending with release?  Do you know what Pending with release means?  It means this:

This listing is in escrow and all contingencies have been fulfilled. “With Release” means that there’s a release clause with the offer stating that the buyer is trying to sell his current home before closing. A release clause lets the seller back out of the deal if the buyers can’t sell their home within a set time frame.

So my question to you is what the hell kind of house is someone hoping to sell in order to buy this one?

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

November 3, 2011

Move in with confidence!

Here’s another bubblicious find from Burbed reader nomadic!  This is a delightful Los Gatos home, so well-situated that hundreds of people will drive by every hour to admire it!


14540 BLOSSOM HILL Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032


BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 2,193
$/SQ. FT.: $432
LOT SIZE: 0.29 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81142627
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 26 days

Wonderful home in Los Gatos on xx-lg-lot presents everything a buyer is looking for. Remodeled home with granite kitchen, wood floors, open living areas, architectural details of scalloped arched ways, crown molding, inset lighting and lots of natural light, dual-paned windows, large 2.5 baths with double sinks, large master with 2 closets, bonus vanity. Easy commute access. Move in with confidence!

imageHere’s what nomadic had to say about this house

Failed flip, foreclosed, for sale.  A realtard bought this place in ’06 and did all of the renovation work.  The bank ate the loss in ’08.

These people have done nothing to the house since buying it 4/09.  It’s on a busy street with a freakin’ traffic signal in the front yard.  But they figure it has appreciated 30% in 2-1/2 years.  I expect this to linger on the market for many months to come unless they get real about the price.  They would be phenomenally lucky to get $800k; more realistically, $750k-ish.  Look at the awesome street view.  Just to the right is an assisted-living facility; at least the neighbors will be quiet.

That is one amazing default Streetview shot.  I’m wondering about just how wide-angle a lens they must have used to take that picture above from the sidewalk.


And you just can’t beat the feng shui of a T-intersection with another arterial.  That means all that commerce and prosperity is going to flow right into your house.  Or is it out of your house? And speaking of out, here’s the assisted living facility next door.


If you have allergies, this is a great neighbor to have: 80% of the front lawn is paved.  But back to the feng shui, if these residents need assistance to live, does their health flow into your house or the other way ‘round?  This is like Cations and Anions, I can never remember which is which.  But as long as both are flowing in or out, you’ll either get commerce or health!  Make an offer with lots of 8s in the price and move in with confidence!

Comments (18) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 27, 2011

Los Gatos home with 45% negative equity, great for family and kids

Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this rather intriguing high-price, low-photo listing in Los Gatos!


14880 LAS FLORES Ln, Los Gatos, CA 95032


SQ. FT.: 4,428
$/SQ. FT.: $497
LOT SIZE: 1 Acre
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Mediterranean
VIEW: Mountains, Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81141712
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 4 days

country location four bedrooms and four baths three car garage huge yard great for family and kids

Here’s why nomadic thought you’d like to see this house:

  • Weird history
  • $3.4M in loans
  • Short sale listed at $2.2M
  • Last “sold” in 2010 for $600k

Let’s have a look at that history.


What? No previous foreclosures?  No “not an arms-length transaction”? The seller isn’t a licensed real estate agent?  It wasn’t sold in 2006 for twice the asking price?  The Zillow history makes the above look a little stranger.  Note the July, 2010 sale.


And $3.4 million in loans on the house sounds like something straight from Irvine Housing Blog.  But here’s something you won’t see on IHB:


Yes, that’s this house in Google Streetview plus Burbed KawlumVision.  No wonder the place went pending in only 4 days.  I’m sure the bank will rush that offer right on through.

Comments (13) -- 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