August 27, 2013

Thirteen Forty Seven: Diamond in the rough part of Old Palo Alto

Yesterday’s house didn’t seem to do it for our readers, or at least the readers who enjoy commenting about properties featured on our site. So today we’re going back to a tried but true perennial: the Palo Alto crapbox, with bunus WTF pricing.  And no, we don’t mean that the way you think we do.

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Michael Boltonestater for sending in today’s house. Oh yeah, one more thing.  PENDING!

130826-alma-movoto1347 Alma St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Loan Payment: $2,423/mo
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 1
Size: 848 sqft
$/sqft: $737/sqft
Type: Single Family House
Year Built: 1925
Lot Size: 1,100
Days on Movoto: 8 days
Neighborhood: Old Palo Alto
MLS#: 81329852
Status: Pending – Do Not Show

Diamond in the rough! Contractor special for a property that needs cosmetic and some possible structural intervention. Price reflects condition. Many possibilities! Don’t miss this great opportunity!

130826-alma-framingDid you say possible structural intervention? Say no more! Nothing like a real challenge to whet the appetite on a Tuesday morning, because the usual shortcomings of a busy street and Elon Musk’s Hyperloop right across from it aren’t sufficient. And if you think that would scare anyone away, think again! How many other properties on 1100 square foot lots went pending in 8 days?

We were sure than lot size was a typo until we took a look at the aerial view.


This is a one-story house, 848 square feet. Looks like a similarly-sized house shares the lot. 1100 could well be correct. But, seriously, is any price too high for your own quarter of a tenth of an acre in Palo Alto?

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am

March 21, 2013

This is why The Real Bay Area is Awesome

We get some interesting comments from people who don’t agree with our definition of what the Real Bay Area (RBA) is. Many seem to think that if an area is wealthier than its surrounding community, that, in and of itself, is sufficient for RBAhood.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole point of the RBA is that it is not only expensive, it is that you will pay a crapton of money to live there and the sellers can ask over three million yet treat you with complete and utter disdain. You will also end up with a house that isn’t even worth photographing. Today’s property illustrates this perfectly.

130320-waverly-redfin1801 WAVERLEY St
Palo Alto, CA 94301

5 Beds
3.5 Baths
2,982 Sq. Ft.
$1,105 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1932
Lot Size: 9,000 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 7 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Community: Old Palo Alto
MLS#: 81307920
Style: Colonial
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, Mar 23: 1:30-4:30 pm
Sunday, Mar 24: 1:30-4:30 pm

Prime Old Palo Alto!Old world charm meets modern amenities! Lovely 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath home. 2 master suites; one on each floor. Large family room adjacent to spacious kitchen. This home features a huge 9000 +/- sf lot. It is perfect for large gatherings & extended family visits. Updated kitchen and baths with tile counters and newer appliances.

130320-waverly-streetviewYes, this is a vintage home (just slipping in under our definition to earn the “old house” tag) in a desirable part of Palo Alto, but it isn’t being marketed as a teardown. It’s just that the agent obviously has better things to do than pull out the iPhone and snap a dozen listing photos.

Good thing there’s Google Streetview!  Isn’t this place just fabulous?

130320-waverly-streetview2Guess you’ll never know unless you show up at the Open Houses this weekend.  Also, many sections of Streetview around this house have been blurred out. Perhaps this home is owned by a highly-placed Googler.  This view around the corner from Tennyson was the best we could do.

But you’ve seen plenty of properties on Burbed showcasing Palo Alto. (Heck, we’ve visited Waverley Street so often they ought to rename it Burbed Boulevard.)  We were trying to make a point about the difference between RBA and not-so-RBA.  Let’s see what you could get for pretty much the same amount of money over the Bay and through the Caldecott.

130320-oaks-redfin6 GREAT OAKS Cir
Orinda, CA 94563

3 Beds
3.5 Baths
4,350 Sq. Ft.
$770 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1949
Lot Size: 2.32 Acres
On Redfin: 541 days
Type: Detached
Stories: 1
Community: Glorietta
MLS#: 40544806
Style: Contemporary
View: Other
County: Contra Costa

Original Frank Lloyd Wright designed home built in 1949. The stunning grounds were landscaped by Henry Matsutani who did the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Incredible opportunity to own a bit of history/ a work of art. All showings subject to screening process. Call agents for details.

130320-oaks-diningThat’s right.  If you’re willing to spend the same amount in Orinda, you can own a house actually designed by Frank Lloyd fucking Wright. Not only that, the landscaping is by the same master gardener behind the Japanese I-shit-you-not Tea Garden.  In Golden goddamned Gate Park. Which we think even Silicon Valley software dweebs have heard of. Plus the Orinda house is on more than two acres.

It’s also been for sale for a year and a half and has had two major price reductions.

130320-oaks-statuesBut in Old Palo Alto, you get a house on nine thousand feet, and you will like it.  And if you don’t plenty of others will, because this house has only been on the market for a week, and after the Open House you know the sellers will be receiving all seventy-nine offers the following Tuesday, and decide which of the no-contingencies-extra-cash-please-with-homemade-brownies-and-a-Tesla-Model-S begging letters they will accept.

And THAT, my friends, is the Real difference between the Real Bay Area and the Rest.

Thanks to the fun folks at Redfin Forums for inspiring today’s article.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

March 4, 2013

Bay Area Bubble 4.0 is now officially entering insanity stage: $2.8M Teardown in (of course) Palo Alto

It may be just the tip of the Krazy Kool-Aid effect, but this is not how a reasonable housing market should work.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie (as well as additional fans) for bringing this textbook definition of Irrational Exuberance to our attention.

130302-tennyson-redfin559 TENNYSON Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Listed for $2,088,000 on 1/25/2013
Price changed to $2,088,888 on 1/27/2013
Sold for $2,820,000 on 2/25/2013

2 Beds
1 Baths
1,353 Sq. Ft.
$2,084 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1921
Lot Size: 7,500 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Feb 25, 2013
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
County: Santa Clara
Style: Cottage/Bungalow
Community: Old Palo Alto
MLS#: 81302338

Located in the heart of wonderful old Palo Alto with top rated schools on a large 7500/SF lot. Charming 2 bedroom 1 bath plus den. One oversized bedroom. Hardwood floors , utility basement, and detached Garage. Sold as is in its present condition. Offers to be reviewed after 2/8/2013.

130302-tennyson-bathWe’ll have plenty more evidence as we move into Spring Selling Season that the Real Bay Area is in a Real Bubbly Attitude.  Maybe this can be the First 35% Overbid of Spring.  Now let’s hear from Wendie.

This realtor did an amazing job with the photos of this house! How else could this 3/1 1300 square foot house have sold for 2.8 million dollars?? 800K over asking prices. 

I mean, did you ever think that taking photos of a 1920’s bathroom and a CORNER of a room could do such magic?


You’re simply not giving the agent enough credit, Wendie.  I see at least TWO corners.  What, do you think these houses just sell themselves?

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

February 10, 2013

Another Wave of the Bubble Wand: A $6.5M Crapbox in Palo Alto

130209-webster-bubblewandYesterday we had a brief summary of snapshots showing that we are indeed entering the early stages of a new real estate bubble.  Far-flung areas are still far below their ridiculous 2005-6 peak pricing, and nearby but unloved neighborhoods are being scraped up by investors rather than the outbid mortgage mooches.

But core Real Bay Area listings near high-paying tech jobs are at or even above their insane 2008 peak pricing.  Yes, 2008.  Crap areas hit their high-water marks much earlier than premium places, and it’s the high end that has come back first and letting us know it.  We promised we had a doozy for you today, and we weren’t kidding.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for bringing by the bubbly by the carboy.

Location, Location, Location! Teardown: $6.5 Million

Need proof that the Palo Alto housing market has heated up?

130902-webster-patchBy Beatrice Karnes; February 8, 2013

It’s not enough to live in Palo Alto—homebuyers want to live in specific neighborhoods. A home in Old Palo Alto has gone on the market and it’s being advertised as a tear-down or a remodel. Asking price: $6.5 million.

It’s a simple, middle class home built in the mid-1930s and boasts four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, hardwood floors, some linoleum or vinyl floors, and a one car garage.

Let’s have a look.

120209-webster-mlsl1935 WEBSTER ST
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Type: Single Family Home
MLS #: ML81303410
SqFt: 3,009130209-webster-front
Beds: 4
Lot Size: 16,610 SqFt
Baths: 3 Full / 1 Partial
Year / Age: 1937 / 76

Virtual Tour

Prestigious Old Palo Alto location. Rare opportunity to remodel or build new on a large lot. Possible subdivision, Buyer to verify with City of Palo Alto. Built in 1935 by William Wurster. Detached recreation room with workshop, dark room and half bath.

130209-webster-tulipsLet us count the ways that this is Dutch Tulip Fever all over again:

  • A teardown, for Six. Point. Five. Million. Dollars.
  • A teardown, but you could remodel. After spending Six. Point. Five. Million. Dollars.
  • A teardown, 78 years old (2 years too young for the “old house” tag)
  • A teardown, with a named architect.
  • A teardown, sold for its potential to build two houses. But why stop there, bribe the appropriate agencies and cram in four!  Heck, how about a 20 story condo tower? Buyer to verify with City of Palo Alto.
  • A teardown, with 22, yes twenty-two mostly similar photos in full HDR.  Have you ever seen HDR photos of a workshop, a basement, or a garden hose left on the ground?  You’re about to.


Do not miss this Rare opportunity to be able to Walk To Steve Jobs’ House.

Comments (21) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

July 2, 2012

Following Up on an RBA Foreclosure

It’s always fun to revisit a house that’s previously been given some Burbed love.  Today’s house is a foreclosure with an unpermitted garage conversion, exactly what you’d expect to find in Old Palo Alto.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for today’s cognitive dissonance.

Palo Alto, CA 94301
$1,888,000, Reduced from $1,988,000 on 6/7/12
Reduced from $2,198,000 on 5/15/12


120701-coleridge-monaBEDS:  4
SQ. FT.:  2,235
$/SQ. FT.:  $845
LOT SIZE:  6,696 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Country English
COMMUNITY:  Old Palo Alto
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81221385
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  25 days

Amasing 4 bd 4 ba in old town palo alto . newly remodeled with new presidential comp roof, new paint and fixtures, refinished hardwood floor, double pane windowes, stainles still appliances , lots of closets. garage had been converted to a family room and aditional room including full bath by the previous owner , permit unknown. this may not been included in sf. huge price reduction.

120701-coleridge-ivyHere’s what Wendie had to say about this house:

Didn’t you highlight this house a few months ago as a short sale? I think it was listed as 1.2 back then….

Why yes, we certainly did mention this house, but it was last September, and it was on bank auction list.


120701-coleridge-seller-is-agentBut back then the agent wasn’t mentioning all the excitement in the former garage!  And this house is just full of excitement.  A huge price reduction!  A foreclosure last October!  Yes, a foreclosure, not just in the Real Bay Area, but in Old Palo Alto.  Who knew that Larry Page could walk to a foreclosure in his own neighborhood?  (We would have said Steve Jobs, what with all the “walk to Steve Jobs’ house” comments about this neighborhood, but he could not walk to this house when it foreclosed as he passed away one week earlier.)

And if the garage and the price and famous dead neighbors isn’t enough excitement about this house for you, here is the icing on the cake.  You’d be buying the house from the agent herself.

Be sure to read all contracts carefully, because based on that listing copy, this may not be one of those agents who pays attention to silly little details.  Annoying little details such as spelling or capitalization or prices or whether a contract is actually signed.  And if you’re not a detail person either, then the two of you are a match made in heaven.  Or at least Old Palo Alto, which is practically the same thing.



Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

June 22, 2012

Wouldn’t It Be Waverley?

Let’s finish out the first weekend of summer with another Two for One Special.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this Palo Alto find.

Palo Alto, CA 94301


SQ. FT.: 1,020
$/SQ. FT.: $8,812
LOT SIZE: 7,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Old Palo Alto
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81222806
STATUS: Active

ON REDFIN: 4 days

Price includes 1934(front) and 1936(back) Waverley St. These 2 properties are in the prime location of Old Palo Alto and are to be sold together. It’s a rare opportunity to own a 2 lots together in Old PA. #1934 has 3/2.5 + 2 car garage, with serene back yard. #1936 has 2/1 old ranch + 1 detached garage. City shows larger lot area. Buyer to varify with city planning dept for lot size and FAR
Yes, it’s just like the pair of homes we ran on Tuesday, except these have 8s in the price.  And 8s in the price per square foot, too!
Be sure to check out the other house.
Comments (27) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

June 11, 2012

Wacky Wavewwey Wetuwns. Weawwy!

120610-waverley-elmer-fuddFriday’s featured find on Waverley escalated the eager entries in its comment thread, so let’s continue our pursuit of Palo Alto property with another home on the same superb street.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Wendie for these proactively priced premises.

Also, we’re feeling a bit miffed at Redfin for not linking back to us for several weeks, so we’ll use the site Wendie provided instead.  Here’s the Redfin link if you prefer their entry, which confirms the price per square foot.

2051 WAVERLEY ST, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Offered at: $11,495,000 — Active


An Exceptional, One-time Opportunity To Own An Extremely Rare, Immense 26,344 sq ft lot (buyer to verify) in the Old Palo Alto Legendary Locale. On the corner of Santa Rita Ave & Waverley St, this dream building site is located in the prime, heart of Old PA. This premiere flat 0.6 acre lot also includes the existing 2,651 sq ft, 5BR/4BA home built in 1929.

MLS: 81216663
Type: Detached Single Family
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 4 Full
Interior: 2,651
Lot Size: 26344
Garage: Detached,2 Car Garage
Year Built/Age: 1929
Walk Score®: 58

120610-waverley-satelliteHere’s why Wendie sent this one in:

Look! For $4,300 per square foot, YOU can live across the street from Steve Jobs’ home!

Big lot, big location!  Why do you care what the house looks like?  What’s more important is who you’re going to run into if you need to borrow a cup of sugar silicon.


Too bad this property is diagonally across from Waverley Oaks, or Larry Page would snap it up.


Here’s a glimpse from the side, courtesy of Larry’s fleet of mobile spycams. This is a better look at any of the structures than you’ll see on the actual listing.  Then again, can one actually price a home too highly in Palo Alto?  It’s been on the market for 37 days and counting, so place your bets!

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

June 7, 2012

Price Reduction in Palo Alto! NOW is the time to BUY!

price-cut[7]Sometimes we try to go an entire week without mentioning the most Special Place in the Whole Real Bay Area.  This week, sorry, no such luck. 

Many thanks to Burbed reader Gallileo for this perfect Palo Alto abode!

2150 Waverley St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
$4,450,000, reduced from $4,975,000


120606-waverley-kitchenSQ. FT.: 3,018
$/SQ. FT.: $1,474
LOT SIZE: 0.26 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Colonial
COMMUNITY: Old Palo Alto
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81218701
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 20 days


Here’s why Gallileo sent this listing in:

2150 Waverley in Palo Alto is back on the market!  Originally featured in 2009 for nearly four million dollars, this beautiful home with ocean views didn’t sell.


120606-waverley-bedroomThis house has appreciated a cool million–twenty-five percent–in just twenty-eight months. All the way to almost five-million dollars! Surely if it didn’t sell for four-million while it was listed for nearly all of 2009, someone will pay five-million in the summer of 2012. You know, the luxury good effect and all that. It just wasn’t priced high enough to be prestigious before.

Just imagine how much appreciation if it still had ocean views, or if you could still walk to Steve Jobs’ house from here. Hey, his old place is just down the street. It just needs to be more 120606-waverley-kawlumsexpensive so it can be truly prestigious.

So why was the home marked up a million dollars since 2009 when it didn’t sell?  They didn’t spring for new listing copy, or expensive lower-case letters. But this time around, there are actual photos inside the house.  So now we know a secret: There’s a set of MAWBUL KAWLUMS in the john!

But speaking of million dollar markups, whoops!  Would you believe the seller reduced the price the very day we wrote this house up? Sure you would, but what you won’t believe is that a house in Palo Alto could be overpriced in the first place. It must be because the ocean views got misplaced.

You do realize if you don’t put your bid on this property in the next 15 minutes you’re going to be priced out forever.

Comments (76) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

September 20, 2011

Gasp! Foreclosure in the Former RBA!

Say it isn’t so!  A little bird tells me this place is going to be auctioned off soon.  Lots of homes are foreclosed on these days, but not many have the pride of place this one did.


633 COLERIDGE Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Last selling price $1,585,000 in Dec 2005
Auction Price: $1,262,250


SQ. FT.: 2,400
$/SQ. FT.: $660
LOT SIZE: 6,696 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Country English
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Old Palo Alto
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 80531585

Lovely 2 story English style in Old PA on a cul-de-sac near Walter Hays Elemen School. Spacious w/ gleaming hdwd, new paint, family rm/kit combination. Lge LR w/ beam ceilings 2 outside patios-reared gd fenced. Driveway at rear. Garage

Say it isn’t so!  The FBs are so down on their luck they have to use abbreviations in their listing, too!  And this house has such a convenient location, gently tucked into the corner near Middlefield and Embarcadero.  You can go ANYWHERE from there!

Here’s the auction information:


Whoa, that’s this Friday!  And it’s got a Zestimate of $1.94 million, so this is a no-brainer!  Now, the plot thickens, because both Redfin and Zillow say it’s off the market, with last sale in 2005.  But lookie here:



Instant equity ka-ching! Bring your cashier’s checks and come on down to San Jose, because this one is going, going, gone soon!

Comments (22) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 9:15 am

September 15, 2011

Has Palo Alto really gotten THIS expensive?

Today’s featured listing was sent in by Burbed reader Wendie.  Thanks very much, Wendie, for remembering that we all agreed not to ever discuss Palo Alto again!


120 LOWELL Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301


SQ. FT.: 1,319
$/SQ. FT.: $1,289
LOT SIZE: 7,500 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch, Traditional
COMMUNITY: Old Palo Alto
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81136132
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 21 days

Opportunity! Many upgrades create move-in condition hm in Old Palo Alto on 7500 sq ft lot. Perfect for downsizeing into prestigious neighborhood or living comfortably while planning the building of your dream home. Popular great room floor plan with gourmet kitchen w/ custom cabinets & granite counters. Stunning full bath. Living/dining areas open to spacious private deck perfect for entertaining

imageHere’s what Wendie had to say about this interesting property:

I find this listing fascinating.  Can a 1300 square foot, 3 bed, 1 bath house, three houses from Alma/train in Palo Alto REALLY command 1.7 million?? I guess we shall see!!  Take a look at the map of the property.  Something (an apartment building, utility building?) is right behind the backyard as well. Whatever it is, its not good.  But, still the owner/real estate agent thinks the house is worth $1,300 per square foot!!!


Let’s have a closer look at that mystery building behind the back yard.


I don’t think that’s a new townhouse.  All the recent construction uses earth tones.

And what’s wrong with $1,300 a foot in Old Palo Alto, anyway?  Lots of people pay that for houses where the agent is too embarrassed to use an exterior shot as an intro to the place.  And if the photos lead with the living room, there’s a good reason, so now let’s have a glance outside.


Awesome!  This place comes with a Dude hanging out in the driveway!

Bunus: This $1.7M listing looks like a serf hut next to the larger neighbor house!  Unless, of course, that wishing price represents the seller’s expectation that you’re going to scrape this sucker down and build something just as large to fit in!  But if that were the case, why all the improvements inside?  Truly a puzzlement whether it’s perfect for “downsizeing” into prestigious neighborhood or living comfortably while planning the building of your dream home!

At least the realtard spelled “prestigious” correctly, while planning the counting of her dream commission.

Update (9/16): Welcome, readers!


Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am