February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

Did you know that Burbed turned six last week?  Our very first post was on February 4th, 2006.  Here’s a peek:


What’s really great about the very first house on Burbed is it’s a castle on Buckingham Avenue!  That’s like finding a ski chalet on Zermatt Street, or a tilt-up industrial building on Technology Drive!

If you look up the listing history on Redfin, we can see just how good a job the agent did with that $555K asking price.


What do you think this house would sell for in today’s fever-pitched market?  Close to Facebook… I would say $888K FTW!


Any suggestions for celebrating six years of Burbed content?  This is an open thread.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

January 28, 2012

Your Weekend Moment of Zen. Or Zin.


Click for a larger version.  This is an open thread.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:59 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

January 8, 2012

What will be hot for 2012?

What are the hottest neighborhoods for 2012? (aside from all of them)

What will be the hottest architecture trends for 2012 in the Bay Area?

Aside from adding the word “Facebook” to every listing, what else will be hot for listings for this year?

What will the median price per square foot in Palo Alto for houses on Redfin be by the end of the year?


Comments (16) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:48 am

January 1, 2012

Good Riddance to 2011

imageHappy New Year 2012!  We’re SO DONE with 2011, and don’t have to hear any more Negative Nancy Nay-Saying about the housing market!

Besides, if you’ve been paying attention, you already know that all that housing bear news you’ve been hearing from the usual suspects doesn’t even APPLY in the Real Bay Area!  Things in the RBA could not be better, and 2012 is the year that market conditions start TRICKLING DOWN for everyone to enjoy.

Let’s examine some of the excellent conditions in place for you to BUY OR SELL A HOUSE THIS YEAR.

imageFirst, there will be PLENTY OF FORECLOSURES.  This is a GOOD THING because it will ensure PLENTY OF INVENTORY to choose from.  That means PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY for you!

INTEREST RATES on mortgages will remain low.  Or maybe they will quickly rise.  LOW rates are good because you can buy MORE HOUSE.  Rates going up are GOOD because you can lock in today’s low rates and laugh at the LOSERS who waited.  But you’d better lock them in TODAY.

Why are you still reading this?  Go LOCK THEM IN!  Get going and BUY A HOUSE!

JOB CREATORS won’t get their TAXES RAISED no matter what Obama says.  As long as Wall Street continues OCCUPYING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, there’s no chance of any millionaire tax.  And even though banksters don’t create that many jobs (heck, they just use all that cash as insulation in those drafty castles), fewer jobs means YOUR MONEY WILL GO FURTHER because you won’t have much competition.  And if you don’t have any money then why the heck are you reading a real estate site?  Go look under the couch cushions, you can probably find something.

imageMeanwhile, the EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK shouldn’t have anything to do with home prices.  If you have a job, buy a house!  If you don’t have a job, it won’t be long before another bubble, and you’ll be able to buy a house with a no-doc loan!  You can fog a mirror, can’t you? 

HOME PRICES FORECAST: RBA Real Estate only goes UP UP UP!  Non-RBA Real Estate is not worth considering, so save up for the RBA.  Real Estate in areas that aren’t even in the Bay Area?  Choose wisely, knowing you’re probably going to lose it all.

This is an Open Thread.  What are your predictions for 2012, other than the world will end?

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

December 24, 2011

Your Holiday Weekend Open Thread

Last year, when we wished everyone the best wishes of the Season, we suggested you buy a house for some of your loved ones.  Looks like somebody took us seriously.


Look at the last bullet on the flyer:


imageSome home buyers purchase homes as gifts.  Hmmm, maybe by “some” they mean “I read this on a Real Estate website.  Therefore, somebody somewhere out there must have actually purchased a home as a gift.  Given that my income is about five percent of what it was in 2005, I will suggest almost anything to increase it in hopes that there is at least one suggestible person out there sitting on carloads of cash.”

Well, sure, this is a Bay Area real estate website, and we did indeed suggest buying a homes as a gift.  Whether these agents understood we were using the literary technique of humorous exaggeration to make a point is one of life’s eternal mysteries.

This is an Open Thread.  How many houses are you planning to purchase as gifts?  Are they all in the Real Bay Area?

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 18, 2011

Placing Blame for the Housing Bubble Where it Belongs

imageIf you want to test someone’s political orientation, ask what caused the housing bubble and subsequent crash (yes, we know, there is no housing crash in the Real Bay Area).

Conservatives blame the federal government (although I repeat myself).  In this case it’s a confluence of the GSEs, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and both Congress and the Executive for pushing homeownership on people who weren’t ready for the responsibility and couldn’t afford it anyway.  In particular, the guilty parties are Barney Frank and poor people.

imageLiberals blame Wall Street for blowing up the economy by securitizing mortgages and creating more and more leveraged and abstract financial instruments using them.  The products required a steady stream of mortgages, so brokers had every incentive to approve everything.  There was no risk to them because they weren’t keeping the loans.  Also, since Goldman Sachs ultimately shorted the entire market, they’re doubly responsible for talking it up to customers while doing their best to crater it.

A new Federal report points the finger elsewhere.  They blame a different kind of speculator.

Federal report: Home flipping drove housing bubble

Associated Press
Posted: 12/13/2011 06:33:47 AM PST, Updated: 12/13/2011 10:31:40 AM PST

LAS VEGAS — A new federal report shows that speculative real estate investors played a larger role than originally thought in driving the housing bubble that led to record foreclosures and sent economies plummeting in Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida and other states.

Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that investors who used low down payment, subprime credit to purchase multiple residential properties helped inflate home prices and are largely to blame for the recession. The researchers said their findings focused on an "undocumented" dimension of the housing market crisis that had been previously overlooked as officials focused on how to contain the financial crisis, not what caused it.

More than a third of all U.S. home mortgages granted in 2006 went to people who already owned at least one house, according to the report. In Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where average home prices more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, investors made up nearly half of all mortgage-backed purchases during the housing bubble. Buyers owning three or more properties represented the fastest-growing segment of homeowners during that time.

"This may have allowed the bubble to inflate further, which caused millions of owner-occupants to pay more if they wanted to buy a home for their family," the researchers noted.

imageThis report won’t satisfy either of the above groups, because it fails to place the blame where it belongs: on either Big Government, Big Business, or Big Poverty.  How could a bunch of onesie twosie speculators drive up home prices as much as they did?  That’s like blaming high coffee prices on just Seattle residents.

Please identify and complain about your favorite party to blame for the rest of the country’s housing market imploding while our home prices remain insanely delightfully high robust.

This is an Open Thread. 

Comments (31) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

December 17, 2011

It’s Search Engine Saturday!

imageWe haven’t had a Search Engine Saturday for a long time.  Do you know why?  It’s because there have been enough on-topic items to cover for our weekend open threads.  Search Engine entries mean either nothing’s worth discussing or I’m too lazy to write a real article.

And after researching and writing six very long pieces on zip codes, it’s time for a break.  For us.

Recently, someone used a Search Engine (I won’t say which one, but it rhymes with kugel) and found their way to Burbed using the term Palo Alto house crazy.  I’m pleased to report that Burbed comes up second on that term, losing out only to CineArts @ Palo Alto showtimes and tickets.  (Burbed readers are invited to speculate just why a foreign film theater would be of interest to off-their-meds real estate enthusiasts.)

I suspect that the searcher probably wanted this article from Palo Alto Online covering the crazy difficult time people are having in renting a place there.  But perhaps they were looking for the YouTube video with a crazy DUI high-speed crash in East Palo Alto.

That’s the great thing about using a Search Engine.  You can’t look for Palo Alto without getting its neighbor to the north as a “bunus.”  Anyway, this is an Open Thread, so have yourself a house crazy time today.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

December 11, 2011

NASA encouraging Commuter Airplanes: This means War!

imageDid you know that your tax dollars are subsidizing the possible destruction of the Real Bay Area as we know it?

NASA is offering a series of prizes to encourage Green Flight.  These “green” flying machines are called SAVs, or Suburban Air Vehicles, which would have either VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) or ESTOL (extremely short yadda yadda) abilities.  “Pocket airports,” which need be no larger than 2 acres, could be placed anywhere as the planes would have electric motors. 

Electric motors would be much quieter than gas motors, so there wouldn’t be the noise factor that you get from a conventional airport.  Think flying EVs.  Being close to a pocket airport could be not a location fail but a location win.  Heavily trafficked areas could have SAV taxis rather than leaving the plane parked all day. 

imageWhile this X-Prize approach to solving traffic problems might sound all ecological and high minded (ha ha), this is a threat to our entire way of life!  Realize what this would mean to home prices in the RBA

NASA is encouraging aircraft designs that could have a range of up to one thousand miles per battery charge.  That means the RBA could expand as far away as Montana!  After all, why is the RBA so Special?  It’s close to the great jobs.  And what keeps commutes from further afield long and painful?  Gridlocked traffic!  That’s why people pay the prices they do for Burbed-worthy habitation!

imageNot only that, Google has just stabbed us all in the back by being a major backer of the prize money!  The first stage of awards, totaling $1.65 million, were made possible by Google’s involvement.

According to a study done using patterns in Sonoma County, removing just 3500 vehicles a day from the Golden Gate Bridge and San Rafael Bridges would alleviate gridlock (see page 27, Sonoma-Marin County Commute Model, also the traffic study itself).  That means commutes would be less painful for the automobile drivers as well as those on these SAVs (which everyone knows stands for Suburban Assault Vehicle).

imageNot only that, imagine these damned miniplanes hogging the ChargeStation and leaving your Leaf or Volt stranded!  I tell you, Real Bay Areans, contact your Congresscritter and demand that NASA stop investing in technology that will allow just anyone to get to work at Google yet also own a house on ten acres for half the price you paid for a mansion in Cupertino

Remember, high property values means nobody else gets in after you!  This is an Open Thread.

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

December 3, 2011

Bay Area Prestige Home Index: Up from a Real Downer

If you’re interested in Bay Area real estate, you should be familiar with the Prestige Home Index.  Put together by First Republic Bank, the Prestige Home Index tracks the value of a number of “over $1 million properties” in eight Bay Area counties.  Burbed has a handy link to the index on our blogroll on the right; you’ll find it with the Real Bay Area links.

Earlier this week, the latest quarterly numbers ending September 30th were released.  Let’s take a look at First Republic’s exciting graph with the latest RBA domicile data!


While the index has risen to 437.48 (after dropping from 450 nine months ago, long down from its peak of 533.17 exactly four years ago) the little kick at the very end of the graph shows what could be the second dead cat bounce, or it could show we’ve hit bottom!  Then again, it could just represent a few LinkedIn types jumping into Palo Alto ahead of their stock coming out of the no-trading lock-up zone.

Then again, the above graph is the median value of their high-end home portfolio, which is currently $2,531,042.  Since they neglected to graph the index itself, I’ve thrown one together for you.


Oh, silly me, I didn’t pull the “let’s exaggerate the graph by chopping a whole bunch of numbers off the bottom of the Y axis” trick.  Fine, I can play that game too.


Can anyone figure out which Bay Area county is not represented in the First Republic Prestige Home Index, San Francisco Edition?  My money is on Marin!

In San Francisco, the higher end of the luxury market was active. “Above $5 million, the market is healthy,” said Mary Lou Castellanos of Sotheby’s International Realty. “Smart money is buying now and is taking advantage of lower prices and lower interest rates. At the same time, a growing number of sellers are getting more realistic about price.”

We’ve featured high-end properties before, and prices aren’t always realistic (take a look at both the homes in the zip code series and this collection of Santa Clara County astonishers if you don’t believe us).

This is an Open Thread.

Comments (23) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am