May 21, 2013

House in Mountain View Still for Sale!

We’ve been discussing where all the hot markets are in the Bay Area, and Mountain View is hot, hot, HOT! So today, let’s play Why Isn’t This House in Mountain View Selling?  Thanks very much to Burbed reader LomaLuvr who sent this in and Burbed reader Real Estater who mentioned this house in comments.

130520-independence-redfin753 INDEPENDENCE Ave
Mountain View, CA 94043

3 Beds
2 Baths
1,347 Sq. Ft.
$518 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1946
Lot Size: 6,720 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 103 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Community: Rengstorff
MLS#: 81303560

Great Potential in Monta Loma Neighborhood. Open Floor Living, Dining, Kitchen. Some Marble Floors. Remodeled Kitchen, Granite CounterTops. Stainless Steel Appliances. Large Master Bedroom Suite Completed 2003. Central Heating. Dual Pane Windows throughout. Large Patio Deck. Large BackYard. Long RV Parking-Near Silicon Valley, Google, Schools, Transportation-Few Blocks from Monta Loma Elementary School.

Not only has this house been on the market more than a hundred days, it got relisted!  Let’s see what’s inside to get just a taste of what it has to offer.


And, WOW! Can you say FIVE different Redfin agent tour insights?  Okay, one of them posted twice.


130520-independence-racewayWho cares about natural light? Probably some Googler is going to buy this house and never come home during daylight hours because there’s free food for every meal.  And noticeable sloping means MARBLE RACEWAY!

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

February 16, 2013

It’s Search Engine Saturday!

And we haven’t had a Search Engine Saturday for many, many Saturdays!

Recently someone used a Search Engine and found his or her way over to Burbed by entering the following search:

what kind of toxic dump is whisman station on

What kind indeed?  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can certainly tell you all about it. But who wants to read a bunch of boring government reports?  That’s why there’s Burbed!  We’re happy to pass along any news about what kind of toxic dump your neighborhood is sitting on as well.  (Pro tip: Most Bay Area neighborhoods are infested with Bubbling Exuberance.)

Here’s our article that answers the above question, and the kind of toxic dump Whisman Station sits on is very nasty indeed.  Specifically, it’s a Tricoroethylene (TCE) plume.

Moreover, according to this article shared by Burbed reader Real Estater, this delightful area of opportunity is expanding into new territory!  Now who says they aren’t making any more land?

This is also your Three Day Weekend Open Thread!  W00t!

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

February 3, 2013

Top Ten Reasons You Should Ignore Realtard’s Columns

Today we’re going to have a look at a realtard’s piece over on Trulia’s blog.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Real Estater for letting us know about this essay.

Tough Year Ahead: Top 10 Issues Facing Bay Area Buyers

East Bay Real Estate Focus — Providing Definitive Information for the East Bay Area
Carl Medford | Agent in Fremont, CA
Posted under: Market Conditions in Alameda County, Home Buying in Alameda County, Home Ownership in Alameda County  |  January 26, 2013 8:22 AM  |  257 views  |  1 comment

“TWO recent national surveys of real estate agents suggest that first-time buyers are on the decline, their access to the housing market blocked by tight credit and eager investors,” states Lisa Prevost, of The New York Times (12/20/212).

Old news. In fact, I’ve been saying the same thing since August, 2012.

Truth is, no one knows exactly how many have decided to sit things out a bit until the market calms down. Although we’ve seen a decline in the number of buyers “actively in the hunt,” in reality, there are not “fewer” first-time buyers – if anything, there are more. LOTS more. The problem is that less of them are actually managing to buy a home, and, unfortunately, that’s the primary statistic that is being measured. No one is sitting outside open houses counting the bodies as they hit the front door and then compiling the numbers to a national database. If they did, a much different story would be on the evening news.

Buyers trying to purchase a home in the existing market conditions are facing into the teeth of a perfect storm, real-estate style, and it doesn’t appear that it will be ending anytime soon.

Here are the Top 10 issues facing Bay Area buyers:

130202-top10-suitcaseActually, as realtard happyprop goes, this is a little bit better informed than most.  It does say something other than “NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY,” and best of all, the disturbing faceless and sexless icons include the ever-popular, we swear we are not making this up, Dude With A Suitcase Full of Cash.  We know you won’t believe without seeing, so here he is.  (And from the minimal clothing, it’s either a Dude or it’s Annie Hall.)

Here’s that Top Ten list. If you’ve been a regular reader of Burbed, none of these should surprise you.

  1. Sorry, you missed the bottom.  Sucks to be you.  Medford says February 2012 was the official bottom.  Maybe it was… in the East Bay.
  2. Inventory? What inventory?  Raw meat, here’s the sharks.
  3. Prices are going up.  Some areas are up 40% from last year.  Actually, if Mr. Real Estate Person had read the actual data instead of just looking at a piece in the Chron, he’d have seen that some areas are up a lot more than 40%.
  4. Lots of cash buyers out there.  Yeah, and not just in the hellhole that’s the East Bay.  RBA too, only these aren’t investors.  On this item the realtard confuses the difference between “Central County” (probably Alameda County given the link) and the entire Bay Area in claiming 30% of all offers are cash.
  5. Crowds lead to multiple offers.  Take low inventory and desperate sellers, what do you expect, other than the author citing hard numbers with his opinion columns from a different site.
  6. FHA or VA buyer? Don’t even bother in this market; even conventional buyers are losing out to Mr. Suitcase.  And Mr. Suitcase doesn’t care about appraisals.
  7. 130202-top10-house-familyNew homes are in demand againaccording to CNN, that is. That doesn’t apply to the RBA because they still aren’t making any more land.  Why the realtard didn’t quote this local story in his own backyard is left as an exercise to the reader.
  8. Appraisers haven’t a clue prices are up, which is preventing prices from going up even faster.  Includes helpful link to another of his columns mostly about packed open houses with one throw-away graf about appraisers.  What stayed with us was the tsetse flies.  But there was something useful mentioned: appraisers were blamed for the last bubble, and they’re not ready for this one.  Yet.
  9. Banks are mucking up your loan even more than usual, although the link provided explaining the loan approval process doesn’t look to us like anything has changed much.  We suppose if you’re a realtard remembering the glory days of If You Can Fog This Mirror You Can Buy This House, you’d have a different opinion.
  10. Bank underwriters especially are being poopy-heads, and Medford’s happy to give some examples. Most of them look like underwriters working through a pile of documents, marking off inconsistencies, and resolving them later, where later is some period greater than the five minutes realtards think is appropriate.

While we are perfectly capable of posting house after house in the five mile radius of The Googleplex, we would never confuse the RBA with the entire Bay Area.  Just because an agent can write a column even longer than one of ours doesn’t mean he won’t commit the Fallacy of Composition.  The East Bay isn’t the entire Bay Area any more than the South Peninsula is.  Market conditions vary, so may your mileage, and definitely will housing prices. 

But we can guarantee there will always be some real estate professionals out there who take a few shortcuts.  Let’s give this one a golf clap for giving the appearance of a housing market review, even if he found ten different ways to say You Are Now Priced Out Forever.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

January 26, 2013

UPDATED: Special Bunus Report: Record-breaking property sale in Woodside

Thanks very much to Burbed reader Real Estater, who passes along the news that We’re Number One.  Again.  That is, We’re Number One as long as you don’t count ranches with a hundred thousand acres in Montana.

Silicon Valley real estate stunner: Woodside estate sells for $117.5 million

By Pete Carey, SJ Mercury News
Posted:   01/25/2013 07:00:12 PM PST; Updated:   01/25/2013 09:13:29 PM PST

WOODSIDE — A legendary investor’s sprawling estate here has sold for $117.5 million, one of the highest prices ever for a residential property in the U.S.

The sale price eclipses the previous Silicon Valley record of $100 million paid for a Los Altos Hills mansion by Russian investor Yuri Milner in 2011 and comes amid a red-hot market for luxury home sales in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula.

The private sale was closed in November between the owner, private equity investor Tully M. Friedman, and an undisclosed buyer represented by SV Projects, according to public records.

130126-mtnhome-frontNice going, San Jose Mercury “We once were a real News organization! Really!”  You’re reporting on a record-breaking property sale and couldn’t find any pictures of the property?  And it’s not like you didn’t have a few leads to go look for them.  Like the one from SFLuxe you alluded to at the end of your story and didn’t even hotlink in.

Their article has several excellent photos of delicious houseporn, all credited to photographer Jay Graham.

SFLuxe states their article is an exclusive, so they must have an arrangement with Graham to feature his photos.  Do check out their article.  In the meantime, Redfin is redirecting any requests to see the property record with a lovely redirect loop, so let’s see what we can find out elsewhere.

Update 20:50 — The Redfin link is working again but it’s been somewhat scrubbed. What a coinky-dinky.

130126-mtnhome-zillow360 Mountain Home Rd
Woodside, CA 94062

California > Redwood City > 94062 
Not for Sale
Zestimate: $19,227,778
Rent Zestimate: $12,677/mo
Est. Mortgage:

Bedrooms:4 beds
Bathrooms:4.5 baths
Single Family:8,930 sq ft
Lot:391,604 sq ft
Year Built:2005
Last Sold:Jul 1997 for $8,000,000
This 8930 square foot single family home has 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. It is located at 360 Mountain Home Rd Woodside, California.

Sure makes you wonder about those Zestimates when they’re off by 500%, although it’s hard to model paying top dollar for bragging rights.

We’re not going to find much in the public real estate websites, because the property was never listed for sale.  Still, the SFLuxe article gives a few hints.  The architect is Allan Greenburg, who featured four photos of the house in his online portfolio:

130126-mtnhome-poolWoodside Residence

This northern California home sits in an elaborate hilltop garden. Reflecting the strong Palladian tradition in the United States, it is planned around hyphens and dependencies and features a double volume, elliptical garden room.

Photo: Michael Biondo

And as to why we are almost Number One in expensive real estate transactions?  There’s that 124,000 acre ranch in Montana that Stan Kroenke bought, listed for $132.5 million (including the cattle).

Update 20:50: Adding in an aerial shot.  Note the road at the side of the house is not where the entrance is, that’s far off beyond the lower right.


Anyway, eat your heart out, Yuri Milner.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 1:07 pm

September 15, 2012

Buenas Noches for Buena Vista

We’ve dropped by the Buena Vista “Mobil Home Park,” the only trailer park in Palo Alto, a few times.  But Burbed reader Stefan alerts us that the much-maligned mobile mews may be moving on.  Thanks very much!

Burbed reader Real Estater also mentioned this article in comments.

Palo Alto mobile-home park faces redevelopment

Buena Vista residents could be forced out to make way for apartments

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

120914-bvista-overviewBuena Vista, the only surviving mobile-home park in Palo Alto, could soon be history, according to city officials.

Residents in the 117-unit park located at 3980 El Camino Real received a letter from property owner/manager Joe Jisser last week informing them that his family is exploring redevelopment options.

The family has owned Buena Vista, located near Los Robles Avenue behind a strip mall, since 1986, Jisser said on Monday. They are working with Prometheus Real Estate Group in San Mateo.

Prometheus specializes in the acquisition, development and management of residential and commercial properties and builds apartments, according to its website. It also focuses on transit-oriented development in areas that are close to corporate campuses, such as Apple in Cupertino and Google in Mountain View.

You think 15 units per acre is too dense for Palo Alto?  Promethius Development has many more rent-paying people per parcel planned for what they’re putting in.  Try 40 units an acre.  If you’ve read this book, just imagine life in The Stacks (which are literally mobile homes stacked into slum towers).

120914-bvista-pride-of-ownershipWhy is the owner finally considering selling out, after owning the park since 1986?  Infrastructure.  Water pipes and electrical wires and transmission are nearing the end of their useful life, and state codes have changed.  It isn’t enough to replace them, they’d have to be upgrades.  Not only that, most of the mobile homes in the park are too old to handle new systems.  And not only has the electrical code changed.  So has the law on spacing the units themselves.  Keeping the park legally open is going to become very, very expensive.

Meanwhile, the City of Palo Alto has a plan for development, and that includes multifamily homes along El Camino Real.  So apartment blocks are looking pretty likely.  And the low-income folks living here may well be SOL.  There is a city law that says they should get moving-out money, but realistically, there aren’t a lot of places they can go.  Many of them will move out in advance of the paid relocation, simply to ensure finding subsidized housing elsewhere.

Be sure to check out the comments on this article.  Some posters are glad to see the park go, and some prefer it stay in favor of a denser apartmentplex.  Of course most of them are worried about all those extra kids moving into THEIR SCHOOLS.  Because anyone moving into an apartment isn’t a Real Palo Alto Resident and should never be allowed to enroll.  We can’t understand why the trailer trolls are allowed, either.

But fear not.  Even if the BV is scraped to the ground and a shiny new (and dense) apartment complex goes up in its place, there will always be mobile home living in Palo Alto.

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

May 27, 2012

Palo Alto on Zero Dollars a Day

Both property prices and rents are rising to record levels in Special parts of Silicon Valley.  Here’s one very creative way around those sky-high living expenses.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Real Estater for mentioning this story in comments.

120525-aol-simonsMeet the tireless entrepreneur who squatted at AOL

For two months last fall, Eric Simons secretly took up residence inside the Internet giant’s Palo Alto, Calif., campus, eating free food, enjoying gym access, and building a startup in the process.

by Daniel Terdiman, CNET, May 24, 2012 4:00 AM PDT

It was 6 a.m. when Eric Simons was jolted awake by the yelling.

After working until 4 a.m, the 19-year-old entrepreneur had finally passed out. A few hours of sleep would help with the day ahead.

But unlike most people working at AOL’s Palo Alto, Calif., campus who were surely still hours from showing up at the sprawling complex, Simons was already there. He’d been living there for two months, hiding out at night on couches, eating the company’s food, and exercising and showering in its gym. And now, with an angry security guard bellowing at him, it was all over.

120525-aol-couchThe story of how Simons, just two years removed from a Chicago high school, came to be living in AOL’s Palo Alto campus could well become part of Silicon Valley lore, especially because it highlights the lengths some entrepreneurs will go to make their dreams a reality. And though stories abound these days of startup founders barely old enough to drink swimming in venture capital, far more have to get by on packaged noodles and the good will of friends with extra couches.

This story may surprise people who have never seen a Silicon Valley software campus, but those of us who live here know that all of them are able to handle employees living on site.  Think about all the amenities provided: Free meals.  Dry cleaning.  Car maintenance.  Gyms, showers, and lockers.  There’s no reason to leave the campus at all, so Eric Simons simply took the next step.

120523-aol-rentalUnfortunately, all good things come to an end, and Simons was evicted from the crash couches by a security guard.  But he obtained funding for his project,, and is now able to rent a house in Palo Alto (backyard, left).  Ever the entrepreneur, he is renting out four spaces in bunk beds there on Airbnb.

Discuss how to avoid having to pay rent or mortgages, or all the ways working for a big company makes life easier and less expensive, or anything else you want to in this Weekend Open Thread.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

June 25, 2011

Another Foreigners with Suitcases Full of Cash Story!

Thanks to Burbed reader Real Estater for bringing this up in comments yesterday.

The Chinese Go on a Global Homebuying Spree


Kelvin Wong, Nichola Saminather and Hui-yong Yu, On Friday June 24, 2011, 8:08 am EDT

On a sunny Saturday in early June, Larry Zhou strolled the floor of a property exhibition in Hong Kong, wondering whether it was time to buy another home — not in the city, where residential prices have soared 50 percent in the past two years, but maybe in Thailand or Malaysia. "My wife and I have been thinking about investing outside of the country since we already own an apartment in Shanghai," says Zhou, a 38-year-old civil engineer, who was visiting the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre before wrapping up a business trip and returning home. "I’ve known people in Shanghai who like to bring their money and invest in Hong Kong properties, but I think Hong Kong is way too expensive."

The two-day event that lured Zhou and 3,000 others is one way that China’s expanding wealthy and middle classes are finding investment properties and second homes around the world. They are grabbing everything from $68,000 foreclosed condominiums in Florida to $2 million beachfront villas in Vietnam. "Some of them will buy homes considering better education opportunities for their kids, while others look for immigration options," says Mo Tianquan, founder and chairman of Beijing-based SouFun Holdings (NYSE:SFUNNews), which runs China’s biggest real estate website and organizes buying excursions abroad.

Vietnam beachfront villas?  Don’t be silly.  Every single one of them wants to buy a house in… Vancouver?  The smart ones, though, are buying in Silicon Valley, especially places smart enough to work the magic word “Cupertino” into the listing somehow.

In the U.S., Chinese buyers have helped support home sales and prices in Silicon Valley and Hawaii, while they are an increasing presence in Las Vegas and New York, according to local brokers. […]

Las Vegas?  What the heck are they thinking?  There’s no Apple Campus in Las Vegas!

This is an Open Thread.  Let us know what Open Houses you’ve seen full of foreign buyers.  Or any buyers.

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:00 am

June 16, 2011

Byr ISO Lstg w/o Abbrvs

Today’s featured listing is from comments, found by Burbed reader Real Estater.  The listing copy seems a mite heavy on the abbreviations.  Maybe this agent is charged per letter of listing copy by the broker.  Maybe the agent used to work at Western Union in 1933.  And, then again, maybe the agent is just super lazy.

386 E Duane Ave, Sunnyvale CA 94085


SQ. FT.: 982
$/SQ. FT.: $458
LOT SIZE: 5,200 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Attached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81123947
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 3 days

Orig Owner always Hm. UEichler Hm W/ Lots of potential & Great Bones. Orig Parquet Flrs in L/R & D Rm, White Oak in Bdrms. 2 wndos on each side of F/P panelled over. Front Wndos Doubled Paned only, Newer Comp Shingle Roof (1996) w/ 2 Sky Tunnels in Large, Eat-In Kitchen w/ New Laminate Flrs. Covered patio area, auto sprinklers in well cared 4 yards. Quiet side of E. Duane Ave. This is a must SEE 4 the price.

Real Estater didn’t refer us to this listing on Redfin, but on Movoto.  Here’s some of what you get with the Movato site that is completely missing from Redfin: Artistic License.  We’ll bring you those photos and more Movoto Madness after the break.


Comments (58) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

May 20, 2011

This parcel use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s

Here’s a house full of win, first mentioned in comments by Burbed reader Real Estater

418 BRYAN Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086


SQ. FT.: 828
$/SQ. FT.: $639
LOT SIZE: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Cottage/Bungalow
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Sunnyvale
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81110948
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 63 days

VALUE IS IN LAND, but this home was lived in. Zoned R2, approx Lot Size is 6,000. 150 x 40.’Quant, Livable’ 2 bdrm 1 bathroom Home w/ Inside Laurnry Room and mudsill foundation made of Redwood beams with ‘uneven’ Fir Flrs & free standing gas stove. Grunt & shove windows. This parcel use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s. Tons of history & POTENTIAL! Within walking distance to Downtown Sunnyvale.

imageI sure am relieved to hear this home was lived in.  I can’t tell you how many 97 year old houses I have toured that never had a single inhabitant, especially the parcels that use to be a Black Smith in the 1900’s.

Having lived in Sunnyvale during a few years of the 1900’s, there were former Black Smiths all throughout the neighborhood.  It was an epidemic.  This is the real reason there was a housing bubble in the early 2000s: parcels that use to be Black Smiths.  Now they either call United Parcel Service and move to busy streets, or just sit around and get taxed by busybody PTA Presidents.

imageOMG I didn’t know they still made clotheslines like the TV Antenna/Umbrella combo above, which was very common in the early 1960s. In New Jersey.  That’s just a few bits of the Tons of history and POTENTIAL to be found here, every pound of which you get to pay to have hauled to the dump.

It really is not a good sign when there are no photos of the inside (they said it was Quant, Livable), and when the front of the house is the last photo rather than the first one.

Also check out this angled shot from Google Streetview.  I think we can call this place a Fence Fail.


Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

April 6, 2011

Substandard but buildable lot! no value/no foundation no reports AS IS-WHERE IS (not guaranteed) No no no with restrictions

Thanks to Burbed reader Real Estater who shared this house in comments, and calls this “Unbeatable value in 94301.”  I think he misspelled “Uninhabitable.”

434 FULTON St, Palo Alto, CA 94301


SQ. FT.: 1,224
$/SQ. FT.: $490
LOT SIZE: 3,936 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Crescent Park
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81113725
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 1 day

Strictly Land Value! Substandard but buildable lot! Existing structure no value/no foundation. No reports. AS IS-WHERE IS for house, systems, any pers. prop. Buyers to do all due diligence in advance. Per City PA (not guaranteed. Buyer to independently investigate/confirm) No 2nd story or basement allowed. New Requires 1 covered + 1 uncovered parking. .45% FAR with restrictions.

imageAnother refreshing entry!  How many homes for sale in Palo Alto have the word “substandard” in the listing or say the house has no value or foundation?  Too few!  And no reports.  And no 2nd story or basement.  Remember, you may deserve a Yes in San Jose, but all you’re getting in Palo Alto is a bunch of No no no no no (buyer to independently investigate/confirm).

As to the .45% FAR;  It does say POINT four five percent above, right?  Decimal point and a percentage. Math class is tough! 

That means 0.0045 of the land can be built on.  So, .0045 times 3936, carry the three, um… you can build a 17.712 square foot structure on this lot.  Yes, under eighteen square feet.  Here is something that is 18 square feet, the kitchen on the right.

imageOh, wait, the rotating kitchen uses up 18 square feet.  We need something that shows how much room you have if your living space is 18 square feet. How about this half-bath plan!

So, the realtard can’t do math and clearly slept through fifth grade when decimals and percentages were covered. Just the trained professional you want representing you in a $600,000 transaction involving lots and lots of minutiae like building codes and escrow balance sheets.  He really meant 45% or .45 FAR.  Palo Alto would never restrict you to an eighteen square foot house when tearing down a 99 year old scraper.  (Piedmont would.)

That means you can build up to a 1771.2 sf house on the substandard lot, whoops, you need a covered parking space plus an uncovered one, guess you better take 200 feet off for the mandatory one-car garage.  Still, a 1571 sf house is bigger than what’s there now.  Plus it will have the added advantage of having luxurious extras such as a foundation. And value.

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am