January 11, 2012

Do not go direct to San Mateo

imageOne of the interesting things about reading so many real estate listings is noticing just how few agents have a decent command of the English language.  When the market was red-hot back in the mid-oughties, listing copy was slapdash because the homes, RBA or not, essentially sold themselves.  And now that market action is found at the very high and very low ends, nothing says low-end like a listing that doesn’t even try to scan.

Today’s housing horror, from Burbed reader MS, is a good example of this.  The copy sounds like a Monopoly instruction.  The only question is whether this property is in the Dark Purples (now Browns) or the Light Blues, because it sure as heck isn’t Boardwalk.


San Mateo, CA 94401


BATHS: 5.5
SQ. FT.: 1,804
$/SQ. FT.: $277
LOT SIZE: 5,610 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: North Shoreview/Dore Cavanaugh
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81148666
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 42 days

Tenant occupied. Two large dogs. Do Not Go Direct. As Is Sale, No Seller Warranty, Additions may or may not have permits

imageHere’s what MS had to say about this fantastic find:

All tenant-occupied places mean you have to call agent for appointment. . Just to get the point across about how real this short is,  these tenants have TWO LARGE DOGS that make showings even more difficult, not that you planned to! And then there’s the unpermitted additions. What are they in a 3/5.5?
How’d they add onto it, to get that configuration?
I’m stumped. I’ll go if someone goes with me.

Have a look.  It seems like they just kept moving on back.


Whoah.  Come for the “may or may not have permits” additions, stay for the high-voltage transmission lines.  And if you’re ever worried about not having enough power to run your flatscreen television collection, just tap in behind your fence.


“Bunus”: Golf course right across the street means random broken windows!

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

January 10, 2012

Fremont wants back into the RBA

We’ve had many discussions on what makes a place Real Bay Area (RBA) and more importantly, what makes a place Not.  Good schools, professionals for neighbors, and no uncorrectable deficits such as freeways, airports, and toxic waste dumps is a start.  But what’s a real tip-off that a place is in the RBA?

Not only is it way too expensive for what you’re buying, but the asking price has been increased.  Many thanks to Burbed reader Praveen for today’s featured listing.


Fremont, CA 94539



SQ. FT.: 1,931
$/SQ. FT.: $5,695
LOT SIZE: 7,910 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
COMMUNITY: Alameda County
COUNTY: Alameda
MLS#: 81200779
STATUS: Active

Very exclusive Mission Highlands East section of Chadbourne. One level four bedroom with huge remodeled kitchen and family room. Large master bedroom newly remodeled master bath. Large yard. Wonderful layout. Easy wlk to Mission High, Chadbourne elementary.

imageThis not particularly large home on a not particularly large lot was listed for $1,099,000 on EBRD, the East Bay multiple listing service, last Friday.  But when it appeared on MLS (used by the West Counties) the following Monday, the price had gone up tenfold.  What happened?

Simple. Houses marketed to East Bay buyers aren’t as Special as houses for Peninsula and South Bay buyers.  That’s why there’s one price for the East Bay and a higher, better, more exclusive, lots more Real Price for Silicon Valley lucky duckies.

And boy, some Silicon Valley home-owner-to-be is going to want this place!  Doesn’t that location, location, location suggest rural isolation and quiet evenings at home?




Get your overbids ready, because photography like you see for this listing doesn’t come cheap!

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 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, patrick.net readers!


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

August 12, 2011

Flip This Location Fail

This new listing appears courtesy of happy-piggy over on Redfin’s Bay Area forums.  It’s definitely a flip, because the house changed ownership all of five weeks ago (as I write this).  Your challenge, dear Burbed readers, is to find as many reasons not to line this flipper’s pockets as possible.

Yes, we’re going to play What’s Wrong With This House.  See how many problems you can find!

178 LAS ASTAS Dr, Los Gatos, CA 95032


SQ. FT.: 1,354
$/SQ. FT.: $701
LOT SIZE: 7,208 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Ranch
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81133706
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 1 day


imageSo, what is that in the first picture?  Looks like the agent made a real point of minimizing something.  See what I mean?


Harder to see in the second picture (#18 on the Redfin page), but there I see something strung up there, more than enough to equip a sitar.  Let’s go to our eye in the sky to check this out.


No, I wasn’t seeing things.


YOWZA.  And here’s what happens if you look at the house on Streetview and then look straight up:


I’ll leave the rest of the hunting to you guys, but be sure to check the neighborhood out to make sure there aren’t any other issues lurking nearby.  Have fun!

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

August 8, 2011

Best. Street name. Ever.

imageI was looking at the San Jose Mercury News’ (motto: We Were Once a Newspaper!  Really!) city homicide map, wondering if it would lead to any particular real estate bargains. Like maybe there’s a neighborhood full of low prices but no unnecessarily dead neighbors.

Anyway, If you click on the little blue map pins, an information box pops up with more details on each crime.  Then I saw this.

OMFG. While this hood may not be where your typical High Functioning Autistic Engineer wants to live… can you BELIEVE that streetname? I couldn’t either. So let’s examine a typical property for sale on a short block that’s long on GEEK WIN.

446 NERDY Ave, San Jose, CA 95111


BATHS: 1.5
SQ. FT.: 1,113
$/SQ. FT.: $216
LOT SIZE: 5,000 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Traditional
COMMUNITY: South San Jose
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81130790
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 23 days

This IS A Great property! While it requires some TLC it is located in a terrific neihborhood with a great lot!

imageAt these prices, cash in some Apple, Google, or Facebook stock options and you could buy up the entire block.

Heck, you could probably afford to build your own monorail from your high tech job to this awesome sauce street name.

Really.  I’m so speechless I’ll let you Burbed readers critique the damned HOUSE.





Can you imagine what this place would have sold for if it hadn’t been an insider deal?  The mind boggles.

And. THIS:


You may well be looking at one of the few properties where the Streetview shot is demonstrably better than the realtard’s offering, and I’m spotting him the garbage bins.

It’s unfortunate city planners didn’t put this street a few miles northeast, closer to Reid-Hillview Airport, so you could own a Silicon Valley house at the corner of White and Nerdy.

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

May 31, 2011

Shenanigans with Short Sale in Old Palo Alto

Here’s a find from comments, from Burbed reader San Matean,  San Matean wants to know what kind of games the bank is playing with this short sale in Palo Alto.  We know that a short sale means “selling shortly,” but going pending the same day it’s listed sounds more like an inside job.

1520 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto, CA  94301


SQ. FT.: 1,500
$/SQ. FT.: $553
LOT SIZE: 5,600 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Spanish
VIEW: Neighborhood
COMMUNITY: Professorville
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81123457
STATUS: Pending With Release
ON REDFIN: 1 day

Location! Location! Location! The following was remodeled in 1997 Kitchen; Master Bathroom; 2nd Bath; Hardwood Floors underneath carpeting. Newly Landscaped rear yard. Large Kitchen great for gathering. Enclosed front with beautiful park like setting.

Wow, they were in such a hurry to “list” this property they didn’t even bother including any photos.  It isn’t any different on the agent’s own site, so let’s take a peek at the Googlecam.


Not bad, although this is an 80 year old house.  It may need new light bulbs and Drano.


It also looks like some other building has preempted the back yard.  The property lines suggest that this house and its next-door-neighbor have gone halvesies on their own meth lab:



Back to San Matean’s concern: this property was listed and went pending the same day.  That’s not the real puzzler, though. This house is in 94301, a Really Special Place, yet not only didn’t it double in ten years, it actually may have lost value.  Unless, of course, the bank decided that the overbidding would take this house right where it needed to be.

imageAnd the reason this house is now essentially owned by the bank, instead of the couple who bought it with a $706.5K conventional variable mortgage, is they refinanced it in 2005 for $962.5K (also variable). They must have liked the extra cash so much that they did it again a year later.  In 2006, the purported owners became FBs when they refinanced with a variable first mortgage of $990K, and a variable second mortgage of $198K, or $1,188,000 total.  That is, coincidentally, just $17,500 more than this place’s current Zestimate.

So, our question for you, Burbed readers: How much do you think this house sold for? We have so many fun factors in the mix: Busy street, around the corner from an even busier street (Embarcadero), bank owned property, mystery structure eating up a couple back yards, asking price a whopping 30% below the Zestimate, and a transaction that not only doesn’t look arms’ length, it suggests someone has a banker by the balls.

Comments (52) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 1:36 am

April 14, 2011

Beautiful Ecchler, I mean Eichler, with Pool. Or something that starts with Poo.

Here’s a great find by Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer, from the comments.  Usually we prefer that you send listings to us so everyone can enjoy discovering it together, but sometimes a shared find is so notable, so amazing, so completely without any value to a buyer but lots of value to a reader, it deserves the full Burbed treatment.  And there’s plenty to note here!

2115 EDGEWOOD Dr, Palo Alto, CA 94303


SQ. FT.: 1,614
$/SQ. FT.: $527
LOT SIZE: 7,875 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
Neighborhood YEAR BUILT: 1956
COMMUNITY: Green Gables
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81113857
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 5 days

beautiful eichler home * Great value * Backs to the exit from 101 to Embarcadero. Make offer subject to inspection please. ..

Here’s what sfbubblebuyer had to say about this “beautiful eichler home.”  It was not “* Great value *”

If they’re going to drop a deuce like that on us, they should at least PRICE it like a PA deuce.


This isn’t a deuce, sfbb!  This one is at least an eight, as in I sure would eight to live here!  Wow, complete with an exit ramp?  I can’t wait to submit my overbid.


imageBut wait, there’s more!

All those lines, the wall, the ceiling, the radiator, the fence… it’s a perspective exercise from hell.  Agent must have flunked out of art school.

You know who else didn’t finish art school?  That’s right!  HITLER!




…the drawers, the tiles, the transoms, make it stop, I’ll tell you where the secret codes are kept, I’ll confess anything you want…



Did this agent not take Real Estate Photography for Dummies* and Why You Should Never Photograph Outside When Sun Is High?

Plus a US Mailbox, conveniently located right in the backyard!

*But I repeat myself.



Whoa.  That carpet, so suggestive of Bermuda.  If Bermuda’s waters were cut on 90 degree angles and careless aligned.  And what’s with the sky in these pictures?  Did someone take a 2 hour Real Estate Photography and How to Use Photoshop to Make That Sale instead of the full 16 hour series?




Rather nice of them to show us the pool without the Bermuda carpet.  Everybody in!




Ah, blissful summer days, playing Marco Polo until the all the ponies drowned.

Seeing the pool like this sure gives you a whole new perspective on the pleasures of owning one.




I think this last photo is my favorite.  Note clever product placement in foreground.

You know what? This house isn’t a deuce and it an eight either.  This is a Jack!

As in, would somebody please take a Jackhammer to this place?

Comments (57) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

December 31, 2010

Clearance Sale – Newark

Last house of 2010, and is it a STUNNER!  The banks say everything must go, so help economy as you help yourself to these incredible deals!

36570 Bonnie St, Newark, CA 94560


Beds: 3
Baths: 1
Sq. Ft.: 942
$/Sq. Ft.: $220
Lot Size: 6,864 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1953
Community: Alameda County
County: Alameda
MLS#: 81040455
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 136 days

1st time home buyer or investment opportunity. 3 br, 1 bath home with large yard and wide driveway space. Add your style with some updates and a little sweat equity. Convenient to freeways and shopping.

image You’ll have plenty of opportunities to add your style here!  All it needs are some updates and a little sweat equity.  I think the agent is using “little” in the same sense that upper-class women use the term to mean “expensive.”  As in “Muffy, do you think I should wear my ‘little’ necklace to the regatta?”

Associating the house with shopping expeditions by the moneyed class is an excellent marketing strategy, because the house is “convenient to freeways and shopping.”

Convenient to shopping.  Really, really convenient.


image I’m not sure what amazes me more about this house: that the agent thinks these photos are going to help sell it, or that it’s only being offered for 15% less than its bubble pricing in 2006.  But that’s still more than twice what it sold for in 1990, proving that real estate will always go up in the long run.

It’s just that some places have to run longer than others.

Better make it your New Year’s resolution to elbow your way past the crowds to buy this one, because it’s selling shortly!

Comments (41) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

December 23, 2010

Cheapest House in Atherton

Black Friday DEALS continue, and thanks to Burbed reader sonarrat for finding today’s budget-blessing beauty.  Here’s what sonarrat had to say about today’s find:  “That’s the one block of Atherton that has all small lots and tract homes like Redwood City.”

208 Selby Ln, Atherton, CA 94027


Beds: 3
Baths: 2
Sq. Ft.: 2,760
$/Sq. Ft.: $469
Lot Size: 6,250 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Style: Traditional
Stories: 2
View: Neighborhood
Year Built: 1965
Community: El Camino to Alameda
County: San Mateo
MLS#: 81053468
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 45 days

Amazing value for this 2,700 +/- sq. ft. home. Has never been on the market. Formal entry, elegant living room with formal dining room, large bedroom suites, lovely backyard. Best price in west Atherton. Kitchen opens to spacious family room. Amazing opportunity.

Best price in West Atherton.  And some wags thought I made up West Atherton.  Nuh uh.  A professional Real Estate professional type lady professional said “West Atherton” in the copy above.  So let’s have a good look at what makes West Atherton so Special.


See?  It’s in Atherton, but West!  You can live just like the working class in Redwood City, except your postman reminds you every day that you live in Atherton!  And so will your property tax bill.


Best of all, this snout house has never been on the market.  That means if you buy it now, it won’t have too many agent cooties.  Now that’s a DEAL.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

September 5, 2010

Los Altos NIMBYs Protest Cell Phone Towers

Los Altos area residents won’t drop call to arms over cell tower

By Diana Samuels, Daily News Staff Writer

Posted: 09/03/2010 10:13:58 PM PDT
Updated: 09/04/2010 07:37:40 AM PDT

A group of Los Altos area residents who lost their bid this week to keep a 55-foot-tall cell phone tower out of their neighborhood said they plan to take their fight to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The county’s planning commission voted 4-2 Thursday to reject an appeal from residents of the San Antonio Hills neighborhood in an unincorporated part of the county. The residents say neighbors Marshall and Nadja Jackson are operating a commercial “cell tower farm” on their Whitham Avenue property, in violation of county zoning regulation.

The Jacksons already have three cell towers on their property and won approval from the planning commission in June to build a fourth for Verizon Wireless. Marshall Jackson declined to comment Friday, but said earlier this week he believes the 55-foot-tall “monopine” — a tower disguised as a pine tree — will make the community safer thanks to the better coverage it will provide.

Tower opponent Chris Hyrne [in photo at right] said he and other residents plan to appeal the commission’s decision to the board of supervisors.

This site has long discussed one of the true pleasures of homeownership: the joy of watering one’s own lawn.  How come nobody ever brought up the delight of collecting fees for hosting a “cell tower farm” on your own property?  You don’t even have to water the monopine!  Just sit back, relax, and watch those checks start rolling in.  Sure, you’ll earn the enmity of your neighbors and your kids won’t be able to show their faces at recess, but so what?  If you’re tough enough to have become a Real Bay Area homeowner, you (and your kids) can handle a little ostracism.

We are not talking about beer money.  The Jacksons are currently hosting towers for AT&T, Sprint, Metro PCS, and T-Mobile. They earn between $500 and $3500 a month per tower for having them on their property.  The new Verizon tower would be 15 feet taller than the existing structures, and by law that means the other carriers can raise their towers to the same height as the new one.

Meanwhile, the neighbors against the towers have their petition against the “antenna farm” online, complete with address of the “butt-ugly” towers.  They have a website as well.  But we’ll save you the trouble of driving over to Whitham Avenue, as the Stoptheantennafarm.org website has this lovely view of the towers:


Can’t imagine why the neighbors are complaining.  They must get cell reception like no tomorrow.  Heck, Marshall Jackson, who just happens to be a Realtor, said the house across the street from him sold in two days, over asking price, because of the awesome bar count.  “I’m concerned for the greater good,” Jackson said. “I certainly want to make profits myself; I’m a capitalist and I’m profit-motivated. … but I also don’t do things I think will hurt people.”

Here is the house in question, sold for $1,000 over asking.  (Something very funny is going on with that house, take a look at the sale records.)

Now that the cellular antenna farm idea has been featured on burbed (an award-winning site, you know!), everyone will want to be the first on their block to plant an antenna farm!  So hurry!  Unless you’re a renter, in which case you can spend Labor Day Weekend watering your landlord’s lawn.

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am