December 16, 2012

Hella Pricy Place in Hella Expensive Space Fails to Sell Hella Quick


Let’s say you built a super expensive, fancy-schmancy custom one-of-a-kind house on a spectacular view lot and had a bunch of designers each decorate a different room in the place to make it Extra Super Mega Special. Then you ran a charity fundraiser by calling it a Designer Showcase and listed the place for $45 million.  And of course you list it with Sotheby’s.

121215-belvedere-windowAnd yet, let’s say this drop-dead-gorgeous spec palace did not find a buyer for $45 million (or, we assume, anywhere near that vicinity) when it was first listed this February.  What do you do?

You could cut the price ten million or so.  And it looks like that was tried as well, as the most recent price last week is $35.88M.  And yet, the house is still sitting there, all lonely on its double lot and intense blue skies obtained with the finest Photoshop filters.  What’s the next step to avoiding serious financial fail?

In this case, the solution (or at least the next attempt at avoiding a catastrophe) is to put the house up for auction.  The starting price will be $25 million.  At least one website actually states this is going to result in the home selling for last February’s price.

Alas, we missed the preview yesterday afternoon.  But the auction will be on December 30th, giving you plenty of time to contact the right people and get yourself in on the fun.

121215-belvedere-brochureRedfin won’t disclose the address, but we sure will: 425 Belvedere Ave, Belvedere.  You’re welcome.

Click the image at right to see the home’s brochure and many more pictures in tones of sapphire and sunset.  You can also drool all over the home’s website if the brochure isn’t enough house porn for you.

So, is the market bubble over already, or did the home builders simply overreach with a $45 million ask?  What do you expect the place to fetch at auction?  Is the opening $25 million minimum sufficient to move this mess?

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

April 5, 2012

Updated: 3 level executive estate in midtown Palo Alto in a cul-de-sac

It’s been far too long since we’ve heard from Burbed reader dollarbin.  Let’s check in with this palace in Palo Alto!

Palo Alto, CA 94303


SQ. FT.: 5,255
$/SQ. FT.: $618
LOT SIZE: 8,712 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
VIEW: Neighborhood
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81146955
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 147 days

Elegant newly constructed (2010)3 level executive estate in midtown Palo Alto in a cul-de-sac * One of a kind quality & workmanship with mahogany paneling & hand carved custom doors * Gourmet kitchen with S/S appliances, granite counters, custom cherry cabinets & a breakfast bar * Brazilian teak flooring & imported marble floors throughout * Includes library, exercise & media rooms.

120403-randers-crapperHere’s what dollarbin had to say, when passing this parcel along:

Anybody send you this one yet?

Who says Palo Alto is free of McMansions? I had given up the dream of spending less than $700/sq ft in Palo Alto, but this Spec House PA-lightup-signmisadventure proves it saves to buy in bulk. Plus it has a totally classy fountain burbling in the front yard.

This listing caught my eye because I noticed they have a flyer sign out on Colorado Ave that actually lights up at night, so I looked up the Redfin knowing it would be full of win.

Wait… spec house misadventure?  How can anyone have a misadventure when they’ve lit your way there?  Although the price history may tell us a thing or two.


120405-randers-columns-addedAnd here we thought the misadventure was the .60 FAR or the 11 HDR.  So let’s help this poor spec house.  What is keeping it from generating dozens of overbids?

Bunus: Mawbul kawlums are rectangular!  Break out the red arrows!

Update 10:41 am: Two more kawlums lurking on the right of this picture, noted by Burbed reader SEA.  Mawr red arrows, please!

Comments (44) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

August 16, 2011

Beautiful drawing of a house, comes with huge sandbox

Here’s a find from Burbed reader Wendie, from the zip code that is singlehandedly responsible for keeping construction workers employed.


3798 LAGUNA Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306


BATHS:  3.5
SQ. FT.:  2,783
$/SQ. FT.:  $898
LOT SIZE:  8,378 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE:  Detached Single Family
STYLE:  Modern/High Tech
COMMUNITY:  Barron Park
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81118659
STATUS:  Active
ON REDFIN: 107 days

Barron Park Style Home with Great Room overlooking back yard. New construction by Excellent Builder James Witt that has been building homes for over 40 years. Buyer may select 8 finishes. Completion date by end of September 2011.

imageHere’s what Wendie has to say about this property:

Wow, they are trying to sell a foundation!

Well, that’s not all you get, Wendie.  You can select 8 finishes, and we’re talking Excellent Builder James Witt that has been building homes for over 40 years.  So that’s 5 years per finish.

Hmmm.  So is Excellent Builder James Witt a person, place, or thing?  And if that has imagebeen building homes for over 40 years, wait, it’s homes, so at least he/it hasn’t been working on this one since 1971.

I do wonder just which is more unlikely, though, that this house is going to be ready in six weeks, or that the agent is going to update the virtual tour so we don’t conclude that Excellent Builder James Witt has done nothing but tear up the yard.

But since this Barron Park Style Home with Great Room definitely won’t be ready in time for school starting next Tuesday, you could camp out in what’s left of the back yard.  I hear there’s a Great Room overlooking it.

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

April 28, 2011

Perfect Hideaway, if You have Something to Hide

Thanks to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for calling this listing out in comments!  This is quite a find, quite a find indeed.

1959 BELLE Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070


SQ. FT.: 3,050
$/SQ. FT.: $639
LOT SIZE: 5,750 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Mediterranean
VIEW: Bay, Mountains, Neighborhood, Valley, City Lights
COMMUNITY: Howard Park
COUNTY: San Mateo
MLS#: 81105544
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 57 days

One of the most desirable areas in San Carlos! Plans for a 5 bedroom, 4 bath Tuscan Home with authentic architectural details. Walk to downtown, highly rated public and private schools, parks and youth center. Large parcel to accomodate outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and fire pit. Quiet two block long street.

imageThat agent had me going there!  Full sentences, proper use of capital and non-capital letters, failure to indulge in string of exclamation points, correct spelling, he definitely will accommodate… oops!  Didn’t run that copy through spell check, I guess.  Computer class is hard.

But I think the agent really needed a class in How to Present Your Listings by Emphasizing Positives and Minimizing Problems.  He got off to a great start by putting up a site elevation instead of various photos of a construction site, but… um…

Well, let’s admire some of the photos that this real estate professional thought were the most effective way to persuade someone to buy a two million dollar house.





Here’s what PG had to say about this house:

Perfect for someone looking to get rid of a body

This is another one of those properties where you have to dream the dream, visualize the possibilities, and assume the general contractor is as skilled and organized as this agent.  So let’s get another sense of what it means to be a real estate professional, such as having a keen understanding of the market:


Wow.  Marketing class is hard, too.

Let’s have a look at where this dream home is going to be, on a “large parcel” (of less than 6,000 sf). For two million smackeroos, it better be on a larger parcel than any of the neighbors, at least!


Whoa!  What’s this?  Zillow thinks this is now a double lot!


And that is very, very odd, because the Redfin listing says it’s a 5750 sf lot.  So the Zillow listing should be over 10,000 sf, right?


imageWow!  Anyone want to calculate the FAR for this?  I suspect it might violate a few city zoning ordinances.  Anyway, time to wake up from the dream and check out Google Streetview, always a fun virtual outing.  So let’s see what that double lot looks like.

Uh, let’s enjoy the single lot the way it was when it was sold in 2007.  Wow!  Is all of THAT included, too?  Dibs on the blue bin!

imageAnd the neighbor across the street on the (shhh, don’t look!) much bigger parcel?

The good news is the neighbor’s house won’t make you feel like a serf, but the bad news is it does sit nice and high lording it over you.  Until you go to your second floor balcony and look them right in the eye.  After all, you have a two million dollar house, and they don’t.

Comments (24) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

August 24, 2010

Lonely Spec House Needs Care, Decor, and Your Bank Account

Here’s a house that’s been on the market almost half a year.  Not only is nobody living in it now, nobody’s lived in it ever. burbed agents worked hard to find out why,

26462 Purissima Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022


Beds: 6
Baths: 7.5
Sq. Ft.: 11,000
$/Sq. Ft.: $808
Lot Size: 2.03 Acres
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 2
Year Built: 2010
Community: Los Altos Hills
County: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81010120
Source: MLSListings
Status: Active
On Redfin: 173 days

This extraordinary new estate is adorned w/ Old World Roman architecture. Spanning 2 levels, the approx. 10,000+/- sq ft main house offers 4 bedrooms, 2 offices, theatre room, & fitness room. Guest house includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, & full kitchen. Other amenities include 7 fireplaces, waterfall, pool w/ spa, sauna, wine bar, optional elevator, & room for tennis court. Excellent Palo Alto schools

purissima1You know what Old World Roman architecture means, don’t you?  If you don’t, I’ll give you a hint.  Dat’s right!  MAWBUL CAHLLUMS.  I think this property might set a burbed record for its sheer columnosity.  These pictures were lovingly borrowed from the property website and should give you the idea.  Just look for the helpful red arrows so you can count how many columns are in each picture.

Go ahead, count the arrows.  I definitely agree this new estate is extraordinary, but then again, things can be extraordinary without necessarily being good.  Like extraordinary rendition.


purissima4 purissima5



No, you aren’t seeing things.  There are columns in the MUD ROOM above.  Why a house in a semi-arid region like Northern California needs a mud room is something for you to ponder on while you check your bank account.

purissima9 purissima10

purissima11 purissima12

Had enough of that magnificent stairway?  Let’s check out the back yard.  Column WIN!  The structure in the center of the first picture below is the guest house.  Only 4 columns.  Not even as much as the decorative set of arches by the pool.

purissima14 purissima15

purissima16 purissima17

But… problems in paradise: there were cracks forming on the paving under that big balcony in that last picture above.  The house was finished this spring.  Should have used real marble!  That’s a waterfall in front of the guest house (columns foreground).  It was a great idea, but not for the reason you may think.


That’s the guest house on the left (above).  So, you thought the mud room was a funny place to put marble columns?  How about taking Mike’s advice and put some in your kitchen!  Or your bathroom!  Oooh-la-la!

purissima7 purissima13

Unfortunately, those MAWBUL CAHLLUMS not only weren’t sold by Fred Armison personally, they aren’t even made of marble!  They’re hollow tubes of concrete!  You’d think for almost nine million dollars the builder would spring for the real stuff?

You’d also think for that many big ones they’d spend a little bit to stage this place properly?  You’d think wrong.  This is what you see when you view each bedroom:


Nothing says, “I’ve got money and power” like a completely empty room.  And when I say empty, I mean there isn’t even a thumbtack on the inside of a closet door.  This house just reeks of empty, as you can see from playing Debbie Does Doric above.  There’s even empty spaces where the builder couldn’t figure out what to do with them, so he turned them into randomly shaped closets in unexpected places.  It’s like those tiny balconies on the second floor of the front of the house.  Those balconies were barely a foot deep.  So you have a room with no window, just a french door to a decorative balcony.

Oh yes, the waterfall.  The waterfall is there to deal with the reality of the lot:


Not quite easy freeway access, but almost!  The waterfall is there so you won’t hear the gentle susurrations of Interstate 280.

In summary, I think this house is still empty because it looks like it was designed by someone who grew up poor and thinks this is how rich people live.  You know, as many faux marble columns as possible.  Faux!  That’s French!  That’s good, rich people speak French!  Heck, call it a faux mansion!

But there is one fantastic feature the agent forgot to mention.  Since nobody ever lived in this house, nobody ever died in it either.  It’s guaranteed to be ghost-free!

Comments (67) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am