July 24, 2013

Not a Drive by in Vallejo. More like ez access to GTFO.

There’s Real Bay Area, there’s Almost the Real Bay Area, there’s Might Be Real Bay Area… and then there’s No Way No How is this RBA. Today’s house is definitely in the latter category.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader L in Vallejo for this fascinating find.

130723-ruby-vallejo296 Ruby Ln
Vallejo, CA 94590
$347,000

HOA Dues: $108/mo.
3 Beds
2.5 Baths
1,632 Sq. Ft.
$213 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1992
Lot Size: 6,902 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 15 days
Status: Active
HOA Dues: $108/month
Style: Contemporary
View: Greenbelt, Other
County: Solano
Type: Detached
Stories: Split Level
Community: Crystal Pointe
MLS#: 40621890

Beautiful tri-level home, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath 2 car garage attached in a nice quiet cul-de sac. .location , redwood deck 2 fireplaces , well maintained, clean, spacious . .. ez access to Fway. .. not a drive by. .. a must see. ..

Does L think this is a must see? Let’s listen:

130723-ruby-fireplaceYour blog was so refreshing as I went through the home buying process!

So, I know Vallejo isn’t included in the RBA – but enjoyed the listing pictures on this one very much – especially coupled with the copy.

Potential song pairing: Train, "Drive By"

I think my favorite pic is the pillows surrounding the fireplace.

It’s hard for us to choose just one favorite pic, and it was even harder for the realtard to do so.  And she didn’t have to! The same shots appear over and over and over!  For example, here are pictures 3,4,5 and 11.  Also #10 looks suspiciously like #8 above (the pillows undergoing flammability testing).

130723-ruby-bath130723-ruby-blinds130723-ruby-bath2130723-ruby-blinds2

There are 23 pictures in the listing. See how many distinct images there are (hint, fewer than you think!). And yet not one of the ez access to Fway.

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And that’s not just any Fway, that’s the approach to the Carquinez Bridge! Which means if it’s backed up, you’ll know just by looking down the street!

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:08 am






April 7, 2013

A Day of Rest Should be Observed with Real Estate

Today is Sunday, and that means… no A-Z Blog Challenge today. The schedule’s been set that we do a new letter every Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday you can go to church or look at Open Houses.  Or in the case of this story, courtesy of Burbed reader nomadic, you can combine both.

Judge Rules Against Bay Area Church Leaders In Real Estate Case

130406-vallejo-marqueeVALLEJO (KPIX 5) – A California state judge has ruled against two leaders of a prominent Bay Area church accused of bilking parishioners in an alleged investment scheme.

The judge ruled that General Assembly Church leaders Lacy Hawkins and Michael Parker operated a real estate investment company without a license, in violation of securities law.

KPIX 5 has been investigating Lacy Hawkins and Michael Parker’s involvement in the business deal, that church members said cost them millions of dollars. General Assembly Church has locations in Union City and Vallejo.

Hundreds of parishioners mortgaged their homes and drained retirement accounts on the promise of investment returns as high as 30 percent. Some said they were even promised salvation.

Yes, it’s not enough to have a religious leader in a fraud case, it has to have a realty component. And this one’s actually pretty interesting. Seems this was one of those We’re Here To Run Your Life For You kinds of churches, where you can’t even wipe your nose without permission.

130406-vallejo-churchAnd the Supreme Leader pretty much was ordering parishioners to buy into their real estate trusts or tout them to each other.  The investment vehicles weren’t exactly transparent about the real estate in them.  Unless you count the Woodlands of Ascension project they bought in Louisiana. Which was, mo konmprann, swamp.  Leadership blamed lack of progress on Katrina, but the Army Corps of Engineers said the land was always swamp.

The victims are claiming they were brainwashed into investing with the church’s leaders. We’re imagining just what kind of techniques were used. Maybe “Buy now or you’ll be priced out forever and that, my friends, is the definition of HELL.” 

Also the church leadership quickly realized that paying the real estate agent (who was part of the church) regular commissions for flipping properties was a loser… for them. The agent went from $20,000 a month to $1600 biweekly, as straight salary.  Meanwhile, the church reported to the IRS that they had paid him the commissions, so he owes more than a million in taxes.

The investment’s books were not open to the membership, either, so they didn’t realize that the vehicles were classic Ponzi schemes.

This is an Open Thread. Are you attending religious services this weekend, Open Houses, both, or neither?  And we’ll be back with the next letter in the Challenge tomorrow, G for God. Or Grab. Or both.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

April 8, 2012

Lights Out for Los Gatos Painter Thomas Kinkade

Here’s something to deepen your observation of Easter.  While devout Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus today, this man’s passing on Good Friday leads to a kind of different kind of immortality, and we are not talking about paintings.

Thomas Kinkade, one of nation’s most popular painters, dies suddenly in Los Gatos at 54

120407-kinkade-2002By Mike Rosenberg, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:  04/06/2012 06:43:30 PM PDT; Updated:  04/07/2012 03:41:26 AM PDT

Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54.

His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.

“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,” his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”

120407-kinkade-tasteHis paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand — famed for their painted highlights — not commonly seen in the art world.

“I’m a warrior for light,” Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. “With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel.”

120407-kinkade-products

Now, if you want to instead refer to the Los Gatos Patch (an AOL-owned series of hyperlocal blogs), Kinkade actually died in Monte Sereno, while with his live-in girlfriend, as he had been estranged from his wife for two years.  That would explain why his family was in Australia at the time of his death.  Kincade’s passing is indeed relevant to the Real Bay Area, since he lived in Los Gatos.  Or Monte Sereno, depending on which reported version you prefer.  But this scan of the firefighters’ frequency shows an engine was dispatched to 16342 Ridgecrest Ave, due to a 54 year old male “drinking all night, not moving.”  That address is owned by someone named Kinkade, and also had an “under influence of drugs/alcohol” arrest there last year.  The address is missing from most property databases, though, including the Recorder’s Office.

120407-kinkade-vallejo-village-at-hiddenbrookeKinkade certainly has his staunch supporters and determined detractors.  This Mercury News article generated 150 comments in just a few hours and had more than 250 by the following afternoon.  Most Merc articles draw under 20 comments.  The NY Times obituary generated an even more derisive stream of criticism, while the Washington Post put the negative commentary in the article itself.  The daddy of all Kinkade-dissing news items has to go to this 2006 Los Angeles Times piece, though.

But there’s an aspect of Thomas Kinkade that had managed to elude us all this time.  It turns out that his kitschy paintings of cottages in the woods inspired multiple housing developments.

That’s right, for the fan who isn’t content with buying a snowglobe or a throw rug, there were plans for actual tract houses trying to look like his paintings.    And one of the first such developments, the Village at Hiddenbrooke, was built in Vallejo right as dot.com went dot.bomb in 2001.  4259 Andover, The Villages at HiddenbrookeThe homes were 1800-2600 square feet on 4000 square foot lots.  The large photo above is interior décor from one of those model homes.  Most of the links to the builder and the development in the Salon article are now defunct.

It’s not easy figuring out which streets in Hiddenbrooke are part of The Village.  And given that the builder was London-based, that’s a particularly interesting name for a community accused of being somewhat, um, ersatz.  Here’s a home that sold last year, and do check out its history, because it sold for less in 2011 than when it was sold new nine years beforehand.  You can check out the neighborhood on Redfin but nothing seems to be for sale there now.

However, Kinkade did not stop with just the one housing development in Vallejo.

Architect Rann Haight, left, financier Roger Stewart, center, and builder Steve Torres have signed a deal to build luxury homes that will be based on the Thomas Kinkade paintings on the table in front of them in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, April 21, 2006. The luxury homes, to be built around Lake Coeur d'Alene, will cost $4 million to $6 million. (AP Photo/SPOKESMAN-REVIEW, Jesse Tinsley)The photo at right shows the team planning for five Kinkade-inspired $4 to $6 million luxury homes around Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho named The Gates of Coeur d’Alene.  This project was launched in (of course) 2006, at the height of bubblicious housing insanity.

Plans for 100 homes based on the cottage paintings were being developed later that winter for a project in Columbia, Missouri called The Gates at Old Hawthorne.  Prices were expected to come in at $500,000 to $1 million.  It’s not clear if any of these plans came to fruition, as the builder’s website no longer seems to exist.  This 2007 article reflects the typical attitude of housing boosters, acknowledging the slowdown but insisting that It’s Special Here and full steam ahead for the Kinkade development:

120407-kinkade--missouriThe homes are being built at a time when the U.S. home market is declining. However, Columbia and Boone County have been able to avoid the national trend. The median price for new single-family homes in Boone County has steadily increased, going from around $136,000 in May 2003 to a little over $188,000 in May of this year. And while the price of new homes is rising, the number of homes being built has decreased from 79 single-family units in May 2003 to 52 this May.

“In general, our home market is good, (but) it’s not as good as last year’s,” said Brent Jones, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors. According to Jones, the present home market is a buyer’s market. The effects of the market are even more apparent in the sale of high-end houses, like the Kinkade homes. […]

“News stories give the idea that the market is homogenous,” Jones said. He cited cities that have experienced extreme home appreciation, and are now experiencing just as extreme depreciation. The Columbia market is relatively stable and hasn’t had the appreciation that other markets have experienced, .

However, market fluctuations are not a concern for HST.

“One of the reasons we came to Columbia is because Columbia’s economy is so strong,” Stewart said. Sales of the Kinkade houses are surpassing the inventory, Stewart added.

120407-kinkade-empty-caveThere is no evidence that either of these Kinkade-inspired home developments were ever built.  Most references to them are from 2006, when everyone was drunk on Kool-aid.  Here’s an application for an alternative use for the Missouri land, which suggests nothing was ever built from the Kinkade project.  The Gates of Old Hawthorne website is gone, and here are some empty lots for sale from that project.

Just like the empty cave in today’s Holiday Story.

Have yourselves a Happy Easter, and remember: This means Spring Bounce has begun!

Comments (19) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

December 4, 2011

BLACK FRIDAY DEALS: Cheapest House in Solano County

Here we are, at the very last county in the Bay Area (plus we featured Santa Cruz, which doesn’t adjoin the Bay), but the DEALS don’t stop today!  We’ll continue looking for DEALS near and far, either from wild-ass places to commute to Bay Area jobs, or the old favorite cities you know and love.  (I’m looking at YOU, East Palo Alto!)

Be sure to nominate your favorite location, location, location for our BLACK FRIDAY DEALS, because we’re running them as long as there’s crap bargains out there!

Today, we’re going a little far afield, but this shouldn’t be new territory to the regular Burbed reader.  This is Solano County, home to one of the former capitals of the state.  Yes, break out the cooking oil, because we’re headed for Voluptuous Vallejo!

22 Glenn St, Vallejo, CA 94590
$39,900

image

BEDS: 1
BATHS: 1
SQ. FT.: 1,038
$/SQ. FT.: $38
LOT SIZE: 4,312 Sq. Ft.
PROPERTY TYPE: Residential, Detached, Single Family
STYLE: Cottage
STORIES: 1
YEAR BUILT: 1924
COMMUNITY: Vallejo
COUNTY: Solano
MLS#: 21129942
SOURCE: BAREIS
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 10 days

Could be a good little cottage but it needs a lot of work. Best price!

It could be a good little cottage.  It could be a money pit.  It could be Larry Ellison’s next acquisition.  This is Vallejo, anything is possible!

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Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 4:07 am

October 24, 2011

Please show with extreme caution

We’ve spent far too long with overpriced real estate in Google’s back yard.

Let’s return to the other City By the Bay (San Pablo Bay), and see what bargains are to be had in Vallejo real estate.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Scott for sending in today’s featured house.

 

1115 Lewis Ave, Vallejo, CA 94591
$11,500

image

BEDS: 4
BATHS: 2
SQ. FT.: 1,860
$/SQ. FT.: $6
LOT SIZE: 0.28 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Residential, Detached, Single Family
STORIES: 1
YEAR BUILT: 1959
COMMUNITY: Vallejo
COUNTY: Solano
MLS#: 21127170
SOURCE: BAREIS
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 5 days

This property has been partially burned and is not habitable. No roof, electrical or plumbing. Please show with extreme caution.

imageIf you haven’t already read Michael Lewis’ “California and Bust,” on how our state and municipal budgets are doing in today’s economy, I strongly recommend it to you.  He closes his look at Golden State finances with a look at the bankrupt city of Vallejo.  To say city services have been cut would be like describing strip-mining as thinning.  In his meeting with City Manager Phil Batchelor, Lewis mentions there is one other employee; when she takes a break she has to lock up the entire office because nobody else is there.

“Do you know that some cities actually pave their streets?” says Batchelor. “That’s not here.”

Maybe that explains why, if the value is in the quarter acre of land, that the value barely heads into five figures.  At these fire sale prices, you can rebuild or scrape it down!  Heck, you can rebuild AND scrape it down, then build something else! So many possibilities!

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Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

March 23, 2011

Very Vital Venture Value in Vibrant, Vigilant Vallejo

imageHope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s Vallejo field trip, because we’re returning to the first California city to declare bankruptcy!  Despite managing to stay current on its bond debt, any place of comedy gold such as homeowners pouring cooking oil on their fences to repel excess prostitutes has to have real estate worthy of the Burbed treatment.

And fortunately for you, Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer has found just the place.  You are going to love this one.

745 Georgia St, Vallejo, CA 94590
$769,999

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BEDS: 7
BATHS: 2.5
SQ. FT.: 3,382
$/SQ. FT.: $228
LOT SIZE: 6,500 Sq. Ft.
TYPE: Detached
STYLE: Victorian
STORIES: 2
YEAR BUILT: 1908
COMMUNITY: Vallejo Heights
COUNTY: Solano
MLS#: 40148113
SOURCE: EBRD
STATUS: Pending
ON REDFIN: 222 days

Located in the heart of Vallejo, this 3382 sq. ft home has 7 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in the Heritage Area of downtown. Extra rooms downstairs can serve as study and/or work rooms. Recently renovated, this home has hardwood floors. Escrow#502-7525 in Placer Title Vallejo

Here’s what sfbubblebuyer has to say about this house:

$770k to live in Vallejo.  Still within walking distance of the hookers.  It sold for 766, then foreclosed for under 300k.  Then bought for even less, now flipped back on the market for more than the peak pricing.
W…T…F…

imageWalking distance of the hookers?  That’s not a bug, that’s a feature!  Can you say… bordello?  Come on, this place has 7 bedrooms, plus extra rooms downstairs that can definitely serve as study and/or work rooms.  The property history came from BAREIS, wink wink nudge nudge.  The agent all but spells it out: this home has hardwood floors.

Just imagine all the work you could get done in this one featured room alone, at left! Century-old brickwork ensures nobody leaves without payment in full.

Now look at this location, location, location for a high-traffic business!

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imageConvenient to Highway 29, on a corner for easy access, plus you can put in a discrete exit for your high-powered clients.

See the lucky guy in the mirror on the left?  Bet he didn’t know about the home’s built-in videocam system, clearly the inspiration for Vallejo’s plans to deal with aggressive street business.  So not only will the city’s police efforts drive traffic to your (closed) doors, you can generate a second line of income by selling souvenir photos!  Your clients will be delighted to pay premium rates for exclusive copies, too!

Don’t let a little thing like this place going pending after 222 days stop you!  Obviously it’s not really in contract, since the listing history isn’t updated.  That’s just a marketing trick to make you get more excited, wondering how firm the other offer really is.  You need to batter down the agent’s door and make your best overbid so you can start doing Vallejo business now!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

March 22, 2011

All the Prestige of the Belvedere Name, All the Hookers of a Vallejo Address

burbedguestbloggerVallejo isn’t a place we’ve spent a lot of time in on this site, but that’s about to change.  Despite being not even remotely part of the Real Bay Area (RBA), Vallejo has many fascinating features.

Please welcome Burbed reader sfbubblebuyer to the front page as today’s Guest Blogger, here to educate you about what pleasures await you in beautiful, thriving Vallejo.  Let’s all give sfbubblebuyer a warm, RBA welcome!


imageimageFear not, would be social climbers! That elusive island living on Belvedere might be closer than you think! Or at least the illusion of it! Now you can associate yourself with the name Belvedere while still maintaining easy access to ample hookers! That’s right, a new luxury condominium complex, The Belvedere, has opened and is accepting wild eyed, mouth frothing bids!

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You heard right! When people ask where you live, you can smugly smile and say “Belvedere…” with only a small, plaintive, almost suicidal cry from the back of your brain saying “…in Vallejo….”

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As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about pesky cops pulling you over in your fancy sports car! After declaring bankruptcy and laying off a large percentage of their police force, you’d have to be firing rockets out of your microbus at a fleeing DeLorean before the cops take notice.

Never fear, however! You’ll be at the CLASSY end of Vallejo, where you won’t have to smell the cooking oil home owners have been pouring on their fences to keep the prostitutes from leaning against them at all hours of the day. (But to be honest, why would the prostitute object to being pre-lubed?) No, you’ll be near Costco and Kohl’s! A brisk 5 minute walk and you’ll be buying croissants in bulk to decorate your new granite smeared kitchen!

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I’m sure it won’t be long before you are living the TRUE Belvedere luxury lifestyle, and the money you save by living in a crime infested hellhole town that embraces the free market in ALL its forms means you can hire this guy:

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