February 24, 2013

NOW is the time to buy or sell a house!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) isn’t known for deep thinking.  After all, this is the group that brought you David Lereah, America’s very own Baghdad Bob on the topic of forecasting home values.  But let’s take a closer look at the idea that NOW is always the time to buy. After all, if now is not the time to buy, then now is the time to sell.

Turns out NAR has that one covered.  They’ve got a list of the best places to buy and sell, NOW.  And guess where is the time to sell NOW.

That’s right.  Where it’s Special.

Asheville, NC Tops Best Places To Buy In 2013

Real Estate News   |  Feb 14, 2013   |  By: Lexie Puckett | Realtor.com

130222-nar-ashevilleThe new year started on a positive note in January, with inventories at record lows and list prices holding steady on a year-over-year basis. Whether this shows a continuation of the nascent housing recovery into 2013 will depend on a variety of factors, including the strength of the overall economy, the cost and availability of mortgage credit, consumer expectations regarding future housing prices, and the success of continuing efforts to stem the flow of new foreclosures.

If inventories remain low — and if list prices begin to rise during the next few months, as they did last year — conditions are ripe for additional house price appreciation in 2013. However, such gains are likely to be concentrated in markets already well into their recovery process, such as California, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and many sand states. Markets in the older industrialized parts of the Midwest and the East will likely continue to struggle without a significant turnaround in their local economies. However, if inventories in these areas remain high, it could effectively set the stage for further declines in housing values in these local markets.

2013 Best Places to Buy and Sell

With two months remaining before the home-buying season opens, sellers have a huge advantage. In tight markets, such as the top five “Best Places to Sell,” sellers benefit from better prices than they’ve seen in years. In our five “Best Places to Buy,” buyers will find plentiful inventory and prices that haven’t experienced the increases others have seen during the past year.

So wait, are they saying that there actually exist places where NOW is not the time to buy? Well… no, because they would never want to prevent suckers from giving them money interfere with the free market.  Also commissions.

Here are NAR’s Top 5 Best Markets to Sell a House NOW.  Except they didn’t say NOW, but you KNOW it’s THERE.

130222-nar-sacto1. Sacramento. No, really. Inventory dropped even more than here where it really is Special, leading to price increases of (get ready to scream) 40%.  You forgot to invest in Sacramento last year, didn’t you?

2. San Jose.  Prices are up 25% here and inventory isn’t exactly generous. But unlike Sacramento, San Jose wasn’t rebounding from a complete price collapse.

3. San Francisco. They’re just copying us, and not as well.

4. Phoenix. See Sacramento. Inventory is down 16%, but so what? They simply make more land. What they can’t manage to make more of here is water.

5. Washington, DC. “With a median price of $429,900, D.C. is one of the nation’s priciest markets…”  Right, NAR.  You want to see what you can get here, where it’s actually Special, for $430,000?  This.

130222-nar-sheriann1889 SHERI ANN Cir
San Jose, CA 95131

HOA Dues: $202/mo.
2 Beds
2 Baths
1,157 Sq. Ft.
$372 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1993
Lot Size: 435 Sq. Ft.
On Redfin: 1 day
Status: Active
HOA Dues: $202/month
Style: Contemporary
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara
Property Type: Condominium Stories: 1-3 (Low Rise)
Community: Berryessa
MLS#: 81305233

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, Feb 23: 1:30-4:00 pm
Sunday, Feb 24: 1:30-4:00 pm

Dwnstrs condo has bright & open flr plan. Newer carpet, hrdwd flrs in entry & ktchn. Interior has been freshly painted. Spacious patio off of lving rm. Gas stove, dual sinks & recessed lights in Kitchen. Mster bdrm has it’s own patio, walk-in closet, recently updated bthrm, 2 sink vanity. Attchd 1 car garage w/ laundry. Community has large pool, spa, sports court, bbq/picnic area. Great location.

And by “Great location” they don’t really mean “great location.”  Yesterday’s house was “great location.”  This place is “You’re less likely to get shot than on Story Road.”

Now, lest you think all those California metros filling in the first 3 on that top 5 list are some big honking coincidence, here’s some data ripped straight out of NAR’s January Trends report.  The blog entry linked above is distilled from this longer report.


It goes on to confirm what we already knew: It’s Special Here. Then again, it’s even More Special in Sacramento.  Want to know where else it’s surprisingly Special?


Anyone who doesn’t see Bubble written all over these tables simply is not paying attention.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

February 13, 2013

We’re Number Two! We’re Number Two!

The good news: We beat LA and Chicago and New York and Washington DC and even SAN FRANCISCO. W00t!

The bad news: We lost to Connecticut. Connecticut? Haven’t they been in the news enough already?

The US Metropolitan Areas Packed With The Most Rich People

Rob Wile | Business Insider | Feb. 11, 2013, 8:24 PM

The U.S. Census has published its list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of wealth in the country.

These are places where a large percentage of your neighbors earn incomes in the top 5th percentile.

Here are the top five.  For the full list, see the article at Business Insider.

Rank Metro % MSA households in US Top 5% Primary Industry
5 Trenton/Ewing NJ 11.6% Protection, extralegal goods, beating the shit out of rivals
4 San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont CA 13.0% Social Media, Investment (hypothetical shit)
3 Washington/Arlington/Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV 14.1% Lobbying (access to shit)
2 San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara CA 15.9% Inventing new shit
1 Bridgeport/Stanford/Norwalk CT 17.9% Insuring shit
Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

January 14, 2013

Home Buying: Comps, Mortgage Pre-qual, and Letter Writing

Can there be any question that The Bubble is Back? Buyers are returning to that delightful 2005 method: the Begging Letter. It must be true, because it’s in a newspaper.

Can I Buy Your House, Pretty Please?

By JOANN S. LUBLIN, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2013

Rob and Julia Israch won a fierce bidding war for a three-bedroom townhouse in Mountain View, Calif., late last year even though their $750,000 offer—while $92,000 above the asking price—was topped by 11 rivals and was several thousand dollars below the highest bid.

A key reason: The seller, software engineer Lev Stesin, was moved by a letter in which the Israchs said they worked in the technology industry and explained how the home’s spacious layout would be perfect given the imminent arrival of their first child. Among other things, the townhouse has three bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and a roomy backyard.

The only problem with this real estate story is the author’s contention that it isn’t just happening where it’s Special, namely Mountain View. Pitch letters are also going to sellers in Seattle, San Diego, suburban Chicago, and Washington D.C. Hah, and you thought we were going to say Belmont or something. No, we really meant places where it isn’t Special at all (e.g. where you can make an offer and be the only one! Redfin’s CEO said 95% of the offers their agents made in Silicon Valley had competing offers.)

The WSJ piece included two examples of House Begging Letters that worked. Both were from Silicon Valley buyers. Here’s one.

Note the use of photos. Don’t beg without them. Also don’t house beg with form letters. You’re going to have to write an individual letter for each seller, calling attention to their home’s marvelous features. Comments such as “Of all the 1954 era crapboxes we looked at today, yours had the fewest pet odors and the least offensive paint scheme” will probably not be effective. Some tips:

  • Remind the seller how attractive your offer is. You could write this note on the back of a hundred dollar bill to show how many more you have waiting.
  • Mention all the things you have in common with the seller, so they identify with you and not any of those other Less Special buyers. If you can’t find the sellers on social media, a good private detective can ferret that info out. Or spend some of those C-notes on the gabbiest neighbors.
  • Gush about their house and neighborhood without overdoing it. Otherwise they’ll figure you’re using irony. After all, it is one of several hundred 1954 era crapboxes in the tract. But — close to Google! (Don’t mention this if they tried and failed to get jobs there.)
  • Describe your difficult house hunt without sounding whiny. If you can fake sincerity here, you’ll have it made:

A few years ago, the owners of an older Los Altos home got more than 21 offers and picked the one from a woman who also submitted a love letter from her dog, said Kathy Bridgman, an Alain Pinel Realtors agent who represented the sellers. “She won’t touch a thing,” promised the letter, signed with a paw print. “I will be able to play in the yard.”

After closing, the buyer immediately tore down the home and built a bigger one.

Note: In case you’re noticing that we’ve repeatedly reformatted this piece, you’re correct. Our blogging tools aren’t as compatible with each other as we wish they were.  In this particular case, one tool supports photo captions but won’t strip styles out properly, the other is the reverse.  Don’t even get us started on what WordPress is doing to both of them.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am

October 21, 2012

We’re Number… Three?

We lost out to both New York City and Washington DC, this time in the contest for the town with the highest earnings.  Here are the Top Ten, courtesy of CNN/Money, of the places with the highest median family incomes.

1 Bethesda, MD $184,606
2 Greenwich, CT $167,502
3 Palo Alto, CA $163,661
4 Newport Beach, CA $156,928
5 Lower Merion, PA $153,309
6 Ashburn, VA $146,093
7 Newton, MA $145,639
8 Hoboken, NJ $140,780
9 Brookline, MA $139,756
10 Fairfield, CT $136,808

People, this is not good. Not only did High Tech lose out to High Finance and High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but there’s Highly-wood right behind us. Also this list is disturbingly full of Least Coasters.

Here’s what they thought of The Specialest Place of Them All (Not Including Mountain View, because for Pete’s Sake, Palo Alto may be Special but it does Not Have Google Anymore).

3. Palo Alto, CA          3 of 25

121020-highincome-paPopulation: 65,260
Median family income: $163,661
Median home price: $1,225,000

Nestled in California’s Silicon Valley, Palo Alto has attracted a pile of tech companies — and their CEOs. Not only does tech granddaddy HP have its headquarters here, but so do newbies like Pinterest and Ning. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has a house in Palo Alto, as did Steve Jobs. Stanford University, which falls within its boundaries, adds to the city’s prestige.

Palo Alto nurtures startups and the money that results from their successes. Its residents reap the rewards. Area schools are exceptional, while the city has 35 parks and a Mediterranean climate that varies by only 20 degrees year-round.

See complete data and interactive map for Palo Alto

Did you know that Palo Alto’s climate was More Special than that of any of the surrounding Not As Special cities?  Perhaps Redwood City (Motto: Climate Best by Government Test) is going to have to come over and punch them out for getting airs.

Oh yeah, and Mark Zuckerberg is mostly hanging out in San Francisco these days.  Could he have picked up this little pied-a-terre?  Just kidding, that place was sold to a school, which is now awash in neighborhood NIMBY lawsuits.  But have a look at this SocketSite discussion and see if you can figure out where Mark bought.  Two possibilities: 366 Liberty or 376 Hill.


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

February 12, 2012

The Richest Cities Where No One Wants to Move

Many thanks to Burbed reader Michael Boltonestater for passing along this article, which was summarized on Yahoo Real Estate.

The Richest Cities Where No One Wants to Move

24/7 Wall Street
By Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter; Posted: February 3, 2012 at 7:01 am

Many Americans still are holding off on buying homes in some of the country’s most expensive cities. While home prices fell 23% on average in the largest cities since the housing crisis began, for many home buyers the drop was not enough. Based on a new report released by Trulia, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 metropolitan areas to which no one wants to move.

Trulia ranked the 100 largest metropolitan areas by their Metro Movers ratio, which measures homebuyer activity and interest metropolitan areas. The ratio compares the number of online searches of local residents looking to buy elsewhere to the number of out-of-town homebuyers looking for real estate in the area. According to the report, a ratio of two means that there are twice as many home searches by people looking to leave the area as to move in. All of the cites no one wants to move to have a ratio higher than two.

The cities that attract few buyers experienced modest home price declines since the recession began, especially relative to their high home value. As a result, home prices in these areas are forecast to decline further, and homebuyers are waiting until they do. All of the 10 cities no one wants to move to have among the most expensive homes in the country. Newark and Bethesda, two cities with twice as many people looking to leave as looking to move in, have among the top 10 highest median home values in the country. Home prices in these cities declined at just the national average, and next year, they are projected to decline more.

120211-blightI think this 24/7 Wall Street site has forgotten how the real estate market works.  Expensive markets do not stop being expensive because other markets are not expensive.  Expensive markets are Special, and the decline of other markets makes Special markets More Special.

On the other hand, the list of the Top Ten Places Where More People Want to Move Out Of Than Move To is not as full of Specialness as you might expect.  Consider this conclusion:

People do not want to move to cities that are largely older and more densely populated. Regions in the northeast that are of little interest to out-of-town buyers include Philly, Newark and New Haven. Other older metropolitan areas include San Jose and Seattle. Kolko suggests the move away from urban areas has a lot to do with expense. “Even though people often say they want to live in urban neighborhoods where they can walk more and drive less, they get more for their buck where the car is king. Most long-distance searches are toward smaller, suburban, more sprawling areas, not toward the older, dense cities of the northeast.”

120211-i680-trafficYes, that explains completely why exurban areas are increasing in value compared to close-in neighborhoods near major employers.  Just look at the price increases in a community of newer homes in Danville, compared to a worn-out community full of tired, old houses in Palo Alto.  And the price of gasoline going up shouldn’t have any effect on communities further from high-paying jobs, either.  After all, the car is king, and if you’re going to sit in traffic for an hour and half, your reign will last longer.

California Zillow Home Value Index

Ah well.  On to the list of places people can’t wait to leave.  Have you made any predictions which metro areas will qualify?

For the chart below, the Metro Movers Ratio is the above mentioned proportion of residents looking at homes outside the region versus other people looking at homes in the region, per Trulia.  The home value decline is from peak pricing, and the forecasted percent change in home price is through third quarter of 2012.  For comparison, the national unemployment rate was 8.7%, while the typical home declined 23% from the peak nationwide.

Rank City/Metropolitan Area Metro Movers Ratio Median Home Price Home Value Decline Unem-ployment Forecast % chg price
10 Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE/IA 2.04 $138,000 -2.8% 4.7% +1.5%
9 Camden, NJ 2.11 $180,000 -24.7% 9.5% -3.3%
8 Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 2.11 $350,000 -29.2% 8.2% +0.1%
7 Baltimore-Towson, MD 2.17 $258,000 -22.3% 7.2% -0.8%
6 New Haven-Milford, CT 2.21 $220,000 -21.1% 9.2% -1.6%
5 Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD 2.25 $700,000 -28.9% 5.4% -5.6%
4 Philadelphia, PA 2.40 $265,000 -12.9% 8.2% -1.7%
3 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC/VA/MD/WV 2.54 $390,000 -27.7% 6.0% -3.3%
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 2.60 $546,000 -32.5% 9.8% -3.8%
1 Newark-Union, NJ/PA 3.65 $400,000 -24.7% 8.9% -4.6%

120211-sanjose-yahooCurses!  Losing out the #1 spot is bad enough, but losing to NEWARK?  This is a grave insult.  People may want to move out of Newark, but I assure you, it isn’t because it’s too expensive.  It’s because it isn’t Special, and no doubt residents aspire to relocated to Places of More Specialness.

I mean, can you really take this analysis seriously, when this is what they have to say about our being #2 on the list?

Image of San Jose from Yahoo News Story; Sean O’Flaherty / Wikimedia Commons

The median home price in the metropolitan region of San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is $546,000, the third highest in the country. The median family income is the fourth highest in the country. Home prices may simply too high for many people. The median mortgage payment at the peak of home prices as a percentage of median monthly family income was 46%. This is one of the highest rates in the country, reflecting the exceptionally large burden home prices place on residents in the area.

There is no price that is too high for the Real Bay Area.  These writers are clearly spending too much time in those tired and broken down urban hellholes of the Northeast, and couldn’t recognize Specialness if it bit them on the ass.

Look at this kitchen.  Now this is the kind of Specialness you can only get in San Jose for half a million dollars!

High home mortgages are not a burden, they’re a reward for getting to live here!  Plus, they’re tax deductible!

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:18 am

July 3, 2009

Groceries cost 14% more in the Bay Area than Seattle or Washington DC

Happy July 4th everyone!

I’m posting this one day in advance because I’m taking tomorrow off.

As is tradition on Burbed, here is the latest installment of “Groceries cost more in the Bay Area.” As usual, I have compared 3 cities where Safeway is available: Cupertino, Seattle (possibly our new enemy), and Washington D.C.

As we all know, it is our explicit goal to have the highest cost of living here. It helps keep the riff raff out, and promotes innovation by encouraging people to constantly work.

So… for those of you who are slacking off, not adding value by taking the day off to have a BBQ, here’s a sample grocery list and how much more it costs to have it in the Bay Area. I compared the exact same items on Safeway.com for these three cities, choosing only products that were not on sale. That explains there are no hot dog buns on this list – they were all on sale!

Item Cupertino Seattle Washington DC More than Seattle More than DC
Coke (12 pk) $6.29 $6.29 $5.99 0% 5%
Beef Back Ribs $5.98 $3.58 $2.98 67% 101%
Pork Loin Bank Ribs $17.99 $18.99 $17.99 -5% 0%
A1 Sauce $8.23 $5.56 $5.99 48% 37%
Salt $0.89 $0.89 $0.79 0% 13%
Ground Pepper $2.99 $2.69 $1.99 11% 50%
Red Potato $0.37 $0.37 $0.32 0% 16%
Can of Corn $1.49 $1.15 $1.15 30% 30%
Gravy Mix $1.45 $1.39 $1.09 4% 33%
Chicken Breast $8.99 $8.99 $8.99 0% 0%
Match Light Charcoal $5.59 $4.49 $3.99 24% 40%
Lettuce Blend $3.79 $3.49 $3.49 9% 9%
Madeleine Cookies $4.29 $3.99 $3.99 8% 8%
Organic Corn Chips $2.99 $2.99 $3.49 0% -14%
Sheet Cake $21.99 $17.99 $20.99 22% 5%
Dinner Roll $0.59 $0.59 $0.59 0% 0%
Red Roma Tomato $0.54 $0.40 $0.54 35% 0%
Dill Pickles $4.19 $3.29 $3.79 27% 11%
Ketchup $2.99 $2.39 $2.59 25% 15%
Mustard $1.99 $1.75 $1.89 14% 5%
Red Onion $0.97 $0.74 $0.97 31% 0%
Beef Franks $5.29 $4.99 $4.49 6% 18%
Paper Plates $3.29 $2.49 $2.49 32% 32%
Utensils $0.99 $0.99 $0.99 0% 0%
Total $114.16 $ 100.48 $101.57 14% 12%

The Bay Area wins again!

So congrats to the Bay Area for once again being more expensive in groceries than Seattle and Washington DC.

Now if only Safeway.com would open in NY so that I could do a comparison there. That would be the ultimate match up!

Have a good BBQ tomorrow!

Comments (23) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:43 am

July 4, 2007

Hope you enjoy your July 4th BBQ – it’s special!

It’s July 4th! And to celebrate our independence, I’m going to simply repost the Memorial Day post!

As you may recall, last Thanksgiving I found that the exact same groceries at Safeway in the Bay Area were more than the exact same groceries at Safeway in Redmond, WA.

The point of this comparison was to see how Apple/Sony would compete against Nintendo/Microsoft. In that study, I found that on average, groceries cost 20% more here than there.

Which makes sense – have you seen Apple’s stock price? Have you seen our great weather? Of course grey poupon should be 30% more expensive here than there. Grey poupon is simply better here!

Well, Memorial Day is coming up, so I thought it would be fun to come up with a comparison for a BBQ. But to add a twist, I decided to compare groceries in the Cupertino, to groceries in Redmond, Washington – as well as Washington DC!

Yep, that’s right! There are Safeways there – and they sell the same Safeway Select stuff there.

Let’s take a look:

Cupertino DC Difference Cupertino Redmond Difference
Charcoal 4.99 3.69 35% 4.99 3.99 25%
A1 8.23 5.99 37% 8.23 5.45 51%
Foil 3.49 2.99 17% 3.49 3.49 0%
Butter 3.00 3.00 0% 3.00 3.00 0%
Pickles 3.69 2.99 23% 3.69 2.85 29%
Large Tomatoes 1.50 1.50 0% 1.50 1.25 20%
Corn on the Cob 3.19 3.29 -3% 3.19 2.99 7%
Pork Should Ribs 5.58 7.38 -24% 5.58 3.58 56%
Sausages 5.29 5.50 -4% 5.29 5.49 -4%
Coke 5.49 5.49 0% 5.49 5.49 0%
Ruffles Chips 3.49 3.49 0% 3.49 3.49 0%
Olive Oil 10.46 8.79 19% 10.46 8.39 25%
Dinner Rolls 0.39 0.55 -29% 0.39 0.39 0%
Ribeye Steak 10.99 11.99 -8% 10.99 10.49 5%
Ketchup 3.59 2.69 33% 3.59 2.59 39%
Mustard 2.49 2.04 22% 2.49 2.31 8%
Relish 1.49 1.49 0% 1.49 0.99 51%
Oscar Mayer Franks 4.99 4.29 16% 4.99 4.49 11%
Hot Dog Buns 1.69 1.19 42% 1.69 0.99 71%
Lettuce 1.49 1.79 -17% 1.49 1.59 -6%
Potatoes 0.32 0.25 28% 0.32 0.25 28%
Cucumbers 0.99 0.66 50% 0.99 0.99 0%
Chili 2.09 1.99 5% 2.09 1.86 12%
Appie Pie 6.99 5.99 17% 6.99 5.99 17%
Peach Pie 6.99 5.99 17% 6.99 5.99 17%
Ice Cream Sandwich 5.99 5.29 13% 5.99 5.49 9%
Paper Plates 2.19 1.99 10% 2.19 1.89 16%
Cutlery 1.99 1.99 0% 1.99 1.99 0%
Garbage Bags 7.99 7.59 5% 7.99 7.49 7%
Average: 11% Average: 17%

Woot! We win again! Groceries here are 11% more expensive than Washington DC, and 17% more expensive than Redmond, Washington.

Woot! We’re #1! We’re #1! Hurray! Huzzah!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “WTF? Houses are 2x more expensive than renting, and now groceries are more expensive than in Washington DC, and Washington state – where they don’t even have an income tax? WTH am I doing here???”

Before you consider leaving the Bay Area, just remember that they don’t have any Chinese restaurants, Korean restaurants, Japanese restaurants, Thai restaurants, Vietnamese restaurants, gay-friendly, smart people, diversity, tech companies, snow sports, hiking, mountains, universities, In-n-outs, or 9 months of sun. And let’s not forget our cheap housing, amazing public schools, great roads, low taxes, lack of traffic, and our Governator.

I hope your BBQ turns out well!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:05 am

May 23, 2007

$699,000 for a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house!

So yesterday we learned that if you lived in Washington DC, that your grocery bill for a BBQ this Memorial Day weekend would be almost 11% less compared to here.

But then again, our better means that our groceries will taste even better when they’re eaten!

For fun, let’s take a look at what $700k (the current median price in Santa Clara) buys you in DC!

REALTOR.com: Find a Home – Listing Detail
4 Bed, 3.5 Bath
0.1 Acres

MLS ID# DC6367924
4 Bed, 3.5 Bath, 0.1 Acres
Wonderful 4 level Colonial on a corner lot in popular 16th Street Heights. This cozy home has great living and entertaining spaces on the main level with a formal living room with fireplace and french doors to a sun porch, spacious dining room, and a study. Other features include: 2 master bedroom suites, a skylit attic, recreation room and attached garage. Enjoy a lovely fenced yard with patio and terraced rear–all very private and tranquil. Conveniently located-just steps from Rock Creek park and minutes to the subway and new Columbia Heights retail.

Single Family Property, Subdivision: 16TH STREET HEIGHTS, County: WASHINGTON, Approximately 0.1 acre(s), Lot is 4508 sq. ft., Year Built: 1941, Four or more stories, Central air conditioning, Basement, Fireplace(s), Dining room, Den, Hardwood floors

Wow, that’s a pretty nice looking house!

And just for more fun, according to this cost of living calculator, if you make $100,000 in San Jose (practically the starting salary these days) and you moved to DC:

Equivalent income in the city you’re moving to: $90,032.08.
You may take a 9.97% decrease and still maintain your standard of living

So your groceries would be cheaper, your house would be nicer, and your general cost of living would be lower.

But ask yourself: Do they have El Camino Real there? Do they have Fry’s? Do they have 280 or 101 there?

Accept no substitutions – accept only perfection: The Bay Area.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:33 am

August 22, 2006

A Northern Virginia story – How a $1.1 million house sold for $530,000

This is a pretty interesting story – now granted, it’s in Northern Virginia which is not special like the Bay Area, but still… an interesting story:

WSJ.com – Housing Slump Proves Painful For Some Owners and Builders
Joan Guth is one homeowner who was taken by surprise. Last September, she put her stately five-bedroom home in Herndon, Va., on the market for about $1.1 million. She was confident she would get something near that price, and planned to use the proceeds to buy a retirement home in Florida. But her home in the Washington suburbs attracted few serious lookers, and in March, she cut her asking price to $899,900. Still there were no takers. Finally, on the advice of her broker, she called in an auction firm, beginning a process that would eventually reveal to her just how weak the Northern Virginia market had become.


Ms. Guth, whose home in Herndon, Va., had failed to attract a buyer after months on the market, eventually turned to Tranzon Fox, an auction firm based in Burke, Va. Ms. Guth had based her initial $1.1 million asking price on a 2005 appraisal of her home, which now appeared far off the mark. She and her family decided they would accept the highest bid of at least $675,000.

Kristin Eddy, a 35-year-old pediatric occupational therapist living in a town home in Reston, Va., had noticed Ms. Guth’s dark-green turreted home with its wraparound verandas while riding her bike along a nearby trail. “I’ve had my eye on that house for a long time — as a dream,” Ms. Eddy says. When it first went on the market, it was far beyond her price range. Then she noticed the sign announcing the auction.


Ms. Eddy figured her chances of winning were near zero. When the auction began, it became clear that there were only two serious bidders. Although Mr. Karbelk tried to stir excitement, the bidding petered out within minutes. Ms. Eddy was the high bidder, at $475,000.

Looking stricken, Ms. Guth and one of her sons huddled with their broker for a few minutes. Then they told the auctioneer they wouldn’t accept the bid, which fell below the stipulated minimum that hadn’t been revealed to bidders. The auction was over.

Ms. Guth said she would move and leave the house empty until she could sell it at a reasonable price. Late that afternoon, Ms. Eddy raised her offer to $525,000. The Guths wavered for two days before agreeing to accept about $530,000. Ms. Eddy is getting a home with five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, a half-acre lot and a three-car garage for about what some people had been paying until recently for town houses in the area.

Ms. Guth has revised her retirement plan. The disappointing auction result made it difficult for her to afford the kind of home she wanted in Florida. She has decided to buy a home in South Hill, a rural area of south-central Virginia where home prices are cheaper than they are in either Florida or the Washington suburbs. She thinks she can find a home there for $175,000 or less.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 10:44 pm

June 13, 2006

Washington area richest, most educated in US: report – Yahoo! News

Washington area richest, most educated in US: report – Yahoo! News
The Washington area has the wealthiest households and most educated work force of any metropolitan area in the United States, according to a report released on Thursday by a local business group.

The greater Washington area, including the District of Columbia, and neighboring areas of Maryland and Virginia, had the highest U.S. median household income, at nearly $72,800, ahead of the San Francisco area at $71,201 and Boston at $63,958, according to the report from the Greater Washington Initiative, which cites data from the U.S.
Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, market data firm Claritas Inc and other sources.

The report also found the Washington area, which has seen a major increase in defense-related technology employment in recent years, to have the largest science and engineering work force of any U.S. metropolitan area, at 324,530, ahead of the combined San Francisco and San Jose, California, work force of 214,500 and Chicago at 203,090.

The report said 42.5 percent of Washington-area residents have a bachelor’s degree and 19 percent have a graduate degree, greater than San Francisco’s bachelor’s degree rate of 37.3 percent and graduate degree rate of 14.1 percent. Washington also claims the highest percentage of PhDs, at 2.5 percent of the population.

Housing costs in greater Washington were ranked 4th, with a 2005 median price of $424,700. San Francisco was highest at $715,700, followed by Los Angeles at $529,000 and New York at

That’s impossible! Everyone knows that the Bay Area is the best-est place in the world! With the smartest and richest people in the world! It’s the only place where you can have nerds! That’s why we have the highest housing prices! And if you don’t believe it, you don’t need to get a 40 year mortgage and live here!
What heresy!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:08 am