January 11, 2014

Online Realty Pricing Sites: Do They Work?

Yes, they work. But are the prices valid? That’s another story. Let’s listen in as the San Jose Mercury News (motto: We’re a newspaper just like Burbed is a real estate blog, haha!) explains why the valuation models don’t agree with each other.

Online sites can help tell you what your home is worth

141010-avm-unioncityBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
POSTED:   12/27/2013 05:00:00 PM PST; UPDATED: 12/28/2013 06:17:12 AM PST

You’re likely to get a warm fuzzy feeling if you look at what your home is worth on Zillow, Trulia or any of the other real estate sites that provide values for millions of houses. Home prices have risen rapidly, and the value these sites assign to your home is sure to reflect that.

But don’t carried away by a single Zestimate, SmartZip quote or Trulia estimate. While they are fine for spotting trends, these home valuation services come with a caveat: they offer rough approximations by computer programs. If you want a more precise estimate, hire an appraiser, talk to a real estate agent or check around your neighborhood and see what homes are selling for.

The sites all use what’s called "automated valuation models," or AVMs, to make sense of mountains of data, typically drawn from recent sales, property history, size and number of rooms, market trends and other factors that influence price.

We can’t believe they spent all that trouble writing an article that says, “If you want to really know what your house is worth, hire an appraiser.” There are multiple models out there, but this piece won’t tell you how they differ, or why. We did learn that Santa Clara County prices are more likely to be correct than Alameda County, but again, no explanation why.

We know why!  It’s because the Real Bay Area’s prices only go up, and all the models built that in.  Feel free to speculate on what’s going on with the AVM of your choice and why your house is So Special that the price estimates are Way Too Low.  Unless you’re buying, in which case they are Way Too High.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:11 am






December 20, 2013

Irreplaceable at this price in Monte Sereno!!

Let’s have a look at a property that isn’t jumping into somebody’s lap and getting overbids out the wazoo. Your job is to figure out what is preventing this normal Real Bay Area behavior from taking place.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this find.  Bunus: no longer available on Redfin!

131213-lexington-trulia18331 Lexington Dr
Monte Sereno, CA 95030
$3,624,000 Trulia Estimate

  • 3 bed,
  • 4 full bath
  • 8,710 sqft
  • Single-Family Home

Property Details for 18331 Lexington Dr

18331 Lexington Dr This Single-Family Home located at 18331 Lexington Drive, Monte Sereno CA. 18331 Lexington Dr has 3 beds, 4 baths, and approximately 8,710 square feet. The property has a lot size of 1.25 acres and was built in 1992. The average listing price for similar homes for sale is $2,684,230 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $2,526,783. 18331 Lexington Dr is in the 95030 ZIP code in Monte Sereno, CA. The average price per square foot for homes for sale in 95030 is $788.

Public Records for 18331 Lexington Dr

Official property, sales, and tax information from county (public) records as of 09/2012:

  • 131213-lexington-entrySingle Family Residential
  • 8,710 sqft
  • Stories: 3 story
  • Parking: Garage
  • 1 Building
  • Tax Rate Code Area: 16-010
  • 3 Bedrooms
  • Lot Size: 1.25 acres
  • A/C
  • Parking Spaces: 5
  • Pool: Pool (yes)
  • 4 Bathrooms
  • Built In 1992
  • Heating
  • 9 Rooms
  • County: Santa Clara

131213-lexington-wineWell, that’s fairly boring. Fortunately, Movoto still has the actual listing copy:

Neoclassical Estate–one of a kind–irreplaceable at this price!! Main home has 3 bedroom suites, library, plus full guest quarters with kitchen, bedroom & bath. Separate pool cabana with full bedroom, bath, & kitchen (square footage includes cabana and guest quarters). City lights, mountain views, gated, beautiful pool, minutes to Los Gatos plus fabulus Los Gatos Schools. Five Car Garage!!!

131213-lexington-studyNow let’s check in with nomadic:

Look what I found at Mausoleums R Us.  It isn’t exactly a Black Friday special, given that it’s been on the market nearly five months without a price reduction.

Looks like it went pending after nomadic sent it on, on December 9th, and the agent promptly yanked it with the useful Pending/Do Not Show designation.  And while Redfin doesn’t have a thing for us to see, both Trulia and Zillow have plenty of pictures, and Zillow also has the listing history.  Check this out!

131213-lexington-price-history

Any predictions on what the selling price will end up being? We’re throwing in for fifteen million!

Comments (2) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:05 am

August 12, 2013

UPDATED: Real Estate Portal Roulette in Mountain View, featuring large bedrooms

Updated 12:30 pm: Added listing screenshots, copy and more writeup from the other 3 non-Redfin portals.  All after the (added) break.  Enjoy.

One of the fun things about running a real estate blog is seeing how differently each of the major realty portals handles the exact same listing. We’ve had several examples of a house switching to Pending/Do Not Show status (usually about ten seconds after it’s listed), and then Redfin will disavow all knowledge of the property ever having been for sale. Zillow will usually lose the photos but manage to hold onto the listing copy. Trulia might do the same as Zillow – or the opposite. And there’s always Movoto, the place to go if you want to see the photos every other site took down.

Today’s prime property, sent in by Burbed reader LomaLuvr, shows the differences in action.  First, we’ll check in with our default site of Redfin.

130811-sanpierre-redfin935 SAN PIERRE Way
Mountain View, CA 94043
Sold for $840,000

4 Beds
2 Baths
1,576 Sq. Ft.
$533 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1964 Lot
Size: 6,000 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Aug 6, 2010
Status: Sold
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 1
Community: North Shoreline
MLS#: 81031181
Style: Ranch
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara

Beautifully updated & ready to move right in! Open floor plan with hardwood floors in the LR, hall & bedrooms, granite slab countertops in kitchen & baths, dual pane windows, stucco outside. Formal living room, eat in kitchen & separate family room. Great location, close to major companies, walking trails, schools & downtown. Easy access for commuters, close to Cal-Train/Light-rail & the freeways.

We immediately knew something was wrong, because LL asked about “large bedrooms” (in the listing copy). That didn’t any make sense because there’s nothing in this copy about them.  Do these bedrooms look large?  Here are some listing photos, in actual size.

130811-sanpierre-bedroom130811-sanpierre-entry130811-sanpierre-kitchen130811-sanpierre-family

Only one of the listing photos even was of a bedroom.  Much more on what we found on the other portals, after the break.

(more…)

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:06 am

July 31, 2013

Party On, in Los Gatos!

We haven’t heard much from Burbed reader Swan lately, so we were delighted to receive this:

One of my favorite posts was "Party House in Los Gatos."  I noticed this house had come on the market again… Believe it or not, the property sold!  They only got $4.8 million for it which is a far cry from the $11.5 they wanted back in 2008!

Wait, 2008? Party House ran in 2011! How could we forget?

130730-kennedy-2011

You might want to take a look at the current listing, because The Party Is Over.  There are pictures indoors but nobody’s Getting Down With Their Bad Selves.

130730-kennedy-redfin15681 KENNEDY Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Sold for $4,800,000

7 Beds
12.5 Baths
12,405 Sq. Ft.
$387 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1991
Lot Size: 3.58 Acres
Sold On: Jul 16, 2013
Status: Sold
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 3
Community: Los Gatos/Monte Sereno
MLS#: 81317503
Style: French
View: Mountains
County: Santa Clara

Magnificent Gated Palatial French Chateau Estate! Main house 9,000sf, music room, library, wine cellar. Guest house 3,100sf w/ guest suite, caterer’s kitchen, ballroom, theater, game room & bar. Infinity pool, waterfalls, patios & views. Truly a gorgeous estate set on 3.6 private acres. Extreme Quality thru out. Co listed with Frank Grengo

Oh, look at that.  They thought they were being clever leaving out that 2008 listing price from the Redfin listing history (click the link to see it). Good thing the Party House piece saved it for us.  Better yet, the Big Z tracks the falling knife:

130730-kennedy-listing-history

And nice to know agents have a sense of humor! See 8/12/2010 for some of those Realtor Rib Ticklers!

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:04 am

May 31, 2013

Two Two Too Good To Be True Home in Santa Clara

It’s been far too long since we’ve heard from Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer.  Today’s superlative siting is situated in supreme Santa Clara! Let’s hear it for those low-cost utilities, yayyyyyy! Notice we’re using Zillow today? There’s a good reason: Redfin’s already yanked the listing because… yup, PENDING!

130530-claremont-zillow22 Claremont Ave
Santa Clara, CA 95051
$1,089,000

Zestimate®:$954,704
Est. Mortgage: $4,040/month

Bedrooms: 3 beds
Bathrooms: 2 baths
Single Family: 1,833 sq ft
Lot: 8,712 sq ft
Year Built: 1956
Heating Type: Contact for details
Days on Zillow: 14
Addition Size: 432
Construction Quality: 6.0
Garage Size: 437
Last Remodel Year: 1956
Lot Depth: 110
Lot Width: 80
MLS #: 81316927
Parcel #: 29617012
Room Count: 7
130530-claremont-playhouse# Stories: 1.0
Structure Type: Contemporary
Unit Count: 1
Zillow Home ID: 19602034

Too good to be true home. Tremendous amounts of living space, huge backyard on prime culdesac with CUPERTINO schools. Inspections show this house is in great shape. Heat/AC, hardwood floors, CAT 5 wiring,special sound resistant windows and walls,black out shades, Audio.Visual tech dream home, granite counters,surround sound, etc. This home will not last long. Office area is built in & stays.

130530-claremont-tvWait, what’s this about sound resistant windows and walls and black out shades? This makes it a too good to be true home?

Those shades aren’t even black! We think the agent is pulling a fast one here. Same thing with the “Audio.Visual tech dream home” when all that’s visible is a giant-ass flatscreen. For all we know those cabinets are full of useless things like cinnamon and pastry bags.

130530-claremont-locationWe did determine why they mentioned the special sound resistant windows and walls, though.  Location, location, location! Hoe Lee Crap, this house is on a six lane major thoroughfare next to an eight lane major expressway and an eight lane freeway.

This is a rare location fail trifecta: Busy street, expressway and freeway. Plus it backs up to a commercial zone.

Now what would you pay? Not only is Santa Clara hosting million dollar houses, but million dollar houses in challenging locations! Can you imagine what you’re going to have to pay for a house near nothing but other houses?

If you think we’re exaggerating about the commercial zone, check out what you see when you hit Redfin right now.

130531-claremont-redfin-nfs

Go on over there, click on the map to make it full size, and note where you find yourself. This home will not last long, indeed.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

May 12, 2013

How do we know SF Bay Area Real Estate is in a Bubble? Part 712

In today’s installment of Yes There Is Too a Bay Area Bubble 4.0, we present a few signs what it looks like when a region is not in a real estate bubble.  Notice that there is nothing like this in the Real Bay Area.  When we have a recession here, homeowners simply don’t list their properties at a loss from typical RBA overbidding.

Not so in the “Gateway to the Delta.”  Remember, you can’t spell Solano County without S-O-L.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Tom Paine for shooting us this article.

9 Worst Recession Ghost Towns in America

The Fiscal Times (Slideshow)

130511-recession-riovista

Rio Vista, CA

Once envisioned as an 855-home suburb with families populating the grid of freshly paved streets and sidewalks, now the only life you’ll see in this desert development are cows and eucalyptus shrubs. Thirteen abandoned model homes lie clustered in the center of the development, and streets like “Serenity Drive” stretch on past empty dirt lots into the barren distance. Construction was halted in November 2008 when developer Shea Homes abandoned the project.

Photo: Webecoist.com

These three photos below are from that link as well.  Truly stunning, spooky, and sad, these would make great material for Edgar Martins.

130511-recession-webecoist

Be sure to check out this older story from the Chronicle on this unsuccessful development.

130511-recession-riovista-chron

20130511-recession-riovista-statsThere’s more of the death of this development’s boosterism on the Rio Vista Wikipedia page.  The Census data for 2007 predicted the city’s population of 7,800 would swell to 20,000 by the year 2020.  The 2010 Census update mentions no such expected population surge.  Meanwhile, population dropped to 7,300.

This charming graph, courtesy of Zillow, gives you an idea of just what a “recovery” looks like far from the Real Bay Area. This shows the median sale price per square foot over the past ten years.

There are photos of other places on both sites further from exurban Bay Area.  California City (Not Anywhere Near the Bay Area, Hell, Not Even in Northern California) has huge areas that were platted out but never built on.

130511-recession-CAcity

Just wait until you get to the Florida pictures!

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

May 10, 2013

Bay Area Bubble 4.0 Lands in… Walnut Creek!

All week we’ve been looking at examples of No Bubble Here, all over the San Francisco Bay Area. But today’s house shows otherwise.  Thanks very much to the Burbed reader who sent this in but wouldn’t make up a dorky nickname. (Warning: next time we make one up for you.)

130509-meadow-redfinUndisclosed Address
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
$550,000

4 Beds
2.5 Baths
2,213 Sq. Ft.
$249 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1947
Lot Size: 0.30 Acres
On Redfin: 14 days
Type: Detached
Stories: 1
County: Contra Costa
Style: Ranch
Community: Walnut Creek
MLS#: 40612224

Great area of Walnut Creek, large level yard, needs lots of work bring your contractor NOT handyman!!

Here’s what Burbed reader Too Lazy To Even Try To Make Up My Own Nickname had to say about this listing:

I know inventory is tight where I’m looking but $550K????? For what?

Naming rights? Ahahahahaha!  Actually for $550K you also get the street name, which we will kindly provide to all our readers for absolutely nothing.  What better proof of a bubble is there than sellers who won’t tell you where the danged house is?

130509-meadow-movotoMeadow Rd,
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
$550,000

Loan Payment: $1,885/mo
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2&1/2
Size: 2,213 sqft
$/sqft: $248/sqft
Type: Single Family House
Year Built: 1947
Lot Size: 12,900
Days on Movoto: 14 days
MLS#: 40612224
Status: Pending

Great area of Walnut Creek, large level yard, needs lots of work bring your contractor NOT handyman!!

Oh, what’s this, you want a street number as well? Picky, picky. Some people are just so demanding.

130509-meadow-google-where

Estately’s listing doesn’t have the address anymore, so let’s hear it for latency in search engines!  Let’s also hear it for the great job Zillow did hiding that this place is for sale.

130509-meadow-zillow

Bring your contractor and CIA agent not handyman and GPS!

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am

April 30, 2013

We got Zip

130429-scrabble-ztileZoinks! Today’s the very last day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and it’s also the last of the Triple Threat of Cityless Letters! There are no cities or towns in the Bay Area that start with Z. There aren’t even any neighborhoods in our two largest cities willing to cooperate. What to do, what to do?

BlogAtoZ-ZWe could discuss the complete fail that is the Zero lot line home. (How can you water your own lawn when there’s a house in the way?)  We could really Zone you out by digging deep into tl;dr territory with some Zoning violations! Or how about our favorite series on this site, ever? Yes, Zillions of Zip Codes!

Fortunately, we’re not going there. Instead, let’s drop by one of our favorite real estate sites.

120429-zileman-zillow5866 Zileman Ct
San Jose, CA 95123
Pending: $650,000

Est. Mortgage: $2,274/mo
Bedrooms:4 beds
Bathrooms:2 baths
Single Family:1,846 sq ft
Lot:6,534 sq ft
Year Built:1968
Last Sold:Dec 2012 for $565,000
View virtual tour

Construction Quality 6.0
Garage Size 439
Last Remodel Year 1969
Lot Depth 113
Lot Width 58
MLS #81309066
Parcel #69215003
130429-zileman-kitchen-closerRoof TypeAsphalt
Room Count 8
# Stories 1.0
Structure Type Contemporary
Unit Count 1
View Mountain
Zillow Home ID 19828550

Description

Modern beautiful sparkling remodeled home,spacious and bright, freshly painted inter and exter. approx 1846 Sf of living space,6554 sq.ft.lot , warm and cozy 4 largebedrooms and 2 new baths, dual pane windows,recessed lighting,central air,indoor laundry, living room with fireplace, finished 2 car garage,updated kitchen w breakfast nook. Nice curbappeal

130429-zileman-bed-glowZestimates

Value: $570,609
Range: $428K – $605K
30-day change: +$25,268
$/sqft: $309
Last updated: 04/28/2013

Rent Zestimate $2,591/mo
Range: $1.1K – $3.4K/mo
30-day change: -$8
$/sqft: $1.40
Last updated: 04/29/2013

Market Guide

Zillow predicts Santa Teresa home values will rise 5.8% next year, compared to a 5.9% rise for San Jose as a whole. Among Santa Teresa homes, this home is 21.1% more expensive than the mid-point(median) home, and is priced 9.3% more per square foot.

130429-zileman-tv130429-zileman-bedroom

130429-zileman-bathroomZounds! That stormy sky is no Zephyr! More like dialing the HDR up to 11 when Zero would have been more appropriate. Yeah, photographer was too Zealous. And when we Zip inside, best bring your Geiger counter, because there’s particle decay in them thar bedspreads. Watch out for Zeta rays (there’s no such thing, but it sounds all science-y and danger Zone if you get Zapped by them).

Most of all, Z is for Zestimate, Zillow’s best known feature. This home’s Zestimate is $570K, when it was listed for $650K and went pending in 3 days. What do you predict this house will end up selling for?  Don’t forget the curbappeal.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

April 28, 2013

Bay Area Bubble 4.0: The Real Bay Area is Real, too

We told you there was a Bay Area real estate bubble. This mercurynews.com (motto: we were once a newspaper, really!) article caught our attention. Not only does it lend support to everything we said about peak housing prices in northwest Silicon Valley and other prime real estate markets, there’s another interesting reveal as well.

Bay Area housing recovery spreads from Silicon Valley to East Bay

130427-svpeak-mapBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   04/26/2013 06:54:33 AM PDT, Updated:   04/26/2013 06:54:55 AM PDT

The Bay Area’s overheated housing market is restoring thousands of homes to their pre-crash peak values in a ZIP-code-by-ZIP-code recovery that is rapidly spreading from Silicon Valley to the East Bay.

Thirty-four of 185 ZIP codes in five counties have regained or surpassed their bubble-era peak home value or are less than 1 percent from it, according to this newspaper’s analysis of February median values for all homes from online real estate site Zillow.

Another 49 ZIPs are within 15 percent of their previous highs, including 18 in the East Bay. A year ago, only part of leafy Palo Alto had regained the value it lost after Bay Area home values crested in 2006-07.

"Seven or eight years ago, there was really a bubble," said Richard Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. "Now it’s just good real estate where values are returning to near past peaks."

Yes, This Time It’s Different 4.0.  This is “good real estate” as opposed to Bay Area Bubble 3.0 which was also considered “good real estate,” as we can see by looking at some of the stories they ran in 2006.  Here’s one:

MercuryNews.com | 10/03/2006 | ‘Burdened’: Area owners pay a big chunk of their income for housing
Lenders and other home buying experts said they’re not surprised by the numbers, which they said reflect a long-running trend in the Bay Area. And some questioned whether the 30 percent figure was outdated, saying many people can afford to pay more.

[snip]

Lenders and real estate experts said home buyers in the Bay Area are used to paying more for housing than home buyers elsewhere, and that many, like Singer, use their homes as a savings plan. Most have figured out how to manage the extra debt, they said. In some cases, borrowers are making smaller down payments than previous generations of home buyers.

“(They) are going to make the lifestyle change necessary to own a home, which may mean that 50 percent of their income goes to their mortgage. . . . (They) don’t go out to dinner, they don’t go shopping anymore. It’s about changing their lifestyle,” said Andrea Lanier, a mortgage broker with the San Mateo office of Bankers Preferred Real Estate Loans.

But what we’d also like you to pay attention to is the map pictured above.  Green represents home values above the 2005-08 bubble previous peak, and red means the current value is below the pre-crash peak.  And by “values” they mean those Zestimate numbers that Zillow not only made up, they keep changing the historical data retroactively. Hope that’s science-y enough for you because we’re sure convinced! 

The first thing we noticed was that there’s green where we expect to find it: along the 280 spine.  Where’s the red? Why the East Bay, of course.  Now, let’s look at this map next to a few others we’ve featured in the past.  As always, you can click on any map to see a larger version.

First, here’s the map above next to a recent Zillow map of negative equity.  Difficult to have high home values when the homes are worth less than the “owners” owe on them.

130427-svpeak-map

Next, the infamous “Whole Foods vs Walmart” location maps.

And finally, the some of the “Real Bay Area” maps we’ve provided in the past.  2010 is on the left, 2008 on the right.

And here’s the granddaddy.

Hate to say we told you so, but we told you so — about ten kajillion times.  Eventually Bay Area Bubble 4.0 will raise East Bay home prices above the last peak, by which point The Real Bay Area (which most certainly does not include the East Bay) will be so expensive that even dual-income Google couples will be Priced. Out. For-EVEH!

Until Bay Area Bubble 4.0 goes all Bubblepopcalypse on us and we start preparing for Bay Area Bubble 5.0. As you load up on gold bars and dried beans, let us know what Open Houses you were checking out, because this is also your Weekend Open Thread!

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

March 30, 2013

Priced Out Forever? There’s an App for That

And now for your weekly dose of gee-whiz, tech news!

Real estate apps can help, overwhelm homebuyers

By Dan Nakaso, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   03/29/2013 06:00:00 PM PDT; Updated:   03/29/2013 06:57:43 PM PDT

130329-apps-truliaRaj Aurora has been searching to buy his first home for the last three months, but hasn’t wasted time looking at condos he knows he won’t like and hasn’t even needed to meet his agent, all thanks to real estate apps that Aurora downloaded on his iPhone 5.

"We’ve already eliminated 20 to 30 houses without driving around," said Aurora, a 42-year-old chiropractor and part-time Web developer from Danville. "I don’t want to sit with (my agent) for eight hours driving from house to house. I’d rather hang out with my dog and my friends."

Aurora instead checks out properties virtually by glancing at his Zillow and Trulia apps throughout the day, then reviews any possibilities via text or email with his Danville real estate agent, Kevin R. Kieffer of Keller Williams Realty, whom Aurora has yet to see.

We think the Merc headline has an extraneous comma.  We also think Mr. Aurora doesn’t need to see Mr. Kieffer as long as Bay Area Bubble 4.0 ensures that homes are sold faster than they can be listed.

If you’ve been reading this site for more than a few days, you’re already aware that there are several real estate sites out there that have information on homes for sale. And if you’ve spent any time on the sites themselves, they probably let you know about their various apps for different devices.  Because, if you don’t want to be PRICED OUT FOREVER, you have to be ready to look at new listings at any possible moment, day or night.

130329-apps-zillowAlso, if you’re anything like Raj Aurora, you will do absolutely anything to avoid coming into contact with people you don’t have to.

This is your weekend Open Thread.  Let us know which, if any, real estate apps you use to find those open houses you’ll be looking at later today.  Be sure to mention the superiority of whatever hardware you’re using it on as well, because if you don’t have enough respect for your zip code, at least you can have it for your mobile device. Or talk about anything you want at all.  Remember, this isn’t having to actually talk to other people, so you can say anything.

Comments (7) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:02 am