December 2009 Archives

The ugly little corrugated shack at 1715 Lincoln Avenue has been on the market since June of this year, but I never wrote about it until now. It's such an unsellable crackerbox on a busy street I don't see how anybody would be interested in reading about it, much less buy it. But I've been silent long enough. Maybe the vacuous, cloying platitudes dished out throughout the holiday season have worn me down; or maybe yet another year of reading the same vapid garbage in real estate listings has finally tripped a switch. No matter--let it be written, let it be done.

1715 Lincoln Avenue has the following pathetic little specs:

1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 923 sqft. 2,280-sqft lot, MLS(r) #40415778, $399,000 ($432 / sqft)

LIVE/WORK.COMMERCIAL ZONE. Good set-up for home based business. [...] Spacious living room.Large storage.laundry room. Small fenced in yard/patio. [...] Enclosed porch. Was used for business then, as residence today, or as either/both tomorrow.

The MLS(r) listing is sedate and descriptive enough, and there's really nothing wrong with it. But what really got my goat today is the off-MLS(r) listing on Craigslist, reproduced below:


$399000 Are you ready to make your dream come true? Live/Work at Grand Station (alameda) (map)


Date: 2009-12-29, 7:02AM PST
Reply to: [redacted to protect the guilty]

[photos]

ZONED COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL. What a fabulous opportunity to have your business where you live. Possibilities abound in this 1 bedroom/1 bath house, enclosed porch with large picture windows.

Nail salon? Beauty parlor? Retail? Professional service? Office? YES!

Across from Alameda's Gaslight Emporium, on Lincoln and Grand. Convenient location at an affordable price.

Do you know anyone (not currently homeless or mentally deranged) who dreams of  living in a tiny 923-sqft double-wide box planted on a tiny 2,280-sqft lot at one of the busier, uglier intersections in town (Lincoln and Grand), across from a liquor/convenience store, nestled between other ugly houses and busy businesses, and altered countless times to satisfy the needs of various non-residential activities in the 69 years since it was built (as an earlier, and evidently unsuccessful, incarnation of this listing once intimated)?



View Larger Map

What if you did use this as a business and a residence: how exactly do you fit both a thriving business of any size and its owner's living space in a 1-bedroom Tupperware? Almost by definition, nothing "abounds" in a house the size of a gazebo, except maybe cockroaches, and certainly not "possibilities".

Seriously, dear readers, do you or anyone you know entertain the hope, nay, the dream, of someday living in a slapdash World-War-II-era nail salon?

And what exactly is affordable about a $432 / sqft price tag for what is arguably one of the least appealing properties to come on the market in years?

Stop the inanity! Just call a spade a spade and stop embellishing the unembellishable! And for the love of Pete, get a thesaurus and forever banish from your vocabulary those meaningless, vacuous cheerleading bromides that serve no purpose than to highlight your complete lack of creativity and/or make better copywriters angry.

Happy new year to all. May prices fall another 15% and option ARMs default by the thousands.

Update 1/5/10: Ms. Dimacali helpfully switched her post back to the old version, which has the following description:

Description
LIVE/WORK. Rare opportunity to have a building in a commercial zone. Was used as realty office and an "antiquery". Use as a residence, a place of business, or both. Tremendous value in its zoning classification, among other businesses on the same block. Directly across from Alameda's Gaslight Emporium, at historic Grand Station. Cross street is Grand Avenue.

Was probably built as a bungalow, but when porch was enclosed, it was "modernized." Enclosed porch could be used as the office/reception area. Large display windows in front. Garage and driveway for 2 plus vehicle parking. Separate and spacious storage and laundry room. Fenced in patio for outdoor entertaining and cook-outs. Living/Dining room, eat-in kitchen, one bedroom and one bath.

The "Wear Your Pajamas to Work" title adds to the property's extra classy appeal as a potential nail salon across from a liquor store.

Update 1/18/10: After dropping to $349,999 (maybe a typo?), your next dream house came roaring back at $399,000.

Update 1/22/10: It's back at $349,999.
Real estate agents are not renowned for the quality of their copy. Agents with English as their second language will get a lot of slack from me, because it's not easy being functional in a foreign country. That said, a home seller has every right to expect their property to be represented in the best possible light, and if that includes paying a professional photographer for nice outdoor shots or slipping a $20 to a starving English major at Alameda College to proofread marketing copy, it's the bare minimum an agent should be held to, regardless of their proficiency in any language. Especially if they stand to make a $60,000 commission from that same seller.

Which is why, for the life of me, I can't fathom why the owners of 26 Castlebar Place, a 4,062-sqft house on the bay with a fantastic view (MLS(r) #40443065) that almost makes up for its spectacularly hideous interior, haven't summarily dismissed the agent presumably responsible for this wretched monstrosity of a listing, reproduced here from Craigslist in its entirety, complete with a photo of said agent in lieu of the property. Emphasis added for extra oomph.


$1999000 / 4br - Exquisite Taste In Living (alameda) (map)


Date: 2009-12-28, 3:34PM PST
Reply to: [redacted]


This property has the most enchanting design. "Outstanding" describes this exquisite custom built home which situated in the best area of Alameda! Approx. 4062 living square feet huge home on a 4800 square feet lot. 2 Stories facing the bay, views are amazing when you care how to enjoy life! patio from master is dainty designed as the bow of a ship!

round Glass Ceiling in the central of the house aborting blue skylight come along with an extraordinary stair shows impressive style precisely. Pragmatic kitchen has its' open dinning area. Built-In Walkie-Talkie throughout the house with gas heated fireplace. Split up section of entertainment, relaxation and a parlor. One bedroom downstairs may be utilized as an office or guestroom with full bathroom off rear. In additional, there is cubbholes for storages under the chairs appear like inhabited solely in a cruise.

* Totally 4 huge bedrooms joined with a spacious family room
* Grand bathroom and walk in closing in expansive master Suite
* Gleaming hardwood floor through out the whole house
* Granite shower stall and marble tile flooring in all bathrooms
* Unique circular shape hallway
* Two car attached garage with storage space
* Wonderful Alameda neighborhood and school district
* Charming and Fresh Feeling, This is the dream home that you have been waiting!


Please E Mail to Victoria Lam at [redacted] for additional information and view the photos by clicking: http://odc.rw.imprev.net/tmp/31/531/8693/

OPEN HOUSE THIS SUNDAY FROM 1-4P.M., SELLER'S MOTIVATE, DON'T MISS THE CHANCE!

victoria_lam_26_castlebar_place.jpg

26 Castlebar Place
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
PostingID: 1528128763

In addition to the horrendous English, the virtual tour link is dead.

I fully expect hate mail calling me a racist for picking on poor Victoria's broken English, completely missing the point I am making here (never mind that I myself could very well have been raised in the exact same town as Victoria)--I don't care of you've got a PhD in classics, Wernicke's aphasia, or 2 years of Berlitz English courses under your belt, you simply do not advertise a $2M house like this. It's beyond unprofessional.

The official MLS(r) listing, by Tina Wong, is not great but considerably better, and somewhat imaginatively worded (emphasis added):

This impeccably designed luxury home offers unparalleled view of the bay & its unique design has brought the outside scenery into this voyager. Ample natural lighting via large windows & centre circular dome roof; ea. window assembles a live moving picture, must see to appreciate.
So I don't know what exactly happened to allow that train wreck of a Craigslist post to go live, but someone dropped the ball, and I felt it my duty to bring this to the sellers' attention. Given the property's sale history, it's likely they need to squeeze every penny out of this sale, and this shameful listing sure isn't helping.

Property History for 26 CASTLEBAR Pl

Date Event Price
Dec 21, 2009 Listed $1,999,000
Dec 16, 2003 Sold (Public Records) $1,890,000
Nov 29, 1989 Sold (Public Records) $345,000

Update 12/31/09: Victoria's back.

$1990000 / 4br - Outstanding Custom Built 4000sq.ft. Big House (alameda) (map)


Date: 2009-12-31, 1:26PM PST
Reply to: [redacted]


This property has the most enchanting design. "Outstanding" describes this exquisite custom built home which situated in the best area of Alameda! Approx. 4062 living square feet huge home on a 4800 square feet lot. 2 Stories facing the bay, views are amazing when you care how to enjoy life! patio from master is dainty designed as the bow of a ship!

round Glass Ceiling in the central of the house aborting blue skylight come along with an extraordinary stair shows impressive style precisely. Pragmatic kitchen has its' open dinning area. Built-In Walkie-Talkie throughout the house with gas heated fireplace. Split up section of entertainment, relaxation and a parlor. One bedroom downstairs may be utilized as an office or guestroom with full bathroom off rear. In additional, there is cubbholes for storages under the chairs appear like inhabited solely in a cruise.

* Totally 4 huge bedrooms joined with a spacious family room
* Grand bathroom and walk in closing in expansive master Suite
* Gleaming hardwood floor through out the whole house
* Granite shower stall and marble tile flooring in all bathrooms
* Unique circular shape hallway
* Two car attached garage with storage space
* Wonderful Alameda neighborhood and school district
* Charming and Fresh Feeling, This is the dream home that you have been waiting!


Please E Mail to Victoria Lam at Celestialinv@yahoo.com for additional information and view the photos by clicking: http://odc.rw.imprev.net/tmp/31/531/8693/

OPEN HOUSE THIS SUNDAY FROM 1-4P.M., SELLER'S MOTIVATE, DON'T MISS THE CHANCE! E-Mail to : Celestialinv@yahoo.com for pictures.

26 Castlebar Place (google map) (yahoo map)


I wonder who the first part of this "new" listing is directed to. 1419 Cottage Street, a cute overpriced cottage that failed to sell last year, is back on the market for a lower, still-too-high price. The specs, as a reminder:

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1,289 sqft, 5,000-sqft lot, built in 1895, MLS(r) #40442977, $619,000 ($480 / sqft)

The agent helpfully confirms this is the same property one may have seen last year (emphasis mine), which saved me a couple of minutes. Thanks!

Yes, this one was on the market last year. New low price and additional work to the finished basement. Square footage will be approx double with some extra work. Quiet neighborhood. Great value.
The Zestimate a year and a half ago... (screenshot taken in Spring 2008; note the owner-inflated estimate):

was close to the then-asking price (screenshot taken today, 12/23/09):

1419-cottage-zillow.jpgThe price has come crashing down to $619,000 and claims to be a great value, even though the renovations are still not finished. Note to agents and sellers: "less than I paid" does not equal "great value" to other people.

Property History for 1419 COTTAGE St

Date Event Price Appreciation Source
Dec 21, 2009 Listed $619,000 -- EBRD #40442977
Aug 17, 2005 Sold (Public Records) $700,000 13.4%/yr Public Records
Aug 09, 2002 Sold (Public Records) $479,000 -- Public Records

On a per-square-foot basis, $480 / sqft is a full $130 / sqft more than the going price these days, which in your case translates to about $170,000. In other words this property should be priced around $450,000. Sure, the agent claims there's a full floor's worth of square footage available, but 1) it's not verifiable unless you look at the permit status and 2) the work isn't finished yet. Expecting a $130 / sqft premium in advance for the promise of square footage when the next owner will have to fork over extra money to be able to live in that square footage is moronic.


Inventory Trends
So welcome back and happy holidays, little house. Happy new year, too.


Sold!--1304 Morton Street, Alameda, CA

|
Hi everybody!

1304 Morton Street finally sold in early December for $938,000, according to Redfin.

In summary:

  • April 2008: 1304 Morton St appears on the market, listed at $1,250,000
  • July 2008: the price is dropped to $1,199,000
  • September 2008: the price is dropped to $1,150,000
  • March 2009, almost a year after the initial listing, the property is relisted for $975,000
  • August 2009: the price is dropped to $949,999
  • December 2009: the property closes for $938,000

The extent and quality of the renovation work on top of the previous sale price (above $500,000) means the now former owners likely didn't make their money back on the transaction.

The moral of the story? Don't over-improve, and don't spend 6 figures on your kitchen.

That's a $312,000 price drop from the initial list price (about 25%) and 20 months on the market. I trust Redfin won't begrudge me a full history:

Property History for 1304 MORTON St

Date Event Price Appreciation Source
Dec 02, 2009 Sold (MLS) $938,000 -- Inactive MLSListings #80911577
Nov 12, 2009 Delisted -- -- Inactive MLSListings #80911577
Sep 22, 2009 Delisted * -- Inactive EBRD #4
Aug 21, 2009 Price Changed * -- Inactive EBRD #4
Aug 21, 2009 Price Changed $949,999 -- Inactive MLSListings #80911577
Mar 10, 2009 Listed * -- Inactive EBRD #4
Mar 06, 2009 Listed $975,000 -- Inactive MLSListings #80911577
Jan 01, 2009 Delisted * -- Inactive San Francisco MLS #1
Nov 21, 2008 Delisted * -- Inactive EBRD #3
Nov 20, 2008 Delisted -- -- Inactive MLSListings #2
Jul 22, 2008 Listed * -- Inactive San Francisco MLS #1
Jul 21, 2008 Price Changed -- -- Inactive MLSListings #2
Jul 19, 2008 Price Changed * -- Inactive EBRD #3
Jun 11, 2008 Price Changed * -- Inactive EBRD #3
Jun 11, 2008 Price Changed -- -- Inactive MLSListings #2
May 02, 2008 Listed * -- Inactive EBRD #3
Apr 25, 2008 Listed -- -- Inactive MLSListings #2

A short post about a property that's already sold, for a change. 3365 Washington Court has the following specs:

4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2,628 sqft, 5,200-sqft lot

Spacious contemporary with spectacular yacht harbor views. Great floor plan with vaulted ceilings, dramatic staircase. Updated kitchen with tons of storage.Master suite with private bath. Huge bonus room with fireplace. Cul de sac location. Awesome garde


View Larger Map

As you can see from the map (although the marker is off by a block or two) this property is located in a very prime area, practically on the bay, with "spectacular" views. It's good-sized on a decent-sized lot. Yet it failed to fetch a million dollars by quite margin, and not for want of trying:

3365-washington-court-agent.jpgAnd...

3365-washington-court-google.jpgThe property finally sold for $925,000, an 18% discount off its initial list price.Could we be returning to the day when a million-dollar house was actually a million-dollar house?


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