Thursday, August 27, 2009

1531 Morton St. Knife Catching Again

Read This:The following review is just my opinion and only my opinion I am not a professional house appraiser or inspector and I am not a structural engineer. The opinions expressed in this review are based on my own inspection of the property, the publicly available facts from aggregator sites such as Redfin and Zillow and the online permit database for the city of Alameda. I am not responsible for incorrect or missing data that appears in these sources. In fact, its probably best that you just ignore everything you read here as the lunatic ravings of an unbalanced mind.


Up for consideration is 1531 Morton St. $1,099,000 4bed 2.5 bath 2700 sq ft house that's $407/sq ft. built in 1910. The official knifecathers blog has already covered this house but since it was already in my Que to finish I thought I'd do it anyways, so here's my take on it.

I gotta say, this place is the most crack-smokingest craziest price of ANY house I've reviewed.

There's a story behind this one that is just too funny-greed gone way wrong I think.

Here's what 1531 Morton looks like from the front. When built it was a nice house on a large 6500 sq ft lot. BTW I guess the realtor got fired as the house is now listed as FSBO....I bet the realtor tried to talk some sense into the owner and some owners just don't listen.




Here's the google sat view of the place before the new 'addition'. You can see plenty of space and a little garage in the back corner. If I had a satellite view of the place now it would show an entirely NEW house in what was the backyard.!!!


The Story (from the realtor showing the house on the day we toured): Typical Alameda story, older women living alone in great big house can't take care of it anymore so decides to sell. Records show the current owner (which is some kinda fancy-pants green design-build firm outta Berkeley) got the place for a steal at the height of the market, bought for $550,000 back in '06. That number is suspiciously cheap for that time....bringing up the specter of someone taking advantage of a little old lady.... This firm then somehow convinced the city planning dept to let them build an entirely new house in the backyard (1533 Morton on sale for like $800,000+) and call it a 'condo development'??? Its ridiculous, I don't know how many palms they had to grease to get that pushed through but man....wow I just don't get it.

Anywho, fancy-pants developer builds new house in backyard (all spiffy green like) does an aerosol overhaul on the original house and lists them both separately, the original place for $1.1mill and the back house for $899,000!!!!

How much crack did he have to smoke before he though THAT was going to fly? I suppose the developer thought the market was going to keep go, go going the way it was and people would be jumping all over themselves to buy either of the places... Lets just say that, that's not happening....We've been to two open houses there and the reactions from the people touring the houses is just priceless.... '$1.1 mill FOR JUST THE FRONT HOUSE!!!, they must be joking' I must of heard 20 different couples say basically the same thing and just walk away shaking their heads...

So, this development company bought the place in '06 for $550,000, then sunk a bunch of money into fixing up the original house and then building an entire new house. What do you think the carrying costs of all this were? Its 2/3rds of the way through 09 and no one is jumping to buy these places. I bet that the developer is losing its shirt on this....and that doesn't make me feel bad at all!

Okay onto the house review:

You are greeted by these front steps...Very not original and VERY not allowed by the city...I wonder how they got this past the inspectors.



The front porch did have this cool hanging light though.



Just inside the front door were these original looking light switches..They looked neat and they still worked.



For some reason I forgot to take pictures of the main stairway and the main hallway...this room is just off to the left. One big giant room with two doors...guess what that means...yep they took down an interior partition wall (without permits) to make a 'great room' how McMansiony of them...




Here's the gas fireplace in the 'great room' Talk about McMansiony...that marble surround is so not period correct and it really sticks out like a sore thumb...




This is the room on the other side of the hallway from the great room. The house had lots of cool built-ins.



More ugly marble but a cool original built-in.




Walk down the hallway and into this modern kitchen. I thought this was pretty nice. All the high end fancy stuff. I liked the glass subway tile back splash.



Off the kitchen was this little deck space. See the house behind this one??





Just past the kitchen on the left was this tiny little half bath.



Also off this area was this little tiny room with a nice little built-in. They are counting this as a bedroom I believe and that's being a bit generous.



On to the upstairs, the bedrooms were good sized with decent closet spaces.



Nother bedroom.



Funky closet space in the main upstairs hallway without any doors or anything...looks kinda like they ran out of money before they could finish it.



There is this cool maids stair going down to the kitchen area.



Guest bath on the upper floor. Looks new..though I didn't see any permits pulled for this either....



This is the master bedroom. It had decent sized closets. Through the door on the right you get...



IKEA-riffic-ness. Another closet? A dressing area? I'm not sure what the purpose of this room is.



The master bath is right off the IKEA closet. It looks fine, very modern.



This is the view out of the master bedroom window. Look how close that house is! Woulda been a great spot for a garden. I think that there is maybe 30' between the houses. $1mill for a house and you don't even get a backyard...or a garage...



The bottom floor is not legal living space even though its set up that way... Okay the carpet in this area was not installed correctly!! Its a million dollar house and I almost tripped and broke my neck TWICE on the bulges in the carpet!! Through the door to the left you get..



A sewing room? I have to give the seller credit every room in the big ole house was staged...must of cost them some money....I'm sure it helped sell the place quickly....not.



the other side is set up like a man-cave with a poker table ready to go. The head height in this area was not 7-6 it was shorter than that. I also learned that the floor down here is the original wood sleepers on dirt...no concrete!! A $1mill dollar house and they couldn't be bothered to put in a real slab? Also the foundation is the original concrete foundation from when the house was built...that's not too bad except it probably means no foundation bolts, no rebar in the crete and no drainage.



talking to the realtor I learned this gem... The roof on the place has to be replaced in 5 years!!! Yes you heard that right, they want $1mill for a house with a roof that is basically failing....Why in the heck would you not put a new roof on? To my way of thinking the fact that they didn't put a new roof on, or the slab in the basement calls into question all the work they've done on the place.

Summary:

$1mill house with a bad roof, no parking and no yard.....and condo fees!!!

Its sad really, the original house was nice at one point. Heck, I would of loved to of bought this place in 06 for $550,000 that's less than we paid for our crap shack in 07. To make this house work for us we'd first have to invent a time machine and go back in time and buy it before this 'developer' ruined the place when they 'freshened' it...

This coulda been a nice place with a sensitive restoration and nice grounds...even if that woulda happened it would not be worth $1mill today...

Man, whoever thought that this was going to be a money making venture really needs to put down the crack pipe. This developer would be lucky if he gets $1.1mill for both places...

17 comments:

Kitt said...

How funny. I went through that house in July when we were meeting friends at Forbidden Island. Saw the sign and did a looky-loo. Loved some of it (the back staircase! so cute). But I thought at the time that the new house behind it pretty much ruined it as a desirable property, especially at that price.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Kitt,

Ya and the hood its in is basically the same as ours and Casa Decrepits....which means its not a $1mill neighborhood. I wish it was.

L. Opine said...

Oh lordy. Thanks for the writeup. I walked up to the front house the other night, looking for the green house they've been touting on Craigslist, and couldn't find it. Now I know why. What in the world?

The MadScientist said...

Hi L.Opine,
Ya 1531-1533 is a financial disaster for the developer...I'm okay with that cause I think he snookered a little old lady outta the place to begin with.

Wish you had comments on your blog enabled! Did you know the owners at 1304 Morton took out ~$330,000 in equity in late 07!!! THATS why they can't sell the place for a reasonable amount of money!!

Anna at modern bathroom vanities said...

Wow they really did ruin a nice property that needed some remodeling inside, but otherwise was great. True that sometimes all they can think about is how to make more money, but rush into it without putting themselves in the shopper's shoes. I bet whoever's idea this was to do a weird remodeling inside that doesn't exactly match at all from room to room AND build another house in the backyard, would've never bought either of the houses himself...

L. Opine said...

Here's a little shameless self-promotion--knifecatchers writeup about 1533 Morton is up.

http://www.knifecatchers.com/blog/2009/08/its-not-easy-being-green1533-m.html

Dan: while you're okay with the financial disaster for the developer, I'm actually rooting for it. For the disaster, not the developer. They deserve every bit of stress and pain they get from making this monstrosity happen.

Leslie Harvey said...

L. Opine - just wanted to say that I'm glad you're back! Love reading both your blog and this one as well. My husband and I have been trying to buy in Alameda for about a year, but are still holding out... there haven't been a lot of homes that are any good on the market lately, at least not at a realistic price.

Kevy said...

What a freakin' travesty. Can't believe it seemed like a good idea to anyone at any time. I also can't believe someone in the planning office gave them the permits for that. Bummer.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Leslie,

While it depends somewhat on what price range you are looking at I feel that prices are still going to fall in Alameda for a while. Especially in the high end...We'll see though, apparently the house I reviewed on Bay st. is pending and so is 1600 Dayton...I'm dying to know what the accepted bid amount is on those places.

Leslie Harvey said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Bay Street home- can't wait to see what it went for! It was in our price range and right in the location we are looking in, and we didn't even go to an open house because we just found it so unattractive (it may float some folks' boat, but just not ours).

By the way, I think I may have met you and your wife. Were you at an open house maybe 5-6 weeks back at 1600 Dayton? I have a baby the same age as yours - she was sleeping in the car and my husband and I took turns checking out the house.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Leslie,

Yep that was us! I'm also dying to know what the dayton place went for.
I think the house on Bay probably had to be viewed as a fixer upper unfortunately..
Wha'd you think of 1600 Dayton?

Leslie Harvey said...

Thought 1600 Dayton was quite nice, but definitely out of reach for us! It had a bunch of features that wouldn't really work for us with a baby/toddler either. It is amazing how much having a kid changes your perspective in house hunting. Too many levels/stairs plus a really tiny kitchen for such a large house. Glad we got to meet you and look forward to seeing you at open houses in the future. Love your commentary!

Daniel said...

Chez - you've done your research well. Un-noted: the 18 letters sent to the City planning director by the neighbors that opposed the rear unit, which skidded right off of the well-greased politico's desk. We've snickered at the developers trying to extricate their own foreign cars from their stupid under deck, off-street parking niches that the City required. No one will use them....so much more to lambast...

The MadScientist said...

Hi Daniel,
Ya I've wondered how in the world they got the okay for the 2nd house! And if you are one of the neighbors that wrote those 18 letters I REALLY don't see how they got it approved? Is the Alameda City Building Dept really that crooked?

Makes us sad, we would of loved to of bought the house for the same price the developer did. We would of done a sensitive restoration and had a wonderful old house on a big lot for a fair price...I hope the greedy developer goes bankrupt!

Anonymous said...

Hello MadScientist - I'm also a neighbor who wrote in opposition of this ridiculous project. We heard there was one particular city councilmember who "befriended" the owners.....those initials would be "FM"....and he has most definitely lost our vote. All realtors have now backed out, and both homes are now FSBO....good luck!

Leslie Harvey said...

1531 Morton is BACK! Listed this week at $1,080,000: http://alamedarealestate.idxre.com/idx/detail.cfm?ll=1&cid=397&pid=40608611&bid=2

The MadScientist said...

Crikey!
Just checked the permit record for the place...not a single permit pulled since this review!
Which means, the place still has its crappy need to replace roof.

Its crazy bubble time so maybe it will sell?