Friday, May 21, 2010

KnifeCatching 1832 San Antonio

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.


Okay this house is actually the house that started me back on the knifecatching kick....as we were leaving the house a Realtor was taking a young couple in. The wife recognized us from this blog!?!?! and stopped us to ask us what we thought...I gave them my quick synopsis (no spoilers) and their Realtor overheard. As they rejoined the Realtor I could hear her say, 'Oh its not really necessary to replace the foundation.' This was not the sellers Realtor but the buyers Realtor giving this shockingly horrible advice....what do you think the Realtor was really thinking about? Getting this nice family with a couple of young kids the right house or getting herself as big of a commission as quickly as possible? Arrrrrrrgh!

Up for review 1832 San Antonio Avenue. A 3 bed, 1.5bath, that is 2413 sq ft on a nice 6k+ sq ft lot built in 1895 for $815k.

My sources told the me the story on this place. Elderly gentleman owned the place and lived here alone for many years keeping the place up by himself. He unfortunately DIED in the house (a fact that the selling Realtors were not making obvious) and the house was left to his heirs. The house is long paid for with astonishing low property taxes. The heirs did a general clean up and paint of the house and put it on the market trying to squeeze as much money as they can from their windfall, sound familiar? Heirs have almost no money in the house and they are trying to sell it for a price that honestly is just not reasonable. Don't believe me? According to ZIP reality its been on the market for 79 days! What's that tell ya? Baring the Zombie Apocalypse if a house isn't in contract within 30days it ain't priced right.

The house looks gorgeous from the street. I was impressed with how nicely kept up the outside of the house appears to be and how nicely kept up the lot is. The house has a lot of fancy trim that all looked pretty original to me.




the front door looks to be the original in good shape with its original stained glass.


I'd like to say that the house was very original on the inside. Probably the most original of any house we've looked it. There was just amazing period stuff everywhere. All the original hinges, doors, door hardware all really nice. I'm sorry that I couldn't snap any pictures of it cause the battery on the camera was dying....

Here's the view looking in from the front door. Nice looking stair case The carpet and white paint appeared to be new to me. What really kills me is that in a lot of places it looks like this gloss white paint was the first coat over the original woodwork!! Why God Why would you do that!?!?!?!?!?!?

The women peeking around the corner there is the listing realtor...she kinda reminded me of the mom from 2.5 Men after talking with her. She said she recognized me and was giving me grief for taking pictures of the house?!?! I thought the jig was up. But, it turns out she remembers me from when we bought our current house. During the 'open house' for the Chez she wouldn't come off the sidewalk to get any closer and sent her poor clients into the rat hole without her.
When did it become a capital crime to take pictures during an open house?

The house has double front parlours. This is the front-est one with nice working pocket doors with gorgeous hardware.

Its a good sized room with decent carpet probably covering matchstick oak that just needs to be refinished...cheaper and faster to just throw carpet down ya know...

This is the 2nd parlour with non-working coal burning fireplace. The door on the left leads into the kitchen. Nope I'm mis-remembering it, sorry, through that door is the formal dining room that I forgot to take a picture of...I think...its a good sized dining room but as the layout of the house stands it would need to be repurposed as the family room to make the house work for an actual family.

Both of these rooms together give you a pretty good amount of indoor entertaining space.

Down the hallway a bit there is a nice sized closet under the stairs with its own window.



Here's the kitchen, vinyl floor, Formica counter tops...I believe the area inside that opening is probably the original kitchen. It looks like the original cabinets it even had a cold cabinet with venting to the outside. the area in the foreground I'm not sure what it was originally but its sorta hodge-podgy kitchen now. This entire space if redone would make a good sized eat in kitchen I think. Problem is, its GOTTA be redone as its way below par for houses in this price range. Formica does not sell...through the doorway you can just barely see to the left of the range.

Is an addition. This is a weird space. Its long, and skinny and awkward. Not sure what it would be good for.

Its sorta set up with the TV on one end and a couch on the other? You'd need binoculars to watch it. This would make a decent home office though.

Through a door in the kitchen to a nice covered side porch (with the half bath) there is an interior stair down to the basement. The basement is split into two rooms of reasonable head height. Notice that galv plumbing...see how the fridge is up on blocks? Thats gotta be evidence of habitual flooding.



The other basement room thats the base of the chimney behind those shelves.

Through the door on the left is...

Pure ugliness...thats a brick foundation with lots of water movement thru it...



More scary brick foundation...I say scary because to me it looks like water infiltration has already done a pretty good job of turning the mortar back into sand. Scroll back up real fast to the top picture. This is a full 2 story house with 12' ceilings on each floor. See how long and skinny the house is? This house needs a real foundation, earthquake retro-fitting and water remediation really, really badly. In my opinion this is not optional...



Back up from the basement and into the back yard. Which is really good sized and well kept. Perfectly adequate for us. its even got a couple of different types of citrus trees. The little garage on the left would fit a car and our motorcycles. It was locked and FULL of crap so I could not determine its condition.

For us, we'd want to raze the garage so we could have garden, koi pond and plenty of entertaining space.

Now to the second floor. At the top of the stairs you have this sorta landing.

The top of the floor is weirdly set up. The part you see in this picture (the back half) is kinda set up like a apartment. I'll get to this in a sec.

Here is one of the bedrooms this bedroom is on the street. Its decent sized with a decent sized closet.

Its also right next to...

The only full bathroom in the house...small cramped, I'd guess the tub is probably original. But this needs to be redone badly...



Here is another bedroom. There is a pocket door between this bedroom and the bedroom above. Its a good sized room with a decent closet. The pocket door between them is odd...doesn't seem very private.



Okay back to the odd part of the layout. I think that this is the third bedroom. Its really, tiny....but it does have a closet.

Then off this room is this...

Weird pseudo kitchen.

More vinyl but a cool porcelain sink with built in drain boards.. Through the door on the left is a pretty cool feature...

A roof top deck!

This deck faces south and that
silverized water proofing membrane on the floor was reflecting the heat and making it unbelievably hot up here....If you want to use this at all in the summer you are going to have to add shade... this could be a really cool space with a nice container garden.

Off the kitchen-like room is this weird huge dressing room sorta thing. This is not original and was added sometime later.

Okay so to make this house work you'd have to take this last three rooms and reconfigure them into some sort of master suite with its own private deck...doesn't that sound nice.....and expensive?


Not pictured but from what I could see the roof appears to be failing with shingles curling up in abundance.

Reports: Uh, didn't write it down (sorry I'm human after all it seems) but I remember that the termite report was substantial. They did have a couple of foundation redo quotes a couple of total B.S. ones and one real one from our buddies at Alameda Structural.

Conclusion: Its a gorgeous mostly original Victorian like you hardly see anymore. That's good and bad. All the original trim is there but its also still got its original brick foundation, galv water pipes, etc. Its got a good sized front lawn and great backyard in a nice neighborhood...better than our current 'hood.

To make this house work for us it would need:
1. A new full foundation and dig-out, possibly adding a garage door and driveway so we could get rid of the garage out back. $120,000 easy.
2. New roof- ~$16,000
3. Complete Repiping $20,000
4. Remodeled kitchen $40,000 easy
5. New master suite...~$100,000
6. Redo existing bath $20,000

So lets see thats uh,.. $196000 plus what ever the termite report was for plus the cost of redoing the electrical.

Buying the house at asking puts us at just over $1M...there is no way that neighborhood can support $1M+ houses that are only 3-2.5 and ~2400sq ft...that's not even a big house really.

So, to us, the place is only worth $615k.....think they'll take it?

I asked the Realtor what they'd take for the place and she said, 'I think that they could be bargained down to $770k.' and I just laughed...

Really it can't just be me. Sellers need to figure out that in this more rational market they have to price a house based on its actual condition!

Actually the Realtor and I got into kinda a shouting match when she tried to use the, 'The foundation doesn't really need to be replaced, its optional.' line with me. I read her the riot act in front of like 5 other people....she was not pleased...I don't think I'm on her Christmas card list anymore....

6 comments:

Gene said...

Old, damp, brick foundation in earthquake country? With no shear strength in the cripple walls above it? What could possibly go wrong? :rolls eyes:

Anonymous said...

Love your posts... so much information, so much doubt about the house I bought last year haha. I'm curious to see you profile a house that you think is a good buy and in decent shape, perhaps something as old as a real Victorian that's had the foundation and bones fixed while preserving the style.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Gene,
Ya I didn't go into the classic bad situation of un reienforced crippled walls sitting on rotting wood.

The MadScientist said...

Anon,
I'm not sure what you're asking me to do? Do you want me to describe my ideal house and the price it would sell for? Or do you want me to magically find a house that's for sale to review that meets all your requirements?

I haven't seen a house I would consider a 'good buy' in quite a while.

What has to happen I think is that sellers need to price their houses according to their condition and not some fervent wish that it was still '05.

The other house I reviewed on San Antonio lowered its price $40k! Still not enough for me though but thats a start. With a new MLS # they'll probalby get a lot of traffic at their open this weekend.

Anonymous said...

If there hasn't been a good buy in a while I guess I can't reall ask to see one. I was mostly interested in seeing pictures of fixed up foundations in older homes for a reference as to what good condition really looks like for something of that age.

If you happen to come across something that looks good, please don't hesitate to profile it! Just helpful to see reference points at both ends of the spectrum, you know?

The MadScientist said...

Hello Anon,
If you type in the keyword 'foundation' on this blog you should get a list of all the posts that deal with our foundation redo. From the initial 'look what bad shape its in' to the final concrete foundation.

It sounds like you have bought a Victorian on the island recently and it has a brick foundation? I'm sorry to say that even IF the foundation was 'as new' it would be considered woefully inadequate by modern seismic standards. But, there's almost no chance of that, sorry.