Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Knife Catching 1831 San Jose Ave

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.



Whoa, boy where to start on this house.....I guess I should start by saying that this 'review' is going to be different from the rest, as this place is apparently not having any open houses? Several people have asked me to review this place anyways so here goes...

Knife Catching 1831 San Jose Ave.
Today's house has the official specs of; A single family home of 2072 sq ft, on a 6600 sq ft lot with 5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and no garage! built in 1880 on sale for the low, low, low price of $1.39M last sold in 2004 for an even $1M.

I have to get this off my chest real quick before we delve into the meat of the review....
What Kind of Crack Are These People Smoking????????
Okay I feel better now.


This house actually had us all excited when I saw the 'coming soon' add in the local paper. Its in a good neighborhood, on a good sized lot, and its plenty big, Annnnnd when I did a permit check it showed that the new owners redid the foundation!!! , redid the kitchen, one bath, and upped the electrical service to 200amps and installed a 100amp sub-panel! Wow, sounds great for us doesn't it! Annd since 3 similarly sized homes on similar lots for sale in the same area have had to reduce their prices to below $800k and they still haven't sold (as far as I know). We where excited that this house would be in our price range....now the coming soon adds don't show prices typically.....boy howdy, where we shocked when we learned the price....wow, what a disconnect from reality.


Unabashedly stealing the pics from Google cause a review without pictures just doesn't seem right. The house shows well from the front with a nice yard.




Here's a view from space where you can get an idea of how big the backyard is. This house is actually the back fence neighbor to another house I reviewed at 1832 San Antonio Ave.

Google thinks its next to R&B cellars...maybe the current owners and their realtor did a little bit too much wine tasting their before they settled on a price?

Here's Google's version of a birds-eye view. No trees in front of the house which is kinda sad but it looks like there's plenty of tree-age in the back yard.



Okay, the house is listed on a bunch of the pro sites, Zillow, Redfin, Trulia and Realtor.com.

The pictures and copy are all slightly different but I want y'all to look at the Realtor.com site. Click on the 'see all 20 pictures' link and go through them all paying close attention to what the last couple of pictures are showing.

Looks like a nice place no? Very similar to 1832 San Antonio except with an updated kitchen and updated mechanicals.

From the permit record this is the description of the work that happened for the new basement-foundation. Sorry for the screwy formatting this is a cut and paste right from the pdf. The part in red is what you want to read...

Permit Type Status Applicant Issued Date Finaled Date
CB04-1012 Combination Building Permit FINALED GUTLEBEN CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION 11/23/2004 06/29/2005
Work Description: (ALL WORK IN BASEMENT) R/R FOUNDATION, BRICK TO CONCRETE; EXCAVATE BASEMENT TO 8'2" CEILING HEIGHT FOR
STORAGE ONLY (ONE LIGHT, ONE SWITCH AND ONE PLUG IN STORAGE AREAS); DIVIDE LAUNDRY AREA & INSTALL
UNDERGROUND PLUMBING FOR FUTURE FULL BATH; BUILD NON-BEARING WALLS TO CREATE UTILITY ROOM & WINE
STORAGE ROOM; ADD 2 STEPS TO EXISTING INTERIOR STAIRWAY; INSTALL NEW WATER HEATER, FURNACE & SUMP PUMP -
NO EXTERIOR CHANGES (BLDG/ELEC/PLUM/MECH)ext

Now remember those last sets pics from the Realtor.com site?

Here's some add copy that help explains what's going on in the basement.

The media/game room on the lower level includes a kitchen, wine cellar, and guest bedroom and bath that could be used by an au pair.
So, what do we have here then? The scope of work description is very clear that the basement is just meant for storage, laundry and a wine cellar. That's the only way the city will let you basically build a basement you have to tell them in writing that you are not adding living space....

Looks to me like that bottom level is now an illegal 2nd unit, complete with kitchen, bath, uh, looks like a couple of bedrooms...all done with out permits! It appears they snookered the city...wonder if I report it if they'd actually do anything about it?

Conclusion:

This looks like a nice house in a decent neighborhood from what I can tell of the listing pics. One thing the pics don't tell you is the number of crappy apartment buildings on this block. We rode our bikes down it and I think we counted 8!

The only thing that makes sense to me is that with the illegal bottom unit the current owners are thinking that this is a 3000sq ft house and trying to price it accordingly? But still, even at 3000sq ft and no garage that $1.39M price just seems insane to me. Maybe, and I'm just guessing here, the current owners pulled a ton of money out of the house during the height of the market and that's what they owe on it? There is just no fricken way in a million years that place is going to appraise out. No Way!

So the current owners bought the house for $1M near the peak of the market, I'd guesstimate that the foundation work was probably $150k. Now that the market has REALLY fallen since '04 how do they get a valuation of $1.4M???? How damn it, How? What am I missing?

Unlike the other very similar houses in the same neighborhood I reviewed recently 2132 San Antonio, 1832 San Antonio, and 2157 San Antonio I think that this is a good ~$800k house...think they'll take that for it? Keeping in mind the HUGE potential can of worms you're buying with the unpermitted living space in the basement and no garage? Am I totally wrong in thinking that anyone who can actually afford a $1.4M house is going to probably have a fancy car or two and they're going to want to keep them off the street and in a nice, safe, cozy garage?

I did hear through the realtor grape vine that the owners are willing to make someone a serious deal!

I think honestly this listing has to take the cake as the most dissconnected from reality of any house I've ever reviewed.

4 comments:

Jarecki Family said...

From the exterior, it looks like the house in "Yours Mine & Ours" with Henry Fonda & Lucy.

The MadScientist said...

Sorry, that reference is going right over my head.
The house looks gorgous on the inside for sure. It just doesn't look 1.4M gorgous.

Anonymous said...

Price drop to 1.2 mil.

The MadScientist said...

Only 1.2M!?!??!!!

I'll take two!!!