Monday, September 27, 2010

Knife Catching 1345 Bay St.

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.

Knife Catching 1345 Bay St.
Up for review today is 1345 Bay St. Which has the official specs of being a 3-1 of 1371 sq ft on a 6300 sq ft lot. The house is a craftsman built in 1915. The asking price is a not insignificant $679k. View the Harbor Bay listing here.

Here's the google street view of the place. Sorry, I didn't have the camera with me so this will be the only pic in this review. Take a look at the HB site above for some more pics.

First Off, This place is really a 2-1.5. There is a non-permitted half bath in one of the bedrooms. What they are calling the 3rd bedroom is really the covered porch and its right off the kitchen, it does have a closet but the room is tiny, being right off the kitchen it might make a decent home office/guest bedroom.

House Impressions
Location: Well, this place certainly has location, location, location...its on the prime block of Bay St. for Halloween. The Realtor said it was 'The' block of Bay but I'd argue the blocks that dead end on the lagoon are probably 'The' blocks... This is a great tree lined street in the Franklin school district.

Grounds: That sounds pretentious doesn't it? The place has a great front yard for Halloween and a really good sized back yard. The back yard needs some serious landscaping work but it is large and has several mature trees...In fact, I'd say if you want to grow anything other than the existing trees that its got too much of them will probably have to come down. If you tour this house check out the neighbors backyard on the south side....Its got this amazing 3 story tree house thing that looks pulled from Disneyland! Its got rope bridges and a big slide and MAN I wish I was 10 yrs old again so I could go play on it.

House Exterior: The exterior appeared to be in good shape with the unpainted shingles looking to be okay. There was evidence of dry rot in the eaves and on the front porch. Several of the windows looked to be painted shut.

Interior: The front room was a good size though I would not call it 'spacious' as the add copy does. The dining room is also a good size but not humongous. Both bedrooms are actually pretty good sized with decent closet space. The half bath in the one bedroom looks a bit uh, cramped shall we say...The full bath looks original still, but it looks nice and its actually a good size, as in not tiny.
Kitchen: The kitchen is TINY and looks to be of a 50's vintage. Off the kitchen there is a little nook that they are pretending is a breakfast way, too small, and the only way into the 3rd bedroom is through this nook. This means, that you will HAVE to use the dining room to eat in, which leaves just the one decent sized but not huge front room as common area space.

I had a nice chat with the Realtor about the place and it seems like she's not trying to mis-represent the place (a nice change). She had the certified permit history there (which goes back to the 40's! and Shows that they converted the porch into a bedroom with permits in the 50's!!!) and not one but two termite reports (~$48k in work!!!) but no house inspection. I asked her if there where any issues with the house and she mentioned the electrical...apparently it would not work when the watering was turned on????

I asked her about the price, since 1290 Caroline is about the same size house on the same size lot in basically the same neighborhood why did she feel that this house was worth ~$80k more. She said, it was the location and the fact that the house was a Craftsman and that, 'Craftsmans always go for more than 50's houses...' I don't know about that. The price differential seems a bit unreasonable to me....

I asked her who her target market was, and I was surprised to hear her say retiree's. But it makes sense, the house is all on one level in a safe neighborhood.

Conclusion: The house is SMALL!!!!!!! I don't see how any family (even with only 1 kid) that can afford the Gold Coast being happy with how small the place is. The house is probably the smallest on the block. This house would work well for a couple of retirees who want to be close to the grand kids.

What The House Needs:
There was no house inspectors report to read so based on my observations.....
Even though it has a concrete foundation circa 1915 the termite report calls it out as failing! This can happen when there is too much water seeping through the concrete for too many years...

  1. New Foundation: Dig down and give yourself a real basement for storage and maybe a 'plus' room. ~$100k with good water management features.
  2. New forced air furnace and get rid of all the abspestos lined ducts.
  3. House is still partially on fuses in an abspestos lined box..might want to change that.
  4. House still have galv water pipes that look old, repipe the place in PEX.
  5. Do a pop-top master suite addition to give you the room a modern family needs to raise kids.
  6. Remodel the Kitchen annexing the 'breakfast nook' space.

We'll call it ~$300k worth of work. If you could get the place for $600k you just might break even after adding all the legal square feet....cause the place does have location....Course if you're a retired couple the place might work 'as-is'.

And that's the way I see it.


Anonymous said...

I find your little hobby of trashing the homes of Alameda to be mean spirited and immature. Don't you have anything better to do? Maybe you could spend time reading to your child or volunteering at a homeless shelter or visiting with home - bound elderly people? But no, your use of your time is to trash Alameda. In all the time you spend on your snarky, nasty blog criticizing houses, you could take your knowledge and put it to some good use. You should be ashamed of yourself.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Anon,
I don't trash the houses of Alameda as a hobby. I look at houses that appear to be potentially interesting to actually own then I write up my honest thoughts about them.

I actually thought that my review of this house was pretty positive. This is one of the few houses that I have seen where I say I think that people will get their money back out of it after its fixed up.

What did I say about this house that was soooooo nasty exactly?

I am putting my knowledge to good use. I am helping potential home buyers wade through the morass of either incompetent or crooked sellers and their realtors.

At least I have the guts not to do this about you?

Anonymous said...

Trash? Are you kidding me? What this guy is doing is a GODSEND, because if you're looking for a house, particularly a first house, you a) are looking a multiple listings every weekend, b) spend maybe 20 minutes in a house c) are depending on the seller, realtors, and "inspectors" (ha!), none of which has your interest in mind, to tell you the truth about the house, and d) have no idea what you're doing or what you should be looking out for.

Why then wouldn't you want a guy who has been through all this -- twice -- to give you his opinion about a property before you buy it?

And since Alameda is KING of the bizarro, no permit, half-assed, built by chimps addition (see my house), this is truly a valuable service.

Keep it up!

The MadScientist said...

Mom, is that you?

Seriously though thanks for the support.

Chimp factor I like that. Maybe that could become a new metric when I'm evaluating a house. As in, 'man that place was terrible, it was a chimp factor 5'

Or 'the work looks like it was done by a (pick one) retarded, one armed, half blind, spastic, colorblind, chimp.

Except for 'space chimps' though, those guys kicked butt.