Wednesday, December 8, 2010

KnifeCatching 1304 Morton 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.
It's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!

There is an updated post on this property please read it here.

Knifecatching 1304 Morton St.
Up for review today is 1304 Morton St. which has the official specs of being a 4-0 of 2064sq ft on a nice sized 5513 sq ft lot built in 1895 on sale for.....wait for it.......


$1.329 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!! Hurray!!!!! I believe that this is the most expensive active listing in Alameda.

Lots of super fabulous pictures on the Sothebys web site for the listing.

This is the house that the 'original knifecatcher' L.Opine made a LOT of hay over on her realestate blog. She has beaten me to the punch and already done a nice blog post about this house.
Lets see if I can add to the discussion.

First off, I want to say, that yes, this house is fricken gorgeous! Super-duper, should be in magazines gorgeous. The main floor is crazy fancy with like a ballroom. EVERYBODY in Alameda loves this house. The owners are/were smart enough to have it be on the historical homes tour, and I think on the recent Christmas home tour. I'm actually super surprised that Sothebys actually had an open house this past Sunday. I couldn't make it over there unfortunately but I bet is was a mad house...the former owners were smart enough to not ever have an open house. With a house this fancy I can understand that....
The house also has nice Grounds...not super private but nice.
Google street view of the house.
Ain't it pretty?






Okay if you haven't already ogled the pics on the listing website you should do so. The sales history of the place is interesting. But to get the full picture you have to actually look at the sales history from both the Zillow listing and the Redfin listing.
Originally offered for sale at $1.25M on 12-12-08 the house kept getting relisted and the price dropped until it sold for $938,000 on 12-02-09 and now its on sale again for $1.329M listed on 12-1-10. Wow, after owning if for a year they are relisting it for $391k more than they bought it for....wow....I didn't realize that the housing market was booming again.....
Looking at the house with a critical eye.
We toured this house a while back when we thought that the owner might come to their senses and sell the place for a sane number. The house is pretty but if you really look at it critically, I don't have any idea who the target market for this place is. As it is configured, I don't see how the house can work for a modern, Gold Coast style family.
First, lets talk about the top floor, there are 3 bedrooms up there and 2 full baths. The 'master' bedroom is not exactly what you would call large...in fact, I doubt that it would fit a Cal King bed in there and it only has one small closet. The other two bedrooms up there were smallish also. We thought that for our little family that we'd have to convert one of the bedrooms into a walk in closet for our clothes...so that leaves you with enough space for one kid....
The kitchen-
Super fabulously pretty for sure, but practical? I spent some time in the kitchen and with all the fridge drawers and dishwasher drawers there appeared to me to be a serious lack of cabinet space....also, the counter space...hardly any...don't know who's going to cook in there but its not going to be easy.
The home office-
Didn't have one, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out where to put one. People who can afford a house like this are probably going to have the kind of jobs that are going to require a home office.... The only thing that I could think of, was to replace the wall removed to create the humongous grand entertaining room and give yourself a home office in the front part of that room.
Permit Check-
From reading the online permit data base this is what I can tell....the half bath is illegal and all the construction on the bottom floor appears to be done without permits!!!!!!
When we toured the house I can't remember exactly what the state of the bottom floor was...I think it was unfinished space with some drywall up...but my memory is like a steel sieve lately...
Why, oh why would the new owners not of pulled permits for the remodeling on the bottom floor? According to the official stats the bottom floor is probably not considered legal living space by the city....so that super fancy movie theater-mixing studio-wine tasting room appears to all be illegal....
I don't get it, you got the money to buy the place and pay people to do a super fancy makeover of the bottom floor why not pull a permit...it's only a couple thousand at most....If the new owners had done it legally they would of added ~1000 sq ft to the place and then maybe the price wouldn't seem sooo crazy?
Conclusion:
Super-duper pretty but not practical and all the unpermitted work in the basement is a huge potential can of worms
....if you don't think that of the zillion folks who toured that place on Sunday that there was not at least a handful of die hard preservationists snooping around for work they disapprove of, you are kidding yourself....in fact, I'm kinda surprised that there is not already a complaint against the house...well, its only Tuesday....

Someone please tell me who the target market is for a house that doesn't have enough space for a modern family, and, is on a busy, busy street which you can definitely hear from inside and next door to a bar. Like, who's the not enough space for a master suite but has a wine tasting room and movie theater-mixing-editing room, but not really a functional kitchen demographic?
Maybe a very young, single Google millionaire with rock star aspirations? There's probably tons of those out there...
And that's the way I see it.

5 comments:

Auntie Sue said...

I'm guessing --- no, I'm HOPING ---- that calling this house a "4-0" in your first sentence is a typo. Otherwise, I really REALLY don't understand what these numbers stand for.

The MadScientist said...

Not a typo, it just means that the county doesn't have any idea what the configuration of the house is.
The numbers stand for this. the first number is the number of bedrooms and the second is the number of baths. The house now is set up as a 3-2.5

L. Opine said...

I did some digging (which I didn't post about because the owner probably wants some privacy), and the $400K over what he paid isn't just home appreciation--from what I can tell the studio and video rooms are state-of-the-art professional-grade stuff. That said I find it hard to imagine he'll recoup that unless he sells the house to another audio professional who happens to like Alameda and has $1.3M burning a hole in her pocket.

Thanks for the link, btw.

The MadScientist said...

L.Opine,
No fair with the cryptic comments!
Are you saying that its not just apprecaiation because of the work done on the bottom floor?
The work done without permits?
Or, are you saying that it cost them more than the $400k price diff to do the work?
Help me out here I'm simple ya know!

1831 San Jose sold for $1M!! Down from the $1.4 asking! And I'm told that 1000 Grand is finally in escrow after like a zillion years on the market...wow maybe the real estate market is picking up?

L. Opine said...

Sorry if I wasn't clear. What I meant is that the $400K over the last sale price is justified by what looks like very, very expensive equipment and construction downstairs.