Monday, August 23, 2010

Knife Catching 1830 Alameda Ave....Needs TLC?

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.


This as it turns out is sorta a positive review...ya, I know, I guess it had to happen sometime...

Knife Catching 1830 Alameda Ave.
Today's house is 1830 Alameda Ave which has the official specs of 3-1.5 2516 sq ft on a 7350 sq ft lot built in 1896 on sale for $579k. The add says the house needs TLC....I wonder where the line is drawn from needing TLC to needing a total gut-rehab? Check out more pics and specs at the Harbor Bay site. This is a probate sale, which means the owner died and the heirs are going to try to squeeze as much money out of it as they can...without apparently putting a single dollar into the place. Okay so maybe the heirs don't have 2 nickels to rub together...get out there and clean the place yourselves....it woulda made a huge difference in peoples minds...

This house was initially interesting to us for the specs, the neighborhood, and the price. You see, the price for this place is what we paid for our current house during the height of the boom and we where curious about how they compared to each other.

Shot of the front of the house. Its a nice looking Colonial Revival place that needs some serious exterior cleaning and some serious tree reshaping/pruning. Nice little front yard, good for Halloween.





This is a pic of the roof, that is failing and leaking and destroying the plaster ceiling on the top floor.





Here's a shot of the side of the house.. Entire house needs to be pressure washed and repainted badly.





Forgot to get a shot of the little front porch but here's a shot of the entryway and staircase with closet that appears to be a later addition. Boy, did someone in the past really, really love wallpaper....





Here's a shot of the eat in kitchen that opens to the back porch. The kitchen is actually pretty good sized and would work nicely, after a total gut-rehab. They also really, really, liked vinyl flooring..which is all over the house...Kitchen was Filthy, man yuck...why not clean the place up before you show it?





Off the kitchen is this really good sized room without a closet that would make a great family room. Check out the crazy bulging ceiling thing going on here? Ghost trying to break through from the other side? This was not over any source of water on the top floor so I'm at a loss as to what this is.
I completely forgot to take pictures of the front two rooms of the house which would of been the formal parlours. Check out the Harbor Bay site for pics of those rooms...but they were good sized and the front room had a nice leaded glass window. So this main level has 3 big rooms plus an eat in kitchen.





This is the service porch off the kitchen. Its a good size with nice big windows to view the humongous back yard through.
See that edge of the door right here with the obscure glass? See that black mark on the frame? Know what that is? That, my friends is old man hand goo. That's where the previous owner touched the door to open it or close it....and never ever clean it....this room was also, filthy...around the other side of the open door is..





A little half bath! Perfect for garden parties! This was also not exactly clean.





Here's the view of the side yard from the little porch accessed by going thru the obscured glass door.





Blurry shot of the back yard..lots of overgrown trees... That fence is only the halfway point. BIG yard. Super cool after a massive amount of gardening.





View looking back at the porch with metal columns...don't see that everyday. Under the porch is a couple of stairs down and....





The basement! With a newish looking water heater. I saw this concrete and I got all excited! Wow, maybe they redid the foundation on this place sometime in the past?





Then I looked a little bit closer and saw this.... Look, there's not even any mortar between these bricks anymore! How do you think that's going to do during a major shaker?





Here's a shot where you can see that the brick is just 'capped'....which in my opinion is a really unsafe thing to do. What's happening under the cap? Is the brick totally turning to dust? You can't tell cause of the parge coat of concrete covering it. Some building experts actually think that the concrete cap actually speeds the deterioration of the brick!
There is evidence of some sort of foundation work being done... someone installed new mid-line piers and a load bearing beam in this crawl space...but, it wasn't done with permits...Sooooo, This is going to require a total foundation redo, a dig down to give you a real basement, a slab, new perimeter and interior foundation and drainage and water proofing. Doing this you'd gain ~1000sq ft of dry usable storage or shop space....or more likely illegal second unit space....

Back into the house and at the top of the stairs we have this nice 2nd floor landing. Check out the weird toilet room at the end of the hall? Also just to the right here was this big hall closet with built-ins.
The house has all its original trim-woodwork and doors!! Hurray!!! But they are all painted...Boooooooo! You can tell that originally this was a pretty fancy house.





The super rad 60's style full bath on the top floor. So, you have a full bath and a uh, 1/4 bath on the top floor plus the half bath on the main level.
Again, not exactly clean but nothing like we had to deal with.





Closer up shot of the toilet room. With the tile and stuff it looks kinda original....or at least pretty darn old. Look at the floor below the toilet, think that there's some dry-rot issues there?







One of the bedrooms...original trim and lathe/plaster in place. A not humongous room but reasonable sized with a closet. Crappy vinyl on the floor.







Nother upstairs bedroom...this one is next to the toilet room....but still all original. Seriously gross carpet on the floor.







This is the bedroom that we would call the 'master'. Its at the front of the house and while its maybe the biggest it has a decent sized closet and off of it we have this...







Whole nother room. Now, I'm pretty sure that the Realtor is counting this as a bedroom but I'm also pretty sure you can't count something as a bedroom if it can only be accessed through another room... But, this would make a nice (but not huge) master bath.







How does this place compare with our current house?
Ours Theirs
House size: 3000sqft 2516sqft
Lot Size 3500sqft 7350sqft
'hood better
School District better
Overall Condition better (not by a lot)

So after the crash, you can get a house that's in slightly better condition that ours, but slightly smaller, in a slightly better neighborhood on twice the land for about the same money... Hmmmm actually this is sorta saying that we didn't get completely screwed when we bought this place....

Conclusion:
The Realtor showing the place was honest and said, the place needs everything...she seemed to be advocating a total gut and rehab which I can see makes sense.

What I think should be done to the house:
1. Put the house up on blocks, blow out the old foundation, dig down to give yourself 8' clearance, put in a new slab-foundation-drainage system. This place does not have a garage so while you're at it put in a garage door and drive way to the basement to give you some parking. Ballpark $125k.
2. Do a 'sensitive' gut of the entire house. Remove all the original trim without destroying it possibly getting it dip stripped and refinished for re-installation. Also remove all nasty floor coverings back down to original wood and determine if the floors can be saved. Cost=I have no idea. So I'll do a b.s. ballpark of ~$50k at least.
3. While house is gutted update all systems. New elec, water, waste, heat. Insulate and weatherize. ~$50k at least.
4. Gut kitchen Install new midline cabinets and eat in area. cost ~$57k.
5. Complete roof tear off add new sheathing, insulation, and quality shingles ~$20k
6. Strip exterior of house of failing paint and repaint. ~$20k
7. Do some major, major landscaping of the yard. ?
8. Add master bath to existing room. ~$39k
9. Redo upstairs bath with more historically accurate fixtures. ~$16k
10. Redo half bath on main level. ~$8k
11. I have no idea about what to do with the 1/4 bath.
12. Install drywall, using 1/4" stuff to keep the coved ceilings..and paint interior. ~$20k

After doing all the above you would have a seriously gorgeous house with gleaming original woodwork on a gorgeous landscaped lot. The house would also be set up for how modern families really live... Lets see, all for my b.s. ballpark estimate of.... $405k....Considering what other similar sized houses on similar lots are selling for best guess for a reasonable sales price on this place after all of the above is done is maybe $850k at most....

So, doing some not to terribly hard math the house is worth only $445k in its current condition. Well that's not counting the landscaping and any termite-dry rot work that's going to be required...which on a place like this could be extensive and expensive... That price doesn't seem so terribly off the mark to me even though they are asking $579k.

We saw a TON of young family types looking at this place It would be nice if a nice family could buy it and fix it up and raise their kids there.....

What will probably really happen:
A real estate investor will make a super low ball all cash offer that will be excepted. Then the investor will spend as little money as possible to make the house look as nice as possible and probably destroy a major amount of the houses historical fabric in the process...and then put the house on the market for $850k and pretend it still doesnt need a $125k foundation job.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Knife Catching 1363 Burbank 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 1363 Burbank St.
This review is another causality of the bad back...just a quick drive by review for this one also.
Today's house is 1363 Burbank St. 1363 Burbank St. has the official specs of being a 2-1 of 1480 sq ft on a 4520 sq ft lot built in 1913 on sale for $638,000...last sold in '08 for $240,000, wha? that can't be right...In the listing its spec'd as a 4-1? Wonder what's up with that?

For pic and all that jazz look at the redfin page. Its interesting that the redfin page does not show any pics of any of the 4 bedrooms???

Quick Hits:
House is in the super cool Burbank Historical district.
House is in the WORST elementary school district...
Love, love love the wood work in the front 2 rooms. Not painted as is should be.
Thought the kitchen was nice/new.
Garage in back was tiny!
Backyard was tiny also.
Wow, both bedrooms on the main floor where good sized but geez, clean the freaking carpets already...they were NASTY....like flop house nasty...
One of the bedrooms is this teeeeny tiny little room on the front of the house with its own door to the outside/front porch. How this can be an 'official' bedroom is beyond me...wow, I bet it wasn't even 10by10 and with no closet?
Upstairs bedroom was claimed to be original but....I have my doubts...not a big room with low ceilings and WOW was it hot up there and it wasn't even a hot day.
Front porch was nice.
There was this odd side porch off the dining room that was kinda cool but so dry rotted that we were not allowed to go out there...

Conclusion:
Small house with a small yard and a too small garage with questionable legality of the bedrooms.
So, not for us.

But hey the redfin page says the place is pending so somebody liked it, its just not for us.






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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Knife Catching 1528 Paru 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 1528 Paru St.
This is just going to be a quick drive-by review as my back was fricken killing me and I didn't feel like taking any pictures and the house was just not right for us.

Today's house has the official specs of 4-2.5 that's 2274 sq ft. on a 6150 sq ft lot built in 1912 in the Craftsman style on sale for $849k. This house last sold in '05 for $920k....youch... Here's the Truilia page for it. Here's a weird thing my wife found...an add to rent the place for $3995! How can they be selling it while simultaneously trying to rent it?

I haven't looked at any reports or checked the permit history on this place...though the Realtor showing the place swore all the work was done with permits.

The Truilia page actually says the house is pending! Wow that was fast. I believe that the house was only on the market for like 15 days.

Quick Hits:
Liked the house seemed to be in good shape.

The master bedroom is in a pop-top addition on the back of the house...and its a bit uh, weird. The bathroom is IN the bedroom..and there's no shower?!?!! So one person can be sleeping while the other person is taking a bath in full view? The toilet is behind a door but its still in the room.....The closet is SUPER small...like not big enough to fit even my wifes stuff...its like it was designed for ONE person only and for ever....who didn't own a lot of stuff...

The garage is scary, looks like its going to fall down....why do they advertise that the house has a garage when there is no way in heck it can be used as such?

The front porch looks like it was bumped out into the driveway in such a way that I don't even think that you could get a car back there even if the garage wouldn't fall down after you slam the car door....

Conclusion:
Not enough storage/workshop space for us, and no garage...but the backyard was nice and the master bedroom was just weird.
So, not for us but apparently it was for someone...I was honestly thinking that $849k was way too much for this house, but it doesn't appear to need the kind of work most of the houses I review do so maybe that's what an actually good condition 2274sq ft house in a good neighborhood in a good school district goes for in Alameda...course we don't know what the offer was...yet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Knife Catching 2143 Alameda 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.


Knife Catching: 2143 Alameda Ave.
Today's house has the official specs of being a 4-2 of 2234 sq ft on a nice 7500 sq ft lot being offered at $789k. Check the redfin page here or the tour site here. What I love about this place is that EVERYWHERE the realtor could they mentioned that it was 'originally built for a ships captain!!!!!' This is another place where the spec's got us all a lather but then after a closer look at the houses condition and location we've decided that this is not the house for us....(that's foreshadowing, or wait, is that just shadowing?)

The Realtor scuttlebutt on this place is that it was on the market for $200k more in '08 and the owner left it on for 100 days and refused to lower the price.....at which point it was removed and rented....With an original purchase price of $310k back in '89 you'd think that there'd be some wiggle room there in price....Unless of course, the current owner refi'd and pulled a ton of money out of the place during the height of the boom. I don't get this with some sellers...The owner will probably double their money on the place when it sells for a reasonable number...is that not enough?


(I've been out of commission for a while with two bulged disks in my back but I'll try to not let the extreme pain I'm in effect my reviews.)

2143 Alameda Ave. looks nice from the street. With a nice sized front yard and good tree-age. Too bad they felt the need to concrete in a good portion of the front yard...
I have to say that this house does posses something that we've been lusting after for forever....yep, that turret here in the corner. Turrets just don't seem to be very common in Alameda?






View of the front yard. We liked the gates-fence and after removing the concrete and asphalt think that this would make a good Halloween yard.

Does everyone see whats plainly visible in the bottom right corner?




Here's a view down the fugly asphalt driveway that needs to go bye bye. We like that the garage is up front so that backyard space is not taken up by driveway.




View of inside of garage...tiny! If you have a very small car it would fit but not much else.




Close up view of the fabulous BRICK foundation!!!! Hurray!!!!
Trust me, it gets better later....




Just a shot of some fancy trim that I liked. I guess ship captains where wealthy men back in the day so a house built especially for one would be fancier than usual? This houses exterior does seem slightly fancier than most.




I couldn't figure if these columns where original or not but they sure look fancy! This is the left front corner of the house btw.




Here's a shot of the front gate-fence that I thought looked nice. Sorta Japanesy I guess.




Shot of the front yard tree...I'm not sure why.




Shot from across the street of the big trees in the front yard. That's an oak I think and a jacaranda planted in the sidewalk. Looks like the Oak is winning the war for sunlight.




Okay, the front porch looking back towards the yard. It was a nice porch. I don't show it here but the freaking front door is a non-original Home Despot thing that I'm sure some folks would find 'fancy'.




Through the front door theres a little entry way with the stairs. Stairs look nice with fancy woodwork that appears to be original.




Light fixture in the entryway with original uh, plaster doo-hickey...jeez I'm getting old...




Little nook off the stairs. Looks original but I can't figure out what it would of been for? Coat rack? No closets on this floor...




Turn left at the entryway and through a pocket door is this room. Its a nice size with my fav coved plaster ceilings that appear original. The wainscoting and trim were nice in this room.




The interior of the turret. The floors are pretty nice on this level with border inlays.




Turn right from the entry way and you have this formal dining room. Liked this room, Appears original with fancy paneling and trim.




and the original plaster ceiling medallion.




A not very fancy fireplace which I was sorta surprised by.




A couple of nice built-ins on either side of the fire place.




Other built in. Like how the built-ins have leaded glass.




The leaded glass window in this room matches the built-ins. This window actually extends out of the wall and projects into the side yard, which I thought was an interesting original detail.







Rant Mode On
Take a look back at the pictures from this red room. Lots of fancy trim and built-ins...notice one thing? It's all freaking painted WHITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Going with the whole 'successful ship captain' thing, what's the chances that he didn't spec seriously nice wood for all these fancy formal areas?
The most horrible thing though, is that it looks like there's only one badly applied coat of white paint over whats probably the original shellacked woodwork....you can actually see the wood grain through the paint in some places....I bet the fireplace was cool looking clinker brick...ever try to get paint of old bricks? Good F'ing luck...
ANYBODY who argues for painting original woodwork to help 'clean-up' or 'brighten' or 'modernize' a place should be shot....seriously. Don't idiot Realtors understand what a premium unpainted woodwork is? Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
It only takes an afternoon for some hack slopping on crappy latex paint to completely ruin the look of an old house. It takes an afternoon to put on and 100's of hours to take off.....such a crime.
Rant Mode Off


From the red room is this little hallway nook the realtor calls a pantry/laundry room....This is the ONLY way to get to the kitchen and out to the backyard from inside the house...I think this would be a horrible choke point during any kind of party, especially because of what's at the end of this room.




An illegal half bath! The only bath on this floor.




Here's a shot of the kitchen. Not particularly fancy but probably serviceable...well maybe..the kitchen is actually a pretty darn small room...So small that I have doubts that it could be made to work as a real eat in kitchen where meals are prepared for a family.
Back behind me to my left is a little staircase to the 2nd floor. So in the mornings you'd just come down to breakfast that way I guess.




The house had a nice 2 level deck out back. This is just off the kitchen...well its nice till you see the termite report that is...seems like the entire deck needs to be rebuilt...




The backyard on the place is nice and large with several large mature trees. Here's a shot from the 2nd floor. See how high the fence is? The owner applied for a zoning variance to have a solid 8' high fence? Who/what where they trying to keep out? From this view you can see that the backyard neighbor is a church parking lot.




Sorry, thought I rotated this one...the yard has two ponds connected by a stream. These things didn't appear to be working they were pea soup green and I couldn't see anything living in them.




Shot under the raised deck. Lots of off season storage here.




Sideyard shot of the house showing the cool little bump-out window in the red room.




Okay back inside the house and continuing up the stairs.. There was this weird screwed in place panel that appears to be hiding something...we couldn't figure it out.






The bedroom that the realtor calls the home office.
What really impressed me about the 2nd floor of this place is that it has fancy trim also! I think the fanciest 2nd floor trim I've seen on a house. The Oak flooring up here is also pretty nice.






Full bath on 2nd floor. Obviously not original and not done with permits that I could see.






One of the back bedrooms with access to the bath. Nice closet, but the room was on the small side.






Other bedroom. This one was a good size.
Okay, take a look at those doors...wha-da-ya see?
Yep, you guessed it! Plastic, hollow with cheap brass handles!!! EVERY freaking door in this house was replaced with these monstrosities....Why god why! Originally they were probably 5 panel doors with maybe crystal knobs...






The master bedroom....Here's a shot of the turret...we've ALWAYS wanted to have a bedroom with turret....
This photo is VERY misleading as to the size of this area. That bed, not even a queen size, its a full....Ya, how many couples you know that sleep on a full size bed?






My favorite thing to hate about this house... A disco brass and glass fireplace in the bedroom...Its double sided so you can see it from the tub in the bathroom!!
That, and....its a wood burner!?!??! WTH? Who's going to carry wood up a flight of stairs to start a decrative fire? It never occured to me that a fireplace like this wouldn't be natural gas...






The master bedroom has this crazy 'dressing room' kinda thing. It appears to be literally set up for one person with a lot of clothes, shoes, jewerly. Though, see those closet rods they are right on the edge I don't even know if there'd be room to walk through here with clothes on those hangers.






What 'dressing room' wouldn't be complete without a window seat to uh, have your friends watch you try on different outfits?
Sorry, I somehow managed to not get a pic of the front of the dressing room. But really, it wouldn't work for a couple with normal amounts of clothes.






Ahhhhh, a long shot of the master bath with jetted tub and Fireplace. This set up kinda reminds me of a movie I once saw....'Brown Chicken Brown Cow'






The bathroom does have a steam shower which is a big bonus for us. So good after a cold motorcycle ride home in the winter.






Close up of the fire place just because. Brown Chicken Brown Cow...totally.






Here's the craziest thing about the bathroom...Its got a fricken green house window right in front of the sink!!! First off, an Aluminum window like this is not correct for the house Annnnnd you are totally on display for the entire world to see....
Right off to the left are windows that you can see into the house next door...
Don't you just love the soaped-up window.... Guess the renter got tired of having their junk on display when they brushed their teeth in the morning.
But, the bath was redone with permits!




The view out the window shows just how bad of shape the houses roof is in. As in, end of life replace right now.






The roof on the garage actually looks worse than the house roof.






Just for comparisions sake heres another one of those fabulous plastic hollow doors with cheap brass door hardware.






And the one and only original door in the house...This door is up to the attic. How cool is that solid brass door knob??






Up the stairs to the attic and you see this. This is one side of the attic. The original wood roof shingles are still in evidence....That means that there can be no simple reroof. The roofers are going to have to do a complete tear off, then add plywood decking and then shingle. There was a contractor there looking around and he said he thought it would be a $20k job 'at least'.






Here's the chimney....boy is it in bad shape...I didn't get a pic of it but if you look up to where the chimney meets the roof you see.....sky! You can tell by the staining that water has been coming down the chimney for a while. That little dollop of mortor mid chimney...I touched it with my finger and it turned to powder!!! The home inspector doesn't mention this at all in his 'report' which I find shocking. I think that this entire chimney needs to be removed for safety reasons. That and the base of it is sinking and pulling the floor with it on the bottom level.






So many things wrong with this attic. That can light is not insulation contact rated..see how its blackening the fiberglass insulation behind it?
Can you say, 'Fire Hazard'?






Here's something that the inspector got right. This heater is not vented correctly at all. That single wall galv venting is not to be used with modern condensing heaters. Their exhaust gasses are acidic and eat it for lunch...This vent runs to the chimney...which is also a big no no as the acidic exhaust also eats mortor and brick... Also abspestos lined heater ducts in this pic.






Here's a shot of the knob and tube that is covered with insulation which has not been noted nor deemed safe by a licensed elec...not kosher.






Here's a shot of the elec steam unit for the shower in the master bath. I don't know if this is done right. but I couldn't see where the OPV valve drain line was run to.
See the new romex just drapped over the joists? Why didn't they replace the knob and tube when they where at it?
Also, something that I have to mention...take a look at all the insulation in these pics....see how it looks all torn up and stuff...know what thats from? Yep, you guessed it, RATS!!!!!!!!!!
I didn't see a live one when I was there but there is evidence of a massive rodent infestation. I saw A LOT of droppings. And yea, we know from RATS here at the Chez.

But, I gotta say having a staircase to the attic is pretty great...after many thousands of dollars in clean up it'd be agreat place to store stuff or maybe turn into a artists loft or something.

Jumping all the way down to the basement. Now I gotta say this place has a 'full basement' In the respect that it is the entire size of the house. Its no little b.s. utility basement like they have in craftsmans where there's just enough room for the heater, water heater and if you're lucky laundry facilites. I can't actually remember if there was an interior stair to the basement but there was an exterior doorway. Also, ceiling here is just over 6' a tad short.
This is one side of the basement.






This is the other side of the basement....check out that gi-freaking normous hole cut in the 'earthquake sheathing' for the heater return air duct....what's the shear value of that panel ya think?
BTW inspection says that the heater is at end of life. There was also a mishmash of galv water pipes in this area.






Another scary Federal Pacific breaker box that needs to be replaced ASAP. Its just dumb luck that it hasn't failed and caused a fire.

Look at that earthquake sheathing...strong work...also, look at the obvious signs of water infiltration in the siding.




Here's a picture in something that you should never ever see....or at least pay for...thats a foundation bolt in the original brick foundation!!!
This is worse than useless...this plus the ridiculous earthquake sheathing job done here makes me think that it was either a DIY thing or the HO was the victim of an unscroupulous contractor.






This is a shot of the base of the turret. Look at all the water coming in. The mortor in this area was in bad shape. The foundation in this house is original and not in great shape and needs to be completely replaced.
That 'floor' is just plywood set on the dirt.






Location, Location, Location.
This house has an interesting location...in one respect its only 2 blocks away from the movie theater and Park St. so that's great... In another...its half a block away from the high school....I was able to talk to two neighbors who said that basically during the school year the street is a complete madhouse with kids parking their cars in the morning, then getting them for lunch and then again in the afternoon to go home. We've lived near an elementary school and it was fine...but a high school....teenagers swarming the block 3 times a day....ugh.... I forgot to ask if you could hear the schools PA system...wouldn't that be great to know that little Johnny got caught smoking in the boys room.

Speaking of elementary schools...this house is in the Haight School District which by my count is the third from the worst district...the 8th best, where we now live in the Franklin school district which is the 4th best but not far out from the top 2.

Conclusion:
On paper the place is perfect for us its a 4-2.5 on a big lot with lots of storage...but the reality is...

$789k asking price.
-$110k for new foundation-slab and earthquake retro-fitting.
-$10k to remove Chimney
-$20k to redo roof
-$37k in termite work
-$20k to upgrade service to 200amps, replace subpanel, remove knob and tube.
-$10k to replumb house
-$50k to remodel kitchen (this is probably low but its an average figure)
-$30k to replace furnace, remediate abspestos, remove insulation and re-insulate properly.

=$287k worth of work that I think the house needs.

Which means a purchase price of only $502,000 but lets be fair, my Realtor said he thinks that the place all fixed up would only be worth $800k so assuming I just want to break even a 'fair' purchase price would be $513k......Think they'll take it?

The owner seems to think that the house is worth a lot more than I do....If they didn't pull money out there monthly loan payment probably isn't that high and can be covered by renting it out....that's probably what they'll do....Since buying the house it doesn't look like the owner has put any money into upkeep, fancy bathrooms and closets sure but upkeep....doesn't look like it...It makes me sad as that fact probably won't change, the house will be rented out and beat to hell by the renters and then eventually it will fall into such a bad state of disrepair that it won't be worth even what I think it is currently...

But really, we've decided that we don't want the house at any price due to the elementary school situation and its proximity to the high school.