Thursday, April 19, 2012

KnifeCatching 1007 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.
KnifeCatching 1007 Morton St.
Up for review today is 1007 Morton St. which has the official specs of being a 4-3.5 of 2811sq ft on an 7500sq ft lot built in 1898 on sale for $1.359M!?!?!? Last sold in 06 for $1,330,000. The house has been on the market for 17 days with no price drops yet. I've been calling this the 'stealth listing' as there is no sign on the house and they've only had one open house.
Since I didnt' think that they were going to have any open houses I actually talked to a couple of the houses neighbors who have lived there for 20+years and knew the previous owner well. When they both heard what the current owners were asking for the place they both said, 'Wow, they must of put a ton of work into the place...it needed everything....' foreshadowing... Both neighbors also offered up the info that they thought that the garage had been converted into a rental unit on the sly.

The Realty company showing the house has a nice website done up for it. Lots of nice pictures and a refreshing amount of actual info. I suggest you go there post haste and check out the pics, especially the night shot of the front of the house with the lights on....ARTY!

Super-Fab Street View
 The house shows super well from the street. It looks great and has very pretty grounds front and back, with a chicken coop in the backyard (how trendy). The house has the two main floors plus a finished basement with a bath and a decent sized attic. The house is bigger than the official specs of 2800sqft as that number does not include the basement or attic living space...
The two main floors are still very original with NO PAINTED WOODWORK!!!!! Hurray!!!! Really, the interior of this place is just stunning. So much beautiful wood and original details.
Its got a great front porch with an original looking stained glass window.

The Good
This place has location, location, location. It's located on one of the nicest blocks in the Gold Coast right across the street from Franklin Park in the Franklin school district.
Gorgeous woodwork!
Large house.
New foundation done in 92!
Elec service was upgraded in 98.
A bathroom was added with permits in 98.

Location Baby!
The A tag is basically the location of the house. You can see Franklin park and the school at top.
Really, a great, safe location to raise kids.

The Bad

The kitchen looks like its the original cabinets with new counter tops. I don't think that the existing kitchen would be considered up to snuff for folks buying in this price range.

The roof was last done in 87! and it looks to be in bad shape to me. From the attic I could see the original shakes so that means the place needs a complete tear off, sheathing and reshingling....

Unpermitted Work Issues....
Isn't there always?
I've searched the permit record several times and several things jump out at me.

The permit record doesn't say anything about converting the basement to legal living space.
Here's a picture of the basement.
Does that look like unimproved storage space to anyone?

The attic is only reached by the steepest and most treacherous flight of old house stairs that I've been on in a while....which is fine for a storage space....
Does that look like storage space?

The add copy calls this building the office.
Its the old garage converted to well, it looks like a separate rental unit to me.
I don't see anything on the permit record that would support this building as legal.
It is nice on the inside with a kitchen, full bath and a sleeping loft....

Since the current owners have lived there these are the only permits on file.
E07-0085 Electrical Permit FINALED DANIOS ELECTRIC 04/04/2007 05/01/20

Work Description:
REPLACE FED. PACIFIC SUBPANEL; REMOVE KNOB & TUB IN ATTIC STORAGE AREA; AND ADD NEW LINE IN BATHROOM (2
GFCI RECEPTACLES & 1 CIRCUIT) (NO PLANS REQ'D PER GC)


P07-0453 Plumbing Permit Issued A T WEBER PLUMBING 11/16/200

Work Description:

*PRE-1942* INSTALL DEDICATED 1/2" GAS LINE FROM METER TO NEW FIREPLACE APPLIANCE

Maybe all these unwarranted improvements where done by the previous owner I don't know. But the point is, the buyer is going to be on the hook for all of this stuff.
I think the garage conversion is probably going to be the stickiest wicket if the city gets wind of it...
Do these issues make sense at this price point?

The Price.....
Okay, this is the point in the past where I would say something like, 'What kinda crack are they smoking.' or, 'How much weed did they have to smoke before that price made sense?' Well, now that I am a kindlier, gentler knifecatcher, this is what I'll say.

There are several things about the price which don't make sense to me.
1. Current owners bought near the top of the market in '06 and according to their permit record have not made any major improvements, yet, now that the market is waaaaaaaaaaay down they want more for the house?
2. I know for a fact that a similar house in the same neighborhood was just appraised for a refi at $850k. The appraiser claimed that, that was the most he could justify given the available comps. If that appraisal is even remotely correct, how do the sellers justify the difference?
3. 1336 Sherman St. which on paper is basically the same house, on a slightly less desirable block couldn't sell for $1.275M and it was on the market for a looooooooooong time.
4. With the permit issues and new roof needed how does that price make sense?

Conclusion
Its got location, location, location out the wazoo!!!
Its a gorgeous mostly original Victorian with a great front porch.
Seems like it could be a great place to raise some kids.
The price is just waaaaay too high.
If they dropped the price down to $1M they'd have a chance to sell it I think...to somebody with a HUGE down payment who wouldn't have to worry about the appraisal.

This house is so far outta my price range that maybe I just don't understand how people who can afford a house like this think. It needs a new kitchen, roof, and all the permit issues squared away...and then you still don't have a garage to park your Porsche....

And that's the way I see it.

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