Monday, July 9, 2012

KnifeCatching 1325 Dayton 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.

KnifeCatching 1325 Dayton Ave.
Up for review today is 1325 Dayton Ave. which has the official specs of being a 7-4.5(the listing claims the house has 6 baths....) of 5048 sq ft on a huge 14,250 sq ft lot built in 1909 last sold in '98 for $789,000, on sale now for $1.25M. The redfin page is pretty decent for this listing with a ton of pics. Also check out the 'video walkthrough.'

The first thing you notice when you walk up to the place is that, 'wow there is a lot of front lawn,...and it's all dead!'

The bank has owned the house since December and this is how they take care of a million dollar home?

Sales Record






Jul 05, 2012

Listed (Active)



MLSListings #81225045

Jul 03, 2012



EBRD #40580287

Dec 05, 2011

Sold (Public Records)
This home was sold at a foreclosure


Foreclosure is a process that transfers the right of home ownership from the homeowner to the bank or lender. A home goes into foreclosure when the owner stops paying his mortgage loan payments.
more info




Public Records

Nov 25, 1998

Sold (Public Records)



Public Records

I know that as a neighbor I don't like seeing this type of thing, and I'm sure the neighbors adjacent to the property don't either...(cause I talked to 'em.) Isn't this against the law? Don't banks have to take good care of the foreclosed homes in their inventories?

Does it seem odd to anybody that they only increased the price $84500? If I did the math right that's only a $9500 net after the 6% commission? Why go through all this trouble for $10k? Or, are they expecting a bidding war?? God I hope not...

The Story
Well, of course the Realtor didn't have anything useful to say other than, "We're only accepting offers at noon sharp on Wednesday!!" Guess they are hoping for a bidding war.
To get the actual story on the house I had to turn to one of the neighbors who has lived in the 'hood for many years and was good friends with the POs. This neighbor said that they just pulled every cent out of the house they could during the boom years and spent it on a lavish lifestyle and not on the house, and that they bailed when their latest ARM reset. According to this neighbor the POs left way before the bank officially was going to evict them. They bailed and took everything with them, or sold everything they could. So, that's why the house is missing most of its appliances and several light fixtures.

What The Permit Record Tells Me
Wow, this place has an odd permit record. I urge anybody seriously considering this house to buy an official copy of the permit record and have the Building Dept explain to you the can-o-worms you're buying. The record is full of expired permits that were never finaled, several for some serious work done to the house.

According to my reading of the permit record this job has been attempted several times in the past and has never been finaled:

CB03-0599 Combination Building Permit Expired DIGIROLAMO DONNA 07/25/2003

Work Description:


BAY WINDOW IN KITCHENA potential buyer will have to fix all the expired permits on the house as a condition of doing any new legal work....

A small tour
Sorry the house was just so dang big that I couldn't document it all.

Starting in the basement.
The house has its original concrete foundation.
This is better than brick but not as good as a modern concrete foundation. There will be no rebar in this foundation. I saw no evidence of sensible earth quake retro-fitting.

A sump pit with evidence of flooding in the basement.

Freaky Stairway To Nowhere
This must have been part of the enclose the house permit mentioned above?

A scary electrical panel
This is not a code compliant install.

There were windows in the basement but they were pretty rotted looking.

From the outside the light well for the windows.
I did not see any means provided to drain this all concrete light well? Maybe that's why the windows are so rotted?

There is a nice arbor over this light well with some sort of vine growing on it.
Hey, what's that sitting amongst the leaves?
Yep that is officially the weirdest thing I've seen at an open house. A Ziploc bag with a hair clipping. Hope I didn't screw up some sort of Voodoo spell or something?

While we're outside lets look at the back yard.

That's pretty much it...a patio and a koi, er mosquito pond.

From here you can see the roof
Which actually doesn't look too bad. There appears to be evidence of leaking on the ceiling of the top floor, and the roof is over 20yrs old so it should need to be replaced.

Mosey over to the garage, which is good sized and should fit two cars.
Check the Realtors site for pics of the outside.
Here's the inside.

Another Scary Electrical Panel

Garage with Ladder to storage loft.

Storage Loft.
This sorta looks to me like they might have been in the process of turning the garage into an illegal apartment...maybe.

And now let's work our way down from the third floor.
There were a couple of bedrooms and a full bath on the top floor.
I like the bathroom on this floor.
It looks old and original-ish.

Some evidence of the roof leaking.

Some evidence of the house settling.
Sorry the picture is so dark but you can tell that the window frame is super outta square.
Actually the floors up here all seemed to slant noticeably...

In one of the bedrooms is this sorta kitchen.
I don't know what's going on here but I'm guessing that maybe the top floor of the place was used as a separate unit at one time?

Around the corner from the sink there is a door to a landing and a scary, scary dry rotted exterior stair.

Oddly enough the stair just goes down to a flat roof with like a pathway into a set of double doors into the master bedroom?!?!?!
Hey, look, at least the place has AC?

From the inside of the master bedroom the double doors were caution taped off.
I'm guessing that before they enclosed this side of the house that these stairs went all the way down to the ground.

Here's one of the weirdest things about this house.
From the scary 3rd floor landing you can see this.
At some point a big uh, sun room was tacked onto the back of the house. (this is not in the permit record either that I could find.) Looks classy doesn't it? With the plywood covering it and the gooped on patches...classy.

But it gets weirder.
This entire sunroof is covered over from the inside and drywalled in?!?!?

This is what it looks like from the inside.
This is the master bath over a tub.
notice the mold? It was everywhere.

In one spot they left it open to let light in.
I just don't understand the good reason for doing this? This is all going to have to be redone I think.
One super cool thing about the house is that it has a dumbwaiter
One thing that I should mention before leaving the third floor is that it smelled really, really, really strongly of rat urine. I could not get up into the attic to look but I bet there's a bunch up there.

Now headed down the scary steep servants stairs (the only way to get up to the top floor)

You notice this in several spots.
They left the windows in when they added on and just drywalled the back sides!?!?!!?

Okay now the Master Suite.
This seems kinda odd to me. They just took existing rooms and kinda repurposed them. So you have one room which is the bedroom (with no closet). Then you go out of that room and down a short hallway to.
The most glorious closet room ever.
Then down the hallway to the bathroom...with the moldy ceiling and...
Yep that's right carpeted bathroom. It smelled exactly like what you would expect it to smell like...
Now, I think that those fancy-original looking stained glass windows were the original rear of the house. That this part was added on some time later? What's awesome is, that those windows are now in the hallway and when the lights on in the bath and the hallway is dark you can pretty much see straight through it...niiiiice.

There were a couple decent sized bedrooms on this floor but they were dirty and smelly and unappealing.

Liked this bathroom on this floor.
Looks like its pretty newly redone (not in the permit record that I could see).
What I especially like is the no-f'ing-way is that light fixture rated for being IN the shower, light.

Okay I think I'm on the main floor now.
Which had a scary stab-loc panel.
A fire waiting to happen.

The Kitchen
The kitchen itself was good sized it had some nice tile work on the back splashes.
But unfortunately tiled counter tops....

I don't have any good overall shots just some details....
Like the missing stove.

The giant mess where the fridge was.
Yummmm, moldy...don't insurance companies freak out about black mold now a days?

On the East side of the house is a more original looking covered sun room.
With lots of windows that need attention.

The official site has lots of shots of the fabulous wood work and grand scale rooms of the main floor.
This house does look like its set up to entertain large groups of fancy folks.
I really, really, really, love all the unpainted original woodwork in this house.

The Fabulous Hand Carved Mantel.

What you don't see in the official pics.
This glorious-fabulous mantle is literally like 3' from a wall. There isn't even any room to stand back and enjoy the fire!?!?!?!?
I believe that this whole part of the house is a more recent addition.
I don't think that this fireplace-mantle is original to the house, or even old.
In fact, this little room it's in doesn't make any sense. It's too small to do anything with?
At the other end of the above shot is a little wet bar (with the fridge missing).

Whew, I know I didn't get everything but I think that's enough...

The Good
 Location, location, location. This house is on a huge lot in the Gold Coast just a few blocks from Franklin Park and school.
It's pretty, very very pretty, if you don't look too closely.
Lots and lots of gorgeous unpainted woodwork.
The house is freaking huge.
The lot is freaking huge.

The Bad
Geez, where to about from the outside in?
The house may be on a huge lot but it's all front yard.
Check out this Sat Shot.
Great front yard for Halloween for sure, but the private space is just well, minuscule.

The exterior of the house needs a major restoration.

Potential buyers better have a good termite inspection.

While the house has a 200amp service and several newer looking main panels, I can find no record of these being done with permits.
New kitchen with no permits.
Find your own appliances.
Probably needs a new roof.
What's up with the crazy boarded up glass roof?
Screwy permit record that you are going to have to fix.
Lots of work done without permits (that the new owner is going to have to fix).
From the basement, the plumbing appears to be a mish-mash of copper and galv.

First off, what the F is up with the bank that owns the place?
It's like they didn't want to spend a single penny fixing the place up for sale....
I'm telling ya, a capable maintenance crew could have made the interior look so, so much better in like two days.
The bank didn't even replace all the lights the POs stole?
The water wasn't even turned on?

My conclusion is,... That the house isn't a $1.2M house its really a $2M house in disguise.
This house could be glorious with a huge, huge, infusion of cash...I don't even know how much.
All the weird additions, and stuff kinda kludged on to the place....all the permit

Even if this place was totally redone, top to bottom would it even be worth $2M? Based on what 1221 Sherman recently sold for I give the house $1.7M max.

Now the problem is, is to back calculate a reasonable purchase price....for that you need a good estimate of what it's going to cost to fix the place, I just don't have it...there's just so much and the house reeks of 'hidden conditions'. I'm going to throw out a complete WAG of $700k to fix up the place 'right'.

So, I'd say that the house is worth absolutely no more than $1M

And that's the way I see it.


Anonymous said...

Great posting. My wife and I saw this place on Sunday, boy it was like a insecure hot date. Great to look at but had moments of "WTF?" I saw the glass sun roof as well, and it was in very poor disrepair. The mold growing in the ceiling of that bathroom was really bad.

The MadScientist said...

I like the 'hot girl' reference...though I'd say its more like you're hitting it off with an amazingly hot women in a night club....then at the end of the night the lights come on and your like, 'Oh, Damn, I think I hear my Mom calling me..' which is waaaay better than the 'you wake up the next morning after a night of drunken amazingly hot sex with an amazingly hot women' and go, 'hey who's this hatchet faced 300 pounder and where'd my hot babe go??????
Not that I would know that from experience or anything.....ahem...

Just kidding honey

Anonymous said...

Wooo! Great post. We stumbled on this house the other day and were amazed from the outside. The inside is even more amazing!

The MadScientist said...

Well I just checked redfin and the house is listed as pending.
Guess the whole b.s. 'all offers due at noon wednesday' thing worked.
I hope whoever is the 'winner' went into this with their eyes wide open.
I've benn making a point to drive by the place whenever I'm going that way and there's often been people outside waiting to view it...

I've been thinking about the house and trying to decide what would have to be done to the place for me to feel okay raising a family there....
I keep coming back to a complete redo. New foundation, completely gut the interior and fix all the systems, framing what have you, a complete restoration of the exterior, and of course a new roof....whew....

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that the price it "sold" for at auction is not really a price. That's just the value the bank used for the foreclosure sale so they could avoid having it go for some lowball number to some bottom feeder (auction is required by law as part of foreclosure process). Point is, it's not a real price at auction unless the buyer was someone other than the bank.

The MadScientist said...

Ahhh Anon,
That makes more you're saying that the was not actually 'sold' at auction to a 3rd party? That the bank just sold it to itself in some sort of BS accounting manuver?
So what we need to know is how much the PO's pulled out of the place to figure out if the banks selling price makes sense?
Hmmm, how does one find out that info? Any ideas?

Leslie Harvey said...

Looks like this "pending" sale fell through. It is back on the market as of about 2 weeks ago. Didn't spot it until now.

Anonymous said...

It's back on the market, and the description confirms alot that you said. A blog update would be awesome!

The MadScientist said...

Sends the fans requested it I'll do an update on 1325 Dayton....
coming soon!

Anonymous said...

All- The house has sold...stop by and see the progress! Its not going to be overnight, but the plan is in place with close guidance from the city! The bank basically held it hostage and allowed it to deteriorate for 8 months. It explains the true reality of why so many banks fail. They paid a preservation company to take "care" of the house, but it seems they only charged a hefty sum of money to the bank for cutting dead grass every other week.

Looking forward to meeting you Mad Scientist! We may have many common war stories to share? This is our second restoration...and our last!!! I swear!

An Alamedian Scientist (yes, true) and new owner of 1325 Dayton Ave

The MadScientist said...

I'm right around the corner stop by and introduce yourself anytime.
I really, really, hope you know what you're getting into.
I will give you any useful advice on the place that I'm able too.

Anonymous said...

Happy to introduce myself, but there are so many houses around the corner to chose from. Stop by if you see us working.

Leslie Harvey said...

So glad this home has gone to an owner who sounds like they have some experience with doing renovations right! This is a gorgeous home and it has been so sad to see it deteriorate. We are neighbors too (on the dead-end block of St. Charles) and will say hello if we see you around working on the place.

Anonymous said...

You need to get a life, as opposed to trashing other people's homes. Don't you have a child? You should be spending your time with your child instead. Why did you bother having a child if you are too busy to spend time with her? Daddy, can we go for a walk? No, I'm busy trashing someone's house. Daddy, will you read me a story? No, I'm busy trashing someone's house. Daddy, do you know my name. No, I'm busy trashing someone's house. You should be ashamed of yourself.

The MadScientist said...

Yay Anon Hater,
You're back! And on my birthday too!!! I just knew we had a special connection.
Oh when, oh when will we meet in person to take our relationship to the next level?
You know, just you and me and maybe every printout of every review I've ever done? We could spread them all out all over your bed and just let passion take over!!!

But seriously, I've meet the new owner of this house, we're friendly and She has no problem with this review....

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the new owner of the house has seen the review and has no problem with the review or not, you still have a sad, mean spirited excuse of a hobby. Nothing better to do but sneak into people's houses with no intention of buying, but only to publicize every negative part of their home. I hope your little girl is bullied, just the way you pick on people's houses. After all, bullying is free speech right?

The MadScientist said...

Wow Anon,
I haven't had a hate comment in so long I almost don't know what to do with myself...what can I say, of course your logic, is totally unassailable....not.

This review is almost 2 yrs old and you feel the need to be that nasty? I know you are not connected with the home as I have met the owners and they are nice people.

Its easy to be tough when you're anon, Why don't you try being upfront with who you are? I don't hide behind anything.