Monday, March 25, 2013

KnifeCatching 715 Grand 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 715 Grand St.
Up for review today is 715 Grand St. which has the official specs of being a 4-2.5 of 3,081 sq ft on a 7,500sq ft lot built in 1920 listed for the low low price of $1.22M last sold in '06 for 1.38M. The redfin page can be viewed here.

This house was last on the market about a year ago for the same price and it did not sell. What do you want to bet it sells this time? They might even break even on the 'peak price' they paid.

What The Permit Record Tells Me
New roof in '06!
Some remodeling done with permits! Hurray!
A perimeter drain and sump pump was installed in the basement.
The current owners have not offically made any improvements to the house.

A Small Tour
Sorry, the batteries in my camera died on me half way through but the RedFin page has tons of pics.
Man, I haven't done this in a while, my 'photograph the important features' muscle is a little weak...
So in no particular sensible order....

The Master Bedroom
This is a really good sized room with like a sitting/reading room.

Master Closet
 Its a little cramped in there...

Master Bath
Nice natural light from the sky light.
This is a pretty big room..but there's no tub?

Kids Bath
Love that tile on the floor....not.
But at least you don't have to share a bath with your teenagers.

Kids Bedroom 1
I thought this was a reasonable size with a decent sized closet.

Kids Bedroom 2
 This is also a good sized room.
Around the corner you have this little room.
Sorta two rooms in one?

Little half bath on the main floor.
Sorry, but, fugly tile.

 Long and skinny, good luck getting a modern car in there

The driveway also seems VERY skinny to me...You are definitely not getting your Cadillac Land Destroyer in there. Does this house only have off street parking?

Okay, here is one problem that I see...They converted part of the garage into a home office.
I don't see this anywhere on the permit record...In Alameda this is a big no no.

Super Cool Outdoor Party Spot
 This is my fav part of the house, the backyard and this party spot. This would be such a great place to have a 4th of July party. Sit on your front lawn with all your friends to watch the parade go by and then retire to the backyard to BBQ.

This is a cool little feature too. Not sure what it was originally. Maybe a summer kitchen? A canning kitchen? Stock those cabinets with party supplies, put in a fridge and natural gas grill and you'd be ready to paaar-tay!

I'd eat my hat if that doesn't test positive for Asbestos.

The Good
Location, location, location! A short walk to Franklin Park-School and a short walk to the beach in the Gold Coast 'hood.
A good sized house for a family with 2 kids (but no more) with generous sized public rooms and reasonable sized bedrooms, especially the master.
Super awesome backyard that could be BBQ party central.
New Roof!
The overall condition of the house looks pretty good.
A good sized basement for storage.

The Bad
Location...its on one of the busiest streets in Alameda.
Some of the house looks a little dated. The tiles in the bathrooms and kitchen look pretty awful to me.
The kitchen is kinda tiny.
The monster forced air unit needs to be replaced and you're going to have to deal with Asbestos covered ducting.
The possible illegal partial conversion of the garage into a home office. The Alameda Building Dept. really does not like the conversion of garages into anything else and they could very well force the new owner to rip out all that stuff and convert it back to all garage.
Some knob and tube.
A mixture of copper and galv water piping.

To bring this house up to the standard of the neighborhood it will need some refreshing.
The kitchen will need to be remodeled and expanded. ~100k for a high end major remodel.
The kids bath needs a remodel ~50k for a high end remodel.
The parents bath too ~50k for a high end remodel.
Replace old furnace with new high efficiency unit and deal with Asbestos. ~20k.
That's over $200k in remodeling costs....for a $1.22M house....
That personally seems nuts to me....I'm not saying, 'Don't buy this house.'
What I am saying is, as you go in with your waaaaaaaay over asking offer, be aware of exactly the size of the hole you are digging for yourself.
Go in with your eyes open.

But Wait, There's MoreThrough the blog I've been approached by several strangers to review houses for them that they were seriously interested in. So, I've done a couple of 'private reviews' on a commission basis. If you think something like that might interest you please contact me through the email link in my profile.


Mrs. Joy said...

I don't live there or want to live there, but I still love reading your knifecatching reviews. :)

The MadScientist said...

Thanks Mrs. Joy,
Its good to hear some positive feedback for once.

Ragnar said...

I'm always fascinated just how much permit requirements vary across so-called civilised parts of the world. In my Euro neck of the woods, you only have to apply for a permit if you change the exterior(!) appearance of the building, and if only windows are concerned (or a new roof without changing the framing layout) you don't have to go through the full permission process (which requires an architect or builder to draw plans and takes roughly forever) but you basically have to notifiy the DOB providing a rough sketch of your plans and if they don't say no you're good to go.

Of course that sometimes leads to people taking out load-bearing walls without providing any kind of support... like in the apartment building next door where they took out some 12 feet of load-bearing brick wall on the 2nd floor of a 6-storey building. Of course that one came back to haunt them when the wall above the hole developed some serious cracks a year or so later ;-)

Leslie Harvey said...

Drove by the house this weekend and it already has a sale pending sign. Can't wait to get the details. What a change from the last time it was listed when it languished. The Alameda market is definitely super-hot right now.

Anonymous said...

Thank the Lord we have some good local real estate snark again! Great review. We showed up to the open house, and it was cancelled =[. Guess someone snapped it up.

We encountered the SAME thing this past Sunday on Johnson Street (my personal favorite street in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE). Open house cancelled with a big sign that said "too late!"