Monday, May 14, 2007

More Lipstick on a Pig in Mill Valley

It's baaaaaack! The worst POS in Mill Valley, with its glorious view of the 7-11 (an infamous teenage hang-out and rendezvous, if you know what I mean), constant noise from Shoreline Hwy (this house is literally just a few feet away from Shoreline), insane neighbors, and a "driveway" that floods each and every winter and that requires you to drive around the block on the opposite side of Shoreline just so that you can get you car at the proper angle to enter its very small one car garage without damaging your car.

Except this time, Vision RE has the (dubious) honor of listing this pig:

Great value! Why buy a condo when you could have this single family dwelling. Convenient access to san francisco or take off to stinson beach. 2 beds, 1 bath, large yard, garage. Renovated and ready to live in, then bump out the back and create the kitchen you desire.
It has a new picture, a new write-up... and even a new price -- the sellers have seen fit to raise the price to $649,000 from it's all time, break-even low of $638,995. The owners of this dog house have been trying to sell it for nearly 1.5 years (that must be some sort of a record); and never mind that the listing now has a DOM of just 5 days. But it is still the same lame 2 br, 1 ba, 699 sq ft, built 1923 POS in the worst location in Mill Valley and quite possibly the worst location in all of Marin County (or maybe not as these are still for sale).

[Note to Vision RE: You ill advise your clients on this one. Given the extremely lengthy period during which this house has tried to sell, the owners should be lowering the price, not raising it. The concept is rather simple and easily grasped. Or are you playing that all too familiar game of raising the price only to lower it later in the hopes of fooling potential buyers that there has been a price drop?]

I really want to meet the people who actually bought this thing thinking it was "A Smart Move". We already know if they get their asking price they will break even (not including nearly two years of carrying costs which would surely put them in a loss position). They must be the most desperate and stubborn sellers...ever.

But even more than wanting to meet the sellers, I want to meet the fools who end up buying this "lipstick on a pig".

(For those who are curious, the last post I made on this Marin flip-turned-flop was here; you can click through to all the previous posts through that link if you want to learn its history on this blog).


Blogger Unknown said...

This thread will have to be in the National Museum of Housing Bust Blogs which I am beginning today.

Your blog is AOK with me, sir.

May 14, 2007, 9:17:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...


And I am sure the owners of this typical Marin POS will love you for it. LOL!

May 14, 2007, 9:45:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...


I drive by that thing often and have been wondering about its fate.

Truly the worst that Marin has to offer.

I guess Melissa Bradley couldn't sell it.
Her sign was on it for quite a while. (shame on her).

Ladies and gentlemen, the new age of Marin real estate is upon us.

Hold on to your slowly leaking balloons.
It should be a pleasant descent.

May 15, 2007, 1:11:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

You know... there's a few things that I think the seller could do to make the house look better... simple things. First of all, mow the grass. Anyone notice all the weeds growing out front? Secondly, get rid of the wooden bats on the siding. They painted the house that girly yellow, which immediately makes the bats look like they're part of the walls themselves. Sort of gives it a corrugated, manufactured home look.

The ad mentions almost in passing: "then bump out the back to get the kitchen you desire." So what does that mean? Does the kitchen already there suck? It must because by stating that you can "bump" out the back must mean that the current one is UN-desirable.The ad should either say that the kitchen is cute N small, or nothing about it at all.

As far as the landscaping, I'm sorry, but cheap skinny evergreen trees is what usually grows along fence rows. Not to be stuck out front of a 'highly desirable' house.

What bothers me most about seeing homes like these in the Bay Area is that it brings us back to the previous topic; the middle class and class warfare in general. I see so many houses like these, built originally for the working class, out of cheap materials, stuck in a cubbyhole somewhere, and now being sold as high end housing to primarily rich people. A home like this from where I am from would seriously be used as the tool shed out back or simply knocked down to make way for a real house. I drive home every day past tiny 2 bedroom bungalow after tiny 2 bedroom bungalow, and more often than not, a Bimmer or Mercedes is out front in the driveway. The irony here is that rich must want to live like the working poor because they clearly love these houses.At least the people who buy these know how to make them look nice with those oh-so-pleasing Martha Stewart inspired color themes.

May 15, 2007, 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

As if today (the 15th), the Marin Heat Index stands at 0.63, I think the lowest it's been this Spring. Wonder if it's headed into the fifties?

I think with all the voodoo financing, people got disconnected from what these prices mean. $600+ for an absolute POS?? But no one thinks about staying in these houses or being able to actually PAY OFF a mortgage in a reasonable amount of time. So, the only "benefit" is if you happen to own during a time of appreciation and can sell for a profit. Otherwise, it's a big drain that could have gone to funding retirement accounts, etc.

May 15, 2007, 8:13:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

Kind of interesting. I subscribe to an advertising magazine. The front story was about the possibility of the new Web 2.0, as it is touted, as turning into another tech bubble.
There was something like over 2 billion dollars in IPOS this quarter alone.Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Credit Suisse Securities are stepping up to the plate which is ironic because according to the article, were the same investment firms that helped inflate the last tech bubble.

There's already been a few IPOS that offered from companies that LOST money last year.

But.... An interesting closing statement in the article was that:"But a housing market slide could put an end to the party as it's getting started. A recent Merril Lynch research report suggests that housing prices could fall 10% this year and force the US into a recession.
" the scenario would have a ripple effect on Web 2.0 companies, slowing growth."

Delicious. So in other words, the bubble that caused the housing bubble 'might' become a bubble once more, but in the end be crushed by the bubble it subsequently created.

Money can get shifted back and forth creating artificially inflated profits for so long.

May 15, 2007, 9:37:00 AM  
Blogger chiromancer said...

When I see a price like this on what can at best be described as a starter home I have to shake my head in amazement. There is absolutly no financial sense in buying a place for 600k+ that might rent for 1500-1800 a month.
The odds for this house to appreciate in value(at even 600K) in the next 5 years are virtually nil. The odds for its value to depreciate are very very high. The tightening credit market and flat to declining home prices will likely either drive the price down in order to unload this POS property, put the property into foreclosure or continue to bleed the flipper/owner. All outcomes that, IMO, are desirable.

May 15, 2007, 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

rtI have not had the pleasure of driving by this POS, but I've seen more than my share of similar properties around Marin. Boy, that's a lot of money for the

This bubble has done so much damage to the local communities and our work / value system it's not funny. Really, it's not.

We'll see this house priced around $350k or so sometime after the recession sets in. Even then, it will be way overpriced, but someone will pick it up no doubt.

Till then, let it rot I say..

I still predict a record (low) Marin Heat index (perhaps .40 or so) sometime this fall after the first major rounds of ARMS resets. Between now and then, the pressure in the pot will continue to build as households hold on by a thread in hopes of riding this train wreck out.

More RE Machine and MSM backpeddling daily on the extent of this bubble burst and the impact to the broader economy.

Nite, nite..


May 15, 2007, 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I see a few typos and incomplete sentences in my last post (sorry, it’s late), but, as I’ve noted before on the heat index, I believe the .63 is (STILL) heavily influenced by the machine w/their deception, corruption and shenanigans (AKA racketeering).

Remember, this heat index ignores REO properties, foreclosures and FSBOs which are all growing by leaps and bounds, esp as prices slide and more FBs are facing having to bring a check book to closings. Their opting to forego that 6% commission and selling it themselves.

The heat index also ignores facts such as the subject POS property actually being on the market for the better part of 1.5 years as opposed to a week or so as listed now in the MLS. One has to wonder how many properties are not on the MLS just to avoid the perception that “all is well”. Yea, right..


May 15, 2007, 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

I drove by it again today.

Is there any way to warn prospective buyers?

It is somehow now a "new" listing.


May 16, 2007, 1:02:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

Is there any way to warn prospective buyers?

Aside from telling as many people you know about this blog and this post in particular (and at the risk of self-congratulation), I don't know. I wish there were.

I have thought about the possibility of creating a web site where people can upload pics of a house and links to a listing and any comments. THen people who actually know something about the house or have visited it can leave comments. Sort of like what was trying to do at one point (maybe still are).

The trick is making the service widely known.

PS - sorry about the new 'marinite2' handle. I am away and cannot blog and since I have an impossible to remember password for my main 'marinite' account (and the fact that I refuse to carry it with me lest I blog and take even more time away from more productive work) I am unable to sign in with it.

May 16, 2007, 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

No prob about the new handle.

I think you are wise to prioritise.

This blog could be a black hole for your energy.

I reconsidered my question about warning buyers.

That could turn in to a big mess.

Litigious sellers could sue, sue, sue.

I guess it goes back to due diligence.

Let the buyer beware!

May 17, 2007, 1:42:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

This idea has crossed my mind more than once as I drive by major intersections at the entrance to neighborhoods on weekends and see all those "For Sale" signs.

Well, the idea is that there should be a contraian sign posted right along side these "For Sale" signs. Instead, we could call it the "For Warning" sign or perhaps just the "Housing Bubble" sign.

Of course, Marinite w/his or her talents in graphic arts could do the design after getting good input from his/her bloggers.

Personally, I'd like to one of the historic price graphs showing the historic "normal" price trends since the 30's or so, showing the crest and now the downward slope back to the mean (or below) with a big red arrow pointing to the down trend showing "We are Here".

Perhaps one factual piece of data could be slapped onto the sign somewhere off to the side showing "total consumer debt".

Of course, no "For Warning" or "Housing Bubble" sign would be complete without a ball and chain. So, I propose having picture showing a house falling off a cliff (as the ball) with a chain secured nicely to the husband and wife back on top.

For the fun of it and to add insult to injury (but to acknowledge the reality of it all) we could put the husband and wife in a jacuzzi with a glass of wine in their hand just or making out along side their BMW. Just a thought.

I know, I know, this would not be very neighborly of me, but
I still like the idea though and would enjoy the outrage this would create inside the RE Machine.

I'd certainly buy one of these signs and put it outside my house if nothing else.


May 17, 2007, 4:59:00 AM  
Blogger bob said...

"Well, the idea is that there should be a contraian sign posted right along side these "For Sale" signs. Instead, we could call it the "For Warning" sign or perhaps just the "Housing Bubble" sign."

Actually, I've had far more 'evil' ideas then that. My neighborhood looks like a lot of Bay Area towns on weekends in that you almost trip over all the open house signs on every corner. I swear there are sometimes 4 or 5 signs per corner, pointing this way or that. Wouldn't it be fun to do a switch-a-roo with em, turning them all in the opposite direction? I've been tempted a few times. But... that'd be a really nasty thing to do it, so I resist the urge.

I've thought about putting some sign up in my yard, but it is a house I rent, so I don't out of being courteous to the landlord who I get along with great and pay cheap rent to.

May 17, 2007, 9:06:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

It would be more effective to paste a "housing bubble" sticker on every fore sale sign you see. I am partial to this one:

May 17, 2007, 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger marinite2 said...

By the way, the IJ and others are trumpeting the latest RE figures for Marin coming out of DataQuick...8% appreciation 10% increase in sales YOY. Needless to say, for anyone who bothers to look in detail at the data, all signs are still down:

1. There are a lot of HUGE drops in appreciation by town (the overall Marin figure was upheld by Kentfield which had an unusually large number of sales).

2. The YOY % sales figure is very misleading as this time last year % sales was down like -25% or so. So we are comparing April 07 to a down month in April 06. I have a chart of # sales for each April since 1998 and April 07's sales are way down historically.

3. All signs support the claim in the previous blog posts that the bottom is falling out of the market and the only houses that are tending to sell are the very expernsive ones in the nicest locations.

4. The heat index for 2007 is almost exactly like what it was in 2006. IOW, 2007 is turning out to be as bad as 2006.

Other stuff too. I will post it. But I want to wait as I want to let this current post about the Mill Valley POS to stay on top for as long as possible. I want to humiliate these greedy fools.

Regarding the latest data, it's really shameful that the IJ cannot do their job. It is shameful that a blogger with a $0 budget can do a better job (if I don't say so myself that is) of reporting than a newspaper. But the IJ has whored themselves out to the local RE industry. We really need a new paper. What we should really do is for anyone who feels like I do about them, cancel your subscriptions to their paper. Money talks. I have not paid for the IJ for years.

May 17, 2007, 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The SF Chronicle wasn't any better today. Bay Area median price up 6+%. Because this is seen as "positive", it made the front page. Previous RE articles with a less sunny claim got stuck in the Business section. That right there made my stomach turn this morning.

A couple of weeks ago, they quoted Chris Thornberg explaining why the median is hogwash, how it can go up even when a market is going down. But today, the Chronicle saw fit to splash that +6% on the front page. And all those comments about how much money there is here, how we're different.....seriously, folks, everyone I know is in debt. These are people earning six figure incomes. I don't know a single person who is flush, saving money, no credit card debt, etc. Yes, there are big salaries here, but the "competitive spend" impulse runs so deep here that people aren't as well off as appearances would suggest. Everyone is banking on their house.

The subprime debacle just happened. AltA is next, and then credit tightening across the board won't mean 20-30% fewer buyers, it will mean 40%+ fewer buyers.

And how many of these folks can "hold on" for the long term, in light of that adjustable mortgage that will reset one day?

May 17, 2007, 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

That right there made my stomach turn this morning.

I have been absolutely furious over what the IJ published. Rising prices are not a good thing any more than rising gasoline prices are a good thing, rising health care costs, rising food costs, etc.

May 17, 2007, 6:06:00 PM  
Blogger mountainwatcher said...

You got it exactly right Marinite.

Rising prices are not good for most of us.

This situation is a complete mess.

The media blitz continues.
I was listening to news on AM radio today and they were touting the one million dollar median in Marin.
They were also trumpeting higher sales volume etc.
This was followed by about five mortgage broker ads warning about "doing a refi before your adjustable resets".

This whole thing stinks.

There is so much propaganda on the RE machine side.
Could this be because they have been getting so fat off of us and are fearing a loss of income?
I think they have a mountain of money and have very little in the way of scruples.

I'm disgusted.

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