October 26, 2010

A Little Too Japanesey Indeed As 542 Valley Goes Back To The Bank

542 Valley

Having been withdrawn from the MLS three weeks ago last asking $2,195,000 and versus $2,995,000 two years ago, a plugged-in reader reports that according to Redfin the Len Brackett rebuilt 542 Valley up in Noe was taken back by the bank on October 6 with $1,648,285 owed on its first.

The foreclosing note was a $1,560,000 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) taken out in 2005 which appears to have paid off a $1,350,000 interest-only ARM from 2004 which appears to have paid off a $999,000 interest-only ARM from 2002.

Keep in mind that home equity lines of credit (of which a number had been approved) wouldn’t be reflected in that $1,648,285 "price" (nor would a subordinated "second" note).

542 Valley Returns Feeling Even More Japanesey [SocketSite]
A Contemporary Japanese Estate In Noe (And No, It's Not Ellison's) [SocketSite]

First Published: October 26, 2010 2:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Wow, talk about cosmic convergence; nothing like a little price competition...

Posted by: EBGuy at October 26, 2010 2:46 PM

A classic case demonstrating that no income stream was required to acquire and hold a home back during the boom. All you had to do was to surf that wave of appreciation and hopefully sell out to an unsuspecting bag holder before the curl crashes down on you.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at October 26, 2010 2:48 PM

I'm sure they used these IO ARMs (that increased by $200,000 every year) because they were sophisticated investors.

at least that's the line I heard constantly during the bubble years.

This is a very fetching place, although it was quite taste-specific. I think it could have sold if the owners hadn't blown all their equity and ended up so upside down on this place.

Posted by: ex SF-er at October 26, 2010 3:12 PM

Another BJ Droubi success story!

Posted by: SF doc at October 26, 2010 3:47 PM

Tax basis is $336k. Maybe they are seniors? At any rate, they've been averaging a deed of trust every couple of years since the early 1990's (which is as far back as the SF Recorder's site goes).

Posted by: EBGuy at October 26, 2010 3:49 PM

props for the surfing analogy Milkshake

Posted by: jason at October 26, 2010 4:16 PM

A Droubi slap, ouch! They sure got acquired at the right time. :)

Now, I still love this place, so I get to hope it enjoys a Japan-like 90% fall in price.

Posted by: EH at October 26, 2010 5:29 PM

"A Little Too Japanesey"

What does that exactly mean and for whom?

Posted by: Paul Hwang at October 26, 2010 7:29 PM

Paul, you never cease to amaze me. It's not a reference to any individual's race. Perhaps it is a pop cultural reference to the song by The Vapors, but most likely is referring to the the Japanese asset price bubble or more generally to The Japanese Lost Decade.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at October 26, 2010 8:32 PM

"Japanesey" is not a referrence to race?

In any event there is no need to speculate intent, as I am sure an answer will be forthcoming.

Posted by: Paul Hwang at October 26, 2010 8:57 PM

It is clearly a reference to Japanese asset deflation, perhaps a cute nod to the Vapors song, and, drumroll.....the fact that it is designed in a Japanese style, and many commenters have noted that it is perhaps too style-specific for many buyers (who seem to like "dwell-ified" buildings as you well know, Paul.

Posted by: curmudgeon at October 26, 2010 11:12 PM

I took Japanesey to be a reference to the decade+ of deflation of Japanese assets… and a play on the house's style.

This drop is not a shock to anyone, but still… Ouch! In prime Noe Valley (okay 10 years ago, those words would never have gone together, but still).

Posted by: embarcadero at October 26, 2010 11:59 PM

I saw this house a few months ago...it is gorgeous and, IMHO, a nice mix of Asian and contemporary features. The interior is not as Japanesey as the exterior; in fact, there are some Dwell-y touches.

If what the realtor said was true, that the house belonged to the family that rebuilt it in 1990 and still lived there with their four kids, then this seems a rather sad story. For whatever reason that they needed to pull out all that money (college? failing business? medical expenses? drugs?), it's still a family home that's now gone.

That said, wouldn't mind making it my family home, if I had the dough.

Posted by: jenofla at October 27, 2010 12:48 AM

From my experience of visiting Japan, this is not a Japanese house (didn't see any of these, don't know of any people in Japan living in one of these) and we are not living in 1990s Japan.

The price of real property has gone down; Yes.

Japanesey; No.

Posted by: Paul Hwang at October 27, 2010 1:37 AM

Dude, having lived in Japan for the 1990s I can say this does incorporate significant features from the traditional Japanese farmhouse style -- the large entranceway with sliding panels, the unfinished wood, plus all the gardening of course.

This is not a Japanese city house, but would in fact fit in in eg. Kamakura. Here's an example I found in 5 seconds on google.

Posted by: Troy at October 27, 2010 5:53 AM

Paul, I have a Japanese car. It has a Japanesey look to it. No, that does not refer to race in any way, shape, or form.

Posted by: A.T. at October 27, 2010 7:21 AM

not to delve too much into this odd conversation, but "Japanese" is a nationality or perhaps ethnicity, but not a race.

Asian or East Asian would be a race.

obviously this house has Asian inspiration regardless of how truly Japanese it is.

The title is obviously a double entendre, as the house has Asian inspiration and has the economic performance of Japan.

Posted by: ex SF-er at October 27, 2010 7:30 AM

What is it that the realtors did wrong here in all the bashers' estimations?

Posted by: [anon.ed] at October 27, 2010 8:47 AM

You mean besides putting their foot in their mouth?

Posted by: alazyman at October 27, 2010 9:41 AM

"What is it that the realtors did wrong here in all the bashers' estimations?"

Wow, fluj. Your "stop the realtor-bashing" comments have become as rote as tipster's bearish comments. What did anyone here say about the realtor other than in jenofla's comment which was neutral towards the realtor? Who was bashing the realtor here? People are bashing the house, the price, whether it's Japanesey or not, and the prior owners' refi behavior, so call off the dogs.

If the realtors failed here, it's in backing their client off the price point or in taking an idiot client in the first place.

Posted by: sfrenegade at October 27, 2010 10:09 AM

sfrenegade - fluj was responding to a "man walks into a bar" joke directed towards RE agents that has been since deleted.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at October 27, 2010 10:27 AM

Huh? The deleted joke, the Droubi success thing, another one like that, a second deleted comment, foot in mouth, ... There were five or six. Seemed a case of refi to oblivion, so I asked the question. Again, Sfrenegade feel free to not talk to me.

Posted by: anon.ed at October 27, 2010 10:46 AM

"the Droubi success thing"

I assumed that referred to either the owner or the designer, but it appears not. Are those realtor-types who mentioned him? I've never heard the name mentioned on SS before. Didn't see the deleted comments, obviously.

Posted by: sfrenegade at October 27, 2010 10:50 AM

This is a good example of how very personal design, mainly an Americanized version of Japanese residential design will command a very SMALL set of buyers, if any at all.

The design, for what it's worth, is not very authentic anyway. It's simply way overdesigned, too much natural wood, a very shady (lack of sunlight) piece of property..and over priced.

The design may have satisfied the original designer/owner and that's fine, but how many others really want that type of house?

Posted by: noearch at October 27, 2010 10:55 AM

"…too much natural wood…" Where can you even start with a comment like that? What would you prefer, Trex®? A more authentic style of Japanese traditional residential design would have featured more natural wood.

I agree that the design is personal and would attract a small set of buyers, however I also think the poured concrete and steel postmodern pap that you see in the pages of Dwell also attracts a small set of buyers, but a lot more of that style of "design" is being built.

For the record, if I had the money even for the down payment, I'd buy it in a heartbeat if the bank priced it anywhere close to the value of the 1st note.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at October 27, 2010 11:22 AM

Where I can start is this way: Of course I didn't imply that "trex" would be a better choice than "too much natural wood". you know that.

Most buyers simply would not go for that much "natural wood". Regardless of it being "japanesey" or not. Buyers prefer, in general, more neutral interiors, so they can lend their own style to the house they just bought. With this particular house, there is very little, other than furnishings, that a new buyer could add to make it their style.

You may not like Dwell style homes, but they appeal to more buyers than this this property.

Posted by: noearch at October 27, 2010 11:58 AM

My wife (born in Tokyo) and I both liked this house, but thought that having every single bathroom in traditional style with concrete everywhere was overkill. One western style bathroom would be handy when you're not looking to spend a lot of time soaking. Not that we have the money to buy anyway, but it's a difficult and long walk to 24th Street down that steep hill. Nice house, though.

Posted by: steve at October 27, 2010 1:45 PM

Well I guess I don't really consider PF Changs chinese food either.

Posted by: Paul Hwang at October 27, 2010 11:09 PM

So, what happened with the loans here? Were the owners cashing out money every few years to fix up the place? Or, to live on? Did the long time owners wind up loosing money or "making money" on all the cash outs?

Posted by: John at October 29, 2010 10:17 AM

It's losing, not loosing.

Posted by: noearch at October 29, 2010 7:29 PM

^Not when you lose money from loose lending standards. Then it's loosing money.

Posted by: tipster at October 29, 2010 7:35 PM

yea, whatev

Posted by: noearch at October 30, 2010 4:19 PM

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