The ad for 1091 Alcatraz Avenue in Oakland’s Paradise Park neighborhood tells it like it is:
“1091 Alcatraz is your rare opportunity to purchase a large flat lot and create your own vision. This home is not habitable and likely needs to be torn down.”
But even that frank admission undersells the gravity of the situation. The photos of this circa-1897 property tell the full story—namely that the structure is falling apart and the roof has partially caved in. This is not usually what the term “detached home” is supposed to mean.
A patient buyer with redevelopment plans need only wait for time to take its inevitable toll if anyone wants to skip the trouble of a demolition permit.
And yet, all of this is worth an asking price of $399,000. While that’s less than half the median price of an Alameda County home, per the California Association of Realtors, it’s still $70,000 more than the general median price of a (presumably intact) house in the United States, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve.
Asked about the price by NBC Bay Area, realtor Deidre Joyner replied that “the home is priced for its land value” and noted that it’s a rare flat lot available for building in the neighborhood.
And indeed it’s hard to blame anyone for trying to solicit top-dollar bids even on bottom-barrel properties, given the precedent.
In April of 2017, for example, a Rockridge house in depressing conditions sold for $260,000 over asking in only six weeks, while a Willow Street Victorian in such shambles it drew tears racked up $328K—less than the $375K asking, but still a sum work striving for. And those are only two recent examples among a sea of gutted and crumbling homes provoking white elephant prices in the Bay Area these days.