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Charred San Jose teardown asks $799K

Where there’s smoke, there are multiple bids

Posted by Willow Glen Charm on Monday, April 9, 2018

It’s a tale as old as time, or at least as old as the latest boom cycle: Another Bay Area teardown in horrifying conditions hits the market for a princely sum—and once again, everyone learns precisely where the floor is these days.

In this case, exhibit A is 1375 Bird Avenue, a fire-damaged home in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood, formerly a two-bed, one-bath house dating to 1976 but now one step above an actual hole in the ground. The fire damage dates to 2016.

The listing for 1375 Bird, which went live today, reads:

Wonderful location close to downtown Willow Glen, shopping and easy access to freeways and public transportation. The property was badly burned two years ago. You cannot see the inside. Please do not go past the fencing. Land value.

Realtor Holly Barr posted a sneak preview of the listing on her Facebook page (titled “Willow Glen Charm”) on Monday, telling her followers, “Lot is 5,850 [square feet] at $799,000. Great opportunity to build your dream home! House a couple doors down sold for $1.6M.”

Barr was quick to point out to KTVU that the price is for the lot value (as is usually the case with teardowns) and that it’s cheaper to buy a derelict home and build a new one than to purchase existing homes at market rates in the same neighborhood. All of which is, of course, true.

Posted by Willow Glen Charm on Monday, April 9, 2018

The problem with listings like 1375 Bird is a matter of marketing and public perception: No matter how relatively reasonable the deal actually is on paper, it’s hard to get the general public to overlook the elephant in the room—or in this case, the charred and collapsing roof on the lot.

The other problem is that listings like this tell us where the absolute, dirt-covered rock bottom of the market is in places like Willow Glen right now. Potential home buyers cannot expect much in the way of better deals than this, which is pretty wearying no matter how you frame it.

Note that headlines on outlets like Fox News and KTVU declared that this property was “selling for $800K,” but that’s not accurate, as the place hasn’t actually sold for any price yet and the asking is $799K right now.