Highlights From 2013's Year of Real Estate Craziness

Remington Eichler
The "21st Century Eichler" on Sunnyvale's W. Remington Drive went for $327,000 over asking.

If ever a year left the real estate market with a case of whiplash, it was 2013. As we explored here in the blog and in CA-Modern magazine throughout the year, prices skyrocketed across the Bay Area while the availability of homes for sale plummeted.

By December, prices in the East Bay had jumped as much as 56 percent over the course of the year, while in San Francisco they rose some 30 percent, with many homes selling for 50 or more percent over asking. Simply put, this marketplace is nuts.

"This is nearing [the year] 2000 more than anything. It's the same kind of schitzo marketplace, and it's hard to read because there's so much irrationality," Intero Real Estate's Eric Boyenga told me. Boyenga represents neighborhoods in San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto, where the tech sector is booming. Rents, as well as home values, "have gone through the roof because there's nothing available and the job growth is just crazy."

And with all that demand surging around, 2013 provided some genuinely eye-popping examples of a housing marketplace experiencing downright craziness.

Remington Eichler
A meticulously updated Eichler hit the market at just the right time to capitalize on the year's crazy spike in values. A great kitchen didn't hurt.

The best example among Eichlers comes in the form of the four-bedroom, two-bath 609 W. Remington Dr., in Sunnyvale, which listed for $1.298 million and sold for $1.625 million, a difference of $327,000. A client of Boyenga's named John Citrigno acquired the property several years ago as a shoddily remodeled Eichler and proceeded to update it, with immaculate precision, into a zero-energy, green-built home designed with strict attention to the original Eichler look and feel.

"That was by far the highest sale ever," for the street it was on, Boyenga told me. "It was $425,000 higher than anything ever sold on that street, if you go by square footage. This is a main street with a lot of cars. And we're in the suburbs, where people want to be on a cul de sac or a side street. We expected it to get some huge activity, but we never expected this."

Remington Eichler
This updated atrium came with the home at 609 W. Remington Dr.

The rental market also took a huge jump in 2013, when Eichlers in desirable areas started regularly going for $5,000 or more a month. While San Mateo Eichler realtor Glenn Sennett of Coldwell Banker told me back in September that Eichlers didn't necessarily command a rental premium, it's clear from any Craigslist search that they're regularly going for a lot more than they used to. That's as much due to the square footage and the fact, as Boyenga pointed out, that they're frequently in good neighborhoods as it is to them being Eichlers.

But when an ad for a four-bedroom, two-bath Eichler in Palo Alto asks a whopping $8,000 a month for rent, without even showing photos of the house, you know these rents have jumped some kind of a shark.

Finally, for sheer general craziness, it's hard to beat the burned-out Victorian in San Jose that listed near the end of the year for $399,000. While that sounds like an insane amount of money for a home that was most recently on fire (literally), Trulia notes that "the average listing price for similar homes for sale is $915,078, and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $683,417." According to Redfin, the home was sold, so somebody apparently thought it was worth it.