Feb. 1st, 2010

A few ho-hum photos from a visit to the Asian Art Museum with David a few weeks ago. It's in the old Public Library, and some of the Beaux Arts features are still visible. We only got about halfway through it before running out of time....

Here's the gallery.

Paul filled in some of what I hadn't taken time to write about here. David and I toured a house for rent (on Burnett near Clayton) that was as close as we'd likely find to what we're looking for, with two flaws: not much closer than we are now, and Chinese owners, proud builder (and owner of a tile company) Uncle and manager Auntie. We tried to deal with them through their niece, Jaime, who spoke English well and had trained to be a real estate agent, though her license was as yet unused.

Good things: Built 2002. 2900 sq ft upstairs, including two car sbs garage, guest room and large bath on first floor; second floor living area, dining room, and kitchen, suitably high-end (Bosch) appliances, though worn from 7 years of heavy family use; third floor, master suit and two smaller bedrooms with a shared bath. Beautiful marble tile with edging and wood floors throught; wonderfully well-built with no trace of settling. Below grade: 1000 sq ft loftlike space with fabulous views of the Castro down Market Street to downtown, with attached deck and small garden (the lower area would be David's place.) And someone had strung white Xmas lights across the back fire escape of the house in the shape of a Martini glass, which would be visible from much of the Castro, which seemed an omen.

Bad things: downstairs were clearly finished after final permitting, saving them about $2K/year in property taxes. Bar in the lower living room had room for a fridge but no dishwasher. Electric wall heaters to avoid inspection. Whole house wired with early Cat-5, but serial phone style, not star configuration, so no way to get Ethernet in all rooms.

Negotiation issues: advertised at $6,000/month, but when we met Jaime and her auntie, it was explained that was a mistake -- $6,000 for just the upper three floors, while they would keep the lower area for themselves (I now suspect they hoped to rent it out as a separate apartment.) I explained we would not find this suitable, and the $7,000 now being quoted seemed unreasonable.

David wanted to take a hard line and not give an inch, because his corporate-style negotiation works that way; you stall and give ground grudgingly. It seemed for awhile this might work since no one else was answering the ad. I told Jaime my style was to find a solution that would be best for all parties, and since in the end they wanted to sell the house when the market improved, I offered to pay $6200, buy the high-end w/d for them, install modern Lutron dimmers (the lighting was good but undimmed anywhere)and get either wired or wireless Internet throughout the house. They came back with $6500. I responded with $6300, then apparently a group of Chinese friends of Auntie's daughter came along, and we were told they were more comfortable with them (and I suspect they were about 8 people, including kids, willing to pay the full $7K). Jaime was on our side and tried hard to get them to reconsider, but familiarity won out.

So that was a lot of work for nothing. In Part 2, more places we have considered....



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