Hug it out…

Heated discussions, a good question, a fair bet, and some comparison shopping has gotten me all worked up. In an effort to get ready for the weekend, help relax, lighten the mood up, and forget about the market and real estate, we invite you to check out:

Zebda – Tomber la chemise

[this is a music video]

What does this have to do with real estate? Absolutely nothing, and that’s the point. A little Ska can help anything, at least I think so.

Have a good weekend! Thanks for checking us out.

-Just Plain Fun with real estate [theFrontSteps]

The Montgomery (74 New Montgomery) 107 New condo residences

“Unveiled to San Francisco in 1914 as The Call Building, The Montgomery has long been an architectural gem. Now, having undergone a [$70MM conversion from office to residential space], seismic retrofit, and complete interior redesign, The Montgomery combines the finest elements of interior modern craftsmanship to complement its elegant architectural exterior. It stands as the ultimate expression of city living. Timeless character with a bold new expression.” And we got the scoop, so read on!

themontgomerymap.jpg Continue reading

“Why are Realtors so arrogant and such assholes?”

I can’t believe I am going to print this letter to the Editor, because, well…we’re mostly a community of Realtors bringing this information to you. But, I think there may be something to gain from this little quote if we get some good comments.

“Dear Editor,

I really like your blog and think it is a great resource and nice to see a Realtor trying to do something other than just sell, sell, sell, and cheer the market on. But maybe you can help me answer this question, why are Realtors so arrogant and such assholes? I mean, driving around in the bling, bling cars all the time. Constantly talking on the phone about loans, property features and what they’re worth, clients’ needs, etc., in the most un-private of locations (bathrooms, checkout lines, airports.) Always interupting a good conversation when the phone beeps, vibrates, or rings with “I gotta take this call…” Is it really that important?  Why do they think they are so cool? Other professions have their arrogant pricks too (attorneys, doctors, entrepreneurs), but Realtors somehow seem more obnoxious. Maybe it is the easy money you guys make.  Or maybe, you all truly are a bunch of assholes. Anyway, just thought you could shed some light on the matter for me.


Justin T.”

I’m hoping we can gain some insight into where the disconnect often lies between Realtor-client, Realtor-public.  Why is there such a negative perception  placed on Realtors?  I hope we can learn things like how we can better serve you during a transaction, rather than just “making easy money” (it’s never easy money by the way). How can we earn our commissions in your eyes?  Things we can do during the process of buying/selling your home for you that would make a difference. Things you like to see in our advertising. Things you like at the close of a transaction…that kind of stuff.

By giving you this open forum, I’m hoping you’ll spread the word, link to this post, and give some good feedback.  The more the better.

If somebody (Justin T.) feels strongly enough to write us with this question, I’m assuming he/she is not alone.  So let ‘er rip!


Alexander Clark

-Should the full MLS be available to the public? [theFrontSteps]

“boomtime” on 1771 Northpoint…an update

We won’t even come close to taking credit for this catch. All credit goes to “boomtime”, who, if he/she would like, definitely has a seat at the Stammtisch.

1771 North Point is in contract after 2 weeks on the market for public showing!

Wagers? I guess $4.65 mil.”[asking $4,995,000]


-MLS Statement

-1771 North Point, a quick follow up [theFrontSteps]

-1771 NorthPoint, a “first look”… [theFrontSteps]

610 Rhode Island: my take

By Alexander Clark

Okay, so I had the chance to nose around 610 Rhode Island (asking $2.3MM) yesterday, and I gotta say, it was impressive, but I was not impressed. In our previous post I was practically frothing at the mouth to get in there…and I’m glad I did.  This is not to say I didn’t like it, I was just going in there with certain expectations based off of the fabulous photos, but came away feeling something entirely different.


(photo taken from property site, Jacob Elliot photographer)

I may be opening up a can of worms to some hate mail, but what the hell. I’m a huge fan of all things modern as you soon will see, and love all types of property, but this felt industrial and cold. It felt very metallic (especially the metallic pinging going up and down the spiral staircases, I think there were at least 4), small, dark, and just a bit too silver. Of course coloring can be changed, as well as “warming” the place up, but I gotta say, those pictures on the site make it look much larger than it actually feels (kudos to the photographer).

There were some great views from different parts of the property (thinking the peek-a-boo window in the office), the terrace was nice and warm (a bit dangerous if you have kids and don’t want them falling in the fountain), it was an incredible use of space with some very unique and interesting lines, the brownies Gregg Lynn was serving up were tasty, and it will be a great house for the right buyer.  That buyer just won’t be me.

This is only my opinion.  If you at all have an interest in properties of this caliber/type, you owe it to yourself to go check it out, and don’t take my word for it. Anybody else get in, and what did you think? 

-Oh Kronos! [theFrontSteps]

San Francisco ain’t got nothin’ on Moscow

For all the complaining we do about how expensive this city is (especially real estate wise), maybe it’s time we zip it. San Francisco doesn’t even crack the top 50 of the world’s most expensive cities, Moscow earned top honors, and this is what $1,000,000 buys you in Moscow.


Obviously we pulled the pictures from, but is that a “Scavolini” kitchen? Probably not.

-the world’s most expensive cities

-Comparison Shopping on the sfnewsletter [theFrontSteps]

Re-run: NYTimes Interactive Graph, rent vs. buy

It seems we have many, many new readers who may or may not have seen our original post as to whether it is better to rent or buy. In some of your comments regarding the “California Real Estate Crisis” , the topic has come up again, so we thought we’d give you another shot at playing with the graph.


You can change almost all the fields you see on that graph and many, many more. If you are at all interested in figuring out if you should buy a house, or continue to rent, (or sell your house and start to rent) you owe it to yourself to follow the link. 

Maybe it’s time to buy some rental property?

-Interactive Graph [New York Times]

-What a buzz-kill, but does it apply to San Francisco [theFrontSteps]

The Lambourne (725 Pine, Nob Hill): Model residences now open

Located at 725 Pine, in the “heart of Nob Hill”, The Lambourne will be “22 studios and one bedroom pied-a-terre urban residences” with “European design elements by Charles DeLisle of Your Space Interiors”, hardwood floors, “petite” Scavolini kitchens with stainless steel appliances, priced from the $300′s to $500′s. Bathrooms sound nice too, with “Carrera marble accents”, and European Style washer/dryer by Asko.  Some units will have outdoor terraces, and zero units will have deeded parking.


Although we haven’t had a chance to go check out anything about The Lambourne ourselves, we can tell you the model residences are now available to view, upon appointment only, so maybe one of our readers can enlighten us? If not, we promise we’ll get in there as soon as we can.

Keeping all political ramblings aside, have you ever noticed how most home furnishings and appliances that are designed to conserve space, yet maximize utility, and at the same time wow us with design aesthetics come from Europe?  Just a thought.

-The Lambourne

-New Developments [theFrontSteps]


Sure to raise quite a hullabaloo in the real estate community, this article that ran on the Examiner about a woman who unknowingly purchased a below market rate unit at market rate prices, and would now like to sell it at market rate, but can’t, should be a wake up call to our little real estate machine. In the heat of the frenzied market we experienced, so many of the small details were over-looked. Not good. You absolutely must read the disclosures, and the preliminary title report. Read it all! We know first-hand how many buyers and sellers over-look so many documents in an effort to just be done with the whole process, or be the winner in a multiple offer situation, but this is a striking example of why you shouldn’t do that.

Who’s to blame? Realtors? Buyer? Seller? Everyone?

“The restriction, according to the lawsuit, was indicated on the title report…” Ouch!

-S.F. condo rules snarl FBI agent’s plans [SF Examiner]

-A reader asks, we hopefully answer (888 Seventh Street, resale restrictions for BMR) [theFrontSteps]

What a buzz-kill, but does it apply to San Francisco?

Thanks to our Reader DL for sending this in. We we were not going to post it, because we really don’t feel it has any bearing on the current San Francisco market (things could always change), but it is another point of reference for you.  What do you think?

“California’s Real Estate Crisis Will Be Worse Than Most Analysts Realize, With Home Prices Falling 15 To 30 Percent During The Next 36 To 42 Months

Source: PRNewswire

Publication date: 2007-06-21

SAN FRANCISCO, June 21 /PRNewswire/ — California’s real estate downturn will be deep and long lasting, with home prices falling 15 to 30 percent during the next 36 to 42 months, according to a prominent real estate expert.

Bruce Norris, who correctly forecast both the real estate boom that began in 1997 and the subsequent doubling of home prices, said the downturn will reflect a perfect storm that includes record numbers of foreclosures, a sharp decline in migration to California, substantial increases in unsold inventory, and, of course, falling prices.

“We are in for a very rough ride in California’s real estate market, which is likely to be far more severe than analysts, state officials and real estate industry associations have acknowledged,” Norris said, adding, “Foreclosures alone are likely to be more numerous than anything we’ve ever experienced, with bank repossessions ultimately accounting for as high or as many as 25-30 percent of all homes sold during the next three years. But like any storm, this, too, shall pass.” Continue reading

A done deal in Lower Pacific Heights (2901 Pine)…sold UNDER asking!

We knew it was just a matter of time before 2901 Pine, was snatched up. It apprears the time has come. Listed for $2,350,000, this property was/is truly unique, and stating that it sold under asking ($2,300,000) doesn’t necessarily imply the market is tanking like many people would lead you to believe. Maybe it was just fairly priced….gasp!


Now about that other $55,000,000 home at 2901, we’ll just have to wait and see.

-Unique is an understatement (2901 Pine) [theFrontSteps]

-2901 Pine [mls]

-Huge auction shows boom in housing going, going, gone [sfgate]

-Comparison Shopping on the sfnewsletter [theFrontSteps]

A reader asks, we hopefully answer (888 Seventh Street resale restriction for BMR.)

A reader recently came to our post regarding 888 Seventh Street, and asked a great question, which we’ll get to below. Rather than email her directly, thus hogging all the glory, we thought we’d use her question as a beta test of our vision of what this site could be. So…we’re posting her question, and hoping our Stammtisch comes through with some answers.


Thanks for putting up these Q&A’s! They’re very helpful, as the website is pretty sparse. My sister was actually selected from the lotto (we both entered), and we’re excited about the opportunity to purchase a condo (fingers crossed-we’re meeting with the banker today about qualifying). My question is, if we get the condo, and want to sell it, let’s say 30 years from now, would there be a restriction on the selling price? We aren’t looking to use this as an investment property, but if we decide to sell it later we don’t want to get totally ripped on the price.

Thank you!


-888 Seventh Street: an update [theFrontSteps] [website]

Oh Kronos!

The Kronos House, 610 Rhode Island is on the market for $2.3MM, but unfortunately for you, the line starts behind us, we have first dibs.




“More than 15 years after its completion, the Kronos House – designed by Maybeck Award-winning architect Daniel Solomon – is still a stand-out in Potrero Hill. Commissioned by a founder of The Kronos Quartet, this avant-garde residence resonates of the San Francisco pop culture salon that has assembled under its roof – the intersection of Grammy-Award winning music, architecture, art, sculpture, technology and motion pictures.

A black-shingled façade is marked by large central windows divided by a chimney and flanked by 20 small square portals that deliberately undermine the three-story building’s sense of scale. Under a central-domed oculus, three bedrooms coexist with the dramatic entertaining space created by Italian plaster, perforated galvanized metal and 24-foot ceilings.”

We need not say more. The pictures and description speak for themselves. Well, maybe we’ll tell you it last sold in 1999 for $1.4MM, and spent 130 days on the market. It will be interesting to see what happens this time around.

-610 Rhode Island [mls]

-610 Rhode Island [Sothebys]

Tour Friday!

Keeping our ties a little bit in tact with the sfnewsletter, we thought you’d like to know they just posted their Tour de San Francisco (real estate). This week they take a close look at Forest Knolls.

“Forest Knolls is so unbelievably different from any other area in the city, it just blows us away. Homes don’t appear to have been built before 1950, there are duplexes, multi-unit, single family, town homes, and condos. They are very “boxy” and have that mid-century look without the mid-century charm like we saw in Diamond Heights…”

Read More…

High on Grass

Bringing new meaning to the term “roof-top terrace”:

267-271 Filbert Sold $2,700,000


1277 Arguello Sold $1,750,000


2500 Lyon (Statement said 2550) Asking $9,800,000


And the grand-daddy of them all the California Academy of Sciences photo credit to Inhabitat, found through Curbed.


I’m thinking sunrise coffee on Filbert. Practice putting on Arguello. Deep rough shots on Lyon. Long game on the Academy roof. Then blow off the stress of golf with some Fun in the half-pipe. Care to join me? You see…real estate in San Francisco CAN be fun!

So which of the grasses is the schwag, and which are da kine?  Yes, I’ve been in all of the homes, and no, obviously not the Academy…yet.

Plugged by Curbed…you gotta love it!

It is not everyday you get a mention on Curbed…so we’re tooting our own horn. I guess this would be “just quotes”? ;-)

“From the re-invented real estate blog (we’ve already forgotten what it used to be called) now called The Front Steps comes news and pics of what’s happening in the formerly-empty lot at Clayton and 17th Street. Condos! Shocking. Four four-story townhouses with big bays hanging over 17th Street, possibly giving views downhill to the Bay, and top floor terraces facing south. From the framing they’ll probably lay out with garage/services on the ground floor, two bedrooms and bath on two, living spaces on three with high ceilings, master bedroom and bath with terrace on four. Elevators? Looks quite smart. Who’s the architect?

The Front Steps looks to be a blog worth watching, with a roster of real estate professionals contributing on an ad hoc basis. Welcome to the blogosphere!

Thanks for rolling out the red-carpet…we feel very welcomed! We’ll see about the architect. Now about that link….

[editor's note: This just in...Architect is Michael Levitt]


Sittin’ on the Deck by the Bay (1580 Masonic)

From Greg Angilly

Deck of the Week – 1580 Masonic Ave


Last week’s deck offered unreal views of San Francisco from an unsuspecting location – Hayes Valley. This week, our deck’s don’t have a single view of the city. The 2 decks in the rear of 1580 Masonic Ave face the extremely peaceful and tranquil yard/garden. Located in Ashbury Heights/Cole Valley, 1580 Masonic is an incredible home opening onto a two-tiered deck. The deck is accessed from several rooms in the house and leads directly to a yard which is perfect for entertaining. Hopefully the future owners will purchase a BBQ, a weather proof ping pong table for the rear (think Finnigan’s Wake) and invite me to the house warming party!



-Sittin On the Deck by the Bay (270 Linden) [theFrontSteps...Greg Angilly]

17th & Clayton Pics of new development and some “luv”

Following up to our post regarding the new construction on the corner of 17th & Clayton, our reader “luv” sent us these pictures:


What this will be is four, 4-level town homes, around 1500-1800 square feet each. Three of the homes will be 3BR/3.5BA, the fourth will be 3BR/3BA. Each home will have two decks, a backyard, parking, high ceilings and superior finishes.

Construction is expected to be completed early 2008; pricing has not yet been determined.

We luv our readers! You keep us going, and you saved us a trip. Thank you!

32 Collins: $115,000 over asking

From Janis Stone-

“Spring has been hot (market-wise, not weather-wise) and it looks like summer will be even hotter. I can not stress to you enough how the absence of inventory can cause double-digit appreciation, when the few listings we do have sell, and it often creates multiple offer situations.


A new listing I had in Laurel Heights was marketed for 8 days, received several offers and sold well in excess of the asking price of $1,495,000. [editor's note: The property is 32 Collins, and the sales price was $1,610,000.] We had 2 open houses, broker’s tours and then looked at offers. I sold this property to them in 2001 and when they sold this time around, they received close to 10% annual appreciation on their condo. San Francisco real estate is a GREAT INVESTMENT!”

So as not to think we only report about the properties selling over asking, have a look at yesterday’s post regarding 2340 Larkin #2, and a $296,000 price reduction…not to mention our totally lousy bet on that property. We still think it’s a sweet pad. You might also want to look at 99 Surrey going for under asking.

-32 Collins [Janis Stone]

-32 Collins [MLS]

Done deal in Pacific Heights for 2243-”A” Green

2243agreen.jpg“boom” commented not too long ago in one of our posts about 3130 Pacific (priced to sell at $12,495,000): “Anybody know about 2243 “A” Green St asking $1.395 mil?” First open was last Sunday, and now it’s not on MLS anymore?” [This is a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1546 square foot condo with booming views in Pacific Heights.]

our answer then: [editor's note: contract, no contingencies, 7 days on market.]

That was then, this is now. Sold for $1,560,000 (roughly 12% above asking), and that puts the price per square foot at a hefty $1,009. You might get to 1009 if you count the steps while you’re climbing…don’t forget the crampons and caribiners, oxygen mask is optional.

Getting to the bottom of the Median

Sometimes you just need to look at a chart:

…and follow it up with an article (in case you missed it).

…throw in a quote,

“It’s likely a lot of potential buyers have been sitting on the fence. There may be an uptick in sales now because mortgage interest rates have been trending up the past few weeks, and they’ll want to get in before rates go up further. Prices seem to be holding steady in most neighborhoods. It’s easier to buy a home if you don’t think it’s going to go down in value,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

…to get to the bottom,

“The median has increased the last four months, in part because sales of lower-cost homes have dropped more than sales in other categories.”

-Bay Area Home Sales Drop, Prices Up [data quick]

[note: The median on the Altos chart differs from the numbers on data quick.  We'll try to find out why.]

New Construction: 17th & Clayton

Just as soon as we remember the camera next time we drive by 17th & Clayton, we’ll snap a photo of what this once vacant lot looks like today. For now you have to deal with a satellite photo. Maybe some readers could give us some love, and we’ll definitely give you credit for the photo.


What this lot will be is four, 4-level town homes, around 1500-1800 square feet each. Three of the homes will be 3BR/3.5BA, the fourth will be 3BR/3BA. Each home will have two decks, a backyard, parking, high ceilings and superior finishes.

Construction is expected to be completed early 2008; pricing has not yet been determined.

If you live in the area, have a camera, and feel like helping us out, please send the picture to Muchas Gracias!

2340 Larkin #2…an update, and $296,000 price reduction.

We’re slowly getting back into the swing of daily posting about real estate and still very much a construction site over here at theFrontSteps, so what better way to kick things off with a post about how utterly and completely wrong we were, and it isn’t the first time.


The update for 2340 Larkin #2 is a massive $296,000 price reduction from the original asking price of $2,295,000. The new sleaker price of $1,999,000 should certainly attract some attention (no we’re not bettin’ on that.)

Don’t haul off and panic and think the market has tanked. A big price reduction like this often brings buyers out of the wordwork and more often than not, the price gets driven right back up to where they started. Strange…we know…but true. Again, we’re not bettin’ on it, but we’ll certainly keep you posted and let you if it is officially a Stalefish. (We got permission from sfnewsletter to use the Stalefish term, because we know them. ;-) )

-Tuesday Tour: Liked [theFrontSteps]

-2340 Larkin #2 [mls]

-Stalefish [theFrontSteps]