The Facebook of San Francisco Real Estate (

The time has come to unveil the latest creation, We hope you like it, and we hope you participate. We even give props to SocketSite. We’re calling it “A Social Network for real estate obsessed San Franciscans”. Go check it out at www.theFrontSteps.ORG (note: You currently must type the www, and don’t forget the .org).


(sorry for the blurry screen shot.)As for the future of…we’re keeping it around for a while until we see how plays out.

We hope you join and participate. Invite as many people as you’d like, create as many groups as you’d like, post as many photos as you’d like, write as many blog posts as you’d like, discuss anything and everything in the Forum, and generally overdose on San Francisco Real Estate. Have fun!

2956 Webster: 8 Offers, 4 Cash, 1 Winner, 7 Losers

From sfnewsletter:

We’re really trying to stop publishing these things, but they just keep coming up. This week we have 2956 Webster in the oh so popular Cow Hollow District. This is a 2 bed, 2 bath condominium that was asking $1,279,000 was absolutely swarmed, received eight (yes 8 ) offers, four of them all cash, and ultimately closed at $1,410,000. Yes…that much over ($131,000).

Forget for a minute this property sold above asking, because as we’ve said before there are some grey areas regarding sales above asking. What we all need to focus on is that there are still seven (yes 7) very hungry buyers for two bedroom condos in this area at this price that were beat out, and those were the buyers that stepped up to write an offer. There were probably more that didn’t even want to compete. Guess what? Those buyers are likely still out there.

When the Price is Right

Before you haul off and shoot the messenger, this is one of many emails we receive on a daily basis. We’ve tried to tone the cheerleading down a bit, but when it keeps on coming from other sources (not Realtors) it’s kind of hard to pass up. So…


Awesome places that are priced right continue to sell at competitive prices all over the city.

19 Delmar St. [3 bed, 3 bath, $1,795,000] just went into Escrow as did two condos on Sacramento in the $2.1 range.

Lots of buyers out there! Wow.

No, this is not from MarinaPrime, ResortAtSquawCreek, Later, BoomTime, or any of the other people that sound oddly like the same person. It’s from someone entirely too well connected to not know the difference.

-19 Delmar [sfnewsletter listing detail page]

Ask Us: Calculating 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates

Where readers ask and we try to answer.

How are 30 year fixed mortgage rates calculated? My Real Estate agent said that it is an average of the trailing 12 month’s surveys by WSJ and, can someone confirm this?

As soon as a mortgage professional chimes in, we’ll post the answer here. Since we’re a bit busy, it may not be up right away, so check the comments.

Kelly McCray responds: “30 year fixed rates are based on what mortgage BONDS are selling for at any given moment.”

Comment du Jour: Little impact from raising conforming loan limits, and the end of Stated Income Loans

Kelly McCray comes through with a comment that will be heard around the world!

I was at the east bay CAMB [California Association of Mortgage Brokers] legislative update meeting yesterday. It is becoming quite clear that there will be little, if any, impact with the raise in conforming loan limits. This news is disappointing to say the least. Fannie Mae is planning on charging a premium for loans over $417K, so what was the point?

And more…

I am very concerned for the consumer right now. There is a lot of legislation on the table both at the state and federal level that will make it extremely difficult for borrowers to obtain financing, with or without a broker. On the state level, stated income [loan] is very likely going to be outlawed. 100% financing is on the chopping block as well.

And you think we don’t report the doom.

Ask Us: Why choose a mortgage broker over a bank?

Where readers ask and we try to answer. Kelly are you listening!?

Why would a [mortgage] broker be better than a bank at this point in the market. I am an investor and have used brokers and bankers, both have been of great service to me in the past. But, I have relationships on both sides of the coin and it seems the playing field is level.

In the past I have used a broker for a faster turn time, more creative loan types, and reduced income documentation. Where as today, it seems as if there is no advantage to utilizing the broker. Perhaps the rate is a small amount lower(.125 at most), the fees are larger, there is more uncertainty and lack of control that the broker has in the grand scheme of things, and the banks they choose from, well, I have direct access to them. i.e, Wamu, Wells, Chase, Citi.

Please provide clarification for me. It seems like we have entered a 20 percent down world, regardless, and I would love some insight on the subject. I prefer to stay anonymous. Thanks

Since you preferred to remain anonymous on this, we had no way of contacting you to clarify the “and the banks they choose from, well, I have direct access to them. i.e, Wamu, Wells, Chase, Citi.” sentence you made. You lost us on that.

Regardless, thanks for the question and hopefully Kelly or another mortgage broker or possibly some bankers will come in with some answers.

Stats & Numbers: Single Family Homes (Jan ’07-Jan ’08)

Single family ’07 vs 08 from Garrett.

District Map (PDF)

District 1 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 7 7
Median Selling Price 1,000,000 1,250,000
Average DOM 47 66
District 2 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 20 21
Median Selling Price 788,000 830,000
Average DOM 54 56
District 3 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 4 9
Median Selling Price 774,500 960,000
Average DOM 58 60
District 4 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 27 11
Median Selling Price 871,000 1,155,000
Average DOM 57 56
District 5 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 13 17
Median Selling Price 1,180,000 1,530,000
Average DOM 66 48
District 6 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 2 3
Median Selling Price 1,250,000 2,050,000
Average DOM 111 60
District 7 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 7 9
Median Selling Price 2,647,500 3,350,000
Average DOM 63 38
District 8 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 2 0
Median Selling Price 1,241,500  
Average DOM 43  
District 9 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 13 10
Median Selling Price 1,025,000 792,500
Average DOM 41 45
District 10 Jan-07 Jan-08
Number of Sales 48 20
Median Selling Price 676,500 561,500
Average DOM 66 100

Data Provided by SFAR

What’s up with the silence?

As many of you know, this little San Francisco Real Estate blog (not so little anymore) is a hobby. My main focus is still selling real estate in San Francisco and making sfnewsletter the best it can be. I’m currently working with many clients, as well as enjoying seeing sfnewsletter take off, not to mention we’re in the process of developing a new theFrontSteps. So hang tight, and we’ll be back to normal (new) programming before you know it.


Alex Clark (the editor)

p.s. We’ll still be posting during all of this, but on a less voluminous scale.

Fridays = sfnewsletter

…and a big reason why posts on theFrontSteps are always light on Friday. To see the latest issue of sfnewsletter, click here, especially if you’re an Eichler fan, like us.


Real estate agents and mortgage brokers! To send sfnewsletter to your sphere of influence? Click Here (

Feel like touring some San Francisco neighborhoods, Click Here

Any questions, email

That ought to keep you “realporn” satisfied for one day.

Have a great weekend!

Still confused about Conforming Loan Limits?

3 Oceans Real Estate provides some answers:

Raising the conforming loan limit has the following benefits:

1. It does in fact greatly stimulate the economy

2. Many consumers who got in over their head will now be able to afford their mortgage

3. Greater affordability for housing is created

4. It will influence a portion of the jumbo market that has been lost and create some investor confidence, and finally

5. California has been long overdue to have a raise to the conforming limit given that over 50% of the nation’s jumbo mortgages were originated in California.

Okay, let’s say that raising the conforming loan limit is good for a moment. What’s next and what are the details? There’s still some speculation, but here goes:

1. The conforming loan amount will be determined based on 125% of the median price of a given county…

2. This allowance will NOT go into effect for purchase or refinance transactions until July 1, 2008 (that’s the earliest date that the loan application may be signed) since the market needs from now to June 30, 2008 to liquidate current qualifying mortgages available for sale from institutions

3. The types of programs allowed will be fixed-rate programs on a full-doc basis, which means that the hybrid, interest-only programs using “stated” income will not be allowed

4. The property must be single-family and owner occupied, which means that 2nd homes, investment properties and multi-unit properties are ineligible

5. Credit scores must be “reasonable” with a combined loan-to-value not to exceed 90%

6. No cash-out, which means that a refinance may not allow the borrower to receive any greater than $2,000 at closing

7. Loans must be funded and closed prior to December 31, 2008

Please visit their site for more on the matter, or feel free to ask our very own Kelly McCray.

-How stimulating will raising the conforming loan limit be? [3 Oceans Real Estate]

Suburbs be damned! Thank God we live in San Francisco

From a reader “DL” regarding The Next Slum? (The

For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

Most Americans now live in single-family suburban houses that are segregated from work, shopping, and entertainment; but it is urban life, almost exclusively, that is culturally associated with excitement, freedom, and diverse daily life. And as in the 1940s, the real-estate market has begun to react.

Pent-up demand for urban living is evident in housing prices. Twenty years ago, urban housing was a bargain in most central cities. Today, it carries an enormous price premium.

If gasoline and heating costs continue to rise, conventional suburban living may not be much of a bargain in the future. And as more Americans, particularly affluent Americans, move into urban communities, families may find that some of the suburbs’ other big advantages—better schools and safer communities—have eroded.

Well then, let’s all thank whichever God you believe in that we live in a great city like San Francisco.

-The Next Slum? [The]

Ask Us: It was sold, but what’s up? (1474 17th Ave)

Where readers ask and we try to answer:

1474 17th ave was sold on 1/25 for $1mm (3000sqft duplex), but I did not see anything in MLS or any other signs of activity, nor was there any trace of it in the sfnewsletter. Was this a pocket listing? The price seems to be very reasonable, so under what situations would the seller be willing to let it go at that price without inviting any public offers?

Sellers do crazy things sometimes, and maybe that was the price they wanted…a cool million.

Regarding the sfnewsletter question. sfnewsletter pulls data directly from MLS, so if it was not in MLS, it will not be on sfnewsletter’s reports…yet. (For those not receiving sfnewsletter, this is an example of the report this reader is referring to. sfnewsletter does the same report for just sold.)

Beyond that, you’ve stumped us. Maybe some readers know what happened with this property. According to, it did indeed sell as you mentioned, but MLS is empty. Our web is only cast so far. Readers?

And weren’t we just in that area?

Your First Look inside 1575 20th Ave

Not your typical Central Sunset home to say the least. Enjoy being the first to get a look inside this 3 bed, 3 bath, custom built, view home at 1575 20th Ave (website and more pics will be up soon). Asking $1,285,000. This house is SWEET! (yes caps)

The front:


The courtyard:


The back:


The living room:


The Kitchen:


The Hallway:


The Master Bedroom:


The Master Bath (great views from that tub!)


One Guest room:


Our contact info: should you like to go take a look.

[Update: Website is now up,]

Comment du Jour: “I like park benches…”

Because we can’t possibly come up with all this good stuff on our own, and if you’re not in the comments, you’re missing out. This from “Dave” in Octavia boulevard, what happened?

I like the park benches they added right on the edge of the six lane “boulevard” [Octavia at Fell-Market area] where cars exit/enter the freeway. Nothing better than sitting there, inhaling exhaust fumes and contemplating life…


Well Dave, next time light up a fag (cigarette for all you non-Euro speakers), take a walk down the Boulevard, stop in at Blue Bottle, head to this park, and contemplate whether it is the male or female mutt that turns nice green grass brown. That or how such a nice park got ruined in such a short time. But make sure to watch your step, cuz that ain’t the only brown on the ground.

-Octavia boulevard, what happened? [theFrontSteps]

-and here they come: Foreigners buying San Francisco real estate [theFrontSteps]

Ask Us: Converting from Condo to Duplex or Single Family

Where readers ask and we try to answer:

Looking to understand how to change a 2 unit condo (1 building, 2 separate addresses, 1 owner) to a duplex or single family residence.

How this happened: We bought the upstairs, and when the bottom unit became available we bought the bottom unit.

Problem: Now deemed “unwarrantable” because we own more than 50%.

Result: Difficult and expensive to insure-paying commercial rates.

Also, increases interest rates and makes fewer loans available to us for refinancing.

Anyone who knows options, cost involved, pros & cons,please respond.


It’s not everyday we hear of people wanting to convert the other way, but it sounds like you’ll want your first stop to be here ( Then you’ll want to go down to the counter and actually pay them a visit and inquire about what it is you’re looking to do.

Have you thought about selling the downstairs unit, or do you need the space? What about selling both units and buying a single family? Having two separate condos is much more valuable than one “duplex” and possibly even a single family (depending on your location.) It might even be less of a hassle than what you’re thinking of doing. Just a thought.

Condo lottery results were in, who missed out? [theFrontSteps]

Nothing special, just two days on market and almost gone (1914 Filbert #C)

You must be kidding! Two days on the market and already in contract? 1914 Filbert #C asking $1,395,000.


Yours truly tried to sell the middle unit of this building about three years ago, and at that time there were age restrictions on the property (if memory serves correctly). Not sure if they’ve been lifted, but regardless, damn! That was fast.

-1914 Filbert #C [sfnewsletter listing detail]

I AM the greatest real estate agent in the world

Straight up WTF! “Greatest real estate agent in the world-Your name here”. Are you kidding? (Curbed is going to love this one.) It appears there is not actually a contest for who is in fact the greatest, rather who can send the most links. Well it’s working, because we’re linking to it.

First off, I am NOT a REALTOR, but I work with them every day. As I define it great real estate agents are great community builders…so what I am doing is offering a PERMANENT Top 10 post on my blog so you can say you are the GREATEST REAL ESTATE AGENT IN THE WORLD. You will be able to Google the phrase “GREATEST REAL ESTATE AGENT IN THE WORLD” and show potential clients your picture…what a conversation starter! *(NOTE: After the contest, this text will be edited out and ONLY your photos will remain, making you the GREATEST REAL ESTATE AGENT IN THE WORLD or at least one of the top 10!

The top 10 contributors to my TEAM Project win the Title! REMEMBER-Since I do NOT sell real estate, I am only helping YOU promote yourself! WIN-WIN!

Have we not already been through the problem with real estate agents, as we say, “jump claiming”.

Go ahead, click through. Show them who is the greatest real estate agent in the world, then tell us who is the sexiest real estate agent in the world and we’ll really have some fun.

Millennium Tower: Dem some views, eh?

Since we’re on the subject of Millennium Tower, and their apparent record price per square foot, we thought we’d share some more good stuff.

We know, we know… you’ve seen the daytime views from the top of Millennium Tower in the papers, on other blogs, and everywhere else in between, but we all know the true partyers come out at night. Right?

Views towards Berkeley/Oakland (East)


Views towards Marin (Northwest)


Views towards San Jose (South/Southeast)


You can rest assured those views are from, or close to, the top.


Octavia Boulevard: What happened?

If you want to see what’s wrong with planning in San Francisco – and how the city suffers as a result – take a stroll down Octavia Boulevard.A year ago, four empty lots along the way were awarded to architects and developers who won a civic competition.

Neighborhood leaders helped draw up the rules. They praised the winning designs.But today the land’s still empty, and there’s no telling when that might change.

Those fenced-off lots are in limbo – victims of a larger process in which everyone has his own utopian demands, and nobody’s shy about gumming up the works if he doesn’t get what he wants.

Liberal only goes so far before it all goes down hill.

-Larger agendas stall city’s best-laid plans [sfgate]

Is Millennium Tower setting records?

Right when we’re about to fill you all in as to some records the Millennium might be setting (we’re talking price per square foot of an empty shell sold), the Chronicle goes and scoops us (at least we know they’re working). Not to fear, if you’ve been reading theFrontSteps for a while you would have known about this penthouse sale way back in November when we said,

one of those sales is a 60th floor penthouse unit that happens to be 645 feet above ground, with ~4700 square feet of empty shell (meaning the owner can do with the interior as they please), a 580 square foot terrace, views to die for (more on that later), and a $10-12M price tag, or more than $2,000 per square foot. Whether it is true, and whether it is $10M or $12M… we leave to your imagination

Regarding that record, if memory serves our sources correctly, the developer of the Four Seasons sold a unit in shell condition (5700 square feet) for $10M about 6 years ago. That is $1,754 per square foot. Perhaps a more current comparable, but not as high was the 3 units together at the St. Regis, penthouse, with terraces surrounding that sold for $27M and contained 17,000 square feet, or a price per square foot of $1,588.

So if the Millennium penthouse sold for $2,288 per square foot, is that not a record?


-Millennium rising and selling rather quickly [theFrontSteps]

Ask Us: A map of bedrock vs. landfill

Where readers ask and we try to answer:

Can you tell me how I can get a map of all the SF neighborhoods that would show me what areas are bedrock vs. landfill.



Click on image to download PDF.  Areas of Green indicate Liquefaction.  Blue indicate

First, you’ll want to know your Seismic Hazard Zones.

Then, you’ll want to get in there a bit further and really have a look. You can find this map at

Here is another liquefaction map that you can also peruse. This one you can zoom in to street level. Remember, red=bad.

Hope this helps. I’m sure there are some readers that might even know of better maps, so let’s hope they chime in.

Thanks for reading and thanks for asking.

[Update: this high resolution photo taken after the 1906 Quake is amazing.]