Lolspeak step aside, “Realspeak” is here to stay!

It’s been around for a while, and seems to be creeping in more often, so we’re now officially declaring Realspeak a new language.


Huge reduced! Elegant column front gate & stepping stones lead to this gorgeous&quality rmdled Merced Manor hme. Hugh Gourmet chefʼs ktchn w/island,hi-end stnless steel applnces,granite cntr,chrry cbnts & blt-in wineculr.3bd/2.5ba upstairs w/jaccz & shwr. Downstairs hugh&bright fmly rm w/deck plus 2br/2ba&lndry rm. All 5 br are M suites,2 jaccz. All nu windws,2 S/S pkg grages. Near great schools,Stonestown Galleria,YMCA,MUNI,EZ access to Freeway. This great detched home almost has it all!

We literally cut and pasted those marketing remarks directly from the listing. Not one editor’s change has been made.

-485 Eucalyptus Dr. [listing detail]

Wondering about the recently signed Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008?

So are we, but we found some answers:

H.R. 3221, the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008,” passed the House on July 23, 2008, by a vote of 272-152. On Saturday, July 26, 2008, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 72-13. The President signed the bill on July 30, 2008. The bill includes the following provisions:

* GSE Reform – including a strong independent regulator, and permanent conforming loan limits up to the greater of $417,000 or 115% local area median home price, capped at $625,500. The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).

* FHA Reform – including permanent FHA loan limits at the greater of $271,050 or 115% of local area median home price, capped at $625,500; streamlined processing for FHA condos; reforms to the HECM program, and reforms to the FHA manufactured housing program. The downpayment requirement on FHA loans will go up to 3.5% (from 3%). The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).

* Homebuyer Tax Credit – a $7500 tax credit that would be would be available for any qualified purchase between April 8, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The credit is repayable over 15 years (making it, in effect, an interest free loan).

* FHA foreclosure rescue – development of a refinance program for homebuyers with problematic subprime loans. Lenders would write down qualified mortgages to 85% of the current appraised value and qualified borrowers would get a new FHA 30-year fixed mortgage at 90% of appraised value. Borrowers would have to share 50% of all future appreciation with FHA. The loan limit for this program is $550,440 nationwide. Program is effective on October 1, 2008.

* Seller-funded downpayment assistance programs – codifies existing FHA proposal to prohibit the use of downpayment assistance programs funded by those who have a financial interest in the sale; does not prohibit other assistance programs provided by nonprofits funded by other sources, churches, employers, or family members. This prohibition does not go into effect until October 1, 2008.

* VA loan limits – temporarily increases the VA home loan guarantee loan limits to the same level as the Economic Stimulus limits through December 31, 2008.

* Risk-based pricing – puts a moratorium on FHA using risk-based pricing for one year. This provision is effective from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009.

* GSE Stabilization – includes language proposed by the Treasury Department to authorize Treasury to make loans to and buy stock from the GSEs to make sure that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae could not fail.

* Mortgage Revenue Bond Authority – authorizes $10 billion in mortgage revenue bonds for refinancing subprime mortgages.

* National Affordable Housing Trust Fund – Develops a Trust Fund funded by a percentage of profits from the GSEs. In its first years, the Trust Fund would cover costs of any defaulted loans in FHA foreclosure program. In out years, the Trust Fund would be used for the development of affordable housing.

* CDBG Funding – Provides $4 billion in neighborhood revitalization funds for communities to purchase foreclosed homes.

* LIHTC – Modernizes the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to make it more efficient.

* Loan Originator Requirements – Strengthens the existing state-run nationwide mortgage originator licensing and registration system (and requires a parallel HUD system for states that fail to participate). Federal bank regulators will establish a parallel registration system for FDIC-insured banks. The purpose is to prevent fraud and require minimum licensing and education requirements. The bill exempts those who only perform real estate brokerage activities and are licensed or registered by a state, unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator.

-National Association of REALTORS® Summary of Key Provisions of H.R. 3221 – The Housing Stimulus Bill (as of 7/30/08 ) []

Installing ultra low-flow toilets at point of sale

We recently caught wind (through Realtor Advantage Online) that

As reported almost two years ago, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission is planning to propose an ordinance that would mandate the installation of ultra low-flow toilets in residential properties at point of sale (i.e., before properties are sold).

[A] former aide to soon-to-be Senator Leno, is working with the PUC to resurrect the ultra low-flow toilet point of sale ordinance. The Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the subject in the coming months.

Are you shitting us!?

Changing the SFAR district map, speak now or forever hold your peace

We love to share the inner workings of our real estate system with you, and especially love to give you a voice, so we’ll consider YOUR comments on this thread as OUR voice and forward the entire link to the San Francisco Association of Realtors for review.

The District/Subdistrict Map published by the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® needs to be reprinted… [M]arkets are elastic and can change over time for a variety of reasons. As such, it would be appreciated if, in the next few days, readers of this publication will review the existing map, particularly the boundary lines of the districts and subdistricts, and advise [us in the comments] of any changes [you] might wish to suggest.–SF Realtor Advantage

NOPA and other ‘hoodies, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Quote du jour: “…as the gas prices go up…”

Every so often we have to take from email conversations and post to the site. This from a recent email exchange we had with a client that just recently purchased an A+ unit in an A+ location right about when the market started to turn (south).

Despite the gloom and doom, we friggin’ love where we live, wouldn’t change a thing. We just laugh as the gas prices go up and make our location that much more valuable!

You see, some people just get it.

You like dags? “Sexy, dog-friendly” condo awaits (1944 Green St.)

Ahhhh…San Francisco real estate is so much fun isn’t it? Our market is inundated with agents (4000+ at last count), there’s a growing number of real estate bloggers out there trying to separate themselves from the pack, and the amount of Realtor “marketing” hitting our Inbox is out of control. We like to call this RealSpam, and today’s little nugget reminded us of a line in one of our favorite movies…“Snatch” (The line isn’t actually on any clip we’ve found, but it’s where Brad Pitt turns and asks “you like dags” in the heavy pikey accent.)

“Sexy, Dog-friendly Condo one block off Union Street”


[You gotta love that peak-a-boo Golden Gate Bridge view.]

The moral of this story, 1944 Green was just reduced in price to $1,695,000 and the marketing has turned to the canine loving crowd. (Whether or not a building accepts dogs is actually a very common question when selling condos, but we’re not sure it needs to be the focal point. Of course, if it’s not selling, why not try.)

Hold on….this listing has more story. It is the first we’ve seen where we will learn (without getting into contract) what the sellers will miss most about their home…


Our favorite line…”Practically no stairs or drama coming in and out of home with my belongings”.

And for you to debate…”Green Street is like living in the palm of the hand of Pacific Heights-flat, gentle, yet still spectacular”.

Finally, this goes to show that if you select and track homes that were previously out of reach or just a pipe dream, every dog has its day, and yours might be just around the corner.

-1944 Green [listing detail]

An apples to apples in Sunnyside? It looks that way.

519 Foerster sold for over asking and 75K more than it last sold for in 2005.

(Here’s the link, 519 Foerster not [editor is back in town] cleaned up):

It looks like there was a paint job, and maybe a new floor in the kitchen, maybe not. The 2005 listing advertises a “new home.”

This would seem to go along with the theory I and a number of others subscribe to. The “pockets” theory that there are neighborhoods throughout the city that continue to see appreciation. One of the most surprising and most glaring is the Inner Richmond more parkside properties. But I think Sunnyside/Miraloma Park is another. This one fetched 616 a foot.

– Kenneth (KJ) Kohlmyer a k a der fluj

“The MLS is an unfair monopoly” — but is it?

I posted this yesterday but it really should have gone in its own thread:


The MLS isn’t just “what sold and when.”

If you think about it, all the information is available to anybody. It’s just that the MLS stores and categorizes the information in a particularly useful way. Now, since the information is available, why should the database that categorizes the free information be free to everyone?

I don’t think it should. This is a private trade group’s search tool and publishing tool. It now works pretty well, and only after years of trial and error, input, quarterly fees, etc.

Like, if the public wants to know what sold, then OK. Let them be able to see what sold. (Even though other databases also will share this information, such as cleanoffer.) But the radius search or polygonal search — why should a trade group have to share technology?

It’s pretty weird. People don’t really get it, I think.

Or, and I hear this argument frequently too, “But you can use the MLS to view sales by districts and we can’t.”

“Districts” — districts are nomenclature created by the SFAR. In reality they are neighborhoods. Yet it’s an unfair monopoly that a private trade group categorizes free information with nomenclature it created?

I don’t see people clamoring for unlimited access to Yahoo or Google’s publishing tools, nomenclature, or statistics. Aren’t they basically the only games around these days? Isn’t that unfair?

Capitalism is unfair. And these aren’t even monopolies. The MLS is no monopoly. Cooperating assocations can access one another’s data. So can any individual who joins and pays for it. True monopolies don’t let anyone in.

I dunno. I think people just like looking at stuff on the ‘net.

It isn’t as if agents are privy to how much a particular property is going to sell for while it’s in contract very often. And that’s what people really want to know!


– Kenneth Kohlmyer a k a der fluj

New data coming soon…

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Check it out! As Realtors, we get a nifty little report (Advantage Online) sent to us from the very San Francisco Association of Realtors we sometimes criticize. (Hey! We’re allowed to vent.) And like countless other real estate blogs in SF, we bring some of the data to you.

Well, SFAR has teamed up with Terradatum and will be modifying the “fast facts”, and we’ll be bringing the new version to you.

Follow the break to read the details on the new “fast facts”… Continue reading

Dear San Francisco Realtors: Loving your “token code” gizmo or what?

This question is geared towards the San Francisco Realtors reading this site, and we’re hoping to get some responses, a sort of online petition if you will. (You can comment anonymously by entering for email, and whatever name you choose.)

We want to hear it. Is this contraption we’re forced to keep at the ready in order to access MLS really helping protect data, or just a pain in the a$$? We find it particularly annoying , but wonder if we’re alone.

All in favor of keeping this gizmo say “aye”. All opposed say “nay”! [We say nay.]

For the general public a brief explanation: Just like any site, (San Francisco Association of Realtors MLS) has a login requirement of username and password. However, they take it one step further requiring us to actually have in our possession the most recent “code” from this gizmo that we enter along with our username and password. This code changes every minute, so if you happen to look at the code and it changes in the middle of entering it into the field, you get denied, and must start all over. If you don’t have the gizmo at the ready, you are granted some freebies while logging in, but MLS really discourages it. Once you get all the stars to align you’re let in, but should you let the page idle for too long without action, you get kicked out and have to do it all over again (that’s another discussion altogether). We could go on, but will stop there.

So…Realtors? You loving this gizmo, or what!?

[Update: Should you want to pass this post on to your colleagues, click the post title, right click copy, right click paste where you need to, and off you go...]

Letter to the Editor: “$2+ million on 22nd between Valencia and Guerrero (3373 22nd St)” and some East Bay insight

Part 1:

We noticed it [3373 22nd Street] hadn’t had a Sunday open in a while, but rather than a pending or sold sign outside – we noticed the sign was just gone yesterday. It isn’t on the public mls as in contract – it just isn’t there. You know the scoop?

We are dying to know the final sales price. It was our perfect house in our perfect location – but a very unperfect price. So it wasn’t just the price – it was the price plus the people who were squatting in the house before the developer bought it, who still like to hang out around the house. For 2 + million – I don’t want to regularly have to ask the neighborhood characters to loiter elsewhere.

Now, we don’t know for certain which property you’re talking about, but imagine you’re talking 3373 22nd St, so we’ll go ahead and assume.

According to MLS it closed on 7/10/08 for a sales price of $1,950,000 (original asking was $2,095,000, originally listed 5/1…love that day!), and we heard the buyer represented himself (mls states the same). Last sale was 11/05 for a sales price of $920,000 and has definitely been fixed up since then.

Part 2:

And while I’m asking – I’ll give you a bit of insight from the east bay. We were supposed to close yesterday on our house in Oakland – only the bank hasn’t delivered loan docs yet. We have a jumbo loan and found the very last bank willing to do a 20% loan. Everyone else wanted 25% down or ridiculous rates. There is no problem with the loan – the bank is just backed up. We likely won’t close until sometime next week and the sellers are rolling with it. I was fully prepared to have to beg and plead for them not to walk – but we are hearing from our agent that a lot of deals are closing late. Is it the same over there?

Deals closing late, or the begging and pleading? We’re seeing a bit more of both. ;-)

Thanks for the insight on the East Bay, thanks for your email, and thanks for reading!

Ask Us: My boss is looking to “find a nice place to rent for his family”

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:

Where can my boss find a nice place to rent for his family [includes 10 year old son] where they won’t be the only parents in their neighborhood?

Our answer…are you kidding!? This is a loaded question, so we’re going to go ahead and link to the most detailed SF map we’ve ever found online, and you readers can feel free to throw darts at it claiming the best neighborhood for a family with a 10 year old son. It’s probably not going to be La Mission, and we certainly expect to hear some Noe Valley Neighbors chime in, but will we hear from the Western Addition, or Bayview/ Hunters Point crowd?

We all want to know. As for where to find that rental, like most, we’d suggest Craigslist.

Thanks for the email. Readers?

-San Francisco’s coolest neighborhood, La Mission, hands down [theFrontSteps]

-Sad chapter in Western Addition history ending []

Price it (real, real) low, and away we go …..(251 Arkansas)

I knew this one would go superfast. You have to wonder if it wouldn’t have gone almost as fast if it were priced at 850K, tho. Anyway, anyone else see this property? It got into contract instantly.

A two car garage, north slope Potrero Hill, with a 25 X 100 foot lot, for 679? Simply fax your offer to the 678 area code? Well somebody didn’t mess around. Still tho — this is some 2006 type stuff right here!

-Property Details, 251 Arkansas [sfnewsletter listing detail page]

– Kenneth Kohlmyer a k a der fluj

“Mortgage market weathers storms” – SFGate

Did we read that headline correctly? Is that quite possibly the first headline in over two years about the housing/mortgage market that doesn’t spell disaster? Or is it the shot of Tequila and can of Tecate (a bit of lime squeezed in and a touch of salt on the rim) talking?

Home loan applications are up, interest rates are down and financing continues to be approved, according to national data and local mortgage brokers.

The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.26 percent last week, down from 6.37 percent the previous week, according to Freddie Mac.

Mainstream media is getting soft! We kind of like it. But then you had to go ruin our party:

None of this is to say that the mortgage market has returned to normal. It is still far more difficult to qualify for a loan than it was before default rates shot up last summer, underwriting guidelines are in a continual state of flux and the housing market remains in a deep slump.

The number of homes sold in the Bay Area during June was the lowest for the month since 1993, down 9.9 percent from a year ago, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Across the nine [Bay Area] counties, the median price paid for all home types plummeted 27.1 percent to $485,000, slipping under the half-million-dollar mark for the first time in four years.


-Mortgage market weathers storms [SFGate]

43% over (asking) on 2190 Broadway 9W ($5,000,000)

Just a bit busy, so this from today’s sfnewsletter:

“Hi Alex,

I just heard a rumor that 9W at 2190 Broadway asked for $3.45M and closed for $5M. An overbid of 43%?”

Rumor mill says…TRUE! Also true: that puts the price per square foot of this condo that “needs updating” at $1,562.50; HOA dues are $2254.50; Days On Market 39; built in 1973; 3200 square feet; and one parking space.

Happy Friday!

-2190 Broadway 9W [listing details]

Sophie Says: “Silicon Valley [real estate] is bullet-proof”

Well, our frequent reader and commenter, Sophie, doesn’t really say it, the article on does, but she tipped us off, so we’re passing it on.

And yes, we still focus on San Francisco real estate, but find ourselves looking more and more that way (San Jose/Penisula), and receiving more and more tips from there, so why not talk about it. Half of our residents work down there anyway.

Unlike other California markets that have been battered by foreclosures, real estate in Silicon Valley, part of the pricey San Francisco Bay area, has remained relatively strong and has been buoyed by the job growth in the technology sector and some of the highest salaries in the nation. The subprime problems that have vexed other parts of California have been relegated to parts of San Jose and to the outskirts of Silicon Valley. The towns with the best schools, including Palo Alto, Woodside, Los Altos Hills, and Cupertino also tend to have the most robust markets.

Please don’t go moving there. The city is more fun.

Ask Us: “changing my original single pane windows…”

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:

Hi Alex,

Thinking about changing my original single pane windows and wanted to get advice from people with experience. I’ve heard of Andersen, Millgard, Marvin, Lowen, Pella… does it really make a difference? Andersen claims to be the only “Green certified” window company, and the oldest at 100+ years with the most patents. What about them? I’ve asked 3 different people, and they went with three different brands.

With the Fibrex material, it’s a composite of wood and polymer. Should I replace wood with more wood, which just rots, or new technology that should have better insulation and sound reduction?

All thoughts welcome!

Window Man

Unfortunately, your editor has to defer completely to the readers on this, as I have absolutely no experience with this matter. Anyone else care to help? I know there are some contractors online.

“…all this posting of properties on blogs just complicates things.”

Says Realtor to us after not disclosing to him the address of a pocket listing [off market deal] we had known about. (This after his client contacted us directly interested in the property, and the selling agent made us swear on our grandmother’s grave not to disclose the address [publicly online] to anyone in order to post to our site.)

I have to ask, what does it complicate? You missing out on a deal, or your clients knowing about off market deals before you (essentially knowing more than you)? They already have complete access to MLS, so why not bring them the growing number of off market opportunities too?

It’s called transparency, social networking, and the power of the internet. Get used to it, and plan on losing some clients in the future. You almost lost one, but you’re lucky he’s loyal to you.

[Explicative removed citing poor judgment and bad choice of word.] (You know who you are, and we hope you’re reading this.)

Ask Us: How can I replace my real estate agent?

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:

Earlier this year I looked at a property with a partner and traded a few emails with another agent who I had worked with on a home purchase in the past. He provided cursory input on comps, reviewed a very preliminary design, but I always got the feeling that he had better things to do. The service just wasn’t there.

So the question is:

How do you effectively replace an agent/broker on a deal before an offer is made? Are there commission issues and hidden costs which need to be addressed?

We’re assuming you are being represented as a buyer? If that is the case, unless you signed a specific “buyer’s broker agreement” or something of the sort you can simply walk away. There shouldn’t be any hidden costs or commissions. The agent may try to get something out of you or the other agent in the way of “referral fees”, but unless there is an agreement in writing, you can pretty much walk away. You might tell them you’re walking away out of courtesy (emails work, phone calls are better), but that is up to you.

Good luck!

Technology and Real Estate: N-Play (make an offer)

We’re constantly on the lookout for new companies/technologies that might alter the scope of the current real estate system and this latest press release we received from N-Play might have something to offer.

The concept is simple, agents get listings and add the “N-Play” button to the online listing, buyers make offers on properties by clicking the button, offers are non-binding and anonymous, sellers negotiate directly with the buyers online (hopefully multiple buyers), the parties reach an agreement, the agent comes in to shuffle some papers, buyers get keys, seller gets money, everyone’s happy. Simple enough, and brilliant at the same time. It’s the simple things in life……

For the full press release read on: Continue reading

Walkabout: Los Altos edition and a $7M price reduction (12335 Stonebrook Dr.)

Since we’re on the subject of million dollar price reductions (some more honorable and accurate than others), we got that Wanderlust in us again and couldn’t help but bring you 12335 Stonebrook Dr. (For more detailed pics go here.)

“This magnificent home is one of the greatest estates in California” (and they just hacked the price $7M from $45M to $38M, so you’re in luck!)


“architectural masterpiece that is said to have played host to presidents and kings, movie stars and celebrities…” (“Said”? What exactly does that mean?)


“Outdoor Activities” (Canon balls, back flips, swan dives, Marco Polo, Fish out of Water…)


We could go on and simply repost all of the pictures here, but that’d be silly now wouldn’t it. You must absolutely check this place out. It is not to be missed for all of you real estate porn addicts. And of course, should you have $38,000,000, you know where to find us in order to get the keys. ;-)

-Decker Bullock Website with property details

“Price reduced 1,000,000″ (1919 Page)

Has Realtor to Realtor marketing (spam) reached a new low in order to get fellow Realtors to open their property emails? Just yesterday, we (and likely all of San Francisco Association of Realtors members) received an email with the subject, “Price reduced 1,000,000″ on the property located at 1919 Page (“now” asking $1,095,000) in the Haight Ashbury district.

Upon further research (in MLS) we found 1919 Page to have a DOM of 0 and no “property history”, 1921 Page to have recently (Nov ’07) sold for $1,075,000 (asking $949,000), and no record whatsoever of the entire building being for sale at the moment (the only thing we could think of to explain a $1M price reduction on a condo worth only ~$1M in the first place.)

So what gives? Did one of the most productive agents in San Francisco just stoop to a new low, or can we chalk it up to a typo?

What do you think, because we sure as hell can’t figure it out?

-1919 Page [detail page]

Ask Us: How sound is our building as it relates to earthquakes

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:


I own a building with 4 other people here in San Francisco and we need to get good advice on how structurally sound our building is re: earthquakes. I want to be able to trust the opinion and not be concerned with getting an opinion skewed to make them money in the retrofit. I’m hoping you can suggest a few names/companies. Basically I’m looking for an inspection (willing to pay for it) like a contractors inspection, only exclusively as it relates to earthquake soundness and we would like a report with specific suggestions on how to move forward.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Let’s see if the community can shed some light. If not, you’ll see an answer from us shortly both here online and in your inbox. Thanks for the email.

Sub $400k TICs, Realtors’ hourly wages, and a choice between three

San Francisco real estate just keeps on throwing curve balls our way, as do our totally awesome readers. It would also appear theFrontSteps has highlighted three sub $400k properties this week alone! That has to be a record. This one from “AMinSF”:

TICs anyone?

Note the DOM (Days on Market)- 451!!!!! That’s insane! I looked at that project when it came out, they were not bad 1 BR units with tandem parking per unit. I think 3 out of 4 sold w/in 4-5 months, so why would the last one be such a dog? Ouch.

That project is 2671 Bryant. The link does not show the DOM, but AMinSF is right on. To provide a little more history, the original asking price was $454,500 (now $399,388), and it appears (according to MLS) to have been in contract around January 14th, 2008.

We thought maybe you’d like to see the hourly wage earned for this Realtor, on this unit, should it sell today at asking, assuming a 2.5% commission. But then we figured there are so many ways to slice that pie, we’d rather see what you come up with.

Or, if you’re not a math whiz, maybe you’d rather tell us if you’d prefer this sub $400k condo on Monterey, this sub $400k condo at 888 Seventh Street, or the sub $400k TIC mentioned in this post here? We know “Garrett” would like to know.

All things to ponder, discuss, and debate on a Friday. We look forward to your responses. Have a great weekend!

-Sub $400k at 380 Monterey (#101) [theFrontSteps]

-888 Seventh Street, 85% sold and looking for your $399,000 [theFrontSteps]

-2671 Bryant [sfnewsletter listing detail]