Condominium For Sale, 199 New Montgomery #1105

Yet another listing to note and check out, 199 New Montgomery #1105 just hit the market and let us tell you…it is sweet! (Additional Details)



This chic, contemporary residence is located in one of San Francisco’s most desirable buildings in an excellent centrally located SOMA block (right across the street from San Francisco’s Academy of Art College). It has one bedroom plus a den, one bathroom, a very open and spacious feel, bamboo wood floors, modern kitchen, great natural light, and one car deeded parking! Price is set at $639,000 and there will be an open house this weekend on Sunday (3/1/2009) from 2-4pm, and every Sunday thereafter until it is sold. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in this great condominium at 199 New Montgomery, please do not hesitate to stop by or contact Alex Clark (alexclark at gmail dot com, 415-254-5351) for details.




[Full Disclosure: The editor of this here insanely popular real estate blog is the listing agent on this property. Big time exposure like this is just one of the perks of listing your home, condo, or multi-unit building with him.]

-199 New Montgomery #1105, 1 bd, 1 ba, 1pk, $639,000 [Listing detail]
-Your editor/agent…what an ugly mug! [Zephyr Real Estate]

Reader Reports: 85 Beaumont Gone Fast (Like In Six Days)

From a reader:

[Eighty-five Beaumont] went for a little under asking.
Lone mountain location.


Good deal?
Lots of pictures.

Maybe you will want to feature it!


PS: I am not an agent.

It’s a good thing you’re not an agent. ;-) Can’t tell you if it is a good deal until you tell us what it’s selling for. Some people’s definition of “a little under asking” is different than others. It looks like a good deal, but maybe it’s actually a great deal.

For those that are wondering, this is a 3 bed, 2 bath home in the very desirable Lone Mountain district of San Francisco. The last recorded sale was in 2001 for $725,000 and today’s asking price is $1,198,000. It has not actually closed escrow as of today, but the status is “pending”, which means things are looking good. It went into contract after six days on the market. That’s not too shabby.

[Update: Sold at asking with $4000 credit to buyer.]

-85 Beaumont, 3 bed, 2 bath, $1,198,000 [Listing detail page]

Adjusting Housing Relief Plans For Bay Area Residents

From SFGate:

‘[Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough] drafted an amendment so that rather than being limited to whether the loan was conforming at time of origination, it will be based on (whether it’s conforming at) the time of (modification), which will take the limit up to $729,750 in high-cost areas. This should make more people in the Bay Area eligible.’

Speier’s amendment addresses an aspect of the plan that encourages mortgage services to modify loans to make them more affordable for struggling borrowers. The modifications are supposed to reduce monthly payments to 31 percent of a borrower’s income for five years; they also could include lowering the principal or refinancing the loan.

The amendment says that loan modifications must be available to loans that are “conforming,” meaning those that can be securitized or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. The conforming loan limit was $417,000 until July 1, 2007. About 60 percent of homes purchased in the expensive Bay Area in 2005 and 2006 were bought with higher-cost “jumbo” loans above $417,000; about 30 percent of homes in California were jumbos in those years, according to MDA DataQuick. The limit is now $729,750 in high-cost regions, including most of the Bay Area.

-A central aspect of the bill, called the “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009,” is a change to bankruptcy law. That controversial proposal, fiercely opposed by the lending industry, would allow judges to “cram down” or reduce the principal owed on mortgages to the home’s actual value.

Wish we would have bought a $1,000,000 house with zero down a few years back. And we wonder if a judge would “cram up” some stock values to be worth what they were when we bought them. Hmmmm…might be on to something there.

To learn more please visit,

-Speier plan would aid refinancing in Bay Area [SFGate]

Over Asking In Oceanview!

It’s a great day in the eyes of Realtors everywhere! Overbids are back, multiple offers have returned (stay tuned for 262 Minerva), and the rain is going to stop. Orrrrrr…maybe not.


The story is becoming all too familiar, and 166 Majestic is no different. This 2 bed, 1 bath, 1000 square foot single family home in the Oceanview district of San Francisco was surely “priced to sell quickly” at $399,900, and sell quickly it did (Days On Market show 90 days, but that is time lag for bank approval of the REO.)

Here’s the bad part for the seller, purchased in 2006 for $699,000…and the good part for the buyer, purchased today for $461,000. Indeed that is 15% over asking today, but 34% less ($238,00) than the last recorded sale in 2006. We keep saying, if you’ve got the funds, the good credit and you plan on staying a while, “it’s a great time to be a buyer”.

-166 Majestic [sfnewsletter listing detail page]
-Oceanview District, San Francisco [

Coming Soon: 613 Peralta (Bernal Heights)

You may have seen this great remodeled, two bedroom, one bath condominium at 613 Peralta in Bernal Heights on the market with another agent recently, well we’re bringing it back…at a lower price.



This is a fantastic condo in an excellent location of Bernal Heights. It is close to Bernal Heights Park, has beautiful East/South East views from the deck, hardwood floors, stainless appliances, remodeled kitchen, one car parking, storage, and great neighbors! It is a small building (4 units), HOAs are low, and reserves are good. As soon as it hits the market we’ll be open every Sunday from 2-4 pm until it sells. It is also available to show by appointment, so tell your friends.

Previously priced at $569,000, we’ll be coming on under that (probably $539,000). We’re wrapping up the marketing efforts, getting photos up, statements ready, and all that good stuff, but if you’d like to get in there sooner, just give us a shout ( Otherwise, look for it to be on MLS the first week of March.

-613 Peralta previous listing details [sfnewsletter listing page]

Dear Chronicle, Keep Your Old Union Bags, We Want The Young Guns

From “Hearst seeks changes at Chronicle”:

The Hearst Corp. today announced an effort to reverse the deepening operating losses of its San Francisco Chronicle by seeking near-term cost savings that would include “significant” cuts to both union and non-union staff.

While it may come as no surprise the world of print media is a dying breed, you might not know that theFrontSteps is, and always was, looking for new writers. So if you feel the urge to drop your San Francisco (real estate) knowledge on us all, we’d love to talk to you.

We also have another project up our sleeve, so if you are interested in writing for something new and fresh, drop us a line (

[Editor's Note: To provide a little tid-bit about your editor, I got laid off from SFGate advertising sales (prior to going into real estate), because I was not union. I've believed since that day, the reason the Chronicle will never be as fresh and vibrant as it could be, is because anytime there are jobs to be shed, they get rid of the new talent and keep the old (those protected under the union). Unions are bad for innovation.]

Stunner: 4356 25th Street Sold Within 15 Days*

This little Noe Valley gem (3 bed, 3 bath, “Mid-Century Modern”, single family home asking $2,579,000) had been burning the candle off the market for quite some time (we showed it to some clients well before it hit MLS), and we thought it was quite a nice house (especially the graduated ceiling).


Maybe it’s not a complete stunner since the sales price comes with an asterisk (means sales price not disclosed), but it is a little bit of a silver lining to this incredibly dark cloud we’re under. (Something tells us we’re going to see more and more of that little asterisk.)

[Editor's Note: Our little "*" in the title means it was on MLS 15 days, but certainly quietly marketed for much more than that.]

-4356 25th Street [listing details]

A Potential Noe Valley Short Sale

There is no way we can share pictures, address, or any real details publicly on this blog, but you can indeed shoot us an email ( if you were previously in the market for 5 bedroom homes in Noe Valley (north of 24th street) around $2,000,000. Principals only.

Ask Us: Modifying Condo Insurance Policy For Refinancing

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


I have been looking at your blog, quite a while, very useful. Thanks for all the work.

I have a question regarding refinancing, and hopefully you or your readers can help me.

I am refinancing with Wells Fargo with a locked 30 year fixed for a condo in SOMA. After all the word processing, Wells asked me for the HOA insurance contact, which I provided.

Now, my loan is on hold and cannot be approved because my HOA insurance was unwilling to add a mortgage clause by Wells. In general, the HOA insurance company only issued the certification for proof that the building is fully covered, no [declaration] page would be issued. (Which make sense to me, as HOA insurance policy covered the building, but not individual unit.) I understand, based on the information I found that some HOA will offer, but some don’t.

So now, here is my question, I have no control over the HOA insurance as an individual owner, I cannot make them issue the [declaration] page that Wells asks for, and Wells is unwilling to accept the certification, which worked in 2008 (my next door refinanced with Wells in 2008 with the certificaiton).

I am wondering whether this is a trick from Wells fargo to reject my loan application or if I should seek the property management/ HOA board to revise the HOA insurance policy? Or even if I should seek legal advice, because Wells is requiring some documentation way beyond my controls and making excuses.


Darn fine question! From what I can understand there is a miscommunication regarding the insurance declaration page? If that is the case, I’d simply work on getting that filled out to the satisfaction of Wells Fargo. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, and you might just be talking to the wrong people at your HOA. If that’s not the case, you’ll have to clarify a bit. Regardless, I do not think you’d have much luck advising the HOA to modify the entire insurance policy for the entire building, and I doubt Wells is playing some kind of trick, but I’ve been known to be wrong.

Maybe “the banker” or another qualified loan expert could shed some light in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your email.

[Update: Answer from "the Banker" that works at one of the remaining large banks and is definitely "in the trenches": "The HOA should not make the decision on adding a mortgagee clause, this should be the responsibility of the Insurance Agent who provides the coverage for the Condo. Part of your HOA fees are paying for the Insurance, so my advice would be to start there, call the insurance company yourself and have them add Wells Fargo as a Mortgagee, this has always been a lender requirement.

Now, perhaps the second part of your post. There have been some radical and rapid changes in regard to condo project guidelines, project requirements, and pricing add-ons. For the sake of simplicity, here are some of the key changes that have implemented, by most, if not all Lenders. One note, these new Rules and Requirements have been issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so direct from the Government agencies.

-Only 10% ownership by one single entity
-No more than 20% commercial usage
-Up to 70% Presale Requirements, new construction
-Price add on’s for Loan to Values above 75%, usually .75 in price, not rate
-Delinquent HOA’s of more than 30 days cannot be greater than 15%
-Owner occupancy requirements, 51% and above

There are exceptions to the rules, but from what I have seen this year, they are few and far between.

I hope this helps and good luck."]

Calling All Prospective Spelunking Home Buyers Willing To Relocate

Cave domicile

Cave domicile

(Not the catchiest headline ever, but hey. It’s apt. If you can come up with a better one I’ll gladly insert it.)

To steal our editor’s thunder a little bit, what can 300K get ya in SF? A one bedroom TIC in the Mission? Well, out in Festus, Missouri, it’ll get you a 17,000 foot custom cave dwelling!

Up for auction, right now, on EBay. It’s a pretty remarkable and Quixotic tale. Check it out:

Festus, Missouri, Cave Domicile

[Editor's Note: Speaking of Stolen Thunder-Zillow Blog]

Ask Us: Can The Bank Take My HELOC?

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

Question for any mortgage experts out there. I have a large heloc line. If I don’t use the line, I am at risk that the bank will decide to take it away. If I use the line (even if I keep it in cash), can the bank call me on it (i.e., slash the line anyway and tell me to pay it back)?

For the readers out there that follow the comments, you’ll know this question came up yesterday, but as we know only about 10% of you actively participate in comments, we thought we’d put this to the front and fish for some more (not necessarily better) answers.

Mortgage experts? This one is for you….

One reply yesterday from our very own “the Banker”

Great question. Draw the money and draw it today. It certainly depends on your equity situation and the neighborhood/city that you live. But, it is far better to pay the interest for a few months as opposed to having the line freeze up. If the lending standards lighten, then perhaps you cost yourself some “mortgage interest,” perhaps a writeoff, unless you exceed the cap.
Until, there is truly resolve, banks will continue to constrict. But, look for my next post, perhaps this housing bill may make a little sense.

Any other experts, please answer in the comments below.

Art Studios Can Be Hockey Rinks Too

It’s for sale ($2,950,000 from an original $3,295,000), or rent ($15,000 per month). It has 3 bedrooms, 5 baths, a wood-burning fireplace…and is that a hockey rink?


It’s not a hockey rink (duh!), but it sure as hell looks like that guy is getting ready for a mean slap shot (or painting with a long roller! Come on, you think we’re that dense?)

-1417 15th Street, $2,950,000 [ listing detail page]

“San Francisco Home And Condo Sales Down Sharply In January”



San Francisco Home & Condo Sales Down Sharply in January

Sales of single-family, re-sale homes and condos fell into double-digit territory last month. The 81 homes and 60 condos sold set record lows since we’ve been keeping track: January 2000.

San Francisco sales of single-family, re-sale homes dropped 38.2% from December, and were off 23.6% year-over-year. Condo sales were down 35.5% month-over-month, and off 45% compared to January 2008.

The median price for single-family, re-sale homes fell 14.2% in January from the month before, and it was down 32.4% year-over-year. The average price was off 11.7% month-over-month, and was down 36.9% compared to last January.

The median price for loft/condos in San Francisco gained 2.1% from December, but was down 9.4% year-over-year. The average price for condos rose 8.6% from December. The average price was down 13.8% year-over-year.

All of this is contrast to the rest of the Bay Area, excluding Marin which is following the San Francisco pattern, where rising sales have been the norm since the middle of last year.


Stolen Thunder: 2712 Broadway In Contract, What To Do?

You gotta love when you pick up some clients in the “price is not an issue” category (thanks to this blog mind you), a good opportunity like 2712 Broadway (7 bed, 5 bath, Gold Coast Single Family Home originally asking $9,495,000, immediately reduced to $7,750,000) comes along while your clients are on vacation and unreachable, and they come back and ask, “What happened?”


We know what we’re doing, what would you suggest?

Do you tell them:
( polls)

-2712 Broadway [ listing detail]

Daily Depression: “Bank Stocks Sink On Renewed Worries”

From the San Francisco Business Times:

Investors’ growing nervousness about the depths of the banking crisis hit shares of major banks that were seen as weathering the financial storm better than most.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) saw its shares hit a new 52-week low, closing at $13.69, down $2.07 or 13 percent.

U.S. Bank (NYSE:USB), with a large Bay Area branch network, also hit a new 52-week low, closing at $10.73, down $1.67 or 13.5 percent.

J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) closed at $21.65, down $3.04 or 12 percent.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) closed at $4.90, down $0.67 or 12 percent.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) closed at $3.06, down $0.43 or 12 percent.

The declines reflect growing concern on Wall Street that the economic downturn may worsen even further than previously expected. The nation’s financial system could be swamped by cascading bad debts from credit cards and auto loans to commmercial real estate mortgages as the recession deepens and unemployment rises.

Adding to the day’s worries was General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler going back with hat in hand to Washington, D.C., seeking billions more from the government. Also not helping matters was the worst showing for the Japanese economy in 35 years in the fourth quarter and concern that the U.S. federal stimulus package might not be enough to spur growth here at home.

Word from Moody’s Investors Service (NYSE: MCO) that some Central and Eastern European countries “have now entered a deep and long economic downturn” sparked concerns about the outlook for European banks with heavy exposure to countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

At least the sun is supposed to come out tomorrow…

-Bank stock sink on renewed worries -SF Business Times

Reason We Live In San Francisco #13 (Friday The 13th Edition)

It is Friday the 13th, and bad things are supposed to happen today. Not if you’re a skier/boarder, and not if you live in San Francisco or the greater Bay Area (of course it’d be better in Tahoe or Utah, but let’s not dwell on that):


That’s seven feet of snow in seven days for Kirkwood, and more on the way! Good to live in San Francisco isn’t it?

Twelve other reasons we live here. Got one? Send it in!

$15,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Trimmed To $8,000

From the Zillow Blog:

Details have not yet been ironed out, but the proposed $15,000 tax credit amendment in the economic stimulus package that was sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson has been trimmed down to an $8000 tax credit, according to the NY Times. This is all very preliminary until the bill is actually signed, but here is the before ‘n after of what’s been thrown around:


  • $15,000 tax credit
  • Available for all home buyers
  • No repayment necessary


  • $8000 tax credit
  • Available for first-time home buyers within certain income limits
  • Repayment? Not known at this time

Details on the bill could come this afternoon or tomorrow, but it is expected to be signed by President Obama by Monday.

Why do they have to put an income limit on it?  That will likely cut out half of San Francisco homebuyers. WTF!

SF BLŪ Introductory Price Reduction

From the marketing team behind BLŪ, San Francisco:

Please note that we are nearly ready to deliver homes at BLŪ on 631 Folsom Street. First though, we need to fulfill a lender commitment to pre-sell 25% of the building. Once we hit that number, we can commence closings. In an effort to reach this 25% sold level quickly, we are lowering prices dramatically until the pre-sale goal is reached.

We have 1000+ [square foot] two-bed/two-bath homes with parking in this 21 story high rise which we are offering starting in the upper $500′s.

The deals will last until our lenders allow closings to begin and then the discounting will end.

Assuming the pricing of our most recent post on BLŪ, that would mean they’re selling homes that were previously “starting from the $600s” now “in the upper $500s”. sfnewdevelopments (found via Curbed SF) is talking 10-20% reductions (previous price in parentheses):

Residence A – starting from $743,000 ($925k)
Residence B – starting from $631,000 ($809k)
Residence C – starting from $622,000 ($799k)
Residence D – starting from $743,000 ($930k)
Residence E – Starting from $575,000 ($739k)
Residence F – starting from $673,000 ($809k)

As you can see, pricing varies depending on the source. Our starting prices for the “E” and “F” plans are significantly different than those sfnewdevelopments is quoting, but we’re not holding it against them. We’re just saying…don’t offer what they’re asking at the sales office, and don’t believe everything you read. Remember, in real estate EVERYTHING is negotiable and it NEVER hurts to ask.

You know what to do for details…drop us a line.

The Montgomery San Francisco Showing The Full Monty By Slashing Prices

We didn’t get a chance to head down to The Montgomery and report back on their coming of the Ox Chinese New Year celebration party, but we can bring you this:


Notice the top right corner of that photo? We’ll give you that extra 1.5% commish back, so don’t be shy getting in touch with us, and/or registering me, Alex Clark, as your agent during your first visit. Feel free to email for details.

Ask Us: Agents Referring Clients To Another Agent In A Different Location, a.k.a Referral

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

Your site is on my daily list of reading and I love contributing in the comments. I had an experience a week back that’s left me wondering about how things work on the inside of the real estate business. I’m not sure what your comfort level would be with the question but you always seem open enough to anything so I’ll ask and understand if you decline. I highly doubt you would post it but I’d prefer to keep the question private [permission was granted prior to this post].

When an agent refers a customer to another agent who covers a different location, example: an Agent in San Jose has clients who decide to look in SF and he refers them to a recommended agent in SF, what’s the average referral fee the new agent pays to the old agent if a purchase or sale is made? Is there a standardized % across the industry, or maybe just if the agents both work for the same company? What if the agents are from different companies?

Thanks for your time, and the great site.

Thanks for the email and thanks for reading!

So as to shed some light on the matter for other readers, what “D” is referring to is actually a very common practice. A sort of passing of the torch if you will. Let’s say, I have a client here in San Francisco that is selling their home, and they’d like excellent representation on par with what I provide ;-) in another part of the country. I, being a Realtor, want to dip my little fingers into every possible channel of revenue I possibly can. Rather than just selling their home here in SF, I’ll suggest I put them in touch with an excellent Realtor wherever they are going. I do some research online, ask friends, find a good Realtor in Kansas, call that Realtor, tell her I have a client and would she be willing to pay me a 25% referral fee, they always say yes (why wouldn’t you), I tell my clients I have the perfect Realtor, her name is Dorothy, I hand my clients off, tap my heels together, and I just found Oz…a 25% referral for doing next to nothing! It’s a great thing, especially when the sales price is high.

All joking aside, in order to answer the question, the referral commish (like everything in real estate) is negotiable; however, it is usually 20-25% of the agent’s commission, not the entire 5/6% commission that comes off the sales price, whether it is the same company (brokerage) or not.

Thanks for your email. Don’t forget to tell your friends about theFrontSteps on your way to out of Dodge.

What Is The Best Way To Get Back With Your Girlfriend That You Just Broke Up With

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Great news for the investors out there. Fannie Mae has lifted the 4 property limit rules for conforming loan qualification. Effective March this year, any investor can obtain up to 10 mortgaged properties, but will certainly need to qualify. Down payment, credit score, and reserves may prohibit. . .but, this really opens the doors up for serious

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property investors. Despite the small percentage of the population that this applies to, it is a big win for the mortgage industry as there has been a “loosening” of the reigns, finally.

Now, a bit of an explanation. . .What’s the deal with a 4506? Basically it gives the lender/bank the right to access a borrowers tax returns for the past three years. These days, mostly all lenders are exercising their right to access this data via the irs(as required by Fannie and Freddie). . .despite the fact that all of the borrower’s income documentation is required for loan approval. It seems a bit repetitive, but today, bank’s will go to extreme measures to protect themselves.