Waller Street Skate Park In San Francisco Is Official

It’s official, “funding for the design of this new park” has been approved:


It will be located on Waller just off of Stanyan (think where Haight hits Golden Gate Park on the westernmost end).

Yeah, yeah, yeah…late posting this, but honest to God the real estate market in our world is really busy. It’s a good thing. You missed the skate party, but at least you know the scoop.

SF Parks and Recreation Website

Is It The Price Or The Mold That Brought You Here?

From $138,900 to $49,900 (the magic number) 880 Ashwood Ave, Vallejo, CA was quite simply too good to pass up.

We’re not sure if it was the price that was so eye-catching ($49,900..oh! Too late, it’s “pending”) or the property description:

REO/bank-owned property. Property has mold. Mold inspection report indicates the need for mold remediation for the entire house. Property may not qualify for coventional financing. Seller will give buyer 3% of purchase price to be applied to closing cost. Repairs credit: 0.

Kinda like, “I’ll practically give you my house, but if you ask me to fix anything, take a hike!”

Go ahead, walk around the corner and see what you find:

Regardless, it’s something to note and certainly something to consider, not to mention it got us out of the city for a little walk.

18 Offers On That!!!?

It might not be your cup of tea, but 18 buyers showed up to the recent tea party at 274 De Long (4 bed, 2 bath, Single Family in the “Outer Mission”…as pertains to the SFAR Districts Map…think more Crocker Amazon/Oceanview), and 17 of them will go home empty handed and hungry.



We know what you’re thinking, “Eighteen offers on that!?”

Yeah, we’re thinking the same thing.

Asking price: $336,600, and since we know you’re going to ask, last recorded sale in MLS, 1996 at $185,000.

-274 De Long [sfnewsletter.com listing detail page]

394 Frederick, Before, After, Here And Gone (In Contract After 7 Days): $2,399,000

True, the market tanked. True, average home prices have come down in San Francisco. True, even A+ areas like Noe Valley and Pacific Heights have felt the pinch. False, it is death doom and destruction everywhere. Case in point, 394 Frederick St @ Belvedere in Cole Valley, is an awesome 4 bed, 4 bath, 3173 square foot home that spent a staggering ;-) 7 days on the market (one Sunday Open House, one Broker Tour) and received an offer with non-contingent financing (means they’re getting a loan, but they’re not worried about that loan approval falling apart), the offer is really close to asking, and it’s damn near a done deal.


Call us crazy, but we’ve seen a lot of activity in the market as of late, at all price points.

For those wondering, last sale was in 2005 for $1,755,000 (asking was $1,395,000) but has since undergone a significant remodel, and added roughly 1209 square feet.

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

Living Room Before:

Living Room After:

We’ve long stood by Cole Valley as a better investment than Noe Valley. Is the writing appearing on the wall? Time will tell. Maybe real estate doens’t suck after all.

-394 Frederick [MLS]

Eichler Friday

We love it, and it’s only $660,000! Eichler fans delight in the newest gem to hit the block (outside of San Francisco of course), 104 Golden Hinde Blvd, Terra Linda a 4 bed, 2 bath original condition Eichler ready for you to buy for us. Ahhh, nothing like a few Eichler photos to take you to the weekend
[Update: “Eichler-mania is alive and well. 3 offers on this place before the first open house.”-says someone close to the sale:



As always, you can contact us if you’d like more details. What a cool home!

Get Ur Sub-Urban On, Centex Is Slashing Prices

Big city life burning you out? Dream of owning a McMansion in the middle of B.F.E? Head East young man! McMansions in the hills of Sacramento (or somewhere over there) await, and one of America’s largest home builders is blowing out their inventory! Forget about culture, forget about the city “buzz”, and forget about the prospects of having fresh sushi, or chinese takeout delivered to your door. Forget 3 day heat waves…It’s HOT all Summer long! Buy a big HUGE truck, hop in, load up on fast food, guzzle some gas, enjoy your commute, and relish the deal you scored on that 3000 square feet of extra living space you really never needed, but now you gotta go to the Furniture Barn and buy some big fat brown crappy piece of sh*t sofas and Lay Z Boy recliners, and monster TVs to fill the space. Load up on Costco goods to last until you find where you put the previous Costco run (hint: it’s in one of the four refrigerators you now must own), turn on Nascar, gas up the boat and wave-runners and head for the Delta, because you just bought a slice of the American Dream.


We’ll stick it out in San Francisco, but thanks for the Spam Centex.

[Update: Man, our readers are good!

Country life burning you out? Dream of owning a 1/1 tiny condo w/no parking in the middle of SOMA? Head West young man! Shoddy-built condos in the flats of SOMA (or maybe Van Ness Ave or Hayes Valley or somewhere over there) await, and one of America’s largest condo builders is blowing out their inventory! Forget about the country fresh air, forget about the wide vistas, and forget about the prospects of having fresh eggs / cheese / bread / vegetables of the country close to your door. Forget 3 day heat waves…It’s FOGGY/FREEZING all Summer long! Buy a big NEW (old one doesn’t fit) car (and a $74/yr parking pass, avoid $50 tickets, and still don’t find any parking), load up on $12 hamburgers, squeeze into a MUNI bus and enjoy the frequent-delayed commute, and relish the $850/sq ft deal you scored on that tiny living space you really can’t fit in, but now you gotta go buy a new smaller apartment couch and $1,200 Design (just out of) Reach barstools, replace the working-just-fine-Sears-dishwasher with a often-breaking $1,500 Fisher/Pay(kill) to jazz up the space. Load up on $4 apples from Delisso’s to last a day (to store in your new Fisher/Pay(kill) smaller refrigerator because a standard sized-fridge won’t fit), head out to the Union Street Fair (selling the same crappy expensive posters of random shots of Guatemala as the last 5 yrs of street fairs), gas up the truck and strap on the surfboards (oh, the truck costs another $400/mo to park) and head for the Ocean Beach in your 4.5m wetsuit, because you just bought a slice of the American Dream.]

Ah Zillow, You’re Still Getting All Of This Attention

We’re just going to keep our lips sealed on this and quote the email we received:

I’ve come across several properties for sale where the Zillow page was not accurate. [No Way! Seriously...okay, we couldn't resist.]

I understand if the listing agent doesn’t want to “deal” with Zillow (doesn’t believe in zillow, doesn’t want the zillow liability, doesn’t want/have access etc.), but I don’t understand why a listing agent would mess up the Zillow page by adding one line of information that is not accurate, appropriate, systematic, professional – you name it.

My question to sellers: Do you expect your listing agent to do a good job on the Zillow page? Do you check? Would you specifically request it (written in contract)?

My question to agents: What are your best arguments 1. To stay away from the zillow page of your listing 2. To mess up the page (*) or 3. To update the listing in a thorough and professional manner (with or without the help of the seller).

(*) Mess up= update only part of the information so Zillow will not be able to accuratly record the sale. I’m specifically mad at the description paragraph when using unreadable abbreviations [even though] zillow is free, with unlimited space, and THE place to babble at will about the property (including, but not limited to mentioning the websites related to that listing.)


…holding back all further snarky Zillow comments.

FHA Checklist For Spot Loan Approvals

We get a lot of questions about FHA loans these days, particularly if we know what buildings will qualify for FHA loans in San Francisco. There is a simple answer to that question, “No, we don’t know.” But other people do, and those people are loan experts…mortgage bankers/brokers… and luckily they feed us information to feed to you.

_______ 1. The legal documents of the homeowners association do not contain a right of first refusal or restrictive covenant.
_______ 2. The unit is part of a condominium regime that provides for common and undivided ownership of common areas by unit owners.
_______ 3. The project, including the common elements, and those of any Master Association, are complete, and the project is not subject to additional phasing or annexation.
______ 4. (a) There are no special assessments pending.
______ (b) No legal action is pending against the condominium association, or its officers or directors.
______ 5. The common areas have been under the control of the homeowners association for at least one year.
______ 6. At least 90 percent of the total units in the project have been sold. Verified by _________________________.
______ 7. At least 51 percent of the total units in the project are owner-occupied. Verified by ______________________.
______ 8. There are no adverse environmental factors affecting the project as a whole or individual units .
______ 9. No single entity owns more than 10 percent of the total units in the project. Verified by ______________________.
______ 10. The units in the project are owned in fee simple or the units are held under a leasehold acceptable to FHA. Leasehold in file.
______ 11. The owners association has adequate common area insurance coverage. General liability, replacement coverage, etc. reflects the character, amenities and risks of the
particular development. Flood and other insurances carried, when applicable.
______ 12. General maintenance level of common elements is acceptable and there is no deferred maintenance, based on the comments by the Appraiser and/or the pictures.
______ 13. The owners association has a reserve plan and a reserve fund, separate from the operating account, that is adequate to prevent deferred maintenance. The amount of the fund is $_________ as of __________.
_______14. (a) For projects consisting of over 30 units, no more than 10 percent of the total units are encumbered by FHA insured mortgages. Verified by ___________________.
_______ (b) For projects consisting of 30 units or less, no more than 20 percent of the total units are encumbered by FHA insured mortgages. Verified by _______________.

Simple as that…

-FHA Checklist for Spot Loan Approvals-pdf

When The Mercury Breaks 80 In San Francisco, What Do You Like To Do?

Hello residents of San Francisco and fellow readers! We all know there are many, many reasons to live in San Francisco, the weather usually being one that causes people to flee the city in droves (out of towners, it’s foggy and cold here in Summer). But when we get these nice little heat waves (global warming has been good to San Francisco so far), what is it that you like to do?

We know what we like to do:

What do you like to do? Please share in the comments below, and if you have a picture you’d like us to post, send to thefrontsteps@gmail.com.

[Update: Coming to us via email from "bats":
"Warm days are nice, but warm nights are even more rare, even on the eastern side of the city. Last night was one of the few where we could hang out on the deck and watch our Noe Valley neighbors go about their business in various states of (un)dress."
Thanks for the email and photo "bats". More photos from "bats" on Flickr.]

Enjoy another hot day!

City And Media Pounce, Developer Responds (Mike Krozier, Think One Rincon Hill)

Hullabaloo, hullabaloo, hullabaloo. That appears to be what everybody loves these days (especially when it seems to highlight more economic hardship for anybody…we’d think it easier to claw out of a recession if we shifted our focus elsewhere), and so it is no surprise the city (we’ll call it more the real estate obsessed readers) were up in arms over Robert Selna’s Chronicle Article stating (among other things):

The developer of the new condominium tower that dominates San Francisco’s southern skyline has told The Chronicle that he does not plan to pay the $5 million in fees that were central to obtaining city approval to build the high-rise.


Apparently the Chronicle didn’t get it exactly right…shocker!

From the developer of One Rincon Hill himself:

An open letter to the leaders of the city of San Francisco, Rincon Hill residents, our project partners, and the media:

While it is unfortunate that my discussion with the San Francisco Chronicle was taken out of context and thus reflected inaccuracies, it does provide me with an opportunity to share what has been and continues to be our commitment to both the project and the City. As such, I share the following.

Not only is One Rincon Hill more than 70% sold*, but sales once again are brisk; in fact, sales traffic has been above the pre-crash level (60-100 tours) every week in 2009. We are pleased to report that we have almost fully paid our construction lender and contractors, have no liens against the building and appreciate the unwavering support of our partners. We have not received any funds from the City in any aspect of the development of this project.

We have every intention to complete Tower II, but, as I said publicly months ago, we are waiting for the economy, and the residential real estate market in particular, to turn on the upswing. There is no rush to proceed at this time.

In specific response to the reporting in the San Francisco Chronicle that “he does not plan to pay the $5 million in fees that were central to obtaining city approval to build the high-rise,” this is not my plan. In fact, to date we have paid more than $16.6 million in fees:

Affordable housing in lieu fee (offsite) $11,026,146 (Dec. 2005)
S.F. public school fee $858,448 (Feb. 2006)
Rincon Hill Community Improvement fee $3,162,889 (Sept. 2006)
SOMA Stabilization Fund fee $1,268,306 (Dec. 2005 and Sept. 2006)
Total: $16,615,789

The sole remaining fee to be paid is the balance of the SOMA Stabilization Fee of $13.75 x 393,884 square feet or $5,415,905. This payment is not yet due. The payment becomes due when we obtain a final Certificate of Occupancy (which has not yet occurred); or, alternatively, we can post a letter of credit at that time to delay the payment by 6 months. In other words, we are not in default nor do we intend to be. Furthermore, the developer will not receive any distributions from the project before the SOMA Stabilization Fund fee is paid.

In my typical candor, I shared with the Chronicle the realities of today’s economy on our project – no different from what most every project is the country is experiencing. As we are in the most egregiously difficult financial environment of our times, I am realistically concerned with the burden of this fee. This was the intent of my discussion with the Chronicle, and I am disappointed it was not more clear. That said, we plan to pay the fees when due and proceed onto Tower II of this project which will provide a very singular living experience in a world class city.

Thank you for this opportunity to update our project and our vision.

Michael Kriozere
Urban West Associates

-City fees for One Rincon unlikely to be paid [SFGate/SF Chronicle]

[Editor's Note: No, the tower is not tilted...it's trick photography. ;-) ]

Ask Us: So Why Do I Need A Real Estate Agent?

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

Hey theFrontSteps –

Say I’ve I found a place I love, and they gave me the disclosure package, and I’ve got a bank ready to give me a loan, and I want to make an offer. I’ve talked with agents here and there, but never officially signed with one. Do I need to have an agent to put in an offer?

I know this question is chock full of conflict of interest. As an agent, I assume you’ll say yes, you need an agent. I know that agents are there to protect the buyer, but how do agents work with someone like me who’s already done a lot of legwork?

Your blog is always so candid, I thought if anyone would give me a straight answer, it’d be you.


ps – Feel free to use this as fodder for the blog.

Fodder it shall be, answer you already have, let’s see what some other people have to say.

[Update: For those that have already emailed and are wondering what our original reply was. Here you go:
"You get someone like me to represent you to hammer the other side down in price, terms,etc. Then you get someone like me to make sure that disclosure package covers your ass, and someone like me to help you determine a price, find inspectors, and make sure you ultimately get title to the home. Or you can go it alone, know that the money you think you are saving [on commissions] is actually going to the listing agent’s pocket, you can hope they’re looking out for your best interest, but never truly know, so you might consider hiring an attorney. You hire us for piece of mind and experience to get you through this painful process.

Sorry to be so curt but I’m outta town and reaching for a beer.

It’s kinda like wearing glasses or going for prk [laser correction eye surgery]. I’ll help you see it all clearly.”

Just don’t read this post, and certainly not this post or you’ll be turned off on agents forever.

Some Realtors Are Shady, No Doubt

Man! The stories I have personally encountered within this last week are beyond imagination. Here’s just one thing that has happened to me this week.

-2004 I sell condo in a 30+ unit building, shortly after I sell two more in the same building

-2009 one of the neighbors calls my previous brokerage to ask me to list their condo

-Caller is told I no longer work there and call my new office

-Floor agent at current office, who answers the call, and who shall remain nameless says, “He doesn’t work here.”

-Caller says, “But I was told he does.”

-Shady agent says, “Why don’t I come take a look at your property? I can probably help.”

-Caller says, “No, I’d like to work with Alex as he’s sold a few units in this building.”

-Shady agent says, “Well, I could come over there soon. My office is just around the corner.”

-Caller asks, “Do you know how I can get in touch with Alex?”

-Shady agent continues to push the issue, caller hangs up, calls my past client, he refers her to theFrontSteps.com, she calls me, we chat for 30 minutes about all sorts of things, she tells me the above story, we get a good laugh at some of the slime balls in our industry, and I’ll follow up with her in a month or two to potentially put her condo on the market.

Just some of the fun stuff we respectable agents deal with on a daily basis. Happy Friday!

San Francisco Real Estate Price Declines From All Time High (In A Graph)

We recently did a post on San Francisco’s core districts vs. San Francisco as a whole, and there were some questions that came up. Good thing our source is a data crunching junky and has sent us a new graph.

San Francisco Price Drops Compared to All Time High....CLICK TO ENLARGE

Those are some pretty hefty declines in all areas of the city and this chart is very telling as to where you should be pricing your home if you’re considering putting it on the market. It’s also very telling to show how much more quickly the “non core” districts of San Francisco fell, and how the core took a bit longer to fall, but then it plunged and now all areas are running about the same in terms of decline.

Sometimes we look at these charts and think that would be a fun descent on skis or bike.

-Source: Misha Weidman

Who’s Yo Data!? San Francisco Real Estate Market Statistics Galore

We’re feeding your addiction:

-2 years, Supply Demand Single Family Residence San Francisco
-2 years, Supply Demand Condo SF
-2 years, Sales Rate SFR and Condo/Loft SF
-2 years, Sales Rate SFR SF
-2 years, Sales Rate Condo SF
-2 years, Median Price SFR and Condo SF
-2 years, Median Price, SFR SF
-2 years, Median Price, Condo SF
-2 years, Supply Demand SFR Condo, SF

Don’t know your San Francisco Real Estate Districts? Fear not, Follow this link to be enlightened. This link is always available in our “sites of interest” should you forget to bookmark the page.

Everything on this post pulled directly from the San Francisco Association of Realtors Advantage Online.

Out Of The (Stalefish) Pond And Into The File

When the bottom falls, it falls hard. By way of unplugged Flujster, we learn our new favorite house becomes our new favorite comp. Three thirteen Duncan, a stunningly remodeled contemporary 5 bed, 5.5 bath home in Noe Valley closes escrow for a reported $2,400,000…down slightly from the original $2,850,000 asking price.

Looking on the bright side (for the developer), it only spent 72 days swimming in the Stalefish pond. [In order to reach Stalefish status a property must be on the market 100 days, 313 Duncan was on the market 172 days, so time spent in the pond...72. Prior to that it was just another listing.]

We’ll file this one under Done Deals that make us jealous. Congrats to the new buyers. We make a killer margarita, so don’t be shy.

-313 Duncan…5 bed, 5.5 Bath, closed at $2.4M [MLS]

Ask Us: Should My Agent Advertise On The Real Estate Blogs

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


We have a house in SF that’s been on the market for 3 weeks with minimal activity. Our agent is doing the traditional stuff but no presence on blogs, etc. Should she be using yours and/or other sites to market our house? What are the options/costs? What kind of ROI can she/we expect?


Great question. The short answer, yes…she should have it all over the blogs and social networks. By being on MLS alone it is fed to the biggies (Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc.), but the social networking power of blogs (like this), Facebook, and Twitter should not be ignored.

ROI, no idea, but the costs are negotiable and a few thousand extra eyeballs per week can’t hurt, especially when those eyeballs are browsing the real estate porn of cyberspace.

Good luck. Next time (and tell your friends) when you list with us, your home will be on theFrontSteps until it is sold. No questions asked.

Ask Us: Refinancing And Appraisals, When The Banks Aren’t Helpful Turn To The Blogs!

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

I appreciate all the general information I get from this terrific blog. This is my first question about my own situation.
I’ve been negotiating with the major bank (WellsFargo) that holds my first ($498K) and second ($14K) for a refinance from a 5.5% ARM to 4.75% 30 FRM [Fixed Rate Mortgage]. We paid 10% down and our second -a 5 year ARM is on schedule to be paid off before it adjusts in 12 months.
Our appraisal came back at less than the $625K required to refinance without PMI. Our bank just said “If you want this to go through, you’ll have to bring $28,000 to close.”
Is anyone finding any flexibility for strong credit rated, clear payment history etc? Or is the only way to get a break to stop paying and plead poverty? That would seem self defeating and yet, I’m not finding my bank to be helpful at all.
Thank you for any comments by anyone knowledgeable about this.

Yours truly is not a mortgage expert, and will defer to those that are, as I always do.

It Feels Good To Be A Bad Ass Blog

Although we didn’t win the best real estate blog in the land contest (even though we do run the best Sexiest Realtor Contest in the country), we are apparently popping up on more radar screens than before, and dammit if that just doesn’t feel fantastic.

The newest honor: one of the Top 50 Real Estate Blogs chosen by Bankling.com. Great to be chosen, great to be seen, and great to keep growing our distribution. Thanks Bankling!

Thanks to everyone that continues to link to theFrontSteps, and especially to all of you that continue to tell your friends. Keep it up!

San Francisco’s Core Districts VS. San Francisco As A Whole (Avg. & Median Price Chart)

Thanks to Misha Weidman for the below chart illustrating the difference between San Francisco values as a whole, and those areas he describes as the “core districts” (excludes districts 3 and 10). He will post this to his site soon, with additional commentary, for now, you get the first look at the chart:

and Misha’s brief commentary that came with:

You can see that the results track each other very closely. However, I believe that the chart also confirms that “core areas” have held their values longer and better than the city as a whole, since roughly July 07.

-Misha Weidman’s Blog

So How Much Does A Buyer REALLY Need To Put Down

As our regular readers know, we get every type of question under the sun, most of which we post directly to the site and let the community answer. Sometimes answers aren’t so cut and dry and there are certainly differing opinions. One very common question these days is “How much money do I need to put down” to buy a house. The long and short of it is to plan on 20%, but there are exceptions and we asked a mortgage expert, and generally the rules go like this:

3.5% to 30% –depends on loan amount.

Jumbo loans (greater than $625,000) require 30% down

Loans up to $625,000 require 20% down and smaller than $417,000 are min 3.5% (FHA) down.

Basic guidelines indeed, but something to keep in mind when looking for your home. Remember, these are LOAN amounts, not purchase prices, and any day that $625k limit will be raised to the new $729,750 amount. You can also get FHA loans up to $729,750 and put as little down as 3.5% (we’re told); however, for most condo developments, you are required to put at least 10% down on FHA loans. It’s all really confusing, and if you have more questions, give us a shout and we’ll put you in touch with a mortgage expert. (thefrontsteps@gmail.com)

San Francisco Gets Stung Again: Condo Conversions DO NOT Qualify For Tax Credit

This came through the internets to us, and we thought we’d share:

New Home Buyer Tax Credits-Condo Conversions do NOT qualify

If you handle “New Home” transactions you are impacted by California SB 15, which was passed as part of the California budget and effective March 1, 2009. It provides for a tax credit of up to $10,000 for people who buy a previously unoccupied home and agree to live there for two years.

Update: Condo conversions do NOT qualify since they have previously been occupied.

[Our source] spoke to someone at the Franchise Tax Board today and she confirmed that this is the case. She says they are still working on a validation process, but thought that there were enough inquiries on this issue that they would do something to filter out these applications.

Poor San Francisco. We get the short end of every stick, don’t we?

Think Real Estate? Think Long Term Appreciation

McGuire Real Estate is going web 2.0 with a new website they just launched (the first firm in San Francisco to go 2.0, but others to follow suit we’re sure), and we invite you to check it out. Truth be told, we barely scratched the surface of the site, and already had to poach this graph:

Average [San Francisco] appreciation versus Q4, 2008


Check out their site, check out this graph, and let us know what you think.

12 Offers On One Property In This Market?

The story for 214 Dorland is not something you’d expect to hear in this market. More than 20 disclosure packages were handed out, an offer date was set (on April Fool’s Day no less), and contrary to what most would think, the offers came streaming in…12 of them to be exact.


To counter those that will be quick to jump and say, “The deal hasn’t closed yet,” if this first offer falls out, there are 11 others to fall back on.

Would that mean this two bed, one bath condo in Dolores Park, priced at $629,000 is defying the odds, or starting a new trend? We leave that debate to you, and the powers that be.

[Update: Last sale April 1999 for $745,000 for the entire 2-unit building. The 2-unit building just condo converted this week.]

-214 Dorland, 2bed, 1 bath, $629,000