Renaming San Francisco Neighborhoods (Little Hollywood Gets The Nod)

Some of the new monikers have bubbled up from popular culture, others have the whiff of real estate marketing euphemism, and some are a return to names that stuck despite trendsetters’ efforts to change them.

Since Realtors have been given the power to rename some of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, we thought we’d share the one we think could most increase property values in that area, by name alone:


You too could be neighbors with the stars and you no longer have to go to Los Angeles to do so. Imagine that!

-SFGate Map Mashup for new ‘hoods []
-Familiar S.F. Neighborhoods gain new names []

Parking Love Letters, San Francisco Style & The Red DPT Curb

Judging by the hand-writing, we’d say the author of this love letter was female, approximately 38-45 years old (not a Cougar), mother of….we’ll say two, likely drives a Volvo or Mercedes “SUV”, we’re thinking blond hair, light colored eyes, ponytail, and definitely not the life of the party. You?


Happy Friday…somebody needs a f*cking cocktail!

[Editor's Note: According to a follow up email from the person that sent the "love letter", the car was not blocking the driveway like this, but was apparently "not even hanging over one inch into the drive, but definitely blocked the 1 foot of red DPT paint on the curb."]

[Update: The discussion has begun, and if you'd care to comment on more than this love letter...specifically whether the red DPT curb (fake or not) can have legal implications, you're cordially invited to join in.]

Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian Home In Forest Hill (One San Marcos)

We were fans at Usonian, but if you must…the whip cream on top:


Polished concrete floors; radiant heating; chef’s kitchen; custom walnut cabinetry; multiroom sound system; remodeled bath with handcrafted Heath tile; Sub-Zero refrigerator with glass front; Viking convection oven; Miele range; 2,344 sqare feet all on one level; two car side-by-side garage.


Some history on Usonian, and what you need to know from Wikipedia:

‘Usonian’ is a term usually referring to a group of approximately fifty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1936 with the Jacobs House.[2] The “Usonian Homes” were typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage, L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on odd (and cheap) lots, and environmentally conscious with native materials, flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling, natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes. The word carport was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for a vehicle to park under. Variants of the Jacobs House design are still in existence today and do not look overly dated. The Usonian design is considered among the aesthetic origins of the popular “ranch” tract home popular in the American west of the 1950s


Let’s not forget the price and link to more Usonian property picture porn: One San Marcos, $1,590,000.

We look forward to your first fireside chat (we promise to wear our best mid-century ski sweater, and mix some tasty margaritas!) [property website]

From Fractional To Full And Almost On: 181 O’Farrell #513 @ Odeon $2,349,000

It was years ago when we broke the news of a luxury fractional ownership in the heart of San Francisco, and here we are again. The Odeon is back on the screen and the penthouse is coming to an MLS near you (assuming you live in or near San Francisco).


The fractional ownership of this unit went “pending” in March 2008 at $375,000, but never did hit “sold” status. The pictures are the same then as now, so we’re wondering what exactly is the deal.


It will soon be on MLS for $2,349,000 and available for all to see. Until then, you’ll have to take our word that it’s a pretty darn sweet pad, so if you can picture yourself living down in the heart of San Francisco and wished you could get one of the units without the annoyance of fractional ownership, your day as come. And if you can’t picture yourself there, maybe this little floorplan photo can help.


So many excellent homes and neighborhoods in San Francisco…what are we supposed to do!?

-181 O’Farrell, 3 bed, 2 bath, $2,349,000…and coming soon []

Claude Oakland Designed Mid Century Eichler In Marin

Oh if we had time to publish these things when they’re hot off the presses. Oh well, we’re still fans of all things architecture, especially when Eichler is involved, so we’ll throw them up for your delight. Coming soon to the Lucas Valley (Marin) real estate market (and what we’d almost consider an epicenter of Eichlers), 26 Oak Mountain Court.


It’s a rare gallery model Eichler designed by architect Claude Oakland, which has been extensively remodeled and expanded to reach 2,400 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, and 3 full baths. This home was featured on the American Institute of Architects home tour and is truly spectacular inside and out (and the cycling down the road is nothing short of world class).



The home will be priced at $1,550,000, is not yet on the MLS, and of course, we can always get you in early.

-26 Oak Mountain Court [Renee Adelmann]

Cole Valley Sales Too Low To Count, But Area Remains Strong Nonetheless

From the author of these graphs:

The monthly sales data for Subdistrict 5E (Cole Valley/Parnassus/Ashbury Heights) is so low that running percentage declines off of median values, as I did for Noe Valley, would have been worthless. As several of your readers and I myself pointed out, it’s hard to draw conclusions when there are very few data points.

Instead I ran the percentage declines off the “95th Percentile” value, which the statisticians among your readers will know means that 95% of the sales fall below that value. Hence, it represents a “high”, while excluding the potentially aberrational top 5% of values.

After looking at this chart, I sort of threw up my hands. With only 179 sales in over 6 years, it’s not sensible in my view to draw conclusions about monthly trends in Cole Valley, let alone to compare them to Noe Valley, where the “core” area alone — Subdistrict 5C (Noe Valley) — had over 900 sales during the same period.

So I re-ran the numbers and calculated medians based on annual sales. The second chart shows the results. I think this is much easier to understand. Again, with so few sales, one should be careful about drawing any conclusions, and with only 5 sales in 2009 so far, I think it’s too early to conclude that the apparent drop in median prices for 2009 will continue to be accurate. Rather, I’d say that Cole Valley seems to have been holding up pretty well.

And we’d have to agree and argue this is yet another reason why Cole Valley is superior to Noe Valley…



Thanks again to Misha Weidman for the charts and analysis. Good to have a data geek on staff. ;-)

Ask Us: Why The Obsession With Price Per Square Foot?

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

Yes – people are obsessed with cost per square foot – why or why shouldn’t we concern ourselves with that statistic?


Thanks for the email.

Price per square foot in San Francisco and around the country, hell the world for that matter, is an obsession because it is the simplest way to quantify how one home may or may not be better than another or how they compare. It is a way to gauge the popularity (desirability) of an area as well (higher price per square foot in an area can fairly accurately be associated to its popularity). It’s basically a good barometer of value and something that should definitely be considered when looking at values of homes or when considering buying or selling a home in a certain location. However, in San Francisco it should definitely not be the deciding factor as every home is different, and if going off of tax records, square footage in San Francisco and public records are anything but accurate.

That said, it is a much more reliable and useful tool when buying/selling a condominium where many of the units are identical in size, amenities, and features, and something you should seriously take into consideration.

Hope this tiny bit of information helps. Maybe some other readers can shed some light?

Ignorance Is Bliss When Buying At The Ritz

Live below the big red curvy arrow!We know there are many of you out there sad at the fact you may have missed out on Ritz-Carlton Residence #2203 when it came on the market at $2,600,000 over two Stalecades ago. You may have been sad then when you missed out on the price reduction after price reduction down to the most recent list price of $1,998,000. We know, we know…more than $1300 per square foot to live in the same building as a YouTube founder, or Crocs founder just sounds so cheap and you missed your opportunity. The two bedroom (we’re calling it one bedroom with a sliding wall to make two), two and one half bath luxury residence in the sky is something to behold, but it’s gone. Off the market.

Psyche! It’s coming back! It’s gonna be back on the market and you, dear luxury buyer, best do your homework, because we’re told it is coming back on the market around $2,225,000 (give or take a couple thousand bucks)! Yes, that’s right. Your chance is here to buy it for more than the previous list price in a down market where high end luxury is getting hammered. Home Owners dues are low, only $2400/month, and the price is climbing on this listing to be, so give us a shout and we’ll get you in there before the rest of the masses clambering for an over-priced slice of pie in the sky.

For the record, it is a beautiful unit in a great building and there are other great units for sale (and motivated sellers), we’re just not so sure bringing Unit #2203 back on the market at a price higher than the previous list price that didn’t sell is such a good idea. (Good way to get a listing though.) Of course, if someone is not doing their homework and they don’t check the property history (think Shady Agent tactics), there will be no harm done (ignorance is bliss, really). Otherwise, consider yourself educated, and tell your friends we almost always have the inside track to San Francisco real estate, and we’ll make sure your ass is covered.

-[Editor's Note: One Stalecade is equal to one property that has been on the market 100 days or more. Stalefish + Decade = Stalecade. Therefore, a property on the market over 200 days has survived two Stalecades...a stretch in terms, but we're running with it.]

Off Market Ocean Views

If it is ocean views that you covet (the views below actually do exist in San Francisco), or you’re searching for that perfect San Francisco surf pad, but have thus far come up empty, give us a shout. We know of a couple off market homes/condos that might be of interest to you.

San Francisco Ocean Views

As for help finding the perfect surf spot in San Francisco, you’re on your own.

Dark Thoughts For A Friday: Stock Guy On Real Estate

So we gave you Deep Thoughts already today, but deep thoughts are usually followed by dark thoughts, so why not give you some of them too.

From a stock guy to us investors (in stocks):

About the market:

My primary thesis is that we are now into one of the primary home selling months, May, and as June and July unfold, that the numbers of existing and new homes sold will come in well below expectations. Further, home building starts and permits just rocked the market as they came in at a record low, the day after the home builder sentiment index rallied the market, due to its second month upturn. The rise in sentiment did not correlate with the reality.

I expect similar difficult conditions going into the primary home selling season. Then I anticipate even greater challenges as the number of foreclosure increases. If RealtyTrac is correct and the shadow foreclosure market is really over 600,000 homes nationally that have already been foreclosed on but have not yet been put on the market, and in markets like Sacramento, may be as much as 5,000 homes, when the total homes on the market is 6,600, then I feel that their estimate of another 30-40% down on home prices from their current 30-40% down in CA, may be quite likely. Should this happen, according to Gary Shilling’s Insight’s newsletter [sorry, don't have it for you], you could see another 15% drop in housing prices. According to Shilling, this would result in roughly 25 million of the 51 million home owners with mortgages being upside down. The portion of these upside down home owners that are on the verge of handing in their keys, are what I refer to as the “finger nail market.” That is, many of these people are the ones holding on by their finger nails to their homes. Although some programs are aimed at writing down the loss on these home owners loans to current market prices, one program that he notes was expected to help 400,000 home owners. As of his May newsletter writing, there had only been 51 mortgages restructured.

After the June and July “hopes” for a recovery in the housing market fade, I am afraid that the economic challenges the country and world are facing may seriously weigh on the market. These are the primary market “driving forces” that lead me to reduce my scenario ratings on the first tick down on the market. The risk of a sovereign default (Brittan) and the fact that we are now entering the two big housing sales months, June and July, and my expectation that new and existing sales will come in well below expectations, and many of those people in the “finger nail market” will turn in their keys later this year, lead me to change my market expectations again.

Don’t shoot the messenger, but discuss at your leisure.

Ask Us: Why Walk From Your House But Not Your Car

Where readers ask, and we (the community) try to answer. This is a good one, and a great thought. Thanks for the email MM:

So I have a question that I’d love your take (and maybe your reader’s take) on: Why do people walk away from a house that’s underwater when no one walks away from anything else that’s worth less than they paid for it?

I mean, think about a car. People drop 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars on a car that’s instantly worth less than they paid the second they drove it off the lot. But no one would ever say “Well, I’ve still got 5 years on my car loan and it’s worth half of what I paid, so I’m just walking away.”

No one says “I’m paying 12% interest on this new $5000 big screen TV I bought on credit, and it’s now not worth what I paid, so I’m just going to walk away from my credit card bill.”

Is it because we’ve been conditioned over the years by the financial and real estate industries that homes are an “investment” that will only go up? Or that homes are only worth it if we’re going to make a ton of money on them down the road?

Call me crazy, but I think if you buy a house where you can afford the monthly payments, it shouldn’t matter at all how much your house is worth compared to what you paid.


Very interesting thought, and honestly something we do not have an answer for. We’d have to guess that every person is different and a house payment is likely much larger than a TV or car payment, so walking from something like that carries larger financial gains/losses.

Does walking from a credit card carry the same credit punishment as walking from a house and going into foreclosure?

We can say there are many people walking away from their credit card bills, but the odd thing is, they get to keep the TVs! As for the car, remember “REPO Man”?

We think your question may spawn more questions and doubt there is really one specific answer, but we (like you) would love to hear what some readers have to say.

Glen Park, Charles Warren Callister Designed Mid-Century Drooler

ooh la la!

You know we often get stuck on the mid-century homes in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, and if you’re gonna spam us, it better be good (or at least mention mid-century or modern.) This home at 66 Everson surely fits the bill of good & mid-century. A little bit heavy on the dark wood side of the scale than what we desire (makes us feel like we’re in a Sauna with the Squirrel and Silvia from the movie “Hot Dog”), but an awesome home nonetheless, and someplace we’d love to come party, so let’s get you in it!


Designed by renowned Bay Area architect, Charles Warren Callister, and built in 1963, the home is detached, and situated on a wide lot with unobstructed views of downtown. The home is 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, plus a large office. Landscape design by Casey Kawamoto, asking $1,849,000, and not yet on MLS. But of course you’re connected (as are we), so you’ll be happy to know there is a “pre-MLS tour” this week on May 21 from 4-6pm.


Go ahead. Crash the party, suck back some beverages, and sample some hors d’oeuvres. Just don’t forget to take a look at the home while you’re there, and please don’t get lost in the garden.


Or the shed. (Yes…too many good photos to just pick one. Deal with it!.)


Don’t forget our invitation to the housewarming. We make a mean fresh lime margarita that would go well with that kitchen.

-66 Everson [Property Details: 3 bed, 2.5 bath, $1,849,000]

San Francisco Real Estate Sales Trends & Prices Report

From RE Reports:

San Francisco Property Sales & Prices Up in April

Sales of single-family, re-sale homes and condos continued rising last month as we enter the Spring selling season. Home sales were up 11.1% from March, off 22.7% year-over-year. Year-to-date, home sales are off 21%.

Condo sales were up 22.3% month-over-month, but off 31.8% compared to April 2008. Year-to-date, condo sales are off 37.6%.

Prices continued the roller coaster ride they’ve been on for the past few months. After rising 17.3% in February from the month before, the median price dropped 3.2% in March, then rose 2.9% in April, a drop of 23.9% year-over-year. This is the twelfth month in a row the median price has been lower than the year before. The average price also rose, gaining 8.1% month-over-month, but down 19.8% compared to last April .

The median price for loft/condos in San Francisco was flat from March, and was down 14% year-over-year. The average price for condos rose 10.3% from March. The average price was off 15.5% year-over-year.

-Market Snapshot
-Detailed Market Report (pdf)

We’re Loving Your Backside!

Dear 134 16th Ave,

We have had our eyes on you for quite some time and are heart broken to see you must go. We must tell you, it’s not your frontside that originally grabbed our attention.
134 16th Ave
Yes, your frontside is nice and you’re very attractive upon first glance. We’re also aware that you have a great inside (although we’ve heard you underwent serious counseling to get where you are), but it’s really your backside we admire….ooh, la, la!
Exterior 134 16th Ave

Or maybe it’s the fact that you have recently found a suitor that makes us that much more attracted to you. You know, the whole want what you can’t have thing. Regardless, you’re one hot property and we wish you well.


Your secret admirers

-134 16th Ave, asking $2,695,000 and recently in contract. [MLS]

St. Regis Residences San Francisco: A Sales Update & A Little Horn Tootin’


Because I had a listing not too long ago at the St. Regis, I like to keep up on that building, and lucky for you, I like to share what I find. Although young, considerably younger than my colleagues (most of whom I completely respect and admire) selling in the building, I’m no dummy.

Here is a list of most recent activity at the St. Regis (188 Minna). What is important to note on all of the “active” listings, every single one of them has either been on the market before with another agent, or been reduced by a large enough margin to reset the DOM (Days On Market). So they are hardly “new” and hardly “active”. In fact, I’d go so far as to say every listing there is a Stalefish, which by no stretch of the imagination means it is a bad property, just getting a little long on the market, and a great opportunity for you buyers that have your eyes on the St. Regis.

Let’s take a look at the most recent sales: Unit 27D, which started in June of 2008 at $3,475,000, reduced countless times, eventually down to $2,995,000 in December 2008 and withdrawn from the market. Relisted in January 2009 at $2,550,000 and recently sold in March 2009 at $2,300,000. That is $1,175,000 (34%) less than original asking price and it took nine months to get there.

Unit 25D was the only other 2009 sale, and was originally listed in September 2008 for $3,995,000, withdrawn in December, relisted with a new agent in January 2009 at $3,200,000 and eventually sold April 2009 for $2,500,000 ($1,495,000 or 37% less than original asking price) or $1402 per square foot and eight months on the market.

For comparison, we sold unit 38B three months prior to unit 27D, and we sold it in seven days for a higher price per square foot than what 27D recently achieved, and many would argue 27D to be a nicer unit. At the time we advised our clients to take the offer we had on the table and run to the hills, even though it was below asking (asking $2,395,000), and we knew we’d be laughed at by some other agents selling in the building and rumors about our sale would quickly circle, which they did, and which is exactly why we kept the sales price confidential.

So that brings us to the facts, and good comparisons to see what has happened to high rise luxury real estate in San Francisco in just one year, and how a little foreshadowing saved our clients time and money. Unit 38B sold in March 2008 after seven days on the market (with us), for roughly $1350+ per square foot…cash. Unit 27D listed three months after our sale for $1940 per square foot, took nine months to sell for $1337 per square foot. Unit 25D listed six months after our sale, eventually sold eight months later for $1402 per square foot.

We’ll let you do the math and discuss. For us, the writing is on the wall, and if you’re interested in a unit at the St. Regis, or currently live there, we’d be happy to discuss all high rise luxury sales and listings with you (email

Happy Friday!

Joe, Bill & Jim Set Off To Sell A House, Jim Falls Out, Who’s Left?

More shady agent shenanigans

Agent Joe secures listing from Seller Bill who had previously had their home listed with one of the top agents (says the agent) in San Francisco, Jim.

Agent Joe puts home on market.

Home sits on the market for 3 weeks, with no offers.

Seller Bill receives an email from top agent Jim stating (in so many words), “How’s your sale going? All of my listings are selling in two weeks with multiple offers.”

Seller Bill tells new agent Joe about the email.

Agent Joe laughs and shrugs and digs into MLS.

Shady agent Jim found swimming in a school of his own Stalefish.

Seller Bill and Agent Joe hoping to close escrow in June.

If you look really closely, you might see shady agent Jim. Actually, he’s everywhere…you don’t have to look that hard.

The Truth About Inspection Bids, A Letter To Buyers

If we could speak to you, Mr & Mrs Buyer, in the middle of your tense negotiations about repairs to the home you’d like to buy, we would say this:

The bids you received from your agent and her inspectors/experts are great. We’re glad you’re doing your due diligence and we’re happy to credit you some money to get repairs done. However, there are many, many ways to repair all kinds of different items, and usually bids come in high. There are contractors, plumbers, engineers, inspector, and so many more tradesmen out there who are out of work and looking for ways to make money. Just because you have a bid from one expert (who’s certainly chums with your agent), it doesn’t mean you have to use that expert to repair the damage, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t go bid the job out and get that one expert to compete with five others to drop the price down to a reasonable level. If you feel the urge to bid the job out, ask for an extension on your contingency timeline. We, on the seller’s end, often speak with the very same contractors hired to do the inspections and ultimately the work, and over the phone we’ve always been able to talk them down from “I won’t do the job for less than $4250″ to “I won’t do the job for less than $2000.” (For example.) Your agent has some great skills at beating us down, please ask her to use those same skills to beat those contractors down on their bids and you’ll see the money we’re offering will be more than enough. You’re going to love this house. Let’s move on already.


The people on the other side.

Subscribe To theFrontSteps, So You Don’t Miss A Thing

Please Enter Your Email To Receive Real Estate Updates Via Email

Just because we’re not here on the blog posting daily, doesn’t mean we’re not out there hustling real estate. There are many ways to keep up on little tidbits here and there: Twitter Tweets; sfnewsletter; and less and less frequently Tour de San Francisco (real estate); but THE BEST way to know when new content is posted on this here magical, mystery site is to subscribe to our feed either in your feed reader, or via email notification.

Real estate always comes in waves of busy and not so busy, and just as soon as we’re not so busy, we’ll be back to normal programming. So that you don’t miss when that day comes, please take a second and SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CONTENT VIA EMAIL so you receive posts hot off the presses.


Alex (the editor/Realtor)

Data Yo! San Francisco Median, Supply/Demand, Sales Rate April 2009 v April 2008

Supply/Demand Single Family April 2009 v April 2008
Supply/Demand Condo April 2009 v April 2008
Supply/Demand Single Family & Condo April 2009 v April 2008
Sales Rate Single Family & Condo April 2009 v April 2008
Sales Rate Single Family April 2009 v April 2008
Sales Rate Condo April 2009 v April 2008
Median Price Single Family & Condo April 2009 v April 2008
Median Price Single Family April 2009 v April 2008
Median Price Condo April 2009 v April 2008

Source: San Francisco Real Estate Advantage Online

How Special Is Lennar Homes’ Offer…Really

We just read this in the Realtor Advantage Online Publication:

Beginning in 2010, Lennar Homes will be bringing 1400 homes onto the market in the first phase of a program that will lead to revitalization of the southern part of the city. And, for brokers and agents who can demonstrate that they have resided in, sold property or supported communities in this part of the city, Lennar is making a special offer—a 3.5 percent commission to any broker or agent selling any one of the 1400 homes.

REALTORS® who are interested in becoming a part of the program should attend a meeting this Thursday, May 14, at 2 p.m. at True Hope Church, 900 Gilman Avenue, San Francisco.

That part we put in bold was a cliff hanger. Thought it was going to read more like, “for brokers and agents who can demonstrate that they have resided in, sold property or supported communities in this part of the city, you will receive an additional 20% off your purchase price.” That would have been more stimulating…in our humble opinion. The commission thing is over-used as bait.

Bay Area Median Home Prices Down 42.7%!?

This from the recent San Francisco Business Times Online:

Median prices for homes in the Bay Area collapsed in the first quarter, losing 42.7 percent, the fourth worst drop for metropolitan areas in the country behind Fort Myers, Fla.; Saginaw, Mich.; and Akron, Ohio.

The median price for a home in San Francisco and the East Bay was $402,000 in the first quarter, compared with $701,700 in the first quarter of 2008, according to the National Association of Realtors.

South bay home prices fell 42.3 percent to $450,000 in the same period.

Median prices for homes across the country fell 14 percent. The national median home price fell to $169,000, and distressed properties sold for 20 percent less than others listed for sale.

Lower prices drove more sales in California and other states hard hit by the real estate downturn.

Nevada had the largest gain – first quarter sales volume rose 116.8 percent from a year earlier — followed by California, with a sales volume increase of 80.6 percent.

Charles McMillan, president of the National Association of Realtors and a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas-Fort Worth, said there are two levels of pricing in the current market.

Traditional homes in good condition have held their value much better, so owners shouldn’t be overly concerned about median prices,” he said. “Most sellers can expect a good return if they’ve been in their home for a normal period of homeownership and haven’t excessively tapped their equity.”