Arden Wood (Mostly) All Grown Up

 

 

 Way, way back, we looked at the then just starting Ardenwood luxury home project. We all speculated on price (around $2 mil, was the consensus) and rapidity with which they would sell. Many people also complained that a set of less than ten luxury homes was not the best use of the lot, given our housing scarcity, but that last complaint falls on deaf ears given that the homes are now for the most part complete.

And they’re all for sale. Still. As far as I can tell, and I beg you to set me straight (kindly though, please?) if I am incorrect, but these homes have yet to find their owners. There are seven of them, ranging at the “new” prices of $1,699,000 to $1,950,000, with two homes not yet priced. Looks then like the $2 mill estimate was not far off. (See prices, etc. at the Ardenwood website.)

Personally, that price seems steep to me. The homes are really lovely on the inside and I do love the West Portal village life, but the exteriors make me think of office buildings. They are also awfully close together and for that price, I would like the option of thinking I was all alone in the world. But what do I know? Surely someone is now dying to tell me how ignorant I am.

Bring it.

Photo, of the estate still under construction, via nativesf. Current photos abound at Ardenwood’s website, already linked above.

Buy Now or Suffer 8,000 Consequences?

Today I got this email from a friendly neighborhood Realtor:

Hello everyone,

I wanted to send out a friendly reminder about the deadline to take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit.  The tax credit expires on Novemeber 30th, 2009.  However, assuming a 45 day escrow period from the time you buy to the time you close and get the keys, you would need to find a house, negotiate a purchase price, and have mutual acceptance by October 15th to take advantage. There are some income restrictions, it must be for your primary residence, and you must not have owned a home in the last 3 years.  If you or anyone you know would like more information about the tax credit, please email me and I will follow up.

Arg! Less than a month to find a house and close escrow?

On the other hand, I heard a rumor that this tax credit may be extended. Hard to imagine we have the money to do so in this country, but still, that’s the gossip from my broker. Nick Timiraos of the WSJ blog writes:

Not only are some legislators (and real-estate industry lobbyists) already pushing hard for an extension of the tax credit, which will expire Nov. 30, but they’re also arguing that it should be increased, to $15,000, and expanded to all buyers, and not just those who are first-timers. The current $8,000 tax credit emerged in the stimulus legislation that Congress passed in February, replacing an existing $7,500 credit that had to be repaid over 15 years.

The questions are not just whether the country has this money available, but whether other issues, such as health care, will push the homebuyer’s plight to the back burner.

In the meantime, we first-time buyers have about a week to buy our homes, people. No pressure.

Generous Uncle Sam, Via Coldwell Banker

So It’s Been Awhile, but…

So Alex is leaving town for awhile, chasing the big waves instead of the big buyers, and I’m standing, inadequately and ill fittingly, in his shoes. You may — or just as likely, may not– recall I used to guest write here on these Front Steps some time ago. Alex was nice enough to invite me back.

Future story ideas: the sad tale of coming within 3 centimeters of buying a home and the deal going awry. Oh, Realtors! Other blogs to explore  new construction in Golden Gate Heights, which one can see out one’s very own window: yeah, right where the ocean used to be.  I’ll also revisit Arden Wood, a West Portal set o’ luxury homes that sparked some “they’ll sell!” “They won’t sell!” debate when they first began to rise from the ground.

Indeed, this posting is meant to function as my trailer, like a preview you see before a film that makes you want to see more. Hopefully now you’ll remain glued to the machine so as not to miss a thrilling installment. Or if you have a scoop for me, you’ll suggest it, keeping in mind I am a buyer, not an agent, and write from that perspective. In the meantime, in the words of L.L. Cool J., “Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.”

-Anna

Wife House Swap San Francisco, Stephen Fowler Moving On…

The tip came in:

I thought your readers might find it interesting that poor Stephen Fowler’s house (4218 25th Street) of “Wife Swap” infamy is now on the market. I thought it would only be a matter of time before they moved on to less scrutinized pastures, and now is that time.

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The home, situated in prime Noe Valley is 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 4395 square feet and asking $2,925,000. Last sold in 1999 for $730,000 (asking $679,000….ahhh the good ol’ days), and on the market for a spell in 2003 for $2,095,000 with no record of it selling. The home certainly has a bit of “prestige” attached to it, but what home in San Francisco doesn’t!?

Perhaps the painting in the Kitchen/Dining area is an indication of where the owner sees himself moving:
wifeswaphollywood1

Two million nine hundred twenty five thousand dollars could certainly buy a lot of home elsewhere. Hollywood? Not so sure. Missouri with all the “uneducated, overweight, dumb rednecks”? …uhhhhh yeah.

-4218 25th Street, $2,925,000 [MLS]

Zillow Says My SF Residence Gained $300,000 In Value In Three Months!

You’ve likely seen comments on our site recently from the “Financial Samurai”, and wondered, “Is that spam?” It’s okay. We wondered the same thing, and we’ve dug a little deeper and found him to be legit. We were tipped off to one of his posts that uses Zillow to back up his claim that “Net Worth Is Rubbish. We’re not so concerned with the look into net worth, rather than the fact that ” in a span of 3 months, [his] primary [San Francisco] residence gained a whopping $300,000!” Gotta love those Zillow Zestimates.

Here’s more:

These values mean NOTHING. Zillow or an appraiser can say a property is worth whatever they want, but unless they’re willing to write you a check, don’t bank on it. Yes, I admit I feel a little bit more buoyant now that the stock markets are on fire, and the property market has rebounded a little bit. However, until I have no mortgage on my rental property [both properties of which are in San Francisco], I don’t include this as an asset even though it generates positive cash flow.

Strike your private equity, rental property, furniture, and bunny rabbit from your net worth calculation. Your illiquid assets are only worth as much as someone will pay for them. Even though we are out of the recession (Tim Geithner told me), and are back to the go go days (hard to get restaurant reservations on the fly anymore), don’t trust for a second your assets are worth as much as some appraiser or website says. Write your assets off, and revisit them once you’ve liquidated.

Thanks Samurai.

-Financial Samurai [website]

Tasty Views, Cool Beers, And Designer Living, 600 Feet Above Ground At One Rincon Hill

Sometimes you just need a little real estate photo porn to get you through your day. Below are some images from One Rincon Hill (for those wondering, One Rincon Hill is the gigantic tower…some would say phallic symbol… that kisses the west end of the Bay Bridge off/on ramps), which were recently provided to us from the Design Above All Event (something we HIGHLY…no pun intended…recommend you go experience) that is currently taking place on top of the San Francisco skyline (~600 feet up to be more precise).

The views are incredible and the two & three-bedroom condominium homes (ranging in size from 1880-1957 square feet, and price of $3.1 and $3.6 million), which were designed by Carver+Schicketanz, of Carmel; Eugene Anthony and Associates, Ltd., of San Francisco; Labexperiment, also of San Francisco; and Donald Joseph Inc., of Sacramento, are quite nice, to say the least.

To see what the building looked like before, have a look at our photos from the topping off ceremony, but don’t forget to have a look at the photos below.

Living Room Design by Carver+Schicketanz or Carmel, California:
DAA_Carver+Schicketanz_LivingRoom1

Unit 5301 Living Room Design by Labexperiment of San Francisco:
DAA_labexperiment_5301_living1

Unit 5302 Family Room by Eugene Anthony and Associates, Ltd., San Francisco:
DAA_EugeneAnthony_5302_familyrm1

Unit 5304 Living Room by Donald Joseph Inc., Sacramento, California:
DAA_DonaldJoseph_5304_living1

Unit 5904 Living Room by theFrontSteps red tape ducking photog dawg prior to completion of the building (notice the Bay Bridge in the background), and post sucking back a tasty lager:
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Unit 5904 Views captured by the photog dawg and his cohort that night! (That’s Millennium Tower in the foreground, not yet topped off.)
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Beers on the balcony too…the balcony that didn’t have a railing (blurry image suggests shaking in fear of falling 600 feet to our death like idiots!):
orh5904balconyview

And the elevator we took back down…duh! Obviously not that night!

———–
“Design Above All,” inspiration for luxury high-rise living 2009, is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Saturdays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. through Nov. 1, at One Rincon Hill, 425 First St., San Francisco. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.sfdesigncenter.com. Admission is $20 (includes valet parking) and benefits three local charities: PAWS (www.pawssf.org), Food Runners (www.foodrunners.org) and At the Crossroads (www.atthecrossroads.org). Group rates available and must be arranged in advance. For more information, call (415) 490-5820 or visit www.sfdesigncenter.com

The Real Estate Spam Has To Stop!

Are you a Realtor that at one point or another may have contacted another Realtor and now all of a sudden you get ALL of that broker’s “new listings”, “off-market opportunities”, “price reduced”, “open house”, and “won’t last” emails?

Are you a principal and walked into an open house, reluctantly gave your email and now you’re getting the exact same thing as mentioned above?

Or did you call a real estate brokerage, request info about ONE property, and now you’re getting blasted all of the properties that match those criteria (without giving them permission to do so)?

If so, share your thoughts, because it is really annoying, and we know we aren’t alone!

Realtors and Brokers….Enough Real Estate Spam! There is a thing called “permission based” e-marketing. sfnewsletter uses it, subscribing to an RSS feed is it, Twitter “follow” is it, Facebook “friending” is it, but somehow most of you just don’t get it. Just because you have an email in your dirty little mitts, doesn’t mean you have permission to spam it, and it certainly doesn’t mean that person wants to be your “friend” on Facebook. Think twice before sending that marketing, and feel good about making a change. We have a bad enough rap as is, so why not make a change for the better?

What makes a San Francisco house a San Francisco house?

[Editor's Note: We have a new contributing architect, Sven, and this is his first post ever. Please take a moment to read his post, and welcome Sven Lavine.]

I decided to do a little brainstorming on the factors affecting San Francisco house design. I want to steer clear of discussions of the city’s historical & stylistic influences – that’s a whole different discussion. There are universal forces which have always applied, regardless of the style of the time (or the whim of the builder) which make our houses look similar.

IMG_1304

1. Lot size:
Most San Francisco lots are 25 feet wide by around 100 feet deep. That’s long and skinny by most standards. This results in a long linear arrangement of rooms, often loaded on a long corridor. This can result in some weird spaces and long halls, but this sort of thing is quintessential San Francisco. And it can also fuel some really creative solutions.

2. Setbacks
In SF, builders have been allowed to build houses right up to the lot lines, with no side or front yard (they do require a back yard though). The exterior identity of the house usually comes entirely from the front facade, which is usually sandwiched tightly between it’s neighbors. This is where the whole false front thing came from. And it also creates an opportunity to get creative with the facade to keep things interesting.

3. Bay windows
Bay windows have always been allowed to extend past property lines and hang out over sidewalks. There is a very specific size and shape prescribed in the code. Designers have always jumped at this opportunity to capture more floor area and views. This is why many San Francisco streetscapes are lined with a familiar rhythm of regularly shaped bays.

4. Cornices
Like bay windows, small roof overhangs have also been allowed. Designers have used this to their advantage over the years by adding interesting features to flat fronted San Francisco houses.

5. Environment
I wanted to come up with some way that the environment has shaped the vernacular, like you might see in the desert, or the mountains. but it occurred to me that unlike residents in those extreme climates, we have such a moderate climate, that we can build in whatever style we damn well please, and we have. Certain styles predominate, but if you really look, you can find (or build) just about anything here. But chances are it will still look like a San Francisco house.

-This post contributed by Sven Lavine, San Francisco architect.

Who Is Tom Perkins And WTF Does He Have To Do With Us

Our recent scoop on the sale of both Grand Penthomes at the Millennium Tower (one that sold to mega millionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins) has been getting quite a bit of press lately, and oddly enough we received this email today:

This is all great [referring to the sale of a ~$9,000,000 condo] I suppose, but who is Tom Perkins?

Apparently, theFrontSteps is more responsive and accurate than a quick and easy Google search on “who is Tom Perkins”, so, since you asked, we thought this video would give you some idea about the man, and his (former) yacht:

Don’t get us wrong, we love your emails and especially your tips (keep them coming to thefrontsteps@gmail.com), but sometimes we worry about some of you readers….in a good way, of course.

BOMs Go Off, Prices Drop At St. Regis Residences San Francisco

Those of you that read this site frequently, know that we like to keep our eye on the St. Regis Residences here in San Francisco. We do this for many reasons, and we always like to report back to you, our dear readers as to what is going on in there.

stregisdrive

Well….prices they are a droppin! So if you’ve had your eye on this building, give us a shout and we’ll give you the real deal scoop that is not fit to print. In a nutshell, here is a list of Recent BOM, and withdrawn listings at St. Regis (BOM=Back On Market).

Why would a property be BOM? In this day and age, the number one deal killer is financing. Especially when the building is as nice and well kept as the St. Regis.

The BOMs are interesting, but the recent sales prices are more interesting. Take a look at Unit 27D, which hit the market ages ago for $3,995,000 and recently sold for $2,300,000 (42% less than original asking and almost $1300/sqft)! Victory for the new owners for sure. What a fantastic unit and great way to take advantage of timing and unlucky pricing.

One more example, Unit 24C, originally listed for $2,495,000 sold recently for $2,195,000* (The asterisk means sales price was not disclosed, but we have it on good intel the price was around $1,850,000 +/-, which puts that price per square foot near $1100!) That is $1100 per square foot for one of the premier residences in San Francisco! That’s a little bit different than the >$1500 per square foot we had been accustomed to.

Okay, some more stats for all you St. Regis lookers. Average sales price per square foot in the building for recent sales $1476. Average price per square foot for expired or withdrawn listings at the St. Regis, we’ll call it around $1650.

Moral to the story…pricing is crucial when selling your unit at the St. Regis these days, and buyers are clearly in the driver’s seat. Millennium Tower is putting forth some good competition for the St. Regis too, so make sure you check out all of the property available to you… especially those on top.

Happy Friday y’all!

Ask Us: 815 Alvarado Just Doesn’t Jibe

Have a look at the front of 815 Alvarado (4 bed, 3.5 bath, 3 car parking, “Single Family Residence” asking $2,965,000) :

815alvaradofront1

Now have a look at our reader’s question:

So whats the story on 815 Alvarado, SF…..listed as a House…but really has a Legal Inlaw, and only 2 bedrooms upstairs. One can be divided….but you have no hallway in between. Property tax records still have it based on original purchase price with no improvements in the structure base. All work performed under permit???

So what do the tax records say? Well, for starters, 688 square feet! (To further confuse you, we pulled tax records via MLS, which shows the new property photos that clearly don’t jive with the data.)

815alvaradotax1

Sounds a little bit more like this doesn’t it? Record of sale in 1997 for $325,000 from $279,000 asking:

815alvaradoold1

It really doesn’t jibe, and this is all too common and one big reason tax records in San Francisco should be taken with a grain of salt. But to answer your main question, “all work performed under permit”, we’d have to assume yes. If not, that is a monumental oversight on the part of the city…which of course wouldn’t surprise us. As to the the story on 815 Alvarado, we’ll have to defer to some of our other readers to help with that question, as we do not have the answer. There is also a good thread on this house on SocketSite. You might want to lob your question in there too.

[Update: Sophie digs up the permit dirt and adds her "$.02 to the buyers… have EVERYTHING checked and rechecked … so you don’t end up paying top dollars for the house AND top dollars for cleaning/clearing the messed up permits."]

Thanks for reading theFrontSteps!

-815 Alvarado [property website]
-Tax Records 815 Alvarado

Calling All San Francisco Surfers (And Wannabes), We Have The Pad For You!

In our never ending quest to find the ultimate San Francisco surf pad, we were delighted to see one of our favorite oceanfront homes hit the market recently, 2534 Great Highway.

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It’s not everyday you can buy one of the few homes on the Great Highway that easily clear the sand dunes to enjoy unobstructed (save for a little fog 4 months out of the year) views of easily the best surf spot in all of Northern California, Ocean Beach (we may be fibbing a bit on that comment, but go with the fantasy). If we weren’t Realtors working in a recession fueled by real estate, we’d snatch this 3 bed, 2.5 bath, $1,299,000 baby up in a second.

ghcooperview1

But we are Realtors, and the market has a long ways to go for a complete rebound, so we’ll just come crash your parties, and install a nice little surf cam on your roof. We promise nobody will know the location and you too can live the dream of being a San Francisco surfer (or wannabe). You’d even be (close) neighbors with the owners/founders of the Beach Chalet/Park Chalet, so maybe you’d get a free pint or two post surf to wash away the salt water…

Guess it’s time to get back on the blogging wagon and go fishin, cuz $1,299,000 ain’t happenin for us any time soon! Have we mentioned our fresh lime margaritas?

-2534 Great Highway, $1,299,000 [Redfin]

Both Millennium Tower’s Grand Penthomes Are Sold, Thanks To A Yacht

In news of the top of the world today, we’ve been told both Grand Penthouse Residents on top of Millennium Tower have now been sold (ink is dry, it’s a done deal).

gphagphb

Grand Penthouse A (GPHA), which is on the Northwest corner of the building with a nice big patio, closed escrow recently (somewhere around $10 Million), oddly coinciding with the recent rumored sale of the Maltese Falcon, so if you’re wondering who could potentially be living, or at least claiming their slice of pie in the sky up there, that’s a pretty darn good hint.

Grand Penthouse B (GPHB), which is on the South East corner and also has a large patio (better in our opinion because there is sun and less wind), was sold a bit before A (somewhere around $9 million…Update from reader “rich”: “Tax records show a $8,100,000 for GPHB!! What a steal”), and naturally there is a story here. It was told to us that the ultimate buyer of GPHA was actually in contract on GPHB and waiting for the first buyer of GPHA to fall out of escrow, and for a little teeny weeny yacht to sell, which all apparently happened (some guys have all the luck, eh?) And being swift like a Falcon, the buyer, and his agent (Katy Dinner) swooped in and landed themselves in the $10 million shell on top of the San Francisco Skyline. Furniture, walls, and appliances will cost extra, but for those who need to pump their ego, what better place to lay down a fist on the table and claim your dominance than the top of Millennium Tower.

So there you have it, both Grand Penthomes at the Millennium Tower have been sold (as a reminder, they are empty shells yet to be built out), and there were more than a handful of interested parties.

Life is pretty good at the top, isn’t it? Gotta wonder how that Penthouse at the St. Regis feels about that.

We’ll bring fresh lime margaritas to the house warming, and gladly launch a paper Falcon from the balcony and watch it drift down to the peasants below.

[Update: For a little profile on the buyer of GPHA that we can now share, since the cat is so far out of the bag, check our follow up post by clicking here.]