San Francisco The “Strongest Performing Market”…Hands Down

Don’t shoot the messenger:

San Francisco
Hands-down the strongest-performing market in February was San Francisco, which posted an 11.9% gain over the past 12 months. “California has been strong the last couple of months. There does seem to be something of a serious revival going on,” says Blitzer. One month would be a fluke, but these California metros have been seeing gains over the past several months, he says.
The recovery can in part be attributed to a lack of land. Coastal cities like San Francisco don’t have that much space to build hundreds of homes. From peak to trough, home values in San Francisco fell by some 40%, says Robert Van Order, a professor of real estate and finance at George Washington University’s School of Business. In the long run, you’d expect to see growing values there because it’s an inelastic market. “There’s not much room to build, so it has pretty good prospects,” he says.

-Home Prices Are On the Move [Smart Money]

$8000 Government Home Buyer Tax Credit Expiring, Coldwell Banker $8000 Buyer Bonus Sales Event Igniting

The government sponsored $8,000 home buyer tax credit is set to expire, and tis a bummer indeed if you missed out on it. But fear not, the gigantic corporate sponsored wave has begun, and Coldwell Banker is the first to set the bar by offering their own incentive (3% up to $8,000) in what they’re calling their “Buyer Bonus Sales Event”.

[O]n May 1, 2010, immediately following the expiration of this government initiative, home sellers participating in the Coldwell Banker Buyer Bonus Sales Event will offer a credit of 3 percent (up to $8,000), when part of an accepted offer, of their home’s purchase price to buyers who sign a contract before July 31, 2010. There is no deadline for a closing date.

“The federal government did its part to encourage millions of Americans to achieve their dream of home ownership with the help of the home buyer tax credit,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “As the credit expires, Coldwell Banker Real Estate is encouraging buyers who haven’t found a home yet to continue looking, while bringing a new audience of home buyers who were unable to qualify for the tax credit into the market. We are confident that this private sector solution will represent a significant step toward continued recovery of the housing market.”

“The Buyer Bonus Sales Event will allow participating Coldwell Banker home sellers to essentially extend the benefits of the credit,” said Gillespie. “Without restrictions such as household income caps, the Coldwell Banker Buyer Bonus Sales Event allows for greater participation for all homebuyers. And our sellers have a unique opportunity to allow their home to stand out from the competition in their marketplace.”

In addition,

“All home sellers who take part in the Buyer Bonus Sales Event will receive broad marketing support from Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, including:

National television commercials beginning May 1, 2010; extensive online advertising
Promotion on [CB website].
Updates on the event to be shared on Coldwell Banker Facebook and Twitter pages and the Coldwell Banker blog, Blue Matter;
A video posting to the Coldwell Banker On Location channel highlighting the practical value of $8,000.

This is all fine and good in the rest of America, but will we see this incentive surface in the San Francisco housing market? If so, what does this do to the smaller (local) real estate companies competing for those listings? It’s kind of hard to compete with that marketing campaign (unless you have a popular blog like this ;-) ). Is this the beginning of “flat rate” or “reduced” commission structure listing agreements? Time will tell, and your comments are appreciated. One thing is for sure, this will certainly light a flame under the booty’s of all the other Brokerages in this town.

Doing Our Part To Urge You To Use Less Plastic

As I’ve stated many a time on my various outlets (Twitter, sfnewsletter, and here on theFrontSteps) there is waaaay too much plastic out there. It is truly depressing and sad to walk onto a beach in the most remote parts of the world after having a great surf and be surrounded by plastics (sandals, bottles, bags, etc.). I’m not hating, I’m educating and doing my part.

Recycling starts at home. Make the effort to use less plastic and tell your friends to do the same.

End preaching…..

-Fake Plastic Fish (blog) [education on using less plastics]
-Plastic Pollution Coalition [Sign the petition, get involved.]

Lake Tahoe Dreamin’? Tahoe Green Home For Rent, Slick Video To Prove It (Music Included)

Speaking of Music in Property Videos, this clip comes to us by way of Inbox. Since so many San Francisco/Bay Area people flock to Tahoe and talk of living the dream up there, not to mention being green while doing it, we thought it worthy of sharing.

City slickers go get your green on and be one with Tahoe (It is a Straw bale home after all, and you never know, your blue jeans might be the insulation) …you know you want to!

Ask Us/Poll: Should I Put Music “On” A Property Website

We just got this question moments ago and a link to a couple different sites…all the same really, just playing different cheezy music. The question:

I’m signing up a listing for a new property you’ll want to take a look at. The photos turned out great, and the property is awesome! My question is do you think I should put music on the site? Some people say they like it, some hate it. What do you think? You guys seem to have a big audience so maybe you could get more answers than what I’m getting.

Our answer…Hell NO! Music on websites, especially property websites is so unbelievably annoying (to us) we browse with our computer on mute. But that’s just us…let’s put it in a poll, shall we?

Should There Be Music On Property Listing/Rental Websitescustomer surveys

It’s Earth Day. Turn Off Your Computer, Think About Plastics, And Go Outside San Francisco!

[Image source unknown]

Start today. Do the same tomorrow. Take a break from the grind, get away from technology, think about your home (waste), and make a difference. At the very least, quit drinking “spring water” from individual plastic bottles (take a trip to remote tropical islands and you’ll see why). In fact, quit drinking that shit altogether…especially if you live in San Francisco. There is no reason. Why not go crazy and try not to use plastic bottles of any kind!? Try composting, recycling should be second nature, and support local businesses making a difference in our environment.

San Francisco is a great place to live, let’s keep it clean and get our neighbors to do the same.

Happy Earth Day! It’s finally a beautiful day here in SF. Go outside and enjoy it!

(FYI, my son is on a rampage…turning off lights, riding his bike to school, and not brushing his teeth…to save water. ;-) Gonna have to work on that last one.)

“San Francisco Housing Market Tightens; Median Sale Prices Rise”

From the San Francisco Association of Realtors:

Sales activity in San Francisco’s housing market rebounded during the second half of 2009 and into early 2010, resulting in a significantly tighter housing market from a year ago, according to the most recent Market Focus report released jointly by the Rosen Consulting Group and the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®. The report states that completed home sales in March 2010 increased 58 percent from the same month a year ago, absorbing much of the excess inventory in the market and intensifying competition among buyers for desirable properties.

John Lee, president of the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®, notes that the scarcity of housing units for sale has driven up the median sale price of single-family homes. “In March,” he notes, “the median single-family home sale price increased by 19.4 percent, compared to a year ago, to $791,000.”

In a welcomed development for a city known for the high value of its real estate, the report indicates that the sale of luxury property has gained traction in recent months. The Rosen Consulting Group attributes this development to sentiment among high-end buyers becoming more positive.

The condominium market also gained ground during March with the median sales price rising to $670,000, a 4.9 percent increase from the March 2009. Stimulated by the availability of FHA financing, tax-credits, and attractive pricing/concessions in comparison to recent periods, completed condominium sales reached 206 units in March, a 76 percent increase from the previous year.

The report sounds an optimistic note about housing sales activity in the near-term future by noting that the market’s return to supply and demand fundamentals as a result of a decline in the number of foreclosures is likely to drive home price appreciation. California’s $200 million home buying tax credit program should continue to incentivize home buying, supplanting the expiring federal tax credit. While mortgage rates are expected to increase in coming months, with the end of the Federal mortgage-backed security purchase program, rising interest rates from private investments should help offset the rise in mortgage rates.

-Full Report Here

Ask Us: To Remodel The Bathroom, Or Not

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

Hi Alex,

A friend turned me on to your sfnewsletter, which is first rate, as is theFrontSteps. I eagerly await the upcoming

I could use your help. There could possibly be a listing in it for you. My dilemma is whether to put my one-bedroom SF condo up for sale as is, or remodel the bathroom first, since it is rather outdated.

The question is: in these uncertain times, would I have a better chance of selling at a lower price without changing the bath, or would I have a better chance of selling with the remodeled bath while also recouping some of the money spent on the upgrade?

In your recent experience, are buyers in SF more likely to want a place that’s move-in ready, or are they willing to put in some work for a bargain?

Of course, I realize you may not be able to answer this question without seeing the condo, in which case I would be happy to show it to you at your earliest convenience. At the same time, it would be helpful to get an appraisal.

I would appreciate any information that you can provide.

Thank you,

First of all, thanks for contacting me. In my experience for 1br condo buyers, they are looking to move right in. That said, “dated” is a very relative term. What you think is dated might be perfectly fine for someone else. How is the kitchen? That’s the biggie! Continue reading

“Do Neighbors Make The Hood, Or Does The Hood Make The Neighbors?”

Since we know many of you don’t read or participate in the comments, from time to time we have to bring them to your attention. Yesterday, our reader “Billy” had this to say,

Do neighbors make the hood, or does the hood make the neighbors?

Damn good question, and something to ponder on this glorious Friday morning. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t be shy.

When Thinking Real Estate, Think About Your Neighbors

It’s no wonder people want to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, because of our climate and general awesomeness, but did you ever stop for a second and take a look at some of your neighbors that also want to live here? Neighbors that just happen to be inventing products and services that are changing the world.

Haute Living has compiled their list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World’s Most Golden City…you know, the “most important entrepreneurs, thinkers, entertainers, creators, philanthropists, socialites, power couples, and, of course, billionaires” that just happen to be your neighbors. It’s some of these people that are buying our best slices of pie in the sky, creating jobs, and changing the world. Why wouldn’t you want to live where they live? Things are good here.

The list definitely worth a look and a consideration as to why real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area continues to outshine the rest of the nation and remains a very solid long term investment.

-<a href="The 100 Most Influential People in the World’s Most Golden City [Haute Living]

Forget The Loft, We Wanna Get In That Tub!

If you’re going to go loft, you might as well go big. Not yet on the market, but coming very soon, 3 Clarence Place ($2,658,000), a 3br, 3ba, 2700 square foot freestanding loft with 2 car side by side garage is not to be missed.

Our bathing suits, and six-pack are in the bag, just send the invite, and we’re there. Oh wait, we’re Realtors…if you’d like to get a first look at this property, just contact us and we’ll gladly get you in…but don’t forget your your suit ;-) cuz we wanna get in that tub (must be all this cold, wet weather)!

-3 Clarence Place [website]

Douche Bag Realtor Debate Do-Over

From “How to Find a Real Estate Agent (without really trying)”

And there she was, in the midst of an open house, falling all akimbo down the stairs, yelping in surprise and fear on her way down. At the bottom, the real estate agent, who’d been busy the entire time glancing admiringly in the home’s many reflective surfaces, peered down at Kathy where she lay sprawled upon the floor, and rather than offering her a hand,looked at her as though she were a dog that had just come in from the rain. Well, Kathy could have bought that house if she’d wanted it, impractical stairs and all. But who would want to work with an agent like that?

A good real estate agent is sort of like a good neighborhood restaurant. You don’t want to tell too many people, for fear that once the word gets around, you won’t ever be able to get in the door.

Is it really that bad out there? It’s true we’ve seen our share of arrogant (a-hole) Realtors, so why can’t we weed out the douche bags? How is it that they keep getting business? The short answer is that like minds think alike…the sellers are likely douche bags too! Did you ever think of that! These people are getting hired by someone that thinks they’re good. Just because they rub us wrong, doesn’t mean they rub the seller wrong. In fact, maybe the seller likes that trait!

Something tells me we didn’t get the full story here. Maybe the argument should focus more on the buyer (stranger walking into someone’s home in soaking wet shoes and slipping down the stairs on a rainy day….did you think to take your shoes off!?) and less on the agent. Just a thought. Or maybe the title should be, “How to advertise your home for sale on SF Gate (without really paying)” instead, because the Realtors are lame, idiotic, worse than car salesman argument has been played out. That horse is good and dead. But that was one helluva good plug (including two photos) of your soon-to-be-for sale home.

So what else can we talk about?

How about, sometimes Open Houses are sooooo incredibly boring and a monumental waste of time that any person that walks through the door is likely only to briefly snap the agent out of their state of disbelief (you know the feeling when you first wake up in the morning or you just get hit by a truck…there is a time delay before your senses work again) that they’re spending yet another Sunday sitting at an Open House that is nowhere near the right price it should be and if the seller would just snap out of their denial the price could be dropped, people would show up, the phone would ring, the home would be sold, the agent could again spend quality time with her family, she could get some shopping done, perhaps go on vacation (leaving mobile phone behind), perhaps enjoy Sunday brunch, or maybe just have a “normal” life? Or maybe….

-“How to Find a Real Estate Agent (without really trying)” [SFGate]

Ask Us: Type Of License Needed To Be A Property Manager In California?

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

To folks reading this blog:
In California, do you need a real estate broker’s license in order to be property manager? Or just a real estate agent’s license? Or no license needed?


As far as we know, and you’ll want to consult, if you plan on having your own office and essentially starting a new business you will need a Broker’s license. If you plan on “hanging” your license at a Brokerage and working for a company that already exists and that company has a Broker’s license already, you will only need an Agent’s license. You definitely need one or the other, so why not get both!

Hope this helps….

Pushing The Panic Button For Buyers In San Francisco

safeapp1We’re starting to see a much larger number of San Francisco real estate agents incorporate a home’s WalkScore into their marketing materials (not that a walk score really matters, because hopefully you’ll either research or already know the area you’re investing a few hundred thousand dollars of your hard earned cash, and not rely on a data crunch from a website), and now there is a company that has released an iPhone App for hyperlocal crime stats in San Francisco, complete with heat map available on the website that breaks down safety levels every 2 blocks. Talk about pushing the panic button!

Check ‘em out at

For $0.99 we’d bet it would pay off in dividends knowing your significant other can sneak in or out of your home any time they choose. ;-) Then again, maybe not….

“We also have an ever-growing supply of short sale inventory” Love, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Co-President

When we were blogging up a storm we used to always get nice letters to the Editor, but now we just get spam. Something we’ve referred to as RealSpam, you know, the kind that you get from Realtors and those in this industry that you really just want to delete, but the next thing you know you find yourself not only READING it, but posting it to your frickin’ blog!

Well, we thought we’d share the most recent letter from our dear friend at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Cara Heiden, Co-President:

Our favorite, or least favorite quote (depending on how you look at it), “We also have an ever-growing supply of short sale inventory-and the sooner those houses can be sold, the better for all involved.

Amen sista! Amen! Thanks for the personalized note to us. We appreciate it.