Ask: I Want To Rent A Home Built On “Those Stilt Kind Of Things”…

This is one for the community:

I love your blog. I just moved here from NYC a week ago and it’s been an invaluable resource.

I just found a rental that I love, [removed]. Gorgeous views, built in 1939 or so. Problem is, a friend from SF pointed out that it’s a “downhill home.” (I’d never heard the term before.) It’s cut into the face of the hill, but it’s partly on those stilt kind of things. The landlord says the hill is safe and the place was “thoroughly inspected” when he bought it…but he owns the place and needs a tenant, after all. :)

I’d love to rent it but want some reassurance that the thing won’t fall down the hill at some point. Like, if there’s a quake. Do renters ever do seismic checks here? How can I find out if this place really is safe? I don’t mind paying myself if the inspector fee is reasonable.

Thanks a lot

Thanks for your email, and I’m glad you like theFrontSteps! Please tell your friends.

I don’t handle rentals, so I’m not one to speak with 100% certainty. I would imagine that you could do any kind of inspection you wanted as long as it doesn’t cost the owner anything.

The fact is, if a big quake hits SF, who the heck knows what will happen. A big rain might be more likely, and more of a concern….landslide.

My advice would be to go ahead and inspect if it will make you comfortable, the owner is okay with it, and you have the time to do so. But, don’t expect any person to tell you without a shadow of doubt that the home is 100% safe. You can thank the litigious society we live in for that.

When you’re ready to buy, let me know! If you have any money for down payment at all, I would HIGHLY recommend buying. Prices and interest rates are crazy low, and your payments would likely be less than rent.

Thanks for reading theFrontSteps!

Ask Us: Death “On” Property Or Not? Should You Disclose?

This just came to me by way of email.

Hypothetical question.

Assume a house burned down and a firefighter died a few days later from his injuries.
Same for a contractor falling from the roof or any other work related accident on the property.
What are the consequences regarding the disclosures of a subsequent sale?

Please do not discuss the specifics of a recent event/specific house, I’m only interested in the “what if that happens to my own house” – such as
does this qualify for a death in said property?
As a Realtor, would you advise to check or not the box?
How would you disclose this information?

What are the others aspects that you’d like you warn home owners (such as hiring only fully insured roof workers)?


My advice: Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. If I know about anything pertaining to a property, I’m going to disclose that. The last thing anybody needs is someone to move into a home, decide to Google their address and find all kinds of information they never knew existed on the property.

I think this opens up the forum to a larger debate as to whether a death that came later from an accident on the property could be classified as a death “on” the property. I leave that to attorneys, but would certainly disclose any and all pertinent information. You see the pattern here? Disclose, disclose, disclose!

-If There Is S&M And Leather Sex One Unit Below, You Might Want To Let Buyers Know [theFrontSteps]

137 Buelah Apple: Don’t Haight the Game….

[Written by "Eddy":]

One thirty seven Buelah is one of those homes that just screams San Francisco charm and it has all the makings for what many families are looking for in a home here in the city (e.g., curb appeal, close to shopping, parking, etc.)
It’s no wonder that this property closed escrow back in 2006 in only 26 days and over asking at $1.59M.   It’s a little more surprising, however, to see that this same home just closed escrow in 2011, again for over asking, and in only 33 days for $1.61M.  It goes without saying that buying a good property with highly desirable features is a good strategy. This is a classic example of a well appointed home, commanding tons of interest, and getting a good price in two different real estate markets (2006 & 2011).

A few more pics after the jump:

Continue reading

“No Gross Stuff/Litter, Needless Honking, Speeding, or Menus!”

A resident’s plea to keep the sidewalk clean and free of stuff (like dog stuff?) , or as the owner/tenant put it, “No gross stuff/litter, needless honking, speeding, or menus!”

But wait…it gets better. Same owner/tenant and their sidewalk…

…and their entryway…

One has to think we might have a candidate here for A&E’s disturbing television show “Hoarders”.

But that’s not the point. The point is, the city could use a few more of these signs… billboard sized. Perhaps this resident could supply them? Red highlights and all?

-Notice to Dog Owners [theFrontSteps]

San Francisco Real Estate Numbers For Real

From a reader in the comments:

I looked at the MLS sales volume and median sales prices year over year today, and sales volume is up about 38% for SFRs and condo/TICs, from 1354 in 2009 to 1875 in 2010. Median price is also up across just about all price tiers I looked at, which were 650 – 800K, 800K to 1M, 1M to 2M, 2 to 3M, and 3M or higher. 3M or higher was the only one that showed a lower median, and it was down about 70K. But there have been 35, 2010 sales to 19, 2009 sales for that tier.

Thank you.

Immediate Need: A Place To Park, Wash & Dump Bus Toilets

Hey guys,
I’m looking for commercial property in or near SF to buy or lease. I have been working with a broker out of San Mateo for the past year. Still haven’t found the property. Immediate need is a place to park, wash, & dump bus toilets by June 1.
Long term want is same space with building for service. Budget is $2.5M. Problems to this point are: local city won’t permit our use, or price is way past $2.5M. We are prequlified with B of A & have a letter.
I’m looking for a space to lease before June 1. I’m writing you because I don’t know where to start.

Well, let’s see if you came to the right place. Anyone (

The Grinch Who Stole Our [Reader's] Christmas Wreath (Caught On Tape)

From our reader:


I’m looking to enlist your support in some public shaming. You can also point-out the utility of installing a video camera system during a renovation :)

This Grinch stole the Christmas wreath from the front door of my house early Friday morning. She looks like a fairly put-together person, why is she out stealing in the middle of the night? Pacific Heights of course…

The Grinch comes then goes, and returns (cloaked/disguised) at 2:07.

Poor Pacific Heights. It gets such a bad rap…Maybe we need to put a little “Chopper” in Pacific Heights.

[Update: Some questions answered...

[Update #2: From the reader when we informed him/her of the # of links coming to our site for this post, "Good stuff indeed. Channel 7 wants to run a story on it tonight. And it seems the mystery lady has a name..." Guess you'll have to check Channel 7 (anybody got the link to a report) for the name, and apparently a friend of the owner has placed a new wreath on their door, with a lock hopefully. ;-) ]

More Fun Posts:
-Sexy, Sexy Realtors []
-Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Finds A Buyer For His Pacific Heights Monster Den []
-San Francisco Needs To Harden The F**k Up! []

5 Steps To Reduce Your Property Tax

If we had a penny for how many times we get asked to provide sales comps for clients/readers that are hoping to lower their property taxes, and how many times we get asked for tips on how to be successful doing so, we’d be millionaires! So, the “Financial Samurai” has come to our rescue by offering “5 steps to reduce your property tax“:

1) Google “[Your City’s Name] assessor’s office.” San Francisco’s site is here. It’s important you proactively find out what the city/county is assessing your property first before you get your bill. You need as much time to prepare for battle.

2) Go to their contact page and call and e-mail them every single day until you get a response. I’m not kidding here. They are sloooooow. Make sure all your v-mails and e-mails are polite, but stern saying you disagree with your assessment with proof.

3) After they respond, you must specifically ask how they came up with their ridiculous assessment value. Ask them to provide comps. Also, ask them what you need to do to make your case. There will undoubtedly be appeal forms to fill out. Fill them out and make copies for yourself (important as they like to tell people they never got it 2 months later, hoping you’ll give up and be too late!)

4) Like any good negotiator, you must highlight the lowest comps and negotiate accordingly. Let’s say your house is worth $1 million bucks. Go in with horrific comparables that look like bomb shelters in terrible locations, such as a house next to a firehouse that may be worth $500,000. Your comparables need to be similar in dimensions and as close to your home as possible. Set your anchor low. The more comps you can provide, the better. The assessor doesn’t usually have time to verify the comps physically, and just uses online comparisons.

5) After sending in the appeal forms and providing comps to your assessor, make sure you courteously follow up every month until you get confirmation of receipt. After reaching out this February, I failed to follow up with more comps until July (big mistake). By then, the assessor had moved to valuing a different district, and another person was recommended to me. Good thing the new person had the forms, and decided to e-mail and call me back. Otherwise, I would have wasted a lot of time. Therefore, don’t forget to back up all your data!

Most important is to “fight like hell”, then go get a cocktail, cuz you’ll need one!

Thank you Samurai.

-How to lower your property taxes. Adventures in property tax reassessment [Financial Samurai]

Reader Reports: 1358 Cole Then ($800,000) And Now ($749,000)

The email:


Take a look at this Cole Valley condo. Purchased in April 2005 for $800,000, relisted [11 days ago] for $749,000. No upgrades, no permit history, save for a new roof.

I would prefer to remain anonymous.


Anonymous you shall remain, thankful we shall be to all of the readers, including you, that send in tips.

We’d like to add, when it sold in 2005 for $800,000 it was listed at $749,000. Will history repeat itself? We can only hope.

-1358 Cole Street $800,000 Then

-1358 Cole Street, $749,000 Now

Disclose or Dissemble?

My recent almost first time buyer identity was shattered by a disturbing disclosure. Or rather, by a failure to to disclose the disclosures. A Realtor, who shall remain nameless (and is in Portland, OR, anyway), had us almost in contract before I ever lay eyes on the disclosures, at which time I discovered

1. Lead paint

2. Mold in basement

3. Leak in basement (only in “heavy rains.” Mind you, this home is in Portland, OR. Heavy rain is as expected as death and taxes. Let’s call it a leak then, yes?)

4. Electrical panel had been recalled. “Some” repairs were made.

5. “Slight” leak in upstairs bath.

6. Entire basement, including a bath, constructed without permits.

7. Warp in foundation, assured to be a “non-issue” since seller had been told this 10 years ago when he bought the home.

8. No evidence available the oil tank had been decomissioned.

Upshot? We were advised to not only have the home inspected ($350), but to have a structural engineer look at the foundation ($350), have the soil tested for evidence of oil tank ($50-$225), hire an expert electrician to examine the re-done electrical ($200 or more), and to ignore the lead paint as it’s part of old houses, or to plan to strip down hundreds of years of paint layers to get it out. Further, we were told that the mold and leaks were not really problems and that the inspector who’d noted them was incompetent, and that his report contained many “grammar and spelling errors”; thus, his opinion mattered nil.

Well! I’m a first time buyer, maybe I mentioned. I’m shy and timid around things like mold, even if they are spelled mollllld. And I don’t feel like spending over a $1000 to inspect a house I might not even buy.

Is this normal? Is it part of due dilligence to basically inspect and reinspect every inch of the home to discover what really is a “small” non-issue and what is going to cost me my retirement savings to repair? I remember looking at homes in SF wherein the disclosures were sitting on the counter, next to all the Realtor business cards. Is it par for the course that these essential documents might not turn up until the potential buyer is one minute away from signing her earnest money away?

You all are the experts here. Comments welcome, as long as they don’t come with the $350 price-tag.


Drawing: i.ehow

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]

But I Just Had To Have Them Both!

A reader tipped us off to a recent Yahoo Shopping Article and thought you’d like to share in the findings:

Steam Shower
“I just had to have a steam shower. My whole bathroom was torn up to install the pipes and the fittings, the glass door needed to be sealed in a certain way, the ceiling specially painted to resist mold. Unfortunately, I never have time for the spa day I fantasized about. I don’t even take long showers. I’ve used it maybe two times. If you divide the amount I spent by two, I probably could have purchased a small interest in Bliss Spas.” — Richard Mishaan

Commercial-Grade Stove
“When I moved into my home six years ago, I was sure I needed a commercial-grade stove in the kitchen. I had visions of dinner parties and guests gathering around for a home-cooked meal. I neglected to consider one important point — I don’t cook. I have yet to turn the stove on.” — Nate Berkus

Or, in the case of 469 Clipper, which appears to have finally found a buyer at the current $765,000 asking price (sold July of last year for $1,020,000), you could get the steam shower and the commercial grade stove all in one…no extra charge! That is, if you just have to have them both.


Reader Reports: San Francisco Median & Average Home Prices 2000 versus 2008

We asked, and Misha delivered:

Click for larger image

It is important to note, as Misha does:

This chart, while it does illustrate something meaningful about the overall SF market, doesn’t tell you anything about values in any particular neighborhood. It lumps together data from neighborhoods as diverse as Hunter’s Point and Visitacion Valley in District 10, which has been slammed for well over a year now, with neighborhoods like Noe Valley in District 5 and St. Francis Wood in District 4, both of which seem to be holding up pretty well.

Regardless, it is great data, and we know you love it, so have a look. Click the image to go to a larger version.

Chart Of Declining San Francisco Home Values (Deja Vu)

You may have seen this post we did a while ago (May 27, 2008) as a result of a certain challenge. We might very well be inserting foot in mouth soon, but not yet. Regardless, we thought you’d like to see a post from the past and how it’s getting all too true to life.

The original post in its entirety starts now:

Accepting our recent challenge to “show us a legitimate graph of home values for San Francisco, or the Bay Area, or California, or the Nation, hell you might as well make it the world for that matter, that looks like [the declining chart on this post]“, Paul G steps up to the plate with this chart and explanation below:

You did open the chart challenge up to the world so I thought I’d submit this one. I can’t upload images to your web-site so I’m emailing it to you. Feel free to post, if you want.

The green line represents the cost of residential land in six major urban centers in Japan since 1955. The blue line represents San Francisco prices using the Case-Shiller index, but, in order to make the peaks coincide, I’ve moved all SF values back 15 years.

No, I don’t think San Francisco prices are going to follow the same trajectory down for many reasons (inflation, the 30-year run-up in Tokyo compared with the 10-year run-up here) but it’s still an interesting graph.



Thanks for the graph! Very interesting to say the least.

[Paul, if you're still reading theFrontSteps, would you care to update your graph and send it in?]

-Chart Fun: Declining Real Estate Values [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco Mimics Japanese Land Value Decline (Sort Of) [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps, Battle Royale]

Reader Reports: Buy Land, They Ain’t Makin’ Any More Of It

Submitted by Misha Weidman:

Available: Cheap Land on Mars — Panoramic Views

Ever wonder how much it would cost to buy your own little piece of San Francisco heaven and build the house of your dreams on it? Sound better than paying through the nose for an old Victorian lady wearing a lot of make-up and suffering from 100 year-old plumbing?
First off, you may spend a lot of time looking. Since 2005, there have only been 216 undeveloped land sales in San Francisco. I’ve tabulated the results by ZIP code for the 208 for which there was sufficient information to calculate the price per square foot


With so few data points available, one should be careful drawing conclusions. For example, $673 per square foot for land in Hayes Valley and/or the Tenderloin (94102)? I don’t think so. With only two data points for that zip, who knows why?
Still, the numbers make an overall kind of sense. Zip 94109 (Nob Hill, Russian Hill) is at the top end at $495 per foot; zip 94124 (Bayview) is at the bottom. Most of the zips line up more or less where you’d expect them to.
A quick recent case study: a 1900 foot “view lot” on Diamond St in Noe Valley, heading up towards Diamond Heights sold in June 08 for $1,052,000 — a cool $100,000 over the asking price. That’s $550 bucks a foot. That price included approved construction plans and permits for a 3100 square foot 4BR/4BA home, complete with elevator. Construction costs can obviously vary widely, but my insurance broker quotes an insurance industry “replacement cost” range of $300 to $500 per square foot for San Francisco/Marin. That includes architectural fees, etc.

Take the low end of that range and you get a construction cost on that house of $930,000. So you’re in for $2 million, or around $650 a square foot, before you spend a dime for financing charges, delays, cost over-runs, law-suits from disgruntled neighbors, seeing your shrink, costs of divorce, etc.
This confirms my view that the only people who can really make money developing residential property in San Francisco are the ones who can do big multi-unit projects and contractors who don’t have to pay retail to build or fix something. The market’s too efficient to leave any fat for people just looking to build and spin. Same thing’s true for the mythical “fixer-upper.”
On the other hand, if you’re still one of the happy few who don’t feel beaten down by the daily economic news, perhaps you should go ahead and build that dream-house. There’s always slim pickings for 3,000 square foot homes in San Francisco, let alone ones equipped with an elevator. And if you do find one, you’ll be paying north of $2 million anyway.
Just be sure to budget extra for the shrink and the divorce attorney.

-Misha Weidman’s Blog

4,000 Football Fields Worth Of Foreclosures

From our friends at “Every home for sale… (Well almost…)” We bring you their future blog post (how nice of them to let us post it first).

Roost muscled through a large number of public sources of information and found well over one thousand towns/cities across the US that have more square feet tied up in various states of foreclosure than there are currently available for sale in their respective real estate markets. From that group, they identified the above 10 cities and towns with significantly more square footage in various states of “foreclosure” than “for sale” inventory.

Noteworthy findings:
-Those 10 markets alone have over 220 million square feet of residential real estate in foreclosure – almost 4,000 football fields (Kurt Warner could handle it).
-Hialeah Florida, just outside Miami, has almost three times as much existing home footprint in foreclosure compared to what is for sale (Where the hell is Hialeah?).
-There are almost 60 million square feet of living area in foreclosure in Las Vegas (How’s that compare to litres of alcohol consumed?)
-Nine out of the ten cities above are located in areas where new home construction was booming during the heyday of 2000-2005. Only Detroit was exempt from the huge new construction build-up (But Kid Rock had a hit single!)

Thanks folks at Roost! Much appreciated. We’d be really curios to see San Francisco in specific, so if you got it, send it our way.

So how many football fields for the whole lot?

Reader Reports: A Walk Up The Hill (Clipper)

We love our readers and we love when they report back to the mother ship. This from “Sophie” who decided to take a walk up the hill (slightly edited for flow, and links added to properties mentioned).

“Restless kids, so-so weather: A great day for a walk uphill!

532B Clipper – TIC – $499,999
This is a great unit in need of work: a simple knock down of all the crap (read “added american closets”) and it’s a great unit. tad bit high price (no parking, problematic deck etc) – but still something to look at.

490-492 clipper – RH2 – $1,300,000 (and 3.5% commission to selling agent), inlaw WITH tenant.
Tiny owner unit, but smart and practical. Work with NO permit! (duh! check the stair railing!) With no parking, the price is a bit high.

682 clipper – SHF – $1,475,000
floor plan is very odd. I dont like at all the top floor (master suite above living), but the lower floor 3 bedrooms are ok, with a great additional lowest level (storage, mudroom, position of laundry etc). I HATE the windows, like you pee in the face of the clipper street drivers. All the windows and window coverings and drapes need a rework/updates (soundproofing, light, sun, heat, views etc). However, a MUCH better deal and a sweeter property than 565 Clipper.

481 clipper – RH2 – $1,800,000
I guess I still hate everything about that one as much as before. However, I find not acceptable to keep that property on the market in the current condition of next door house. Many people walking with us were scared by the construction, and it would have needed a lot of courage to dare going in (I would have, but the wind started to pick up, and I didnt want to scare the kids). Property should either be off market for the 2 months to come, OR not have an open house – and be flagged as such in MLS. For once a property could have some legitimate excuse for having a larger DOM – use it (although this property is a recurring stalefish anyway.)

469 clipper – empty lot. $939,000 [Editor's Note: Careful what you say Sophie...;-) ]
The proposed plan being totally ugly, I have to say that the lot is large, garage access is easy because no parking spot in front and above the house.
Alex – nice talking to Mike. Nice guy. (I still think it’s a tiny bit high. price drop should have been to $899,000 to spark some new interest).
Marketing-wise – I would be scared by buying a lemon – ie: the previous owner bought the lot, spend the money in architect – then DROPPED the plan to build its dream house? WHY? neighbors? If the plan is not approved, then it’s not only worth zero, but it has some negative value as being a “doomed” project. Marketing as a empty lot with no string attached should be considered at this point. OR I’d have someone draw 4-5 projective plans for that lot to show the richness and variety of options. If facade is protected by historic crap, state that in marketing, if not, market as empty lot with 2 garage access. Continue reading

Comment Du Jour: “Why Wait?”

Every so often, we pull comments we think you should know about, because as we always say, this site is nothing without the reader interaction. So today, we take from “brokerism” and his recent comment from our recent post “The Appraisal Conundrum“. Hats off to ya “brokerism”. Enjoy your home:

Well, we had our reasons for jumping in now. My wife wants to change jobs for example, and she has a really strong bonus history with her current firm which we can use to qualify for the loan. This may not be the case if she changes jobs.

We are taking advantage of the (temporary) higher conforming loan limit for 2 unit buildings ($800k). The limit for SFHs (625k?) is also temporary.
Home prices are starting to come down significantly and quickly in SF itself so it will be harder to pass the appraisal in six months to a year as compared to now.

So, the first two reasons [for buying now] are personal, but the third applies to everyone. Why wait and wait and wait and risk (in our case) missing out on a rate decrease from 6.5% to 4.875?

Thanks for doing your part and thanks for reading and commenting on theFrontSteps. Cocktails at your house or ours? We make a killer margarita.

Comment du Jour: “A Tide Going Back To The Ocean”

This from “asad” on “An Interesting Sale and Theory“. In that post, fluj essentially contributes strong home sales and prices in the southerly neighborhoods of San Francisco to their gentrification largely as a result of the jobs available even further south (think Silicon Valley and such). “asad” is not so convinced it will last:

Wait til Google [and] Cisco start to announce layoffs early next year. Sure some people still have money but it’s like a tide going back to the ocean. You still have tide pools here and there but if the tide doesn’t come back in soon, the tide pools are going to dry out, they just take longer.

Good analogy. Thanks for the comment. Google announcing layoffs would be a huge deal for the national economy, so we’re all ears if anybody else would like to share some knowledge in the comments below.

Rates Rising For TIC Loans

For those that aren’t quite aware, there is this great little invention called email that allows you to send questions, comments, topics directly to us. The email is Go ahead, give it a try. ;-)

From “Noe Guy“:

This is so way off topic, that I sincerely apologize in advance, but we had a thread last week regarding TICs and whether or not they were more risky. Fluj said that banks like Sterling were doing quite well with fractional loans, so I wanted to point out an article in [11/12/2008] WSJ:

Sterling Bank & Trust FSB recently raised its rate for TIC loans to 7.75% — a loan for a similarly priced condo would require only 6% to 6.25% interest — and now requires a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price. Other banks are now requiring 30% down. In the past, lenders required buyers to put 10% down.

Residential TIC loans “are definitely more risky,” says Richard Yurich, a loan officer at Sterling Bank. “Once we make the loan it’s ours; nobody wants to buy them.” His bank raised rates and requires more money down to protect itself from a bad investment, he says.

There is another catch: There are no fixed-rate loans for TICs, meaning that buyers are forced to accept new terms after three to five years. This wasn’t a holdup when property values were increasing and mortgage rates were trending down, says Glenn Rodriguez, a mortgage broker. “That’s where we’ve lost a lot of the buyers over the last couple of months,” he says. “People are worried.

Just sayin’.

You are forgiven for “just sayin’”, because we can’t even find that thread you were talking about (truth be told, we didn’t look that hard), but thanks for sharing and thanks for reading!

If you care to send the link to the article, we’d be happy to pass it along.
[Update: Damn, that was fast...Residential-TIC Tack Hits Snags-WSJ.]

Comment Du Jour: “The People in Noe Valley Have a Fully Realized Liberal Fantasy”

This comment du jour comes to us from “James” in our most recent Cole Valley vs. Noe Valley Battle Royale, where he provides his explanation of why Noe Valley is the way it is:

Noe Valley has the feeling of being a small suburban village unto itself and this has been the case for a long while. It feels very similar to places like Mill Valley and Palo Alto (which, i admit, some people consider quite different in themselves).

Having lived here [in Noe Valley] for years, I will admit that there is certainly more of a ‘car culture’ here. Obviously there are an endless number of families who made the very self-conscious decision to move here. The suburban quality is not primarily caused by Noe Valley’s feeling of being physically removed from the city, though. I think it is more caused by the feeling that everyone in Noe Valley is deeply focused on the practical going-ons of their individual every day life. For instance, you are more likely to see young people off on their own in Cole Valley, just sitting in a cafe with a book. In Noe Valley, on the other hand, one is more likely to see a group of women having coffee, with their local jogging group, with their babies, with their jogging strollers, on the way to a play dates, or shopping, and then yoga, etc.

What I mean to say is that while Noe Valley feels removed from city life, that such a feeling may be just a manifestation of this suburban mindset on the neighborhood’s residents’ parts. They may not want to live entirely ‘in the city’ in every sense of the term. They want to be near a lot of things (which Noe Valley certainly is, and not at all far away from great things as some posts here have stated), without sacrificing the feeling that their neighborhood is ‘more home’ in a certain sense than the rest of the city.

So, the people in Noe Valley simply have a fully realized liberal fantasy. The ‘charm’ of a tightly controlled social environment, while being near all of those other parts of the city that they can’t quite bear to give up…

Well said James! Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading theFrontSteps.

Comment du Jour: Things aren’t so bad (relatively speaking)

From “44yo Hipster” in yesterday’s Stats & Numbers for Single Family Homes [edited for flow]:

Di’cha [Did you] check out the DQ #’s for sept…ouch!

And the #’s on this chart don’t paint a much better picture, especially with the financial/stock market/oil price melt down. Man, a lot (most) investors are taking a big hit on their portfolios. Even Kerkorian got his ass handed to him on his activist investment forays with Ford Motor Co. and just wait, the shit is going to hit the fan big time for oil rich nations (think: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran.)

So…I guess taking a 10% hit on SF investment property values (while the rents have continued going up) is *really* minor. I have friends who lost 30% of their stock portfolio in 3 weeks. and others I know who lost > 30% in RE investments in Southern California in the last 2 yrs. Those who own in SF should thank their lucky stars, methinketh.

We’d have to agree.

What to do when your BFF Forecloses

From “S”:

What do you do when you go to visit some close friends or extended family (people you really care about) and for convenience, meet in a restaurant. They announce they are packing and moving. You Zillow/Trulia them, and sure enough, the house just foreclosed.

It’s the family house they’ve owned for many, many years, and they took a very reasonable amount of equity out. The foreclosure amount being for the amount of the loan…they lost everything.

What do you do?
a. Tell them you know about the foreclosure
b. Pick up 100% of the evening tab which is in a fair priced restaurant
c. Offer some help. What kind?
d. Simply respect their loss and say nothing, avoiding to be too cheery
e. Act as if nothing happened
f. ??

Sounds like a bit of a tricky little situation. At last check we didn’t know to Zillow or Trulia was a verb like to “Google” something, but we’re sure those companies would be flattered.

As for what to do…at the very least you gotta pick up the tab even if it’s Aqua or Gary Danko!