Category Archives: General Info

5 Tips To Maximize Living In A Small Space

Living in San Francisco, I not only help my readers buy and sell property, but I also support new technology and innovation that has the potential to enrich our lives. Recently I came across a cool company, Boxbee, that is helping San Francisco residents get organized and reduce clutter. So with a little help from CEO Kristoph Matthews, we put our brains together and thought you could use a few tips to get maximum use and enjoyment out of your minimal space.

BB-dining-table-with-boxes

You’re cramped, always tripping over stuff, stubbing toes, and cursing names. Here, in San Francisco, it can be a way of life- especially with micro-apartments and sub 400-square-foot apartments on the rise in the city. Try as you might you can’t downsize everything, and your storage hacks and inventive decorating just aren’t cutting it. It’s time to make some changes and get the most out of your space. To help you get started, we’ve put together a few helpful tips.

Clear the Clutter- This is probably the most obvious thing to do, but clearing the clutter can really help open a space up. It’s time to get ruthless. Do you really need that five-year-old espresso machine that has never been used? Probably not. Start by dividing your items and labeling things that should stay, be placed in storage, be recycled or trashed. This will help you start to feel organized and set the path to a more spacious home.

Make Every Piece Count- Your home is already lacking in space, which means you shouldn’t be showcasing your entire collection of precious figurines or baseball cards. Determine a handful of items you want to showcase and decorate your space around those belongings. Minimalist decorating will help open up your space and still allow you to showcase your personal taste. You could also switch up your featured personal items every six-months, or seasonally, to give you a new slate to work with, and keep things from getting boring.

Manipulate Space Visually- There are many ticks of the trade that can help manipulate your space into looking larger than it is. Painting your room cool, light colors is the first trick you should adopt. Choosing pastels, neutrals or whites will do wonders to a room. Another great trick is to add mirrors to the walls, which can create an illusion of more space. Furniture that is glass or mirrored will also have this same affect. Last but not least, instead of choosing decorative items that are wide, choose items that are vertical. This helps elongate the room and gives the illusion that your space is taller.

Maximize Furniture- Now that your clutter is clear and the walls are decked out to maximize space, it’s time to consider your furniture. Choose pieces that can serve multiple purposes. Instead of using a table to display items, try a chest that can double as a storage container. Also, instead of going after multiple couches and a love seat, try one larger couch that doesn’t take up quite as much space- or pieces that can convert uses. Furniture can really make or break a space.

Keep it Clear of Clutter, Again- People have an impressive ability to amass stuff as time goes on and it’s difficult to rid yourself of items that you have an emotional tie. Instead of downsizing items you will need in the future, try using storage solutions like Boxbee, a self-service storage solution that handles the hassle and allows you to store and manage your belongings from your mobile device without ever having to leave the comfort of your home. With Boxbee, your belongings are always just a delivery away. This way, you won’t have to get rid of your items and can maintain your new spacious and clutter free home right up until the time you decide to list it for sale…with me, of course.

Here’s another tip: Don’t play leap-frog with a unicorn.

Have a great day!

How Does San Francisco Public Transit Stack Up Against NYC, Chicago, Boston, And DC? Answer Below:

Are you one the millions of people that take BART in, out of, and around the city? Have you ever wondered how our public transit stacks up to other major metros? Well…it just so happens some fine folks at the UNC School of Government’s MPA Online Program took it upon themselves to have a look, and they’ve asked me to share it with you. It’s pretty great info, and no, it does not include MUNI, but let them know you want to learn about that too and maybe, just maybe they’ll make it happen.

[Scroll down to get to San Francisco, and visit MPA@UNC online for more info. Or just click the image.]
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San Francisco “Soft Story” Retrofit Advisory – Some Details

I get a few questions from time to time about Earthquake retrofitting, liquefaction zones, when is the next quake going to be, and so on and so forth. The answer to all of those questions is the same, “I don’t have the answers, but there are other people who can help, and I’m happy to connect you.” In fact, I did a post a while back and it’s still the most visited post on this site, ever (actually, Sexiest Realtor Contest still holds that title), so if you’re on the hunt for more earthquake info, have a look: San Francisco Neighborhoods prone to Liquefaction and Earthquake Induced Landslides

San Francisco has introduced new law called the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Ordinance or Mandatory Wood Frame Retrofit Program, directly affecting wood-frame structures, containing five or more residential units, having two or more stories over a “soft” or “weak” story, and permitted for construction prior to January 1, 1978. In case you missed that:

  • Wood frame construction (Type V), and
  • Application of permit for original construction was prior to January 1, 1978, and
  • Five or more residential units, and
  • Two or more stories over a basement or underfloor area that has any portion extending above grade, and
  • A soft story condition that has not been seismically strengthened to the standards set forth in the ordinance.
  • So where can you get a list and find out if you, or the building you’re looking to buy is on it? According to the City and County of San Francisco website

    There is currently NO, and has never been an official list of “unsafe” properties. Until a licensed design professional has done a building assessment, there is no such information on any specific building.

    However, there is a list, the “City believes, to the best of our knowledge, to be within the scope of the Mandatory Seismic Retrofit Ordinance.”, and that list can be found here www.sfdbi.org/softstory, or more specifically on this updated spreadsheet of addresses located here: Soft Story Noticing Pool
    and there is this map to help you ballpark your building:
    softstorymapimage
    Okay, so how does this apply to you, the buyer or seller of San Francisco real estate?

    Simply put, when you purchase a property that might fit this bill, or have a property you plan to sell (disclose, disclose, disclose) expect to receive the following notice as part of the San Francisco Association of Realtors cover your ass program, and keep in mind, there may be some serious expenses headed your way if your building falls under the above mentioned criteria:
    Continue reading San Francisco “Soft Story” Retrofit Advisory – Some Details

    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)?

    Thanks

    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]

    What Makes A Room A Bedroom?

    What is it exactly that makes that room a bedroom? The question has come across my email enough, and actually I think I even posted on it at some point. Well, it’s resurfaced and maybe time to hash it out, as the opinions on what makes a room a bedroom are anything but concrete.

    The initial question:

    A few months ago an email was circulated as to what defines a bedroom. There were several responses, but if I remember correctly a bedroom does not have to have a closet to be a bedroom…

    And the varying replies from various real estate agents:

    -My understanding is it technically must have a window – ideally with a means of egress
    -My understanding is two methods of egress. A door, and another door or a window or some way to get out in the case of an emergency. No closet necessary.
    -Operable window, that a person can fit through AND the minimum size is 70 square feet, where the minimum for one of the dimensions is 7 feet.
    -I believe that HUD requires a closet in order to count it as a bedroom for financing purposes. A lender could probably clarify that.
    -I’d suggest using the International Uniform Building code that refers to a specific size of window based on square footage of BR. It needs to have a door and a window and the window has to be the right proportion. Read More.
    -The Building Code requires an operable egress window with minimum size requirements as [the other agent] indicated. In addition the window needs to be sized for light and air requirements. If I remember correctly it is 10% of the floor area. A closet is not a requirement to satisfy the building code, but it may be a HUD requirement for financing, as [another agent] mentioned.

    Perhaps the most accurate answer?

    1. The first bedroom must be at least 120 square feet.
    2. If your first bedroom is at least 120 square feet, you get to call your second bedroom a bedroom if it’s at least 70 square feet with 7’ on a side.
    3. Required natural light and air: 8% of floor area of natural light, and 4% of floor area of air (operable window). A traditional double-hung window can cover both bases, because when it is open, it provides half the air as natural light.
    4. Minimum clear headroom of 7’-6”
    5. You need two means of egress. One may be a window. If the second is the window, fire department requires minimum area for personnel access of width 20”, minimum height 24” with net clear opening minimum of 5.7 square feet.
    6. A closet is required.

    And the first comment from that thread:

    What you’ve written here is not entirely correct – I believe you may be conflating Realtor’s rules-of-thumb with actual Code requirements.

    1) Sort of. Any habitable room (Living Rm, Dining Rm, etc) can be larger than 120 SF (2007 CBC SEC 1208.3)
    2) Correct. Minimum Habitable room size (includes bedrooms) is 70 SF, 7′ minimum width (2007 CBC SEC 1208.3 & 1208.1)
    3) These are correct window areas for required natural light (8% floor area) and ventilation (4% floor area), but neither is required if sufficient artificial light and mechanical ventilation are supplied (2007 CBC 1203.4.1 & 1205.3).
    4) Correct – Minimum ceiling height for Habitable rooms is 7′-6″, however it is 7′-0″ for bathrooms, storage, kitchen, laundry (2007 CBC 1208.2).
    5) Sort of. Only one exit (Means of Egress) is required, the other is an Emergency Escape & Rescue requirement. This is not a Fire Department requirement, it is a California Building Code requirement (SEC 1026.1)
    6) Wrong. No closet is required by any State or Local code (Building, Housing, Health or otherwise).

    So there you have it…the jury is clearly still out on this one. My advice, get used to living in closets if you’re living in San Francisco.