SF vs. NY – The Debate Continues

Way back on October 15th, 2007 I wrote a post: Battle Royale: San Francisco or New York City, If You Had To Chose. It was, and still is, an extremely popular article that has garnered over 100 comments, and still ranks incredibly high on search engine queries of the like. For a small shop like mine, that’s pretty impressive. Our readers shared some incredibly good points about both cities, and it is a debate that will likely go on well after I have physically left this Earth, and well after my kin have parted. There will never be a correct answer.

Like I said back then, San Francisco has a ton of things to offer that New York simply doesn’t (immediate access to outdoor recreation probably falling top of my list), and there are things New York has that San Francisco simply never will (snowstorms and brutally cold weather come to mind). But it is what it is, and it will always be.

That said, there were a couple articles written recently that I wanted to share with all of you that take a different approach to the topic, because I frequently get clients from out of town wondering what the heck San Francisco is all about. These two articles are not a question of whether one is better than the other, more a question of whether one has BECOME the other. In the end, they can certainly help you draw a conclusion about the city you’re buying into, and the city you might be leaving.

In my humble opinion, San Francisco will never be New York, and New York will never be eclipsed by San Francisco. New York conjures up the image of power to me, it is the EMPIRE STATE after all. It moves fast. It never sleeps. It’s gritty. It’s tough. San Francisco (and I’ve lived here a while) brings to mind freedom, outdoor living, really smart people changing the world, getting rich, having fun, and living life to the fullest, but they will never have the power and image of the EMPIRE STATE. San Franciscans can puff their chests, but deep down they are fragile. We’re golden boys and girls living in the GOLDEN STATE, and that’s just fine.

I could go on and on, but I digress. Both cities are amazing in their own right. Both cities have pluses and minuses. But if I’m not mistaken, Tony Bennett did not make famous a song about losing his heart in New York City.

Just sayin’…

-Is San Francisco New York [New York Times, Kevin Rose]
-Why San Francisco Is Not New York [New York Times, Nick Bilton]
-Battle Royale: San Francisco or New York City, If You Had To Chose [theFrontSteps, Alexander Clark]

Battle Royale: San Francisco Or London, If You Had To Choose…

The reader comment that sparked the idea for this post, and hopefully fun debate to follow: “I’m an American living in London for the last 3 years and there is no doubt that London is more civilised and cultured than either New York or SF. My children have benefited greatly from the vastly superior free education here. The average Londoner is far, far better educated and has vacationed widely in Europe and the world. This means that the creative and cultural scene in London is geared to a much higher cultural level than in the US. Much of NY culture is geared to a low to medium level to reflect this. Just watch BBC news compared to the US news networks. London simply feels that it is centre of world culture today and more multicultural than New York or SF. We Americans can learn a lot from this city as it definately holds the crown.”

To add a little history to these “Battle Royales“…We’ve done a few over the years that have varied from topic to topic: New York City or San Francisco; LA or SF; Cole Valley or Noe Valley; Realtor or Politician; and the list goes on. They’ve been read thousands of times over, and it’s your comments that make them so great and the reason people keep coming back to read more.

The way we see it…

London has an iconic Bridge:
london-city520
San Francisco has an iconic Bridge:
GoldenGateBridgeSanFrancisco520
London has English Premier League Football and plays host to such teams as Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham United, Chelsea, and Fulham:
footballengland
San Francisco has just one team, the “World” (perhaps National would be a better word?) Champion San Francisco Giants (can’t count the 49ers, as they’re moving to Santa Clara, but watch out for those Golden State Warriors looking to plant their roots on San Francisco soil):
giants
London has tea:
Afternoon-tea
San Francisco has great coffee now around every corner:
coffeesf
London has the Double Decker Bus:
doubledeck
San Francisco has the Cable Car:
cablecar
London is the home of Her Majesty the Queen of England:
queen
San Francisco has its share of “Queens” too:
gaypride
London is proud of their Fish and Chips:
fishchips
San Francisco is proud of their Dungeness Crab:

London has COLD surf nearby:
winter_surfing_03
San Francisco has COLD and BIG surf nearby:
IMG_0810
So you see, both places have their pluses and minuses, and that’s our two cents, but we really want to hear from all of you readers, you readers on both sides of the Pond.

Please share your comments and perspectives in the comment section below, click that “share” button, or “Like” this on your Facebook page, Tweet it on Twitter, don’t forget to take the poll at the top of the page, and ask your friends and family to chime in.

Believe it or not, people from around the world often refer to these “Battles” when researching this wonderful city we call home, and whether or not they’d like to live here, and if they do move here, which area would be the best place for them.

Go Giants..and Tottenham Hotspurs!

Battle Royale: San Francisco Or Palo Alto, If You Had To Choose

We’ve had a lot of battles over the years here on theFrontSteps. Some have been rather quiet (Tokyo versus San Francisco), while others like New York City versus San Francisco, San Francisco versus East Bay, and Cole Valley versus Noe Valley continue to rage on.

The comparison of places one might set up shop, lay down roots, call home, or start a business is never going to end. It has always been, and always will be, a popular topic, and a debate sure to spark any conversation. It’s an important discussion point, and one that would certainly need to be hashed out for any future residents or visitors alike to San Francisco or other places. Therefore, it’s time for another Battle Royale that we somehow failed to do previously…

San Francisco or Palo Alto, if you had to choose, and why?

The argument has to begin something along the lines of “to each his own”, but in all fairness San Francisco clearly has a lot more to offer any hip young person that might be working at a hip young startup. Our nightlife is better, our bars are better, our restaurants are better, our access to recreation is better (this could easily be debated), our coffee is better, our surf is better (no…Santa Cruz is NOT part of “greater” Palo Alto), our hipsters are hairier, our marijuana is more legal, and our gays are gayer (because we’re free man…we’re free).

On the other hand, Palo Alto clearly beats San Francisco’s ass in regards to summertime weather, cleanliness of streets, college vibe, shear brain power concentrated in one place (Stanford), and being a great place to raise a family. But that’s just what we think.

What do you think?

Your comments are appreciated, will be read by thousands, and could quite possibly make or break a buyer’s decision on whether to buy a home in San Francisco or Palo Alto. No pressure…

-Battle Royales [theFrontSteps]
-Tokyo Or San Francisco, If You Had To Choose [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco Or New York City, If You Had To Choose [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco Or East Bay, If You Had To Choose [theFrontSteps]
-Shit Real Estate Agents Say [theFrontSteps]
-“San Francisco or Palo Alto” [Uncrunched].

[Full disclosure...I represent clients in both San Francisco and Palo Alto, so of course I only have good things to say about both locations.]

Battle Royale: San Francisco Or East Bay, If You Had To Choose

Coming off the heels of my post about a modern, Swedish home currently for sale by some clients contemplating their move here to San Francisco or the East Bay, it inspired a long overdue Battle Royale (perhaps on par with SF v. NYC):
San Francisco versus East Bay (I leave the “what exactly is East Bay” interpretation up to you). If you had to choose and why. Please share in the comments below.

On the map it hardly seems fair with the East Bay being so much larger than San Francisco, but we all know size doesn’t matter right? At least “that’s what she said.”

-More Battle Royales [theFrontSteps]

Winner: The Best Coffee (House) In San Francisco, And The Rest

Congratulations to Philz Coffee! You have been voted Best Coffee (House) in San Francisco by the people of the internets. The competition was linked to around the world, and we have to say Philz not only got tons of nods during the first round of nominations, but they also swept the voting when thousands more hit the polls.

It’s all good stuff and we can’t wait to get a cup. We appreciate everyone’s participation and the countless links that sent people this way.

The Rankings:

1. Philz Coffee
2. Bernie’s
3. Blue Bottle Coffee
4. Four Barrel Coffee
5. Martha Bros Coffee
6. Contraband (Coffee Bar)
7. Ritual Coffee Roasters
8. Farley’s Coffee
9. Java Beach
10. Sightglass Coffee
11. Peet’s Coffee & Tea
12. Caffe Roma
13. the Beanery
14. Intelligentsia Bar (In Specialty’s)
15. Caffee Trieste
16. Stumptown (Ma’velous)
17. Henry’s House of Coffee
18. Simple Pleasures
19. Barefoot Coffee (Epicenter Cafe)
20. Café La Taza
21. Starbucks (Really?)
22. Caffe Puccini
23. Trouble Coffee (De La Paz)
24. Velo Rouge Cafe
25. Caffe Greco
26. Verve Coffee Roasters
27. De La Paz Coffee (Trouble)
28. Hearth Coffee Roasters (Brown Owl Cafe)
29. Graffeo
30. Bello Coffee and Tea
31. Quetzal Coffee
32. Jeremiah’s Pick Coffee
33. Coffee to the People
34. Piccino Cafe
35. 7-11 (Humoring you)
36. Progressive Grounds
37. Showplace Caffe
38. Castro Coffee House
39. La Boulange
40. Matching Half
41. Wicked Grounds
42. Farm:Table
43. Blue Danube
44. Cafe Reina
45. Toy Boat
46. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
47. The Summit SF
48. Curbside Coffee
49. Rancho Parnassus (Thanksgiving Coffee)
50. Tully’s
51. Capricorn Coffees
52. Cavalli Cafe
53. Equator Coffees & Teas
54. Muddy’s Coffee House
55. The Coffee Roastery
56. Cup of Blues
57. Cafe Encore
58. Ecco Caffe
59. Stella Pastry & Cafe
60. Coffee Roaster
61. Manning’s
62. Dash Cafe
63. Javalencia Cafe
64. Cafe La Stazione
65. The Grove

We’ll just go ahead and stop there. There were another 25-30 one vote coffee (houses) that came in, but we gotta stop somewhere. Thank you everyone!

Mission District “Is Our Backyard”-Says Potrero Hill

[Image Source]

Every so often older posts get comments that are so good, I just can’t pass up posting them right front and center on the home page. This one came in on an old post we did about La Mission District and just how cool it is.

Sorry Mission District, according to this Potrero Hill reader you’re nothing more than their “backyard”.

Potrero Hill is SF’s best neighborhood TO LIVE IN for these reasons:

1) VIEWS – don’t have one? Step outside, you get one every time you head towards any of the other neighborhoods or just to get a cup of Farley’s coffee. Can’t do that? Watch a commercial or movie, it’s likely it includes a scene shot from here.

2) PARKING – every one of the other neighborhoods has you looking and wishing you could drink and drive while looking.

3) SUNSHINE – if we don’t have it, neither do you. If we do, you probably don’t.

4) PROXIMITY – 280, 101, 80 and trains and the #10 make getting up and down the peninsula or to the East Bay, or to the beach or along the Embarcadero or FiDi or the ballpark a snap. Bernal, Bayview, Glen Park, Mission, Noe, Castro, Soma – are all neighbors, in fact La Mission is our backyard. Every thing else is really minutes ‘cept for the Golden Gate Bridge or Golden Gate Park which really is meant for a lovely drive anyway.

5) COMMUNITY – it’s tight and effective and gets more and more inclusive vs. many of the other conformist, hands-off-the-merchandise ‘hoods. This means childless hipsters, muralist breeders, biogeneticists, game designers, street soldiers, old-timers, turistas, baristas and anything with paws come together for the Good Life. And it’s small enough that everyone knows your name, “my friend”.

Touché!

-San Francisco’s Coolest Neighborhood…La Mission, Hands Down [theFrontSteps]

Vote Now! Best Coffee (House) In San Francisco

WOW! The “best” coffee (house) in San Francisco nominees streamed in last week, thanks to a nice little link from Yahoo!, and it looks like we may now have the most comprehensive list of San Francisco Coffee (Houses) ever on one ballot. Needless to say, our tiny list was well shy of what is truly out there to enjoy, and it looks like we have some coffees to taste. But for now it’s time to vote.

VOTING CLOSED: WE HAVE A WINNER!!! CLICK HERE TO SEE RESULTS

Which San Francisco Coffee (House) is THE BEST by majority vote?

We leave it to you. Please vote, please tell your friends, Tweet it, “Like” it, share the link (http://thefrontsteps.com/2011/03/14/bestcoffeesf/), then print the list and visit each and every one of these places. Whatever you do, don’t let your favorite coffee (house) lose!

Good luck!

[POLL IS CLOSED. WE HAVE A WINNER, AND WILL PUT UP RESULTS SHORTLY. THANKS TO THE 2,250 PEOPLE THAT VOTED!]

If your fav coffee (house) didn’t make the ballot, feel free to mention them in the comments or add them in “other”. As always, thanks for hanging out on theFrontSteps, and thanks for telling your friends.

Once again, the direct link to this post: http://thefrontsteps.com/2011/03/14/bestcoffeesf/.

[Update: Word is spreading on multiple sites, including SFGate, so we may actually get a "People's Choice" here....and a few thousand votes.]

Other Popular Polls:
-San Francisco or New York City, If You Had To Choose [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco’s Sexiest Realtors 2009 [theFrontSteps]
-Cole Valley Versus Noe Valley [theFrontSteps]
-San Francisco’s “coolest” Neighborhood, La Mission…Hands Down [theFrontSteps]

The Best Coffee (House) In San Francisco…Let’s Vote!

Voting is taking place. FOLLOW THIS LINK.

Not too long ago (okay maybe it was back in July of 2009), we did a little post about what seemed to be dominant turf run by Blue Bottle Coffee and Ritual Roasters, and which one we thought was better. Being a little bit ignorant (but more in tune than most), we were under the impression those were THE ONES, but we were wrong. Very wrong.

The post gained in popularity, was linked to from all over, and a few comments came in showing us the light and urging us to try some of the other great coffee (houses) here in San Francisco. Since then we have tried just about all of them, and it’s hard to conclude a favorite, but we thought there must be a way to solve this riddle once and for all, because tastes change and what was “best of” in one magazine yesterday, certainly doesn’t mean it’s “best of” today, right here, right now.

So….it’s time for a definitive online vote: “Best Coffee (house) in San Francisco“. By “best” we leave that up to you, because we know there are a million variables to consider. For example: espresso or drip; wi-fi or print only; cappuccino or quadruple nonfat venti macchiato. We just want to know what makes you drool.

Voting will begin on Monday (3/14/11), until then we’re accepting nominees. So whether it’s the coffee that is actually being poured or the name and location on the label (think Trouble Coffee pouring De La Paz), we want to hear from you and your friends.

The nominees so far [NOTE: These are just nominees. Voting starts 3/14/11, so please come back.]
[Update: Voting started. FOLLOW THIS LINK TO VOTE.]

-Philz Coffee
-Four Barrel Coffee
-Ritual Coffee Roasters
-Sightglass Coffee
-De La Paz Coffee (Trouble)
-Blue Bottle Coffee
-Peet’s
-Barefoot Coffee (Epicenter Cafe)
-Contraband (Coffee Bar)
-Hearth Coffee Roasters (Brown Owl Cafe)
-Verve Coffee Roasters
-Bello Coffee and Tea
-Ecco Caffe
-Capricorn Coffees
-Equator Coffees & Teas
-Starbucks (Really?)
-Caffee Trieste
-Bernie’s
-Farley’s Coffee
-Quetzal Coffee

On Monday we’ll begin the Battle Royale, and the winner of “Best Coffee (House) In San Francisco” will be crowned soon after.

So get the word out, Tweet this post, share it on Facebook, and don’t let your fave coffee house lose!

[Update: Thanks to Yahoo! for putting us on their homepage. Feel free to put your nominee in the comments below or email us. We'll add them all to the list and poll for Monday. While we have your attention, have a look at Yahoo!'s new local page for San Francisco.]

-In San Francisco It’s Ritual Roasters Versus Blue Bottle Coffee
-Reasons We Live Here

In San Francisco It’s Ritual Coffee Roasters Versus Blue Bottle Coffee

bluevritual

Having just purchased our first bag of “Sweet Tooth Espresso” from Ritual Roasters after more than six years of dedicated grinding, tamping, and pouring exclusively of Blue Bottle Coffee, we’re a bit torn as to what to do. We’ve had Ritual on many different occasions, but allowing their beans to enter into the home, and thus the home espresso machine, is akin to having an affair right in front of your one true love.

Well, we’re giving it a go and Blue Bottle is going to have to be patient, but it got us thinking about which is “better” (or perhaps more popular is the real question), and why.

Our argument is for Blue Bottle, for what they have done to transform the landscape of coffee in San Francisco and the way a good espresso drink is poured and consumed. They’ve also transformed otherwise dumpy locales into hotbeds of activity (Linden Alley in Hayes Valley, and Mint Plaza in SOMA), and one could argue had a direct impact on property values (commercial and residential) in those areas. Blue Bottle knew how to draw a crowd at the Ferry Building and somehow keep people interested when the line stretched around the building. They’ve built a following, and continue to crank out excellent coffee in the same manner as when they began. Service at their Linden location is always with a smile (Mint Plaza staffers could use a little help in that regard), and although loaded with hipsters, you don’t get the feeling you’re just not hip enough to visit Blue Bottle Coffee.

We’re still warming up to Ritual, and don’t know enough about their flavors and their store to draw a completely honest opinion (first impressions have all been good), but as stated, they’re in our grinder and in our home now, so we ask…if YOU had to choose, would it be Ritual Roasters or Blue Bottle Coffee? At the very least, you have to admit it is just one of the many reasons we live here.

Oh…as for the logo competition, you gotta love Ritual’s.

[Editor's Note: Or is there someplace we're missing that we need to try? If you say Starbucks, you should be shot, and/or deported to a life in Strip Mall Suburbia Hell, because we got news for you, that ain't coffee, and how Starbucks made it past San Francisco's Anti Chain Store Law is beyond us.]

[Update: We'll definitely be trying De La Paz, and SightGlass soon enough!]

Battle Royale: San Francisco’s Infinity Towers Versus Some Peninsula Townhouse

We haven’t done a Battle Royale in a while, but we thought this recent email could not only shed some light on the steals and deals being thrown out by The Infinity to get their Towers sold, but also a bit of debate as to whether it’s better to put your money in San Francisco, or Peninsula real estate.
infinityt21
From the reader (edited slightly for syntax):

Hi,

Love your blog!

I would like your opinion…

I’m looking to purchase either a new 2 bedroom townhouse in the peninsula or else a 1-2 bedroom condo at The Infinity. I will be purchasing with 4-6 other people for The Infinity (volume discount, we each get our own place, 3 people will be in the $800K -1.4mil range so i think we will have a lot of bargaining power), or trying to find a good discount for a new townhouse in the peninsula. Which would be the better investment?

I’m [f*cking young!], make $110K a year, first time home buyer, would probably rent out a room at either the condo or the townhouse, and prefer not to do any remodeling.

Thanks!

Go Giants or go home! San Francisco all the way. Way better investment in our eyes (we are biased), way better location, and at your age, you’ll likely have a helluva lot more fun. Just make sure we get an invite to the housewarming party (have you heard about our fresh lime margaritas), and there is no lifeguard on duty when we cause a ruckus in the pool! Marco…Polo…Fish Outta Water!.

Thanks for the email, glad you like the blog. We like you.

Battle Royale: Cole Valley Versus Noe Valley

There’s been a bit of discussion around this site and some others lately regarding whether Noe Valley or Cole Valley is a better neighborhood. Rather than spreading that conversation around, we thought we’d bring it under one thread for the world to see.

Cole Valley:

Noe Valley:

Please share in the comments below and take us away to a great weekend:

Cole Valley, or Noe Valley. If you had to choose, and why?

-Noe Valley on Tour de San Francisco (real estate) [sfnewsletter]
-Cole Valley on Tour de San Francisco (real estate) [sfnewsletter]

Greener than thou: San Francisco is “Green” are you?

Everybody knows it’s hip to be green and San Francisco almost leads the pack (we were edged out by Portland, OR) , but what’s a city without its people, right?

We want to try to do a little thing here on theFrontSteps (by getting your comments) and it goes something like this:

My name is _____ and I’m greener than thou because… recently my wife and I began throwing all of our food waste, paper towels, egg cartons, milk cartons, and pet fish in the green bin and damnit if it doesn’t feel good! We’ve reduced our black bin waste by at least 50% each week, and our breezeway stinks to high heaven (could be the diapers we save for the landfill). We still drive mediocre gas consuming vehicles (Subaru and Volkswagen), but we’re considering a hybrid or something else “green” (although a Porsche GT sure would be nice, and a helluva lot faster than a Prius.) We send our boy to school with reusable containers rather than Zip Lock bags, and try to use “green” detergents and soaps when possible. We no longer shave our legs, face, armpits or privates, and toilet paper is a thing of the past, (Just kidding! Jesus H Christ…did you honestly think….?) and that is what makes me green.

And that’s how it goes. Share with us just how green you are (especially any green things you might have done or are doing to your San Francisco home) and let’s prove to Portland they ain’t got nothing on San Francisco!

p.s. For those of you that are ready to pounce on us for making fun of hippies, or tree-huggers, or Oregon, or whatever…save it. We’re sarcastic. Should you decide to delete the sarcasm, we are actually doing all of those things in an effort to be greener. (It’s the demons within that want the Porsche GT, not us.)

[We'll go ahead and tag this a Battle Royale should you care to forward to your Oregon friends.]

Update: We just noticed Curbed uses the title “Greener than thou” for many of their posts and has done so for quite a while. Some things slip by…sorry Curbed!

San Francisco’s “coolest” neighborhood: La Mission…hands down!

If you want to be flat out, straight, f**king cool, then live in (or at least go to) the Mission. We have been in every nook and cranny of this city and checked out just about every type of property you can imagine, seen every type of living quarters, seen just about every type of person and their living environments, and experienced all the areas this city can throw out. The Mission district in San Francisco is by far the absolute downright coolest, most hip, happening place in the city, and a recent trip around the Mission reminded us just how cool it is. Forget Union St. forget Fillmore or Hayes Valley, forget Union Square, forget the Embarcadero, (which are all really cool) forget it all….the Mission is the sh*t. It just has that vibe.

missiond

Not sure where it is? Walk outside your door, ask the first person you see, “How do I get to the Mission District,” make your way there, and experience everything else along the way. If you still can’t find it, use this map and look for where district 9c (Inner Mission) meets 5m (Mission Dolores), and you’ll be close.

Since this is a San Francisco real estate blog you’re probably wondering what the market is like there, so here are the comps for the past year. Enjoy and go check it out.

[Update: Since we're getting a fair bit of link traffic coming in for this post, you should all know we've had a few Battle Royales in the past and this one is quickly becoming one itself, so we've tagged it to go along with the others.]

Battle Royale: Tokyo or San Francisco if you had to choose

Since we’re on the subject…Tokyo or San Francisco if you had to choose and why…please. ;-)

We know nothing about Tokyo, and have never been, so should we decide to take a trip there, what can we expect, and what should we avoid. Of course, since this is a real estate blog, we’d also love to know what our money can(not) buy.

-San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps, Battle Royale]

-San Francisco or Los Angeles, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps, Battle Royale]

-Tokyo Photo Credit

Chart challenge: San Francisco mimics Japanese land value decline (sort of)

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.

Regards,

Paul

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

-Chart Fun: Declining Real Estate Values [theFrontSteps]

-San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps, Battle Royale]

Crime on the rise in Bernal Heights?

It seems to be the week of getting edumucated on theFrontSteps. First chickens, now rising crime in Bernal Heights? We have no factual evidence to support what we’re saying, but the information has come to us from a very reliable and trustworthy source. We’re hoping you (the reader) can shed some light on the matter. We know some of you in particular might have better knowledge on the matter than we, so please share.

It also begs the question, could this make Bernal go bust? (And it reminds us, we’re about due for another Battle Royale.)

Battle Royale: Realtors or Politicians, who’s worse?

Yes, we have the right to ask this question, as we are Realtors, and we encounter shady less than professional crooks (yes, crooks) on a weekly basis. At the same time, most of our colleagues are the nicest, most professional people in the world that work their asses off, but seriously…the lying, the cheating, the dishonesty, the back-stabbing, the constant self-promoting, and on and on. You’d think we’re on Capitol Hill, and you’d think the San Francisco Association of Realtors would put a stop to some of these people, but still they’re out there.

So who is worse, a Realtor or a Politician? Debate, discuss, have at it, because this week, we’ve had enough of it.

-Battle Royale [theFrontSteps]

Battle Royale: San Francisco or Los Angeles, if you had to choose

by Alex Clark

Sometimes I get plain bored of talking about San Francisco real estate and I dream of faraway places. I wonder, “What would it be like to live there?” Surely, some of you must wonder the same things.

Luckily, we’re getting to the bottom of NYC vs. SF, so I’m not losing sleep about moving to New York anymore. But what about moving somewhere warm, like Los Angeles?

Is L.A. really the city of angels or are those just “normal” people like you and me enhanced by botox and saline? Is the air really not as polluted as my cough was telling me? Did I really spend most of my time in traffic, or was I just having a bad dream?  Is Kat Von D the best Tattoo artist in L.A. or just the most popular? She’s certainly good looking, that’s for sure.

True, the weather is nicer (read: warmer), as are the beaches and the sites you’ll see at the beaches, but are Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo considered L.A.? What about downtown L.A.? Is it a ghost town during non-business hours? Is Hollywood and the movie industry all L.A. really has to offer?

What about recreation? Besides surfing, cycling, rollerblading (ugh!), skateboarding, sailing, kiting, fishing, mt. biking, skiing (if you want to call it that at Big Bear), beaching, partying, and being in movies, what else is there?

Real Esate?  What can you get for your money down there?  Soon, we’ll find out who is sexiest Realtor in L.A., but what’s that Realtor going to show us? (Don’t go there! ;-) ) Actually, while we’re on the subject, you might as well begin sending us your picks for the sexiest Realtor in Los Angeles.

It’s been a long time since I was down there, and I would have moved in a second had my Tante willed me her home in Manhattan Beach, but it was not to be, so I’m stuck wondering…San Francisco or Los Angeles, if you had to choose…and why.

-Battel Royale: San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps]

-…and the Nominees for Sexiest Realtor in San Francisco [theFrontSteps]

-Kat Von D [myspace]

Real Estate, Sex, our Top Posts and Last Thoughts of 2007

No surprise here…sex sells…very well, and it even helps sell real estate, or at least Realtors. Our most popular post of 2007 was …and the Nominees for Sexiest Realtor in San Francisco are….

Second up was obviously the the results of said contest.

Third up was our Battle Royale: San Francisco or New York City…if you had to choose.

Fourth place was Nothing Special, just $421,000 Over Asking, That’s All.

Fifth were some of our Picture Medley posts.

This year (2007) was a very good year for theFrontSteps, and we thank you all for it. We’ve seen average monthly “unique readers” go from less than 200/month when we started (February 2007) to over 21,000/month currently. Not bad for a hobby. We hope to continue growing and bringing the real estate insight in 2008.

If you feel like passing the time until we ramp up again in 2008, feel free to join “James” and “Resort at Squaw Creek” in a totally off-topic discussion on whether Sugar Bowl is a better ski resort than Squaw Valley USA (we pick Squaw).  Since it’s so off topic, you might as well just discuss all things Lake Tahoe.

If you absolutely must see some real estate porn, check out this $3,000,000 House for sale in the Central Sunset. Yes, that is Central Sunset on Lincoln, and that is $3,000,000.

lincoln.jpg

“John” sent us his take along with the link:

I went to the open house. Well, I was expecting a completely remodeled mansion. Don’t be fooled by the new exterior paint job. Instead, it is a fixer. Yes, it is large (4000+ sqft on main and upper floors). However, the kitchen and bathrooms are from the 50′s, floors are crappy and have water damage (maybe the roof has problems too?), windows are original single pane, next to a busy street (Lincoln), The in-law apartment in the basement is useless. The agent said the in-law had the permit, but I really doubt it.

What do I want to say? Well, it will be interesting to see how much this one sells for at the end of the day. Personally, I wouldn’t pay 1.5M for it, but who knows.

I love its colorful roof tiles though. It has some nice wood panels inside too.

If that isn’t enough to pass the time until your NYE celebrations, you could always send us a tip or letter.

Pray for snow, go buy a Tahoe house (it’s a great time for that), save up for a San Francisco home (our market is balancing out), and have a Happy New Year!

-2645 Lincoln Way [Redfin Listing Detail page...not a Redfin listing]

-Send us a tip [theFrontSteps]

-We Live in a Bubble Here in San Francisco (This is where you’ll find the Tahoe discussion.) [theFrontSteps]

Battle Royale: North Beach or South Beach, if you had to choose

It’s been a while since our last Battle Royale (SF v. NYC), but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten to keep it local. We’ve seen a few of you chime in on whether you’d choose Hayes or Haight, a few more of you duked it out over Pacific Heights or Marina, and let’s not forget the Noe or Bernal thread that started this all. But that’s the past. We’re moving on, and we want to know: North Beach or South Beach…if you had to choose (and preferably why).

North Beach:

northbeachmap.jpg

North Beach zip 94133 (Median: source Altos Research)

Single Family

condo

South Beach:

southbeachmap.jpg

South Beach zip 94105

Single Family

condo

South Beach zip 94107

Single Family

condo

Today’s battle could take so many different angles, but we’d have to say what it really comes down to, are you old school, or new school San Francisco?

And as always, got a thought on a good Battle Royale? Send it to us.

-Past Battle Royales [theFrontSteps]

“What Market Slump”-NY Times

A reader recently forwarded us this article from the New York Times, and thought it might paint a comparative picture of what is going on here, or what could come to be. We’d tend to agree, however, on a much smaller scale (so far). Everybody, ourselves included, likes to keep a watch on other markets that might possibly compare to ours, but few topics get as much traction as the San Francisco vs. New York debate.

However, we leave that discussion up to you, and thought we’d print a few quotes from the article to get you started:

Marcia Van Wagner, an economist and deputy city comptroller, said that while economists can forecast trends, they have trouble predicting just when a “turning point” will appear. Nevertheless, she said that her agency was updating its economic forecasts as concerns mount, and that she was expecting a slowdown in the real estate market, perhaps later this year or next year.

Last Wednesday, the developers of the new 58-story W New York-Downtown Hotel and Residences on Washington Street found that Manhattan market was alive and well. Michael Shvo, whose firm Shvo Marketing is selling the properties, invited 3,000 people who had expressed interest to show up on the opening day of the sales office for the sale of 159 one- and two-bedroom condos. (Another 64 furnished hotel-style condos will go on sale later).

At 7 a.m., when the office opened, there was a line on the street, Mr. Shvo said. By the time the office closed at 11 p.m., two hours later than planned, he said, contracts for 72 apartments had been signed. Prices began at $2,000 a square foot, he said, or more than $1 million for a one-bedroom.

Don’t think we can’t get there ($2000 a square foot). It’s just a matter of time. Thanks D.L. for the link.

[Update: Since we're on the topic of NYC again, the other side of the story. Thanks "Balanced Viewpoint" for the link.]

-What Market Slump [New York Times]

-Battle Royale: San Francisco or NYC, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps]

Comment du Jour: Stripping Trim, Shrinking Wood (supply)?

This comment wasn’t necessarily one that makes us fall over in laughter, or one that brings a tear to our eye, but one that might spark some conversation (or debate) nonetheless. (Extra points if you can come up with a catchy phrase using the words stripping, shrinking, old growth, wood, and trim in the same sentence. Then we might get a good laugh, or maybe even shed a tear.) Of course, you could just debate the merits of whether you like your wood covered or not, or if it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s not your house.

Uncovered:

woodpanel

Covered:

woodpanelpaint

From “Zang” on Cole Valley Before and After

Why do people paint over all of the historic woodwork? sigh. It’s cheaper than refinishing it… but it removes so much character and is so short sighted. With shrinking forests and wood prices skyrocketing, I’ll bet old growth wood paneling on walls, trim and ceilings will be coveted in years to come. And, have you ever tried stripping paint off of paneling/trim? Not fun.

Very good points indeed, and an observation everyone must wonder. We think painted white is mo beta! It makes the room look so much brighter, cleaner, and full of life.

Remember: Extra points if you can come up with a catchy phrase using the words stripping, shrinking, old growth, wood, and trim in the same sentence.

-Cole Valley Before and After (1233 Shrader) [theFrontSteps]

-Battle Royale: San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose [theFrontSteps]

Theory of the Starving Real Estate Agent

When I received my real estate license 5+ years ago, I entered into one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, at the beginning of one of the hottest real estate booms our nation would come to see. Real Estate licenses were flying out of the California Department of Real Estate as fast as they could print them. In San Francisco alone, I think the number of agents hit 5000+. (Keep in mind our population is only around 750,000+.)

Now the market has cooled, but at last check there are still some 4500+ licensed real estate agents in the city of San Francisco, and a lot less deals going around, and still “20% of agents doing 80% of the business”. So what happens to the rest? They need to pay bills, put food on the table, and pay the cost of living in San Francisco, and that leads to my theory.

The “theory of the starving real estate agent”: I think that a good percentage of the astronomical overbids, and market run up we had seen, were a result of agents pushing their clients to a higher offering price in order that they themselves would get paid. This is a theory I’ve had ever since I got my license and represented my first client on their first losing offer, and I thought, “How can you possibly make a living in real estate when you not only have to hustle to get clients, but also compete on every offer you write for them?” Continue reading

Comment du Jour:

SF could use a little NYC“.

nycbike.jpg

Short and sweet. We liked it, we’re running it, and a huge thanks to all the people around the country (noticed NYC, Chicago, SF for sure) who commented on our most popular post ever, Battle Royale: San Francisco or New York City, if you had to choose. We were pleasantly surprised with the number of New Yorkers who chimed in to help my quest for the best coffee in NYC. I’ll have to give them a try.