Telegraph Hill Neighbors: “Our Opposition Is Unconditional”

Ahhh….neighbors. You love ‘em. You hate ‘em. You can’t live in San Francisco without ‘em, and you certainly can’t easily remodel a home to today’s standards without opposition from them. Check out what just hit our inbox:
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If, for some reason, you can’t see the letter, which we uploaded as an image, we’ll go ahead and tell ya what it says:

Dear Mr. [deleted]:
We are neighbors on Telegraph Hill who will oppose any changes to the building envelope at [deleted] owned by [deleted] in this historic district of Telegraph Hill. While the Hill has suffered through renovations in the past, projects such as yours have occurred with extreme environmental changes. Water drainage issues on Telegraph Hill regarding a nearby project created unfavorable slope instability–buildings have been lost and a large boulder ended up on Sansome Street. Additionally, neighbors on [deleted] and surrounds are tired of construction noise and delays in completion caused by projects such as yours. A recent project took 10 years and is still incomplete.

Telegraph Hill is a historic district whose character depends upon building ownership which understands the value of building enhancement not as building expansion, but building enhancement as careful care in keeping up properties in their historic dimension. We find your application to be sadly ignorant of the need to abide by the common elements vital to the neighborhood and its character.

Your proposal to enhance the property needs to be cognizant of the historic preservation without additional elevation or facade changes in all directions. Projects like yours have been attempted in the past and have turned out badly.

While we many of us may be away during your pre-application meeting time, please understand that our opposition is unconditional.

Sincerely,
Your neighbors and friends on Telegraph Hill
[Thirteen names deleted]

Just another bump in the road for a developer out there trying to bring a home that has sat vacant since WWII (yes, that long) into our housing stock…before it falls off the hill or gets consumed by the pests and rodents feasting on its rotting self. But Hey! It’s “historic”.

[Update: We're told none of the authors of this letter took the time to actually visit the property at the open house outreach, and none have contacted the developer, or the architect (aside from this letter) to begin a dialogue of constructive or courteous negotiations.]

You gotta love San Francisco and all the righteousness it preserves…

-Telegraph Hill Landslide forces 120 from homes… [SFGate]
-San Francisco Neighborhoods prone to liquefaction…[theFrontSteps]

Letter To Editor: “Defamation, Slander, Law Suit” Fun!

Life at theFrontSteps is nothing but sunshine and roses. Ummm, maybe not. Today, we give you the most recent friendly email to come our way, with a few things [removed] to protect privacy:

[Editor], It is unfortunate that I have to write you this email. A client of mine [removed] sent me this link to one of your blogs. Please know that if you continue to [post certain things] on-line, I will file a defamation of character and slander law suit in 5 minutes. You did not mention me by name, but have already affected my reputation [removed] with this blog. This is the most desperate and pathetic attempt I have ever seen by an agent to procure business. I could sue you right now based on the sales and records I have made [in the past]. Your implications are quite damaging and it will not be tolerated. Please remove these insulting and malicious comments off this site immediately or [your company] and you will hear from my attorneys before you can write another irresponsible, unresearched, innaccuate and unethical statement. By the way, you are using my photos for commercial use. Please cease and desist from this.

Sincerely,
[One upset agent]

And you thought this blogging stuff is easy, and always fun….

Letter to the Editor: “$2+ million on 22nd between Valencia and Guerrero (3373 22nd St)” and some East Bay insight

Part 1:

We noticed it [3373 22nd Street] hadn’t had a Sunday open in a while, but rather than a pending or sold sign outside – we noticed the sign was just gone yesterday. It isn’t on the public mls as in contract – it just isn’t there. You know the scoop?

We are dying to know the final sales price. It was our perfect house in our perfect location – but a very unperfect price. So it wasn’t just the price – it was the price plus the people who were squatting in the house before the developer bought it, who still like to hang out around the house. For 2 + million – I don’t want to regularly have to ask the neighborhood characters to loiter elsewhere.

Now, we don’t know for certain which property you’re talking about, but imagine you’re talking 3373 22nd St, so we’ll go ahead and assume.

According to MLS it closed on 7/10/08 for a sales price of $1,950,000 (original asking was $2,095,000, originally listed 5/1…love that day!), and we heard the buyer represented himself (mls states the same). Last sale was 11/05 for a sales price of $920,000 and has definitely been fixed up since then.

Part 2:

And while I’m asking – I’ll give you a bit of insight from the east bay. We were supposed to close yesterday on our house in Oakland – only the bank hasn’t delivered loan docs yet. We have a jumbo loan and found the very last bank willing to do a 20% loan. Everyone else wanted 25% down or ridiculous rates. There is no problem with the loan – the bank is just backed up. We likely won’t close until sometime next week and the sellers are rolling with it. I was fully prepared to have to beg and plead for them not to walk – but we are hearing from our agent that a lot of deals are closing late. Is it the same over there?

Deals closing late, or the begging and pleading? We’re seeing a bit more of both. ;-)

Thanks for the insight on the East Bay, thanks for your email, and thanks for reading!

Letters to Editor: “I have been forced to get a day job”-Realtor

From a New York reader:

I was reading an old blog post of yours about starving real estate agents. Boy can I relate. I have been forced to get a “day job” ugh, and do [real estate] at night and weekends. I need to get back on track so I can quit that damn day job!

-J

Expired and FSBO(for sale by owner) Listings my Specialty!

We’re feeling your pain, but likely our reader “Ramen4Realtors” is laughing his/her head off. Regardless, we’re always looking for good writers…(it doesn’t pay, but at least you can vent.)

-Theory of the Starving Real Estate Agent [theFrontSteps]

Letter to Editor: “The buyers are the ones who are panicking…”

We received this email after our post regarding the apparent panic amongst some Realtors in San Francisco:

From a fellow SF Realtor…

I think Realtors looking for plugs for their listings is an attempt to cater to the new mentality of todays Buyers – not a sign of panic. The Buyers are the ones who are panicking as a result of the garbage being published practically daily about the real estate market tanking (thank you SF Chronicle, for one). They are being trained to believe that the only reason to buy in SF is if you can get a deal, be on the inside track, take advantage of something before others do, etc. So having you plug a “special” property works well. Realtors are just smart and know how to target their market :) But as we (Realtors) all know, at the end of the day it still comes down to location & price – not just a tip. The truth is, any serious Buyer is looking at a multitude of sites or has a good agent and can find said property without a lot of trouble, assuming it’s not a pocket listing. But as they say, perception is reality and if the Buyer thinks they’ve found a real jewel, that’s what Realtors are banking on. Literally!

Have a great day,

Thanks for the email…

A Hot Property and Great Quote

by Alex Clark

From a reader, who I like to refer to as “El Dunno” regarding my mention in today’s San Francisco Chronicle Business section:

san francisco chronicle

Good Job, you made the Chronicle. I read about your Firehouse analysis.

Too bad you weren’t quoted about your opinion of the value of the property if it were utilized as a hydroponic grow house.

Had she (Carolyn Said, the reporter, not “El Dunno”, the reader) asked me about that, $3.3M would certainly be a good price.

There is also a lesson here on staging and making your property look top-notch, especially, if you want a top-notch price.

-For more on the Ocean View district, where this firehouse is located, read sfnewsletter’s take in the Tour de San Francisco (real estate). [tdsf.blogspot.com]

-Will S.F. fire tour business turn into a hot property? [San Francisco Chronicle]

The Faces of Real Estate

From a reader who chooses to remain “anon”:

Just a question I’ve often wondered. Who’s idea was it to allow, or encourage Realtors to put their pictures all over everything from biz cards, to shopping carts, to buses, etc.? Why Realtors and not all the countless other professions out there?

Good question. I don’t have the answer. Not sure it was one person or a group of people that collectively sat down and said, “Hey…Realtors should use their pictures on their advertising!” I’m thinking it kind of just happened gradually as a way for Realtors to focus on face recognition, as their image is their brand.

Sorry I’m not much help on this. Regardless, thank you for writing in. Maybe our readers or stammtisch can shed some light on the matter.

untitled-2.jpguntitled-2.jpguntitled-2.jpguntitled-2.jpguntitled-2.jpg

Personally, I prefer to put my mug on top of the tram at Snowbird….over and over again.

-Why are Realtors so Arrogant and such Assholes? [theFrontSteps]

“That’s a good deal, right?”

We give you a reader’s un-edited [okay, maybe slightly edited] letter to the editor:

I just saw your site for the first time! Where have I been?

I am really interested in SF real estate, but from a purely looking-into-other-people’s-houses-and-fantasizing-about-what-their-lives-must-be-like perspective.

My husband and I sold our flat in Noe Valley last summer. It was not a pleasant experience. It took a while to sell (a few months in SF terms seems to equal a year in the “real world.”) We sold it for under by something like $50K. We moved into a rental while we looked for our next place. We just knew we’d find our dream house – it was a Buyer’s Market!

Nine months later, we found a house in Glen Park. Bought it before it hit the market (a friend of a friend) and now I’m happy as can be. A two-bedroom, single-family, detached on all four sides right [near] Glen Park Canyon for $870k. That’s a good deal, right? But I still like to check things out.

I don’t know nothing ’bout no market rates and interest and blahblahblah. I just know that I’ve seen a lot of houses in Bernal, some in Glen Park, some in Noe, a few others around town. For awhile I was checking a couple of different websites several times a day for new listings.

I’ve worked with three different agents in this city, one when we bought our place in Noe, and two when we sold it. We didn’t like any of them. But we finally figured out that it wasn’t them – it was us. We must be way too picky.

So, that’s a little about me. Not that interesting, and I don’t know that I can really contribute much other than comments like “That place is pretty!” or “1.5 for that shit hole?!” but I figured I’d say hi. And I like your site.”-M

We’re glad you found us. We hope to hear a lot more from you in the future, and something tells us you’ll fit right in. In fact, since you blew through 3 different Realtors, maybe you could provide some insight on this thread.

As for your question whether you got a good deal…you got a house in Glen Park, didn’t have to compete for it, and you’re happy. Sounds like a good deal to us.

“Why are Realtors so arrogant and such assholes?”

I can’t believe I am going to print this letter to the Editor, because, well…we’re mostly a community of Realtors bringing this information to you. But, I think there may be something to gain from this little quote if we get some good comments.

“Dear Editor,

I really like your blog and think it is a great resource and nice to see a Realtor trying to do something other than just sell, sell, sell, and cheer the market on. But maybe you can help me answer this question, why are Realtors so arrogant and such assholes? I mean, driving around in the bling, bling cars all the time. Constantly talking on the phone about loans, property features and what they’re worth, clients’ needs, etc., in the most un-private of locations (bathrooms, checkout lines, airports.) Always interupting a good conversation when the phone beeps, vibrates, or rings with “I gotta take this call…” Is it really that important?  Why do they think they are so cool? Other professions have their arrogant pricks too (attorneys, doctors, entrepreneurs), but Realtors somehow seem more obnoxious. Maybe it is the easy money you guys make.  Or maybe, you all truly are a bunch of assholes. Anyway, just thought you could shed some light on the matter for me.

Thanks,

Justin T.”

I’m hoping we can gain some insight into where the disconnect often lies between Realtor-client, Realtor-public.  Why is there such a negative perception  placed on Realtors?  I hope we can learn things like how we can better serve you during a transaction, rather than just “making easy money” (it’s never easy money by the way). How can we earn our commissions in your eyes?  Things we can do during the process of buying/selling your home for you that would make a difference. Things you like to see in our advertising. Things you like at the close of a transaction…that kind of stuff.

By giving you this open forum, I’m hoping you’ll spread the word, link to this post, and give some good feedback.  The more the better.

If somebody (Justin T.) feels strongly enough to write us with this question, I’m assuming he/she is not alone.  So let ‘er rip!

Sincerely,

Alexander Clark

-Should the full MLS be available to the public? [theFrontSteps]

Letter to the Editor

“More on my favorite theme:

Money Quote:

‘How bad can traffic in American cities get? Los Angeles’s long-range transportation plan is a grim look at the future. By 2025, Los Angeles County is projected to have 3 million more people, which could prompt a 30 percent increase in car trips. At that rate, the report suggests, “congestion will last nearly all day long.” None of the city’s innovative solutions-from new subway lines to traffic management systems-are likely to change that. And at the rate traffic in other cities is snarling, they won’t be far behind.’

Bottom line: The trends we see today will continue. In other words, buying real estate within 20 miles of America’s top cities is a sure thing. No point to wait for markets to “fall” – it’s not going to last. If you can – buy now.

One part of me wants to go for the suburban house in Lafayette so I can get my suburban toehold before it becomes only the possibility of the rich…” Dave-San Francisco

Editor: And the other part? You left us hanging! What’s the other part!?

-US News, “Road Warriors: Tie-ups. Backups. Gridlock. The American commute has never been so painful. Is there any solution? [US News & World Report]
-Doom & Gloom [sfn BLOG]
-Letters to the Editor [sfn BLOG]

“Little old Bernal Heights makes the Financial Times”

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We’ve been telling you for eons how hot Bernal has been and continues to be, and a kind reader forwarded us the following article, from none other than the Financial Times (The City’s Last Secret).

Some money quotes:
-”Bernal isn’t the next neighbourhood in San Francisco; it’s the last neighbourhood in San Francisco,” [Editor's note: Apparently they've over-looked Glen Park, Potrero Hill, West Portal, Inner Sunset, Golden Gate Heights, Hayes Valley, oh we could go on forever.]
-”Bernal (which rhymes with “kernel”)” [Editor's note: A Beastie Boys lyric comes to mind here, "eating Colonel's chicken drinking Heineken Brew..."]
-”Bernal remains one of the few places in San Francisco where young families of less extravagant means can hope to find a two- or three-bedroom detached house with a yard for a growing family. “It’s as affordable as you can get in San Francisco,” [Editor's note: According to MLS the average sales price for a single family home in Bernal Heights is $883,649, and PPSF is $597...bargain basement prices!]
-”Young, stroller-pushing mums mingle freely with flannel-clad hipsters and grannies in Bernal Heights-emblazoned hoodies.”
-”once people land there it becomes cult-like”

That’s enough. It’s actually a great article and a great neighborhood, we were just poking a little fun. Necessary sometimes in this uptight world of real estate.

-The City’s Last Secret [Financial Times]
-Score Another One for Bernal[sfn BLOG]
-All Bernal Articles so far [sfn BLOG]
-[Image credit: Bernal Heights Preservation.com]

Letters to the Editor: My take on our market/society

Hi sfnewsletter: First of all, your latest post “Good Bones” is insane! It is insane for what and where it is and by any manner with which we once looked at these things in the past. The Maximum overbid is also insane in this newsletter below (2155 9th Avenue that our friends bid on). As was that place on 15th that was in probate that we looked at. And much of what goes on in the hot neighborhoods is insane by past measures.
But by current and future measures, it is not insane. In fact it is completely sane. Continue reading

Rent vs. Buy…the old debate…in an interactive graph

A few readers sent us this totally cool link, and so we must post for it you.
rentvbuy.jpg
Is It Better to Buy or Rent?
Compare the costs of renting and buying equivalent homes. Click
CALCULATE each time you change an entry.
We had some fun with this for a while. Make sure to tweak the sliders. According to Dataquick, you can use a 2.4% appreciation for San Francisco.  What was that game show that spun that wheel and the players said, “big money, big money, no whammies?” We’ll substitute to apply to us, “Come on big appreciation, no Whammies!”
Of course, it could be a good time to buy rental property and collect those rents.

-Is it better to rent or buy graph [NY Times Online]
-Is it better to rent or buy article [NY Times Online]
-Inger Hogstrom Photography [one of the readers that sent us the link]

A reader vs. Lembi (David v. Goliath?)

One of our readers, who happens to be a very excellent, savvy, and successful real estate investor, sends us this little message:
“I have been out-bid by a substantial margin twice in the last 3 weeks by Lembi. It seems that he will buy anything far above the highest bid and he is not a TIC guy. Cannot figure this guy out. Maybe the stale fish seller [referring to 497 Oak on the latest sfnewsletter] should raise the price to $2.0mm and call Lembi?”

Anybody else have a Lembi story?  We would imagine if you’re bidding on investment property, you would. 

-Word on the Multi-Family street [sfn blog]
-S.F. rental combine snaps up 452 more units [San Francisco Business Times]-subscription required, and we HIGHLY recommend you get a subscription if you have an interest in San Francisco real estate.