Category Archives: Inner Richmond

Possible Shift In San Francisco Real Estate Market? Should You Sell Your Home Now?

February 2014 San Francisco Market Report

It is far too early in the year to reach definitive conclusions regarding substantive changes in the market, but there are indications of a number of shifts. From the hurly burly on the street, the word is that the quantity of offers coming in on new listings is declining. Where a new listing might have attracted 10 or 12 offers last spring, 3 or 4 are coming in now; where 3 or 4 offers would have arrived, the seller is getting 1. And, according to Broker Metrics, for every 2 listings that offers in December and January, another listing expired or was withdrawn without selling.

The amount of competition deeply affects home price increases.

There are still a very large number of buyers looking at listings online and at open houses. But more of them appear to be first-time buyers and they are proceeding more cautiously. Some buyers are burned out on the multiple-offer bidding frenzies of last year and are reluctant to participate in them. Though the market remains hot by any reasonable standard, by some statistical measures it is cooling. This may reflect a transition or only a lull before the spring sales season begins.

Recently, the investment-property analysis firm Reis speculated that SF apartment-rent growth — which has been extraordinary by any measure, especially in a period of low inflation — will slow despite intense demand and very low vacancy rates, simply because people can’t pay any more. It’s an idea which may or may not be correct or apply to other types of housing costs. Rent rates do play a role in purchase prices as buyers often compare the net housing costs of the two options.

Median Sales Price Appreciation by Neighborhood

In San Francisco, some of the most affluent neighborhoods — such as the Pacific Heights-Marina district and the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district — started their recoveries in the second half of 2011, well before virtually every place else in the city or country. When 2012 began, prices in these districts soared, while other areas played catch up. In 2013, that dynamic flipped: Appreciation rates in comparatively less expensive neighborhoods surged, while slowing in the most affluent areas.

A big part of this is simple affordability: Priced out in one neighborhood (or city), buyers focused on others, similar in ambiance but less costly. Home prices there looked so good in comparison that buyers were willing to bid them up. The huge decline of distressed sales in areas severely affected, such as in Bayview, has had an outsized effect on median sales prices there. Continuing gentrification, as in the Mission, and increasing “luxury” condo construction in less affluent areas have also played parts in this trend. It’s not as if demand plunged in the Pacific Heights-Marina district (or Noe Valley, for that matter). Quite the contrary: its 9% appreciation rate in 2013 translated into the city’s largest median price increase in dollar terms ($300,000). However, in the previous year, this district saw year over year median price appreciation of 25%.

Note that median price appreciation does not perfectly correlate to changes in home values, as it can be affected by a variety of market factors. It does give an approximate sense of market trends.
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Client Testimonials From Way Back

Bear with me while I reorganize my testimonials into individual posts. These are a few put together from way back.

*Alex was very easy to work with. He was straightforward, gave good advice about how the condominium should look when it was being shown, and managed the negotiations with the buyer perfectly. I always felt he was dealing with me honestly, and he kept me fully informed. I will go to Alex any time I want to sell a house in San Francisco. JOHN BARTON

*I don’t know any Realtors in this city [San Francisco] that have a better grasp of technology as it applies to real estate than Alex. His sfnewsletter is a phenomenal resource and great way to begin your home search, or research home sales should you be selling, and he is a pleasure to work with. He seemed to get along great with the other agents involved in our transaction and we’re sure it helped get us the price we want. He negotiated hard, but made everyone laugh the whole way and it was great. Now we live in the suburbs, but if we ever move back, we’ll use Alex for sure. Not to mention he’s a decent golfer too. -Joe Condy

*Carole and I feel that we were very fortunate to have met you at the open house and I am glad we chose you to work with. Be assured in the future when we are ready to look at the market again we will be calling, as well as referring any house hunting friends to you. Read More-Carole and Bruce Derr

*Alex combines an insider’s knowledge of San Francisco, innovative marketingskills and the honesty and integrity of a down to earth guy.-Rich Singer

*Like a lot of SFNewsletter readers, I figured Alex would be either too busy or simply uninterested in representing a first time buyer with a sub-seven figure budget. Ten months of searching and four offers later, we’re homeowners, and he’s still returning my calls…The cool thing about Alex is he’s new-school enough to embrace technology’s influence over his profession, but old-school enough to hold your sweaty hand through every step of escrow. 

Bottom line, if you’re looking to be escorted from property to property in your agent’s Mercedes while being lavishly praised for your exquisite taste and style, Alex ain’t your guy. But if you’re looking for consummate San Francisco market expertise, every tool you’ll ever need to find and evaluate your properties, and a Tiger Woods-like closing mentality – hell, you’re already reading his newsletter, posting to his blog, and god forbid you’re receiving his twitter banter – seriously, why use anyone else?! -Tim Stevens

*We had our condo at the St. Regis listed for close to 8 months with another agent. We hired Alex and he sold it in two weeks! Amazing! Truly amazing and he was fun to work with the whole time, knew the market, knew we should take the offer we received, and knows where I should buy my next place. He is truly a pleasure to work with and really knows his stuff. His newsletter is great too. -Stephanie Morris

*I had been reading Alex’s “sfnewsletter” for over a year, so I knew when I was ready to sell my house in San Francisco, Alex was my choice. His newsletters were very informative and intelligently written. I know this sounds corny, but I really liked his sign-off at the end of each newsletter — “Happy Aloha Friday”. Alex kept on top of all correspondence and paperwork and kept me apprised every step of the selling process. I am happy to say that we accepted an offer after only 2 weeks on the market. I would recommend Alex to anyone in need of a superior REALTOR.-Debra Comstock

*I can and have enthusiastically recommended you to my friends who are looking at purchasing property here in San Francisco. Specifically, I appreciate your diligent work and follow-through, as well as your integrity in working with the seller’s representative and myself that made it possible to get this deal done. Read More.-Larry Singer

*Wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your assistance and help during the purchase of my new [home] in San Francisco. You did a great job of working with me all Summer long trying to find my dream house on my crazy schedule. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but by Fall you had identified my criteria and started showing me homes that suited my needs. The house we found has a great ocean view and is close to the beach with a big yard and potential to add on. Read More. -Ryan Seelbach

*Alex and I worked together for over 3 month searching for the right property. He showed me several properties and advised me on the pros and cons of each property. On [my home] he assisted in compiling a very strong offer on property where multiple bids were accepted. I strongly believe it was due to his assistance that I was able to purchase the proeprty despite the other offers being close to or higher than my own. Read More-David Kaneda

*I had met with several real estate agents before I decided on Alex, and it proved to be an excellent decision. He knew the market, had excellent recommendations based on my specific requirements and goals, and most importantly: he knew how to package and position the offer for quick acceptance once I decided on a property. We quickly closed on a condo at 1998 Broadway that was a great fit for me. And I believe the price and conditions make it an exceptional investment. I’d recommend Alex to anybody. Read More-Drew Sechrist

Tenth Avenue Opulence For $277,000 Less. Who Wants To Has It?


[Editor's Note: It is recommended you watch the video first.]

There is a lot to love about this listing at 261 10th Ave, especially “savings the money”, but I’m not quite sure what’s to love more:

Is it the insanely awesome gold coverlet accented by leopard print throw pillows and zebra print chair?

Is it the built in ballet studio that screams tutus and Baryshnikov? However, the ceiling looks a little low to soar like a Swan…

Is it the animal paintings in the foyer that look to be horses, or maybe at least one Giraffe?

Or could it simply be the recent price reduction to start off the new year? A price reduction from an original asking of $1,675,000 to the New Year’s price of $1,398,000…more than a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS.

It’s at a juncture like this when (proper) staging comes in handy, as does realistic pricing and shelving any visions of grandeur and opulence. Personal tastes aside, this is a great house, in an excellent location.

Who wants to has it?

-261 10th Ave, 4 bed, 3.5 bath, $1,398,000 (MLS)
-Find me on the Facingbook

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.

A Dream Buyer Carrying $2,500,000 Cash, Looking For A Good Home

Are you a San Francisco Realtor with a Lake District or Sea Cliff home one of your clients would be willing to sell? Well…we just found your dream buyer:

Very motivated all cash buyers looking for a SFR that meets the following requirements:

-$2.5M or less
-3 Beds/2 Baths+
-Around 3000 sq. ft.
-Large bedrooms
-Good condition w / some original detail
– Lake Dist., Laurel Heights, Jordan Lake, Inner/Central Richmond, or Sea Cliff

We keep telling you, there is opportunity galore showing up on PocketListings.net all across the country. If you’re not on there yet, you’re missing out, and you’re going to miss the boat. Mark our words on that.

-Lake District Buyer Need around $2.5M [PocketListings.net]