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according to Broker Metrics, for every 2 listings that offers in December and January, another listing expired or was withdrawn without selling.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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Top 10 Overbids Of The Week, And One Mind Bender On Church That Wouldn’t Even Make The List

[Update: Most recent Overbids can be found here, and delivered to you biweekly via email at sfnewsletter.com]

Before we get down to the top 10, I thought you all might like a bit of first hand story to ponder over lunch or dinner with your friends.

This property: 1850 Church, technically in Glen Park, practically in Noe Valley.
1850church
It is a top floor, three bedroom, two bath, down to the studs remodel including moving the bedrooms from the back of the house to the front, moving kitchen to the back, blowing out walls, opening up space, adding a deck, and basically making it awesome…and it has two car parking and a yard. For all practical purposes, it’s pretty sweet. It is however bordered by a shack on the right and left of the property, which can either lend to its appeal or detract, depending on your tolerance for jungle overgrowth. But enough about that. What happened?

Listed for $1,195,000, maybe a bit low, but probably pretty fair, all reasonable comps suggested a sales price in the high $1.2s to mid $1.3s. Single family homes are selling for that, and this is a condo! After all the dust settled, there were seven offers. My clients wrote at $1,350,000, my colleague’s clients wrote at $1,410,000 (You doing the math? That’s already $215,000 over asking.), and neither of us won. Go figure. So any day this property is going to close at $1,435,000 with a cash offer that came with zero contingencies, which equates to $240,000 over the asking price, and right into the range of insanity. Exact square footage is not known, but a ballpark would put this property to at least $1000/psf, and at 20% over asking, it doesn’t even get on the top 10 list!

Isolated incident? Sadly no. The pattern is the same. Buyer loses once. Buyer loses twice. Buyer loses three times or more. Buyer gets fed up, goes crazy big, blows our minds, blows everyone else out of the water, and sets the bar that much higher for the next. It’s a vicious cycle we’re in.

In case one anecdotal sale isn’t enough for you, I present San Francisco’s top 10 Overbids of the week.

Address BR/BA/Units DOM List Price Sold Price Overbid
2820 Sacramento St 2822 2-4 Units 11 $1,825,000 $2,550,000 39.73%
360 Guerrero St 1/1.00/404 11 $599,000 $780,000 30.22%
1013 Rhode Island St 2/2.00/N/A 9 $1,099,000 $1,410,000 28.30%
125 Bella Vista Way 3/2.00/N/A 42 $749,000 $960,000 28.17%
664 Teresita Blvd 2/1.00/N/A 9 $699,000 $891,000 27.47%
26 Pleasant St 30 2-4 Units 75 $2,395,000 $3,020,000 26.10%
1335 31st Ave 2/2.00/N/A 14 $795,000 $1,000,000 25.79%
415 Missouri St 3/1.00/ 19 $995,000 $1,250,000 25.63%
3380 22nd St 3/1.00/ 70 $849,000 $1,060,000 24.85%
2446 17th Ave 3/2.00/N/A 15 $729,000 $908,000 24.55%

So when will this madness end? I’m guessing not anytime soon. I’ve been saying it’s a great time to be a seller, but if you’re a seller needing to buy in San Francisco and stay here, not so fun.

To you out of town readers that have waited for your time to unload your SF property, are you going to keep rolling the dice and bet things get hotter, or get out while the gettin’s good?

-1850 Church [Property Detail]
-Noe Valley, Glen Park comps for 1850 Church [MLS]
-Overbids you may have missed [theFrontSteps]

Five White-Hot Districts In A Red-Hot San Francisco Real Estate Market

July 2013 Special Report

Virtually every area of San Francisco and the Bay Area has been experiencing dramatic home-value appreciation in the past 12 to 18 months. Some that were hard hit by distressed property sales, which experienced the largest price declines, have surged in price but remain 20% – 30% below previous peak values reached in 2006 – 2008. As a state, California is still about 25% below its 2007 pre-crash median home price. And in San Francisco itself, many if not most neighborhoods now appear to have re-attained or moved slightly beyond previous high points.

But in this past quarter, a handful of neighborhoods and districts in the city have leapt well beyond the highest average home values achieved in the past. Interestingly, comparing these white-hot areas with one another, there are often huge differences in property type, era and style of construction, and neighborhood culture or ambiance. But all of them have been very affected by affluent – often newly affluent – high-tech professionals of one age group and level of affluence or another. Naturally, these neighborhoods are highly desired by other buyers too – often professionals in finance, bio-tech, medicine and law – but the high-tech-buyer dynamic has generally super-charged these markets in particular.

However, please note that the difference we’re talking about between these neighborhoods and the rest of the city is between white hot and red hot: Quite honestly, they’re all very hot markets right now.

The Inner Mission 

Super hot, super hip, generally young: this neighborhood has seen very dramatic changes since the early nineties as a classic process of gentrification occurred — changes which have recently accelerated. Houses here are often large, classic Victorians, while the condos are mostly modern, built within the last decade or so. This area has a large, vibrant and diverse commercial district centered around Mission and Valencia Streets, but is still close to Noe Valley and the Castro. This chart focuses on the condo market, in which values are approximately 15% above the previous peak.

Noe Valley – Eureka Valley (Castro) – Dolores Heights 

These neighborhoods are part of a district that includes Cole Valley, Ashbury Heights, Clarendon & Corona Heights, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores and Glen Park, all of which have seen enormous recent appreciation. Housing here is typically older, built in the first 4 decades of the last century; there are many parks for kids and pets; the streets are tree-lined and the ambiance of the neighborhoods is relaxed and family friendly. This district surged in popularity and price in the mid-late nineties, was one of the last to peak in value in 2008, and has been at the forefront of the market rebound which started early here, in 2011. Among other advantages, it has relatively easy access to highways south to Silicon Valley. The district also has a large condo market, but this chart focuses on house values.

South Beach & Yerba Buena 

After the Embarcadero freeway came down in 1991 and then AT&T Park built in 2000, this area changed from a place for B-class offices and car stereo installations to the home of some of the most dramatic and expensive condo and loft buildings in the country. More condos are now sold here than anyplace else in the city and high-floor units with staggering views often sell for millions of dollars – one sold for $28 million. It’s popular with a number of demographics – high-tech and bio-tech workers working in offices nearby in SoMa and Mission Bay, financial district professionals, and empty-nesters who want to enjoy city life and have all the amenities, but without the responsibility of maintaining a house. Affluent foreign buyers are also a significant segment. Its neighborhood ambiance is very urban. This chart is for condos below the price of $1,800,000, but the dynamic for ultra-luxury condos is also white hot, with an average dollar per square foot value of over $1200.

Bernal Heights 

Like Noe Valley and Glen Park, Bernal Heights was originally a blue-collar neighborhood filled with Victorian houses. Noe Valley soared in value first, becoming wildly popular, and now people who want a similar family-friendly neighborhood ambiance, but at a more affordable cost, have increasingly turned to Bernal Heights. It also has easy access to highways south to the peninsula.

 

Hayes Valley-North of Panhandle (NoPa)-Alamo Square

This condo market is made up of two totally different types: Edwardian flats that have been turned into condos and brand new, ultra-modern condo developments. The Hayes Valley commercial district is very hot and hip, similar to, but still different from the Mission’s Valencia Street. Buyers who are priced out of the nearby Cole Valley-Haight Ashbury condo market often look here for a similar neighborhood ambiance at lower cost. Hayes Valley is also close to the Civic Center cultural cluster of museum, opera, symphony, ballet and other performing arts, which appeals to another buyer demographic as well.

To put all of these charts into one simple suggestion: It’s a great time to sell your property in San Francisco, and our market desperately needs the inventory!

If you have questions or would like information regarding a neighborhood not listed above, please contact us.

Maximum Overbid Of The Week: 235 28th Street, Noe Valley…

This one is hot off the presses. So hot, this property at 235 28th Street in Noe Valley still has dust billowing up around it from the flurry of bidding that just went down.

235noefacade

235noekitchen

235noerear
By all accounts, this is a great, great house. Sure, it needs a little work, but could be really nice and totally livable with ripped up carpet and buffed out floors, new paint (get rid of the wallpaper), and tidy up the yard. It’s actually livable now, but we have champagne tastes like all of you. To take it even further, the house could be expanded down, up and back. Big project for sure, protect that lovely historical facade, dig out the downstairs, add one more parking spot, and go big…and that’s exactly what all of you, dear readers/buyers, can expect to hit the market in or around another year, and expect it to be in the $3,000,000 range.

We just bid on this property, and we lost. Asking $899,000, we bid $1,250,000, we were “in the top four”. Winning bid (hate that word) was $1,300,000, cash, seven day close. That’s $401,000 over asking. Hard to beat. And for our buyers, it’s another one lost. It stings just as bad this time (the 7th) as it did the first.

To all you sellers, we keep saying it’s a great time to sell, are you believing us yet?

-235 28th Street, Noe Valley: 3bd, 1ba, $899,000 [MLS]
-When Someone Else Tells You Our Market Is Hot Will You Listen? [theFrontSteps]
-Telegraph Hill Neighbors: Our Opposition Is Unconditional [theFrontSteps]

Ditch Your Realtor, Get Ahead Of The Pack By Working With Me

Are you, or any of your friends, looking for a single family home in Noe or Cole Valleys (or anywhere in San Francisco for that matter)? Are you getting beat out by multiple offers in the over million dollar price range ($1.5M+), and showing up late to the party? Is your Realtor telling you they’re doing all they can (simply checking MLS everyday, which you can do too), but really not delivering? If so, you’re not alone, and I can help.

Within the past couple of months my buyers and readers have known about dozens of properties prior to them going to MLS. To think I share all of them online with everyone is simply silly. For example, my circle of clients knew about 707 Cole, 1027 Cole, 313 Parnassus, 785 Cole, 1340 Cole, 121 Beulah, 471 Duncan, 2975 Lake, and many more. There are also a dozen or so homes that never even made it to MLS and were shown without a hint of market activity, such as a mid-century home in Noe Valley, a grand, modern home on Sanchez, an AIA tour home in Golden Gate Heights, a penthouse stunner in SOMA, and a few others that I can’t recall the address off the top of my head.

Today, I present to you two more opportunities in Cole Valley, one in Nob Hill, and another on Lake Street not on MLS. Nowhere near MLS in fact. Not on PocketListings.net, not in my pocket, and not even on anybody’s radar. They are all single family homes, and they are all at least 2 bedrooms, and close to or over $1,500,000. They are not fixers, they are done, done, done…or turnkey as we like to say.

If you are interested, or know somebody that might be, you gotta contact me directly (alexclark@gmail.com), you gotta be unrepresented, and I’m going to ask you to work with me going forward and sign a written agreement confirming exactly that. No co-agents, no “I’ll work with you if you find me the property”, no “let’s try it out on this deal”…none of that. You either marry me as your agent or you don’t. Not sure if you should? Have a look at some recent testimonials I’ve been gathering and come take the plunge.

Like I’ve said, working with and finding a Realtor you like is like dating. If it’s not working out with one, you are free to leave to find another.

I’m also beginning to dabble in Lake Tahoe real estate, so if you’re interested in a second home, ski pad, lake front property, my finger is finding the pulse of that market too (and I know where all the good powder is).

So feel free to give me a shout, and let’s work on getting you ahead of the pack and into the home of your dreams. I’m also happy to help any of you sellers out there sitting on the fence in these markets. It’s a good time to sell in certain areas and certain price-points. I am at your service and available for consultation.

-Prior off market opportunities I presented [theFrontSteps]
-Testimonials
-Lake Tahoe Ski Cabin [theFrontSteps]

Happy New Year From Me To You…And The Scoop On Both A Cole Valley And Noe Valley Single Family Home

My dear readers,

I continue to give you opportunity after opportunity and you have been great. You have been loyal, you have been kind, you have been my source of income (and food and clothing for my two shining young pains in the ass…I mean sons who I love dearly…but sometimes want to wring their necks.) You have referred friends, you have referred family, you have given me tips on hot (and cold) property, and I greatly appreciate it.

I hope you continue to do so in 2012, as you have done since I started this thing back in 2007, and I hope to continue to give you the goods as I have done since before I launched this blog. (Can you believe I’ve been reporting on real estate since 2004!) I want to continue to give you the inside scoop, with a twist and some flavor, because Lord knows our market is a complete mind thrash, so we might as well have a good laugh along the way.

With that said, I have the scoop on a property in Cole Valley for some of you Cole Valley buyers:

and I also have a scoop on 471 Duncan for all of you Noe Valley buyers.

So if you, or anybody you know, was/is interested in a Single Family in Cole Valley, or took a look at 471 Duncan (or any other Noe Valley Single Family recently), give me a call. Principals only please. (If your agent isn’t digging up this kind of dirt for you, why are you paying them!?)

Happy New Year to all of you wonderful people. I hope to kick it up a notch this year on theFrontSteps, and continue to see PocketListings.net to become the successful site it deserves to be.

I look forward to helping you, and everyone you know, buy and sell tons of San Francisco real estate in 2012.

Sincerely,

Alex Clark

San Francisco Housing Market Not Stopping…How’s That For A Gift From Santa!?

In this season of giving and being thankful, I’d have to say that San Francisco Bay Area residents should be pretty thankful that our market is nowhere near that of the national average. If you’re a seller you can be thanking your lucky stars that buyers are out there in droves, and if you’re a buyer you need not pinch yourself, because yes, interest rates are indeed averaging UNDER 4%, and that is certainly something to rejoice.

The San Francisco Association of Realtors Market Focus Report begins now:

Although these fall months are not typically known for high real estate activity, this year has proven otherwise, with strong pockets of movement occurring throughout the city, keeping the market active during these shorter days. Families have been rushing to purchase and settle into their new homes to prepare for the holiday season and upcoming year.

Single-Family Homes

As the number of homes for sale fell throughout the city by 27.3 percent compared to November 2010, the number of homes under contract this past month rose by 21.1 percent, while the number of homes sold rose by a substantial 22.3 percent. For properties that were priced below $700,000, the months of supply inventory dropped by 67.8 percent to 1.3 months. For properties priced between $700,000 and $1.2 million, the months of supply inventory fell by 12.1 percent to 2.8 months. Readings between one and four months typically indicate a seller’s market, where sellers have more negotiating power over home buyers.

One part of the city which continues to experience healthy sales activity is the central district that provides ample shelter from San Francisco’s famous fog and is one of the city’s sunnier regions. Since November 2010, the number of homes sold has risen considerably by 60 percent to a total of 40 properties. From the colorful neighborhoods of Haight Asbury and the Castro, to the more contemporary and family-friendly Noe Valley, to the posh and upscale Clarendon Heights, this part of the city offers a diverse array of housing opportunities for just about any home buyer.

Another area of the city which saw heightened sales activity is the southern part of the city that stretches from San Francisco City College to beyond Candlestick Park. Compared to this time last year, the number of homes under contract in this district has risen by a whopping 80 percent, while the number of homes sold has increased by 58.3 percent to a total of 57 properties. Some of the neighborhoods in the area, such as the Excelsior and Mission Terrace, offer a suburban feel, easy access to public transportation, and some of the best prices in the city, which makes them great locations for first-time home buyers.

Condominium Sales

Although the number of condominiums for sale fell throughout the city by 37.2 percent compared to November 2010, the number of condominiums under contract rose by 17.7 percent and the number of condominiums sold increased by 23.1 percent. For condominiums that were priced between $500,000 and $900,000, the months of supply inventory contracted by 61.4 percent to a reading of 2.2 months. For luxury condominiums priced above $900,000, the months of supply inventory decreased, by 49.8 percent to 2.6 months.

One part of the city which experienced a robust increase in condominium sales activity is the central-eastern part of town, whose landscape continues to evolve from its former warehouse and factory occupied streets. Since November of last year, the number of condominiums sold has jumped by 56.4 percent, from 39 units to a total of 61. The central-eastern district includes such neighborhoods as up-and-coming South Beach, home to AT&T Park and some of the most stylish condominiums in the city, as well as SOMA (South of Market) and Yerba Buena, which has seen an infusion of moderately priced condominiums in recent years.

Outlook

The Conference Board reports that consumer confidence surged in November to its highest level since July, a sign that Americans may be more willing to spend. The Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index climbed by 15 points in November to 56 points, the highest it has been since a reading of 59.2 this past summer. Although still well below a reading of 90, which indicates an economy on solid footing, the confidence numbers are encouraging.

According to the State Employment Development Department, the statewide and local job outlook continues to improve as California’s unemployment rate dropped for the second straight month in October to 11.7 percent. Bay Area counties were all below the State average, including San Francisco, which dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent the prior month.

As the cost of renting in the city continues to rise, and with the average rent currently at $2,572, more and more people should be considering owning a home. There are a variety of rent vs. buy calculators available online and anyone of them can be used to help with a decision as to whether to rent or buy.

As local tech companies like Zynga and Yelp prepare for initial public offerings, more and more of their employees are looking towards owning a home in San Francisco. Reuters reports that recent competitive bidding in some neighborhoods has pushed home prices up more than 15 percent from last year in some areas such as Noe Valley, SOMA and Potrero Hill.

With the improving economy and surge in pending sales, 2012 is likely to see a stronger San Francisco real estate market than what buyers and sellers have been accustomed to since 2008.

-San Francisco Association of Realtors Market Focus Report

When Someone Hands You Lemons….

Do you, my dear readers, remember this property I mentioned back in July?

I showed it to a couple of buyers that came forward after that post. It didn’t work for them for various reasons, but at least they came forward and saw the opportunities I’ve been presenting you. The rest of you will now have to fight it out with the masses as the property is now on the MLS and asking $2,150,000.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this post I did back in May?

That was an opportunity to snag 2975 Lake before the rest.

I had four buyers come forward for the opportunity on that property, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons. It soon hit MLS for $2,980,000, and was in contract a mere seven days later.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this Fixer of Epic Proportions I featured, and Yahoo! picked up?

I showed it to a couple of developers that came forward, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons.

Four days ago I posted about this opportunity in Liberty Heights, and have showed one buyer through the property, as a result. I have this condo for sale at 88 King Street, this one at 200 Townsend, I brought you this fabulous Marina Blvd home, as well as this amazing unit at 200 Brannan, this home in Tiburon, and an entirely new website dedicated to getting you, the buyer and seller, more real estate opportunities to fall in your lap. Is your Realtor working that hard for you?

I have multiple opportunities always on the back burner for multiple buyers and sellers. If you’re ready to work with me, I’m ready to work with you. I would encourage you and your friends/family to contact me before you miss out on another great San Francisco real estate opportunity.

…end shameless self-promotion here.

-Completely Remodeled Noe Valley Home With High Definition Views For Sale [theFrontSteps]
-471 Duncan, Noe Valley [Property Website]
-2975 Lake [MLS]
-Mid Century Modern With An Emphasis On Modern [theFrontSteps]
-88 King Street #206, $849,000 [theFrontSteps]
-200 Townsend #47, $499,000 [theFrontSteps]
-Marina Blvd For The America’s Cup [theFrontSteps]
-200 Brannan [theFrontSteps]
-PocketListings.net

Mid Century Modern With An Emphasis On Modern

Are you a lover of Modern (particularly Mid-Century) like me? Are you looking for a home that you just can’t seem to find anywhere else? Do you have a budget up to $2,200,000? If so, I have found the home for you. I have been asked not to share any photos of this particular home online, because it is not listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and is a pocket listing, but it is on par with something like these:





The home is 3 beds, 2 baths, 2 car side by side parking, in an A+ Noe/Castro/Liberty Heights area. It is up on the hill, has tremendous views, is totally open, bright, minimal, and amazing. Re-designed by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects, it also has custom designer wall finishes throughout, SubZero, 6-burner Thermador range, Limestone, Calacatta marble & Thassos stone finishes, integrated sound with built in speakers, outdoor built-in Viking grill with granite counter, and did I mention views, views, views!

It’s one of a kind, and it could be yours.

I do not hold the listing, but can definitely bring a buyer. Principals Only Please. Contact me for details.

-PocketListings.net
-Completely remodeled Noe Valley Home with High Definition Views (More on this one later) [theFrontSteps.com]
-Contact For Details

Completely Remodeled Noe Valley Home With High Definition Views For Sale

If it’s a high style three bedroom, three bath 2300 +/- square foot completely remodeled Noe Valley home with Hi-Def views you crave, yours truly has the one for you. This home is not on MLS, and it’s not even on PocketListings.net. It’s so not even “ON” that there is only one way to get to it right now…through me.
That’s not to say if a buyer doesn’t come along and take advantage of this opportunity right now it’s not going to hit the MLS, but it is guaranteed you will have to compete with multiple buyers for this property. So if you feel like beating out the other buyers and getting your Noe Valley dream home with incredible views, a beautiful south facing back yard with two decks, one car parking, high end finishes, new plumbing, heating, and appliances, and an incredibly open floorplan perfect for entertaining, then contact me.
As you can see from the photos, the home is not yet finished, but I can assure you there is a deal to be had. Principals only please, as I will be representing you as buyer’s agent. Or you can wait and hope it hits MLS so you can compete with a few other well qualified buyers. Price around $2,000,000.

-Contact For Details
-~3800 Square Foot Sea Cliff Home (Fixer) For You [theFrontSteps]

Opportunity For Fence Sitting Sellers And Desperate Buyers

Are you somebody that lives in San Francisco, has a home that is either on one level or contains an elevator, and you’ve been on the fence about selling your home? PocketListings.net has a buyer for you, they aren’t picky about their neighborhood, and they have $2,000,000 to spend.

Maybe you are a resident living in Pacific Heights, Sea Cliff, Cow Hollow, or Presidio Heights and you don’t want all the hullabaloo of listing on MLS, but you’d love for a buyer to come take a look at your home. PocketListings.net has a couple of those multi-million dollar buyers too.

Are you a buyer looking for a two unit building in the Marina? PocketListings.net has that too!

The moral of this story is if you are a buyer or seller anywhere in the United States, and especially in San Francisco (our hottest market), you should not only be visiting the site yourselves, but telling your real estate agent to do the same. There are opportunities galore, and it’s getting better every day!

-Single Family Home Buyer Needing One Level Or Elevator Home
[PocketListings.net]
-Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Sea Cliff Buyer [PocketListings.net]
-Marina Two Unit Building “Not On MLS”, $2,800,000 [PocketListings.net]

3843 22nd Street (Noe Valley) Has A Nice Kitchen And A Pool…In The Same Room!

Thirty eight forty three (3843) 22nd Street in Noe Valley is hitting the market* any minute, and you’re getting your first look inside, right here. Unassuming from the front, but dramatic on the inside, you know you want this property.





If you happen to work at Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Twitter, Zynga, or any of the countless other companies that are booming in our area, adding thousands of jobs, and helping to sustain our real estate market, this might just be the home for you, and I want to get you in there. Just make sure if you do purchase this home, your guests bring adequate bathing attire (or not), and remove mobile devices from their pockets at the front door (along with car keys and MUNI passes).

I’ll make the margs….

-3843 22nd Street, 3 beds, 2.5 baths, $1,799,000 [For more details.]

*”On the market” has long been associated with “on MLS”, as opposed to the thousands of “off market”, or “not on MLS” opportunities that abound.

San Francisco Real Estate Data, Focus On The Volume On Your Block, Not The Median In Your City

“After hitting a two year low in January, the median price for single-family re-sale homes rose 18.6% in March from February. Year-over-year, the median price was off for the seventh month in a row, falling 3.1%.

After falling to their lowest level since January 2009 in February, home sales bounced back last month, which is normal for this time of year, and rose 75% from February. The 203 home sales last month were 7.7% lower than last March.”

Single Family Stats:

Condominium Stats:

One can argue the merits of medians, averages, days on market and generally just about anything in this data, and one can certainly spin it however they like. Read any number of Realtor blogs/sites and the market is gravy. Read any number of market bashing blogs and it’s all still doom and gloom. Because of this market spin that makes my head spin, I like to focus on one thing…sales volume…more specifically sales volume by district, even nano-district.

We’re coming off of a historical market thrashing. Naturally, prices are going all over the map. So what I really want to know is, if there is sales activity where my client either needs to buy or sell property. If property is moving, that is a good thing. If they’re getting stale, that is bad.

For San Francisco single family homes, we can see year over year (YoY) sales volume is down 7.7%, but up 75% compared to the month prior. Pick District 7 North (roughly Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Marina, Cow Hollow) and you’ll see that not only is volume up YoY (8.3%), but also up 225% on the month, whereas District 1 (roughly Richmond, Sea Cliff, Lake, Lone Mountain) is down 25% YoY, but up 50% on the month. (The fact home values in the Richmond are grouped with Sea Cliff is an entirely different nano breakdown that could further skew the numbers…ever seen a $15,000,000 home sell in the Richmond? Anyway….) In any given neighborhood, it is good that volume is up on the month (but also expected given the season), but bad that it is down on the year, because last year was a brutal year, so how could it go anywhere but up? That makes me cautiously optimistic.

For Condos we see YoY sales volume is down 7.2%, but up 28.8% on the month. That is a much more modest gain as compared to single families, and another indication that single family homes are still, and likely always will be, in more demand in San Francisco (because there are so few of them.) But look at District 5 Central (Noe Valley, Haight, Cole Valley, Glen Park…all together? Seriously?) volume is up 2.6% from last year, and 81.8% from the month prior.

The verdict? The San Francisco real estate market is both showing signs of strength, but also still many signs of weakness. You need to really take a close look at the data being presented in any articles you read (as opposed to just reading the headline and story), and you really need to figure out what the market is doing in your neighborhood, and specifically, on your block. Sales volume is (to me) most important, because it is your indication of whether properties are selling, or not. Average and median prices got pummeled, so don’t lose sleep over them. If you have to move and sell now, focus on pricing, get the highest and best price you can, and don’t stress over whether the seller 20 blocks away got more, because it could just be a result of the weather.

I’ve always said “San Francisco” data is way too generic for all of our little nano-markets, so if you have any questions about my thoughts on your ‘hood, you know where to find me.

Today, I’ll be golfing (or maybe surfing).

-San Francisco Real Estate Market Trends [ReReports.com]
-Why The Fuss About Noe Valley [theFrontSteps]
-What’s the Real Estate Forecast For Bernal Heights [theFrontSteps]
-Tour De San Francisco: Clarendon Heights [theFrontSteps]
-Factoring Weather When Buying A Home In San Francisco Is Anything But Easy [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.

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!

Reader Reports: We Finally Were Able To Refinance! What A Nightmare! And Some Advice…

From a reader:

Dear theFrontSteps,

After TWO YEARS of intensive search and questioning and hunting ….we closed yesterday on our refinancing! We got a $600,000 loan at 4.5%. (no point, no refinancing costs, except for appraisal and recording fees).

By the way, the appraisal came back at $1,200,000, which made us laugh a good time. Having open walls and contractor tools in the house does help take the price down!!! Note: I followed the “uglyhouse” blog advice on everything else, and all the pics (gov requires all bathrooms, kitchen and living room pictures) came out 100% clean and staged.

Some thoughts:

No bank, nobody wanted to hear from us, still because we have only one income.

I contacted several brokers, including one who was contacted/recommended by our private banking. Brokers just don’t make it. The process throug brokers would drive anybody crazy. We recontacted our original loan issuer (the employee at wells fargo) and she refused to refi us.

We finally got our break when the WF branch at NoeValley opened a full time position in Mortgage consulting. That new guy was eager to add files on his desk and made it easy to refi without trouble. They made the decision to accept to refi based on nothing but our history of our current mortgage with them, and from there, it was just paperwork.

They needed 2 years of tax docs (the release is for 3 years). It’s not them, it’s a federal requirement. However, because WF does everything in house, our file was traced from one desk to another, and there was very little risk of leak /abusive use of information. The Noe Valley guy was very nice and helped us feel comfortable with their privacy practices.
Because it’s WF who has extensive in house info on our accounts, they did not bother us too much about the stuff in our tax doc that we consider both confidential and not relevant for the loan (namely the foreign real estate, but also the adoption stuff, etc). They were super cool and requested only a proof of insurance (checking the existence of the foreign property).

It was still a very painful process of administrative work and I would recommend that you help your readers CLEAN their finances before (as long as possible) they consider applying for a mortgage. Things like NOT changing bank, NOT closing or opening or transferring bank accounts, investing in a (real) accountant to file one tax return to make sure there is a pristine year (thus less questions from the bank and less discrepancies) etc.

There are mortgages to get, but only if you want to fight for each one.

It was worth it. Thanks again for your extensive help and support over the years.

Thanks for the update, congratulations, and good luck!

Tacos And Margaritas For All At 156 Vicksburg…Tonight Ole!

Yes, it’s true. You can skip making dinner tonight, and instead get on over to 156 Vicksburg for tacos, and even Margaritas. Fresh lime Margs? Not sure. But with any luck, they’ll at least be heavy on the Tequila. Go one, go all…[REMOVED] rock stars, and even buyers are all welcome to partake in a night of feasting and drinking courtesy of Paragon Real Estate.

Don’t drag your feet, and don’t be late, the window for feasting is small, 6-7pm.

Ole!!!!

Wife Swap, House Swap, It’s All Porn, Stephen Fowler Is At It Again In Noe Valley

It was on September 25, 2009 that we informed you of Stephen Fowler’s San Francisco real estate foibles (you all informed us of his Wife Swap antics), and it is today that we get word of his next people pissing off project:


Elevation PDF


Elevation 2 PDF


Floorplan PDF

Plans for a vast expansion of the Douglass house were filed in April, and the neighbors are currently contesting Fowler’s plans. The proposed project calls for a horizontal rear extension with a roof deck above the addition; a music room; guest room; new kitchen and vanity; three new bathrooms; and a master bedroom on the third floor, among other plans.

As one neighborhood group opposing the project objected in a letter to the Planning Department: “It is a massive project that will severely impact adjacent homes by blocking out light, air and privacy…This house would be so much taller, deeper, and bulkier than neighboring homes…We are asking that the project extend less into the mid-block open space and have major setbacks on the second and third floors. We are also asking that the placement of some of the windows facing neighboring homes be reconsidered, as they will destroy the privacy of these neighbors. It is understandable why the adjacent residents are freaking out. We would be, too, if this was proposed next door to us.”

Thanks to Inside SFRE for the post, and that good ‘ol thing called “anonymous” for the renderings. If you see these anywhere else (yes, that includes SocketSite), they poached ‘em from us. Curbed…go ahead, you have our permission.

-Next Monster Home in the Works for Noe Valley Wife Swapper [Inside SFRE]

Ask Us: 815 Alvarado Just Doesn’t Jibe

Have a look at the front of 815 Alvarado (4 bed, 3.5 bath, 3 car parking, “Single Family Residence” asking $2,965,000) :

815alvaradofront1

Now have a look at our reader’s question:

So whats the story on 815 Alvarado, SF…..listed as a House…but really has a Legal Inlaw, and only 2 bedrooms upstairs. One can be divided….but you have no hallway in between. Property tax records still have it based on original purchase price with no improvements in the structure base. All work performed under permit???

So what do the tax records say? Well, for starters, 688 square feet! (To further confuse you, we pulled tax records via MLS, which shows the new property photos that clearly don’t jive with the data.)

815alvaradotax1

Sounds a little bit more like this doesn’t it? Record of sale in 1997 for $325,000 from $279,000 asking:

815alvaradoold1

It really doesn’t jibe, and this is all too common and one big reason tax records in San Francisco should be taken with a grain of salt. But to answer your main question, “all work performed under permit”, we’d have to assume yes. If not, that is a monumental oversight on the part of the city…which of course wouldn’t surprise us. As to the the story on 815 Alvarado, we’ll have to defer to some of our other readers to help with that question, as we do not have the answer. There is also a good thread on this house on SocketSite. You might want to lob your question in there too.

[Update: Sophie digs up the permit dirt and adds her "$.02 to the buyers… have EVERYTHING checked and rechecked … so you don’t end up paying top dollars for the house AND top dollars for cleaning/clearing the messed up permits."]

Thanks for reading theFrontSteps!

-815 Alvarado [property website]
-Tax Records 815 Alvarado

Stories Of Despair In San Francisco Real Estate (source: sfnewsletter)

I published this exact thing on sfnewsletter today, but since it is a newsletter there is no room for discussion. Hopefully, we’ll get some here.

I recently submitted an offer for $425k on a Short Sale in SOMA (175 Bluxome #119). The “lender approved price” was $450k, but the sellers accepted our offer for $425k and we were waiting to hear back on the lender approval. Alas! Not to be. Another offer came in after ours for $450k and take a wild guess which one the lender accepted.

On another occasion, some other clients and I found a $725,000 probate sale (I actually uncovered it prior to it hitting MLS, but the sellers were not willing to accept any “pre-emptive” offers) in Miraloma Park at 305 Juanita. We were one of seven, yes seven, orginal offers. I believe our offer price was $745k or so. The winning offer was at $780k and they could not perform on their deal, so the seller’s agent called us and asked if we’d like to be in contract at their price of $780,000 and hope to scare away any overbids in court. We said yes. The next minimum overbid price in probate court goes at increments of 5% of highest accepted price ($780k) plus $500, which put it to $819,500 and we all thought that price was not realistic for this house. Wrong again! There were three of us in court, and the property got bid up to $835,000 (After the initial overbid is met, the judge decides on increments and in this case went in increments of $5000.) So not only did my clients lose out, so too did six other buyers!

The third story is a rather unique single family home at 195 Beacon, asking $1,650,000 (sold in 2007 for $1,650,000 not updated at all…ouch!) One week on the market, my client called, said he was interested, two days later it was in contract. We are in contract as “backup”, and there are four other parties behind us hoping buyer #1 falls out, and should buyer #1 fall out, they’re hoping we fall out. I’ll keep you posted how that one plays out.

I have so many more stories of despair to tell it is not even funny, so don’t go thinking the market is all THAT bad. It’s bad compared to recent years, but it’s certainly not awful. I do, of course have good stories to tell too, but we’ll save those for when they close escrow and keys change hands. ;-)

Ask Us: Why The Fuss About Noe Valley?

Where readers ask, and we (the community) try to answer:

The Front Steps really concentrates on Noe. I live in Noe and understand the attraction and the desirability of neighborhood but I’m not exactly sure why it is the barometer for everywhere else. Can you shed any light on this?

Good question. It’s not that we set out to focus on Noe, in fact we think focusing on an area that is much more hip (like Mission, Dog Patch, or NoPa) would serve our readers better and certainly be a helluva lot more fun, but looking at the real estate in Noe Valley is a very good barometer for the well being of the entire city’s real estate market, because it is considered an A+ location with generally financially and employment secure residents. Noe Valley is one of the most desirable and popular areas to live in San Francisco, and if the market in Noe Valley crashes, the rest of the city should watch out. SOMA is tanking as we speak, but it has nothing to do with Noe Valley. It is a totally different market.

As you’ve also likely noticed, a lot of the content we post comes in as “tips” from readers and our readers that send tips must be a bit more concerned with Noe. So feel free to tell your friends that live in other nabes to check us out and send in tips about their hood as well. It doesn’t have to be about real estate, but it does have to be about San Francisco (or at least the greater Bay Area.)

Thanks for reading!

Noe Valley Is Not Immune (Noe Valley Median Slides Along With SF As a Whole)

Woah! Where the hell has theFrontSteps been? A few things…I did, in fact, have a birthday (29 for those wondering) and I’ve been slammed with real estate. Thank goodness for the people behind theFrontSteps. This graph again from Misha Weidman:

noe-valley-vs-sf-all-districts-percent-change

This is median prices, and SINGLE FAMILY HOMES ONLY.

If this isn’t ammo for the haters, we don’t know what is. Thanks Misha for keeping the data coming!

Stunner: 4356 25th Street Sold Within 15 Days*

This little Noe Valley gem (3 bed, 3 bath, “Mid-Century Modern”, single family home asking $2,579,000) had been burning the candle off the market for quite some time (we showed it to some clients well before it hit MLS), and we thought it was quite a nice house (especially the graduated ceiling).

25th

Maybe it’s not a complete stunner since the sales price comes with an asterisk (means sales price not disclosed), but it is a little bit of a silver lining to this incredibly dark cloud we’re under. (Something tells us we’re going to see more and more of that little asterisk.)

[Editor's Note: Our little "*" in the title means it was on MLS 15 days, but certainly quietly marketed for much more than that.]

-4356 25th Street [listing details]

A Potential Noe Valley Short Sale

There is no way we can share pictures, address, or any real details publicly on this blog, but you can indeed shoot us an email (thefrontsteps@gmail.com) if you were previously in the market for 5 bedroom homes in Noe Valley (north of 24th street) around $2,000,000. Principals only.