Category Archives: 5+Units


San Francisco “Soft Story” Retrofit Advisory – Some Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dropping Knowledge: San Francisco Property Pie Chart

    I know you’re all like me, you drive around town looking at all the wonderful, insanely expensive property we have here in San Francisco. I know you wish you knew how many of the properties you see were single family homes, how many are condominiums, how many are big ol’ properties of which you’d love to be the landlord (or maybe you already are). My company came up with this nice little pie chart for all y’all. Enjoy:


    San Francisco Pocket Listings, Not On MLS Opportunities, And Buyers Looking!

    I’ve been resisting the urge to continually share the opportunities popping up in San Francisco on my new venture,, but I can’t hold back. Here is a summary of what is going on “behind the scenes” in San Francisco real estate that we’re gradually bringing to center stage.

    -Thirty-three hundred square feet in Pacific Heights for $2,875,000:

    -A “creative buyer looking for development opportunities…flexible on property type and price.

    -Three bedroom Potrero Hill Condominium For Sale, but not on MLS.

    -Telegraph Hill Buyer looking to be on the East Slope, and desiring views. Price up to $2,000,000.

    -One bedroom condo in Dolores Heights, very much for sale, but also “not on MLS”.

    -Should you find yourself itching to move to Marin, here is a nice 4 bedroom, 4 bath home with 4 Car Parking, also “not on MLS”.

    -If you want to get way the hell out of dodge, perhaps this Daytona Beach, Florida “family compound” is for you.

    I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. The moral to the story is that what you see on MLS is not close to the entire picture, AND is pioneering a platform to give the buyer a voice. We plan on completing the real estate circle, if you will. Think of the countless properties that could be marketed before MLS, thousands that get withdrawn or expired from MLS, bank foreclosure inventory, and so much more. If you’re an agent, I’d encourage you to use it, and if you’re a principal, I’d encourage you to browse it, then tell your agent to join!

    Inner-Sunset Sprouting Condos

    Inner-Sunset, home to much good food, a few good bars, a few bad bars, the prohibitively expensive Andronico’s, and UCSF, will soon be home to new condos. On my block alone (9th Ave., past Moraga St.) there are two sites going up or planned to go up. One is adjacent to my deck, where I once saw the Bay, and now see the back of someone’s bedroom to be. I have no idea if this very tall building will be apartments for rent or condos for sale, but it will have several units, a garage, and a penthouse. On the other side of the street, where a long defunt Moraga Market has been little more than place to try out graffiti tags and dump unwanted sofas, construction is also in the works. The lot has sold, a hearing has taken place. All that’s left is to break ground.

    Finally, quite done are the condos on 7th Ave., near Irving St. The photo above is from before the facades were placed. Now they are gorgeous Art Deco looking things with burnished copper and huge windows. The agent, Gary Small of Zephyr, tells me that the units are luxury one and two bedroom condos with underground parking, and that the two free-standing cottages that stood in a lot behind the building that sits on the street have been revamped. Some lucky millionare can thus own a little house all his or her own!

    It’s the most action the Inner-Sunset has seen since a bunch of drunks from the Mucky Duck tried to scale a MUNI train. Sadly for we middle income buyers, the luxury condo lable means these new homes, exciting though they are, will not be ours.

    Oh well. Drinking at the Mucky Duck is always an alternative.

    PHOTO: Socketsite

    Lembi’s List: The 51 Properties They’ve Given Back

    We’ve had a fair bit of interest for the exact list of 51 properties Lembis have “deeded” back to the bank (deeds in lieu of foreclosure), so we did a little digging and are pleased to say we found it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below, or better yet, drop us a line ( We’ll help where we can.

    1. 1890 Clay 
      2. 1008 Larkin/982 Post
      3. 500 Hyde
      4. 500 Leavenworth St.
      5. 512 Van Ness 
      6. 750 O’Farrell
      7. 734 Bush Street
      8. 2001 Pierce
      9. 1735 Van Ness
      10. 510 26th Avenue
      11. 600 Stanyan
      12. 2265 Larkin
      13. 1082 Post St.
      14. 2100 Post
      15. 3299 Washington
      16. 1750 Franklin
      17. 2345 Larkin
      18. 2845 Pierce
      19. 1330 Mason
      20. 1300 Grant
      21. 825 Post
      22. Ben Franklin Hotel
      23. 642 Jones 
      24. 4130-4140 Cesar Chavez
      25. 837 Geary
      26. 3649 Market
      27. 808 Leavenworth
      28. 2400 Van Ness
      29. 1440 Washington
      30. 765 Sutter
      31. 72 Gough
      32. 625 Taylor 
      33. 300 Hyde
      34. 830 Sutter
      35. 655 Hyde
      36. 525 Hyde
      37. 1067 Washington
      38. 3015 Van Ness
      39. 1449 Washington
      40. 1616 Golden Gate
      41. 3755 Filmore
      42. 3124 Octavia
      43. 1837 Oak St.
      44. 1267 Filbert
      45. 943 Jackson
      46. 328 Hyde
      47. 60 Dearborn 
      48. 215 Guerrero
      49. 3947 18th Street
      50. 24 Belcher
      51. 1945 Hyde

    -Lembi’s New Year’s Resolution: Give Back [theFrontSteps]

    Reader Report: Big Time Landlords Smoking a Lot of Crack in 2006

    We love to get tips and comments from all y’all, so keep sending them either to or use the contact form This from “44yo hipster”:

    Apparently some big time landlords were smoking a lot of crack in 2006. Apparently these NY landlords didn’t get the memo that rent control is real, and unfortunately, one cannot just wish it away. I wonder if the Lembi’s were also this dumb, given their buying binge of apartment buildings in San Francisco? Peace out.

    -Fear of Defaults After a Flurry of Apartment House Sales [New York Times]

    -Lembi Juggernaut Selling Units? [theFrontSteps]

    today on

    Coming Soon (1460-68 Broadway @ Polk)

    From this:

    To this:

    These TIC units at 1460-68 Broadway are expected to hit the market this weekend. We’re still waiting to hear back from the developer on pricing and details. For now, imagine how much better your food will taste cooked in the new kitchen as opposed to the old.

    Or how much better a shower would be in this bathroom

    as opposed to this one

    Check back for further details like size, pricing, and more photos.


    More photos

    Floorplan 1

    Floorplan 2

    Floorplan 3

    Prices range from $869K to $969K.

    All units are two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, with 1 parking space in

    the garage at the ground floor of the building.

    Top floor units have private roof decks. Ground floor units have

    private, fenced in yards.

    There is also a common area roofdeck for everyone, and a common area

    yard for everyone.

    Finishes include Carrera marble, Halila limestone, Interceramic Glass

    Tiles, Hansgrohe Axor fixtures, Philippe Starck soaking tub in the

    master bath, natural hardwood floors, custom window coverings, gas

    fireplaces, 3 units with Caesarstone counter, 3 units with granite, some

    units with natural cherry cabinets, some units with ebony walnut

    cabinets, professional-grade Viking Appliances, KWC kitchen faucets,

    washer/dryer hookups in each unit.

    What more could you need?

    It’s a pocket listing kind of post

    If you, or anyone you know, are interested in any of the following, please contact us:

    -Lake Street SFR 6 bed, 3.5 Bath, 2 car parking $2.6M

    -Russian Hill Condo on Polk St. 2 bed, 1 bath, no parking $995k

    -South Beach Condo (88 King), 3 bed, 2.5 bath, pano view, 1 car parking, $2M

    -200 Townsend, 1 bed, 1 bath loft, $685k

    -6 units in Haight Ashbury, 5 vacant, needs work, price around $2M

    -Noe Valley Victorian SFR, 3b/2ba, garage, yard, $1.4M

    -Great Highway SFR on 3000 sqft lot.

    -9 Units in theatre district on Sutter, price around $3M, all tenant occupied.

    No, Greg, these are not all in my pocket, but I am glad to see you (comment from time to time.)

    165 new units coming soon to One Hawthorne (645 Howard)

    From sfnewsletter.

    Jackson Pacific Ventures has secured financing for One Hawthorne, a 24-story, 165-unit luxury condominium project located at 645 Howard (think Thirsty Bear, W Hotel, MOMA, Yerba Buena, that area), and ground breaking is expected for this month.


    [image source: Jackson Pacific Ventures]

    Project completion is expected for spring 2010, and will include 165 luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom homes and penthouses in a variety of sizes (550-2200 square feet), as well as 124 below-grade parking spaces and 3,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail on the corner. Sales are anticipated to begin in early/mid 2009, and pricing is expected to start in the $500,000s.

    For more details please contact us.

    -sfnewsletter [website]

    Lembi selling 17 buildings, investors still looking long term

    Not too long ago, a reader asked us, what’s up with the Lembis? If you had seen our response, you’d pretty much know that our “source” nailed it. For those that aren’t familiar with the Lembis and the impact they had/have on our multi-unit residential market, we invite you to read the article below. In a nutshell, the “Lembis have invested more than $1 billion in apartment buildings since 2005 and own 7,500 units across the city,” and this little sale is sending quite a shock to the multi-unit market.

    For our purposes, we’re going to point out a few quotes from the article that would often get over-looked by our bubble blogging brethren.

    David Gruber, who owns 14 apartment buildings and is active in the landlord community, said he doesn’t expect any of the Lembi buildings to sell at current prices.

    “They might have to adjust to a different type of market, but in the long term the message is still very bullish: low vacancies, healthy job growth, and rent increases,” he said. “People who buy in San Francisco are not buying for cash flow — they are buying for long-term appreciation.”

    “A building I bought in 1979 for $1 million is now appraised at $14 million; a building I bought in 1982 for $1.6 million is worth $16 million,” [David Raynal COO of CitiApartments] said.

    Talk all you want about year over year, month to month, but don’t forget the bigger picture. San Francisco is a solid long term investment.

    -Lembis end apartment buying spree [San Francisco Business Times]