Prices Jumping – Yet Again – Across San Francisco

The San Francisco real estate market grew increasingly frenzied as the first quarter of 2014 progressed, leading to another surge in home prices in virtually every neighborhood in the city. The high-demand/ extremely-low-inventory/ competitive-bidding situation is similar to what occurred first in spring 2012 and then, to an even higher degree, in spring 2013. After the market seemed to stabilize in the second half of last year, we didn’t expect to see it turn this fierce in early 2014, but right now it appears to be every bit as ferocious as last spring’s.

Of major metro areas, the new Gallup-Healthways survey ranked SF-Oakland second in the nation (behind San Jose-Santa Clara) on their index for “well-being.” Though already the second most densely populated city in the country (after NYC), San Francisco simply has many more people wanting to live here than there are homes available to rent or buy.

Sales over Asking Price
The heated competition for new listings coming on market has resulted in an astounding percentage of sales occurring above, and often far above, list price.

This chart below breaks down, by neighborhood, the average sales price to list price percentage for the 90% of homes selling without price reductions. Of the areas assessed, Bernal Heights came out on top with sales prices averaging an incredible 21% over list prices over the past 2 months.



Median Sales Price Spikes
Typically, the first quarter of the year does not show a dramatic increase in median sales prices over the previous quarter – in fact, a decline is not unusual due to holiday market dynamics. But the first quarter of 2014 saw large spikes in median prices for both single family homes (houses) and, especially, condos in San Francisco.
This next chart is a look at quarterly median price appreciation over the past 3 years.



Longer-term trends: While virtually the whole country has been experiencing a large market rebound, San Francisco, because of our particular economic circumstances, is generally outperforming almost every other market area. The big exception is Silicon Valley, whose high appreciation rate is being driven by many of the same employment and demographic causes.



Far Too Little Inventory
When the market recovery began in earnest in early 2012, there were complaints of a shortage in inventory. In 2013, the market grew even more heated and supply declined further to what felt like desperately low levels. Now in 2014, amid no lessening of demand that we perceive, the supply of SF homes available to purchase has dropped again.

There are increasing numbers of new-construction housing units coming on market – and many more being planned and built – but so far they’re being snapped up, at very high prices, without noticeably altering the supply and demand dynamic.



Listings Selling Faster than Ever



San Francisco Neighborhood Snapshots
We updated analyses for a number of city neighborhoods with enough sales for quarterly data to be meaningful. In every district we looked at, there were significant spikes in median sales prices and/or average dollar per square foot values in the quarter just ended.
Below are two samples, but our full collection of long-term neighborhood analyses can be found here (some updated through the first quarter, others through the end of 2013):San Francisco Neighborhood Values







Affordability by Neighborhood
We broke the city down by neighborhood according to the number of house and condo sales in each price segment. Of course, in a generally appreciating market, these prices continue to move upward en masse. Below are 3 analyses from our 11-chart report, which can be found in its entirety here:Where Can I Afford to Buy in San Francisco






Please call or email if you have any questions or comments regarding these analyses.

Fluctuations in median and average sales prices and average dollar per square foot values are not unusual and these fluctuations can occur for other reasons besides changes in value, such as seasonality, inventory available to purchase, buyer profile and new condo development projects coming on market. How these statistics apply to any particular property is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision.

How Much Is My Home Worth?

“How much is my property worth?” “How much could we get for our place?” “How much do you think my condo would sell for?”

San Francisco Median Home Price Graph, What Is My Home Worth

I get asked different variations of this question every single day, everywhere I go. It doesn’t matter if I’m at a dinner party, bbq, school event, or even on a field trip with my 7 year old. It’s okay. It’s totally normal. Everybody wants to chat real estate. It’s why I started this blog, and it’s a go-to if conversation about Blue Bottle versus Ritual Roasters gets so heated it’d be better left settled in the Octagon. Everybody wants to know if their home value has gone up, and everybody wants free information about the market and their property. So how does a real estate professional accurately answer this question in a market where (currently) home values seem to be going nowhere but up every week, and every new sale sets a new high water mark in your area?

The answer is this, nobody REALLY knows. A couple things I do know are Zillow Zestimates do you no good in San Francisco, your property is worth more than your cousin’s in Kansas, and your property could be worth more than it ever was. I know what comparable properties have recently sold for, and I know how I can help you market, show, and price your property to get the maximum number of people through the door in an effort to let the market dictate what is the maximum value your property is worth.
Continue reading

DECEMBER 2013 SAN FRANCISCO CONDOMINIUM PRICES INCREASE 18 PERCENT OVER PREVIOUS YEAR

San Francisco condominium prices rose 18 percent in December 2013 over the previous year, according to the Condominium Pricing Index released today by The Mark Company, a leading urban residential marketing and sales firm.

The Mark Company Condominium Pricing Index for December was $1,034 per square foot, which is up 2 percent from November. New construction inventory was 78 percent lower than a year ago, and down 26 percent from the previous month, with 92 units currently available.

“With fewer than 100 new condominiums now for sale in San Francisco, price appreciation is likely to continue in 2014,” states Erin Kennelly, senior director of research, The Mark Company.

The Condominium Pricing Index, part of the firm’s monthly Trend Sheet (available at www.themarkcompany.com), represents the price per square foot of a new 10th floor, 1,000-square-foot condominium. It is based on recent sales data, and uses a proprietary quantitative method to measure trends in market demand. It tracks the value of a new construction condominium without the volatility of inventory changes.

The Mark Company Penthouse Pricing Index, which applies the same methodology to a new 30th floor, 2,000-square-foot condominium, was $1,776 per square foot, up 18 percent year over year.

The condominium price per square foot was $868 for resales, up 26 percent over December 2012, according to The Mark Company Trend Sheet for San Francisco. In addition, there were 229 condominium resales in San Francisco in December, 134 active condominium listings representing less than one month of inventory, and 123 pending condominium units, the Trend Sheet found.

That’s some pretty insane growth and is not surprising. Thanks Mark Company for the info.

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:

sf_housing_units

Penthouses, Mansions, Short Sales & Fixer-Uppers

What Did San Francisco Homebuyers Buy in 2013?

Views, prices, architecture, neighborhoods, property types and sizes, parking, probate sales and appreciation rates: We data-mined all of San Francisco’s 2013 sales reported to MLS through the end of November and charted the results below.

Please call or email with any questions or comments.

Sales as described in and reported to San Francisco MLS by 11/25/13. All data herein is from sources deemed (at least somewhat) reliable — i.e. the information input by listing agents regarding their own listings — but may contain errors and is subject to revision. These charts do not include sales unreported to MLS, such as the sale of many so-called “pocket listings” and many of the new-development condo sales that occur.

More Overbids For Your Monday

It’s another Monday, and the madness continues.

Address BR/BA/Units DOM List Price Sold Price Overbid
3691 17th St 3693 2-4 Units 16 $1,499,000 $2,200,000 46.76%
127 Central Ave 129 2-4 Units 60 $1,200,000 $1,720,000 43.33%
152 Hancock St 2-4 Units 26 $1,100,000 $1,557,000 41.55%
82 Peralta Ave 3/2.00/N/A 28 $998,000 $1,380,000 38.28%
1628 York St 3/2.00/N/A 17 $1,095,000 $1,458,000 33.15%
130 Randall St 3/1.50/N/A 7 $1,195,000 $1,575,000 31.80%
325 Precita Ave 3/2.00/ 18 $925,000 $1,216,000 31.46%
327 Richland Ave 3/1.00/N/A 35 $749,000 $980,000 30.84%
4430 Cabrillo St 2-4 Units 14 $925,000 $1,200,000 29.73%
1108 Cabrillo St 3/1.50/N/A 11 $1,295,000 $1,677,000 29.50%

[Copyright ©2013 TheGoods-SF.com. Visit www.thegoods-sf.com for more information. Data feed from SFAR MLS deemed accurate but not guaranteed.]

Some overbids that were featured last week are still on this list until they get knocked off.

To answer some questions that popped up in the comments of our last overbid post about intentional underpricing to generate overbids…yes, there is certainly a lot of that out there, but there is also a lot of uncertainty as to what is a correct market price for any particular property when comps continue to escalate. And yes, there are agents that intentionally underprice, not in an effort to be fair and competitive for the market, but in an effort to boost their personal marketing strategy, and that’s just plain wrong.

The name of the game in our market is when you have doubts, price it low and let the buyers set the price. It’s almost always better to price low than high. However, what’s more interesting to us is not the amount over asking a property sells, but the number of offers that come in to generate such a fever pitch. We wish MLS had a metric requiring agents to post the number of offers that came in when a property sells, but who knows if that would ever happen. In any given overbid situation, you can assume there would be at least four to five offers. That seems to be a good average, but really it only takes two offers to drive the price up, and you certainly don’t need 20 offers. That means in any given multiple offer situation, one person wins, many lose, so when another similar property ultimately hits the market in a week or two after that, add another new buyer or two to the interest, multiple offers happen again, one person wins, many lose. Repeat over and over again and you see how prices get bid up, and frustration grows to the point where a buyer that has lost out several times in a row ultimately says, “Eff it! We’re going to win this one, so we’re going big.” They finally win. They become the Maximum Overbid of the Week, and they could care less. The feeling of relief is indescribable for many buyers. All of the searching, the reviewing disclosures, the inspections, the loan pre-approvals, the touring open homes, the emotional thrill of thinking you found your home, then depression of seeing it slip away, all of that is done and gone. As a buyer, you can prevail, and there are strategies to increase your chances of success.

As a seller, it’s not as relaxing as you might think, and it can be stressful rolling the dice and asking for more from buyers that are already offering waaaay more than you expected. Even more stressful is getting a pre-emptive offer and having the nagging thought in your head of whether you could get better than that bird in hand if you wait and get to your offer date. It’s a fine line between getting greedy and getting burned, but it certainly provides for good party conversation, which is why we provide this stuff to you!

As a bystander, blame should not be placed on the shoulders of Realtors claiming they intentionally underprice to generate overbids. The goal of listing property for sale is to get sellers the maximum amount of money possible. Currently, creating an environment that will generate multiple offers for a seller is what works, and it works well. We’ve been blogging about the real estate market long enough to know that the majority of comments against overbids come from bystanders, or buyers that continually get beat up…and it’s frustrating. We know all too well. But as a seller, we have yet to meet one that is unhappy with 15 offers (all over asking), many of them waiving inspections, and many of them cash that can close in five days. Regardless of how much over, under or at asking a property sells…it ultimately sells at market price.

So let the overbids continue, let our market climb, let our economy flourish, let jobs be created! San Francisco is on fire and there really is no place like it…so like a favorite band of ours says, “Embrace the Chaos”. Extra points if you know the band….

Happy Monday! Get back to work.

What Your Realtor Should Really Be Sending You…The Goods

I am pleased to announce the launch, and early adoption by Paragon Real Estate Group, of the newest addition to the San Francisco real estate scene “The Goods“, real estate marketing made simple.

The goal of this new offering is to make it easy for real estate agents in the San Francisco/Bay Area to provide their clients with what they need, and should expect, from their agent…time sensitive, factual, market data that pertains to the area in which their property is located, or the area where they would like to be. We’d like to put an end to unnecessary print marketing (think of the trees!), stop the sending of mugshot branded magnets, notepads, Zagat Guides, coffee mugs, and all the other crap clients don’t need, or necessarily want from their real estate agent. Keep in front of your clients with valuable real-time market data they can use.

The Goods will provide your company with a new link every two weeks to newly listed, as well as recently sold property data your clients can browse by location, property type, price, beds, baths and DOM. You can include the link in your marketing pieces, and also receive a raw html snippet/preview of the data to include in your marketing, inviting your clients to click through and track sales in their area.

Paragon Real Estate Group is the first to adopt and use this great new product for their agents’ clients, and positive feedback is already rolling in.

-The Goods is a terrific tool for our agents to deliver to our clients: It’s fast and easy to use and it provides our clients with extremely timely and valuable information about new listings and what’s selling in the market, which is at the top of the list of resources our clients want most from us. -Patrick Carlisle, Chief Marketing Analyst, Director of Business Development, Paragon Real Estate Group

Here is a sample of how Paragon incorporates it into their marketing. You’ll notice they call it “Market Watch”. You can call it whatever you like.
ParagonMarketWatch

In this age of Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and the countless apps hitting the market which afford your clients the luxury of tracking the market without your help, you can’t afford to let this opportunity slip you by. Brokers of every company in the Bay Area should be jumping on this offering, as simply put…it’s a no-brainer.

For more information about The Goods, visit www.theGoods-SF.com.

Ghosts of Sunset Past: The Moss Flats

Imagine an Outer Sunset made up entirely of sand dunes, streetcars repurposed as oceanfront homes and clubhouses, bohemians having all-night parties that include midnight swims in the icy Pacific and this:

Charles Depew, late of Saginaw, Michigan, built 1626 Great Highway in 1908, minus an architect but likely inspired by Bernard Maybeck. The three-flat building, known as “The Moss Flats,” has survived long enough to join the National Register of Historic Places, decades after the last of its colorful, ramshackle neighbors dissolved into dust. It’s on the market, listed for $1.349 by similarly old San Francisco school agency Barbagelata.

Outside are the maybe-Maybeck-inspired shingles; inside are three two-bedroom tenant-occupied flats decorated in surfer chic:

1626_GH_2_100913

Plus ocean views from the top-most unit. Longtime owners, plus longtime rental units, plus longtime exposure to salty ocean air may be a caveat in this case, but assuming the owner of the last standing evidence of Carville has no immediate plans to sell, this is your best chance to get into a pre-Doelger Outer Sunset historic property, steps from the beach and with a steady, proven income flow.

-Article by Larry Rosen: Contributing writer and San Francisco local sharing his thoughts with theFrontSteps.

 

Thinking Of Selling Your Property? Read This First

Sellers, it’s time. We need your inventory, and look how happy you could be!

Alex thanks for selling my home as quickly and painless as possible at a price way beyond my expectation! I especially liked that you provided expert advice/service from staging, lighting and photography to make this a success. Using [electronic signature solutions] for all document signing made my life so much easier, and not to mention saving wasted paper from going into the environment. You keep up with the latest trends, you have access to new and potential audience/followers via social networking sites, and you’re just damn good at what you do so, THANKS!!!!

Cheers,
Judy

Brings a tear to one’s eye, doesn’t it. You’re welcome Judy! Thanks for the great testimonial. Call us when you’re ready to buy.

And to all of you other sellers, did you notice how good to the environment we can be? I’ll even come meet you on my bike. Just give a shout, and we’ll get the ball rolling to getting you top dollar on your property too.

-More Testimonials [theFrontSteps]
-Maximum Overbid Of The Week: 235 28th St, Noe Valley [theFrontSteps]

Hey Buyers! Turns Out There’s More Inventory Than You Thought

Have a look at what hit our email in the past couple months, and the companies heavily marketing “pocket listings”, “off market” property, or “not on MLS” opportunities.

You, the buyer, would probably like to know about these opportunities, wouldn’t you? Well…you can’t. Not until these brokerages wake up and join the year 2013, move beyond “private” or internal email as the method of choice for delivering these opportunities, look to social networks for some guidance as to where the buying (and selling) public lives, and get with the program!

Pacific Union, McGuire, Zephyr, Paragon, TRI Coldwell Banker, Vanguard, Sotheby’s, the list goes on and on…you ALL have pocket listings, and you’re all marketing them “privately”, so let’s make an effort to encourage each other to participate in an alternative marketplace to bring these opportunities to your fellow agents and the public, rather than continuing to shove this growing marketplace under the massive bureaucratic rug that is our National, State, and Local Association of Realtors. And for heaven’s sake, quit throwing your colleagues (Climb Real Estate) under the bus for taking a step in the right direction! (You know who you are.) It’s high time an alternative to the MLS takes shape, and the opportunity is right here and now.

[The same properties shown above, with links to the site:]
-Dominican Estate [Decker Bullock/Sothebys]
-53 Clifford Terrace [Vanguard]
-1299 Bush Street [Vanguard]
-219 Brannan [Vanguard]
-524 Roosevelt [Vanguard]
-2876 25th Ave [Vanguard]
-466 Hill [Vanguard]
-2509 Polk [McGuire]
-855 Folsom [McGuire]
-2094 Bush [McGuire]
-66 Parker [McGuire]
-2200 Pacific [McGuire]
-171 Caznea [McGuire]
-615 Buena Vista West [Sotheby's]
-2245 Francisco [Sotheby's]
-29 Oak Springs [Sotheby's]
-26 Sanford Lane [Pacific Union]
-1200 Laguna [Zephyr]
-1278 Stanyan [Zephyr]
-50 Lansing [Zephyr]
-Nob Hill Secret address [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-2325 Divisadero [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-2220 Sacramento [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-465 10th St [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-6 Emlin, Kentfield [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-595 12th Ave [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-850 Powell [TRI Coldwell Banker]
-287 Mangels [Barbegelata]

[Editor's Note: Some of these properties were placed on PocketListings.net, and others have since hit MLS and are now sold, but they did land in our email a very short time ago. You can expect some of these links to be killed by day's end, due to panicking brokerages.
Finally, if you'd like to be alerted when these opportunities hit our inbox, drop us a line, and we'll figure out a way to get them to you.]

-PocketListings.net: How To Tutorial [blog.pocketlistings.net]
-Climb Real Estate, PocketListings.net Join To Bring You More Buying And Selling Opportunity [theFrontSteps]
-It’s not listed, but it’s definitely for sale [New York Times]
-Remaking Real Estate, Again [SF Gate]

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:
telhill1small1
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]

1 Ecker (16 Jessie) Sellers Very Happy With Their Sale…Who’s Next?

It’s been busy…so let’s share some testimonials, get back to blogging, which in turn will create more testimonials. Sound good? Cool…

Alex knows the San Francisco market very well. This helped us, as sellers, to understand what different buyers value and what to expect. He is also adaptable and efficient. Our sale was the first resale in a new condominium, but Alex did not let that slow things down. He successfully navigated the administrative overhead of the situation. In addition, when we sold our home, privacy was of absolute importance. To meet our needs, Alex came up with an agent-first marketing approach that leveraged his pocket listings network (PocketListings.net). He also used social media (Facebook, Twitter, theFrontSteps.com Blog) to get the word out before and after our open house. In under a month from initial contact, even over the seasonally slow Christmas holiday, Alex obtained multiple offers for us. He then helped us identify the most suitable buyer, which ensured us a fair price and a smooth close. We would highly recommend working with Alex for anything real estate in San Francisco.

-Milla and Chad

[Editor's note: Links to websites were added by us.]

Thanks guys! Glad it worked out so smoothly for you, and the buyer. And very happy we were able to navigate all that “administrative overhead”…nice way to put it.

Sellers, let’s get your place on the market! We not only need the inventory, but you stand to make substantial gains.

San Francisco Homes & Properties Listed And Sold Past Two Weeks

In case you’re not on the list to receive these in your inbox, here are the most recent listings and most recent sales for San Francisco. And wouldja look at that…my recent off market sale popped right up on top. The first resale in 1 Ecker (16 Jessie) since it’s renovation in 2010, and what a sale it was.

listedsold

As is the case with this information, and anything else regarding San Francisco real estate for that matter, if you have a question, just ask.

-1 Ecker, 2 bed, 2 bath, Sold $755,000 [MLS]
-sfnewsletter real estate market info week ending 1/25/2013 [sfnewsletter]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 5 And Beyond: Depends On How Step 4 Goes

question

There is one guarantee after writing an offer on a property in San Francisco, and that is there is no guarantee you’ll get the property. With multiple offers all too common, sellers holding the upper hand, extremely low inventory, and thousands of buyers in the market, writing an offer is only part of the property winning (yes, we use the term winning) equation.

So what is the next step, then? The only certainty is if your offer was rejected, you can shuffle back up to Step 3 and start the touring again. There is a learning curve in San Francisco real estate, and you likely won’t get the first place you go for. Patience is paramount, and communication is key. Stay in touch with your Realtor (because now you have one), and keep hope alive. You will get there in the end. It may just take more time than you had expected.

If your offer was not rejected, and you’re the lucky winner, there are so many different steps that could happen next, we need not mention them in detail here. Things like: did you receive a counter offer; was the counter offer a multiple counter offer; have you been offered what is called “backup”; did your offer include inspections; how much time do you have to remove contingencies; do you need to sell your own home; is the seller asking for a “rent back”; so on and so forth. It is here that you will see value in a Realtor, and why we are so very comfortable giving you all of the tools you need to find your property on your own, online.

In the end, there will be about 10-20 more steps (at least) before getting keys to your home, and you’re going to need someone to guide you, because the process is so very not cut and dry, and we hope to earn your business. Feel free to learn more about us here, and read some testimonials here. Or better yet, drop us a line so we can chat about what you need.

If all you do is read these steps, set out on your own, find your own Realtor, and never contact us…we truly wish you the best of luck!

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor) [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor)

Here you are, having completed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 of the home buying process in San Francisco. Now what?

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve found the perfect (or almost perfect) property, you’re educated on the market, you’ve seen what other comparable properties are selling for, you love the area, the price is right, and you’re ready to go for it. Even though you could have theoretically made it this far without a Realtor, now you need one. You can choose to work with the agent listing the property, or you can hire your wife’s brother’s best friend’s uncle (it happens), or you can simply look no further. (If you’ve read this far, we’re practically best buds anyway.)

Working with a Realtor is going to give you the absolute best shot at securing a property in this competitive market. We could share our secrets of success and how to make your offer as “strong” as you can, but why would we do something silly like letting what could be your competition know how we’re going to play this game?

You can certainly attempt to represent yourself in writing, and presenting an offer too, but I’d say don’t waste your time, or the listing agent’s time. Either hire a Realtor, or work with the listing agent. Our market is so competitive that any money you think you’ll be saving by claiming to represent yourself will be money the listing agent might lose for their seller, or money they could have earned for themselves, so we’re totally comfortable sending you packing. In a stack of 15 offers, you representing yourself will certainly be put at the very bottom. Sad, but true.

So what price should you offer? That’s a tricky question, that depends a lot on how busy or attractive a property is, how long it’s been on the market, has the price been reduced, did it just come back on the market, etc. If you come across a property that has only been marketed two weeks, offers are being accepted on a certain day, and the agent tells you there has been about 250 people through the property, they’ve handed out 30 disclosure packages, and they expect to realistically receive 15 offers…don’t offer asking price! You’re dreaming!

We could go on and on about writing an offer, selecting a price, reviewing disclosures, and everything that goes into presenting an offer, but you’re better off just knowing writing an offer is the next step, and you’re going to want to have a Realtor on your side.

Step 5 is coming soon, so check back, or grab our RSS, and get new updates via email.

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property!

You starting to feel ready to buy a home in San Francisco? By now, hopefully, you’ve made it through Step 1, and are now either pre-approved, or can provide Proof of Funds, and are getting dialed into this thing called the internet and how well it can help you instantaneously see what is new on the market, because you’ve completed Step 2, by having listings sent to your inbox automagically.

That makes you ready for…

Step 3 – Go See Some Property

You’ll want to go see the ones you might even remotely like. Even if you think it’s not a perfect match, you should go take a look anyway. It will help you get a feel for the market, and if you see something that is an “almost” you can track the sale of it to educate yourself on actual sales prices versus list prices.
So how can you know what properties to tour and when? There are a number of ways to do it.
a. Schedule private showings with your Realtor. Schedule them as soon as you can. It’s the best way to see property, without the hundreds of other people, and it gives you a jump on the competition.
b. Still not ready to wed yourself to a frothy real estate agent? Hit the Sunday Open Houses. You can pretty much bet that 99% of the listings you’re getting fed via email will have an open house on Sunday from 2-4pm (in San Francisco). If you show up at a house and it’s not open, oh well…use the opportunity to check out the ‘hood.
c. Tuesday “Broker” Tour. You can also bet that new listings will be open on Tuesday Broker Tour in their designated time slot. Tour rotates around the city beginning at 9am in Telegraph Hill area, and ending in SOMA/Mission/Potrero Hill areas in the late afternoon around 4pm. Times are in increments of 1.5 hours. For example: Pacific Heights new listings are open 10-11:30 on Tuesdays, and the Mission will be from 2-3:30pm.) Technically Broker Tour is meant for Brokers only, but any Realtor that refuses entry to you (a buyer) should be asked to leave the industry. It’s easy to get the Broker Tour schedule, just ask your Realtor, or theFrontSteps.
d. SFOpenHomes.com – Fed directly from MLS, and including any property in the system that has been added as having an open house. You can search by all sorts of criteria, so you can pretty much find anything you like, and whether or not it will be open.
e. Craigslist – Check Craigslist for properties that may or may not be on MLS and whether they’ll have an open house, or when they’ll be available for viewing.

If your schedule does not permit a private tour set up by your agent, or if you prefer to visit property in your own car, on your own time, you can count on options c,d,e to get you where you need to be. Just get out there and get educated! Be warned, almost every real estate agent you come across at an open house will ask you if you’re currently being represented. If you don’t want to be bothered, just say “Yes, I have an agent”, and feel free to drop our name if you panic, and they’ll probably leave you alone. Oh, one more thing…there is no need to fill out the “Open House Sign Up” sheet, unless you like to be spammed. It is simply a tool for agents to get your contact info and add you to their marketing.

So get out and tour, and if you see a property you like, and you think it’s “the one”, don’t pass it up because it is the first property you may have seen. There is a really good chance something like it won’t come around anytime soon, so you gotta jump on the ones you (sort of) love.

Godspeed!

-Step 1- Get Pre Approved, Provide Proof of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Step 2- Get Listings Fed to you Automatically [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically

Yesterday, we educated you on the first and most important step in the San Francisco home buying process, so today we’re moving on…

Step 2 – Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically (via Email or Text)

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Our market moves fast, and so must you. You might have thought the next step would be to contact a Realtor. You can certainly do this now, but it’s not necessary. You can preview all the property you want yourself, right here online, and very soon we’ll show you just how easy it is to get dialed in to seeing these homes on your own.

So how do you get these new listings “fed” to you?
a. Get dialed into MLS. Contact us with your criteria (desired # of beds, baths, parking spaces, size, price, location, and your email) and we can set you up with behind the scenes access to what we call our “Client Portal”. You’ll receive new listings to your inbox the second they hit MLS, you can save, reject, and track what properties are selling for (very important), and you can request showings from within the application. This way, you’ll also be on our radar for potential off market matches should any pop up.
b. A different variation of the same theme, but without the need to contact anyone. It’s called MyZephyr, and you can get alerts, save, search, and track property from the comfort of your own home. The only downfall to this, is that we have so many people in this system using this tool, we simply do not have time to track your activity (some might consider this a plus), and therefore we probably won’t know who you are should something great pop up “not on MLS”.
c. Browse MLS: Even less intrusive, and way more stealth, MLS is actually there and available to you 24/7. No really…it is.
d. Redfin. Hands down the best way to search property if you’re not searching with one of the tools provided above. It’s a great site, with a ton of great info, and incredibly accurate data. If you don’t choose a. or b. above, use this over option c. It’s better.
e. Trulia, Zillow, or Realtor.com. These three are crap, inaccurate, and not worth your time. The only saving grace is Trulia’s community or “Voices” area. There is some good info to be found there. Zillow Zestimates are awful, and when we’re sipping a Cerveza after we hand you the keys to your house, we’ll make sure the beers are on you if you mention one word about “but the Zestimate said it’s worth this.”

What about all of the “off market” listings that are becoming so popular, and how do you get clued in to them?
a. PocketListings.net: It’s growing, more agents are using it, and you (the buyer) can certainly browse it for “off market” opportunities. You can follow PocketListings on Twitter for instant notification of new listings, and you can even have your “buyer need” added to it…but for that you’ll need a Realtor.
b. A Realtor: At this stage, there is no way around it, and it’s the very reason Pocket Listings are growing in popularity…Realtors are taking back the control of their listings, and they’re doing this to keep themselves relevant. Listing aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com don’t always portray the most accurate data, agent contact info, pictures, and local information. The system needs to change, and Realtors are taking it back. And guess what? A human is actually a really useful tool in the home searching process and if you find the right one, said human can provide a wealth of accurate and opinionated information. If you want off market opportunities, and want to truly feel like you’re getting in the loop of what most people aren’t, you need a Realtor. If you want to just browse MLS, PocketListings.net, and go at your own pace, you can still get by without contacting one.

So now you’ve proven to all involved you have the money, you’re getting listings fed to you from all angles, and you’re ready to take the next step…Check back tomorrow, and we’ll let you know what to do.

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds

Congratulations! How exciting that you’re taking the steps to buy a home in the San Francisco / Bay Area. You can consider yourself extremely lucky, as this is one of the best and most expensive markets in the country, and you’re clearly doing alright, so you should be rewarded by capturing some prime California real estate.

Let us make the home buying process a little more simple by sharing some important steps we’ve learned over the past decade (plus) helping buyers find property.

Step 1 – Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds

Getting a loan? Don’t even start looking (fantasizing) for property until you know without a shadow of a doubt what you will be able to afford, what the banks will lend you, what interest rate you think you’ll get and how any fluctuation in that rate will influence your buying power. What’s the point of looking at property you aren’t confident you can afford, or come to find out you can get more than you thought!? Focus, focus, focus. You’ll need it in our competitive market.

Who would we contact for pre-approval?
Tim Wood- Terra Mortgage Banking (twood@terramb.com, 415-464-1374)
Sergei Andruha- Guarantee Mortgage (sandruha@gmwest.com, 415-309-0157)
Doug Barta- Wells Fargo (douglas.barta@wellsfargo.com, 415-819-7784)
Gannon Tidwell- GT Financial (gannon@gtfinancialgroup.com, 415-272-7373, Specializing in TIC/Fractional loans)

Pre-approval is ideal, but a pre-qualification (quick over the phone conversation and verification of funds, credit, income, etc.) is good enough, and any of the blokes above can certainly get it done quickly. Once they do, get it in writing, and keep it handy.

Cash purchase? Be prepared to provide Proof Of Funds with any offer you submit, and (depending on the price range) before you are shown property. If you’re oozing money and it’s obvious, or you’re famous and we know it, you might still be asked to provide proof of funds. Don’t take it personally.

As Jerry Maguire so eloquently says, “Show me (and everybody that will be involved in your purchase) the money” and you’ll be amazed at how much more focused your search can be.

Check back tomorrow for Step 2…

Closing Time – Simplifying The Escrow Process With Technology

I’ve written before about technology that is here to stay, and how the real estate industry can benefit from all the brilliant people in the world creating it, and I’ve recently come across another good example of a new company that’s applying technology to attempt to solve a big headache for buyers and agents alike: the escrow (purchase) process.

closingtime

I met founder Jonathan Aizen when he reached out to me through TheFrontSteps, and he took me through an early version of his tool, Closing Time, telling me about how he built it based on his own pain navigating the closing process on his Noe Valley home last year. Basically, Closing Time takes a bunch of information about a buyer’s property and finances to generate a customized checklist of steps to complete prior to close of escrow (read: get the keys to your home). These steps include things like “Get homeowners insurance” and “Submit your W-2s to your lender.” The steps generated and their due dates are based on the information you give Closing Time (it asks you simple questions like “what kind of property are you buying?”, etc.). For pre-contract buyers, Closing Time simply provides a checklist of things to prepare that might make escrow run more smoothly (like getting your financial documents in order, who to use for inspections, etc.) after you beg, borrow and steal your way to convincing the seller to accept your offer over one of the 15 others he just received.

It’s an interesting concept, and it’s certainly worth checking out. While great strides have been made in document management and e-signatures to reduce the amount of crap you actually physically have to sign (now you just click, click, click your way through), the actual escrow process has remained mostly untouched by technology (especially for the buyer). I’m still thinking about how this would work with my own workflow, as there’s an agent-interface that helps agents track buyers through their escrow process, and I’m actively giving them feedback about how to make it more user friendly and as little a drain on my already tapped time for technology and new processes, but I invite all of you to give it a shot and tell me or Closing Time what you think.

To that end, Closing Time is offering a free trial for agents, and buyers, who read TheFrontSteps. Agents can invite in as many buyers as you want for the first three months. Agents can sign up at http://www.closingti.me/agents. Buyers can try it too, even if you’re not yet under contract, by going to http://www.closingti.me to play around. Both buyers and agents can use the invite code “TheFrontSteps.”

Good luck with it…and Happy New Year!

San Francisco / Bay Area Real Estate Market On Overdrive – by Coldwell Banker

One benefit of having one of the most popular real estate resources in San Francisco is I get spammed from all angles. Occasionally, I find good bits to share with you. So thank you Coldwell Banker for this update, I’m sure all of my readers will appreciate it.

“Dear Alexander,

The housing market is supposed to slow down as we get deeper into the fall season and inch closer to the holidays, but something very unusual is happening here in the Bay Area. Not only is the market remaining active overall, there’s been a remarkable surge in luxury home buying – in particular, the mega-home sales.
A quick look at closed sales at the end of October caught my attention. Our company alone closed an amazing 13 sales over more than $5 million in the Bay Area just in the last two weeks of October! The vast majority of these deals were in San Francisco, the Peninsula and Silicon Valley, although one was in Healdsburg. The homes went for as much as $11.1 million, the price paid for a Los Altos Hills property.

In all, we saw the strongest October in sales volume since 2004 for the San Francisco Peninsula Region. And although we can’t share with you Coldwell Banker’s proprietary sales figures, we can tell you that this added up to a 56 percent gain from just last October.

For a market that still faces a number of economic and political headwinds, this is quite a remarkable spike in activity for the upper end of the market.

So, what do we make of all this? It’s a strong signal that the so-called “smart money” is placing some very big bets that the housing recovery is well on its way. Well-heeled investors believe that real estate today offers a tremendous value and the long-term potential is quite attractive.

Additionally, we continue to see more and more signs that the economy nationwide is gradually turning a corner. But more importantly, here at home, the Bay Area economy and job market continues to gain steam, led by Silicon Valley, the biotech sector and the investment community.

A new report released last week by the Bay Area Council adds more evidence of the Bay Area’s economic strength.

Continue reading

1 Ecker (16 Jessie) San Francisco: First Resale Hits The Market, Not Yet On MLS

This property has sold off market after one showing.

The first resale within 1 Ecker since its renovation in 2010, this is a rare 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit you won’t want to miss. Marketed “not on MLS” throughout the holiday season, now is your chance to beat the competition before (if) it gets to MLS.

Sold for $755,000, 1 Ecker (16 Jessie) unit #204 is an appealing blend of modern and timeless San Francisco charm. The original century-old building structure was painstakingly restored and updated with brand-new modern interior fixtures and finishes in every bedroom and bath. The soaring arched windows are 100% recycled, and the building’s sustainable interiors feature Bosch Energy Star® appliances (including gas range for the chef in all of us), Cesarstone kitchen counters, and bamboo flooring. Nestled among some of San Francisco’s tallest structures, the grand windows and high ceilings fill this residence with generous amounts of natural light, while the original brick structure is a welcome backdrop for modern, sophisticated living.

1 Ecker’s common area amenities include the comfortable rooftop lounge, with grill and plenty of seating for entertaining a large group or enjoying a quiet dinner for two. Sleek, comfortable modular seating allows for adjustment to meet your group’s needs, as art form meets function. Exotic foliage in vibrant hues frames an antique Balinese water fountain, a tranquil centerpiece. The lounge grill is ready to serve up favorites year-round.. The interior courtyard offers a stylish visual backdrop featuring exotic, vibrant foliage. Common areas are maintained by the building’s Home Owners Association, and monthly HOA dues of $525.72 for this unit help serve to keep them in pristine order. HOA dues also include water, garbage, and professional property management services.

The location of this wonderful city home puts you steps away from tons of shops, restaurants, clubs, art museums (MOMA), theaters (Metreon), Outdoor Parks (Yerba Buena), conference centers (Moscone), World Champion baseball stadium (Go Giants), and so much more. Multiple Zipcar® locations are within walking distance for pay-as-you-go car convenience, and the future Transbay Transit Center steps away at 1st and Mission Streets will house 11 transportation systems, including AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Muni & Amtrak, for easy access to all of the Bay Area and beyond.

*Images are not of the actual unit; however, finishes, quality, and features are the same or better.

San Francisco’s Months Supply Of Inventory Entering Record Setting Territory

Translation: Single family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, and multi-family units in San Francisco sell really, really fast (when priced right), and buyers are again finding themselves with less and less to choose from. Competition is again at a fever pitch and multiple offers on any one single property are the norm.

Like I’ve been saying, if you’re on the fence about selling…get off that fence.