San Francisco Is The Best City, Has The Most College Educated People, Oldest Women, And Most Homeless People, And Lots Of Fog…What Else?

By the numbers: San Francisco has an estimated population of 837,442 (per U.S. Census), we live within 47 square miles, our calves are bursting out of our jeans, and who needs squats (we have hills…apparently 43 – 50 “named” hills). We have a ton of billionaires, and even more homeless. We have old ladies, and lots of lawyers. But really, have a look at the rest.

San Francisco is:

  • America’s best city, per Bloomberg Businessweek
  • 2nd best metro area in the country for resident “well-being” (after San Jose-Santa Clara), per 2014 Gallup/Healthways survey
  • America’s most pretentious city (followed by NYC, Boston & Minneapolis), per Travel + Leisure reader survey
  • 1st in college degrees per square mile: 7031, per U.S. Census; 3rd in graduate degrees per capita (after DC and Seattle), per Forbes
  • 3rd worst metro area commute (after DC and LA): average of 61 hours of delay in traffic per year, per Texas A&M Transportation Institute
  • 5th best city for dogs, per PawNation; est. 120,000 dogs live in SF, per City Govt.
  • Last in children per capita (14%); approx. 113,000 children under 18, per U.S. Census
  • 3rd in lawyers per capita by metro area (after DC & NYC); 2nd highest mean wage for lawyers, $169,000 (after San Jose), per Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • 3rd in number of billionaires (i.e. the Bay Area, after Moscow and New York): 65 billionaires (25 in SF), though it fluctuates depending on stock prices, per SFLuxe
  • 1st in homeless residents per capita, per Philanthropedia; percentage living below poverty level, 13.2%, per U.S. Census
  • 14th largest city in the U.S.; 2nd most densely populated city in the U.S. (after NYC)
  • Misc. Fact – Estimated change in population since 2010: 32,000, per U.S. Census; new housing units added since 2010: approx. 4200, per SF Planning Dept.
  • Highest median asking residential rent in U.S.: $3256/month, per livelovely.com; 4th least affordable city by median-rent-to-median-income ratio – 40.7%, per Zillow
  • 186th on Best Drivers List, per Allstate
  • 11th most gay friendly city, per The Advocate 2014 ranking; 1st in LGBT percentage of residents, 15.4%, and 4th by total population, per Census Bureau
  • 6th highest rate of vehicle theft, per Natl. Insurance Crime Bureau; 5400/year stolen in SF & 28,500 in Bay Area, with 85-90% recovered, per Bay Area News Group
  • Misc. Fact – Every year, approx. 70,000 cars are towed ($500+ fee) & 1,529,000 tickets issued in San Francisco, per Towing & Recovery & SFMTA
  • 2nd in “walkability” (after NYC), per WalkScore
  • 8th most bike-friendly city (Portland is 1st), per Bicycling Magazine
  • 3rd best city to visit in the U.S. (after NYC and Chicago), per Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards and Condé Nast Readers’ Choice
  • Greenest city in North America, per The Economist; 2nd greenest city in the world (after Reykjavik), per Green Uptown
  • Bay Area is 1st in hybrid and electric car sales: 9.4% of all sales are hybrid; .52% of sales are electric, per R.L. Polk & Co.
  • 2nd fittest city in the U.S. (after Portland), per Men’s Fitness
  • 1st in women’s life expectancy: 84.5 years; 2nd in women’s well-being (after DC), per Measure of America
  • 2nd smartest city in the U.S. (after Seattle; tied with Boston), per Co.Exist; approx. 35 Nobel Prize winners live in the Bay Area, per SF Business Times
  • 4th most liberal major city in the U.S. (Oakland is #3), per Center for Voting Research. If smaller cities are included, Berkeley comes in 3rd, Oakland 5th and SF 9th
  • Best city for dining out, per Bon Appétit readers’ poll; best for ethnic food dining, per Travel + Leisure; most restaurants per capita, per Frommer’s
  • 10th on the Global Financial Centres Index; 3rd in U.S. (after NYC and Boston)
  • 15th best city for hippies (Eugene is #1 and Berkeley is #8), per Estately Blog
  • 2nd in Fortune 500 companies: 31, with recent addition of Facebook (ranking refers to Bay Area; NYC metro area is 1st with 66), per Fortune
  • 194th in cost of doing business, per Forbes
  • Misc. Fact – Avg. SF internet download speed: 22.2 Mbps vs. U.S. average of 22.9; Kansas City is at 86.3 Mbps; Provo at 84.9; NYC at 31; Austin at 27.2, per Ookla
  • SF population breakdown: 42% non-Hispanic white (vs. 64% U.S.), 34% Asian (vs. 5% U.S.), 15% Hispanic/Latino (vs. 16%), 6% black (vs. 13%), 1% Native American (n/c), .5% Pacific Islander (.2%), per U.S. Census
  • 4th in percentage of foreign-born residents: 30% for SF-Oakland metro area; 36% for SF alone (behind Miami, San Jose-Santa Clara and LA), per U.S. Census
  • Misc. Fact – Highest minimum wage in the country: $10.74/hour as of January 2014 (with a ballot measure to raise it to $15 expected in November)
  • 21st highest office rent in the world & 4th highest in U.S. (after NY Midtown, DC East End, Boston Back Bay): SF Financial District, $70/sq.ft./year, per Cushman Wakefield
  • 8th best city for drinking, per Forbes
  • 13th highest rate of consumer cell phone loss or theft (35%), per Symantec; more than 50% of SF robberies involve the theft of a mobile device, per SF Police Dept.
  • 3rd most inventive city in the world by patent applications per capita (after Eindhoven in the Netherlands and San Diego), per the OECD
  • 3rd best city for parks in U.S. (after Minneapolis and NYC), 5384 acres equaling 18% of the city’s area, per Trust for Public Land
  • 3rd in U.S. for number of “ultra-high-net-worth” individuals worth $30m+ (after NYC and LA), per Wealth-X; 10% of wealthiest Americans live in Bay Area, per SFLuxe
  • Highest median home price, per National Association of Realtors: $960,000, 1st quarter 2014, per SFARMLS; homeownership rate is 37% vs. 65% for U.S., per Census Bureau
  • 33rd most visited city in the world, per Euromonitor Intl.; 16.9 million visitors in 2013 (or 20 visitors per resident)
  • Misc. Fact – the Bay Area has 2 universities in the top-ranked 6 of the world: Stanford, UC Berkeley; 3 in the top 31 (add UCSF), per Times Higher Education Ranking report
  • 1st in the U.S. for real estate investment/development opportunity, per Urban Land Inst.
  • 2nd most charitable city (after Seattle), per Daily Beast; 8th most generous in online giving, per Convio; as a multi-county metro area, 310th in percentage of adjusted gross income donated (2.8%), per National Center for Charitable Statistics
  • 9th “coolest” city in the U.S., per Forbes (Houston, DC and LA were 1, 2 & 3)
  • Misc. Fact – Average number of foggy days per year: 108, per Current Results
  • Best city for Halloween trick or treating, per Zillow
  • That ought to keep you all discussing for a while.

    1 Ecker (16 Jessie) Unit 406 Hits The Market, Monday Open House Was Packed

    You may have already seen the press my good friends over at Curbed gave to this awesome condo in the heart of downtown San Francisco (Financial District/Yerba Buena), but if not, here you go: 16 Jessie (1 Ecker) #406, Junior 1br/1ba, $495,000

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Sustainable down to its very foundation, this century-old building (1 Ecker) was painstakingly restored and updated with brand-new modern interior fixtures and finishes. This top floor, Junior 1br, 1ba unit features soaring 12′ ceilings, exposed brick, open kit/liv area, bamboo floors, Cesarstone kit countertops, espresso cabinetry, stackable Whirlpool High Efficiency W&D, Bosch Energy Star appliances, addl. storage, bike parking, & shared roof deck/bbq area. Furniture is negotiable. Walk to shops, restaurants, public transportation, Ferry Building, and so much more. This is the perfect Urban dwelling for anyone.

    On a side note, this was the first ever Open House I’ve done on a Monday evening and the traffic was through the roof. Perhaps this could be the first step to getting buyers, sellers, and agents their Sundays back! Many, many of the people through the door preferred the Monday evening showing over the standard Sunday 2-4pm window for open houses, citing their inability to do anything on Sundays because this window falls smack dab in the middle of the day. My vote is to get our weekends back. What about you?

    I’ll have it open again:
    Thursday 4/17 from 5:30-7:30pm
    Saturday 4/19 from 2-4pm (my colleague will be there)
    Tuesday 4/22 from 2:30-4pm
    Offers, if any, will be reviewed Wednesday 4/23 @ noon.

    -A Slice of 1 Ecker In Yerba Buena Can Be Yours For $495k [Curbed]

    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

    Something For You Fence Sitters And Gold Panners To Ponder…

    1761hayes

    My clients just got shelled by 16 other offers on 1761 Hayes, a top floor 2 bed, 1 bath condo in NOPA asking $849,000. We offered $1,051,000, and they accepted an offer that was “barely higher”. So here’s a thought:

    I’d say it’s time for many of you long time residents sitting on the selling fence to pack it up, cash out, and head for greener pastures where the $$$ you make on your sale can buy you acres of space, money in the bank, and plenty of breathing room. I’d even suggest all of you gold panner techies flocking to SF looking to strike it rich consider building another hub for tech activity somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of you, many of you are my clients, we love what you’re doing for the economy (for that matter, the world), and there is a reason everyone wants to be in San Francisco, but at some point, I’d think even you, the innovators, would get tired of throwing your money at sellers and it still not being enough. Surely, the internet works in other locales around the world, and surely companies can be built and go viral from anywhere. Perhaps the companies that are leading the innovation now should open satellite offices in markets where their talent can afford to live? I know Oregon, Seattle, and Salt Lake City have a reasonable real estate market, as well as hip scene. Makes perfect sense to me, and might ease the frenzy that is San Francisco real estate. What do you think?

    On a side note (somewhat related to technology): in case you aren’t on the VIP list, and you’re stuck waiting in line for your real estate agent to send you stale data via snail mail about recent sales in your ‘hood, comps that by the time they reach you are old news, I published yet another issue of sfnewsletter last week, and it’s chock full of good real estate porn, including a few good overbids you’ll want to share amongst friends, and a link to the stuff you really want: real time market data sortable by neighborhood and property type (courtesy of The Goods-SF).

    Get on the list at sfnewsletter.com. Get out of town with money in the bank by giving me a shout (alexclark@gmail.com, 415-254-5351).

    -1761 Hayes Property Detail [theGoods-sf.com]

    Current San Francisco Home Values by Neighborhood, Property Type & Bedroom Count

    These tables report average and median sales prices and average dollar per square foot, along with average home size and units sold, by property type and bedroom count for a wide variety of San Francisco neighborhoods. The tables follow the map in the following order: houses by bedroom count, condos by bedroom count, 2-bedroom TICs, and finally a small table on 2-unit building sales.

    The analysis is based upon sales reported to MLS between April 1, 2013, when the last big surge in home values began in San Francisco, and February 21, 2014. Value statistics are generalities that are affected by a number of market factors and all numbers should be considered approximate.

    Continue reading

    “Can You Tell Me What The Property Down The Street Sold For?”

    “How much is the house down the street?” “Do you know how much over that condo sold for?” I get those questions a lot. So much in fact, that I built a tool/service for all of you to track new listings and sales in your area with ease.
    Show Me The Goods!

    As much as I’d like to be able to share this data publicly here on theFrontSteps, I can’t. But, you can sign up for my newsletter at www.sfnewsletter.com, and I’ll send you something along the lines of this just about every other week, (click here to see my recent sfnewsletter), and it has access to insanely awesome and easy to use market information like this (Show me the Goods (sample data)). So sign up today, and be the one in your area that knows more about the property on your block than all of your neighbors.

    Rock on! Have a great weekend, and let me know when you’re ready to buy or sell in this wonderfully expensive, and worth every penny, city we call home.

    Oh, you fellow Realtors, you can send this data to your clients. Just ask @ www.theGoods-sf.com.

    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.
    Continue reading

    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]

    The House Of Haight Ashbury Vintage Gets $1.3M More, Two Potrero Hill Comps You’ll Want To Track, And More Overbids To Ponder

    Before I show you the list of the top 10 overbids, have a look at the building that houses Haight Ashbury Vintage:
    Haight Vintage Building sells for $8,250,000
    Listed for $6,950,000 back in October, it just closed for a mere $1,300,000 more. Apparently, Vintage is more hip than you thought…

    I have more story. Just yesterday I heard of 25 offers on this condo on Missouri in Potrero Hill, and there will be many on this other condo on Mississippi, but those are not done deals. Get on the list and know when they close.

    So…the overbids. Regardless of where these are priced, consider the number of buyers out there bidding on what little inventory we have, which ultimately drives the price up. Think it’s just a matter of pricing below comps to eventually get to market? I don’t. The data shows staggering growth in SF, and a possible plateau, but the truth is, buyers far outnumber sellers, and until those two numbers meet in the middle, we can expect another year of mind boggling overbids. Another thing to consider is when these properties went into contract, that being the “slowest” time of year for San Francisco real estate: The Holidays and a couple weeks after.
    Anyhow, here you go. Overbids, cuz I know you love them:

    Address BR/BA/Units DOM List Price Sold Price Overbid
    2510 39th Ave 2/1.00/N/A 15 $599,000 $788,000 31.55%
    179 Vienna St 2/2.00/N/A 11 $499,000 $650,000 30.26%
    200 Amber Dr 4/2.50/N/A 12 $1,299,000 $1,670,000 28.56%
    506 Molimo Dr 3/2.00/N/A 31 $859,000 $1,100,000 28.06%
    12 Sherwood Ct 3/2.00/N/A 5 $788,000 $1,000,000 26.90%
    700 Illinois St 1/2.00/3 13 $499,000 $630,000 26.25%
    726 Masonic Ave 2/1.00/ 34 $750,000 $925,000 23.33%
    94 Eastwood Dr 2/2.00/N/A 26 $898,000 $1,085,000 20.82%
    738 Masonic Ave 2/1.00/ 6 $799,000 $955,000 19.52%
    1501 Haight St 1509 N/A/N/A/14 39 $6,950,000 $8,250,000 18.71%

    Holiday Happenings. Good News! My Goals And Predictions For 2014. Plus, I’m Giving Away Money!

    Happy New Year to everyone!

    I dare say it was a quiet holiday for me for the first time since jumping into real estate 11 long years ago, and it felt weird to have so much free time. It was a struggle to really let go of the iPhone, turn off the internet, and live in the now, but I managed, and dammit if I wasn’t pretty good at it too. I can highly recommend unplugging (especially you parents) and leaving your Smartphone behind, lifting your head up, and noticing all the insanely awesome things that take place in the world immediately around you, all day, every day.

    This holiday break I played some ice hockey, did some Cross Country and Alpine skiing, and since we (San Franciscans) became locked in a pattern of no rain, sunny skies, and Easterly winds, I managed to get my fair shake of surfing in as well. Now, my boys are back in school, so I can get back to the task at hand…work.

    On that note, I have exciting news that you may have already heard, and that is “Top Agent Network scoops up domain name PocketListings.net and CEO Alexander Clark“. That’s right, I am joining Top Agent Network as an Industry and Technology Advisor, and PocketListings.net is no longer mine. It has been a great resource for myself and many agents around the country, but now if you want the inside track to off market real estate, you’re going to have to officially be on my radar, and be thankful that I am a Top Producer. I am excited about the prospects ahead for Top Agent Network and my role with them, and I am excited to be your go-to Real Estate agent for all of your San Francisco real estate needs.

    Looking forward to 2014, agents around San Francisco are beginning to finally send their clients pertinent, real-time, real estate market information as part of their marketing campaign and their clients around the Bay Area can begin to rejoice in the fact that print mailers, and all of the other crap you are bombarded with from those in our industry will hopefully taper off. To put it another way, you (the property owner, or buyer) can track sales where you want, when you want from any internet connected device. It is my mission to keep you informed about the market in your area on a micro and macro level, and if you’re agent is not sending you The Goods, smack them upside the head and tell them it’s about time they do!

    My predictions:

    Our market will see continued multiple offer situations, continued low inventory, a decrease in hype about Noe Valley and the Mission, and increased interest in areas like NOPA, the Richmond, and the Outer Sunset. Overall it feels the market may have calmed, however slightly (could very well be the holiday doldrums), and I do feel there will be more opportunities on properties that set an offer date, do not receive any offers, and thus become that much more negotiable on price and terms, so patience might just pay off. Keep in mind, if our market has calmed, that does not mean by any stretch of the imagination it has tanked. We were at a fever pitch, and anything less than that would be awesome for all of you buyers out there, and still incredibly rewarding for all of you sellers.

    It will rain, at some point, and it will snow in the mountains before May. I regret to say, the 49ers will lose their next game (let’s hope I’m wrong), but I’m happy to say, the Warriors will win theirs. I predict San Francisco will get “The Big One” sometime in my lifetime, and Ocean Beach surfing conditions will go back to normal (this is not normal). Hipsters will continue to come up with cool innovations, and rule our world. They will procreate, and facial hair (for boys) will be popular at more and more insanely expensive San Francisco pre-school classrooms around the city. Coffee will be the new water. Carrying or using a single use plastic water bottle anywhere will immediately garnish dirty looks (as it should), and residents will slowly begin to realize that big “green bin” is not just for gardening waste.

    I want to give away money.

    I will give 2% of my commission to a charity of your (the client’s) choice with each closed transaction. When I hit $25,000,000 in sales volume, I will give $25,000 to one local charity or organization. (I’m still finalizing which one, and I’m open to suggestions). When you refer me to your friends and family, and a transaction is closed, you will receive a $100 gift card to a local restaurant or business of your choice. I am in the local business, and I’d like to support everything local. Spread the word, so I can share the love!

    I again wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year filled with fun, excitement, challenges, rewards, and lots and lots of snow! Pray for snow! We need it. Enjoy a few pictures of my 2013, and here’s a raised glass to many more excellent memories, and new friends in 2014.

    Alex

    “It’s Not Everyday You Trust A Realtor To Buy A Home Sight Unseen”

    Happy Holidays to all of you, and congratulations to some more happy clients on their purchase of one awesome San Francisco property!
    IMG_3366

    Our search for a home in San Francisco started after reading Alex’s site TheFrontSteps.com. We were impressed with his insight into the market and his interest in finding a property that fit our needs. Due to a job transfer, we had limited time to search for property and even less time to actually see what was available. Through many phone calls, text messages, and emails, Alex gave us a solid understanding of neighborhoods, prices, and how to make a competitive bid. It’s not everyday you trust a realtor enough to buy a home sight unseen, but Alex found us the perfect property! Alex listened to our needs and interests and found a home for us that we love, in a neighborhood that fits our lifestyle. And, did I mention that we did all this in less than 30 days? Thanks, Alex!

    You’re so very welcome Kris, and you can’t imagine the relief I felt when you told me you loved the place! I was sweatin’ for days!

    -More Testimonials Of The Service I Can Provide [Alexander Clark, theFrontSteps & Paragon Real Estate]

    San Francisco Rated #1 Real Estate Market In The Country, And Solid “Buy” By The Urban Land Institute

    In their “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014 (pdf)”, The Urban Land Institute named San Francisco the #1 real estate market in the country:

    #1- San Francisco
    The top-ranked market in the survey for the second year in a row, San Francisco has a real estate sector driven by a thriving economy that is projected to add jobs at a rate of 2 percent next year. According to survey respondents, the city is a solid “buy” for all property types, with each of these recommendations higher than the average for the other major markets.

    The other cities rounding out the top 5, in order are: Houston, San Jose, NY and Dallas/Fort Worth

    Multifamily housing, which has been the most popular sector in recent reports, is still popular with investors, as the underlying fundamentals remain intact due to demand from members of generation Y seeking to rent and baby boomers looking to downsize from houses to apartments.”

    There is a TON of good information in this report, so I highly recommend clicking through to read some, if not all, of the report.

    -The full and very long report is here (pdf) [Urban Land Institute]

    Bay Area Ski Season Is Here! But Wait, Do You Need Tahoe?

    The entire Bay Area is teeming with ski fever. More ski racks are showing up on cars, fleece and Gore-tex wear is on the rise, and non-stop chatter about ski leases is everywhere. But wait! Perhaps you should think more along the lines of an Ocean Beach ski lease.

    With a new swell on the way, and increased crowds out at Ocean Beach here in San Francisco, perhaps this will get your ski fix on, and wave count up?

    The “Islands of San Francisco”. We Can Just Call Them Neighborhoods

    I get a lot of questions along the lines of “where exactly is NOPA?”  Or “We were thinking of selling our home in Noe Valley, and moving to Pacific Heights…where exactly is Pacific Heights’ border?”  

    That kind of stuff.  
    Wonder no more, thanks to Burrito Justice

     

    This cool picture assumes the main streets have all vanished and we are a city of islands. So you can either do your own map mashing to see what streets go where, or just wait til next year when the 9.0 quake that’s coming hits, and the trailing tsunami turns our hills into islands, dust off your gondola (the Italian kind), and take to the streets for your tour…err the canals.

    Buying San Francisco Real Estate Is As Easy As…Not Giving Up Before You Start!

    I’ve been getting a few phone calls and emails from potential buyers looking to get into the San Francisco market, and their general mood is that of despair…mostly because of my latest posts about how hot the market (particularly Cole Valley) is right now. I’ll just come right out and apologize for giving the impression that we are back to the days of boom. We are not.

    As is the case with our weather here in San Francisco on any given day, there are pockets of sunshine, and clouds of rain. While nicely presented (staged) homes, in great locations, marketed at competitive prices (whether $400,000 or $4,000,000) are practically flying off the shelf with all cash/zero contingency offers, there are certainly countless numbers of not so lucky homes and sellers that either missed the mark with pricing, timing, or presentation, and those homes are getting stale, dropping prices, and selling for much less than asking…if they sell at all. Depending on when the seller purchased it, often many homes are selling for much less than what the seller paid! So it’s definitely not all roses all across the board.

    With that said, what can you do to increase your chances of buying a piece of San Francisco real estate. The most important thing for you to do as a buyer is get pre-approved with a good, reputable, local lender or mortgage broker (I can recommend a few). Getting pre-approved doesn’t cost you a dime. Don’t even look at homes until you know without a shadow of a doubt what you can afford. That includes browsing online on Trulia or Zillow.

    Once you have taken the pre-approval step, there are tools available to get you searching for the most accurate, up to the minute listings both on MLS, and “off market“.

    Once you have an idea of what it is you can both afford, and what it is you desire, you should absolutely get in touch with a licensed real estate professional to help you find and secure your property. You can certainly try to go it alone, but when it comes time to write an offer, 99% of the listing agents out there are going to prefer to work with someone that is represented by a Realtor, rather than someone that thinks they can do it alone. Put two identical offers on the table. One from a buyer that has an agent who knows the game, and the other from a buyer wanting to represent themselves to “save” some money and nine out of 10 agents will go with the Realtor represented buyer all day long. If you want to go discount, go Redfin. At least you’ll have an agent representing you.

    Once you’ve selected your agent (It’s like dating, so don’t just go “top producer” or “market specialist”…find someone you can spend hours hanging out with. Someone that might share similar interests.), work with them using all of the tools available to both of you, and be in touch frequently. Understand the market fluctuates day to day. Know that while some properties will receive multiple offers, some won’t, and gauging at what price a home will sell in such a market is often difficult and not as easy as 1+1=2. Running and analyzing comparable sales is only half of the story (our market now is much more robust than only a few short months ago in what should have been a busy October). Be ready to act quickly, and be flexible with regards to what times you are available to tour homes. See any, and as many homes as you can that might be a match.

    When you find the home you like…don’t hesitate. It could be gone the next day. Make an offer, consider shortening any and all contingencies, and be prepared to go back and forth on price and terms. Don’t take it personally! Every buyer wants a good deal, and every seller wants top dollar. It will get heated.

    If you don’t get the property, don’t dwell on it. There will be more opportunity…I promise. Move on. If you do get the property…well that’s another blog post altogether.

    Don’t get discouraged by my stories of multiple offers, cash buyers, and an ultra-competitive market. As much as those stories are happening, there are also many more stories of Stalefish homes finally being sold after many, many months on the market. There are foreclosures (good luck with those), short sales, and many off market opportunities. You just gotta know where to look, have patience, money, and determination. Your property is out there. Don’t give up based on a few blog posts about a hot, hot market. And definitely don’t give up before you start.

    -Four buyers in four days, and 121 Beulah. How did it end. [theFrontSteps]
    -Factoring weather when buying a home in San Francisco is anything but simple. [theFrontSteps]
    -Search MLS
    -Search Not on MLS

    From Hero To Zero In Less Than A Week

    You know that feeling you get when you’re about to push over the ledge of an 8 foot Ocean Beach bomb? Or the feeling just before you drop an untracked line of cold smoke pow down your favorite chute? Well that’s how I felt for my buyers when I saw this sign post out front of this lovely Cole Valley home at 156 Grattan.

    My elation quickly turned from thrill and excitement to the feeling of pearling the nose of your board on said 8 foot bomb, crossing a tip and being sent cartwheeling, full yard sale, down your favorite chute with the entire chairlift above watching.

    Alas…the house is not coming on the market, but has been rented. It only took one week to rent it, for a mere $6000/month, and they didn’t even have time to finish putting the sign up out front.

    I keep saying, Cole Valley (and San Francisco) real estate is doing just fine…thank you very much.

    As for me and my buyers, we’ll continue to lick our wounds until we come out on top.

    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 Real Estate Summer Doldrums Ending, Lake Merced Homes More Popular, Surfing Ocean Beach Still Off Limits To Most

    Below is an excerpt from the San Francisco Market Focus Report published by the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

    Despite Seasonal Summer Slowdown, SF Housing Market Continues to Show Strength as Pending Sales Rise

    With many buyers, sellers, and agents away on vacation at this time of the year, the San Francisco housing market is experiencing normal patterns of slowing down, resulting in lower inventory and less activity throughout the city.

    Regardless, there have been pockets of movement and market conditions are expected to pick up in late August and throughout September as many people return from their holiday. In addition, it is likely that more distressed properties will come onto the market as banks sort out and finalize their paperwork.

    Single-Family Homes
    Year-over-year, the number of single-family home sales under contract in July rose by 29.6 percent citywide. Since the start of 2011, it has soared by 73 percent throughout the city. For properties priced below $700,000, the months of supply inventory dropped by 54.6 percent to a reading of 1.8 months. For properties priced between $700,000 and $1.2 million, the months of supply inventory fell by 22.6 percent to 2.5 months.

    One area of the city which has seen a spike in home sales activity is the southwest neighborhoods of Lake Merced. Since July 2010, the number of pending sales has increased from 13 to 27 properties and the number of completed transactions has jumped by 28.6 percent to a total of 18 units sold. The landscape of Lake Merced offers an abundance of recreational activities for outdoors enthusiasts, from hiking, jogging, and biking to fishing and golfing. [Surfing is not recommended.] Real estate here ranges from upscale properties in the Pine Lake Park neighborhood to more mid-priced homes in Merced Heights…Read More.

    Market Focus Report August 2011 [San Francisco Association of Realtors]

    Get Ready For “Social Buying” And The Arrival Of The “Echo Boomer”-An Interview With Sherry Chris, CEO Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

    Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BHGRE) and Advisory Board Member of Zillow.com. I had every intention of grilling her on the state of the market locally, more specifically hyper-locally, and concluding that just like Zillow, the CEO at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is more concerned about the national picture than the hyper-local reality that is San Francisco real estate. I was wrong. Chris knows a lot about San Francisco real estate. The conversation then quickly turned out to be like all of the others I have with so many people regardless of where they rank in the world of real estate knowledge and forecasting…the market is going to do what it does, San Francisco is stronger than the rest, and we, as agents, possess nothing in our bag of tricks that can change the way the market ups and downs are going to play out. We have to adapt, roll with the punches, embrace technology, listen to the consumer, and become “collaborators of information” rather than the “gatekeepers we have been for so long.”

    Chris agrees with me that, the “real estate industry missed the boat by not creating a central place for MLS listings”, and she congratulates Zillow and Trulia for doing so. She’s quick to point to their success in aggregating data the National Association of Realtors failed to aggregate themselves. As a result of our own missed opportunity in that regard, “we need to look long and hard at what is happening with the next generation of buyers”, who Chris calls the “echo-boomers” (80 million strong or roughly 1/3 of the buying population). “They are buying property based on recommendations from their friends and circles, and turning less and less to those in the industry for advice and knowledge about when and where to purchase. Echo-boomers have been raised with social networking and if the real estate industry doesn’t get into the game of creating a social platform that will engage these buyers and sellers, MLS and industry gatekeepers are going to continue to be left behind while the boat full of buyers and sellers sails off to sea without them.”

    Thinking along these lines, Chris has championed a new kind of iPhone App for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate…one that doesn’t feed MLS listings! Gasp! Yes, they have come out with an app that allows users to take photos while they are at properties, arrange them into albums, share them with friends via Facebook or email, and easily refer to them later. The app allows users to search schools in the area, sites of interest, and refer to BHGRE website for more general information about buying and selling a home. And of course, you’ll be able to easily “contact an agent” and get in touch with a BHGRE real estate agent to put pen to paper (virtually of course) on that deal. Chris sees the process of buying and selling a home becoming a much more “social” process. Much less about receiving data (listings), hopping in a Realtors car, and making a decision based on this complete strangers recommendation, and more about searching property on their own, getting recommendations from their friends and family, collaborating with trusted “inner circle” friends on price and photos, and pulling the trigger based on social recommendations, not pushy Realtors looking to earn a commission. (Sounds a bit like where a certain company of mine is heading.) She went on to talk even further about a potential world of buying/selling real estate where price is less important than location, amenities nearby, WalkScores, and ultimately their friends’/family’s recommendation on whether to purchase a property or not, but we both agreed that although that is great, it’s a long ways off.

    Sherry Chris has been in the real estate world for about 30 years, and so I was expecting to sit down with someone that is like so many other agents/brokers that have been in this industry for so long and still think farming, mailers (yes, actually through the post office), and cold-calling are the way to do business these days, but boy was I wrong. I’d even go so far as to say Chris is thinking further ahead than I am, and she happens to be at the helm of the third ranked well-established franchise in J.D. Power and Associates’ recent fourth annual Home Buyer/Seller Study. So she’s big-time, and she’s thinking ahead. This is refreshing.

    I thank Sherry for inviting me to have a conversation with her, and I’m excited to see the direction the industry heads, because as many of you readers have known for a very, very long time I’ve considered the system marginal at best with TONS of room for improvement. Baby steps…baby steps.

    For more information:
    -BHGRealEstate.com
    -The rise of consumer-centrid real estate [Inman News]
    -J.D. Power and Associates’ recent fourth annual Home Buyer/Seller Study [J.D. Power & Associates]

    Hunters Point Shipyard Redevelopment Project

    An interesting solution to an otherwise forgotten stretch of San Francisco land. Hats off to CCLR for putting this video together and sending it my way.

    Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR), based out of San Francisco, is a nonprofit organization focused on creating sustainable communities and encouraging environmentally conscious and socially responsible development through the facilitation of land recycling.

    Bravo!

    For more videos by CCLR head to their YouTube Channel.

    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]

    Battle Royale: San Francisco Or East Bay, If You Had To Choose

    Coming off the heels of my post about a modern, Swedish home currently for sale by some clients contemplating their move here to San Francisco or the East Bay, it inspired a long overdue Battle Royale (perhaps on par with SF v. NYC):
    San Francisco versus East Bay (I leave the “what exactly is East Bay” interpretation up to you). If you had to choose and why. Please share in the comments below.

    On the map it hardly seems fair with the East Bay being so much larger than San Francisco, but we all know size doesn’t matter right? At least “that’s what she said.”

    -More Battle Royales [theFrontSteps]

    137 Buelah Apple: Don’t Haight the Game….

    [Written by "Eddy":]

    One thirty seven Buelah is one of those homes that just screams San Francisco charm and it has all the makings for what many families are looking for in a home here in the city (e.g., curb appeal, close to shopping, parking, etc.)
    It’s no wonder that this property closed escrow back in 2006 in only 26 days and over asking at $1.59M.   It’s a little more surprising, however, to see that this same home just closed escrow in 2011, again for over asking, and in only 33 days for $1.61M.  It goes without saying that buying a good property with highly desirable features is a good strategy. This is a classic example of a well appointed home, commanding tons of interest, and getting a good price in two different real estate markets (2006 & 2011).

    A few more pics after the jump:

    Continue reading

    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.

    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.