San Francisco… You So Bad Ass!

From the San Francisco Association of Realtors:

Scarcity of Defaults Demonstrates Enduring Value of San Francisco Real Estate

Of all U.S. mortgage holders, about one quarter, or 11.3 million households, is underwater, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth. In California, the percentage is even greater—35 percent.

According to First American CoreLogic, the tipping point appears to come when a home owner has a negative equity of 25 percent or more. At that point, many owners choose to cut their losses and voluntarily walk away from their homes. To prevent this result and to avoid a costly and time-consuming foreclosure, banks typically encourage owners to market their property as a short sale.

So, how does San Francisco and the northern peninsula stack up against the rest of the country, and the State as a whole? These areas are doing much better. The percentage of home owners underwater in the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area is only 10.4 percent. And the percentage of home owners underwater by 25 percent or more is only 2.6 percent.

Real estate sales in San Francisco and the northern peninsula may be lagging previous years but real estate values have remained strong through one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression—a fact of which homeowners and prospective buyers should be reminded from time to time.

“San Francisco Housing Market Continues To Strengthen”

This pulled directly from the San Francisco Association of Realtors Newsletter:

San Francisco’s Housing Market Continues to Strengthen Unlike Many Other Areas of the Country

Falling inventory levels and strong sales activity in December, 2009, helped to drive continued improvement in San Francisco’s housing market, according to the latest Market Focus report issued jointly by Rosen Consulting Group and the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®. The median single-family home sales price increased for a third consecutive month in December reaching $755,608. That represents a 7.9 percent increase from December, 2008. The report attributes the improved market conditions to a drop off in foreclosure sales and a growing proportion of sales in higher priced neighborhoods.

Median Condominium Sales Price Increases for First Time Since July 2008

The report observes that the condominium market also seems to have turned a corner, as the median sales price increased by 7.6 percent to $672,590 in December. It was the first year-over-year increase since July 2008.

According to John Lee, president of the San Francisco, “The reduction in asking prices, mortgage rates of less than or near 5 percent and federal tax incentives have increased housing affordability and attracted buyers to the condominium market.” But he notes that “sellers of higher-priced properties have benefitted less from incentives as sales are closed only after significant negotiations from original asking prices.”

Closed and Pending Sales Activity in December Remained Relatively Strong

As expected, closed and pending sales activity dipped during December as a result of seasonal patterns. But despite the slowdown, closed and pending single-family sales activity that month outpaced similar activity in December of both 2008 and 2007.

According to the report, the single-family months of supply inventory fell to 3 months in December 2009 from 5.8 months in December 2008. The condominium months of supply inventory fared less well dropping to 4 months from 7.2 months during the same period. With inventory levels falling, Lee anticipates that the price increases seen in recent months will continue and possibly intensify.

The Rosen Consulting Group sounds a note of caution in its report by saying that a number of factors could delay the further strengthening of San Francisco’s housing market. Principal among these would be an increase in distressed properties that would add to the for sale inventory and put downward pressure on prices and the anticipated increase in mortgage rates that could rein in home buying activity. But the Group’s outlook is increasingly positive and it believes that if these eventualities would happen, “it would only be a bump in the road to long term growth in the San Francisco market.”

Ask Us: Why The Fuss About Noe Valley?

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Who’s Yo Data!? San Francisco Real Estate Market Statistics Galore

We’re feeding your addiction:

-2 years, Supply Demand Single Family Residence San Francisco
-2 years, Supply Demand Condo SF
-2 years, Sales Rate SFR and Condo/Loft SF
-2 years, Sales Rate SFR SF
-2 years, Sales Rate Condo SF
-2 years, Median Price SFR and Condo SF
-2 years, Median Price, SFR SF
-2 years, Median Price, Condo SF
-2 years, Supply Demand SFR Condo, SF

Don’t know your San Francisco Real Estate Districts? Fear not, Follow this link to be enlightened. This link is always available in our “sites of interest” should you forget to bookmark the page.

Everything on this post pulled directly from the San Francisco Association of Realtors Advantage Online.

Reader Reports: Who’s Getting Your Loan Approved And Why?

“San Francisco’s number one closer”:

While you’re at it:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video

Once you are at the link, look for the “7 On Your Side” tab in the Video Library part of the webpage and click it.

You’ll see a picture with the heading “Marketing Ploy Disguised as Government Offer” and a HUGE Mike or Darius. That’s the video – watch it!

What’s the connection you ask?

The Loan Sharkz is a mortgage company that went belly up—Bryco Funding a few years back. It looks like the guy who answers the door [in the ABC local video] looks just like one of the guys who made the “Loan Sharkz” video and starred in it…

Indeed it does, and as always, thanks for the tip!

Anybody can be involved with this site. Send tips, story ideas, content, love (or haight) mail to thefrontsteps@gmail.com.

East Bay: How Piedmont Brings Out the Worst in Me

By Home Girl, aka real-estate blogger Tracey Taylor).

Go to Piedmont and you feel you have entered another world. That’s if you live in Berkeley or Oakland or anywhere else where you are a mere mortal.

I suppose Piedmont is the East Bay’s equivalent to Pacific Heights. Rarefied, privileged, cocooned. The median list price here for a SFH is $1,236,000 (admittedly a tad lower than Pac Height’s $3,357,000, but you get the picture).

I saw a couple of Piedmont listings this weekend. The first was a pink chateau (above) priced at $3,295,000; the second, a 1950s one-level given a complete contemporary overhaul (below), was $745,000 less expensive, but by far the more interesting proposition in my humble opinion.

If you are the old-school type who favors traditional interiors and bourgeois accommodations, the chateau is for you. If, however, you like something a little more risque — a splash of California indoor-outdoor living, a few floor-to-ceiling windows and a handful of sumptuous bathrooms thrown in — then opt for the newer model (below).

Both homes have been on the market for 64+ days, and I would want to know why the second one, at 43 Farragut Avenue, has changed hands no less than four times in the past 11 years (beginning in 1997 — a snip at $1,250,000). But if you’re after more bang for you buck than in the Heights, these are both worth investigating.

Oh, I did visit a third open house on my tour of Piedmont:  224 Ricardo Avenue is a perfectly nice house in a perfectly nice area, but it costs $1,275,000 and, to be honest, I felt like I was slumming it. That’s the effect Piedmont has on you if you spend more than enough time there.

Above: your new neighbors should you choose to buy 43 Farragut Avenue in Piedmont.

Ask Us: “Change in Home Buyer Mentality?”

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

We’re planning to put our house on the marketing in a couple weeks. Have you seen any change in the SF home buyer mentality resulting from the recent news from Wall Street? I assume it varries by price range, but I’d be interested in your thoughts on how houses in the 1M – 1.5M range might be impacted in the weeks to come.

We could go around in circles on this question, depending on a number of factors (location, size, condition, amenities, views, etc.), but in a nutshell and to answer your question…yes. The market has been impacted, and given the recent near 700 point drop in the stock market, could be impacted more. Loans are harder to come by, and buyers are sitting on the fence. That said, if you have a desirable property in a nice area, it will likely still sell, and a buyer out there ready, willing, and able to qualify for a loan is likely looking for just what you have to offer.

That’s our $.02…

Readers?