How To Successfully Reduce Your Property Tax Basis In San Francisco?

From one agent, to their company, and we’re bringing it to you.

I have some clients who applied to the Tax Board to have their property tax basis reduced and the city rejected it, even though they presented valid comps indicating their property value has decreased (they live in Pacific Heights). I’m wondering if [any Realtors] or their clients have had a successful experience appealing this type of decision, and if they have any suggestions for the appeal.

We have no suggestions, but can tell you our Inbox currently has four “unread” emails asking us for assistance running comps to help some owners fight this very same battle. You are certainly not alone.

So…who has won, and what helped get you there? Who has lost, and why?

Any insight is appreciated. Please share your experiences (good or bad) in the comments below.

Palm Springs We Are Not, Shocking Information This Is

From a reader who’s email says, “The housing crisis summed up in one house in Palm Springs”:

Check this out – from NPR’s Plante Money exercises:
Twitter Tweet 1 for this info on one Palm Springs House:

Date           Event           Price            Appreciation            Source

Apr 30, 2009   Sold      $32,500    -87.1%/yr       Public Records
Feb 08, 2008    Sold      $399,479    -8.3%/yr        Public Records
Sep 22, 2006   Sold       $450,000    28.4%/yr     Public Records
Sep 20, 2005  Sold      $350,000    63.3%/yr      Public Records
Jul 30, 2004   Sold       $200,000     89.0%/yr     Public Records
Oct 06, 2003   Sold      $119,000     24.3%/yr      Public Records
Oct 11, 2002   Sold       $96,000    114.3%/yr      Public Records
Jun 28, 2001   Sold      $36,000    -26.2%/yr      Public Records
Apr 16, 2001   Sold      $38,250      —                        Public Records

and then this

Twitter Tweet 2 for this info on the house across the street:

Date          Event                 Price               Appreciation         Source

May 19, 2009    Sold      $47,500        -68.6%/yr       Public Records
Jan 15, 2008    Sold       $225,000       7.4%/yr         Public Records
Jan 31, 2005    Sold       $182,000       22.8%/yr        Public Records
Jul 09, 2003    Sold       $132,000       96.3%/yr        Public Records
May 08, 2002    Sold     $60,000        -12.3%/yr       Public Records
Oct 24, 2001    Sold       $64,392          -8.4%/yr       Public Records
Feb 01, 2000   Sold      $75,000         112.1%/yr       Public Records
Nov 13, 1998   Sold      $30,000         -79.0%/yr      Public Records
Apr 14, 1998   Sold       $74,598         -0.1%/yr         Public Records
Mar 03, 1992   Sold      $75,000          271.3%/yr   Public Records
Jun 01, 1990    Sold      $7,500             —                       Public Records

Apologies for the horrible formatting on the columns (working remotely), but the information is there nonetheless.  Thanks to the reader, and (raising glass of wine in the air), “Here’s to the end of the Recession, please!”

Google Goes Real Estate Search

To the untrained eye it might look as if our lovely city by the bay has the Chickenpox. Alas! ‘Tis not the case. It’s just Google getting into the game of real estate, and leave it up to them to do it right (

[Note: These below maps are embedded on this site and you can play around all you want right here…how cool is that!?]

Not a fan of the Satellite image search, and need to know your streets? Go for the basic street map:

Wondering if your future home is on a hill and whether you can sell your Thigh Master? Zoom in and go Terrain:

[Note: You can even go Street View]

Wondering if you’re future home is close to public transportation and how the traffic in the area is? They have that too.

In fact, you can get photos, webcams, wikipedia and all sorts of information about the area you want to put down roots all by clicking around the maps.

Proximity to good coffee? It’s probably on there too.

It makes searching for a home by area so unbelievably simple (not as simple and effective as actually getting in the car or walking your future ‘hood…assuming you’re not relocating cross continent), but simple nonetheless. Contacting those with the listings and not getting shuffled to some third party site that is essentially rebroadcasting MLS data on their site (which Google is then able to “crawl” and display…we’re guessing) is a bit tricky. The information certainly has a time delay as to what is displayed, when you click on properties there is enough error that we’ve discovered to make us not entirely certain about the price or details of a property and whether it is, in fact, still available, and price reductions aren’t showing up all too real time either, but the data is there, and it’s cool. Really cool. It just needs to find its wings, and we have no doubt it will.

Check it out, if you haven’t done so already.

Condominium Versus Single Family Homes (The Data)

Misha Weidman is back and he brings us this little nugget (also posted on his site):

Condos vs. SFDs All Districts Chart

…and this quote to go along with it:

Until June 2008, condo and home prices were in lock-step in terms of price appreciation and decline. Thereafter, homes fell first and further. In March 2009, the delta between condos and home prices was a whopping 13%. Since then, however, home prices have recovered smartly: as of June, homes are about 4.5% further off their all-time highs than condos.

What does this all mean? First of all, I wouldn’t take too much consolation just yet in the upward spike in both condo and home prices since the beginning of the year. If you take a look at the chart, this happens every Jan/Feb when people start buying out of the winter doldrums. I wouldn’t predict a bottom until we see what happens this winter.
Still, the current delta of only $100,000 between median condo and median home prices seems rather small. If people are just begging to know what the historical average is, let me know and I’ll find out.

Thank you! And we’d bet there are a few that would love a little historical average.

Misha’s Blog and place for more data crunching

2185 Bush #307 At The Amelia Price Reduced (almost) $100,000!

Shameless plug is the name of the game here. Moments ago we chopped the price of 2185 Bush #307 from $869,000 (previously $899,000) down to $799,999. Are you kidding! This is a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1290 square foot condo with high ceilings, wood burning fireplace, patio, and so much more in one of the best locations around (we could almost call this Pacific Heights, but it is technically in Lower Pacific Heights), so please spread the word.

2185 Bush #307:

If you, or anybody you know, are interested in a great condo in a superb location, drop us a line or come visit the property Sunday 7/26 from 2-4pm for an Open House. This is a great unit and it (hopefully) won’t last long on the market at this new price.

2185 Bush #307, $799,999 [listing detail]

San Francisco Property Sales And Prices Continued Rising In June, But Still Down From 2008

We’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to run comparable property reports for homeowners looking to reduce their property taxes, and having to fight an uphill battle against the city proving their case that our market has, in fact, declined on more levels than one. Here is a little bit of information for San Francisco that might help.

Sales of single-family, re-sale homes and condos continued rising last month [June] as we move through the Spring selling season. Home sales were up 16.9% from May, off 2.41% year-over-year. Year-to-date, home sales are down 17.1%.

Condo sales were up 20.5% month-over-month, but off 15% compared to June 2008. Year-to-date, condo sales are down 33.9%.

The median price for single-family homes rose for the third month in a row. The median price rose 3.2% from May, but was down 5.7% year-over-year. The average price also rose, gaining 9.5% month-over-month, but down 12.3% compared to last June.

The median price for loft/condos in San Francisco dipped 0.5% from May, and was down 15.1% year-over-year. The average price for condos fell 5.4% month-over-month, and was off 16.2% year-over-year.

The above information is from the Real Estate Report, a detailed version of which you can find by clicking that link.

Here’s the question. There are many different sources out there reporting on the data at hand and they all slice it differently. DataQuick looks at the big (Statewide, Bay Area picture), SocketSite takes their data and always finds a way to focus on the negative, and Realtors will always focus on the positive (we’ll get that data to you shortly), so the question is who to believe?

As for why the city continues to not see the obvious, maybe a good ophthalmologist recommendation is in order.

[Update: Right after putting this post live, we did another one with more data, that is still different than the other two data points we referred to above: Stats & Numbers San Francisco Home Sales June ’08 Versus June ’09.]

Quote Du Jour: Inner Richmond Is STweet (That’s Sweet In Twitter Speak)

Sometimes you just gotta go looking around the web for the information you need to draw a conclusion about where to plant your roots in San Francisco. Today, we turn your attention to Brittney G of Eye On Blogs, who had this to say about the Inner Richmond:


Hanging in the Inner Richmond. It’s great. Virtually hipster free and no waiting for drinks in crowded bars.

We could just ReTweet this, but thought it deserved a little more attention than that. Nice work Inner Richmond! You got props for not having to do a thing except be yourself.

…and it gets better, “The Inner Richmond, I enjoy your soundtrack very much.“-Brittney G.

In San Francisco It’s Ritual Coffee Roasters Versus Blue Bottle Coffee


Having just purchased our first bag of “Sweet Tooth Espresso” from Ritual Roasters after more than six years of dedicated grinding, tamping, and pouring exclusively of Blue Bottle Coffee, we’re a bit torn as to what to do. We’ve had Ritual on many different occasions, but allowing their beans to enter into the home, and thus the home espresso machine, is akin to having an affair right in front of your one true love.

Well, we’re giving it a go and Blue Bottle is going to have to be patient, but it got us thinking about which is “better” (or perhaps more popular is the real question), and why.

Our argument is for Blue Bottle, for what they have done to transform the landscape of coffee in San Francisco and the way a good espresso drink is poured and consumed. They’ve also transformed otherwise dumpy locales into hotbeds of activity (Linden Alley in Hayes Valley, and Mint Plaza in SOMA), and one could argue had a direct impact on property values (commercial and residential) in those areas. Blue Bottle knew how to draw a crowd at the Ferry Building and somehow keep people interested when the line stretched around the building. They’ve built a following, and continue to crank out excellent coffee in the same manner as when they began. Service at their Linden location is always with a smile (Mint Plaza staffers could use a little help in that regard), and although loaded with hipsters, you don’t get the feeling you’re just not hip enough to visit Blue Bottle Coffee.

We’re still warming up to Ritual, and don’t know enough about their flavors and their store to draw a completely honest opinion (first impressions have all been good), but as stated, they’re in our grinder and in our home now, so we ask…if YOU had to choose, would it be Ritual Roasters or Blue Bottle Coffee? At the very least, you have to admit it is just one of the many reasons we live here.

Oh…as for the logo competition, you gotta love Ritual’s.

[Editor’s Note: Or is there someplace we’re missing that we need to try? If you say Starbucks, you should be shot, and/or deported to a life in Strip Mall Suburbia Hell, because we got news for you, that ain’t coffee, and how Starbucks made it past San Francisco’s Anti Chain Store Law is beyond us.]

[Update: We’ll definitely be trying De La Paz, and SightGlass soon enough!]

Father Of tFS Client Saved Michael Jackson From Flames During Pepsi Commercial Shoot

Click to hear audio of interview

How ’bout a little celebrity (postmortem) juice to take you to the weekend. As it turns out, my client’s Dad actually saved Michael Jackson during the hair catching on fire incident, when filming the Pepsi commercial. Certainly, many of you remember that. My client has been contacted by Access Hollywood and the list of (gossip) media sharks contacting his father goes on and on.

Rest assured, my client bought a modest house in a modest neighborhood and all fire code safety regulations have been met. I’ve also advised him not to stand too close to the BBQ on the patio when cooking with flames!

Have a good weekend. Here’s the dirt from TMZ:
Fire Capt. Blames Director For Jackson’s Burns

…and “the harrowing, never-before-seen footage of the singer’s 1984 Pepsi commercial accident” from US Weekly:
Click to be taken to video

Update: Pool Party On Broadway! Marco….Polo….Fish Outta Water! (And Now On The Market)

[Update: Our original tip ran in May of this year, and now as “Curbed SF” reports, it’s on the market (in MLS)…with photos.]

From a connected reader:

Designed in 1922 by Frederick Meyer (think Bill Graham Auditorium) [2950 Broadway] is a serious presence on outer Broadway’s Gold Coast and I think the only one with a pool.



…and not yet on MLS, but we’d be glad to get you in early. ;-)


Asking $39,500,000.00.

Lifeguard not on duty, and Toyotas parked out front not included.

2950 Broadway [website]