No Car? No Problem | San Francisco Rated Best City In The Nation To Live Without A Car

My friends over at Redfin just did a great report ranking the top 10 Cities to live without a car, and guess what…San Francisco wins. They asked me to share it with you, so here you go:

What makes a city livable? People have differing views, but for many city-dwellers, proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, parks and jobs are some of the key perks of urban living, especially if those destinations are accessible without a car. According to recent Redfin research, the construction of parking spaces for residential properties is starting to wane, as is the number of families who own two cars. And as traffic concerns and commute times rise across the country, many people are opting out of car ownership entirely.

Redfin compiled the latest Walk Score rankings to see which U.S. cities with populations greater than 300,000 have the highest composite Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score rankings. These are places where you could forgo having a car and still be able to get around town in a variety of ways, whether it be by foot, bike or public transit. And while not all cities are created equal, each of these 10 cities has infrastructure to support a car-free lifestyle.

Ranking

1. San Francisco

Even though San Francisco takes second place in every category (walking, biking and transit) the overall score is the highest in the nation. This isn’t a surprise. It’s true that most people in San Francisco don’t own cars. Nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco is walkable and the BART and MUNI can basically get you anywhere you need to go. Getting a parking spot with your home will add to the price significantly, and getting around town in your car will drive you nuts…so you might as well just go without. Being able to walk, bike, cable car, or bus to work, dinner, or to get groceries is a privilege we should all embrace.

2. New York

New York has the highest Walk Score and Transit Score rankings in the nation. Its Bike Score, on the other hand, falls to seventh place. “Even with the bike-share programs accelerating across the city, many streets don’t have special bike lanes and traffic is a deterrent for many people who might otherwise consider biking,” said Redfin agent Jonathan Makolondra. “That said, New Yorkers are certainly accustomed to getting around the city and surrounding boroughs without a car. The MTA subway system is extensive and walking is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of the city.”

3. Boston

It turns out that Boston is a great city for every mode of transportation that doesn’t involve a car. The city ranks third in the nation for Bike,Transit and Walk Score. “In general, Boston is just a really easy city to get around without a car,” said Redfin agent Megan McShane. “In addition to being known as ‘America’s Walking City,’ the T provides access to all the most popular neighborhoods via subway, bus, trolley and boat, and the commuter rail services the outlying suburbs.”

4. Washington D.C.

With a Transit Score of 70, D.C has the fourth highest Transit Score in the nation. “The METRO provides a lot of routes into the city from various suburbs and within the city there are also plentiful bus routes,” said Redfin agent Dan Galloway. “Biking is really on the rise too. Capital Bikeshare now has 400 stations across the city and more bike lanes and routes have been popping up. The city also has plenty of walkable neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, Georgetown and Downtown/Chinatown.”

5. Philadelphia

Philadelphia has the fourth highest Walk Score in the nation and it turns out that it’s becoming more walkable as builders focus on creating walkable new construction throughout the city. “Redfin agents have noticed that a lot of walkable homes are being built in neighborhoods like Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Frankford, South Philly and Point Breeze,” said Redfin agent Tom Lewis. “In addition to great walkability, the city offers plenty of public transportation options as well. Philly is also known as one of the top cities in the nation for bike commuters.”

6. Chicago

“Especially if you live in neighborhoods close to the Loop, a car isn’t necessary in Chicago. Lincoln Park, River North, the South Loop – they’re all worlds unto their own, where you can walk to everything you need,” said Redfin agent Jenn Kim. “Should you want to get out of your neighborhood, the El is a great option, plus the city’s invested a lot in its biking infrastructure. In the summer, the Divvy bike-share program is popular, and it’s not uncommon to see large groups of people cycling home via Milwaukee Avenue during the evening commute.”

7. Minneapolis

“Last year Minneapolis was the only U.S. city on a worldwide list of bike-friendly cities. Mayor Betsy Hodges’ administration has emphasized building more protected bikeways to traverse town, and there’s always the old favorites like the Chain of Lakes trails and the Midtown greenway,” said Redfin agent James Garry. “Add to that a growing light rail system, on-time buses and vibrant neighborhoods like Uptown and Dinkytown, where you can walk to everything you need, and it should be no surprise to see Minneapolis on this list.”

8. Miami

“Even though Miami ranks high for walkability with a Walk Score of 78, its Bike and Transit Scores leave a little more to be desired. With a Bike Score of 60, two wheels probably won’t take the place of four wheels any time soon, but that said, there are neighborhoods like Downtown and Little Havana where cycling is a viable transportation option,” said Redfin agent Cecilia Cordova. “If you’d prefer to get around town via public transit, there are several options including the Metrorail that runs from West to South Miami crossing through Downtown.”

9. Seattle

“The expansion of the light rail up to Capitol Hill and the University District and the recently approved light rail extension plan indicate that Seattle’s Transit Score could be improving within the next year or two, potentially making Seattle an even friendlier city for those who’d like a car-free commute or lifestyle,” said Redfin agent Kyle Moss. “The bus system also offers great options for commuters and travelers alike, and neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Belltown and Madison Park are really fun, lively places to walk around. For those who love to bike, Seattle also has some fantastic bike trails, many of them scenic like the Burke-Gilman.”

10. Oakland

“Oakland doesn’t fall short when it comes to public transportation,” said Redfin agent Mia Simon. “The BART and A C Transit are both good options for navigating the city. In addition, the Trans-Bay express bus just makes a few stops and then heads directly to San Francisco. There’s also a ferry from Jack London Square if you prefer traveling by water. Neighborhoods like Rockridge and Uptown, Lake Merrit/Grand are all super walkable. There are also 13 neighborhoods with a Bike Score above 90, making them a biker’s paradise!”

San Francisco Takes Top Honors On Trulia’s Best Neighborhoods List

Living well means something different to everyone.  For some of us, it means indulging in all the luxuries life offers, and to others it means living a healthy, active  lifestyle. Luckily, and why we live here, San Francisco offers both.

Recently the folks over at Trulia shared their perspectives on living well in this Best Neighborhoods post, which coincided with the release of these super handy Live Well maps, and look at that…San Francisco takes top dog for Midsize City, specifically the Sunset District (Spoiler – Sunset is already more expensive than when Trulia wrote this, so get in before it goes more nuts out that way).

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San Francisco actually has two of the top ten “Live Well” neighborhoods (that’d be Excelsior at #7) for mid-sized metropolitan areas (population 1,000,000 to 2,000,000) in the US.

Top Ten Neighborhoods for Living Well

Neighborhood U.S. Metro Live Well Index % Quiet Streets # Play-Centric Amenities Per Square Mile Miles of Trails/Footpaths Per Square Mile # of Care and Essential Amenities Per Square Mile
Outer Sunset San Francisco, CA 93.6 52.5% 2.5 5.0 13.0
West Riverside New Orleans, LA 88.7 55.1% 2.0 1.0 4.9
Crestview Austin, TX 86.3 48.6% 3.9 0.6 6.8
Driftwood Fort Lauderdale, FL 83.2 58.6% 2.2 4.2 1.1
Riverwest Milwaukee, WI 82.5 52.2% 0.7 6.2 2.2
Midtown San Jose, CA 81.4 41.9% 6.6 2.9 10.7
Excelsior San Francisco, CA 81.3 43.1% 4.4 2.2 7.1
Shady Lane Columbus, OH 80.2 50.3% 1.7 0.5 2.5
Roosevelt Redwood City, CA 79.9 58.0% 0.9 0.0 5.5
Emerald Hills Fort Lauderdale, FL 79.9 44.9% 2.3 1.1 4.5

The Outer Sunset, which scored 93.6 on Trulia’s index, is the best neighborhood overall for living well, beating out the large metro neighborhood Ocean Beach in San Diego, CA, which scored 96.0 (Is that OB v. OB?).  The Sunset District of San Francisco, is flanked by three great resources: Ocean Beach to the West, Golden Gate Park to the North, and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center to the East.  Additionally, well over 50 percent of its streets are considered quiet (unless of course it’s festival season!).  The Outer Sunset offers the added bonus of being one of San Francisco’s more affordable places to buy with a median sales price of $981,000…and climbing.

Excelsior, San Francisco, CA also made the top ten list for mid-sized metros, ranking seventh with a live well score of 81.3 – offering 43.1 percent quiet streets.  Excelsior is nestled just south of Interstate 280 and is east of Outer Mission, Balboa Park, and Mission Terrace.  Its great play-centric amenities include the Louis Sutter Softball Field and Playground in addition to the Philosopher’s Way trail.  Scoring high for care and essentials, this neighborhood is conveniently located near Excelsior Health Services and a multitude of daycare facilities.  Excelsior is by far one of the most reasonably priced neighborhoods in San Francisco with a median sales price of $910,000…and climbing.

If peaceful, active living with great access to exceptional care is what you are looking for in a neighborhood then San Francisco metropolitan area has ample choices for you. If you’d like to learn more about San Francisco’s micro districts, click “Browse theFrontSteps” over there in the right hand column for things we’ve said about most areas of town. Additionally, way back when, I did a Tour de San Francisco, which you might find enlightening.

You could also pick up the phone (or email/text us) and we’d be happy to show you around and find a neighborhood that is right for you. We have many from which to choose, and they’re all pretty awesome.

As for whether Trulia’s statements are accurate, that might be a cause for a new Battle Royale, which we leave up to you to discuss among friends over some tasty California Wine, paired with locally sourced cheese, and possibly oysters…or maybe Dungeness Crab (since they finally lifted the ban.)

Viva San Francisco!

Reasons We Live Here [theFrontSteps]
San Francisco Neighborhoods [theFrontSteps]
Tour de San Francisco [theFrontSteps before theFrontSteps]
Battle Royale [theFrontSteps]

Agents & Sellers Beware: Fake Buyers in San Francisco

From one of our colleagues in the industry,
“Just FYI, I was notified today by another agent who ran into a family of fake buyers.

Here’s more info about the fake buyers:

They use the name Anna Harrison, phone number 415-200-5532. Jason Torres is the partner and there is an older gentleman claiming to be the dad of Jason. There is no account at Chase and they have no record of them.

This happened to another agent in the city. Motivation is unclear, other than tie up properties then walk.”

These folks aren’t the first, Michael Lecht might just be using another name…keep your game face on.

Real Estate Agents, Sellers, And Investors Beware of Fake Buyer, Michael Lecht [theFrontSteps]

$440,000 Under Asking | Personal Chapel Maybe Included, Wallpaper Definitely

It only took seven months, but in the end, it got there. SOLD for $440,000 UNDER asking!

You read that correctly, this 6-bedroom single family home in Mission Terrace at 100 Delano Avenue just closed $440,000 below the original (back in March) asking price of $1,600,000. After a price chop to $1.5, then $1.4, then again to $1.3, it appears the Lord finally took pity on this property and landed it on top of this week’s Top 10 Underbids. With plenty of extra space, awesome curtains, wow-tastic wallpaper, and your own “personal chapel” how could you not want to move right in!?

As for the other buyer scores, here you go:

Address BR/BA/Units List Price Sold Price Underbid
100 Delano Avenue 6/3/3 $1,300,000 $1,160,000 -10.77 %
355 Bryant Street 2/2/1 $2,345,000 $2,100,000 -10.45 %
18 Palm Avenue 4/3.5/2 $4,995,000 $4,525,000 -9.41 %
1264 Bush Street 1/1/0 $649,000 $590,000 -9.09 %
78 Gladys Street 3/2/0 $1,195,000 $1,100,000 -7.95 %
1437 47th Avenue 1437A 2 unit $1,275,000 $1,175,000 -7.84 %
601 4th Street #321 1/1/1 $1,499,000 $1,400,000 -6.60 %
2040 Franklin Street #506 0/1/1 $575,000 $540,000 -6.09 %
2730 Broderick Street 4/3.5/1 $5,850,000 $5,500,000 -5.98 %
301 Mission Street #51D 2/3/1 $4,495,000 $4,250,000 -5.45 %

You see…”deals” can still be had in San Francisco.

August Case-Shiller Index | San Francisco Bay Area

The new S&P Case-Shiller Index for August was just released on Tuesday. The prices for homes in the upper third of prices – which dominate in most of San Francisco, central and southern Marin, and central Contra Costa – ticked down a tiny bit in summer, exactly as they did last summer. These short-term fluctuations are common and not particularly meaningful until substantiated by a longer-term trend.

Since Case-Shiller’s SF Metro Area covers 5 counties, it should be noted that not all the markets within the Area move in lockstep: activity and appreciation rates can vary significantly.

As is clearly illustrated below, for the past 4 years, spring has been the big driver of home-price appreciation. Prices generally plateau in subsequent seasons until the next spring arrives. For the past couple years, the spring selling season has started very early, in late January or early February, due to the incredible weather we’ve had in those months. El Niňo, if it arrives, might move the spring pick-up in sales back to mid-March/early April in 2016.

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This second chart illustrates the huge burst in prices this past spring. It’s not unusual for the market to slump a little during the summer holidays, almost in exhaustion after the spring frenzy. We’ll have more autumn statistics soon when October’s MLS data comes in, but Paragon has been experiencing its most active autumn selling season in its history in 2015.

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And here are 3 longer-term charts for each of the 3 Case-Shiller price tiers for the 5-county San Francisco metro statistical area. As can be seen, the different price tiers had bubbles and crashes of radically different magnitudes in 2006 – 2009, but as far as total appreciation since the year 2000, all of them display very similar appreciation rates.

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That ought to do it for your data craving for a while. You might consider following this blog via email (link below) or get on the Twitter train @theFrontSteps, so you don’t miss a beat of San Francisco Real Estate.

Liquefaction Zones Of San Francisco’s Marina District

I have a great listing currently for sale at 1487 Chestnut Street (corner Gough & Chestnut) here in San Francisco, and of the 50 or so people I actually had the chance to speak with at yesterday’s Open House, all of them (not kidding) asked if this property is built on landfill, and thus in an area of liquefaction.

Since this is clearly an area of concern for many people, I did a little digging on some of the maps I’m able to access, as well as a few more, and was able to layer the MLS district map over the liquefaction map, capture the image, and I’m sharing it with you to satisfy your curiosity. As you’ll see, contrary to popular belief, the entire Marina District (in purple) is not all landfill/liquefaction.

Marina Liquefaction
[click image to enlarge]

There you have it. If I helped you win a bet, you’re welcome.

I’ve done a fair bit of research about earthquakes, liquefaction zones, and earthquake induced landslides areas in San Francisco and have shared it all over the years, the links which you can find below. As for the Marina District, now I gotcha covered there too.

Map of Bedrock Vs Landfill [theFrontSteps]
San Francisco Neighborhoods Prone To Liquefaction and Earthquake Induced Landslides [theFrontSteps]
Areas of Marina In Liquefaction Zone

[BIG ASS DISCLAIMER! I AM NOT AN EXPERT ON EARTHQUAKES, LANDFILL, OR LIQUEFACTION, I AM ONLY SHARING MY RESEARCH WITH YOU, AND IF YOU ARE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE LOCATION OF YOUR PROPERTY OR ANY ISSUES REGARDING EARTHQUAKES AND LIQUEFACTION YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH AN ENGINEER OR EXPERT IN THIS MATTER.]

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5 Tips To Maximize Living In A Small Space

Living in San Francisco, I not only help my readers buy and sell property, but I also support new technology and innovation that has the potential to enrich our lives. Recently I came across a cool company, Boxbee, that is helping San Francisco residents get organized and reduce clutter. So with a little help from CEO Kristoph Matthews, we put our brains together and thought you could use a few tips to get maximum use and enjoyment out of your minimal space.

BB-dining-table-with-boxes

You’re cramped, always tripping over stuff, stubbing toes, and cursing names. Here, in San Francisco, it can be a way of life- especially with micro-apartments and sub 400-square-foot apartments on the rise in the city. Try as you might you can’t downsize everything, and your storage hacks and inventive decorating just aren’t cutting it. It’s time to make some changes and get the most out of your space. To help you get started, we’ve put together a few helpful tips.

Clear the Clutter– This is probably the most obvious thing to do, but clearing the clutter can really help open a space up. It’s time to get ruthless. Do you really need that five-year-old espresso machine that has never been used? Probably not. Start by dividing your items and labeling things that should stay, be placed in storage, be recycled or trashed. This will help you start to feel organized and set the path to a more spacious home.

Make Every Piece Count– Your home is already lacking in space, which means you shouldn’t be showcasing your entire collection of precious figurines or baseball cards. Determine a handful of items you want to showcase and decorate your space around those belongings. Minimalist decorating will help open up your space and still allow you to showcase your personal taste. You could also switch up your featured personal items every six-months, or seasonally, to give you a new slate to work with, and keep things from getting boring.

Manipulate Space Visually– There are many ticks of the trade that can help manipulate your space into looking larger than it is. Painting your room cool, light colors is the first trick you should adopt. Choosing pastels, neutrals or whites will do wonders to a room. Another great trick is to add mirrors to the walls, which can create an illusion of more space. Furniture that is glass or mirrored will also have this same affect. Last but not least, instead of choosing decorative items that are wide, choose items that are vertical. This helps elongate the room and gives the illusion that your space is taller.

Maximize Furniture– Now that your clutter is clear and the walls are decked out to maximize space, it’s time to consider your furniture. Choose pieces that can serve multiple purposes. Instead of using a table to display items, try a chest that can double as a storage container. Also, instead of going after multiple couches and a love seat, try one larger couch that doesn’t take up quite as much space- or pieces that can convert uses. Furniture can really make or break a space.

Keep it Clear of Clutter, Again– People have an impressive ability to amass stuff as time goes on and it’s difficult to rid yourself of items that you have an emotional tie. Instead of downsizing items you will need in the future, try using storage solutions like Boxbee, a self-service storage solution that handles the hassle and allows you to store and manage your belongings from your mobile device without ever having to leave the comfort of your home. With Boxbee, your belongings are always just a delivery away. This way, you won’t have to get rid of your items and can maintain your new spacious and clutter free home right up until the time you decide to list it for sale…with me, of course.

Here’s another tip: Don’t play leap-frog with a unicorn.

Have a great day!

How Does San Francisco Public Transit Stack Up Against NYC, Chicago, Boston, And DC? Answer Below:

Are you one the millions of people that take BART in, out of, and around the city? Have you ever wondered how our public transit stacks up to other major metros? Well…it just so happens some fine folks at the UNC School of Government’s MPA Online Program took it upon themselves to have a look, and they’ve asked me to share it with you. It’s pretty great info, and no, it does not include MUNI, but let them know you want to learn about that too and maybe, just maybe they’ll make it happen.

[Scroll down to get to San Francisco, and visit MPA@UNC online for more info. Or just click the image.]
transportation_infographic

San Francisco “Soft Story” Retrofit Advisory – Some Details

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ask Us: Death “On” Property Or Not? Should You Disclose?

    This just came to me by way of email.

    Hypothetical question.

    Assume a house burned down and a firefighter died a few days later from his injuries.
    Same for a contractor falling from the roof or any other work related accident on the property.
    What are the consequences regarding the disclosures of a subsequent sale?

    Please do not discuss the specifics of a recent event/specific house, I’m only interested in the “what if that happens to my own house” – such as
    does this qualify for a death in said property?
    As a Realtor, would you advise to check or not the box?
    How would you disclose this information?

    What are the others aspects that you’d like you warn home owners (such as hiring only fully insured roof workers)?

    Thanks

    My advice: Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. If I know about anything pertaining to a property, I’m going to disclose that. The last thing anybody needs is someone to move into a home, decide to Google their address and find all kinds of information they never knew existed on the property.

    I think this opens up the forum to a larger debate as to whether a death that came later from an accident on the property could be classified as a death “on” the property. I leave that to attorneys, but would certainly disclose any and all pertinent information. You see the pattern here? Disclose, disclose, disclose!

    If There Is S&M And Leather Sex One Unit Below, You Might Want To Let Buyers Know [theFrontSteps]