7 Hidden Gems in Golden Gate Park

For San Francisco residents, Golden Gate park is that place you’ve religiously taken out-of-towners and spent countless afternoons strolling around with your SO or kids. But there is probably more than one secret spot you’ve never stumbled across in one of your trips around the 1,017 acre public space. Below, we’ve pulled together a collection of the top overlooked attractions at our city’s crown jewel –  after all, Golden Gate Park was named one of the America’s best public parks just a couple of years ago. Let us know in the comments which ones you think are the best on the list!

    1. Stow Lake: Do you want to recreate a scene from The Notebook? Rent a rowboat or paddle boat and take a peaceful ride on the lake listening to birds chirping as the ducks swim past.
      *The only thing to watch out for here is a possible sighting of the The Ghost of Stow Lake, spotted in the area for more than a hundred years.
    2. San Francisco Botanical Gardens: Have you wanted to see plants from different regions of the world? Come visit the Botanical Gardens; plus, admission is free for all San Francisco residents.
    3. Carousel: Do you have kids or just want to pretend you are a kid again for a day? Hop on the merry go round and pick your favorite animal to go on a ride that is sure to put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.
    4. Bison Paddock: Yes, you read that right. There are bison walking in an area of the park. Stop and take it all in because how many people can say they can see bison in their local park?
    5. Tennis Courts: Grab your racket and hit the courts! Complete a match then take a break and have a picnic on the lawn area nearby.
    6. Conservatory of Flowers: Twist and turn your way through rooms filled with bright flowers set up in pots on the floor, tables, and ceiling. Depending on the month, you might find butterflies or venus fly traps among other special “guests.”
    7. Music Concourse: Located between the California Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum, a stage is set up for multiple different genres of live music. Some days you may stumble upon artists creating new pieces and displaying their available artwork.

Not sure where all these exciting places are located? No problem! Take a look at the map and start your exciting adventure.

[Editor’s Note: As part of my commitment to San Francisco and the greater good of all residents in this wonderful city, I have teamed up with some USF Journalism students to allow them to get their feet wet with writing/blogging/marketing on a larger scale. Written by Kianna Fernandez.]






San Francisco Single Family Real Estate Appreciation since 2011

The information below is provided by Paragon Real Estate Group, enjoy:

In the last 5 years, San Francisco real estate market rebounded and went crazy hot, but how much did it really appreciate? Below is a great analysis from Paragon that shows you the data using median sales price. This post is specific to houses, the next post is specific to condominiums appreciation.

Median sales price is a very general statistic, often concealing an enormous variety of values in the underlying individual sales. It can be and often is affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value, such as changes in the inventory available to purchase, and major changes in the distressed property, luxury home, or new home construction segments. Sometimes median prices fluctuate without any great significance: substantially different groups of homes (larger, smaller, older, newer, etc.) simply sold in different periods. Assessing appreciation by changes in dollar per square foot values, instead of by median sales prices, can sometimes deliver significantly different appreciation rates.

Below the charts is a table with a more comprehensive list of San Francisco neighborhoods, and at the bottom of the page is a neighborhood map.



The neighborhoods on the table below are grouped by San Francisco Realtor District, some of which contain neighborhoods of relatively similar values and some with highly variable home values.

Generally speaking, the higher the number of sales, the more reliable the statistics: We’ve usually calculated appreciation rates for neighborhoods with at least 24 sales in 2015, but these should still be considered very approximate.

An asterisk signifies a very low a number of annual sales and/or our suspicion that the appreciation calculation would not reflect market reality due to the variety of issues pertaining in the area. In 2011, median sales prices in some areas, especially in the southern border neighborhoods of the city, were badly distorted by distressed property sales (bank and short sales) that didn’t represent fair market values. If this situation applies, the 4-year appreciation rate will jump higher in that neighborhood.






As is always the case, if you have any questions about the market don’t hesitate to ask.

If you, or anyone you know, are looking to buy or sell San Francisco real estate, take a look at my track record, happy clients, and generally awesome listings and let’s get you sorted.

3621 Washington

Maximum Overbid Of The Week | Good Lord!

4thaveTouting some of the “best amenities, weather, and transit in the city” (I’ll let you all debate the Richmond District’s claim to that), 607-609 4th Ave just closed a mere $605,000 over list price, and earned this week’s title of Maximum Overbid. Congrats.

The best part…it comes with a “low maintenance” yard. For all of you readers that don’t speak Realtor that means the yard is either concrete, brick (in this case), or some other form of hard surface that doesn’t require water, and would be great for roller blading (does anybody even still do that), skateboarding, or chucking Hot Wheels and Toy Monster Trucks around to see if they’ll break.

Now, we do our Overbids based off of percentage above asking. If you really want to scratch your head, have a look at 3621 Washington that just closed $2,505,000 over list. By all accounts, that’s a great home, as is 4th Ave, or any place in San Francisco for that matter, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking that we still live in a city where millions over asking is common. Nuts.

Anyhow…the best of the rest, the Top 10 Overbids:

Address BR/BA/Units DOM List Price Sold Price Overbid
607 4th Avenue 609 2-4 Units 28 $995,000 $1,600,000 60.80%
1607 16th Avenue 2/1.00/N/A 13 $899,000 $1,400,380 55.77%
394 Laidley Street 2/2.00/N/A 4 $949,000 $1,450,000 52.79%
3621 Washington Street 4/5.00/N/A 21 $4,995,000 $7,500,000 50.15%
2142 25th Avenue 2/1.50/N/A 11 $799,000 $1,189,000 48.81%
2542 44th Avenue 3/2.00/N/A 6 $795,000 $1,150,000 44.65%
106 Bennington Street 3/2.00/N/A 10 $950,000 $1,350,000 42.11%
503 Capitol Avenue 3/1.00/N/A 8 $499,900 $710,000 42.03%
60 College Avenue 3/1.00/N/A 18 $640,000 $875,000 36.72%
129 Dellbrook Avenue 2/1.00/N/A 6 $899,000 $1,225,000 36.26%

Have a great weekend!

Factoring Weather When Buying A Home In San Francisco Is Anything But Simple [theFrontSteps]
Realtor Speak [theFrontSteps]


Stalefish: You Won’t Believe Your Eyes

There is a little something in our market, of which many buyers are not aware, and many agents overlook. I have long referred to them as “Stalefish“, but others refer to them as “buying opportunity” or “still available property”, or what we named (on theGoods) as the “30+ Club”. What are these, you ask?

They are, quite simply, properties on the market more than 30 days, and darnit if there aren’t quite a few gems out there that I’d love you to buy.

Getting beat up in Noe Valley? Check out 469 Valley:
This is a 3220 square foot remodeled view home in Noe Valley…and it’s still available! Deck, garden, master suite, it has it all. Listed at $2,989,000.

Not your cup of tea? Check out 27-29 Fountain, also in Noe Valley:
Previously listed at $2,900,000, this detached Victorian with 4 bedrooms, booming views, decks, parking, yard, and a great location is now $2,600,000! You just saved $300,000. Opportunity knocking right here.

Maybe you don’t like Noe, and you’d rather be in Cole Valley – sorry, nada. But keep checking!

You think Pacific Heights never has anything for you? Think again. This absolutely stunning home at 2701 Broadway is still there:

“Comprised of five levels encompassing over 16,000 square feet the home includes 7 bedrooms, 7 full baths, and 4 half-baths, plus 2 kitchens, 2 family rooms, 2 offices, 3 rooftop terraces, a basketball/sport court, plus a multitude of rooms for today’s active lifestyle. 2 car garage,” and a bargain price of $39,000,000.

Okay, so maybe $39,000,000 is a bit more than you can handle, and you really don’t like basketball anyway. Maybe surfing is more your thing? Well…you’re in luck. It just so happens this little fish at 2307 40th Ave is still there:
It’s “beautifully remodeled and updated”, close to the beach, and other “neighborhood conveniences like Walgreens” (huh?), and from what I can tell, very ready to be sold.

So if you’re getting beat out by the hordes of buyers all over the hot new listings, and you have possibly overlooked those homes that weren’t exactly perfect, you might like to give this list another glance. And if you’re an agent, you might like to send this invaluable information to your clients (branded to you, or course).

Whether you call ’em Stalefish, or otherwise, no matter how you slice it, there is opportunity out there in many shapes, sizes, and prices. Prices which, at this point, could be very negotiable.

Time to go fishing!

p.s. Wondering about the home with all the marble columns? It’s available too: 3800 Washington, $17,995,000, and it’s frickin amazing!

Stalefish, 30+ Club, Buying Opportunity: Find it all here
Battle Royale: Cole Valley Versus Noe Valley [theFrontSteps]

[Big Ass Disclaimer: Every property in this post and on the Goods 30+Club is listed as “active” on MLS. All information is deemed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.]

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.

Client Testimonials From Way Back

Bear with me while I reorganize my testimonials into individual posts. These are a few put together from way back.

*Alex was very easy to work with. He was straightforward, gave good advice about how the condominium should look when it was being shown, and managed the negotiations with the buyer perfectly. I always felt he was dealing with me honestly, and he kept me fully informed. I will go to Alex any time I want to sell a house in San Francisco. JOHN BARTON

*I don’t know any Realtors in this city [San Francisco] that have a better grasp of technology as it applies to real estate than Alex. His sfnewsletter is a phenomenal resource and great way to begin your home search, or research home sales should you be selling, and he is a pleasure to work with. He seemed to get along great with the other agents involved in our transaction and we’re sure it helped get us the price we want. He negotiated hard, but made everyone laugh the whole way and it was great. Now we live in the suburbs, but if we ever move back, we’ll use Alex for sure. Not to mention he’s a decent golfer too. -Joe Condy

*Carole and I feel that we were very fortunate to have met you at the open house and I am glad we chose you to work with. Be assured in the future when we are ready to look at the market again we will be calling, as well as referring any house hunting friends to you. Read More-Carole and Bruce Derr

*Alex combines an insider’s knowledge of San Francisco, innovative marketingskills and the honesty and integrity of a down to earth guy.-Rich Singer

*Like a lot of SFNewsletter readers, I figured Alex would be either too busy or simply uninterested in representing a first time buyer with a sub-seven figure budget. Ten months of searching and four offers later, we’re homeowners, and he’s still returning my calls…The cool thing about Alex is he’s new-school enough to embrace technology’s influence over his profession, but old-school enough to hold your sweaty hand through every step of escrow. 

Bottom line, if you’re looking to be escorted from property to property in your agent’s Mercedes while being lavishly praised for your exquisite taste and style, Alex ain’t your guy. But if you’re looking for consummate San Francisco market expertise, every tool you’ll ever need to find and evaluate your properties, and a Tiger Woods-like closing mentality – hell, you’re already reading his newsletter, posting to his blog, and god forbid you’re receiving his twitter banter – seriously, why use anyone else?! -Tim Stevens

*We had our condo at the St. Regis listed for close to 8 months with another agent. We hired Alex and he sold it in two weeks! Amazing! Truly amazing and he was fun to work with the whole time, knew the market, knew we should take the offer we received, and knows where I should buy my next place. He is truly a pleasure to work with and really knows his stuff. His newsletter is great too. -Stephanie Morris

*I had been reading Alex’s “sfnewsletter” for over a year, so I knew when I was ready to sell my house in San Francisco, Alex was my choice. His newsletters were very informative and intelligently written. I know this sounds corny, but I really liked his sign-off at the end of each newsletter — “Happy Aloha Friday”. Alex kept on top of all correspondence and paperwork and kept me apprised every step of the selling process. I am happy to say that we accepted an offer after only 2 weeks on the market. I would recommend Alex to anyone in need of a superior REALTOR.-Debra Comstock

*I can and have enthusiastically recommended you to my friends who are looking at purchasing property here in San Francisco. Specifically, I appreciate your diligent work and follow-through, as well as your integrity in working with the seller’s representative and myself that made it possible to get this deal done. Read More.-Larry Singer

*Wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your assistance and help during the purchase of my new [home] in San Francisco. You did a great job of working with me all Summer long trying to find my dream house on my crazy schedule. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but by Fall you had identified my criteria and started showing me homes that suited my needs. The house we found has a great ocean view and is close to the beach with a big yard and potential to add on. Read More. -Ryan Seelbach

*Alex and I worked together for over 3 month searching for the right property. He showed me several properties and advised me on the pros and cons of each property. On [my home] he assisted in compiling a very strong offer on property where multiple bids were accepted. I strongly believe it was due to his assistance that I was able to purchase the proeprty despite the other offers being close to or higher than my own. Read More-David Kaneda

*I had met with several real estate agents before I decided on Alex, and it proved to be an excellent decision. He knew the market, had excellent recommendations based on my specific requirements and goals, and most importantly: he knew how to package and position the offer for quick acceptance once I decided on a property. We quickly closed on a condo at 1998 Broadway that was a great fit for me. And I believe the price and conditions make it an exceptional investment. I’d recommend Alex to anybody. Read More-Drew Sechrist

Tenth Avenue Opulence For $277,000 Less. Who Wants To Has It?

[Editor’s Note: It is recommended you watch the video first.]

There is a lot to love about this listing at 261 10th Ave, especially “savings the money”, but I’m not quite sure what’s to love more:

Is it the insanely awesome gold coverlet accented by leopard print throw pillows and zebra print chair?

Is it the built in ballet studio that screams tutus and Baryshnikov? However, the ceiling looks a little low to soar like a Swan…

Is it the animal paintings in the foyer that look to be horses, or maybe at least one Giraffe?

Or could it simply be the recent price reduction to start off the new year? A price reduction from an original asking of $1,675,000 to the New Year’s price of $1,398,000…more than a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS.

It’s at a juncture like this when (proper) staging comes in handy, as does realistic pricing and shelving any visions of grandeur and opulence. Personal tastes aside, this is a great house, in an excellent location.

Who wants to has it?

261 10th Ave, 4 bed, 3.5 bath, $1,398,000 (MLS)
Find me on the Facingbook

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.

Marina Has The Hotties, Inner Richmond…Apparently None

I was just clued in to a new startup website that is striving to allow you (people on the move from city to city, ‘hood to ‘hood, house to house) to learn about a neighborhood based on the reviews, comments, and opinions of locals. It’s a simple concept and easy to see the value. Hell, I tried going block by block to clue people in on the different San Francisco Neighborhoods in my Tour De San Francisco (real estate), but I only made it halfway through. Hence, the value I see in

It’s a startup, so the site is pretty lean with content at the moment, but I expect that will change over time. Regardless, how can you resist checking out a site that ranks where San Francisco’s Most Beautiful People hang out. Surprise, surprise! It’s the Marina! Sorry Inner Richmond (no really I am sorry cuz I live here), you are last on the list.

For the record, it is ABSOLUTELY imperative that you take such criteria into consideration when buying or selling a home in San Francisco, but you should not base whether you work with one particular Realtor over another on looks alone.

Speaking of hotties…check out the NabeWise Team. [Website]