Monthly Archives: January 2009

FHA Loans Cover Condos

Though Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans cover single-family homes and multi-unit buildings, these loans include condos, too. The loan amount maximum is $625,500, and you can obtain a loan with as little as three percent down.

However, the condo must be located in an FHA-approved building. So what buildings are approved? Here’s a partial list:

Arterra (300 Berry, Mission Bay)
Baycrest (201 Harrison, South Beach)
Candlestick Point, The Cove (301 Crescent, South SF)
Diamond Heights Village (115 Red Rock Way, Diamond Heights)
Dolores Plaza (15th Street, Mission Dolores)
Goldmine Hill (Ora Way, Diamond Heights)
McAllister Mews (Western Addition)
Parkview Commons (Carl and Arguello, Cole Valley)
Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness, Van Ness Corridor)

Keep in mind that, according to my loan guru, Sue Ballinger at Guarantee Mortgage, the loan limits are set for the year, but will change on December 31st. However, many lenders begin the loan limit change in November if the maximum is lowered.

First-Time Home Buyers Snap Up Deals

The past month’s sales figures are an excellent indicator of how the market is doing for single-family homes. Here are a few quick updates:

Total Houses Sold: 59

Number Sold Under Asking Price: 36

Number Sold At Asking: 4

Number Sold Above Asking: 19

Average Sale Price: $747,231

Though sales were scattered across many neighborhoods, a bulk were centered on the Bayview/Excelsior/Visitacion Valley/Portola/Silver Terrace areas, which had an average sales price of $488,270.

Only nine single-family homes sold for above $1M. I’m thinking there are quite a lot of first-time buyers out there using the market to their advantage.

Buyers Just Not That Into Luxury TICs

church Got a luxury tenancy-in-common (TIC) building you’re ready to sell? Keep this in mind: Buyers are just not into luxury TICs these days.

TICs were traditionally a way for first-time home buyers to get into the housing market. So TICs priced well above $1M are facing particular challenges.

Case in point: 1278-1282 Church in Noe Valley. These three TIC interests hit the market in July 2008. Though the developer did a great job with the floor plans and finishes, the property has had poor sales luck. The two-level unit with the deeded yard sold for under the $1,395,000 asking price in September. But the other two units were withdrawn in December. (Both had accepted offers at one point, but the contracts fell out.)

The top unit is back on the market for $1,165,000, but the owners haven’t officially brought the middle unit on; they may rent that out if no buyers materialize. Its last official price was $1,179,000.

But in an age of loan defaults and job losses, do buyers want to be on title with other owners? Condo prices are dropping, and buyers have their pick of units in this price range (not to mention houses). Though many TICs did sell for above $1M over the past year, many more such listings have been withdrawn.

New Resource for Homeowners

The San Francisco Realtor Association recently launched a great new online resource for homeowners, called San Francisco Bay Window. The site contains more than 130 articles on issues such as property taxes, insurance, and home maintenance, as well as background on neighborhoods. There’s also a government section that provides descriptions of legislative proposals and ballot measures that affect the interests of property owners at the local, state, and federal levels.

Noe Fixer For $1.1M

douglass I saw 884 Douglass on my Tuesday broker tour last week, and thought it was a great project house. Given the overall size, and the fact that the the 4BR/1BA floorplan is reasonable and intact, a good down-to-the-studs situation may be in order, with plumbing/electrical system upgrades, and the addition of a bath or two. But you don’t have to necessarily expand horizontally or vertically, so you could probably get permits fairly easily. In fact, the neighbors and the Building Department would appreciate the improvements. And the location within Noe is excellent. We will wait and see who has the financial means to purchase the property and complete the renovation. My guess is it will be an owner occupier.

Update: 884 Douglass sold for $1,050,000 in February 2009.

Cow Hollow Hideaway

14harris 14 Harris Place isn’t stunning to see from the curb, but the home has been featured in various design books in the past. Situated at the end of a small street off Laguna between Filbert and Greenwich, this 3BR/2.5BA home has a master suite on the third floor with partial views of Angel Island and Mount Tam. There’s an open floor plan with a loft-like feel, and the living room has 17′ ceilings and looks out through walls of glass at a private garden with hot tub. The price tag for all this? $2,150,000. The property last sold in 1999 for $525,000.

Market Update: Bernal, Mission, Potrero

With a penchant for warm weather, Bernal Heights, The Mission, and Potrero Hill are popular among first-time home buyers. Here’s a look at the price averages in these neighborhoods over the last quarter of 2008:

Bernal Heights
Single-Family Homes
$827,877 (25 sold)

$641,333 (6 sold)

The Mission
Single-Family Homes
$690,220 (4 sold)

$638,545 (11 sold)
Take note: The most expensive condo sold was a 3BR/2BA, top-floor condo built in 2000, on Capp at 22nd Street with one-car parking.

Potrero Hill
Single-Family Homes
$811,250 (4 sold)

$619,677 (21 sold)
Take note: The 888 7th Street development represented many of the 21 condo sales in the past quarter. The highest-priced condo was a two-story 3BR/2BA unit on San Bruno Avenue (right opposite 280) that was listed at $869,000 and sold for $920,000 in early October.

2200 Mission: A Hit with First-Time Buyers

I toured the recently opened 2200 Mission building, at 18th Street. Though the 23-unit property won’t win any architectural awards, you get pretty good square footage for the money. The building has one- to four-bedroom units, some with private patio areas (though in a few cases, you can’t access those deeded areas from your actual unit). If you can score a unit on the fifth floor, you can actually get some views, and avoid seeing eye-to-eye with some of the less attractive properties at the intersection. Many of the units feature bedrooms which face Mission Street; for some prospective buyers, the noise level will likely be too abrasive. But if you’re looking for reasonably priced units in a very central, urban area, 2200 Mission’s got it goin’ on. There was a steady stream of foot traffic in and out of the building during the first Sunday open house, and a few of the units are already in contract. Prices range from $449,000 for a one-bedroom with parking, to four-bedroom units starting at $674,000.

Market Update: The Sunset

Here’s a look at the price averages for the three areas of the Sunset in the last quarter. Though the Sunset neighborhoods can feel a bit out of the way and foggy, you can find some of the best values there.

Inner Sunset
Single-Family Homes
$1,001,667 (6 sold)
Take note: House prices remained very reasonable in the Inner Sunset in the last quarter. A lovely 3BR/2BA home with two-car parking at 4th Avenue and Hugo sold at its $1,195,000 asking price.

$754,600 (5 sold)

Central Sunset
Single-Family Homes
$826,854 (15 sold)
Take note: The Central Sunset saw many homes change hands, with a bulk of the selling prices ranging from the mid-$700,000s to $800,000s.

None sold

Outer Sunset
Single-Family Homes
$703,167 (12 sold)
Take note: Most house sales in this past quarter were in the $600,000-$700,000 range.

$665,000 (1 sold)
Take note: The sole condo sale took place at 45th Ave and Lincoln, where a new-construction, 3BR/2BA, first-floor condo in a two-unit building sold for $34,000 under its asking price after 122 days on market.

$10M for Your Own Castle

One of the most interesting listings out there right now is over at 601 Dolores, opposite Dolores Park. This 9,690-square foot historic church was purchased in October 2007 for $2,210,000 with the full disclosure that the building involved unreinforced masonry, an order of abatement, and a pending lawsuit.

It’s now a pocket listing of sorts, and can’t be found on the Multiple Listing Service just yet. With an asking price of $9,950,000, I’m not sure what the prospects are in the current economy. For that price, far better locations can prevail. But you just know there’s a buyer out there somewhere (probably from overseas) who will think 601 Dolores is da bomb.

Market Update: Pac Hghts, Cow Hollow, Marina

Today we take a look at these three neighborhoods, always popular with buyers. Here’s how these areas fared in the last quarter of 2008:

Pacific Heights
Single-Family Homes
2BR: $2,505,000 (1 sold)
3BR: $3,950,000 (2 sold)
Take note: Both the $3M and $4.9M 3BR homes that sold were on the market for 92 and 88 days, respectively. Not too bad for the current market.

1BR: $765,833 (6 sold)
2BR: $1,134,208 (12 sold)
3BR: $1,307,357 (7 sold)
Take note: The most expensive condo sold in the last quarter was a 2BR/2BA view unit on Broadway at Buchanan that had two-car parking, listed at $2M. The buyer paid $2,125,000 in the middle of November.

Cow Hollow
Single-Family Homes
3BR: $1,817,5000 (2 sold)

2BR: $842,000 (1 sold)
3BR: $1,772,500 (4 sold)

The Marina
No reported sales for single-family homes or condos.

Market Update: The Richmond

A mix of single-family homes and multi-unit buildings, the Richmond district saw a fair amount of two- to three-bedroom property sales in the last quarter. Here’s a look at the price averages in each area of the district.

Inner Richmond
Single-Family Homes
3BR: $1,166,250 (2 sold)

2BR: $810,000 (1 sold)
Take note: The only condo that sold in the Inner Richmond last quarter actually sold for above the $765,000 asking price. And it closed after October’s stock market crash. Go figure.

Central Richmond
Single-Family Homes
2BR: $801,250 (4 sold)
3BR: $1,075,000 (5 sold)
Take note:Where else can you get a 3BR/2.5BA, two-story Edwardian with 2,000+ square feet for the price of a luxury condo elsewhere in the city? Such a home sold at its $1,250,000 asking price on 25th Ave and Cabrillo in early December.

2BR: $798,333 (3 sold)
Take note: Two of these condo sales took place in the same newly converted, two-unit building on 16th Ave and Balboa. The top-floor unit was listed at $779,000 and sold for $800,000; it included a sunroom and deeded bonus room & storage. Parking was tandem.

Outer Richmond
Single-Family Homes
2BR: $625,000
3BR: $865,500 (5 sold)
Take note: A pretty decent 2BR/1BA home sold for $550,000 at Balboa and 43rd Avenue. Good deal.

Condos: None sold

Check back tomorrow for a look at Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina.

Market Update: Noe/Eureka Valleys, Glen Park

The poor economy didn’t seem to slow down purchases in Noe and Eureka Valleys, or in Glen Park. This entry kicks off a look at various areas of the city and how their price averages for condos and single-family homes fared over the last quarter of 2008.

Noe Valley
Single-Family Homes
2BR: $985,600
3BR: $1,304,000

1BR: $324,000
2BR: $910,222
3BR: $1,370,000
Take note: I actually sold the one-bedroom condo, and it was within a building that had no garage and required residents to be 62 and over. One-bedroom units are typically much higher in price in Noe. Some of the 3BR condos that sold were luxury homes, bringing up the average.

Eureka Valley
Single-Family Homes
3BR: $1,628,750
Take note: Though no 2BR homes sold here over the last quarter, three of the four 3BR homes that sold ranged in price from $1.6M-$1.9M.

1BR: $603,250
2BR: $822,375
3BR: $930,000

Glen Park
Single-Family Homes
2BR: $622,500
3BR: $700,000
Take note: Both of the 2BR homes that sold were small; one was a foreclosure, and one was a fixer.

2BR: $700,000
Take note: One condo did sell in Glen Park over the last quarter; this was a house-like unit in a two-unit building. Glen Park’s inventory is typically filled with houses.

Check back tomorrow for a look at the Richmond district.

Withdrawn Listings Will Fuel Buyers' Market

Sellers withdrew a significant amount of listings in December. This is important because it means, well, that these homes didn’t sell, and that their owners will likely try again in early 2009.

Add those properties to the ones intended to go on the market for the first time, and you potentially have an oversupply of homes. There simply are not enough qualified or motivated buyers out there right now, and that will probably be the case through most of 2009.

There were 151 single-family homes withdrawn from the market last month—a very large number. And a whopping 216 condos and 91 TIC interests were also withdrawn. The fallout? Sellers will hopefully get the message that they will have to price their properties based on realistic comparative sales–most notably, sales that closed in November and December. Buyers, take note: You’ll find less “what-are-they-smoking?!” listing situations and more value this year.

SF Market: Fresh Start for '09

Welcome to 2009! This year, I’m expecting a bit more of the same real estate market activity that happened in late 2008. Sellers need to be cognizant of the reality that there are simply less qualified buyers out there, and that in most areas of San Francisco, it’s a buyers’ market.

I’ve been busy over the past year doing a lot of negotiating for my buyer clients, from requesting credits based on inspection findings to assisting them in counter offer scenarios. In all instances, I believed my clients were getting a good deal. So I’ve enjoyed working with buyers; this work has given me keen insight on their mindset, which will come in handy when I work with sellers in 2009.

Heading into the new year, it’ll be important for buyers and sellers to pay attention to sales figures from November and December. That’s because sales activity will reflect the post-stock market crash activity, as well as the fallout from the various major financial institution collapses.

So here’s a look at how sales volumes and averages fared between December 2007 and 2008. As I expected, both the quantities and prices were down last month across the board.

A total of 124 single-family homes sold this past December, with an average selling price of $877,158. This represented a significant drop from December 2007, when 167 houses sold at an average of $1,203,292. So yes, everyone, prices have come down in San Francisco in what is arguably known as the most desirable property type.

Condos in December 2008 didn’t do much better. A total of 86 such properties sold at an average price of $730,283; back in Decmeber 2007, 137 condos sold for an average of $877,158.

And finally, tenancy-in-common sales were down, with only 28 TICs selling this past December, compared to 63 selling the previous December. Average prices, however, were not that different: $672,869 in 2007, and $626,690 in 2008.

Stay tuned this week for a look at average values on a neighborhood basis.

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Zephyr Real Estate


BRE# 01352627

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