Monthly Archives: August 2009

$11M Foreclosure Sale Wraps Up in Pac Heights

jacksonOne of the more high-profile foreclosure sales in San Francisco closed escrow in late July at 2510 Jackson in Pacific Heights.

Initially listed in April 2008 for $14,900,000, the 9BR/6.75BA manse closed for $11,500,000 in an all-cash transaction.

No Summertime Blues for SF Real Estate

I was surprised at the overall sales stats for the past three July months in the house, condo, TIC, and 2-4 unit building departments. Given the recent market turmoil, I expected a lot worse. Granted, the median price this year is down significantly, and in some cases, so are volumes. But I wouldn’t say a median price of $785,000 for a house in San Francisco is exactly rock bottom. Condo and TIC prices and volumes were hit hardest, which is typically the case in a down market.

Here’s a quick breakdown:
Single-Family Homes
July 2007
Median Price: $891,000
Units Sold: 224

July 2008
Median Price: $845,000
Units Sold: 229

July 2009
Median Price: $785,000
Units Sold: 239

July 2007
Median Price: $780,000
Units Sold: 195

July 2008
Median Price: $794,000
Units Sold: 228

July 2009
Median Price: $640,000
Units Sold: 163

July 2007
Median Price: $594,000
Units Sold: 70

July 2008
Median Price: $536,000
Units Sold: 35

July 2009
Median Price: $517,000
Units Sold: 48

2-4 Units
July 2007
Median Price: $1,290,000
Units Sold: 50

July 2008
Median Price: $1,212,000
Units Sold: 54

July 2009
Median Price: $1,175,000
Units Sold: 34

Neighborhood Spotlight: Forest Knolls

Often overlooked by prospective buyers, Forest Knolls is a very appealing neighborhood developed in the late 1950s and 1960s in San Francisco. Its homes feature accommodating floor plans, many properties have views, and the area provides a nice urban retreat with its woodsy, private feel. Bordered by the Inner Sunset, Cole Valley, and Forest Hill, Forest Knolls is a great alternative for those house hunters who’ve been priced out of these adjacent areas.

Forest Knolls is just up the road from the Forest Hill Muni station, and isn’t far from the West Portal shopping/restaurant hub, as well as the Mollie Stone’s on Portola.

Six single-family homes have sold in Forest Knolls since January—all three-bedroom homes, and one four-bedroom property. The average sales price was $804,000, and the average square footage just under 1600. It’s a challenge to find that much space for the money in San Francisco, which is why I think Forest Knolls offers good value. However, buyers should be aware that due to the geography of the area—lots of hills—there’s landslide potential. It’s never a bad idea to engage a structural engineer and/or geological specialist to provide an opinion on the land or property if you’re seriously considering a purchase here.

Foreign Buyers Find High-End Deals

mclarenThis 6BR/5.5BA, 4500-square foot home at 45 McLaren Avenue in Sea Cliff was sold last week in a confidential sale for less than its asking price of $4,580,000 (initially listed for $4,725,000 back in January).

The all-cash buyer hailed from China (and made sure to conduct a Feng Shui evaluation as part of the sale). But there’s reportedly a wave of all-cash foreign buyers from countries such as South America, Taiwan, and France who have been snapping up multi-million dollar homes in San Francisco. In many cases, they are are seeing opportunities for building estate portfolios in The Bay Area.

The Pacific Union Web site tracking tool has noted thousands of international buyers looking at properties on our site over the past several months. Indeed, there have been 40 single-family homes and eight condos that have sold since January for $3M or more. I’ll bet many of them were sold to foreign buyers.

Three 3BRs for $800,000

There was a time when it was a challenge to find spacious, three-bedroom condos for $800,000. I saw three such properties on my broker tour yesterday:

425 Buchanan
Hayes Valley

1,843 sq feet
$300 HOAs; $250 for leased pkg
This unit features five walk-in closets, two bedrooms with fireplaces, and a nicely remodeled kitchen. The unit was on the market initially back in April, asking $863,000. By June, the current agent took over and reduced the price to $849,000. The most recent price reduction is what’ll probably sell the unit. Plus: Large square footage, very separate bedrooms. Walking distance to heart of Hayes Valley retail area and Market Street. Minus: One block from housing projects; somewhat rambling floorplan that dead ends in odd places; leased parking.

974 Haight
The Haight

1,778 sq feet
$429 HOAs
1-car pkg
You get two master suites in this condo, and two levels, which makes it feel house-like. The front of the property faces Haight Street, and the rear faces a courtyard. A good fit for a buyer who wants a roommate to offset costs. Plus: Large square footage, very separate bedrooms. Walking distance to Divisadero retail area & Buena Vista Park. Minus: Built in 1987, and not the most appealing exterior/interior in the architectural spectrum.

156 Tiffany
Mission/Bernal Heights

1,975 sq feet
$185 HOAs
2-car pkg
This condo spans two levels and provides the most square footage of the three. Good closet space, remodeled kitchen. The lower unit, 154 Tiffany, is a 2BR unit pending at a $739,000 list price. Plus: Two-car parking; house-like floorplan; legal two bedrooms and bath upstairs; walking distance to public transportation & lots of restaurants, grocery store. Neighbors are tight. Minus: Some of the neighboring properties are not wildly attractive.

BLU Gets FHA Approval

bluThe 114-unit new development that goes by the moniker BLU has officially received FHA approval. This means buyers who meet the requirements of government-backed FHA loans can purchase a unit with as little as 3.5% down.

Not a bad situation, if you can swing the monthly payments. BLU is a 21-story building at Folsom and 2nd, and features all the trappings: wraparound corner windows, gourmet kitchens, marble bathrooms, and even air conditioning.

Most units are 2BR/2BA, with the exception of the 3BR penthouse floorplan. Typical prices are in the mid-$700,000s and well into the $800,000s. One of the penthouses is on the market for about $3M.

4114 20th St. Implodes

20thLast sold in November 2007 for $1,513,000, 4114 20th Street is now on the market as a short sale by its Realtor owner for a cool price of $1,150,000.

This 4BR/3BA home has a great Eureka Valley location, and a great kitchen. The rear and front gardens are nicely landscaped, and the master bedroom has sweeping views. The seller-agent attempted to unload the property in late 2008 for $1.7M and then in early 2009 for $1.6M. But now it’s come to this.

The sale has to close by 8/27, so don’t waste time hauling your cash over to 4114 20th. There could be a deal here if you play your cards right.

SF Market Shifts Gears, For the Better

It’s been a challenging first half of 2009 in the San Francisco real estate market. But signs abound that indicate a shift for the better.

Take July, for instance—a good barometer for what to expect for the next half of the year. 235 single-family homes sold in July alone. And the luxury market even picked up speed. Of the 235 homes, 29 were sold for more than $1.5M, including five for above $5M. Multiple-offer scenarios and all-cash offers were reported by many agents, lending credence to my belief that there is still considerable money coming into San Francisco.

On the condo front, 160 units sold last month, which I think indicates a bit of weakness in this segment of the market. Lender restrictions on condo buildings may be contributing toward the slowdown. But it’s clear that the single-family home category cornered the market in July.

TICs made a respectable showing last month, with 46 selling—two of which were newly renovated units listed on Scott Street in Pacific Heights for above $2M and sold for unreported prices.

And it looks like August/September may kick some butt, too. There are presently 396 single-family homes, 315 condos, and 95 TIC interests currently in contract or pending (contractual conditions removed).

141 Hampshire Orbits & Moves Closer to Earth

141hampshireDebuting earlier last year at the celestial price of $3.5M, 141 Hampshire #B received no takers for its 3BR+, 2790 square foot loft space. The price dropped later that summer to $2,788,000, but still no go. It’s now down to $1.7M.

The property was built in 2001, but the location even then was suspect: This particular part of Hampshire sits at the end of 15th Street off Potrero, kind of behind Safeway. So to get to your unit’s front door, you drive past the grocery store’s trucking dock and related back-of-the-store accoutrements. The area can be sketchy, and hasn’t changed much since 2001.

Given that shinier, new developments in far superior locations (i.e., The Infinity) have three bedrooms for around $1.8M, the current price is still a stretch. But yes, 141 Hampshire does have great views and nice space. You just have to get past the loading zone to get to it.

New Listing: 834-836-838 Dolores

If you’re looking for a great income property, check out my listing at 834-836-838 Dolores, between 21st and 22nd Streets in Dolores Heights. List price: $1,425,000.

This is an immaculately maintained, three-unit Edwardian. The lower and middle units each have five rooms that include two bedrooms, one split bath, formal dining room, eat-in kitchen and laundry porch with washer/dryer hookups. The upper unit has two levels and an additional two rooms.

There are two fireplaces in each unit, one that’s wood burning in the dining room, and one decorative in the front room.

The building is located in close proximity to Dolores Park, the 18th Street Gourmet Gulch, the Valencia corridor, and Noe Valley’s 24th Street. The J Church is a short distance away, as is the BART station at 16th and Mission. And with a Walk Score of 92, any serious investor should give 834-836-838 Dolores a look.

Give me a call if you know someone who may be interested!

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Zephyr Real Estate


BRE# 01352627

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