Best Trick or Treat ‘Hoods in SF

I came across Zillow’s Trick or Treat housing index yesterday, and found its picks for Best Trick or Treat Neighborhoods to be very amusing.

You can’t argue with the winners: Presidio Heights, Noe Valley, Richmond, Haight, and Sunset. But I’ll also nominate Cole Valley (have you ever seen Belvedere Street in action on Halloween?!) and Potrero Hill.

So readers, what neighborhoods do you nominate for the best Halloween spirit? Comments, please! And have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!

Drastic Drop for 33 Dashiell Hammett

dashiellLast sold in 2007 for $1,295,000, 33 Dashiell Hammett went on a resale campaign beginning in early 2008.

The 3BR/2BA Edwardian single-family home tucked on Dashiell Hammett between Pine and Bush/Powell and Joice sailed through list prices like there was no tomorrow: $1,995,000; $1,895,000; $1,795,00; $1,595,000; $1,490,000…And now, it’s officially a short sale with one of the previous listing agents, clocking in at $1,095,000.

There’s a lot of old-world clutter and a decked-out yard, plus one-car parking. In the end, though, will the list price fly with the lender? Only two other homes have sold in what is technically the “downtown” district, and both sold for around $2.3M. I’m betting any buyer who writes an offer at asking will end up being countered. Go to it!

Noe Valley "Flip" Flops

27th_kitchenI’ve been tracking the progress of Noe Valley’s 141 27th Street since it was sold for $950,000 in August 2008 and put back on the market at $1.6M earlier this year.

The 3BR/3BA, 1900-sq foot home between Guerrero and Dolores was a total teardown, and since my building sits directly behind its lot, I was pleased the property was being rehabbed. Given the price the owners paid for it, I assumed it was going to be an owner-occupier buyer.

But the house came on the market after a major renovation at its very high $1.6M list price. After 116 days on the market, the property was withdrawn. The problem was that $1.6M was too high a price for a house that featured only two levels (main and garden level), as well as a kitchen that was sort of in the corner across from the living room. Homes selling for $1.6M in Noe this year had more appealing configurations and superior locations).

I confirmed this week that the house is now on a long-term lease, so we won’t be seeing 141 27th on the market anytime soon. It’s a good lesson for those individuals who are looking to flip houses in the current market. You have to be realistic, and be careful what you pay for teardowns.

2319 Washington Comes Back to Life

washingtonFirst listed in June at $3M, 2319 Washington was withdrawn at its last list price of $2,796,000 at the end of September after 105 days on the market. Seems no one was chomping at the bit for this 4BR/3BA home that was originally a two-unit building. So I’m guessing buyers aren’t appreciating what they might be perceiving as a choppy floorplan (despite the prime Pac Heights location).

But we’re getting closer to the end of the year, and that’s lighting a fire under some sellers out there. The Washington sellers have changed agents, and have dropped the price to $2.6M. Any takers?

Mediterranean Manse Gets Modern Makeover

rooseveltOver at 424 Roosevelt, a 4BR/3.5BA, three-level Mediterranean-style home just came on the market for $2,395,000.

But when it came to “Mediterranean,” the owners didn’t exactly renovate with that architectural style in mind. They instead went for bathrooms straight out of new-construction SoMa:


So if you like modern, but enjoy Mediterranean, you’ll have the best of both worlds up in your manse in Corona Heights. The property permit history lists a litany of renovations, from a two-story horizontal rear yard addition and new kitchen, to balcony enclosures (after a while, that wind gets to ya) and large-scale plumbing/electrical upgrades.

But is the price right? The location is a little busy and exposed, but it’s at the foot of coveted Ashbury Terrace. The most expensive home sold in Corona Heights this year has been $1,840,000, and in Ashbury Heights/Cole Valley, the most expensive home sold was on Edgewood (a very different, more desirable location) for $3,075,000.

So I’m guessing the sellers are hoping a little Ashbury Terrace dust gets sprinkled on the stucco, tile roof and wrought iron and they can get their list price.

SoMa Within Reach for First-Time Home Buyers

There was a time when one- to two-bedroom condos and lofts were out of reach for those who could afford up to $600,000. I know that’s a lot of money in most parts of the world, but in San Francisco, it’s first-time home buyer territory, and it’s not been an easy price range.

But things have loosened up a bit, particularly in the South of Market neighborhood. The ongoing short/foreclosure sales have brought prices down, and there’s actually plenty of inventory. A nice loft that previously commanded a price of $650,000 or $700,000+ two or three years ago can now be purchased for about $100,000 less.

There are currently 33 one- to two-bedroom condos/lofts on the market in SoMa for up to $600,000. Sure, many of them are located in less-desirable locales (hello, 140 South Van Ness!), but I thought I’d spotlight two properties I think could be good deals—at the right price—due to location and overall appeal:

601_4th You wouldn’t know it from the listing detail, but 601 4th St. #101 is located in the Heublien Building—the first large loft development in San Francisco. It’s always been a favorite of mine due to its large windows, high ceilings, and overall character. The building is also in a very central location (94 Walk Score). The unit itself features 16-foot ceilings and an outlook to a shared garden. It’s listed at $579,000, but maybe at $550,000 or so, more buyers will bite.

Next up is 695 5th #7:

695_5thLast sold for $700,000 in March 2005, this unit started out at $619,000 in July and is now down to $599,000. It’s not very different from other lower-priced lofts, so hopefully there’s room to move in price. But here’s the good stuff: You’re right at Townsend & 5th, which is a pretty central location (Walk Score: 92). The sleeping area upstairs is reasonable, and there’s one-car parking and a large deeded storage space. Knock this baby down to $540,000 or so, and you’ve got yourself a nice loft that’s just over 1,000 square feet in a hip location.

What You Get For: $950,000-$1M

We’ll take a look at three very different properties being offered in the $950,000-$1M price range. For those interested in purchasing a home in San Francisco, this sort of exercise is designed to help you sort through the unique property types that exist, as well as get a feel for the neighborhoods in which they lie.

andersonFirst off is 78 Anderson on Bernal Height’s north slope. This is the more desirable end of the neighborhood, and the 4BR/2BA cottage with one-car parking has vaulted ceilings, an updated kitchen and is about two blocks from the Cortland Avenue main strip. Last sold in December 2007 for $990,000, it’s not clear how the sellers will make out.

Next up is 650 Chestnut #106 in North Beach:
I remember showing this property when it was last on the market in June 2005; it ultimately sold for $1,009,000. The 3BR/2BA condo in the Villa North Beach complex at Mason Street is now on the market for $959,000. I liked the unit, though—it was big (about 1600 square feet), and had a very large patio. It’s in walking distance of everything North Beach has to offer, and makes for an easy downtown commute.

Finally, there’s 438 Buchanan,a TIC interest in a three-unit building in Hayes Valley.
Yes, it’s located at the busy Buchanan and Oak intersection, and yes, it’s only a stone’s throw from the housing projects. But this recently renovated, 2200+ square foot unit has three bedrooms + a den, 2.5 baths, and is on two levels. It’s the top level that I really liked (above), with its patio and high-end finishes. That’s listed at $979,000. Though the unit is in a three-unit building, one of the units is a commercial space on the ground level. All that’s needed are two buyers who’ll owner occupy the two residential units, and the building can bypass the condo lottery. In the meantime, the seller is keeping the commercial space and is offering wrap-around financing with a down payment of 20% or more at a 6.5% interest rate.

So which one would work for you, if you had to pick one? Please feel free to comment!

Sunny Skies Appear for Russian Hill Home

filbertI’m guessing the above shot from the roof deck of 1240 Filbert was taken last October, when the property first came on the market. Because this October, the sky didn’t look quite that blue, and the Blue Angels themselves were largely grounded.

After 358 days and four price reductions, 1240 Filbert has closed escrow. The 4BR/3.5BA Russian Hill single-family home kicked things off with a $3,450,000 asking price in October 2008. From there, it was all downhill, pricewise—and marketwise. A year later, though, things are looking up. These days, if you put the right price on a property, it will sell. Given that the average days on market of a home in the $2M-$3M range since January has been 87, Filbert just needed an adjustment here and there. It ended up at $2,550,000.

New Listing: 1750 Page Street

LR1If you have some time this weekend, stop in and see me at my new listing from 1:00-3:00 on Saturday & Sunday at 1750 Page Street between Cole and Clayton in the Haight.

This two-bedroom, one-bath Victorian top-floor condo has great period detail and has a 100 Walk Score. There’s one-car tandem parking plus a deeded storage room. You’re around the corner from the Panhandle, and all the shops and restaurants on Haight Street—not to mention a stone’s throw from Golden Gate Park. List price: $749,000.

Update: 31 Walter Rocks the House

walterThere’s nothing like a Duboce Triangle teardown update to brighten your day.

I stopped in at 31 Walter at the end of September, when it came on the market as a contractor special listed at $599,000. I thought the price was well below lot value for the location.

Offers came and went, and now this probate sale is awaiting court confirmation. The court date is October 27th, and if you’d like to throw your hat into the ring, here’s the deal: First overbid is 5% plus $500 over the $775,000 accepted offer. So if you can swing at least $814,250, head on over to court and try your luck. Somebody’s gonna have a nice single-family home on Walter in the not-too-distant future.

SF Luxury Market Slides By in Q3

powell Sales below $1M in San Francisco were the most popular in the third quarter. But a decent amount of homes did actually sell for above the $2M mark.

A total of 36 single-family homes sold from July-September 2009 for above $2M, with a bulk of them located in Pacific Heights. Average selling price was $3,714,054.

Only 11 condos sold in this price range, at an average price of $2,784,909. Several were located in the St. Regis and Millennium developments downtown.

One of my favorite of the sold properties was over at 840 Powell in Nob Hill (above). Yep, that’s the view from this New York-style, 3BR/3.5BA penthouse with two-car parking on the seventh floor. It was listed at $3.5M, and sold for $3,158,000 in July.

South Beach Gallery Compound on Market for $8M

townsendFor those of you yearning to host gallery openings in your own home, 292-294 Townsend at Fourth Street in South Beach is the place for you. That is, if you also have $7.5M to spare.

The 7,000-square foot property features two live/work lofts and a deeded, 1,200-square foot courtyard. It houses the LIMN Gallery, which features emerging artists with an emphasis on contemporary Chinese art.

Talk about seeking a specific buyer. I’m sure there’ll be one, too.

“Outskirt Luxury” Trend Takes Over Mission

1495valenciaYes, I’m coining a new term for a trend that seems to be hitting its stride this year—developers constructing high-end, luxury units in areas that lie just beyond the heart of where everyone wants to be.

In this case, it’s the Mission, and there are two projects currently on the market in the Outskirt Luxury category. The first is 1495 Valencia (above), an eight-unit production located on the more lonely stretch of Valencia, between 25th & 26th Streets. Your finishes, appliances & accoutrements: CaesarStone counter tops; vertical grain douglas fir; Bertazzoni range; Broan-Elite hood; Bosch dishwasher; Dacor microdrawer; Cifial faucets; centralized audio system wiring. Your neighbors: The Salvation Army, St. Luke’s (scheduled for a massive renovation), a funeral home, and a busy stretch of Cesar Chavez.

1495 Valencia is a two-building development. The modern structure houses six two- to three-bedroom, two-level townhomes and a roof terrace. The adjacent property has a Victorian facade and is being sold as two units (heading for a “fast track” condo conversion). But all will be part of the same HOA. (I’m curious as to how that will be structured, as mixing condos & TICs in the same HOA is a new one for me.)

Prices in the modern building range from $739,000 for a 2BR/2.5BA (the smallest unit) to $999,000 for a 3BR/3BA. The two TICs will be priced between $779,000-$889,000. The six units in the modern building come with two-car deeded, stacked parking.

And over at Union, on Bryant between 19th and 20th, a much larger development has just come on the market. The hole in the ground that existed for the past decade has now been filled with two buildings on the lot. One houses 53 townhomes and flats, and the other is a brick-and-timber style property that will feature 23 lofts.

Union is another property that’s several blocks east of the Valencia corridor, and on the border of Potrero. But it’s a good ten blocks to Valencia, and much further to the heart of Potrero. These aren’t necessarily walks you want to take home late at night.

In any event, Union presents itself well, with spacious, two- and three-bedroom homes ranging from the high $600,000s to the $800,000s. And there are Carrera marble counter tops, Burmese walnut floors, bathroom tiles by Ann Sacks, and huge showers and tubs.

So if you build luxury properties in outskirt areas, will the buyers come? Developers are obviously hoping the high-end finishes and spacious units will mitigate the somewhat less-than-desirable locations. I’ve toured both Union and 1495 Valencia, and have been impressed by their quality and well-appointed natures. But it remains to be seen whether buyers with this level of purchasing power will agree to live in less-central sections of the ever-popular Mission.

Hideaway of the Day: North Beach’s 11 August Alley

augustI like to spotlight unique, quintessential San Francisco hideaway properties when I can. Today’s pick is 11 August Alley.

If you can afford the $1.6M price tag, this 1329-square foot, 2BR/2BA cottage complex could be just what you need. It’s located between Union and Green/Mason and Powell, in the heart of North Beach. There are two Victorian structures surrounding a garden. The property is technically a single-family home, as per city records. There’s a spacious guest studio over the garage that’s being identified as the second bedroom. And don’t forget about the bonus room with sauna, as well as the dining area framed by walls of glass.

Listed on September 24th, August Alley is still available. Could the price be a tad high? Apparently, legendary Realtor Malin Giddings once owned the property, which is enough to warrant $1.6M, no?

Potrero's 509 Vermont Returns, Reduces Price—Again

509vermontPotrero’s 509 Vermont Street is back in the game, after spending many months in 2008 on the market unsuccessfully. Along the way, the sellers have had a baby, worn out their first listing agent, and also seem to be coming to terms with the reality of the current market.

The 3BR/3BA, garage-free property located near the 101 off ramp between Mariposa and 18th Street started off in March ’08 at $1,795,000, eventually dropping the price to $1,695,000 before its last reduction in August. Now, the sellers have tapped a new agent, and a new price–$1,595,000.

My initial instinct on price after seeing the property last year was that it was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2M. We’ll see.