Monthly Archives: March 2010

Iconic Painted Lady Loses Some Luster

It’s been almost two months since the historic and iconic home at 722 Steiner first floated on to the market. I toured the property soon after, and though I found the property to be interesting, it didn’t exactly feature a top-notch interior. But it had its merits.

The sellers decided to reduce the list price on Friday from $3,999,999 to $3,850,000. Hardly an earthshattering price chop, but they’re moving in the right direction. It really is challenging to put a price tag on a house like this, but the sellers will know when they’ve hit the right price. I’m thinking more about $3.5M, but we’ll see.

Artani Back in Action on Van Ness

Over on the Van Ness corridor, The Artani is treading the residential sales waters again after a disappointing attempt at selling the units last year. Many of the units were rented temporarily, and those renters are being offered a shot at purchasing their units. Otherwise, a majority of the 20 one bedrooms, twelve 1BR+den/2BAs, and 20 2BR/2BAs are waiting for buyers.

I attended The Artani’s launch party last night (a lively affair) and toured a few of the models. The last time I was there, I rode up in a construction elevator with a bunch of workers, and had to navigate the very much work-in-progress building. So it was interesting to see the finished product. They’ve done a nice job with the floor plans and finishes, featuring CaesarStone counters, Italian tile backsplashes and baths, Bosch or Viking appliances and distressed wood floors.

The 1BR/1BA units are priced from the high $400,000s, and the 1BR+den/2BA condos start in the mid $500,000s. The 2BR/2BA are priced from the high $600,000s. HOAs dues range from the high $300s to the mid $400s. Each unit gets a parking space, and everyone has access to the loungey roof deck.

Here are a couple shots of a typical kitchen and bath:

I saw unit 405, a 1BR/1BA listed at $499,000. It faced south, and the main outlook was a roof with duct and other equipment, as well as other buildings. Unit 306 was a large 2BR/2BA corner home with all the bells and whistles. The living/kitchen areas faced Van Ness, which is busy, but in an odd way, was kind of appealing. If you’re a Type A personality who likes a lot of activity surrounding you, #306 could be a good fit. Though this one is not available, it’s representative of a larger unit on that side of the property.

Unit 402 ($549,000) was a 1BR/1BA that faced the small street on the north side of the property, affording a nice view into the windows of the apartments across the way. The window on the property line that faces west had a nice downtown view, but due to building codes was required to be many inches thick. This leads to a somewhat distorted view, like looking through a magnifying glass. (I thought it was me, at first, feeling the effects of the signature Artani cocktail.)

Overall, I think the Artani is priced competitively for a luxury building located on Van Ness. The biggest hurdle for the sales team will be to overcome the hesitancy on the part of buyers to live on Van Ness, an area that is between neighborhoods, has a bit of a homeless issue and is noisy from all the traffic. Some buyers looking for two-bedroom condos might sooner gravitate toward LindenHayes, which has a superior location and finishes (but much higher price points). In the end, I think The Artani offers pretty good value.

California Tax Credit Set to Cause Buyer Stampede?

First-time home buyers in California will be able to take advantage of a California tax credit in the next couple months, according to Dawn Wotapka at the Wall Street Journal’s “Developments” blog.

Those qualified buyers who purchase a home can get up to $10,000 in tax credits, starting May 1st.

The Developments blog also reported earlier this week that Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to soon sign a bill giving as much as $10,000 each to first-time buyers of existing homes and any new-home purchaser starting May 1. It’s expected that the new-home portion to be exhausted within five months.

If you’re heading into contract on a first-time home right now, check out the details of the tax credit so you’re prepared to benefit.

Cow Hollow Condos Debut at Scott and Lombard

During my broker tour this week, I visited the new 12-unit condo building at 3190 Scott Street at Lombard that just opened its doors. All the units are two bedrooms/two baths, and range in price from $899,000-$1,149,000. (There is one unit that has 2.5 baths.) All but one unit have some sort of outdoor space, whether it’s a patio overlooking Lombard Street or one that faces the rear of the property.

The floor plans are similar in each unit—one level features a smallish master bedroom and bathroom, and the other level has the living area, kitchen, bedroom and another bath. Here’s a shot of one of the living areas that face the Bay:

And here’s a sample kitchen:

My favorite unit was 310, listed at $1,099,000. The master suite was located on the entrance level, and had an outlook of the nearby buildings. The kitchen/living area and bedroom/bath upstairs had Bay-facing outlooks, and the outdoor space was off the front balcony.

There are one or two below-market-rate units, but given that these are around $900,000, I’m not sure how “BMR” they are.

HOA dues are around $428, and there’s an elevator in the building. One-car parking is included for each unit.

Though the condos offer good space, the biggest drawback is that they’re located pretty much on Lombard. So you get the constant traffic and bustle from multiple lanes of traffic on a primary San Francisco corridor. Within a block radius, you’re surrounded by the Days Inn, Super 8, Presidio Inn, and America’s Best Value Inn, so there won’t be a shortage of accommodations for your guests if you don’t want them holding up in your second bedroom. Granted, once you cross Lombard you’re in the heart of the Chestnut Street retail area. But there will be substantial noise from the Lombard activity for those desiring a quiet place to live.

But if you look at the average sales prices and overall size of the comps, 3190 Scott comes off as being more spacious and is definitely viewed as an upscale building. (A good comp that’s currently in contract is over at 2839 Union, between Baker and Lyon. This is a top floor, 2BR/1.5BA plus sunroom and original kitchen that was listed at $1,079,000 and went into contract within a month.) I think 3190 Scott is a good fit for, say, Marin or downtown commuters who are looking for a good separation of space between bedrooms, as well as luxury finishes and a bit of outdoor space. Contact me if you’re interested in seeing the building. So far, none are in contract yet, so you’ll have your pick.

First-Time Home Buyers: Get Ready for Your Closeup

If you’re looking to share the details of your home search with the world, take note that HGTV is looking for San Francisco first-time home buyers to profile on its series, “My First Place.”

You need to actually be a first-time home buyer, and HGTV would prefer it if you were “fun and interesting,” too. You have to be willing to share your personal and financial struggles and consider your life an open book. Also, you have to close on your purchase by the end of the summer, and be buying within a 60- to 90-mile radius of downtown San Francisco.

Selected candidates will receive a surprise housewarming gift, too.

Interested? Message Cole Schneider at for an application and more details.

North Beach Edwardian Villa Closes Escrow for $820,000 Under Asking

First listed in October 2008 for $3,995,000, the 5BR/4BA, 3,550-square foot Edwardian at 643 Greenwich in North Beach closed escrow last week in an all-cash transaction with a selling price of $3,175,000.

The property was widely discussed in the blogosphere last year, noting that the building was remodeled in 2001 and then again in 2006. The latter renovation was when the two-story vertical addition took place. The finished product features four levels and Bay/Golden Gate Bridge views.

Cow Hollow Home Sells, Back on Market Less Than a Month Later

How much would it suck if you bought a house in Cow Hollow, were about to move in, and then found out you were being transferred out of state?

If you’re the current owners of 215 Moulton, you’re in this boat. They closed escrow on the property on February 26th for $1,540,000 (we covered the property in a recent feature). They’re now listing it again less than a month later at $1.6M. And no, they never even got a chance to move in.

Is there something about Moulton that makes people flee? The house has changed hands four times since 2003. I personally really liked the property, but it might be the place to go if you want to hang out temporarily. Not sure a buyer will be looking to pay $60,000 more—especially without any kind of staging inside, or furniture of any kind—but I suppose Spring is here, and anything goes.

Open House Spotlight: Haight Eastlake Stick Vic

If you’re out and about this weekend, check out the 3BR/2.5BA, 3600-square foot single-family home at 1322 Masonic (at Frederick) in the Haight-Buena Vista Park area. I sold a multi-unit building recently further down Masonic, so this listing caught my eye. It’s on a much quieter stretch of Masonic than that of my past listing.

The property is listed at $2,395,000 and is one of six “Victorian sisters” built by architect Richard Cranston. The owners have expanded and renovated the home over the past twelve years (they paid $550,000 for what was originally a five-unit building in 1998, and are listing with the same agent who sold it to them—props for loyalty). There’s a two-car garage, lovely garden, 480-square foot bonus gym/studio, and twin master suites. Here’s a look at one of them:

But back to that five-unit building history. The owners were able to do two things back in 1999 that would probably be unthinkable now. They changed the building from four studios and a one bedroom to a single-family house, and installed a garage. All with permits. Talk about seizing the day.

1322 Masonic will be open from 2-5 on Sunday 3/21.

Update: LindenHayes Nears Completion, Half in Contract

It’s been a few months since we last checked in on LindenHayes at Franklin and Hayes. So here’s the latest: Construction is drawing to completion as the builder finishes the common areas. As soon as the lobby and the landscaped courtyard are done (probably by April 3rd), LindenHayes will have its grand opening.

In the meantime, “dusty shoe” tours are continuing, by appointment. To date, there are 15 pending sales out of a total of 32 units—not bad for minimal advertising and no MLS entries.

Here’s a refresher on what’s available, and in what price ranges—keeping in mind that pricing is still “fairly fluid” at this point, according to Doug Shaw at Pacific Union:
– 16 1BR/1BA residences, ranging from $529,000-$649,000 (some in contract)
– 12 2BR/2BA, from $769,000-$965,000 (some in contract)
– Three 3BR/2BAs (all are in contract).

Parking is included with all units. Contact me if you’d like a dusty shoe tour before the grand opening.

Update: 555 Bartlett Off and Running

It’s been a week or so since the sales office at 555 Bartlett began taking reservations and writing contracts. To date, 25 of the 58 residential condos are in contract, according to the sales team. That’s an excellent sales rate for a new development in the current market. Given the overall quality and reputable developer involved, I’m not surprised. I was very favorably impressed upon my initial preview visit.

Current pricing lands one bedrooms from $440,000-$490,000; two bedrooms range from $530,000-$650,000. One three-bedroom unit remains, priced in the high $600,000 range. A large garage with ample parking, as well as various degrees of storage, are available.

Keep in mind 555 Bartlett is FHA approved. Give me a call if you’d like to check out the remaining inventory.

Big Price Chop for St. Francis Wood Mediterranean

It was September 2009 when 315 Santa Clara came on the market in the coveted enclave known as St. Francis Wood. The 4BR/5.5BA, 5700-square foot Spanish Mediterranean manse occupies a double lot, has an indoor pool, courtyards and terraces and was listed at $4,795,000.

The home’s price has just been reduced to $4,349,000—substantial, but consider that the property was last sold only three years ago for $2,650,000. Another case of 2010 optimism? That is one hefty chunk of appreciation. Granted, the master suite and another bedroom were remodeled by the current owners. But even at its reduced price, 315 Santa Clara would be the most expensive house sold since January 2009.

Here’s a parting shot of the pool:

New Dogpatch Development Digs for Buyers (Finally)

It’s been about five years since construction started on what is now 638 19th Street. The Dogpatch community has been discussing the site at 19th and Third Streets for years now.

I toured the project last night at a special showing, and checked out the mix of 18 two- and three-bedroom flats/townhomes. The building is essentially shaped like an L, with one row of units along Third Street, and the other fronting 19th Street. They also look out upon the interior courtyard, which offers airy, urban outlooks (and which won’t typically feature white-clothed tables with servers who were dispensing vodka-based drinks and wine, as pictured below):

Prices range from $699,000 for a 3BR/2BA courtyard-view condo with 1,567 square feet, to $849,000 for a 2BR/2.5BA, two-level unit with 1,468 square feet. Overall square footage ranges from 1309-1615. A majority of the condos are priced between $749,000-$779,000.

I liked the floorplans and finishes—not too high end, but with granite counters and stainless-steel appliances:

Unit 9 (3/2.5, $779,000) is a top-floor, two-level unit with water views and a private patio. It gets nice city views from the balcony, too:

My favorite was the top-floor, two-level Unit 11 (3/2.5, $759,000), with its water views:

The outlooks up and down Third Street aren’t bad, either, but you have to keep in mind that the T rail line will be noisy when it runs past your large master bedroom:

HOA dues range from $403-$417, and units include washer/dryer hookups, one-car parking and elevator service. The location is great for downtown or Peninsula commuters, as well as those who work in the Mission Bay campuses nearby. The building is also in close proximity to a ton of restaurants, bars and cafes (see the Amenities map under “Location” on the Web site).

So what’s the bottom line on 638 19th Street? Putting the long-standing construction issues aside, I think the units are spacious and have good floorplans (particularly the top-floor, two-level ones). One drawback to some of the floorplans is that the living areas are small, yet the master bedrooms are huge. People tend to spend more time in the living areas than bedrooms.

Pricing stacks up against the comparable sales in Dogpatch. Average two bedrooms in the neighborhood are selling for $668,909 (most have less square footage than the 19th Street condos), and average three bedrooms are selling for $1,040,000. I’d also consider Potrero comps, too, but this at least gives you the general Dogpatch values. It’s not easy finding three bedrooms in the mid $700,000 range, and 19th Street definitely fills a need there.

Two of the 18 are in contract, always nice for the developer to announce at the start of the sales cycle.

Buyers Flock to District 4 for Single-Family Homes

There seem to be many buyers hunting for San Francisco single-family homes in District 4. In Realtors’ terms, District 4 is the area that encompasses Sunnyside; Miraloma Park; Westwood Park/Highlands; Mount Davidson Manor; Balboa/Ingleside Terraces; Monterey Heights; Sherwood Forest; Diamond Heights; Forest Hill/Extension; West Portal; Midtown Terrace; Forest Knolls and St. Francis Wood.

Many of these neighborhoods have homes that are worth less than $1M, and for single-family home buyers, that’s the sweet spot. I’m seeing a significant uptick in homes sales in the area, as evidenced by the number of properties that have gone into contract or are pending (in contract, with sale conditions removed).

No less than 37 single-family homes are on their way to closing sales, with an average list price of $1,001,451. Most were listed in the $700,000-$900,000 range. And many reportedly saw more than one offer. A total of 37 homes have closed escrow in the area since the beginning of the year, with eleven homes selling for above their asking prices (244 Santa Paula in Forest Hill was listed at $1,395,000 and sold for $1,520,000). But most sold for less than asking (most dramatically, 69 Amber in Diamond Heights listed at $1,250,000 and selling for $905,000, and Sunnyside’s 266-68 Monterey listed at $1,049,000 and selling for $700,000.)

There are 64 active listings in District 4, some of which have had significant and attractive price reductions. If you’ve been sitting on the fence for the past year but long to have a single-family home in the city, District 4’s neighborhoods will likely have something for you.

Lower Pac Heights Condo Charms on Cute Street

It might only have one bedroom, but 29 Orben Place makes up for it by being located on a cool block in Lower Pacific Heights.

The upper-level flat in this four-unit building is listed at $835,000. It features French-modern design and a lovely shared garden. Check out the kitchen:

There’s no parking, but 29 Orben has a 98 Walk Score and Zip Car access at California and Steiner (about four blocks away). Most of the one-bedroom sales since September 2009 have been in the mid $600,000 range, so 29 Orben may have some pricing adjustments in its future. But if you’re interested in this neighborhood, the location alone should score some points with you.

Checking in On 25 Hotaling in Jackson Square

It was back in September when I first visited 25 Hotaling, the nine-unit boutique building in Jackson Square. The project is a mix of eight one bedrooms and one two bedroom, with three commercial spaces as part of the HOA.

For a building with somewhat small units and no deeded parking, 25 Hotaling is doing decidedly well. It’s at the halfway point for completing its sales; two units have closed, and two will be selling shortly. What remains are four 1BR units ranging in price from $629,000-$689,000, and the two bedroom listed at $889,000. (I’m told an offer is actually on the way on one of the remaining 1BRs.) Prices have been coming in 3% lower than asking, which tells you how buyers are using that credit.

The seller is offering a 3% credit toward HOA dues, parking or closing costs—or you can just knock 3% off the list price. Leased parking is available nearby at $300/mo, which isn’t bad for downtown. Buyers seem to be professional couples looking for second homes in San Francisco, says listing agent Ken Eggers at Zephyr Real Estate, as well as primary home buyers who work in the Financial District.

Contact me if you’d like to check out the remaining inventory. I really like the location of Hotaling and they’ve done a nice job with the property.

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Zephyr Real Estate


BRE# 01352627

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