Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mission a Magnet for Tech Workers—and Rising Home Values

The Wall Street Journal ran a great article yesterday on the Mission’s popularity among San Francisco tech workers.

Facebook employees apparently congregate in Mission Dolores Park and in all the nearby bars, and shuttle 75 workers from the Mission to Palo Alto headquarters daily. And startups like Small Batch, Posterous and CrowdFlower have set up shop in the neighborhood. Reporters Cari Tuna and Stu Woo also mention the rising prices in the Mission, saying that while median home values in the district and citywide fell about 20% in the latest recession, values in the area have actually risen 4% since April 2009. No small feat.

Are we approaching another tech boom? This is starting to feel like deja vu.

Miraloma Flip Hits Market, Fingers Crossed

Intrepid city home flippers are still out there, looking to make a few bucks on a quick remodel in San Francisco. The latest attempt is at 407 Myra, a 2BR/1B home that was in “very distressed condition” when it came on the market in February for $525,000:

But a buyer scooped it up for all cash at a $450,000 selling price in March. Since then, they’ve installed a new kitchen, replaced windows, and removed the vinyl siding, among other odds and ends. Back on the market at $699,000, 407 Myra does admittedly look better (though I’m thinking staging & professional photography might boost the interior shots a bit):

Will the flip be successful? In terms of location, Myra is in the more remote part of Miraloma, at the base of Mount Davidson. Homes in that location tend to sit longer. However, the obvious comp is over at 546 Myra, a 2BR/1BA with excellent views that sold for $700,000 shortly before 407 Myra closed. In terms of a flip, though, I would’ve expected another bedroom out of the effort, which would have really added key value.

Price Reductions on the Rise in San Francisco

I’ll cut to the chase: Sellers are catching price reduction fever these days in San Francisco.

We have some price corrections to deal with in all our neighborhoods. Of the 627 houses on the market, a whopping 498 of them have had some sort of status change in the MLS over the past month—mostly price reductions. And in some cases, I’m seeing substantial reductions. Over in the Richmond, for example, one 4BR home on 17th Avenue started out at $1,825,000 and is now down to a $1,595,000 list price. And its 3BR neighbor on 6th Avenue hit the market at $1,295,000 and is now listed at $900,000.

The condo market is more vulnerable; of the 779 units listed in the MLS, 653 of them have had status changes over the past month. There are also some dramatic reductions, and the condos have been on the market generally longer than the houses.

Price reductions are an important factor for buyers and sellers, and they can’t be ignored when it comes time to list your house or make an offer on one.

State of the TIC Market: May 2010

I’m often asked how different segments of the San Francisco market are doing, and inquiries about the TIC market are at the top of the list. We’re almost halfway through 2010 (I know), so I thought a market update on our tenancy-in-common activity was in order.

The bottom line: The TIC market is definitely hurting a bit, but it’s not in dire straits by any means. There are, however, two key factors that have contributed to the weakness in the TIC segment. The first is that the condo market has declined, so buyers who may have once only been able to afford a TIC are now looking at the possibility of a condo purchase. And second, if there are less qualified buyers in general these days, there are even less qualified buyers for TICs. The most common TIC loan type—the fractional, or individual loan—carries a high interest rate, has a 25%+ down payment requirement, significant cash reserve requirements, and is only available in adjustable-rate form.

There are 203 TIC interests on the market to date, and they’ve been sitting on the market for an average of 72 days, at an average list price of $646,467. And there are 82 TICs in contract (two are above $1M). A total of 117 TICs have sold since the beginning of the year at an average of $594,637. (So clearly there’s room to come down in price for the current average list price.)

A bulk of the TICs purchased since January sold for under their asking prices—something to consider when you’re making an offer on one. The most prominent example of this pattern was over at 2461 Post (at Baker), a 5BR/3BA TIC unit with two levels listed in May 2009 at $950,000. It sold this past March for for $777,000.

If you’re considering a TIC purchase because you think you’ll get more space or a better neighborhood for your money, you could be right. But consider all the angles, and know that if you’re buying a TIC interest with a fractional loan, it’s likely you’ll be selling a TIC interest with a fractional loan. That means your resale buyer pool will be limited to those who can meet those strict requirements. And the jury is out regarding which lenders will continue granting fractional loans by the time you’re ready to sell. Make sure you work with a very experienced, knowledgeable real estate agent, mortgage broker/lender, and title company. And have an attorney review key documents. It might cost you a few hundred dollars for a legal review, but you can’t imagine the headaches those few hundred dollars may save you in the long run.

Open House Spotlight: Sutro Heights Tudor Home

It’s high time we point buyers in the direction of the ocean, where this cute 2BR/2BA Tudor-style single-family home at 5532 Anza awaits the once over from buyers this Sunday. I’m always a sucker for a turret of any kind, and 47th Avenue fits the bill.

There’s a sprightly kitchen that’ll cut through the fog, which will probably be fun to see in person:

The yard’s concrete & wood, but it’s fairly large. However, you’re a block from Sutro Heights Park, a stone’s throw from the Cliff House, and the ocean will practically be in your backyard. List price is $799,000. Open Sunday 2:00-4:00.

What the Median Price Will Buy You in SF: Condo Edition

We take a look today at the median price in the San Francisco condo market, and what you can get for your money at this price point.

The median price for the 247 reported condo sales since April 1st is $689,000. Here are three properties that are listed for exactly that price:

The first is a 1BR/1BA at 25 Hotaling, a new project in the Jackson Square district downtown. I really liked Hotaling; it’s excellent for buyers looking for a pied-a-terre in an area that gets pretty quiet at night.

We move on to 3919 21st Street in Eureka Valley. I toured this property when it was listed back in mid March. It’s about 700 square feet, and is located on a secluded part of 21st Street, at the rear of the lot. There’s no parking, but there is a lot to walk to in the neighborhood (as well as lots of ZipCars nearby):

The owners paid $645,000 in 2006, so the list price is obviously designed to cover selling costs.

And finally, here’s 301 Bryant #D31, a 914-sq foot 1BR/1BA in great South Beach location:

One glitch here is that the unit is tenant occupied, which is something to consider if you’re not looking to purchase investment property. This is a bright corner unit with a spacious bedroom. HOA dues are $442/mo.

Tiny Prefab Units on Track for SoMa

I spoke with The Chronicle’s Robert Selna about a new project being planned for South of Market—a prefab building on a parking lot at 38 Harriet (at Howard). The eco-friendly concept is appealing, as well as the idea of affordable housing ($200,000-$275,000/unit). However, these units will be 310-340 square feet. Read today’s Chron article for all the details.

Are these microcondos big enough for the average San Francisco buyer? Perhaps. I can’t, however, put aside how things turned out for Cubix—the building that featured tiny units in the same price range. The project fell victim to foreclosure, but is somewhat back on track. Still, not exactly a stellar model for 38 Harriet to follow.

Will 38 Harriet come out on top?

What the Median Price Will Buy You in San Francisco: House Edition

I’ve been enjoying the “median price” series of On the Block blog posts, so I thought I’d create a San Francisco version.

The median price for the 273 single-family homes sold since April 1st is $775,000. And there are 281 houses currently listed for up to that price. Here are three of them, ripe for the picking:

The first is a 2BR/1BA with an unwarranted studio in-law at 2122 47th Avenue. I sold a house in this Outer Parkside neighborhood last year that was two blocks from this property, and I can vouch for the excellent beach and park proximity. The home appears to be in nice condition, and is listed at what I believe is a very reasonable $628,000 price. It’s been on the market for about two weeks.

We move on to 1351 Plymouth,a 2BR/1BA 1920s home in Westwood Park listed at $685,000. There’s a sunroom, living room with fireplace, and a bonus room/bath down. You’re very close to Ocean Avenue and BART/Muni stations, and the house has an 88 Walk Score. There have been two price reductions since the property came on the market at $728,000 in mid March.

I blogged about 271 Nevada when it first came on the market back in February:

The one-bedroom cottage is very appealing, but it’s less than 1,000 square feet, which may explain why there is a limited buyer pool. The sellers came on at $749,000 and haven’t moved to reduce the price. But this is probably because they paid $790,000 in 2007 and may not be able to afford to sell for less than their list price. There’s a lot of that going on these days.

Just Sold: 432 Ulloa (A Shorter Short Sale Than Expected)

My clients closed escrow yesterday at 432 Ulloa, a 2BR/2BA single-family home with a bonus bedroom/bath and two-car parking in Forest Hill Extension. The home was listed at $699,000 and attracted significant interest due to its close proximity to the heart of West Portal.

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to the prospect of a short sale, but things went incredibly smoothly. I believe this is because the lender for both loans was Bank of America, which recently instituted a policy to push short sales through more quickly. Indeed, the sale was approved within a month’s time. The listing agent moved things along well, and kept us updated throughout the process. The seller was also very cooperative (not to mention my buyers). Look for these factors to check out if you’re heading into a short sale. The lender is key to expediting the process.

Get Your Rock Star on at the Warfield Office Condos

I visited the Warfield building at 988 Market & 6th Street yesterday on broker tour to see the new “office condos” that just hit the market.

A bit of history: The Warfield was designed by Gustav Albert Lansburgh, and was constructed between 1921 and 1922 in a Renaissance Revival style. The Warfield Theatre opened in May 1922. The Examiner once occupied the building, and Al Capone apparently used the building in the 1920s, too.

There are a total of eight floors of space, with seven floors being offered as commercial office condos and zoned C3G with an allowance for what’s known as Accessory Use Housing. This means you can use about a quarter of each floor for residential use, and the rest of the space for a variety of uses. Floors 2-5 will share a wall with the famous Warfield theatre, but the top three floors definitely have residential possibilities.

Square footage ranges from 4,601 for the second floor, to 5,118 for the 8th floor. The latter is the penthouse unit, which is the only fully developed one. I pictured Lenny Kravitz living here and shooting that video with Gina Gershon. My favorite part is the cassette-embossed cabinet in one of the bathroom areas:

And I also liked the “office” part of the floor:

The penthouse includes a huge attic space, as well as a 5,000-square foot roof deck. It’s being listed at around $2.5M. Included in the mix are a purple bedroom and adjacent fuschia half bath.

The other units are presently “warm shells,” meaning they’re waiting for development. I checked out unit 5, which looked like this:

Prices for the other office condos range from $1,339,000-$1.4M. Unit 6 has a half-acre deeded roof space, by the way. Some other tidbits: HOA dues are $1,000/mo; parking is available for $180/mo; and each owner is guaranteed eight tickets to every performance at The Warfield.

You can also buy the actual Warfield auditorium for $10M. Or the whole damn building for $22M. Drum solo, please.

I say: Get in there and set up shop by the end of June. Then you can get your eight seats for the Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings show on 6/25.

Lower Pac Heights Queen Anne Gets Price Chop

The 6BR home at 1900 Pierce in Lower Pacific Heights just had a significant price reduction. It was $2,998,000 a month ago, but the sellers have just sweetened the deal with a new $2,595,000 list price. That’s a $403,000 savings!

The house has a great presence, with 4600 square feet across three levels. There are four bedrooms on the upper floor, which is nice. The kitchen could probably use a modern touch, but there’s a cute garden and two-car parking. Walk Score is 98. Somebody step up to the plate.

SFMOMA-Like SoMa Home at 464 Tehama Still Up For Grabs

The stark SoMa abode over at 464 Tehama is all buttoned up and still waiting for a suitor. It was listed in mid March for $3.6M, but no one has stepped forward yet. Designed by Jim Jennings & built by Ryan & Associates in 2002, the 4280-sq foot, two-story property features 3-4BRs, four bathrooms, as well as mahogany floors, moveable pocket walls, and wine cellar—all ensconced within 23-foot poured concrete walls. The property was last sold in 2007 for $3.2M.

There’s also a cool patio, and a guest cottage. Here are some shots of the kitchen, living room and patio:

464 Tehama is considered to be a condo, as per tax records, but is really a standalone property. If it sells for around its asking price, that’ll answer everyone’s question about how soft the market has become in SoMa for luxury properties since the economic downturn hit.

Just Sold: 555 Bartlett #412

My clients and I have the distinction of being the first to close on a condo at 555 Bartlett, the excellent new development project in the Mission. The photo above is the courtyard, which will let all the residents enjoy the great weather in the neighborhood.

There are approximately 40 units in contract (with ten going into contract last week, largely due to the tax credit incentive)—so there are 24 condos left. Units come with parking and list prices currently range from the $400,000s to the low $700,000s.

House vs Condo in Potrero: Texas Throwdown

Two new properties in roughly the same price range came on the market this week on Texas in Potrero, and they’re leading me to post this question: Which would you prefer?

In one corner is the above condo property at 311 Texas—2BR/1BA, top floor, views from nearly every room, a large deeded deck, unfinished attic and parking. List price is $819,000.

In the other corner is the single-family home at 558 Texas, which currently has no recent photos posted with the listing. But here’s what it looked like in 2000, when it sold for $575,000:

This is a 2BR/1BA Victorian with an updated kitchen/bath, garden, two decks, a bonus bedroom/bath down and one-car garage. List price is $799,000.

So which would you prefer–the fancier view condo, or the house that would let you live without being involved with your downstairs neighbors?

District 4 Down Off Its High

Sales are a little off this year in what’s known as “District 4.” This is the area that encompasses neighborhoods such as Balboa Terrace, St. Francis Wood, Miraloma Park, Forest Hill Extension, Mount Davidson Manor and West Portal (as well as a few others). The area has been on a bit of a downswing since the beginning of the year. Indeed, of the 52 single-family homes sold in District 4’s neighborhoods with 94127 zip codes, 27 sold for less than asking.

There are currently 28 available listings with an average price of $1,381,217 and a days on market average of 66. But the 25 properties in contract have an average list price of $1,063,508. Looks like these current properties might have to move in price to attract buyers.

Buyers, District 4 may be the place to go if you’re looking for more house for your money—and some favorable negotiating.

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Zephyr Real Estate


BRE# 01352627

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