Noe Valley Gets Hip with Blue Bottle Outpost

The mid July opening of the Blue Bottle outpost inside Spin City laundromat at 26th and Sanchez is making Noe residents feel hip. But it’s also a huge plus for prospective Noe home buyers and renters, who apparently have been stopping at what’s technically called Spin City Launderette and Coffee and asking about the neighborhood. That’s making barrista and coffee space owner Maricar a Noe ambassador of sorts. How cool is it to be able to walk around a neighborhood and find a sort of in-person Yelp to talk to?

Maricar is happy to chat about all the good aspects of the neighborhood. She didn’t hesitate to bestow some pretty cool treats upon my two Cairn Terriers, who were happy to swarm around her all afternoon:

Maricar is leasing out the space within Spin City, and I think it’s an excellent blend of the practical and the social. Noe residents have a new hub along Sanchez—not to mention access to premium, local coffee—and a small business is born. Let’s hope to see more of these types of businesses sprout in San Francisco.

Russian Hill Hideaway on Culebra Finally Sells

It’s literally been years that the owners of 46 Culebra Terrace in Russian Hill have been attempting to sell the property. On and off the market since 2006, the 3BR/2.5BA home with the somewhat challenging floor plan hit the market most recently in January for $2,395,000, and was down to $1,995,000 earlier this month.

That price did the trick (and then some), and the sale closed late last week for $1.9M. Years of market chasing may do the trick, but isn’t it easier to just price a property at what the market will bear?

Pie-in-the-Sky Pricing Not Working in 2010

There was a time when sellers could say, “I’ll sell my house if I can get [insert crazy price here],” and buyers would pay it. Perhaps these buyers had gotten caught up in the housing boom, weren’t consulting comprehensive pricing sources, or were working with an out-of-area agent who was equally misinformed. It was all very pie-in-the-sky, and sellers benefitted immensely from the proceedings.

Flash forward to 2010, and this sort of thing isn’t happening anymore. It just doesn’t work to put a nutty price on your home, inconvenience yourself with keeping things neat and clean for showings and open houses, and run your agent back and forth in the hopes of finding a buyer who’ll pay your unrealistic asking price.

Case in point—1356 Dolores in Noe Valley, a modest home that sold in 2006 for $995,000, and which was remodeled by its current owners. They spent a reported $150,000 converting the basement to a bedroom/bath/study; remodeling the kitchen, bath and dining area and a few other miscellaneous items. We then had a major real estate blowout that took hold in 2008 and got worse from there. Prices dropped citywide.

So it was a little surprising to see 1356 Dolores—located on a busy downhill stretch a few doors from the Cesar Chavez/Dolores intersection—come on the market in May for $1,649,000. This price is usually reserved for homes located in better parts of Noe Valley. The property was beautifully remodeled, and had a nicely landscaped yard. But for one thing, there was no bathroom for the two bedrooms to share on the upper level. And the whizzing car factor along Dolores wasn’t going away, meaning buyers concerned with child or pet safety concerns were likely to shy away. Even the Zillow “zestimate” pegged the property at $1,280,000, which is probably still too high, given the aforementioned issues.

The owners of the property were not alone; since April 1st, a total of 261 houses and 461 condos/TICs have been withdrawn from the market. I haven’t cross referenced these homes to see if they’re back on the market at lower prices. In some cases, they are. But mostly, they belong to disappointed—and now, educated—sellers who are slowly coming to terms with the new San Francisco market.

How’s the Market In: NoPa

“NoPa” and “NoPa market” have been popping up quite frequently lately in my blog stat search terms. That means many of you are looking for info on the subject, so it’s time to let you all know what’s going on in the North Panhandle neck of the woods.

A total of three single-family homes has sold in NoPa since the beginning of the second quarter, ranging in price from $1,012,500 to $1,353,000. They all sold for less than their original asking prices. On the condo front, 19 such properties sold for an average of $786,184 in the same time period. And nine of those homes sold for less than asking. The rest were predominantly above asking—dramatic case in point was at 2247 Turk, a 3BR/2.5BA condo with parking originally listed in January at $899,000, and which sold in May for $789,000. TICs are a big part of the real estate market in NoPa, but only three TIC interests sold in NoPa in the same time period, ranging in price from $529,000-$612,000.

There are currently two single-family homes, 15 condos and three TIC interests on the market. Days on market (DOM) for houses has been 69, and about 60 for condos and TICs. My favorite new NoPa listing at at 284 Shrader at Hayes, a top floor, 2BR/2BA condo with parking being offered at $699,000.

Prices for NoPa houses and condos have been pretty steady over the past three months.

Buyers looking in NoPa are typically in search of a spacious flat or house with proximity to parks and public transportation—not to mention hip cafes and restaurants. I listed the neighborhood as one of the best for dog owners in San Francisco, and most homes generally have high Walk Scores (for example, the aforementioned Shrader property has a 95 Walk Score). The vibe in NoPa is laid back, and I can attest to that because the sale processes in the homes I’ve sold there have usually put me in touch with very nice, down-to-earth people. There is a bit of negative street activity surrounding the Panhandle itself, but that’s probably more of an issue at night and in the early mornings.

Just Sold: Stylish SoMa Condo at Flower Market Lofts


I closed escrow on my listing at 590 6th Street #309 yesterday, and we had a very smooth transaction. We received two offers after our third Sunday open house, and my client accepted the stronger of the two. There were no problems with the buyer’s loan process, including the appraisal and final loan approval. The 2BR/2BA, 1,235-square foot property closed at its $649,000 asking price.

SoMa is definitely in a steady state of recovery. I saw this firsthand with my 6th Street sale, but am also working with very enthusiastic buyers who are ready to purchase in the neighborhood. There are more and more foreclosure-free sales coming on the market, and some sellers are getting with the program and pricing their homes at market value. There are currently 103 condos/lofts on the market in SoMa, and 32 in contract. A total of 75 units sold in the second quarter, at an average of $689,472 (and at an average of $658 per square foot).

PocketListings.net Paves New Path for Buyers, Sellers, and Agents

I’ve been using PocketListings.net since it recently launched. A “pocket listing” is one that isn’t posted in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and is thus considered to be off market. PocketListings.net is a user-generated database of these listings and buyer needs. Real estate agents subscribe to the site, input off-market listings, and subsequently inform their clients about new properties. They can also potentially sell their listings in a less traditional way.

The more agents who join PocketListings.net, the more opportunities will surface for their clients. I’ve been asked why sellers wouldn’t want to expose their properties to the most amount of people possible. For one thing, we’re in a different market now. Multiple offers do exist, but they aren’t happening as regularly, nor are list prices routinely selling for way over asking. PocketListings.net wouldn’t have been as sensible had it launched three years ago. But it absolutely makes sense now. Sellers can settle on realistic and reasonable prices with their Realtors’ guidance, and not necessarily have to deal with the inconvenience of open houses and nosy neighbors (a majority of whom aren’t qualified buyers to begin with).

If a property sits on the market for too long in the MLS, the “days on market” is a like a red flag for a lowball offer. If a seller can hook up with a buyer through the efforts of their respective, knowledgeable agents, things could go a lot more smoothly for everyone.

And buyers love, love, love knowing about off-market properties because they can have time to think straight, finalize preapprovals, review disclosures and not feel like they have a gun pointing at their head in the form of an offer deadline. The process can be extremely rewarding and significantly less stressful.

PocketListings.net will cost you, as a licensed agent, $4.95/mo. The database is growing as I type. Get on their and post your buyer needs and listings, and let’s do business!

Neighborhoods in San Francisco with the Best Weather

If you’re new to San Francisco, then it’s important to be aware that our city has a variety of microclimates. One minute you can be driving around with the top down, sweating, and the next you’re turning on the seat warmers. If you’re considering purchasing a home here and are particularly weather sensitive, it’s important to know which neighborhoods tend to have the most favorable climates.

Of course, San Francisco has citywide fog and wind no matter where you go. But some areas have longer periods of time during a given day when the sun shines and the wind is at a minimum. So here’s a quick rundown:

Bernal Heights. Make a good garden space a priority in Bernal, because you’ll be able to spend a lot of time enjoying it. And the Cortland retail strip is usually pretty hoppin’ because you can wander in and out of the shops and restaurants and not have to keep zipping and unzipping your jacket.

The Mission and Mission Dolores. Bernal’s neighbor is the Mission, which also shares in the weather fun. The nice part about the Mission is that there are scattered restaurant and shops throughout the neighborhood, and you can bike or walk pretty easily. If your commute involves walking to BART at either 16th/24th and Mission, your morning and evening strolls will probably not find you confronting driving winds.

Noe Valley. I live in the part of Noe that’s defined as “Upper Noe”—the area bordered by Guerrero, Cesar Chavez, 30th Street, and up as far as Diamond. For the most part, you can avoid the high winds in Noe, but it does depend on how into the “valley” part you are. Most days when I walk my dogs in the late afternoon, I’m wearing sunglasses and have a light jacket on. However, up there in Diamond Heights, the fog hangs thick. And when I drive down, say, Clipper, from Portola in the Twin Peaks area, I typically experience a transition from no sun and heavy fog to sun. There’s a notable difference every time.

South Beach. Located right off The Bay, South Beach is blessed with lots of sun most of the time. This is conducive to a very desirable, urban lifestyle that involves walks to the Ferry Building, runs along the Embarcadero, and Giants games.

South of Market. The blocks are long in SoMa, but that’s okay because if you’re running, biking or walking, you’re not being blown into traffic. The neighborhood is always developing, and it’s definitely the most urban area in this list. But having good weather is key to enjoying those shared rooftop decks that pervade SoMa living.

Mission Bay. This is the newest area in San Francisco, and it’s still developing. Amenities like Mission Creek Park, the ballpark, and outdoor dining at places like Kelly’s Mission Rock are all available. What I like about Mission Bay is that developers are making sure to take advantage of the on-the-Bay setting by incorporating as many deeded outdoor spaces as they can—and roof decks.

Potrero Hill and Dogpatch. Potrero is a well-established neighborhood offering a mix of residential and industrial properties, and Dogpatch (a.k.a. the Central Waterfront) has truly been transformed over the past decade into a hub for local businesses, restaurants, wine bars and the like. The new T Muni line connects Dogpatch to downtown, and the freeways are extremely convenient to access.

Mobile Barcode Technology Gives Buyers and Sellers a Boost

Remember the days when the most information you could access when driving past a home for sale was—maybe—a flyer in a plastic holder attached to the For Sale sign? They gave way to accessing Web sites on a smartphone, which isn’t always ideal because surprisingly, not every listing agent creates a property-specific Web site. And there’s only so much you can glean from your Redfin app.

What I think is going to revolutionize home buying and selling is Microsoft Tag’s 2-D barcode technology for use in marketing materials and signage. BLU at 631 Folsom in SoMa is using the technology now; it essentially lets you snap a barcode placed on the building frontage and view, in this case, a video of one of the units. I think the technology fits hand in hand with the need for buyers to see the inside of a property anytime they happen to drive by. These days, many buyers explore neighborhoods on their own before working with a Realtor. The barcode technology lets these same buyers get a feel for what’s inside a building without having to deal with setting up a showing. If they like what they see via their mobile app, they’ll most definitely want to make time for a showing appointment.

I tested out the app on my iPhone, and found it to be quite easy. You just go to gettag.mobi and then you’ll be directed to the download page for the App Store. Once you download the free app, you simply hold your phone up to the barcode through the automatic viewer and the app will snap it. Check it out by snapping the above barcode. It’s pretty cool technology, and has great potential for the real estate industry.

Presidio Terrace, Bernal Homes Sell at Heavily Reduced Prices

One is a multi-million dollar 5BR home in a gated enclave in Presidio Heights, the other is a sub-$1M house on the edge of Bernal Heights that could use updating. Two worlds collided last week when these respective sales were reported—good examples of price flexibility in today’s market.

28 Presidio Terrace, above, was initially listed at $5,395,000. The home had 6,500+ square feet, an elevator to all floors, a pool table room and a park-like setting. By June, the price had been reduced to $4.6M. Final all-cash selling price: $4.4M. (Reported price was $4,287,000, but the buyer’s agent apparently waived commission. But that’s a whole other story.)

On the other end of town is 44 Crescent:

The 2BR/2BA south Bernal home was listed in April for a whoppin’ $849,000, and was down to a more palatable $749,000 earlier this month. Final price? $660,000.

So buyers, if you like a property out there that may seem way beyond your budget—stick with it. You never know what’s possible. And sellers, best strategy is to price your house realistically. It’ll cut to the chase more quickly and you can move on.

Open House Spotlight: Vibrant Vic on Valencia

If you’re passing through the Valencia corridor in the Mission this weekend and want to check out a really cool Victorian, I recommend stopping in at the purple house at 945 Valencia.

The 3BR/1.5BA single-family home is about 2,000 square feet and is listed at $1,199,000. It features a three-car garage, nice garden, and very spacious rooms. The home last sold for $630,000 in 2002, and the current owners appear to have done some major foundation upgrades and a kitchen/bath remodel. This house is great for buyers who need a lot of square footage and who want to be in the thick of it all in the hip Mission district. Open Sat 7/17 from 2:00-4:00 and on Sunday 7/18 from 1:30-4:30. Stop in after brunch at Boogaloos.

How’s the Market In: Miraloma Park

I received an email from a prospective Miraloma Park seller this week, asking me how his local market is doing. So I thought it would be a good time to drill down on the nabe.

Miraloma Park is certainly holding its own in 2010. A total of 21 homes have sold this year, at an average price of $797,762. In general, you’re looking at paying in the $600,000s for homes that need work, and generally in the high $700,000s-$1.2M or more for a nicely done 3BR home in a good Miraloma location. The market is currently in a bit of a summer doldrum, with only three homes in contract. However, there are a dozen properties available, ranging in price from the mid $600,000s-$1,099,000. The hottie at the moment is 99 Marietta, a 4BR/2BA short sale home listed at $688,000 that will undoubtedly attract multiple offers. It’s located a short distance from the Mollie Stone’s retail area, which always jacks up the price.

The neighborhood will still continue to be popular with buyers who need more space in a well-maintained area that’s reasonably close to freeways and retail areas like West Portal and Stonestown.

Cool Pool & Garden Retreat Elevate Parkside Home

So if you don’t want to walk the seven blocks to Ocean Beach from 40 Rivera, go downstairs and jump in your very own pool. You can swim endless laps in this device.

The 3BR/2BA home listed at $799,000 also has a legal master suite downstairs, and a great garden:
The home was last sold for $785,000 in 2007, so the list price is taking market depreciation into account to a certain extent. I personally think this home is priced very well for what you’re getting.

Just Sold: Hip, Modern Studio in South Beach

My client closed escrow earlier today on a studio in one of my favorite South Beach buildings at 88 Townsend. Listed at $469,000, #123 is well appointed and also has its own private outdoor patio.

Buyers are certainly snapping up homes in the South Beach and SoMa neighborhoods lately. In the second quarter alone, a total of 137 condos/lofts were sold, at an average price of $749,130. Call me if you’re interested in 88 Townsend; a new junior one-bedroom just came on the market at $529,000.

Dolores Heights Colonial Seeks Deep-Pocketed Buyer for Revival

If you’re looking to drop $2.5M on a really unique property a couple blocks from Dolores Park, look no further than 3493 21st Street in the Dolores Heights area.

The 3,000+-square foot Colonial home sits on the northeast corner of 21st and Dolores, and has six bedrooms, three baths, and a rear deck off the master suite. (Sorry, no enchanting Thomas Church garden here.) “Revive this Colonial,” says the listing agent, and we’ll see who’ll step forward to do so. This is a busy corner hosting a home that needs updating, as evidenced by the kitchen:

Recent comps may or may not indicate that the Colonial will get its asking price. Nearby 418 Liberty was a similarly sized Spanish Mediterranean home that sold in March for $2,650,000. And 3971 20th Street was a grand-scale home that sold for $2,150,000 in January and didn’t need work. There are nine other estate-level homes in Eureka/Noe Valleys, so buyers have their pick of the luxury litter. A sale at 3493 21st will rely on a buyer really falling in love with that location and house style. And if that’s you, please contact me and we’ll set up a showing appointment pronto.

Open House Spotlight: SoMa Townhome on Scott Alley

If you’re looking for a place that definitely feels more like a home than a unit, check out 14 Scott Alley, off Fifth Street between Folsom and Harrison. Listed at $649,000, the corner townhome has two bedrooms on the lower level, and the living/dining areas on the main level. There’s also an office area, private patio, wood floors, closet organizers, shared courtyard, and private garage. HOA dues are $210/mo.

There are 30 units in the building and the property has a nice gated entrance. Open Sunday, 2:00-4:00.