Good Deal: 3BR/2BA in Pac Heights for Less Than $1M

Despite the current economic downturn, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of buyers interested in three-bedroom condos in the tonier neighborhoods of Pacific Heights, Russian Hill and the like. If you can find such a condo for less than $1.2M with parking, I’d call that a good deal—and then I’d write a contract fairly quickly, because you just know there’ll be another buyer looming shortly.

That’s why I’m calling the three-bedroom/two-bath, top-floor condo at 2950 Clay #302 a good deal. Initially listed at $995,000 in May, the sellers just reduced the price to $740,000. The unit has 1300 square feet, which isn’t huge, but it gets good light and also comes with storage. HOA dues are $400/mo and actually include earthquake insurance. There’s a common area laundry room with coin-operated washer/dryers, but there are some things you have to trade off when you’re working with a budget.

Update: 238 Olive Condos Return with Refreshed Prices

I stopped in to see the newly built condos in mid June over at 238 Olive. I liked the overall finishes and spaces, but questioned just how many people would want to live on that particular street.

Two of the eight 2BR/2BA condos are in contract, and one is closing next week, according to the listing agent. Prices originally ranged from $739,000-$819,000. However, the remaining five condos took a summer hiatus; they’ll be back in mid September priced from $699,000-$789,000. Though the location isn’t the most desirable in the world (I’ve never yet met a buyer who preferred to live on the “Van Ness/Civic Center” corridor), it is convenient to a lot of other neighborhoods, and the new pricing may make up for that factor.

Third Time a Charm for 1391 Clayton?

Purchased as a vacant lot in July 2006 for $995,000, 1391 Clayton was transformed into a contemporary 4BR/4.5BA, 2,900-square foot home with all the bells and whistles.

The Clarendon Heights/Twin Peaks property was then initially listed in the Fall of 2008 for $2,795,000, and withdrawn a couple months later. It then came back on the market in January 2009 for $2,695,000 and the listing expired in March of that year. I personally liked the home when I toured it, and was impressed with the views and finishes. It has a laundry list of gotta-have-it, high-end features, such as an elevator; chef’s kitchen with mahogany leather grain sandblasted granite counters; Berg & Berg Brazilian cherry flooring; an indoor-outdoor sound system; a wine cellar; four-car garage, and two view decks. I’m a little surprised no one has purchased the property, but I’m sure it has less to do with the house than the ability of potential buyers to come in with all cash, or obtain a large loan.

1391 Clayton gets its third chance to sell starting in two weeks, when it will officially hit the market at $2,695,000. Give me a call if you’d like to schedule a showing.

Open House Spotlight: 558 Chenery in Glen Park

If you’re in the Glen Park area and would like to check out a nice renovation this weekend, stop in at 558 Chenery, midway between the Glen Park downtown and Noe Valley’s 30th Street corridor.

The 4BR/3.5BA, 2,850-square foot home listed at $1,995,000 was on the market for a few months in early 2009 for $1,080,000 as a fixer. The current owners had purchased the property in an off-market transaction from sellers who’d owned the home for a very long time. When the house didn’t sell as a fixer last year, the current owners decided to take their chances and complete renovations themselves.

Finishes are high end, and I’m into the European porcelain bath tiles:

I also like the kitchen cabinetry and marble island:

The three-level home has three decks, radiant heating and walnut floors. Open Saturday from 1:00-3:00, and Sunday from 2:00-4:00.

Updates: Warfield Condos Crash, Blue Church Condos Pray for Cash

Things looked promising for the hip “office condos” at The Warfield building when they hit the market in mid May. Seven of the eight floors were being offered as commercial office condos with a special use that would allow for residential dwellings. Prices for the spaces ranged from $1,339,000-$1.4M. Thrown in with each purchase were eight tickets to all performances at the Warfield Theatre.

But unfortunately, the Planning Department has squashed potential buyers’ rock star dreams. Shortly after Pacific Union International started marketing the properties, according to one of the listing agents, city planners decided that they didn’t agree with the seller’s interpretation of the “accessory use housing” designation which allowed for 25% of the space to be used for residential purposes. The result? The units can only be sold now as commercial condos. There are two companies currently negotiating to lease several of the floors.

In other news, the infamous “blue church” condos as the corner of 28th and Church in Noe Valley are officially on hold once again:

The former church was demolished in October 2009, after a protracted battle between the church’s pastor and the property developer. But then…Nothing happened. Rumors recently began circulating that the property was going to revert back to the pastor.

Here’s the latest: J Branch Development is currently trying to obtain financing for the project, according to lead architect Tony Kotas at Kotas/Pantaleoni Architects. Unfortunately, lending is at a premium, and this has become a huge challenge. In the meantime, the developer is planning to maintain the site by cutting back weeds and cleaning things up in response to growing complaints from neighbors.

Dog Days of Summer: Price Reductions Up, New Listings Down

New condo and single-family home listings over the past month have declined steadily. Indeed, this trend is reflected in my broker tour lineup for Tuesday; there haven’t been many new listings in the past couple of weeks. At this point, sellers are waiting to bring their properties on after Labor Day.

And that strategy could be fueling a price reduction fever among sellers of existing available properties.

With many buyers finishing up their summer vacations and existing sellers getting nervous that all the new inventory will undermine them in September, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the timing if you’re a qualified buyer who’s ready to make a home-purchase decision.

Sale at 236 Elsie Proves Bernal is Still Hot

In case there’s been any question about whether Bernal Heights is still reeling in buyers, the sale last week at 236 Elsie at Cortland showed Bernal’s continued cajones.

The 3BR/2BA 1894 Victorian on the desired north slope had pretty much everything buyers are looking for in a house listed below $1M—views, space for a master suite, nice yard & deck, and a main level with a “great room” feel (and parking, too). Listed at $849,000, the seller received nine offers and the home sold for $902,050.

The Elsie sale is something for Bernal buyers (and sellers) in this range to keep in mind as we head into the Fall real estate season. Remember, there are eight other buyers out there who’ll compete for these types of homes.

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A Visit to the New Condos at 83-85 Brady in SoMa/Hayes Valley

I toured the six new units at 83-85 Brady this week. The building replaces a much smaller property that was demolished to make way for the current five-story structure.

I sold a condo across the street at 74 Brady several years ago, so I’m familiar with this unique street that’s a mix of residential and commercial spaces. Though Brady falls into the South of Market district, it also rides the cusp of Hayes Valley. You walk three blocks up to Market and there’s Zuni, and Muni a few blocks further. So for those who want the affordability of SoMa with the conveniences of nearby, more pricey Hayes Valley, Brady is a no brainer.

83-85 Brady has two studios; two 1BR+/1BAs, one 1BR+/2BA, and one 2BR+/2.5BA. They’re all spacious enough (though one of the studios clocks in at a tiny 320 square feet–listed at $285,000). The 1BR+ floor plans have a bedroom up front with a closet (and somewhat odd angles, which makes it challenging to fit a bed), as well as an additional “plus” room without a closet that would work for, well, a second bedroom, office or guest room. What we noticed about this floor plan, however, was that the only closet in the unit was in the bedroom. Given that there’s no additional storage in the garage, this could be a problem for many buyers who have…coats or other things they’d rather not display.

The studios are nice enough, though it’s important to note that the really cool deck just outside unit 2 is shared. So if you’re planning on getting some sleep, you better hope your neighbors don’t decide to hang out at your doorstep.

A couple of the condos occupy their entire floor. However, the kitchen is somewhat oddly configured, so part of it disappears en route to the living area, which in the case of unit 6 below, is off to the left:

Finishes are nice, with CaesarStone counters in the kitchen and travertine tiles in the bathrooms. Each kitchen has its own individual cabinets, countertops and backsplashes. I was stopped in my tracks when I came across this jiggy ‘splash in the rear studio:

There are six parking spaces in the garage. Two are located on the side of the garage, and the remaining four are stacked. So you will have to deal with raising and lowering your car on the lift mechanism in the event you don’t score one of the regular spaces.

I think the Brady condos are priced relatively competitively (studios are $275,000 and $375,000; one bedrooms are $575,000 and $585,000; and two bedrooms are $749,000 and $825,000). HOA dues range from $404-$573/mo. The good: Convenient location, nice finishes, two common-area decks, nice finishes. The bad: Stacked parking for a majority of homeowners; somewhat oddball floor plan features; limited closet space.

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Pac Heights Smackdown: Two Condos on Pacific Avenue

It’s not often that two very different properties come on the market in the same price range, on the same block. Today, I’d like to know which of these condos you’d prefer if you had around $1M and had to buy one of these.

First up is 2016 Pacific #204, a 2BR/2.5BA with one-car parking, located within a 1980s building:

Tax records show 1,150 square feet, and the unit is on two levels, which is nice. There’s also a private outdoor space, as well as a washer/dryer and storage. The unit is located at the rear of the property. There are 14 units in the building, and HOA dues are $321/mo for this unit. List price is $995,000.

Next up is 2090 Pacific #702:

This is a larger, 1500-square foot condo—but it only has one bedroom/bath. However, it’s located within a more charming, 1920s Spanish Mediterranean style building on the penthouse level, and it has city and bay views. The living room has soaring cathedral ceilings, as you can see, and there’s a wood-burning fireplace, too. There’s also a large formal dining room and one-car parking. The building has 36 units, and the HOAs for this unit are $575/mo. List price is $949,000.

So which one’s for you, readers?

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Cole Valley Construction Project Hits the Market as REO

It seems like the math was all wrong for the recent purchase and down-to-the-studs renovation attempt from the start. Purchased in a private sale in May 2008 for $1,280,000, the 2,000+ square foot house at 1124 Stanyan at Parnassus, the home’s new owners quickly embarked on obtaining permits for a major renovation.

But things went awry with construction within four months, and the project was stopped. It went on the market for $899,000 in its down-to-the studs condition, with no walls, toilets, sinks, or light fixtures. And was withdrawn shortly after.

But now 1124 Stanyan is back as a foreclosed construction project, listed at $1.3M. Based on the current, unfinished condition, I’m guessing the new owner will need a fair amount of cash to complete this house. Is it worth it? I’m not entirely sure. The block is nice, but is situated near the firehouse, as well as on the busy stretch of Stanyan that’s also impacted by busy Parnassus. If you purchase this project for $1.3M and spend $200,000-$300,000 to finish the project (not an exaggeration by any means on this 3,000-square foot home), will you be able to get at least $1.5M in this location down the road?

Open House Spotlight: Corona Heights Craftsman at 93 States Street

I like States Street and I like Craftmans, so this spotlight was a no-brainer.

Last sold in 2004 for $1,070,000, the 3BR/2BA single-family view home at 93 States has about 2,286 square feet and two-car parking. The current sellers remodeled the kitchen and two bathrooms. I am digging the kitchen:

List price is $1,545,000. Open Sat 12:00-2:00 and Sunday 1:30-4:30. Check it out after brunch in the Castro.

Yerba Buena Gets Its Own Neighborhood

One of the more major revisions to the San Francisco Association of Realtors’ district map is the inclusion of the Yerba Buena area as its own official neighborhood. (Click on the image above to enlarge and see what’s now known as 9G—and then click again to magnify the district.)

I’m liking this new designation, because I’m already used to differentiating South of Market and Yerba Buena. SoMa below 5th Street has always had a different feel, anyway, so we may as well make it official. And with the emergence of Yerba Buena Gardens over the past several years, as well as an improved Moscone Center and other local amenities, the area deserves individual recognition.

So what are the latest stats for Yerba Buena? There are 36 active condo listings (no houses in this part of town), many of which are located in the St. Regis or Millennium luxury buildings. It’s important to note that these properties will always jack up the averages, because they typically sell units in the $2-$4M range. There’s also BLU at 631 Folsom, which is also among the pricier mid-range condo properties (in the $800,000-$1M range for 2BR condos), as well as Museum Parc at 300 3rd. This is a ’90s property with around 237 units that still has appeal due to solid floor plans and a great location.

A total of 32 units has sold for up to $1M this year in Yerba Buena, at an average price of $561,238 for this price range. For homes above $1M, there’s only one reported sale in the MLS at BLU—a 2BR/2BA, 1100-square foot unit that sold in June 2010 for $1.1M. Another key factor in the averages in Yerba Buena is that the newer developments that are still selling exclusively via their sales offices (One Hawthorne, BLU and the aforementioned luxury buildings) don’t report every sale in the MLS. One trick to sleuth out actual sales? Have your Realtor look up the tax records for the properties. For example, only six units have been reported sold in the MLS for BLU, but there are many, many more units showing up as sold in the tax records. It’s a great way to get a handle on the true values in a district like this.