How’s the Market In: South Beach

South Beach is one of San Francisco’s more vibrant and still-evolving neighborhoods. Residents have the Giants’ ballpark, Ferry Building, Embarcadero, design stores, and restaurants right in their backyard—and some of the best weather the city has to offer.

South Beach also has lots of condos. There are currently 118 units on the market, at an average list price of $973,106. And a handful of buildings dominate the inventory, like 250-260 King (The Beacon); 425 1st Street (One Rincon Hill); 355 1st Street (The Metropolitan); and 88 King (The Towers). A total of 201 condos were reported sold this year, with an average sale price of $754,219. Only 31 of those 146 units sold for more than $1M.

The highest-profile transaction was the recent 3,329-square foot penthouse at The Infinity (338 Spear). The list price was $5.8M, and the 3BR/3.5BA property sold for $5.2M. And one off-market unit at 200 Brannan sold for $3.2M in an all-cash transaction, making it the second most expensive sale this year in South Beach.

Buyers in South Beach tend to be professionals looking for proximity to Caltrain and the freeways, as well as empty nesters in search of a very walkable neighborhood. Pied-a-terres are big sellers, as a result—small condos that can function as second city homes. Nine studios sold this year in the area. One thing to keep in mind about South Beach is that many of the buildings are larger and have amenities such as pools, roof decks, fitness centers, and club rooms. So HOA dues usually start in the $500+ range.

Property values in South Beach have actually held up pretty well, as it’s probably the most desirable area when it comes to choosing among South of Market, downtown and Mission Bay. Certain buildings have been hit harder than others when it comes to short sales and foreclosures, while others have had a steady stream of successful sales due to the overall quality of the construction and finishes. If you’re interested in a purchase in South Beach, give me a shout. I’d be happy to help you sort through your options.

Pac Heights/Telegraph Hill Smackdown: 2BR Condos

When it comes to two-bedroom condos in San Francisco’s north end, Pacific Heights and Telegraph Hill are popular choices. Today’s Smackdown pits two contemporary properties against each other in the same price range. Which would you buy?

First up is new listing 3110 California #2B:

This condo is located in a five-unit elevator building constructed in 2004. #2B has two bedrooms and two baths, a nicely appointed kitchen, and a master bedroom with a private, deeded terrace. There’s also an in-unit washer/dryer, one-car parking, and a large storage room. HOAs are $633.20/mo and include the services of a property management company. List price: $979,000.

In the opposite corner is 1940 Stockton #103:

#103 is in a 1981-built, seven-condo property. The unit is just under 1400 square feet and has 2.5 baths. There’s an open living/dining area, and the second level has an open loft master suite and the second bedroom, bath and laundry. A large private deck overlooking the shared garden rounds out this property. HOA dues are $485/mo. (Note that two pets under 25 pounds are allowed.) This unit’s been on the market for about 12 days, and last sold for $950,000 at the end of 2009. List price: $978,000.

So which condo wins the smackdown, readers? Make sure to post your vote in the comments section.

Two More Homes Hit Market on Noe Valley's Elizabeth Street

The recent glut of luxury properties for sale on Elizabeth Street has two more additions as of today. And if you time your brunch properly this weekend, you can piece together a walking tour of all three single-family homes and two condos.

761 Elizabeth is a 3BR/3BA, 2300-square foot Victorian house that was renovated five years ago:

The home’s main level has a living room with a fireplace, office, formal dining room, guest bedroom and full bath. There’s also a large kitchen with an adjacent family area (everyone’s favorite feature) and French doors that lead out to a south-facing deck and garden. Downstairs is a master suite, as well as a second bedroom and full bath. And let’s not forget parking for two cars (though not two large cars). List price: $1,795,000.

And one block up at 893 Elizabeth:

This three-level, 1920s-era home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2500 square feet. The upper and lower levels have two bedrooms each, so you’re looking at splitting up the family a bit if you need all the bedrooms to be somewhat centrally located. And there’s no walk-out deck off the main level. The floor plan is a bit of a maze and the overall feel isn’t exactly high end. But there’s plenty of room for a family. List price: $1,599,000.

Both homes seem priced well for the current market, particularly for those buyers in the sub-$2M category.

San Francisco Home Prices Still Ripe for Correction

One question I’m asked frequently is whether home prices still have further to go. Because I’m not a gypsy and don’t have a crystal ball, it’s difficult to say with any sort of confidence whether this will be the case through the end of the year and into 2011. But I believe there are certain indications that prices will decline a bit more over the next year.

I check market activity every 24 hours at a minimum, and over the past couple weeks, have seen an average of five to ten price reductions on houses and condos. And the second time slot of my weekly broker tours (when the not-so-new properties are being shown) seems to be taking up a lot more pages than it used to. Sure, there are the anecdotes about how this $2M Noe Valley home slammed into contract in a week, or how that Potrero condo received multiple offers and sold for $50,000 over its $800,000 asking price. But in general, there are a lot of homes sitting on the market and waiting for buyers (774 houses and 865 condos, to be exact).

I’ve spoken with my colleagues and clients, and there is a belief out there that San Francisco home prices will drop by anywhere from five to eight percent. Now if you have a property that has parking, is located in a very walkable neighborhood with reasonable weather and has close proximity to Muni rail lines, BART, and the freeways, you can probably expect your property to hold its value fairly well. But for homes that don’t have such attributes, the situation may be slightly different. They could end up in the second broker tour time slot for a few weeks, until sellers price their homes at what the market will bear.

Buyers, now is the time to swoop in on a home you like—and have some fun with negotiation if there’s no one else beating down the seller’s door to submit an offer. I’ve written offers with two different clients this year on properties, only to see the sellers reject our offers initially. We then came back a few weeks later, and were able to come to agreement on lower prices. Sometimes, it takes sellers time to adjust to true market values.

What's a Fixer Worth in the Inner Richmond?

The 3BR/1.5BA, 1632-square foot Edwardian recently listed at 507 9th Avenue at Anza came on the market as a fixer for $650,000 at the end of August. The house was actually in decent condition, and it was easy to see how one could renovate the property and bring it into the 21st century. Period details such as inlaid hardwood floors, coved ceilings, built-ins and boxed beams? Check. Same family owning the property since the ’70s? You got it. Here are a couple shots of the living room and kitchen, so you can get the gist of things:

Based on recent sales in the Inner Richmond for three-bedroom homes, it’s easy to see that there was room to move substantially upward in the price paid for 507 9th Avenue. For example, a 3BR/2BA Edwardian home that was fully renovated and located two blocks away sold for $1,550,000 in January. Pricing can go up or down from there, depending on how many bedrooms/baths remain in the end, as well as level of finishes and extent of the renovations. My guess for the 507 9th Avenue selling price was between $800,000-$850,000. The home closed escrow on Monday for $825,000.

SoMa Brady Bunch Gets Better Prices

Not ones to let the grass grow under their feet, the sellers of the six units at 83-85 Brady just reduced the prices on five of the six condos.

The units came on the market around August 6-7 with two studios; two 1BR+/1BAs, one 1BR+/2BA, and one 2BR+/2.5BA. Prices ranged from $285,000 for a studio to $825,000 for one of the two bedrooms.

But buyers haven’t bitten, and prices have just been slightly reduced. Here’s the lineup:
#2: Was $375,000, now $349,000
#4: Was $285,000, now $275,000

#1: Was $575,000, now $549,000
#6: Remains at $749,000
#3: Was $585,000, now $549,000

#5: Was $825,000, now $799,000.

If you have any interest in these condos, you may be able to get a pretty decent deal. (And I’m talking about further negotiation on price. If you ask me, that #6 should’ve had a reduction, too.)

NY-Style Pac Heights Condo Welcomes Cats—Dogs, Not So Much

If you’re an east coast transplant looking for that perfect New York-style condo in a tony, walkable neighborhood, 2785 Jackson #2 may be perfect for you. But if those walks involve your dog, keep moving.

The CC&Rs of this six-unit homeowners association prohibit dogs. Cats are okay, but no dogs. If you don’t have any canine companionship, you can take solace in the unit’s John Wheatman-designed kitchen, and spacious floor plan that includes three bedrooms and three bathrooms. There’s also a small private deck off the kitchen that could be a perfect place for your feline’s naps, as well as one-car parking and storage. List price: $1,745,000.

Inventory Floodgates Open as Fall Real Estate Season Kicks In

True to form, the San Francisco real estate inventory spiked after Labor Day weekend. A total of 157 single-family homes, 167 condos and 45 TICs hit the market, in a variety of price ranges.

Of course, many “new” offerings weren’t really new—just brought back on at revised prices, with new listing agents, or revised staging.

Given that the most popular price range in the city has been anywhere from $400,000-$800,000 this year, the new inventory in the higher price ranges isn’t helping matters for existing high-end home sellers. Of those 157 single-family homes newly listed, 38 are priced at $1.5M or more. And of those 167 condos, twelve are in that range. Prior to Labor Day, there were 132 houses and 61 condos listed at $1.5M or more, so those properties may have to take a back seat for a little while as buyers turn their attention to the latest and greatest offerings.

But those buyers who have been looking for a little while should revisit homes that were on before Labor Day. Those sellers may be most willing to negotiate, especially as the end of the year looms.

Fireplace Mania Rocks NoPa Tudor Home

Featuring four fireplaces and more “fire brick” than you can shake a stick at, the 3BR/3.5BA single-family home at 2076 Grove is perfect for those buyers interested in doing their share to wear down the ozone layer.

The entry fireplace lets you know right away that Christmas in this household may be over the top when it comes to hanging stockings:

And let’s not foget about the living room fireplace:

Or the dining room one:

In short, you won’t need to tune your television to the yule log on Christmas Eve. The house is around 3600 square feet, and also has separate guest quarters and expansive formal gardens. List price: $1,925,000. (Open Sat 9/18 and Sun 9/19 from 2:00-4:00 for those of you who like to plan ahead.)

What You Can Buy for $2M on Elizabeth St in Noe Valley

Every once in a while, a particular street will see a spate of For Sale signs. Today we look at four recently listed luxury properties on Elizabeth, a desirable street in the heart of Noe Valley.

First up are two single-family houses. 760 Elizabeth is a 3BR/2.5BA Edwardian with three parking spaces listed at $2,295,000. The property was converted in 2002 from a two-unit to a single-family dwelling.

A few doors down is the ultra modern 729 Elizabeth, a 4BR/3.5BA, 2,750-square foot house with an open floor plan, beautiful finishes, and lots of natural light:

729 Elizabeth is listed at $2,495,000. Recently signed-off work on this home includes vertical and horizontal rear additions involving new bedrooms and baths.

And finally, we have two newly renovated condos at 489 and 485 Elizabeth. 489 Elizabeth has 4BR/3.5BA and 3,113 square feet and is listed at $2,095,000:

The unit also has a top-floor office mezzanine space, five outdoor spaces, and ample natural light.

Lower-unit 485 Elizabeth has 3BR/2.5BAs, and 2,384 square feet. It also has a deeded yard:

List price for the lower unit $1,775,000. Both condos have elevator access, radiant heat and two-car parking.

So readers, if you had around $2M to spend, which property would you buy?

Masonic Vic Gets New Look, New Agent, Same Price

It’s always disappointing when one of my reputable, experienced and hard-working colleagues brings on a potentially overpriced listing and gives it his or her best shot for half a year—only to have the listing yanked and given to another agent.

Such is the case at 1322 Masonic, which hit the market earlier this year. The 4BR/2.5BA, 3400-square foot house was initially priced at $2,395,000 and then was reduced by $100,000 in June before the sellers withdrew the listing in July.

The house is now back on the market, with—you guessed it—a new agent, similiar price of $2,295,000, and new staging. I thought the floor plan was a little funky in terms of flow when I toured the home (probably due to the fact that the property was previously a five-unit building). However, I’m sure there’s a buyer out there for this home; it’s just a matter of timing. But sellers, before you spin your wheels changing staging, agents, and anything else you can think of, consider this basic tenet: A realistic price will do wonders for helping to snag a buyer, and close your sale.

How's the Market In: Bernal Heights

I have many clients who live in Bernal, and am often asked how the market is doing in the neighborhood. The Bernal real estate market is usually pretty healthy; buyers like the favorable weather, as well as the close proximity to the Cortland retail strip and freeways. First-time home buyers typically target Bernal because the homes are generally smaller and thus more affordable in comparison to other nearby areas like Noe Valley.

Bernal Heights is divided into a few key areas—the north slope, which is arguably the most desirable; west slope, which is closer to Mission but is also very desirable; the east slope, which is a little more remote and can come a little too close to Bayshore and Hwy 101; and the south slope, which features the appealing Holly Park area (but can get a bit less desirable the closer you get to Hwy 280). Architecture runs the gamut, and includes Victorians, Edwardians, and boxy 1940s offerings.

Many homes change hands in a given year in Bernal, so inventory is not usually a problem. To date, 96 single-family homes have sold at an average price of $753,805, with a 1,370 average square footage. Thirteen of those homes sold for more than a $1M, but this price range is usually in the minority. Your dollars at the higher end in Bernal will get you more house than in nearby Glen Park or Noe Valley.

There are currently more than 40 single-family homes and eight condos on the market in Bernal. Though condo sales aren’t as common in Bernal, they do happen. Condos usually don’t rise above the $700,000 price point; however, Bernal isn’t where most buyers go to purchase condos. (More likely neighborhoods for condos would be the Mission or Noe.) Notable homes currently available include 91 Winfield, a 2BR/1BA with a bonus room, listed at $629,000, as well as a very nice Edwardian listed at $949,500 at 212 Banks that has 3BR/3BA and 2,385 square feet.

I think Bernal is the type of neighborhood that will continue to perform pretty well throughout this economic downturn; its average sales prices are smack dab in the middle of the range where most homes are selling in San Francisco. Add to that the fact that you can own a house for what a condo would cost you in more pricey neighborhoods, and it’s no surprise that many homes on the west/north slopes sell with multiple offers.

Fillmore Vic on Ski Slope Street Symbolizes Current Market

When I last blogged about 2846 Fillmore in June, the home had been sitting on the market for about a month. Its original list price of $3,475,000 had just been reduced to $3,249,000.

And last week, the property sold for $2,975,000–half a million below its seller’s original expectations. I think this particular sale was worth noting, because it shows you what’s possible on the luxury level in the current market. And more importantly, it demonstrates why some buyers in this price range are sitting back and anticipating further price declines. After all, if a seller is truly motivated—as in the case of Fillmore—and is genuinely willing to accept a price at what the market will bear, a buyer can get a good deal.

Strong Summer for San Francisco House, Condo Markets

The economy is chugging along, and the downward trend continues to affect the national housing market. San Francisco has its share of foreclosures, short sales, and limited ability for buyers to get loans in what’s considered a very expensive geographical area. Despite these issues, however, the summer real estate market was surprisingly resilient.

A total of 616 single-family homes sold in San Francisco from June-August 2010, for an average of $1,044,790. Of those 616 homes, 93 were sold for more than $1.5M—including one eight-bedroom home on Pacific that sold in June for $11.5M in an all-cash transaction after spending 278 days on the market. These stats are an improvement over last summer; the average then was $997,132. However, it’s interesting that more homes managed to sell in 2009’s decidedly worse market.

The condo market saw a jump in volume this summer; 509 units sold from June-August 2010, in comparison to only 447 last year. Average prices were very similar ($748,716 in 2010, and $755,128 in 2009). Of the 509 condos reported sold this past summer, 21 units sold for more than $1.5M, and six sold for more than $2M. Buyers are clearly continuing to invest in luxury condo properties, most specifically in Noe Valley; Pacific Heights; Russian Hill; and in buildings such as the St. Regis and Four Seasons. (These numbers don’t include data from new development sales offices such as One Rincon, The Infinity, One Hawthorne and more.)

Prices over the past three months across San Francisco zip codes remained fairly stable for condos, but dropped off for single-family homes. Heading into the Fall, there are 637 single-family homes currently on the market, as well as 663 condos. That’s a lot of inventory that will be topped off by all the new properties I’m expecting to hit the market in mid September. Those are also the properties that may represent the best opportunities for negotiation; I find that the homes that fall off the radar can end up being the hidden gems buyers have been seeking, and are connected to increasingly motivated sellers.