Edwardian Boarding House Begs for Buyers

If taking possession of an Edwardian fixer on a large lot in the Sunset sounds like a good idea for the holidays, then head over to 1471 18th Avenue. The 3BR/2BA, 1630-square foot home is on the market for the first time in 43 years, and it has box-beam ceilings, a large bonus room, and is located on a pleasant, tree-lined street between Kirkham and Judah. You also get nice ocean views from the top floor. List price: $799,000.

The property is currently being used as a boarding house for students,  but the seller is promising that the home will be delivered vacant by close of escrow. In the meantime, however, showings are limited to open houses. And the students are doing their share to help with staging:

Average price for a 3BR house in the Sunset these days is around $870,180, so study those comps and keep an eye on how much you spend in pre-renovation bucks.

Noe Valley Lot On Track for “Luxe” Condos


Just got back into town after Thanksgiving and noticed the latest update on the blue church lot at Church and 28th Street in Noe Valley. Looks like this long-empty lot and development-hell condo project are finally experiencing some progress.

The former blue church was demolished about a year ago, but the long-simmering condo development went way off track due to the faltering economy. Some of you might recall that the site was historically a movie theatre, and The Examiner ran a good article last year with some background on that. The theatre had many names in its past, including “The Searchlight,” “Empress,” and “Princess.” None of those strike me as good condo building names, so it’s no surprise that the developers have elected to go with “The Luxe,” which was also a past theatre name. Luxury condos in Noe have actually been doing quite well, so the name is fitting.

Construction is scheduled to begin in two to three months, with unit delivery in Spring 2012. The project will consist of six residential condos over commercial. There will be three 2BR/2BA flats, approximately 1050-square feet each. And there will also be three 3BR/2.5BA townhomes, ranging from 1750-2150 square feet. All units will have one parking space, and there will be a shared interior courtyard (some units will have decks). We’re expecting high-end, modern homes here.

Here’s a close-up of the sign, which shows a rendering of the “coming soon!” project:

No word on price just yet, but I’m guessing units will range from $900,000 to well above $1.2M. Use Nove on Guerrero as a reference point. Those units sold rapidly at very high price points, and were in what would arguably be deemed a less desirable location.

Cash for Cardboard in Outer Richmond

“BANK OWNED! Contractor special! Fixer needs a major renovation! Subject property is basically a shell of a house and has been in this state for at least 3 years per lien! CASH SALE, BANK WILL NOT FINANCE AS IS! NO REPAIRS!”

And so goes the listing detail in the MLS. The economy has certainly caught up with the goings on at 834 44th Avenue at Fulton in the Outer Richmond. What you get is a 3700-square foot, bank-owned shell of a single-family home, listed at $588,900. The property is in the midst of a five-year moratorium on construction due to the complicated lien situation. The moratorium will end in two- to three years, according to the listing agent.

Take Your Pick: Trio on Edgewood

Coveted Edgewood Avenue in Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights is a small, brick-lined street with a sudden spike in inventory over the past few weeks. Over the past three years, three homes have sold per year. It seems like all the neighbors banded together and decided that Fall 2010 was the time to meet the sales quota. (Though one other home has sold this year.) I thought it’d be fun to check out each available property so you could get a sense for values on Edgewood Avenue.

We’ll start with 226 Edgewood:

226 Edgewood is a 4BR/4BA, three-level Craftman-influenced home listed at $3.5M. It has a gated entrance, sweeping city and bay vistas, and walk-out decks on every level. The interior is nothing fancy, with basic finishes. But it’s clean, and has a lovely garden.

Next up is 227 Edgewood:

227 Edgewood also has 4BRs/4BAs, but is a bit less expensive at $2.6M. The home was last remodeled in the late ’80s, and the design scheme is dominated by wood finishes. The bedrooms are scattered among three levels, so this is a good place for people with guests. Like most of the homes on Edgewood, this property has mega views. But it needs major updating, so the price seems a bit high to me (particularly as there’s no garage).

Last up is 285 Edgewood, the newest kid on the block:

285 Edgewood has 3BRs/3BAs and about 2500 square feet. It was built in 2006 and features nice touches such as surround sound, a gas fireplace, spacious kitchen with a Wolf six-burner range and a large view deck with a built-in gas grill (love that!). All three bedrooms are on one level, each with its own bath. 285 Edgewood is listed at $2,195,000, and it’s my pick of the three.

Open House Spotlight: Forest Hill Edwardian

Just reduced from $2,275,000 to $2,195,000, 344 Pacheco in Forest Hill is worth a stop this weekend. The 5BR/5.5BA Edwardian has a nicely remodeled kitchen, lovely living room with a fireplace, built-in bookshelves, and leaded windows. There’s also a formal dining room that has an adjacent lounge area which opens up to a walk-out terrace with sweeping views. The 4210-square foot property also has a family room, media room, and home office—plus a landscaped yard with patio.

The home was last sold in 2006 for $1,272,500, but the current owners have really zipped up the place since then.

Open Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 2:00-4:00!

Pre-Foreclosures, Short Sales Weaken HOAs

Condo complexes and homeowners associations (HOAs) can be complicated entities in this day and age. A building with high short sale—and pre-foreclosure/foreclosure— levels can sometimes indicate a troubled HOA. Monthly HOA dues sometimes go unpaid in these situations, leading to weaker HOA reserves. And that isn’t good for building maintenance or resale value, as it’s important to maintain properties to keep them liveable and attractive to potential owners. There’s nothing worse than living in a condo property that has a poor reputation in the real estate community.

So do some digging around if you’re interested in purchasing a unit in a particular building. If you find that there are one or more units in pre-foreclosure or on the market as short sales/bank-owned, heed the red flag and do your due diligence times two on all the critical HOA documents. The HOA board president or property management company typically fills out a condo financial statement, which will indicate how much money is in reserves for the HOA. Make sure it’s a healthy amount in relation to the building size and needs, and certainly cross reference the reserves with the operating and upcoming expenses.

Find out if the HOA has agreed to cover monthly dues for any particular units. I witnessed this scenario in 2009 in a SoMa building, and the neighbors covering the dues were starting to feel the strain. (A couple months of covering dues is one thing, but six months to a year or longer tries everyone’s patience and bank accounts.) In the end, you don’t really need the headache of stepping into a financially disadvantaged building. After all, HOA dues are not tax deductible, and you want to make sure the money you do pay (which is not refundable, either) is going toward maintaining the property.

Your ability to get the best loan program possible is crucial, especially with interest rates being so low these days. Be aware that some banks won’t lend on buildings with more than one short sale condo on the market or in escrow. Check with your lender of choice to see if this is its policy. It would not be fun to have your offer accepted on a unit, only to hear two days later that your lender choices have suddenly narrowed.

How’s the Market In: The Marina

The Marina buyer is usually looking for proximity to The Bay, Chrissy Field, the Marina Green and all that Chestnut Street has to offer—not to mention the opportunity to spot various Giants team members partying in the neighborhood. Despite the known shaky ground upon which the Marina sits that makes it quite vulnerable in an earthquake, homes continue to sell briskly and for large amounts of money year round.

And this year has been no exception. A total of 21 single-family homes has sold this year to date, for an average of $2,204,105. The most notable sale took place in January, when the 5BR/5.5BA, 7000-square foot home at 2140 Jefferson changed hands for $6.5M. Here’s a look a this impressive property, which was actually two addresses joined together:

The house was literally next to the Palace of Fine Arts, which isn’t a bad neighbor to have. Here’s a look at 2140 Jefferson’s deck, with the Palace in the background:

Though the condo market in the Marina wasn’t as exciting, it was actually quite busy. Forty units sold this year, with most selling above the $1M price point (average price was $1,034,718). One of the least expensive units sold was on Bay—a 1BR/1BA with one-car parking for $525,000. And the most expensive? The 4BR/3.5BA first-floor, 2700-square foot condo with two-car parking in a two-unit building with Bay and bridge views that sold for $2.3M in March.

There are currently five single-family homes on the market, ranging in price from $1,349,500-$3,499,000, with two houses in contract. For condo buyers, there is plenty of inventory from which to choose. Fifteen units are available, from $590,000-$1,395,000 (and five condos in contract). The Marina is a popular choice for TIC owners, too, given all the multi-unit buildings. Three TICs are on the market (including one at $1,099,000, and three are in contract.

West Portal Alert: 3BR House for Under $1M

It’s got three bedrooms, two and a quarter bathrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and backs up to a lush green setting. Oh, and did I mention parking and a highly convenient location? For those buyers who have been looking to get into the low-turnover/high-demand West Portal neighborhood, 460 West Portal could be a great fit.

Yes, the home is located on West Portal Avenue (as is the upstairs master suite), which means the Muni train runs by the house and can be noisy. But there are other homeowners who live along train lines in the city, and you could do far worse than West Portal Avenue. Because you can come out of your house and be in the midst of all the restaurants, shops and services that you’ll ever need (plus, there’s a movie theatre and a library). You can even walk to Stonestown Galleria if you feel like it, as well as Stern Grove.

The property came on the market in early September for $899,000, so the current $829,000 list price shows the sellers are willing to be reasonable here. The average price for the 25 three-bedroom homes that have sold this year in the neighborhood is $1,160,250, with nine of those homes selling for under $1M. Something tells me 460 West Portal could be a good deal waiting to happen for the holidays.

Just Sold: SoMa Short Sale Loft

I just closed my second short sale of 2010 today—a 1BR/2BA spacious loft at 380 10th Street #7. We had two lenders to contend with (Wachovia/Wells and Citi), but they were quite agreeable, and we closed precisely on time.  List price was $689,000.

The unit features a bonus mezzanine area, high-end chef’s kitchen and large private patio. One-car parking was also included.

Though many short sales don’t turn out to be deals, I think my clients actually bought this unit at an excellent price. The HOA has strong reserves, an efficient HOA, and very responsible neighbors.

Keep SoMa in mind if you’re shopping for a value condo.

Condos & High-End Homes See Big Discounts

A look at last week’s single-family home and condo sales gives us a glimpse into the mindset of buyers and sellers as we head into the holidays. And it looks like some pretty hefty discounts are possible for buyers these days, particularly in the condo and high-end/$1M+ markets.

A total of 21 single-family homes under the $1M price point sold during the week of Nov 1-5th. Of these 21, nine were sold for over their asking prices. Five of the nine involved anywhere from $20,0000-$75,000 ranges above asking. However, of the six homes that sold for above $1M, only one sold for more than asking (that’d be a home on Bonview in Bernal Heights, listed at $975,000 and selling for $1,050,000). 

The rest of the houses sold for substantially less. For example, there was a 5BR home in Sea Cliff listed at $3,295,000 and sold for $3,025,000. A 4BR home in Forest Knolls listed at $1,200,000 ended up selling for $935,000. And let’s not forget the Cow Hollow 4BR listed for $4,850,000, which sold for $4,400,000.

If you’re shopping in the higher price ranges, it might be possible to hang in there for the discounts.

Condo sales are firmly in the grasp of the under-$1M market, as 17 of the 22 units sold last week fell into this category. Discounts ran anywhere from $15,000-$40,000, but a fair amount of condos sold for $50,000 or even $100,000 less. The biggest slashes were again in the higher end of the market. A 3BR on Lombard listed for $1,499,000 changed hands for $1,350,000, and another 3BR unit in Pacific Heights listed at $1,775,000 ended up selling for $1,537,500.

Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities as the holidays approach!

What You Can Buy for $650,000

The $650,000 price range is a pretty popular one. And this being San Francisco, there’s a variety of options. We’ll take a look at three properties in different neighborhoods to give you a sense for what type of purchase is possible.

First up is 1880 Vallejo #1 in Pacific Heights:

1880 Vallejo is a 1BR/1.5BA condo in a four-unit building. There’s a formal dining room, fireplace, granite counters in the kitchen, high ceilings and hardwood floors. HOA dues are a low $295/mo. One-car parking is also included. Locationwise, you’re two blocks from Union Street.

We next head west to 2720 Ulloa in the Parkside:

2720 Ulloa has the classic 2BR plus sunroom floor plan. This one’s been in the same family for a long time, and the home is now being sold in a trust sale (with no court confirmation). And for those of you who care about such details, someone did pass away on the property about a year ago. Kitchen and bath are original, and there are recently refinished floors in which you can now see your reflection. The house has lovely 1920s details still intact, such as built-ins and picture rails. They already have an offer in hand, but it’s apparently going to be sealed until November 15th. So get over to Ulloa soon if you want to be in the running. The average 2BR house in the Parkside over the past year has been approximately $675,000.

Finally, there’s 45 Landers, in the decidedly more hip Mission Dolores area:

45 Landers is a 2BR/1BA tenancy-in-common (TIC) in a newly formed,  four-unit building. As such, there will be fractional financing in place so no group loan will be necessary. This particular unit features five rooms and is spacious in comparison to condos at this price in the neighborhood. The seller has made seismic upgrades recently, which should count for something in San Francisco. One-car parking comes with this unit.

How’s the Market In: Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights boasts some of the most coveted real estate inventory in the city. This quintessential San Francisco neighborhood is targeted by many buyers looking for large single-family homes and condos that offer Bay views, period detail, and proximity to the Fillmore Street retail area.

You don’t come to Pacific Heights looking for a bargain. The economic downturn didn’t have much of an effect on the area, which is still considered to be as close to a sure bet as you’ll get to owning a home that will appreciate in value (or not drop in value significantly). A total of 43 houses have sold this year in Pacific Heights, at an average of $3,918,930. All were 3BR+ properties, with the exception of one 2BR cottage on Clay that was listed at $995,000 but sold for $1,275,000.

On the condo front, 98 units sold at an average of $1,024,193. The most expensive was a 2BR/3BA, 2714-square foot penthouse with unobstructed bridge-to-bridge views on Pacific that sold for $3.6M. The average 2BR condo this year sold for $993,914, and the 3BR condo average was $1,413,760. If you’re looking for a condo in the neighborhood, these ranges are what you can expect.

Sellers are offering plenty of properties on the market in Pacific Heights at the moment. There are 26 single-family homes; seven are above the $10M price point (including 2701 Broadway for $32M and 2901 Broadway for $45M). But a bulk of the houses are in the $2.8 – $4.2M range.

And 66 condos are on the market for an average list price of $1,308,758. 36 units are listed for up to $1M, with the rest for above that price.

Upper Noe’s Dolores Street Adds to Inventory

A glut of inventory has materialized along the stretch of Dolores in the Upper Noe section of Noe Valley (south of Cesar Chavez, to 30th Street). I walk my dogs past all of these properties on a daily basis, so I thought I’d run through what’s out there in the event somebody’s interested in one of these homes.

First up is the peaked-roof renovation at 1356 Dolores:

I blogged about this 4BR/2BA home  in July. It’s currently listed at $1,549,000. They’ve done a nice job on the main level, but the fact still remains that there’s still no bathroom to accompany the two bedrooms on the top floor. The current owners paid $995,000 for the property in 2006 and completed their renovations. They brought the house on the market in May for $1,695,000, and eventually withdrew it, but it’s back on again for what I feel is a very high price given the location and floor plan limitations.

Head further south on Dolores and we reach 1505 Dolores, which has the distinction of being located directly next door to the “Romanesque Victorian” sold a couple years ago. 1505 Dolores doesn’t have the most eye-catching exterior, but it has decent space and the tenants will be moving on November 1st:

1505 Dolores is a 3BR/2BA with about 1540 square feet and one-car parking, listed at $1,038,000. Remove the faux stone on half the exterior, replace the siding, install a more appealing front stair assembly, and you’ve already added value.

At the next corner is a 3BR/2BA condo in what I call the Funeral Home building. Thirteen condos were constructed on the site of a former one-story funeral home in 2004, amidst much neighborhood protesting:

1592 Dolores is situated further away from 29th Street and the bar on the corner, so that’s a plus. I think the condo has good space, with almost 1600 square feet across three levels. But at $1,250,000, there might be other options in the neighborhood that can offer more value.

One block down is 1632 Dolores, another peaked-roof Victorian:

I toured this house when it first came on the market in early October, and thought it was nice. You get 3BR/2BAs across 1615 square feet, a large garage that hasn’t been bastardized by a “room down,” and a bathroom on the main and upstairs levels. The seller has plans on hand for an extensive remodel, so you have to figure out whether paying the $1,149,000 makes sense if you’re planning on plowing another $150,000-$200,000 in for a renovation (possibly more or less).

And finally, there’s 1688 Dolores, which appears to be displaying a glowing hue that’s perfect for the Halloween season:

Listed at $1,050,00, this 2BR/2BA home was sold in 2005 for $1,227,000. Unfortunately, the owners have been trying to sell their home since March as a short sale. In this case, there are three loans, and it looks like the lenders are looking for some pretty hefty buyer contributions. Tread carefully with this one if you’re interested, as Wells Fargo has two of the loans and has made it very public that they will not extend close of escrow deadlines in short sales.

There are lots of comparable sales along Dolores and on the nearby blocks in Noe for any of these properties. The most obvious and recent was at 1626 Dolores, a 2BR/2BA, nicely done Victorian with a large garage that sold for $1,105,000 on October 22, 2010. And a total of nine condos/TICs have sold along the same stretch of Dolores over the past year. Dolores is appealing for its palm-tree lined roadway and proximity to Church Street, as well as to some really cool restaurants such as Front Porch, Blue Plate, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack and Blue Smoke in the adjacent Bernal/Mission area. If you’re interested in any of these properties, I’d be happy to consult with you to determine the best offer strategy.

Cottage Awaits Right Buyer on Telegraph Hill

Perched on the coveted east slope of  Telegraph Hill, 293 Union Street is a historic 2BR/1BA cottage that hasn’t changed hands in 40 years. The property is listed at $1.1M, and includes a one-car garage (rare in this neighborhood), as well as front and rear decks.

You step out the front door, look to your right, and see this lovely view:

And who wouldn’t appreciate this zen-like bedroom that leads right out to a cute brick patio?

To get the best feel for this part of Union Street (which doesn’t allow through traffic), check out the Google Maps view, which apparently also showcases the romantic antics of a couple horsing around near Montgomery.

This is one of those quintessential San Francisco properties that won’t be for everyone. But you can be sure that the right buyer will snap it up in due time.