Happy Holidays & I’ll See You in January

Every Realtor/blogger needs a break, so I’m taking mine now. I’d like to thank all my loyal readers, clients, and colleagues who have made 2010 a very successful year for me. It’s nice to experience firsthand that the economy is on the upswing. Loans are being granted, homes are selling, and I’m hoping for more of the same in 2011.

As many of you know, I moved to Zephyr Real Estate this month. I’ll be ready to share the knowledge and marketing tools I’ll be gaining from this excellent company, and my blog posts will benefit from some new energy and insights.

Have a great holiday, and please click your way back on Monday, January 3rd when Inside San Francisco Real Estate kicks into gear again. Of course, if you’re a buyer or seller who wants to talk about a purchase or listing, don’t hesitate to call me at 415.823.4656. I’ll be in town and ready to help.



Motivated Sellers at 200 Brannan #441

Ya gotta give props to sellers who put their property back on the market during Christmas week after the listing has expired. That’s the deal over at 200 Brannan #441. The 2BR/2BA condo with 1,521 square feet has been plugging away since July, first with an initial $975,000 price that dropped to the current $949,000. The photo above is actually from a similar unit, so photography costs were the ones cuts for this marketing period.

Dues are $722/mo and include organized activities and a door person. For those of you familiar with 200 Brannan @ Delancey, the location is excellent. One issue I have with the building is that most units face each other (see above), so you don’t have a ton of privacy or airy outlooks. However, there is quite a distance between your unit and the other buildings. And keep in mind that 1500 square feet are hard to come by in South Beach for under $1M, so this one might be worth checking out if you have some time before or after the holidays. Six other 2BR units have sold in the complex this year, at an average of $1,150,833. And that includes #420, which sold for $1,479,000 in April.

Bernal’s High-End Market Holds in 2010

255 Moultrie’s market saga came to an end last week. The “modern masterpiece” featured 4BR/3.5BAs, and had been renovated from the ground up since it last sold in 2006 for $755,000.

The home came on the market in mid August for $1,295,000, went into contract in early September, but then fell out. The sellers put the property back on the market in mid September at $1,335,000, which gives you an indication that a few new insights transpired during the contractual period.

The new owner paid $1,320,000 for 255 Moultrie, which isn’t a sky-high price for Bernal anymore. In fact, 19 homes sold for $1M and above in 2010. But only two sold for more than that of 255 Moultrie. In contrast, 2009 saw 30 homes selling for $1M+, including five for $1.3M+. Next year should be an interesting one for Bernal’s sellers.

Last Chance at New Inventory

It’s a fact that real estate activity mirrors human behavior. In other words, if 90% of the San Francisco population is occupied with gift buying, going out of town, and last-minute work details at the holidays, there’s a good chance your Sunday open house will be sparsely attended.

Nonetheless, mid December saw 13 single-family homes, 19 condos and two TICs actually come on the market, ushered in by sellers who undoubtedly don’t mind foregoing holiday decor in favor of staging and keeping things neutral in order to appeal to prospective buyers (not to mention keeping things clean). All but a couple of these new properties were listed below $1M, which is a testament to buyers’ predominant price ranges these days.

One of my favorite of the new homes is at 1500 Francisco #1 (photo above), a 1BR/1BA listed at $525,000 in the Marina. There’s no parking, but this is a very cool, updated condo in a 17-unit building at Francisco and Octavia. Dues are $328.43/month. You’re located in close proximity to the Marina’s Chestnut Street, and there are plenty of car-sharing pods available in the neighborhood.

If that doesn’t float your boat, you have your pick of 520 houses, 573 condos, and 128 TICs that are currently on the market.

Just Sold: Excelsior Starter Home

It seems like I’ve been working on my listing at 282 Moscow in the Excelsior for more than a year. That’s because I have. Once we worked through all the pre-sale complexities and probate details, we were then able to transform the property by refinishing floors, painting inside and out, attaining water/energy conservation compliance making varies minor repairs. (A shout out is in order here for John McGrath, handyman extraordinaire.) We listed the house in mid October at $425,000 and received two offers within a few days.

And now, we’re finished and the house has been sold for $450,000 to lovely new owners. Everyone’s thrilled, and I’m happy I was a part of the transaction.

Presidio Heights Home With Potential Hits Jackpot

Some pretty motivated buyers fell hard for the 6BR/4.5BA Presidio Heights home at 130 Locust recently. Listed at $2,850,000, the property sold within 21 days and closed last week for $3.3M. It must’ve been that vanity hedge.

The home is ripe for an upgrade, as you can see by the state of the kitchen:

There are ten rooms across four levels, so this can be one hell of a project. And the part that makes it really all worth it are the views from the upper floors. Here’s what I mean:

A renovation will be a great opportunity to add a garage, too. (No parking in the house’s current configuration.) With the 2010 average single-family home sales price in Presidio Heights being $3,754,957 (and eight such homes selling for $4M+), this may be a reasonable deal for the new owners. Even if they did pay almost half a million more than asking.

What You Buy for $375,000

It’s nothing fancy and there aren’t even any interior photos available, but a 2BR/1BA condo at 8 Keystone #2C in Mount Davidson manor has just been listed for $375,000.

I sometimes go to the gym right around the corner from this unit, and the location right at Ocean Avenue is not bad if you’re someone who wants close proximity to services and shops—not to mention Muni. The unit has about 937 square feet, one-car parking and is situated in a 12-unit property constructed in 1985. It’s also three stories above the street, so I’m guessing you’ll get decent light from its “wall of windows” that face south. The open floor plan has a large living/dining area, all-electric kitchen, and two spacious bedrooms. There’s also an in-unit washer/dryer (!) and an elevator. HOA dues are $360/month.

Neighboring unit 1C has been on the market as a short sale for almost four months, and that’s a first-floor 2BR/1BA with the same square footage. List price is $388,888. So the sale of this new #2C condo may move things along for #1C in terms of true market value.

SF Market Shows Its Mood Swings

It’s always a kick to point out recent sales that are typical of the current market’s mood swings. Random examples of homes selling for well above or below their list prices pop up on a regular basis. And there were two good examples last week.

151 Mendosa in Forest Hill is a 4BR/3.5BA ocean-view home with 4250 square feet on a very cute cul-de-sac street:

What it lacks in exterior appeal, it makes up for in views, as this ornate dining room outlook attests:

The house was listed at $1,495,000 in early October, and closed escrow last week for $1,650,000. It helps to know that this particular listing agent is known for underpricing properties, but the point is that buyers are still falling in step with that strategy.

At the other end of the spectrum was 176 Palo Alto in Clarendon Heights:

The 3BR/1.75BA modernist home featured 20′ glass windows and lots of wood. Listed in September for $2,280,000, the property sold last week for $1,925,000.

Holiday House Hunt: What’s Left?

If you’re a serious buyer who wants to get into contract by the end of the year—and maybe even close by Dec 31st—you’ll be happy to know there’s plenty of inventory from which to choose in San Francisco.

There are currently 640 single-family homes on the market, with only 165 listed at $1M+. That means there are plenty of offerings for those looking for a home in the more moderate price ranges.

And the news is even better on the condo front. No less than 708 condos are available, and again, only 124 are being offered for less than $1M. Keep in mind that average days on market for houses is 87, and 88 for condos—which means sellers may be extremely flexible at this point in time. Make your offer, and hang in there for any negotiations. You could end up with a good deal on your hands.

Cole Valley Historic Firehouse for Sale

Under the annals of “cool properties” comes 8 Carmel, a 3BR/3.5BA condo with 3173 square feet and the distinction of being former Engine Co #40. The building was converted to two townhouses about a decade ago, and 8 Carmel occupies the front half of the building.

There are five levels of living space, along with a firepole:

The house has its share of funky spaces, but it appears to have lots of room to run:

And don’t forget the bathroom with glass walls, perfect for those who enjoy their privacy:

List price: $1,895,000. Go and get it! And check out the rest of the photos here.

Housing Confidence Abounds in Upper Noe

On the heels of the finally-moving-forward Lux condo development at Church and 28th come dueling Victorian renovations on the 1500 block of Sanchez in Upper Noe. It’s pretty clear that homeowners in Noe are confident in both real estate values and large renovation projects, which is good to know moving into 2011.

1567 Sanchez was last sold in July for $1,075,000 ($50,000 over the asking price). The 2BR/1BA home is getting a major overhaul. The owners are doing a horizontal rear addition at the first floor for a new guest room and bath, new master bed and bath room, and one laundry. There will also be a new second floor deck and an overall interior remodel. Here’s a look behind the plywood barrier:

And directly across the street at 1566 Sanchez, there’s more gutting going on. This home was last sold in 2008 for $850,000. Here’s what it looked like then:

The current owners have a permit for this work issued:


Here’s what it looks like now—basically the facade is the only thing left standing. And it’s good to see they’ve received permission for a garage.

Future Noe Valley buyers should take heed: The market is moving here, and with interest rates continuing to be at very low levels, this could be a good time to take advantage of softer prices and inventory that’s been sitting.

Excelsior Gets a Henry’s Hunan

The Excelsior is one of those neighborhoods that’s benefitting from an influx of first-time home buyers who are drawn to the area due to its more affordable real estate prices. I have a listing at 282 Moscow that went into contract very quickly—a 2BR/1BA with a bonus room priced at $425,000. Past clients of mine have also decided to buy in the Excelsior because they could get a house instead of a condo.

But the neighborhood could use more restaurants and shops. Yes, there’s Joe’s Cable Car for burgers, and some good corner produce stands. However, I’m thrilled to see that Henry’s Hunan opened its sixth restaurant this past week at 4753 Mission, a block or so south of Ocean Avenue. This Henry’s has room for 80-90 seats, as well as a full bar. Stop in if you’re in the neighborhood, and let’s hope Henry’s future success attracts even more commerce to this promising stretch of Mission.