High-End San Francisco Condo Market Softens

I checked in on some recent condo listing sales last week, and found three that point to a softening luxury condo market. So let’s get to it:

That’s 261 26th Avenue #1 in the Lake neighborhood. The 2600-square foot 4BR/4BA unit had two levels, a deeded yard, one-car parking, and HOA dues of $361/mo. 26th Avenue was last sold in May 2008 for $1.4M. It was listed in March 2010 for $1,385,000 and was on and off the market a couple times (with one contract falling out due to buyer financing issues). The condo sold last week for all cash after 374 days on the market for $1,080,000.

455 Vallejo #PH, Telegraph Hill

455 Vallejo’s penthouse unit was a 2BR/3.5BA property had living room views of the Transamerica Building, city skyline and Bay/Golden Gate bridges. The 3100-square foot condo also had HOA dues of $2600/mo (which included earthquake insurance). It was listed in the Fall of 2010 for $2,995,000 and sold last week for $2,435,000.

229 Brannan #14E, South Beach

229 Brannan #14E was a 3BR/3BA view unit with two terraces, two-car parking and two storage spaces. Listed in the Fall of 2010 for $1,250,000, the condo consisted of two units that had been legally combined. Final selling price last week? $1,625,000.

Word to the wise buyer: If you’re interested in a high-end property and it’s been sitting on the market a while, it may be time to swoop in and get a deal.

Second Chance at 2 on 22 in Noe

The very charming two-unit property at 3621 22nd Street in Noe Valley was listed in early May and went into contract a week later. Featuring a front and rear house on the same lot, the property is smack dab in the middle of one of the steepest inclines in the city (note the stairs on the sidewalk). There’s a 2BR/1BA front house (above), as well as a 1BR/1BA cottage. Both provide great space and will be delivered vacant. The $1,195,000 list price includes a one-car garage plus parking pad in the rear.

For those who didn’t act quickly enough in early May, I’m making it known that 3621 22nd Street is back on the market and still available. There’s a lot of potential for this type of property in this location. Give me a call if you’d like to see the place, I’m a stone’s throw away.

Walk Score Winners: Eureka, NoPa, Mission

One of the best things about San Francisco is its walkability factor. Today we take a look at three very centrally located condos that have high Walk Scores:

374 Sanchez, Eureka Valley
100 Walk Score

You can’t get a higher Walk Score than 100! 374 Sanchez is a 2BR/2BA unit with about 1,560 square feet and leased parking ($225/mo). HOAs are $220/mo. This stretch of Sanchez is extremely appealing due to its tree-lined street, and it’s in close proximity to Market Street transportation, Duboce Park, the Castro and Mission Dolores.

2168 Fell, NoPa
91 Walk Score

2168 Fell is a more contemporary condo, built in 1999. It features 3BRs/3BAs, two-car parking and HOA dues of $250/mo. For those who think Fell is too busy, keep in mind that this particular location is on a one-block long, tree-lined section of Fell that’s off the main thoroughfare. You’re right near Golden Gate Park, as well as everything NoPa and the Haight have to offer. I really liked this unit when I saw it on tour yesterday; there’s definitely good space for the money, and the deeded yard is a real plus.

469 Capp, Mission
97 Walk Score

469 Capp is a 1940s-era, 2BR/1BA top-floor condo with about 1327 square feet. There’s two-car parking and a large deeded deck. You are truly in the heart of the Mission here, so expect a fair amount of street activity—and a superior microclimate. Very functional floor plan and guess what? They already have an offer. So you may need to move quickly at this point.

Extreme Multiple-Offer Situation Hits Sunset Home

For those too busy reading articles about the downfall of real estate, I bring you a from-the-field report of the latest wacky San Francisco housing happenings. Take a look at 1212 16th Avenue, a 2BR/2BA single-family home in the Inner Sunset near Lincoln that hit the market for $525,000 at the end of April. The property was small and was more of a condo alternative. But the location was extremely convenient for the Sunset, and the home was move-in ready.

Apparently, many buyers thought the same thing. The seller received a total of 36 offers, and the house is in contract for almost $100,000 over the asking price. It was pretty clear to me that they’d listed low, but when 36 sets of buyers jump in, that’s a whole other level. If you’re thinking of selling your smallish home in the neighborhood, keep in mind that there are 35 different buyers who may be ready to make offers.

Pac Heights Manse Gets That Much Cheaper

The 6BR/7.5BA home at 2732 Vallejo in Pacific Heights first hit the market in early April for $9,350,000. The Bay view residence is situated on a double lot and has four fireplaces, five decks and “refined modern upgrades” like a custom-built stair railing by architect Stanley Saitowitz. (Can you claim that?)

Vallejo also features a movie screening room, gym with sauna, two offices, lush garden, two-car parking, and a long gated driveway that can accommodate multiple cars. Kind of like a penthouse at The Millennium, without the HOA dues.

And the list price just got more attractive late last week; it’s now been chopped to $8,995,000.

Perhaps we’re witnessing sellers who are finally coming down to earth. After all, the property was on the market for $10,250,000 for a good portion of 2010. Sometimes a dose of realism results in a more reasonable price.

What You Can Buy for $800,000

The last time we checked out what you could buy at the $800,000 price point, the selections were condos. This time around, we look at single-family homes. Here’s our latest trio:

1520 Diamond, Noe Valley

New to the market is 1520 Diamond, a 2BR/1BA home that’s all of 1050 square feet. The seller has owned the property for the past 65 years, which means one thing: Needs work. This one could use new flooring, an updated kitchen/bath and a basic sprucing up. But it may not be a bad deal for Noe Valley. The 1946-built home isn’t big on charm, but the space is very functional and there’s two-car parking.

16 Bronte, Bernal Heights

I toured 16 Bronte a couple weeks ago when it was new to the market–at a list price of $829,000. The price for this 4BR/2BA home has since dropped to $799,000.  It’s located on the south side of Cortland, and features an updated kitchen and two remodeled bathrooms. There’s a large living room with a formal dining room that has a gas-burning fireplace. There’s also a cute yard with a cottage that could be used as a studio or office.

69 Springfield Drive, Lake Shore

On the opposite end of town is 69 Springfield, a 2BR/1BA home in the manicured Lake Shore district. The house is clean but could use updating; however, the location is great if you appreciate quick access to the beach, Stonestown, West Portal and Ocean Avenue. The property has been on and off the market for the past couple years, so maybe now is the time to swoop in and get yourself a deal.

Greenwich Penthouse Sellers Seem Realistic

Situated at the corner of Greenwich and Van Ness in Cow Hollow, The Greenwich is one of my favorite new construction buildings erected over the past few years. Built in 2008, the 23-unit luxury condo property sold out relatively quickly. And there hasn’t been much turnover since.

So let’s welcome penthouse unit #601 to the market. The 3BR/2.5BA, 1600-square foot unit has an excellent open floor plan, eleven-foot vaulted ceilings, a master suite (and a bedroom) with a fireplace, a private tiled view roof deck and two-car parking.

Sold for $1,875,000 in May 2008, the property is now being offered at $1,795,000. Let’s applaud these sellers for recognizing that the word “appreciation” won’t apply if they just purchased their unit only three years ago. A lot’s happened in the market since 2008, and it’s mandatory to be reasonable if you’re a seller in 2011.

Good Deal: Russian Hill 1BR Condo

I visited 2363 Larkin #31 this week on my broker tour, and thought it was a decent price for a one-bedroom condo in the neighborhood. Built in 1923, the building has lovely period details, hardwood floors and spacious rooms. The kitchen has been updated—though you could certainly update it again—and the unit gets nice natural light. There’s extra storage and a washer/dryer in the basement, and one-car deeded parking. List price is $699,000.

2363 Larkin is situated on the corner at Filbert, and has an 89 Walk Score. This is prime Russian Hill, so keep the adage “location, location, location” in mind when you consider the property. HOAs are $506/mo and there are 16 units in the building. The unit has been on the market for 42 days, so the good deal could be getting better as time goes on.

You’ve Won the Condo Lottery–Now What?

The annual condo lottery took place in San Francisco earlier this year, resulting in suddenly lucky TIC owners winning the right to start the path to condo conversion. I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the TIC and condo markets and give everyone a heads up on what to expect–whether you’ve just won, or may be on track to win next year.

Things are a bit more complicated in the current economy, and that means buying and selling TICs or condos can present their own sets of challenges. If you’ve just won the lottery, you’re probably a couple months in to the conversion process. And all your TIC partners are excited about what they’ll be doing after you’ve converted the building. Many TIC owners have held their properties for far longer than they’d ever dreamed, so moving the family out of that one bedroom now finally feels possible. Others love where they live and will just appreciate owning their own condo.

It’s important not to overlook every detail as you take a step closer each month to conversion. For example, if more than half the units in your building are rented vs owner occupied, you’re going to have to work through that detail so it doesn’t become a roadblock during a refinance or sale. And everyone’s ability to refinance will depend on how much equity exists.

Both the TIC and condo markets are doing reasonably well, particularly in high-demand neighborhoods that provide easy access to public transportation, restaurants, retail areas and freeways. A total of 496 condos and 63 TICs sold in the first quarter of this year. Compare that with 403 condos/63 TICs sold in the same quarter of 2010, and we’re looking at some pretty respectable numbers. So I believe we’re heading into an increasingly better market where these types of properties are concerned.

The best tip I can give condo converters is to do your homework up front. You’ll need your resources up front (attorneys, contractors, surveyors, etc) and now would also be a good time to chat with your favorite Realtor and loan rep so you have a heads up on what to expect at the time of conversion. Get a sense for your building’s value, as well as what your own unit would be worth as a condo. And recognize that all TIC owners have to work together regardless of what happens. I often consult with building owners about these situations, and I have a strong team in place. So feel free to give me a shout anytime, and we can find a convenient time to talk details.

The Highs & Lows of SF Real Estate

The San Francisco market certainly has its ups and downs like any other. And what’s driving sales are buyers and sellers who are able to come to agreement on price. For every property that sells for under its asking price, there seems to be one that swings in the opposite direction and raises eyebrows.

So I like to periodically present snapshots of sales that exemplify our current mood swing market. I noticed a couple highs and lows this week in Noe Valley and Ingleside Terrace that are worth a look:

High: 557 Hill, Noe Valley

557 Hill was last sold in 2005 for $2,275,000. The 3BR/3.5BA, 3,000-square foot home with two-car parking was listed again in mid March  at $2,485,000. It was on the market for five days and closed escrow in mid April for $2.6M. So much for the widely held beliefs that properties have lost value since the go-go years of 2005.

Low: 230 Urbano, Ingleside Terrace

230 Urbano is a 3BR/2BA, almost 4,000 square foot home near the neighborhood’s Sun Dial (a nice stretch of green). It was pretty basic inside–perfectly liveable, but could use some updates. The property was listed in September 2010 for a whoppin’ $1.4M. It was reduced a month later to $1.2M and then to $1,139,000 before going into contract and selling for…$973,000 last week for all cash.