The Most Competitive Condo Markets in San Francisco Right Now

One of the keys to success in the current San Francisco market is knowing which neighborhoods are the most competitive. Armed with that intel, you can more easily gauge how much to offer on a property, or what list price will work to your advantage.

As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been running a feature highlighting extreme overbidding for several months, regularly inducting new members into the SF Overbidders Club. The reality is that we have many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are showing double-digit overbid percentages, and it’s important to know what the selling patterns are when you’re determining values.

When it comes to the San Francisco market, these patterns can change pretty quickly. My sales data is based on reported MLS sales in the time period April 1 – May 12, 2014, so it’s the most current info available.

Here are the most competitive neighborhoods and their average overbids right now for condo sales:
1. Cow Hollow: 21.87%
2. Cole Valley/Buena Vista Terrace: 21%
3. The Haight: 19.85%
4. Eureka Valley: 18.69%
5. Noe Valley: 16.28%
6. NoPa: 15%
7. Pacific Heights: 13.88%

The Runner Ups
Bernal Heights: 11.37%
Mission/Mission Dolores: 10.49%
Potrero/Dogpatch: 10.49%
Corona Heights: 10.16%
Hayes Valley/Alamo Square: 9.6%
Presidio Heights: 8.52%
Lower Pacific Heights: 8%
The Marina: 7.61%
Mission Bay: 6.32%
SoMa: 6.61%

As for more specifics on how much you should offer or for what price you should list your home—well, that’s my job, and I’m happy to work for you. Give me a shout at 415.823.4656 / ebermingham@zephyrsf.com and we can talk about how I can help you. And yes, I’ll be hitting up the single-family home market later this week so you can see where the hottest markets are right now in the city.

What You Can Buy: Vacant Two-Unit Buildings

The vacant two-unit building is one of the holy grails of San Francisco real estate. Two different owners can partner and pursue condo conversion, or a buyer looking to live in one unit and rent out the other can also benefit.

There are three such properties on the market right now, in transit-rich locations with plenty of restaurants, cafes and retail in walking distance. Let’s take a look at what’s out there:

159-161 Belvedere
Cole Valley

Two 2BR/1BAs
Parking included
List Price: $1.6M
159_161belvedere
159-161 Belvedere is one of those buildings that’s been in the same family for a long time. As such, it needs some heavy updating but is in a location (and has the square footage) that warrant the investment. There’s additional space in each unit that’s been used as a third bedroom, and there is also very nice preserved period detail that hopefully the next owner will maintain. The garage is huge and can accommodate three or more cars if parked in tandem. Excellent neighborhood location that’s near in heart of Cole Valley and also a block from Haight Street.

156-158 Valley
Noe Valley

One 2BR/1BA
One studio
Parking included
List Price: $1,295,000
156_158Valley
156-158 Valley is a different proposition: It’s best suited to one owner who will either use the second unit for guests or a rental. First off, this is essentially a house with a studio in the garage. (Though it is a legal two-unit building, the units aren’t equal in size and it’s unlikely two buyers will team up for the purchase.) The mid-century property could use some updating, and it’s in a good Upper Noe location a block from the J Church and plenty of retail. You may also occasionally see me walking past with my two Cairn Terriers, as 156-158 Valley is on my dog-walking route.

1529-1529A Golden Gate
Alamo Square

Two 2BR/1-1.5BAs
Parking included
List Price: $1,480,000
1529goldengate
Well-appointed with classic Victorian detail, 1529-1529A Golden Gate has two move-in condition units and a two-car garage with space to park outside. There’s also a lovely yard. One block to Alamo Square Park, and proximity to the retail area along Divisadero’s NoPa stretch.

Best Neighborhoods for Dog Owners in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the more dog-friendly cities in the country, and many of its neighborhoods offer ideal environments for dogs and their owners.

I’m a dog owner myself, and frequently meet clients looking for a home in a neighborhood that will provide what we all need for us and our pets—ideally, proximity to open space, dog-friendly cafes and shops, and a community of dog owners who support each other and their ‘hood.

So here are my picks for the best dog-owner neighborhoods in San Francisco:
1. Bernal Heights. It’s got a great retail area on Cortland Avenue, with plenty of shops and cafes, including Bernal Beast pet shop. But most notably, Fit Bernal Fit is a gym that invites “Bernal locals and their dogs to join us to exercise, socialize and engage in a more healthful, energetic and stress-free lifestyle.” If that’s not enough, there’s Bernal Hill itself, which has trails and off-leash areas, as well as Holly Park. The weather is superior in Bernal, so when you head out for a walk in the late afternoon, don’t expect to encounter much fog.

2. Inner Sunset. The weather may not be as desirable, but the Inner Sunset has Golden Gate Park at its doorstep. Yes, you have to keep your dog on a leash, but at least there’s a lot for your dog to smell and see. (My terriers love the gopher holes.) There’s also the Irving Street corridor, which is a great place to stop for coffee or lunch. Le Video—one of the few bonafide video stores left in the city—also lets you bring in your dog. For pet care, there’s Irving Pet Hospital and Animal Emergency Services.

3. Noe Valley. Ok, so I’m a bit biased on this one because I live here. But if there are two requirements for living in Noe, it’s that you need a dog or a kid. I’ve picked a leash over a stroller, and have plenty of company. There are two dog runs—one on 30th Street, and one up the hill at 27th and Diamond. Noe Valley Pet Company at Church and Cesar Chavez is an excellent store, and K9 Scrub Club lets you wash your dog in one of their many giant tubs. Le Zinc on 24th and Castro has an outdoor patio where you can sit with your pooch. And don’t overlook the Friends of Upper Noe Dog Owners Group, which makes sure the 30th Street dog run stays in shape.

4. Parkside. This is a great neighborhood for dogs because it’s near vital open spaces. There’s Stern Grove, an excellent dog-walking area. But the canine epicenter lies over at Fort Funston, a short drive away. The area even has its own Fort Funston Dog Walker (FFDW) organization that works to preserve off-leash areas and good dog ownership practices. The Parkside is also blocks away from Ocean Beach and the Great Highway, which are great places to bring your dog. The streets in the Parkside are nice and wide, so there’s plenty of sidewalk room, too.

5. NoPa. The North Panhandle neighborhood suits dog owners well, as the architecture allows for spacious flats. It’s a little more low-key than the busier Haight area, which can be stimulation overload for dogs if you decide to troll along Haight Street itself. The Panhandle is a good dog destination, as it’s a sizeable open space for walks. Nearby Alamo Square has a play area. There are a lot of great shops and restaurants scattered throughout NoPa to which you can walk your dog, particularly along the revitalized Divisadero corridor. Don’t forget about Osso & Co, where you can pick up specialty items as well as everyday pet products. (There’s also one in the Inner Sunset.)

6. Mission Bay. Far less established a neighborhood than the others, Mission Bay is your best bet if you want to live downtown and own a dog. The Mission Creek Dog Park lets you meet other Mission Bay dwellers and their pets. If you get bored with Mission Creek, you can simply walk your dog up and down the Embarcadero, which has wide streets and provides nice Bay views.

What You Can Buy in Cole Valley


Cole Valley is an excellent option for buyers looking for a home that’s in proximity to public transportation, has a charming and useful retail area, and is near Golden Gate Park. The weather can be cold and foggy—though afternoons are sunny—and Cole Valley has a nice inventory of architecturally appealing single-family homes and multi-unit buildings.

The average price for a Cole Valley single-family home was $1,606,027 in the time period from June-November 2012, and the condo average was $991,500. That makes Cole Valley one of the more expensive neighborhoods in the city. The highest-priced condo was a new construction 3BR/2.5BA, three-level view home that sold for $1.5M in October, and two 3BR single-family homes sold for $2,175,000 over the summer.

Current Cole Valley inventory includes four condos, which is pretty slim (but not surprising, given the time of year). Here’s a closer look at three of those condos:

323 Parnassus
2BR/1BA
$749,000

323 Parnassus is situated in a two-unit building, and has French doors off the dining room that lead to a lush, shared garden and deeded deck. There’s a spacious living room with fireplace, and small kitchen with stainless-steel appliances. One-car tandem parking is included, and HOA dues are $250/month. This unit just sold in March 2012 after being on and off the market since late 2011.

140 Belvedere
2BR/1.5BA
$1,149,000

This top-floor, renovated Edwardian unit at 140 Belvedere has spacious rooms that include a formal dining room, well-appointed kitchen, and rear deck. Two-car tandem parking is included, along with additional storage and roof rights. HOA dues are $300/month. The building is a block and a half from storied Haight Street, and is certainly located in the thick of things. You have easy access to the shops on Haight and also on Cole. The unit was last sold in 2006 for $875,000.

264 Parnassus
2BR/1BA
$769,000

Though 264 Parnassus is on the smaller side (945 square feet), it has a very functional 1940s floor plan and was remodeled in 2009. The kitchen is great, and there’s a very large shared garden. 264 Parnassus features one-car parking, additional storage and HOA dues of $280/month. The unit has been on the market for 48 days, so it might be a good time to approach the sellers with an end-of-year offer. Original list price was $798,000.

Cole Valley Snapshot
Pros:

Near public transportation to downtown
Cute retail area, from gyms and bakeries to pharmacies and cafes
Proximity to Golden Gate Park
Architecturally appealing
Tree-lined streets

Cons:
Weather can be foggy and cool
Can get street activity spillover from Haight corridor

More Cole Valley Resources
Zephyr Neighborhood Profile
Nabewise Cole Valley Profile

Stately Parnassus Heights Home a Cool Find

It’s a challenge to find a nice single-family home for sale in a centrally located neighborhood these days that hasn’t already gone into contract within the first 48 hours of going on the market. So when I come across an available property that’s waiting for the right buyer and offers lovely period detail, plenty of living and sleeping space and parking, I feel the need to give that home a shout out.

337 Parnassus is a 3BR/3BA Edwardian that sits on an extra-wide lot (two parcels) and features a wraparound yard. The main level has spacious public rooms and a nicely remodeled kitchen. Upstairs are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a third level holds the finished attic that would make a great playroom, media room or guest area.

I loved the rear bedroom, with its wall of surrounding windows, as well as the kitchen and its Turkish limestone counters. There’s also room in the garage for two tandem parking. List price: $1,595,000.

Though this stretch of Parnassus is busy and directly adjacent to UCSF’s bustling campus, there’s a surprising sense of privacy once you’re inside. And the large lot results in a sort of buffer to the nearby activity. You can’t overlook the 86 Walk Score, which takes into consideration the proximity to Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset’s retail hubs; the Muni rail and bus lines; Golden Gate Park; and the Haight. And the best thing? You won’t have to compete with 25 other buyers to get the space and location that you need. Contact me if you’d like to schedule a showing!

I Liked Armistead Maupin’s Parnassus Heights House


I do have two sets of buyers who would probably like author Armistead Maupin’s charming shingled home at 27 Belmont in Parnassus Heights. (And I read and enjoyed The Night Listener, which was written at Belmont.) So I couldn’t miss seeing the property on broker tour yesterday.

Listed at $1,198,000, 27 Belmont is a 3BR/2BA home with about 1600 square feet across three levels. It’s not ideal for a family, but for buyers looking for a nice master suite, lovely outdoor areas and downtown views, the house works well. There are actually two master suites, one on the second level and one at the very top. The kitchen is on the small side, but nicely done. The home definitely provides the peace and quiet an author would need.

What will 27 Belmont sell for? My guess is that the views, charming and unique setting and celebrity cache will send the selling price soaring above the seemingly low $1,198,000 list price.

Walk Score Winners: Cow Hollow, Cole Valley, South Beach

These condos in the $1.2M range are great options for anyone looking for a spacious, centrally located property in proximity to restaurants, cafes, shops and services:

2912 Fillmore, Cow Hollow
$1,175,000
95 Walk Score

2912 Fillmore (above) is a top-floor 3BR/2BA, 1367-square foot condo in a six-unit building. It has an updated gourmet kitchen open to the living room, and lovely period detail throughout including high ceilings and moldings. The living room features Golden Gate Bridge and Bay views, and there’s a common roof deck, too. No parking, but you basically fall out your door and are in the midst of all you’ll need. HOA dues are $314/month. 2912 Fillmore was on the market in March and was tenant occupied, but the unit is vacant now.

1416 Shrader, Cole Valley
$1,195,000
91 Walk Score

1416 Shrader (above) is located in the heart of desirable Cole Valley. This top-floor, Edwardian condo has been renovated and offers 3BRs/1.5BAs across 1634 square feet. The living room has a fireplace, and there’s a kitchen open to the dining room which has a wall of windows and built-in bench seating. There’s a 320-square foot bonus room adjacent to the shared garden that’s ripe for future development as an office or guest space. One-car parking is included, and the HOA handles expenses in a pay-as-you-go situation. 1416 Shrader is a short distance from downtown Cole Valley, as well as the Muni line there.

501 Beale #10h, South Beach
$1,174,900
89 Walk Score

The Watermark is one of my favorite South Beach buildings. This corner unit (above) has 2BRs/2BAs with 1161 square feet. There are pano views to the east and south, as well as a large private balcony. Corner unit #10h features maple floors and marble baths. Amenities at The Watermark include 24/7 concierge, fitness center, pool and BBQ. HOAs are $750/month, but that covers the aforementioned amenities, as well as one-car parking. The building is a stone’s throw from the Giants ballpark, Market Street and Embarcadero transportation, and numerous restaurants and cafes.

Open House Spotlight: 154 Carmel in Cole Valley


Who isn’t a sucker for a Cole Valley penthouse condo? You can get your fix at 154 Carmel, a modern 3BR/2BA, 2000-square foot residence in a four-unit building on a prime block in the neighborhood.

154 Carmel features grand living spaces, two wood-burning fireplaces, formal dining room with beamed ceiling and that ethereal kitchen above. You also get a one-car garage with your own driveway, and a landscaped shared yard. There’s also a deck off the master bedroom with awesome views. List price: $1,495,000.

This home is central to the heart of Cole Valley and its retail strip, as well as Muni. You’re about eight blocks from Golden Gate Park, and two blocks from Tank Hill and the greenbelt off of Stanyan.

Open Sunday 4/29 from 1:00-4:00. Head over after brunch at Zazie!

“Manipulative Pricing” Returns to SF Market


It started in the latter half of 2011: Well-appointed, “value-priced” properties came on the market, and quickly went into contract. Also making a steady reappearance were multiple-offer scenarios, particularly in neighborhoods like Noe Valley and other tech employee strongholds.

What we have as of April 2012 is the return of “manipulative pricing”—properties priced deliberately lower than market value with an eye toward attracting extreme buyer interest and substantially higher selling prices. Case in point was 1219 Cole (above), a gracious 2BR/2BA home on a prime Cole Valley street, listed for $1,095,000. The broker tour and open houses were zoos of buyers and agents, and the sellers ended up with 18 offers and a contract price reportedly well above that list price.

There are many other examples of such activity that span various price ranges and property types. An obvious indicator of manipulative pricing is the trend as of the last few weeks involving listing agents entering a property into the MLS and setting an offer date before any showings or open houses take place. Such a practice is a dead giveaway that the home is being listed for below-market value.

It’s not surprising to me that strategies used during the height of the market are returning in 2012. After all, the tech job sector is booming, buyers seem to be accessing large sums of cash, international buyers are continuing to make purchases here, and everyone has adjusted to the challenges of the lending landscape (and its low interest rates). Moreover, there is a real lack of well-priced, well-located inventory out there.

So if you have a great 3BR house in Ashbury Heights to sell, give me a call. We’ll list it at $1,195,000 and I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results.

Top 10 Neighborhoods for Commuting to Downtown San Francisco

One of the more popular requests from my new buyer clients is that they need to live in a neighborhood with easy and relatively quick rail or bus access to downtown San Francisco. So I thought I’d pull together a list for all those prospective home buyers and downtown commuters out there who may be considering a home purchase in 2012. I’ve also linked each neighborhood to its corresponding profile on my Zephyr company site, so you can see stats and available homes. And if you want Muni maps, click here.

1. Noe Valley. Yes, everyone loves Noe for its retail area, wide streets, and overall appeal. But it’s also excellent if you need to get downtown regularly. The ideal commuting section of Noe is anywhere east of Sanchez. From there, you can walk to the J Church, and also to the 24th Street BART station.

2. The Mission and Mission Dolores. Just next door to Noe is the popular Mission district, with its hot Valencia restaurant/shop/cafe strip. The Mission is directly served by the BART line, which runs downtown and into the East Bay. Ideal areas of the Mission would be within blocks of either the 16th or 24th and Mission stations. And on the Mission Dolores front, you have your 18th Street BiRite/Defina/Tartine empire, which are great places to stop off on your way home from the 16th and Mission BART station, or the J Church.

3. Glen Park. In the heart of Glen Park’s downtown area is the BART hub. This is pretty accessible from most parts of Glen Park, as well as the more northern section of Mission Terrace and the eastern portion of neighboring Sunnyside.

4. Lower Pacific Heights. No rail lines service this area, but buses run frequently to and from downtown on practically every east-west street, including California, Pine, Bush, Sutter, and Post. There’s also an excellent stretch along Fillmore that offers a variety of restaurants, shops and cafes.

5. Cole Valley.  A bit more low key than its Haight Ashbury neighbor, Cole Valley is served by the N Judah. The station is located on Cole, adjacent to about three blocks’ worth of restaurants, shops and cafes. The train can get pretty crowded at peak times, but it’s definitely a direct line to downtown.

6. Duboce Triangle. The N Judah also runs through Duboce, but the residents of this very small section of San Francisco can also walk over to Church and Market for the J Church.

7. Eureka Valley/Castro. The Market and Castro Muni station is ideal for Castro dwellers, who have a variety of train lines running to downtown.

8. West Portal. Sleepier than some of the aforementioned nabes, West Portal is a very cool area with a mom-and-pop retail strip that’s pretty much the opposite of Union Street. The area is served by the L Muni line. It may take a little longer to get downtown from this western San Francisco location, but West Portal is the most convenient area west of Twin Peaks for commuting.

9. Hayes Valley. Also the keeper of a hot retail area, Hayes Valley hosts a variety of bus lines that run to Market Street, or you can walk over to the Muni stations at Market and Van Ness or Civic Center to get downtown. You can also walk downtown on a good day.

10. Dogpatch. Otherwise known as the Central Waterfront, Dogpatch became the beneficiary of a bonafide Muni line back in 2007. The T spirits residents from the easter edges of the city right through Mission Bay and past the Giants’ ballpark. And Dogpatch’s growing number of hip, high-quality restaurants are making it a destination for foodies citywide.

 

Walk Score Winners: Eureka & Cole Valleys, Lower Pac Heights

It’s been a while since I’ve rounded up a trio of homes with high Walk Scores. Today we take a look at a two condos and one single-family home that have 90+ Walk Scores—meaning you’re in proximity to restaurants, services, shops and public transportation. 

82 Liberty, Eureka Valley
$1,150,000
94 Walk Score

82 Liberty is a top-floor condo in a two-unit building. The home has 2BRs/1.5BAs and one-car tandem parking; at approximately 1700 square feet, it’s very spacious. There’s an additional room that’s usable as an office or guest space, as well as a lovely shared garden. HOA dues are a low $80 per month. The bedroom above gives you a sense for the period detail and finishes—there’s a lot of wood. The kitchen has been updated, as have the bathrooms. 82 Liberty last sold in 2005 for $1,004,000, so let’s see if this baby has appreciated since the go-go real estate market died off. At $1,150,000, I’ll venture to say that the price is on the high side—even if you can walk around the block to Delfina and Bi Rite.

49 Alma, Cole Valley
$1,350,000
92 Walk Score

49 Alma has changed hands a few times over the past decade. The 3BR/2BA single-family home with two-car parking sold in 2002 for $1,050,000, and then again in 2006 for $1,325,000. The Edwardian home features a remodeled kitchen with soapstone countertops (above) and a newly added family room with direct access to a south-facing deck. The seller completed these and other substantial renovations subsequent to their 2006 purchase, so the current $1,350,000 list price doesn’t seem too off base to me. They also did a test run in late 2010, putting the property on the market for $1,475,000 and ultimately withdrawing it earlier this year. But maybe the current market will do the trick for this well-located home.

1961 Pine, Lower Pacific Heights
$1,200,000
98 Walk Score

1961 Pine is a pre-Victorian era condo with 4BRs/1.5BAs and one-car parking. There’s a formal dining room, spacious kitchen and southern views from the rear of the unit. HOA dues are $380.75, and there are three units in the building. 1961 Pine is the middle unit. The location is phenomenal (though Pine is a busy street), as you’re in proximity to Lafayette Park, the upper Fillmore, Japantown and Van Ness corridor. The property also has our highest Walk Score of the bunch!

Market Mood Swings: Buena Vista & Cole Valley

I routinely check sales prices to get a timely sense of where the market is, and how buyers are responding. As is typical, some properties are selling very quickly and for well over their asking prices, but others are not experiencing such good luck. Here are two examples of what I call market mood swings that occurred last week:

The 4BR/3BA Edwardian single-family home above at 892 Ashbury in the coveted Buena Vista neighborhood is a real charmer. The kitchen was nicely renovated, and the home was featured in design publications. There’s plenty of room (4300 square feet), and there is also a legal 1BR unit.It was listed for $2,795,000 in early April, and closed last week for $2.5M after 70 days on the market. So there was clearly some room to move on the list price.

On the other end of the spectrum is 575 Belvedere in Cole Valley:

Belvedere Street in Cole Valley is one of the most desirable streets in the neighborhood. And this sale proved that point. The 4BR/2BA home needed updating and refreshening. But there were good bones. (No garage, though.) The property was listed at the end of May for $1,095,000. It closed last week for $1,350,000. Someone obviously needed to be on Belvedere. Let’s hope their plans include a garage door installation.

Preview: 2BR Haight/Cole Valley Condo

Last sold in 2006 for $1.1M, this 2BR/2BA condo at 756 Clayton on the Haight/Cole Valley border will be coming on the market at $889,000. I checked out the unit today during our weekly Zephyr Preview Tour, and I really liked the space. The well-appointed kitchen (photo above is from the last time the unit was on the market) has a very cool breakfast area. And the master bedroom is at the rear of the unit with an ensuite travertine bath.

This is the lower level in a two-unit building, so you enjoy the benefit of having a lovely walkout garden.

There’s also one-car independent parking and storage. This stretch of Clayton is attractive, as it’s tree lined and only a short walk to the heart of Cole Valley—as well as a block and a half to Haight Street. (Walk Score is…100.)

Give me a call if you’d like to schedule a showing.

Preview: 4BR Cole Valley Condo

I previewed a lovely condo that’s perfect for buyers who need space, parking and a central location.

Listed at $1,050,000, the unit at 215 Carl at Stanyan is on two levels. The attic was developed into two bedrooms and one bathroom, and it’s actually done well. The staircase leading upstairs is narrow, but it’s better than some of the other attic conduits that I’ve seen in the past. There are eight rooms in total, with two additional bedrooms and one bath on the main level. The unit is in nice condition, with 1906 period detail.

There’s also a nice yard, one-car parking and only one other unit in the building. 215 Carl is on the edge of Cole Valley, which means it’s close to the Haight, Golden Gate Park, and the Inner Sunset, too.  The home is on the N Judah line, which means you will hear the train going past the house. But the flip side is that public transportation is easily accessible.

Contact me if you’d like to get in before the masses! And for a quick look at the property and block, click here and then click on “Street View” on Google Maps.

Sellers Take Hits in the Heights

Two big sales closed last week, both for substantially less than their original asking prices. Though the sellers of these Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights and Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights properties were probably a bit deflated, I’m sure the homes’ buyers ended up feeling pretty snappy. Here’s how things went down:

226 Edgewood is a 4BR/4BA home (above) that hit the market at the end of October 2010 for $3.5M. The sellers did a price reduction in early December, resulting in a $3,150,000 list price. An offer was accepted shortly thereafter, and the final selling price was $2.9M.

Over in Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights, the 4BR/3BA home at 893 Ashbury came on the market in September 2010:

The initial list price was $1,795,000, and the sellers made a couple major price reductions in the ensuing months. The sale closed last week for $1,385,000. Seems about right for a home with no garage.