Hard Hat Tour: Amero in Cow Hollow

I went on a hard hat tour of the new Amero condo building at 1501 Filbert between Van Ness and Franklin last week. Featuring 27 two- and three-bedroom units, Amero also includes one parking space per unit. (Many other properties only provide one space for every two units.) There are four penthouses, as well.

Units range from just over 1,000 square feet to 2500 square feet. Finishes will feature natural stone countertops, walls and flooring; carpeting in bedrooms; European grey oak/wide plank flooring. The kitchen will be fully stocked with Italian cabinetry, Bertazzoni ranges and Thermador refrigerators, along with polished quartz countertops. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

What You Could’ve Bought: For Under List Price

It’s unusual in the current San Francisco market for buyers to be able to purchase a home for less than the list price. Most of the time, a property has to be on the market for at least a couple months, and even then, there’s no guarantee the seller will be willing to take less. But here are three homes that changed hands for substantially less than asking:

1966-68 Greenwich
Cow Hollow

List Price: $3,900,000
Sale Price: $2,650,000
Days on Market (DOM): 99
1966-68 Greenwich was billed as a family compound, and consisted of two condos. There was a 3BR/2BA home with two-car parking at the front of the lot, and a rear 2BR/1.5BA cottage with one-car parking (which the seller was renting on a short-term basis for an income of $100,000/yr). Both buildings were extensively remodeled, and the cottage had its own private entrance. The seller also included plans for enlarging the rear unit by 2500 square feet. Great location near Union Street shops and restaurants, as well as 101. [Read more…]

What You Can Buy—Before the End of the Year

There’s still time to get into contract and complete a home purchase before the end of the year. There are about 14 business days left before Christmas, so buyers with cash or very large down payments will be in strong demand to achieve the year-end selling goal.

If you’re one such buyer, you may want to consider one of the newer listings that have recently come on the market. Here’s a look at three homes that I love, and which I believe have list prices that leave room for the requisite overbidding:

3754 Cesar Chavez
Noe Valley

2BR/1BA, 936 sq feet

3754 Cesar Chavez is the classic small Noe Victorian that’s great for a single person or couple planning to live there for a few years before upgrading to a larger, more spacious place. The home is well appointed, with an open, bright kitchen, period detail throughout and a deck off the rear. Brick foundation and one-car parking in the garage. Though the house is situated on a busy stretch of Cesar Chavez between Guerrero and Dolores—and backs up to the Samoan Church/sits next to a parking lot, the location is central to BART, Muni and the freeways. You’re also in proximity to the Mission restaurants and shops, as well as the excellent 26th & Guerrero grocery store around the corner.

16 Amber
Diamond Heights

2BR/2BA, 2 pkg

Yes, Diamond Heights is foggy and somewhat remote. But where else can you get a top-floor condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two-car parking and views listed for under $700,000? 16 Amber is in a smaller complex with a building entrance that’s shared by only three other units. The condo has a balcony with south-facing views and an updated kitchen. HOA dues are just under $500. You’re a 10-minute walk from Safeway, and five minutes’ drive to 280.

2374 Union
Cow Hollow

3BR/2BA, 1696 sq ft
1 pkg

2374 Union is my pick of the bunch here, and with good reason. First, this 2300 block of Union is completely residential but is only one block east from the retail stretch of Union. Second, the condo itself has all the amenities—remodeled kitchen, parking, shared yard—and is in a well-preserved 1906 building. There are four units in the building, and HOA dues are a low $394/month.

21 Days & Counting: Hot SF ‘Hoods

San Francisco inventory is typically snapped up within a week in popular neighborhoods. But it may come as a surprise to find that there are many properties that have been on the market for three or more weeks—and are still available.

For buyers who are tired of competing in multiple-offer situations, it’s time to revisit the listings that are taking offers as they come. Today we take a look at three homes in the hot neighborhoods of Bernal, West Portal and Cow Hollow that have been on the market for 21 days or longer:

86 Wool
Bernal Heights

Days on market (DOM): 71
4BR/3.5BA, 1890 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $1,399,000

Purchased as a 2BR/1BA, 1125 square foot home in April 2012 for $801,000, 86 Wool has since undergone a transformation into a 4BR/3.5BA house. The property was on the market in the Spring for $1.5M; that price didn’t work. (Though the house was briefly in contract in July.) Now asking $1.4M, the sellers are hoping there are buyers out there who will appreciate 86 Wool’s renovation and prime Bernal location. As larger and not necessarily renovated homes in the neighborhood have been selling for well above $1.3M, I think 86 Wool could be an opportunity for someone to buy a “done” house without enduring a bloodbath offer situation. Honestly, had the sellers listed the house for $1.2M, it probably would’ve been sold for $1.4M by now.

2428 14th Avenue
West Portal

Days on market (DOM): 55
2 pkg
List Price: $1,249,000

For buyers looking for a large single-family home in proximity to the West Portal retail area, 2428 14th Avenue definitely fits the bill. There are three bedrooms on the main level, a large, remodeled kitchen and two more bedrooms and family room on the garden level. You’d be hard pressed to find a house of this caliber for less than the list price, so serious buyers may want to take a first (or second) look at 14th Avenue.

1853 Filbert
Cow Hollow

Days on market (DOM): 69
2BR/2BA, 1034 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $1,125,000

The main issue with this unit is that the large bedroom is half of the double parlor, and the second bedroom is small. But if you can get past that and utilize the space properly, 1853 Filbert may be a great fit for you. It has a nicely remodeled, eat-in kitchen and a lovely shared patio and landscaped garden. There are six units in the building, and the HOA dues are a reasonable $375/month. First listed for $1,185,000 in June, the price has come down since then. May be time to make a deal, particularly if you’re looking for an excellent Cow Hollow location a block from Union Street.

What You Can Buy: Two-Unit Buildings

Two-unit buildings in San Francisco that are eligible for one or two owner occupiers are one of the most desirable multi-unit property types in San Francisco. Two buyers interested in partnering up and living in both units while they pursue a fast-track condo conversion are great prospects for such a building, as is an owner occupier who wants to reside in one unit and rent out the other. (The latter doesn’t allow that owner to circumvent the condo lottery, but it can be an excellent way to afford a home that you otherwise may not have been able to purchase without factoring in rental income.)

I wanted to highlight three two-unit buildings that I think are great prospects. If you’d like further details on any of these properties, or would like to talk more about the ins and outs of purchasing two units, please contact me. I’ve owned my two units in Noe Valley for many years, living in one unit and renting out the other. So I can tell you firsthand about the ins and outs.

Here are my two-unit picks at the moment:

2583-2385 Greenwich Street / Divisadero
Cow Hollow


This is an excellent opportunity to purchase a pair of flats which will be delivered vacant, as the owner resides in one unit and will be moving. There are two 2BR flats with a combined square footage of 2240. This is the first time 2583-2385 Greenwich has been on the market in 30 years, so you can expect a need for cosmetic updates—not a bad way to increase value right away. The property has its original 1930s detail intact, from a large fireplace to crown moldings. There’s a three-car garage that provides three independent spaces, one of which is rented. For buyers seeking outdoor space, this isn’t the property for you, as the building takes up the entire lot. But you can certainly look into the possibility of adding a roof deck, which would pave the way to Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz views. This location is central to Union and Chestnut Streets, North Bay commutes, and Muni lines.

17-19 Ford/Sanchez
Eureka Valley


17-19 Ford is a prime two-unit building in a great Eureka Valley location. Each flat has 2BR/1BA, and are roughly 1500 square feet each. The property has been improved with refinished floors, double-paned windows, new electrical and plumbing and seismic upgrades. Kitchens in each unit have been remodeled with new appliances. There are southern views from the bedrooms, plenty of storage, large bonus rooms, and both units will be delivered vacant. This is an excellent fit for two TIC partners looking to condo convert—and who’d rather not be bothered doing their own renovations. Though the location is technically Eureka Valley, Ford is only a block and a half to Dolores Park, three blocks to Castro Street, and is an easy stroll to the heart of the Valencia corridor.

1027-1029 Washington/Powell
Nob Hill


1027-1029 Washington is a two-unit building that will be delivered vacant and could use updating, so this is another one perfect for TIC partners looking to condo convert. There are two 2BR/1BA units that are around 1,000 square feet each, and a one-car garage. The building is situated in a busy part of Nob Hill/Chinatown, about two blocks from the top of Nob Hill and three blocks from the Financial District. So that makes it a good prospect for buyers who work downtown and want to be able to walk everywhere. There’s also plenty of public transportation nearby.

What You Can Buy: SF Houses

There are many neighborhood and property options in San Francisco. Today we take a look at four new single-family homes listings in different price points and areas. For those kicking off a house hunt who aren’t terribly familiar with the many neighborhoods in the city, this is a great way to start getting a sense for what’s out there:

754 Monterey Blvd

2BR/1BA, 1124 sq ft
Built 1924
1 pkg

Featuring an updated kitchen and bath, formal dining room and a lovely garden, 754 Monterey has lovely 1920s period details. Monterey Boulevard has four lanes of traffic, so if you’re very sensitive to noise, this may not be the best choice. But the location is convenient to 280, two bus lines, BART, City College, Safeway and more. The property last sold in 2009 for $633,000.

243 Romain
Twin Peaks

2BR/1BA, 952 sq ft (as per tax records)
Built 1908
1 pkg

The big selling point for 243 Romain is the floor-to-ceiling windows and deck that overlook the city skyline and homes in the background, as well as the secluded, landscaped yard. The house is definitely on the small side, but having those views really opens things up. At the corner is a footbridge that lets you cross Market Street, and drops you down into the Castro. Weather in Twin Peaks is generally cooler, foggier and windier in the afternoon, but the neighborhood is great for clearing your head and appreciating a more quiet environment. The house last sold in 2008 for $899,000.

770 4th Avenue
Inner Richmond

4BR/2BA, 2652 sq ft
Built 1914
2 pkg

770 4th Avenue is great for buyers who need a lot of bedrooms and space, as well as those who are looking for a property to update and make their own. All the details are there, from a living room with a fireplace and built-ins to wainscoting and wood molding. The 700 block of 4th Avenue is right off Golden Gate Park, and is one of my favorite streets in the Inner Richmond because it’s tree lined and has a lovely feel to it. 770 4th Avenue has been owned by the same family since 1973, and we’re told that they took great care of the property.

3110 Buchanan
Cow Hollow

2BR/1BA, 1066 sq ft (as per tax records)
Built 1900
1 pkg

An excellent condo alternative for buyers who are serious about living in Cow Hollow, 3110 Buchanan is s small Victorian house with a lot of charm in the form of bay windows, high ceilings, French doors and crown moldings. One of the bedrooms is half of the double parlor, and there’s a large eat-in kitchen that looks out on to the patio. Decent-size parking space, as well as washer/dryer hookups and storage. 3110 Buchanan is one and a half blocks from the heart of Union Street, and about five blocks to the Chestnut Street retail area. The block itself loses points in the charm department, as you’re adjacent to a motel. But the location is convenient, particularly for North Bay commuters.

Walk Score Winners: Haight, Mission, Cow Hollow

Our latest edition of Walk Score Winners showcases a trio of condos in iconic San Francisco neighborhoods that offer proximity to restaurants, public transportation, shops and cafes. Let’s get to it:

724 Clayton, The Haight
100 Walk Score

Boasting the highest Walk Score possible, 724 Clayton is a 2BR/1BA condo with a remodeled kitchen (above), formal dining room and in-unit laundry. The second bedroom is half of the double parlor, which means you’re separated from the living room by a set of large pocket doors. The unit is located on the first floor of a two-unit building and comes with one-car parking. HOA dues are $280/mo. This is a great location in the heart of the Haight/Cole Valley, and all the shops, stores and public transportation you’ll need.

1335 Minna #2, Mission
98 Walk Score

Last sold for $850,000 in 2005, 1335 Minna #2 is a two-level 1BR/2BA loft that is now on the market for $925,000. The 1948-square foot unit occupies the middle floor of a three-unit building and has soaring ceilings and an oversized master suite. One of the two gas-burning fireplaces is pictured above, and separates the dining and living areas. There’s one-car parking, and HOA dues are $396/month.

3117 Buchanan, Cow Hollow
97 Walk Score

3117 Buchanan is a top-floor, 2BR/1BA Edwardian condo with Golden Gate and Palace of Fine Arts views. Located within a six-unit building, the unit has high ceilings, moldings and a deck off the kitchen. HOA dues are $178/month. The condo was last sold in 2007 for $846,000, so the sellers seem to be realistic about the current market. You’re pretty much at the center of all the north end retail areas such as Fillmore, Chestnut and Union Streets.

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.

What You Get For: $850,000

The $850,000 price range is one of the most popular in San Francisco. Buyers in this range are typically looking for either a house or a very centrally located condo or TIC. So I thought we’d take a look at one of each:

32 Sutro Heights Avenue, Outer Richmond

32 Sutro Heights is located in the Sutro Heights neighborhood of the Outer Richmond district. The area covers the blocks that surround Sutro Heights Park and the Cliff House. Homeowners in Sutro Heights like the proximity to the ocean and parks. This property has three bedrooms and two baths across 1,429 square feet, and features a well-appointed kitchen and master suite on the top level. There’s one-car parking, too. 32 Sutro Heights was sold for $805,000 in March 2010, and doesn’t appear to have undergone any changes in the interim.

4358 23rd Street, Noe Valley

4358 23rd Street is situated in a good Noe Valley location, just west of the heart of the 24th Street retail strip. The Victorian, top-floor unit has three bedrooms and one bathroom, with about 1138 square feet. There’s also a remodeled kitchen. HOAs are $300/month.  No parking, so you can be the judge of how easy street parking is in this location (it’s not that bad). Firefly retaurant is around the corner, as is the Douglass park. This home was sold for $810,000 in 2007.

2332 Greenwich, Cow Hollow

2332 Greenwich is a TIC in a two-unit building, which is the next best thing to a condo. It’s the lower of the two flats, and includes two bedrooms, one bath and 1267 square feet. I think this 1930s property has nice period detail and a very functional floor plan. There’s one-car parking under the building, as well as another space around the corner on Service Street in a separate structure. This unit has a private patio, as well as space in the rear of the garage to develop another room. This is an excellent location for buyers who want to be near either the Union or Chestnut street retail areas–plus, easy access to Marin and wine country. 2332 Greenwich was on the market last year for a much higher $950,000. But the price has come down since then, so it might be time to get a deal.

Good Deals: 2288 Filbert & 34 Harris in Cow Hollow

I stopped in during my broker tour yesterday at two condos in Cow Hollow that I thought were good deals:

2288 Filbert (above) is a 2BR/1BA Victorian flat with about 1350 square feet. It has a nicely remodeled kitchen and bath, as well as a formal dining room and small deck off the kitchen. There’s one-car independent parking, storage, and HOA dues are $184/mo. The unit is in a three-unit building that is situated one block from the wildly beating heart of Union Street. I thought this condo was great for buyers who want to roll out of bed and be in Rose’s Cafe—not to mention be about three blocks from Chestnut Street, which is just across Lombard. List price: $829,00.

And then there was the adorable 34 Harris:

That country kitchen is the centerpiece of this cozy first-floor unit in a two-unit front building. (The rear building represents one unit.) Though the condo is on the small side at 729 square feet, it’s got a functional floor plan that includes a den. The three units share a brick patio, and the building is 1.5 blocks to Union Street. Though parking is not in the building, the seller of this particular unit has leased a spot just up Harris for $300/mo. List price: $599,000. I liked that the kitchen was large enough to accommodate an island, and also that there’s a door that leads right off the kitchen on to the patio.

Cow Hollow Condos Debut at Scott and Lombard

During my broker tour this week, I visited the new 12-unit condo building at 3190 Scott Street at Lombard that just opened its doors. All the units are two bedrooms/two baths, and range in price from $899,000-$1,149,000. (There is one unit that has 2.5 baths.) All but one unit have some sort of outdoor space, whether it’s a patio overlooking Lombard Street or one that faces the rear of the property.

The floor plans are similar in each unit—one level features a smallish master bedroom and bathroom, and the other level has the living area, kitchen, bedroom and another bath. Here’s a shot of one of the living areas that face the Bay:

And here’s a sample kitchen:

My favorite unit was 310, listed at $1,099,000. The master suite was located on the entrance level, and had an outlook of the nearby buildings. The kitchen/living area and bedroom/bath upstairs had Bay-facing outlooks, and the outdoor space was off the front balcony.

There are one or two below-market-rate units, but given that these are around $900,000, I’m not sure how “BMR” they are.

HOA dues are around $428, and there’s an elevator in the building. One-car parking is included for each unit.

Though the condos offer good space, the biggest drawback is that they’re located pretty much on Lombard. So you get the constant traffic and bustle from multiple lanes of traffic on a primary San Francisco corridor. Within a block radius, you’re surrounded by the Days Inn, Super 8, Presidio Inn, and America’s Best Value Inn, so there won’t be a shortage of accommodations for your guests if you don’t want them holding up in your second bedroom. Granted, once you cross Lombard you’re in the heart of the Chestnut Street retail area. But there will be substantial noise from the Lombard activity for those desiring a quiet place to live.

But if you look at the average sales prices and overall size of the comps, 3190 Scott comes off as being more spacious and is definitely viewed as an upscale building. (A good comp that’s currently in contract is over at 2839 Union, between Baker and Lyon. This is a top floor, 2BR/1.5BA plus sunroom and original kitchen that was listed at $1,079,000 and went into contract within a month.) I think 3190 Scott is a good fit for, say, Marin or downtown commuters who are looking for a good separation of space between bedrooms, as well as luxury finishes and a bit of outdoor space. Contact me if you’re interested in seeing the building. So far, none are in contract yet, so you’ll have your pick.

Cow Hollow Home Sells, Back on Market Less Than a Month Later

How much would it suck if you bought a house in Cow Hollow, were about to move in, and then found out you were being transferred out of state?

If you’re the current owners of 215 Moulton, you’re in this boat. They closed escrow on the property on February 26th for $1,540,000 (we covered the property in a recent feature). They’re now listing it again less than a month later at $1.6M. And no, they never even got a chance to move in.

Is there something about Moulton that makes people flee? The house has changed hands four times since 2003. I personally really liked the property, but it might be the place to go if you want to hang out temporarily. Not sure a buyer will be looking to pay $60,000 more—especially without any kind of staging inside, or furniture of any kind—but I suppose Spring is here, and anything goes.

Walk Score Winners: Houses in the North End of San Francisco

We’re taking a look today at two of the lesser-priced single-family homes in the north end of the city with very high Walk Scores. Here are a couple options for excellent walking locations if your goal is to own a house in the more classic neighborhoods of the city–for up to $1.5M.

1519 Baker
Lower Pacific Heights
List Price: $1,100,000
3-car pkg
This stick Victorian has a somewhat awkward floor plan, but is located in a very central neighborhood. The double parlor and additional rooms are lined up on one side of the house, and the kitchen and dining room on the other. At the rear of the property is a narrow staircase that looks like it was added on to the exterior of the house at one point. That leads to a bedroom and bath where a man and his two Yorkies were sitting when I visited the property. But if you’re looking for a Victorian house in the north end of the city, you won’t really find one for that much less than $1.1M unless it’s for lot value. This one is probably a little high based on the comparative sales in the area over the past year. But it’s 2010, and negotiation is the name of the game. Walk Score: 95.

215 Moulton
Cow Hollow
List Price: $1,535,000
1-car pkg
Located on a small street between Greenwich/Lombard and Fillmore/Steiner, 215 Moulton has a very functional, accommodating floorplan. It was built in 1995 and inarguably has a ’90s feel in the finishes. But it’s got 2300 square feet across three levels and features a nice kitchen and living/dining areas plus half bath; a loft office area and bedroom upstairs; and a master suite at the garden level. The house has changed hands a few times in the past, selling most recently for $1.8M in 2007. Obvious comparative sale is next door at 213 Moulton—pretty much the same house that sold for $1,530,000 in an all-cash transaction in June 2009. Walk Score: 98

Walk Score Winners: Pacific Heights, The Haight, Telegraph Hill

Here’s a roundup of some current condos that have excellent Walk Scores:

1835 Franklin, #1103
Pacific Heights
List Price: $825,000
Sq ft: 1400
HOAs: $1,165/mo
Walk Score: 100
If you can get past the $1,135 per month HOA fees, 1835 Franklin could work for you. This 45-unit building is right at Franklin and Sacramento. There’s a master suite, and views. The seller has agreed to pay the HOA dues for one year.

155 Central
The Haight
List Price: $799,000
Sq ft: 1660
HOAs: $303/mo
Leased pkg only/$330/mo
Walk Score: 94
Fresh off a $50,000 price reduction, 155 Central is awaiting its Santa Claus. This is a big Victorian condo in a nice Haight location, and the unit has great period detail. The seller has agreed to pay six months’ worth of parking.

9-11 Tracy
Telegraph Hill
List Prices: $799,000 (top); $749,000 (lower)
2BR/2BA, each unit
HOAs: $150/mo
2-car pkg, each unit
Walk Score: 98
These condos are smack dab in the middle of Telegraph Hill/North Beach, on a small street. The building was just condo converted, and is located behind Molinari’s Deli. For those who want to fall out their door and into one of San Francisco’s most coveted ‘hoods, 9-11 Tracy fits the bill. Prior to its condo conversion, the building was on the market earlier this year under a 9-11 Kenneth Rexroth address for $1,650,000.