The Most Competitive House Markets in San Francisco Right Now

If you’re aiming to buy or sell a single-family home in San Francisco, it’s important to take note of the selling patterns in the city’s various neighborhoods. You’ve probably read my blog post from earlier this week on the hottest condo markets, but when it comes to overbidding on houses, the landscape looks slightly different.

The neighborhoods where buyers are overbidding most intensely are varied, and there are many. [Read more…]

Smackdown: Forest Hill House vs Lake Condo

Welcome to our $1.4M smackdown, pitting one one house in need of updating vs one condo that’s good to go, in two different but equally tony neighborhoods. Which property would you choose?

Contestant #1
30 Santa Rita Avenue
Forest Hill
4BR/2.5BA, 2078 sq ft
This Spanish-Mediterranean “diamond in the rough” on a lovely tree-lined block of Forest Hill is perfect for buyers looking for a house with good bones that would vastly benefit from a sound remodel. One key factor is that all four bedrooms and two bathrooms are upstairs on the same level, including a master with sweeping views of Twin Peaks.

Contestant #2
66 5th Avenue
Lake District
3BR/1.5BA, 1599 sq ft, 1 pkg
Located on a prime north of Lake block, 66 5th Avenue is a large condo that opens directly on to its own private deck and garden. The master bedroom also opens to a deck and has nice yard access; the third bedroom has no closet and is probably best for an office or baby’s room. There’s also a huge private storage room and independent parking. Half a block to the Presidio and about three blocks to the restaurants and shops on Clement. This unit was last sold in…July 2013 for $1,422,000.

So which one would you buy?

SF Overbidders Club Welcomes New Members

Our ongoing feature highlighting properties that have sold for 25% or more above list price continues today with three new SF Overbidders Club members. Here’s the latest lineup:

53 States
Corona Heights

List Price: $748,000
Sale Price: $1,135,000
Overbid Amount: 52%
Closed Escrow: 8/28/13

This contractor’s special with odd curb appeal and no garage apparently impressed many buyers, but one stood out with a non-contingent cash offer. Yes, folks, that’s what it takes to earn the right to develop a property in a popular location up the hill from the Castro.

37 Elk
Glen Park

List Price: $949,000
Sale Price: $1,282,000
Overbid Amount: 35%
Closed Escrow: 8/16/13

This detached single-family home overlooking Glen Canyon Park had a remodeled kitchen and bath, two large bedrooms with direct deck access, and a newly remodeled master suite downstairs with an office, laundry area and ample storage. In short, the house has everything three-bedroom buyers are looking for, along with easy access to 280 and BART. 37 Elk last sold for $785,000 in August 2008.

140 Edgehill
Forest Hill Extension

List Price: $895,000
Sale Price: $1,177,000
Overbid Amount: 31.5%
Closed Escrow: 9/6/13

Situated on curvy Edgehill Way, this property has a 5,000 square foot terraced lot and was custom built in 1947. Yes, it was a quirky and dated house, but one buyer was willing to pay 31.5% over the list price. 140 Edgehill last sold in 2004 for $990,000.

What You Can Buy for $1M

Condos and single-family homes listed for $1M or less typically attract many buyers in the current San Francisco market. Here’s a look at what you can buy at the $1M price point in three desirable neighborhoods:

341 Presidio
Presidio Heights
2BR/1.25BA, 1307 sq ft
1-car parking
List Price: $998,000

341 Presidio is a spacious 1920s condo that features hardwood floors, a remodeled kitchen and bath, and best of all, a large private yard (above) that’s deeded to this unit. Such exclusive outdoor space is not typical for a condo in a three-unit building. The property is situated around the block from the Sacramento Street shops, is near Laurel Heights Village and is about 3.5 blocks to The Presidio.

575 Magellan
Forest Hill
2BR/2BA, 1343 sq ft
1-car pkg
List Price: $995,000

575 Magellan is a remodeled Spanish Mediterranean home located on a lovely, tree-lined block in the quiet and stately Forest Hill neighborhood. Though it’s missing that third bedroom everyone typically wants who looks for a home in Forest Hill, the main level offers a living room with fireplace, formal dining room, kitchen with eat-in area and a family room. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and bath with skylight and heated floors. Just outside the family room is a walk-out patio, as well as a landscaped yard with Magnolia trees, lawn, hot tub and outdoor shower. 575 Magellan is a short distance away from the West Portal retail area and Muni station to downtown, as well as about a ten-minute drive to 280.

2152 Grove
North Panhandle
1-car tandem pkg
List Price: $999,000

2152 Grove is another spacious condo, this time in the Craftsman-style vein. The floor plan includes two large bedrooms in addition to a sunroom overlooking the yard. You also get two full-sized bathrooms (one is split), which is nice. The kitchen has been remodeled and the dining room offers floor-to-ceiling custom built-in bookcases and cabinetry. Buyers may pause at the fact that the parking is tandem, meaning you have to move one car out of the way to get in and out of the garage. And the property backs up to USF’s School of Law. But if you can get past the last two factors, this is great interior space and excellent proximity to Golden Gate Park. 2152 Grove strikes me as a good bet for parents looking to invest in a San Francisco property that their USF student child can live in while attending school. It’d be a fine prospect for a future pied-a-terre or rental property after graduation.

Inventory Down, But Don’t Overlook Older Listings

It’s no secret that San Francisco housing inventory is pretty low right now. The above graph shows you how inventory levels have steadily decreased over the past two years.

So in one corner, we have prospective buyers out there who are feeling an urgent need to make a purchase, fueled by high rents and low mortgage rate. But in the other corner, we have a limited supply of homes to meet the need. What’s a buyer to do?

Answer: Don’t fall into the trap of only considering new listings. It may take a little more work and negotiating, but hunting down a home that’s been on the market for 30+ days may turn out to be the solution. With that in mind, I’m going to regularly feature trios of these types of listings across all property types and price ranges. Sometimes calling such listings to buyers’ attention gets the wheels turning.

939 Jackson #303 / Nob Hill
List Price: $869,000
2BR/1.5BA, 1131 sq ft / Built 2005
Days on Market (DOM): 75

Background: 939 Jackson #303 is one of those centrally located condo listings that makes me wonder why a buyer hasn’t yet snatched it up. The unit features an open floor plan, city views, nice finishes throughout and a limestone-tiled gas fireplace in the living room. One-car parking is included, and there’s also a shared roof deck. There are nine units in the building, and HOA dues are $396/month.

Location: Two cable car lines pass by, and the building is in walking distance of North Beach, Russian Hill, Chinatown, Financial District and downtown.

Market perspective: The average 2BR condo sale in Nob Hill from June-November 2012 clocked in at $970,758 for an average of 1280 square feet, and the most relevant comp is the 2BR on the same floor with similar square footage that sold in August for $905,000. Current list price is $869,000, down from $888,000.

290 Dorantes / Forest Hill
List Price: $1,385,000
3BR/3.5BA, 2464 sq ft / Built 1948
Days on Market (DOM): 62

Background: 290 Dorantes is a detached, mid-century single-family home with a nicely remodeled kitchen, two bedrooms on the main level and a master bedroom up. There are three decks, as well as a lovely garden. A bonus room and bath are downstairs, with a separate entrance, along with two-car parking. (And a termite inspection on file for only $3,000 in recommended repair work.)

Location: 290 Dorantes is in proximity to the West Portal retail area, and also happens to be located on a lovely, tree-lined street.

Market perspective: The property came on the market with an initial list price of $1,450,000, so the price has come down considerably since then. The 3BR/3.5BA home next door just sold for $1,485,000.

997 Carolina / Potrero Hill
List Price: $579,000
2BR/1BA, 1067 sq ft / Built 1978
Days on Market (DOM): 104

Background: It’s a challenge to find a two-bedroom condo in the city in this price range, as some of my buyer clients will attest. Take note of 997 Carolina, a well-appointed unit with a split-level floor plan that provides a nice separation between living space and bedrooms. The unit has pano views and access to a large, private deck, as well as a shared yard and one-car parking. And there’s a fireplace in the living room, too. There’s only one other unit in the building, and HOA dues are $80/month.

Location: 997 Carolina is situated in a reasonable location within Potrero that has an 83 Walk Score.

Market perspective: The unit was originally listed for $649,000, and last sold in 2006 for $665,000. The sellers just reduced the price yesterday from $599,000 to the current $579,000. Good comps for 997 Carolina are two 2BR condos that sold in June 2012 on the 600 block of Carolina for $700,000 each.

What You Can Buy In District 4

One of the more attractive areas of San Francisco is what’s known as District 4 in Realtor terms. This is the region west of Twin Peaks that encompasses 16 different neighborhoods—everything from Miraloma Park and Sunnyside, to West Portal and Balboa Terrace. I thought we’d take a look at three homes currently on the market in District 4 so you can get a sense for what types of homes are available.

First up is 2531 14th Avenue in West Portal:

Featuring 3BRs/2BAs and 1850 square feet, 2531 14th Street is a three-story home situated about three blocks from West Portal Avenue, the local retail strip. The home has been recently remodeled and has a master suite on the upper level with views. List price is $1,084,900; the sellers have been trying to sell the home since 2010. There’s two-car parking, and a yard with a big, fat palm tree.

We move on to 195 Urbano in Ingleside Terrace:

South of West Portal and St. Francis Wood is the enclave of Ingleside Terrace. This neighborhood is not far from the West Portal retail district, and is bordered by Ocean Avenue, which also has public transportation and services. 195 Urbano is a 4BR/3.5BA house with 3400 square feet, listed at $999.950. Buyers will probably not rejoice in the finishes; the kitchen has a ’70s thing happening, and there’s some knotty pine and wood paneling thrown in throughout the property. But you do get a lot of space, and 280 is not far away if you’re a Peninsula commuter.

Last up is 32 Taraval in Forest Hill:

I’m liking this one the best out of our trio of homes. 32 Taraval is right on the border of Forest Hill and West Portal, so it’s very central to the West Portal retail area. Traffic can be a little busy along Taraval, but the house is set back a bit from the street. 32 Taraval has 4BRs/2.5BAs and 2426 square feet. It’s got the best kitchen of the bunch. (You know that because Ann Sacks tiles and marble countertops are involved.) Bedrooms are spacious and the house has style. List price is $1,395,000. There’s already an offer date of February 22nd for this one, so you know interest is strong among the buyer set.

Smackdown: Forest Hill House vs Mission Condo

When it comes to spending roughly $800,000 in San Francisco, you have many options. Today’s choice has a lot to do with location—as always—but also has much to do with overall finishes, space and urban vs more suburban feel.

First up is 190 Taraval, in Forest Hill:

190 Taraval was recently in contract, but just landed back on the market due to the buyers’ financing challenges. The 2BR/1BA Spanish Mediterranean home has about 1545 square feet and has been in the same family for 40 years. This is code for “needs updating,” which is definitely the case for the kitchen and bathroom. The lower level also has a family room and wet bar (a feature that may be outdated on its own). There’s two-car parking and a large garage, and the location is excellent because you’re in walking distance of the West Portal retail area. Taraval is a little busy, but certainly not unworkable. List price: $799,000.

In the other corner is 3236 17th Street #3:

3236 17th Street #3 is perfect for those buyers looking for a spacious, top-floor condo in the heart of the Mission. This unit technically has one bedroom, but there’s another room that would totally work as a second bedroom (in fact, it’s staged as one). You get two bathrooms, a chef’s kitchen, hardwood floors, a terrace and in-unit laundry. One-car parking and deeded storage are included, and HOA dues are $200 per month. For downtown or East Bay commuters, BART is one block away. You’re also in proximity to all the neighborhood restaurants, cafes, shops and bars. Listed at $799,000, this unit last sold for $830,000 in 2008.

So which home would you rather have?

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!

Forest Hill Compound Offers Marin Feel

Over in Forest Hill Extension, the streets are well manicured, the noise level is low and there’s an undeniable Marin feel to the neighborhood (with some extra fog and less sun thrown into the mix).

Located in the southwest portion of the neighborhood is Edgehill Way, which winds around an incline and gives way to treetop, Bay and Golden Gate Bridge views. I trekked to the top to see 330 Edgehill this week on broker tour to visit the 3BR/2BA home listed at $1,595,000.

The narrow stretch of road brings you up to the property, which has room in front for multi-car parking. There are two buildings on the lot; one is a 2BR/2BA main house, and the other is a 1BR/1BA cottage.

Built in 1930, 330 Edgehill is perfect for buyers who want some seclusion and privacy, yet yearn to be in reasonable distance of services, shops, and restaurants (such as the West Portal area). The home is reminiscent of a Spanish Hacienda, and has a cute patio between the house and guest cottage. It’s a unique home, and worth the drive up. You’ll pass the Sangiacomo compound at the base of the hill—several similar-looking wood-shingled houses that shelter everyone in the family.

Just Sold: 432 Ulloa (A Shorter Short Sale Than Expected)

My clients closed escrow yesterday at 432 Ulloa, a 2BR/2BA single-family home with a bonus bedroom/bath and two-car parking in Forest Hill Extension. The home was listed at $699,000 and attracted significant interest due to its close proximity to the heart of West Portal.

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to the prospect of a short sale, but things went incredibly smoothly. I believe this is because the lender for both loans was Bank of America, which recently instituted a policy to push short sales through more quickly. Indeed, the sale was approved within a month’s time. The listing agent moved things along well, and kept us updated throughout the process. The seller was also very cooperative (not to mention my buyers). Look for these factors to check out if you’re heading into a short sale. The lender is key to expediting the process.

District 4 Down Off Its High

Sales are a little off this year in what’s known as “District 4.” This is the area that encompasses neighborhoods such as Balboa Terrace, St. Francis Wood, Miraloma Park, Forest Hill Extension, Mount Davidson Manor and West Portal (as well as a few others). The area has been on a bit of a downswing since the beginning of the year. Indeed, of the 52 single-family homes sold in District 4’s neighborhoods with 94127 zip codes, 27 sold for less than asking.

There are currently 28 available listings with an average price of $1,381,217 and a days on market average of 66. But the 25 properties in contract have an average list price of $1,063,508. Looks like these current properties might have to move in price to attract buyers.

Buyers, District 4 may be the place to go if you’re looking for more house for your money—and some favorable negotiating.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Forest Knolls

Often overlooked by prospective buyers, Forest Knolls is a very appealing neighborhood developed in the late 1950s and 1960s in San Francisco. Its homes feature accommodating floor plans, many properties have views, and the area provides a nice urban retreat with its woodsy, private feel. Bordered by the Inner Sunset, Cole Valley, and Forest Hill, Forest Knolls is a great alternative for those house hunters who’ve been priced out of these adjacent areas.

Forest Knolls is just up the road from the Forest Hill Muni station, and isn’t far from the West Portal shopping/restaurant hub, as well as the Mollie Stone’s on Portola.

Six single-family homes have sold in Forest Knolls since January—all three-bedroom homes, and one four-bedroom property. The average sales price was $804,000, and the average square footage just under 1600. It’s a challenge to find that much space for the money in San Francisco, which is why I think Forest Knolls offers good value. However, buyers should be aware that due to the geography of the area—lots of hills—there’s landslide potential. It’s never a bad idea to engage a structural engineer and/or geological specialist to provide an opinion on the land or property if you’re seriously considering a purchase here.

Big Changes in the SF Market

I’m seeing substantial changes in the San Francisco housing market that I wanted to share with you:

Buyers postpone purchases. Many buyers seem to be delaying decisions until after the election; they are also watching the impact of the bailout program. Such behavior is reflected in open home activity, which has fallen off in most Bay Area markets (with some exceptions). The bulk of open homes are seeing fewer visitors. There are the anomalies like the San Francisco Lake district duplex listed at $1M that garnered 50 groups, and the Cole Valley duplex priced at $1.85M that received 26 visitors.

Multiple offers are down. The number of multiple offers has declined, particularly in the lower price ranges. Those homes receiving multiple offers are either priced well below the competition, or presented exceptionally well. A good example of this trend is the Inner Richmond 2BR/1BA Edwardian flat listed for $765,00 that received five offers and sold for well over asking. Other multiples include those in highly desirable areas, such as Forest Hill. A 4BR/3.5BA home priced at $1.795M received three offers.

Price reductions are up. These are more commonplace, as motivated sellers are being forced to adapt to current market conditions. Even in areas that have been solid this year (i.e., Noe Valley), we are beginning to see more listings coming down in price.