What You Can Buy: Smart Investments for Owner Occupiers

One of the most strategic and desirable investments you can make in San Francisco is to purchase a three- to four-unit property that has one or more units vacant, a garage, and a good neighborhood location. Let’s face it, rents in the city are high, and if your rents reflect today’s market, you’ll be ahead of the game in the long run.

It’s extremely important to be well versed in San Francisco’s rent laws before you consider such a purchase. I’ve been a successful owner-landlord for the past 16 years, and there’s definitely a list of do’s and don’ts to which you’ll want to adhere. You also will want to have a large down payment or you’ll have no cash flow. Here are three properties worth a look, particularly if you’re in this for a long-term hold:

1031-1037divisadero
1031-1037 Divisadero
Neighborhood: NoPa
The Deets: Two vacant Victorian two-unit buildings on one lot with a capacity for eight-car parking. There are two 1BR/1BA units, and two 2BR/1BA flats.
List Price: $3.7M
The Scoop: NoPa’s become all the rage in the past couple years, so finding tenants for three of these nice units shouldn’t be a problem. The property was built in 1880 and has all the period details people love. You can move in to one of the larger units in the front building for your primary residence, and rent out the rest. 1031-1037 Divisadero is on a double lot and has updated kitchens/baths, and hardwood floors. The building came on the market at the end of August for $3.9M, so the current list price reflects a reduction. [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 Can Buy: Condos for $1.1M with High Walk Scores

Prices for condos with period detail and which are located in very walkable, central neighborhoods are averaging $1.2M for two bedrooms and $1.4M for three-bedroom units. These types of units command a premium because: a) who doesn’t love a quintessential San Francisco property with Edwardian or Victorian detailing, and b) everyone wants to live in an area that lets you walk out your door and be only minutes from a retail area and public transportation.

There’s a handful of condos on the market in this price category, and I thought I would provide a tour of three of them today. So hop in the front seat, and let’s get to it:

1332 Waller
The Haight

3BR/2BA, 1769 sq ft
1 pkg
Year Built: 1904
List Price: $1,099,000
Walk Score: 92
1332waller
1332 Waller is a two-level Edwardian condo. As the listing agent notes, the property is situated in the middle of three great neighborhoods—the Haight, Cole Valley and Buena Vista. So you can take advantage of both the Haight and Cole Valley’s excellent retail areas, as well as many nearby public transportation options. This flat was renovated in 2003, and it has two bedrooms, a formal dining room, split bath and modern kitchen on the main level. A staircase off the dining room leads you to a large master suite with a wet bar and full bath; just outside is a deck and garden. 1332 Waller has exclusive use of the garage parking spot, storage, and the washer/dryer. [Read more…]

Just Sold: Gorgeous Haight Condo

117frederick
My client just purchased 117A Frederick, a beautiful one-bedroom condo in a classic and very special Queen Anne Victorian in the Haight.

The top-floor unit features fabulous period details, a nicely remodeled kitchen and bath, skylights, private deck and an amazing bedroom with fireplace in the turret. The building itself is set back from the street, surrounded by landscaped gardens. There’s also a private garage and storage.

List price: $795,000; the seller received a total of seven offers.

What You Can Buy: Large Condos in San Francisco

San Francisco is a dense city, not unlike other popular urban areas. Many of its single-family homes and condos can average 1,000-1,200 square feet (or less). However, large condos are a fun find, and buyers who need more space typically snap them up quickly. Here’s a look at a trio of spacious units that recently hit the market:

620 Haight
Hayes Valley

3BR/2BA, 1827 sq feet
1-car tandem parking
List price: $1,099,000
620haight
I previewed the Edwardian top-floor flat at 620 Haight before it officially came on the market and was quite impressed with the space. This is a highly convenient location within steps to restaurants, bars, cafes and services, as well as a few blocks from two Muni rail lines. The unit features soaring ceilings, great period detail throughout and a nicely remodeled kitchen with plenty of room for entertaining. All three bedrooms are a good size (e.g., one isn’t a closet under the stairs). Bonus: There’s a private deck and shared manicured yard. HOA dues are $343.50/month. This unit was last sold as a TIC in 2005 for $1,110,000, after about $300,000 in renovations were completed.

881 Corbett #3
Twin Peaks

3BR/3.5BA, 2545 sq feet
1-car parking
List price: $1,549,000
881corbett_3
881 Corbett #3 is the two-level penthouse in a three-unit condo building. It’s detached on three sides, which translates into great natural light, and there’s also a huge, west-facing terrace. You can also enjoy the stunning view deck off the living room. So this condo is all about views, light, and more space than you’ll get in Noe Valley for the price. There are three master suites, so if you have kids, they’ll appreciate having their own bathrooms. The seller has agreed to pay HOA dues through August ($349/month), and you also have the option of parking a second car in front of the driveway because you’ll only be blocking your garage. Last sold in January 2012 for $1.3M, it will be interesting to see how much this condo has appreciated since then.

323 Mississippi
Potrero Hill

3BR/3BA, 1775 sq feet
1-car tandem parking
List price: $1,249,000
323mississippi
323 Mississippi has a house-like feel, and is situated in an ideal Potrero location around the block from Plow, Farley’s and half a dozen other popular restaurants. The unit was expanded into two floors about six years ago with the addition of a master bedroom on the garden level. Unlike the more contemporary Twin Peaks condo, this one is in a building constructed in 1909. The owners have preserved the picture moldings, coved ceilings and other period details, yet have updated the unit for more modern living. Amenities include in-unit laundry, interior garage access, additional storage and shared yard. And oh, yeah—three bathrooms.

Top 5 Food Neighborhoods in San Francisco

One of the requirements I often hear when talking with home buyers is that they want to be in walking distance or at least a short drive from restaurants. So I’ve put together a list of my top five neighborhoods that offer standout and diverse restaurant choices. Here you go (not listed in any particular order):

1. Hayes Valley. Home to high-profile restaurants such as Rich Table, Boxing Room, Jardiniere, Absinthe, and Zuni, Hayes Valley continues to supply locals with great food. There are also excellent cafes and wine bars like Samovar, La Boulange, and Momi Toby’s Revolution Café and Art Bar. And don’t forget about the variety of brunch/lunch spots, delis, and an endless variety of ethnic restaurants and food stands.

2. The Mission. There’s no disputing the Mission’s prominent standing in the San Francisco food world. The lineup is awesome, and includes mainstays like Delfina, Flour and Water, Farina, Limon, along with “newer” hotspots such as Locanda, Central Kitchen, St. Vincent, and Local’s Corner. Not impressed? Also consider the more casual eateries that include Little Star, Pauline’s Pizza, Pizzeria Delfina, Mission Beach Café, Boogaloos and Pi Bar. And if take-out is your thing, the tons of taquerias or standbys like Old Jerusalem and Good Frikkin’ Chicken will keep you going.

3. South of Market. The blocks are longer and restaurants more spread out. But there’s a heavy concentration of excellent restaurants in SoMa, from Salt House and Benu to Anchor and Hope, RN74, AQ and Ame.

4. Dogpatch. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Dogpatch has the best neighborhood-level restaurants around. This area has really developed over the past decade, and restaurants and cafes are proliferating by the month. Some of the best: Piccino, Serpentine, Poquito and Piccolo. There’s also Yield Wine Bar, Kitchenette, Just For You Café, Oralia’s, and who could overlook The Ramp?

5. NoPa. This hot neighborhood boasts NOPA, Bistro Central Parc, Nopalito, Bar Crudo and Papalote Mexican Grill among its top places. More casual places like Candybar for desserts and Herbivore for vegetarian fare round out the offerings.

Where the Cash Buyer Competition Is

If you’re aiming to close on a property in 2013, it’s a good idea to size up the competition and hone your strategy at this point in the year. After all, we only have a couple months left before Thanksgiving (I know!), and inventory slows down right after the turkey leaves the table.

In very thick multiple-offer competition, the biggest wild card will be whether a cash buyer steps into the mix who’s willing to pay top dollar to buy a home. As most real estate fans know, cash sales don’t equal discounts, and cash buyers know that they have to offer a competitive price to win.

So if you’re looking at a hot property in a neighborhood that’s prone to attracting cash buyers, you may be out of luck. For buyers with loans, it’s unfortunately the way it goes: Sellers are looking for a sure thing, and a quick path to their proceeds so they can get on with their lives.

Cash buyers picked up 184 condos/TICs and 98 single-family homes from July 1-September 18, 2013. Where did they appear, and which neighborhoods were hit the hardest?

Eureka Valley, Lower Pacific Heights, Bernal Heights, Portola and Ingleside attracted many single-family home cash buyers in that timeframe, with a majority of the sales prices landing in the $600,000-$1M price range. A total of 18 homes sold above $2M.

On the condo front, neighborhoods such as the Haight, Noe/Eureka Valley; Lower Pacific Heights; Western Addition; Pacific Heights; Nob/Russian Hills; Mission, SoMa/South Beach were the most popular ‘hoods for cash buyers. Sales in the $600,000-$1.2M range were the most common, though there were quite a few sales in the $1.3M-$2M range, and six sales were above $2M.

Word of advice? If you’re looking for a home in the aforementioned neighborhoods and price ranges, and the property you like already has 15 disclosure packages out, it might be a good idea to move on to something else if you aren’t willing to pay top, top dollar and waive contingencies. Buyer burnout becomes quite common at this stage of the year, and a change in strategy is one you might want to discuss with your Realtor if you want to be successful in your house hunt by year’s end.

NoPa Condo Worth the Compromise


With the average 2BR condo in NoPa at just under $900,000, buyers in price ranges lower than that are considering making compromises in order to attain this location—which leads them to the possibility of a 1BR.

Some really cool 1BR condos hit the market this week listed in the high $600,000s, but my favorite is 1960 Hayes #11. Where have you seen an exclusive-use deck this big (above) for a condo recently?

#11 is not big (approx 700 sq feet). But the deck definitely makes up for the lack of interior space. Plus, you’re on the top floor of a 13-unit building in a great NoPa location, and have two-car parking. The last sale in the building took place earlier this year in March; that was #9, a 1BR/2BA with two-car parking, a much smaller patio, and slightly more square feet. That sold for $700,000.

I think #11 will sell for a lot more than its $679,000 list price, but its amenities may find some buyers trading off that second bedroom for a second parking space and a killer patio.

What You Can Buy in August: 21 Days & Counting

New listings got you down? Well, I found two condos and one single-family home that have been sitting on the market for more than 21 days. And that means potentially writing an offer without having to compete with other buyers and pay way over the list price. Here’s what I have to show you this time around:

251 Upland
Mt Davidson Manor

Days on market (DOM): 33
3BR/2BA, 2134 sq ft
2 pkg
List Price: $995,000

Where can you find a 2,000+ square foot house with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and parking in a nice neighborhood for under $1M? 251 Upland fits the bill. Though it doesn’t have much outdoor space, the home occupies a corner lot and has lovely 1930s period detail. The kitchen is spacious and has a breakfast nook, and the lower level includes a bedroom, den/media room, laundry area and storage. 251 Aptos is right near Ocean Avenue, Lakeside Village, Whole Foods and Stonestown Galleria.

226 Ashbury
NoPa

Days on market (DOM): 24
2BR/2BA, 1300 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $899,000

226 Ashbury is a condo that had a brief foray into contract before coming back on the market earlier this month. It’s obviously gotten lost in the newer inventory shuffle. Situated only half a block from Golden Gate Park, this Victorian condo features a large master suite that can also accommodate a sitting area or office, remodeled kitchen, exclusive-use deck and direct access to the common paved yard. You’re on the first floor of a three-unit building, but for the location and overall unit scale, the list price seems like a deal to me.

1244 Jackson
Nob Hill

Days on market (DOM): 25
3BR/1BA, 1,332 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $1,299,500

1244 Jackson is located right on the cable car line, which is charming (but could also be noisy). The building was constructed in 1910 and has all the gracious interior details to show for it. Yes, you only have one bathroom, but if you can get past that, you’ll enjoy an eat-in kitchen with Golden Gate Bridge views, and parking.

Welcome to the SF Overbidders Club

We have some inaugural entrants into what I am officially calling the San Francisco Overbidders Club. What does it take to make the cut? You need to overbid more than 25% for a property and close the sale.

There are two underlying requirements to make it into the Overbidders Club. The first is wherewithal, meaning you have to have the financial means to pull it off. In most cases, we’re talking half down, or all cash. The second is will. You have to want that property enough to be willing to pay well above what all other buyers may be offering.

And now, here’s a look at the properties that were picked up by our first group of Club members:

227 Central
The Haight

Single-Family Home
4BR/2BA, 2063 sq ft
List Price: $1,095,000
Sale Price: $1,500,000
Overbid Amount: 37%
Closed Escrow: 6/26/13
This tenant-occupied, rambling Victorian on Central at Page was the perfect project house. Sold off market and in a probate transaction, the buyer will undoubtedly be livin’ the dream of renovating a Victorian in a classic San Francisco location. The idea here is that with time and money, the owner will ultimately see a property value of well over $1.5M in the future.

1680 9th Avenue
Inner Sunset

Single-Family Home
3BR/2BA, 2032 sq ft
List Price: $1,275,000
Sale Price: $1,650,000
Overbid Amount: 30%
Closed Escrow: 7/18/13

1680 9th Avenue is situated in the Windsor Terrace section of the Inner Sunset, which is in reasonable walking distance of retail areas and public transportation. The three bedrooms are all upstairs on the same level, and there’s a chef’s kitchen with an island. These are always big selling points. The garage access is via an alley behind the property, and there isn’t much outdoor space. But with only about a dozen homes on this level selling this year in the neighborhood, this buyer gave it all he had to make sure he’d own this one.

364 Crescent
Bernal Heights

Single-Family Home
4BR/3BA, 2725 sq ft
List Price: $1,275,000
Sale Price: $1,600,000
Overbid Amount: 25.5%
Closed Escrow: 7/12/13

Located six blocks south of Cortland and within earshot of 280, this sprawling Victorian at 364 Crescent is unique for a neighborhood with smaller homes. It sits on an oversized, corner lot and didn’t need any work. Excellent period detail, great kitchen, huge garage, and hot tub in the yard. But in the end, this is a big price to pay for this location in Bernal.

Just Sold: Inner Richmond & NoPa Condos


I just listed and sold two great condos for my clients. 472 12th Avenue (above) is a 2BR/1BA unit in the Inner Richmond with lovely period detail, a remodeled kitchen, formal dining room, one- to two-car parking and shared landscaped garden. List price was $799,000 and we received five offers.

1300 Fell #3 also closed late last week:

1300 Fell #3 is a top-floor, spacious unit with three large bedrooms, two full baths and private garage parking. We received about a dozen offers on the property, and it was also listed for $799,000.

Contact me if you’d like more details on the selling prices!

Inner Richmond, NoPa Condos Open This Sunday

My Inner Richmond and NoPa condos have been popular this past week with buyers. Here’s a quick rundown:

472 12th Avenue
2BR/1BA + sunroom, 1508 sq ft
One- to two-car pkg
HOAs: $240/month
List Price: $799,000

Boasting a remodeled kitchen open to the formal dining room, 472 12th Avenue has excellent 1930s period detail throughout. Coved ceilings, picture rails and parquet floors are just some of the features that make this home very unique. There’s also a wood-burning fireplace, two spacious bedrooms and a bright sunroom overlooking the shared, landscaped garden. Location is wonderful, in walking distance of the Clement retail area, as well as Golden Gate Park and bus lines on Geary.

1300 Fell #3
3BR/2BA, 1730 sq ft
One-car parking, private garage
HOAs: $250/month
List Price: $799,000

1300 Fell #3 is one of those rare units with three large bedrooms, plenty of closet space and amazing natural light. This top-floor condo is conveniently located near multiple transporation lines, the shops and restaurants on the Divisadero corridor, as well as across the street from Falletti Foods and Nopalito. You get your own private garage, additional shared storage, and a washer/dryer that is exclusive to #3.

Stop by and visit us this Sunday 6/9 from 2:00-4:00. We’ll have both properties open during that time.

New Listing: Bright & Spacious NoPa Condo


If you’re a buyer looking for a spacious 3BR/2BA with great light, closet space and parking in a highly convenient location, consider my new listing at 1300 Fell Street #3 (at Broderick). Just around the corner from the new Bi-Rite, the top-floor condo has a living room with adjacent dining area, large eat-in kitchen and three large bedrooms.

Also included are exclusive-use washer/dryer, additional storage and shared garden. HOA dues are $250/month for this three-unit association. Falletti Foods and Nopalito are across the street from 1300 Fell, and there are nearby tech shuttle stops & public transportation lines.

List price: $799,000
For more info & photos, visit 1300fellstreet3.com

Stop in and see me this Saturday 6/1 (2:00-4:00) and Sunday 6/2 (3:00-5:00)!

What You Can Buy: 3BR Condos

It’s a good time to check out the three-bedroom condo inventory in some of the most popular neighborhoods in San Francisco. Condos with three bedrooms are common options for what are called “move-up” buyers, who have been living in smaller homes but who now need that third bedroom for a new baby, guests or an office. And why not spread out if you can afford it?

Here are my picks from current market offerings:

642 Steiner
Alamo Square

3BR/2BA, 1 pkg
HOA dues: $344/month
List Price: $1,049,000

642 Steiner is situated in one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Francisco—Alamo Square. The condo is a spacious Queen Anne Victorian that’s been updated and also boasts lovely period details such as wide hallways, high ceilings, original wainscoting and moldings. Clocking in at almost 1600 square feet, this is a great unit for families that need good bedroom separation. There’s also a nice deck off the kitchen. 642 Steiner is located right off Alamo Square Park itself, and is three blocks from Nopa and the hot Divisadero corridor. Tech shuttles also stop nearby, so plan your commute accordingly. 642 Steiner last sold for $1,030,000 in November 2009.

2327 Divisadero
Pacific Heights

3BR/2BA, 1 pkg
HOA dues: $390/month
List Price: $1,525,000

I’m totally digging 2327 Divisadero, a renovated top-floor condo that’s smack dab in the middle of Pacific Heights. Yes, Divisadero is busy, but it calms down significantly north of California Street, which is where 2327 Divisadero is located. The building exterior has extreme curb appeal, and the unit is rife with quintessential Edwardian period detail. Rooms are gracious and generously proportioned across 1856 square feet, and the gourmet kitchen opens to a small deck. The master bedroom has an ensuite marble-finished bathroom, and residents share the landscaped garden. 2327 Divisadero is very close to Alta Plaza Park, Fillmore Street, Divisadero shops and restaurants, and the Presidio. This unit last sold in March 2005 for $1,180,000. Oh, and offers are due today.

1580 Great Highway #4
Outer Sunset

3BR/3BA, 1 pkg
HOA dues: $328.20/month
List Price: $749,388

Ah, the Great Highway. I know it’s far west if you’re commuting downtown or to the Peninsula, but you can fall out your door and run on the beach or along the Great Highway path. This location is phenomenal for dog owners. Though 1580 Great Highway #4 isn’t the prettiest building to look at, the unit’s floor plan is quite large (1798 square feet) and includes three—three!—bathrooms. There are ocean views from the living/dining/kitchen area, and a deck with hills views, as well. A lot of bang for the buck, is what I say. The condo is one block from the N Judah Muni line, and three blocks south of Golden Gate Park.

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
2BR/2BA
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.