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.

New SF Overbidders Club Members for August

We have a few new members of the San Francisco Overbidders Club this month. As some of you may know from past posts, buyers join the Overbidders Club when they pay in excess of 25% of the list price.

August was a big hit for the west end of town, where our newest Overbidders seemed to lurk. Here’s the rundown this month:
254 11th Ave
Inner Richmond

List Price: $849,000
Sale Price: $1,275,000
Overbid Amount: 50%
Closed Escrow: 8/21/13

Who doesn’t want a big fixer half a block from California Street? Many buyers vied for 254 11th Avenue, as it was one of those types of properties that appealed to both contractors and “sweat equity” buyers. But one buyer decided that paying 50% over asking and waiving all contingencies would do the trick. And it did! The appeal of this house was that it has four bedrooms on one level upstairs, an attic with expansion potential and a large garage. Having the space already there makes things infinitely easier when it comes to renovations.

18 Quintara
Golden Gate Heights

4BR/2BA, 2053 sq ft
List Price: $975,000
Sale Price: $1,325,000
Overbid Amount: 36%
Closed Escrow: 8/16/13

18 Quintara is basically a house that has it all. It’s detached on three sides, surrounded by landscaped gardens, white picket fence, as well as a remodeled kitchen, large garage and in-law apartment that represents the fourth bedroom but is perfect for an au pair or guests. What does someone pay for a house like that these days in Golden Gate Heights? About $1,325,000. The teaser of a list price was low enough to garner 19 offers, so paying 36% over asking and waiving all contingencies is pretty much what you’re gonna have to do to win in this situation.

762 45th Avenue
Outer Richmond

3BR/2BA, 1826 sq ft
List Price: $849,000
Sale Price: $1,195,000
Overbid Amount: 41%
Closed Escrow: 8/14/13

Featuring an original 1920s kitchen and bathrooms, this basic house at 762 45th Avenue had something unique going for it—a professionally designed garden with a hot tub. And it’s five blocks from the beach. The one, two punch of paying 41% more + waiving contingencies did it again for these new homeowners.

269 Waller
Hayes Valley

2BR/1BA, 1330 sq ft
List Price: $1,195,000
Sale Price: $1,625,000
Overbid Amount: 36%
Closed Escrow: 8/16/13

Purchased by buyers who I suspect had lost out on quite a few homes to maximum overbids over the past few months, 269 Waller is in a more outskirts part of Hayes Valley. But the deep lot, remodeled kitchen apparently make up for the lack of third bedroom, second bath, and presence of a brick foundation. There were contingencies in the contract, but I’m betting an appraisal condition wasn’t one of them.

Linea Releases Pricing, Spotlight on Noe Valley

One of the hottest new condo developments is Linea, a 115-unit property at Market and Buchanan. The building is situated on the cusp of Mission Dolores, Hayes Valley, the Castro and Duboce Triangle. In the latest MarketTracker, we survey pricing on all the various units (hint: we’re talking $1,000+/sq ft).

We also focus on Noe Valley and the variety of housing available there, and give you a snapshot of some cool events and activities coming up this summer in San Francisco.

And this is probably not news, but sales prices are up over the past six months from 10-19%, depending on property type. Check out the details and recent sales, too!

It’s all here in this edition of the Zephyr MarketTracker.

Hayes Valley’s 8 Octavia Breaks Ground

Construction kicked off this week on the 47-unit condo development 8 Octavia, situated at Market and Octavia in Hayes Valley. The Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects-designed project will sit where the Central Freeway once ran, and the site has been vacant since that roadway was torn down in 2002.

Octavia Boulevard was thoughtfully reworked in 2005 to create a more pedestrian-friendly stretch, and having a new residential development will give the area a boost where it’s needed. 8 Octavia will sit in the midst of a very busy intersection that includes motorists heading to the 101 on ramp from Octavia, as well as the usual Market Street traffic and Muni flow.

But DM Development and DDG, the forces behind 8 Octavia, are working to build a sleek, smartly designed building on a pie-shaped slice of land. The goal, according to Saitowitz, is to present the project as a modern-day interpretation of the Victorian-era homes that pervade Hayes Valley. He says that the exterior will feature a fluid, changing facade, units with flexible space and lightwells that will be like urban versions of the traditional yard.

Floor plans include junior one bedrooms and one-, two, and three bedrooms. There will also be three 3BR penthouses and one 2BR townhome. Among the available floor plans at 8 Octavia is a “pod” concept, designed to maximize living space by containing the kitchen, bath and washer/dryer within a single efficient module. The “flex space” floor plan offers a living space that can be portioned into multiple rooms by sliding movable wall panels.

Innovative features at 8 Octavia include keyless entry into the building and individual homes via smartphones. The building also features user-controlled window louvers to modulate solar heat and privacy. Residences include efficient lighting and appliances alongside finishes that include wood flooring, European cabinetry and floor-to-ceiling windows.

There will reportedly be approximately 24 parking spaces for the residences, and 26 bike stalls. Two ground-floor retail spaces will be included.

For buyers looking for a central location near the Castro, downtown, Duboce Triangle, Civic Center and the mid-Market district, 8 Octavia is an excellent option. I’m thinking the design may trump other more cookie-cutter condo developments which are on the way.

SF Sales Up Across the Board, Supes Consider Retrofit Legislation

Sales of single-family homes, condos and multi-unit buildings are up almost 7% over the past 180 days. That means buyers are looking at a competitive Spring for long-awaited inventory, and sellers are expecting the multiple-offer activity to continue.

View recent sales, stats and the latest on the mandatory earthquake retrofit legislation, Mexican Museum development downtown, and an update on Hayes Valley’s upcoming condo development in this edition of the Zephyr MarketTracker.

New Condo Projects Rise in Hayes Valley

New condo construction in San Francisco is in full force these days, and Hayes Valley is one of the epicenters of new development. I thought I’d take a look at four of the most heavily anticipated projects, and will be following their progress over the next several months.

One new developer is behind three of these projects: DM Development, which formed in 2010 and has been busy snapping up parcels of land in the neighborhood.

Trends in Hayes Valley new construction appear to be interior courtyards, which will offer a nice urban refuge and sense of community. You can also expect a ratio of one parking space for every two condos, which means these developers are counting on transit-reliant buyers.

Pricing will likely be in the $900-$1,000 per square foot range.

If you’re interested in getting in before the masses, please contact me and I can make it happen. I’ve represented many clients in new construction sales, and am responsible for looking out for your best interests. But know that I can’t lend you my expertise and experience unless I accompany you to the sales office on your first trip.

300 Ivy
Southwest corner of Gough & Grove
Alternate address: 401 Grove
The Homes: 63 homes total. Among them are one studio; 23 1BRS; 34 2BRs; 5 townhomes.
The Scoop: The crew is finishing up the framing of the five townhomes fronting Ivy Street, and has started work on the roofs. In the main building, all the concrete and framing work is done on the third floor. Amenities include lush, landscaped courtyard, along with a living roof garden with outdoor grill, seating/dining areas, and sun deck. Lock in one of the 32 parking spaces early if you need one. There will also be room to accommodate 68 bikes.
Buy If: You want to be in the heart of the neighborhood, and are okay living alongside Gough’s three lanes of traffic. There’s also opportunity here to purchase a unit that faces either Ivy or Grove, which will be quieter and feel more residential. Also buy here if you’re looking for a location that offers proximity to Muni.
Developer: Pocket Development
Sales Begin: April 2013

400 Grove (above)
Grove and Gough, adjacent to Performing Arts parking garage
The Homes: Mixed-use building, with 34 residences.
The Scoop: This one hasn’t broken ground yet, and is across the street from 300 Ivy. The building will reportedly be called WaveHouse, due to Fougeron Architects’ design that features a wave-like exterior facade intended to be a modern reinterpretation of the classic San Francisco bay window. Landscaped interior courtyard.
Buy If: You want a centrally located home with a bit of style on the outside, and a courtyard within that will provide a bit of an urban refuge.
Developer: DM Development
Sales Begin: January 2014

8Octavia (above)
The Homes: 13 1BRs; 33 2BRs. 25 parking spaces, and a 925-square foot average size
The Scoop: Stanley Saitowitz-designed residences arranged around interior courtyard. This slice of land right at the intersection of Market and Octavia hasn’t become a construction site just yet.
Buy If: You’d appreciate living along the Market corridor, and having really easy freeway access. You’re only a few blocks away from the Hayes Valley retail area, and public transportation is literally at your doorstep.
Developer: DM Development
Sales Begin: Spring 2014

Hayes450 (no photo)
Located on Hayes between Octavia and Gough
The Homes: 50 one- and two bedroom condos
The Scoop: Smack dab along the Hayes Street retail strip, Hayes 450 has a prime location in the neighborhood.
Buy If: You’re looking for a home with everything outside your door, and which has less lanes of traffic.
Developer: DM Development
Sales Begin: January 2014

Foreclosures Slow, Shadow Inventory Declines

The good news keeps hitting the San Francisco real estate market. With prices up 13-16.5% over the prior 180 days in the single-family home, condo and multi-unit market, property owners have a lot to smile about.

And it seems like the foreclosure sales have tailed off a bit, as well as short sales.

Out in the neighborhoods, word is that street improvements are coming to Oak and Fell. And the tech shuttle map has been revealed!

It’s all here in this edition of the Zephyr MarketTracker.

432 Ivy in Hayes Valley: Already $200,000 Cheaper!

Recently marketed “pre-MLS”–seemingly a trend these days–the 3BR/2.5BA Edwardian at 432 Ivy in Hayes Valley floated an off-market list price of $1.5M.

Situated on a small street smack dab in the middle of Hayes Valley, 432 Ivy features all three bedrooms upstairs, which includes a master suite. All the architectural details are there, from the wood-burning fireplace to the built-in cabinetry, coved ceilings and crown moldings. There’s even a deck and small garden, along with a garage that can fit two cars.

The official, on-market price? $1,295,000. Between the more palatable list price and the 98 Walk Score/100 Transit Score, I’m guessing 432 Ivy will be in contract before its first open house on September 4th. If you’re an interested buyer who’s not represented by an agent, feel free to contact me at 415.823.4656/ and I’ll arrange a showing for us!

Painted Lady in Alamo Square Flies Off Shelf

Though it’s still showing up as an active listing in the MLS, the Painted Lady at 710 Steiner that was listed in early May has been snatched up by twentysomething buyers with all cash, who are in contract for above the $2,295,000 asking price.

You can see 710 Steiner above; it’s the house to the right of the blue property–last one on the right:

It’s no surprise that there was a rush for this piece of San Francisco history. Who wouldn’t want to own an exquisitely maintained Victorian on one of the most famous and most photographed residential stretches in the world? The 5BR/2.5BA, 2500-square foot home has three decks and downtown views. The new owners will probably renovate the kitchens and bathrooms down the line, but that’s a drop in the bucket—and a good investment.

Smackdown: Hayes Valley Condo vs West Portal House

It’s always interesting to see what your money will buy at various price points in San Francisco. We’re pitting a cute West Portal single-family home against a slick Hayes Valley condo today. Which property would you rather own?

231 Scott Street #2
List Price: $876,000

231 Scott Street #2 is a two-level, 2BR/2.5BA condo in a building that was constructed in 1998. The 1518-square foot unit is nicely appointed with an open floor plan that includes a fireplace in the living room and a kitchen with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. The bedrooms are downstairs, and a staircase from the main level leads you to your exclusive roof deck with city views. One-car side-by-side parking is included. HOA dues are $300/month, and there are two other units in the building.

I had a listing across the street from this property last year, and I can attest to the fact that you’re in walking distance of the heart of the Haight, Hayes Valley, Duboce Triangle, and NOPA. So it’s an excellent location for catching public transportation and hitting up some local restaurants. One downside is that there are a lot of stairs to climb to get to this unit; however, snagging a top-floor unit isn’t always easy. Stairs are sometimes the price you pay for that benefit.

In the other corner, we have 243 Vicente, with a list price of $899,000:

243 Vicente is a 3BR/2BA single-family home built in 1921. The kitchen has been nicely updated, and lovely 1920s period details abound such as built-in cabinetry and coved ceilings. Check out the honkin’ fireplace that’s definitely the centerpiece of the living room:

There are two bedrooms on the main level, and the master suite is on the garage level. This is somewhat of a downside for the family set, as parents rarely want to give their kids run of the upper level all night while they’re downstairs. But you also have a two-car garage, and an excellent West Portal location one block from the main retail district. You’re also a few blocks from the Muni rail line to downtown, and not far from the freeways.

Which one wins this smackdown?

2BRs You Can Buy for Up to $600,000

It’s admittedly a challenge to find a 2BR condo in a central San Francisco neighborhood for under $600,000. But I like a challenge, so I set out to find three 2BR condos in this price range that aren’t dumps. Here’s what I found:

1305 Scott, Western Addition

This top-floor, 1127-square foot condo at 1305 Scott is situated in a four-unit building constructed in the 1920s. The unit has a spacious open living room with multiple windows and dining room with fireplace. French doors open to a covered deck for good entertaining flow. There’s also a sunny kitchen with plenty of counter and storage space. HOA dues are $332/month, and the building has good reserves. One-car parking is included. This is a central location (though I should note that it’s in proximity to public housing projects) just south of Lower Pacific Heights and near the Fillmore district, NOPA, Japantown and Alamo Square Park.

75 Moss #11, South of Market

I liked 75 Moss #11 when I saw it on broker tour weeks ago. For some reason, this condo—which gets nice light and has an in-unit washer/dryer and parking—has not sold. It was in contract recently, but came back on the market. The kitchen and bath finishes are slick, and there’s a shared roof deck, too. HOA dues are $403.06. 75 Moss is located on a small street between Folsom/Howard and 6th/7th Streets. So it’s excellent if you’re a South Bay commuter who needs quick 101 access; it’s also about a three-block walk to Market Street, where you can catch public transportation.

660 Hayes, Hayes Valley

Though 660 Hayes is on the ground level, the floor plan is very functional. There’s a large master suite with work space that leads to a shared patio. There are tile floors throughout and the unit doesn’t get much light, but you do get central heat, in-unit washer/dryer—and a second bathroom! At 1212 square feet, this condo is the largest of the bunch. No parking, but at Hayes & Laguna, you’re in the heart of the neighborhood and can easily catch Muni or hit the freeway. HOA dues are $220/month for this three-unit association.

Holiday Deal Alert: 898 Waller

The condo located in Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights over at 898 Waller is shaping up to be a great potential holiday deal. First listed at $729,000 in early October, the sellers have reduced the price along the way by smallish increments. However, the latest reduction brings the list price down to $679,000, which isn’t bad for a roughly 1100-square foot property with fine Edwardian period details and one-car independing parking.

The bedroom situation isn’t ideal—double parlor for one bedroom, and a smaller room that’s more appropriate for an office or nursery. But you do get hardwood floors, high ceilings, and large windows. There is a split bath (you know, toilet in one room, everything else in the other), as well as a large eat-in kitchen with adjoining laundry room. The unit provides interior access to the garage, and a storage space is also included. Located on the first floor of a six-unit building, 898 Waller has HOA dues of $150/month.

One-bedroom condos in the neighborhood are selling in the $500,000s, and two-bedroom properties for well above $700,000. So the $679,000 list price for 898 Waller seems like a good fit. And if you have great financing behind you, it may be possible to negotiate further. Sellers love as much of a closing guarantee as possible, especially around the holidays.

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.


Two Hayes Valley Condos Battle It Out

I stopped in at 342 Hayes between Gough and Franklin yesterday on broker tour, to refresh my memory on the two 2BR/2.5BA condos that are both available in the building. 342 Hayes is a 14-unit property that was constructed in 1996 and finds itself in 2011 to be situated in the epicenter of the neighborhood. Many shops and restaurants have popped up over the years, making this property one of the more popular ones.

Which means I’m surprised that the two units currently for sale have been on the market for more than a month. The first, #C,  faces Hayes Street and gets nice southern exposure. It’s about 1013 square feet across two levels, and has two master suites upstairs. Here’s one of them now:

This master suite faces Hayes, so it gets great light. But it will be a little noisy due to the street activity. However, you do have a washer/dryer in the unit, easy access to a large common patio, and deeded one-car parking. The building has an elevator, too. The monthly HOAs are $443, and include insurance, water, garbage and common area maintenance. List price is $750,000. Keep in mind that this unit was last sold in 2008 for $826,000.

Unit #E is at the other end of the building, facing Ivy Street on the north. This unit has the same floor plan, but doesn’t get as much natural light. (But it will be quieter.) #E has a fireplace, which #C doesn’t. Here’s a shot of the living area:

This unit came on the market for $768,000 and just had a price reduction to $728,000. The previous sale here was for $810,000 in 2008, so again, there is a bit of a discount in the current market. HOA dues are $449/month.

Give me a shout if you’d like to see these properties. They’re great for buyers who work downtown and want a straightforward commute—and who would also like a roommate to offset the mortgage. Parents looking to invest in a property for their kids (and who want to use that other master suite when they’re in town) are prime candidates for 342 Hayes.

The Walk Score is 94, taking into consideration the many shops, restaurants and public transportation modes at your doorstep. Hayes Valley continues to be the cultural center of the city, featuring the Symphony, Opera, Ballet and Asian Art Museum only a few blocks away.

Sales Rise for Big Units in Hip ‘Hoods

One trend I’m seeing this year is an increase in sales for large condos and TICs in hot neighborhoods like the Haight, Hayes Valley, Mission Dolores, and NoPa. What I think is happening—and which I’ve also heard from some of my colleagues—is that buyers are snapping up these properties due to their need for more space to accommodate existing or growing family needs. It’s also likely that these buyers have been priced out of the single-family home market in these areas, which offer proximity to restaurants, shops and easy access to public transportation.

Indeed, I’ve seen my share of 3BR/2BA condos and TICs in the aforementioned areas on broker tours this year. There are currently eleven such condos and TICs on the market at a list price average of $933,717, with a 1,688 square feet average. And there are nine such units in contract, at a list price average of $828,389. The average size of these units has been about 1800 square feet.

Recent sales have been brisk. A total of 47 three-bedroom+ condos and TICs have sold year-to-date at an average of $874,015. With an average sales price for a single-family house in these neighborhoods clocking in year to date at $2,180,222, you can see why some buyers are settling for well-located, spacious condos instead.