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...]

SF’s Luxury Market Sticks to Seasonal Trends

The high-end, luxury market in San Francisco (sales of $2M+) hasn’t pulled any fast ones so far in 2013. As is typical for homes in this range, Spring and Fall have seen an increase in volume, with cash buyers unsurprisingly making their rounds.

A total of 269 houses sold citywide for $2M+ in the time period January 1-October 21, 2013. And buyers for 13 of those properties paid cash. Eight of the total homes sold changed hands for $10M+.

On the condo front, 93 units sold for $2M or more, with 24 selling in cash transactions.

Selling patterns also subscribe to the list low, sell higher practice that San Francisco has been seeing for most of 2013. For example, 60% of house and 43% of condo sales in the January-October time period closed for more than their list prices. (But in many instances, the gap between list and sale price was not dramatically different.)

The most popular neighborhoods for luxury house cash sales were Noe and Eureka Valleys, the Marina and Pacific/Presidio Heights. Condo buyers flocked to Russian Hill and South Beach for their cash purchases. Tech money is driving many of the purchases in the south end of the city.

But pricing has been key; 42 houses and 39 condos in this segment of the market were either withdrawn or simply expired. Not every buyer is throwing money at just any property.

You can expect to see volume trail off after Thanksgiving, so it may be a good time to consider one of the 66 single-family homes or 40 condos currently available in the luxury segment. The end of 2013 is fast approaching, and buyers are well advised to look for “bargains”—particularly in mid- to late December. Though most high-end buyers retreat from the market in winter, I think it will be a good time to pick up an awesome trophy property.

And of course, if you’re considering selling or buying, please do contact me. I’d be happy to talk with you about your options!

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.

Smackdown: Lower Pac Heights Condo vs Bernal House

Two very different neighborhoods have two very different properties to offer at the $1.3M price point this week. First up is 1751 Lyon in Lower Pac Heights:

1751 Lyon is a well-appointed 3BR/1.5BA, 1570-square foot top-floor condo in a two-unit building. The living room has a gas fireplace and opens to a formal dining room. There’s a chef’s kitchen with marble countertops, Wolf range, and Sub Zero refrigerator, as well as a built-in office area. Outdoor space is a large, deeded roof deck with downtown views. The deeded parking space is for a small- to mid-sized car. HOA dues are $258/month. 1751 Lyon has a 98 Walk Score, and is near Ella’s Restaurant, the Presidio and the Laurel Heights shopping area. List price: $1,295,000.

In the other corner, we have 118 Elsie in Bernal Heights:

118 Elsie is a “modern architectural view home” that features 3BRs/2BAs, 1931 square feet and two-car parking. There’s an open floor plan and a master suite with sweeping views. All public spaces and bedrooms have amazing views, too. The house is situated on a one-way street up the hill from Cortland, and walking from this location will involve going up and down the hill. Once you get going, however, you’re near Mission Street, as well as the heart of Cortland Avenue. List price: $1,295,000.

Which would you rather own?

Smackdown: Sea Cliff Condo vs. Miraloma Park House

If you have a $600,000 budget, you definitely have some options when it comes to properties in San Francisco. I thought I’d throw the smackdown spotlight on two very different properties in two popular neighborhoods. Which one would you pick?

In one corner is the condo in Sea Cliff:

6915 California is a recently condo converted unit that features one bedroom plus a sunroom. (The latter is currently staged as a bedroom, and the unit is being marketed as a two bedroom.) You have an updated bathroom and a nicely remodeled kitchen. The spacious living room has a fireplace, and there’s also a formal dining room. This is an excellent Sea Cliff location, so you’re in walking distance of Land’s End, the Legion of Honor and Lincoln Park. HOA dues are $220/month and there’s one-car parking, deeded storage plus a washer/dryer in the garage. This unit was last sold as a TIC for $565,000 in 2009. Current list price: $599,000.

In the other corner is the house in Miraloma Park:

116 Marietta has been on the market a couple of months, having started out with a $629,000 list price. This property also has two bedrooms and one bathroom. But also thrown in to the mix are two decks, a yard, garage, and bonus room. The property is in walking distance of Mollie Stone’s and the other shops on Portola, as well as central bus lines. It’s important to note that this house just sold in June for $610,000, and the seller is in escrow on another purchase. So this is looking like a pretty good deal on the horizon for someone. List price is $599,000.

Buyers Seek Value in SF Homes


Sales in San Francisco these days tend to spin my head in more circles than this spiral staircase at 135 Locust in Presidio Heights. The 4BR/3.5BA single-family home was listed at $3M on March 4th and closed this past week for $3.4M.

Yes, we’re in a buyers’ market. But the reality is that buyers are quick to decide what market value may be for a given home, and they’ll bid accordingly. To that end, there are 563 single-family homes available which have been on the market for an average of 73 days, along with 666 condos with an average of 74 days on market. Thus, a majority of sellers out there aren’t appreciating anecdotes like the one connected to 135 Locust.

Overbidding isn’t unusual, but it’s typically been happening with homes that are listed below the average selling price of comparable properties. (For example, word on the street about Locust was that it was priced low.) But what will keep the market moving will be active negotiation and reasonably priced homes.

Washington Street Hits New Highs in March

Washington Street in Pacific and Presidio Heights was the site of the most expensive house and unit sales in March, as of this writing. I thought I’d take you through each property so you could get a sense for pricing in the luxury market these days in San Francisco.

3659 Washington was on the market for 27 days when it went into contract with its $7M list price:

The single-family house has 5BR/4.5BAs, 6,000+ square feet and kitchen/family room that opens directly to the garden. The “green” home has solar electric service, solar-assisted hot water, and has also undergone a massive seismic upgrade including a new foundation. Selling price: $6,650,000.

Just up the street at 2000 Washington, the most expensive unit sale of the month took place:

2000 Washington #5 is a 3BR/4.5BA coop in a seven-unit building situated at a Pacific Heights crest. That means there are views galore, as you can tell from the room above that is also filled with a sectional couch. The apartment was built in 1922 by noted architect C.A. Muesdorffer. Initially listed in late 2010, the unit was last listed at $6.8M and sold this month for $5,850,000. Monthly dues for #5 are $4,043.

#5′s neighbor at 2000 Washington #6 is currently on the market for $12M.

Smackdown: Eureka Valley vs Sea Cliff

When it comes to a single-family home search, buyers don’t typically consider the Castro or…Sea Cliff. For one thing, they’re two totally different neighborhoods both in character and geography, and for another, they typically aren’t parallel in price.

However, I found two homes currently on the market in these areas that are in the same price range. So I thought I’d serve up a single-family home smackdown. Which home would you prefer?

First up is 533 Noe, between 18th Street and Hancock in Eureka Valley:

This brand new listing has 4BRs/2.5BAs, as well as a family room. It’s about 2850 square feet and has a large one-car garage (or room for two small cars). The kitchen is comfortable and has an adjoining family room leading to a deck and garden:

533 Noe is located in the heart of Eureka Valley, and is in easy walking distance to all the shops, restaurants and public transportation in the Castro. List price is $1,895,000.

And in the opposite corner is 134 32nd Avenue:

Featuring 4BRs/3BAs and a free-standing garage that can also potentially accommodate two cars, this Edwardian home is listed at $1,849,000. It has four levels, and has a pentroom level with two decks, home office, family room and views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio and city. There’s a lot of period detail woodwork, box-beamed ceilings, and a wood-burning fireplace with Craftsman-era wood paneling:

134 32nd Avenue was listed later last year for $2M, but has since gone down in price. It’s located opposite a playground, which may be a negative for some folks. But you’re practically on top of the Presidio, which is great for recreation.

So readers: Which home would you choose?

Presidio Heights Home With Potential Hits Jackpot

Some pretty motivated buyers fell hard for the 6BR/4.5BA Presidio Heights home at 130 Locust recently. Listed at $2,850,000, the property sold within 21 days and closed last week for $3.3M. It must’ve been that vanity hedge.

The home is ripe for an upgrade, as you can see by the state of the kitchen:

There are ten rooms across four levels, so this can be one hell of a project. And the part that makes it really all worth it are the views from the upper floors. Here’s what I mean:

A renovation will be a great opportunity to add a garage, too. (No parking in the house’s current configuration.) With the 2010 average single-family home sales price in Presidio Heights being $3,754,957 (and eight such homes selling for $4M+), this may be a reasonable deal for the new owners. Even if they did pay almost half a million more than asking.

"Family Dream House on the Wall" Hits the Market

It’s the perfect home for buyers looking for space and a well-heeled location on the Presidio wall. 2 Spruce has five bedrooms, three and a half baths, and 5,220-square feet. It’s situated on a corner lot and is detached on all four sides.

The home is opposite the tennis courts and playground, so the buyers for this home have to appreciate recreation. But it is on a cul-de-sac, so traffic will be kept at a minimum. And the house has a great-looking master suite:

List price is $4,495,000 and the first open for this family dream home, as the listing agent calls it, is this Sunday 10/3 from 2:00-4:00.

Presidio Terrace, Bernal Homes Sell at Heavily Reduced Prices

One is a multi-million dollar 5BR home in a gated enclave in Presidio Heights, the other is a sub-$1M house on the edge of Bernal Heights that could use updating. Two worlds collided last week when these respective sales were reported—good examples of price flexibility in today’s market.

28 Presidio Terrace, above, was initially listed at $5,395,000. The home had 6,500+ square feet, an elevator to all floors, a pool table room and a park-like setting. By June, the price had been reduced to $4.6M. Final all-cash selling price: $4.4M. (Reported price was $4,287,000, but the buyer’s agent apparently waived commission. But that’s a whole other story.)

On the other end of town is 44 Crescent:

The 2BR/2BA south Bernal home was listed in April for a whoppin’ $849,000, and was down to a more palatable $749,000 earlier this month. Final price? $660,000.

So buyers, if you like a property out there that may seem way beyond your budget—stick with it. You never know what’s possible. And sellers, best strategy is to price your house realistically. It’ll cut to the chase more quickly and you can move on.

Best Trick or Treat ‘Hoods in SF

I came across Zillow’s Trick or Treat housing index yesterday, and found its picks for Best Trick or Treat Neighborhoods to be very amusing.

You can’t argue with the winners: Presidio Heights, Noe Valley, Richmond, Haight, and Sunset. But I’ll also nominate Cole Valley (have you ever seen Belvedere Street in action on Halloween?!) and Potrero Hill.

So readers, what neighborhoods do you nominate for the best Halloween spirit? Comments, please! And have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!

Baker Street Homes Battle for Buyers

Two $3M+ estate properties are going head to head on Baker Street, near the Palace of Fine Arts.

In one corner, we have 3212 Baker:
This 4BR/3BA home was renovated throughout 2008. It spans three levels and has two-car parking. The property was initially listed in March 2009 at $4,250,000, but a couple price reductions have landed it at its current price of $3,725,000.

In the other corner, there’s 3159 Baker:
Listed ten days ago at $3,895,000, this 4,023-square foot, Mediterranean corner home features 6BR/4BA, plus a separate 2BR in-law unit. There’s also a view deck and three-car parking.

The best reference points for these properties are 3520 Baker, a 4BR home listed at $3.5M and sold this year in a confidential sale. Also relevant is the sale at 3310 Baker, a 5BR home listed at $4.5M that sold for all cash in yet another confidential sale earlier this year.

Foreign Buyers Find High-End Deals

mclarenThis 6BR/5.5BA, 4500-square foot home at 45 McLaren Avenue in Sea Cliff was sold last week in a confidential sale for less than its asking price of $4,580,000 (initially listed for $4,725,000 back in January).

The all-cash buyer hailed from China (and made sure to conduct a Feng Shui evaluation as part of the sale). But there’s reportedly a wave of all-cash foreign buyers from countries such as South America, Taiwan, and France who have been snapping up multi-million dollar homes in San Francisco. In many cases, they are are seeing opportunities for building estate portfolios in The Bay Area.

The Pacific Union Web site tracking tool has noted thousands of international buyers looking at properties on our site over the past several months. Indeed, there have been 40 single-family homes and eight condos that have sold since January for $3M or more. I’ll bet many of them were sold to foreign buyers.

3355 Pacific Goes Off the Wall

pacific After only 19 days on the market, the 6BR/7.75BA residence located on the wall overlooking the Presidio at Walnut Street is pending. The property reportedly garnered four offers, which is no small feat considering the $8.9M asking price. (Word on the street is that the accepted offer price is in the $9.2M range.) What a home this is, though—three spacious levels, nicely presented, and featuring views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was a fan.