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.

Marlow 70% Sold Out, Sight Unseen


One of the fastest-selling condo developments has been the 98-unit Marlow at 1788 Clay in Nob Hill, which kicked off sales in the Spring . The building is 70% sold out, according to the sales office, and buyers continue to make purchasing decisions without actually seeing the condos in person. Instead, they’re referencing floor plans and the model in the sales office.

Marlow is one of the rare new developments in the north end of town, so that makes it a popular choice among buyers who are looking for an easy commute downtown or to the North Bay, as well as to 101 via Van Ness. The building is also situated in the heart of the Polk retail corridor, which makes things extremely convenient for residents who want to be able to walk to shops, restaurants and cafes.

So it’s not surprising that buyers are committing to purchases without physically seeing units first. The best condos sell quickly; in this case, higher floors facing north, south & east have been popular.

Interior framing is complete up to the seventh floor, and window installation is almost complete on all floors. Progress is also being made on the courtyard, interior painting, and elevator system.

Nine 1BR condos remain, ranging in price from $725,000-$837,000, and 11 2BRs are available, from $984,000-$1,510,000. In general, you’re looking at just over $1,000/sq foot for the 1BRs, and between $1100-$1200/sq foot for the 2BRs. Parking is included in these prices, though you can knock $40,000 off the price if you don’t want the space.

Give me a shout if you’re interested in exploring your options at Marlow. I’d be happy to negotiate the best deal possible for you.

Underbidding in this Market? Why, Yes!

It’s not news that most properties in San Francisco have been selling for more than their asking prices. However, I managed to find three properties that sold in the past two weeks for substantially less than their list prices:

1070 Green #1501
Russian Hill Condo

3BR/3.5BA, 2456 sq ft
1-car pkg
HOA dues: $2315/mo
List Price: $3,400,000
Sale Price: $3,075,000
Days on Market: 29

Green Hill Tower at 1070 Green is the first condo project built in California. #1501 occupies the entire north side of the building and has stunning views from every room, along with two balconies. This is all about the views, as the finishes in the kitchen and baths are pretty basic. The building offers a door person, security service, and elevator. The unit closed on 6/21 for $325,000 under asking in an all-cash sale.

751 10th Avenue
Inner Richmond House

5BR/2.5BA, 3,000 sq ft
1-car pkg
List Price: $2,349,000
Sale Price: $2,300,000
Days on Market: 40

751 10th Avenue is an award-winning, designer-owned home with four levels on a nice tree-lined block in the Inner Richmond. The home features a chef’s kitchen, three fireplaces, and guest quarters. No big drama here; the property simply sat on the market a bit, priced at the top tier for the neighborhood. But even with the $49,000 knocked off the original list price, 751 10th Ave is the most expensive house to sell in the Inner Richmond over the past year.

1 Clarence Place #9
South Beach Condo

2BR/2BA
1-car pkg
HOA Dues: $630.55
List Price: $1,499,000
Sale Price: $1,410,000
Days on Market: 103

Initially listed in February for $1.6M, 1 Clarence #9 is an end unit with a private attached garage and own entrance. The unit has nice finishes and approximately 1700 square feet, as per tax records. Six weeks after the $1.6M debut, the sellers reduced the price to $1.5M, and ended up accepting $90,000 less. This is a good example of a condo finding its property value in the market.

Nob Hill’s Marlow Launches Condo Pre-Sales

I visited the sales office for Marlow, the 98-unit condo development currently under construction at the corner of Van Ness and Clay in Nob Hill. The building will be move-in ready in early 2014, but the sales office has started selling units and already has ten units under contract.

Marlow is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, as well as three-bedroom townhomes across eight stories. Floor plans include either units with or without dens, which is the main distinction.

Finishes include white quartz countertops, natural walnut cabinets, porcelain backsplashes and tiling, and stained maple floors. (Refrigerators, microwaves, and washer/dryers are not offered in the purchase prices.) The kitchen counter features a media station for charging your electronic devices:

Bathrooms have equally nice finishes:

Amenities include independent parking for each unit, bike storage (but no additional storage), three carshare spaces, air conditioning (in San Francisco, no less), and half of the homes have some sort of balcony for outdoor space. Windows are “double-, triple- and quadruple-paneled,” as per the sales office. And the common area is “Marlow Park,” which is an open space on the ground level that will feature a bocce court, grill, and firepit. There’s no roof deck.

Pricing is at a premium, ranging from $922-$1200/square foot. Units being offered now range in square footage from 671-1267 square feet, with the least expensive condo being a 746-sq foot 1BR + den on the second floor listed at $689,900, and the most expensive being a 1231-sq foot unit on the fifth floor listed for $1,232,900. Monthly HOA dues are $540-$667.

Buyers who want first pick of the available units will have to be content making their decisions based on floor plans and depicted views and other details via the sales office’s touch screen display. Those ten buyers already in contract are betting that Marlow’s condos will be worth current prices when the building is finally ready for occupancy in early 2014.

I like Marlow’s design and amenities, and believe that the units facing north, east and south will be the best ones. West-facing units that front Van Ness are the ones with the quadruple-paned windows, no doubt, and will require buyers who are less sensitive to noise—or ones who’d be happy running air conditioning and keeping the windows closed. The location is extremely central to the Polk Street corridor’s shops and restaurants, and is in walking distance of the Financial District. Given the limited new development opportunities in the well-established neighborhoods of Russian/Nob Hills, Marlow offers a good opportunity for buyers looking for shiny, new finishes in a convenient location.

If you’re interested in independent representation at Marlow, please contact me and I will schedule a visit to the sales office for us. The sale process in new construction is unique, and I can use my experience in this area to help you make the right decisions, as well as navigate all the ins and outs of the process.

Just Sold: Russian Hill TIC

I’ve just sold my 1BR/1BA tenancy-in-common (TIC) listing at 1145 Green #5. Listed shortly before Labor Day weekend, a very motivated buyer submitted an offer almost immediately and we were in contract within five days. List price was $439,000 and the sale closed at the asking price.

The unit is actually well on its way to becoming a condo, as the building won the condo lottery earlier this year.

Give me a shout if you’re looking for a similar property, or would like to sell the one you own. I’m well versed on the ins and outs of TICs, condos and everything in between.

Just Listed: Classic Russian Hill TIC

My new listing at 1145 Green #5 has been teeming with activity ever since we officially put it on the market at the end of last week. Offered at $439,000, the top-floor 1BR/1BA unit is situated in a prime Russian Hill location. Yes, the unit is a tenancy-in-common (TIC) at the moment. But the six-unit building won the right to condo convert earlier this year (after 17 years in the condo lottery). So condo conversion will most likely take place in the next few months.

#5 has lovely views of the city and surrounding hills, and gets great natural light. There’s a formal dining room, sunroom and roomy entrance hall. The unit comes with a large deeded storage room, too. Here’s the view from the living and sun rooms:

If you know of anyone who might be interested in this home, do give me a shout at 415.823.4656 / ebermingham@zephyrsf.com.

What You Can Buy: $1M, 1BR Edition

 San Francisco is one of the few cities where one-bedroom condos can actually sell for $1M or more.  In most cases, such properties will be located in the north end of the city. I thought I’d highlight two units currently on the market in this range.

1150 Lombard #16 / Russian Hill
List Price: $899,000

This 1BR/1BA condo at the well-regarded Lombardia in Russian Hill has an updated kitchen, remodeled bath with soaking tub and separate shower, as well as a king-sized bedroom with walk-in closet. There’s also a separate laundry room with side-by-side washer/dryer and a covered outdoor terrace. The Lombardia was constructed in 1989 and has 42 units. HOA dues are $1234.77 per month. Amenities include 24-hour lobby attendance and guest parking.

2169 Green #3 / Pacific Heights
List Price: $969,000

The 1BR/1BA in 2169 Green is the top-floor unit, which means you’re kind of in the attic. You do get exceptional Bay views and a modern, open floor plan within this Queen Anne Victorian building. There’s a private balcony off the bedroom and a home office in the turret. Amenities in this three-unit building include in-unit laundry, one-car parking and separate storage. HOA dues are $400/month.

A total of seven 1BR units have sold in 2011 from $800,000+. The most expensive? A condo at 1070 Green, which changed hands for $1,207,500.

Good Deal: Russian Hill 1BR Condo

I visited 2363 Larkin #31 this week on my broker tour, and thought it was a decent price for a one-bedroom condo in the neighborhood. Built in 1923, the building has lovely period details, hardwood floors and spacious rooms. The kitchen has been updated—though you could certainly update it again—and the unit gets nice natural light. There’s extra storage and a washer/dryer in the basement, and one-car deeded parking. List price is $699,000.

2363 Larkin is situated on the corner at Filbert, and has an 89 Walk Score. This is prime Russian Hill, so keep the adage “location, location, location” in mind when you consider the property. HOAs are $506/mo and there are 16 units in the building. The unit has been on the market for 42 days, so the good deal could be getting better as time goes on.

Gem of a Loft, Battle of the Hills and More

This issue of MarketTracker is packed with cool info. Check out the deets on 110 Freelon, a $3.1M warehouse loft conversion, and decide how a few Potrero vs. Russian Hill properties measure up. Plus the latest San Francisco sales.

It’s all here in the MarketTracker Report.

Battle of the Hills and a Trader Joe’s Update

The latest MarketTracker Report is out, and we have a lot of good info for you in this issue. Check out the latest citywide sales, and decide whether Russian or Potrero Hill take the prize.

Plus, an update on the Russian Hill parking garage that may turn condo, as well as the most recent news on the Castro Trader Joe’s (it’s not happening).

It’s all here in the current MarketTracker. Enjoy!

Lovin’ The Russian Hill Cul-de-Sac Condo With Killer Views

This unassuming exterior belies the major views within 31 Grenard Terrace, a lovely condo on a cul-de-sac in Russian Hill. And who doesn’t love cul-de-sacs? They tend to be more quiet and private, and traffic is limited to nearby residents or the occasional driver making a u-turn.

I’m spotlighting 31 Grenard because it’s got two levels, overall decent space and parking. You get 1500 or so square feet, three bedrooms and 2.5 baths. HOA dues for this unit are $300/mo.

Two of the bedrooms are on the lower level, which tends to keep the price down a bit. But it’s best to keep the focus on the more positive attributes, such as this deck:

31 Grenard last sold in 1997 for $815,000, so the current list price of $1.4M is more in line with today’s market. The average price for a 3BR condo in the neighborhood since January 2010 is $1,885,667.

Romantic European Hideaway for Valentine’s Day

There are few neighborhoods in San Francisco that inspire romance more than that of Russian Hill. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d spotlight a romantic Russian Hill home: The 2BR/2BA, 2,160-square foot unit at 1020 Union #7 has been on the market since last Fall. It’s currently being offered at $2,095,000, which may break a few buyers’ hearts. But for those in this price range who strongly desire Bay, Russian Hill and Alcatraz views from a walkout terrace (above), 1020 Union #7 will definitely do.

Union Terrace, one of my favorite Russian Hill developments, was constructed in 1921. It’s charmingly landscaped with terraced gardens and fountains:

#7 is a top-floor unit that has one of the largest and brightest floor plans. It features six skylights, a living room with fireplace and a formal dining room. You can also enjoy a library, family room, and direct access to the garage.  

So step out on to that terrace, take in the view, and consummate your home search with the perfect Valentine’s Day location. I’ll even throw in the wine and cheese and a chocolate heart if you hire me as your agent.

What You Can Buy for $800,000

The under-$1M price range is the most popular in San Francisco, so we’re taking a look today at what you can purchase at the $800,000 level:

2600 18th Street #20
Inner Mission


2600 18th St #20 is a very spacious, tri-level loft with Twin Peaks views. There are two master suites, and easy access to the common roof deck. HOA dues are $412/mo and there are 24 units in the building. You’re within walking distance of cafes and restaurants, and the Potrero Safeway is a few blocks away.

1522 9th Avenue
Inner Sunset


1522 9th Avenue is a good example of the level of house you’re likely to get at this price point in the Inner Sunset. This two-story Edwardian needs some updating, but it’s perfectly liveable as is. There’s a formal dining room on the main level, and four bedrooms are upstairs (with only one bath; therein lies part of the reason for a good update). Muni and the Irving Street corridor are three blocks north, and one more block will lead you in to Golden Gate Park. There’s a low ($3500) termite report on file.

1182 Greenwich
Russian Hill


1182 Greenwich is located in prime Russian Hill. The condo features 2BR/2BA, and parking is leased for $300 two blocks away. The property is on the first floor of a four-unit building and has been somewhat hiply remodeled (not resembling what you’d expect in a 1906-era building). HOA dues are $300/mo.

Walk Score Winners: Condos in Noe Valley, Russian Hill, Yerba Buena

Rarely do I sit down with a buyer who tells me at the start of a home search that he or she is looking for a place that’s far from restaurants, shops and services. Nine out of ten buyers list accessibility to these things as a top priority. That’s no surprise, because if you want to drive to everything, you can be satisfied with a home outside of San Francisco.

That’s why I regularly spotlight homes with high Walk Scores. I’m spotlighting some newer listings today that have 90+ scores:

117 Fair Oaks
Noe Valley/Mission
Walk Score: 94
List Price: $899,000
3BR/1BA
1-car pkg
HOAs: $150/mo
This is one of my favorite streets in San Francisco due to its rows of quintessential San Francisco Victorian and Edwardian homes and tree-lined feel. 117 Fair Oaks is about a five-minute walk from the 24th and Mission BART/Muni station, and is around the corner from The Liberties bar/restaurant and several other eateries. It’s also about a block and a half to the Valencia corridor. This particular unit is in a building with only one other condo, and it occupies the full floor. There are two fireplaces, in-unit washer/dryer, and lots of storage. (Keep in mind that the CC&Rs don’t accept dogs as pets, so that’s something to check into if you’re envisioning walking your dog around the ‘hood.)

Next up is 2063 Larkin, in Russian Hill:

2063 Larkin
Russian Hill
Walk Score: 97
List Price: $969,000
2BR/1BA
1-car pkg
HOAs: $170/mo
Another full-floor flat, this time located one block east of Polk, which has a raft of cafes and services. 2063 Larkin has a spa-like bath, living room with octagonal bay window area and wood-burning fireplace, and large formal dining room with built-in wine bar. There’s also a remodeled kitchen with center island. Listed at $1,039,000 earlier this year, the sellers have adjusted their asking price recently.

And finally, there’s 199 New Montgomery #906, in the newly designated Yerba Buena neighborhood. This one has the highest Walk Score of this trio:

199 New Montgomery #906
Yerba Buena
Walk Score: 98
List Price: $589,000
1BR/1BA
1-car pkg (not leased)
HOAs: $501.27/mo
199 New Montgomery is a 166-unit building constructed in 2004. It’s got a great location downtown, with a quick walk to Market Street and all the transportation options there, and it’s a short distance to the financial district as well as the freeway. #906 has about 787 square feet, and a den area. HOA dues cover a 24-hour doorperson, and there’s also a roof deck and bbq area.

What You Can Buy for $300,000-$350,000

I’m often asked what types of properties are available in San Francisco in the $300,000-$350,000 range. And I have to say that there aren’t many. But I thought I’d profile a couple different offerings that have sold recently in this range. Of course, in other parts of the country you can buy yourself a sweet house for this amount of money. But as usual, things are different in San Francisco, particularly if you want to be in a desirable neighborhood with a lot of restaurants and services nearby.

First up is 1452 Waller #2:

This Cole Valley studio is in a great location at Downey, and has nice Victorian detailing throughout, such as high ceilings and oversized bay windows. The unit has nice light, a lovely shared garden, hardwood floors, ample closets and cabinets, and HOA dues of $99/mo. (There is no garage in the building.) There are also only two other units in the building, which makes things manageable. This unit sold for $330,000 last week, and was listed at $275,000. Keep in mind that Cole Valley is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and home prices are typically very high.

Another recent sale was over at 2 Fallon Place #9, in Russian Hill:

This studio is about 500 square feet and is located in a 60-unit complex built in 1980. The kitchen and bath have been remodeled, and the unit has expansive views toward Coit Tower. One-car parking is included. HOA dues are $466/mo and property amenities feature a tennis court, roof deck with panoramic views, laundry, twelve overnight guest parking spaces, and earthquake insurance. Here’s a very cool shot of the tennis court against the backdrop of San Francisco’s skyline:

This property sold in August for $345,000, and the list price was $299,900.

Keep in mind that you can get more space (and potentially, a parking spot) for your money if you’re flexible on your selection of neighborhoods. In San Francisco, that’s what it all comes down to.