Don’t Forget About Lofts in San Francisco

Lofts have always been one of my favorite types of homes in San Francisco. With their high ceilings, open spaces and large windows, lofts always feel bigger than they actually are. Developers went on a loft-building spree in the late 1990s-early 2000s to create live-work housing in “transitional” neighborhoods like South of Market, The Mission, South Beach, and Dogpatch. And these properties still offer good bang for the buck.

The new construction coursing through the city no longer includes lofts. But it’s important not to overlook existing loft inventory, as it provides a unique, spacious form of housing that’s near downtown, freeways, public transportation and some of the best restaurants in the city. And most lofts come with parking and modest HOA dues, which can’t be said for today’s new construction condos. [Read more...]

What You Can Buy for Under $1M with Bay & Bridge Views

If your budget is under $1M and you want a condo with views, your best bets will be neighborhoods like South Beach and Mission Bay. Real estate is roughly around $1,000/sq foot there, so if you manage to snag a property with Bay views, you’ll really be getting the best bang for your buck.

Here’s a look at three condos with views in popular buildings that are near 280, Caltrain, BART, Muni, AT&T Park, and renowned restaurants:

260 King #1515
The Beacon (Mission Bay)

1BR/1BA, 903 sq ft
HOA dues: $762/mo + $140.40 parking/mo
List price: $799,000
260 King #1515 in The Beacon has dead-on Bay views from every window, and that’s no exaggeration. This is the type of home where you walk in and immediately realize that the online photos don’t do the views justice. The unit features hardwood floors, a kitchen with granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, and an in-unit washer/dryer. There’s also a separate alcove if you need an office area. Constructed in 2004, The Beacon spans two buildings (250 and 260 King) and has 595 units. It’s got excellent amenities like a 24-hour doorperson, concierge services, lap pool, spa, fitness center, club house and dog park. There are currently eight condos available in the Beacon for under $1M, but #1515 offers the best views and position in the building for the money. [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 Could’ve Bought: For Under the List Price

Buyers are paying an average of 12% over asking for houses and 10% for condos in the current San Francisco market. So I always catch a little thrill when I spot properties that sell for under the list price.

A handful of homes sold for under asking in April in popular neighborhoods. Let’s take a look at some sales that were possible without overbidding and waiving contingencies:

301 Main #20B
South Beach

List Price: $2.1M
Sale Price: $1,975,000
Days on Market (DOM): 50
Cash Sale: Yes
Shed no tears for this seller, who managed to flip this unit for significantly more money. Purchased in October 2013 for $1.6M, this 2BR/2BA unit at The Infinity was listed again in February for $2.1M. That price apparently didn’t fly, but $1,975,000 did. If there’s ever a case that needs to be made for the strength of the 2014 market, #20B is a good sale to reference. [Read more...]

Latest SF Sales, Spotlight on SoMa

Who doesn’t love to look at sales reports hot off the presses? This edition of the Zephyr Market Tracker shows you what sold, and for how much above or below the list price.

We also look at what’s for sale in SoMa, and what Project Open Hand recently did for the community.

It’s all here in the Zephyr Market Tracker!

March Goes Out Like Lion for SF Overbidders Club

Did you hear the roar buyers paying more than 25% over the list price for San Francisco homes in March? Well, I did. The SF Overbidders Club closed out the month of March making me wonder whether or not we can really expect April overbidding to be lamblike.

Overbidding happened across all property types this month, with healthy overbid averages happening:
Houses: 10.5% Condos: 9% TICs: 4.5%

But I found a home in each category that trumped those averages. Please welcome our newest SF Overbidders Club members:

465 Hoffman
Noe Valley House

4BR/4.5BA, 2 pkg, 4500 sq ft
List Price: $3,795,000
Sale Price: $5,105,000
Overbid Amount: 34.5%
What else can you tell me? Big, SoMa-style house with epic views.
465hoffman [Read more...]

What You Can Buy: View Condos

San Francisco properties with views of the hills, city skyline, ocean or Bay command a premium. The whole “million dollar view” tag line really does ring true for some homes.

And when it comes to condos in centrally located neighborhoods, views are the icing on the cake. View condos certainly fall under the “luxury” category, and they’ll typically cost above the $1M average for a two-bedroom unit.

I surveyed the market and picked out my favorite three view condos to spotlight today:

657 Corbett #3
Twin Peaks

4BR/3BA, 2101 sq ft
1-car parking
HOA dues: $316.22/mo
List price: $1,495,000
657corbett657 Corbett #3 is the penthouse condo in this four-unit building, and it certainly pulls out all the stops. The two-level residence features walls of glass with stunning views of downtown, The Bay and beyond. And it’s a corner unit, so you also get great east and south views. Three bedrooms are all on the same level, with the fourth bedroom on the main level. Though you’re not in the heart of a retail area, the reason to live on Corbett is for its views. Because let’s face it, you don’t get views in the flatlands of the Castro. Quick comp: #1 on the first floor of 657 Corbett is a 4BR/3BA unit with 2007 sq feet that’s in contract with a list price of $1,395,000. [Read more...]

What You Can Buy in March: 21 Days & Counting

The San Francisco market is low on inventory right now. That means you have to dig a little deeper to find buying opportunities, especially for properties in desirable locations. One of my strategies is to take a closer look at homes that have been on the market for three or more weeks. The possibility of multiple offers is lower, and sellers may be thinking about taking a little less on their list price.

Here are three properties that I think are well worth considering at the moment:
555 Bartlett #321
The Mission

Days on market (DOM): 48
1BR/1BA, 1 pkg
List Price: $629,000
I’m a big fan of 555 Bartlett, as I sold a unit there in 2010 when the building was constructed. Unit 321 has upgraded cabinetry and quartz countertops in the kitchen and plenty of natural light. This particular unit is on the third floor and overlooks the landscaped courtyard (that has a bbq area). Very convenient location near BART, Valencia/Mission restaurants and easy freeway access. One huge plus is the newly landscaped Cesar Chavez, which has really transformed the look and feel of the street. HOA dues are $375/month in this 58-unit building, and parking/storage are included. #321 last sold in 2010 for $452,500. [Read more...]

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.

What You Can Buy: Houses in SoMa

The South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood in San Francisco’s southeast end is known for its lofts, multi-unit buildings and industrial/commercial spaces. On occasion, however, a single-family house goes on the market. Such unique properties are excellent for urban dwellers who want the privacy and space, as well as want to avoid monthly HOA dues and related issues. These houses, however, are a rarity; in the past three years, only six have sold.

That’s why it’s cool to see two SoMa houses hit the market simultaneously over the past week. Here’s a look at the details:

36 Rausch
Year Built: 1906
List Price: $1,100,000

36 Rausch is on a cute block between Howard/Folsom and 7th/8th Streets. The house has nice period detail throughout, like bay windows, crown moldings and coved ceilings, so it’s totally different from the usual architecture you see in the area. There’s a space at the entrance level that could be used as its own unit (unwarranted kitchen, etc). Finishes are Home Depot level, and the flooring could use an upgrade. But 36 Rausch scores points for being unique and offering an interesting space that future owners could renovate to their tastes.

275 Shipley
Year Built: 1913
List Price: $1,495,000

I’m a big fan of 275 Shipley, an artfully renovated house that’s right off 6th Street between Folsom and Harrison. The house sits on a 50-foot wide lot and has a very cool yard, unheard of in SoMa, which adds up to unparalleled indoor-outdoor living. The three bedrooms are all on the top floor, and the master has a private deck. Did I mention the two-car garage?

What You Can Buy: 2BR Condos

There’s a healthy inventory of condos on the market right now in San Francisco—particularly in popular neighborhoods which are convenient to transportation, restaurants and services. I thought I’d share some of my picks for newly listed condos that I would consider if I were searching for this type of property in the city:

50 Lansing #601
South Beach

2BR/2BA, 1499 sq ft
2-car parking
HOA dues: $763.43/month
List Price: $1,295,000

The Lansing is an 82-unit development right off Harrison and First that’s a great option for South Bay or financial district commuters. #601 has two balconies, a large, 640-square foot private roof terrace and two-car parking. (The latter is a challenge to find in the San Francisco condo market.) The well-appointed kitchen features Studio Becker cabinetry, and the unit has air conditioning, another thing you don’t find often in San Francisco. Common areas include a fitness center with sun deck, pano-view roof deck and on-site property manager. 50 Lansing is perfect for buyers who want to be near the Embarcadero waterfront, Ferry Building and everything that South Beach has to offer (including good weather). This unit sold in 2006 for $1,395,000.

628 Rhode Island

2BR/3BA, 1850 sq ft
No parking
HOA dues: $332/month
List Price: $950,000

628 Rhode Island is great for buyers who are looking for a unique property that could use some cosmetic and reconfiguration work to bring out its full potential, in a prime Potrero location. The property consists of a three-unit association, and this particular unit is a freestanding cottage with a separate, rented studio space. The cottage is at the rear of the lot, amidst a very nice garden. It also has city views. 628 Rhode Island is located in the heart of Potrero, and is in proximity to the design district, restaurants, Anchor Steam Brewing Company and the freeway.

2750 Market #101
Corona Heights

2BR/2BA, 1528 sq ft
1-car parking
HOA dues: $623/month
List Price: $825,000

1980s construction may not have the classic San Francisco architectural charm, but it is extremely functional and typically more spacious. Witness 2750 Market #101, which has good natural light throughout, generous square footage and an open living/dining area. There’s a raised hearth fireplace, as well as recessed lighting and a walk-out deck. The remodeled kitchen has lots of storage space and hardwood floors. Yes, this building is right on Market at Douglass, so you traffic will be a presence. But the unit has double-paned windows, and many also have plantation shutters. Common areas include a roof deck with views and outdoor furniture. You’re just up the hill from the Castro and its Muni station, restaurants, services and bars. This unit last sold for $705,000 in 2009.

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.

What You Can Buy: 3BR Houses for $1M

Ah, a three-bedroom single-family home in San Francisco—the holy grail of local real estate.

There are currently 102 such houses on the market as of this writing, at an average list price of $1,206,627. But the good news is that there are plenty of homes available. It’s just a matter of being flexible about what you may need—and which neighborhood you’d like.

I found a trio of cool 3BR houses to consider which are below the citywide list price average, in three very different neighborhoods:
1723 22nd Avenue
Central Sunset

3BR/2BA, 1530 sq feet
1 pkg
List price: $927,000

This very charming, Marina-style home has good curb appeal, interior 1930s period detail, and upgraded kitchen and baths. There are two bedrooms on the main level, and a third on the garden level. There’s also a large garage and a really sweet yard. 1723 22nd Avenue came on the market on August 21st, and is not selling at its current $927,000 list price. I’m honestly not sure why, other than that buyers are recognizing that the house may be worth around that price and are wary of having to bid higher. If I were interested in the house and neighborhood, I’d schedule a showing and try to take advantage of a market opportunity. Plenty of public transportation nearby, and 19th Avenue puts you on the right track to the Golden Gate Bridge for North Bay commutes.

70 Sheridan

3BR/2BA, 1359 sq ft
2 pkg
List price: $995,000

A house in SoMa? This rarity at 70 Sheridan is perfect for anyone who loves urban living and also would love the privacy that a single-family house can provide. Renovated in 2006, the property is a mashup of 1920s period detail and more contemporary finishes, and has a huge garage. There’s a freestanding shed in the yard, which you may be able to put to good use for something like guest space or a home office. One thing to note: The property is zoned RED (residential enclave district), so you should check with your lender to make sure there won’t be any complications with your loan if you’re purchasing 70 Sheridan as your primary residence.

30 Molimo
Miraloma Park

3BR/2BA, 1970 sq ft
1 pkg
List price: $989,000

30 Molimo is a very gracious, detached home with East Bay views and an updated, eat-in kitchen. Downstairs are the third bedroom, second bath and family room. Molimo is a quick drive to Mollie Stone’s, the West Portal retail area and 280. Warm weather is not Miraloma’s strong point, but what you do get are wide, open tree-lined streets and nice front yards.

1BR Condos a Good Bet for First-Time Home Buyers

A one-bedroom condo is typically not the ideal home. Who doesn’t want an extra room for guests or an office? But as prices escalate in San Francisco, first-time home buyers are finding that they can work with a one-bedroom unit, as long as it has reasonable space, isn’t tenant occupied, has affordable HOA dues, parking, and is located in a good neighborhood that’s central to retail areas and public transportation.

I set out to find some properties that meet this criteria and which I think are well worth considering for buyers in the $500,000-$700,000 range:

468 Tehama #3

HOA Dues: $436.78/mo

Blessed with a lovely outdoor patio, 468 Tehama #3 is a loft with just under 1,000 square feet that has hardwood floors, in-unit laundry, and a bedroom with a large walk-in closet. Common areas include a roof deck with pano views, and you also get storage and one-car parking. You can expect a fair amount of street activity in this location, but it’s a couple blocks away from the burgeoning mid-Market district that is growing by leaps and bounds. An excellent choice for downtown or Peninsula/East Bay commuters.

1483 Sutter #401
Lower Pac Heights/Van Ness Corridor

HOA Dues: $586/mo

The Sutterfield was constructed in 1993 and has 164 units. So it’s a larger, more established property than some of the other on this list. For the slightly higher HOA dues, you get 24-hour security, a fitness center, and outdoor spa. #401 has an open floor plan, with a pleasant kitchen and spacious bedroom. Storage and one-car parking are included. This location is in walking distance of restaurants and shops in Russian Hill, Japantown, Fillmore, the theatre district and multiple bus lines. Commuting to the North Bay and downtown are also easy from this location.

3453 26th Street
The Mission

HOA Dues: $230/mo

3453 26th Street is on the upper floor of a four-unit building that has nice 1920s period details. This unit was updated in 2008 and has an open floor plan with a good separation between the bedroom and living space. Features include in-unit laundry, skylight, and kitchen with breakfast bar. There’s a shared patio, one-car parking and large storage area. You’re not on the best block of the Mission, but I’ve seen worse, and you can supplement your furnishings with visits to the Salvation Army store at the corner. Ideal for downtown and East/South Bay commuters, as BART is a five-minute walk and you can easily jump on 101 or 280. Oh, yeah, and the Valencia corridor is half a block away.

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

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.