21 Days & Counting: Hot SF ‘Hoods

San Francisco inventory is typically snapped up within a week in popular neighborhoods. But it may come as a surprise to find that there are many properties that have been on the market for three or more weeks—and are still available.

For buyers who are tired of competing in multiple-offer situations, it’s time to revisit the listings that are taking offers as they come. Today we take a look at three homes in the hot neighborhoods of Bernal, West Portal and Cow Hollow that have been on the market for 21 days or longer:

86 Wool
Bernal Heights

Days on market (DOM): 71
4BR/3.5BA, 1890 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $1,399,000

Purchased as a 2BR/1BA, 1125 square foot home in April 2012 for $801,000, 86 Wool has since undergone a transformation into a 4BR/3.5BA house. The property was on the market in the Spring for $1.5M; that price didn’t work. (Though the house was briefly in contract in July.) Now asking $1.4M, the sellers are hoping there are buyers out there who will appreciate 86 Wool’s renovation and prime Bernal location. As larger and not necessarily renovated homes in the neighborhood have been selling for well above $1.3M, I think 86 Wool could be an opportunity for someone to buy a “done” house without enduring a bloodbath offer situation. Honestly, had the sellers listed the house for $1.2M, it probably would’ve been sold for $1.4M by now.

2428 14th Avenue
West Portal

Days on market (DOM): 55
2 pkg
List Price: $1,249,000

For buyers looking for a large single-family home in proximity to the West Portal retail area, 2428 14th Avenue definitely fits the bill. There are three bedrooms on the main level, a large, remodeled kitchen and two more bedrooms and family room on the garden level. You’d be hard pressed to find a house of this caliber for less than the list price, so serious buyers may want to take a first (or second) look at 14th Avenue.

1853 Filbert
Cow Hollow

Days on market (DOM): 69
2BR/2BA, 1034 sq ft
1 pkg
List Price: $1,125,000

The main issue with this unit is that the large bedroom is half of the double parlor, and the second bedroom is small. But if you can get past that and utilize the space properly, 1853 Filbert may be a great fit for you. It has a nicely remodeled, eat-in kitchen and a lovely shared patio and landscaped garden. There are six units in the building, and the HOA dues are a reasonable $375/month. First listed for $1,185,000 in June, the price has come down since then. May be time to make a deal, particularly if you’re looking for an excellent Cow Hollow location a block from Union Street.

Calling All Sweat Equity Buyers: West Portal Project for Ya

For buyers looking for a well-located house that would allow them to make improvements and increase value over time, 72 Allston Way in West Portal is a good prospect.

Listed at $675,000, the 2BR/1BA house was built in 1922 and has its original kitchen and bath. The split-level floor plan provides nice separation of living and sleeping space, and two large bedrooms are at the rear of the property. Both feature large closets and bay windows. The split bathroom —toilet in one room, sink and shower in the other—has the original octagonal flooring and tile. There’s a large deck overlooking the garden, which could use your landscaping creativity. The roof has recently been replaced, so knock off about $12,000 from the improvement list.

It’s likely the house will sell for more than its list price, given recent market patterns.

Open Saturday July 28 and Sunday July 29 from 2:00-4:00.

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?

What You Can Buy In District 4

One of the more attractive areas of San Francisco is what’s known as District 4 in Realtor terms. This is the region west of Twin Peaks that encompasses 16 different neighborhoods—everything from Miraloma Park and Sunnyside, to West Portal and Balboa Terrace. I thought we’d take a look at three homes currently on the market in District 4 so you can get a sense for what types of homes are available.

First up is 2531 14th Avenue in West Portal:

Featuring 3BRs/2BAs and 1850 square feet, 2531 14th Street is a three-story home situated about three blocks from West Portal Avenue, the local retail strip. The home has been recently remodeled and has a master suite on the upper level with views. List price is $1,084,900; the sellers have been trying to sell the home since 2010. There’s two-car parking, and a yard with a big, fat palm tree.

We move on to 195 Urbano in Ingleside Terrace:

South of West Portal and St. Francis Wood is the enclave of Ingleside Terrace. This neighborhood is not far from the West Portal retail district, and is bordered by Ocean Avenue, which also has public transportation and services. 195 Urbano is a 4BR/3.5BA house with 3400 square feet, listed at $999.950. Buyers will probably not rejoice in the finishes; the kitchen has a ’70s thing happening, and there’s some knotty pine and wood paneling thrown in throughout the property. But you do get a lot of space, and 280 is not far away if you’re a Peninsula commuter.

Last up is 32 Taraval in Forest Hill:

I’m liking this one the best out of our trio of homes. 32 Taraval is right on the border of Forest Hill and West Portal, so it’s very central to the West Portal retail area. Traffic can be a little busy along Taraval, but the house is set back a bit from the street. 32 Taraval has 4BRs/2.5BAs and 2426 square feet. It’s got the best kitchen of the bunch. (You know that because Ann Sacks tiles and marble countertops are involved.) Bedrooms are spacious and the house has style. List price is $1,395,000. There’s already an offer date of February 22nd for this one, so you know interest is strong among the buyer set.

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.


West Portal Home Crosses Finish Line

It wasn’t an easy real estate road for 153 Granville Way in West Portal. But last week’s sale goes to show you that it sometimes takes a while to get to the right market price.

The 4BR/2BA single-family home with multiple levels and no yard came on the market in March 2011 at $1,189,000 (and an offer date, too). No buyers came to the table, and the property sat for a while, experiencing a couple price reductions. The sellers ultimately withdrew the listing in July, when it still didn’t sell at the $995,000 list price.

But they gave it another shot in August, listing for $899,000 and then chopping the price to $799,000. In the end, they managed to land somewhere in between, with a selling price of $845,000. Given the proximity to West Portal Avenue and overall size of the property, I’d say the buyers got a pretty good deal. And the sellers turned out to be not only realistic, but genuinely motivated. That’s the combination you need in today’s market.


MarketTracker: Latest SF Sales & More

Check out the latest city sales, along with an update on Treasure Island. Plus: What’s new on San Francisco sidewalks for the summer and the battle between West Portal and Portola!

It’s all here in the mid June Zephyr MarketTracker.

Smackdown: Liberty Hill vs West Portal

One of the ways I get my thrills is by fantasizing about which house I’d buy at a certain price point. (Cut me some slack, I’m a Realtor.) Today I’m pitting two single-family houses in two very different locations against each other. Which one would you buy?

First up is 177 Liberty, atop Liberty Hill in the Noe/Eureka Valley area:

177 Liberty has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and about 1983 square feet. It’s a Victorian that’s had a Euro-style makeover, so that may not excite some purists out there. The main level has two bedrooms, with the additional two bedrooms on the upper level. No garage, but you can lease one nearby. The location is pretty hip, as you’re just up the hill from Dolores Park, the 18th Street gourmet gulch and not far from the Valencia corridor. You can also head in the opposite direction to Noe Valley or the Castro. List price: $1,299,000.

We head over to 201 Vicente, located in the prime area of West Portal (which means you can walk to the retail district):

My initial reaction to this house before I went inside was that it was in a busy intersection and was pretty exposed. However, it has a very gracious feel and nice floor plan. The four bedrooms are located on the upper level, which is perfect for parents who don’t want their kids sleeping on a different level. There’s great natural light on both levels, and the master suite is situated in the rear of the property and away from the busier portion of the street. The main grounds are in the front of the house, so there’s only a sliver of a rear yeard. But you do get an elevator (I know) and two-car parking. The kitchens and baths could use updating, but are perfectly livable for now. List price: $1,300,000.

Give me a shout if you’d like to get in either one. I’d love to hit up both again!

Walk Score Winners: West Portal, Sunset, Bernal

I made it a goal today to find three single-family houses with excellent Walk Scores. There are plenty of condos with great scores, but houses are sometimes a little more challenging. So here are three homes that’ll give you the shelter you need and also wean you off your car a little. (And please note that property links go to the corresponding Zephyr site page. These are not all Zephyr listings; we provide details on all properties, regardless of the brokerage. The reason I link to Zephyr is because in addition to providing property detail, we also feature neighborhood and market trend info that are pretty helpful.)

First up is 325 Wawona in West Portal:

325 Wawona has a whoppin’ 95 Walk Score, as it’s only half a block from the West Portal strip. The home also has an 81 Transit Score; the L line stops right nearby and takes you downtown. Listed at $1,090,000, 325 Wawona has 2BRs/2BAs, two-car parking and 1570 square feet. The owners bought the home in 2007 for $1,025,000 and stripped it down to the studs (with permits). The kitchen and baths have been remodeled, and the house is nicely done inside.

We move to the Inner Sunset, where 1291 5th Avenue has just come on the market:

1291 5th Avenue is steps away from Irving Street and has a 92 Walk Score. The 3BR/2.5BA Edwardian is listed at $1,249,000 and has loads of period detail. The kitchen has been remodeled and leads out to a sizeable yard, and all three bedrooms are upstairs. There’s a corner produce market literally next store, so if you need a quick shallot, you don’t have to go far. The 76 Transit Score means you’re right near the N Judah and multiple bus lines. And you’re only a few blocks from the heart of the 9th and Irving retail area, as well as Golden Gate Park.

Finally, we have 15 Eugenia in Bernal Heights:

The kitchen of this 4BR/4BA home listed at $1,195,000 is going over well with buyers. This is a bit higher than the normal Bernal price point, but the house is big (2380 square feet) and has two-car parking. The Walk Score is 91, and you’re about a half block from the Mission corridor (which translates into an 84 Transit Score). 15 Eugenia was purchased in 2005 for $965,000 and the current owners did extensive renovations. There’s a formal dining room, view deck, family room and huge master suite bath.

If you’re interested in seeing any of these homes, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I specialize in selling homes in central, walkable neighborhoods!

How’s The Market In: Lakeside

One of the lesser-known neighborhoods in the west part of San Francisco is Lakeside. Bordered by Sloat on the north, Junipero Serra on the east, 19th Avenue on the west/south, Lakeside is a slice of a ‘hood that’s adjacent to San Francisco State University, Stonestown Galleria, Stern Grove, and Ingleside/Balboa Terraces. Here’s a map for your reference:

The homes in Lakeside were constructed from 1936-1950, and the developers targeted buyers who were professional men (and their families).  The plan for Lakeside was explained in the October 1936 issue of California Homes: “For the Man of Means: If you are a San Francisco executive you’ll like Lakeside. Close to your executive offices in the matter of distance and in the matter of time due to the Twin Peaks Tunnel; close to your favorite golf course and bridge club; close to your heart in the architecture of your needs…” They made sure to put utilities underground, and also built out Lakeside Village on Ocean Avenue so there were some stores and services. These days, Lakeside dwellers and buyers like the area because it’s convenient to the aforementioned places, area schools, West Portal and Hwy 280.

Lakeside is a small geographical area, so sales aren’t exactly prolific year round. A total of 17 single-family homes (no condos here) sold in 2010 for an average of $913,014. All but three were three- to four-bedroom homes with large square footage. All but four sold for less than $1M.

There are presently three listings available for sale in Lakeside, ranging from $695,000-$749,000. Three other homes are in contract. The market has held up well in this neighborhood, and there’s probably not sufficient inventory for all the buyers who might like to reside here.

Given that Lakeside has such a limited inventory and sales history, sellers (and buyers) can use sales in the neighboring areas of Merced Manor; Balboa Terrace; Stonestown; Merced Heights; and even Lakeshore and Pine Lake Park. Those neighborhoods tend to share a similar feel, but it’s important to note that comps should involve homes of similar architecture, number of bedrooms and adjust for remodeling and overall condition.

West Portal Alert: 3BR House for Under $1M

It’s got three bedrooms, two and a quarter bathrooms, a remodeled kitchen, and backs up to a lush green setting. Oh, and did I mention parking and a highly convenient location? For those buyers who have been looking to get into the low-turnover/high-demand West Portal neighborhood, 460 West Portal could be a great fit.

Yes, the home is located on West Portal Avenue (as is the upstairs master suite), which means the Muni train runs by the house and can be noisy. But there are other homeowners who live along train lines in the city, and you could do far worse than West Portal Avenue. Because you can come out of your house and be in the midst of all the restaurants, shops and services that you’ll ever need (plus, there’s a movie theatre and a library). You can even walk to Stonestown Galleria if you feel like it, as well as Stern Grove.

The property came on the market in early September for $899,000, so the current $829,000 list price shows the sellers are willing to be reasonable here. The average price for the 25 three-bedroom homes that have sold this year in the neighborhood is $1,160,250, with nine of those homes selling for under $1M. Something tells me 460 West Portal could be a good deal waiting to happen for the holidays.

District 4 Down Off Its High

Sales are a little off this year in what’s known as “District 4.” This is the area that encompasses neighborhoods such as Balboa Terrace, St. Francis Wood, Miraloma Park, Forest Hill Extension, Mount Davidson Manor and West Portal (as well as a few others). The area has been on a bit of a downswing since the beginning of the year. Indeed, of the 52 single-family homes sold in District 4′s neighborhoods with 94127 zip codes, 27 sold for less than asking.

There are currently 28 available listings with an average price of $1,381,217 and a days on market average of 66. But the 25 properties in contract have an average list price of $1,063,508. Looks like these current properties might have to move in price to attract buyers.

Buyers, District 4 may be the place to go if you’re looking for more house for your money—and some favorable negotiating.

West Portal Inventory Wakes Up

West Portal is one of the best neighborhoods in the city because of its retail district and Muni access. But it’s a geographically small area and doesn’t get much housing turnover. (Only 21 homes sold in the neighborhood in 2009 at an average of $1,102,990, which is about what you should expect to pay for a home in a location that offers the aforementioned amenities.) However, two homes just came on the market this week that are well worth considering if West Portal is on your list of preferred neighborhoods:

250 Claremont is a good-lookin’ 2BR/2BA Craftsman home with renovated kitchen and spacious rooms. List price is $899,000. It’s around the block from the West Portal strip and the Muni hub. Here’s a shot of the kitchen, which I like a lot:

The lower level has a bathroom, family room, and a smaller elevated area that fits a bed and has a closet. I was startled to see this lion in the closet area:

This is a very cute house with a detached garage on the property’s south side. Though the yard is nice, it’s important to note that the West Portal Playground backs up to the property line.

The property was last on the market in 2005 at $1,295,000 as a 3BR/2BA (they’d counted the unwarranted lower level as a bedroom). But the home didn’t move at that price. Offers are due on Thursday, and my guess is that there will be multiple buyers making bids with an ultimate selling price of around $1M.

On the other end of the neighborhood is 317 Wawona:

The country-style, 1771-square foot home has an older kitchen and bathrooms, 1BR and a half bath located on the main living level, and 2BR/1BA upstairs. There’s also a walk-out garden off the main level, which is nice. However, the lot is a bit irregular, so you have a small, pie-shaped yard that’s not terribly private. But this house would be great for buyers who appreciate the farmhouse feel; you’ll either love or hate a bedroom like this B&B situation:

Wawona is listed at $1,095,000, which seems high given the lack of remodeling and the pie yard. I’m going to say that the property is worth around the high $900,000s. It scores points for proximity to West Portal, as well as the fact that it’s not on as busy a street as Claremont.

There are four other single-family homes on the market in West Portal, but they range in price from $1,495,000-$1,875,000. And three of the four are in the Arden Estates development. So for homes at the more average $1M level, Claremont and Wawona are where it’s at for qualified buyers house hunting in West Portal.

A Visit to Arden Estates

construction_frontI checked out two of the model homes on my broker tour at the new Arden Estates development, located on 15th Avenue in West Portal.

This is a collection of seven single-family homes, five of which are still in the process of being finished. The homes feature three bedrooms; a fourth bedroom/family room; three bathrooms and one powder room. They all have about 3,000 square feet spread across three levels.

Here’s 2763 15th Avenue, listed at $2,195,000:

The homes are adjacent to the Arden Wood nursing facility, which trains nurses and cares for patients through Christian Science practices. You can look out your rear windows on the top two floors and see the Christian Science practices in action on the grounds:

And here’s a look at the homes’ yards, still being constructed:

Prices are all in the $2-2.2M range. The properties are located between West Portal and Wawona, so they are pretty strategically situated. I thought the two homes I saw were nice, but the development definitely has a cookie cutter feel, like a development you’d see in the suburbs. I question whether a buyer with the purchasing power of $2M in San Francisco will be drawn to Arden Estates, though the home sizes and new-construction quality are probably going to be big selling points.

The Under-$1M Club in West Portal

West Portal is a high-demand neighborhood, with a low level of inventory—particularly for first-time home buyers. But there’s a trio of single-family homes now available for under $1M.

67madrone67 Madrone only has one bedroom (no exaggeration there), but its location is prime West Portal. With about 1,000 square feet on the main level, you have everything you need for a 1BR/1BA house. The garage isn’t large, but can accommodate one car and has a bonus room that could be enhanced. The seller had plans for an addition and expansion, but is leaving that up to the next owner. List price: $829,000.

Next up is 225 Granville, the newest listing in the area.
granvilleThis 3BR/1BA home has about 1325 square feet, a living room with fireplace, and original kitchen and bath. This baby will be sold in a probate sale, so if you’re not up for being the sacrificial lamb in court, get your cashier’s checks together and plan on some overbidding in court. List price: $890,000.

And finally, there’s 542 Ulloa:
ulloaThis 2BR/1BA home comes with permit-ready plans for adding a master suite, sitting room and laundry on the garage level. List price: $948,000.