The 411 on CA’s Construction Defect Law

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New construction single-family homes and condos are being built and sold at a rapid-fire pace in San Francisco. If you’re considering buying this type of property, it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to consumer protection and your rights in the event you discover a construction defect.

Construction defects are unfortunately pretty common in new buildings—everything from water intrusion (the most common one) to inadequate ventilation or faulty sewer systems. Dealing with defects isn’t fun, but there’s a way to handle them thanks to legislation called SB 800. [Read more…]

Grand SoMa Development Takes Leap Forward

The four-acre development planned for Fifth and Mission in SoMa has grand plans—1,200 new residences and 150,000 square feet of retail, for starters. But there are renderings online now, and the project could break ground in 2016 if approved.

Moving north west across town, we take a look at what’s on the market in uber-hot Hayes Valley, from a loft to a Victorian condo.

Plus, news on Coit Tower’s murals and the most current San Francisco sales and stats.

It’s all here in the Zephyr MarketTracker!

Rooftop Pool Preview at 1875 Mission

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The gold address numbers have risen over at 1875 Mission, a former storage space that’s been transformed into 39 “L.A. chic” luxury condos. The building is situated on the same block as the Armory, between 14th and 15th Streets. [Read more…]

SF Construction Boom Boosts Tire Industry

Construction in San Francisco is going gangbusters these days. No matter where you walk, drive or bike, there’s a building rising or a home being extensively renovated.

One byproduct of all this construction is what I experienced last week. I headed to my garage en route to an appointment and discovered that I had a flat tire. An hour later, AAA diagnosed the cause of the flat—a nail.

The service guy said that he is seeing nails in tires “every day, because of all the construction.” Unfortunately for me, the tire wasn’t repairable.

Consider this a public service announcement of sorts. Part of my job requires me to go to new construction sites, but I’m also now making every attempt to avoid driving past work sites if I can. That’s no easy task, but at the very least, I don’t park near renovation areas.

So watch where you drive, and make sure you have a reliable roadside assistance plan in place—and a solid spare tire.

Let’s Start Pushing for “Blue” Construction in SF

Two things are certain right now: Our California drought doesn’t have an end in sight, and construction is booming in San Francisco.

The push for “green,” or eco-friendly construction erupted several years ago. But what I’m wondering is whether architects and builders can start including “blue,” or drought-friendly features in future renovations and new construction.

A recent piece on NPR discussed how Australia—which has a nine-year drought in its history—began addressing its water shortage problem by revamping home plumbing systems. Consider Melbourne, which gets 23 inches of rain annually (similar to that of San Francisco in a typical year). Half the homes in Melbourne now have systems to capture and store rain, and newer homes are being built with dual plumbing systems to recycle graywater. For example, rinse water from the washing machine goes to the toilet for flushing.

Melbourne is now down to 40 gallons per person per day, including outside watering. Californians average two to four times that amount.

Green construction is great, and should continue. But it would be awesome if, in the future, homeowners and builders would take the lead from Melbourne and create “blue” construction properties.

Hard Hat Tour: Amero in Cow Hollow

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I went on a hard hat tour of the new Amero condo building at 1501 Filbert between Van Ness and Franklin last week. Featuring 27 two- and three-bedroom units, Amero also includes one parking space per unit. (Many other properties only provide one space for every two units.) There are four penthouses, as well.

Units range from just over 1,000 square feet to 2500 square feet. Finishes will feature natural stone countertops, walls and flooring; carpeting in bedrooms; European grey oak/wide plank flooring. The kitchen will be fully stocked with Italian cabinetry, Bertazzoni ranges and Thermador refrigerators, along with polished quartz countertops. [Read more…]

Inside Hayes Valley’s 8 Octavia

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I previewed 8 Octavia, the new 47-unit condo development designed by iconic architect Stanley Saitowitz that sits at the corner of Octavia Boulevard and Market Street.

The distinctive feature of the property is the green-colored “curtain” that’s actually a louver system. Owners can press a button in their condo and open or close the louvers, so cancel those plans for window treatments. (No word yet on how expensive the louver system will be over time when it comes to maintaining and repairing it.) Saitowitz calls 8 Octavia a “breathable building,” and I’m sure the louvers are the reason for that. [Read more…]

1645 Pacific: Old World Design with a Modern Touch

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The brand new, 39-unit condo project at 1645 Pacific is officially one of my favorite new developments on the market. I toured the building this week and was impressed with developer Grosvenor America’s and Richard Beard and BAR Architect’s efforts to construct a building inspired by the old world design that’s pervasive among many homes in Pacific Heights, Russian and Nob Hills.

The nice thing about the building is that it doesn’t look like it was transplanted from SoMa, and fits in with the neighborhood’s character. From the sculptures that adorn the facade, to wrought-iron balcony rails and pre-war design elements, 1645 Pacific looks as if there was some real thought put into the overall design. The lobby has high ceilings and grand chandeliers, and all floors are serviced by an elevator. There will also be a concierge/doorman, secured bike storage, a car-sharing service and common rooftop terrace with sweeping views. [Read more…]

Bernal Renovations, South Beach Condos Getting Ready to Sell

The latest Zephyr Market Tracker is showing property prices up around 8% across the board over the past six months. (In most neighborhoods, though, the increase from 2013 to 2014 is much higher.)

We also take a look at Lumina, the upcoming 655-unit condo development at 201 Folsom that’s best known as phase 2 of the Infinity. Plus, a close-up on Bernal Heights and some cool renovations happening there. And let’s not forget the annual Decorator Showcase that will be held in a 9,000-square foot mansion on Jackson Street.

It’s all here in the Zephyr Market Tracker!

Onyx in Potrero Knows Its Target Buyers

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I guess it was only a matter of time before someone decided to build a condo development with the look and feel of an Apple store. Sharing its name with an OS X utility app and saturated in white, Onyx in Potrero Hill certainly knows its buyer demographic.

I visited Onyx this week on my broker tour, and I do like the finishes and the location within the neighborhood. Onyx will ultimately house 41 one-, two- and three-bedroom condos across three stories and two buildings. (The second building will rise at the corner of 17th and Carolina, and will be completed in Fall 2015.) The two-story lobby has white porcelain flooring and “signature, ONYX stone.” You may stop momentarily to look for the Genius Bar, but the best bet is to either head up the stairs or take the elevator to the second floor to check out the available units. [Read more…]

Pricey Prospects for New Condos in SF Pipeline

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It’s been quite a year for developers of new construction condos and houses in San Francisco. After an economic downturn during which very few new projects were built in the city, construction lurched ahead again—particularly along the Market Street corridor, in Hayes Valley, the Mission and many other popular neighborhoods.

And oh, what a reception these new developments received! Projects such as 300 Ivy in Hayes Valley and ICON in the Castro sold out in record time, and at record prices. Buyers seemed very willing to pay a premium of $1,000-$1200/sq foot for new and shiny, particularly in transit- and retail-friendly communities. And 3500 19th Street at Valencia took advantage of the tech-buying boom and Mission mania by largely selling out all of its 17 condos with sales prices in the $1.3M-$2.3M range. [Read more…]

5 Things To Know About Negotiating New Development Contracts

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San Francisco is experiencing a construction boom these days, with new developments going up in neighborhoods on a rolling basis—with many more to follow in the next five years.

There are two ways to handle contract negotiations if you’ve decided to buy a newly built—or not-quite-finished—condo. You can go directly to the sales office, or work with a local Realtor. Some buyers feel that they can handle things on their own, while others appreciate the guidance of a seasoned professional who’s negotiated contracts on other developments in the past.

Regardless of how you approach your purchase, here are five things to know before you sit down with the sales office to negotiate your contract:
1. We’re in a seller’s market, and developers are not discounting their list prices. Most developments are selling out quickly, and at prices that the developer wants. There will likely be another buyer breathing down your neck as soon as you decide which unit you’d like to buy. Of course, you may be able to negotiate a lower price on a less desirable unit that ends up sitting on the market longer.

2. Most of the contingencies are passive. The San Francisco Realtor Association (SFAR) purchase agreement allows for contingency timeframes that require the buyer to remove the contingency on a certain date. That’s usually not the case for the new-construction condo contracts. If the sales office doesn’t hear from you by the time the particular contingency deadline arrives, the escrow marches on and you technically do not have that contingency to fall back on anymore. I provide an escrow timetable to all my clients so everyone is aware of all deadlines, and no one risks losing a deposit.

3. Make sure the parking details in the paperwork match up with what you see in the garage. Will you own your parking space, or is it leased or assigned? Does your space show up on the condo map? Is there a separate HOA just for parking?

4. You should have a final walkthrough prior to closing. The SFAR contract provides for a walkthrough on the property within five days of closing. You’re able to ensure that what you’re buying is in acceptable condition. New home contracts sometimes omit that walkthrough, which can be particularly problematic if you’ve been promised that certain items will be installed by close of escrow. It’s a good idea to insist on a walkthrough.

5. You may be able to negotiate concessions. If the price is firm, has the developer been throwing in any appliances or upgrades? Typical concessions are refrigerators or upgrades on finishes if a unit hasn’t yet been completed. If you’ve decided to work directly with the sales office, they will not usually be forthcoming about concessions because they’re representing the seller and are trying to get him or her the best deal possible. On the other hand, a well-connected Realtor (like me) can confer with colleagues who have sold units in the building to see what you may be able to request and likely achieve.

Sales offices always require that your agent register with you upon your first visit to the building. So if you would prefer the benefit of working with a Realtor and want to see condos in a particular building, make sure to schedule a time to go to the office together.

There are probably another 20 items I could add to the list above, and I’d be happy to provide my guidance if you’re interested in one of the many new developments that are selling now or will be releasing units soon. Give me a shout at 415.823.4656 or ebermingham@zephyrsf.com if you’d like to talk.

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.

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.

Suburbia Sets Foot in SF, Dogs Rule & Prices are Up

Developers have broken ground on Summit 800, a 182-unit development on Brotherhood Way near Lake Merced in San Francisco. The 7.7-acre parcel will have a mix of attached and detached homes, some with yards and a decidedly suburban feel.

Where does San Francisco rank in the United States for the top dog cities? And how much have home prices in the city increased in the past six months? It’s all here in the latest Zephyr MarketTracker!