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
555bartlett_321
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...]

Tiny Prefab Units on Track for SoMa

I spoke with The Chronicle’s Robert Selna about a new project being planned for South of Market—a prefab building on a parking lot at 38 Harriet (at Howard). The eco-friendly concept is appealing, as well as the idea of affordable housing ($200,000-$275,000/unit). However, these units will be 310-340 square feet. Read today’s Chron article for all the details.

Are these microcondos big enough for the average San Francisco buyer? Perhaps. I can’t, however, put aside how things turned out for Cubix—the building that featured tiny units in the same price range. The project fell victim to foreclosure, but is somewhat back on track. Still, not exactly a stellar model for 38 Harriet to follow.

Will 38 Harriet come out on top?

Pied-a-Terre Picks from $500-$600,000

It seems like I’m meeting more and more people lately who live outside San Francisco, but visit frequently and would love a “base” in which to stay when they’re in town. I thought I’d point out a few options that I think are potentially good deals for long-term holds.

My criteria? It’s the same as everyone’s—somewhat reasonable HOA dues (the more services, the higher the monthly dues); walkable location; appealing unit and building.

Here are my picks in the $500,000-$600,000 price range. At this level, you can expect a one-bedroom unit, with or without parking (depending on the neighborhood or how “luxury” the property is):

Pied-a-Terre #1: 1176 Green
green

1176 Green is a TIC interest in a six-unit property that’s located in the very desirable Russian Hill neighborhood, chock full of restaurants, shops, and in healthy walking distance of downtown. The building was recently transformed into TICs and they’ve just started to come on the market.

1176 Green is a 1BR TIC listed at $599,000. Parking is not included, and monthly dues are set at $368. Features include hardwood floors, remodeled kitchens and in-unit washer/dryer.

Great for: Buyers who want a place in a classic SF neighborhood in a property that reflects true period detail.

Not so great for: Buyers who are uncomfortable sharing ownership with several other owners. Strongly recommend consulting an attorney before you venture into TIC territory.

Pied-a-Terre #2: 829 Folsom #406
829folsom

Over on the south side of town, 829 Folsom offers a great SoMa location in walking distance of much public transportation, the Museum of Modern Art, multiple restaurants, and the Embarcadero. This is a 69-unit, new-construction property with luxury finishes.

No parking, HOA dues are $470, and there’s a killer roof deck. List price is $525,000.

Great for: Buyers who want a straightforward condo property with dues under $500 per month and a touch of luxury.

Not so great for: Buyers looking for a quiet, less urban setting who also need parking.

Pied-a-Terre #3: 246 2nd St, #1308
246 2nd

This building was built about a decade ago, and has proven to be a popular SoMa property. There are nine-foot ceilings and crown moldings, and it’s in a location that’d be well-suited for a rental.

There’s one-car deeded parking, and the HOA dues are $476 monthly. List price: $519,000 for about 670 square feet.

Great for: Buyers who would rather have parking than luxury finishes.

Not so great for: Those who want a low-key location and up-to-the-moment finishes.

The SoMa Cottage That Could

334harriet Though its neighboring loft buildings have sandwiched it in, 334 Harriet stands proud on its small street between Folsom and Brannan. The 820-square foot cottage was built in 1910 and has all the trappings of the era (including very small bedrooms).

And the current owner even cared enough to remodel the cottage in 2007. It has a cute garden. But it lives in the shadows of taller, shinier properties. Last sold in October 2004 for $615,000, 334 Harriet has been on the market for about a month for $699,000.

You know, if I were in the market for a quintessential Victorian, and I had about $700,000 to spend, Harriet would be a nice alternative.

Deals Abound in SoMa

The South of Market neighborhood remains the go-to place for young professionals and empty nesters looking for affordable condos or lofts with reasonable homeowners association (HOA) dues.

With 63 units currently listed as available in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), there’s plenty to choose from. And that doesn’t include some of the new developments which don’t typically begin marketing through the MLS.

The selection of condos and lofts includes two below-market units listed at around $300,000 at The Metropolitan, as well as a $2.7M two-bedroom unit in South Park.

There are 27 one-bedroom units on the market, at an average list price of $625,240. In the two-bedroom category, the average list price is $1,245,838 for the 27 units available. This average is boosted by five units priced at $1.5M+.

BLU Gets FHA Approval

bluThe 114-unit new development that goes by the moniker BLU has officially received FHA approval. This means buyers who meet the requirements of government-backed FHA loans can purchase a unit with as little as 3.5% down.

Not a bad situation, if you can swing the monthly payments. BLU is a 21-story building at Folsom and 2nd, and features all the trappings: wraparound corner windows, gourmet kitchens, marble bathrooms, and even air conditioning.

Most units are 2BR/2BA, with the exception of the 3BR penthouse floorplan. Typical prices are in the mid-$700,000s and well into the $800,000s. One of the penthouses is on the market for about $3M.

Get a Deal on a Loft

If you’re a first-time home buyer looking for a nice space in San Francisco for up to $700,000, I’d like to suggest you consider a loft. Though not for everyone, lofts are great if you love open floor plans and nice light. Privacy can be an issue, as lofts usually don’t have walled-off rooms. But this property type is perfect for single professionals or couples who need good commute access to the Peninsula or downtown San Francisco.

Lofts are typically located in South of Market, the Mission, and the Central Waterfront (a.k.a., “Dogpatch”). South of Market and the Mission have been hit with higher short sale and foreclosure rates, so prices continue to decline in those neighborhoods.

Indeed, the average sale price for the 18 one-bedroom lofts that have sold since January 1st was $536,174, at an average of 1,073 square feet. With loft inventory not moving as quickly, buyers can expect to negotiate their way to the best deal possible. For example, there are presently 47 one-bedroom lofts on the market ranging in list price from $449,000 for a unit at Bluxome and 5th Street, all the way up to $995,000 for an 1896-square foot unit at the historic Hueblin building at 601 4th Street.

But a bulk of the 1BR lofts lies in the $500,000-$600,000 range, perfect for conforming loan amounts.

Condo Prices Hold Steady

Condo sales volumes were minimal in comparison to past first quarters, but again, prices held up. Areas such as Potrero Hill were given a boost by new construction buildings aimed at first-time home buyers. Once again, the mid-market selling range was king. Here’s a look at how some neighborhoods fared that cater to condo buyers:

Inner Richmond
# Sold: 1
Avge Price: $899,000

Inner Sunset
# Sold: 2
Avge Price: $750,000

Noe Valley
# Sold: 14
Avge Price: $794,071

Eureka Valley
# Sold: 7
Avge Price: $747,286

Mission Dolores
# Sold: 7
Avge Price: $787,143

Duboce Triangle
# Sold: 6
Avge Price: $862,333

The Haight
# Sold: 2
Avge Price: $835,000

Cole Valley
# Sold: 1
Avge Price: $760,000

Hayes Valley
# Sold: 1
Avge Price: $840,000

North Panhandle
# Sold: 6
Avge Price: $717,833

Pacific Heights
# Sold: 7
Avge Price: $763,667

Lower Pacific Heights
# Sold: 5
Avge Price: $669,200

Potrero Hill
# Sold: 13
Avge Price: $505,558

*South of Market
# Sold: 14
Avge Price: $693,343

*South Beach
# Sold: 17
Avge Price: $869,781

*Mission Bay
# Sold: 5
Avge Price: $611,700

*Limited to data provided in MLS; does not include data from sales offices in new development properties.

Loft Market Gets a Lift

650_2ndListed most recently in January for $2,750,000, 650 2nd Street #502 closed escrow last week for $2,450,000 in an all-cash transaction.

This 4,190 square foot, 5BR/4BA has had an interesting ride over the past few years. It was on the market for a good part of 2008 at a $2,895,000 asking price, and last changed hands in 2004 for $2.3M. Prior to that, it sold for $2.6M in 2000.

Three units were combined to create the current property, and it features 60′ windows and three-car parking. I’m guessing the $1,340 monthly HOA dues won’t be a problem for the new owner.

Rent to Own at Cubix Yerba Buena

I toured the units at Cubix Yerba Buena over on Harrison at 4th Street several months ago. Though very small, all the studio condos were nicely designed and efficient, with list prices in the $200,000-$400,000 range. I was kind of into the very walkable location, and thought the building would be great for first-time home buyers or empty nesters looking for a pied-a-terre in San Francisco.

Now the folks at Cubix are offering a rent-to-own deal on the “penthouse” units–you can start out renting at only $995 per month, with the goal of owning your unit, which is priced at $225,000. Though that doesn’t include parking, you’re very near public transportation, and there’s a City Car Share pod in the garage. Not a bad way to get a leg up on your first home in the city–or your second home, for that matter.

New Listing: 590 6th Street #309

lr1One of the benefits to writing a blog is being able to showcase my own listings. Welcome to 590 6th Street #309, an absolutely beautiful, pristine 2BR/2BA loft located at 6th and Brannan, in the highly regarded Flower Market Loft building.

The property includes a loft area that’s perfect for a home office, a deeded patio, in-unit washer/dryer, plasma-screen television, one-car parking and storage. List price is $714,000, and I will be hosting our first open house this Sunday, February 15th from 2:00-4:00PM. Stop in if you are in the neighborhood!