Category Archives: Home Owner Tips

Smaller Buyer Pool? Stick With a List Price Closer To Value

San Francisco properties typically sell for more than their list prices. The strategy for our low-inventory market is expected, and buyers are used to the drill by now. List a home at ten percent or more under comp range, attract multiple offers and close with a sale price of well above list.

However, that outcome is not guaranteed—especially for properties with smaller buyer pools. These are homes that will attract more buyer objections than offers. If the property has one or more major objections, it’s a better strategy to price your home closer to the value.

There are many examples of the types of properties that will have smaller buyer pools. Here are a few: Continue Reading

It’s San Francisco Property Tax Season

October isn’t just limited to trick or treaters coming to your house. If you’re a homeowner in San Francisco, you can also expect to receive your secured property tax bill.

Property taxes are due twice a year, with the first installment due no later than December 10th. (The second installment is due no later than next April 10th.) Continue Reading

Good Value in Behind-The-Scenes Home Improvements

I meet with new buyer clients frequently who tell me they’re okay with “doing some work” and not paying for another owner’s remodel. And many times, that’s a sound plan when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms. After all, these renovations are typically pretty straightforward, and they provide an instant bang for the buck. Buy a house with a tired, 1940s kitchen and bath, tart them up, and you’ve added immediate value.

However, there are certain property upgrades that should be appreciated and valued more than I think they are in San Francisco. A chef’s kitchen with a CaesarStone counter and a slick, high-end soaking tub in the master suite are all fine and good. But what about an upgraded foundation–or a substantially repaired one? Or a new furnace/ductwork; roof; seismic upgrades; repaired dry rot/termite damage; upgraded plumbing and electrical? Though you can’t necessarily see these sorts of repairs in slick marketing photos, they’re important building components that need periodic attention. Continue Reading

COPA Legislation Now In Effect for SF Multi-Unit Building Sellers

The Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) is now officially in effect for sellers of multi-unit buildings.

I first blogged about the COPA back in June. The legislation wasn’t scheduled to go into effect until September 3, 2019. In a nutshell, COPA gives non-profit housing organizations the first right to purchase residential buildings with three or more units. The city is hoping that COPA will help preserve affordable housing.

Sellers of three or more units now have to provide a formal notice to the Qualified Nonprofits (QNPs) via email prior to marketing the property to the public—and prior to listing the property on the MLS or in a “coming soon” capacity. Continue Reading

Save Money By Applying for Reduced “Flow Factor”

Do you have an irrigation system and are interested in saving money on your increasingly expensive San Francisco water bill? Consider applying for a reduced “flow factor.”

A big part of your water bill as a homeowner in San Francisco is the wastewater service charge that covers the cost of collecting, transporting, treating and disposing of each unit of wastewater discharged into the sewer system. The Water Department figures this out by multiplying your water consumption by an assigned “flow factor.”

The flow factor is the amount of water you use that’s actually returned to the sewer system as wastewater. The Water Department assumes the flow factor to be 90% for single-family homes and 95% for multi-unit buildings. Continue Reading

Here’s Your Mid-2019 Bernal Heights Microhood Report

Here’s Your Mid-2019 Bernal Heights Microhood Report

The Bernal Heights microhoods are backing off the $2,000,000 median price this year. For the first time in a while, no microhood hit that single-family home median price.

Bernal overall is doing well this year. The median single-family home price in the January-June 2019 time period was $1,460,000—down 11% from the same time period in 2018.

Buyers have paid an average overbid of approximately 15 percent in the first half of this year. And of the 71 homes sold, 28 saw buyers pay 20% or more over the list price (with eleven paying in cash).

But it’s time for a microhood update. As my regular readers know, I created the Bernal Heights microhoods back in 2014 to help prospective buyers and sellers get a more refined sense for single-family home values in the neighborhood’s distinct geographical areas.

Here’s how our microhoods stacked up in the first two quarters of 2019 (click on each pic to enlarge, red dots represent homes sold):

1. Northwest Slope
Single-Family Home Median Price: $1,635,500
Most Expensive: 112 Elsie (4BR/2.5BA, 2240 sq ft | $3,000,000)
Least Expensive: 340 Winfield (2BR/1BA 750 sq ft | $1,040,250)
# Homes Sold: 10
# Overbids Above 20%: 5

The Northwest Slope made a strong showing, as usual. The high flyer in this batch was the small house with complicated expansion potential and a postage stamp kitchen at 156 Bonview. Listed for $999,000, the home sold for $1,550,000. Continue Reading

Spring 2019’s Most Competitive Neighborhoods for Buyers

The selling pattern in San Francisco has eternally been all about listing lower than the target price, and expecting well over asking. Spring 2019 has been no different. But some neighborhoods see clusters of overbids in the 20% or more range more than others.

If you’re a buyer looking for a house or condo in the city, it’s important to know where these hot spots are so you don’t spin your wheels in areas you ultimately won’t be able to afford.

I looked at house and condo sales from April to mid June 2019 to see where the big overbids have been happening the most frequently. Continue Reading

Revised SF Contract Includes New Clause for Cash Buyers

The San Francisco Association of Realtors recently revised its purchase agreement to add paragraph 46, which requires cash buyers to comply with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rules during escrow.

FinCEN is a division of the Department of Treasury, and combats money laundering. It’s been around since the 1990s. Escrow officers have been collecting the required information from cash buyers during a transaction for quite some time, but our purchase agreement only added the new paragraph in April 2019. Sellers have the option of cancelling the contract if the cash buyers don’t agree to provide the required information to escrow. Continue Reading

Wire Fraud Rampant in Real Estate Transactions

Exercise extreme caution when dealing with wired funds in a real estate transaction. Wire fraud is very much alive and well, and I’ve been hearing unfortunate stories from my colleagues recounting big money losses due to fraud activity.

When you’re buying or selling a home, you’re dealing with an escrow company that holds transactional funds in a neutral account. Buyers wire deposits (typically 3% of a purchase price) into an escrow account, as well as the balance of their down payment a couple days before the escrow closes. And sellers provide wiring instructions to the title company so the latter can wire the sale proceeds. San Francisco prices being what they are, the sums of money are usually pretty big. Continue Reading

Why Price-Per-Square-Foot Is a Shaky Data Point

Basing your offer price largely on square footage is not something I recommend doing. Though price-per-square foot is one of the most frequently referenced data points when it comes to San Francisco real estate, it’s a notoriously unreliable metric.

We live in a city that’s by no means cookie cutter. There’s no standardized square footage source. Sellers and listing agents quote square footage from past appraisals, tax records, and floor plan measurers, all of which can be very different. Continue Reading

Q1 2019 Quick Fix: The Latest on House and Condo Sales

We’re in the midst of the busy Spring market, and everyone is referencing comparable sales from the first quarter of 2019. Sellers are using this information to price their homes, and buyers are basing offer prices on this data.

Here’s a rundown on how things shook out in the first quarter:

Single-Family Homes
# homes sold 382
Average price $1,911,273
Avge price per square foot $959
# cash sales 59
Most cash sales happened in: Eureka Valley, Pacific Heights, Bernal Heights, Noe Valley
# homes sold for $1M or less 59
Most competitive neighborhoods (25%+ overbids) Outer Parkside/Sunset; Parkside; Central Sunset; Eureka Valley; Potrero; Portola; Mission Terrace
Craziest overbid 3825 19th Street at Church, right at Dolores Park. This mid-century 4BR/3BA, 2360-square foot house has two-car parking and multiple outdoor spaces. List price: $2,995,000 | Sold: $3,500,000 Continue Reading

Sell Now If Your Home Calls for Compromise

2019 is quite the robust seller’s market. Limited inventory and high demand continue to give way to multiple offers and substantial overbidding. Interest rates are also still very low. If you’re a homeowner with any near-term plans to move, now is the time to take action.

Maybe you have that job relocation possibility in Denver? Or you’ve owned your house in the Sunset for the last 25 years and would rather be living in wine country? There are plenty of reasons you might be considering a big move, and I’m here to tell you that you should take advantage of the market while it’s still in your favor. Continue Reading

Can I Turn Two Units Into A Single-Family Home?

One of the most frequently asked questions in San Francisco is how easy it is to turn a two-unit building into a single-family home.

The short answer: It’s a real challenge to get permission from the city for this sort of transformation. This is because the city ultimately does not want to lose housing stock—particularly when it comes to rental units. Continue Reading

Defer Paying Taxes with a 1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange is an excellent option for investors looking to cash in on the San Francisco market. You can defer paying big capital gains taxes, move up to a bigger and better investment property, and build your wealth in the process.

The Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 allows investors to reinvest proceeds from the sale of one investment property into another similar property while deferring capital gains that would otherwise be due on the sale.

Here are the four simple guidelines for exchanges, as per the Asset Exchange Company in San Francisco: Continue Reading

Get in touch:

Eileen Bermingham

Corcoran Global Living


DRE# 01352627

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