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Commanding Results — Ahead of Schedule. Successful Selling and Better Buying

When I had my first phone conversation with Kevin and Jonathan over a year ago, my gut told me that THIS is the team I want to work with when the time came for me to sell. I didn’t even bother interviewing other agents. They worked with me on both selling and buying transactions and the results below speak from themselves.

In addition, this was all done through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

  • 6 days: the time from listing my last home to being in contract with a cash offer at 27% over asking
  • 19 days: escrow days for selling my last home
  • 2 days: the time period between closing on my last home and finding a target property to buy
  • 7 days: from the list date to being the winning bid against 18 other bids.

We weren’t the highest bid, nor were we a cash offer, but we were the best presented one.

In this highly competitive real estate environment, this is where Kevin and Jonathan truly excelled in providing guidance and getting all our ducks in a row. Presentation matters!!! 15 days: escrow length for the new home. 8 weeks: from the day I listed my last home for sale to the day I had keys in my hand to my new home (Yes, it only took 8 weeks) If there was one word to describe my experience with Kevin and Jonathan, it’s “smart”. They know the current environment and also helped educate and guide me to getting both buying and selling done.

After selling, I had a lot of fear I wouldn’t be able to find a new home. I’ve heard countless stories and read countless articles of buyers losing out to cash offers and it was discouraging. With their help, we were able to orchestrate a truly competitive non-cash offer. I honestly didn’t think this would all be done before 2018 arrived, and now I’m an extremely happy client.

— Clodel G. 

Seller, Buyer, SOMA and the Excelsior

App and Online Marketing Professional Lead for large retailer in the daytime, amazing home styling and designer at nighttime

Snaps from his SOMA Listing at 18 Boardman. This mixed-use building was listed for $1.6M and sold in just 6 days for $2.038M to an all-cash, non-contingent offer. Clodel had his choice of the multiple offers that came in after we distributed 50 disclosure packages during the 5 days we were on the open market including one that was higher in price but financed and and slightly weaker in terms. We can’t wait to see what he’ll do with his new place in the up and coming Excelsior District.

131 Peru — Sold! Buyer Represented

Congrats to our client Clodel on getting his next home which will be the nicest, gourmet-kitchen house in the area soon enough. We beat out 18 offers and submitted the best and winning offer.


San Francisco’s Tenant Buy-out Program a Year Later…

Following the Cash (For Keys) in SF

SF-Buyout Data Graphic Apr 2016

Cash for Keys a Year Later

How the City Has Changed Since New Landlord-Tenant Buyout Provisions Went Into Effect

On our way back from an appointment at City Hall to confirm a new listing that we will tell you about in future posts (very exciting) we stopped by the Rent Board just because. Really, just because. Why? The folks there, no matter how busy, are among the most knowledge and friendly in the City and have copious amounts of data on rental units, evictions and, since last year, buyouts.

San Francisco changed its policy for landlord buyouts of tenants forcing the parties to register buyouts with tenants a little more than a year ago. Apart from having to register the buyout, landlords are now required to give tenants a written disclosure outlining the process and the tenant’s right to change their mind even after an agreement is struck.

The system was an attempt to regularize the system but leads to confounding results and perplexing questions especially if a landlord’s goal is to take the building condo. If the buyout involves more than 1 tenant than the chance to convert evaporates until 2024 or later. Moreover, if there is a single tenant occupying a unit if that tenant is protected that also renders the unit ineligible for conversion, even if the tenant is more than willing to take a buyout. We called his issue out when the policy first came out and wondered if that it would give rise to a spike in Ellis Act evictions, which mandate certain relocation costs and notice period. Why? Ellis Act fees are less than historic buyout agreement prices, which are not regulated. Ellis Act evictions also render units un-rentable for anywhere from 5 to 10 years depending the circumstances. But if the goal is to simply sell off those vacated units as individual TIC units to get out of the rental business then the Ellis Act route would be the cheaper means to get to that end.

Plans for rising Mid-Market threaten to create aesthetic tangle – SFGate

It’s a sign of progress for San Francisco’s Market Street that a half-dozen developers want to build housing and hotels on the long-troubled blocks between Fifth and Eighth streets.

Too bad that in terms of the architecture, what’s been proposed so far says more about the city’s current identity crisis than the unique potential of this stretch of the city’s most important thoroughfare.

Too many of the proposals try too hard to be everything at once — flashy but familiar, hip but neighborly, timeless and trendy. None of them comes close to measuring up alongside the best of the street’s assertive and self-assured architecture from the past. The good news is that there’s time to make things better, and add a sense of relaxed urbanity to the mix.

via Plans for rising Mid-Market threaten to create aesthetic tangle – SFGate.

What’s the Plan? Planning Director John Rahiam visits Vanguard

What’s the Plan? Planning Director John Rahiam visits Vanguard

SF's urban planning direction

Going up and up in San Francisco

“This is an extraordinary moment in San Francisco,”  John Rahaim, Planning Director for San Francisco said in his visit to Vanguard Properties last Wednesday. And it’s not just him, Portland’s Planning Director just moved to San Francisco as he wanted to be part of “something extraordinary.”

Rahaim said that there are currently 6,000 residential units under construction in the City and another 4000-5000 that are fully-permitted that can or will get started soon. He said the peak of new project applications was in December and now that deluge is subsiding. What’s setting this recent boom apart from others both past and across the nation is that commercial space growth has also blossomed with nearly 3,000,000 sqft of new office space being built currently. Next year, the department expects to see 10,000 new units of housing being built, with many of those units being rental with 1/4 of those being Below Market Rate units.And bear in mind there are about 40,000 units that are entitled to be built.

“It’s an extraordinary boom on both sides,” he said. Rahaim said most cities only see surges like San Francisco’s in either residential or commercial, not both. The only notable exception to this rule is Seattle. But that growth is mainly being pushed by Amazon whereas San Francisco’s is comprised of several large and small players.

“But there’s a bigger shift going on here,” Rahaim said. While he acknowledged what most people know — that the tech sector is the engine driving commercial growth — he also elaborated on what he thought was driving the trends he saw that are at the root of the City’s broader growth.

  1. The Baby Boomers are moving into cities to be close to culture and transit with walkability being a major concern;
  2. The economy at large is growing — especially tech-related sectors;
  3. A more fundamental change is taking place with younger generations who are adamently avoiding the suburbs. These folks are spending money on bikes and gadgets instead of cars. He cited data that shows the average number of miles driven in the U.S. is actually dropping.

While this may mean more bike lanes in the future, the long term impact of these trends on San Francisco may well be far more profound. True or not, these trends are important as they’re guiding current planning policies. Rahaim elaborated on his comments to Vanguard on several topics:


One of the long-term ideas the City has been studying is utilizing the 24 acres south of SOMA that separates it from Dogpatch and Mission Bay — otherwise known as the Caltrain rail yards — for housing. As Rahaim said himself it seems “crazy” that some of the most valuable land in the city is devoted to storing trains. Whether the idea comes to pass will depend on the alignment of the high speed rail lines coming and how much the state will charge for the land. Specifically, the idea would to have I-280 stop at 16th Street and tear it down; 280 itself takes up 5-6 acres of land.


We’ve all read and heard about the “acute” shortage of affordable housing in the City but one segment Rahaim said is getting attention is the true middle class. In fact, only Manhattan rivals San Francisco in terms of expense according to Rahaim. Combined with Mayor Lee’s stated goal of adding 30,000 units in the next 5 years, which will be a feat considering it will be require that triple the development that’s been taking place over the past year in the City take place from now until 2019. The City’s levers are limited however. Current city laws require new developers set aside 12% of units in new construction for buyers who make make 80% of median income for the Bay Area, which is $75,000 for a single person and $95,000 for a family of four. One Change Rahaim thought possible: change that balance whereby developers could set aside 20% of units for folks who earn up to 120% of median income. Rahaim said the city was also exploring other options including direct subsidies and identify surplus city land that could be used to build housing.


The absurdity goes on in the debate of legalizing illegal in-law units with competing ideas warping what policymakers can do. Homeowners who have an unwarranted or ‘illegal’ unit in their home that is rented out always had the option to ‘remove’ that unit from the rental market if they gave the tenants proper notice, pay them any mandated relocation fees and procure the proper permit allowing them to do displace the tenant. Otherwise the building would be subject to the Rent Ordinance (rent control and eviction control) and a tenant could possibly live there long enough to gain protected status. But starting with David Chiu’s legislation at the Board of Supervisors and with Mayoral executive order to the Planning and Building departments this practice has stopped. Instead, the policy presumption has turned to one where the city agencies will “do what they can” to legalize those units instead, Rahaim said. The only exceptions Rahaim noted was that updating some units to Code or to proper standards would be cost-prohibitive.  Rahaim said that this task is tricky and that trying to find a balance may even require going to the Planning Commission itself to determine what’s legal for your in-law and what’s not and everything in between. And to make matters more confusing the only exception to this meandering process is demonstrating a unit is ‘unaffordable’ otherwise at being worth more $1.4M, which would only require staff level approval.

Compare and contrast that the policy change conflicts with Chiu’s other legislative push to legalize AirBnB and VRBO that would sanction the practice of renting out units so long as a unit isn’t used solely as a rental unit — how are you going to police that one?!

How the Warriors-Salesforce deal came together – San Francisco Business Times

For two years, Golden State Warriors officials said they were committed to building a new arena on San Francisco’s waterfront at Piers 30-32. But a phone call from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff changed all that.

Who’s Joining the SOMA/South Beach Party?


About six weeks ago Benioff, whose cloud computing company owns several acres in Mission Bay, reached out to Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob. “He said, ‘We have this 12-acre site we think would be a good site for the Warriors, but we are about to put it on the market,’” said Rick Welts, the Warriors president who is overseeing the team’s proposed move from Oakland. via How the Warriors-Salesforce deal came together – San Francisco Business Times.

Home Restaurant Site In Castro Could Maybe Become 7-Story Condo: SFist

Many denizens of the Castro and Lower Haight have bemoaned the now blighted, three-years-vacant former Home restaurant property, which lost the chance to become a Chipotle last year and has languished ever since. Now we’re seeing some movement as a preliminary project assessment request has been submitted to Planning for 2100 Market Street for a project that would involve demolishing the existing 2-story structure to build a 7-story condo development with 4,700 square feet of ground floor retail.

As Hoodline reports, this is all still highly preliminary and does not represent an actual plan for construction — such assessments are a service provided by Planning to give developers an idea of what obstacles they might face. A similar project assessment was filed by the owners of the Elbo Room property earlier this year, leading to speculation that that beloved Mission bar might not be long for this world.

via Home Restaurant Site In Castro Could Maybe Become 7-Story Condo: SFist.

How tech became the enemy – then and now – SFGate

Today’s activists want policy changes: eviction moratoriums, Ellis Act reform and increased relocation payments. Tech companies can’t control any of those things – though a string of recent donations and calls for greater civic mindfulness have tried to quell the outrage.Daly said that in both booms, housing activists understood that the city’s real estate policy and industry were more the problem than tech. But with tech’s greater visibility, activists were wise to harness the zeitgeist.

via How tech became the enemy – then and now – SFGate.

S.F. architecture shifts to darker tone – SFGate

In the world of San Francisco architecture, black is the new black.

It’s the color of choice on a 37-story Market Street apartment tower and a six-story condominium building in Dogpatch. Fresh coats of black paint adorn downtown hotels and retooled houses across the city’s neighborhoods. More examples are on the way, including a building that will rise two blocks from City Hall and be clad in glazed tiles of black and gray.

The trend is becoming as ubiquitous as food trucks. It’s a surefire way to turn heads. But a little novelty goes a long way.

via S.F. architecture shifts to darker tone – SFGate.

Sneak peek: Mayor Ed Lee has a housing solution – SFGate

That’s the centerpiece of Lee’s annual state of the city address, to be delivered Friday. He will call for 30,000 homes to be built or rehabilitated over the next six years, with more than half being affordable to low- and middle-income residents making up to $145,650 for a family of four.

via Sneak peek: Mayor Ed Lee has a housing solution – SFGate.

Lennar snags $30 million loan for Hunters Point Shipyard development – San Francisco Business Times

With construction under way on the first condos at the Hunters Point Shipyard, developer Lennar Corp. has snagged a $30 million loan from Pasadena-based East West Bank.

While the loan is relatively small in the context of a massive $8 billion project, it is significant because it represents the first commercial lender to finance construction activity at the Shipyard, which is being developed by Shipyard Communities, a partnership led by Lennar Corp.

via Lennar snags $30 million loan for Hunters Point Shipyard development – San Francisco Business Times.

Big Changes to Short Sale Practices Announced

New Lending Short Sale Standards Coming

From the California Association of Realtors

Thhe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will realign guidelines for Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-based short sales allowing lenders and servicers to qualify short sale borrower/buyers for a short sale quicker and easier.

Here are some specific changes that are effective Nov. 1, 2012:

Eliminates current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sale programs and creates a single standard short sale process for both entities (Fannie and Freddie HAFA programs will expire at the end of the year).

Enables servicers to quickly and easily qualify certain borrowers who are current on their mortgages for short sales without waiting for an approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
Offers special treatment for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.

Standardizes and clarifies foreclosure suspensions on a property with an approved short sale.

May pay borrowers up to $3,000 in relocation assistance.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to subordinate lien holders to expedite a short sale.

Additionally, FHFA clarified that a borrower experiencing a hardship must wait at least two years before becoming eligible for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan.

These changes follow FHFA’s announcement in June that established strict timelines for servicers to respond to short sales within 30 days of receipt of a short sale offer, provide weekly status updates to the borrower, and communicate a final decision to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer.

Are we foreclosed from foreclosures?

What About Foreclosures?

Tonight, a client who has been looking for some time now asks me about foreclosures. Here’s what I wrote back:

Yes, there are good values in foreclosures and most of the activity took place last year. It’s a different set of challenges that can be overwhelming but worthwhile. For example, we managed to get a studio condominium in Diamond Heights for $180,000 cash that is now worth at least $230,000 with steady rental income. Keep in mind that we saw foreclosures all over the spectrum – consider the St. Regis penthouse for example, we’ve seen a lot of activity mainly in the lower end of the marketplace.

Think about it this way: any economic cycle will touch the lower end of the market faster. Values will fall and rise faster at this and of the market because the people who previously couldn’t afford anything will be able to buy the most accessible properties. Conversely, when the economy tanks people who bought the cheap houses – relatively speaking – are mostly those who are unable to afford their mortgages when times get tough because they may not have had the best mortgage for the long-term. Combined with the fact that the mortgages were inflated to the first place then we got some serious issues. The foreclosures that I can recall in the city are the following:

There was a two-bedroom, two-bath, deeded parking condominium unit at the Brennan that was listed around $799,000 but closed somewhere near 1.3 million. There were tenants and back dues of $32,000.

There was a five-story house over in Bernal Heights. The price, nearly $600,000, and vacant. Problem was that none of the remodeling that took place inside the house that divided in into one of the most jumbled living areas I’ve ever seen, appears to been permitted.

A good deal of foreclosed homes were in the Beacon – right across the ballpark– board in Hunters Point Bayview. The issue with the Beacon is that none of the lenders will give you a loan on the building unless you have at least 35% down because of ongoing litigation that has dragged on for at least seven years. The latest lawsuit appears to be a $20 million lawsuit based on HVAC defects.

This is not to say that the new rules won’t release more inventory. Many times homes that might otherwise be destined to become foreclosures will be sold as short sales first. If that fails online auctions or steps of courthouse auctions are typically the means by which banks with themselves of these REO – real estate owned assets. Other times, the banks will have intermediate portfolio management companies handle the sale of these homes.

In any case, a repossessed home in the condominium tends to fare a little better than a standalone detached home. Reason being is that other neighbors of a condominium and homeowner association are bound to at least take minimal care of the empty property as would otherwise hurt their property values more than s neighbor’s foreclosure already will. Stand-alone homes or detached homes may not get that care and, can become neighborhood blight and easily fall into disrepair.

Buyer beware.


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