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In the Know: Pre-Tax Edition, April 17, 2016

I N  T H E  K N O W ,  A P R I L  1 7 ,  2 0 1 6

Things are a changin’

San Francisco’s spring real estate market is proving to be one where we’re seeing the return of the R-word. But is it R for Reduction, or R for Realistic?


WE’RE STARTING TO see something we haven’t seen for a long time in the City: email blasts proclaiming price reductions. This is in direct contrast to many other properties that are clearly priced to entice. The market has adjusted and is still adjusting to a new reality but there are contradictions. Nevertheless, here a few points we’ve observed over the last few weeks (and they don’t necessarily mesh together seamlessly). Take a read and see how you fit in.

Bid at what you can as you never know. The precise anxiety and uncertainty we’re focusing on here can work to a buyer’s advantage especially if the sellers have owned a property for a long time and any sale proceeds they have will be subject to capital gains or they want to buy something different or they’re just happy to get an offer. But if we never bid, we’d never know (or worse, you see the property you really wanted sell for less than you were willing to pay!)
Reductions are for real…mostly. Sometimes agent will reduce a lot more than you’d think to draw attention but have no real intention of selling at that new price. These days we’re seeing agents being a little more geniune about reduced prices.
Take advantage of Buy-it-now prices. It’s hard to believe but sometimes the price is, well, the prince. No game playing.
When in doubt, ask. To see if the last two points are true it always pays to have your us ask what a seller really wants. There may be other factors at play that we have no idea about.
Teaser prices are soo last year… except for when they’re not. Too many people are self-editing themselves and not getting properties, which loops back to point number one.

Less Sales Volume in San Francisco But Not for Us and Vanguard

Vanguard has moved up the rankings in the MLS and now ranks 4th in the entire City and is closing in on Zephyr, who’s number 3. Vanguard is Number 1 in District 9 (Bernal Heights, the Inner Mission, South Beach, SOMA, Potrero, Dogpatch, Mission Bay) and often holds the number 1 or number 2 ranking in District 5 (Noe Valley, Glen Park, Mission Dolores, Eureka Valley and Duboce Triangle) with this past quarter seeing Vanguard as the silver medalist. Interestingly, real estate as a whole in San Francisco slowed over the first quarter of 2016. Reported sales on the MLS went from $3.7 billion in Q1 2015 to $3.3 billion in Q1 2016. Vanguard, though, saw our sales increase over the same period. It just goes to show that we do buck the trends.

Continued Long Delays at the Assessor’s Office Means Longer Time Until Property Tax Reassessments

Jonathan, Raffi and I are about strategic purchases and utilizing the cash you have without breaking the bank. We’ll suggest folks getting homes that aren’t their ‘forever’ home should consider getting an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) so you don’t end up paying for the benefit of having a locked interest rate for years you won’t be owning a given property or if you’re going to remodel it, which can save hundreds of dollars a month in mortgage payments. Another fringe benefit that’s only temporary in nature is the fact that the City may take a long time to get to reassessing your property taxes. Assessor Carmen Chu spoke at the Residential Builder’s Association meeting this week and said that her department is still using green-screened, COBOL-operated computers to keep track of the nearly $2 billion property tax base. COBOL is old school and such features as “copy” or “paste” weren’t even heard of when they first created the language in 1959! Right now there are 2,500 change-in-ownership reassessments outstanding; 2,000 appeals and 12,000 new condo units that need their initial assessments.

May the Sales Be With You

So what’s going on? We’re seeing a lot of sellers who were otherwise holding back earlier this year now suddenly spurred into action. Indeed the City’s stagers are booked out at least a month in advance these days and we ourselves have been working with a lot of our sellers to get their properties ready for a May launch. Indeed, May is our favorite time of year as it’s usually sunny, breezy and flush with optimism and so it will be again this year.

What Else Would You Be Reading Next?

Subscribers of In the Know would now be reading Stories of the Week and (Shh!) Upcoming and Off-Market Listings

Exclusive inside information and perspective for our subscribers.

In the Know for Jan 10, 2016 — A New Year in SF Real Estate Begins, Right?

IN THE KNOW, JAN 10, 2016

Time for a Sweet 16?

What will the market be like in 2016? Will turmoil made in China impact Bay Area real estate?

THESE are the questions we keep getting these days. The answer we give is that it’s still going to be busy and prices will still be strong. Annual figures and continuing trends show that San Francisco’s real estate market will be marked by low inventory, high demand and fast escrows; prices may not be growing as fast as they have over the past 4 years but they should continue to outpace inflation.  And while we’ve said it before, the following factors continue to suggest San Francisco’s real estate market will remain strong with moderating growth and real property holding value.

It looks Chinese to me. China’s stock markets dropped precipitously last week and are attention-grabbing for sure but are contained to, well, China. The last time we checked our retirement funds we never saw a single-Chinese company traded in Shanghai being in the portfolio. This is, in part, due to the fact the Chinese stock market is a bit of a fiction if you really think about it. While all markets have a bit of fiction in them (value is, after all, in the eye of the willing buyer) many of the companies listed on the Chinese stock market are indirectly owned by the government or are derivative of countless state-owned enterprises (i.e., non-vetted paper companies). But when viewed in the context of China’s continuing relaxation of capital export controls, the real impact of Chinese financial and economic instability may be an accelerated push by Chinese companies and individuals to send their money overseas so as to diversify their wealth into non-Chinese assets such as foreign real estate.
I got mine and I’ll hold on to it. A lot of the property that was sold over the past few years was bought all-cash or with extremely affordable mortgage rates that are barely above inflation rates. These benign purchase methods keep down carrying costs, which are locked by fixed mortgages and by Prop 13’s restriction on property tax rates. Because holding a property poses little risk to an owner and because property has usefulness not only as someone’s home but also as a rental, properties that have traded over the past few years may be locked up for a lot longer than they would otherwise.
Let me get mine now while I can. We’ve made this point before that there may be a lot of buyers who want to act quickly to lock-in mortgage interest rates for 30 years before rates get too high. While the Fed won’t move rates up to astronomical levels any time soon there’s still an undercurrent that low mortgage rates won’t last forever. So, you’d better get something now even if that means you’re paying a little more for a property in today’s dollars if it means you end up with the property over the long term.
It’s still tough to build in San Francisco. Because of highly restricted development regulations and complex building requirements will still mean that new inventory will still be hard to come by. And, this doesn’t’ even consider the question if you’d even want to live in a new high-rise!
Real stallions vs. unicorns. There’s been much ballyhooed about declining IPO valuations and softening exuberance for the City’s tech sector. While tech jobs make up about 8% of all jobs in the City there are other industries here after all. Even within the startup/tech sector there are a stallion of solid, banal, ho-hum companies that continue to be part of the steady transition away from an analog/paper society to a digital/paperless society. Some of the sectors that help the area chug along are bio-tech, robotics, automation (e.g., self-driving cars), better apps and hardware, etc. It’s a jeannie that can’t be put back in the bottle.
Even if the market chills where prices actually go lower over a sustained period of time,  chill in the air will mean better affordability. Don’t forget that slower price growth will nevertheless encourage buying — especially if prices hold steady or grow slower. Folks who were priced out of real estate or were otherwise holding out on buying may now finally wade into real estate.

Subscribers of our Newsletter also got to read:

  • Stories of the Week: find out what really happened behind the sales that got into contract recently
  • (Secret?) Off-Market Listings: see which ones are new this week as there are lot of new ones; and,
  • News Stories of the week

Subscribe today to see what others are learning while you aren’t!

In the Know for July 4th 2015

A Double Issue for the 4th!     

Happy 4th Weekend, Have A Read About SF Real Estate Before the Fireworks (or Fogworks)      

Welcome to a special double issue of In The Know. We figure that over the holiday weekend you might get bored eating watermelon, scraping off that barbecue grill or deciding which red cup was yours (it’s the one that’s full by the way) so we wanted to give you some more stuff to read than usual. And as we take time to celebrate freedom this weekend we can now celebrate the freedom to marry (think of all that community property) and of course the freedom of no longer having a landlord we also wanted to say thank you all of you who are loyal readers, supporters, well-wishers and, of course, clients.

You’re all part of our extended community and family. You’re all how and why me, Jonathan and Raffi work hard as we know how central our work cab be for so very many of you and to our community at large. Clearly, we’re in a good mood. Not only because we too can get hitched in all 50 states but also because we have good real estate news to report too. We’ve worked tirelessly with our sellers and buyers but with Jonathan’s increasing role in our business, we punched it up these past couple of weeks and can report the following.


Sold! Buyer Represented. 3 Bed/3 Bath/Parking. $902,000.

Sold! Buyer Represented. 3 Bed/3 Bath/Parking. $902,000.

  • Over the past several months we’ve been helping a lovely, fun and exuberant buyer and her boyfriend in their purchase of a luxurious, large and light-filled condo in the Bayview at 5900 3rd Street, Number 2216. This is a 3-bed, 3-bath, + parking, 1600+ sqft near-new condo that closed at $902,000. This transaction has thrown lending curve-ball after curve-ball but with the help of our lender at Citibank, Tony Alencar, we were able to get the couple into their new home. Congrats!
  • We’ve been working with a sweet, young professional couple search for a home for the past 5 months now looking at so many homes, Jonathan having sent more than 100 listings to them and me sitting down and considering the possibilities a given space if they renovated. That being said, we found a top-floor, penthouse space in Noe Valley with nearly 1900 sqft that was newly remodeled for sale at 1005 Noe, Number 3. With 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, parking, skylights, 2 decks, 2 jet bathtubs perhaps the crowning feature here: air conditioning! Listed at $1.845M we submitted an offer that trumped a higher-priced offer just shy of $2M. The other offer included an inspection contingency period while we conducted a pre-offer inspection that really left a lasting impression with the sellers while also giving our buyers peace of mind that their money was being well-spent.

And on the listing side…

  • In Contract! Seller Represented. List $899,000

    In Contract! Seller Represented. List $899,000

    We’ve also been working with our seller at 175 Bluxome, No. 327 for months now updating the entire look for the sale, we handpicked all of the finishes for our seller and passed on our trade discount in the process. Overseeing the complete remodeling of 2 bathrooms, updating the kitchen (Jonathan has a keen eye for new appliances), changing all of the lighting (recessed, designer wall sconces, chandelier), carpet, paint and trim details took this ho-hum place built in the late 1990s into a modern and sophisticated home that is just right for an investor, professional couple or folks looking for a pied-et-terre. Listed for $899,000 and in contract above $900,000

  • And the past few weeks have been intense in terms of getting the big fixer at 1072 Noe, right at 24th Street ready for market. From working with the family who own the property, to coordinating clearing the yard of years of overgrowth to emptying the house of more than 40 years of possessions, to showing the couple of hundred folks and 100+ brokers who came to see this rarity, we took offers this past Wednesday. Listed at $1.898M, we received 6 and are in contract close to $3M andare scheduled to close in just a couple of weeks.
    In Contract! Seller Represented. Listed at $1.898M

    In Contract! Seller Represented. Listed at $1.898M

 We have more properties in the works for you including a Mission Dolores richly restored condominium in the middle of it all and a value-priced large home in South San Francisco we have a strong 6 months ahead of us. But please remember that we’re never too busy to help you and yours out when it comes to real estate! 

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Mayor Lee offers answers to San Francisco’s housing ‘anxiety’ – SFGate

Lee, who is riding high politically with no re-election rival in sight this fall, doled out statistics that underlie the city’s prosperity. He also noted the flip side: sky-high housing costs, declining diversity and an ever-present worry that many residents feel about the future.

“The change we see — exciting to many, scary to some — can be good, as long as we manage it responsibly,’’ he told a gathering of several hundred city officials and supporters at a gleaming new food distribution center in the Bayview.

Few mayors have found themselves in Lee’s situation. The unemployment rate has dropped by half in his first full term with 76,400 new jobs created in four years. But the effects on housing are punishing: the median purchase price of homes crossed the $1 million line last summer and $3,500 apartments have waiting lines.

Lee believes that incremental steps are the answer, a path that will take time but avoids sharp housing controls or major taxes to soothe the shock waves of the city’s tech-fueled rise. It’s the right message for a city that wants results but not the disruption that could chill the good times.

via Mayor Lee offers answers to San Francisco’s housing ‘anxiety’ – SFGate.

Happenings and Highlights from SF Real Estate, December 14, 2014

While we grow here in the Bay Area the rest of the country slowly inches forward, meaning continued lowered interest rates….

From the Wall Street Journal: The latest quarterly results of home builders Toll Brothers Inc. and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. provide minimal optimism for the new-home market going into 2015, as consumers remain reticent and builders use more incentives to bolster sales.

From Curbed SF: Tishman Speyer, the developer behind Lumina and the Infinity, wants to build a pair of residential towers near Caltrain at Fourth and Townsend Streets. One tower, at 655 Fourth Street, would replace what is now the Creamery and Iron Cactus Mexican restaurant, confirming a rumor that’s been swirling at least since the summer. The other tower would go on land that Tishman Speyer doesn’t own yet, according to the San Francisco Business Times. One of the buildings would include 449 units and rise to 41 stories, or about 400 feet—roughly the same height as Lumina.

Changes are afoot that can speed up new construction in San Francisco. Changes at the Department of Building and Inspection (the Building Department) and Planning Department geared to process permit applications and project approvals faster are underway according to comments Planning Director John Rahim. Rahim, in speaking to last week’s Residential Builders’ Association meeting. While we could have all used these changes two years ago, any progress is good! If you read In the Know regularly or talk to us about renovation, remodeling and development, you’ll know that a project approval can take anywhere from 2-4 years to gain approval as the current process makes applicants get Planning clearance before submitting an application to the Building Department.

The Planning process with the potential of lengthy historic review, environmental impact study and community input usually takes 6 to 8 months. Meanwhile, the Building Department permit application can take just as long. The new initiative of having City staff focus on ‘smaller’ projects is attempting to fast-track the Planning process down to 4 months and the Building Department process to 60 days with both processes running simultaneously!  This change would be dramatic **as it means more new projects faster and reduces carrying costs for builders and developers while also reducing community blight faster. The changes are long in coming and are being done despite the fact that the the departments have too few staff members who are nevertheless overwhelmed and never paid overtime! Also coming: online permit tracking in early 2015.

Recent rains remind us that we actually do get wet in our climate. Hopefully you’ve cleared out rain gutters and sewer culverts. Water leaks tend to manifest themselves in relatively new construction at this point in time so remember that in condominium buildings built since 2004 that you will have certain statutory-based warranties from the developer (or their legacy insurers) guarding against water leaks or other related issues. Also, if you’re a buyer where we have purchased a home warranty for you, don’t hesitate to contact us or to contact your home warranty program if you have any issues to see if they’re covered under your warranty.

Keep in mind that during the downtime of the year it’s also a good chance for you to familiarize yourself with neighborhoods you may never have considered previously.

In the Know with Kevin + Jonathan: Sept 21, 2014 Ed., No. 38

Setting the Stage Correctly

Our Market is being spotty demonstrating how important agent perspective, presentation and intelligence matters all the more

Given that there were only 90 new listings submitted to the MLS in the 24 hours before this weekend, you can see why some people are naturally wondering if that’s it for our fall push. Indeed, the true number of sales closed has not been tremendous as new monthly figures from the SF Association of Realtors show below as do the numbers of the week show too. If present trends continue then it’ll make it all the more imperative for buyers to compete harder for what’s out there even before it’s out there and for agents wanting to list properties for sale work that much harder as this week’s Stories of the Week will show and as what’s happening at the yet-to-be-released 35 Dolores will show (hint: units are already selling even though there’s no sales office open yet).

If true, what this means for buyers out there is that they should be shaken out of a mentality that has been preventing people from acting when necessary because of that familiar mantra that “something better might be coming.” Because of that mentality some buyers may well be missing out on properties that are otherwise good ones in hopes that something else better will come along this fall. So what’s really going on? Some think that this fall’s inventory is pretty much out. The reality is that the market’s new inventory parade isn’t probably done yet but if you see something you like go for it! And the nice thing we’ve been seeing more recently is that list prices seem to be more inline with closing prices for more and more properties.

Highlights from This Week and Last Week

  • There’s no standard for pricing these days as prices are all over the map — literally. Remember that while the spring is nice, prices are still wildly varied. For example, there was a fixer that sold for $640/sqft in Pacific Heights vs another property that sold for a $1000/sqft in Forest Hill Extension.
  • There were only 90 new listings entered into the MLS in the 24 hours before the Friday noon submission deadline for a listing to be included in this weekend’s open house listings. This is down by 20 from last week.
  • SF State is looking for 60,000 sqft of space in Hunter’s Point/Bay view
  • Uber announced it was buying two parcels on Third Street from Salesforce.com in Mission Bay on the way to Dogpatch to build a 400,000+ sqft office complex — these parcels are considered to be the last of the ‘big’ parcels left for commercial office space under San Francisco’s cap on this type of space under Proposition M.
  • Meanwhile, the other part of the Salesforce.com parcel was scooped up by UCSF across the street from its soon-to-open children’s hospital on Third Street. The nearly 4-acre parcel may house 500,000-sqft of research labs and facilities.
  • More from the Mission Bay/Dogpatch area: apartment-building conglomerate AvalonBay is planning on building a $92 million, 330+ unit apartment building with sidewalks, dog park and parking at the corner of Indiana and 20th — across the street from Esprit Park that will be designed, in part, by San Francisco-based architect Owen Kennerly. Construction is slated to start next September with completion scheduled for September 2017.
  • The single-family at 760 Diamond in Noe Valley at 24th Street curb presence with very steep and shallow stairs had more than 700 people through last weekend and, according to the agent, had 5 folks say they were going to write preemptive offers. The listing agent subsequently set an offer date for Tuesday, Sept 23 at 5 pm.

This week’s San Francisco Business Times reports that:

  • The current inventory of new-build condominiums in San Francisco is only at 15% of our 2008 inventory.
  • But that excludes the 656 new units of the second phase of the Infinity, known as the Lumina, that’s coming soon. Indeed, two members of the sales team who have worked with us significantly and successfully before, are coming to Vanguard to brief us on what will be available at the 37-story building that’s still being built right now.
  • Developers used to expect about a 50% premium for projects that were entitled – mainly sites with approved with plans from the city — that figure has gone down to nearly 25 to 35%. Meaning that investors and developers are stepping up properties for regardless of their planning and zoning designation because the returns are just that good.
  • The dubious distinction of being a “luxury home” in the Bay Area far surpassed the million-dollar mark a long time ago we know, but by how much? Well new figures from First Republic show that the area average ‘luxury’ home price is now at $3.3 million, a 15% average gain since 2013.

For the past 7 days (September 14-21, 2014) we continued to see fewer MLS-reported closings — 127 — due perhaps still due to the annual August slowdown. Here are the details:

  • Single-family homes: 42 (-5 from last week); 10 sold under list price, 1 at the list price and the other 31 sold above the list price.
  • Condominiums, Tenancy in Common/Co-Ops: 63 (+2)
  • 2 to 4 unit buildings: 9 (+2)
  • 5+ unit buildings: 5 (+4)

This week’s Most-Over-Asking-Price Single-Family-Home Award should come as no surprise for frequent readers: 3955 19th Street, the 1/2 fixer perched above the Castro with stupendous view listed at an inappropriately low $1.195M for this 1550-sqft three-level home with a 2003-built garage (aka, the hardest part of any renovation was already done) on an extra deep (and steep) lot with curb appeal and it’s 270-degree view of, well, everything. The buyers had lost out on a few properties before and therefore stepped up here. While the interior of the 2-bed, 2-bath, circa 1910 house needs to be updated (no stove in the kitchen at present), a prime example of what’s possible is only a few houses down at 3987 19th Street (the chic, 2500-sqft home listed at $1.895M). 3955 received 17 offers and closed after 12 days at $1.83M or at $1180/sqft — a mere 153% of list price.

And this week’s most expensive home prize goes to the exquisitely redone home at 16 Spruce Street in Presidio Heights. The 5-bed, 5-bath completely redone home was listed for $9.5M that sold and closed in just 7 days, all-cash to one of the founders of PayPal, who is himself renovating his $30M home on Billionaires Row on Broadway. Interestingly, this updated mid-century home was itself as renovation that last sold in June 2013 for $4.3M.

And last week’s Most-Over-Asking Price Single-Family Home Award went to 1493 Newcomb, a 2 bed, 1 bath 1700+sqft fixer single-family home that is about 1/2 done in the Bayview listed for $408,888, selling at $623,700 or at $365/sqft at 152% over asking. And the Most Expensive was an off-market listing for a Potrero Hill 3-bed, 2-bath, 2400+ sqft home at 201 Arkansas (as previously advertised in this very newsletter) receiving 2 offers, closing at 117% of asking at $2.2M at $911/sqft.

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.

Kevin’s Open House Picks of the Weekend: March 21-23, 2014, 1st Weekend of Spring Edition

There are just 92 new listings new to the MLS from Thursday into Friday with 10 listings coming back on the market during that time and 366 scheduled open houses in San Francisco this weekend.

There are A LOT of single family homes that have caught my eye this week. Yes, many of them are at the high end, but others are in the middle and there are fixers among them too.

There a fixer with a potential in Eureka Valley at 4540 19th Street listed for $1.495M, a cute, drop-dead views of SF home near Dolores Park at 293 Cumberland that could use a garage installation listed at $1.7M and there’s also an interesting Victorian/Cottage project-building at 3 Laussat Street listed for just $875,000.  In the theme of large homes: there’s a chic, large Noe Valley, eco-friendly, 2012-renovated home with 2 car garage, radiant heat, solar panels, yard, open floor plan, and extra deep 114’ lot at 257 29th Street listed for a modest $2.995M. A pair of smaller Noe Valley houses, one at 369 Valley and another seemingly small-looking-but-larger home is located at 1515 Noe. A little to the west is a nice 4 bedroom home at 265 Kensington with 4 parking spaces near West Portal and St. Francis Wood for $1.2M. For a large stunner nearer the coast, take a look at 160 San Marcos, a Forest Knolls 3500+sqft new 2014-built 3 bed, 3.5 bath, den, elevator and 2-car garage with high-end finishes. And for you Liberty Hill fans, there’s a Victorian fixer that’s been used as a 2-unit building with more than 13 rooms and a 1-car garage located at 4121 20th Street listed for $1.7M between Noe and Castro Streets that will be delivered vacant at close of escrow that has scores of possibilities. For an updated craftsman in Glen Park take a look at another chic renovation at 264 Surrey. There’s a vacant 2-unit building over at 27th and Dolores at 171 27th Street that also offers a lot of possibilities too that’s being sold as a 2-unit building or separate TICs.  And over in the eastern parts of San Francisco, there’s that ‘perfect’ air-conditioned 1 story Victorian at 878 Hampshire listed for just $1.2M, a stunner of a 2800-sqft newly renovated home at 1164 De Haro in Potrero listed at $2.25M.

For condos, I really like 1070 Guerrero, which is a modern 2-level LEED condo built recently with 3 bedrooms that has that chic white-wall, broad plank, tall-ceiling feel of a modern and urban home located among historic houses near the Mission Dolores corridor, listed at $1.5M. In the vicinity sits 942 South Van Ness Avenue, a 2009-built 3 Bed, 3.5 Bath, condo with nearly 1900 sqft of living area listed for $1.359M. The Onyx SF over at De Haro and 17th Street new condos are now open. Other condos that look interesting are a clutch in the South Beach area (200 Brannan, the Brannan across the street). There is a cute condo on Dehon Street, right near 16th Street and Sanchez that comes with parking, character and light at 14 Dehon that is worth a look as are the listings at the Arterra, 175  Bluxome and 177 Townsend for smaller condos/lofts as are the ones at 1310 Minnesota and 1800 Bryant.

And as for 2+ unit buildings, the three-unit building at 357 Sanchez at 16th Street in the Castro near Duboce Park is finally open to the public and is being sold as an entire building or individual TICs. In the Inner Mission area, a three-unit building at 2331 Bryant is open as is the stunningly huge Queen Anne home at 955 S. Van Ness is open as is the lovely 2-unit building at 728 Clayton near Cole Valley.

For the complete list of the 31 pages of open houses I flagged for San Francisco, click here. And to search all open houses in the City, click here.


Weekly Update: Feb 9, 2014 In the Know with Kevin Ho, 2014, No. 6 A Soggy Weekend

February 15, 2014 Week Update

Weekly Update: Feb 9, 2014 

In the Know with Kevin Ho, 2014, No. 6

A Soggy Weekend

Despite the Sea Hawks win last weekend, housing inventory remains light — too light. 

Even though there were more than 300 open houses scheduled for this weekend, inventory remains surprisingly low. We can hope that it was because of this weekend’s forecast, but if not then the trend of declining sales volume may become more pronounced as we move forward into 2014. Take a read below for this week’s open house picks by yours truly, a bevy of real estate news about rent spikes in SF and whether the city can legislate the merger of 2 units into one among other reveals from the commercial and development sector. Also, be sure to check out the latest news on mortgage rates and, of course, the stories of the week along with Kevin’s Open House Picks of the Week.

It Won’t Cost You As Much to Buy

Mortgage rates have fallen in the past two weeks ever so slightly — perhaps it’s because of the stock market slide but either way, average rates are hovering 4.125% for an average 30-year fixed conventional loan with jumbo rates (loans more than $625,000) clocking at an average 4.25%.

Here are current purchase preferred rates with Citibank available through our Partnership with Citi.

  • 30 year fixed   – 4.125% @ 0- points and no pre-payment penalty
  • 10/1 ARM   – 3.50% @ 0- points and no pre-payment penalty
  • 7/1 ARM  – 3.250% @ 0- points and no pre-payment penalty
  • 5/1 ARM – 2.875% @ 0- points and no pre-payment penalty

These rates are for purchase transactions of primary residences. It and assumes a credit score of 740 or higher and a 20% down payment. ARM loans may require $1M post-close assets reserve.

The Picks of the Litter 

There are 328 Open Houses scheduled for this soggy weekend, but only about 70 new listings came on the market this first post-Super Bowl weekend. I’ve pulled 89 opens that are worth a visit. Among the ones I like the big modern stunners on Hoffman, 27th Street, 22nd Street and Cole look nice. There are a handful of new listings in the Sunset area that look charming as does one on Joost in the Sunnyside/Glen Park area.

From the Condo/TIC offerings, the ones on Ames, Dolores, Duboce and the one from Vanguard at 24th Street at Folsom are all unique and a worth a look. See the list here.

Before and After…. 

Consider that Ellsworth Sold in 2013 for $705,000 as a 2 bed, 1 bath home and is now a 3 bed 2 bath home…

beforeafter 3

228 Ellsworth St., the cute renovated single-family home in Bernal Heights listed at $1,295,000 got 5 offers and is in contract well above the list price. A trend for the rest of the area: there were 4 other houses in the areathat  took offers on the same day as 228 with one getting 13 offers. And, of note, Ellsworth will close at an average of $1140/sqft!


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.

And That Was 2013… Take a Look Back & Survey for the Future of SF Real Estate

In the Know with Kevin Ho: What Happened in SF’s real estate market this week, Dec.. 28-29, 2013 Ed., No. 52

And that Was 2013…

And not a mouse was stirring. A quiet weekend, just perfect to take a survey


As much as we love vacation, shopping, family and general lethargy, I’m sure some of you are getting restless. If that’s the case you could see one of the 26 open houses in the city on Sunday. Or if you’d like to do something different or simply like to be heard and help shape San Francisco real estate, then go ahead and take my brief, 10 question survey about buying and selling property here in San Francisco. The survey is intended to help me guide my developer clients and sellers on how best to craft and prepare properties that my buyers would like to see. It also allows me to enhance my service to you so that my efforts on your behalf are all the more effective and efficient. Texting, for example, curse or preferred communication method? How do you feel about the amenities available on most properties? Do tell, enquiring minds are waiting.

So, What’s Coming in 2014?

I think it should hardly come as a surprise that the breakneck positive growth starting in February 2012 continued well into 2013, which turned into the year of multiple bids, way-over-asking price offers that were contingency-free. It’s my thought that 2014 will be a year of transition:

  • The condo conversion lottery legislation will continue to have its impact felt – most people probably failed to appreciate what these would be when they passed the changes in April 2013, but we’ll see more activity play out in 2014 (remember if you’re converting in 2014 materials due soon;
  • Mortgage interest rates will rise – it’s just a matter of when not if;
  • The city’s housing crunch will be felt evermore with more drama, more emotions, and now, promised tinkering with rent control and eviction control laws;
  • More money, more cash. Those who have waited on the sidelines will get off the bench.
  • If past IPOs are any indication, the twitter money that’s released after the typical 6-month stock sell restriction period ends in April won’t have an immediate impact. But money from Google, Apple and Facebook among others like Genentech will.

Kevin’s Clients in 2013: Annual Review

Looking back at what my clients did this year some interesting trends emerge:

  • Overall success rate (offers accepted and closed from all offers written): 36%

Of the properties that my clients closed this year:

At the listing price: 8%
Under listing price: 8%
Over the listing price: 84%
Where there were multiple offers: 92%
Not the highest offer but still won: 33%
Those who lost at least on 1 bid prior to winning their property they ultimately bought: 67%

Data and Closings

The natural dip in real estate that starts in November each year can be seen with this week’s closings. This week escrows and sales closed for 35 single family homes, 36 condos and TICs, 5 2-4 unit buildings and for units 5+ or more there were 3 closings.

See you in 2014!

The Top 13 Home & Condo Sales in San Francisco and more…

3, 2, 1…

The Year in San Francisco Real Estate

It’s that time of year where the number of countdown lists can get out of hand. Speaking of out of hand, here’s a look back at the top 13 sales for single-family homes and condos (not TICs) in our fair city by the bay.


Top SF Single Family Home Sales 2013

Here are notable facts from January 1, 2013 until now:

  • 1122 Homes sold for more than $1M
  • 349 Homes sold above $2M
  • 159 Homes sold above $3M
  •  79 Homes sold above $4M
  •  50 above $5M

4 homes sold for more than $2000/sqft, well, really 3 unless you believe a house at Grand View Avenue sold for $216,666/sqft. No, the prize for a recorded sale with reported square footage (remember, not everyone reports this figure) is 86 Stanton Street at Market Street, which is really comprised of 2 buildable lots with a 435 sqft cottage coming in at $2,091/sqft. No the real winner is stunningly renovated single family home circa 1888 in Russian Hill at $2,045/sqft located at 807 Francisco Street for this 7 bed, 5.5 bath, 2-car garage home that closed for $12.375M.

How much did someone pay for the most expensive single family sold this year?  How about $18M for 3660 Jackson Street, which is a 8800+ sqft ‘stately’ home at Maple Street with 6 bedrooms, 6.5 baths and 6 parking spaces selling for a modest $2,040/sqft. A couple things to note: the people who bought borrowed $8M to do it and the last time it sold was in 1978 for something in the $800,000 range for nearly 14,000 sqft of land. Oh, and it’s kind of a fixer.

The most expensive home in District 5 was at 715 Buena Vista at Frederick, another ‘stately’ home with a 9100 sqft lot, 4700 sqft of living area with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and 4 parking spaces was listed for $5.95M and sold for $6M in October at $1273/sqft.

The Top 13, part 1

3660 Jackson from the outside

3660 Jackson from the outside. (SF MLS)

Yes, really. One of the bedrooms from 3660 Jackson (SF MLS)

Yes, really. One of the bedrooms from 3660 Jackson. (SF MLS)

And without further ado, here are your top 13 single family home sales for 2013 listed on the MLS, which took an average of 44 days on the market with an average per square foot price of $1401 with about 8858 sqft.

  1. 3660 Jackson St, $18,000,000, 6 bed, 6.50 bath, 8820 sqft
  2. 2622 Jackson St, $13,300,000, 7 bed, 6 bath, 11,450 sqft
  3. 2504 Jackson St, $13,000,000, 6 bed, 5.75 bath, 7260 sqft
  4. 2020 Jackson St, $12,750,000, 7 bed, 7.50 bath, 11,500 sqft
  5. 807 Francisco St, $12,375,000, 7 bed, 5.50 bath, 6050 sqft
  6. 2898 Vallejo St, $11,700,000, 6 bed, 5.75 bath, none listed
  7. 3598 Jackson St, $11,000,000, 7 bed, 7.50 bath, 10,227 sqft
  8. 2430 Broadway St, $10,950,000, 5 bed, 6 bath, none listed
  9. 2755 Fillmore St, $9,999,998, 4 bed, 4.50 bath, none listed
  10. 15 Arguello, $9,750,000, 9 bed, 7.50 bath, 9,398 sqft
  11. 2570 Jackson St, $9,600,000, 11 bed, 8.50 bath, 9,885 sqft
  12. 34 Presidio Ter, $9,500,000, 5 bed, 6.50 bath, 8,040 sqft
  13. 2668 Vallejo St. $9,500,000, 4 bed, 5 bath, 5,950 sqft



Top SF Condominium Sales 2013 

Here are notable facts about condo sales here from January 1, 2013 until now:

  • 33 Condos sold for more than $1M
  • 119 Condos sold for more than $2M
  • 31 above $3M
  • 9 above $4M
  • and 3 above $5M

Which San Francisco condo was the priciest sale for 2013? The winner is the $7.85M penthouse condo at the Four Seasons, #27A 765 Market Street, with 3318 sqft and 3 beds, 4.5 baths and $2590/month HOA dues. Oh, and the closing price per square foot was a modest $2,365/sqft.

The Top 13, part 2

Three luxury condos sold this year at Jackson and Octavia after a stunning renovation.

Three luxury condos sold this year at Jackson and Octavia after a stunning renovation.


The view from up there…

Here are your top 13 (number 13 has 3 as there was a tie) condo sales for 2013, which took an average of 63 days on the market with an average per square foot price of $1763 with about 3105 sqft.

  1. 765 Market St #27A, $7,850,000, 3 Bed, 4.50 Bath, 3318 sqft
  2. 990 Green #6, $6,500,000, 5 Bed, 6.50 Bath, 5600 swift
  3. 2064 Jackson St, $5,710,000, 3 Bed, 2.50 Bath, none listed
  4. 765 Market St #35F, $4,950,000, 3 Bed, 3.50 Bath, 2,572 sqft
  5. 268 Lombard St #1, $4,900,000, 3 Bath, 2 Bed, none listed
  6. 1170 Sacramento St #11D, $4,650,000, 2 Bed, 3 Bath, 2780 sqft
  7. 301 Mission St #48B, $4,250,000, 2 Bed, 2.50 Bath, 1664 sqft
  8. 2220 Sacramento St, $4,085,000, 5 Bed, 6.50 Bath, 5726 sqft
  9. 2062 Jackson St, $4,000,000, 3 Bed, 2.50 Bath, none listed
  10. 2060 Jackson St, $3,995,000, 3 Bed, 3.50 Bath
  11. 301 Mission St #48C, $3,850,000, 2 Bed, 3.50 Bath, 2180 sqft
  12. 611 Washington St #2101, $3,800,000, 3 Bed, 3.50 Bath, none listed
  13. 301 Mission #35C, $3,800,000, 2 Bed, 2.50 Bath, 2170 sqft
  14. 1945 Hyde St #6, $3,800,000, 2 Bed, 2.50 Bath, 1936 sqft


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