Monday, March 24, 2008

Contemporary North Waterfront Condo

For those of you who are not familiar with the North Waterfront neighborhood of San Francisco, it runs along the Embarcadero and lies just north of Telegraph Hill, North Beach, and Russian Hill. This location gives you San Francisco charm and the convenience of the shops and restaurants of all these neighborhoods combined

225 Bay Street is in the middle of it all. Right outside your door you will find Trader Joe's, Safeway, 24 Hour Fitness, Barnes and Nobles, and countless other shops, restaurants, and cafes. Enjoy the North Beach nightlife, or a Saturday afternoon at the Farmer's Market. Public transportation is close by, and commuting is made easy to either bridge or freeway via the Embarcadero.

This unit is the best priced two bedroom, two bath condominium on the north side of town. It features a wonderfully open and bright living space with bamboo flooring. The combined living and dining room flows nicely into the breakfast nook and kitchen with stainless steel appliances. The first bedroom has its own master bath and great closet space. The second bedroom has been used as an office and guest room; the full second bath is perfect for your guests.

There is one car deeded parking in the garage below. The building also features a shared roof deck with wonderful views of the city and Coit Tower, and a common garden with a spacious patio and barbecue area. The HOA dues for this unit are $330 per month.

This condo is new to the market and has so far received a very positive response. Please visit us at one of our showings:

Saturday, April 5th, 1-4pm
Sunday, April 6th, 1-4pm
Tuesday, April 8th, 9:30-11am

Please contact us for a private showing. Also visit the property website at

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekly Sales Report

Taking a look at the numbers for the week, we can see that spring is upon us. It is buying season, and the good old San Francisco numbers are starting to reappear.

Seventy percent of all properties that accepted offers last week received multiple offers. I remember a number very close to that in 2005 and 2006 when buyers were writing an average of six offers before getting one accepted. Luckily for the buyers the competition is not quite as fierce as it was then, but the fact remains that interest is strong, and buyers are out there. Part of what is surprising about these numbers is which properties received multiple offers. One is a home in Bayview, a home in the Portola district which received six offers, and a condominium in the Diamond Heights neighborhood. It's not just Noe Valley anymore, folks!

To back the statistics up with our own story, here is an update on our listing at 886-886A Capp St. We were on the market for two weeks and looked at offers that second Wednesday. We had been marketing it both as a two unit building, and as two separate Tenancy in Common interests. It seemed to be equally divided in terms of the interest on the building versus on each unit separately. The offer date arrived which is always a bit nerve wracking. In this case, the sellers are already in contract for a replacement property, and not receiving a good offer would have put a lot of stress on them.

We did receive offers...four to be exact. Three were on the whole building, and one was on the upper unit. The sellers accepted the first offer which was a strong one, and above the asking price. The second and third offers were countered with the option of being in back up position, but neither accepted. A back up offer is important, particularly in this market with so much uncertainty in the financial world.

We will be open again this Saturday, March 22nd from 1-4pm. Come by if you haven't seen it. If you have seen it and are still interested, you may be able to get into back up position.

For closed sales this past week, a majority of the properties sold over the asking price, but on the average they only went over very slightly. You buyers out there still have an opportunity to get into the market before prices really start to go up again. Many people are waiting to see what the interest rates will look like once the new conforming limits settle in. There are only guesses out there at this time. Pricing will fluctuate as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac actually start buying loans. Then lenders will see the ability to sell on the secondary market and adjust accordingly.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cutting Edge Ashbury Heights Condo

For those of you waiting for that special property, for something with that "wow" factor, look no further. Sitting at the top of the hill in Ashbury Heights at 345 Upper Terrace is this wonderfully designed condominium with incredible sweeping views of the city and the bay. It is a one bedroom condo that sits on two levels and feels like a single family home.

The first level is perfect for entertaining as it is completely open.
The entryway is designed to showcase your art collection, and new slate tiles have just been installed. Step in further to the living room with a fireplace, a built in entertainment center and walls finished with Venetian plaster.The dining area is next with beautiful city outlooks, then the designed breakfast table and spacious kitchen with marble counter tops and cork floors throughout. Also on this level is a half bath, a laundry room, and an extra storage room.Now something we must take a minute to discuss is the deck. This is not just any deck. This is a huge deck with beautiful views of San Francisco and the bay. It is straight of the kitchen and dining area which make it the perfect layout for entertaining. Enjoy your morning coffee, afternoon tea, evening cocktail...just enjoy!Upstairs you walk down a beautiful hallway into a huge master suite and will again be struck by the beauty of the San Francisco views out of the floor to ceiling windows.
What a way to wake up! The room features a wonderfully designed master bath, an enormous walk in closet, and a private built in office nook.There is one car parking in a shared garage with the only other unit in the complex. The spaces are side by side.

This really is a must see property; come visit us at one of our showings:

Saturday, April 5th, 1-4pm
Sunday, April 6th, 1-4pm
Tuesday, Broker's Tour (public welcome) from 12:30-2:00pm

Please visit the property website at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Weekly Sales Report

Daylight savings time is here, buying season is upon us! You can start scheduling those property tours after work; there will be plenty of light! You may start to see more twilight open houses popping up as well. We will most likely start to see the inventory pick up over the next few months. Historically, April, May, and June are very strong months.

That is what's to come, but let's take a look at what has happened. In the past week, two thirds of the properties accepting offers only received one offer. As they say, it only takes one! Although we may not have reached "the bottom", you can certainly get a good property at a decent price at the moment which was at one point completely unheard of in San Francisco.

One of our clients submitted an offer this past week at asking price on a beautiful, spacious, completely remodelled condo in the Inner Mission that had only been on the market for less than a week.

We felt it was a long shot as the listing agent mentioned they were experiencing a high level of interest; they would certainly be looking for well over asking price at this stage of the game. They did counter our clients' offer, but only for $11,000over asking, and they agreed to the long sixty escrow our clients requested. Don't be afraid to ask; you just might end up with a reasonably priced home in this incredibly expensive city! OK, reasonable is relative, but you understand.

Also this past week, 55% of the sold properties went for under the asking price; the other 45% were above the asking price.

Mortgage Minute

The main focus at the moment is the upcoming change in conforming loan limits. The new loan limits have been released. The temporary jumbo conforming loan product will apply to loans originating from July 1st, 2008 to December 31, 2008. The maximum loan limit is calculated as 1.25 times the median home price in the area. For the purposes of this calculation, San Francisco has been grouped in with Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo counties. The loan limit in general cannot exceed $729,750, which is what it will be for the San Francisco area.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Redfin-Call me a skeptic

The name has been tossed around, but we have never had direct experience with which to form an opinion...until now. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Redfin, they are an online brokerage whose claim to fame is that they refund a large portion of their commission to the buyer at closing. They share this in common with Zip Realty, another online brokerage that is a bit more established. I am familiar with Zip; I actually interviewed with them when I was looking for a place to hang my license. It wasn't the right fit for me, but I don't have anything negative to say about them or their business model.

Redfin, however, I am not so sure about. Let me start by saying that I have never met a Redfin agent. That is not to say that they don't exist, but where are they? I realize that a lot of their work is computer based, but don't they need to visit the homes they are selling? On tour, we meet agents from all the major offices, and many smaller ones. It is our duty, as your agents, to see and be familiar with as many homes as possible...not just the home you want to buy, and certainly not after you have made the offer.

This all started at our open house this weekend. I met a nice young man with serious interest in the property. He let me know that he had some questions, but that he was working with Redfin and "will that be a problem?" I think they are told to identify themselves as Redfin customers. I laughed and said, "No, but it scares me a bit." He had a lot of Tenancy in Common questions, as the building is being offered either as a whole or as two separate TIC interests. I answered his questions, and he told me he would be in touch.

He called me twice today, the first time was to let me know his pre-approval had gone through with Wells Fargo, again something they are told to do through the Redfin website. The second time he called was when the red flags went up. He said that he had been on the Redfin website, and he couldn't find the listing for the entire building. The listings for the separate units were there, but not for the two unit building. He needed to find the listing on their site in order to make the offer.

That is when I started to realize how Redfin works. You search on their website for listings. You go to open houses on your own and find a property you are interested in. You get pre-approved on your own, and when you are ready to make an offer, you fill out some form on their site and then get paired up with an agent. They even have a process so that you can come to your own conclusion on how much to offer.

Of course they can refund a majority of their commission to the buyers; they haven't done any work! I went on their site to see what else I could find. Another shocker was that they only give you two home tours for free. The third and fourth cost $250 each and are subtracted from your closing credit. After four tours, you need to pay the $250 up front. Of course they don't want to spend too much time with you...they're hardly making any money!

There are a couple of things that are important to mention. At the end of the day, getting a refund check is a great thing. However, you do get what you pay for; this may not be one of the places to cut corners. Working with a good agent from a top brokerage may not get you a credit from their commission, but it will get you:

1) Unlimited time spent touring homes, providing information, and answering questions
2) Informed opinions on value and condition
3) Top negotiating skills that may end up saving you the same amount of money...or more
4) Protection...knowledge is key

In this economy, everyone is trying to save a buck. That is easy to understand. Just be careful; protect yourself, and if you don't have the time it takes to learn the ins and outs of buying property by yourself, hire a professional to help you!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Inner Mission Painted Lady

We have a wonderful new listing in the Inner Mission, and we just finished our first weekend of open houses. It is a wonderful two unit Victorian building located on Capp Street at 24th; just one short block away from the BART station! This is a true Victorian, built in 1890, and retains all of the wonderful charm and details of its era including high ceilings, hardwood floors, stained glass windows, moldings, medallions, bay windows, and much more.

Also included is a two car garage with plenty of extra storage space, a laundry area, and a private patio. Both units will be delivered vacant making it the perfect partner opportunity. Remember, if both units in a two unit building are owner occupied, you can bypass the lottery after one year of owner occupancy and convert to a condominium. This conversions gives you a ten to fifteen percent boost in value. You can also purchase the entire building and use the second unit for extra income which is what the current owners are doing.

This building was put on the multiple listing service on Friday. That same day, we had three private showings. Both Saturday and Sunday we had between 60 and 70 parties come through, and we gave out a handful of disclosure packages. A huge majority of the people I saw this weekend are serious buyers; not many just passing by. That first weekend on the market is crucial. I also think it is important to be open both days, because we had many repeat visitors on Sunday.


886-886A Capp Street is offered at $899,000

The units are also offered as separate TIC interests:

886A Capp (the lower unit) is offered at $430,000
This unit is 1 bedroom/1 bath/1 car parking
886 Capp (the upper unit) is offered at $469,000
This unit is a 1+ bedroom (second room is perfect for office or nursery)/1 bath/1 car parking

We will open for broker's tour on Tuesday, March 11th, from 2-3:30pm

We will also be open next weekend:

Saturday, March 15th, 1-4pm
Sunday, March 16th, 1-4pm

Unless we are already in contract...we will keep you posted!