Market updates - the best local resource I've found

Case-Shiller... bah humbug. Dataquest... better than a sharp stick in the eye, but not by much. Talking heads on CNBC... please stop talking. So WHO can you listen to when trying to figure out what is going on in the LOCAL San Francisco real estate market? Well, the two best things to do are go to open houses and scrutinize the market for months, and you'll get to know it better than anyone. The 2nd is to turn to someone who does that for a living... a hard working Realtor. But if you just want data... a quick place to check in on the market once per month... Trulia's "heat map" with (and this is critically important) it's ZIP CODE box checked.

Zip codes aren't even as "local" as I'd prefer, but the map will show you the border outlines for each zip code, and then you can see the "year over year" or "y-o-y" difference in "Average Selling Price" and "Median Selling Price". Median is probably best - half sold for more, half sold for less, than the median. "Average" can be skewed by just one or two really high priced (or low) sales.

You can then sort by zip code, or by highest appreciation, or highest depreciation. A quick guide are the color codes - which change as you sort in different ways. And to see the what area is what zip code, just hover your mouse over the map.

The most unfortunate thing about Trulia's heat map is that I'm writing this at the end of December, and they only have July through September data. It shows zip codes 94118 (Laurel Village, Lake and Inner Richmond) as being up 9.9% year over year (surprised????) but as a San Francisco Realtor with "feet on the street" I know the market lost that entire 10% after the financial crisis became mainstream news.

But Case-SCHMiller is old data too and does not have San Francisco City only data... so I find it to be totally worthless, and Dataquest does do San Francisco only, but does not get any more local than that. And as the old adage says, real estate is local, especially San Francisco real estate.


Looking beyond the mortgage mess - a cement foundation

Buyers have bought homes this year (2008) for 17.8% lower than they did in 2007. More importantly, only 9.3% of them got a 2nd mortgage compared to 43.4% in 2006. ARM's and hybrid loans are down to 7.5% of all loan from 20.2% in 2007.

Finally, 35.9% of all buyers in 2008 were first time home buyers.

So what does all of the above mean? The cement is being poured into the foundation of the future housing market. A strong base is being built, and so unlike the house of cards from the 2004 to 2007 markets, the future housing market is likely to be quite strong and stable.
Interesting report from the California Association of Realtors (found here).

The naysayers, the doom and gloomers, all point to continuing mortgage problems like Option ARM recasts starting in 2009 through 2011. But the government has clearly demonstrated their commitment to supporting the housing market and saving as many homeowners as possible. Meanwhile sales are up 12% over last year... builders have stopped building new homes... and the U.S. still has population growth... so we'll have a housing shortage sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, lending is still incredibly tight where the majority of buyers have to have 20% down, and often 30%.... and that can only ease over time... it won't get tighter. That will invite more and more first time home buyers, using record low interest rates, who will buy homes that are 30%, 40% and even 50% below their highs.

In the end, we will have a strong foundation upon which the new housing market is now being built... and those who purchase in 2009, 2010 and 2011 will look like real estate geniuses 5 years later.

Finally - since this is a City of San Francisco real estate blog... as the suffering California market stabilizes for all of the above reasons, and the stock market shows that it too has firm legs, the well off San Francisco buyers who are absolutely refusing to buy anything, at any price, will be back. And the drop of 10% in places like Noe Valley and Cow Hollow will be a 2008 blip. Anyone who believes San Francisco is in for a 30% or 40% drop simply because California or nearby Bay Area towns have had drops of that size, will soon find out that San Francisco is different.


When is an offer too low?

In today's real estate market Buyers are submitting absurdly low offers. Some so low that Sellers are being insulted and not bothering to Counter offer. So how low can you go?

The answer is entirely dependent on YOUR goals. If your goal has more to do with getting a low price than finding the home of your dreams, go as low as you want. If the Seller doesn't counter you, you move on. Of course you may end up submitting 100 offers before one is accepted. Personally I see no "art", no strategy, and no sense to this method. There are better ways.

If your goal is to buy a property that you really do want, and have studied the market and feel you KNOW it's "real" worth, my suggestion is to write up the offer at that price, AND submit your offer with your research or at least an explanation of HOW you came up with your offer price.

The wrong way, and the way I so often see unsophisticated Buyers and their agents do it, is to submit an offer below even what they think the property is worth. Then provide no reasoning or logic for how they came up with their absurdly low number. Of course they have no reasoning or logic, so how can they provide any? And how does the Seller react? They are confused, confounded, and often insulted. However, with reasoning and logic to support the offer, they'll at least give the offer some thought and consideration.

So how low can you go? If you believe the market is in a downward spiral, so much so that while your research shows that the fair market value is $xxx,xxx, but in 6 months it will be 10% lower, you can and should submit an offer 10% lower than your research. But again, you must provide your reasoning to the Seller. Of course the Seller may think the market will be up 10% in 6 months, but at least they understand why you submitted the offer you submitted.

Should you go that low? Frankly, if you think the market will be 10% lower in 6 months, and you are sure of it, then you should wait 6 months. This is a San Francisco blog, and I discuss only the San Francisco market, and I know many Buyers who think the City will be down 10% in 6 months. But I have yet to meet a Seller who believes that. So Sellers are not accepting offers that are 10% below what they believe the current bottom is right now. So you are wasting their time and your own.

For that reason, the last time I checked, sales were at a run rate of about 1/3 of what they were last year because there is a stand off between Buyers and Sellers. Buyers only seem to be offering absurdly low amounts, many with no rhyme or reason, and so the Buyers are not even getting responses. Isn't that a waste of time? In my book it is


The "perfect storm" Real Estate Buying opportunity

Trying to time the market? Stop. This is it. Outside of the city of San Francisco in counties like Contra Costa, Solano and Sacramento, investors have poured into the market snapping up bank owned properties left and right. Sales are up 50% to 100% over this time last year, but prices are down 40% since the vast majority of sales are in the low price ranges. With all of those sales, prices will start to rise... and I've heard story after story of multiple offers and bidding wars on many of the REO's... so prices won't be going any lower there.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, prices had held up, and even risen... until September. I've been referring to this time period as the "financial crisis market". The well off still have plenty of money, but they are also the most educated about the financial markets, and they've never, ever, seen anything like what's happening now and it's given them pause.

Pausing has lasted 2 months now, and 2 months of very low sales has put downward price pressure on homes and condos alike throughout San Francisco. It's had about a 5% impact on the "better" neighborhoods, and at least 10% and arguably 15% in over-supplied areas like SOMA and South Beach. In fact, some are saying the One Rincon and the Infinity, along with SOMA Grand, are offering up to 25% off... but then again they were over priced... I'm referring to 10% to 15% off what it was really worth, not off of unrealistic prices.

So... will San Francisco real estate go any lower? I don't think it will... or at least it won't be more than a couple more percentage points... and here's why:

Buyers have come out of the wood works in the past month. Bargain hunters, first time home buyers, and investors have started to show up at Open Houses in droves. They smell blood in the water, and they all want to pounce. But this is the perfect storm... they think the market is going to go lower, so many aren't offering yet. Many others are putting in outrageously low offers that are being rejected by Sellers. And many of the first time home buyers are in the education phase... they are afraid of making a mistake with the biggest purchase of their entire lives, and it often takes months of research and looking before they'll pull the trigger.

The perfect storm has led to this 5% to 15% drop (depending on the neighborhood) and it's my feeling that they are all going to start writing offers all around the same time... and that will start prices upward again.

Many Sellers are also responding by removing their properties from the market and renting them out, or staying there and waiting until Spring. Many who want to sell now aren't even bringing them onto the market. So it's a stand off, and once the Buyers realize it's not going any lower, and the newbies are then educated, offers will start coming.

Meanwhile there are great deals right now... many of the Short Sales and Bank Owned REO's are priced incredibly low... and they are getting offers. Offers means a bottom. If the Short Sales and REO's were not getting offers, we'd have further to drop. And if Buyers were not flooding Open Houses, we'd have further to drop. If more Sellers had to sell now and didn't have other alternatives, we'd have further to drop.

Finally, you add the increasing interest of Banks and the government to provide loan work outs with their borrowers, and that will reduce the number of Short sales and REO's. Plus the LIBOR is incredibly low right now... so those with their mortgages re-setting right now are actually getting LOWER PAYMENTS... not higher. So their homes are becoming more affordable, not less.

Add it all up... and if you are a Buyer... recognize that now is the perfect storm. Conditions will continue to improve next year as lending eases, as rates stay down or continue to drop, as new construction is totally stopped in San Francisco so the current over supply gets reduced. Now you may argue that layoffs are yet to come and that will produce more distressed sellers... but I'd argue that smart resilient San Franciscans who are property owners will largely be able to weather that storm in ways that mid-west auto workers can't.

If you disagree.... please share your comments. If you agree and are ready to start house hunting, start with www.Automated-HomeFinder.com or CleanOffer.com, or read some of the below articles.

REO search on the San Francisco MLS
Short Sales in San Francisco
First Time Home Buyer - where do I start?

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Is San Francisco hot again?

Could pen to paper on the bailout bill be enough to re-ignite the San Francisco real estate market? Well, I think San Francisco Sellers and their listing agents must think so. In the last full week of September in two of the hottest sections of town, District 5 (includes Noe Valley, Cole Valley, the Castro, Glen Park and many other central/south San Francisco neighborhoods) and District 7 (the Marina, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and Presidio Heights all in the north of SF) had 43 new listings come on the market (Condos, Single Family Homes and 2-4 unit buildings). But in just the first 3 days of October, 41 new listings have come on the market in those same SF areas. 16 yesterday, and 17 today.

I noticed the flood of new listings for a Buyer who was getting fed up with the lack of anything decent to see. I was excited for her when I was able to email her 3 new matching home listings yesterday. Then today... another 5. These are Single Family Homes in District 5 mostly priced from $1.2 to $2.2 million. That's a pretty amazing influx of new homes when you consider that in 2 days it matched the new homes of the previous 13 days.

Now the naysayers will say that's too much inventory and it will slow things down, but generally there is so little good quality inventory in San Francisco that we need supply to generate more sales, entice more buyers, and get things going again. This particular Buyer is very active in looking and will probably see all 8 of the new homes this weekend. And trust me, there will be a LOT more than 8 buyers at each of these open houses. The top 2 or 3 of these 8 probably have a chance of going into contract this week because all of the other District 5 buyers are probably as frustrated as my buyer... so the best of the bunch may get jumped on by quite a few buyers.

With the bailout bill behind us I'm going to guess that more than a few Buyers are going to feel more comfortable and get back to serious house hunting... and now with a new supply of homes to see... watch out. As with all of my predictions, only time will tell... but San Francisco is almost always a Sellers market in the more affluent neighborhoods, and the pre-bailout confusion definitely put a temporary break on things... apparently from both Buyers and Sellers... and so far the Sellers have lifted off the brakes and hit the gas pedal. Will the Buyers do the same this coming week? What do you think?

To buy a Short Sale or not to buy a Short Sale?

More short sales have popped up in San Francisco's southern neighborhoods including SOMA and South Beach. But should you buy a Short Sale, in San Francisco or anywhere else? The answer - it depends on your time line and your goals.

Short Sales take a very long time to work out. You'll always see the statement "subject to lender approval". With banks overwhelmed by short sales and the banking crisis, it takes time just to get to files. Worse, you have to get the file started, and that often doesn't happen until an offer is received. And it definitely doesn't get started until the Seller complies with all the requested information in the "short sales packet". The problem with that is Sellers aren't exactly anxious to share their bad financial news, and banks always seem to have more to ask them even months down the line.

If there's a 2nd bank, you have to go through all of the above again... but worse, you have to negotiate a settlement with the 2nd lender who will be forced to accept as little as $1,000 to agree to lose a lot of money (in San Francisco often $100k to $200k) so they aren't anxious to agree and will often hold up negotiations for weeks at a time - partly again because they are overwhelmed with files.

So... should you as a San Francisco buyer buy a short sale? If you can wait 3 to 6 months... even 9 months... just to get a response to your offer, then "yes", you're likely to get a great deal because so many others won't wait. But if you need a place to live now, the answer is "no". Not only do you have to wait up to 6 months, the bank may turn your offer down. It may also take so long that the home ends up in foreclosure. Or you may simply get beat out by a higher and better offer.

To help avoid some of the above problems with San Francisco short sales, I recommend not bothering to deal with "new to the market" Short Sales. If the Short Sale home has only been on the market for 60 days or less, wait. Around the 45 day mark you can check in with the Listing agent for an update on the bank's approval process, and how many, if any, offers they have received. If there's an approved price (unlikely since it usually takes 90 days) you know what you have to offer to win it. If there are 3 other offers at that price, you know that if you over-bid that (which is still likely to be under the actual market value) you're most likely to be the winning bidder.

But chances are you'll get an update from the listing agent that they are still waiting on the bank, and that the only offers they got so far are ridiculously low. So low that the bank would rather foreclose than work it out. With that, I recommend calling every one to two weeks (more if the updates are positive, less if there is clearly no progress with the banks).

So - buy a short sale if you don't need to move and have a very long time line... or if it's been on the market around 90 days (and you'll still probably have 60 days before you can get into the home). Don't buy if time is of the essence.

By the way, if you want to buy a Short Sale in San Francisco, use the "Homes via Email" button on the left, use the form to select your basic home criteria - and then write into the "comments" area that you "only want short sale listings". Short sales will be included in a general search, but if you only want short sales in San Francisco, just write that in. Keep in mind, this is a San Francisco only service. Bank owned "REO" properties are also a searchable feature in the San Francisco MLS. Again, they will be emailed to you in any regular search, but if you only want to see REO properties, use the comment section. And obviously if you want both Short Sales and REO's write that too.

If you liked this article you may also be interested in:
REO search on the San Francisco MLS
Short Sales in San Francisco
First Time Home Buyer - where do I start?


Softness in the San Francisco real estate market

Buyers have been telling me for months that the San Francisco real estate market is down, and so they want to underbid - not just the listing price - but the "fair market value". However, in the San Francisco neighborhoods my Buyers are interested in, they have been wrong - most properties are selling at their asking price, and many are selling above their asking prices. A home in Cole Valley just went to a Buyer who bid more than I told my clients the home was worth. So the San Francisco market, at least in the nicer neighborhoods, is not down. Well, that is... until now...

It still remains to be seen, but the past 2 weeks of incredibly bad financial news - when the bailout, AIG, Lehman Brothers, etc - hit the airwaves, a lot of San Francisco Buyers paused. For one thing, Buyers don't like being "told what to do" by Sellers... offer deadlines really irk Buyers, especially in markets that aren't super-hot. And I know of two homes that set offer deadlines because there was a buzz about them with several buyers saying they wanted to write offers.... but once the offer deadline was announced, the Buyers froze, and did not write offers. My buyers got one of those two homes at well under the asking price, when just a week earlier they thought it would sell over the asking price. The other home is still on the market with their offer deadline having come and gone.

Now this is NOT a complete stop to the San Francisco market... in these past two weeks there have been some very competitive and active sales... like the Cole Valley home that sold for more than what my "CMA" (Comparative Market Analysis) told me it was worth. But that home did not set an offer deadline... and apparently 3 buyers all showed up at the same time with offers... thinking of course that they were bidding in a non-competitive environment that became competitive on chance timing.

In addition to the anecdotes above, I checked out "District 7", San Francisco's northern neighborhoods of Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina and Presidio Heights. So far there have been only 6 Condos sales with 1 to 3 bedrooms. This time last year there were 15. That's a significant drop off, and I believe caused almost entirely by the word "bailout".

So the big questions are... will this last? Is the market going to use this as an excuse to drop in a bigger broader way? Or is this temporary?

For now I only have anecdotes... one Buyer who will buy as soon as they find something they like... and we're talking in the $1.4 million range. A few others who have been market skeptics for some time, who are now more emboldened in their beliefs. But they were so unlikely to buy to begin with, that not buying won't impact anything. On the other hand I have 3 pretty well priced listing, but they are on the "lower end" (not low though - all are btwn $700k and $800k) and that seems to be where most of the skeptics are. In the $1.2 million and above range, most of these buyers have enough money to weather any storm... and lack of quality inventory is the primary thing that's kept them from buying.

So if you are a San Francisco home owner thinking of Selling... make sure you prep your home to show it's best (painting and staging), and if you're in a highly sought after neighborhood, my guess is you will have PLENTY of Buyers ready to pounce... but DO NOT set an offer deadline.

Since I still have many more Buyer clients than Sellers, it's simple supply and demand. If demand far out stips supply, the market can't drop far before those Buyers jump in and lift it right back up.

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Outside of San Francisco - a hot market?

Just a couple of real estate anecdotes.... I was in a Wells Fargo branch yesterday and the business account rep was telling me how he's lost out on 3 offers on East Bay homes, including one where he bid $50,000 over the asking price. He is buying purely for investment purposes, and is focusing on Bank Owned "REO" properties. He says he expects to earn about $100 to $300 per month over his costs in rent based on what he knows about the market. So from an anecdote standpoint... the low end of the market is on fire with investors competing with each other to get in.

Meanwhile, the branch manager said her mother saw a house hit the MLS down in the south bay for about $100,000 below what most homes sell for in the area... asking under $600k when most sell in the high $600's. She said when they got to the house there was a lineup of 35 buyers waiting for the agent to arrive and open up the house. Imagine that... read Patrick.net and all you hear is that the sky is falling... but actually hit the streets and you see a lineup of anxious Buyers trying to snap up anything that looks like a bargain. Tip - don't read blogs from self proclaimed experts who don't ever shop for homes and only scour the internet for bad stories to promote their agenda.

Now this is a San Francisco real estate blog, and I'm a self proclaimed city of San Francisco expert... but hey, I've got "feet on the street" expertise looking at homes on behalf of both Buyers and Sellers almost every day..... but I'm always referring to how the general news is so bad, so it was quite interesting to hear first hand from actual Buyers how active the markets really are when the price is right.

So.... prediction.... the bottom is here folks... time to find your bargain or watch as they disappear again. The bottom will last a while yet, and there will be bargains probably for another year. But with interest rates down a 1/2 point, and banks under-pricing their listings, now is the time to buy before all of the above mentioned craziness re-inflates the prices.

You may also be interested in:
Mortgage Rates Plummet
REO search on the San Francisco MLS
Short Sales in San Francisco
First Time Home Buyer - where do I start?

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Crime in San Francisco - an online tool

If you want to feel safe, you may not want to use the CrimeMap service provided by San Francisco's SFGov.org. You can enter any address or cross streets, a time frame, and the types of crimes you want to know about, and see what's been reported. What's scary is that there appears to be as much crime on the best, cleanest, most expensive, and safest "feeling" blocks as in an area that you might otherwise think isn't a safe area.

Like avoiding watching the movie "Jaws" before swimming in the ocean, I'd avoid use of the CrimeMap service if you don't want to get freaked out about San Francisco. Personally I think there could be some explanation for how the actual crime goes against the "feel" of an area. And that's that this is "reported" crime... so maybe there's more reporting going on in some neighborhoods???? But... if you want to dive in... here's the site:
San Francisco CrimeMap

"The Palms" at 555 4th St, San Francisco

With a new listing at The Palms in SOMA very close to Mission Bay/South Beach and AT&T Park, I've been curious what the residents of this 2006 San Francisco constructed building think and say about it. See the listing here.

What better place to check than "Yelp", the user-review site that has taken San Francisco by storm. There are only 6 reviews, but the building gets 4.5 out of 5 stars. One of the complainers said it's "too LA" and not enough San Francisco. Well, the entire SOMA/South Beach/Mission Bay is essentially a new neighborhood, and San Francisco is an "old" town. Many people who live in SF prefer circa 1900's construction.... Edwardian and Victorian feel... but you get that in the old neighborhoods.

Just about everyone else points out two great attributes of The Palms.

First - it's location - walking distance to everything that the area has to offer including AT&T Park, Caltrains, Whole Foods is a block away, Safeway is 4. Restaurants within a block or across the street include Fringale, Zuppa, Tabu, and Bacar.

Second - the amenities in the building are over the top. A 20 seat movie theater complete with big leather chairs. A gym with a full circuit set plus some free weights. A separate Yoga studio with tons of fit balls. A business center that has free to use computers, and apparently printers too. A separate but attached conference room. A break room with a fridge, sink and vending machine... you could literally conduct a full business event given all of these amenities. On the third floor you can also find a lounge with a flat screen TV and a pool table.

As one "yelper" said, "if I didn't have to eat I'd never have to leave the building". I don't think he's heard of delivery :)

In addition to Yelp, I've been hanging out at the Palms recently so I've met several residents, all of whom give the building rave reviews. They love the location, they love the concierge and doorman service, and the overall convenience of the kind of San Francisco Condo living that the Palms offers.

The listing I have is a rare corner unit... and it faces one of the quietest streets in the area (some Yelp complaints were of living by the elevator or one of the common rooms, and on top of 4th street - all of those are on the front/western side of the building, whereas my Listing #650, is on the complete opposite side of the building facing East on the northern corner). Easy to show... if you want to see what The Palms is all about contact me and the SFisHOME Group.

You may also be interested in
Corner-end Unit at The Palms - #650 a new SFisHOME listing
Mortgage Rates Plummet
New North Beach listing: 600 Chestnut
New South Beach listing: 81 Lansing #408

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:

Mortgage rates plummet - effect on San Francisco?

All the talk in the real estate industry over the last 24 hours is how interest rates plummeted a 1/2 point, which should mean you can afford 5% more than you could before. I have a buyer now who can only go up to $600,000 and we had just discussed a $645k condo... something that may now be within reach, so she's checking with her mortgage Broker.

But will this news really effect San Francisco real estate? Tight lending standards have not changed. You still need a very high credit score to qualify for the lowest interest rates. And you usually still need 20% down. Without both you may not qualify for any loan.

So as is usual in San Francisco, I expect this to be a tale of two cities... meaning it will impact different parts of town differently. The areas of high-income residents who tend to have higher credit scores, and have plenty of cash, may get another boost. The areas that have been hardest are unlikely to see any relief from this news.

But the real question for you, the Buyer, is how it effects you, and whether or not you can now afford the home you really want? For that, Step #1 is to know your credit scores AND your reports. Read this post for where to get your Reports and Scores (hint, it's NOT any of the sites advertised online). The post also gets you started in cleaning up your reports and improving your scores. If you've never done it before you are likely to be amazed at what's on your reports... a lot of which is easy to clean up.

You may also want to read:
Free Credit Reports and why you need them

First Time Home Buyer - where do I start?

Value of a Pre-Approval

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Magnitude 4.0 earthquake hits Alamo, 29 miles from San Francisco

An earthquake just shook my building for 2 to 3 seconds. I live on "good" ground in the Marina District here in San Francisco. It felt as if a truck had hit our building... a real quick jolt. I just checked the USGS earthquake site quake.usgs.gov to verify that it was a quake, but it was obvious having felt other similar earthquakes over the years.

Alamo is a town in between Walnut Creek and Danville, East Bay towns about 29 miles from San Francisco, or maybe 25 as the crow flies. I'm quite curious what it felt like on top of the center. Any comments from locals in the East Bay?


New SFisHOME Listing: 555 4th St #650

"The Palms" is well located near AT&T Park, Whole Foods, freeway commutes to the East Bay, Peninsula or walk to downtown San Francisco. Finally a unique and special unit at The Palms on 4th Street off of Bryant. It is a corner end-unit with a condo-length balcony and two balcony doors - one from the Living Room and one from the Master Bedroom. Full details via the "view detailed listing" below.

This is easy to show, call Rob at 415-652-3780 and I'll let you park in the unit's space for the full experience of living at The Palms. This condo is priced below most of it's competition even though it is a superior unit. So we are priced to sell quickly - a must see is the South Beach, Mission Bay & SOMA area if where you want to be. And just wait to you see the common areas in the building - a gym, billiards/lounge area, business center and a theater. Check out the listing and let us know when you want to see it:


Who is "stupid" - a San Francisco saga?

Did I just use that word? The customer is always right aren't they? Well, yes, in my book they are. My customers are always right, then again I educate my customers before I go out with them. But when another agent calls moments after I hit "submit" on the below post to tell me that his buyer wants to submit an offer 33% below the asking price on another Listing I have, someone has to be "stupid" right????????

Is it me? I spent hours running a "CMA", a Comparative Market Analysis, of all recently sold nearby condos of a similar size. I then visited every "competitive" condo on the market in the weeks leading up to the official launch in the MLS of the sale. So I know the market cold.

So is it my Seller? Well, this is one of those rare Short Sales. He will sell the Condo at any price the Bank will take, and so we chose, together, to price it at the low end of it's value range - per the CMA.

So there's a bank involved - is the bank stupid? Well they would be if they accepted the suggested offer, but they know enough to know that they don't know (say that 10 times fast). So they will hire a local appraiser to tell them what they should be willing to accept in an asking price. The appraisal hasn't happened yet, but rest assured, the appraisers numbers will be close to my CMA.

So is the Buyer's Agent stupid? Well, he admitted to not knowing this particular market well, and admitted he had not yet run his own CMA, and said he didn't want to waste any one's time with an offer that was so low it had no chance.

So... from the sound of everything above, the only one who did no homework, and has just picked some random number out of a hat, is the Buyers.

Are they stupid? Doubtful. I bet that they've got very high IQ's, very high paying jobs, are very well respected in their fields, probably have a ton of friends and great families, and are overall extremely bright and well intentioned people. But... they are completely and utterly uneducated on "their market". The particular market in which this Condo is in.

A 2 minute CMA, which is entering in some really basic comparable information into the MLS, and including all For-Sale, in-contract, and Sold in the past 3 to 6 month, and then hitting submit would show that NOT ONE condo is even close to the price they want to offer.

But someone has to be "stupid" right? Actually, someone does if this offer were to be accepted. Unfortunately, the Bank isn't stupid, the Seller isn't stupid, and while I have some days that are better than others, I'd like to think that I'm not stupid either.

Bottom line - this offer should not even be made. Read the post below... IF the Seller or Bank were to even consider it, all we'd have to do is drop the price to the amount these Buyers are offering, and 3 days later I'd have 30 offers all well over that new lower asking price.

Sorry folks... there are deals to be had in San Francisco in certain neighborhoods, but unfortunately there aren't many stupid people here willing to accept stupid offers.

You may also want to read:
Short Sales currently For-Sale in San Francisco
San Francisco REO's (Bank Owned Properties)
First Time Home Buyers - Starting with Education

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:

First Time Home Buyer - where do I start?

Holding Open Houses in San Francisco you meet a lot of first time home Buyers who are just starting to stick their tow in the water. Most have a few months of reading about how the sky is falling in real estate, so if they like the home I'm showing they usually get around to asking "would they accept $xxx,xxx?" Usually that number is 10% to 20% below what we're asking.

It's easy enough to peg a newbie, but this question removes any doubt that the person isn't educated on the local real estate market - that is the CITY of San Francisco - and in particular the neighborhoods I mainly work in. They think of themselves as experts because they read the WSJ and the Economist regularly, and they KNOW the sky is falling. But they've just started looking at properties in San Francisco, so in fact, visiting Open Houses is truly their first "real" education.

So "where do I start?" You start with self-education on the local San Francisco housing market. When reading about the U.S. real estate market, or even the Bay Area real estate market, and unfortunately all you've learned is what reporters, who spend half their time writing about hurricanes and local politics, thinks the pencil pushing economist, who hasn't bought a house in 20 years, said about the macro-economic issues that are impacting the overall real estate market. Sorry for the run on sentence.... but say that 10 times fast and then tell a friend who tells a friend, and eventually you get the kind of education that will help you ask the following question:

"I know your Seller is asking for $775,000, and I know you told me that just the other day she turned down an all-cash $725,000 offer that had a 10 day Close, but would she be willing to accept my $675,000 offer?"


While I condensed 2 days of in-person and email conversations together to write the above question, it is exactly what a "newbie" Buyer asked me this past weekend.

I dealt with the above question seriously, because like in anything else, there is no such thing as a dumb question - it is after all the best way to learn - stick your toe in and start asking questions. So I tried to explain that should the Seller accept her offer it would be as if she gave a complete stranger a $50,000 gift. I know some generous people, but not that generous.

Another explanation is that IF my Seller would consider an offer so much lower than what we were asking, I, as her Listing Agent, would first encourage her to lower her price... let's say to $699,000. Given the feedback on this particular home from "real" buyers, I'd have to guess that I'd have 3+ offers inside of a week between $700k and $735k.

But the best explanation is what the market is telling us the Condo is worth - backed up by local numbers - and I'm not even talking San Francisco the city info, which is far better than anything the WSJ has ever reported - I'm talking about all activity within a 5 block walk of this particular condo in the past 3 to 6 months.

If this "newbie" Buyer had that kind of information she'd have seen that the cheapest "comparable" that has sold recently went for $725,000. So our "all-cash" buyer was using some logic in his offer. My seller knew that "comparable" Condo did not have in-unit laundry, and was in an older building with deferred maintenance, and that the 3 next cheapest comparables all sold for $740,000 with the rest selling for $775,000 and above. That's why she turned down the offer $50k lower than her asking price... she felt that her Condo had to be worth at least $740,000 and if we wait long enough for the right buyer, $775,000.

But the moral of the story here is that to be a "real" buyer, you need to be educated on "your market". In this case, her market was all north end of town neighborhoods like North Beach, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights and others.... for Condos with at least 2 Bedrooms and 2 Bathrooms. She would also have seen how much things were selling "per Square Foot", how much everything was selling in comparison to the Listed price... which I believe was 1% under.... not 12%... and how long it was taking Condos to sell... so if it's an average of 45 days and we're at day 30 the Seller is hardly desparate.

So, to answer "where do I start?" First - even before you check out Open Houses, and before you even decide what "your market" is, you need to know what you can afford. For that I strongly recommend speaking to a Lender. You need a spreadsheet with ALL expenses you will face if you own a home... including HOA dues and property taxes. Then you know your upper price range. If it turns out it's $675,000, you should really only look at the $775,000 Condos after they've been on the market for 60+ days... or some time frame that is higher than what "your market report" tells you all of the others sold.

No need to write another Post for Step #2... as indicated above... with your purchase price maximum solidified... skip months of house hunting by asking your favorite Realtor for a report on "your market". That is all activity from what has Sold in the past 3 to 6 months, what is in contract now, and what is currently For Sale. Now you'll have a general idea of what your purchase money will get you.

You must then decide if you are willing to accept what the market will give you. If you insist on a 3 Bedroom condo, but the report shows you that in your price range the largest Condo sold in 6 months was a 1 Bedroom, you either have to accept the idea of a 1 bedroom, or you have to find more money, or you need to scout out other cheaper neighborhoods. You can't force a square peg into a round hole, or expect a Seller to hand you a $50,000 gift.

Step #1 - speak with a Lender
Step #2 - get a local market report on "your market"
Step #3 - be realistic, and focus on what you really can afford

Finally - Step #4 (with many more steps to go) - get out there and look at as many homes as possible. Armed with the information above, you'll begin to earn "feet on the street" type of knowledge that we Realtors have.

Happy House Hunting.

Novemeber 21st update - the condo in question sold for $725,000. I wrote this post on Sept 3rd, and then the market CRASHED. It crashed so much that we were only have to duplicate that first all-cash offer of $725,000. So... $675,000 was never a realistic number.... but I became wrong on my estimate of the condo's worth the day the word "bailout" became national news.

You may also be interested in reading:
The Next Hot Real Estate Market
District 7 Market Report
Mortgage update From a Lender I recommend
Secrets to Getting Low Offers Accepted

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Next Hot San Francisco Real Estate Market

Opposite of mainstream news talking about down markets and bubbles... I'm predicting an uptick of Activity and possibly prices in San Francisco's most sought after neighborhoods. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the focus of this post is that the Fall is the 2nd hottest Selling season for San Francisco properties... the first being the Spring, March thru June.

Every year the Fall tends to have a higher percentage of sales than Winter or Summer, and usually an uptick in prices too. Why is the Fall hotter than the Summer? Well, literally the Fall weather is hotter than Summer weather. As locals know, San Francisco's Summer is often cold and foggy - hence Mark Twain's famous quote, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco".

The Fall is gorgeous, and really, the most beautiful time of year in SF. Plus, San Francisco has far few families who prefer to relocate when school is out than the majority of U.S. real estate markets so they don't prefer Summer moves. Finally, there are a ton of vacations and weddings that take out big chunks of Buyers at a time throughout the summer.

With all of the above, what San Francisco ends up with is pent up home sellers waiting to put their homes on the market after Labor Day... and pent up Buyers who weren't focused on Buying, plus those Buyers who were out looking but found the best properties weren't on the market yet.

If the above holds true once more, both Buyers and Sellers of San Francisco real estate are going to come out of the wood works and overall activity will go up. If Buyers finally realize the sky is not falling, and since Sellers are mostly too rich here to need to drop their prices, we could also get a ton of competition which could lead to increased home prices.

So let's follow the market day by day to see what happens! Initially I'll focus on new listings.... ie. homes and Condos just listed in the MLS... and again, this is ONLY for the City of San Francisco. Although I'm also going to narrow it down just a bit more... I'm going to exclude "District 10" which is where most of the Short Sales, REO's and drop in prices has occurred in San Francisco. Nearly every other district (there are 10 San Francisco "Districts" on the Realtor Map found here) is either flat or up this year.

Today, Sept 2nd, there are 360 Single Family Homes for sale in the San Francisco MLS in District's 1 thru 9. You can sort of make out in this an image of my MLS back office the number 360 in the "Preview Count"
area - with the "Single-Family Homes" box checked under "Property Types" and Districts 1-9 selected in the lower left.

For Condos I've included Lofts and Coops, but excluded TIC's, and today there are 519 Condos/Lofts/Coops for sale.

I'll track For-Sale properties in the first 2 weeks of September when I expect a ton of new listings to hit the market. And then we'll track Pending and Sold properties thereafter. So what's your prediction - flat market, up market, or down market in San Francisco this Fall?

To help provide further data... Condos/Lofts/Coops there are 235 Pending or Contingent properties - those that are in contract... or what I'll refer to as "Summer sales" even though they will Close in September. Additionally, there were 144 Sold Condos that Closed From August 1st thru today, Sept 2nd. Funny enough there were also exactly 144 Single Family Home sales in San Francisco for the same 8/1 to 9/2 time period.

So... predictions anyone?

December 23rd update - the financial crisis hit days after this post, and still hasn't let up. By my estimates and research and "feet of the street" feel, most of the "better" neighborhoods are down 10% - losing all of their 2008 appreciation (many were up 10% believe it or not) and areas like SOMA are down 15% to 20% off of an already depreciated number, so 20% to 30% down for the year. Now for prediction for 2009? Maybe I shouldn't, but I'm still FAR more optimistic than most - see my most recent posts by clicking on this blog's header.

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Short Sale's in San Francisco

Yesterday I wrote about the REO search feature in the San Francisco MLS.... today I'll run similar searches to see how many Short Sales there are in the city and county of San Francisco - and again, please note, this is NOT a "Bay Area" blog. Most "San Francisco" news about real estate is actually inclusive of the entire Bay Area. Last time I checked San Francisco was not in Oakland or Antioch, and those real estate markets have virtually nothing to do with San Francisco.

So... if you're thinking of Buying or Selling in the City of San Francisco... and now that the MLS here has an option to search for Short Sales... let's see how many are in the City.

As of today, September 1st 2008, there are 54 Single Family Home For Sale that are Short Sales - meaning the owner owes one or more banks more money then the home is worth - so the bank must agree to take a loss to allow the Seller to Sell. Since there are 532 other "active" homes For Sale in San Francisco that are not listed as Short Sales that means roughly 9% are Short Sales.

Condos/Lofts/Coops = 13 Short Sales. 544 non-Short Sales. So only 2% of Condos/Lofts or Coops Listings are short sales.

That's pretty interesting since you often hear that Condos are down but Single Family Homes are not. But once again, this is a story of a section of San Francisco that has gotten hit very hard, and that section is made up of mostly Single Family homes.

Take a look at a Map of the Single Family home shorts sales by clicking here. With this map you can see a massive concentration in the most southern neighborhoods.

Then a Map of the Condo Short Sales by clicking here - there are so few that there's hardly a concentration, although it's still mostly South.

Finally - if you are interested in buying a Short Sale property, click below for the property details for each type of property.

Click here for Single Family Home Short Sales

Click here for Condo/Loft/Coop Short Sales

If you are reading this well after September 1st 2008 you can email me for an updated list of REO's or Short Sales. Or scroll down for for the Automated-HomeFinder.com service - BUT please be sure to write in the Comments section that you want ONLY REO's or Short Sales - any normal search will include REO's and Short Sales - so only enter it if you are only interested in just the REO's or Short Sales.

More articles like this
REO's - a New San Francisco MLS feature

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


San Francisco MLS adds REO & Short Sale feature

San Francisco's MLS has a new search that allows Realtors to find all REO properties. REO stands for "Real Estate Owned" by a Bank. So this is post-foreclosure... no one bought the home at Auction, and to try to get it off their books the bank hired a Real Estate agent to list and sell it.

This MLS search feature is currently only available to Realtors, but you can ask your favorite Realtor to run an up to date report for you, or check out today's reports below.

Throughout the City & County of San Francisco, as of today, August 31st, there are only 30 REO listings for Single Family Homes. Click here to see the list of all 30 homes.

In case you are wondering, there are 564 other homes for sale, so 5% of all San Francisco home listings are REO's. Additionally, you'll see if you Click Here that the REO homes are largely concentrated in the southern parts of the city. So if mainstream media got a hold of this they'd splash across the pages that 5% of all Homes for sale in San Francisco are bank owned, but in the markets I work in, there are none. The bubble has not hit the majority of San Francisco, and if you scroll down a bit you'll see the "Marina Update" as a recent example of just how hot our market remains.

Meanwhile, there are only 14 Condos or Lofts that are listed REO sales and another 548 that are on the market or only 2.5% of all condos & lofts for sale. Click here for the list of 14 Condos. And once again, most of the Condo/Loft REO's in San Francisco are in the southern neighborhoods - click here for the Map Report. Where you seen the green plus sign is an indication of multiple REO's in the same building.

If you'd like an automated search set up for REO or short sale listings, use the Automated-HomeFinder.com service found as a button below.

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:


Granite in your San Francisco condo?

Got Granite? I do, as of this past week as part of a kitchen remodel. I missed the radon hub bub prior to my purchase and not one vendor bothered to bring it up. So.... am I concerned? And should you?

Well, I found this site, Radon.com, pretty interesting. They'd like to sell you Radon testing kits, yet seem to be saying that you don't have much to worry about - at least from your Granite counter top. The soil under your home is apparently the #1 culprit of Radon emissions in homes.

But... should you choose "engineered stone" over granite just to be on the safe side? Right now it's a matter of personal choice... engineered stone is for those who want a more consistent look. Granite is natural, and therefore imperfect.

For me... if Granite were really that bad, wouldn't we have heard about it well before granite counters became so popular? Wouldn't we have heard about massive cancer rates of towns built over granite? Wouldn't people avoid going to Yosemite to avoid the granite Half Dome??

I've got granite - do you?

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesy of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service
Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

Click any image button to get started with your favorite San Francisco home search service, or get your Home's Value here:

San Francisco's District 7 - market update

A six month market snapshot for San Francisco's District 7 - includes Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina and Presidio Heights, all northern neighborhoods in San Francisco. I "pick on" this District often because it reflects a number of things that mainstream media misses over and over... one of which is that there are segments of the market that remain strong.

Click here for a 6 month report, February 27 2008 thru today, August 25th 2008. To attempt to compare only apples to apples this is only Condos, and only Condos with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.... one of the most popular market segments.

A few things to note:
1. 37 sales in 6 months = 6 selling per month
2. 6 either "Pending" or "Active Contingent" - so another 6 will close next month
3. 12 Condos listed For Sale now - or a 2 month supply.

HELLO - a 2 month supply? That's a crazy "Seller's market" isn't it?

Well, let's take a closer look:
1. the 37 sales took an average of 38 days to sell, and sold for an average of $788 per SqFt
2. the 12 that are For Sale have been listed for 66 days... 75% longer than those that sold, and the For Sale are asking $850 per SqFt or about 8% "too much"

So HOW do you read this market?

For one, a 2 month supply would be the envy of the hottest of hot Seller's markets... so it's HOT. However, you can't over price by 8% and hope to sell. Buyers are being savvy... and picky. Looking even closer, 6 of the 12 for sale have already had price reductions, yet the group is STILL 8% higher than those that Sold.

Keep in mind, this is the SLOW SEASON.... Buyers and Agents alike are on a lot of vacations. After Labor Day... there is typically a boost in sales and sales prices... so it should be interesting.

So think about this - how hot would the market be if all listings were priced accurately AND it wasn't the slow season?


Another new SFisHOME Group listing - Heart of North Beach

600 Chestnut Street #111 is a half block from Columbus Avenue... close to Bimbo's, Washington Square Park, Chinatown, the Wharf and more. Contact The SFisHOME Group for a showing or come by on Sunday.


Huge Price Reduction

81 Lansing #408 is now priced below $800,000. This is a special condo - top floor & no shared neighbor walls, 12 foot ceilings, 2 Car Parking, tons of storage space, and an elevator right outside your door.

Scroll down for the full listing, or visit www.SFisHOME.com or www.81LansingTopFloor.com.

Call or email for an appointment, or come by Sunday 2:30pm to 5pm.


New Listing: 81 Lansing - Urban Chic

Urban Dweller's dream home... end unit with no attached walls, large walk out terrace, RARE 2-Car parking, convenient walk to AT&T Park, the best South Beach & SOMA restaurants. 12 Foot ceilings with massive windows, an open Kitchen-Living Room floor plan. A HUGE walk-in closet with extra ceiling storage (remember those 12 foot ceilings?). Elevator is right outside your door for Penthouse style living. So Urban Chic for downtown or East or South Bay commuters.

Check out the photos & the "nearby" link for just how close everything is from Tully's Coffee to Maya & Fly Trap Restaurants and more at www.81LansingTopFloor.com or the below widget.


Just Listed - Laurel Village perfection!!!

Nestled behind a 3-unit building so it's very quiet - you will not know you are on California Street. Find the "Video" link when you open the ad below and listen to the lack of background noise during the video shoot. So peaceful. This is also a "House" with it's own yard that is part of a Condo association. Call or email me for more details or to set up a showing appointment.


Mortgage Update - May 17th 2008

Per a Lender at Union Trust:

Agency Jumbo Loans are finally priced nicely. Agency Jumbo loans are between 417k and 729k. We've been waiting for this for a long time. For example, 30 year fixed mortgages for jumbo loans today are floating around 7.125%, however if your loan is at 729k, but above 417k then the loan can qualify for better jumbo financing at 5.875%, 30 year. The difference is 1.25% in rate but $731 per month for a jumbo loan. That is an annual savings of almost 9k.

Fannie Mae as of June 1st, 2008 will no longer require larger down payments for 'declining markets'. This is GREAT news. It means that banks will start to follow suit and mortgage underwriting guidelines should be easing up for all conventional financing in markets that have seen downturns. It's a huge statement by the government that they feel the 'worst' has hit and now things can normalize. Realizing SF has been protected from the downturns, some of you may have family and friends or rental properties in other markets that were effected by the 'declining market' underwriting limitations.


So if you've been thinking about Buying... start with your lender first... here's a recap of articles and steps to get started:

#1 - pick up the book "Mortgage Rip Offs & Money Savers" - here is my review of the book.
#2 - know your credit score - fix your credit - read this article
#3 - start getting property listings matching your criteria - sign up at www.Automated-HomeFinder.com. Or sign up at CleanOffer.com - the best MLS tool on the market - but you must know and agent with pre-paid access... if you don't have a Realtor, feel free to sign up under my account - free for you. Visit here to get the invite link.
#4 - get educated with the help of a Buyers Agent like myself - read this for what I mean about education.

With the above, you can start a confident house hunting search, ideally with the help of a Buyer's Agent. Start all 4 of the above today! Feel free to call or email me for assistance with any of the above. I provide a free copy of the Mortgage book to each of my new Buyer clients, and can refer you to 2 to 3 brokers and banks until you find one you like. Visit www.SFisHome.com for my contact info


TIC's continue to grow in sales

Comfort with TIC's is clearly growing.... sales of TIC's have gone up every year.

2002 154 TIC sales
2003 269
2004 395
2005 539
2006 652
2007 722

In 2007 there were 5394 total individual unit sales (Single Family Homes, Condos, Coops, Lofts and TIC's) so the 722 number is 13.4% of all sales. As more and more TIC home owners share what I expect to be largely positive experiences with their friends, colleagues, families and neighbors.... comfort with TIC's, and therefore demand, should grow.

Yet, there continues to be a LOT of risk aversion to TIC's, especially in buildings with 3 or more units. This risk aversion means there's a big gap in prices between TIC's in 3+ unit buildings vs. Condos or even TIC's in 2-unit buildings. But if comfort with TIC's grow, demand should grow, and the price gap should dimish. In other words, if you're an "early adopter" of TIC's (ie you buy now) and you sell when the "laggards" catch on, you should see far greater price appreciation vs. any other segment of the market.

Of course there's an ulterior motive to this report.... my team and I, the SFisHome.com Group... have 2 current listings in a 3-unit building, and we've got 3 more TIC listings in two more buildings coming onto the market soon. Scroll down a bit, or click here, for the current listings, 357 3rd Ave and 355 3rd Ave.


BMR "Below Market Rate" update

The below is from sfhousing.info@sfgov.org

Before pasting the email.... a "BMR", a Below Market Rate unit isn't something I necessarily recommend... you get cheap home ownership, but you have no idea if you'll get any appreciation in price when you sell. Not that anyone else has that guarantee, but with an unregulated (normal) property you leave it up to the market (ie Buyers) to determine what the real value of your property is when you sell. With BMR's you leave it up to regulations and the City.

But... if you're interested in buying a property that is far less than market value... here's the email from the city:

Update on Currently Posted BMR Units:

-The deadline for 8-18 Colonial Way has been extended. See
http://www.sfgov.org/site/moh_page.asp?id=17815 for more information.

Upcoming BMR Units:

-SOMA Grand will be marketing 29 BMR ownership units within the next
2-3 weeks. It is important to take your first time homebuyer workshop
before you apply. Please see our first time homebuyer page for a list of
approved homebuyer education agencies.

-125 Mason St. will be marketing 81 BMR rental units within the next
2-3 weeks (22 one-bedrooms; 34 two bedrooms; 20 three bedrooms; and 5
four bedroom units). It is a good time to begin collecting your 2007 tax
and w-2 forms, your paystubs, and your statements from all cash accounts
in order to apply!

Other Upcoming BMR Units:

BMR Ownership Units

4343 3rd Street, 4343 03rd Street, 94124, Ownership Units: 2
three-bdrms units at 100% median income

Financial District:
74 New Montgomery Street, 94105, Ownership Units: 4 studios, 5
one-bdrms, 2 two-bdrms units at 100% median income

Mission District:
-Mission Mosaica, 18th & Alabama, 94110, Ownership Units: 5 two-bdrm,
16 three-bdrm units at 80%, 100% and 120% median income
-Chelsea Park, 3620 19th Street, 94110, Ownership Units: 2 one-bdrm, 3
two-bdrm units at 100% median income

SOMA Grand, 1160 Mission Street, 94103, Ownership Units: 17 one-bdrm,
10 two-bdrm, 1 three-bdrm unit at 100% median income

Yerba Buena:
410 Jessie Street, 94103, Ownership Units: 2 one-bdrm units at 100%
median income

BMR Rental Units

Hayes Valley:
The Hayes: 55 Page, 94102, Rental Units: 17 units - unknown bdrm sizes
at 60% median income

Pacific Heights:
2000 Post III: 2161 Sutter Street (2000 Post), 94115, Rental Units: 2
studio, 1 one-bdrm unit at 60% median income

8 McLea Court: 8 McLea Court, 94103, Rental Units: 3 studio units at
60% median income

2545 Judah, 94122, Rental Units: 2 two-bdrm units at 60% median income

125 Mason 94102, Rental Units: One, two, three and four bdrm units at
60% median income (81 units total)

Yerba Buena:
418-20 Jessie Street, 94103, Rental Units: 1 one-bdrm, 2 two-bdrms at
60% median income

Please call our office at (415) 701-5500 with any questions or visit
http://www.sfgov.org/site/moh_page.asp?id=48003. Thank you.

end of email

If you're interested in purchasing any of these properties, please contact me, and visit the city site for more information. There are several hurdles you have to go through, and then it's often a lottery process to win your bid (you can't try to out-bid anyone - prices are set in stone).

Thanks for Visiting the SFisHOME Blog courtesty of Rob Regan. If you're ready to Buy or Sell a San Francisco Property start with the best online tools for finding San Francisco properties: Condos, Houses, TIC's, Income properties, Co-ops, High Rises, 2-Unit Buildings and more:

San Francisco Email Search --- or --- Live SF MLS Search Service

Automated-HomeFinder.comFree Access to invite-only CleanOffer MLS Service

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Lender Update

As a Realtor I send virtually all loan questions directly to lenders I like... today that's more important than ever because the loan environment seems to be changing on an almost daily basis. Here's an update I received via email from a lender I trust to work hard on the behalf of Buyers:

From Raffi Soghomonian, BIX Equity Management, Inc.

"The mortgage landscape continues to change with new guidelines coming out weekly. The guidelines change so fast it is difficult to keep up with it all. We have to check each transaction to make sure the loan we are working on is still available. Having said that, there are still some great loan products including higher loan to value loans.

You probably already know about the FHA product which allows up to 97% financing. Make no mistake with this loan, it is a paper intensive process and can take 3 weeks to get an underwriting approval. So if by chance you have an FHA potential transaction, get the approval process started prior to the contract phase.

The new conforming-jumbo loans will now go up to 90% financing, and up to $729,000. Loans over 80% will require MI. The rates are actually very good for these loans. Only thing here is that these are Full Doc, Owner Occupied, and 1 unit properties. Both purchases and refinances are allowed.

There are conforming loans (<$417,000) with attractive rates, that go up to 90% financing with a first and second loan. The bigger challenge is in Jumbo loans. The secondary market for this paper is still conservative which makes it harder for wholesale lenders to sell that paper. 5/1 and 7/1 Jumbo Arms are right around the 6% range, but anything longer term can get a bit pricey."

This is from
Raffi Soghomonian
BIX Equity Management, Inc.
650-591-8830 raffi@bixx.com

Getting pre-approved with a Lender is CRITICAL before you start a serious home search. It's taking longer to "underwrite" virtually all loans today, and you could lose out on the home of your dreams if you don't start the process early, and you don't have a Lender who will work diligently to push the process along. This is no time to rely on a "friend" who is new to the business. You need an expert.

Interest rates are PHENOMENAL right now.... and while "perfect" properties are selling immediately, less than perfect properties are sitting longer and you have a chance to negotiate a great deal. Great rates, great buying opportunities.... it's time to Buy!!!!!


Price Trend Comparisons

The biggest question on everyone's minds are how are prices trending.... my mantra is that you MUST ask this in a very specific way. Even a neighborhood comparison from year to year isn't specific enough. You need to pick a segment of a neighborhood because (2 bedroom condos vs. 2 bedroom condos for example).

But to get those answers, you need to ask me or another Realtor what you want to know... in the meantime, using a tool like Trulia's very general neighborhood tool is far better than reading something in the Chronicle, and certainly better than a national or regional news source.

Here's one example.... and look along the left hand column for a few more (be sure to mouse over the lines to see the prices by date):

San Francisco Real Estate - Trulia


Marina (District 7A) price appreciation

A question on Trulia about how San Francisco's Marina District has changed, or not, over the past few months. To that end I did a couple of searches and will include the results here:

2 Bedroom Condo Sales from Sept 1st '07 to Dec 31st '07:
7 sales, four with posted SqFt info, price range from $875,000 to $1.48 million. Average price $1.26 million, Median price $1.4 million (4 of the 7 sold btwn $1.4 and $1.48 million). Average price per SqFt (of just the 4 with listed SqFt info) was $875.97

Here's the link to the above report (click "yes" to allow it to open)

2008 Sales, as well as all 2 Bedroom Condos that are currently For Sale, and in contract:
Only 4 sales (only 3 months vs. 4 above), 2 in contract, and 5 listed for Sale. So about 1.5 are selling per month in both reports, so with 5 on the market now, the "supply" of homes should last a little over 3 months. That's a tad slow for San Francisco, but blazingly hot compared to the rest of the country.

The price range of the 4 sales was $1,070,000 to $1.55 million with the average at $1.286 million and the Median at $1.262 million. Here's the link to this report.

Unfortunately the above two reports don't paint a clear picture. You could argue that the market has gone down because there were so many $1.4 million sales in late 2007. But you could argue the market has gone up because there was a recent $1.55 million sale, and the average price is slightly higher than 2007's.

So what's a Buyer to do? First off, as a "feet on the street" Realtor who looks at properties in the Marina every week, I'll share my thoughts... and that is that "special" properties are selling very fast, and going for the upper most of their "fair market value". Properties that Buyers aren't clamoring over are sitting on the market until they are reduced in price. Several of these are clearly over priced, and I can tell almost the moment I walk in the door. But either the Seller won't listen to their agent, or on occasion the Realtor mis-judged the property's worth, and how Buyers would receive it. In the hot 2004 market, they too would have sold immediately and for crazy prices, but today, Buyers are being very picky.

So my answer is.... "special" properties are up modestly in price, and non-special properties are down modestly in price.

By the way... the above is a Condo only report, and only for 2 Bedroom Condos. I'll run a Single Family Home report shortly and post in below.

For a specific property's current "fair market value" visit www.Evaluate-My-Home.com and enter the address and your email to get a similar report to the above two, but specific to that property.

Single Family Homes in the Marina

Here's the 2008 report.... all Single Family Homes on the market now, in contract now, or Sold since Jan 1st 2008.

Here's the report for Sept 1st thru Dec 31st 2007 Sales of Marina District Single Family Homes.

Price per SqFt is higher now $1,065 vs. $916. But the Average and the Median prices are both lower now vs. the latter part of 2007... Average was $3.3 million and is now$2.97 million. The Median was $3.07 million and is now $2.38 million.

But back to my "feet on the street" opinion... and that is that Buyers in this price range are snapping up the "special" properties in competitive bid situations. So if you're a bargain hunter, look for the properties that have some issues (small or no yard, odd layout, not the best block, poor condition, or even something that hasn't been painted and staged). Whereas, if you're interested in a property that everyone would want to live in, be prepared to compete.

For an analysis of a specific property visit www.Automated-HomeFinder.com