SFisHOME re-launches it's blog

SFisHOME's new blog is blog.SFisHOME.com

We launch with 4 video walk thru's of 3190 Scott Street - Luxury Cow Hollow Condos

Lots of detail and video's - including this duplicate video - so watch it here - or view all 4 plus price sheets at blog.SFisHOME.com

#307 asking $1,049,000 - this with a south facing exclusive or deeded patio:


Ingelside hot, 32 Josiah not

Ingelside - south of Geneva Ave, west of San Jose Ave. An area that I confess I don't get to much, but went to 32 Josiah at the request of a client.

32 Josiah is a Banked owned REO asking only $302,000. Here's a walk thru of this 1 bedroom Single Family Home.

Rough shape, aye? Meanwhile in 2004 it couldn't sell at $450,000, but later that year when they dropped it to $399,000 it sold for $509,000. Ouch. An unfortunate over-bid story for someone.

Now at $302,000 representing a 40% drop if it sells at that price... and indeed it's apparently gone in and out of contract 3 times. Unfortunately to me that means serious flaws are probably being found during inspections, so it could sell for less.

Meanwhile Ingelide only has 6 Single Family homes with 2 or fewer bedrooms and 1 bathroom that have sold in the past 6 months.... only 1 per month, however, there are 8 homes currently in contract. That's smoking hot. 5 are listed for sale including 32 Josiah.


Things that make you go "hmmmm". 215 Moulton

215 Moulton St. Back on the market. But not "BOM".

Purusing new listings in Cow Hollow I came across 215 Moulton after having just seen it weeks ago. Naturally I assumed it meant it had expired or been withdrawn unsold. But actually, it did sell with a Close of Escrow on February 26th.

Not even 30 days later it's back on the market asking $59,000 more than it sold for last month. Definitely not a flip since that amount would not cover all costs of a purchase and sale. Someone had a change of heart. Hmmm.... wonder what the scoop is here?

Ahh - I just read all of the marketing remarks - this is the last sentence "On the market again due to job transfer."


3190 Scott St (um, Lombard) hits the market

3190 Scott St hits the market in San Francisco Cow Hollow district.

Note the entrance just a few steps from Lombard

3190 Scott is a 12 unit building, and so far 2 units are on the MLS, but you can bet all 12 are for-sale. I'll get a price sheet on Tuesday Tour.

3190 Scott St reminds me of 3208 Pierce pictured here:

Back in mid 2007 when 3208 Pierce was selling I thought 3208 Pierce was way over priced, but to my surprise it sold quickly. They were small for the money, many of the tiny balconies were facing Lombard making them virtually unusable. And even the main living quarters in many units were right on Lombard. Despite extra thick glass, you could definitely hear Lombard traffic quite well as I recall.

Looks like commercial space at the base of the building

3190 Scott is the same Vanguard agent as 3208 Pierce. No idea about the builder, but until I see it on Tuesday morning I'm expecting more of the same... except the price already appears a bit lower than 2007 as you would expect.


School lottery out - new rules in

San Francisco School assignments will be changing beginning Fall 2011 per the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Board of Education
More at the SFUSD here

Here's the current assignment criteria
• Extreme Poverty
• Socioeconomic Status
• English Proficiency
• Academic Performance Rank of Sending School
• Academic Achievement Status
Full details of the above here.

Here's the new version
Elementary schools
1. Siblings already attending the school.
2. SFUSD PreK - students who live in the attendance area of the school and are also
attending an SFUSD PreK program in the same attendance area.
3. CTIP1-students who reside in CTIP1 census tracts.
4. Attendance Area - students who live in the attendance area of the school.
5. Densely populated attendance areas - students who live in attendance areas that do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the students living in the attendance area.
6. All other students.

Middle Schools are somewhat similar to Elementary, but right now High Schools don't have any of the same "attendance area" language, but they say "they'll try" after the other criteria.

Overall this looks like quite a dramatic change... although I'd like to hear more about what a "CTIP1-student" is and how you get into an "attendance area" SFUSD Pre-K since that's how it all starts.... speaking as the father of a 1 year old :)

Why so much Short Sale info on this San Francisco blog?

Why are we talking about Short Sales so much on this San Francisco Real Estate blog?

Short Sales appear to be more advantageous to just about everyone involved vs. Foreclosure. We've got a top 10 reasons on our web site, but here are a couple of main reasons we ALL should care about:

1. Short Sales tend to be better for your neighbors:
* in a Condo building the sooner you can get a HOA dues paying member in, the better for everyone. Yes Short Sales take a long time, but have you read my "Shadow Inventory" article yet? And did you know you can do a Short Sale without making one late payment (a new rule at many banks like BofA). A great idea if you want to protect your credit as much as possible.
* in Foreclosure junior liens are wiped out. I've heard varying opinions on this, but my understanding is the REO lender does not need to make up for the foreclosed owner's missed payments.
* just about anything can be negotiated in a Short Sale, including getting the new buyer or the lender to pay for some or all of the missed HOA payments.
* in Single Family homes you avoid empty homes that could attract crime and vandalism

2. Short Sales protect values FAR better than Foreclosures.
* per the BofA Portfolio Manager, Short Sales net the bank 12% to 20% more on average than Foreclosures. This is due almost entirely to what a Short Sale sells for vs. a Foreclosure. Part of the value difference are the damage often caused by out going home owners or by vandals to vacant homes.

There are many advantages for the Owner/Seller... the above two talk about advantages to the rest of San Francisco home owners. We ought to encourage Short Sales over Foreclosures when ever it makes sense.

More Short Sale info here:
Short Sale FAQ
Short Sale Advantages
Side by Side comparison Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

Bank of America's Short Sale Department

At a luncheon yesterday one of the quest speakers was Bank of America's Allen Seelenbinder, V.P. Portfolio Retention Manager of the Western U.S. A few interesting facts:

Bank of America beefed up their Short Sale department over the past 6 months from 100 employees to 1,400. And now instead of over 300 Short Sale files their "negotiators" are averaging 100 or fewer files.

BofA is also one of the banks using Equator.com - a third party processing system where home owners or their authorized agents can begin a Short Sale file. The big win here is that you can avoid faxing in hundreds of pages to get a short sale started. I believe he said in one month last year they received 10,000 faxed sheets of paper. Now 85% of their files are on Equator and he claims files and information no longer get lost (oh but for those pesky data entry problems I'm sure).

Finally, while he wouldn't say how long a Short Sale approval took before Equator and the employee ramp up, he says their goal is 90 days and they are currently averaging 101 days. Dramatic improvements since Oct '09.

Bankruptcy problems for homeowners in distress

At a luncheon seminar yesterday, even the guest speaker Attorney didn't want to touch the bankruptcy question since he didn't specialize in the area. So I can't and won't even provide an opinion on whether bankruptcy is an option for you if you're home is under water and you can't afford to keep up with payments. However, if in that situation, you ought to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to find out if it could provide any relief.

Unfortunately, per this New York Times op-ed piece from a Professor of Law at Columbia, it doesn't sound like there is much bankruptcy can do since 2005 when Congress changes bankruptcy rules.

This from the professor "the reforms created a system that makes it harder to file for Chapter 7 while doing nothing to make Chapter 13, once the savior of homeowners, useful in this sort of mortgage crisis."

He also says there's been a significant increase in paper work making it a "lawyer- and paperwork-centered system" which costs filing homeowners much more than before.

Still, the additional fees the Op-Ed talks about are less than $1500. In San Francisco with our high cost real estate market, that may be chump change for those facing larger than normal financial issues so a call to a bankruptcy attorney is warranted if you're considering a Short Sale or strategic default foreclosure.

Photo Phriday

Bay Bridge and Night Heron, originally uploaded by bstorage.


Short Sales in California - Schwarzenegger's take

Schwarzenegger says "I'll be back", or rather that the Legislature needs to bring back a new bill that extends Debt forgiveness on Short Sales. As one article put it "foreclosure city" if Californians are made to pay taxes on "phantom income". The Fed has the 2007 Mortgage Debt Relief Act which is good through 2012, so you're good on your Federal taxes if you qualify. But currently some CPA's are recommending people who sold "short" should file an extension on April 15th and hope that Schwarzenegger and the Legislature get it together before the final October deadline when you have to file.

Here's the paragraph from the Schwarzenegger press release letter:
I asked you to send me legislation that protects homeowners from being taxed on “short sales” when they are forced to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. Instead you are sending me a bill that uses these homeowners as leverage to increase tax penalties for businesses. Send me a clean bill that protects homeowners from this tax immediately, and I will sign it.

Apparently the provision Schwarzenegger so detests is one where companies or individuals who file for refunds fraudulently would be penalized if discovered. Gee, sounds onerous. Thanks Governator for holding up a much needed law because an included law irks you.

Also in the press release is his request for an extension of the $10,000 new home tax credit. His belief is new housing should be built which puts construction workers back to work. I don't know much about the rest of the State's real estate markets, but I don't see how California really needs more new homes when so many sit empty due to foreclosure. But California government completely lost at sea.... what else is new?

San Francisco BMR units

How is the San Francisco BMR market doing?

"Below Market Rate" or BMR from the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing (MOH) program seemed like a great program circa 2004 and 2005 when the San Francisco real estate market was climbing to the sky and many who wanted in couldn't afford to buy.

Today? Not so much. In '04 and '05 a BMR would be advertised for a couple of weeks, they'd then collect the offers, all of which were essentially the same exact offer since you were not allowed to pay more for it. And then hold a lottery to select which offer won. But today? I count 17 BMR's listed on the San Francisco MLS with an average Days on Market (DOM) of 81 with 6 over 100 days and a 7th closing in on 1 year on the MLS.

In the past 3 months only 5 BMR's have sold with average DOM of 85 days. So less than 2 are selling per month with 17 on the market.... that's about 10 months worth of inventory. Shockingly slow absorbtion.

Meanwhile, the Avg price per SqFt for the BMR's are around $400 to $425. Not exactly deals anymore, especially in neighborhoods like SOMA, Diamond Heights and Bayview where so many of these are located.

Meanwhile, average price per SqFt at a building like the Beacon, 250 King and 260 King, for 1 BR condos that have sold in the past 6 months is about $488. Why buy a priced fixed unit when for just a little bit more you can get market rate?

Update on 210 Mallorca - 5 offers?

On March 5th we called 210 Mallorca the "deal of the week". Word on the street is that we weren't the only ones to notice. Apparently there were 5 offers, 3 over asking. "Word on the street" aka rumors, are often wrong, so we'll report when the facts are in. But I'm not surprised. Clients ask for "deals" all of the time, but when something looks like a deals in a well covered part of town like the Marina, they quickly get bid up until they no longer are deals.


First San Francisco Neighborhood Stabilization Program sale?

260 King #543 - first San Francisco NSP listing?

NSP or Neighborhood Stabilization Program "was established for the purpose of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. State and local governments can buy, fix up and re-sell foreclosed homes." per HUD.gov.

This is big news in other locales when the first NSP homes hit the market. Meanwhile, you'd think San Francisco would be last on the list for stablization money since our market came down well after most others. Yet 260 King #543 at The Beacon and on the MLS for 9 days has information in the "agent-only" remarks indicating that it is an NSP Condo.

This March 15th Fresno Bee article does a good job of describing this HUD program is working there.

HUD.gov provides this link - also provided by the 260 King listing. Per that link

Under NSP1, HUD allocated $3.92 billion on a formula basis to 309 grantees including 55 states and territories and 254 selected local governments. The program was designed to stabilize communities across America hardest hit by foreclosures. Grant agreements for these funds have already been signed.

Under NSP2, HUD allocated $1.93 billion on a competitive basis to states, local governments, and non profit organizations. The program objectives and eligible uses did not change under the Recovery Act, but the allocation process and some regulations on the funds have changed.

So how did San Francisco get HUD money? I thought I read something about San Francisco getting some stimulus money, but countless google searches later I'm stumped. But given the article below about a Beacon condo with a 40% drop in value, they've certainly picked the right building to try to stabilize.

Beacon Short Sale: 250 King St #450

A Short Sale at The Beacon: 250 King St #450

photo courtesy of socketsite.com (and I just noticed from a post referencing this unit when it first hit the market in oct '09)

40% drop in value if the sale goes through at the last list price of $360,000. 2006 purchase price was $599,000 according to tax records. That's some rough stuff for the struggling Beacon.

800 SqFt 1 bedroom Condo - leased parking and $550 HOA dues, but still, $360,000 looks like a BMR. In fact I came across 250 King St #450 when researching BMR's (San Francisco "Below Market Rate" Mayor's Office of Housing program). Unforunately among many terrible marketing mistakes on this particular listing, one is that the agent checked the "BMR" box in the MLS when it appears NOT to be a Below Market Rate unit.

Which leads me to my next post (above when it's ready) is how the BMR market is doing in San Francisco? Hint, not well.

Out from the Shadows: an REO hits the market

1817 California #2E was in the "shadows" for over a year.

Per tax records 1817 California St #2E received a Notice of Default in February 2008 and a Notice of Trustee's sale in May 2008. But not until September 2008 did it get recorded as a Foreclosure. Whether one counts the NOD or the NOT or the REO as "shadow inventory", it's still a long, long time from yesterday when #2E hit the San Francisco MLS. There was an attempt to sell as a Short Sale leading up to the REO recording. That was for $498,000 so we'll see if the new price of $454,900 makes a difference.

The last MLS sale was 2005 when it sold for $650,000. It's a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath and per tax records only 787 SqFt. The 2005 listing claimed it was 1,000 SqFt. That's a huge issue for 2BR's. Under 800 SqFt would feel tiny whereas 1,000 SqFt would be acceptable.

But the kicker here is that a bank held onto this puppy for over a year. And THAT is why some fear shadow inventory. What took them so long, and do they have a lot more of them?????


TIC now a rental: 2831-33 Webster St #4

2831-33 Webster St #4 is a TIC in a 6 unit building on a prime Pac Heights/Cow Hollow block.

This 3 bedroom 1 bath sold for $820,000 in 2007 - arguably the San Francisco market peak. Prior to that the entire building sold in 2004 for $2,370,000. That buyer did great because they sold 4 of the 6 units for $2,449,000.

Unfortunately unit #4's more recent 2007 buyer didn't do so well. Starting a year ago they tried selling at $895,000, and withdrawn and listed 2 more times with the last failed attempt to sell at $799,000. Now on Craigslist asking $4,000 and from what I know of the rental market, that may be $500 over priced.

Then again, it's got Golden Gate Bridge views and a deck... and just a 1/2 block from Union Street it just might attract a $4,000 renter. On the other hand the NYTimes Rent vs Buy calculator says it's better to buy at $800,000 vs. $4,000 in rent. So the problem here is it's a TIC, and TIC's are definitely not selling well vs. Condos in San Francisco right now.


SOMA Grand - only 3 condos remain

1160 Mission, aka SOMA Grand, update:

This is the opening line from a SOMA Grand email I got over the weekend
"With just three homes remaining, your opportunity to purchase in San Francisco’s best valued high-rise is almost gone!"

So wait a second!?!?!?!? Do you mean to tell me there will never be a re-sale of a SOMA Grand condo???

Duh, of course there will. So to anyone who cares to listen, wait until the "new car smell" is gone and buy a "used" condo for 10% less. Or who knows, maybe 20% or 30% less depending on the market and the deal the original owner got or didn't get.

An Attorney want to tackle this one?

Creating a spread between what appears to be a "straw" buyer and the eventual "real" buyer on a Short Sale - can this possibly be legal?

We thought this was a behind the scenes scenario we were hearing about... but the 12th comment down on this post on ActiveRain is from someone admitting their entire company is based on this sly maneuver.

These two comments are quite telling:
"We prefer that you give us a call as soon as you get the listing and not communicate with the bank(s) first. For us to be affective at what we do, we need your full cooperation."

In other words, don't YOU tell the bank what we're doing, we've got some way of telling them that gets this through. Legal or not, I don't know. I do know it would be illegal if the HUD doesn't clearly spell out how the double closing works and that the bank isn't getting as much money if they were to sell direct to the end user.

"We also let the listing agent keep the listing and re-list the property for us to resale to someone looking for a good deal on a short sale through our negotiation process."

Cool, for me to participate in what might be illegal behavior I'm enticed with two commissions. I think that's why Willy Loman liked to rob banks with more money in them. Better pay for that crime... that doesn't pay.


New listing: 1BR Marina Condo

Marina District Condo across from both Fort Mason and Moscone Rec Park. Click below or visit www.3501Laguna.com.

Open Sunday 2-4pm

Photo Phriday

Streetcar and Ferry Building, originally uploaded by bstorage.


3020 Laguna now for-rent AND to be demolished

Only in San Francisco - 3020 Laguna St, a recently sold Single Family Home in Cow Hollow has a Craigslist ad that says "The House Will Be Demolished In A Year To 18 Months. When Owner Has His New Construction Permits."

Further the ad says "Antiquated Pre-1900 Construction 1-3 Bedroom House 1 1/2 Blocks From Union Street. The House Is Not Glamourous Or Contemporary In Any Way."

Yeah, no kidding. Check out my video walk through from 3 months ago.

Hey, but they're only asking $3,200 per month. More than a little over priced in my opinion.


Photo Phriday

San Francisco from Conzelman Road

Deal of the week: 210 Mallorca St, San Francisco

We've gotten a little depressing lately with tons of foreclosure and short sale news. Well, how about a really well priced property that looks like a deal to us?
210 Mallorca St in San Francisco's Marina District is this week's Deal of the Week.

Asking $1,495,000 for a 2-unit building with an illegal 3rd unit on the garage/garden level. The lower unit is currently rented for $2,600 per month, and if you wanted it for an investment the upper unit should easily rent for $3,000 and the illegal unit for $1,200 or so.

As a flip, you could sell the two units as TIC's and with 2 owner occupiers the building would bypass the lottery and have the ability to convert to condos in about 2 years. Valuing the property this way is where the "deal" comes in. An upper flat in a 2-unit building in the Marina that is approximately 1,400 SqFt could sell for $900,000. The lower flat should easily get $800,000.

Values are subjective, and the issues with this building is that each unit needs upgrading, and the garage is a 2-car tandem garage. There was one recent comparable property at $1,470,000 which would seem to indicate 210 Mallorca is priced right. But that was a probate sale that required Court confirmation, and appeared (to our non-professional eyes) to be more of a fixer than 210 appears to be.

If interested in seeing 210 Mallorca contact your agent, or if you don't have an agent we'd love to show it to you.

3 tips for delaying foreclosure

Need more time to get that Short Sale to go through? Or to come up with the money to get current on your loan? 3 tips for delaying foreclosure video:

The "Ask for the note" strategy is being billed by some as a way to prove the lender doesn't even own your home. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If you wonder out loud "why isn't everyone doing this" it's probably because it isn't true and doesn't work.

Also, "remind the bank" that they lose 30% more in a foreclosure vs. a Short sale is dumb. This is one EVERYONE does ALL OF THE TIME. If you say it too, they'll probably hold the phone 3 feet from their ear and not bother to listen to what you really need to talk about.

Finally, these are delaying tactics. They won't stop foreclosure.

One tip from us.... print out your credit reports and scores NOW when your credit is still good. You'll be able to prove to future landlords, employers and others that you were a good credit risk until you got caught up in a bad investment. www.AnnualCreditReport.com is the government's site. Don't use the ones advertised on TV unless you want to be sold a bill of goods and spammed relentlessly.


Another Watermark Penthouse REO

The sky is falling - or sky high "Penthouse" condo prices at 501 Beale St, San Francisco's "Watermark".

Time to grab my video camera for another Watermark Penthouse walk thru. 501 Beale St has yet another REO (banked owned foreclosure) Penthouse - this time #PH-1E, and this time asking $1,224,000. As you may recall #PH-1B was "only" asking $893,475 a little over a month ago. That just closed Escrow for about that price.

The trouble with these "penthouses" is they aren't even the top floor. #2E and #2B are above #1E and #1B. Notice just on the video's first frame the upper balcony (probably #PH-2E's) - your neighbor in the "real" penthouse sits on top of you. Despite that, according to tax records #PH-1E sold for $1,523,000 in 2007.

On the other hand, #PH-1E is clearly superior to #PH-1B because it is a corner unit and it's about 350 SqFt larger - at least according to tax records. But I'm still not buying the $1.224M price. A 30% drop from 2007 would be a $1,066,000 price today, and that's much more like it.

Beacon REO: 250 King St #810

250 King St #810, The Beacon, a banked own "REO" San Francisco condo with a past due offer date. What happened?

Per the San Francisco MLS "All offers due 2/25/10 @ 5pm". Yet the condo is still "Active" on the MLS a week later. I noticed it because even for The Beacon it looks like a "deal".

In 2006 it sold for $675,000 - this for a 1 bed, 1 bath with 822 SqFt. I called that "north end of town pricing" and told my clients when I could not make sense of values. But now? At $408,900 I would have at least expected someone to put in a low bid. So either we have "offer deadline-itis" where everyone stays away because they don't want to compete for fear of over-paying or simply wasting time. Or we have an out of town Listing Agent without direct access to the MLS who can't or won't get the status changed a week after accepting an offer.

But if you're in the market for a 1 Bedroom near AT&T Park, let me know and we'll give them an offer appropriate for a failed offer deadline.


1310 Fillmore St #802 - delayed Foreclosure?

1310 Fillmore St #802 had a scheduled Foreclosure Auction date of February 20th.

That date has come and gone and yet it is still on the San Francisco MLS listed as a Short Sale. Currently asking $665,000 per tax records it has a loan of $762,468. And per the San Francisco property tax payment site the "Net Taxable Value" of 1310 Fillmore #802 is $993,953. That's a drop of 33% in just over 2 years.

Pacific Heights Foreclosure Auction: 224 Presidio Ave

224 Presidio Avenue in Pacific Heights had a scheduled for Foreclosure Auction date of February 19th.

Unlike yesterday's story about 3157 Baker, 224 Presidio is not on the San Francisco MLS, so presumably it sold at Auction. The rest of the story is otherwise very similar. There was a mortgage a year in '04, '05 and '06. It's impossible to tell from tax records, but it looks like a $2.25 million first loan from 2005 and a $250,000 2nd from 2006. The judgement amount was $2.4 million.

Like 3157 Baker it went onto the market at well over $1,000 per SqFt right around the time the financial crisis became national news. Pulled 3 weeks later they re-listed it in January '09 at the same $3,995,000 price but then reduced by $345,000 3 months later, and withdrawn 4 months after that in August '09... and the default date was one month later.

Like 3157 Baker it appears 224 Presidio either has no yard, or a very small one. And while it's Presidio Ave location is a lot quieter than Richarson Ave, it's not exactly the most sought after Pacific Heights location. And like 3157 Baker I'd put the fair market value closer to it's default amount than it's attempted 2008 sale price.

The bottom line.... another "District 7" luxury San Francisco foreclosure.


Marina District Foreclosure Auction: 3157 Baker St

3157 Baker Street in San Francisco's Marina District had a scheduled for Foreclosure Auction on February 18th. Obviously that didn't happen because it is currently listed For-Sale on the San Francisco MLS.

Built in 2007 it had a recorded mortgage of $2,283,000 on April 23, 2007. Tax records show a default date of July 13th 2009.

It was listed for-sale in September 2008 for $5 million. That was probably an unrealistic number even before the financial crisis became national news later that month. It expired that December, and was just re-listed 3 weeks ago by what appears to be the owner of the property. This time at $3,695,000.

The home is 4,000 SqFt, but has no yard. It's also on Richardson - otherwise known as highway 101 - a very loud location nearly 24/7 but especially during rush hour.

In District 7 - Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights and the Marina - 5 single family homes have sold since the beginning of the year between $2 million and $5 million. 5 are in contract, and 15 are for-sale. That's a reasonable 6 months of inventory, but over $1,000 per SqFt seems severely over priced. I can't see a family spending over $3 million for a home with no yard and on a street you'd rather not have them crossing very often. And interestingly enough "Former residence to celebrity chef, CEOs, professional athletes". But how many wealthy, single or no-kid pro athletes are there - I hear Tim Lincecum lives in the Marina, but I doubt he wants to spend some of his $23 million on a 4,000 SqFt house on a busy street.

With a loan under $2.3 million, I'd try to get closer to the $2.6 million that 2312 Gough St is asking and walk away with at least a little cash - otherwise I think foreclosure will steal 100% of the equity.


Bay Area prices - 2007 to 2009

San Francisco Bay Area real estate prices - from the 2007 peak through 2009

This chart from Dana Kuntz of Pacific Union

The article referred to in his notes is here.

San Francisco dropped the least, but 20% is significant.

Socketsite uses Case-Shiller data which doesn't include Napa and Sonoma, and does include San Mateo which is not in the above chart. That 5 county chart shows the Bay Area down 27%. But what is most interesting in the SocketSite post is the 3rd chart down - here is that SocketSite chart:

Notice that San Francisco did not rise as much as Los Angeles and New York. I'm quite sure the City of San Francisco didn't rise as much as Contra Costa and the other counties either. This is important because the bigger you are.... or the higher they rose, the farther they will fall. So don't expect City of San Francisco prices to drop any where near as far as other Bay Area counties. That said, you probably can expect certain parts of San Francisco to fall quite far - like SOMA/South Beach which were severely over priced.

Photo Phriday

Golden Gate From South Tower, originally uploaded by bstorage.

New SFisHOME Blog feature - Photo Phriday. This bridge never gets old.

Cheapest Marina home Closes Escrow

On January 10th we described 1456 Chestnut as being the "cheapest Single Family home in the Marina" since 1999. Asking only $709,000 it had what appeared to be severe foundation problems. Well, it Closed escrow 3 weeks ago (slipped through the cracks my tipsters) for $870,000. Not surprisingly the financing terms say "cash". At that price it makes it the cheapest since, well, 1999 and 2000. There was 2002 sale on Lombard at $850,000, but that's hardly a comparable location.


"Owner May Carry"

"Owner May Carry" 1st mortgage. Yup, SOMA/South Beach has come to that.

355 1st St #2101 is back on the market after not selling in 2009 (Feb to May). First they tried a price drop of $100,000 down to it's current asking price of $1,298,000. And possibly right from the start, but it's impossible to tell, they offered 3.5% to the "cooperating broker" or whatever agent represented the Buyer. Neither strategy worked.

Back on the market 7 days ago 355 1st St #2101 is once again asking $1,298,000 and this time the "check boxes" I referred to in my earlier post was used for "OMC 1st" or "owner may carry a first mortgage". Unfortunately for us that 3.5% cooperating broker commission is down to a normal 2.5%, but let us know if you want to negotiate some sweet financing.

Here's an idea... pay their price... but get a zero percent loan ;-)

By the way, there are 10 other "owner may carry" For-sale properties in the San Francisco MLS right now. Will we see this trend grow????

Bad marketing

Trying to set up a lockbox tour - meaning the condo has a Realtor lockbox on it, and with my key I can go with my clients 24/7.
The San Francisco MLS allows Realtors to do advanced searches - like checking "lockbox" or "Go Directly". Here's one agent's showing instruction checklist "Go Directly, Appointment Only, Call Listing Agent, Call Listing Office, 24-Hours Notice"

Gee thanks. That's almost as good as the photo of a different unit.

It also speaks to why you can't trust the numbers - I regularly run Short Sale and Foreclosure searches. And I regularly send Open House emails to clients. All of the above require the Seller's Agent to check the appropriate box when setting up the new Listing. Unfortunately some agents just don't care much for details, or their fellow agent's time, or apparently to sell the home they were hired to sell.


$545,000 Price..... er, reduction

$545,000 isn't the price of this home, it's the price reduction.

28 Presidio Terrace, San Francisco, came onto the market in January at $5,395,000. As of yesterday it was reduced to $4,850,000 for a $545,000 price drop.

A private priced sale in March 2007, extrapolating from tax records it looks like a purchase price of approximately $4.96 million. So it will be interesting to compare a "peak year" purchase to today when this sells. We'll see a $545,000 price reduction does it or not.


Rents dropping like a rock in San Francisco

A Property Manager at a major San Francisco company is telling me Rents are dropping like a rock in San Francisco.

In his words "everybody that rents an apartment here is asking for a rent reduction. That is almost all I do all day is process rent reductions." And "some of these people signed leases a year ago and they were paying say $2,400.00 and now the current rents in the area are $1,900.00 sometimes even in the same building"

He went on to say "One woman they said 'no' to, actually rented the new apartment for the lower price and moved upstairs for $500.00 per month less. Well that cost them money to refurbish it and so now it is 'yes yes and yes'."

The above is in reference to residential rentals. Regarding commercial he said "Even commercial that I manage are asking for 50%, yes 50% rent reductions over in the sunset and they are getting them."

Back in January I found 13 residential rentals signs within 3 blocks. So I stopped into one of them on Chestnut Street over the weekend. The rental agent told me she had been trying to rent the unit for over 2 months and the landlord was refusing to budge on the rent. She figured it was $300 over priced.

Meanwhile a rental agent in my office told me normally they have about 15 rentals, but now they have 400. She claimed rents had NOT gone down, only that instead of taking 2 to 3 days to rent a place it was taking 30 to 60 days. Per the above, I'm guessing they'll be singing a new tune the next time I ask.


Tough times at The Palms, 555 4th St, San Francisco

Tough times at The Palms, 555 4th St, San Francisco

The Palms really doesn't need any more problems. $800,000 and over 2BR condos from 2006 are now selling for $600,000 and under, and Short sales and REO's rule the day. But per the Q&A at Trulia today there are or were several loan issues:

1. they apparently had a pooled insurance policy - now supposedly corrected. I happen to be showing a Palms unit today to a client, so if she's interested I'll get more details on this.

2. delinquent HOA dues had been 15% - now supposedly corrected, this is also a lender guideline where 15% is the threshold.

3. owner occupancy "quite low" per one comment. My understanding is that FHA requires 50% owner occupancy and conventional loans require 51%. If The Palms is lower than 51% that would be pretty shocking news.

My concern here is #2 and #3. It may be a struggle to contain both as short sales and foreclosures continue. Then again, hopefully the new buyers in the building snapping up the $600,000 2BR's are owner-occupiers like my client will be if she likes the building and unit after our visit today.

Luxury Market stats in "D7" - north end of SF

Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, the Marina, Presidio Heights $2M to $3M market.
A quick look at the past 6 months as compared to the same time period in each of the prior 6 years. This is the $2 million to $3 million Single Family home market in Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, the Marina & Cow Hollow. With all sales btwn $2M and $3M most of the average and medians for these time periods were right around $2.5 million so I'll focus on price per SqFt, and the size of home you can get for that price, and number of sales:

'03-'04 - 25 sales, $713 per SqFt, 3,586 Avg SqFt
'04-'05 - 25 sales, $793 per SqFt, 3,140 Avg SqFt
'05-'06 - 14 sales, $1,026 per SqFt, 2,634 Avg SqFt
'06-'07 - 20 sales, $847 per SqFt, 2,937 Avg SqFt
'07-'08 - 9 sales, $918 per SqFt, 2,793 Avg SqFt
'08-'09 - 8 sales, $901 per SqFt, 2,806 Avg SqFt
'09-present - 14 sales, $802 SqFt, 3,290 Avg SqFt

Oh so many caveats here. For one I had to take out the Bourn Mansion sale - 2550 Webster was an extreme fixer that had 9762 SqFt for "only" $2.79M. Of course that buyer is going to put in MILLIONS of dollars to restore it and it seriously skewed the price per SqFt and the average SqFt.

Secondly, this price range and area is notorious for private non-MLS Sales (and this is all San Francisco MLS data) and for "undisclosed" prices.

Still, the above is general guidance. Prices are back to the late '04 early '05 levels with Sellers becoming more realistic and total sales improving over the past 2 years' results. But sales are up, and the anecdotal evidence from agents in my office is that there is a LOT of off-MLS sales happening right now. Sellers and Buyers are cutting deals. This is one of those times I think it's a good time to be a Buyer or a Seller. Well, Sellers might not think that because prices are way down from peak, but if you want to sell, there is definitely demand right now. And if you want to buy, you should find it easier to negotiate a deal rather than finding nothing but unrealistic and totally inflexible sellers.

Well, maybe they still aren't
<------ this flexible.


2010 "the year of the short sale"

Jim Klinge or "Jim the Realtor" in San Diego is one of my favorite real estate bloggers at www.bubbleinfo.com. In this Financial Times article he says ".... 2010 will be the year of the short sale".

The article goes on to say that "Wells Fargo is holding seminars to teach real-estate brokers how to conduct short sales. Citigroup created a unit to expedite short sales..." and "BofA has hired additional staff to handle the increased volume, which is running at about double the level of a year ago. “Short sales are growing faster than REOs [real estate owned transactions] and that’s a new development,” said Matt Vernon, a BofA executive recently named to a new position of overseeing short sales."

I think the above all remains to be seen since the first part of Jim the Realtor's quote was "...2009 was the year of the loan modification" and frankly while there were all kinds of programs and efforts, loan mods have largely been colossal failures. But that's for another post.


ABC report: "Triple whammy" for real estate market

Listening to this Channel 7 ABC report they list 4 reasons home prices may drop - clearly not good with math since it's a "triple whammy" headline.

1. Shadow Inventory - California 80,000 homes, and 5 million nationally over the next 2 years according to two studies released yesterday. Both from currently banked owned that haven't hit the market, and those delayed in becoming foreclosures because the owners are trying to get loan modifications right now.

2. Rising interest rates when the government stops buying mortgage backed securities

3. Home buyer tax credit expiring

4. Jobs - I guess this wasn't a "whammy" in this report, but as one interviewee says, it could be the only item that really matters.

The caveat here - right now there is a lack of inventory and high demand. We're hearing a LOT of multiple offer stories, and the above ABC report quotes offers going 5% to 10% over the asking price on the Peninsula. I have several very frustrated buyers here in the City because they can't find what they're looking for. So... Sellers... IF you believe the above report, now is the time to sell.

Video walk thru of 161 San Pablo Ave

St. Francis Wood REO 161 San Pablo. Video Walk thru


St. Francis Wood Banked Owned REO

St. Francis Wood, known for it's mansions, large lush green lots and exclusive family neighborhood, now has a Banked owned REO.

161 San Pablo Ave, taken back by Washington Mutual just 2 weeks ago, just got listed on the San Francisco MLS.

161 San Pablo Ave is a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath 3,740 SqFt home on 4,316 SqFt lot. The home was built in 1956 so it doesn't have the character or charm of the vast majority of homes which were built in the 1920's (with a smattering of teen's and 30's). But this boxy-ish home is large, remodeled and has "panoramic ocean views".

*Currently asking $1,485,000 - just shy of $400 per SqFt which is off the charts low
*Taken back by the bank for $1,748,904
*Listed at the exact wrong time - Sept 2008 just as the financial crisis was becoming national news - at an outrageous $2,650,000 price.
*Re-listed 3 other times with 2 other agents going through price drops of approx. $100,000 along the way until it's last date and price just 3 weeks ago for $2,174,999.

*Sold in early 2006 for $1,825,000 after 7 months on the market starting in June 2005 at $2,390,000.

So it's been a long ride down to $1,485,000. However, as shocking as it seems for St. Francis Wood to have an REO, this home appears to be 15% to possibly 25% under priced. I'll go see it to confirm my opinion asap, but I'd be shocked if this home doesn't fetch at least $1.7M, and $1.9M seems more like it. The only caveats is that it's an average to undersized lot for the neighborhood - many are 1,000 SqFt larger with a number of double sized lots, and that the 1956 era look (and often quality) isn't what buyers in this hood are looking for. But check back in for a video walk through.


333 Main - Infinity 3BR rental

3 bedroom Craigslist rental at 333 Main St, San Francisco - Infinity "tree top".

Asking price on Craigslist is $5,400. I like to beat up the Infinity for over-priced hype - the "new car" theory of having it depreciate the moment you get the keys. But if the numbers are to be believed here... per tax records the four 3BR condos on the 8th floor all sold for roughly $1.1 million.

Per the NYTimes Rent vs Buy calculator it's a smarter decision to buy this unit for $1.1 million than it is to rent it for $5,000 after just 4 years. I recommend at least a 5 year hold plan to all my clients.

Even if you can get the rent down to $4,000 it's smarter to buy within 16 years. What I like most about this investment is that 3 bedrooms are probably the easiest to rent as they are the rarest of units in the majority of the City.

Of course you can play with the rent vs. buy assumptions to draw your own conclusions. At a 5% 30 year fixed it's 4 years, at 6% it's 8 years before it's smarter to buy, at 7% it's 16 years.


Ritz Carlton rental - same stack as Short Sale

San Francisco's Ritz Carlton at 690 Market - one rental, one Short Sale.

Yesterday I wrote about the new Short Sale listing at one of San Francisco's most prestigious addresses - 690 Market #2201 asking $1,588,000.

Today I got an email from a colleague advertising #2301 asking $6,900 in rent.

According to the NYTimes Buy vs. Rent tool the unit would need to sell for $1.1 million for Buying to be better than renting within 15 years with a 5% interest rate. Those $2,425 HOA dues are probably the reason.


Golden Gate Bridge View Roof deck at 51 Pixley

Panoramic views from 51 Pixley's roof deck.

This Single Family home in San Francisco's much sought after Cow Hollow neighborhood is asking $1,495,000 after a very brief time on the market last may at $1,695,000. I should have done a full video walk through because there are no photos in the listing. But overall I felt the home flowed reasonably well - but not being remodeled $701.88 per SqFt might be a bit high.

Short Sale at Ritz Carlton San Francisco

690 Market St #2201, San Francisco - The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco with a $1,588,000 Short Sale.

Per tax records it sold for $2,173,000 in December 2007. For over a year now they've been trying to sell it at lower and lower prices... $2.295M when they started, and $1.899M for about a month before it was taken off the MLS. But don't get too caught up in the price... if you can't afford the $2,425 monthly HOA fee don't bother :)

Say "hi" to your neighbors from bed

1635 California St, Unit #71, San Francisco - check out how the bedroom is on the common balcony with the elevator right there too.

An otherwise nice 2BR 2BA Condo "only" $699,000 because of it's "uniqueness"... and now in contract.


Boiling over at 3368 Jackson "Manse Elegante"

For a great write up on 3368 Jackson St, San Francisco check out this SocketSite.com piece.

But I got a completely different impression of this $4.495M home than many of the commenters. I got a kick out of touring this house. Normally I get a little creeped out by seeing a lifetime of "granny's" things where you feel like you're stepping all over some recently deceased person's life and they're watching you. Not here. I was giggling the entire tour and walked out with a huge smile on my face. This was part museum, part fun house tour (emphasis on fun).

With 35 photos on the MLS listing I didn't need to take much - but I really got a kick out of the boiler and what appears to be a water tank.