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.

What does $400,000 buy you in Cow Hollow?

2701 Van Ness Apt #503, San Francisco. The apartment was empty, so I figured I'd do a walk thru of this Studio (or Jr 1BR). The price was $419,000 when I walked in, and essentially $399,000 when I walked out.

For all Condos priced between $350,000 and $450,000 throughout San Francisco click here.


Twitter co-founder Selling his Loft?

I suppose there could be more than one Evan Williams in San Francisco, but 601 4th Street #3P certainly looks like the residence of one of Twitter's cofounders. Twitter was founded in 2006 and didn't begin to take off until 2007 but Evan Williams purchased #3P for $1.5 million in October 2006. Unfortunately for him, after almost 5 months asking $1.498M the price has been dropped to $1.398M.

I bet some tweeting has been done from here.

Hey, he probably doesn't need the money.... so why not try to snap it up for less?

Trouble at San Francisco's Brannan?

219, 229 and 239 Brannan, the three towers known as The Brannan sports some interesting stats of late:

1 bedroom condos at The Brannan appear to be in trouble. Only 1 has sold in the past 6 months, and 1 in the 6 months prior to that. Yet there are 5 For-Sale right now or a 2 1/2 year supply. Part of the problem is that 3 of the 5 are "distress" sales. Both 219 Brannan #1C and 229 Brannan St #3H are REO's (Banked Owned) and 229 Brannan St #7G is listed as a Short Sale and has an recent Notice of Default filed against it - a NOD is a precursor to foreclosure.

2 bedroom condos at The Brannan are doing much better. 10 have sold in the past 12 months (4 in the past 6 months) with 1 in contract now and 5 For-Sale. So essentially a 6 month supply. The one in contract is Banked Owned, and interestingly one of the 2BR's For-Sale is owned by one of the most prolific Listing Agent's in the building. Does that mean something? There's no such thing as "insider trading" in Real Estate... but does he see a future for the building that he doesn't like???

Foreclosures Alternatives Consultant

Short Sales in San Francisco, a Foreclosure Alternative.

I don't give too much credit to designations, but by earning the "Foreclosure Alternatives Consultant" badge below I'm just letting people know of one area I'm focused on. I can't help much with loan modifications, or deed in lieu of foreclosure, or other foreclosure alternatives, but I can help you with a San Francisco Short Sale (selling your home with your lender(s) agreement to take a loss because the sales proceeds won't pay for the loan and all transaction costs.

For more info check out my site's San Francisco Short Sale FAQ and San Francisco Short Sales Advantages pages.


Mandatory earthquake retrofit's in San Francisco?

If Mayor Newsom has his way 2800 "soft story" buildings in San Francisco would be required to do earthquake retrofits. Per this article a pre-1979 wooden structure with a home over a garage or store would be required to retrofit. The way I read this is that Single Family homes and 2-unit buildings with garages would be required to retrofit.

This appears to just be a germ of an idea, not a policy yet, but unless I'm reading this wrong, that effects the vast majority of residential properties in San Francisco. Only homes without garages, and obviously those already retrofitted, would not be effected.

311 Marina Blvd - video walk thru

Not my best video effort.... but pause or go slowly to see various rooms within 311 Marina Blvd. The biggest key here - NO YARD. Notice on the ground floor where the car is parked outside - that's where a yard would normally be found

When I was there, there seemed to be buyers chomping at the bit. But personally I'd be wary of taking this project on without having a yard.

Dear Tishman/Infinity - PLEASE take my name off your list

Oh wait, I didn't sell one unit at The Infinity, so my name isn't on this list. Phew!

San Francisco's Infinity - two high rise condo towers and a "tree top" building - are now reporting over 600 sold condos at 301 Main St (365 units), 333 Main St (66 units), 338 Spear St (285 units), a total of 716 units.... so at least 84% sold out.

Unfortunately 715 of the 716 appear to be under water already. The one that isn't under water is 301 Main St #9E because it's been re-sold as a Short Sale.... from $867,000 to $607,000 or a 30% drop in 18 months.

So WHY on earth did anyone buy at the Infinity when they saw this exact thing happen at the Beacon, The Palms, The Watermark and on and on?

Apparently when I wrote 1 year ago about my "new car theory", this past year everyone thought that some how the Infinity would be different. Unfortunately, as soon as you drive ANY new car off the lot it depreciates in value. Tomorrow, the Infinity will be a used car. So why not wait and buy a re-sale?

Speaking of resales, here is 1 in each of the 3 Infinity buildings:

301 Main St #19A - resale at $835k in Oct '09 - meanwhile per the SFGov property tax site the tax basis is $897,531 which is what I think it must have sold for 9 months earlier in Jan '09. That's a 7% drop AFTER the market had already crashed in late 2008.

333 Main #7B - resale in Nov '09 at $760,000 - original sale based on tax records appears to be $819,000 back in March '08. If that's the case I think the seller got lucky, and the buyer bought too "new" of a car, er, condo.

338 Spear St #5D - resale Dec '09 at $815,000 - original sale April '09 was $795,000. Good news right? Up $20,000... but the original buyer probably spent close to $50,000 to sell it, and not including their original closing costs realized a $30,000 loss, NOT a $20k gain. Plus add 8 months of $754 HOA dues and property taxes and my guess is that it probably cost the original buyer close to $10,000 per month to live in their "new car" condo.

Meanwhile, 301 Main #9E and it's 30% drop Short Sale in Dec '09 is more like it. A 30% drop is about what I expect for all Infinity units, including the above re-sales, if they try to re-sell again anytime in the next couple of years. Too bad they didn't buy then... when I hope to have my name WAY UP that list.

If you need to Short Sell your condo - please use the Short Sale Request Form for a free evaluation of your situation and likely success of Short Selling.


3731 Fillmore #4 now for-rent

3731 Fillmore, a 6-unit TIC building with the final unit recently closing. I just noticed today 2 weeks after Closing that it is listed for rent on Craigslist:

Purchased for $469,000. Now asking rent of $2,695.

I could have gone to today's Open House, but hey, I video taped the lobby and #2 immediately below it and #5 as well plus the building's roof deck.


311 Marina Blvd - $1.8 million Short Sale

Short Sales in San Francisco are moving up in price. 311 Marina Blvd with what appears to be over $3 million in loans (not $3.5 as I was guessing in the below video), hit the San Francisco MLS as a Short Sale asking $1.8 million. Video walk through to come.
This just a peak at the location and exterior. Pardon the verbal mistakes

3731 Fillmore - all 6 TIC's 100% sold

Almost a year ago 3731 Fillmore St, San Francisco, tried to sell some of it's 6 TIC units via auction. That debacle is chronicled here in some fun videos.

The highest bid price for unit #2 (first floor facing the back of the building) was for $410,000. The auctioneers refused to sell it for that price because it didn't meet the reserve bid. Then a few months later #2 closed escrow with a "private sale asterisk" and we may never know what it ultimately sold for. HOWEVER, unit #4, the unit directly above it, just closed escrow a couple of weeks ago for $469,000.

Watch as the market speaks with these transactions:
#1 went into contract on Sept 19, 2009 just as people started hearing about the banking crisis. It sold for a LOFTY $710,000
#5 - the most desirable (IMHO) top floor east facing unit sold in March 2009 for $635,000
#2 - June 2009 sale - undisclosed price, but last asking was $499,000 and you can bet it was below that.
#3 and #6 close on the same day in July 2009 for $530k and $560k respectively.

A badly run action produces $410,000, but arguably for the least desirable unit in the worst possible market. It's "sister" unit (because it faces the same way, with the exact same floor plan) sells for $469,000 nearly a year later. Frankly, that looks to me like the market is flat year over year, but clearly down in a big way since before Sept '09 before the financial crisis became national news.