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 Naturally I assumed it meant it had expired or been withdrawn unsold.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.