Eyesore-free City?

Today’s SF Examiner describes a pilot program to clean up the city: “One hundred of The City’s dirtiest blocks will be cleaned up under a $1.8 million pilot program created to keep streets free of graffiti, broken curbs and general eyesores.”

The program started on Irving Street and is now moving on to the Haight, the Fillmore and Western Addition.

My neighbors just got back from two weeks in Spain, and they said they were amazed by Barcelona — because it’s spotless. A city of a few million people is sparkling clean, and SF is quite dirty. If this program works, it’ll make a positive change to our environment. Too bad the root of the problem isn’t being addressed, though: people who think it’s OK to vandalize with graffiti and leave their garbage on the streets.

National Association of Realtors slices & dices local statistics

The Research Division of the NAR has produced a detailed analysis of the San Francisco & Bay Area market landscape. The short story seems to be that higher interest rates have been a drag on the market, new construction is down (propping prices up because of low supply), job creation is up after the tech bust, new jobs = new buyers, and if interest rates keep going up, bad things will happen.

It’s interesting to note that this study points out that mortgage delinquency for the first quarter of the year was well below the national average. My last post linked to an article that says foreclosure activity in spiking in the Bay Area. An important distinction: delinquency happens when an owner misses a payment, but foreclosures happen when an owner is about five months behind on his or her payments.

All kinds of city news today

First, the Chronicle informs us that the Bay Area rental market is red hot, with low inventory and lots of would-be buyers sitting on their piles of cash waiting to see what happens with the purchase market.

Next, there’s also news that foreclosure rates “spike” in the Bay Area, although a few paragraphs down, the Chronicle story says that yes, foreclosures are up, but the level is still far below the record-setting days of 1996.

With the earthquake in Hawaii and the 17th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake fresh on some people’s minds, the City has announced a new earthquake preparedness plan, the first update to the plan in 10 years.

And don’t forget, the election is only 20 days away. Have I mentioned before that it’s important to register and vote???

Raising the bar for marketing — or is it just plain weird?

In today’s Chronicle, there’s an article about how real estate agents are getting creative trying to attract attention to properties that aren’t selling quickly. Most of the methods mentioned — a free Maserati for whoever buys the listed property, a “no-haggle weekend” during which the property is listed for the absolute lowest price the seller will accept, television commercials — are creative and might grab someone’s attention.

But one tactic really made me roll my eyes: hiring actors to portray a family living in the house. According to the article, “In a new twist on staging, Centex Homes is hiring actors to portray model families living in its housing developments in Southern California. On certain weekends, the actors hang out in a model home, baking cakes, playing Scrabble and interacting with potential buyers. The action is part scripted, part improvisational.”

I can understand when a potential buyer might have trouble visualizing how to use the space in a vacant house — hence the need for staging. But c’mon, people. Do you need to see an out-of-work actor bake a cake to figure out how the oven works?

Would this Faux Family tactic make you more likely to buy a house?