Happy Halloween Homes 2011

Happy Halloween! Today’s a special day for me for one other big reason… but I’ll leave you guessing about what that might be.

To celebrate Halloween, here is a slideshow gallery of some of the more decorated homes in the Pacific Heights and Cole Valley neighborhoods in San Francisco.

By far my favorite of the halloween houses I saw today was this home at 2622 Jackson St. in Pacific Heights. Not only do they win for an excellent of use skulls, but the decor seems eerily appropriate for the facade. Be afraid, be very afraid!


I’m not sure if this will still be around this evening when the trick or treaters descend upon the streets in search of sugar in its purest most concentrated forms, but this home at the corner of Vallejo and Baker takes halloween decoration to an excellent extreme with a small inflatable jumpy house. Because really, where better to stick a child then in a jumpy house after they’ve mainlined several pounds of Halloween sugar?


And while the naked robot of Broadway doesn’t get a pair of underwear for Halloween, it appears he does at least get a hat and broom to help keep him warm and happy on these cool fall nights.

Below is a gallery with a few more homes that deserve an honorable mention for their Halloween spirit, most from Pacific Heights but one from Cole Valley. For those of you who will be out this Halloween evening, be careful out there on the streets of San Francisco. I’ll personally be over on Belvedere street with my family, doing what we can to keep confectioners and dentists in business for the coming year. Happy Halloween everyone, have a wonderful evening!

(click on any image for a larger version)

Inner Sunset…pedestrian plaza?

Matt and I both live in the Inner Sunset, where we have more fog than our buddies in the sunny eastern part of the city, killer sunset views when the weather is good, proximity to Golden Gate Park, and a thriving commercial corridor centered around 9th Ave. and Irving Street.

We’ve also got lots of community-minded neighbors, one of whom (Chris Duderstadt) has envisioned the transformation of Irving between 9th and 10th into a pedestrian plaza. Chris’ idea looks like this:

Chris Duderstadt's rendering of a public plaza on display at Irving Street and 10th Avenue. Photo: Aaron Bialick, as posted on SF.Streetsblog.org

That’s right: no cars, no parking (there are no driveways on this block, so no residents would lose garage access). Just trees, pedestrians, benches, a place to gather with neighbors, relax, and enjoy the day.

Chris’ rendering was posted at the recent Inner Sunset Street Fair, where fair-goers were invited to leave their comments on a giant sheet of white paper posted next to the poster.

Photo: Aaron Bialick, as posted on SF.Streetsblog.org

A quick scan of this photo shows a whole lot of yes votes, some gripes about unrelated things happening in Golden Gate Park , some maybes, some suggestions for how to make the idea even better, and some no votes — with the “yesses” appearing to outweigh the others by a large margin.

I happen to love the idea. I love my neighborhood and don’t think the world will come to a fiery end if one block — just one block — were to be closed to traffic. There are a handful of restaurants on this block; could they have a little bit of outdoor seating (cue the snarky comments about the weather being too crappy in the Inner Sunset for people to eat outside…)? Could there be trees and native plantings? Could it be a one-block slice of community outdoor space in a dense urban area?

Could it be???

Superstitious? Spooked easily?

Consider this my morbid week-before-Halloween blog post.

A couple of years ago I read a disclosure package in which the sellers dutifully stated that their house is haunted. They weren’t sure who the ghost was, but if I recall correctly they thought it might have been the former owner who had died in the house about 15 years earlier. I kind of scoffed at the disclosure, but then again, who am I to say that ghosts either do or don’t exist?

I may not know if ghosts exist or not, but I do know how to advise my clients about disclosures when they’re selling their home. And while there’s no disclosure law about ghosts in California, there are rules about disclosing deaths on the property. What rules, you ask? There’s a question on the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement that asks if there has been a death on the property in the last three years, and sellers must answer truthfully. And if a potential buyer asks about deaths on the property more than three years ago, the seller must answer that truthfully as well.

But say it’s the house where Charles Manson went helter-skelter or where Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered. Many years have passed since those heinous crimes, so one might think that because it’s been more than 3 years, that a seller wouldn’t have to disclose the deaths. But that would be wrong. If the property is “stigmatized” because of the murder, the buyer needs to know that regardless of how much time has passed. Think about it: you buy a house, move in, meet your neighbors and have them ask you if it was hard to decide to buy the house where the school teacher was chopped into bits. Sellers, do the right thing, and if it’s a death of natural causes, go by the 3-year rule for disclosures. But if the house is a stop on a tour of macabre locations of murders and mayhem, disclose it no matter how much time has passed.

What about you? Would you live in a home where someone had been murdered?

Want to go green(er)? Have your people take care of it.

Having grown up in a house where recycling required soaking glass jars to remove the labels, bagging them up and taking them to the recycling place (all of which my family did a couple of times a month), I can safely say that “being green” for me is much more than a trendy, guilt-reducing state of mind. And living in San Francisco, I’ve gotten used to disposing of three types of waste: garbage (excuse me, that would be “landfill”), recycling, and compost.

But say you want to go green and you’re not quite sure where to start. According to a recent article in the New York Times, there are now eco-concierges who can guide you through the process of switching to eco-friendly cleaning products, finding hair salons that use natural dyes, or buying clothes that are made from organic fibers that are grown without pesticides.

Um, OK. More power to those who want to make the switch and be mindful that there are choices about what types of chemicals we bring into our homes, wear on our bodies, and eat in our food. But I must admit, I’m having a hard time figuring out why this requires paying someone $75 an hour. To be fair, this might be a bigger mind-shift than I realize and it really might require help.

But can’t you just go to the store and buy the cleaning stuff that isn’t full of petroleum? Can’t you Google hair salons that use natural dyes? Can’t you reach for the toilet paper that doesn’t require chopping down rare, old-growth trees? I realize in some parts of the country these options don’t even exist (yet), but in New York (the focus on the NYT article) and San Francisco, options abound.

And in other parts of the country, demand for products/hair dyes/nail polishes/dog treats that have less negative impact on the environment will open up new markets for greener items.

The post in which I mock Zillow for missing Belvedere St.

Oh Zillow. Sometimes you make it so easy. This week Zillow ranked SF the #2 city in the nation for trick or treating. Which is ridiculous since every San Francisco resident knows we are #1 when it comes to Halloween. Having lived all across America I can tell you that no town takes its Halloween as seriously as San Francisco.

They then went on to highlight the five best neighborhoods for trick or treating in SF, using a special algorithm they created just to show off how awesome they are at making algorithms. Or something.

Halloween on Belvedere St in Cole Valley neighborhood.

The top five neighborhoods, according to the other Z, are Noe Valley, The Marina, The Inner Richmond, the Haight-Ashbury and Pacific Heights.

Their list didn’t even mention what every true San Franciscan knows to be the #1-best-in-the-universe trick or treating spot: Belvedere St. in Cole Valley.

As the photo of Belvedere St. (above) shows, you simply can’t beat Belvedere St. for a safe, family-oriented, high-density, candy-rich location to trick or treat in the city of San Francisco. The block is closed off to vehicles and becomes a neighborhood celebration, with residents transforming their garages into frightful displays of ghoulish ingenuity. The trick or treating starts in the late afternoon for the younger set, and carries on in to the evening for those with a slightly later bedtime.

It would be a cheap shot for me to suggest that if Zillow can’t get the candy algorithm right in San Francisco, should you trust them with a house value calculation? But it’s almost Halloween and I’d never be the guy to say something like that. Even if it’s true.

But seriously, it’s okay with me if everyone else heads to the neighborhoods mentioned by the other Z. That just leaves more candy and fun for me and mine on Belvedere St.


Grey Gardens, San Francisco Style

For those of you that don’t know the story behind Grey Gardens, it was a home in a wealthy East Hamptons neighborhood. Once a glamorous and life-filled home, it descended into horrid condition, and caused a bit of a scandal when it was revealed that the residents were related to Jackie O.

Grey Gardens of San Francisco

The East Hampton’s home was eventually sold to Bill Bradley of the Washington Post, who renovated it extensively (the sale agreement forbid its demolition). While I have no idea if the home in the above picture is filled with two old ladies, dozens of cats, and/or decades worth of garbage, from the outside it certainly does seem to qualify as a dilapidated home in serious need of money and love.

This home happens to be in the Inner Sunset neighborhood, but I run across homes like this throughout the city on a pretty regular basis when touring or showing property to clients.

I’m thinking of making this a regular website feature, so I’d love your input about homes in your neighborhood (or homes anywhere in San Francisco) that qualify as “Grey Garden” homes.

While I don’t have the resources to film a documentary about each possible property or to hire Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange to re-enact the crazy squalor, I can at least get a few photos and write about it here on jacksonfuller.

And while I know there is entertainment value in seeing seriously dilapidated homes, if you happen to know of a senior citizen in need or counseling or other care, there are a variety of options available to San Francisco residents and I’m happy to do my best to connect a needy senior homeowner with resources that will enhance their quality of life or otherwise improve their living situation.

Loma Prieta Anniversary

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake (click on this for some photographic reminders of the disaster), so I was going to sit down and write a post about having an earthquake kit in place, but I did that recently and I don’t want to get repetitious.

Instead, I will tell you about a program to keep San Franciscans in their everyday lives — not just when there’s a natural disaster. Representatives from San Francisco SAFE (Safety Awareness for Everyone) spoke at my neighborhood group’s meeting last week, and I came away from the presentation with a healthy respect for the work they do. Their mission:

San Francisco SAFE, Inc. (Safety Awareness for Everyone) is a non-profit organization that guides residents, business owners, and community members to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. SAFE provides education and support regarding public safety and assists community members in identifying and resolving issues of crime and violence. SAFE partners with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to provide crime prevention education and organizing support for communities and Neighborhood Watch groups. We engage and empower community members to take an active role in problem-solving and working together to create safe, vibrant neighborhoods. We believe that everyone in San Francisco has the right to be safe.

One of their most important recommendations is to form Neighborhood Watch groups. We have a tendency in a big city like San Francisco to live in our own worlds, not interacting much with our neighbors. But when everyone on a block meets, gets to know each other, and commits to keeping an eye on the vicinity, it’s likely that crime will drop — and you might make some new friends in the process. Interested in forming a neighborhood watch group in your area? Check out the brochure that SAFE produced to explain the get-going process. Or you might already be in a neighborhood watch area and not even know it — check the map.

Now that that’s out of the way, go make sure your earthquake kit is stocked, and at 5:04 PM this evening, remember Loma Prieta.

A seller asks: What happens if my house sells before I have found a new home to buy?

Does anyone actually like moving? No, not living in a new place — most people love that — but actually moving. I can’t think of a single person who has professed a love of sorting through years of accumulated stuff, throwing some of it out, recycling what can be reused, packing up the rest, moving it out of one home and into another, then unpacking your whole life in that new home.

So when property owners need to sell their current home in order to qualify for the purchase of their next home, what are their options? As with most situations in real estate, it depends on a few factors.

In San Francisco, even in today’s more balanced market, it’s not likely that an owner who makes an offer on his next property will get a contingency for the sale of his current property. There are exceptions to this: if the property has been on the market for a long time and the sellers are more willing to look at a contingent offer, it’s worth trying. But because it’s not common for sellers to accept sale contingencies, we can’t count on this working out.

A better option is for a seller to ask his or her buyers for a rent-back. This allows the seller to stay in the home for, say, 30 days after the close of escrow, during which time he pays the new owners at their monthly rate for PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance — and HOA dues if it’s a condo). This works well if the seller has identified a new property to buy and can get the purchase closed and move during the 30-day rent back period. (By the way, if you are either a buyer or a seller and are considering a rent-back, talk to your insurance agent to make sure you are covered correctly.)

Going back to the premise that everyone hates moving, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes it’s necessary to move into a short-term rental situation after closing on a sale and prior to closing on a new home. This can be a hassle (who wants to move, much less move twice in a few months’ time?) but it can also give people time to breathe, find the right home, and not suffer the stress of fighting the clock at the end of a 30-day rent back.

A few suggestions to make your short-term rental a little easier:

1. Put stuff that you don’t use often in storage. There’s no point in unpacking and repacking the things you don’t use regularly.

2. Consider a furnished rental. Depending on timing, it could be cheaper to put your entire house in storage than to move all your furniture twice.

3. If it’s time to ditch the futon you got in your senior year of college and the bookshelves that you got from Uncle Joe, maybe this double-move is an opportunity to lighten your load and sell what you don’t want to take to your new place. Or donate it.

As Tim Gunn would say, make it work!

October 30: Pet Pride Day 2011

In a town with more dogs than children, it seems fitting that SF Animal Care & Control is hosting a Pet Pride Day 2011 on October 30. What happens at Pet Pride Day, you ask? Here’s the line up:

11:00 -12:00 pm Registration and Pet Costume prejudging

12:00 – 12:25 pm San Francisco Mounted Police Unit – Parade of Pets

12:25 -12:35 pm Proclamation and Awards

12:35 – 12:55 pm Falcon Air Bird Abatement Team Working Animal Demo

1:00 – 1:10 pm – SF Bee-Cause

1:15 – 1:25 pm – DiscDoGG Demo Team

1:25 – 1:50 pm – Super Dooper Pooper Scooper Kiddie Goodie Scramble by SFPUC

1:50 – 2:05 pm – Pet Trick Contest

2:05 – 2:20 pm – ACC Dating Game

2:20 – 2:40 pm - Pet Food Express Pet Costume Contest

2:45 – 3:00 pm – DiscDoGG Demo Team & Visit the Vendors

I have to say, I wish there was a link explaining what the Super Dooper Pooper Scooper Kiddie Goodie Scramble is. Do they send kids around picking up dog poo? Do the kiddies pick up goodies (the non-poo kind) with pooper scoopers? I’m a little too perplexed to keep thinking about it, but I’m going to guess that this activity doesn’t involve actual dog poo.

And what’s the ACC Dating Game? Is it like Match.com for puppies? Or is it matchmaking based on compatibility of people’s dogs?

There will also be numerous animal rescue groups, shelters, and animal-related non-profits at the event. A few examples:

Give a Dog a Bone: This nonprofit, headquartered at SFACC, serves the special needs of animals who are the subject of ongoing investigations (abuse, neglect, bites, dogfighting, divorce or estate settlements, probate, etc.) and consequently must be housed at SFACC, often for extended periods of time. GADAB’s director and volunteers are specially trained to socialize these often traumatized and isolated dogs. (Does this make you want to cry? Yeah, me too.)

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue Muttville is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to improving the lives of senior dogs. On a local level, Muttville rescues senior dogs and finds them foster homes or gives them hospice. On a global level, Muttville provides information about caring for older dogs and support for people who do. (OK, still crying.)

Northern California Family Dog Rescue: Family Dog Rescue is a group of volunteers dedicated to rescuing “family dogs” from California’s shelters. Every day Family Dog Rescue receives emails from shelters and their volunteers with lists of dogs that will be put to sleep because of slight behavioral problems, medical issues, or sadly the most common reason: because the shelter is running out of space. Family Dog Rescue prepares its dogs for success in their new homes and believes that once a dog is a Family Dog it is always a Family Dog!

The list of groups doing amazing work is long and varied (from chinchillas to birds to dogs to cats to rats). Come on out to Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, Sunday, October 30, 11:00 am-3:00 pm.

749 Baker St.

749 Baker St. is a gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that we just listed for sale in the NOPA (north panhandle) neighborhood. 749 Baker St. is located in a 3-unit Victorian building with a classic facade that features a bay window with curved glass. It’s a feature that you don’t see anymore in construction, and just one of the many things about the condo that makes it so special and unique.

The layout is very smart, with public rooms at the front and back and the two bedrooms sharing a light-well in the middle for privacy and quiet.  Both bedrooms are nicely sized and have generously sized closets (particularly for a Victorian home). The master bedroom has an en-suite full bathroom, with a shower over the tub. There is a second full bathroom off the hallway for guests and visitors, and it has a shower stall.

The living room is at the front of the home, while the open dining room and kitchen are at the back of the condo. The wall separating the kitchen from the dining room has been minimized, opening the space up very nicely and making a wonderful layout for entertaining guests. Directly behind the kitchen is a laundry room , as well as direct access to a private deck and the shared yard with mature landscaping and drip irrigation.

Parking is in a leased garage directly across the street from 749 Baker, so it is incredibly close and convenient. 749 Baker is easy to show by appointment, and will also be available for viewing during open houses and Tuesday broker’s tours.

If you’d like more information about this beautiful NOPA condo, or any other property for sale in the NOPA neighborhood, please use the contact for below to get in touch with us. We’ll return you message as quickly as we are able to.