Going Up? San Francisco Inventory Is!

It’s Tuesday, which means that as soon as I finish writing this post, I’ll be out the door and touring homes for the rest of the day. From the north end to the south side I’ll be hoofing it all over the city in the hybrid, all so you don’t have to see the ugly ones on Sunday!

I’ve been using TheoTour as a beta-tester for the past several months, and one of my favorite features is the at-a-glance snapshot of market inventory. As you can see, while we are far from the October 2011 fall peak of 300 new listings, new listings have taken a substantial tick upward from the beginning of the year. Our first real estate buying/selling season begins in earnest in February (tomorrow!), running through June (roughly). Then things will momentarily pause for the fog in July and August, and pick up again in September and October before they quiet down for the holidays in November and December.

Today the are 136 new listings on tour today, up from less than 50 at the beginning of January.

Broker's Tour Stats for January 31, 2012

With interest rates at historic lows and improved consumer confidence, my prediction for San Francisco real estate in 2012 is that it will be a very good year, with an increase in volume and a slight increase in prices.

We are also beginning to come to the end of our new construction inventory, with only one new condo building opening this year (The Madrone). Given the uptick in buyer interest, I’m willing to predict that buildings like One Hawthorne, The Millennium, Blu, and One Rincon will sell out their remaining inventory in 2012.

Am I crazy? Ridiculously optimistic? Professionally informed? Talk amongst yourselves in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the San Francisco real estate market in 2012!

2011 Most Expensive homes in SF

What were the most expensive homes sold in San Francisco during the 2011 calendar year? I always have to wait for the tax records to catch up with December recordings, but now that they have, the results are in. It was a blockbuster year for luxury real estate in 2011!

To refresh your memory, here is our 2010 list of the most expensive homes in San Francisco. As you can see from the list below, Pacific Heights dominated the top 10 sales list, with 6 out of the most expensive homes sold in 2011 located in that neighborhood. Presidio Heights comes in second place with two sales, and Yerba Buena and Russian Hill each have one sale.

Rank       Address                         Sales Price              Source
1 2840 Broadway $ 33,000,000 Tax
2 2950 Broadway $ 29,500,00 Tax/MLS
3 188 Minna St. – PHA $ 28,000,000 Tax
4 2920 Broadway $ 23,473,000 Tax
5 3070 Pacific Ave. $ 20,000,000 Tax
6 3701 Washington $ 12,100,000 Tax/MLS
7 2550 Green St. $ 9,500,000 Tax/MLS
8 3362 Jackson $ 9,250,000 Tax
9 2323 Hyde St. $ 9,000,000 MLS
10 60 Normandie Ter. $ 8,800,000 Tax/MLS


2840 Broadway was an off-market deal, while 188 Minna St. (the only condo to make the list this year, with all of the other sales being single family homes) was the foreclosure sale at The St. Regis that received plenty of press during the year.

It was clearly a good year to be among the 1%, with the 2011 most expensive sale coming in more than twice as high as the top 2010 sale (2600 Pacific Ave). Five of this year’s most expensive real estate deals were valued at $ 20,000,000 or more, while not one of the 2010 sales broke the twenty million dollar mark. Broadway Avenue kept it’s ranking as the most expensive street to live on, with three of this year’s sales located in the Pacific Heights stretch of Broadway, which was the same as last year.

So there you have it – the top 10 most expensive San Francisco home sales in 2011. Talk amongst yourselves about these homes and their respective sales prices. Good investment for the years to come, or outrageous and unjustifiable at any price? Keep your comments friendly but interesting :-)


Mobile Homes of San Francisco

Tell someone you live in a mobile home in San Francisco and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Which you might be, but I digress. While San Francisco real estate might be known for six-figure sale prices in small packages, we aren’t known as the land of trailer parks. Perhaps it’s because we’re prone to earthquakes instead of tornadoes? There are a few homes in San Francisco, though, that are more mobile than their appearance suggests.

200 Woodside Ave., now found in the Forest Hill extension neighborhood but once part of St. Francis Wood, is one such house.

The Forest Hill Extension neighborhood was built out primarily in the 1920s, and most of the homes are finished in stucco and have a rather consistent look and feel to them – vaguely Spanish Med. 200 Woodside, on the other hand, is a cape-cod style home that is finished primarily with wood siding.

200 Woodside Ave. - A San Francisco Mobile Home

Below is a photo of the home in the context of its block, and as you can see 200 Woodside stands out as the home that doesn’t look like all of the others.

View of Forest Hill Extension

It turns out that the home was moved to this particular site back in the 1950′s, when Portola Drive was being widened. Below are several photos of Portola, before it was widened, during the construction, and how it looks today:

Portola before the street was widened

Portola when it was being widened, 1958

Portola Drive, 2012

Freeways were all the rage in the 1950s, and the plan at the time was to pretty much put a freeway everywhere. Portola wouldn’t have been turned into a freeway, but it was widened in the late 1950s to accomodate the additional traffic envisioned as a result of the freeway expansion. As you can see, it was doubled from a two-lane to a four-lane street.

I’m not sure where exactly the home at 200 Woodside Ave. started out, but it was somewhere over in the construction area and instead of being demolished it was moved to it’s current location.

The only other homes that I know of being relocated are a strip of Victorians in the Western Addition neighborhood that were moved back in the 1960s. How about you, what mobile homes in San Francisco do you know about?

San Francisco, 1955

Today’s quick afternoon distraction is a video of San Francisco taken in 1955.

Here are a few of my thoughts after watching it:

- Twin Peaks is naked! It was shocking to see how different Twin Peaks is today compared to the video, since most of Twin Peaks wasn’t built on until the 1960′s and 1970′s.

- Golden Gate Park in 1955 looks pretty much like Golden Gate Park in 2012, with the exception of those museums that have undergone an earthquake-induced transformation.

- Downtown San Francisco, where are your skyscrapers?

What stands out to you in the video?

Congratulations to 2011 Zephyr Top 10 Producers

At this morning’s Zephyr sales meeting, the company top producers were announced.

Top Producer is one of those terms that might seem straight-forward, but upon closer examination is actually a bit ambiguous. While a real estate Top Producer is exactly that – an agent  that does a lot of business (usually by dollar volume) – the definition varies from company to company. Some real estate companies might recognize their top 10%, or their top 25%. Even if two different companies recognized their top 10%, the dollar volume required to be in that bracket might vary wildly. Top Producer status is certainly a honor and an accomplishment, but just remember that the criteria vary from company to company and year to year.

Now that I’ve explained a bit about Top Producer status, I’d like to take a moment and congratulate the top 10 Zephyr agents (in terms of dollar volume) in 2011. This isn’t the entire list of Zephyr Top Producers, just the top 10.

In no particular order, congratulations to the following Zephyr top producer agents:

  • Tim Gullicksen
  • Chris Sprague
  • Tim Hawko
  • Robin Hubinsky
  • Richard Meyerson
  • Don Woolhouse
  • Bill Kitchen
  • Mollie Poe
  • Danielle Lazier
  • Anna Spathis

I’d also like to give a special shout out and congratulations to Zephyr’s company-wide Top Producer, Danielle Lazier.

Britton and I have both been at Zephyr real estate since Day 1 of our career, and we have a great deal of respect for our colleagues, sales managers, administrative team, and everyone else that is on team Zephyr. We couldn’t be the happy and dynamic team that we are if it wasn’t for the awesome staff that surrounds us, and our fellow colleagues that bring their “A-Game” to their business on a daily basis. To every agent out there (top producer or not) that runs an honest, solid, reputable and awesome business, we say thank you and congratulations!


Portola Dr & O’Shaughnessy Blvd. – Then and Now

While doing some research for an upcoming blog post about Portola Dr. I came across this great picture of the strip mall located along Portola between Evelyn and Fowler that was taken in 1938. For comparison, I went out and took a picture from roughly the same vantage point last Friday. As you can see, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Portola Dr. in 1938, source: foundsf.org

The Miraloma Appliance co. is now home to the Portola Cleaners, while the Merit Food Center has made way for Tower Burger (yum!). I can’t quite read the signs on the next two buildings, does anyone know what was once there?  However, the Miraloma Market (far right hand side of the picture) is still the Miraloma Market (although way back in 1938 it didn’t have a taqueria).

Portola Dr. in 2012, source: Matt Fuller, GRI

If the street configuration and parking lot looks a little different to you, then you get bonus stars for your eagle eyes. Portola street was widened in the 1950′s during the lets-build-freeways-everywhere craze, which actually resulted in some of the original homes on Portola Dr. being relocated to other spots in the city.

Anyway, just a fun little then and now picture to satisfy you on this Tuesday. I’m headed out the door for broker’s tour shortly, and will be visiting neighborhoods from the north end to the south side of the city. Not much to view in Miraloma Park today, but inventory across the city is slowly creeping back up.

Have a favorite spot in the city, or an old picture that would make for a great then and now comparison? Get in touch, I’m a big fan of San Francisco history and always love to learn more about the history of the streets and homes in San Francisco.


Common Sense or Anti-Homeless?

The creation of parklets in San Francisco has led to some unintended consequences. They aren’t on park land, so park rules and regulations can’t be enforced. They aren’t a sidewalk, though, so sidewalk laws don’t apply. And even though they might be in the street, their design is such that laws governing what you can and can’t do in a street don’t quite fit either.

Parklet in the Inner Sunset (wouldn't be affected by the Wiener legislation, as written)

City Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced legislation that will spell out what is and isn’t allowed in the two parklets in his district – both near the heart of the Castro.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Highlights of Wiener’s legislation include banning sleeping at any time in the plazas; prohibiting camping, cooking or creating any kind of shelter; banning the selling or bartering of any merchandise without a permit; and prohibiting four-wheeled shopping carts. Also, plaza goers couldn’t smoke.

Violations would be an infraction with a maximum fine for repeat offenders of $500.

To me, this all sounds pretty innocuous and reasonable. It’s one thing to create a parklet with the hope of attracting visitors to liven up the streetscape during the day, it’s something else entirely to assume that means they can stay the night and set up a camp. Occupy parklet just doesn’t have the same ring as Occupy Wall Street.

People who make a living out of ‘advocating’ for the homeless are, expectedly, outraged and feel this is just one more horrible and mean-spirited piece of legislation.

My experience is that San Francisco bends over backwards to try and work with the homeless population and find solutions to a problem that has no easy solution, particularly given the larger framework of cuts at the state and national level for mental health care.

If we are truly compassionate, we should be focused on finding the dollars for mental health care, and not spewing outrage over common sense public courtesies. But those are just my two cents – what about yours?



Glen Park Slime

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Glen Park has some slime. As you can see from the above photos, some individual or group of individuals thought it would be cool/funny/hilarious/a good use of taxpayer funds to destroy the new plants that are a part of the O’Shaughnessy/Bosworth traffic calming project. For those of you not familiar with the area, it’s a twisty road at the bottom of the canyon, and it was great to see the city take some steps to slow traffic down and make it look a little bit more beautiful.

While the vandals weren’t able to destroy the traffic calming street bulbs and center median planter, they managed to do a number on some of the succulent plants that had recently been planted by the city.


O’Shaughnessy / Bosworth Traffic Calming Project
This project was made possible in part by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority through a grant of Proposition K Local Sales Tax Funds.

Project Information
The O’Shaughnessy / Bosworth Traffic Calming Project began in August 2005. Read the O’Shaughnessy/Bosworth Meeting Notes – 8/30/05 meeting (PDF),O’Shaughnessy/Bosworth Final Traffic Calming Plan (PDF), and the Funding-Phasing Plan (PDF)

Project Update
A pedestrian refuge island was constructed at the intersection of O’Shaughnessy and Malta to assist pedestrians crossing the street at that intersection.  That island has recently been removed as part of a paving project for the O’Shaughnessy corridor but it will be reconstructed as part of the paving project.

A new crosswalk and pedestrian island will be constructed on O’Shaughnessy at the intersection with Del Vale.  The guardrail on the uphill side of the street will be opened up to allow pedestrians to cross at this location without the need to step over the guardrail.

Between Bosworth and Malta, a portion of the striped median will be opened up to allow for landscaping.  Adjacent curb extensions will be constructed to narrow the lanes just uphill of where the housing begins on O’Shaughnessy.  The intent is to create a gateway to let drivers know that there is a change from a mountain road to a residential area near a park.  This work will take place as part of the paving project.

Source: San Francisco MTA website

Update / February 12, 2012:

The vandalized plants have been replaced. Let’s hope they aren’t trashed again!

The plants have been replaced!

The Secret Community Garden in Diamond Heights

(click to enlarge any image)

It’s not exactly a secret in the sense that you aren’t supposed to know about it, but it is secret in the sense that you probably don’t know it exists… What am I talking about?

I’m talking about a lush little plot of land, tucked away next to a Policy Academy, across the street from a large condominium complex, and at the entrance to a “sub-division” of single family homes known for their mid-century architecture and views of Glen Park Canyon

The Little Red Hen Community Garden in the Diamond Heights neighborhood opened on Mother’s Day of 2011. Later in the year they got their snazzy new sign, and in December of last year the Police Department threw a little party to help them celebrate.

Located on San Francisco police academy land, the community garden is immediately to the east of Amber Drive, just to the south of Duncan (to keep things confusing, Amber and Duncan intersect each other twice. The garden is located at the southern-most intersection of the two streets – closer to the Safeway shopping center than to Portola.

Diamond Heights has a deserved reputation for fog and blustery weather, so I was happily surprised to stumble across the Little Red Hen after previewing a classic mid-century home for sale in the Diamond Heights neighborhood. The Glen Park Association has a great write up about the project, and I’d also encourage you to visit the garden’s website to learn more about opportunities to garden in Diamond Heights.

According to the Glen Park Association website, the garden has been incredibly popular and there is currently a waiting list for garden plots. The site used to be overgrown and under-utilized, so it is really exciting to see what the efforts of some committed neighbors and neighborhood enthusiasts can make happen!


31 Years Later…

Update, October 1, 2012: Please visit 2299 Market St. – Icon SF condos for a construction update.

It’s been a big hole in the ground for a very, very, very long time. 2299 Market St. was once home to the Trinity Methodist Church, but it was destroyed by fire in 1981. More than 30 years later, the replacement building is finally arriving. Construction has begun on the development that will include 18 residential homes (all market rate, BMRs to be built off site) over roughly 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail. According to the planning department’s July 2010 discretionary review analysis, the mix of home sizes will consist of eight (8) one-bedroom homes, nine (9) two-bedroom homes, and one (1) three-bedroom home.

2299 Market St. – January 2012

2299 Market: Someday Soon?

At one point, the renderings done by the project architect, ib+a architecture, had an Apple logo on the ground floor retail space, setting the intertubes abuzz with gossip of a possible Apple Store at the location. The fruity giant to the south never confirmed nor denied such speculation, but more recent renderings have removed all such hints… The folks at ib+a have done plenty of other projects in San Francisco, with 555 4th St. (The Palms) being one of the larger projects that comes to mind, but their 1600 Webster project is much closer in size to this development.

As you can see from the above photos, a large hole in the ground (once the seasonal home of Delancey’s Christmas Tree sales) will be replaced with a five story building, with basement parking for 18 spots (achieved in part with a mechanical auto stacker, according to the architect’s website). The garage entrance will be on 16th street, next to Starbelly.

No word on when these will be completed, but if you feel like it you can track the progress of the building permits for 2299 Market St. online (the project has been in planning for years, the permits were finally issued in September of 2011).

The project developer is Angus McCarthy, who has to be happy that after years of negotiations with neighbors and neighborhood groups the shovels have finally hit the dirt at 2299 Market St.