Bernal Heights, Call the Fire Department

Bernal Heights, call the fire department! Your neighborhood appears to be one of San Francisco’s “hottest” neighborhoods for single family homes in 2013. This post is part of a continuing series that looks at 2013 single family home sales, and includes the The Number One Overbid for a Single Family in 2013 as well as 3 out of 4 homes sold for over asking in 2013.

I took all of the sales data for single family homes in San Francisco that were reported in the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service. I then calculated the percentage over asking the house sold for based on the original list price (not the most recent list price, in case  there was a reduction along the way). The sales are all plotted below:

  • Blue dots represent homes that sold at or near the asking price
  • Orange dots represent homes that sold over the asking price by 15%
  • Red dots represent homes that sold over the asking price by 30% or more

2013 single family home sales prices

You can click on the image above to go to the source map that I created on

One Very Important Reminder:

  • This data is for single family homes only! If you are looking at the north-east corner of San Francisco and wondering where the sales are, most of the homes in that area of town are condo/co-op/or tenancies in common. This data will be shared in another heat map to follow in the next few days.

I don’t know what stands out to you, but I’d say Bernal Heights seems to be the neighborhood that most consistently went over the asking price. The blue dots in other neighborhoods don’t mean that the overbids weren’t happening there – it just means that the overbids were a lot closer to the asking price. I may post another version that is slightly more granular – say in the 0% (at), 5%, and 10% over asking ranges.

What stands out to you about the data? Are you surprised to see so many red dots at the south end of the city? Were you expecting more (or less) in any particular neighborhood or area? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

3 Out of 4 Homes Sell for Over Asking in San Francisco

Earlier in the week we took a look at what the largest overbids for single family homes in San Francisco were in 2013. While the numbers provide some interesting perspective, I also wanted to take a look at how common overbids have been in the 2013 SF real estate market. While most buyers are unlikely to find themselves in the position of making the largest overbid, I think their frequency can shed some light on the SF real estate market and how listing agents price properties.

San Francisco 2013 overbids for single family homes

3 out of 4 single family homes in San Francisco sold for over the asking price in 2013.

As you can see from the pie chart above, 3 out of 4 homes in San Francisco that have sold this year went over asking. Of the remaining 25% of homes that sold, just shy of 5% went for the asking price, almost 10% went for under asking by 0 – 5% of the purchase price, about 7% went for under asking by between 5 and 10% and just shy of 5% went for more than 10% under asking.

As you can see from the graph, the reality is that home buyers who have been shopping in San Francisco this past year have encountered at least one home they were interested in being in a multiple offer/over asking situation.

I’m going to dig down into the over-asking numbers in a future post to get a handle on just how far over asking most homes went, because there is certainly a psychological difference between offering $50,000 over the asking price and offering more than $1,000,000 over the asking price. In a perfect world, I’d also be able to slice and dice this data by neighborhood, but unless I get an intern for the holidays, that’s probably more number crunching than is realistic.

Finally, a note about our data. All data is from the San Francisco Association of Realtors multiple listing service. Many new construction developments are not entered either at all or completely in the MLS, however most new construction in San Francisco is for condos, so this data is pretty representative of the single family home market. The data only looks at homes located in San Francisco, so homes outside of SF that were entered in the SFAR MLS are not included in the data.

The Number One Overbid of 2013

Would you pay $1,355,000 over the asking price for a home in San Francisco?

Would you pay 292% of the asking price for a home in SF?

Over the past year, overbids have returned to the San Francisco market, and in absolute dollar terms, the largest overbid was for a single family home in Pacific Heights (Lyon at Pacific). The home has 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, and sits on a large lot that has both views and is level enough for a basketball court. The home was also designed by a noted architect. It listed in the fall of this year for just shy of $3,900,000 and sold for $5,250,000. It sold for $1,355,000 more than the list price, which earns it the distinction of the 2013 sale with the highest overbid in absolute dollars.

This Pacific Heights home sold for $1,355,000 over the list price.

Another way to calculate the overbid is based on percentages. If we slice and dice the data to compare list price to sales price, the home in Pacific Heights is out-bid by a home in the Bayview that sold for 292% of the list price. Located on a charming street in the Bayview (yes, there really is such a thing, thank you very much), this winner listed for $189,000 early this year and sold for $551,700, which means is sold for almost triple it’s original list price!

This Bayview home sold for 292% of its asking price.

So there you have it – the homes in San Francisco with the two highest overbids in 2013. One in Pacific Heights, the other in the Bayview, two neighborhoods that rarely are mentioned for having something in common.  Although, since it is only December 9 we still have a few more weeks to see if any other monster sales come close to competing with these two homes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these two SF homes and the market in the comments below.

Guest Post: Tim Richmond on Good Faith Estimates and Why They Stabilize Home Buying

Whether it’s the San Francisco real estate market or another one, buying a property is an intricate process that many people are unprepared to handle efficiently. A buyer that isn’t equipped with home buying knowledge isn’t at fault; it’s just that real estate is much more complicated than a down payment and monthly dues.

Know Before You Owe - Image Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Know Before You Owe – Image Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The first step in most people’s home buying journey is at the local mortgage grocery store. Many buyers wander aimlessly through the aisles, pretending they understand all the numbers and agent vernacular. Simultaneously, they’re often exclusively considering the lump sum down payment they’ll have to put on the table and the monthly dues they’ll owe their own bank account.

The good news is this is a pretty humorous visual! The bad news is that many homebuyers are naïve and don’t understand the depth of finances associated with the situation.  If a person or family doesn’t have the whole picture of how a property transaction will affect their life and finances, they won’t have an accurate idea of how it will hang on their life’s wall. This is a big deal.

The fortunate news is that while mortgages and the real estate market in general are complicated, there are resources available to simplify the process. One of those resources is a Good Faith Estimate, or GFE. GFEs make the home buying process more efficient because they accurately (for the most part!) portray the wide-ranging financial obligations associated with a mortgage.

Whether we’re talking about a San Francisco technology guru buying a townhome or a Native American buying a property on tribal land with an HUD 184 loan, the principle is the same. GFEs make a difference. This is how:

  1. They provide buyers the option of testing different providers on all costs associated with a home loan. The more loans a buyer applies for, the more GFEs they receive and the more efficient their decision can become because the best offers filter to the top.

  2. They provide accurate assessment of the buyer’s credit and financial stability, and how those circumstances affect their decision and interest rate. This up-front knowledge is a realistic way for buyers to look in the mirror and see where they stand financially. If there is an issue that is leading to a high interest rate, they then have the opportunity to step back for six months or a year to better their position.

  3. They level the playing field amongst lenders. When the RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) declared that GFEs were needed for the buyer within three days of a loan application, this created a more genuine mortgage marketplace. Rather than a lender adjusting their offer based on leverage or some other alternative motive, they are grounded in a numbers game. This benefits the buyer by creating healthy competition amongst providers.

There are many resources out there for buyers to take advantage of during the home buying process. The reality, though, is that many people simply don’t know about them. GFEs are one of the many to think about.

Author: Tim Richmond writes about the housing market and Native American mortgages. Guarantees… Nothing!

Whether or not someone has died in a home is a very legitimate question. In California, disclosure of a death on the property is required, the specific timeframes and requirements vary based on the type and nature of the death, but the general rule I learned and continue to follow is: disclose, disclose, disclose.

So you can imagine my interest when I saw a press release for a new website – – that advertises itself as “We help answer the question… Has Someone Died in Your House?”

Do Ghosts inhabit your house?

However, a little digging on the site reveals what you are actually paying for. Which, turns out, is pretty much nothing given the enormous disclaimers and terms of service that you agree to if you use their site.

Under their “terms” section they state that:

c. Site Results

The products on the Site come with a limited guarantee. You acknowledge that the service is provided “as is.” You are paying for us to conduct a search, not to return any specific result. [emphasis mine, added] The information presented on the Site is often obtained by third-parties. As such, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of information you receive on the Site. Please use caution when interpreting results from the Site. Died in House ™ does not guarantee to have all deaths that have occurred in or at a specific address; it is an informational use only type of service.  They do have over 118 million records from various sources and that number continues to increase daily.  Diedinhouse.comis merely a great tool to use to assist you with finding out if someone has died at a specific address.  It is always recommended that before anyone purchases or rents a used home, to run a Died in House ™ Report, ask the seller if they are aware of any deaths, speak with neighbors, search the address online and check government records for any information related to the property.

and the disclaimer from the website states:

he materials appearing on any Simply Put Solutions, Inc. the creators of Died in House ™ found at web site and/or owned application could include technical, typographical, or photographic errors.  DIH makes no representation, implied or expressed, that all information placed on any DIH web site or application is accurate. DIH does not warrant that any of the materials on its web sites or applications are accurate, complete, or current. The information contained in the DIH websites and applications are obtained from multiple sources. DIH does not, make any commitment to update the materials. DIH prohibits anyone to use information found on any DIH web site or application to devalue or prevent any sale of property. DIH is not responsible for any loss in property value or real-estate sale of any properties.  Information contained on any DIH web site or application provides no representation as to the presence of any ghost, haunting or any other paranormal activity; or the nature of any such future activities. Died in House ™ does not guarantee to have all deaths that have occurred in or at a specific address; it is an informational use only type of service.  They do have over 118 million records from various sources and that number continues to increase daily. is merely a great tool to use to assist you with finding out if someone has died at a specific address.  It is always recommended that before anyone purchases or rents a used home, to run a Died in House ™ Report, ask the seller if they are aware of any deaths, speak with neighbors, search the address online and check government records for any information related to the property.  If you believe that information on any DIH web site or application is incorrect please contact DIH at

So – at $11.99 per search, you are guaranteed to learn… absolutely nothing.

See a downed or low-hanging power or phone line? Here’s what to do.

File this under: what to do if you see a wire drooping very low off a power pole, you’re pretty sure it’s not an electrical wire because you know those are located at the very top of the pole and the droopy one is several feet lower than that.

First of all, you might think you know for sure that it’s not an electrical wire, but don’t be a hero and try to touch the wire.

Second of all, why am I writing this? I’m writing this because a few days ago Matt and I were driving down St. Mary’s Avenue in Bernal Heights and we saw just such a droopy wire hanging across the street. A tall SUV would have taken it out. It looked like this:

Low-hanging wire across St. Mary's Avenue.

Low-hanging wire across St. Mary’s Avenue.

I figured I’d be a good citizen and try to head off any wire-related disasters, so I called the SFPD non-emergency line…and waited on hold for about 15 minutes. So I gave up on that and called 311, which answered right away. They told me that any time there’s a wire-related fiasco — either a low wire or a high wire — one must start with PG&E, which is the sole arbiter of the very important question: “Is it an electrical wire or a phone wire or what?”

Continuing to be a good citizen, I called PG&E to report this situation, and they took it from there.

PG&E’s website says that if you see a downed power line, you should call 911. 

Never, ever touch a downed power line or go near one. Power lines are not insulated like power cords. Always assume the power line is live.

  • Don’t touch a fallen power line or anything touching the wire.
  • Do not touch anything or anyone in contact with a fallen power line or other equipment.
  • Keep children and pets away from fallen electric wires.
  • Do not drive over a fallen power line.
  • Call 911 immediately to report a fallen power line.

This concludes our public service announcement for the day. Be safe.

October Market Stats: Up!

How did the San Francisco real estate market do in October? Well, let’s just say that our weather wasn’t the only warm thing this past month. As you can see below with the narrative and statistics provided by the San Francisco Association of Realtors (SFAR), the market continues to be very strong, with low inventory and low interest rates continuing to drive demand.

Now that the baton is in grasp of the final quarter of our annual relay, it’s a good time to look back and reflect. This year has been spectacular for residential real estate. Robust gains in sales and prices were felt throughout San Francisco’s 10 Residential Districts, with median single family home prices cresting the $1 million mark in both April and May. Homes have also been selling at a fast clip, with an average of 37 days on the market.
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While consumers have felt empowered by lower interest rates, sellers are starting to regain their footing. Seller confidence is crucial to refill inventory bins, which are still relatively sparse.

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New Listings were down 7.7 percent for single family homes but increased 0.3 percent for Condo/TIC/Coop properties. Pending Sales decreased 13.6 percent for single family homes but increased 20.9 percent for Condo/TIC/Coop properties. The Median Sales Price was up 11.1 percent to $921,945 for single family homes and 13.8 percent to $865,000 for Condo/TIC/Coop properties. Months Supply of Inventory decreased 20.0 percent for single family units and 25.0 percent for Condo/TIC/Coop units.

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The economy continues to snail forward. The government shutdown had a modest impact on borrowing – mostly centered on USDA and VA borrowers. Consumer confidence is central to ongoing recovery, and confidence was hindered by the shutdown. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and impacts the likelihood for big-ticket purchases like homes and cars. Future shutdowns are unwelcome.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the market below

What $2,000,000 buys you in The Mission

Since 2000 there have been six sales of single-family homes and condominiums in the Mission neighborhood that have closed for over $2 million. Half of those sales have happened this year (2013). Let’s take a quick look at how the Mission district is becoming The Multi-Million-Dollar Mission District.

507 Capp

Listed by Zephyr Agent Lily Remoundos and sold by Zephyr Agent Ron Whitney, this is the most expensive MLS-listed sale in the Mission district, located on Capp at 20th St. The home boasts over 4,000 square feet of living space and is absolutely beautiful, with precise attention to detail, beautiful historic touches and clean, modern open living spaces and high-end kitchens and bathrooms. It came to market at the end of September and closed slightly below the asking price of $3,600,000.

879 Florida
Listed by incoming SFAR Board of Directors President Betty Taisch with Coldwell Banker, this home came to market about the same time as 507 Capp and closed a day before 507 Capp. It was listed for $2,195,000 and sold for over $2,500,000. The 800 block of Florida has never been known as the place people start looking for $2,000,000+ homes, but this unique home above a studio used for photography was both beautiful and a rare find for the incredibly creative and wealthy.

2533 Folsom
Listed by D Paul Brown with Paragon Real Estate, this home came to market in May and closed in June. Listed as having 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and about 2,400 square feet of living space – and a water tower – for $1,955,000. It closed for $2,200,000 making it the cheapest home you can find in the Mission for more than $2,000,000.

Here’s our list of the homes in the Mission District that have sold for more than $2,000,000.00, listed from most expensive to least expensive:

507 Capp St. (sold in October of 2013 for $3,525,000)
1419 15th St.
879 Florida St.
266 14th St.
1348 S. Van Ness
2533 Folsom St. (sold in June of 2013 for $2,200,000)

PS – And soon to join the list will be 3120 23rd St. listed by Paul Garvey of Coldwell Banker. It came to the market last week for $3,290,000 and already has an accepted offer.

Whole Foods on Market Street opening November 6

This morning, like the grocery geeks we are, Matt and I took a tour of San Francisco’s newest Whole Foods, opening next Wednesday, November 6. It’s located at 2001 Market Street @ Dolores, the site of the former S&C Ford dealership.

Photo tour (click on any image for a larger version/slideshow):

A few nuts & bolts first…

Number of Whole Foods Markets in San Francisco: 7

Approximate square footage of new store: 27,000

Number of parking spaces for the store: 63

Number of those that are for electric cars: 2

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm every day

Official opening day/bread-breaking: November 6, 9:45 am (They don’t cut ribbons, they break bread. Cool, huh?)

While the Safeway across the street continues quaking in its staid corporate boots, I’ll describe some of the unique features of the new Whole Foods.

Just to the left of the main entrance is a two-seat shoeshine stand, operated by a local vendor called A Shine & Co., adjacent to a wall of what our tour guide called “man products.” By which she meant “men’s grooming stuff,” like shaving gear and skin care. The shoe shine stand will be open daily until about 6:00 pm.

Now for some unique-to-this-store food items. Oh, Whole Foods, you had me at sausage on a stick, made in house and available in the grab-and-go section. There will also be locally made gelato with flavors like Blue Bottle Coffee (Ok, you had me at sausage on a stick AND Blue Bottle Coffee gelato). The bakery will put out mini foccacia in a variety of flavors daily.

Every Whole Foods has a hot bar, but this one amps it up with an entire section of the hot bar with all Paleo foods. If you’re throwing a cheese tasting party and you need 250 kinds of cheese from around the world, they’ve got you covered. They’ll also sell honeycomb from Steve’s Bees in Orinda and tell those of us who are unfamiliar with honeycomb how to pair it with cheese. Who knew?

Now I’ve got to bust on Whole Foods a little bit for a cake with a big ol’ carbon footprint. They’re selling cakes called Baum cakes and they’re flying them in from Denver. DENVER. That’s far away from San Francisco, even though a layer cake cooked in a rotisserie sounds really damn cool.

Mother Brown’s Kitchen to Expand in the Bayview?

This upcoming Wednesday features a Budget and Finance Committee meeting of the Board of Supervisors, where agenda item #3 is to authorize SF’s Human Services Agency a forgivable loan for just shy of $1,000,000 to renovate 2115 Jennings St., a building adjacent to the existing Mother Brown’s Kitchen and Homeless Drop-In Shelter.

Mother Brown's Kitchen in the Bayview

Mother Brown’s Kitchen in the Bayview

According to the Board of Supervisor documents, 2115 Jennings is a currently vacant industrial building that was built in 1916. The plan is to move the 80-chair overnight shelter currently located at 2113 Jennings with a 100-bed overnight shelter located at 2115 Jennings, allowing the new center to draw on the “nucleus of services” currently offered at 2113 Jennings.

A letter being circulated by neighborhood residents appears to take issue with the facility, and below is the text of a form letter being circulated by a site that is opposed to the facility. The site is registered to a Daynas Corman with a mailing address in the Bayview according to publicly available WHOIS records. Below is the text of the sample letter they are encouraging people to sign and send to the Mayor:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

I am writing with extreme concern about the proposal to warehouse the City’s homeless population near the MLK Pool in Bayview.

In an astonishing conflict of interest, The United Council of Human Services (UCHS), the entity that stands to gain generous funding for this proposed homeless warehouse, was also tasked with performing the most recent homeless count. Their interest was certainly served by showing an unbelievable 200% increase in homeless!

Not only is the Bayview homeless count highly questionable, data shows that our current services for homeless are not even fully utilized. Bayview already has 21 homeless beds for every 1000 residents; some of the shelters have reported that they are at only 75% capacity.

As Bayview residents, we are severely concerned that the City is simply trying to divert our homeless population away from the major business and tourist areas and hide them in our underserved, minority neighborhood.

Our neighborhood deserves better. Our children deserve better. They need unmitigated access to one of our few public spaces—the Martin Luther King Pool and the adjacent playground—without the increased danger and risk to their young lives that will certainly follow the City’s importation of the homeless to our neighborhood.

I respectfully ask that you stop the City’s plan to build a homeless warehouse in Bayview.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Is the city “warehousing” the homeless in the Bayview, or is this a logical use of an empty and available building to replace overnight chairs with beds at a site that already has a developed infrastructure of services for the homeless and those in need?