Underground Storage Tanks: What you Need to Know

The Underground Storage Tank Disclosure is a general disclosure document that contains background information explaining what an Underground Storage Tank (UST) is, and why you want to be aware of if the property you are considering purchasing might have a UST.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Underground Storage Tank Disclosure is a *general* disclosure. The disclosure does not contain property specific information, but it does contain important information that you should read at your convenience. This disclosure is often provided in conjunction with an Underground Storage Tank Inspection, which we will discuss separately.

An Underground Storage Tank Disclosure Form used in San Francisco

An Underground Storage Tank Disclosure Form used in San Francisco

Underground Storage Tanks were typically used in San Francisco to store heating oil. While they are more common in older neighborhoods on the northern side of town, they have been found scattered across the city.

Our understanding of state law is that it requires the seller to remove and remediate an underground storage tank. However, there is no way to know if you have a UST unless you have an Underground Storage Tank inspection, which is typically a visual inspection performed at the exterior of the home (in other words, you don’t need to go inside to inspect for a tank) performed by a company that specializes in underground storage tank inspections.

As a buyer, you want to make sure that there is no underground storage tank, or that if there is a tank it is discovered before you are the property owner. These inspections make the most sense on single family homes. For recently built condominiums that had to excavate below ground as part of their construction process they would have mot likely discovered and removed any tanks during construction. That said, we’ve heard of one large condo building (it was previously a hospital, converted to condos) where a diligent buyer found USTs – and then the HOA had to have them removed!

 

 

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics

Unless you know about the data behind the data, most SF real estate charts probably doesn’t mean what you think they do. For example: Is a condo or a single family home in San Francisco more expensive?

We love data! We wrote a neighborhood by neighborhood guide to 2013 sales prices, crunched the numbers to compare MLS and off-MLS sales, and just today posted our 2014 Luxury Condo building survey. At this week’s sales meeting, the below graph was shared by the management team and I think it is a great example of how a chart usually raises more questions than it provides answers:

Condos vs SFR: Accurate or Not....?

Condos vs SFR: Accurate or Not….?

I had a few quick thoughts when I saw the above chart:

  • What about district 10?
  • How big?
  • BMRs?

District 10 is the most southern part of San Francisco, and essentially is the area south of 280 and north of the county line. It is home to some of San Francisco’s poorest and least-safe neighborhoods. The housing stock in District 10 is also almost exclusively single-family homes – I can think of one big condo project in the entire district….

The chart above also doesn’t take into account that single family homes are often larger than condo homes. Which leads to my charts!

Finally, I wasn’t sure if the above chart filtered out BMR and senior-only condos that have price or other restrictions that would weigh down the average condo price…

In my years of being a San Francisco Realtor, I’ve seen plenty of people actually prefer a condo to a single family home for a variety of reasons, and while I work with plenty of buyers that want a single family, I work with just as many people that are indifferent to condo or single family and a sizable number that don’t want a single family home.

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Based on my calculations, the median price for a condo is slightly higher than Zephyr computed – so those BMR and senior condos had brought the average down by a bit (about $20,000). And look – single family homes are bigger than condos! And look – if you take out district 10, it reduces the number of single family homes by 45, while the number of condos is only reduced by 4. In other words, District 10 is all about single family homes, and often single family homes at the lower end of the price range.
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In absolute price dollars, a single family is more expensive than a condo. But if we look at price per square foot, condos actually are more expensive. Across the city, the median price per square foot for a condo is about $917/square foot while a single family home comes in at $785/square foot.
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When we take out District 10, single family homes get a lot more expensive and condos are unchanged:image (4) On a price per square foot basis, taking out District 10 puts single family homes and condos almost on price parity. But condos still come out slightly more expensive on a price per square foot basis. image (6)

 

Robin Williams & The Mrs. Doubtfire House

The surprising and saddening news of Robin Williams’ suicide earlier this week has reverberated through the bay area. Robin Williams lived in the north bay, and was often spotted in San Francisco. SFGate had an article yesterday about the Mrs. Doubtfire home and how it has become a sort of shrine over the past several days.

As you can see in the video above, a normally non-remarkable intersection in Pacific Heights has become a rather sad and sedate but bustling corner of activity. The owner of the home, Douglas Ousterhout, is a Robin Williams fan and has a great attitude toward his home becoming a memorial site to Robin Williams. But what if the owner didn’t have such a good attitude about it all?

Mrs. Doubtfire was a 1993 movie, and Douglas Ousterhout has owned the property since 1997. There are two previous MLS listings from 1993 and 1994, both of which were withdrawn/expired without a sale. One listing notes that the property was the home of “Sophie Julien for 50 years” and the other notes that it was a “‘location’ Shoot For Fox Film, ‘mrs. Doubtfire’ Starring Robin Williams!” 

What if the owner hadn’t been informed of the home’s use in a famous movie? Does the current owner have a duty to disclose this to future residents, particularly since  fans may now show up on a regular basis to remember or pay tribute to an incredible comedian?

Robin Williams’ suicide has brought depression and mental health into the spotlight, and there have been many conversations this week about how we can support those struggling with depression or a mental illness. Most of them, fortunately, are much more thoughtful than the stupid and thoughtless lines spewed by Rush Limbaugh. While they are a minor footnote to the bigger questions being raised, his death also points out some interesting questions for property owners as well.

What You Should Know About the SF 3R Report

The 3R report is issued by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) and provides a building permit history for a San Francisco property. It is a required disclosure for almost every purchase/sale transaction in San Francisco, with the exception of brand new construction, in which case the CFC (certificate of final completion/certificate of occupancy) usually fills in.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The SF 3R report is a *property specific* disclosure. Read it as soon as it is available, even if the city doesn’t stand behind the information it provides.

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A 3R Report issued by the SF DBI

The 3R report is a report of residential record, and it contains information about original and current use, as well as a list of building permits and their status (I = issued, N = no job card found, X = permit expired (work not started or not completed, C = completed). Here’s a handy explanation of terms used in the 3R Report by DBI. It is important to note that the 3R only contains a record of building permits. It does not include plumbing or electrical permit information.

SF DBI has an online portal where you can view a lot of property information online. The DBI website allows you to view building, electrical, and plumbing permits that have been issued since the mid-1980′s (roughly), but does not include any permits older than that. Because the city is incredibly slow at processing 3R requests (inefficient or understaffed, depending on who you ask), it can often be helpful to look up a property online. But be aware that the online record history is not complete.

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The boilerplate warning about inaccuracies in the 3R

The 3R report comes with a warning document that doesn’t inspire much confidence in DBI. Even though the report costs $165 (as of August 2014) and is mandated by city law, the building department has no obligation to get anything on the 3R report correct. In addition, DBI does not warrant the data that they do provide, and as the warning document says:

“Buyers of residential real property in San Francisco should never rely on information contained in 3-R Reports.”

 

In a perfect world, the 3R would provide a buyer with an accurate and complete permit history (so that buyers can understand what work was done with or without permit), as well as accurate information about the current use (it matters for unit buildings that want to condo convert, to name just one example) of the property. But our world is far from perfect – we have a variety of strategies for helping deal with 3R issues and the questions the document generates, we hope this overview gives you a better understanding of this important disclosure document.

 

Good BBQ in NOPA

I love BBQ – and finding good BBQ in San Francisco is a surprising challenge. The latest contender is 4505 BBQ & Burgers (or Burgers and BBQ, depending on your priorities) which is along the Divisadero Corridor @ Grove, an area that is becoming the Divisadero Dining Destination (NOPA & Bi-Rite are both nearby,  not to mention Popeye’s Fried Foods!). Living in either Alamo Square or NOPA would put you within a very short walk of the 4505 BBQ joint.

I managed to snag lunch there last week – even at 11:30am there was a line (nothing like Ike’s). I had a lovely little spot to myself at one of the wooden picnic tables outside (they don’t have any inside seating except for a few bar stools – this definitely isn’t the place to come and eat when it’s raining, but since we are in a drought….) where I enjoyed an excellent pulled pork BBQ sandwich and fries.

The fries are fried in tallow, which definitely doesn’t taste like fries fried in canola oil. :-) They were excellent, freshly crisped up and not soggy at all.

The BBQ pork sandwich was also a keeper – it appears to have arrived with a mustard-based sauce, but I slathered it in their sweet BBQ sauce and the crisis was averted (I have a strong and completely irrational dislike for most condiments, including mustard, ketchup and mayo). The pork was flavorful and tender and moist – well cooked and seasoned!

Of all the BBQ I’ve had over the years in SF, I’d definitely have to put 4505 in the top 3, and I’d probably even have to give it the gold medal. So head on out to NOPA. Even if you don’t want to buy a house, you should treat yourself to an excellent burger or bite of BBQ.

What you Need to Know About: Agent’s Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID)

As one of my favorite brokers once joked, an agent visual inspection disclosure (AVID) is a visual inspection that an agent can do in heels. The point being that both individual sales agents in a transaction (the listing agent represent the seller and the selling agent representing the buyer. If it is dual agency, both individuals must still produce their own visual inspection disclosures, if one individual is representing both parties, you would only expect to see one AVID form) are required to perform a visual inspection of the property, but neither is expected to show up in overalls, ready to crawl through crawlspaces or stick their head in attics or in downspouts.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID) is a *property specific* disclosure. Read it as soon as it is available.

AVID - Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure Form

AVID – Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure Form

Here’s the thing to remember about an agent’s visual inspection: We aren’t licensed contractors, which means we aren’t qualified to diagnose what we see. Our job is to note what we see at the property that is unusual or stands out to us – the idea being that since we see lots of homes as part of our job, the things that stand out might be important things for the buyer or seller to be aware of.

That said, at every risk management seminar I’ve ever been to I’ve pretty much heard the same instructions/advice from a variety of real estate attorneys: describe, don’t diagnose. Which means a good AVID will state things like “cracks visible along wall” instead of something like “hairline cracks caused by settling visible along wall.” An agent isn’t typically qualified to diagnose the underlying cause of a visible issue.

It is also important to remember that an agent doesn’t move furniture, look underneath things, move piles of stuff or otherwise try and take apart the home.

An agent’s visual inspection is not a substitute for an inspection by a contractor or other licensed home professional – it is simply a “once-over” list of things that were readily apparent to the agents involved in a residential real estate transaction. It is also important to remember that if you are purchasing/selling a condo home, the AVID does not include any of the common areas – it covers the condo home itself, not the common areas that accompany ownership of the condo.

What You Should Know About: Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement

The Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement is a local supplement that works in conjunction with the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). It varies by area in California, here in San Francisco we use a local supplement that is created by the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The Seller’s Supplement to the Transfer Disclosure Statement is a *property specific* disclosure. It is designed to be read in conjunction with the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and we absolutely suggest it as one of the most important documents you review in a disclosure package.

Page 1 of the San Francisco Seller's Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement

Page 1 of the San Francisco Seller’s Supplement to the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement

Section A of the seller’s supplement to the TDS asks additional questions about the property and neighborhood, and just like the transfer dislcosure statement it consists of a series of “Yes/No/Don’t Know” questions, with space provided for the seller to provide narrative detail when the answer to the question is “yes.”

Section B has additional questions about the property and improvements made to the home, including questions about permit history, animals, deeaths on the property, and other items.

Section C is an area where the seller can list additional home reports that are available. Even when additional reports are available, in San Francisco the seller may or may not remember to list them in this section. The cover page of the disclosure package in San Francisco is the best index you can typically use to keep track of reports provided by the seller.

Section D of the seller’s supplement to the real estate transfer disclosure statement has questions that pertain to homes that are in condominiums, cooperatives, common ownership or neighborhood associations. It contains some general questions, and then also questions that are specific to property type.

Section E is dedicated to the property eviction history, because in San Francisco eviction history can play a key role in helping determine the value or desirability of a home for sale.

Section F is for multi-unit or tenant-occupied properties, and contains additional questions that pertain to local San Francisco landlord/tenant laws.

Section G, the last section of the San Francisco seller’s supplement to the real estate transfer disclosure statement, is a free-form response area that a seller can use to provide any additional comments, notes, or information about the home they are selling.

What questions do you have about this document or SF disclosure packages?

 

What’s in a Typical San Francisco Disclosure Package?

At some point during the home buying process in San Francisco, you’ll most likely find a home that you like a lot. As in, you like it so much you could see yourself living there! In San Francisco, in strong seller’s markets, most of our property disclosures are provided to buyers prior to their submission of an offer. The disclosures are contained in a “Disclosure Package” which contains all of the various disclosure documents (almost always as a PDF file, when I first started they were paper… tons and tons of paper!). This is what people are talking about when they say they are “asking for disclosures” or are advised to “review disclosures prior to making an offer.”

A sample cover page from a San Francisco disclosure package.

A sample cover page from a San Francisco disclosure package.

The documents that are contained in a disclosure package vary based on the property type (condo, single family, tenancy-in-common), the type of sale (regular sale, short sale, trust sale, probate sale, bankruptcy sale, etc.), and several other variables (the age of the building, for example, affects whether or not some disclosures are required – examples would be lead-based paint and earthquake hazards disclosures). We are going to walk through a typical disclosure package for a single family home in San Francisco, explaining all of the documents as we go along.

To make all of this a little more concrete and a little less hypothetical, we are going to use the disclosure package for a recent listing of ours at 119 Bridgeview in the Silver Terrace neighborhood.

Below is the table of contents for the disclosure package – click on each document to learn more about it (and if the item doesn’t have a hyperlink, the article hasn’t yet been written. This is a work in progress for now!)

Disclosure packages generally start with a table of contents that potential buyers are asked to sign. Depending on the property and agents involved, you may be asked to return the entire disclosure package with your signatures, or just the cover page with an agreement to return a fully executed package upon acceptance of your offer.

For our purposes, I’m going to classify the documents into two categories: Property Specific and General Disclosures. The documents that are property specific are often the *most important* because they contain information that is specific to the property you are interested in. Documents that are general disclosures are still important, but provide more general information that is usually applicable to real estate transactions and may or may not apply to the specific home you are interested in purchasing. While it is important to review all disclosures, if you find yourself with limited time, our advice is to always start with the property specific disclosures.

300 Ivy Welcomes Ground Floor Shops

The commercial/retail spaces at 300 Ivy in Hayes Valley are transforming into bustling bursts of retail activity! Above the 63 homes of 300 Ivy are three retail/commercial spaces. Two of them are already occupied, with the corner location currently empty as of this writing (August 2014).

The restaurant space is home to Monsieur Benjamin by James-Beard-award-winning Chef Corey Lee. The restaurant describes itself as, “a modern restaurant and bar in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley that is inspired by the great Parisian bistro culture and traditions of French cooking.” As noted by Food and Wine, “Monsieur Benjamin will stay open till 1 a.m., serving the kind of food that a chef rigorously trained in the French system, like Lee, might cook for friends on his night off.”

Immediately next door to Monsieur Benjamin is the made-to-measure men’s clothing shop of  Klein, Epstein, & Parker. The menswear boutique offers, “high-quality made-to-measure fashion items like jackets, pants, suits and shirts. Personalized fashion that looks AND feels great.” towards a vision where they “democratize made-to-measure fashion! Liberate men, giving them a chance to wear what they want and look and feel great. Escape the horror of pre-canned, off the rack, over-priced and mass-produced “stuff”.”

What are your thoughts about these two new additions to Hayes Valley? Have you had a chance to eat at Monsieur Benjamin yet or pick yourself up some snazzy threads from Klein, Epstein & Parker (which sounds more like a law firm than a clothing store?!)? We’d love to hear your thoughts, or any scoop you have about the final initial retail tenant. Leave us a comment or get in touch via FaceBook or Twitter.

Say My Name! (with SF Street Signs)

I have to admit that I’ve been burning up with jealously lately. Why? I can sum it up with a quick picture:

brittonjackson

Can you spell your name with San Francisco street signs?

The street sign at the intersection of Visitacion and Britton is located in Visitacion Valley (no surprise there, right?) and the street sign at the intersection of Jackson and Cherry is located in Presidio Heights.

I can’t spell my name with San Francisco streets – as far as I know, there is no Fuller street in San Francisco, nor is there a Matthew or a Matt street either. The Jackson/Cherry sign was the inspiration for my photoshop project from 2011 where I created the Jackson/Fuller street sign by photoshopping out the Cherry (I picked the sign since it had the same number of letters as my last name) and replacing it with my own.

So there’s your Friday morning I’m-not-yet-ready-and-don’t-feel-like-working distraction! Have a great weekend, and if you can spell your name with SF street signs, let us know in the comments what neighborhoods we’d be likely to find your name in.

And for the record, no, we don’t have a new team member named Visitacion Cherry.