Noe Valley Condo or Noe Valley Single Family Home?

Our San Francisco Real Estate Report is a statistical extravaganza – and also really useful! But don’t just take our word for it – here’s an example of the types of questions it can answer. Noe Valley in District 5 has been one of San Francisco’s hottest neighborhoods for quite a while. It’s excellent weather and easy access to the peninsula for Silicon Valley commuters has made it a destination neighborhood

Median Sales Price for Noe Valley condos

Median Sales Price for Noe Valley condos, 2009 to 2013

The chart to the left shows the median sale price for condo homes in Noe Valley over the past five years. Data is from the SFAR MLS, and we do not include tenancy-in-common properties in the condo category.

In 2009, the median sale price for a condo in Noe Valley was $765,000. The price has gone up for each of the past five years, and in 2013 the median sale price for a condo broke the $1,000,000 mark, with the median sale price being $1,002,000.

The average Noe Valley condo has appreciated 5.55% a year for each of the past five years.

Median Sale Price for Noe Valley Single Family Home

Median Sale Price for Noe Valley Single Family Home, 2009 – 2013



The chart to the right shows the median sale price for single family homes in Noe Valley over the past five years.

As you can see, in 2009 the median sale price was $1,117,500 and in 2013 that value had dramatically appreciated to $1,700,000.

If you calculate out the annual appreciation rate, it comes out to almost 9% – 8.75% – for each of the past five years!

Single Family homes have appreciated an average of 9% per year for each of the past five years.



Noe Valley property values have been on the rise, and both condos and single family homes have done incredibly well. What are your thoughts about property values in Noe Valley, or any other part of San Francisco? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


How’s the market in St. Francis Wood?

St. Francis Wood is a part of District 4, and is known for its large lots and elegant, stately homes. One local survey (not us) named it the most kid-friendly neighborhood in San Francisco. It is perhaps the most elegant example in San Francisco of the “Residential Park” neighborhood concept that gained favor in the early 20th century. All of the information in this blog post can be found in our San Francisco Residential Real Estate Report, a free download with statistics on every SF neighborhood.

Days on Market in St. Francis Wood

St. Francis Wood Days on Market

Days on Market – 2009 to 2013

As you can see, the luxury market has made a dramatic recovery since 2009. In this particular neighborhood, days on market has dropped from 72 days in 2009 to 21 days in 2013.









Sales in St. Francis Wood

Home sales in St. Francis Wood

Home sales in St. Francis Wood

What makes the decrease in days on market so remarkable is that the average time a property was on the market decreased at the same time as the number of sales increased. In other words, supply couldn’t keep up with demand. Sales were abnormally low at 13 homes selling in 2009, while 25 exchanged hands in 2013 – a number much more in line with the prior three years when 22, 19, and 23 homes were sold.







Median Sale Price and Price per Square Foot in St. Francis Wood

Median Sale Price St. Francis Wood

Median Sale Price in St. Francis Wood

Both median sale price and price per square foot tell the same story – values have been rising in St. Francis wood over the past five years. Homes in 2013 sold for – on average – $250,000 more than they did in 2009.





Median Price per Square Foot - St. Francis Wood

Median Price per Square Foot – St. Francis Wood


When we look at Median price per Square Foot, the low was (again) in 2009, with a noticeable jump in 2010 (most likely we had some smaller homes changing hands in the neighborhood, which skewed this number higher in 2010). While the 2013 value of $776/sq.ft. isn’t as high as the value in 2010, it has shown a strong upward trend for the last three years.






Are homes in St. Francis Wood selling over or under asking?

Are homes in St. Francis Wood selling over or under asking price?

St. Francis Wood homes – final median sales price compared to median list price

From 2009 to 2011, homes in St. Francis Wood – on average – sold for less than their asking price. 2010 was the year in which homes went the most under the asking price, at almost 6%. That trend has been reversed for the past two years, with homes selling barely above the asking price in 2012 and homes selling for about 8% over asking in 2013.




What are your questions about the St. Francis Wood neighborhood? We’d love to hear them in the comments 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?

Mid-Market Metamorphosis will be Messy

A few weeks ago the local paper noted that some outdoor chess tables in the mid-market area got rolled up by the police. The outcry that followed is nothing that compares to the current debate about residential tenants in two commercial buildings that don’t comply with zoning or residential housing standards.

While these might seem like un-related issues, the root cause is the same: the mid-market area of San Francisco is transforming, and the new arrivals will be making a lot of changes. And by changes, let’s be clear: The San Francisco that was isn’t the San Francisco that is about to be. As I’ve written before, we are town that was once a beacon for outcasts and outlaws but is now a beacon for overachievers.

Mid Market Area photos, October 2013, click any for a larger version/slideshow:

While I was taking pictures, I ran across the Odd Fellows building at the southeast corner of 7th and Market. The building (originally built for a fraternal organization dedicated to friendship, love, and truth founded in NYC by three boat builders, a comedian, and a vocalist) is an excellent metaphor for the changes happening in the neighborhood itself.

The mid-market area has never fit neatly into any category – it is too far west to be a part of the civic center corridor that is bisected by Van Ness Ave, not quite far enough east  or north to be the tenderloin (and downtown, beyond that), and too far north to be mistaken for it’s formerly industrial southern neighbor, SOMA – and so for decades, the people that called the neighborhood home also defied easy categorization.  For better or for worse, that’s changing.

Twitter is moving in as a neighborhood anchor tenant, the trinity plaza apartment complex is being completely redeveloped (the old buildings are now gone, some of the new buildings have been completed, some remain to be constructed), the fountain where the homeless once bathed has been shutdown and fenced off, chess tables that might or might not have been a front for other activities have been removed, neighborhood rents are on the rise, and when I was there on a Thursday at lunch time, there were more police in the plaza than food trucks serving lunch.

Just as the Odd Fellows building has lost it’s old ground-floor tenants to a formula-retail chain CVS, so is the mid-market area losing it’s old tenants in exchange for new – and very different – tenants. Like it or not, I think it is a good example of the changes we will continue to encounter along the way to the next version of San Francisco.

What will that San Francisco look like? Who will be able to afford it? How will it balance its history of activism and civic engagement with opportunities for growth and change?

Here’s the harsh reality for the mid-market area: office workers don’t want to hop over passed out homeless drunks and panhandlers while walking to and from their office jobs. It doesn’t matter if the office job is writing code for Twitter or making powerpoint presentations for Chevron, workers have a (perfectly reasonable, IMHO) desire to be able to walk to and from their offices without being assaulted, panhandled, puked or watching anyone take a piss. I mean, really.

When a bunch of workers move into a formerly vacant office building, lots of things happen beyond just the building; everything is connected. Employees want a building in a clean and safe neighborhood. So cops start enforcing laws they haven’t enforced in a long while. Then the smaller buildings see an increase in value because of the big tenant and the neighborhood improvements, like less panhandling. So more firms suddenly start showing interest in opening up offices in the neighborhood. Which causes more demand for new restaurants, gyms, bars and so on and so forth. It’s an almost self-powered feedback loop.

Who Moves Next?

How does the mid-market transformation play out? Who gets to stay, who ends up leaving? It’s a neighborhood in flux, and definitely a neighborhood worth keeping an eye on. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Let’s Repeal the Ghetto Tax

555 Fulton was approved by the Planning Commission last week. It contains a ground-floor grocery that could eliminate the “ghetto grocery tax” for at least one neighborhood. What will the Board of Supervisors do?

At issue is the developer’s desire for a ground-floor grocery store. The affluent of San Francisco have banned “formula-retail” chain stores, so a variance/exception will be required if there is to be a grocery store at the development.

While I applaud the spirit of a formula-retail ban (I voted for it in 2008, I think), the fact that we are even debating banning a grocery store from an economically poor neighborhood appalls me!

(site/neighborhood photos taken in October of 2013, click any image for a larger version or slideshow):

Poverty and Access to Basic Services:

This is a social justice issue. We aren’t talking about whether or not another coffee shop should open in the Castro, or whether or not we should allow another CVS when a Walgreen’s is almost right across the street. The recent approval of a CVS in the Castro (near 4 or 5 other chain drug-stores) while a proposed nearby Starbucks was denied (because it was near 4 or 5 other coffee shops) shows the rather subjective enforcement of our formula-retail ban.

What we are deciding is whether we can open a grocery store in a historically underserved and economically poor neighborhood. There are no “independent” grocery stores (i.e., non-chain and therefore allowed in the space) that are interested in the space. One of those independents (Andronico’s) is struggling, and their grocery costs are (in my experience) more expensive than Whole Foods. So the idea that there is a viable independent grocery store that wants this space but can’t have it is a blatant falsehood.

I also know that the homes above the grocery store will be expensive. New housing in San Francisco is expensive, and the reasons for that are far too many and too long to be addressed here. But regardless of the cost of the homes above it, a grocery store at 555 Fulton will be a source for reasonably-priced groceries (including fresh fruit and produce) for all of the surrounding neighborhood(s).

When deciding whether or not to approve 555 Fulton, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has a chance to repeal the ghetto grocery tax for at least one neighborhood. I believe that they should. If you aren’t familiar with it, the “ghetto tax” is a term that refers to the fact that the urban poor almost always pay more than wealthier citizens for basic goods and services. Why? Because being economically poor doesn’t suck enough….

For example, a 2006 report by the Brookings Institute found that:

Grocery stores in lower income neighborhoods tend to be smaller and more expensive than in higher income neighborhoods. The average grocery store in our sample of 2,384 lower income neighborhoods is 2.5 times smaller than the average grocery store in a higher income neighborhood. Also, there is about one mid- or large-sized grocer for every 69,055 residents in lower income neighborhoods, half the availability found in other neighborhoods. Access to only small grocery stores results in higher food prices for lower income shoppers. In particular, over 67 percent of the same food products in our sample of 132 different products are more expensive in small grocery stores than in larger grocery stores.

Is 555 Fulton in Hayes Valley (wealthy, white) or Western Addition (not-wealthy, not-white)?

The 555 Fulton site is located on the edge of the Western Addition and Hayes Valley. On a real estate map, the property is located in Hayes Valley, although it is a block away from SFAR’s definition of Western Addition. Various city groups map various areas differently, as I’ve written about before. While it may fall in Hayes Valley on a real estate map, the site is across from several housing projects, and the immediate area has a very different feel from the “Hayes Valley” of Patricia’s Green. It is, in short, an economically poor area.

According to a SF Planning 2011 document, in the Western Addition 14% of the residents live in poverty, and the annual household income is about $54,000. According to the same document, the average annual household income in San Francisco is just over $70,000 and the poverty rate across the city is 11%.

About Our Formula-Retail Ban:

From the Institute for Self-Reliance comes a pretty brief summary of our policy that was enacted in 2004 and strengthened by ballot measure in 2008.

Since 2004, San Francisco has restricted formula retail and restaurant uses.

Throughout most of the city, including all of San Francisco’s Neighborhood Commercial Districts, formula retail stores and restaurants are considered conditional uses. This means they must be approved by the Planning Commission on a case-by-case basis.

The law specifies that the Planning Commission must consider the following factors when deciding whether to approve a formula business:

  • the existing concentration of formula retail businesses within the neighborhood,
  • whether similar goods or services are already available within the area,
  • the compatibility of the proposed business with the character of the neighborhood,
  • retail vacancy rates in the area, and
  • the balance of neighborhood-serving versus citywide or regional-serving businesses.

The city’s regulations define a formula retail use as an establishment that shares common features, such as a standardized array of merchandise, trademark, architecture, and décor, with at least 11 other establishments in the United States. The term “retail use” includes both stores and restaurants.

Formula uses are prohibited entirely in a few neighborhoods, including North Beach and Hayes-Gough.

What are your thoughts on 555 Fulton?

1966 – 1968 Greenwich in Cow Hollow

1966 – 1968 Greenwich is a gorgeous Cow Hollow compound listed by Kim Barnes with Coldwell Banker. I know Kim from hanging out with her in the lobby of the Post International a few years back when we both had listings in the building, and she lists beautiful properties so I like to keep up with her!

Kitchen in main home, image courtesy of Kim Barnes

When I saw her gorgeous Cow Hollow neighborhood listing on broker’s tour this past Tuesday, I immediately wanted to write about it, and she was gracious enough to allow me to do so.

This is what I loved about 1968 Greenwich and the cottage at the rear of the lot, 1966 Greenwich:

  • The beautiful kitchen in the main house, with a dining room that opens to…
  • An absolutely gorgeous patio/yard that has lush vegetation, is incredibly quiet, and just a tranquil spot to hang out.

Together, the cottage at the rear with the main home at the front make for a wonderful combination, and you’d never guess that you are on Greenwich street, not far from the busy part of Lombard Street. The properties are both legally condominiums, so if you purchased both together you’d have a total of 5 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, two 1/2 bathrooms, and parking for 3 cars in total.

The rear cottage also has approved plans/permits for a 2,500 sq.ft. Golden Gate Bridge View Home!

If you’ve got an agent and you are looking in Cow Hollow, have them show you this property. It really is special. If you don’t yet have an agent, and would like to talk about working together, feel free to get in touch with an email or phone call. And if you are the kind of person that wants to work directly with the listing agent, then contact Kim Barnes directly!

Disclaimer: Information provided is based on marketing materials provided by the listing agent and my brief tour of the home. Please be sure to verify any details that are of importance to you with the appropriate expert…

32,000 vs 32?

We’ve written before about Masonic Ave. and possible changes to the street configuration.


A few days ago we got an email from a neighborhood resident. We’ve copied and pasted the full email below:

Our Nopa/Panhandle/Masonic/Haight neighborhood needs your help. Some neighbors gave me your contact info in hopes you could help support our fight. SFMTA is trying to remove hundreds of street parking spaces in every neighborhood under the guise of “pedestrian and bicycle safety”. Instead of working with neighborhoods to find a compromise with everyone…those who drive, bike, walk or take Muni, they instead have decided to push through their agenda even if hundreds and thousands of neighbors (majority of people living here!) believe their plan is not what the neighborhood needs and wants.
As a mother of 2 young daughters as well as a soccer coach/referee who carries around a lot of equipment, I need my car. Since they have taken away 100 parking spaces earlier this year in the Panhandle, I’m finding it at least twice as hard to find parking (now an average of 10-30 min). It’s a quality of life issue for my family and many others. We see our friends with kids moving out of the City in droves. Then we hear that at 13.4%, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major city in the U.S. All of this is not a coincidence. Organizations such as the SFMTA are pushing through policies that do not take into consideration how negatively it impacts families with kids, seniors, and persons with disabilities.
But, some neighborhoods are standing strong against MTA. For example, the residents and Polk St merchants are standing together through their neighborhood association and have been successful in making MTA listen to the neighborhood and stop them from taking 200 parking spaces on Polk St for their project to build raised bike only lanes .
Now Masonic neighbors are leading our own fight. MTA is trying to raise $18 million to take way 167 parking spaces and a rush hour lane from Masonic to build raised bike only lanes. They are doing this using scare tactics such as quoting 7 deaths on Masonic when that’s incorrect. They recently admitted the 7 deaths they keep referring to is in the “Masonic area” and not just Masonic Ave.
As a person who works to make San Francisco a more livable city and help people stay by finding their new home, please help us with this fight. Please sign our neighborhood petition to save Masonic Street:
The neighborhood has also put together a website with updates and more information. If you have any questions, let me know. Please forward the petition to others who may be interested in supporting us, too!
I have a lot of thoughts about all of this, but before I share mine, I’d love to hear your thoughts about Masonic Ave…

Grey Gardens: 37 Miraloma

Grey Gardens. Guess that tells you how gay I am? It seems genetically pre-destined that I would gravitate to a topic that involves both real estate and the one and only Jacqueline Kennedy

37 Miraloma, today’s West of Twin Peaks Grey Garden

The “original” Grey Gardens is at 3 West End Road in the East Hamptons. But we’ve got plenty of our own dilapidated homes across the city. Whether or not they are occupied by reclusive socialites with feral cats is an open question…

I know real estate blogs love to feature all that is shiny and beautiful, but plenty of real estate is less than shiny and certainly less than beautiful. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its own inner beauty and lovely personality, but glamorous renderings are not the entirety of a professional real estate career.

I’d also like to say that while I’m giving these homes a bit of a hard time, if they are still occupied, that is a situation that is less than funny, and I’m not mocking the individuals that may still be living here. In fact, there are a variety of social services available in the city designed to help reclusive shut-ins, and if you happen to be a neighbor or know some background about any of the homes please get in touch with us privately (email is best –

While we’d love to see these homes updated and rebuilt for the future, we are more concerned about the safety and well-being of any remaining occupants. Being elderly and isolated is perhaps one of the most toxic social combinations in the world, and we are more than happy to do what we can to help connect people with other people and services that may help them stay in their home. Even better if we can connect them with services that will help tidy and clean up their home so that they can live with some modicum of safety and health.

That said, the home pictured above is at 37 Miraloma. According to tax records, it is owned by a single individual, and their tax bill in 2012 was just over $500 – so you can safely assume they’ve been living there for a very long time…