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.