Watch our Buyer Get Keys to her family’s new home

Our client, Ceci, opens the door to her family’s new home for the first time in this video. Watch our client a home buyer get keys:

Thank you to Ceci for documenting and sharing your family’s journey with us. I feel privileged to have you as a client but also as a dear friend. Oh, the memories…!

I can’t wait to be a part of a few beautiful-moments-yet-to-arrive at your family’s awesome new home.

With deep affection,


PS – This really was an incredible team effort. Thanks to the phenomenal SF mortgage broker team at Opes led by Tracy Andreini and also to a consummate listing agent, Alan Khoo with the JODI Group.

Our First 3D Matterport Scan

I like to think of myself as being pretty skeptical. Or maybe, I should say that I find myself growing more skeptical. As the years go by, every piece of technology I try but discard because it fails to deliver on its marketing promises just makes me that much more skeptical. So I’m thrilled to report on a new technology, a unique 3-D camera made by Matterport that does an amazing (not yet perfect, but hey, neither are we) job of creating virtual layouts, virtual home tours, and virtual walkthroughs in one awesome embeddable link, like this one (shameless self-promotion ahead) for our listing at 239 Bonita:

What I love About Matterport 3D

The turn-around was fast. We had to give the company with the Matterport 3D camera technology a little heads up (but right in line with normal real estate service lead times) to schedule our Matterport Scan day but Nicholas Khoe of ING Studios was great to work with. Both he and his assistant were professional, friendly, and easy to work with both over e-mail and on-site. Once the scan was done, we had it in our inbox in just a few hours. Which is amazing!

What I can’t wait to see Get Better

Size. I can’t wait to see the files get smaller as their compression technology and magic algorithms do the magical math stuff that made my eyes glaze over in high school and college. But programmers, apparently, thrive on such things and I have no doubt that the engineers at Matterport can make it happen.



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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 3.35.58 PM

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.
image (3)

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.
image (5)

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)


Dear TIC Owners, You Just Got Royally Screwed

Update June 13, 2013: I just received a copy of the legislation as amended at the June 11 meeting. I’ll be reading it and making some more posts to flesh out my thoughts in the coming day or two. Thanks for your patience, everyone!

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve condo lottery bypass legislation, and you’d think that would be a wonderful thing for TIC owners. But the devil is in the details, and the details – while still murky – appear to screw anyone with aspirations of home ownership in San Francisco that doesn’t have a big pile of Google, Facebook, or Apple stock to help them with their first purchase.

Why Rent? Here's Why...
Why Rent? Here’s Why…

If you are a TIC owner that qualifies for the lottery today, you’re kinda-sorta right to be happy. In exchange for a $20,000 extortion fee per unit, the city will gently shield its eyes with your big fat check and look away while you submit all your paperwork to the city so your building can become a condominium. The congratulations comes with a big fat asterisk, though: tenant’s rights activists just did a pretty good job of screwing almost every TIC owner going forward.

I have nothing against tenants – I’ve been one myself, and I assure you I could share some crazy *** landlord stories with you. But what happened tonight is pretty much a nightmare for owners of TIC units. Why?

  • The Board of Supervisors did not create any “new” lottery spaces for TIC conversion. Instead, they just destroyed the already awful lottery system and replaced it with requirements that appear to double occupancy requirements and make it almost impossible to convert five and six unit buildings to condominiums in the future. If you just bought a TIC in a 3 unit building, I hope you didn’t want to convert it to condo. Because three snowballs in hell have a better chance of becoming a snow-person than you now have of converting your TIC to a condo. 
  • The Board of Supervisors also destroyed an owner’s guaranteed right of conversion because under the new law anyone – yes anyone –  can now challenge a condo conversion for any reason at all. As I understand it, there are absolutely no guidelines or criteria that DPW must use when deciding to disallow a condo conversion. Does your building meet all of the requirements? Doesn’t matter anymore – regardless of whether or not the building satisfies all of the “requirements” –  one bitter person with some spare time on their hands can end your conversion dreams.


This, my dear readers, is why we have steered our buyers as far away from almost all tenancies-in-common for as long as we’ve been in real estate. The odds have always been stacked against TIC owners, and legislation like this is what passes as “progress” in San Francisco.

A Tale of Two Markets in Bernal Heights

505 Anderson in Bernal Heights is a single family home that has been on the market and off the market for the past several years. It provides a great perspective on how the San Francisco real estate market has changed in the past few months.

505 Anderson in Bernal Heights
505 Anderson in Bernal Heights

The home is small – about 750 square feet, doesn’t have parking, but does have two bedrooms, one bathroom, and is a single family home. So, in other words, it has some upsides – single family home. And some downsides – on the small side, no parking.

It was listed in 2010 for $489,000 and then withdrawn after about a month on the market. 2010 = No Sale!

The home was listed for sale again in 2011 for $489,000 and sat on the market for about 3 months before being withdrawn. 2011 = No Sale! 

The Bernal heights home was listed again in the spring of 2013 for $499,000. It was the same house, with only minor changes made since the last two sale attempts (new windows and siding in 2012), and plans had been drawn up showing how you could make a larger bedroom and add one car parking.

In 2013 the home was on the market for about 3 weeks, and after listing for $499,000 it closed for almost 125% of the asking price, closing just over $620,000. 2013 = Over Asking Sale! 

In a nutshell, I think 505 Anderson is a great indication of how the market has changed in San Francisco. Homes that languished on the market in 2010 and 2011 are now being snapped over for substantially over their previous listing prices. And the only substantial difference is that the market has changed – not the house.

What are your experiences with the San Francisco market this year? Can you think of other homes you saw for sale in the past few years that didn’t sell but ended up doing phenomenally well in 2013? Leave a comment below, I’m happy to do some more research and share what I can about the sales.

Board of Supervisors Ready to Hasten End of SF’s Middle Class

According to a blog post over at the city insider blog, tenant’s rights activists have teamed up with the Board of Supervisors to hasten the demise of San Francisco’s struggling middle class. In specific, amendments have been introduced to the condo bypass legislation that would essentially kill TICs as a viable form of ownership for all but the most well-off SF residents with aspirations to own property in the city.


In particular, Supervisors David Chiu and Norman Yee introduced an amendment that essentially guts the condo conversion lottery going forward, eliminates the ability of five and six unit buildings to condo convert (ever), and increases the occupancy requirements for conversion in 3 and 4 unit buildings.

While I haven’t seen the amendment myself, based on what I’ve read it is a horrible idea that will hasten the end of the middle class in San Francisco. Here’s why:

  • The legislation, as written, already extorts $20,000 per unit (not building) from each owner as a bribe to allow them to bypass the condo lottery. 
  • The amendment proposed will essentially forward-load the lottery, with every building being allowed to convert now taking away the ability of a future building to convert. For example, if 3,200 units took advantage of the legislation (if adopted with the proposed amendment), then for the next 16 years there would be ZERO SPOTS in the lottery for any other units to convert. Why? Because the lottery is currently limited to 200 units/year (not buildings), and for every unit that pays the $20,000 extortion fee, a spot is eliminated in a future lottery. How many spots will be eliminated from future lotteries? Exactly the same number as units that are able to take advantage of the condo bypass.

The Board of Supervisors, and David Chiu and Norman Yee in particular, should be ashamed of this legislation. Home ownership for middle class families and rental properties for middle class families should never be an “either/or” proposition. The Board of Supervisors have pitted property owners against tenants, as though both communities can’t exist together.

If San Francisco has sensible growth and land-use policies, then the Board of Supervisors would never be in this position, and one group wouldn’t have to lose for the other to “win.”

The legislation, if adopted with the proposed amendments, is just one more loud and clear signal that the Board of Supervisors wants middle class families to leave the city for cities and neighborhoods where home ownership isn’t vilified and parents will actually know with some certainty what school their child will attend.