925-fultonAs you walk up Fulton Street approaching Alamo Square, you might think that this magnificent home is a mirage caused by too much Vueve Cliquot. But no.  La Grande Dame is real and can be yours for $2,995,000… Considering what you get for $3MM just a few blocks north, this is a steal.  (Did I mention there are “grounds” and downtown views at the same time.)

This Queen Anne Mansion was built in 1895 and restored lovingly to historically appropriate modern luxury condition in 2006-2008. She’s not one of the postcard row beauties, but she’s much bigger – 4,188 perfectly sited square feet. There are six bedrooms, three full and 2 1/2 baths AND PARKING. If you want to see more, click here. And please let me know ASAP if she’s the one you can’t resist!


A burning question for most of us, to be sure.  The below analysis should help to shed some light.  However, a friend of mine says that statistics are like bikinis (they can cover up the crucial bits while exposing only what they intend to expose) and I couldn’t agree more.  If you want a detailed analysis of the value of your home, don’t be shy about asking.  Your situation is likely a bit different than the “big picture.”

This analysis of San Francisco neighborhoods compares dollar per square foot ($/sq.ft.) at what is estimated to be the time when peak value was reached, to what the $/sq.ft. was for sales occurring 10/15/08 – 1/30/09. (Sales occurring after 10/15/08 reflect the impact of the 9/15/08 financial meltdown on the SF market.)

The neighborhoods below were chosen because enough sales occurred in the comparison periods to generate what appeared to be reliable statistical results. (Many areas of the city did not have sufficient sales.) We have chosen $/sq.ft. because it is more trustworthy than median prices when trying to assess changes in value for specific properties.  Indeed, median prices have dropped significantly more than $/sq.ft. because less expensive homes now make up a much larger proportion of sales than they did previously (for a variety of reasons, especially financing conditions).

Different areas reached peak values at different times – in 2006, 2007 or 2008 – and the asterisked notes denote the estimated peak value period that pertains. The price ranges of the sales included were chosen because we felt them to be in a standard range of value for the area and property type specified – thus attempting to eliminate both the ultra high end and the ultra low end, which often distort averages.

Important note: the changes delineated probably understate the actual decline in values for 3 reasons:

  1. In a declining market, sales data – which typically shows up 30 to 45 days after acceptance of offers – will always be a step behind current activity, i.e. offers being accepted right now.
  2. The market has definitely shifted to smaller, less expensive homes (less expensive as to total sales price). All things being equal, a smaller home will have a higher dollar per square foot value than a larger one, therefore skewing current values higher than they ought to be in an apples-to-apples comparison.
  3. In a sellers’ market, virtually everything sells, but in a buyers’ market, typically just the best homes sell – best appearing, best condition and/or best value. So the $/sq.ft. for the recent period applies to the “best homes” while the $/sq.ft. for the peak period applies to homes of a much wider range of quality.

Key to Estimated Peak-Value Period for the Chart Below:

*             Peak values estimated to have been reached 1/1/06 – 6/30/06
**           Peak values estimated to have been reached 1/1/07 – 6/30/07
***        Peak values estimated to have been reached 1/1/08 – 6/30/08

Only homes with parking were included in the below analysis. SFD = single family dwelling (house)

or District
Property Type
Price Range
Avg $/sq.ft. at Peak of Market $/sq.ft. for Sales
10/15/08 – 01/09
Change in Avg $/sq.ft. Value
(District 10)*
SFD (House)
$400 – 800k
$554/sq.ft. $416/sq.ft. – 25%
Ingleside/ Oceanview* SFD
$400k – 800k
$572 $459 – 20%
Potrero Hill/ Bernal Hghts** SFD
$700k – 1.6m
$678 $610 – 10%
Richmond District** SFD
$700k – 1.6m
$582 $547 – 6%
Parkside/ Outer & Central Sunset** SFD
$550 – 1.1m
$608 $542 – 11%
Miraloma/ Sunnyside** SFD
$600k – 1.2m
$667 $611 – 8.4%
SOMA** Condo
$500k – 900k
$689 $534 – 22.5%
Noe & Eureka Valleys*** SFD
$800k – 2m
$856 $770 – 10%
Noe & Eureka Valleys*** Condo
$500k – 1.2m
$759 $704 – 7%
Pacific Hghts/ Marina (Dist 7)*** Condo
$600k – 1.2m
$818 $762 – 7%
South Beach*** Condo
$500k – 1m
$785 $713 – 9%
Hayes Valley/ Alamo/ NOPA*** Condo
$500k – 900k
$684 $612 – 10.5%

Averages are generalities and cannot account for the varieties in location, condition and amenities found in SF homes. Averages may be affected by unusual events or anomalous short-term trends, and do not necessarily reflect values for specific properties.  

All data from sources deemed reliable, but not guaranteed and may contain errors and omissions. Sales not reported to MLS – such as many new condo-development sales – are not included in this analysis. February 3, 2009

The median price is a measure that many use to keep a handle on how the market is doing. However, in San Francisco, our housing market is so diverse that this single way of looking at housing prices is not very accurate unless you are comparing very carefully selected comparable homes. We have had a big shift this year in sales toward the lower end of the market, making the “median” price decrease much more than the value of individual properties.

The below is a comparison of SF House, Condo and TIC sales form 10/15/08 to 1/30/09 with the same period a year earlier by price range

Total # of Sales:  down 27% – 30%*
Total Dollar Volume:  down 43% – 46%*

# Sales
– 1/30/08
# Sales
– 1/30/09
Change in
# of Sales
% of Total Sales
10/07 – 1/08
% of Total Sales
10/08 – 1/09
Change in %
of Total Sales
Under 500k 139 165 + 19% 11% 18% + 64%
500k – 749,999 418 366 – 12% 32% 41% + 28%
750k – 999,999 340 206 – 39% 26% 23% – 12%
1m – 1,499,999 232 99 – 56% 18% 11% – 39%
1.5m – 1,999,999 79 27 – 66% 6% 3% – 50%
2m – 4,999,999 81 35 – 57% 6% 4% – 33%
5m+ 12 3 – 75% 1% .3% -70%

Percentage of sales under $750,000:

10/15/07 – 1/30/08: 43%

10/15/08 – 1/30/09: 59%

Percentage of sales over $1,000,000:

10/15/07 – 1/30/08: 31%

10/15/08 – 1/30/09: 18%


Ø  The only price range which saw an increase in number of sales was the under $500k market.

Ø  Sales of homes under $750,000 increased from 43% to 59% of total sales.

Ø  Sales of homes $1m+ declined from 31% to 18% of total sales.

* Changes are approximate because not all sales for the 08/09 period have been reported to MLS by the date of the calculation.

sample_goldenThis Saturday night starting at 5:30 p.m., the Chinese New Year’s Parade will loop through San Francisco’s downtown. It is a beautiful, moving and colorful spectacle. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to see it before, I highly recommend it. We will be there and would be happy to meet up with your group.

The latest parade additon is a newly hatched 238 foot lighted dragon (which will go green by using fluorescent lights).  If you’d like to see a movie about it’s birth, click here.

To see the parade route, click here.

It is a courageous person who would predict the future right now. Eric Nelson, a great mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, is such a man. He can be reached at enelson@thehontegroup.com. Read on . . .

“IT’S A CRUEL, CRUEL SUMMER…LEAVING ME HERE ON MY OWN.” From 80’s band Bananarama And that’s exactly what potential home buyers and refinancers who stay on the sidelines might be singing.

Although home loan rates are very attractive now, the picture could be quite different as some inflationary factors will likely come to light heading into summer. Oil prices may be on the rise as we approach the summer driving season, some of the economic stimulus might begin to take hold, corporate cost-cutting measures could start to bear fruit, and, perhaps most importantly, the Fed will no longer be a buyer of Mortgage Bonds. These are all ingredients in a recipe that could very easily result in significantly higher interest rates this summer…so if you have been thinking about acting on a home loan, do not delay.

But with no hint of inflation in the current market, why would Bond traders be fearful now? Are they listening to strange voices and what did they say? The forward looking markets got an earful from Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin last week…and he’s not the only one. Mishkin said that “inflation could come to the forefront, given all of the government programs”, and “once the economy recovers, liquidity must be taken out of the markets”…meaning the Fed may need to rapidly hike rates down the road, to control the potential of inflation.

What this means is that if you are thinking of refinancing, get your application in as soon as you can, so that when the right rate pops up, your lender can lock you in and make sure you take advantage of this opportunity. If you are thinking of buying right now, the low interest rates (and home prices) available right now may help you buy a home that was out of reach for you just a few months ago. If you are considering your options, I want to help. Give me a call (or send an email) and let’s get started helping you make your next move.

Upcoming Listings

February 3, 2009

$2,100,000/ South Beach/ 229 Brannan #17A BR/BA: 3/3 PKG: 2 Brief Description: Penthouse in South Beach’s premiere building, The Brannan. Pano views of the Bay, Bridge and downtown. New to spring market, priced $350,000 less than in the Fall.

$850,000/ Pacific Heights/ 256 Presidio Ave #5 BR/BA: 2/1 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Gorgeous top floor condo w/views photos @256Presidio.Net

$845,000/ Berkeley/ 2964 Shasta Rd BR/BA: 3/2 PKG: 2 Brief Description: Lovely view home close to Tilden Park. Backyard has a various fruit trees, vegetable garden and mini-vineyard.

$759,000/ South Financial District/ 77 Dow Pl #911 BR/BA: 1/1.5 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Corner loft with private deck, big city view, steel & concrete bldg close to downtown, BART & Westfield. One of only 4 in the bldg

$749,000 Nob Hill / Russian Hill / 1545 Broadway #205 BR/BA: 2/2 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Large, remodeled 2 bed 2 bath, granite kitchens & baths, h/w, stainless appliances, small deck, very spacious. Unit should be staged by next week, easy to show

$489,000/ Downtown/ 630 Mason St. #402/ BR/BA: 1/1 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Beautiful Co-op apt in a fabulous location

Pocket Listings:
$1,649,000/ Buena Vista Park / 33 Park Hill, Unit A BR/BA: 2/2 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Amazing urban oasis in this two-level, house-like condo with 2 decks, fabulous views from downtown to East Bay, exclusive use of unbelievably enormous designer garden complete with pond, waterfall and walking bridge. Wonderful master suite, spacious 2nd bedroom, living room, dining room & media room or 3rd bedroom. Approx. 2300 sq ft. Truly unique!

$775,000 / South Financial Dist / 77 Dow Pl #1305 BR/BA: 1/1.5 PKG: 1 Brief Description: Penthouse at Hawthorne Place. Ideal pied-a-terre with panoramic views of Bay, Bridge & Ballpark. Swimming in Southeast light. Two entrances.