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August 31, 2005

Something To Consider

According to CNN/Money and the Census Bureau, San Francisco ranks as the third richest American city while New Orleans ranks as the ninth poorest ("America's richest and poorest places"). If any community can afford to help New Orleans, it’s us. So as we previously wrote, please consider donating to the American Red Cross.

In addition, SocketSite was recently approved as a Design Within Reach affiliate (and we have an Amazon affiliate program in place). In theory, these affiliate programs might one day help underwrite our operating costs. In reality, it’s the residents of New Orleans that really need the support. As such, we’ve decided to donate 100% of any affiliate commissions we’re able to generate this September to the American Red Cross. You shop, we donate, someone in New Orleans survives.

So if you’ve been thinking about buying anything from either Amazon or Design Within Reach, please consider doing it through one of the following links:

· Design Within Reach Website [SocketSite Affiliate Link]
· Amazon Website [SocketSite Affiliate Link]

And finally, we’d like to see a local real estate brokerage or top agent commit to matching any monies that we are able to collect. Please consider emailing this post to your real estate agent, or simply ask them to drop us a note.

Regardless, thank you for your consideration.

Adam Koval
Editor in Chief

Posted by socketadmin at 1:54 PM

New Orleans Needs Our Help

Despite all the horrific images, video, and media coverage coming out of New Orleans, we really don’t think most people (ourselves included) can actually comprehend just how much damage, destruction, and devastation has occurred. Or that it’s actually getting worse by the minute.

As such, we are currently spending all our time trying to figure out how best we can help. Our first step is to simply ask all our readers to consider donating to the American Red Cross. Right now.

Online: Donate to the American Red Cross
Phone (English): 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669)
Phone (Spanish): 1-800-257-7575

Posted by socketadmin at 10:33 AM

August 30, 2005

Yahoo! Coming To The City (Google To Follow)

Looks like Yahoo! has signed a letter of intent for a 200,000 square feet of office space at 475 Sansome Street (and insiders say that Google is looking for 200,000 square feet of San Francisco space as well). According to Commercial Property News, “the [Yahoo!] lease drops the vacancy rate by 0.4 percent, a moderately paltry change in an office market still recovering from the dot-com crash.”

Regardless, expect major employment growth and associated demand for housing. But then again, all our friends that work for Yahoo!/Google already live in the city, so perhaps just expect less traffic on 101/280.

· Yahoo to Lease 200,000-SF Office in San Francisco [CPN Online]
· Yahoo search leads to San Francisco [MSNBC]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:30 PM

August 29, 2005

First Game Pulte (But Many Sets To Go)

Looks like Pulte has placed the San Francisco Tennis Club (Fifth and Townsend) under contract with their sights sight on bulldozing the courts and building anew (400 condo’s that is). We can hear rackets being smashed (and Bay Club snickers) all the way over here.

Also mentioned in the San Francisco Business Times, a “34-story development at 535 Mission St. will go to the San Francisco Planning Commission Sept. 1...The project calls for 273 condo units, 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail and a whopping (not to mention pricey) five levels of subterranean parking.”

· Pulte, Peebles and Avalon Bay home in on housing projects [SF Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:27 PM

Rose Sellers Still Selling

San Francisco Flower Mart

East versus West; Japanese versus Italians; out of state developers (they’re from Virginia). Anyone else thinking a modern day re-write of The Grapes of Wrath? Maybe it's just us. Regardless, details are starting to surface with regard to the San Francisco Flower Mart sale we reported last week.

And it appears that the move by Silver Terrace was designed “to force the issue of the Flower Mart's future.” This ought to be interesting (but not quite Steinbeck).

· Real estate in bloom [Chronicle]
· Time To Send Flowers? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:01 AM

Los Angles Snickers, San Francisco Shudders

Unfortunately we’re not that only ones that keep an eye on The Housing Bubble 2. Nor is it likely that we were the only ones that noticed their reference to a recent LA Times article:

Homeowners took $59 billion in cash out of their houses in the second quarter, double the amount in the 2004 quarter and 16 times the average rate of the mid-1990s, according to data released this month by mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

If mortgage rates rise sharply or home prices fall, many homeowners could be in financial turmoil. They may be unable to service their loans, or could even find that their homes are worth less than their mortgages.

Such a prospect seems unimaginably distant to Doug Levy, a university administrator in San Francisco.

When his two-bedroom condominium rose in value by 10% — which took nine months in the hot Bay Area real estate market — Levy refinanced. That increased the size of his mortgage but gave him $25,000 to pay bills and take a modest skiing vacation in British Columbia. He's considering tapping his equity again if his condo continues to appreciate.

"It's like I'm sleeping in my piggy bank," said Levy, 44. "In this market, real estate is a liquid asset."

Damn it Doug, stop consuming real estate. And please stop talking to the LA papers. You're killing us.

· Equity Is Altering Spending Habits and View of Debt [LA Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:01 AM

August 26, 2005

Salvation Through Salvage

(Image from Rejuvenation Online)

Carol Lloyd jumps on the salvage bandwagon with insight on six Bay Area sources for salvaged building supplies (supplementing our previous list of two). She also sheds light on a new source of bargain building materials: “pre-demolition sales”. The six local sources:

Building REsources (San Francisco)
"Part old-fashioned junkyard/part art installation, Building REsources has a lot of stuff at great prices amid the rubble."

Caldwell's Building Salvage (San Francisco)
"Mostly lumber and doors -- with a great affordable door shop to build frames for old doors. Some windows, hardwood, the occasional claw-foot tub -- there's a showroom with new flooring, bathrooms, etc."

Ohmega Salvage (Berkeley)
"Restoration materials and furniture from older (pre-1950) buildings."

Urban Ore (Berkeley)
"Everything and lots of it. Also a showcase for sustainable building materials and design features."

The ReUse People (Alameda)
"This nonprofit does whole-house deconstruction and maintains an extensive warehouse of used building supplies."

Whole House Building Supply (East Palo Alto)
"Sign up for predemolition sale e-mails or call the hotline at 650-328-8732. Lots of wood, doors and windows; some tubs, cabinets, mantles, sinks and appliances."

· Salvage Heaven [Chronicle]
· Mining Urban Ore [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:44 PM

Carpe Diem (And The Ice)

Damn, while we really don’t want to give any more publicity to the great “Fillmore Fiasco” (a.k.a. Icer Air 2005), we do want to give props to Mike and the PotreroHillSF gang for seizing the day (and spotlight).

· Icer Air: An Open Letter to the Mayor [PotreroHillSF]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:19 AM

Sunday Surprise

Keep both hands firmly on that latte. You’re going to be crossing a picket line if you attend the open house of the TIC at 838 Potrero this Sunday (8/28). The San Francisco Tenants Union is organizing the protest in response to an Ellis Act eviction in the building.

We’re trying not to take sides. Just trying to keep you informed and solicit “tips” from anyone that attends (from either side). A gold start for photos. And as a side note, looks like the unit has some great views...

· Listing: 838 Potero [SF MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:09 AM

Bayview Development

5800 Third Street

The Third Street Light Rail is breathing new life into the Bayview. Armstrong Place, consisting of 256 for-sale and rental units, was recently approved for construction at 5600 Third Street. And next week, Levin Menzies & Associates will seek Planning Commission approval for a major condo project at 3800 Third.

Great stuff. But we still have to shake our heads when we read, “...prices will start at around $500,000 to be affordable for young families.” Hell, we remember back in the old days...

· Two new projects hope to bring life to Bayview area [Examinier]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:17 AM

August 25, 2005

Agent Market Insight (And Confession)

In doing some research this afternoon we came across the San Francisco Real Estate blog, hosted by “realtor michelle”, a ten year real estate veteran of San Francisco Real Estate. Michelle’s post from June 9th caught our eye:

As more and more agents see offer dates come and go, pricing will be adjusted to compensate for the lack of dramatic overbids. We’re being instructed to list only as low as the seller is will to accept an offer. Used to be we would under list the property to allow enough room for the dramatic overbids. I believe those times are ending. Too many offer dates have come and gone with no offers. [ed note: all emphasis added]

We definitely appreciate Michelle's candor. And agree with her assessment.

Posted by socketadmin at 1:58 PM

Tenants In Common (TIC) Thursday

Rumblings of TIC lottery reform and continued coverage of individual loans for TIC units are headlining stories today. To be honest, TICs scare the hell out of us these days. In an up market everyone’s happy (okay, so not everyone), but if the market should change, watch out. We believe that too many current TIC purchasers are undercapitalized and overly banking on appreciation.

Almost by definition, these buyers, along with 91% of all San Francisco residents, don’t have the resources to purchase a traditional condo or single-family residence in the city. And if they’re already stretching to make the purchase, there’s a good chance they’re going to be stretching when it comes to the carrying/conversion costs. As the Chronicle notes, “inflated housing prices mean TIC owners who get in over their heads can sell their units at a profit. But if the market were to cool significantly, TIC owners would face more potential liability if their co-owners financially flounder."

Don’t get us wrong, TICs aren’t inherently evil or flawed. But in the immortal words of Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.” Run the numbers on your purchase, and your partners' finances, assuming that the market is going to turn. And then be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t. Rather than financially ruined if it does.

· Supe proposes new TIC lottery system [Examiner]
· Strangers sharing mortgages [Chronicle]
· San Francisco TIC borrowers about to get some TLC from lenders [BizJournal]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:42 AM

August 24, 2005

No Ice For You!

We hate to even mention it (it’s already gotten more than its fifteen minutes of fame), but in case you were actually wondering, Icer Air 2005 (a.k.a. the Fillmore Fiasco) has been CANCELLED. Here's your chance Potrero.

· Pacific Heights ski jumping canceled [Chronicle]
· Ski jump event up in the air [Examiner]
· Norwegians welcome ski jump [Chronicle]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:48 PM

Anti-Bubble Counterpoint

We’re feeling a bit worn out from all the recent housing doom and gloom, so we're serving up a couple of anti-bubble articles to add some pep in your step this morning. For example, according to Forbes writer Scott Reeves, “The booming real estate market is driven by historically low mortgage rates, solid employment growth and brisk demand--not wild speculation.

We might argue that an abnormally low cost of capital (i.e. low mortgage rates) is actually contributing to "wild" speculation, but we really don't want to kill your buzz too soon...

· Don't Believe The Hype [Forbes]
· Why there is no housing bubble [MSN Money]
· Don't Buy Housing Bubble Propaganda [RealMoney]
· Experts see no housing bubble [Chronicle]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:02 AM

August 23, 2005

San Francisco Bay Area Sales And Prices Down

According to the California Association of Realtors, the median sales price for existing homes in the San Francisco Bay Area dropped 1.3% from June to July. Perhaps more importantly, sales volume was down 12.1% from June to July of this year, and down 16.3% compared to July 2004 (i.e. accounting for seasonality).

And although we don’t have figures for San Francisco, the C.A.R. “Unsold Inventory Index for existing, single-family detached homes in July 2005 was 3.2 months, compared with 2.4 months (revised) for the same period a year ago.” A 33% increase.

· July 2005 Regional Sales and Price Activity [C.A.R.]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:13 PM

The Story Within The Story

83 McAllister

Okay, while we might have branded “Mid-Market eyed for unusual projects” a non-story, it’s the story within the story we actually find quite interesting. In specific, the “tiny condo” movement.

...Group I is building 60 tiny condominiums a block from Market Street. The project has attracted attention because of the small size of the units, their relative affordability and the lack of parking because of its transit-rich corridor location. The condos at 83-91 McAllister St. start at 225 square feet and will be priced in the $200,000s and up, project manager Dan Paris said.

A first glance, we love it. And it’s quite “affordable”. But at nearly $1,000/sqft. it’s damn expense for any part of San Francisco (including Pacific Heights). Hell, that’s expensive (and small) for even New York or London!

Posted by socketadmin at 4:13 PM

Mid-Market Non-News

As we reported two months ago, the Mid-Market development plan is moving forward. And apparently developers are considering “unusual projects”. Like non-profit headquarters or small condominiums. Uh-huh. For a second there, we thought we were reading the Onion.

· Mid-Market eyed for unusual projects [Examiner]
· Mid-Market Development “Breaking” News [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:56 PM

Time To Send Flowers?

Looks like the rumors are true. Sort of. Although a portion of the historic San Francisco Flower Mart is up for sale, the actual Flower Market appears to be safe. For now...

A housing developer has made a bid to buy a portion of the historic San Francisco Flower Mart, and flower company shareholders are slated to vote on the deal in early September, according to real estate sources.

The California Flower Market portion of the property is not for sale, according to Robert Otsuka, executive vice president and general manager.

Speculation on the flower mart sale has increased in recent weeks, and the market's biggest tenant, Silver Terrace, abruptly vacated its space two weeks ago, according to flower mart workers. Silver Terrace was the largest flower wholesale business among San Francisco Flower Market tenants.

We’re definitely curios as to the move by Silver Terrace (the Markets largest tenant) to vacate. Any insiders care to comment?

· S.F. Flower Mart considers bid for part of property [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:42 PM

Pier 70 Rehabilitation

Pier 70: EDAW

A group of interns from EDAW have been working on a "vision" for the redevelopment of Pier 70. And it's excellent work.

"Pier 70 will be a diverse working waterfront district that embraces its distinctive arts and industrial character, connects to the local communities, reveals its maritime history and activates the water's edge."

UPDATE: the interns will present to the Port Commission this afternoon at 3pm (Ferry Building hearing room, second floor).

· Pier 70: Vision [EDAW]
· Pier 70: concept vision plan [EDAW Intern Program]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:30 PM

QuickLinks: Lost In The Shuffle

· Newsom vows surge in new housing by 2010 [Examiner]
· New law proposed to aid neighborhood planning [Examiner]
· Online Bettors Find a New Love: Real Estate [NYT]
· Cityscape approaching its fifth anniversary [SF Cityscape]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:16 AM

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