March 31, 2006
2576-2580 Washington: RE-PRICED TO SELL NOW!!!
From the same people who brought you a "Huge price reduction!!!" of $252,000 (7.8%), we now have 2576-2580 Washington “RE-PRICED TO SELL NOW!!!” at $2,889,000.
That’s right, take another $109,000 (or 3.6%) off the list price, and add another entry to the SocketSite Guide to Price Reductions, and re-ink the exclamation point key on the old typewriter.
Weekend Update: Three Weeks Later
Call it tradition, a need to see it through to the end, or just plain rubbernecking, but damn it, we're following these units until they sell.
1. 1725 Washington: Seven of the fourteen units remain available (#12 has yet to be added to the MLS).
2. 1625 California: At least three original “2ND Release now available! Going fast!” units remain Active (#31,#43,#44). No word on an impressive “3RD Release”.
3. 1551 Filbert: Unit #1 has fallen out of contract; all three TIC units remain available.
And FYI: 776 Tehama throws open its doors this weekend as 17 new condos hit the market. We’re looking forward to some good reader reports. Don't forget the cameras. And umbrellas.
∙ Weekend Update: Sales Follow-Up [SocketSite]
What’s Really Going On? (Part I And A Half)
Despite all the hype, it appears that “starchitected” condos aren’t actually selling that well in New York (according to the Wall Street Journal). Curbed offers a fine rundown for the subscriptionaly challenged.
The relevance to San Francisco you ask? Well, Damion Matthews (of “What’s Really Going On?” fame) points out the following precious quotes in the Journal:
“The slowdown appears to have prompted some developers to exaggerate their sales figures. Marketers for Mr. Meier's 165 Charles Street, along Manhattan's Hudson River waterfront, had widely distributed information to potential buyers and the media stating that 24 of the building's 31 units had sold. But a look at deeds filed with the city showed a much lower number.”
"Developers try hard to create buzz for a project," says Las Vegas developer Laurence Hallier. "Telling buyers or the media that a project is nearly sold out or is going fast is all part of the game."
Inconceivable! (And yes, we’re still working on Part II of “What’s Really Going On?”) Another noteworthy quote: “…these developers often ignored the first rule of real estate -- location -- and built in marginal neighborhoods far from other luxury homes and upscale stores.” Not that we’re pointing any fingers. Yet.
Now That’s How To
Purchase a Presidio Heights Beaux Arts mansion (3701 Washington) in need of renovation for $8 million; spend a “couple of million” updating the plumbing, roof, and parking; entice 25 top-tier decorators to ‘volunteer’ their time; and voila! We give you the 29th annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase property. (And a brand spanking new $15.5 million dollar price tag.)
3701 Washington will be open to the public from for the Showcase from April 29 to May 29 (tickets $30), and the property is now available for purchase through super agent Olivia Hsu Decker. And did we mention that 3701 Washington just happens to be the Real Estate Journal “House of the Week”? (Notes to Journal: 1. U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein has moved, 2. what's up with those mad "dusk time" photoshopping skills?)
∙ The San Francisco Decorator Showcase [sfuhs.org]
∙ San Francisco Beaux Arts Mansion With Panoramic Views of the Bay [RealEstateJournal]
March 30, 2006
Bait And Switch On MLS?
Okay, so while not technically ‘Bait and Switch’ (as the unit, just not the price, is still available), we have a feeling the folks over at MLS might frown upon the pricing “strategy” of 321 Langton #11. Or more specifically, frown upon listing a property in the MLS at a price point meant to ‘capture attention’ but without the intention of actually selling at that price (and then raising the price after generating some buzz).
Check out ReyEstate for the complete history. And damn, where’s an MLS Cop when you really need one…
Update: As a tipster points out, Urban Bay Properties might want to update the price of 321 Langton #11 on their very own site (showing $599,000 as of 3/31 versus $679,000 on MLS) and in their Open House Schedule (emailed 3/31). Now that's bait and switch…
At Least They Didn’t Call It Golden Gate Hill
[Photo: Hill & Co. mailer (and site) image for Portrero Hill]
Real Estate Brokerage Hill & Company blankets Potrero Hill with a glossy mailer touting their ‘locals only’ knowledge of the neighborhood. Based on the reaction from the Potrero Hill, San Francisco Blog, they might have missed their mark:
“Word of advice to Hill & Co: If you’re going to try to pretend you know Potrero Hill, at least do some fact checking with the locals.”
Especially when they have their own neighborhood Blog...
Update: Apparently the owner of the house that Hill & Co. features on the mailing (and on their site) is pissed and “has called Hill to complain". But that might actually have less to do with Hill & Co. per se, and more to do with the attention (and comments) thrust upon this house by its new found notoriety (“That is my favorite horrible house. I try to like it, and each time I gag.”).
March 29, 2006
Adam Grant Condos: 114 Sansome St.
The 14-story Adam Grant building at 114 Sansome is going condo. Class A commercial condo that is. That’s right, you can now own your office space. And for those who might find this old news, we also offer the lineup for their Grand Opening this week:
Welcoming escorts; catering by MeMe Pederson; professional billiards player, Jeanette Lee (aka “the Black Widow”) challenging guests to games; a complementary Cigar Lounge hosted by Sherlock’s Haven; and a full bar + wine tasting bar by Niebaum-Coppola.
Now that’s an opening. And the real question, other than whether or not we’re
going invited, is: how long before all the new residential condo buildings are forced to start following suit?
∙ Adam Grant Condos [adamgrantcondos.com]
∙ The Adam Grant Building [emporis]
∙ Miami Investment Group Purchases 114 Sansome St... [grubb-ellis]
March 28, 2006
Speaking Of Bachelor Pads…
“A bachelor pad is a cultural icon. It has been designed by the architect Frank Gehry for the pages of Playboy and has symbolized an alternative to life as a patriarchal breadwinner for more than half a century. It has earned mythic status. And it has essential ingredients.”
Yes it is, has, and does. And while 1200 Indiana definitely fits the bill (and is still available), we are officially opening up nominations for the best bachelor (and bachelorette) pads in San Francisco.
If the pad is on the market, send us a link, and if it’s not, send us pictures (both to: email@example.com). And yes, that's a hot tub overhanging the living room...
You Almost Had Us At Hello
The four units in 519 Natoma boast “wide-plank Oak 3/4in. hardwood floors. Miele appliances, Sub-Zero refrigeration, Wolf range, Duravit bathroom fixtures, European cabinetry, cut glass mosaic tile bathroom w/ Terrazzo soaking tub, Russ stereo surround sound, Siebel video intercom. Washer/Dryer hookups.” And those pictures? Did you see those pictures?
If only they weren't TICs. And we could move them over to Hayes Valley…
The Danger (Not Wonder) Years
Quick, what’s the ‘riskiest’ year in the life of a mortgage from a lenders perspective? Think it’s the first? Guess again.
“Although borrowers are often told that the first year is the hardest, delinquencies have historically reached their highest points during the third and fourth years of mortgages…After years of strained budgets, borrowers may have little in savings to draw on to handle a crisis; this is also the period when major repairs begin to crop up; finally, many home buyers go through life changes, including starting a family.”
In the Bay Area, this is also the period during which many adjustable rate mortgages re-set. And despite all the 30-year fixed rate subterfuge, please keep in mind that short-term interest rates have continued to rise.
∙ The "danger years" for homeowners [CNNMoney]
March 27, 2006
The Californian on Rincon Hill: 375 Fremont St.
As we mentioned last week, ‘The Californian on Rincon Hill’ a 40-story and 435 unit luxury condo building is in the works for 375 Fremont St. Richard Keating, “international celebrity architect”, professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, and designer of the Elihu Harris State Building in Oakland is heading up the design team.
“The building will have an eight-story podium with glass townhouses along Fremont Street. Atop the podium will be outdoor terrace areas with a lap pool, gym and entertaining room. The average-sized unit will be about 1,000 square feet. The top 25 floors will provide unobstructed views of the entire San Francisco Bay and surrounding areas.”
Sounds very nice. That is unless your ‘unobstructed views’ from another building are about to become very much obstructed by The Californian…
∙ Chicago firm nabs pair of S.F. sites for 40-story tower [bizjournals]
∙ Bay Buildings: The Metropolitan (333/355 1st Street) [SocketSite]
March 24, 2006
Bay Buildings: The Metropolitan (333/355 1st Street)
Back in early 2004 the San Francisco Business Times wrote the following: “As the first true housing highrise to sprout out of San Francisco's Rincon Hill, [the Metropolitan’s] 20-story north tower and 27-story south tower look awfully lonely…But fortunately for our forlorn friend, Rincon Hill's soil is fertile and more company is on the way.”
Or not (fortunately that is).
Damion, a frequent SocketSite commenter, points out that according to the San Francisco Business Times, a 40-story high rise ("The Californian on Rincon Hill") is planned for 375 Fremont. The “not fortunate” part? In Damion’s own words, “Who should be worried? The good folks at the Metropolitan on First Street who are facing the bay -- their views are going to be blocked!” That’s definitely something worth keeping in mind when checking out any of the open houses this weekend (especially if boasting “Unobstructed Views of Bay”).
Another SocketSite tip? Unit number #1103 is touting “Ice Cream!” at both open houses (Sat/Sun 2:00-3:30). Hey, it’s the little things.
∙ Winner: The Metropolitan [bizjournals]
∙ The Metropolitan (San Francisco) [themetsf.com]
∙ Comments: New Home Sales Plunge In The West [SocketSite]
∙ Listing: 355 1st St #1103 - $599,000 [MLS] [Skybox Realty]
∙ Listing: 355 1St St #301 - $649,000
∙ Listing: 355 1St St #806 - $669,000 [MLS] [Skybox Realty]
∙ Listing: 333 1St St #1502 - $729,000 [MLS] [Skybox Realty]
∙ Listing: 333 1St St #1703 - $785,000 [MLS] [Listing Agent]
Reader Question: What’s Really Going On? (Part I)
We recently received the following question from a reader:
“Several large [SOMA] condo complexes are in phase I, II etc and claim rates of 50% - 80% sold after just a few months. Everything else in the area looks like a standstill in my opinion. What is really going on?”
In light of all the new San Francisco developments (and recent Commerce Report) we were inclined to go searching for an answer. One of our first stops, SOMA Realtor® Damion Matthews:
"Presumably the emailer is referring to The Watermark, The Beacon and The Palms, as they are the only "large" complexes in the area (if we define that as a building with, say, over 100 units). But The Beacon has been selling for a year, the Watermark for about 7 months, and The Palms for 2 months. While sales appear to have been good at all three developments, I put little weight in the claims that a sales agent makes about sales in his or her development. It's not that they lie, but they do spin. They want to make it look like they're selling out really fast. No surprise there. But the fact of the matter is that it's difficult for someone outside of the sales office to really know what the state of a project's inventory is. Sure, they can claim they're 80% sold out... but perhaps the developer has only released a third of its inventory. Those sort of details are not handed out freely. [Editors note: unless you read SocketSite…] As for the re-sale market in South Beach, inventory and sales levels are not drastically different than a year ago. The big change is that it does take longer for the average condo or loft to sell. That's for a number of reasons: there's more inventory in South Beach now than there was last year (because of the new developments), prices are higher than last year, the best units in the area tend to not be for sale, and of course people are cautious about the future of the market. However, the number of units sold this year has exceeded last year's numbers, despite those problems. Are re-sales in South Beach at a standstill? I don't see that. It's true that units with bad views take a long time to sell, but conversely those units with great views still sell quickly, and at a high price. Futhermore, people who buy those condos with great views like them and stay in them!"
Here is where we paraphrase: 1. Don’t believe everything you read (unless it’s on SocketSite…), 2. Premium properties tend to stay in demand (and hold value), and 3. Get ready for what we’re going to call a real estate “flight to quality” (more on this next week).
Yerba Buena Lofts Redux
Last August we featured three units in the Yerba Buena Lofts (855 Folsom). Today, Curbed offer a great overview of the building, its architect, and three new listings. A couple of observations: Michael Broerman owns the listings in that building; and is it just us, or do the average listing prices seem to be coming down?
About three weeks ago we broke the story about the $65,000,000 mansion hitting the San Francisco market. And although the mainstream press ran with the story about a week later (with nary a nod to good old SocketSite…) we don’t remember any coverage of the following little tidbit submitted by one of our readers:
“The owner has so much $$$ that he actually bought a limestone quarry in France, had each piece custom cut and built there. Then disassembled and sent to SF. The house is completely and utterly soulless, yet I’m sure someone will buy it just because of the material aspect that it is the most expensive house in SF.”
Let’s see, custom French limestone (and no soul) or leftover steel from the Golden Gate Bridge (and a rich history)? So many choices…
New Home Sales Plunge In The West
Right on the heels of Thursday’s report of an increase in previously owned home sales, the Commerce Department reports that national new home sales fell by 10.5% last month - the largest drop in nine years.
And perhaps more noteworthy for readers of SocketSite, new home sales in the West dropped by 29.4% (while sales actually rose in the Northeast and Midwest).
∙ New Home Sales Down by Most in 9 Years [SFGate]
March 23, 2006
A Trip Down Market Street (1905)
From Damion, “When I watched this footage, I was struck by the fact that this man with his camera, as he films Market Street, has no idea that in less than a year, everything he filmed would be in ruins…”. We’re just hoping this isn’t some kind of cosmic foreshadowing.
And to be honest, we skipped the youtube viewing (really couldn’t take the soundtrack) and headed straight for the Internet Archive for the original file, reviews, and some great history. A favorite excerpt:
In all, the film shows some thirty cable cars, four horse cars and four streetcars. An interesting feature of the film is the apparent abundance of automobiles. However, a careful tracking of automobile traffic shows that almost all of the autos seen circle around the camera/cable car many times (one ten times). This traffic was apparently staged by the producer to give Market Street the appearance of a prosperous modern boulevard with many automobiles.
In fact, in 1905 the automobile was still something of a novelty in San Francisco, with horse-drawn buggies, carts, vans, and wagons being the common private and business vehicles. The near total lack of traffic control along Market Street emphasizes the newness of the automobile. Granite paving stripes in the street marking ignored pedestrian crosswalks, making the crossing of Market Street on foot a risky venture.
Some things never change.
∙ Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire [archive.org]
What Would Suge Do?
Well, Curbed (the NYC original) catches wind (via: ltjbukem - we have no idea…) of an Oakland loft decked out with a
stolen transplanted liberated NYC subway sign. Their conclusion? “Even in the Bay Area, it's all about NYC." Huh?
Our conclusion? It's about time to call Suge...
ARM Use Down (Insert Pun Here)
According to DataQuick Information Systems, 51.9% of all California home purchases involved adjustable-rate mortgages this past February (down from 70.9% three months ago). Numerous factors at work (including a flattening yield curve and a regulatory crack down), but one quote from DataQuick President Marshall Prentice that hit home:
"It's a lot easier to loan somebody money when the collateral is going up in value at more than twenty percent a year, than when values are going up at half that rate. What we have here is a market cycle that has passed its frenzy phase and is moving into more balanced territory."
Or put another way, in a slowing market, both lenders and potential homeowners are less willing to take a financial gamble based on “guaranteed” home appreciation. And hard evidence of a shift in market psychology is right before our eyes.
∙ Steep drop in California ARM use [DQNews]
San Francisco Prices Up/Sales Down
According to the California Association of Realtors, Bay Area median home prices gained 1.7% last month, and on a year-over-year basis remain up 6.1% (8.0% in San Francisco County). Not too surprisingly, Bay Area sales volume was relatively flat as compared to January (-0.4%) and sales volume continues to fall on a year-over-year basis (-12.3%). Overall, relatively in line with DQNews.
Trying to make sense of the seemingly contradictory 'prices up, volume down, and inventory building' stats? You’re not alone.