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April 28, 2006

The Mayor Is Moving On Up!

The Bellaire Tower

According to Damion Matthews, Mayor Gavin Newsom just closed escrow on a two-bedroom condo high atop Russian Hill in the Bellaire Tower (1101 Green Street). And the purchase price, according to the Business Times, was $2,350,000 (seller none other than Peter Getty).

Good news for those hoping to share an elevator (at least for a couple of floors) and catch his eye, unit number 303 is available and listed for $749,000. Apparently demand spiked at the St. Regis when Gore decided to make it his home, we’re guessing the same just might happen at the Bellaire.

And no, we’re really not expecting an invitation to the housewarming (although it would be nice).

∙ Listing: 1101 Green Street #303 - $749,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Stainless-Steel? So What?

Wall Street Journal Graphic: Appliances Get Massive

As “stainless-steel” has evolved from describing a kitchen outfitted with true commercial grade appliances to simply any kitchen with stainless-steel front panel appliances (a particular pet peeve of ours), high-end manufactures, and consumers, are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the riffraff. Welcome to the growing trend of supersized appliances.

The bigger-is-better trend is being driven in part by high-end manufacturers that are looking for a new way to distinguish themselves, especially since the commercial look -- such as stainless-steel finishes and double-door refrigerators -- has already trickled down into less-expensive brands. Gigantic refrigerators are riding the "Costco effect," or people's desire for more space to store the items they buy in bulk. Big appliances also tend to have "wow" factor that can help new-home sales, which is especially critical amid fears of a market slowdown.

We’re going to roll right past the irony of the “Costco effect” influencing “high-end” design, and stay focused on the trend of 60-inch ranges, six-foot-wide refrigerators, and ovens capable of cooking 144 cookies at a time. It's something to keep it in mind as you tour all those “stainless-steel”, “gourmet”, and “chef’s” kitchens this weekend. (And what was that about a market slowdown?)

Refrigerator Heaven: Appliances Get Massive [RealEstateTimes]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2006

Don't Forget The Trunks/Bikinis

San Francisco Pools: Brannan, Bridgeview, Royal Towers

On a day like today, and with a glorious forecast for the weekend, we can’t help but wonder: what building sports the best outdoor pool (and scene) in the city? The Brannan? The Bridgeview? The Royal Towers? Let us know because we’re definitely brining the trunks/bikinis along to the open houses this weekend.

Update: "Continue Reading" for additional pictures...

The pool atop 2200 Pacific (thanks pwb):
Pool atop 2200 Pacific

Posted by socketadmin at 2:11 PM | Comments (2)

Glen Park Market Place: 2815 Diamond

Glen Park Market Place (Image Source: glenparkmarketplace.com)

Polaris Group has launched a website for the Glen Park Market Place which consists of 15 condominiums offering “stylish finishes and contemporary floor plans,” a grocery, and a public library.

In doing so, it also appears that Polaris Group has liberated borrowed lifted done none of the aforementioned. (see update below) a number of the site’s images directly from Gregg & Garrett’s Glen Park Real Estate site. And although “flattered,” they’re really not so happy about it. Let's just say that we can definitely empathize…

Update: A major mea culpa from Gregg & Garrett, “It appears I was dead wrong on the use of my images.” (Did you try blaming the intern?) Kudos to Polaris Group for being gracious, understanding, and reasonable (really).

Glen Park Market Place [2815 Diamond]
Glen Park Real Estate [glen-park.com]
Come On Curbed (comments) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:10 PM | Comments (0)

Mid-Week Update: Four Weeks Later

Inspired by a tip from Damion Matthews (the last new unit at the St. Regis is now in contract), we thought we’d check in on a couple of other new developments we've been tracking:

1. 1725 Washington: No newly reported sales in the past three weeks (seven units still active on the MLS).

2. 1635 California: No active listings on the MLS, and yet a tipster notes that only half the units look occupied based on a drive-by. Could it be sold out? If so, congratulations to Vanguard! If not, who’s got the inside scoop?

3. 1551 Filbert: Unit #1 is back in contract; units #2 and #4 are still active.

4. 776 Tehama/1277 Howard: We’re not sure what to make of this (okay, maybe we do). According to their website, only one closed sale (#13) in the first four weeks (no, we’re not counting the two BMR “sales”), and yet #13 is still active on the MLS. Also interesting to note, a number of new comments disagreeing with our first impression of the development (which we encourage), although possibly more than one "first impression" from the same person (which we don’t).

5. The St. Regis: “Officially” sold out; only resales (and free Lamborghinis?) from here on out.

Weekend Update: Three Weeks Later [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:22 AM | Comments (1)

You Should Have Seen This Coming (Seven Years Ago)

Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s proposed ordinance banning condominium conversions in buildings where multiple tenants, senior citizens, disabled, or catastrophically ill people were evicted passed a Board of Supervisors committee last night and now heads to final voting for passage. Not too surprising.

What is surprising, however, is that the mayor’s office seems to be hinting that a veto, should the ordinance get passed, is not imminent.

The mayor's office would not say whether Newsom -- whose allies in the business and real estate communities are staunchly opposed to the legislation -- would sign the ordinance if it reaches his desk. But Matt Franklin, director of the mayor's office of housing, hinted Newsom is open to working with Peskin.

Expect the biggest sticking point to be the retroactive date of the ordinance (as proposed, retroactive back to 1999).

TIC eviction legislation progresses [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:20 AM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2006

Spoiler Alert: One Rincon Hill Video

One Rincon Hill video captures

Okay, so maybe we were less than impressed by the One Rincon Hill webcam, but their video left us dazed (and yet strangely giddy). Yes, based on the pictures and press (“the tallest residential property west of the Mississippi”) we knew these towers were going to be tall, but it wasn’t until we saw the rendering of the towers 23 seconds into the video that we really understood. Holy…

One Rincon Hill [425 First]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:36 PM | Comments (4)

The Hayes: 55 Page Street

The Hayes Floor Plans

And speaking of Intracorp, The Hayes has launched a new website since we first alerted you to New Condos Starting In The $400,000s. (And yes, the new site is complete with the requisite floor plan porn, their own inside scoop, and a nice little neighborhood map.)

The Hayes [55 Page Street]
The Arterra: “Clean Design, Pure Living” At 300 Berry Street [SocketSite]
New Condos Starting In The $400,000s? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:28 AM | Comments (6)

The Arterra: “Clean Design, Pure Living” At 300 Berry Street

The Arterra: 300 Berry Street (Image Source: arterrasf.com)

The Arterra, a 268-unit ‘Green’ condo development, has broken ground at 300 Berry Street. Developed by Intracorp San Francisco (also developing The Hayes) and architected by Kwan Henmi, the Arterra is marketed as “clean design, pure living,” and billed as a "pioneering green building of sophisticated design."

The three-level complex will be the first San Francisco building clad in Trespa, smooth and colorful panels produced with recycled materials. It will have natural coastal grass-covered roofs on parts of the fourth, sixth, and tenth floors, a high thermal insulation glazing system with operable windows and a water-efficient landscape design. Interiors will be built with rapid renewal materials, like bamboo and cork, and energy-efficient appliances.

And if good design and environmental consciousness aren’t strong enough selling points for you, there’s always the pure sex appeal (sultry female pic, sultry male pic). You had us at hello green.

Update: The Arterra website has been updated. Gone are the sultry pictures. In their place, actual details.

The Arterra [300 Berry Street]
New Condos Starting In The $400,000s? [SocketSite]
Condo project painted 'green' [bizjournal]
First Green Condo Project Breaks Ground in San Francisco [Green Key]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:48 AM | Comments (9)

April 25, 2006

Kiss That Deposit Goodbye

The Penske Moving Dumpster

At first glance, it’s just another move. Upon closer inspection, however, it’s poignant commentary on the springtime rush to renovate and the heightened demand for construction dumpsters (and perhaps lack thereof) in San Francisco.

On a much smaller scale, perhaps not too dissimilar from the shortage of labor and materials that Jeff Hutchinson of Monahan Pacific recently cited as their reason for canceling plans to build a condominium tower at 535 Mission.

"With all the residential that is being built, it's tough to get a crew," said Hutchinson. "We would have been fighting for a tower crane reservation. There is a waiting list for man lifts. Given that type of environment and given that it was going to get worse before it would get better, it was not readily apparent that the costs would settle."

Wonder if Penske rents anything that could double as a tower crane or man lift...

Developer drops plans for condo tower [bizjournals]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

But What About The Television?

The Hidden Bed of 1255 California #102

You may covet one of those remote controlled hidden televisions, but what you really need is a “cleverly disquised [sic] remote controlled hidden bed.”

∙ Listing: 1255 California #102 - $487,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

2002 California: The Bigger Picture

2002 California: The Bigger Picture

According to our tipsters, 2002 California sold for $1,552,000 two weeks ago. And although we continue to believe that the property has great potential, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised by the price ($203,000 over asking) considering its condition (a gut job).

But what really surprised us is that 2002 California is back on the market and now listed at $1,495,000 ($146,000 over its previous list, but $57,000 below its reported last sale). And then we got the inside scoop…

It looks like an owner of the adjoining property purchased 2002 California in order to remove an ingress and egress easement on the adjoining property, and to add a new height and construction easement on 2002 California to prevent increasing the current building's height. In essence, protecting, and most likely increasing, the value of the adjoining property, while limiting the options (and potential) for 2002 California.

In addition, the purchaser (and now seller) of 2002 California is a licensed real estate broker which means that if he collected the 3% buyer’s agent commission, then the effective selling price was closer to $1,500,000. It’s all starting to make a little more sense.

Update: Looks like we hit home on the facts (easements), but might have missed on the conjecture (commission). From a scathing informative reader comment, “This is what I love about Blogs - no need to be correct about anything. Do some fact checking - Buyer Agent commission was 2.5% on the first listing, not 3%. And the Broker that collected that was TRI Coldwell Banker, and now the listing agent is Sampson Associates.” Check.

Party Like It’s 2002 (California) [SocketSite]
∙ Listing: 2002 California - $1,495,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:40 AM | Comments (2)

From ‘Sticky’ To ‘Slippery’: A Fundamental Change In The Housing Market?

Technical traders and analysts often talk about support levels or a floor price. In the housing market, real estate agents talk about “stickiness.”

Previous downturns in the housing market have left homeowners owing more that their homes were worth (i.e. “underwater”) and unable, or unwilling, to sell or move. Those who were forced to sell (think job transfer, an unexpected medical expense, or perhaps a new baby in a one bedroom condo) did so at a loss. But the vast majority of owners just stayed put and waited it out – three, five, or even ten years until the market turned around.

And while the housing market might take a turn for the worse, it rarely plummeted. Homeowners sitting on the sidelines made sure of that. These owners kept the market from being flooded with inventory, provided natural resistance to depreciating housing prices, and kept the market out of an associated “crash.”

As Celia Chen writes for the Dismal Scientist, “There is an inherent downward stickiness in home prices, as many homeowners can simply take their product off the market rather than sell at a price lower than they desire." Or according to Kelly Zito of the Chronicle, “even in a slackening market, sellers often resist losing money on a property or simply not making as much as the Joneses next door. Sometimes that can mean sales volumes will decline, but prices will stay resilient . . . . ”

Historically, the vast majority of homeowners could afford to wait as long-term fixed-rate mortgages kept expenses in line with budgets. Month after month, or year after year, homeowners would simply continue to make their mortgage payments and wait patiently for the market, and their equity, to return.

Unlike the Internet’s “new economy,” however, this time it really might be different. While short-term adjustable, interest-only, and negative amortization mortgages have quite literally opened the doors to a whole host of new homeowners, combined with cash flow negative “investment” properties, and highly leveraged buyers without sufficient reserves, they have also created a more volatile housing market.

Instead of not being able to sell in a downturn, many new homeowners might find that they can’t afford to hold (or wait). Mortgage payments will increase faster than incomes, rental income won’t offset an investment property’s carrying costs, and a high loan to value mortgage will constrain an owner's ability to tap into equity to help weather any storm.

And for the first time in history, might we find that the “stickiness” that has traditionally kept the housing market from being flooded with inventory in a downturn, and prices from plummeting, has actually turned quite “slippery?”

Posted by adamkoval at 12:39 AM | Comments (5)

April 22, 2006

Yet Another Reason To Plug In To SocketSite

520 Clipper

Almost six weeks since we brought the “Greenest Home In San Francisco” to your attention, the Chronicle publishes a great overview of the house (520 Clipper). If you were plugged in to SocketSite, you actually had a chance to tour (or purchase) the pad. If not, you’ll just have to settle for all the pretty pictures

Green pioneers [SFGate]
The Greenest Home In San Francisco [SocketSite]
A Week Of Atonement [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:58 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

Three In 301 Bryant

301 Bryant

301 Bryant is a beautiful building. Designed by Tanner Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (now in the portfolios of both TANNERHECHT Architecture and LEDDY MAYTUM STACY Architects) and developed by ECB, the 11-story structure includes 39 residential units and was built on a small 8,000 square foot site. In fact, according to ECB, 301 Bryant is “a model of in-fill development on a small, extremely constrained site that was considered by the San Francisco redevelopment agency to have limited value.”

Three units currently available in 301 Bryant, and we’re big fans of the windows and terrace, but definitely not the electric range, of unit #103. So why does #103 have an electric range when units #101 and #704 advertise gas ranges? Rumor has it that the developer only bothered to run gas lines in the stack of the building that included the developer’s unit. It’s good to be the developer.

∙ Listing: 301 Bryant St #101 (2/2) - $1,048,000 [MLS]
∙ Listing: 301 Bryant St #704 (2/2) - $1,110,000 [MLS]
∙ Listing: 301 Bryant St #103 (2/2) - $1,150,000 [MLS]
ECB: 301 Bryant
TANNERHECHT Architecture: 301 Bryant

Posted by socketadmin at 12:03 AM | Comments (2)

Apartment Therapy San Francisco Goes Live

Apartment Therapy

New York based Apartment Therapy has officially flipped the switch on the San Francisco edition. And despite the fact we don’t get a mention on the site (perhaps it was that “Golden Gate City” dig), we’re still fans (and you should be too). We remain hopeful that one of these days they'll actually 'plug in'...

Golden Gate City? [SocketSite]
The New Yorkers Are Coming! The New Yorkers Are Coming! [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

Instant Equity! (a.k.a. Free Money)

618 Precita Ave

From the “if it sounds too good to be true” files: the listing for 618 Precita Ave. Currently listed at $864,468, the listing agent taunts, “Folks, this house was appraised last November for over $1,000,000 -- imagine how much instnat [sic] equity you'll get buy [sic] just buying this quaint and beautiful Victorian home.” We're imagining...zero.

And just so you know, the property was originally listed for $912,000 three months ago and has been reduced four times since. That’s right, a little more “instant equity” with every little reduction…

∙ Listing: 618 Precita Ave - $864,468 [Home 4 Less]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:00 AM | Comments (3)

April 19, 2006

Everything’s A Buck Thousand!

799 Van Ness Listing

Is the market changing and you're unsure how to price a commercial property? Well, you could just list it for $1,000 and then add this clever little addendum: “Listing price is not $1,000 -- IT IS NEGOTIABLE”. Coming soon to a residential listing near you?

∙ Listing: 799 Van Ness (Commercial) [MLS]
∙ Listing: 1415 Van Ness (Commercial) [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:05 PM | Comments (0)

DataQuick Reports Part 1: The Basic Report

Ten hours later and this is already old news, but for those of you who missed it, DataQuick reported Bay Area sales stats for March this morning.

For the Bay Area, the “median price paid for a Bay Area home was $622,000 last month. That was up 1.0 percent from February's $616,000, and up 9.5 percent from $568,000 for March a year ago. The median peaked at $625,000 last November. Last month's year-over-year increase was the first time was below 10 percent since prices rose 9.7 percent to $443,000 in January 2004.” March sales (9,745) were up from February (6,206) but down 13.8% as compared to March 2005.

For San Francisco, the median sales price was $763,000 in March, up 4.1% from February ($733,000), and up 9.6% year-over-year. As expected, March sales volume (561) was up from February (385), but down 15.0% as compared to March 2005.

We’re saving our commentary (and insight) for Part 2.

Slowdown in Bay Area home sales, appreciation rate [DQNews]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2006

The Royal San Francisco

The Royal

The Royal Insurance Building at 201 Sansome Street was built in 1907 for the Royal Globe Insurance Company, and after ninety-nine years, it’s going residential. Designed by New York City architects, Howell and Stokes, the building was designated a San Francisco Landmark in 1983 (the exterior of the building has not been altered during the conversion to condos).

The Royal (not to be confused with the Royal Towers) is comprised of forty-six (46) residences with one bedrooms starting from $430,000, two bedrooms from $940,000, and four two-story “townhouses” from $1,575,000. High-end finishes throughout, and discounted gym membership (Equinox) and parking (down the block) for residents of the building.

Unfortunately, the majority of the units have already been pre-sold (according to the developer), but as Damion Matthews points out, you still have two days to register for the five BMR units available in the building (April 21st deadline). Plus, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see some early speculative turnover once the doors have been flung open.

And while The Royal’s website might not win any awards for its aesthetic design, we give it two thumbs up for information (including complete pricing), interactivity (floorplans), and honesty (actually identifying BMR units).

The Royal (San Francisco)
Truth In Advertising: 1750 Taylor (Royal Towers) [SocketSite]
Mayor’s Office of Housing: Current Listings [SFGOV]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:06 PM | Comments (0)

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