October 31, 2006
San Francisco's One Thumb Up
BusinessWeek gives San Francisco real estate a “thumbs up” in terms of "Value for the Long Run." And while we agree, the jury is still out with regard to the near term. From BusinessWeek:
Housing has gone from a sure thing to a complete muddle. Median prices fell nationwide for a second straight month in September, the first time that has happened since 1990, according to a report on Oct. 25. Homeowners don't know whether to sit tight or bail. They have no idea whether they're experiencing the beginnings of a deep bust that will leave a permanent hole in their wealth, or a small hiccup.
How do you know if your own local market is the kind that will snap back or the kind that will languish indefinitely? One key factor is the ease or difficulty of building new homes. Places where new home construction is a long and expensive process, such as Boston and San Francisco, tend to experience big price movements, both up and down. "Restricted supply leads to more volatility in prices," says Edward L. Glaeser, a Harvard University economist who has studied big-city housing markets.
Key word: volatility. And then there’s that second to last paragraph: “Sure, [restricting housing supply] can make current owners richer by increasing the scarcity value of their homes. But it's murder on first-time buyers. And in the long run, it's bad for the local economy. As Glaeser notes, companies tend to migrate away from areas with costly housing to avoid paying the higher salaries needed to compensate employees for their home costs.”
∙ Boom! Bust! Boom? [BusinessWeek]
We're Thinking Gehry (No, Not Geary)
As if right on cue, the day after we publish an overview of the Transbay Redevelopment, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority ratifies an international design competition for the Transbay Terminal and an adjacent skyscraper.
Not just any skyscraper, but a “1,000-foot high-rise that would include a hotel, as well as residential and commercial units” and stand 150 feet taller than the Transamerica Pyramid (currently the tallest building in San Francisco). We're thinking bold. We're thinking iconic. We're thinking Gehry.
It’s All Relative
There are a number of things we find attractive about 161 Elsie (listed at $1,349,000), but we have to admit that being billed as an “Affordible [sic] Noe Alternative” really isn’t one of them.
October 30, 2006
Booming In Bernal?
We can’t help but notice a mini-boom of extensively renovated (or newly constructed) Bernal Heights homes hitting the market over the past couple of months. The latest example: 115 Wool Street (advertising “all new electrical, plumbing, windows, [and] skylights” along with a “gourmet” kitchen, concrete counters, and an underground wine cellar).
And while the description and pictures piqued our interest, we’re having a hard time getting a feeling for the flow and finish of the house (we missed the “Wine Reception Preview” and open houses last week). Have any readers taken a tour and care to share a first impression, or perhaps be willing to compare and contrast with any of the other newly renovated/constructed Bernal homes that are currently on the market?
∙ Listing: 115 Wool Street (3/2) - $998,000 [MLS]
New Developments: The Montgomery (74 New Montgomery)
Work continues on the conversion of 74 New Montgomery (a “historic high-rise office building” built in 1914 and listed on San Francisco’s historical register) into 107 condominium residences ("The Montgomery"). The development is being led by New Urban Properties with architectural design by Huntsman Architectural Group. Sales and occupancy are expected to commence in early 2007.
And while we haven't heard anything with regard to pricing, our one point of reference is a reported $80M budget for the conversion (i.e., they're not going to be cheap).
SocketSite’s San Francisco Inventory Update: 10/30/06
Inventory of Active listed single family homes, condos, and TICs declined in San Francisco last week (down 2.9% since 10/16/06). The decrease marks the first such decline since Labor Day, and appears to be the result of both an uptick in new contracts (and withdrawn listings) combined with fewer new replacement listings (~156).
At the same time, both the number (418) and relative percentage (27.9%) of Active listings that have been “reduced” in San Francisco continued to rise.
∙ SocketSite’s San Francisco Inventory Update: 10/16/06 [SocketSite]
October 27, 2006
A Big 450 Square Feet
It’s listed at only 450 square feet, but we’re getting the feeling that 1001 Pine Street #608 just might be a textbook example of how a well designed small space can not only feel, but act, much larger. And while we’re only working from pictures at this point, we’re going out on a limb and declaring…we’re fans.
∙ Listing: 1001 Pine Street #608 (0/1) - $369,000 [MLS]
888 Seventh Street: BMR Deadline (11/17/06)
While the sales office for market rate condominiums at 888 Seventh Street is not scheduled to open its doors until spring 2007, applications for the Below Market Rate (BMR) units are due by November 17, 2006.
October 26, 2006
The Transbay Redevelopment
A tipster forwards a response from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority in response to an inquiry concerning the “disgusting bus ramps” that currently seem to define the Transbay area.
The new Transbay Transit Center, when completed, will include one elevated ramp coming in on the west side of the building, for the buses coming and going from the Bay Bridge. The east loop ramp will be eliminated, freeing up this land for development.
While the current ramps were designed for rail, the new ramp will be designed for buses only and will be taller, slender and less obtrusive, allowing for more natural light in the area.
In fact, the new Transbay Transit Center is just one piece of an ambitious plan to replace the “outmoded” Transbay Terminal, to extend Caltrain service from Fourth and King Streets into the new Transbay Transit Center at 1st and Mission, and to create “a new transit-friendly neighborhood with 3,400 new homes (35% of which will be affordable), and mixed use commercial development.” Keep in mind that the Transbay timeline calls for construction to commence in 2008 with a target opening of the Transit Center in 2014 and an operational Caltrain extension by 2018.
And while interesting, we have to admit that the actual Transbay Redevelopment Plan didn’t make for the most exciting reading. On the other hand, we did quite enjoy perusing the Design for Development that “establishes [a] conceptual frameworks for land use, urban form, street and public spaces in the Project Area…”. Our favorite part: the series of “Undesirable versus Desirable” examples of urban planning.
October 25, 2006
New In North Beach: 520 Chestnut
A new development in North Beach, 520 Chestnut consists of 20 one and two bedroom condominiums that are being advertised as “starting in the $700,000s” (yes, that’s most likely $789,000). And as is the norm, only three of the 20 units are currently listed (#406 - $789,000; #403 - $859,000; and #402 - $1,299,000).
And while we have yet to take a tour, there are a couple of advertised features that caught our attention: commercial grade appliances; polished concrete floors with carpeting in the bedrooms and radiant floor heating throughout; and of course, large windows. Would anyone that’s taken a tour care to share a first impression or a complete rundown on pricing?
October 24, 2006
631 Folsom: 120 Condos In 2008
Construction is underway on 631 Folsom, a 21-story, 120-unit residential tower with a story of retail at its base. Malcolm Properties is leading the development of the Handel Architects design.
The design for 631 Folsom Street incorporates goals established in the Rincon Place, the Transbay Plan, and the General Plan for downtown San Francisco by creating a high-density project that preserves sunlight and air, provides open space, and enhances the development of the area.
The massing is tall and slender to maintain view corridors, provide sunlight and air at street level, and give units natural light. The light-colored pre-cast concrete, the bluish glass, and metal curtain wall give the facades an expression of lightness and transparency.
The tower is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2008 and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the dual sliding glass corner doors made it into the final design. Any readers have any additional information or insight to share?
UPDATE (10/30/06): Alas, according to a reader the dual sliding glass doors were cut from the final design. And yes, we're disappointed.
∙ Handel Architects [handelarchitects.com]
October 23, 2006
The Odeon (181 O’Farrell): First Impressions And Pricing
Odeon, a collection of 29 two-story loft style homes opened their doors to the general public this weekend. We took a tour and were relatively impressed by the finish of the kitchens and living/dining areas, the closet/storage space, and the character of the building and windows/light. At the same time, we were a bit underwhelmed by the bathrooms (the “tile tub surrounds” seemed out of place) and the “deeded” outdoor space (and potential fishbowl feel) of the third floor courtyard units. (A couple of other notes: bamboo floors on the main level are standard, dryers are vented, and no A/C.)
In general, one bedrooms facing Powell are priced from $780,000 (third floor) to $790,000 (fifth floor), while the larger one bedrooms facing the courtyard (~1,500 sqft) are priced from $879,000 to $905,000 (third and fifth floors). There are also two one bedrooms which face O’Farrell for which we do not have pricing, and rumor has it the three bedroom “penthouse” was priced around $2,000,000 (but has been reserved).
There is no parking in the building (two years of pre-paid leased parking in the garage at Ellis and O’Farrell is included in the sale), it’s another case of B.Y.O.R. (bring your own refrigerator), and HOAs are expected to run around $600 a month.
As far as sales activity, we’ve been told that fifth floor penthouse, the corner unit on the third floor, and the courtyard showroom unit on the third floor have all been reserved. (We haven’t confirmed any other sales.) Closings and occupancy and are expected to commence within the next four weeks, and there are no restrictions with regard to resales or rentals.
∙ New Developments: Odeon (181 O’Farrell) [SocketSite]
Just Quotes: Et Tu David?
David Lereah, the senior vice president and chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, “expects real estate prices to continue to fall in most U.S. markets. In areas that experienced the largest price appreciation in recent years, a correction is needed, he said, this time citing San Francisco as the best example.” (Realtors' chief economist tells Rotarians to concentrate on local market)
Will We See Six?
UPDATE: Curbed adds some additional color with a mini run-down of a couple of other houses on the block.
October 20, 2006
Narrow Footprint, Big Impression (110 Chattanooga St #B)
Designed and built by Zack | de Vito Architecture in 2004 (and with a working title of “2-unit building on narrow lot”), we offer up 110 Chattanooga Street #B as inspiration for anyone eyeing one those 18.25' wide lots in Hayes Valley (the original budget was $1,300,000 for both units). Or simply an offering to those interested in modern architecture (it’s open both days this weekend). We’ll see you there.
UPDATE (10/21): Okay, we’ve taken the tour and if you’re a fan of modern/contemporary design we suggest you do the same (as usual, the pictures don’t do it justice). Now if we could only figure out a way to get our hands on #A…
∙ Zack | de Vito Architecture [156 South Park]
∙ Zack | de Vito: Chattanooga Street Duplex Overview [zackdevito.com]
∙ Listing: 110 Chattanooga St #B (3/3) - $1,495,000 [Zephyr] [MLS]
∙ RFPs For Housing Along Octavia Boulevard [SocketSite]
188 King Street: The Rents
Based on a number of craigslist ads (and another email from our tipster), it appears that rents in 188 King street are running from $2,795 (1br) to $9,500 (2br penthouse). Not a bad way to try out the building, and the neighborhood, if you're considering a purchase (especially if you can pre-negotiate an option to buy).
According to our tipster, “The units on the second floor in the back, with the separate bedroom type area and the huge patio are going for $3200 per month and are leasing quickly” while “The units in the back of the building above the second are [priced] at $2795,” and “They claim to have leased the third floor and now are working on the fourth as they work their way up the building.” In addition, the front penthouses are going for $5,000 while the larger 3,000 sqft penthouses in the back are going for $9,500.
An important consideration if you’re interested in buying one of the units in the front-half of the building: quite a few lenders will refuse to finance a condo in a building that is less than 60% owner-occupied. It's something to consider in terms of resale as well.
∙ The Scoop On 188 King Street: Now
Selling Leasing [SocketSite]
∙ $2795 / 1br - New construction! [craigslist]
∙ $3200 / 1br - Brand new luxury loft w/ LARGE deck! [craigslist]
∙ $5000 / 2br - Fantastic penthouse w 16ft ceilings [craigslist]
∙ $9500 / 2br - 3,000 SQUARE FOOT PENTHOUSE!! [craigslist]
A Couple Of Weekend Releases (Odeon and Hayes)
Another Second Chance In 355 Bryant
While the seller’s of 355 Bryant #202 might have missed out on their dream home, they’ve decided to keep looking (and to go ahead and sell now in order to avoid another last minute scramble). And yes, it appears the floors are laminate.
October 19, 2006
The Scoop On 188 King Street: Now
The links are ours; the words are from a “plugged in” tipster:
First, you are right on, they have sold 12 units with the last two sales coming in the last few weeks. What is not public knowledge, however, is that five of those sales are units that have been, as your site pointed out earlier, retained for investment purposes but marked as sold for marketing purposes.
So they have sold seven units in six months, and that was before all the news of the market going south and before 200 units come on-line at 170 off Third. Their new strategy is to aggressively lease up the back of the building. They are going floor by floor, starting at the bottom. They are also trying to lease the penthouses.
If you’ve been “plugging in,” this new development shouldn’t catch you by surprise. If not, however, perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call (on a number of different levels).
∙ 188 King Street Update: 27% Sold? [SocketSite]
∙ 188 King Street: An Update [SocketSite]
∙ QuickLinks: New Condos On The Market (Or In The Works) [SocketSite]
A Shoreline (41 Federal) Update
It has been two months since we last checked in on the Shoreline development, and unfortunately, we really don’t have anything new to report (other than more detailed pricing). In other words, there has been no movement on those last five units (out of nine).
∙ 41 Federal #31 (1/1.5) 1,060sqft - $950,000
∙ 41 Federal #32 (1/1.5) 921 sqft - $850,000
∙ 41 Federal #33 (2/2) 1,423 sqft - $1,350,000
∙ 41 Federal #41 (1/1.5) 956 sqft - $950,000
∙ 41 Federal #42 (1/1.5) 921 sqft - $875,000
∙ The Scoop On The Shoreline (41 Federal) [SocketSite]