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June 29, 2007

Buyers And Agents Beware (Of Open Houses)

SFGate reports today on two intrepid individuls who have found yet another way to make money on real estate. After showing up at open houses around the Bay Area, the couple proceeded to relieve both clients and agents of their wallets and purses. With the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market these are obviously just desperate buyers in an over-priced market trying to scrape together enough cash for the down payment necessary with a more standard mortgage.

Still, there was little sypmathy. One victim was particularly incensed, "They are really slick," ... "Now I'd like to have revenge. They are awful people. I want them to march down Market Street naked."

That would, of course, be cruel and unusual punishment.

Theft Suspects Posing As Home-buyers Arrested [SFGate]

Posted by SFEditor at 12:10 PM | Comments (9)

June 28, 2007

Looking for Bargains Around One Million Dollars?

201 West Grand #502, Chicago

Here's what we found for right around $1 million. Three bed, Three bath, 1973 sq ft. That's $532.13 per sq. ft. Views and centrally located. Oh yeah, and it is in Chicago.

Curious about all the talk of Chicago being a real estate paradise sent us searching. What did we find? Well for one, while we appreciate the DIY attitude of Chicago agents, professional photography...or any photography at all might help push some more units – and a little staging couldn't hurt sometimes either. The unit pictured may have actually been the only listing that we found with professional pics. Other things of note: purple/mauve seems to be a very popular decoration/paint color in the midwest, and spartan furnishings seem to be a way of life. [Editor's Note: A plugged-in reader assures us that this is not true.]

Overall, our poorly informed opinion is that San Francisco has much more attractive (world class?) but smaller and more expensive housing stock than Chicago (you could find 2000 sq. ft. for under $500k)...but we probably already knew that. Next search for real estate paradise takes us to...Portland (which locals insist is a world class city)!

[Another Editor's Note: I think we can all agree that both San Francisco and Chicago are fantastic cities that are recognized around the world for being so. Let's move on now and get our humor back.]

∙ Listing: 201 W Grand Ave #502 (3/3) - $1,049,900 (Chicago) [ZipRealty]

Posted by SFEditor at 4:25 PM | Comments (136)

June 27, 2007

National Inventory Numbers Out - Highest In 15 Years

The National Association of Realtors reported on Monday that the national supply of previously owned homes with respect to sales has reached a 15-year high. The last time the inventory numbers were this high was in 1992 at the end of the last big real estate bust.

While median prices have declined somewhat over the past 10 months, the large excess inventory suggests that maybe they haven't declined enough. This could be especially true with mortgage rates continuing to climb and a potential credit crunch [from a tipster] resulting from the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market. Is this sellers denial? Is the big price plunge finally coming? Does this matter in San Francisco?

May Existing-Home Sales Show Market is Under Performing [NAR]
Inventory of Homes for Sale Hits 15-year High [MarketWatch]
San Francisco Housing Inventory Update: 6/18/07 [SocketSite]
From ‘Bubble-Proof’ To ‘Bubble Territory’ In Six Short Months [SocketSite]
∙ Report: U.S. Banks To Curb Lending, Call in Existing Loans [The New York Sun]

Posted by SFEditor at 6:16 AM | Comments (45)

It's Not The Garden Of Earthly Delights But It Is A Garden

10 South Park #3

Maybe it's just that time of year, but sitting in your own quiet condo-garden after a hard day at the office sounds appealing right now. We can't tell if the garden is private or shared. If private, this has oasis of tranquility written all over it. If shared, prepare to get curtains...or some fencing materials.

The rest of it reminds one of our editors of a renovated wool mill loft he occupied in Melbourne, Australia (considered one the world's most livable cities). It has the submarine kitchen and the bedroom loft. The major difference of course is that it is half-the-size and double-the-price. Oh, and it doesn't have ten-inch-wide, 24-foot-long, dark polished-gum floors left over from it's mill days...still, it does have a garden.

UPDATE (8/5): Closed escrow on 7/19/07 with a contract price of $925,000.

∙ Listing: 10 South Park #3 (1/2) - $898,000 [MLS]

Posted by SFEditor at 5:42 AM | Comments (6)

Summertime And The Living Is Easy (At Least At SocketSite)

Just a reminder that for the next two weeks we’re going to be operating under “summer hours.” And while we’re not completely closing up shop, please don’t be surprised by a relatively light volume of posts and a slightly slower response time (to tips and inquiries). And for those who simply need a bigger fix, we might suggest searching the archives (you might be surprised at what you learn) or heading on over to the SocketSite forums.

Posted by socketadmin at 5:00 AM

June 26, 2007

Out With The HOAs (For Now) In With The Sub-Zero (And Plasmas)

Arterra Incentives

The latest limited time offer from Arterra: “For a limited time, receive a sleek Sub-Zero refrigerator and handsome bamboo hardwood flooring in all living areas when you purchase a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home on floors 9 and above. Or, receive a 42" flat-panel television on any 2-bedroom, 1-bath home on floors eight and below (installation not included).”

Speaking Of Savings (And Subtle Signs) At Arterra [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:32 AM | Comments (74)

It’s Not Always Fun And Games At The Top (166-68 Yerba Buena)

It’s probably not going to shock too many of our plugged-in readers, but both 166 (“Solaria”) and 168 Yerba Buena have been withdrawn from the market. And according to a seriously plugged-in tipster, rumor has it that “the developer ran out of money and construction [was] halted a few months ago,” and notices of default have been filed for both properties. Our tipster also notes, “[i]t seems like this opportunity may be coming for sale soon at City Hall.”

The Scoop On 168 Yerba Buena Avenue (And St. Francis Court) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:23 AM | Comments (7)

June 25, 2007

The Average SocketSite Reader (Is Anything But)

Some are going to be surprised, others (including us) not at all. But based on almost 500 responses (okay, so 469) to our most recent reader survey, the average SocketSite reader is anything but (and you’re in good company).

In fact, the average household income of a SocketSite reader - 74% of whom live in San Francisco (92% in the Bay Area) - is over $200,000 (or almost three times the San Francisco average). The readership is highly educated with 95% having earned a college degree, and almost half (46%) holding a postgraduate degree.

The average reader is 37 (we’re not sure if that makes us feel young or old), and almost three quarters (72%) of you “plug in” to SocketSite on a daily basis (thank you). And while well over half (58%) already own property (with an average value of $1,165,000), 76% of the readers consider themselves “currently in the market” (with an average budget of well over $750,000).

Hopefully that provides some insight into who you are (and who you’re addressing when you leave a comment). And in terms of “what you think?” Well, you’re going to have to give us another couple of weeks to crunch the numbers on that one. (What can we say, it is summertime.)

Once again, our sincere thanks to everyone that participated in the survey. And as always, thank you for plugging in.

Twenty Easy Questions: Who Are You And What Do You Think? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Comments (77)

Monday Morning Modern In Mill Valley (366 Lovell Avenue)

366 Lovell: Exterior

It’s been over two years in the making (for one reason or another), the finishes are mighty fine, and it honestly offers one of the best damn (modern) font doors we’ve gotten our grubby little hands on in quite a while (think scale, weight and precision). Oh, and the panoramic valley views aren't too shabby either.

366 Lovell: Living

UPDATE (9/7): Closed escrow on 8/09/07 for $4,500,000 (2.4% over asking).

∙ Listing: 366 Lovell, Mill Valley (5/4.5) - $4,395,000 [PaytonsList]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Comments (13)

June 22, 2007

610 Rhode Island From The Inside (Literally And Figuratively)

610 Rhode Island: Living Room

610 Rhode Island: Master Loft

So here’s the inside scoop on 610 Rhode Island. Designed by Daniel Solomon, the home was built in 1989 for Kronos Quartet cellist Joan Jeanrenaud (one of the bedrooms was originally her rehearsal studio) and her husband, recording artist and producer Pat Gleeson (one of the bedrooms was originally his recording studio). The current owners/sellers (no, not Joan and Pat) have moved next door.

Acoustical perfection (credit John Storyk) and natural light are central themes of the house with perforated galvanized steel (backed by wood) on the walls which absorbs sound (think big party with little din) and bounces light throughout the great room and loft. And while the zinc-clad kitchen and bathroom complement the design, we’d probably budget for replacing it with something a bit more user friendly.

In terms of the exterior, we’re simply going to quote the New York Times (circa 1989):

Clad in glistening black shingles from garage to rooftop, the house, completed this year, has elicited comments like ''a blight on the landscape,'' ''the worst thing that's ever happened to this neighborhood'' and ''a disgrace.''
These criticisms do not faze the couple. In fact, Mr. Gleeson keeps a file of them on his computer.
''People never like change; they don't like anything new,'' Ms. Jeanrenaud said, speaking from years of experience [with the Kronos Quartet].

And on a final note (yes, intended), the budget for “land, building and furnishings” in 1989: $950,000.

[Full Disclosure: The listing agent for 610 Rhode Island is a sponsor of SocketSite. And yes, we would have featured it regardless.]

UPDATE (9/7): Closed escrow on 8/30/07 for $2,551,000 (10.9% over asking).

∙ Listing: 610 Rhode Island (3/1.5) - $2,300,000 [KronosHouse.com]
Not For Sale (But Some Mighty Tasty Modern Gawking) [SocketSite]
The Modern One That's (Almost) On The Market: 610 Rhode Island [SocketSite]
Architectural Audacity in A-Major [NYT]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 AM | Comments (17)

June 21, 2007

Plugged-In Readers Ask, Plugged-In Readers Answer (We Hope)

13th and Harrison

1. “Anybody know what's up at 13th & Harrison (across from the esteemed Eagle)? The ramshackle building on the corner (part of the whole block complex that's been fenced off for years) was finally demolished this weekend. Including all the defunct buildings on the site (the only functioning business on the block is the U-Haul lot off 11th), it's a huge slice of SOMA; anything interesting in the works?”

2. “I noticed that Sports Basement is moving out from their warehouse on 16th and De Haro St at the bottom of Potrero Hill. Jamba Juice corporate offices warehouse that occupied the other half of the same block is also vacant as of few months ago...it makes me wonder if there is another big condo project about to commence. Any "plugged-in" knowledge?”

Posted by socketadmin at 3:22 AM | Comments (8)

A Frenetic Few Weeks For Properties We’ve Pointed Out

It’s been a frenetic few weeks for a whole host of properties we’ve pointed out on SocketSite. Four properties closed escrow, including 355 Bryant #409 (contract price of $1,400,000 or $5,000 over asking) after just 18 days on the market (DOM), and 3460 Baker after nearly 165 (contract price not disclosed). Also closing: 1447 Funston (contract price of $920,000 or 26.2% over asking) and 267-271 Filbert (contract price of $2,700,000 or 3% under).

And then there are all the properties that we’ve recently featured that have (for the most part) quickly headed into escrow: 220 Danvers (10 DOM), 1751 Vallejo (11 DOM), 442 Anderson (11 DOM), 1333 Jones #705 (17 DOM), 118 Joost (17 DOM), 130 Santa Ana (19 DOM), 339 Cumberland (19 DOM), 785 Cole (46 DOM), 329 Bay #206 (59 DOM), 464 Tehama (94 DOM), 1310 Minnesota #206 (96 DOM), and 3512 Clay (104 DOM).

At the same time, 428 28th Street and 3840 Market Street #301 were withdrawn from the market. And the price on 1703 Octavia has been reduced another $50,000.

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2007

The Montgomery (74 New Montgomery): Pricing And Reservations

74 New Montgomery: Model Kitchen

Apparently it was “lamb lollipops” and potent cocktails for the “Grand Opening” of The Montgomery (74 New Montgomery). And while nary a price list was to be found (tipsters?), here’s some guidance and the inside scoop:

So far only 17 of the 107 condos have been released (none of which are two bedrooms) and eleven (11) have received $5,000 refundable deposits.

Price ranges for the first release: studios $379,000 to $540,000 (420-580 sqft); junior one bedrooms $598,000 to $655,000 (500-600 sqft); one bedrooms $487,000 to $647,000 (600-750 sqft); and one bedrooms + den $745,000 to $850,000 (700-900 sqft). Penthouses (4) are expected to be priced as high as $1,800,000 (1500-1600 sqft).

A second release of units is slated for July first (should include a few two bedrooms).

A larger second sales center opens this weekend around the corner on Annie Street (no word on if they'll be celebrating with more lamb lollipops), and the first move-ins are expected to occur as early as September.

The Montgomery (74 New Montgomery): Almost Selling (For Real) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 AM | Comments (19)

Out With The Old: 45 Lansing And The Lot Around Watermark

The demolition of 45 Lansing

Paul Hwang of Skybox Realty captures the demolition of 45 Lansing. Cater-corner to One Rincon Hill, 45 Lansing is slated to become 305 uberluxury condominiums (“the most upscale development the new neighborhood has seen, with “exotic” marble baths, Italian Snaidero cabinetry, Gaggenau cooking appliances, Jacuzzi hydrotherapy tubs with built-in TVs, individual security systems, and 12-foot penthouse ceilings”) in a 40-story tower.

And a little to the south east, another pluggged-in reader notices the parking lot surrounding Watermark is being broken up and wonders what's in the works. Anyone have the inside scoop (or even just a camera)?

True Luxury Condos At 45 Lansing? [SocketSite]
Six Relatively Quick Flips At The Sold Out Watermark (501 Beale) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Comments (33)

A Neighborhood Comp, And So On, And So Forth (48 Cayuga)

48 Cayuga Avenue

After two weeks on the market, the list price on 48 Cayuga Avenue in Mission Terrace was dropped by $100,000 (12.5%). And it’s now listed at $699,000. It’s not the “Major price reduction!” that caught our attention, however, but rather the “Please note purchase may be a short sale and subject to lender approval.” It’s recorded as last selling on 5/31/06 for $825,000.

And never mind the challenged location. Keep in mind that for the past twelve months, this property has been a local market/neighborhood “comp.”

∙ Listing: 48 Cayuga Ave (2/1) - $699,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 AM | Comments (24)

June 19, 2007

The (SOM) Master Plan For San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Treasure Island Rendering (Image Source: SOM)

A plugged-in tipster directs us to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Master Plan for Treasure Island and an overview from NewcitySkyline:

The Treasure Island Plan involves a unique, 21st century San Francisco community that is socially and economically diverse and supported by close-knit neighborhoods, unprecedented open space, resource-conserving technology and a robust network of transportation choices. Envisioned as both a great place to live and a regional destination, the plan proposes three compact neighborhoods centered around an energizing, mixed-use hub and ferry terminal set within a richly faceted 275-acre Great Park.
The new development would take up only a quarter of the island’s area and will be built in phases. In the residential phase, there will be approximately 5,900 residential units built, of which 30 percent will be affordable. The residential area will accommodate around 13,500 residents, and will be divided by high-density, low-to-midrise blocks of townhouses, flats clustered around neighborhood open spaces, and residential towers approximately 14 stories high.

With preliminary approval from the Board of Supervisors in hand, residents could begin moving by as early as 2013 (with overall completion of the development around 2022).

SOM Rendering of San Francisco and Treasure Island (Image Source: SOM)

Treasure Island Master Plan [SOM]
Reawakening Treasure Island [NewcitySkyline]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:16 AM | Comments (81)

The Kind Of Problem You (We) Like To Have

Considering we weren’t offering any bribes, didn’t resort to popup reminders, and had a few technological problems with the very first question (“What do you mean 36 isn't a whole number?”), we were blown away by the response to our latest reader survey. We had hoped to get one hundred responses. We ended up with almost five (hundred that is).

The good news is that we have some incredible data (and insight into our readers). The bad news is that it’s taking us a bit longer than expected to slice and dice the data (but we’re doing our best). The first wave or results soon (we promise).

Twenty Easy Questions: Who Are You And What Do You Think? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 AM

733 Front: A Few Condo Floor Plans (And Some More Pricing)

733 Front Street #506 Floor Plan

A smattering of floor plans, condo/building features, and a neighborhood guide have been added to the website for 733 Front. And of course, we have some additional pricing:

∙ 733 Front #201 (1/1) 922 sqft - $725,000
∙ 733 Front #206 (0/1) 632 sqft - $605,000
∙ 733 Front #309 (1/1) 1,022 sqft - $785,000
∙ 733 Front #312 (1/1) 1,192 sqft - $940,000
∙ 733 Front #404 (1/1) 833 sqft - $870,000
∙ 733 Front #411 (1/1) 893 sqft - $745,000
∙ 733 Front #501 (2/2) 1,625 sqft - $1,625,000
∙ 733 Front #506 (2/2) 1,574 sqft - $1,780,000
∙ 733 Front #511 (1/1) 846 sqft - $650,000
∙ 733 Front #606 (1/1) 904 sqft - $1,060,000
∙ 733 Front #704 (2/2) 1,600 sqft - $2,075,000
∙ 733 Front #705 (1/1) 773 sqft - $1,050,000

The two-bedrooms include one parking space in the building (or a $75,000 credit), and we’re guessing #404 might now as well (the list price was increased $75,000 since our last update). Expect monthly HOA dues starting at slightly over $500 and running into the mid $600s (hundreds not thousands).

733 Front Sales Update: 32% In Contract (Almost All Two-Bedrooms) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Comments (31)

Less “Uber Cool” Cash For An "Uber Cool" House (745 Detroit)

745 Detroit: Master Bath

Our original mention generated a bit more debate and controversy than we expected, and we’re really not trying to stir the pot, but we do have to note that the asking price on 745 Detroit was just dropped another $100,000 (now listed $205,000 or 12.1% below original asking). And a general note to all: hate the game, not the player(s).

UPDATE: Closed escrow on 8/24/07 for $1,445,000 (15% under original asking).

∙ Listing: 745 Detroit (3/2.5) - $1,495,000 [Sotheby’s] [MLS]
Not Just Cool But “Uber Cool” In Sunnyside [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:25 AM | Comments (7)

Reductions On Two Two-Bedrooms Approaching Two Months

1487 McKinnon and 2340 Larkin

At one end of the spectrum there’s 1487 McKinnon Avenue, a two bedroom single-family home in Bayview which is currently listed as “below market value!!” and “wont last!” It’s been on the market for 46 days. Now listed at $559,000, it was reduced by $20,000 (3.4%) after two weeks.

Near the other end is 2340 Larkin #2, a two bedroom condominium in “Prime Russian Hill.” The sfnewsletter was betting it wouldn’t last a month at $2,295,000. So far it’s been on the market for 53 days. And two weeks ago it was reduced by $296,000 (12.9%).

∙ Listing: 2340 Larkin #2 (2/2) - $1,999,000 [MLS]
Bettin’ Fools [sfnewsletter]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:15 AM | Comments (28)


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