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November 30, 2007

More Proposed Homebuyer Bail Outs: San Francisco’s Local Edition

Mayor Newsom isn’t suggesting a government sponsored bail out for local homebuyers who end up facing foreclosure. Instead, he’s asking the shareholders of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Washington Mutual (amongst other lenders) to do the bailing.

And if the Chronicle is accurate, Mayor Newsom is also asking the lenders to “[s]top administering stated-income or no-documentation loans” (which would impact far more buyers in San Francisco than simply the subprime).

Newsom asks lenders to offer more help to those facing foreclosure [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:21 PM | Comments (10)

Six New “Chic Urban Dwellings” At 3354 20th Street In The Mission

3354 20th Street

Six new two and three bedroom “chic urban dwellings” (their words, not ours) have hit the market at 3354 20th Street in the Mission (at Shotwell).

3354 20th Street: An Interior

They’re big (ranging from 1,502 to 2,772 square feet); they feature "vast open floor plans" (but they’re not lofts); and they're priced from $799,000 to $1,249,000.

∙ 3354 20Th Street #101 (2/3) 1,724 sqft - $979,000
∙ 3354 20Th Street #102 (2/2.5) 1,502 sqft - $859,000
∙ 3354 20Th Street #201 (2/2.5) 1,428 sqft - $799,000
∙ 3354 20Th Street #202 (2/2.5) 1,530 sqft - $899,000
∙ 3354 20Th Street #301 (3/3) 2,732 sqft - $1,249,000
∙ 3354 20Th Street #302 (3/3.5) 2,772 sqft - $1,249,000

And until we've taken a tour, and beyond what's on the property website, that's about all we can say (or know).

3354 20th Street [3354-20th.com]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:13 PM | Comments (24)

Sunset’s 2007 San Francisco Idea House Officially Opens Its Doors

As a plugged-in tipster notes, Sunset’s 2007 San Francisco Idea House officially opened its doors to the public today and will be open from 11/30 to 12/16 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (9am-4pm). And yes, it looks like its ten week run has been reduced to two.

Sunset’s 2007 San Francisco Idea House: A Few Facts [SocketSite]
2007 San Francisco Idea House [Sunset]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 PM | Comments (6)

A Little Faux Bois (And Alliteration) On This Fine Friday Afternoon

174-½ Hartford

Like there’s any chance we could resist a little “Faux Bois” (i.e., that’s not real wood on the walls) on this fine Friday. And yes, it's a condo (although fully detached) cottage; there are "unwarranted rooms on the lower level;" and the parking is leased.

∙ Listing: 174 ½ Hartford Street (1/1) - $799,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:25 PM | Comments (8)

And The Artists Shall Inherit Acquire San Francisco

Academy of Art University Buildings

Academy of Art University plans to double its student body and add an athletic program over the next 10 years, which means it will need to acquire up to 10 more San Francisco buildings. That's on top of the 16 buildings the university has bought and adapted to new uses since 2000, a trend that is running into increasing resistance from San Francisco city government and some of the school's neighbors. It's expected to come to a head Dec. 6, when the planning commission holds a public hearing on an institutional master plan the university filed in November setting out its plans for continued expansion."

“The art school has bought and renovated numerous existing buildings to handle that expansion. It has clustered them in three main areas of town: the Van Ness corridor, Downtown and South of Market. It owns 29 of its 32 academic, administrative and residential buildings, and is in contract to purchase the Flower Mart at 575 Sixth St.”

Editor’s Note: And as some might recall, it was a little over a year ago that a discussion regarding four condos at 1081 Pine Street turned to the impact of the Academy of Art University as neighbors and solicited the following comment from a young "tipster": "Wouldn't that be a great business model. You start an 'Art academy' and buy a building for a dorm. Put in a basketball court, encourage the kids to talk on their cell phones, buy drugs, etc. Prices in the neighborhood drop like a rock and you buy up everything in sight. Then, move the dorm, sell the now appreciated properties and start the whole process all over. If only I had a hundred mil, my path to further riches would be clear."

Art academy draws up big expansion [Business Times]
Academy of Art University: Campus Housing: Housing Galleries [academyart.edu]
Rose Sellers Still Selling [SocketSite]
Three Of Four For Sale At 1081 Pine: Reader Comments [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:16 AM | Comments (36)

No Direct Support! But Any Bets On Tax Credits For Security Holders?

“U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is negotiating an agreement with banks to stem a surge in foreclosures by fixing interest rates on loans to subprime borrowers, according to people familiar with a meeting he led yesterday.”

“While the government can't force the industry to modify loans, Mr. Paulson and other administration officials have been using moral suasion to push for workouts, telling the companies it is in their interest to avoid foreclosure since most parties can lose money when that happens. A similar plan to freeze interest rates temporarily was recently announced by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and four major loan servicers, including Countrywide.

Among the holdouts have been investors, who typically hold securities backed by mortgages. If interest rates are frozen, they would lose the potential benefit of higher payments. But investors have cautiously moved toward cooperation, likely on the grounds that it's better to get some interest than none at all.”

“Officials in Washington have been cautious about steps that would be seen as rescuing borrowers, lenders and investors from the consequences of their own bad decisions. That is why few are suggesting direct support for borrowers who can't afford their loans. Mr. Paulson has decided his best option is to prod the markets to sort matters out themselves, as long as companies bear in mind the public interest in keeping people in their homes.”

Paulson, Banks in Talks to Stem Surge in Foreclosures [Bloomberg]
U.S., Banks Near A Plan to Freeze Subprime Rates [WSJ]
JustQuotes: What’s The Cause And What’s The Effect? [SocketSite]

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

JustQuotes: And Which Way Is The Wind Blowing In San Francisco?

"Treasuries fell and bill yields rose as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke indicated the central bank will do whatever it takes to keep the economy out of a recession....Rising gasoline prices, a housing slump and reduced access to credit will probably create "headwinds for the consumer," Bernanke said in a speech yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also cited "renewed turbulence" in financial markets."

Treasuries Fall as Bernanke's Comments Reduce Bid for Safety [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:42 AM | Comments (25)

November 29, 2007

A Chance To Participate In Japantown’s Better Neighborhood Planning

Japantown Planning Meeting: December 1, 2007

From the San Francisco Planning Department (via a plugged-in tipster):

This is a reminder to encourage you to attend this Saturday's Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan Workshop. In addition to hearing from the Planning Department's planning consultants regarding historic and cultural preservation, implementation strategies, and urban design findings, we will also see preliminary design concepts for Japan Center and a preview of the proposal for 1481 Post Street (a recent addition to the agenda). Following the presentations, we've dedicated time for community members to give their feedback in small groups regarding all the topics.
The future of Japan Center and Geary Boulevard are at stake. Improvements to land use and zoning, businesses, transportation, public space and the historic and cultural character throughout the neighborhood are under consideration.

Our first thought: hello modern. Our second thought? Point number four in one reader’s “5 Suggestions To Turn Around Fillmore.”

Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan [SFGov]
Are Ikkyu’s Days Numbered? [SocketSite]
SOM Design And Details For 300 Condominiums On A Hill [SocketSite]
The Official Cathedral Hill Tower (1481 Post Street) Website [SocketSite]
A Reader’s “5 Suggestions To Turn Around Fillmore” [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:29 PM | Comments (20)

Are They Clearing The Way For Someone's Californian On Rincon Hill?


We don’t know if Fifield has found a buyer for the development of The Californian on Rincon Hill, but as a tipster notes, “the future site…is now fenced off and demolition has begun.” Of course demolition isn't the same thing as construction, but it is a step in the right direction.

Now perhaps a plugged-in reader or two would be so kind as to spill share the inside scoop? And yes, you know we'd do the same for you.

The Californian On Rincon Hill: No Longer Coming Soon (If At All) [SocketSite]
The Californian on Rincon Hill: 375 Fremont St [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:26 PM | Comments (32)

We're Not Exactly Reading Between The Lines (But Rather The Listing)

195 Ney

After a month on the market, the asking price for 195 Ney Street was reduced by $96,000 (12.1%) and an offer date was set for two weeks later at noon. Unfortunately (for the sellers) that date was four months ago. And unfortunately (for the agent) the listing still notes the old offer date (which might not be sending exactly the right message).

Then again, it might be fortunate for an interested buyer as we're getting the feeling that they might just be willing to negotiate.

UPDATE: And no, "willing to" and "happy to" are hardly synonymous: “…this place last sold in April of '06 for $680K.”

∙ Listing: 195 Ney Street (3/2) - $699,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:20 PM | Comments (80)

A Deck-O-Licious Victorian (In Façade Only) At 1039 Noe

1039 Noe: Facade

A Victorian façade, a contemporary interior, and quite possibly the (soon to be former) home of a contractor (which often speaks to the quality of the renovation). And yes, that’s as opposed to the home of an architect (which often speaks to the quality of the design).

1039 Noe: Rear

Oh, and it does appear to be rather deck-o-licious out back (and up top as well) if you're in to those kinds of things.

∙ Listing: 1039 Noe (4/3) - $2,195,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:24 AM | Comments (34)

Forget About The In-Law, What If The Parking Is (Was) Unwarranted?

Parking Pad (www.SocketSite.com)

"It’s already illegal for city residents to pave their front yards without permission, but one supervisor’s legislation is intended to give inspectors the teeth to enforce the ban. District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval will introduce legislation next week that would empower Planning Department inspectors to hand out or mail citations for violations of zoning regulations."

"Residents are pulling out gardens and lawns from their front yards and filling them with concrete. Doing so provides an extra parking spot, but Sandoval said it has far-reaching ill effects. “We passed a law several years ago to make it illegal, but people continue to do it,” he said. “We are in danger of becoming a concrete city.”

Sandoval takes aim at illegal property paving [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:10 AM | Comments (43)

November 28, 2007

Something Tells Us That “By Far” Wasn’t By Accident

246 2nd Street (www.SocketSite.com)

Earlier this month the list price on 246 2nd Street #1306 was reduced by $20,000 and the following line was added to the property description: “Now Best Deal in SOMA: GO!” And while it doesn’t appear that anybody has “gone,” we will note that another unit on the same floor has come (on the market that is).

And while we can’t compare the views, light, finishes or layout (i.e., we haven’t been inside and there aren’t yet any pictures), we will note that 246 2nd Street #1302 is 52 square feet smaller, but is also listed for $74,100 less. And from the description: “By far, the best value in soma!” Damn neighbors bank (see UPDATE below).

UPDATE: Leave it to Dude (no, not The Dude) to note that #1302 is bank owned and “Priced $80K Below Last Sales Comp in Building!” Damn bank (and ex-neighbors) indeed.

∙ Listing: 246 2nd Street #1306 (2/2) 1,101 sqft - $919,000 [MLS]
∙ Listing: 246 2nd Street #1302 (2/2) 1,049 sqft - $844,900 [246-2nd.com]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:35 AM | Comments (28)

We’ll Say It Once Again: It’s All About Managing Expectations

“The [U.S.] housing sector has continued to decline and to erode at a very, very rapid rate,'' [Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn] said in response to a question. “It would be nice to see some early signs that it was beginning to stabilize, and we haven't seen that yet.”

Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and other banks that underwrote so-called collateralized debt obligations linked to mortgages and other credits have already warned of losses of at least $47.2 billion on CDOs and other holdings. The securities slid as investors shunned assets linked to subprime U.S. mortgages following a surge in loan defaults.

“There's further to go” in revealing losses, Kohn said today. He added that the more information that is made public about potential losses “the better,” as it will help ease uncertainty."

UPADTE: A publishing error resulted in this excerpt being published twice. And an editor’s error (damn monkeys) resulted in the deletion of the version with (rather than without) our reader’s comments (which we didn’t even have a chance to read). Sorry about that folks, no slight intended, and please feel free to comment again. And as always, thank you for plugging in.

Kohn Sees Risk of Reduced Credit From Market Upheaval [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

And Sometimes It’s Simply The Sinks (65 Caselli Avenue)

65 Caselli: Sinks

It’s hard to tell if the quick price reduction ($295,001 or 12.9% after twenty days on the market) has more to do with marketing or the “motivated seller!” Regardless, it’s actually the bathroom sinks that first caught our attention. Now if only we could figure out where to keep our toothbrushes and toothpaste (without messing up the aesthetic).

∙ Listing: 65 Caselli Avenue (3/4) - $1,999,999 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Comments (15)

November 27, 2007

September S&P/Case-Shiller: San Francisco MSA And Price Tiers Fall

S&P/Case-Shiller Index Change: September 2007

According to the September 2007 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (pdf), single-family home prices in the San Francisco MSA slipped 4.6% year-over-year and fell 0.8% from August '07 to September ‘07. For the broader 10-City composite (CSXR), year-over-year price growth is down 5.5% (down 0.9% from August).

While Tampa remains the metro area with the largest annual decline, at -11.1%, Miami surpassed Detroit in September, reporting a decline of 10% over the past 12 months. Detroit and San Diego followed with -9.6% each.

Prices also fell across all three price tiers for the San Francisco MSA.

S&P/Case-Shiller San Francisco Price Tiers: September 2007

The bottom third (under $614,308 at the time of acquisition) fell 2.4% from August to September (down 13.2% YOY); the middle third fell 0.9% from August to September (down 5.6% YOY); and the top third (over $860,000 at the time of acquisition) fell 0.3% from August to September (up 1.4% YOY).

The standard SocketSite S&P/Case-Shiller footnote: The HPI only tracks single-family homes (not condominiums which represent half the transactions in San Francisco), is imperfect in factoring out changes in property values due to improvements versus actual market appreciation (although they try their best), and includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda in the “San Francisco” index (i.e., the greater MSA).

UPDATE: And by request (or at least an appropriate amount of taunting), the San Francisco Home Price Index (HPI) tiers plotted logarithmically:

S&P/Case-Shiller Index by Price Tiers (logarithmically): September 2007

U.S. National Home Price Index Posts a Record Annual Decline (pdf) [S&P]
August S&P/Case-Shiller HPI: San Francisco MSA Falls (But Less) [SocketSite]
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index For San Francisco By Price Tier [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:38 AM | Comments (62)

Could “Priced Right” In Ashbury Heights Be Less Than What Was Paid?

1580 Masonic: Living

A plugged-in tipster notes another price reduction on the listing for 1580 Masonic (this time by $200,000 or 5.6%). And while the price reduction might not be all that telling (in and of itself), and perhaps it simply wasn’t “priced right” to begin with (as some like to say), our tipster also notes that this nicely finished Ashbury Heights home is now listed for $105,000 less than what the sellers paid for it in March of 2006 ($3,500,000).

And no, asking price and selling price aren't the same thing. But we will keep you posted (and plugged-in).

∙ Listing: 1580 Masonic (3/2.5 and 1/1) - $3,395,000 [1580masonic.com] [Alain Pinel]
Three Good Sized Homes, Neighborhoods, And (Mostly) Reductions [SocketSite]
Sometimes It’s Simply The Small Things: 1580 Masonic [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Comments (72)

November 26, 2007

Since It’s Family, Might We Suggest An Early Holiday Present?

2104 24th Street

The list price on 2104 24th Street was reduced $105,000 in August, $100,000 in September, and $20,500 in November (now listed at 20.5% below the original asking). And considering the “[a]gent is related to owner,” we can only imagine the delicate conversation around the dinning room table this past Thanksgiving.

And while the interior sounds quite nice (“Renovated kitchen, teak floors and fireplace in living room…Mexican tile in kitchen and bath…2nd fireplace in front large bedroom, [and] hardwood floors.”), the lack of pictures in the listing leaves us only guessing (rather than actually inquiring).

And it also leaves us wondering if an early holiday present (in the form of a new camera) might be in order. After all, it is family (and it is Cyber Monday).

∙ Listing: 2104 24th Street (3/1.5) - $874,500 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:19 AM | Comments (19)

JustQuotes: It’s That “Other” That We’re Really Keeping Our Eyes On

WSJ Mortgage Reset Chart (Image Source: wsj.com)

“While many accounts portray resetting rates as the big factor behind the surge in home-loan defaults and foreclosures this year, that isn't quite the case. Many of the subprime mortgages that have driven up the default rate went bad in their first year or so, well before their interest rate had a chance to go higher. Some of these mortgages went to speculators who planned to flip their houses, others to borrowers who had stretched too far to make their payments, and still others had some element of fraud.

Now the real crest of the reset wave is coming, and that promises more pain for borrowers, lenders and Wall Street. Already, many subprime lenders, who focused on people with poor credit, have gone bust. Big banks and investors who made subprime loans or bought securities backed by them are reporting billions of dollars in losses.”

“Besides the $362 billion of subprime ARMs that are scheduled to reset during 2008, $152 billion of other loans with adjustable rates are set to reset, according to Banc of America Securities. The other resetting loans include "jumbo" mortgages of more than $417,000 and Alt-A loans, a category between prime and subprime. The latter category is the riskier, in part because it includes borrowers who provided little or no documentation of their income or assets.

The number of borrowers facing higher payments isn't growing merely because the amount of loans with resets is higher. Another factor is that those with a looming reset now have a tougher time sidestepping it by refinancing or selling their home. "There is a large amount of borrowers who are in products that either no longer exist or that they no longer qualify for," says Banc of America Securities analyst Robert Lacoursiere.”

[Editor's Note: Keep in mind that in 2002 less than 20% of property purchases in San Francisco utilized interest-only mortgages [which are typically adjustable rate]. In 2005? Nearly 70%.]

Rising Rates to Worsen Subprime Mess [Wall Street Journal]
Interest-only loans meteoric rise in the Bay Area (May 2005) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Comments (35)

JustQuotes: Looking At SF Through Blue/Green Colored Glass(es)

The Infinity

"To be sure, glass-clad buildings are nothing new in San Francisco. The Hallidie Building, built at 130 Sutter St. in 1917, wears one of the world's first glass "curtain walls," in which pre-assembled panels are hung into place on a building's structural form.

But as glass-and-steel high-rises recast the skyline after World War II, overtly modern buildings sparked a backlash. The shift culminated in 1985's Downtown Plan, which decreed that new buildings should "contribute to the visual unity of the city." Another rule: "Highly reflective materials, particularly mirrored or highly reflective glass, should not be used."

The planning director at the time: Dean Macris. The planning director today: Macris, who returned to the post in 2004.

While Macris now champions contemporary design, he and Nikitas say the 1985 edict against glossy glass still applies. But the sheer number of sheer towers is causing alarm, as is the fact that the first batch hasn't lived up to planner expectations: "I can't say we've said, 'Aha, there's the perfect solution,' " Macris acknowledged."

Newest towers will give S.F. skyline a touch of glass [SFGate]
Testing tries to ensure that glass structures don't court disaster [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:20 AM | Comments (8)

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