February 26, 2009

The Juxtaposition Of Two Potential Sale Pairs For One Noe Property

610 Grand View Avenue: Living

Purchased for $1,076,000 in March of 2004, 601 Grand View Avenue atop 24th Street returned to the market three weeks ago with a list price of $1,195,000.

Reduced to $1,095,000 two weeks later, a sale at the current asking would represent average annual appreciation of 0.35% over the past five years for this single-family Noe Valley home with mid-century modern bones.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition with the previous sale pair for the property: sold for $655,000 in January of 2002 which represents average annual appreciation of 26% from 2002 to 2004.

∙ Listing: 601 Grand View Avenue (3/2) - $1,095,000 [MLS]

First Published: February 26, 2009 5:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

It was a truly epic run up. Something that you'll be telling your grandchildren about and that will provide doctoral theses for generations of aspiring economists.

Posted by: diemos at February 26, 2009 5:44 AM

Yup, expect it to sell for about $650k ( if not this year 2010 for sure). That's the 40% discount bears are so hopeful of. Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at February 26, 2009 6:23 AM

"Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath."

In the unlikely event of a loss in market liquidity, oxygen masks will drop out of the ceiling in front of you. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and continue to breathe normally.

"if not this year 2010 for sure" 2011. ;)

Posted by: diemos at February 26, 2009 6:30 AM

I don't know about oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling, but I do hope that everyone who bought in NV in the last decade or so has budgeted a little extra for scuba gear :)

Posted by: LMRiM at February 26, 2009 6:33 AM

Just as an aside, this property is almost exactly tracking the Case Shiller upper tier trajectory discussed in yesterday's Case Shiller thread. The upper tier is now back to March 2004 prices, and this property is less than 2% above its April 2004 sale price. Of course, it's not sold yet.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 26, 2009 7:06 AM

That's the 40% discount bears are so hopeful of.

Any proof it is not going to play that way? I didn't think so. But I'll bookmark those nuggets of misplaced hubris for future reference.

So far, everything is in line for something of this scale. We might even overshoot...

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 7:09 AM

While I generally enjoy this site's analysis, Grand View is not Noe Valley, so I don't think this listing is a good data point for making pronouncements on the state of NV real estate.

Posted by: cmon at February 26, 2009 8:00 AM

The editor has picked up his old bias against Noe Valley...

If you had put more effort into researching prior to posting, you would see that the house had been remodelled between the 2002 and 2004 sale, which wuold explain the significant "appreciation."

Posted by: auden at February 26, 2009 8:10 AM

Ayup.

The pictures definitely have that modern pergraniteel look.

Posted by: diemos at February 26, 2009 8:17 AM

Grandview is not a great location. 1521 Diamond just sold at a good price. Very similar, and still not a perfect location, but better than Grandview: http://tinyurl.com/cylr6p

Location has never been more important in real estate.

Posted by: Scott Pierce at February 26, 2009 8:19 AM

"hubris for future reference"

Do you know what hubris is? One of its meanings is the presumptive assumption of godlike power. Like the blinding of Polyphemus by Oddysseus -- Poseidon got p.o'd about that one. The certainty with which you people speak about the future can be described as nothing less than hubris.

Hhahaha. Wrong word. Very wrong. But the calamitous drop predictions you all have embraced as a platform, a platform from which you treat others with derision, is very much hubris.

Certainty of future events = hubris.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 8:20 AM

I used to live 3 blocks down that place and this section is as much Noe Valley as Hoffmann or Douglass. I agree the Northernmost sections of Grand View are more Upper Market, but people who live in these blocks from 21st to Clipper depend on the 24th street corridor for shopping, dining, sipping coffee. Crossing Market St or going up o DH is a pain. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck...

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 8:25 AM

Fluj, you need a better dictionary. Hubris was exactly the appropriate word.

What is up with you? You used to offer quite valuable input. Lately, every one of your posts is no more than a variation of "you're an idiot." You know the market and you have access to data than can help you to make your points. Can't you make them intelligently?

Posted by: anon at February 26, 2009 8:26 AM

you would see that the house had been remodelled between the 2002 and 2004 sale, which wuold explain the significant "appreciation."

I for one always assumed that there was some updating of this property, but let's be real. Look at the kitchen, for instance. Maybe $20K, if that. And look at the only picture of one of the baths (the other must be worse). Looks to me like a very superficial and inexpensive remodel.

I've always thought that with respect to "apples" comparisons, it's reasonable to discount the market value of any additions/updates (not necessarily the same as cost of course). Changing a 3/1 into a 5/3 - which was common in many neighborhoods - obviously transforms an "apple" into an "orange". Putting some cheap updates into a place to snare a clueless buyer who is looking for that "lemony fresh smell" - not so much.

Bottom line, I think it's fair to say that this place underwent some very significant "appreciation" apples to apples from 2002-2004. Perhaps not quite as much as 26% per year, but probably not less than 15-20% either. The seller could have sold in 2005, 2006 or 2007 for a profit IMO, because clearly the area was still appreciating. I think it's also fair to say that the current seller is going to eat a capital loss on this place, and that the loss will be larger the longer he resists the downward spiral of prices.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 26, 2009 8:30 AM

anon,

I think I turned the tables somewhat intelligently. Again, poking fun at someone's else's certainty of future events is not hubris. But being certain of future events is definitely hubris.


Sorry if you disagree. If you want to see some market evaluation input, look at what I had to say in the Ortega thread. In it, the very people who ask for data and pick apart language mercilessly are using one REO sale and personal anecdotes. Hubris, hypocrisy, hella annoying. Got any other h's?

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 8:38 AM

Crossing Market St or going up o DH is a pain.

But going up to Grand view from Hoffman is not a pain!? It is a heck of a slope. That hill is more of a dividing line that Market Street. Grand view is DH. (link to terrain map of area)
http://tinyurl.com/byjajw

You are quacking up the wrong duck

Posted by: cmon at February 26, 2009 8:43 AM

Interesting point anonn,

But from my point of view the hubris is on the part of those who have declared themselves immune to the laws of economics (setting oneself above the gods) and their downfall then proceeds directly from that error.

In any event we shall have to add a discussion of that to the agenda for January 1, 2012.

Posted by: diemos at February 26, 2009 8:47 AM

Pergraniteel

LOL. I have seen so many of these. Pergraniteel is also called "updating". Like a 1965 house some friends bought a year ago: everything in its "original" stale condition but the usual trifecta of fake luxury.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 8:49 AM

But from my point of view the hubris is on the part of those who have declared themselves immune to the laws of economics (setting oneself above the gods) and their downfall then proceeds directly from that error.

Your point is understood, but it is overstated. Nobody is saying that a correction is not occurring. However, you and others like you go very far beyond that. You call for total collapse, and you treat others who question total collapse with varying degrees of derision.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 8:53 AM

Records say 3/2 1060 sq feet (sq feet omitted from the MLS, along with the lot size).

Posted by: dub dub at February 26, 2009 8:55 AM

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I would say this home, if left in its probate 2002 condition, would have appreciated the average amount for a single family home on Grand View between 2002 to 2004. I do not believe this number was 26% per year.

LMRiM, you are not the average buyer. The average buyer is willing to pay a premium for their house to look new. That is marketing/sales 101. And there is no way that the kitchen remodel cost 20k-I do work at this level fequently and a low end kitchen with pretty grained cabinents and appliances costs 30k at the minimum. Add in new floors, new paint, new cheap bathrooms. They may have replaced some windows as well, who knows.

Posted by: auden at February 26, 2009 8:58 AM

Yucky exterior, yucky floor plan, yucky central air and registers, yucky ceiling beams, yucky lighting, yucky standard kitchen, yucky fireplace treatment, yucky colors, and yucky staging. The location might be desirable for some view seekers, at but that price?

Posted by: Mole Man at February 26, 2009 9:01 AM

"You call for total collapse"

meh. Now who is overstating. $500K for a 3/2 would still be expensive compared to an average wage in SF.

Posted by: diemos at February 26, 2009 9:01 AM

cmon,

Sure, I know the grueling slopes. Managed to cycle up 23rd, 24th and 25th (that one zig-zagging my way huffing and puffing). It's easier walking/cycling up if you take 23rd, right on Hoffman then left on GV when crossing 22nd. Or you walk up Clipper but you'll miss the nice houses.

Some of the elderly I know take their cars for shopping. Most of the young couples have good knees and don't mind the healthy exercise. Hoffman is a better choice, but one block is not a big deal.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 9:03 AM

The point is not whether you personally like the cheap updating, the point is that work was done to the property that increased the market value of the home beyond the regular appreciation experienced on this unique NV street between 2002 and 2004.

Posted by: auden at February 26, 2009 9:06 AM

So since no one is mentioning it, I guess you all agree that "it is fair to discount the market value of any additons/updates" because it seems to me if I ever mention a place that has been updated I get a verrry different response. Or does it only work one way?

Posted by: sparky-C at February 26, 2009 9:16 AM

sparky,

Additions can go both ways. I have increased the value of one my sales by 20K just by slapping $3K on a slum for the sole purpose of a nice picture on the website. And sometimes you spend big bucks and don't get much of it back. In emotional markets (bullish and bearish), you can't expect anything rational.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 9:25 AM

This is why I love Googel Street View. Use Google Street View and look at the wonderful elevated highway/street across the street. Its a beautiful home in a very unfortunate location. It looks like it is an elevated portion of Market street. From the house it looks like a 6 lane freeway and a vacant lot underneath.

Posted by: AlexPDL at February 26, 2009 9:26 AM

That's a fair point, auden, about the market's perception of cheap updating, and I accept that. I'm not super familiar with NV prices as they evolved over the 2000s. I was under the impression that prices shot up pretty dramatically in the 2002-2004/2005 period. In fact, our fearless leader fluj (back when he went under that name) often spoke of 2004 as THE "sea change" in all SF neighborhoods.

I also thought that NV was one of the few nabes that kept appreciating right through 2007. I used to follow some of the western nabes pretty closely, and those that I watched (St. Francis, Monterey Heights, Mt. Davidson, and nearby locations) clearly peaked in early 2006 and started turning slightly down (more dramatically as 2008 unfolded).

Anyway, this cycle was a once in a lifetime credit orgy. The downslope will be measured in years - more than a decade IMO. Th current seller of 610 Grand View should cut the price quickly to whatever price is needed to move the property, or be willing to hold it for a loooonnng time IMO.

*****************

About "hubris", I never understand why a prediction that prices will fall x% or for x years is any more prideful than a statement that they won't fall x% or for x years (or that prices will rise, level off, etc.). All statements seem to be attempts by human beings with limited knowledge to predict future events, which are of course unknowable. For the past few years, though, the bear view has been unfolding pretty much as envisioned (at least as I envisioned it). When the market changes to demonstrate a flaw in my overall model, I'd be the first to admit it and the first to change trading strategy.

Anyone who's been in markets for a while understands humility, believe me. No individual can fight these forces - our models are just imperfect attempts to understand them and systematize our investment responses to them.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 26, 2009 9:27 AM

"or the past few years, though, the bear view has been unfolding pretty much as envisioned (at least as I envisioned it). "

Not on this website, not when it comes to San Francisco. There were a lot of people talking sea change as evidenced by individual properties throughout 2007, for example. Hindsight now shows that all of that was clearly nonsense. And that the opposite occurred in 2007 -- that was the peak. Oh, but the derision they levied.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 9:32 AM

AlexPDL,

On the plus side, this "elevated freeway" provides shelter to a small stream and a nice variety of Cala Lillies and other flowers. OK, there's the occasional transient here and there, or at least there was one last year.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 9:32 AM

Fronzi,

I think in general you can expect some value to doing a remodel. But, apparantly I am being told differently.

Posted by: sparky-C at February 26, 2009 9:34 AM

sparky,

In general, yes. Another element is timing. Markets can fall from under you and selling fast can be more important than making the place look pretty.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at February 26, 2009 10:02 AM

Fluj, you are certainly partly -- even mostly -- correct about the SF market peak and the views commonly touted here. I've been reading this site since about mid-2007. What I recall is, as you note, a lot of people pointing to huge declines in certain market segments at that time and claiming that all market segments are thus crashing. That, obviously, was not the case as of mid-2007. But neither is it the case that 2007 was "the peak" uniformly. Certain condo and lower-end SFR segments clearly peaked well before this -- probably early- to mid-2006.

And I recall the broader view expressed here in mid-2007 as a warning that the crash that was undeniable in these other segments, and in other regions, was going to hit the middle and high-end segments in SF as well, so anyone buying now (i.e. 2007) was likely to see a huge hit in market value. That view was roundly criticized by many -- even a majority -- because SF is unique, Real SF is immune, no subprime mortgages here and that is the only problem, and similar viewpoints.

So you are absolutely right the many called the top too soon. But that is just a relatively insignificant mis-call on timing. The broader point was spot on. Those who bought in 2007 (buying the RE industry party line) have been, and will be, hurt the most.

Posted by: Trip at February 26, 2009 10:07 AM

I think in general you can expect some value to doing a remodel.

You can, sparky, because you are a contractor and you know what you are doing. The average homedebtor doing a remodel? Very hit and miss, I'm sure. (Mostly miss, I bet.)

I've heard many stories of people spending in excess of $100K to do a kitchen remodel. You think they are going to recoup that?

General market appreciation covered up a number of errors. The old adage that everyone looks like a genius in a bull market. Going forward, only the professionals - and only a subgroup of them - will make money trying to "add value".

Posted by: LMRiM at February 26, 2009 10:12 AM

We looked at a different place on Grand View Ave and couldn't get past the noise and smell of exhaust from the cars on Market St.

Posted by: geekgrrl at February 26, 2009 10:16 AM

I saw this house a few weeks ago and generally liked it. The backyard is usable, the LR is nicer than the photographs and there is a gigantic amount of storage space under the main level.

That said, the property has some problems. The kithen is very small, the neighbor's deck is right next to your dining area (hard to describe but it's creepy) and the bedrooms are small.

Whatever improvements were made 2002-04 were done in the cheapest possible way. Any improvements to correct the flaws mentioned above would be extraordinarily expensive.

If you don't need much living space and don't mind a small kitchen. I think you could be happy here assuming you pay

Posted by: steve at February 26, 2009 10:26 AM

Yeah, OK, but not what I was getting at, Trip. I'm talking about people routinely looking at individual pricepoints and predicting they would sell for much less, time and time again. It was quite simply a case of people being out of touch with the marketplace. If they missed it on the way up, why should they be given the benefit of the doubt on the way down? I won't grant them that.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 10:26 AM

"Not on this website, not when it comes to San Francisco. There were a lot of people talking sea change as evidenced by individual properties throughout 2007, for example. Hindsight now shows that all of that was clearly nonsense. And that the opposite occurred in 2007 -- that was the peak. Oh, but the derision they levied."

The fools! They should have bought in 2007 and sold at the end of 2007?

Seriously though, fluj. From my viewpoint as someone who does not want throw away a lot of money, the important thing is not the exact timing of the peak, but the prediction of the overall trend. And for that, I think the predictions of the bears here including LMRiSatchel have been hardly been nonsense.

Posted by: location at February 26, 2009 10:28 AM

"Do you know what hubris is? One of its meanings is the presumptive assumption of godlike power. Like the blinding of Polyphemus by Oddysseus -- Poseidon got p.o'd about that one. The certainty with which you people speak about the future can be described as nothing less than hubris"

Did you pick this up at one of your French language open houses?

Posted by: anon at February 26, 2009 10:33 AM

Also, I wanted to say that I actually like this kitchen except for the granite counter tops. I can't believe how dated granite looks already. When did the crazy granite boom begin? 2000?

Posted by: location at February 26, 2009 10:38 AM

I was in the market and looking in NV in 2006. Was just checking out the MLS and the prices there and relative value are very surprising to me. Why this post is so active is also surprising??

Posted by: eddy at February 26, 2009 10:40 AM

"Seriously though, fluj. From my viewpoint as someone who does not want throw away a lot of money, the important thing is not the exact timing of the peak, but the prediction of the overall trend. And for that, I think the predictions of the bears here including LMRiSatchel have been hardly been nonsense."

Understood. The point is, they got it wrong using meta data trying to understand a local martetplace that was rising. Particularly with regard not to overall trend, but to specific properties. Now they're doing the same thing with its falling, with the same derision.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 10:50 AM

""Do you know what hubris is? One of its meanings is the presumptive assumption of godlike power. Like the blinding of Polyphemus by Oddysseus -- Poseidon got p.o'd about that one. The certainty with which you people speak about the future can be described as nothing less than hubris"

Did you pick this up at one of your French language open houses?"

Well, that was certainly witless.

I think I said maybe one time that I heard French at some open houses? I did. I didn't expound upon it or anything. Nice memory though. It's good to have fans.

To answer your question, I learned about Odysseus blinding the Cyclops from a book of collected Classical myths my grandmother had. This was probably back when I was about 10 years old or so -- Orpheus and Eurydice, The Rape of Persephone, Cupid and Psyche, Echo and Narcissus, all that good stuff.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 10:56 AM

No, anonn, "they" did not get it wrong. The market got ahead of itself in the dot com boom and instead of that bust playing itself out another strange boom got layered on the tail of the last. When exactly such overhang will result in a correction is never knowable in advance, but that the overhang will eventually be eliminated is all but certain. Given the huge roles that fraud and hype played in this boom it is no wonder that people with a penchant for rationality and metrics were unable to guess the timing.

Real estate agent skills are still useful and impressive since every deal is unique and, as is said, it is all very micro, but price trends are very much at the mercy of larger market forces.

Posted by: Mole Man at February 26, 2009 2:58 PM

I could repeat verbatim what I said at 10:50 a.m. in response to that, Mole Man. These people were arguing about specific properties, with me, in front of many. Now they're trying to talk about specific properties going down X amount because of whatever. When was believability gained, with respect to individual properties? The answer is that it never was gained.

Posted by: anonn at February 26, 2009 3:06 PM

That is a sweet house. I don't care to get involved in economic theory, but I did want to raise my hand and say I really dig this place.

Posted by: alex at February 26, 2009 6:15 PM

I'm back (actually had to do a bit of work today...and see a friend for an lunch and a walk, as it was beautiful this aftn.). Geez, where do I start?

First off, ALL OF US are looking at a wide variety of information (economic, geographical, monetary, psychological, etc.) and trying to predict future events. And only a fool, a newbie or someone without monetary investments at stake would be audacious enough to think their POV is the "one." These discussions are akin to political/religious/raising children debates. (it's obvious regular posters here put alot of time and thought to their posts, so obviously they care). So to be productive, people should try and be respectful. I'm cool with the jokes...I was offered oxygen masks and scuba gear earlier.

That aside, I font know why there was a riff between fluj and some posters here. I do think that he presents valuable info, and did call out some things correctly.

But back to the argument at hand, when I see that LMiRM thinks SF RE is going to be down a decade (I'm paraphrasing, but it's in a post above) I have to disagree. I think that is overstating what is a likely and plausible scenario. I know he's looking at the data and making assessments, and so am I. Were reaching different conclusions.

One point of contendion is the apples to apples. Yes they are valuable, but need to be viewed with caution- they go deep but very narrow- and hence are prone to mis-assessment. Example: this noe home and the debated renovations. The point is not if the seller made wise renovations that will pay for themselves. The point is that any reasonable renovation improves the property, but is not reflected in the orig purchase price. Hence making the apple to apple basis artifically low, and the consequential percent spread artifically higher.

What I have said is if you normalize the numerous apples data, you are not seeing anything near a 20% drop in SF today. More like 7-10%. This excludes D10 (already down moe than that and SOMA and FiDi condos (developers have banking issues and can afford certain losses to move volume.). I'm also excluding 'spectacular' properties- where someone crazy overbid or ones that are very high end. What I (and most readers) are interested in are normal homes and condos and tic's in non marginalized hoods and with selling prices of $500k - maybe $1.5 mil.

And finally, wrt predicting the housing bust and downturn. There were people who cried housing bubble in 04-05. So what is the point? SF's fortune did not turn until 9/08. The point I (and I believe fluj) was making is that SF will hold out the longest. And in fact it did. Furthermore, I do not think SF is going down 40-50% and staing that way for 5-10 years. On the contrary, I think SF will be one of the earlier major metros to start recovery. Of course, if the economy does something crazy, such as 15% unemployment, insane gov spending (beyond what is already headlines), all banks nationalized, bread lines, dollar crash, rampant inflation...you get the point.. Than of course all bets are off. But barring that I think the average homeowner that brought sensibly in 04-08 under $1.5 mil will see net equity drop for 2-4 years, and then I expect SF housing to start heading up again. And depending on economic growth then, global robustness, and inflation, we may see SF housing rising at a 4-6% clip for awhile. And if not, a more measured 2-3% growth per year. That's my net interpretation of the data.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at February 26, 2009 6:50 PM

"I guess you all agree that "it is fair to discount the market value of any additons/updates" "

NO! Absolutely not. I stand by my commitment to the purity of the data. Apples must be unmodified or else we get into an endless debate on the exact value of the modifications. (Ok, you can paint it and mow the lawn and other basic maintainence but that's it.)

Posted by: diemos at February 27, 2009 6:49 AM

I don't see why that would bother you so much, diemos. Sure, there are measurement issues. But, especially as it appear that a significant percentage of homes being sold have been extensively remodeled since last sale, I think we have to grant this adjustment as a matter of intellectual rigor, even in view of the measurement errors.

For my part, I've always thought that some light updating really shouldn' transform an "apple". Redoing floors, painting, replacing appliances, replacing some fixtures, etc. That doesn't really change the character of a place enough to discount the sales comparison.

But we should try to make some mental adjustment for large scale remodels/adding space, etc. We're never going to get to absolute purity of data, and the data set is too small and heterogeneous anyway IMO.

The bigger adjustment in my view is the selection bias in the data. Many, many properties in desirable locations are now languishing down near 2002 or even 2000 prices. They are not selling, and will likely be pulled. Perhaps they overpaid back then, but lots of people did. Presumably some "underpaid" as well. At the margins, the "underpays" sell (because the seller does not have to overcome "loss aversion" or anchoring to a prior high inaginary value), while the "overpays" are pulled, leading to a systematic bias in the sales data. Over time, this would wash out of the data (all properties eventually change hands) but over 5 or even 10 year periods? I'd imagine this bias is pretty large - especially at inflection time periods such as the last 2 years.

Couple that bias with an unwillingness to try to make some (imperfect) estimate of the value of remodels/additions, and then the data statistics from a very small sample such as SF monthly sales are going to be very noisy and perhaps misleading IMO.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 27, 2009 7:06 AM

"I don't see why that would bother you so much, diemos."

That durn scientific training. I only want to change one variable at a time.

"and then the data statistics from a very small sample such as SF monthly sales are going to be very noisy and perhaps misleading IMO."

Durn that scientific training again. That's why I give my numbers a generous error bar of +/- 5% and don't pay much attention until the changes get larger than that.

Posted by: diemos at February 27, 2009 7:23 AM

Well, I get that I guess, diemos. Investment decisions need to take account of human irrationality, though, so I guess I am less concerned with precision. "Close enough for government work" really should be "close enough for macro trader work" :)

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the selection bias in the reported sales stats issue I was stumbling around.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 27, 2009 7:35 AM

LMRiM- above you discuss the tendency for sellers who overpaid to pull properties while those without a loss to be willing to sell. But this does not 'bias' the data, this reflects reality in a (relatively) small, heterogenious market, aka the SF home market.

Even with the above scenario, there will always be some sellers forced to sell at a loss. And my prognosis is that this is what will happen in 2009 through 2010. Volumes will me bert low and the market bottom will consist of the few poor soles who basically 'had to sell'. If prices in SF don't bottom by ~ 2010, then a market reset scenario is more likely with lower prices across the board for several years to come. As of the situation today, I am not convinced that latter will happen (it may, but I'm not convinced).

Posted by: 45yo hipster at February 27, 2009 8:57 AM

It DOES bias the stats, hipster, though. The problem is that value is independent of the sales price. The people who are refusing to pull the properties are simply absorbing the economic loss. If they are paying more in net after tax carrying costs than equivalent rent would be, then their net worth is decreasing from what it otherwise would be. It's the old fallacy of realized versus unrealized losses. Rather than controlling the situation, they are allowing the market to choose it for them. They have been transformed into "hold and hope" investors, stuck paying on an asset that they would rather sell. We'll see how it works out :)

(BTW, I appreciate your reasoned exposition ofhow you think SF real estate prices will evolve. Just for the record, I think prices will decrease fairly dramatically for the next two years or so, and then flatline to slightly down for a very long time. Obviously, it's just a guess, but based on how I see credit markets, inflation and real values evolving, I'd expect SF prices to be lower in 10 years than they are today. The bets are on :) )

Posted by: LMRiM at February 27, 2009 9:09 AM

I understand your argument, but I think it applies more to the stock market, where stocks are usually plentiful to buy and undifferentiated (I.e. All google class specific stocks are the same).

The fact that people are choosing to hold rather than sell homes (even if u think it's bad investing) still significantly effects buyers, as they are forced to pay (your logic) inflated prices. But that is the entire point of a desireable market! This is what makes 'SF so special' (sorry, I couldn't resist). Homes can be emotional purchases, reflect on ones prestige, self worth, etc. And the funny thing is, it's the wealthy who can usually afford to do this. Hence desireable locales (not just SF) are resistant to price declines.

Now if you have a long, protracted price deflation, at some point the scenario above breaks down. But that gets back to the national (and global) macro economic picture, which I do not see as a 5, much less 10 year recession.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at February 27, 2009 9:47 AM

Nonsense, hipster. :) (All in good fun.)

There were few places "richer" or more special than Greenwich, Connecticut in the 1920s. I think the Western Addition was originally laid out as an expensive desirable neighborhood (I'm not super expert on SF history, but I think that's right.) It clearly didn't stop real value wipeouts in those places (wipeouts in nominal terms as well - with many of the Western Addition properties going to $0).

This is a cycle like no other in living memory (well, perhaps there are a few people left). I think every investor (which you clearly are) should make some allowance for the risk of "tail" events that are unlike what has been seen before (at least recently).

Please consider that any SF "cycle" that occured post-very late 1970s took place in an environment characterized by: 1) secular trend increase in the quantity and availability of credit in the US economy; 2) secular trend decrease in the rate of price inflation (disinflation, technically); 3) secular trend increase in the role of finance and earnings to the "FIRE" (finance, real estate and insurance) sector of our economy, which favored a few cities including dramatic impacts on SF, NYC and LA; and 4) increasing cumulative effects of prop 13 (almost exactly 1 generation from the early effects until the peak).

Rents will need to rise dramatically in real terms, or prices will need to fall dramatically in real terms. It's really as simple as that. I think - in view of the above 4 major trends that I believe are going to reverse - that we are likely to see decreases in real wages in SF and a secular trend rise in interest rates and price inflation. That's BAD news for leveraged assets, and housing is the biggest leveraged asset out there for the average person.

Posted by: LMRiM at February 27, 2009 10:01 AM

That selection bias only operates when the difference between what most people paid and what prices are is small. No one walks away from their loan to save 5% of the value of their home. They will rationally maximize their total value and keep the house.

But if home prices drop to 70% of what they paid, it becomes a no brainer.

What's interesting is how many people we saw until about 6 months ago who held their homes for a very short time - 2 years or less, and how those sellers have disappeared. People who bought with low down payments, for a while, bailed out. Not many, but a few. They were probably struggling with their payments day one and were planning on refinancing with cash out to pay the mortgage, and a few of them bailed out when it became clear that such financing was no longer feasible. Those sellers were able to sell for something very close to what they paid.

Now that's no longer possible, and everyone in that situation is currently trapped. But within 6 months to a year, the pressure will be too great, and you'll see people start to give up and walk away. The job market is just too tough to prevent it.

BTW, we're reducing our starting salaries by 20% this year, and there wont be any raises. Less hiring and lower starting pay: you can only imagine where rents are heading.

Posted by: tipster at February 27, 2009 10:22 AM

I'm not from around here and this is my first time visiting this site. I am amazed at how many people write such negative comments about others and I bet they don't even know the full story about the situation, whether it by a contractor/designer trying to make a living or a divorcing couple trying to maximize their profits so they could take care of their children, there are always two sides to a story. All of you should be ashamed at the way you slander individuals here. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!

Posted by: mike at February 27, 2009 8:51 PM

Did 601 Grand View ever sell? It looks to have disappeared from the MLS and redfin w/o a sale.

I'll hazard a guess that the owners can't get out without taking a large loss from their purchase price in early 2004.

[Editor's Note: The listing "expired" without a sale after 90 days on the market.]

Posted by: LMRiM at May 5, 2009 9:44 AM

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