270 Castenada
If you missed seeing 270 Castenada (a.k.a. 1916 Erlanger house) a year ago, don’t let it happen again. In the words of its architect Bernard Maybeck (think Palace of Fine Arts):

The house is our attempt to suggest the idea of an English character in California. Although this house would never happen in England, it yet has an English feeling. The lower wing is a chapel form living room greatly used in an early period, the ceiling of this room is very similar to one in Sainesbury Hill Lancashire. The second story windows are of iron like their English prototypes. The building and its setting among the trees loudly proclaims the good taste of Mrs. and Mr. Erlanger from whom the suggestions came.

Asking $3,890,000 and briefly in contract before being withdrawn last April, listed at $2,995,000 today. Still touting “too beautiful to describe” despite Maybeck’s (and the Vernacular Language North) attempt.
∙ Listing: 270 Castenada (4/3.5) – $2,995,000 [MLS]
Vernacular Language North: S. Erlanger house [VLN]
Bernard Maybeck: California Architect [harvardsquarelibrary.org]
A Peek Inside 270 Castenada (And Now About Those Drawings…) [SocketSite]
Too Beautiful To Describe (Except By The Architect): 270 Castenada [SocketSite]
Past Post And Property Update: Listing For 270 Castenada Withdrawn [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Wow that has to be depressing – lopping of a million dollars from the asking price just 12 months later.

  2. Posted by Katebear

    How can a house has HOA?

  3. Posted by Trip

    This is a very cool place. Makes the $2.3M asking price on that condo/loft at 7th and Howard a few threads back seem positively asinine (not that some loft aficionado who loves the sound of shopping carts at night won’t snatch that up).
    Bet they wish they would have priced it here in the first place. I think it will be hard to find someone to put $1M down on this place in this market given all the high-end offerings out there that are not moving.
    Good tweak on the hyperbole, editor. Of course, the listing itself “describes” the place even while asserting it is too beautiful to be described! Perhaps they mean “words cannot capture its beauty.”

  4. Posted by LMRiM

    Nice house (from the pics), wonderful location. There are many beautiful houses around there – the whole area is beautiful.
    The HOA probably is a (perhaps) quarterly or maybe annual charge that is assessed by the neighborhood association that maintains the parks and common grounds in the area. That’s the way it works in St. Francis (dues generally range from $1K-2K per year, depending I think on the original lot size or square footage of the structure back when it was all laid out in the 1910s-20s).
    There was some talk on the earlier thread that the extra large lot here could be subdivided and that was the reason for the outsize price tag. In any event, it’s no surprise that the listing price is down 23% from last year. It was probably unrealistically high then (even though it did go into contract quickly), but whatever it actually would have sold for last year, it will be 15-20% less this year. Best of luck to the sellers, but I’m still rooting for the potential buyer. $3M is too much for all but the most unique/special SFRs in the best nabes imo. Perhaps, though, this property is one of those.

  5. Posted by Trip

    For those on a tighter-budget, here is a D5 “Maybeck-style” home that was just listed at $100k below its 2005 sale price. Nice place (and I prefer this neighborhood, but I’m biased as it’s right by my own).
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/231-Upper-Ter-94117/home/2000377

  6. Posted by 94114

    231 Upper Terrace is a very cool house. That’s another apple, Alex. Curious to see how much it sells for.

  7. Posted by vox

    I could “an English character in California”. How about Kate Beckinsale?

  8. Posted by Rincon Hill Billy

    Wow cool…a roof that can be also used as a boat

  9. Posted by kthnxybe

    What I see when I tried to view the Vernacular Language North site:
    Access to the URL: http://www.verlang.com/sfbay0004ref_bm_07.html has been denied.
    (Your request was denied because of its content categorization: Pornography.)
    Hehe. This really is a beautiful home.

  10. Posted by fred

    The previously 3.9M asking price was over the top.

  11. Posted by Conifer

    This is one of the great houses of SF, especially for people who like great architecture and architects. It is also a wonderful neighborhood, although suburban and foggy.
    I do not know much about the value of property in Forest Hill, but this is architecturally the most important house west of Twin Peaks.
    It would be interesting to go on a tour of great houses on the market: this one and 2500 Divisadero.

  12. Posted by EH

    Looks like there are some great options at the 3MM point.

  13. Posted by vox

    “Access to the URL: http://www.verlang.com/sfbay0004ref_bm_07.html has been denied.
    (Your request was denied because of its content categorization: Pornography.)”
    Must be all the references to the Chick House ;-)

  14. Posted by dissent

    I detect signs of weird slurpy remodels on this and the 231 Upper Terrace house. A true sign of bubble decadence when modernist slurp is poured over the old woodwork of houses like this. Ugh. Some people have too much money!!!

  15. Posted by Conifer

    How many square feet?
    Is it open this Sunday? Or when?

  16. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    This place is worth a look, even if it is out of your price range, at least if you are into Arts and Crafts architecture. It is a little bit too much like a church for my taste, but undoubtedly beautiful and unique.
    The Maybeck on on 2601 Derby in Berkeley could probably be had for less than half this price, if you are really interested in something architecturally significant on a more limited budget. It was on the market for a long time at $1.395M before being pulled.
    http://berkeleyheritage.com/essays/mcgrew.html
    Forest Hill has a yearly fee for membership of the neighborhood association. This pays for some gardening and the use of the Forest Hill Clubhouse, which was also designed by Maybeck:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Hill,_San_Francisco,_California
    It is a great neighborhood, and this side is close to the Muni station, so a very quick commute downtown, but quite foggy. It has lots of trees, which would make it pass ex-SFers muster.

  17. Posted by astonished

    Many seem to want to think San Francisco is expensive, but this listing tells me that it is cheap! A Bernard Maybeck house in a great neighborhood in a major desirable city for less than 3 million? I know someone who just spent 3 million on a fixer upper in the San Fernando Valley (Encino, YUCK!), and it was not in a Forest Hill neighborhood, and it was NOT a Maybeck.
    Depression or not, San Francisco is not nearly as expensive as it wants to think it is. So, my question is how wealthy is San Francisco really? How desirable is it when you have a home with this pedigree in this neighborhood relisted at this price?

  18. Posted by anonn

    “Depression or not, San Francisco is not nearly as expensive as it wants to think it is”
    Maybe. But the awesome, spectacular home in the neighborhood that doesn’t quite support awesome and spectacular is not a new phenomenon. Regardless of city, this is true. Forest Hill has not seen the appreciation other areas have seen.

  19. Posted by Rocco

    This is a big, quirky house and (pardon me) not one of Maybeck’s best moments. Yes, the living room is spectacular, the staircase is classic Maybeck, but the rest of the house is awkward.
    The current owner, a musician, put in a huge catering kitchen and service bar. Unless some work’s been done since last year, the landscaping is overgrown and neglected and the main entrance a muddy path with stepping stones.

  20. Posted by Dumb Question

    Okay…I am sure this is a really dumb question but, here goes:
    Why are the property taxes so high on this home considering it does not have any last sale data? I am assuming it lacks last sale data because it has been owned for 20+ years…but, the taxes are high…($18k a year)….

  21. Posted by LMRiM

    Propertyshark shows a resale of 270 Castenada on September 13, 1996 to its current owner. No sale price is given.
    Current assessed tax value is $1,549,943. Obviously, it’s not possible to exactly infer a past sales price from the current assessed value (primarily because there could have been additional assessments for improvements that are not readily retrieved from the publicly available assessor’s online info). But assuming that there were no major intermediate assessments, the current assessed value for 270 Castenada would imply a sales price of approximately $1.25M back in 1996.
    Just for comparison, and following on the Case Shiller MSA/SF theme on the other thread, C-S for the SF MSA in 9/96 was 68.43, and the most recent data showed an index of 130.12, an overall increase of 90%. A 90% increase in the presumed 1996 value of $1.25M for this home would be $2,375,000. I’m guessing that 270 Castenada would sell for more than $2.4M today, but I guess we’ll see.
    BTW, if you want to live right around there and check it out before buying (and while waiting for prices to fall), there is a large, supposedly renovated, former “consular residence” for rent on literally the next block from this Maybeck house. It’s been on craigs for a few months (at least) and so I’m guessing that the wishing rent of $5500/mo could be knocked down 15-20% by a solvent renter:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1095368328.html

  22. Posted by Jim

    A very important and beautiful house in need of some TLC. Does anyone know, is the vacant lot next door Block 2858 lot 010) a part of this sale of the house on lot 012 ?

  23. Posted by Jim

    LMRIM is probably right on on the 1996 sale price – I found the August 1996 McGuire flyer with an asking price of $1,350,000. According to the flyer, it already had the “remodeled custom-built designer kitchen” at that time.

  24. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Or you could buy Maybeck’s old garage for half a million:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/29/RE56168KPH.DTL&type=realestate
    Talk about rustic!

  25. Posted by LMRiM

    231 Upper Terrace (mentioned by Trip above), also advertised with reference to Maybeck, cut its ask to $1.495M, 9%+ below its 2005 sale price:
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/231-Upper-Ter-94117/home/2000377
    Not a huge wipeout in terms of percentage losses, but sobering when you realize that at least $240K of the downpayment has now gone poof, sacrificed for the privilege of paying much more in monthly ownership costs than it would have cost to rent this 2-bedroom house for 3-1/2 years. And of course, at 42DOM it isn’t sold yet, so the damage may well get much worse.
    Also, the large house for rent in Forest Hill that I mentioned above somewhere (“former consular residence, 4 fireplaces!” “probably the best house for rent in sf”) is still for rent, now down from $5500/mo wishing rent to only a mildy less delusional $5200/mo. It’s been advertising for months (at least since Feb), and the owners are long timers who own another house a few houses away. Might be a good candidate for someone to pick up the 25% rent discounts I’ve been able to find in the past on SFRs:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1156874976.html
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1158913931.html
    The house is only steps from the $3M Maybeck that is the subject of this thread, so the area is really nice.

  26. Posted by Geo

    @LM: We went to the open house for 100 San Marcos rental, and indeed it is a decent place for rent. Has a view and nice backyard, with good room layout in general. detached garage, and no wine cellar ;) but can one get everything? $4500 to $5000/mo seems a reasonable rent for the place to me at least.

  27. Posted by SocketSite

    The discussion of 2209 9th Avenue has been moved to: Two Well Designed Data Points We Wouldn’t Dismiss Out Of Hand.

  28. Posted by LMRiM

    You might be right about the rental price on 100 San Marcos. Tax records show that property taxes are $11K on 100 San Marcos, so @$4K/mo rent, almost 25% is flying out the doors in taxes alone for the owner. Add another $150/mo min for the gardener and another $100/mo average maintenance costs (absolute min for these old houses), and even owners with relatively small mortgages start to feel like they’re “giving it away” I guess.
    Still, I’d lowball. The times I’ve looked – and I’ve never looked in the perfectly turnkey renovated market like the poor schlubs who are still trying to get someone to cover their expenses on 161 San Pablo – I’ve always been struck by how accommodating the owners have been to us. It really seemed like no one with any financial means was looking to rent family houses in the non-glamour nabes.
    100 San Marcos has been empty for months it looks (at least), and the experience of trying to get it rented might just convince the owners that they need to offer a substantial discount to someone who is willing to wait out the correction phase, which still has a few years to go to fully unwind imo. Not too many people have $4k/mo spare to pay rent who (1) are not part of some crazy “renting group” that a rational owner would fear might trash the place; and (2) don’t already own something in SF to live in.

  29. Posted by Geo

    LM: not fair, now you know how I backed into “reasonable rent” there…plus looking at the asking on CL for the past month… ;)
    100 San Marcos has been vacant since Feb, per the landlord.

  30. Posted by Geo

    speaking of castenada, anyone know the story on 398? We saw it pop up last weekend on redfin, drove by on Sunday, but no sign and no open house and now listed as contingent..
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/398-Castenada-Ave-94116/home/1175104

  31. Posted by 94114

    That was incredibly fast. The other listing on Castenada sold very quickly as well. The new listing on Magellan looks kind of interesting.

  32. Posted by Geo

    94114: I took a look at the Magellan listing, ask below the ’04 price, seems in good shape & size. and $496/ft², not my preferred style, but an interesting data point for sure.

  33. Posted by LMRiM

    398 Castenada looks nice, and great street. From the pictures, it looks very similar in size and quality to the place I rented for $3100 from mid-2002 through mid-2008 (my kitchen was nicer, but bathrooms were original 1920s that worked great).
    I don’t know Forest Hill as well as Monterey Heights/St. Francis, but $1.3M for that looks to be a 2003ish price. For instance, we looked at a place right on the busy street of Monterey in less nice trim (just about the same size) that sold for $1.25M in summer 2003 (1245 Monterey Blvd). It was a less nice place than we were renting at the time, and certainly less nice than 1200 Monterey (which I know Geo has looked at) and is languishing today for a long time at $1.45M.
    Prices out there are probably on average at 2003 prices it seems (apples to apples, and excluding redo’s, etc.).
    Interestingly about 398 Castenada, which is now contingent, is it a short sale? Prop shark shows $1.345M of loans from Countryslime (90% of the 2004 $1.495M purchase price).

  34. Posted by 94114

    Redfin shows the following for 398 Castenada:
    Sold for $1,215,000 on 04/17/2009.

  35. Posted by LMRiM

    Interesting, 94114. I missed that, and no record of that recent $1.215M sale in Property Shark. I wonder if it was a foreclosure? Countryslime had both of the loans on the 2004 sale (1st for $950K, 2nd for $395K), so the 4/17/2009 price doesn’t line up neatly.
    Perhaps someone else on the board has the scoop?

  36. Posted by Geo

    398 — that is why I asked, there is this weird April Sale, then the May listing and then contingent 9 days later…

  37. Posted by Trip

    270 was reduced $400,000 today.

  38. Posted by LMRiM

    So, 270 Castenada in 2008 reeled in a potential sucker at the $3.89M ask (but it fell out of contract). In 2009 it couldn’t even get a nibble at more than 20% off ($2.995M), and now has to go with a large price reduction – now 33% off the 2008 ask.
    A large cut at this price range in this location is a sensible strategy in my opinion. Suckers are clearly still out there, just not as many left in the SF pool as before.
    I hope that 2008 bidder didn’t just turn around and make a crazy bid on another ridiculously overvalued SF property.

  39. Posted by LMRiM

    Geo -
    100 San Marcos cut its wishing rent to $4950/mo, getting closer to your range for a reasonable deal.
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1177197698.html
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1174143062.html
    I’ll still go with my original prediction based on experience w/craigslistings of reasonably nice SFRs – 25% off wishing price. This one started at $5500 months ago, $4950 now, but that’s still a lot of money to regular families.

  40. Posted by Geo

    231 Upper Terrace is showing contingent now. Will be interesting to see where that one sells at.

  41. Posted by 94114

    231 Upper Terrace is a very nice house. Even at the high price, I’m kind of surprised it took so long.

  42. Posted by Geo

    94114: 231 is very nice, but at 1,260ft², it is $1,100+/ft² which seems steep to me at least.

  43. Posted by 94114

    Geo: I think it’s larger than 1260. I wonder if they’re not including the lower level in the square footage. Still very steep but it’s a very nice block and has that great walk out deck.

  44. Posted by LMRiM

    Did 270 Castenada sell, or was it withdrawn?
    [Editor's Note: The listing expired without a sale.]

  45. Posted by LMRiM

    It looks like 231 Upper Terrace sold for $1.41M – 14.6% below its 11/2005 $1.65M sales price. Roughly a $330-350K capital loss (after transaction costs) on an almost 4-year hold.
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/231-Upper-Ter-94117/home/2000377

  46. Posted by diemos

    “Roughly a $330-350K capital loss”
    That is many, many monies. Another house leaves the RealSF™.

  47. Posted by LMRiM

    That is many, many monies.
    Sure, maybe to a renter. But to an owner in Ess Eff, $350K is really not much scratch. You could barely pay for 4 years of private high school plus four years at Harvard on $350K, so no big deal.

  48. Posted by LMRiM

    Hey, look what just turned up for rent – 270 Castenada:
    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/1324412466.html
    Plan B of $10K per month in rent is laughable. Plan A of following the market straight down since its initial listing at $3.89M in 2008, then cut all the way down to $2.6M in 2009, wasn’t too savvy either.

  49. Posted by West Portal

    Ona another Maybeck Note, 231 Upper Terrace, also discussed in this thread sold for $1,410,000 (07/29/2009)
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/231-Upper-Ter-94117/home/2000377
    No Idea on “Apple” Staus, but the 2009 sale is a 14.5% drop below its November 2005 sales price, and 85k below its reduced asking price (see above):
    Jul 29, 2009 Sold $1,410,000
    Nov 22, 2005 Sold $1,650,000
    May 01, 2001 Sold $1,000,000
    Aug 26, 1993 Sold $430,000
    Jan 29, 1988 Sold $460,000

  50. Posted by West Portal

    Sorry for repeating some of LMRiM’s scoop.
    I should have read further back up the thread first. Another instersting tangent in this thread is 398 Castenada.
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/398-Castenada-Ave-94116/home/1175104
    Redfin is now showing an additional sale not shown or discussed above:
    Jun 19, 2009 Sold $1,225,000
    Apr 17, 2009 Sold $1,215,000
    Jun 04, 2004 Sold $1,495,000
    From Property Shark, it looks like the 4/17/09 sale was back to GMAC Mortgage, and the June sale is a resale.

  51. Posted by Robert

    So this Maybeck saw 5 sales in less then 30 years. My parents bought their house in 1980, and that is their house today. No helocs, just a house in which to live. Recently they celebrated paying it off, after a bit less than 30 years, and so now they get to enjoy inexpensive rent.
    Yet of the four (sets) of friends/colleagues who I know that bought in the last 3 years, every single one of them is now looking to sell. Not all actively listing the property, but looking around for something else, waiting for the market to get better “next spring”.
    It’s as if the consumption sugar rush faded, and they are back at it again, going to open houses on Sunday. Some of them never stopped going to open houses!

  52. Posted by Jack

    To all those people who compare this home with condos/lofts in SOMA. You are comparing apples and oranges.
    If you want to live in a suburban environment, that’s a great location.
    If you want to live in a real city environment, then live downtown.
    It’s that simple. A person who want to be able to walk everywhere, would not buy that house. A person who don’t mind driving everywhere would love it.

  53. Posted by mac

    Seems like this sold for 2075000 last month.

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