921 Elizabeth
We hadn’t originally featured it as an apple but rather an interesting Noe Valley space and photography. But as a plugged-in reader points out, the sale of the contemporary 921 Elizabeth closed escrow on 4/7/09 with a recorded contract price of $1,155,000 or 14.4% under its previous sale price of $1,350,000 in June of 2006.
Other activity over the first few weeks of the month for previously featured apples: 835 Foerster up in Miraloma Park closed escrow with a recorded contract price of $750,000 (21.1% under its previous purchase price of $950,000 in July of 2006), and the bank owned 279 Flournoy closed escrow with a recorded contract price of $340,000 (22.7% under its last previous purchase price of $440,000 in October of 2003).
As we wrote last November when 835 Foerster was listed for $855,000 and the listing noted “Lender-approved short sale…After many months of negotiations, sale price has been set! Must be sold immediately! Property was marketed for $1,049,000 last year!”:

[W]hile it’s good to know the seller and lender have come to terms (but perhaps not grips), we’re more interested in whether or not the market (i.e., a buyer) will agree.

Apparently the seller and lender were still off by 12.3%. That’s not too bad, however, when compared to the person who set the list price last year and missed by twice that (28.5%).
A Contemporary Condo That Caught Our Eyes (You Supply The Story) [SocketSite]
While Those Two Agree, It’s A Third That Really Matters [SocketSite]
Bank Owned For The Past Year But Now On The Market: 279 Flournoy [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    “These aren’t useful comps for my home. It’s unique.”
    — Deluded Optimist

  2. Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

    Two words: white balance.

  3. Posted by Jorge

    Clearly the Editor is mistaken. I have inside information from a respected realtor who says that real SF properties can only go down 5-10% in price. This individual tells me that he is always right, so I’ll wait for the correction to post.

  4. Posted by Mole Man

    Over the gas fireplace there is a television and a big space to collect heat where it is least needed. It is a nice space, but it doesn’t really make as much sense as it might.

  5. Posted by missionite

    835 Foerster has some immediate relevance on my own interest in that neighborhood. You can bet your bottom dollar that one will be featured in any negotiations.

  6. Posted by anonn

    Clearly the Editor is mistaken. I have inside information from a respected realtor who says that real SF properties can only go down 5-10% in price. This individual tells me that he is always right, so I’ll wait for the correction to post.
    “Can only go down 5-10%” ???? “Can” ? No, that would be something you have said in an attempt to rankle.

  7. Posted by ex SF-er

    this post highlights why so many are arguing.
    Some properties are clearly down 10-20% (even more) since peak, while others have held up pretty well, down only 0-5%.
    anonn’s market is clearly restricted to a very small segment of the overall SF market, so of course he only sees the 0-5% drops.
    others are focusing on the less nice areas, and are seeing 20%+ drops.
    Socketsite in general focuses on Noe Valley, Pac Heights and environs, and SoMa.
    it will continue like this for some time.
    For instance, the truly prime areas of SD (Mission Hills, La Jolla, etc) have held up well compared to the non-prime areas like Normal Heights and South San Diego. and Central SD (ex-downtown lofts) has held up better than far flung suburbs (like Chula vista and Temecula).
    as I’ve said all along, it’s like watching the paint dry of a painting of grass growing.

  8. Posted by anon

    “anonn’s market is clearly restricted to a very small segment of the overall SF market, so of course he only sees the 0-5% drops”
    Yeah, like Miraloma Park flips :-)

  9. Posted by LMRiM

    Can someone post some concrete examples of 0-5% drops from PEAK? I don’t really see them. I do see once in a while a place on SS that has gone for 5% under its 2005 price (was that the peak?) and I also see fully renovated places that the agents are saying would not have sold for more than 5 or 10% more in 2007.
    But where are the “apples” from, say, mid-2006 through mid-2008 (broad range for the “peak” in The Real SF imho) that have closed recently (2009) for only 5-10% under their previous sales price. I’m not saying these don’t exist, but the class of properties fitting that description looks to be very small, while the number of “apples” going for more than 10 or 15% under last sale price (and so at least 10-15% under peak) seems high. I’d love to see posts of these apples showing only 0-5% drops so we could research them.

  10. Posted by anonn

    1470 Noe would be one, featured one here about eight times. I’m not sure if 731 Douglass is another or not. Those are two off the top of my head. Finding apples is pretty painstaking. I just looked at the 1.5M or more sales since late October and the list was 76 in number.

  11. Posted by nnona

    “For instance, the truly prime areas of SD (Mission Hills, La Jolla, etc) have held up well compared to the non-prime areas like Normal Heights and South San Diego. and Central SD (ex-downtown lofts) has held up better than far flung suburbs (like Chula vista and Temecula).”
    What are the percent declines from the peak for these areas?

  12. Posted by LMRiM

    1470 Noe went for a tiny bit under its 2005 price. Also, it had landscaping work done after its 2007 sale (including building a retaining wall), which aleviated one of the seemingly major complaints about the place; the permit alone showed $20K of “improvement”, which is typically understated.
    I’m not trying to discount it entirely – clearly that property has held its value very well since 2005. But if we’re honest with the whole process of thinking about valuation trends, we have to acknowledge the possibility that the 2007 purchaser “underpaid” and/or the most recent purchaser is “overpaying”. IOW, one data point shouldn’t be relied upon to support the whole idea that “nice” properties are only down 0-5% in the face of numerous examples showing much greater declines.
    I know of one clean apple in District 4 showing strength, but it was a 2007-2008 hold period (and a very beautiful property):
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/160-Miraloma-Dr-94127/home/1369538
    Another somewhat nearby property, 1915 15th Avenue (featured on SS a while back), looked on the surface to be an “apple”, but further research showed an extensive cosmetic remodel, including extensive electrical work, and still showed a small loss over a 2005-2009 hold period:
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/1915-15th-Ave-94116/home/648251
    Perhaps others out there can chime in with “apples” showing strength, because we’ve seen numerous examples of weakness lately. After all, the theme of this thread is “apples”. I am very skeptical of the idea that “nice” properties are only down 0-5% in The Real SF since 2006-08. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that 90%+ of purchasers who bought after 2005 would not be able to sell with less than 10% capital losses (assuming no major remodel work). (There will always be special cases where purchasers got great deals, and cases where current buyers fall in love with a property and “overpay”, but I think it’s best to think in terms of averages.)

  13. Posted by diemos

    Indeed. It’s a pity we don’t have access to an SF county specific case-schiller to track what’s going on. I fall back on the zillow zip code aggregate values to track regional performance as I think they at least correct for square footage and number of beds/baths. The median numbers by district are sure to have mix issues that I’m not sure how to correct for so I tend to give them a lower weight.
    As to prices being down from peak by 0-5%. I doubt you can even define what the peak is to better than 5% accuracy.

  14. Posted by dogboy

    as I’ve said all along, it’s like watching the paint dry of a painting of grass growing.
    Exactly. It will take several years before the dust settles enough to accurately determine the real percentage decline. Certainly the prices will continue to drop in SF. The PE ratio on real estate here is still awful and both salaries and stock options(read down payments) are going to be dismal for years.
    On the upside, except for the filth and lame city government, SF is a great place to live!

  15. Posted by Lance

    “Can someone post some concrete examples of 0-5% drops from PEAK?”
    OK, I’ll bite. 53 Wilder St. #405 in Glen Park was purchased in 2006 for $810,000 and sold a few weeks ago for $870K I believe. I know the original owner too, and he didn’t do any real upgrades after purchasing, so it’s a solid apple. I’m sure this isn’t the norm, but there are examples out there.

  16. Posted by anonn

    80 21st Ave is one I think?

  17. Posted by 94114

    It hasn’t closed yet but how about 45 San Marcos? Although I’m not sure if major work was done on that one.

  18. Posted by kthnxybe

    80 21st Avenue really is lovely, though.

  19. Posted by LMRiM

    I’m sure 80 21st Ave is lovely. There are plenty of permits on that one – looks like a pretty substantial remodel (but not structural) that was undertaken subsequent to the 200 purchase, and the permits alone declare $57.5K of “improvements”.
    I’m not sure what they spent, but I bet it was a lot more than $57.5K! You can see the permits here:
    http://services.sfgov.org/dbipts/default.aspx?page=AddressQuery
    Probably not an “apple” and not too helpful for our “peak values” inquiry as it last sold in very early 2005. It looks like they almost certainly lost money on the sale.
    The 53 Wilder condo looks to be a good apple though, from what I can tell (thanks Lance). They covered their transaction costs after two years, and in this market that’s a real accompishment!

  20. Posted by 45yo hipster

    1117 Alabama st. Although there is a discreptancy between it being unit A or B. However, I live close to this property and saw it when it first sold (05 or 04) and saw it again when it resold earlier this year. No changes to it for sure, and they only lost a bit on it. I’m sure it’s the dame unit- both times it was the upstairs condo of a duplex.
    Also, ancdotally I have a 3/2 condo in bernal that would have sold for $699k in 07, and will probably get $630-650k now. I know this area and market well for tic’s and condos, and north slope bernal and decent streets in the mish are generally off about 7-10% from 07 prices. Reasons: the $500-750k price points have held up relatively well in these centrally located hipsterdom’s. Note that this excludes the $900k+ new construction and many lofts in the mish. But it is true for alot of your 2-4 solid tic or condo vic’s/Edwardians.

  21. Posted by anonn

    45 y.o.,
    I had two different groups approach me with an inquiry about Bernal condos in the 600s range yesterday. There’s a market and the inventory is practically nil.

  22. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    anonn and hipster – you guys seem to have found an interesting niche where demand is still keeping pace with supply. Interesting how just the intersection between neighborhoods and economic strata can create produce a viable market. Since the inventory is low, I wonder whether many of these buyers are expanding their search for the same price point, but nearby ? What would that be ? Dogpatch ? The Sierra condos ?

  23. Posted by anonn

    MoD,
    I don’t know for sure. Dogpatch is going to have some overbuilding effects in play, I would think. On the other hand, more well built live-work spaces might at some future point command a premium since their construction is no longer going to be possible. For right now though, Dogpatch probably resembles SOMA. (I haven’t looked at it in a minute.) The Sierra condos, for me, are not close enough to amenities.
    In general Bernal buyers would probably go for Glen Park next, I’d think. All that said, a good 3br 2 ba bath in the 600s is going to generate interest almost anywhere.

  24. Posted by anonn

    262 15th Ave is a ’07- ’09 -4.3% apple. 241 7th Ave is an 11/04 to 4/09 +2.5% apple.

  25. Posted by anonanon

    Hmm, Property Shark shows no record of 241 7th Ave changing hands in ’04.

  26. Posted by LMRiM

    241 7th – I can’t find any info about that. Redfin shows a tax assessed value of about $100K, but I can’t find tax records on the .gov site. Anyway, a +2.5% change from 2004 is roughly consistent with the idea that prices in SF are back to 2004 levels (on average) and certainly not inconsistent with the idea that prices are down more than 10-15% from peak.
    262 15th – not too bad all considered. The listing website states “This home was renovated from the ground up in 2007, with additional upgrades by the current owners.” (Emphasis added.) http://262-15thave.com/
    But no recent permits, so it’s hard to say what was done and probably not too much I guess. So, after transaction costs and capital loss they only lost about $200K + the cost of the “upgrades” they did, which really isn’t too bad over the last two years. Congrats to the sellers there! That’s the winning strategy it looks like: buy a turnkey property that has just been renovated, put a little more $$ into it in upgrades, and you’ll only lose about as much as it would have cost to rent the same place for twice the length that you stayed there. Of course, once you add in the carrying costs (which were probably twice as much as to rent equivalent space) you’re looking at having spent (all in) about eight years’ housing costs in two!

  27. Posted by anonanon

    Pretty sure 241 7th never sold in 2004. It was listed for 925K, but the listing was withdrawn after only 12 days.

  28. Posted by anonn

    Now that I look at it again, 241 7th was not sold for 925, but merely listed at that price in late 2004. My apologies.

  29. Posted by SocketSite

    Continuing the catching up theme, the single-family 731 Douglass mentioned above closed escrow on 3/31/09 with a contract price of $1,850,000. That’s 14% under asking and 4.8% under its previous sale price of $1,944,000 in March of 2005 (a few years before Noe’s latest peak).

  30. Posted by RenterAgain

    Another apple in outer (lower?) Noe Valley, near Guerrero.
    16 28th St sold for $1.003M, just over the asking price of $998K. In 11/2005, it sold for $1.000M.
    Btw, it sold for $290K in 1994 (boo hoo), but I’m quite sure some work was done between 1994 and 2005.

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