Gold Mine Hill
The sale of 38 Topaz Way up in Gold Mine Hill closed escrow yesterday with a reported contract price of $790,000 (12% under asking and 10.9% under its last sale in August of 2003). Which reminds us, we never published that peek into the neighborhood’s past.
And so we offer it now by way of a plugged-in reader and in the form of a few classic photos and pages from a 1969 edition of House & Home which not only featured the Gold Mine Hill development but such articles as “Do you think we have a housing crisis? Just look at Japan” and “The Housing market at midsummer: Forecasts turn cautious.”
Nice Gold Mine Hill Neighbor (And 1960’s Design Lover) Seeks Same [SocketSite]
From SocketSite – Gold Mine Hill History (pdf) []

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by tipster

    Nearly 11% under its 2003 price? Really?!

  2. Posted by anonm

    Seriously, that’s a 6 year holding period in a fairly nice location, and they still lost $100,000? (closer to $200,000 when factoring in commissions and transfer fees) I thought holding SF real estate for around 7 years or more was supposed to be a “safe” investment…

  3. Posted by anonm

    And this was bought towards the beginning of one of the biggest RE bull markets in history! Properties like this should really be a wake-up call to recent (2006-2008) buyers that hope to “ride out” the downturn and wait to sell until the market improves. Those buyers need to have a serious strategy that takes into account the very real possibility that they may not be able to break even unless they hold for up to 20 years.

  4. Posted by adam

    really, 20 years? not so sure about that.

  5. Posted by steve

    this puts massive pressure on 43 Topaz. can anyone who saw 38 comment on its condition? obviously, it is much smaller than 43 and lacks the insane views, but was it in good shape?
    between this sale and duncan, that is a lot of price discovery for one morning.

  6. Posted by (Sorta)NewBuyer

    Wait, there are people out there who find these buildings to be something other than hideous?
    I thought that it went without saying that they were hideous…

  7. Posted by "Dave"

    Huh. I always thought those were projects…

  8. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Hideous? That’s very subjective.
    If they are hideous in 2009, they were also hideous in 2003 when this property sold for more than today.

  9. Posted by LMRiM

    still lost $100,000? (closer to $200,000 when factoring in commissions and transfer fees)
    Hey, at least they can say they “owned”.
    (2006-2008) buyers…. need to have a serious strategy that takes into account the very real possibility that they may not be able to break even unless they hold for up to 20 years.
    If you look at breakeven as the amount of money you would wind up with if you bought a place in 2006-08, versus simply rented a slightly nicer place (to help assuage the feelings of despondency of not being an “owner”) and banked the difference between owning and renting, I don’t think you will ever break even. Never.
    As for just reaching the nominal price that you paid + commission, 15-25 years might be a reasonable window for most 2006-2008 purchase situations in SF imo.

  10. Posted by anonm

    @adam “Sure” == “certainty”. And that’s exactly my point – nothing is certain. It’s quite possible that the breakeven point (just in terms of the sales price…not accounting for foregone savings vs renting, as LMRiM points out) could come before 20 years. But it’s also quite possible that the breakeven point won’t come until the 2020s. If you don’t have contingency plans for both of these possibilities, then you’re making a big mistake.

  11. Posted by Jason

    Yep, actually, there is. I find Victorians to be hideous, and I’m not just saying that to be incendiary. Architecturally, I moved to the wrong city, but I love the culture here.
    I think these places are neat–maybe not the *best* mid-mod architecture in the world, but neat nonetheless–and would love to own one if I could only afford it. Whereas I wouldn’t pay even a fraction of what it would require to buy a victorian in a prime neighborhood in SF. Just not my style.

  12. Posted by anono

    “Hey, at least they can say they “owned”.”
    At most they can say they got owned.

  13. Posted by bossmillion

    Editor- The Potrero Hill Blog link is showing an ‘attack site’. FYI

  14. Posted by anonsf

    I know mid century modern is supposed to be cool nowadays, but I think these houses are bleak and cheap looking. And the neighborhood, except for the views, is pretty yucky.

  15. Posted by mjp

    should have never been built. hideous.

  16. Posted by kaya

    I’m not a huge mid-century design fan, but these places are pretty nice if you’re into this era. It’s pretty dumb to pick on these places out for criticism given the abundance of truly terrible homes built in SF during the same era. They actually had some thought and design put into them, and I’d certainly take the layouts over a victorian any day.

  17. Posted by Troy

    boxy, but not brutal or minimalist. Not bad, but only about 80% to my standards of design detail. Like Jason, above, I find Victorians to be ghastly.

  18. Posted by JIM

    Truly, taste is in the eye of the beholder. Like Sorta(NewBuyer) I hate Victorians – dark, dreary, cut-up interiors; unworkable floor plans made for servants, where the kitchen is isolated from the dining and living spaces, cheap manufactured geegaws stuck on everywere….
    While Diamond Heights is not my favorite location, due to distance and climate, these houses are bright and open, have free-flowing floor plans, and are very suited to modern family lifestyles.
    Indeed I find these houses quite handsome, and in the continuum of Bay Area Regional architecture that began with the brown shingle houses in Russian Hill and Pacific Heights over a century ago – the indigenous SF Style. Victorians were typically carpenter built, from stock published plans, and have no indigenous connection to SF at all.
    What is nice about the intact Victorian neighborhoods in SF and elsewhere is a pedestrian scale, the repetitive 25′ module, and a lot of visual interest at the sidewalk level. In our city which generally lacks alleys, one problem of all new construction is garage doors or blank garage walls on the street, greatly impoverishing the pedestrian realm.
    That being said, these houses got high marks from the editors of House and Home when new, and continue to do so from informed architectural critics and historians today.

  19. Posted by anon

    I’d rather live in one of these homes with decks off every room than a victorian. Sure they look a little dated, but they’re not awful. The location is sort of unfortunate though, except for the views.

  20. Posted by kaya

    speaking of decks… these are problematic. the framing is all cantilevered from the interior space. i’m sure all these homes have dry rot issues since it’s not pressure treated lumber.

  21. Posted by missiondweller

    Yes they are hideous. What the hell were architects thinking?

  22. Posted by jaja

    I rented on Topaz before. It was a nice quiet neighborhood. Also quite convenient to Castro and 280. The problem is that it is soooooo windy up there. If your house is on the side that faces East bay, your whole house can shake (I visited my neighbor’s house and you can totally feel the window shaking). The place I rented was on the other side of the street so the wind isn’t nearly as bad. But it was still really bad. I had a yard that I hardly ever enjoy simply because it was too cold and/orfoggy. Or just too windy. If you are looking for a very quiet nice neighborhood, this is it. But don’t expect to be sunning in your backyard/deck. The view is amazing though….

  23. Posted by db

    @ JIM:
    Well said!

  24. Posted by Buy High, Sell Low

    Sadly, 43 has a godawful floor plan that utterly wastes its square footage (except for the main floor which is quite nice).
    Don’t mind the neigbhborhood at all. I already live in a house that occasionally rocks to 60+ mph winds. No biggie there…
    So true about the victorians though – far more looks than substance there…

  25. Posted by SomaSoldier

    My partner and I lived in 41 Ora for several years, and I just wanted to say the neighborhood is definitely pleasant compared to where we are now, in the Central Market area of SOMA.
    Our 2 cents worth, some of which has already been said:
    Pros are that the area is quiet, clean, has underground utilities (no wires in your view), good parking, wide streets, little crime, close access to amenities/schools/churches, and possibly some nice to incredible views, depending on location. The home we lived in (one of the two plans featured in the magazine article) was well laid out and spacious. While the design may be dated, 9 Ora Way was a beautiful example of how the overall effect can be enhanced. (See 2007 Architecture and the City tour, Wind/fog issue can be mitigated, but requires very specialized (and costly) design changes (e.g., sunrooms & conservatories, skylights & light wells, steel/concrete construction, modern insulation, etc.)
    Cons: The largest for me was fog and wind. Yes, the whole house can shake, and fog will obliterate your view, and can never be planned. That is, if you think a party in October will guarantee a clear view, you might be surprised. I always thought, however, that the location is *perfect* for solar & wind power generation. The location is a bit remote: you can’t really get around practically without a car. The area is suburban, and doesn’t really promote interaction. It is not an easily walkable area, which perhaps could be said for other hilly neighborhoods.
    If I could re-erect a home entirely on its own merits (i.e, a large fortune), and solve the problems I encountered I would very much enjoy living there again, even with the fog and wind.
    By the way, the photo in the article is of Ora, not Topaz.

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