August 10, 2009

The Mayor’s "Confidential" Contract Price: 8% Under Reduced Asking

1581 Masonic

While the sales price of the Mayor’s new abode at 1581 Masonic was reported on the MLS as "confidential," it’s a plugged-in tipster that notes the $2,738,000 contract price has been recorded with the assessor’s office.

Which leads our tipster to wonder: "How is it possible…to get the correct price when my real estate agent says he can't get this info because it's suppressed?" To which we respond, you need an agent knows how, and is willing, to do more than simply query the MLS. (And of course who’s plugged-in.)

Once again, last listed for $2,980,000 in May and originally asking $3,300,000 in February.

The Mayor Moves To (Real Estate) District Five [SocketSite]

First Published: August 10, 2009 3:45 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I bet if he loses the governor's primary or the actual race, within six months he will be back in his natural habitat, well north of California Street, or perhaps in Marin. This neighborhood is purely a political decision. Far too many drug addicts and homeless right at the bottom of the park.

Posted by: Conifer at August 10, 2009 6:32 PM

Well said Conifer, Well Said.

Posted by: MarinaLocal at August 10, 2009 7:16 PM

Are you people kidding? That is a fabulous neighborhood. I pine for it. What I don't pine for is the stucco effect. Very LA (Valley LA). But I bet its one of those houses that despite its swollen SUV-house aspects, is damn sweet to be on the inside of.

Posted by: stucco-sux at August 10, 2009 7:24 PM

I agree 100% Conifer. Newsom will probably end up back in Pac. Heights or the Presidio. Seems like everything he does has a political agenda.

Posted by: PPC at August 10, 2009 7:35 PM

Is there any way he could have kept this secret?

Posted by: bgelldawg at August 10, 2009 8:02 PM

As long as assessments are public information, I don't think it's possible. What's interesting is that Property Shark shows this info faster than Phil Ting's employees can get it out on the Assessor-Recorder website.

(BTW -- does anyone else find the SF GIS website to be annoying? Anything that works better with IE is suspect....)

Posted by: Usually Named at August 10, 2009 8:10 PM

How do we know this info is accurate, if the city's assessor's website doesn't display it?

Posted by: DataDude at August 10, 2009 8:13 PM

why is it political to live in masonic hts and not pac hts? what am i missing?

Posted by: Spencer at August 10, 2009 9:42 PM

Masonic does not have the worldwide image of PacHts as the domain of the very rich, (even if most of the people in PacHts are not rich.)

He can claim he lives among his people. It really is a small thing, but in politics all these silly matters count.

When the Clintons, the uber-politicians of our time, moved to NYS so she could be the carpet-bagger senator, they did not go to Park Avenue but to a house in Westchester, and not to the fanciest town.

On the other hand, there are politicians who are more secure in being very rich, such as Feinstein and Pelosi and Schwarzenegger.

Posted by: Conifer at August 10, 2009 11:26 PM

Uh, Conifer, Chapaqua is a very nice place to live which has a reputation as upper crust to people who live in New York state (and saying "Westchester" you might as well be saying "Park Avenue" because you sure as heck are not saying "White Plains"). The Clinton's would face some risk trying to get a Park or Fifth Avenue co-op, the board might reject them because the president's security and the press were too intrusive. That happened to Nixon when he tried to move to Park Ave (NW corner of 72nd around '82 or '83)... obviously there are some differences, but rejection by a co-op board, like all rejection, is bad politics.

While the Buena Vista Park/Ashbury Heights neighborhood does not have the worldwide reputation, it is a sweet place to live and photographs too well for anyone to try to say the mayor is living at an everyman's address (and the press can come up with a list of people who live or lived nearby who are rich/famous-- I'll leave naming names to others). The mayor had many choices in the neighborhood and could have picked a humbler facade if he wanted to project a less affluent image. While the mayor and his wife are very affluent, the political life does not make you much money unless you can get a really national reputation. Now he probably has one good book in him with national sales appeal because of his work on marriage rights, but he does not have the type of book or speech revenue potential you get by being president (or even by being mayor of Los Angeles or New York). By choosing public service, he gave up a lot of income and is making a smart decision to buy a smaller, less expensive home.

As somebody who lives around there, I have to say that since the mayor bought that house, I'd swear that Haight Street has gotten cleaned up a bit.

Posted by: joe shmoe at August 11, 2009 12:38 AM

I agree with joe shmoe. Anyone who has lived in NYC can tell you that Westchester County is very very fancy and upper class - sort of the equivalent of Ross or Hillsborough. Did you catch the front page NYTimes article yesterday about how the county has the lowest racial diversity in the area and just settled a lawsuit forcing it to build lower income housing and market it specifically to African Americans and other minorities?

I'm guessing the Newsoms picked this house for a lot of reasons only some of which included his political agenda. It will be interesting to see how long they end up living there and where Newsom Jr ends up going to school - suburbs or SF private school?

Posted by: cerky at August 11, 2009 7:27 AM

I'm sure the residents of Yonkers, Getty Square, Port Chester, Mt. Vernon, Colonial Heights, White Plains (locals refer to it as "Black Plains") and about 20 other parts of Westchester would be amazed to know that they are equivalent to Ross and Hillsborough!

LOL, guys. Westchester is a pretty large place, and there is plenty of "diversity". (Just take a drive through Getty Square and Mt. Vernon - but lock the windows first if you're obviously a Manhattan sucker.) Like all good libs (cf. Marin County), their racial diversity has been "steered" into certain areas. BTW, Westchester County is bigger than SF - almost 1M people live in Westchester - and it's 500 square miles. (Ross and Hillsborough have about 13,000 people total.)

All that being said, Chappaqua is very nice. Just below the first tier imo (Bedford Hills, Pound Ridge, perhaps Scarsdale depending on what part, etc.).

Posted by: LMRiM at August 11, 2009 7:44 AM

I can understand why owners like Mayor Newsom would want to keep his sales price confidential for privacy reasons. But the bigger beneficiary of secret prices is the realtors - especially if the price represents a big discount.

If a sales price isn't yet public, other realtors can say, "I know the agents from the 1581 Masonic deal, and they indicated the home sold very close to list." Buyers who trust their agents will then use this over-inflated "comp" to over-pay on similar properties.

Does anybody know whether it's legal for an agent to quote an over-inflated and false price to an appraiser?

Clearly, it's not ethical.

Posted by: DataDude at August 11, 2009 10:23 AM

Why would it be beneficial to an agent to get his/her client to overpay for something, when digging a little deeper could very well get their client a substantial discount on a similar property? It wouldn't.

Posted by: anonn at August 11, 2009 10:37 AM

Who ended up buying his Condo? Did that info ever surface?

Posted by: Poor in PacHeights at August 11, 2009 11:19 AM

"While the Buena Vista Park/Ashbury Heights neighborhood"


Didn't joe shmoe have a big hissy fit a few weeks back about how the entirety of this part of town was the "Haight-Ashbury"? And that to call any part of it by a different name (like Cole Valley or, gasp, Ashbury Heights) was some sort of disdainful and snobbish marketing or branding tactic to be avoided by real (recent transplant, of course) denizens of the neighborhood like himself?

Oh wait, yes, I remember now, it's the same joe shmoe who professes to detest social pretense while at the same time constantly trumpeting his purported NY social credentials.... or giving us this beauty of a quote...."I can't help it if I grew up in an apartment with french impressionist paintings on the wall instead of french impressionist posters".

Ah yes, it is all coming back now, it's the same joe shmoe who, like a couple other SS posters, constantly spouts out dubious and shifting "economic analysis" that very conveniently perfectly rationalizes his own specific bubble purchases of multiple properties.

Posted by: nnona at August 11, 2009 11:38 AM

"Why would it be beneficial to an agent to get his/her client to overpay for something, when digging a little deeper could very well get their client a substantial discount on a similar property? It wouldn't.

Here's four reasons I can think of:
1) Higher offer price -> greater likelihood seller will accept bid
2) Agents don't get paid unless houses sell
3) Higher sales price -> bigger commissions
4) Getting sellers to overpay means SF realtor mafia preserves higher comps so that bubble stays inflated, or at least deflates at slower rate

Does it really protect Mayor Newsom's privacy to conceal the fact that he paid $2.X million for a house? Everyone knows ballpark what it's worth. The people who care most that it's an 8% discount off an already reduced priced are the realtors. They want to preserve their precious comps by concealing truth from future buyers for as long as possible.

Posted by: DataDude at August 11, 2009 12:25 PM

^^They didn't hide the sales prices when everything was going for over the ask, did they? THEN they wanted the comps widely known as quickly as possible.

Posted by: avwh at August 11, 2009 12:29 PM

It's not up to the agents to decide whether or not the price is confidential in the MLS. Both the Buyer and the Seller have to agree. We should not assume that it was the Buyer who requested it in this case, the Seller may have requested it, with the Buyer agreeing to the request.

Posted by: mafia member at August 11, 2009 12:47 PM

Here's four reasons I can think of:
1) Higher offer price -> greater likelihood seller will accept bid

Valid point by and large, but not in the context I submitted.

2) Agents don't get paid unless houses sell

Is this really relevant when my question posed the scenario of a less pricey similar home sold?

3) Higher sales price -> bigger commissions

Negligible.

4) Getting sellers to overpay means SF realtor mafia preserves higher comps so that bubble stays inflated, or at least deflates at slower rate

The "SF realtor mafia" is not a real thing

Posted by: anonn at August 11, 2009 1:31 PM

Seems silly to suggest the [whatever neighborhood] vs. Pacific Heights is actually a meaningful distinction such that it would be worth a political move. Most people outside the City and County of SF don't know the distinction or don't care. Saying Newsom is from San Francisco would be enough to characterize him.

And clearly someone doesn't know very much about Westchester.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 11, 2009 1:55 PM

Masonic does not have the worldwide image of PacHts as the domain of the very rich

Woah. There is no "image" of Pac Heights outside of San Francisco (or rather the bay area), since it is unknown. Actually, even within the bay area, I would guess a very large group of people have never heard of pacific heights. I certainly didn't, until I moved up here. I remember in conversation with people, a stand-in for a wealthy SF neighborhood would be "Nob Hill", mostly because of Dashiell Hammet and the old time radio spin offs.

Say "San Francisco", and most people don't have more detailed knowledge, with the possible exception of "Haight-Ashbury" and "Castro". It would be like the "worldwide image" of Mala Strana -- which is orders of magnitude more famous than Pacific Heights (worldwide), and still no one has heard of it. Now, Monte Carlo -- that is a neighborhood with a worldwide image of wealth.

Posted by: Robert at August 11, 2009 3:22 PM

I never knew that pacH was swish until I specifically started educating myself about SF real estate. Before that I had considered Atherton, LAH, Saratoga, Blackhawk, and Hillsborough as the posh Bay Area locales.

As for SF, I had thought that Russian Hill and Nob Hill were the prime neighborhoods.

I'm sure that there are a lot more that I don't know about. Maybe I was just naive. Or maybe I was typical.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 11, 2009 3:54 PM

It doesn't matter whether Pac Heights is known outside of SF for some of its tony areas or not. If Newsom lived in PHs his political opponents will happily educate the rest of the state about his neighbors.

I mean.... I swear I didn't know Obama's health plan had "death panels" until Palin was kind enough to point them out....

Besides, maybe Newsom like his new supervisor more than his former one. :)

Posted by: StockBoySF at August 11, 2009 7:55 PM

Heh, I think the reds will try to get voters to focus on other aspects San Francisco than the wealth of his hood. Especially if he is running against Fiorina. Btw, I think this is a great neighborhood, too, and would pick it over Pac Heights in a heartbeat. But I do have a nostalgia for Nob Hill.

Posted by: Robert at August 11, 2009 9:57 PM

Upper middle class (and up) people are preoccupied with good neighborhoods. (There was also a movie named Pac Hts.) They know of Pacific Heights in the same way as Beverley Hills and Bel Air, La Jolla, Shaker Heights, Georgetown, Rittenhouse Square, the Main Line, the Upper East Side, Greenwich Village, Beacon Hill, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, the 6e and 7e and 16e arrondissements. The more successful the more they know.
We do not know why Newsom bought the house he did. He is rich and his father-in-law is very very rich.
But no one is going to be able to use his neighborhood against him in the campaign.

Posted by: Conifer at August 11, 2009 11:00 PM

Well, I'm starting to think that Connifer, LMRiM, and noona, are all a guy named Satchel and that I must have really struck a nerve when I suggested Satchel was running opm and jobbing people here. So what made you leave the hedge fund industry Satchel? (That was your story anyway). Mutual Fund trading scandal, transaction back dating, the fall guy, the patsy, or did security escort you out without any explanation... one of the bad seeds they purged at Tiger? You give us a little bit of the story, we are curious.

Or does saying anything nice about Newsom just invite criticism.

In terms of Pac Heights and the movie. The movie didn't make it clear that it was The wealthy neighborhood. The couple were strivers and had bit off too much house, so they had to rent to a psychokiller... didn't really make clear that Pac Heights was like Park Avenue. And the equivalent of "Avenue" magazine out here seems to be "The Nob Hill Gazzette". Avenue is a magazine delivered free to people on Park and Fifth Avenue, elsewhere in NYC some people subscribe to it. The Gazette seems to show up at a selection of addresses free too-- including around the mayor's new home.

The real reason the Clintons moved to Chapaqua is that being in Westchester is just upstate enough to claim upstate allegiances in the upstate/downstate NY power struggle. The Clintons knew they had NYC and every democrat on Long Island voting for Hillary, upstate was the hard road. It was a very savvy choice of location, and that Conifer thinks it had to do with wealth perception, I guess he really doesn't know much about New York State politics.

The Main Line outside Philadelphia may have been rich fifty years ago, but today it is distinctly middle class unless you start to mention a few specific towns.

I must say the sweeping generalizations here about class that come from Conif/tchel-RiM are pretty preposterous. And just to clear up, I mentioned a bit of my background because socketsite users had been asking if wealthy people approach property purchases differently-- my point was that yes, we do, because we can write ourselves no interest loans out of our trusts tax-free (whereas we normally take money from trusts as income taxed at the maximum rate). And we can also get loans at preferred rate because we have the cash all ready on our books.

I suspect people will be able to use Newsom's neighborhood against him, there is a 20+ room mansion around the corner (great Christmas displays), a few famous entertainment and business people live within a few blocks.

My one theory about the location is that if fundamentalist christian demonstrators show up, a quick counter demonstration can materialize out of the Castro in a few minutes.

I'll be straight up about my real estate holdings. Two houses in Haight-Ashbury or whatever Noony wants to call it. One occupied, one awaiting work to make it handicapped accessible. My other real estate holdings are all commercial and in other states (and fully occupied). I entered the credit crisis in great shape because we had just sold a major regional business to a larger player for cash. No bubble purchases (of real estate, it is a great time to do angel investing because money is so hard to come by right now, so I expect to rock the next business cycle). So, again, Satchel, while you are running off to Marin and eating at Micky D's because you can't afford SF anymore, I'm doing just fine, eating sushi from my favorite chef, and enjoying the numbing effects of the occasional Vice Grip at The Alembic.

Of course, Satchel, I know it is all a story and you are sitting in an air-conditioned office somewhere in the Cayman's with five computer screens and that 2.5% management fee.

Posted by: joe shmoe at August 13, 2009 12:16 PM

And just to clarify the reputation of SF as rich on the whole, I'll tell you about a conversation I had with a stripper at a bachelor party in New York. She was curious about where I lived, when I said San Francisco, she said it must be nice to have an apartment in a city. I said, Well, actually I have a house. Here response, "You own a house in San Francisco! You must be loaded!" At that point all the girls began offering me happy endings. (I know my wife reads this, so just to be clear, I did not go for the happy ending). While the Haight-Ashbury address may help a little in San Francisco, it does nothing for Newsom's statewide or national ambitions.

Posted by: joe shmoe at August 13, 2009 12:30 PM

Hey, I also own a house in San Francisco. I guess the next time I'm in a room with a bunch of New York strippers I need to make that fact known. Last few times I was in such a situation I just talked about my kids -- big mistake as I see now in retrospect.

Posted by: Trip at August 13, 2009 2:01 PM

Yeah, Trip, I didn't have kids yet and have not been to a strip club since I did, but I can imagine telling a stripper about your kids is probably not the way to go. Now that I have kids and think of everybody younger than me as somebody's kid, I don't think I'd go to a strip club anymore

Posted by: joe shmoe at August 13, 2009 2:51 PM

In response to "poor in pacific hts" above...

The mayor's condo sold for an indicated price of $2.935 million on 5/19/2009 to Judi A Rees Trust.

Posted by: Appraiser at March 23, 2010 8:15 PM

Well, that didn't last long. SFgate is reporting the ex mayor is moving to Marin.

Posted by: tipster at June 8, 2011 6:06 PM

I wrote:

I bet if he loses the governor's primary or the actual race, within six months he will be back in his natural habitat, well north of California Street, or perhaps in Marin. This neighborhood is purely a political decision. Far too many drug addicts and homeless right at the bottom of the park.
Posted by: Conifer at August 10, 2009 6:32 PM

Posted by: conifer at June 8, 2011 6:51 PM

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