January 20, 2011
We’ve Got Ours (And Don’t Want Yours) In Pacific Heights
With no major projects in front of San Francisco’s Planning Commission today, this afternoon’s agenda is dominated by proposed additions and expansions of single-family homes such as the proposed project at 2507 Pacific Avenue.
The proposal is to construct a garage in the front yard beneath a new entry stair and to construct an addition at the rear of the existing three-story, single-family house. The proposed rear addition will be approximately 18’ deep at the basement and first floor levels and 8’ deep at the second floor level.
The proposed project is opposed by their two (2) adjacent neighbors, thirty-five (35) others on the block or across the street, and the Pacific Heights Residents Association. Not a single neighbor near or far is on record with their support. But the Planning Department does recommend approving the project.
The proposed rear addition is shorter in height than the westerly neighbor’s building and is set back 11’-0” from the side of their building. The rear addition is similar in height to the easterly neighbor’s rear addition, and is approximately 3’-0” shorter in depth. In areas with a dense building pattern, some reduction of light to neighboring buildings can be expected with a building expansion. The Residential Design Team (RDT) does not find the project to result in an unusually great impact on light, nor does the RDT find the addition to be uncharacteristically deep or tall.
The proposed garage door is 9’‐0” wide and almost identical to both adjacent garage insertions in terms of width, height, and detailing. It is consistent with the Garage Guidelines and not out of character with the neighborhood pattern.
A headline from the applicant’s supporting documentation: "ALL PROPERTIES ON THIS BLOCK HAVE GARAGES EXCEPT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY." And some insight from the former to the current owner of 2507 Pacific:
I don’t understand the reaction of some the neighbors who came to the meeting at my former home at 2507 to hear your architect tell about your plans for some expansion at the rear of the house. All which seem to be less and smaller than the code allows. You don’t seem to be asking for permission to add more than should be allowed.
The one neighbor to the east…was the most vocal about preserving everything just as it is and also the most irrational. He makes such a fuss and the funny thing is that in the years since he bought the house in 1990, he has never lived there, I doubt if they have stayed over more than a night or two because they spend all their time where they live in Santa Rosa. I have always been very aware of the lack of activity of someone living there, except for a caretaker who lives in the attic. Funny that they voiced questions to you about how large your family is and how many would be living in the house when their house is sitting empty.
Until a few years ago, there was a huge tree in my garden on their side which cut out all of their view up behind the houses to the west, which he now professes to want to preserve. But there is no view up behind the houses to the west that is now defined by the back of the…house and it doesn’t seem that your extension would extend further than [theirs].
Your proposal to add 8 feet to your house on their side seems like a very reasonable thing. Please note that their house already sticks out further than your house on their west side and probably 10 feet further on their east side where their kitchen/breakfast room is. So your addition would not affect their kitchen light. Your house is the smallest of the houses on this end of the block and an addition has always seemed like one I would have wanted to do but never was able to attempt. I’m not surprised that a new owner would have the same feelings.
The house to the west…is the largest of the houses on this end of the block and must stick out over 20 feet past the back of 2507. This extension has a generous setback on your side for windows and light should you add to your house on that side. I don’t believe he will [lose] much sun, especially since his kitchen and breakfast room is on the opposite side and will not be affected.
Another neighbor [at 2517] was suprisingly vocal and one would wonder why, since he cannot see the back of 2507 because [another objecting neighbor's] house sticks out so far. I doubt that he can see it even if he goes all the way to the back of his garden. Another neighbor mentioned to me that he was upset because he has a son who he wants to buy a house close by so their grandchildren could be close. Thus he must be sour grapes because he would have liked to buy the house that you bought and would make trouble for you for no good reason.
Having lived in 2507 for over 40 years I have not been aware of any neighborhood objections being so vocal and for no reason. The houses across the street, 2500, 2510, 2512 have all had extensive remodels in recent years and there was no neighborhood meeting that I was aware of.
UPDATE: As has been noted, the 3,509 square foot home at 2507 Pacific was "listed" last January at $2,500,000, updated as in contract within two days, and then closed escrow in March with a reported contract price of $2,500,000.
And yes, the buyers are the same people behind projects like 2849 Pacific down the block.
∙ San Francisco Planning Commission Agenda: January 20, 2011 [sf-planning.org]
∙ Discretionary Review Analysis: 2507 Pacific Avenue [sf-planning.org]
∙ 2849 Pacific: A Million Dollar (Double) "Take" [SocketSite]
First Published: January 20, 2011 9:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
As somebody who has endured over a year and a half worth of construction noise on an adjacent 300 sq. ft. addition to a single family home, why isn't there a law at planning that requires contractors to complete a project in x number of days and that permits can not be renewed? This contractor has been dragging his feet, meanwhile bilking my apparently clueless (although loaded) neighbor. He is able to go back to New York to get away from the noise, but I have had to put up with the deafening and migraine inducing noise as it is literally on the other side of the wall of my bedroom. I watched their progress and it took them over 2 months just to install the water heater.
Posted by: Michael Jackson at January 20, 2011 9:47 AM
I think there's more to the neighborhood opposition than simply the garage addition and rear extension. Remember the original sale wasn't exactly an arm's length transaction, and it is a flip. Having the original owner write this letter is an interesting strategy.
Posted by: Denis at January 20, 2011 10:27 AM
I think there's more to the neighborhood opposition than simply the garage addition and rear extension. Remember the original sale wasn't exactly an arm's length transaction, and it is a flip.
there are appropriate channels for various things. Stopping a flipper/renovator is not the purview of this planning commission. Eventually an end user will almost assuredly own this place.
this is NIMBYism at its worst. yet another reason why there is an ARTIFICIAL "shortage" of homes in SF.
Posted by: ex SF-er at January 20, 2011 10:31 AM
If it's a flip that tactic, with its "large family" language, might backfire. It all looks like NIMBY stuff to be sure. But why fib to the board if you don't need to?
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 10:38 AM
Oh my, this is enlightening. I've had my suspecions on this one for a while (see name link for my earlier thoughts / predictions on this one.) I could write a book on my feeling on this one, but I'm going to hold the bulk of my opinion / thoughts to myself for now.
I really feel sorry for the previous owner here. This sale really confused me and now it all seems very clear to me as to what actually went down. It seems like the "new owners" bought this place and allowed the prior owner to continue living there for some period of time during the permitting process. Gee, how nice. From his letter to the "new owner" it sure seems like he believe the new owner is planning on living there.
Of course, the new owners are the same folks who purchased / flipped: 2849 Pacific
These are fairly powerful and influential as conifer points out in the linked thread.
Does anyone know who the listing agent was on 2507 when it was originally listed? As Denis notes this wasn't necessarily an arm's length transaction.
Posted by: eddy at January 20, 2011 10:40 AM
The former owner lost many hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling without proper (or any) marketing. One wonders how much he was now paid to write this letter. Or is he simply a naive good bloke?
I have a hunch there is more going on here than we know. There has to be a reason for neighbors to oppose a garage and a modest extension. This is not just NIMBY. Have Mr & Mrs T done something the neighbors or their friends do not like? Does anyone know?
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 10:41 AM
It was an in-house Pacific Union transaction that took all of six days. I commented on it earlier but I can't find that anywhere.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 10:53 AM
Eddy, the lister was in Mrs T's office and he told me that the seller was very happy with the price, confirming the naivete of the seller.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 10:53 AM
For the record, I have a friend who was looking at the time this came up. He was never allowed to see it, although both agents knew he was more than well-qualified at the asking price. It was already sold before it was listed.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 10:58 AM
No doubt. I have a client who was willing to go up to ~3.5M on it at the time. No return phone call. Talk about annoying.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 11:02 AM
Isn't it great to find out how big jerks your NIMBY neighbors are? Some of these people are incredibly petty. I hope the planning department approves over these weak objections.
Posted by: sfrenegade at January 20, 2011 11:06 AM
Conifer - Are you're saying that the listing agent discouraged/prevent another qualified offer ? That almost sounds like they defrauded the seller by limiting the market to their preferred buyer. Your friend might have bid up the price to the benefit of the seller.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 20, 2011 11:09 AM
Look, the rumor mill on this one is so ugly the neighborhood opposition is kind of understandable. I wasn't privy to what exactly transpired between the seller and the buyer, so I'm not going to really say anything, but everyone in the neighborhood has heard versions of what went down.
Posted by: Denis at January 20, 2011 11:15 AM
Looking at the downloaded file from the Planning Department, there are a number of important people opposed, some of whom my wife and I know well.
Surely there must be a way to find out what is really going on.
The hearing will be very interesting, although it may not tell all.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 11:22 AM
Plenty of people who have heard rumors, but no one willing to talk!
Is the idea that the buyer promised to give the same realtor the listing after the flip? This is yet another reason why dual-agenting should not be permitted.
Posted by: sfrenegade at January 20, 2011 11:42 AM
So living in Pacific Heights is like living in Sicily in the 1920's? Everyone's remodel dies as a result of vendettas?
Posted by: Kurt Brown at January 20, 2011 11:45 AM
The buyer is a broker and will list it herself. It has got to be more than that.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 11:48 AM
The only fair or understandable thing would be if the buyer brokered a deal with the seller to give them some upside on the flip in exchange for a pre-wired, below market deal. It seems highly unlikely that happened. It's unconscionable that this home was transacted in this manner, but I don't have any facts so I'll leave with a quote from William Learned Marcy, "to the victor belong the spoils". Sorry Max.
Posted by: eddy at January 20, 2011 12:02 PM
Even if these transactional shenanigans are true, why are the neighbors so against the project?
Posted by: steve at January 20, 2011 12:08 PM
Since none of the agents on this list have told us what is happening, we have to use the evidence we have:
1. The letter from the seller is less than articulate. It may be that he is naive or otherwise burdened.
2. The list of opposed neighbors include people who actively avoid public displays as unseemly. That they are willing to put their names in opposition indicates that they feel some serious injustice and malfeasance or other wrong has occurred.
Is that right so far?
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 12:10 PM
Even if these transactional shenanigans are true, why are the neighbors so against the project?
I know nothing about this issue, but the logical answer would be that they aren't actually opposed to the project itself but are simply using the (ridiculous, allowed) process to punish the "wrong-doer" probably because there's no legitimate way to do so.
Posted by: BobN at January 20, 2011 12:18 PM
Right, but what did the wrong-doer do?
Are the T-couple the wrong-doers?
It must have been something horrible for these people to be angry in public. It would be better if everybody knew.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 12:27 PM
BobN: I think you're right; I just wonder what the punishment is for. I looked at the pdf. The addition planned isn't obnoxious, and the objections have no merit. A lot of the opponents just signed a form letter, which is something a lot of people would do if a neighbor asked. But to hire lawyers? Some folks are invested in killing this thing. Something else is going on here.
Posted by: steve at January 20, 2011 12:28 PM
One would venture to guess that Sarah Palin plans on living in the subject property upon completion of proposed construction.
Posted by: Solis at January 20, 2011 12:29 PM
"One would venture to guess that Sarah Palin plans on living in the subject property upon completion of proposed construction."
No doubt so she could be in Nancy Pelosis' district.
Posted by: steve at January 20, 2011 12:33 PM
Is the idea that the buyer promised to give the same realtor the listing after the flip? This is yet another reason why dual-agenting should not be permitted
Searching and hand wringing don't go together, guy. In this case the buyer was an agent herself. Who gets the listing is irrelevant compared to the killing the seller will make because of the buy.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 12:33 PM
Michael Jackson wrote:
As somebody who has endured over a year and a half worth of construction noise on an adjacent 300 sq. ft. addition to a single family home, why isn't there a law at planning that requires contractors to complete a project in x number of days and that permits can not be renewed? This contractor has been dragging his feet…Because in the short term residential remodels would grind to a screetching halt?
At least during normal economic times, the majority of residential contractors "juggle" multiple jobs at the same time. I have no way of knowing definitively about the house you mention, but the contractor working on the job you're upset about is probably at work on another job while the one you're near stands partially completed. And the one he's at work on now is probably itself substantially behind "schedule" because it was delayed by work that had to be suspended by yet another job. And so on.
I'm not a licensed California general contractor, but based on what I've read, during "the boom" up until 2007 it wasn't unheard of at all for a remodel to take eighteen months even if there was less than four to six months worth of actual work involved.
If contractors had to work on a fixed schedule as well as on a fixed-bid basis, I'd imagine that prices would rise substantially. And in the short-term, planning could never get away with imposing such a rule, they'd get overridden by The Board of Supervisors as soon as all the contractors complained about how it was driving them out of business, driving up costs, yadda yadda, yadda.
Don't let my non-nexpert opinions stop you though. If you're really incensed about it, gather some signatures from your friends and neighbors and put a municipal ballot initiative together that would outlaw permit renewals and force contractors to complete residential projects on a fixed schedule. I'd vote for it.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at January 20, 2011 12:34 PM
Regarding contractor schedules: nothing stops you from putting performance bonuses or penalties in the contract. These are common in big building projects and defense contracts. But these add risk, and you will have to pay for that. Worse, the contractor you want may not be willing to work under those conditions.
Posted by: steve at January 20, 2011 12:49 PM
Please stick to the subject.
Certainly someone on this list knows somebody who can inform us of the real reason every neighbor is angry.
Or is everyone afraid of whoever the wrong-doer is?
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 12:52 PM
Michael Jackson, how do you know that the client didn't change his or her mind 20 times on finishes and/or design? Or that the payments are being made on time? You're putting it all on the contractor, and that very well may be the reality. But it's just an assumption. For all you know the contractor could be both amazing and completely exasperated with the homeowner.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 12:55 PM
Conifer, you have the right of it I think. I know what you know other than what I've shared about being frustrated because I had a buyer who would have gone higher. IMO the neighbors are both NIMBYs and also indignant about an inside deal that shows as a lower than it should have been comp.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 12:58 PM
Many of these neighbors are rich enough not to care about comps. It must be more than that. I am sure it will come out.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 1:00 PM
I think they care about comps. Aside to the "king of the hill" mentality that probably abhors being poorer even on paper, PH is not only gazillionaires spending OPsM but also families who have been there long enough to have a disconnect between their incomes and their home valuation. For these, their main asset is their house and valuation does matter a lot, if only for the flexibility the high equity gives you. You can move out anytime with high equity. With lower equity you have to compromise.
Also, think about the ding market confidence is taking with these comps. You become yet another neighborhood that just got the reality of the market presented to it in all its crudeness.
Posted by: lol at January 20, 2011 1:14 PM
Sarah just called. The "addition" to hold her fortune of priceless guns is a necessity in such a high crime area.
Posted by: Babs at January 20, 2011 1:15 PM
If the neighbors are so wealthy then why does the house on the right need a paint job so bad ? They should just cough up the pocket change needed for a fresh coat to cover up those stains at least. And hopefully they'll use a color other than Slumlord Beige.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 20, 2011 1:21 PM
If this transaction was not at arms-length then couldn't it simply be discarded as a comp ? Surely there's a way to prevent odd outliers from distorting comp calculations.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 20, 2011 1:25 PM
The T's have pulled shenanigans before. Buyers and sellers beware.
Posted by: T at January 20, 2011 1:28 PM
"They should just cough up the pocket change needed for a fresh coat to cover up those stains at least"
Why bother? Surely the Ts will be wanting to sell soon and will probably offer to paint the house next door to make their flip more salable. I'd just let the paint job stand until they offer to do it for me for free.
Posted by: tipster at January 20, 2011 1:37 PM
There was a Power of Attorney recorded for this property on Dec. 9, 2009. I'd like to put two and two together, but I've only got two at this point. Not to mention, reading the packet, it just looks like NIMBYism run amok. You can't blame them for trying.
Posted by: EBGuy at January 20, 2011 1:39 PM
Is it de rigueur for a residents association to intercede against one of its own de facto members? (Sidebar: is a resident's association the same as a neighborhood association, or is the PHRA just a shell organization created to oppose this thing?)
Where I live, if my neighbor wanted to expand her house and I had a problem, the local neighborhood assoc would consider it a private matter between private parties. For them to intercede would mean they believed the approval would negatively affect the entire neighborhood
Posted by: rr at January 20, 2011 1:43 PM
MOD: "If the neighbors are so wealthy then why does the house on the right need a paint job so bad ?"
Not a measure of wealth around here.
The letters sent to Planning mention the fact that the Ts are flippers. Perhaps that contributes to the anger, but signatories include a lot of very good people: cultured, philanthropic, national and even international.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 1:44 PM
I had the unpleasant experience of dealing with these folks on a property not too far from this one. Said they could do several million cash on short notice. Then, at the last minute, turns out they had nothing. They suddenly needed it financed 100%.
They said it was going to be a family home for extended family.
Then came the threats when they didn't end up with the property. (With no money to put on the table, what did they expect?)
Ugly, very ugly. Shenanigans, yes. Lies, yes. Promises broken, yes. This was about 5-6 years ago.
As "T" says above, everyone just be aware. I may be wrong, I may even have the wrong people, which is why I won't say any more in this very public forum -- but be careful anyway.
Posted by: reguru at January 20, 2011 1:51 PM
As has been noted, the 3,509 square foot home at 2507 Pacific was "listed" last January at $2,500,000, updated as in contract within two days, and then closed escrow in March with a reported contract price of $2,500,000.
Posted by: SocketSite at January 20, 2011 1:53 PM
This is all I can find out:
The seller sold some of his other things, and did not get much for them. One would think he would have needed the extra 500-1m. I hear he is just a nice guy, a risky position in the SF real estate game.
This still does not explain the anger if the neighbors.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 2:16 PM
The Ts report close ties to Gavin. Even claimed to have done his remodel.
Posted by: anon at January 20, 2011 2:42 PM
I do have to give them credit for trying. Would you want your neighbor's to build a second and third story terrace where they could peer into your yard? I remember getting pretty irate when a neighbor's plan for back steps to the second floor of a rental unit turned into a small deck/landing (which then became a 'party annex').
Posted by: EBGuy at January 20, 2011 2:43 PM
Mary is sister of Barbara mother of Gavin's sister's husband Geoff.
This connection would not ward off these neighbors however.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 3:42 PM
"In this case the buyer was an agent herself. Who gets the listing is irrelevant compared to the killing the seller will make because of the buy."
I know you like to be argumentative, but hear me out here. You yourself said that the agent for this house didn't call you back even though you had an offer $1M higher, and you pointed out that everything was within the same agency, Pacific Union. In effect, you're saying this particular agent (whether or not the agent is the buyer) is crooked too.
Dual agency is doomed to conflicts.
Posted by: sfrenegade at January 20, 2011 6:05 PM
I don't like to be argumentative, actually. I like to talk about real estate. You, sfrenegade, like to go "inform me, teach me, help me learn" + "CHOMP" when you issue an overarching anti-real estate industry remonstration that bites the hand that feeds. You've a remedial understanding here. In this particular case the brokerage likely shopped the dollar figure that the seller specifically asked for in-house, and it was pounced on. The seller probably also said, "I don't want a dog and pony show if we get that price." Now, was the highest dollar amount obtained in this case? No. But that mutually exclusive from a dual agency possibly obtaining the highest dollar amount in any given scenario? No, it's not. Sometimes dual agency can work out great. Especially with some of these super high priced properties that take years to sell. Who else can be bothered to continue working toward finding that one buyer?
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 6:28 PM
However it happened, the seller got much less than the house was worth. This is one of the best blocks in PacHts. As the buyer's famous sister would say, "prime."
There was no comp, even for a fixer, at this low price, given the location and square footage.
Posted by: Conifer at January 20, 2011 6:45 PM
"This connection would not ward off these neighbors however."
How many people in the Planning Department or SFPC or the Board of Supervisors have had their career affected in some manner by Gavin?
How many of those careers been affected by the residents of the 2500 block of Pacific Ave?
Posted by: anon at January 20, 2011 7:03 PM
anon.ed -- You may want to look up "fiduciary" and whether the seller's agent owes such duty to the seller. Here, I'll help: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=realtor+fiduciary+responsibility
Posted by: Delancey at January 20, 2011 7:36 PM
^You didn't read the thread and I'm not even sure you read my 6:28 post entirely.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 20, 2011 9:22 PM
How would considering two or more offers that could yield $1M+ extra profit be a dog and pony show ? It sounds more like a paramecium and amoeba show.
I'd sit down with this client and convince them that the small effort to vet the higher offers was worth the significant additional revenue. And I wouldn't leave the table until the client either considered the higher offers of fired me.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 20, 2011 11:16 PM
Who cares about who bought what for how much, why such stong opposition?.....why is this such a horrible project regardless of who own's it, seems irrelevant to me, what is so wrong with someone wanting to do a remodel and a modest addition? To the person who has had to "endure" a year and a half of remodel....too bad, you live in an urban environment. I had a neighbor tell me one time "if I wanted to control my neighbor I would live in the country", I have never forgotten this comment. The sense of entitlement in this town is off the charts, grow up and let them do the project, sounds reasonable to me.
Posted by: TinyMind at January 20, 2011 11:44 PM
Continued to February 3.
Posted by: Conifer at January 21, 2011 12:41 AM
"The sense of entitlement in this town is off the charts"
That much is certainly true. Regardless of what happened, these are extremely extremely weak objections. Of course, that's what happens when you have a screwy planning department and allow every NIMBY in the community to review your project.
Posted by: sfrenegade at January 21, 2011 11:10 AM
The interesting question is not NIMBYism, but what provoked this response.
I doubt that this would have happened under normal circumstances in this neighborhood.
Posted by: Conifer at January 21, 2011 11:40 AM
True, there seem to be two hot issues here : 1. the pending approval of the plans, 2. the apparent strange terms of the most recent sale.
On its own I see no good grounds to block the extension plans. The most recent sale however is fascinatingly mysterious. The rational explanations point towards exploitation of the former owner. But then why is he willing to help the current owner, the one who was in a position to benefit at the expense of the former owner ?
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 21, 2011 12:34 PM
He may still not know he was taken.
Posted by: Conifer at January 21, 2011 1:49 PM
If I were a RE lawyer or a a writer for one of the local rags I would be emailing the former owner for a story or case; or at least the scoop. Hard to believe the former residents wouldn't have clued him in to the situation. Whole thing just very odd. They've already begun some demo as there is a big refuse can out front.
Posted by: eddy at January 21, 2011 2:48 PM
anon.ed, I did read the whole thread and your 6:28 comment, and to me the behavior you describe looks like front-running. I do not think front-running is compatible with the fiduciary obligation a seller's agent owes the seller.
Posted by: Delancey at January 21, 2011 4:54 PM
"You've a remedial understanding here. In this particular case the brokerage likely shopped the dollar figure that the seller specifically asked for in-house, and it was pounced on. The seller probably also said, "I don't want a dog and pony show if we get that price." Now, was the highest dollar amount obtained in this case? No. But that mutually exclusive from a dual agency possibly obtaining the highest dollar amount in any given scenario? No, it's not. Sometimes dual agency can work out great. Especially with some of these super high priced properties that take years to sell. Who else can be bothered to continue working toward finding that one buyer?"
It's not okay to be a crappy agent, not tell your client that the property could be sold for $1M more, and convince your client to sell to your colleague for an under-market price.
Just because Nina and Malin might do dual agency correctly on the most prime of the prime doesn't mean that it's done ethically in most cases. Failing to report your client's $3.5M offer is an affront to the prior owner, an affront to your client, and an affront to you. And moreover screwed you and your agency out of $87.5K.
A simple, "my colleague is willing to pay $2.5M, but I think you can get more than $3M" would have been sufficient. It's not like this sat on the market for 6 months. This was a screwjob.
Posted by: sfrenegade at January 21, 2011 6:08 PM
Although I don't know anything about what transpired with this sale, it does remind me of a story told in the book "Between Silk and Cyanide", by Leo Marks. There was a group of London antiquarian booksellers, who promised never to bid against each other at auctions. Each member would know which books to "bid" on, and after each auction they would head to a tea shop to conduct the real auction, amongst themselves. If one member of the book ring had just bought a book for 100 pounds, and someone else in the group was willing to buy it for 500, the 400 profit would be divided between the other four. Better to keep the money inside of the group, rather than squander it to the auction houses and the original book sellers.
Posted by: Dan Clark at January 22, 2011 12:09 AM
maybe the t's offered to let the former owner participate in some of their upside in return for the lower sales price?
Posted by: anonee at January 22, 2011 8:07 AM
Delancey, nothing I said matches that definition.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at January 22, 2011 8:26 AM
What Dan Clark describes is an auction "ring" and it did indeed exist in London at least until the 1980s. Because of the internet, it is now very difficult to run a ring in antiquarian book sales. There is much written about rings, and they have long been illegal in England.
The way around the ring was to commission (usually for 10 percent) one of its members, whose names were well known, to bid for you. This did not mean you would not be bid up, but it did mean that the recorded price would go to the seller.
There are still many ruses going on in auctions, but they are different. For more on this google the articles last year about the problems at the Hotel Drouot in Paris.
However, what happened on Pacific is worse than the book ring at Sothebys in 1975.
Posted by: Conifer at January 22, 2011 1:59 PM
If they do care about comps, then they should be happy that the "smallest of the houses on this end of the block" (as the previous owner's letter states) would increase the size of the house to be more in line with their neighbors' homes. The addition also increases the value of the house. If the house is a flip, all the better. The higher price the improved (and flipped) house brings should be welcome. Not that the neighboring houses have new additions, but they are larger.
Wouldn't paint jobs on houses increase their values?
Posted by: StockBoySF at January 24, 2011 8:08 PM
Could be a connection between the two issues: if the realtor/buyer screwed the seller out of a million bucks in this deal, that could be one of the motivating factors for the neighbors' opposition. People can get really worked up if they perceive the new owner to be a ripoff artist.
Posted by: unwarrantedinlaw at February 3, 2011 10:40 AM
I'm really interested what will come out during the Commission meeting. Suspecting "someone" of acting unethically/immorally, may not be enough of a reason to halt construction. Still, this could get really ugly...
Posted by: Denis at February 3, 2011 11:09 AM
Debated whether to put this in writing. Seeing as how another unsuspecting person has been conned by Mr. and Mrs. T, the interested public should know that the T's have a long and questionable history in SF real estate. There was a time when they were investigated by the IRS and all their accounts were frozen. There was a time when they couldn't return money to investors for a failed project on California. This goes back 15-16 years. Look up the last name "T" on the sf courts website and there is a long list of lawsuits against Mr. T with variations on the last name. (T properties, T construction, some with his brother, etc etc). They always promise unsuspecting sellers that they need a "family home". Same old story. I hope the seller knew what he/she was doing.
Posted by: thetruth at February 3, 2011 11:35 AM
I'd like to hear that prior owner's side of the story of why they were willing to sell so far below market. Surely one of the neighbors has remained in contact.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 3, 2011 12:05 PM
Is it possible they agreed to pay him $1M for "consulting services" once the project sold so that he could spread the tax consequences of the sale into two years (and put some of it into lower tax brackets) or some other such shenanigans, and in fact he didn't just fall off the turnip truck but wouldn't want to discuss it with anyone?
Posted by: tipster at February 3, 2011 12:21 PM
^ No no no.... Think terminal illness...
Posted by: Denis at February 3, 2011 12:22 PM
While I realize the anonymity of the internet is essential for an honest exchange of ideas and opinions, it is not a license for monkeys, morons, and disgruntled agents to denigrate and slander without anything more than innuendo. I’ve followed this site since its inception and found it quite interesting and, for the most part, beneficial. Its premise was sound and it was a forum for knowledge –professional insights and consumer opinions, of value. Unfortunately, I have noted that of late, it has become a forum for anonymous vendettas, which is really a shame.
Going back through this particular thread, I note that not one person is familiar with the property – that may be the point of it all – but who is to say this home, with no garage, no view, in almost original condition, with brick foundation, in the economy of the sale date, was worth anything more than the sales price. Who would lend on it?
Knowing that many real estate agents contribute to this forum, including myself once before, I am astounded at some of the ongoing vitriol. Seeing Gregg Lynn as an advertiser and knowing him to be “sleepiguy” and “Denis” surely seems a conflict. It is my belief “Conifer” and now “thetruth” should be a little more transparent as to their identity.
I’m sure my relationship with the “principals” - that you all love to hate for whatever reason - minimizes the impact this will have, but think about what you are inferring so anonymously – you’re dead wrong and should be ashamed.
[Editor’s Note: Duly noted but please see comment below from Denis who we’ll confirm isn’t Gregg Lynn, an agent, or anyone on the SocketSite team.]
Posted by: Joe Moore at February 3, 2011 12:58 PM
"...but who is to say this home, with no garage, no view, in almost original condition, with brick foundation, in the economy of the sale date, was worth anything more than the sales price."
Joe - you'll see two posters in the above thread who knew of other prospective buyers who were willing to bid on this property but were ignored by the listing agents.
I'm not a real estate agent. I'm not even a salesman. But I do know that entertaining other offers and widening the market can only have a positive outcome for the seller.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 3, 2011 1:14 PM
What? You know me to be Greg Lynn? That makes NO sense at all... although I'm oddly flattered that my random and often inarticulate musings inspire conspiracy theories.
I dropped "sleepiguy" precisely because I didn't want to be anonymous. Early on, I said some things here that I totally pulled out of my ass, so I decided to use my real name so I wouldn't say anything without having at least some facts at my disposal. Not that I've stuck to that promise, as the editor can tell you.
That's the other reason I didn't want to go into too much detail about what exactly happened here. Obviously, I live nearby, and I've heard versions of what happened. But, as I said above, I wasn't present when the papers were signed. However, I do know neighbors are angry, and their anger has little to do with the proposed construction. I honestly hope some truth comes out tonight.
Posted by: Denis at February 3, 2011 1:19 PM
Hey Joe, are the facts in dispute? Did not the listing agent buy this property instantly from the seller for $2.5m without soliciting other offers?
The buyers have expertise in remodelling but it seems the real driver of their success is buying low.
[Editor’s Note: Back up and be careful, the buyer wasn’t the listing agent but rather another agent in the same office.]
Posted by: unwarrantedinlaw at February 3, 2011 1:29 PM
Milkshake & all:
I’ve been selling highend properties in SF for over twenty years.
While I realize it might seem counter intuitive, there are many instances where a private sale is preferable. Think “privacy” issues, illness, reason for sale, length of close, occupancy beyond the close and terms thereof, divorce, a better price than experts suggest, and a multitude more. In my experience some buyers don’t want a property that has been shopped around and make it worth the seller’s interest to keep it off the market.
I sell a lot of properties that never come to market both as a listing agent and a selling agent for many of the reasons above. (BTW, I’ve never double ended an off market sale). My conscience is clear, the results were good for all concerned.
In whatever industry you are in you will see a parallel – where the perfect buyer meets with the perfect seller and a deal is done.
Buying low and selling high is how success is achieved and the inference that it is dishonest, is in itself dishonest…
How NIMBYism, plain and simple, turns into what you all are suggesting anonymously is truly reprehensible. Good luck to all and Goodbye.
Posted by: Joe Moore at February 3, 2011 1:51 PM
Sleepiguy/Denis: If I misspoke I apologize to you and GL. Glad you were flattered. What business are you in?
Editor: Anonymity is good, but when agents anonymously attempt to denigrate others for their personal benefit or bias, it should be monitored a bit more. Don't you think?
Posted by: Joe Moore at February 3, 2011 2:12 PM
Joe - I'm open to counter-intuitive explanations. But it still doesn't add up. Lets look at your reasons for limiting the market :
illness - not sure why being ill would cause you to limit the market. Can you elaborate ?
reason for sale - ??? need more elaboration here too. Maybe some examples.
length of close - this constraint can be stipulated in all contracts. No need to entertain just one offer
occupancy beyond the close and terms thereof - also can be stipulated in contracts
divorce - I'm also wondering why this would cause a seller to limit the number of offers considered. Can you explain ?
a better price than experts suggest - why would looking at other offers preclude accepting this "insider" offer ? At worst you look at the additional offers and reject.
I can understand a seller wanting to quickly turn the deal. During the boom lots of properties were quickly transacted while still accepting multiple offers. The extra effort to attract multiple offers was insignificant.
I don't think anyone here believes that just buying low and selling high is dishonest. At issue here that this appears to have been bought far below market value.
I don't know about you but I've been approached in the past to sell something I own for a price significantly lower than market. The prospective buyer tried hard to convince me that my property was worth less. Of course I can't tell whether he was uninformed or disingenuous though the zeal to acquire was suspicious. So perhaps you can understand the suspicion that this deal has generated.
And for what it is worth, I don't agree with the NIMBY opposition to this project. That seems wrong too. Just intrigued by how an arms length transaction like this can take place at an apparent below market price. Cuz I'd like to be at the other end of such a deal myself so long as there's no shady dealing.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 3, 2011 2:43 PM
I've followed this thread closely. I know the street and the neighborhood. I lived very close to this for a number of years. My wife and I were recently home shopping and would have paid $2.5 million for this place sight unseen, just given the size and location. We probably would have offered about $3 - $3.5 million if given the chance, recognizing that it needs some work.
As for the theory that you can't get a loan, please remember that many high-end buyers don't need conventional loans. And, even if you do need a loan, lenders such as First Republic will give you a certain number of months to replace a brick foundation.
Yes, from the tips I've gotten, there seems to be something "off" about this transaction.
Maybe all of us will never know, but in general in life where there is smoke there is fire -- and I can't ever remember this much smoke on a SS posting.
Posted by: sfagent at February 3, 2011 3:08 PM
Joe Moore's response would have been a lot better if he had actually tried to explain why the valuation was correct instead of throwing out a bunch of red herrings and insults.
It's truly bizarre that his chief problem with this thread is that he thinks it's anonymous realtors throwing dirt at other realtors.
Posted by: sfrenegade at February 3, 2011 3:21 PM
I stand by my statement. I appreciate that you are friends of the "principals" and are doing your best to defend them. If you know the real details, please share with us. Otherwise, if you have been selling high end property for 20 years in San Francisco, you must know that a few open houses, some good publicity, and a deadline for offers would have brought far more than $2.5 million for this place. If other things were important to the seller, such as a quick close, the seller could have required those terms.
As for your statement "who would lend on it" -- plenty of folks can pay cash. And, having just closed a transaction for an original house with a brick foundation, I can tell you that there is at least one lender out there who will do it.
If the principals are all so innocent, than someone let all of us know and we'll all stop asking questions.
Posted by: thetruth at February 3, 2011 3:28 PM
After a certain number of years, people get a reputation. In general, reputations are earned and deserved. One's life and actions tend to reveal character. So, as an update to my earlier comment, I took another look at the SF court website. There are more lawsuits involving the principals in this transaction than I had time to count. They are under all sorts of names. (The principals names, but also JT builder, T construction, etc etc etc.)
Here is one example from the long, long list:
This suit involved Mr. T, as well as T properties:
COMPLAINT FOR BATTERY, TRESPASS, PROPERTY LOSS, EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
I could see the seller in this transaction filing a similar claim after possible being duped.
So, as sfagent says above, where there is smoke there is usually fire. And, these people have created an awful lot of smoke over the years and they are the defendants in a huge number of lawsuits. (Probably even more than we know, given that a lot of business is transacted in fictional business names that are hard to find.) All these lawsuits are, to me, a pretty good indication of what kind of people they are.
My guess, Joe Moore, is that you yourself don't have this string of lawsuits following you around, and you probably didn't realize that the principals in this transaction did either.
The SF court website is a very useful tool at times -- and most of the documents are easy to view online and public record.
Posted by: thetruth at February 3, 2011 4:01 PM
I don't have anything new to add here, but just one question. On DOZENS of other threads, we hear that "the buyer overpaid". Many realtors bring out all sorts of statistics to prove this fact. We hear this time and time again: the seller overpaid when he bought, as was so crystal clear from the statistics at the time.
Yet nearly all of those buyers were represented by a Realtor when they did that. The amount of money lost just by the "overpayors" identified on this site clearly exceeds anything this one guy lost.
Where were all of you "saints" when the buyers were getting screwed by overpaying for a property that a ten minute discussion from the realtor, like we've seen a dozen times just for the properties featured here, could have prevented.
Oh yeah, you were collecting your commissions and making sure every OTHER buyer knew just how much got paid as "the new reality". That's where all you saints were.
We see all sorts of lies and dishonesty daily here, and no one cares. Not one of you cares one iota. But the minute one low comp shows up, impacting your future commisions, now, after all the lies that none of you ever care about, NOW you need to stop dishonesty in its tracks?
Posted by: tipster at February 3, 2011 4:02 PM
There is a lot of smoke here. Having dealt with Mary and Joe Toboni, I can say I would never trust either of them in the least.
Perhaps this calls for some good, old-fashioned journalism? If you know a news reporter/producer, ask them to post their contact information on this thread.
Posted by: anon at February 3, 2011 4:17 PM
I answered that question days ago. I can't speak for everyone. Nor can you harangue everyone. But I know some of us told our clients to walk away, never "winning" bidding wars. But "winning" loyalty and repeat clients instead.
Posted by: [anon.ed] at February 3, 2011 4:26 PM
By the way, Mr Moore, I am not a real estate broker or agent, just an interested citizen.
Posted by: Conifer at February 3, 2011 7:49 PM
Is there a link for the Court Docs?, I'm only a concerned citizen who wants to know what happened.
Posted by: Ari at February 4, 2011 6:20 AM
All court docs can be found at sfsuperiorcourt.org. When you get to that web page click on "Online Services". Then, click on "Name Search Query" which should be the second item on the page. Then enter the name you're looking for.
And, the court server is touchy-- it isn't always working.
Posted by: thetruth at February 4, 2011 8:28 AM
Tipster - when I bought my place in SF my agent advised against getting in a bidding war over the first property we made an offer on. I don't believe re agents are saints but they all aren't devils either.
Posted by: Rillion at February 4, 2011 9:45 AM
You do know Joe Moore is related to the Toboni's, don't you?
Posted by: thenakedtruth at February 10, 2011 11:17 AM
Anyone have updates on what happened at the meeting?
Posted by: sfrenegade at February 10, 2011 2:00 PM
The reality is that there is no basis to really stop the renovation here. I think the thread here speaks for itself with regard to the players. Good luck.
Posted by: eddy at February 10, 2011 3:11 PM
Is Joe Moore really related to the Toboni's?
If so, I wonder if the seller of this house knew about their listing agent's relationship?
Posted by: anon at February 17, 2011 2:50 PM
It looks like this is coming back on the market.
Any guesses about the price?
Paid 2.5, about 4000 sq ft, maybe more now, renovation for maybe a few million, high end broker owner to list.
Posted by: conifer at October 21, 2011 2:34 PM
I assue they added 1500sqft so at 5500sqft I say they push for 1600 psf depending on the view from atop so 8.8 is my swag. Not sure the south side can command that price but that is my guessn based on what I'm seeing at the high end. I'd say they put about 1.3 into this place. Maybe less. It didn't appear to be the full studs remodel.
Posted by: Eddy at October 22, 2011 5:40 AM