CATEGORY ARCHIVE: Just Quotes (Emphasis Added)

November 25, 2013

The Soul Of San Francisco And The Backlash By The Bay

"As the center of the technology industry has moved north from Silicon Valley to San Francisco and the largess from tech companies has flowed into the city — Twitter’s stock offering unleashed an estimated 1,600 new millionaires — income disparities have widened sharply, housing prices have soared and orange construction cranes dot the skyline. The tech workers have, rightly or wrongly, received the blame." (Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City)

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (64) | (email story)

February 1, 2013

How To (Illegally) Turn A Powder Room Into A "Legal" Full Bath

From the comments regarding the right way to report unpermitted work in San Francisco:

"I've seen plenty of rehab projects that were dressed up for inspection, and converted after sign off from [the Department of Building Inspection] - for example, a "powder room" with a disallowed shower stall hidden behind a wall of sheet rock. Inspector signs off, contractor knocks down the sheet rock, and *voila* we have an illegal full bath, with the appearance of being permitted and approved by the city."

What’s The Right Way To Rat Out A Neighbor And Report Illegal Work? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:30 AM | Permalink | (email story)

June 1, 2012

Setting: Hotel SoMa's Suspended Swimming Pool. And…Action!

"I can imagine an old 1970s disaster movie with an earthquake and a pin-up swimmer: close-up to her horrified eyes looking at the crack in the glass becoming longer and longer. Focus on the ground 50 feet lower. Zing! Splash!"

Hotel SoMa (690 Fifth Street) Plans Back In The Pipeline And Pool [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | (email story)

January 25, 2012

Expect An Exceptionally Low Federal Funds Rate Through Late 2014

"To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with [its] dual mandate, the [Federal Open Market Committee] expects to maintain a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy. In particular, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014."

Federal Open Market Committee Press Release: January 25, 2012 []

Posted by socketadmin at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (31) | (email story)

November 22, 2011

Following In The Footsteps Of A 52 Percent Drop At The Ritz-Carlton

San Francisco's Ritz-Carlton Residences (

Purchased for $2,201,500 in March 2008 on the penultimate floor atop the Ritz-Carlton Residences in San Francisco, 690 Market Street #2301 returned to the market listed for $2,299,000 eight months later.

Reduced to $2,099,000 in February 2009 and then to $1,999,999 that April, the 1,660 square foot two-bedroom was withdrawn from the market that June.

It’s now two years later and 690 Market Street #2301 has returned to the market listed for $1,350,000. Recently rented asking $6,800 per month in rent, but delivered empty at close of escrow according to the MLS, it’s not a foreclosure, nor a short-sale. And if a reader is correct, the buyer in 2008 paid cash.

We’ll note 690 Market Street #2201, the same two-bedroom a floor below, was foreclosed upon in 2010 having been purchased for $2,173,000 in 2007 by way of a $1,500,000 loan.

And having been listed for $1,326,000 last November, the resale of #2201 closed escrow this past March with a reported contract price of $1,050,000 (52 percent below 2007).

∙ Listing: 690 Market Street #2301 (2/2) 1,660 sqft - $1,350,000 [Redfin]
Reductions And Returns At The Ritz-Carlton Residences (690 Market) [SocketSite]

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September 2, 2011

Feds Set To Seek Billions From Big Banks

"The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks [including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs], accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation."

U.S. Is Set to Sue a Dozen Big Banks Over Mortgages [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (54) | (email story)

August 29, 2011

Shadow Government Inventory (So To Speak)

"Government-run Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration now own about a third of the country’s nearly 800,000 foreclosed properties. With that inventory predicted to grow, they are looking for new ways to cope.

In a joint public appeal this month, the agencies invited the public to send in suggestions for managing the inventory, particularly ideas for turning foreclosed homes into rentals.

Karen Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics Inc., said the unusual appeal is a sign the agencies recognize the backlog of distressed properties has grown so large that it can’t be sold off without inundating the market and depressing prices."

U.S. Government Struggles As The Biggest Seller of Homes [SocketSite]
Scheduled Auctions Flat As Pre-Foreclosure Activity Ticks Down [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

August 4, 2011

Make That 75 Percent

From the New York Times today:

Even with the sharp drop in stocks over the last week, the Dow Jones is up about 80 percent from its low in March 2009. And with the overall economy nowhere near its recession lows, buying nice, expensive things is back in vogue for people who can afford it.

Make that 75 percent as consumer confidence wanes. And once again, Red Rover, Red Rover, send the economic recovery back over...

Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves [New York Times]
Stocks Tumble as Two-Year Treasury Yield Drops to Record Low [Bloomberg]
Consumer Confidence in U.S. Declines [Bloomberg]
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send The Economic Recovery Back Over [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (34) | (email story)

August 2, 2011

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send The Economic Recovery Back Over

"Federal Reserve policy makers may start weighing additional steps to prop up the recovery after growth fell below 1 percent in the first half of this year and economists began cutting second-half growth forecasts."

Fed May Weigh More Stimulus on Slow Recovery [Bloomberg]
Ben Drops The D Word (And Sets The Stage For More Stimulus) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (55) | (email story)

July 25, 2011

The Manhattanization Hotelization Of San Francisco

"We call it the ‘hotelization’ of San Francisco," [executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, Ted Gullicksen] said. "Seniors, families and low-income tenants are being pushed out. We have to fight for every affordable unit."

Conversion of Apartments to Rentals for Tourists Is Surging []

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (30) | (email story)

July 18, 2011

High-Speed High Jinks?

Transbay Transit Center Cross Section

With the former chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority who has long opposed the proposed terminus setting the odds of high-speed rail ever reaching San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center at 50-50, the "will it just be a bus station" talk has resumed.

That being said, keep in mind the $400 million Transit Center train station box has already been funded and will likely still be used by Caltrain or Amtrak absent any high-speed rail service.

More Evidence Of A High Speed Snub For The Transbay Transit Center [SocketSite]
If high-speed rail never happens, Transbay center will be a bus stop [Examiner]
Transbay Center Plans: Revised, Refined, And Unveiled Today [SocketSite]
San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center About To Has Broken Ground [SocketSite]
A $400 Million High-Speed Stimulant for San Francisco’s Transbay [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (79) | (email story)

July 13, 2011

Ben Drops The D Word (And Sets The Stage For More Stimulus)

"The possibility remains that the recent economic weakness may prove more persistent than expected and that deflationary risks might reemerge, implying a need for additional policy support," [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke said in prepared testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in Washington today. "The Federal Reserve remains prepared to respond should economic developments indicate that an adjustment of monetary policy would be appropriate."

"At the same time, Bernanke also reiterated that sagging home prices, high unemployment and hard-to-get loans pose long- term obstacles to growth, while leaving open the door to additional monetary stimulus if the economy were to falter."

Fed Prepared With Stimulus If Needed: Bernanke [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (57) | (email story)

June 20, 2011

Flight Of The San Francisco Families (Or At Least Kids)

"New census figures show that despite an intense focus by city and public school officials to curb family flight, San Francisco last year had 5,278 fewer kids than it did in 2000.

The city actually has 3,000 more children under 5 than it did 10 years ago, but has lost more than 8,000 kids older than 5."

S.F. losing kids as parents seek schools, homes [SFGate]

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June 16, 2011

What'd You Expect?

"Americans’ views on the economy’s outlook soured in June, showing that unemployment, inflation and the slump in housing are concerning consumers.

The Bloomberg gauge of economic expectations dropped to minus 31 this month, the lowest level since March 2009, from minus 16 in May. The Consumer Comfort Index, issued weekly, improved to minus 44 in the period to June 12, the highest level since mid April, from minus 45.9 as fuel prices kept falling.

"Consumers’ biggest concerns are about jobs and income," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York. "The bottom line is that income is not keeping up with inflation right now. People "are making sacrifices."

Consumer Expectations in U.S. Decrease to Two-Year Low [Bloomberg]
S&P/Case-Shiller: San Francisco Top Tier And Condos Tick Up In March [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | (email story)

June 10, 2011

And Cha-Ching Says Mr. Ting...

"Jones Lang LaSalle Research Director Colin Yasukochi said he expects [downtown office building] sales volume this year to surpass 2006, when $3.6 billion in office property changed hands. More than $8 billion changed hands in 2007, over half of that a huge portfolio of properties which sold twice in six weeks."

San Francisco building sales rocket toward $4B [Business Times]

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June 9, 2011

But Would It Surprise You?

By way of Bloomberg:

Robert Shiller, the economist who co- founded the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, said a 10 percent to 25 percent decline in U.S. home prices in the next five years "wouldn’t surprise me at all."
A model for the U.S. may be Japan, where home prices fell for 15 years after that country’s real estate bubble burst in the early 1990s, Shiller said.
"They lost close to two-thirds of their value," Shiller said. "Then they went up for one year in 2006 and then they started going down again."

Would it surprise you?

Shiller Says Home-Price Drop of 10%-25% ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ [Bloomberg]
S&P/Case-Shiller: San Francisco Top Tier And Condos Tick Up In March [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (53) | (email story)

May 20, 2011

SF Mayor To CPMC: $108 Million To Approve Cathedral Hill Hospital

CPMC Cathedral Hill Rendering

From the San Francisco Business Times:

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is asking California Pacific Medical Center to pay to play on its proposed $1.7 billion Cathedral Hill hospital project, and $800 million in other major construction projects in the city that require San Francisco permits and approvals.
The mayor wants California Pacific, the city's largest private hospital, to fund $108 million in affordable housing, transit and other community projects in return for the city's OK on the controversial 555-bed hospital.
"We welcome the mayor's statement and thank him for his leadership on this issue," hospital spokesman Kevin McCormack told the San Francisco Business Times early Friday. That said, "We think this is a rather ambitious request of a non-profit hospital trying to meet its legally required seismic obligations."

No word on whether or not Mayor Lee has recently started frequenting the Buck Tavern.

Hospital approval? That will be $108M, S.F. tells California Pacific [Business Times]
CPMC’s Long Range Development Plan Renderings And Draft EIR [SocketSite]
CPMC: Latest Designs, Renderings, And Architecture Review [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (37) | (email story)

May 18, 2011

Fed Favors Raising Rates (And Tighter Credit) To Fight Inflation

"Federal Reserve policy makers began to coalesce last month on a strategy to reverse record monetary stimulus by first ending their reinvestment policy and later raising interest rates and selling assets."

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee: April 26-27, 2011 []
Fed Favors Exit Strategy of Raising Rates Before Selling Assets

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | (email story)

May 9, 2011

There Goes The Neighborhood...

"There’s an old saying in San Francisco: Market Street is straight, until it reaches the Castro. Cartographically true, it refers to the city’s famously gay mecca. But these days, there are concerns that the neighborhood is becoming slightly less bent."

Change With a Straight Face Barrels Into the Castro [New York Times]

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May 5, 2011

Telegraph Hill Dwellers 2.0?

"We are taking on the [Telegrpah Hill] Dwellers," said Julie Christensen, a product designer who has had an office in North Beach since 1982. "Nobody wants to stir the wasp's nest, but why does the Planning Commission treat THD like a quasi-city agency?"

Telegraph Hill Dwellers face strong opposition []

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May 4, 2011

Tech Job Quote Triptych

"By the end of last year, San Francisco had an estimated 30,700 tech jobs, just shy of the 32,800 around the peak in early 2001...In Silicon Valley, tech positions reached 106,300 in the fourth quarter, nearing the 112,700 crest."

"Jobs in the [tech] industry now account for 16.6 percent of private-sector employment in San Francisco, up from a low of 12.5 percent in September 2003...Tech represents 25.2 percent of employment in Silicon Valley, up from 24 percent in December 2006."

"For the most common type of office buildings in SoMa, average rents climbed 16.4 percent to nearly $33.50 per square foot [last year], as vacancy plummeted from 17.4 percent to 8 percent."

Tech jobs near all-time highs, fuel office-space boom [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (59) | (email story)

April 29, 2011

Yes, You May (A.K.A. The Kind Of Comments We Love To Read)

An excerpt from our comment of the week on the sale of 909 Tennessee:

Can I take a moment to tell the world again how much I love this building and have since the first time I laid eyes upon it 16 years, six months five days ago? That was the day I moved into a loft I rented from Sergio Nibbi at 900 Tennessee Street with a few dollars in my pocket and a determination to make it as an aspiring entrepreneur in SF, the city of my childhood.
It was love at first sight and still sinking in that I really have the thing after wanting and hoping for it all these years.

And once again, cheers.

Wayne Prevails And Secures His Firehouse At 909 Tennessee [SocketSite]

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April 20, 2011

Cut? What Cut? (As The S&P Bounces 1.4 Percent)

"Global stocks rallied the most this year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged to an almost three-year high as Intel Corp. forecast higher sales and company results in Europe and Asia beat estimates." (Bloomberg)

Comments: Standard & Poor's Cuts And The S&P Tumbles [SocketSite]

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April 18, 2011

Standard & Poor's Cuts And The S&P Tumbles

"U.S. stocks sank the most in a month, longer-term Treasuries declined and gold gained after Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit outlook to negative....The S&P 500 tumbled 1.5 percent to 1,299.95 at 10:41 a.m. in New York and the yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis points to 3.43 percent, erasing an earlier decline."

Standard & Poor’s Puts ‘Negative’ Outlook on U.S. AAA [Bloomberg]
Stocks, 10-Year Treasuries Slide as S&P Lowers U.S. Outlook [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (75) | (email story)

April 4, 2011

A Call For Private Review Of Developer's Public Art

"A 25-year-old mandate requires that developers with large projects in the Financial District and along upper Market Street must spend at least 1 percent of their total construction budget on public art. But Luis Cancel, The City’s director of cultural affairs, believes there is insufficient aesthetic oversight of this spending.

Without providing specific examples of what he regards as subpar work, Cancel said there is support on the San Francisco Arts Commission for requiring developers to obtain that body’s approval before commissioning public art. Today, the commission will consider such a proposal from its staff."

San Francisco may oversee downtown developers' art selections [SFExaminer]
San Francisco Arts Commission Agenda: April 4, 2011 []

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March 30, 2011

SF Property Tax Reduction Informal Review Deadline Tomorrow

"San Francisco homeowners have until Thursday to request a temporary property tax reduction for 2011-12 by filling out a one-page form and returning it to the county assessor's owners who miss the March 31 deadline can still file a formal appeal between July 5 and Sept. 15, but [it's] a more involved process [with] a $65 fee."

Deadlines to seek Bay Area property-tax reductions [SFGate]
Temporary Homeowners' Property Tax Reduction/Informal Review [sfassessor]
Formal Tax Assessment Appeal []

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (28) | (email story)

March 25, 2011

Reader’s Tales Of The City: The Ultimate Doorman Tip

"I looked at a condo in this building in 1988. Asking price then: $1,000,000. Owner had died, leaving the condo (free & clear) to one of the doormen - who had listed it for sale. The doorman was handsomely rewarded for excellent service, I'd say!"

A Peek Inside The Deconstructed Penthouse Atop 1170 Sacramento [SocketSite]

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March 22, 2011

Officials To Investigate Alleged Hunters Point Collusion And Cover Up

"Federal and city officials announced Monday they would investigate new allegations that government staff colluded with developer Lennar Corp. to cover up health risks associated with the redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced their investigations after Bayview neighborhood activists on Monday released emails from 2006 to 2009 in which officials asked the developer and its consultants to help draft public statements about the safety of dust kicked up by the controversial building project.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved much of the sprawling redevelopment plan last year after receiving assurances from federal and local officials that it was safe, despite toxic compounds, radioactive contamination and naturally occurring asbestos in swaths of the shuttered shipyard’s soil. A 75-acre outlying chunk of the project area was transferred to Lennar in 2005, but the construction of homes has not yet begun."

Emails Reveal Alleged Cover-Up of Environmental Risks at Hunters Point []
The Grand Plan And Aesthetics For Candlestick/Hunters Point [SocketSite]
Emails Between EPA and San Francisco Health Department Officials []
Hunters Point Redevelopment Plan For 10,500 New Units Approved! [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

February 25, 2011

JustQuotes: 2008 Tenant Harassment Provisions Struck Down

"A state appeals court has struck down provisions of a voter-approved San Francisco law that allowed the city's rent board to reduce payments from tenants whose landlords harassed them.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco left intact other parts of Proposition M, a November 2008 measure, but ruled that the city board has no constitutional authority to impose lower rents on landlords who mistreat their tenants or try to coerce them into leaving."

S.F. Prop. M rent reduction provision struck down [SFGate]
The Day After: November 4 Real Estate Related Election Results [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

February 15, 2011

Easing, Not Eliminating, The Option ARM Collateral Damage

"This was the year thousands of U.S. homeowners with option adjustable-rate mortgages were supposed to default as their payments spiked. Low interest rates and a surge of early delinquencies mean the numbers probably won’t be as bad as forecast, softening the blow to a housing market where prices have resumed falling."

Option ARM Time Bomb Blows Early, Easing Damage to U.S. Housing [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (53) | (email story)

January 13, 2011

30 Percent Down Or Interest Rates Up As Proposed By Wells Fargo

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Wells Fargo & Co., the nation's largest mortgage lender, has asked U.S. regulators to set a down-payment standard of 30% on mortgages that wouldn't have to meet a new requirement that banks retain 5% of a loan if it is securitized. The so-called risk-retention requirement is aimed at preventing future housing meltdowns because lenders could face steeper losses if their loans go bad.
If regulators go along with the San Francisco bank's proposal, mortgage lenders still could make loans with down payments lower than 30%. But those loans would be more costly for the banks because of the risk-retention requirement. Lenders likely would pass those costs along to borrowers in the form of higher interest rates.

Of course that assumes securitization as we know it survives...

Banking Law Hung Up On Down Payments []
Massachusetts Foreclosure Class Action to Resume []

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (33) | (email story)

December 29, 2010

Target On Target For A 2012 Opening At The Metreon

"San Francisco's mayor says the last bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared for the construction of the city's first Target retail store....[as] final permits [have] been issued to begin building the downtown store [at the Metreon]."

Target + Metreon = (Twenty-Two Foot) Bull's-Eye In 2012 [SocketSite]
Path cleared for San Francisco's first Target [SFGate]

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December 21, 2010

Potrero Hill's "Mirant" Power Plant Finally To Close January First

Potrero Hill Power Plant:Aerial (Image Source:

"The Potrero Hill [power] plant, one of the dirtiest in California, will cease operations on Jan. 1, state officials are expected to announce today. The plant, operated by Houston-based GenOn Energy Inc., formerly Mirant Corp., could be fired up in the event of a dramatic power emergency before being decommissioned permanently on Feb. 28..."

SF shutting down power plant Jan. 1 [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

December 20, 2010

NIMPS (Not In My Parking Spaces) Protest Proposed Parklets

1026 Valencia (Image Source:

"In October, the Department of Public Works accepted 42 applications for parklets outside businesses and residences. To garner approval, the applications must be approved along with permits for sidewalk seating, according to DPW spokeswoman Christine Falvey.

Once approved, the business is responsible for the costs of construction of the temporary space, including insurance.

Approval, however, can be stymied by a complaint during a 10-day period after a notice is posted as required. The first such hearing was on Wednesday morning after a handful of neighbors sent in complaints about Ritual Coffee Roasters at 1026 Valencia St. and Farm:Table at 754 Post St."

Soon To Be Sitting Pretty In A Series Of New Plazas And Parklets [SocketSite]
San Francisco parklets spur open-space debate [SFExaminer]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (77) | (email story)

December 10, 2010

California To Eat Wisconsin's (High Speed Rail) Cheese

"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that $1.2 billion in federal high-speed rail funds allocated to Wisconsin and Ohio would be rerouted to other states [including $624 million for California]. Wisconsin and Ohio elected Republican governors who oppose high-speed rail and have asked to spend the funds instead on highway projects."

Calif. high-speed rail gets $624 million more [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (50) | (email story)

November 17, 2010

U.S. Housing Starts Take A Big Hit

Driven by a 44 percent drop in multifamily units, housing starts in the U.S. fell to a 519,000 annual rate in October, down 12 percent from September and the slowest pace since the record low of 477,000 reached in April 2009. Single-family home starts fell 1.1 percent.

Record-low mortgage rates have failed to boost demand, highlighting the limits of Federal Reserve monetary policy in undoing the damage from the bursting of the housing bubble. Companies like D.R. Horton Inc. are bracing for the worst in early 2011 as unemployment hovers near 10 percent and the lifting of foreclosure moratoriums swells the supply of houses.

Now about that Base Case scenario...

Housing Starts in U.S. Drop 12%, More Than Forecast [Bloomberg]
FHA: Not Out Of The Woods Yet Feeling A Little Less Lost [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

November 9, 2010

Why Own When You Can Just Rent…

"Save Florida Homes Inc. and its owner, Mark Guerette, have found foreclosed homes for several needy families here in Broward County, and his tenants could not be more pleased. Fabian Ferguson, his wife and two children now live a two-bedroom home they have transformed from damaged and abandoned to full and cozy.

There is just one problem: Mr. Guerette is not the owner. Yet."

At Legal Fringe, Empty Houses Go to the Needy [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

November 3, 2010

Will Nancy's Loss Be The Bay's As Well?

"Nowhere will Nancy Pelosi's loss of the House speakership be felt more acutely than here in the Bay Area, where her power - and the power of fellow local Democrats in Washington - has been used to help steer hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure projects."

Nancy Pelosi's clout for Bay Area will be missed [SFGate]
And San Francisco's Transbay Joint Powers Authority Rolls…A Seven! [SocketSite]
The Day After: November 2 Real Estate Related Election Results [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

October 26, 2010

That's A Negative, Ghost Rider...

"The Treasury sold $10 billion of five-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities at a negative yield for the first time at a U.S. debt auction as investors bet the Federal Reserve will be successful in sparking inflation."

Treasury Draws Negative Yield for First Time During TIPS Sale [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

October 19, 2010

Landlords, Don't Let The Bed Bugs (Or Nuisance Legislation) Bite...

"The Public Health Department was successful Monday in advocating for legislation that would empower it to fine landlords $1,000 a day for nuisances — such as bed bugs, mold or garbage — not eradicated in a timely manner.

The Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee approved the legislation in a 2-1 vote Monday to send the legislation to the full board for a vote. Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and David Chiu supported it. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd opposed it."

Landlords lose fight over nuisance law [SFExaminer]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (50) | (email story)

September 23, 2010

Fresh & Easy San Francisco In The Outer Richmond By Early Next Year

3132 Clement

"Fresh & Easy, an offshoot of the British supermarket chain Tesco PLC, is planning to open its first San Francisco site, in the Outer Richmond District [at Clement and 32nd Avenue], 'early next year,' said Brendan Wonnacott, a Fresh & Easy spokesman.

That is in addition to its previously announced intention to set up shop in the Bayview district and is part of a slew of Bay Area openings slated for next year, in Hayward, Concord, Danville, San Jose, Sunnyvale and Napa."

Wal-Mart has Fresh & Easy competition in S.F. [SFGate]
Not Quite So Easy (And A Little Less Fresh For Now) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

September 21, 2010

Will Wal-Mart Try To Follow Target's Lead And Land In San Francisco?

"Despite tight confidentiality agreements Wal-Mart demands from anyone with whom it's considering doing real estate business, [Garrick Brown of Colliers] said he has heard 'whispers' that the company is looking at approximately 10 locations in Alameda County, up to six in San Jose, a 'handful' in Contra Costa County, 'at least a dozen' sites in the Sacramento area and the Central Valley, and a 'couple' in San Francisco."

Walmart sets sights on San Francisco [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (31) | (email story)

September 7, 2010

$2,000 In Tax Credits For 20 Percent In Energy Savings

"The City this week is launching a new tax credit for residents who are interested in retrofitting their homes to cutback on their energy use. Homeowners can get up to $2,000 in tax credits, depending on their income level, if they get an energy audit and go through with improvements that will result in a 20 percent energy savings, at minimum."

City launches tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements [SFExaminer]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

August 12, 2010

Expect The Unexepected

"Companies may be losing confidence in the recovery and are hesitant to hire, raising the risk of further erosion in consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy. Federal Reserve policy makers this week said growth “is likely to be more modest” than they previously projected, prompting central bankers to take additional steps to spur a rebound."

Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Climbed Last Week [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (31) | (email story)

July 29, 2010

Would Be Renters Remember This Name: Rachael Marie Smith

"A San Francisco woman has been arrested and charged with bilking would-be apartment renters of thousands of dollars apiece by accepting their deposits [of $5,600] and then spinning a tale that they couldn't move in for a while because her mother had cancer...Rachael Marie Smith, 29, recruited victims by posting ads on Craigslist, offering to rent her apartment on the 5300 block of California Street near 15th Avenue..."

S.F. woman accused of bilking would-be tenants [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

July 21, 2010

Let It Snø! (Snøhetta Snags SFMOMA Expansion Project)

Snøhetta's National Opera and Ballet Building in Oslo

"Snøhetta, the architecture firm designing the museum at the World Trade Center site [and behind the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet building above], is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's choice to design its new wing - a $250 million expansion likely to be the city's largest private project between now and the scheduled opening of 2016."

Snøhetta to design SFMOMA's vast new wing [SFGate]
SFMOMA Expansion: Four Firms (Including A Foster) In The Running [SocketSite]
SFMOMA Snags The Fisher Contemporary Art Collection [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

Unexpectedly Unusually Uncertain?

"U.S. stocks dropped and Treasuries rallied after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the economic outlook remains “unusually uncertain” even as the central bank prepares to eventually raise interest rates."

U.S. Stocks Drop, Treasuries Gain on Bernanke’s Growth Outlook [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

July 16, 2010

San Francisco Housing Authority Presents Rent

"The San Francisco Housing Authority has failed to collect rent from more than a quarter of its households, in some cases for years, resulting in a $2.2 million deficit that the agency is now trying to reverse, Housing Authority documents show.

Facing federal pressure to undo years of mismanagement, the authority has been sending public housing tenants formal notices threatening eviction unless they pay thousands of dollars in back rent starting this month.

Now hundreds of the city's poorest residents fear they will become homeless, something officials say won't happen if tenants make a good-faith effort and agree to payment plans."

With public housing rent owed, evictions feared [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

July 13, 2010

Kind Prime Laurel Heights

"San Francisco police have recovered more than 200 marijuana plants [and 175 pounds of dried marijuana] at homes in Laurel Heights and the Outer Richmond neighborhood, authorities said today....The first location was a flat on the 3300 block of California Street in the Laurel Heights neighborhood."

S.F. pot bust results in 222 plants [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

Lowe’s Leads The Way But What Lies Ahead For Bayshore Boulevard?

"Dissention over chain stores continues to simmer, but big-box retail now has arrived on Bayshore. And as construction workers pour towering concrete walls for a new Lowe's home improvement store - which will occupy the square footage of two football fields - the conversation is starting to shift to the question of what lies ahead."

"To control development while planning for Bayshore's future, the city has imposed temporary zoning controls, which prohibit another chain store of more than 25,000 square feet without special authorization. Officials also have organized community meetings to try to gauge how residents want public funds to shape the commercial corridor's future."

Lowe's store on Bayshore triggers hope, concern [SFGate]
Lowe's Has Finalized A Lease And Broken Ground On Bayshore [SocketSite]
A Bayshore Boulevard Corridor Conundrum As Lowe's Leads The Way [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | (email story)

July 7, 2010

Dark Days For San Francisco's GreenFinanceSF (Solar) Program

"San Francisco's new, $150 million [GreenFinanceSF] program to help property owners finance solar and other energy-saving programs is all but dead, according to city officials, after a federal agency announced Tuesday that the program and others like it across the state are potentially risky and inadvisable for mortgage lenders."

"The problem, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is that the local loans attach to the properties as liens if they are not paid off and those liens, because they are property taxes, trump banks for who gets paid back first from proceeds of a foreclosed home. In a housing market that is - at best - recovering, the risk of home loan defaults remains high and lenders do not want to risk losing more money."

Feds pull plug on cities' green home loans [SFGate]
GreenFinanceSF []

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

June 14, 2010

A Hundered Billion Here, A Hundered Billion There, And Pretty Soon...

"The cost of fixing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that last year bought or guaranteed three-quarters of all U.S. home loans, will be at least $160 billion and could grow to as much as $1 trillion after the biggest bailout in American history."

Fannie-Freddie Fix at $160 Billion With $1 Trillion Worst Case [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

June 9, 2010

From "Pot Filler" Comments To Personal Design Quirks

"The strangest personal quirk re household arrangement I ever came across was a friend who insisted on putting two bathtubs plus a shower in his master bath. One was a large tub so he and his wife could take baths together. The other was a standard size tub which would fill up quicker when he took a bath in the morning. The shower was for his wife."

And yes, the friend "has since remarried."

A Plugged-In Pot Filler Comment (And Theme) We Couldn’t Resist [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Permalink | (email story)

June 7, 2010

A Plugged-In Pot Filler Comment (And Theme) We Couldn’t Resist

"My wife and I did a large kitchen renovation in our last house which included a pot filler (a faucet over the range). The pot filler was a huge hit and conversation starter with everyone that visited the house. That said we probably used the pot filler three times in three years.

We then sold the house and moved to another house within the same neighborhood and have become friends with the new owners.

At a recent dinner with the new owners of our old house, the wife told us that the added touch of the pot filler was the clincher that told her that she wanted the house. Then, in her next breath, she admitted that she had not used it since they moved in (November 2008)."

Faucet Over The Stove? Yes. Television Over The Fireplace? Well… [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (52) | (email story)

June 4, 2010

Pay Shift It Forward

"The federal homebuyer tax credit shifted demand in the U.S. housing market [forward] without having a lasting impact on prices, according to Douglas Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, the largest mortgage financier."

Fannie Mae’s Duncan Says Homebuyer Tax Credit Shifted Demand [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

June 2, 2010

Mandating Modification Decisions (And Drawing Out Foreclosures)

"A proposed California law, SB1275, seeks to...[require] lenders to give a decision on loan modifications before starting foreclosure proceedings.

A similar provision took effect Tuesday for banks complying with the federal Home Affordable Modification Plan, or HAMP, but the California law goes a step further by specifying that borrowers can sue lenders that foreclose in violation of the bill's provisions, which also include detailed notification rules."

Loan legislation seeks to prevent foreclosures [SFGate]
Lenders (And The Market) About To Be HAMPstrung? [SocketSite]
QuickLinks: Another Foreclosure Wave Forming Just Offshore? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

May 18, 2010

Small Can Be Beautiful But...Will "SmartSpace" Sell In San Francisco?

38 Harriet Proposed Facade

"Zeta Communities will construct the [prefab] housing for the 22-unit developments, planned for parking lots in Berkeley and San Francisco. The projects will feature tiny living spaces - 310- to 340 square-foot studios - and no parking. Instead, they will include a car-sharing space."

38 Harriet (Image Source:

"[Developer Patrick Kennedy's] San Francisco project is located South of Market at 38 Harriet St. on a parking lot that is only about 3,750 square feet. He said he hopes to attract young workers at nearby high-tech firms. He expects to sell the units for $200,000 to $275,000 and said the costs for the project, including land, construction and permits, will be about $4.7 million.

The development awaits the city planning and building bureaucracy. San Francisco planner Jeremy Battis said the project did not appear to present any environmental problems."

Tiny prefab units promote eco-friendly building [SFGate]
38 Harriet ("SmartSpace") Proposed Design []
Cubix Straight Scoop Redux: 766 Harrison Sales About To Resume [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (35) | (email story)

April 7, 2010

555 Washington EIR Appeal: An Expected Response (From Both Sides)

"Opponents of the [555 Washington] project argued during the March hearing that the Planning Department’s environmental analysis of the project, which is required under California law, was biased in favor of the project and failed on some key environmental issues, such as bird crashes into the building.

On Monday, opponents filed an appeal against certification of the environmental report. The Board of Supervisors will rule on the appeal.

Developer AEGON USA Realty Advisors told Board of Supervisors President David Chiu in a letter Tuesday that the project will become too costly if the board upholds the appeal and rules that major changes are required for the environmental impact report."

Appeal filed against 555 Washington could derail project, developer claims [Examiner]
Out Of The Shadow And Into The Spotlight: 555 Washington Designs [SocketSite]
555 Washington Round Two Vote Redux: EIR Approved But… [SocketSite]
Let’s Get Ready To Rumble Over 555 Washington [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

April 5, 2010

Let Them Eat Picnics Atop Hilltop Park

Yerba Buena/Treasure Island Rendering

"Hilltop Park is planned at Yerba Buena Island’s highest peak, nestled within the elliptical Yerba Buena Drive, as a jewel in a low-density neighborhood [of up to 300 homes and a 50-room spa hotel] that will occupy the western chunk of the island.

The park is being designed as a destination between San Francisco and Oakland, filled with picnic facilities, overlooks, grass and yet-to-be-determined recreation facilities..."

Hilltop park planned for Yerba Buena Island [San Francisco Examiner]
Treasure Island: Sold To The Bidder Across The Bay For $105M (Plus)

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

March 26, 2010

Q&A For Obama's Latest Mortgage Aid Plan Via The AP

"The Obama administration on Friday announced a major reworking of its troubled $75 billion plan to prevent foreclosures. The revamped program is now designed to aid jobless homeowners and people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth."

"Borrowers will get help in three ways: Jobless homeowners can get a three-to-six-month break on their mortgage payments. Banks will get financial incentives to reduce mortgage balances for under-water borrowers. And lenders can offer refinanced loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration to these borrowers."

Answers to questions about new mortgage aid plan [Associated Press]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

March 17, 2010

A Bayshore Boulevard Corridor Conundrum As Lowe's Leads The Way

"The Board of Supervisors is poised to approve interim zoning rules that would force large retail stores or chain stores to secure a conditional use permit before opening a location along the [Bayshore Boulevard] corridor."

Temporary restrictions to be placed on big box stores on Bayshore Boulevard [Examiner]
Interim Zoning Controls for the Bayshore Corridor []
Lowe's Has Finalized A Lease And Broken Ground On Bayshore [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

March 16, 2010

The Fed Pledges No Bump In Benchmark And No More (M)BS

"Federal Reserve officials repeated their pledge to keep the main interest rate near zero for an “extended period” and confirmed that emergency measures to prop up the housing market [by buying mortgage-backed securities] will end as planned this month."

Fed Pledges to Keep Rate Low for ‘Extended Period’ [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (25) | (email story)

March 15, 2010

While The Fed Forgives, California Does Not (For Now)

"When the foreclosure crisis started, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 so foreclosed homeowners would not be liable for their canceled debt. It is in force through 2012. California had a similar law, but it expired at the end of 2008, leaving Californians who lost their homes in 2009 potentially liable for big state tax bills."

Short sale tax shortchanges ex-homeowners [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

March 10, 2010

If Only We Hadn’t Already Used Our "Making Flippy Floppy" Headline

"Taking effect on April 5, the [government's new program] could encourage hundreds of thousands of delinquent borrowers who have not been rescued by the loan modification program to shed their houses through a process known as a short sale....Lenders will be compelled to accept that arrangement, forgiving the difference between the market price of the property and what they are owed."

Program Will Pay Homeowners to Sell at a Loss [New York Times]
Lenders (And The Market) About To Be HAMPstrung? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center Facing Foreclosure

"Eight years after opening with great fanfare, San Francisco's city-subsidized, $12.3 million Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center is on the verge of foreclosure - and is asking the cash-strapped city for a $1 million line of credit to help bail it out."

LGBT Center looks to San Francsico for bailout [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (24) | (email story)

March 8, 2010

Napa "Gentlemen" Growers Getting Squeezed Like A Grape

"In California’s Napa Valley, producer of the most expensive U.S. wines, 2010 may be a vintage year for foreclosures as the industry is squeezed by falling land values [down 15% since 2007] and a consumer shift to cheaper brands."

Vineyard Defaults Surge as Lost Land Values Undermine Napa Wine [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | (email story)

March 4, 2010

Bay Area (Small) Business Confidence Ticks Up

From the Chronicle:

The numbers aren't huge, according to the Bay Area Council's quarterly Business Confidence Survey - just 20 percent of the 498 senior executives responding said they plan new hires in the next six months - but it's better than another kick in the teeth.
The number of companies expecting layoffs - 17 percent - is certainly less grim than the business and public policy group's previous survey, which had 42 percent projecting layoffs, with just 10 percent looking at new hires.
This time around, 60 percent of executives in the wholesale trade said they would be hiring this spring and summer. Business owners in the leisure and hospitality sectors also forecast a net plus, or at least no change, in their workforces.

That being said, "57 percent of [large company] CEOs surveyed expect to see layoffs, compared with 8 percent posting job openings," so keep protecting those teeth.

Bay Area Council: More hiring than laying off [SFGate]
Bay Area Business Confidence Up (Along With Pink Slips) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

March 2, 2010

Mayor Newsom Isn't Taking This Sitting (Or Lying) Down

"[Mayor] Newsom will introduce two separate versions of a sit/lie law today at the Board of Supervisors. One version would prohibit sitting or lying on public sidewalks in about 20 commercial corridors throughout the city and is modeled on a similar law in Seattle that was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The other would prevent the behavior everywhere, including in residential neighborhoods, and is believed to be a first nationwide."

Mayor to introduce 2 plans for sit/lie law today [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (58) | (email story)

February 25, 2010

Lenders (And The Market) About To Be HAMPstrung?

"The Obama administration may expand efforts to ease the housing crisis by banning all foreclosures on home loans unless they have been screened and rejected by the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program."

Obama May Prohibit Home-Loan Foreclosures Without HAMP Review [Bloomberg]
Insight Into The Inevitable Once Again? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (25) | (email story)

Sound Familiar?

"Government stimulus programs including the homebuyer tax credit [which is set to expire at the end of April] and a Federal Reserve program to buy mortgage-backed bonds lifted the real estate market in the closing months of 2009.

A sustained recovery in housing faces hurdles that include mounting foreclosures and a weak labor market, said Thomas Lawler, a former economist with Fannie Mae who now is an independent housing consultant in Leesburg, Virginia."

Home Prices Decline 1.2%, Smallest Drop in Two Years [Bloomberg]
Senate Approves First-Time (And Move-Up) Homebuyer Tax Credits [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

February 24, 2010

One (Oakland) Stadium To Rule Them All?

"'There is only going to be one stadium in the Bay Area, and it's not going to be in Santa Clara,' said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, a member of the Coliseum board who voted with his colleagues last week to spend $125,000 on a study of a new [two-team Oakland football] stadium."

2-team football stadium in Oakland in works [SFGate]
First And Goal For The San Francisco Santa Clara 49ers Stadium [SocketSite]
More Sizzle Than Steak For Lennar's San Francisco Stadium Plan? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (22) | (email story)

February 10, 2010

Make That 441,469 Spaces: Proposed Curbside Cafe Conversions

Chronicle Graphic: Proposed North Beach Parking Space Conversion Zone

"Curbside parking spaces in North Beach would be replaced with cafe seating [along Columbus Avenue] in the latest initiative to rethink how streets are used in San Francisco - making them less focused on cars and more welcoming for pedestrians."

Cafes get more sidewalk under North Beach plan [SFGate]
Parking Space Trivia (And Spoiler): 441,541 Spaces In San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (48) | (email story)

In The Name Of Dr. Raye Richardson For 365 Folsom (AKA Parcel G)

A plugged-in reader reports: "365 Folsom, AKA Parcel G has been named Dr. Raye Richardson Apartments. Dr. Raye is a community leader who chaired the black studies department at San Francisco State. Great building named for a great person."

365 Fulton (AKA Parcel G) Design Evolved, Site Work Commences [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | (email story)

February 9, 2010

Of Course We Might Question That $7.5 Million Valuation As Well...

"Prosecutors say that starting in January 2009, [Winston] Lum forged the true owner's signatures on grant deeds for three condominiums at One Rincon Hill, put them in his name and recorded them with the city. He then borrowed $2.2 million against the units, which are worth a total of $7.5 million, prosecutors said."

Tennis teacher accused of condo scam [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

February 8, 2010

More Mortgage "Mumbo" Jumbo: Serious Delinquencies Increase

"U.S. prime jumbo mortgages at least 60 days late backing securities reached 9.6 percent in January from 9.2 percent in December, the 32nd straight increase for "serious delinquencies"...[but the] share of borrowers current the previous month and that then turned delinquent fell to 1.2 percent in the month covered by January bond reports, down from 1.3 percent as of December reports, Fitch said. The jumbo sector of the non-agency market was the only one in which so-called roll rates -- or the amount of loans turning delinquent -- rose from a year ago, according to the statement."

Jumbo Mortgage ‘Serious Delinquencies’ Rise to 9.6% [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (41) | (email story)

February 3, 2010

No Exemption (And Little Love) For Alameda Point Development

Alameda Point Redevelopment Plan

"With all precincts reporting, Measure B in Alameda lost, 85 percent to 15 percent. It would have allowed a one-time exemption to Measure A, a 1973 ordinance that bans anything larger than a duplex on the island."

"If it had passed, Measure B would have allowed a development at Alameda Point with 4,500 units of apartments, condominiums and single-family homes, as well as offices, parks, a ferry terminal and other amenities."

Voters rejecting Alameda development project [SFGate]
Alameda Point Redevelopment [] [Master Plan (pdf)]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

February 2, 2010

New Parking Restrictions For District 3 Circles The Block Board

From the San Francisco Examiner:

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s legislation that would require a special permit or, under certain circumstances, prohibit the building of a parking garage for residential buildings in District 3 neighborhoods, North Beach and Telegraph Hill, appears headed to the full board next week.
The legislation would prohibit garages in cases where it would encroach on a sidewalk or in cases where there were no-fault evictions of tenants within the past 10 years.

Potential 152-162 Jasper Place buyers (as well as others) take note.

New parking garages in District 3 under fire [San Francisco Examiner]
We’re Still At A Loss For Words (Unfortunately The Attorney Wasn't) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

February 1, 2010

For Some Reason The Blighters Aren’t Volunteering To Register

Chronicle Graphic: Abandoned Properties

"From the eclectic Mission District to tony Pacific Heights to the hardscrabble streets of San Francisco's Mid-Market, the city's ambitious program to crack down on blighted properties has netted few results [as only a third of the owners have registered their buildings]."

If Only We Didn’t Get So Nervous Every Time We Heard “Blight” [SocketSite]
S.F. blight law shows few results so far [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

January 26, 2010

A $171 Million Federal Boost For San Francisco's New Transbay Center

"Federal authorities approved a $171 million loan for a new transit center in San Francisco....The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday its loan for construction of the Transbay Transit Center will pay for ramps to the Bay Bridge, a bus storage facility and the design of an underground transit facility."

S.F.’s Transbay center gets $171M loan [San Francisco Business Times]
Scoop: Transbay Interactive Map (And New Transit Center Website) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

January 22, 2010


“They are turning this from a legitimate program to try to save people who have the ability to hang on their homes into one that says, forget the willingness and ability to pay, let’s just postpone foreclosures.”

Treasury Weighs Fixes to Foreclosures Program [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

January 14, 2010

Growing Pains For Noe Along 24th

"...San Francisco banned new restaurants on Noe Valley's 24th Street because residents felt they were losing local shops to eateries that drove up rents and caused traffic jams. Now, with nearly 15 vacant storefronts, there's a push to get the restaurants back."

Blocks hungry to fill storefronts with eateries [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (73) | (email story)

January 11, 2010

49 Stevenson Sells For $24,200,000

"Taiwanese real estate investor Steven Pan has finalized the purchase of 49 Stevenson St. for $24.2 million, the latest sign that San Francisco's long-dormant investment market is starting to come to life. The $190-a-square-foot sale price represents a 40 percent decline for the value of the property, which the city currently assesses at $41 million."

49 Stevenson sells for $24.2 million [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

January 7, 2010

Can’t Sell? Concrete That Front Yard To Add More Parking!

"...a house on my block, one of the last to have a tiny 20% green patch in front, came up for sale a few months ago. They had a few open houses but apparently no takers. But the feedback about the front they had gotten must have been clear (and in favor of MORE SIDEWALK PARKING please), because about 2 weeks ago, they had contractors come and rip out the front yard and concrete it over.

This is what you're up against. A sale is actually more likely to *remove* the greenery in front. With Sandoval's ordinance in mind, I did report the removal to the city -- they said they will assign an inspector to investigate. But so far, I don't see any change."

Comments: Guidelines For Tending Concrete Gardens Out Front [SocketSite]
We’re All In Favor (But Wondering If It Will Actually Work) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Permalink | (email story)

Academy of Art About To Learn A Hard Lesson (Or Not)?

"The Academy of Art University, a major San Francisco landlord whose properties stretch from the Marina to South of Market, is coming under fire for property purchases that diminish affordable housing stock and for failing to promptly fix code violations."

"Academy officials say they've largely rejuvenated dilapidated housing and provided homes to thousands of art students. They also say they're working diligently to comply with city codes, but have been subject to changing requirements, confusion in the permitting process and complex demands."

S.F. officials take hard look at Academy of Art [SFGate]
And The Artists Shall Inherit Acquire San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

December 31, 2009

New U.S. Jobless Claims Dip But Extended Benefits Jump In December

"Initial jobless claims fell by 22,000 to 432,000 in the week ended Dec. 26, the lowest level since July 2008, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance fell [by 57,000] in the prior week to 4.98 million [but] those receiving extended benefits jumped [by 199,000 to 4.82 million]."

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to Lowest Level Since 2008 [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

December 22, 2009

A Sprinter's Or Marathoner's Pace?

"[U.S. existing home] purchases increased 7.4 percent to a 6.54 million annual rate from a revised 6.09 million pace the prior month, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median sales price declined 4.3 percent from the same month a year earlier, the smallest decrease since November 2007.

Lower interest rates, cheaper homes and a homebuyer tax credit have resuscitated a housing market that contributed to the worst economic slump since the 1930s. A sustained recovery in housing and the economy depends on a resumption of payroll growth after employers cut 7.2 million jobs in the past two years."

Sales of [U.S.] Existing Homes Increase More Than Forecast [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (21) | (email story)

December 21, 2009

Insight Into The Inevitable Once Again?

Modified mortgage re-default rates: Q3 2009

"Nearly 40 percent of homeowners who received a loan modification that reduced monthly loan payments by 20 percent or more were at least two months late again within a year..."

UPDATE: A plugged-in reader comes through with a link to the original report.

Borrowers with modified loans falling into trouble [The Associated Press]
9% Of HAMP Eligible Delinquent Loans Modified, 91% To Go [SocketSite]
OCC and OTS Mortgage Metrics Report: Third Quarter 2009 []

Posted by socketadmin at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (39) | (email story)

December 11, 2009

The House Picks Up Where The Senate Left Off

"...lawmakers defeated a mortgage “cram-down” amendment that would have given federal judges the power to lengthen mortgage terms, cut interest rates and reduce loan balances for homeowners in bankruptcy court."

Mortgage ‘Cram-Down’ Bankruptcy Amendment Fails in U.S. House [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: SocketSite Says...The Senate Gets One Right (So Far) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

December 8, 2009

Port Of San Francisco To Issue Water Taxi RFP Early Next Year

Potential San Francisco Water Taxi Berths

"Port staff will begin solidifying [water taxi] berthing agreements for various locations in South Beach, Pier 1½, Central Waterfront and Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf...[and] contemplate issuing a Request of Qualifications to gauge commercial interest and viability of an operation in February 2010."

Port of San Francisco Water Taxi Feasibility Study [SFgov]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

December 3, 2009

It's The Principal Of The Underwater Mortgage Matter

"We’re looking now at whether we should provide some further loss sharing for principal write downs," [FDIC Chairman Sheila] Bair said. "Now you’re in a situation where even the good mortgages are going bad because people are losing their jobs. So you have other factors now driving mortgage distress."

FDIC’s Bair Weighs Mortgage Principal Cuts to Fight Foreclosure [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

November 30, 2009

An Emotional Bricks And Mortar Asset Allocation For The Wealthy

"Real estate investment among wealthy individuals [with more than $800,000 to invest] is set to rise to 30 percent of the average portfolio for the next few years from 28 percent now, according to [a Barclays global] survey. That excludes properties used as a principal residence. Most rich people, other than the extremely wealthy, should have no more than 10 percent of their assets in property, said [Mike Dicks, the London-based head of research at Barclays Wealth]."

"I was surprised how big a share of their wealth property represents," [said Dicks]. "It’s not what I would tell grandma. None of our data suggests that would be a good allocation."

Wealthy Investors Plan to Buy More Real Estate, Barclays Says [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

November 18, 2009

Modern Ito Design Falls Prey To Modern Berkeley Economics

Toyo Ito's Berkeley Museum Design

"A shortage of funds has prompted UC Berkeley to abandon its plan to construct a new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive downtown. The building, a distinctive and innovative design by Tokyo architect Toyo Ito estimated to cost $143 million, was to replace the museum's present, seismically endangered quarters on Bancroft Way..."

UC Berkeley must scale back on downtown museum [SFGate]
Across The Bay (But Modern Museum Architecture Is On The Brain) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

November 17, 2009

The Belli Building NOD And Versus A Different B.A.R. (Builders)

"Perhaps the motivation for this statement [("Family has asked for it to be sold in as is condition within the next 30 days")] was the [Notice of Default] filed on September 24. Ms. Belli recently (end of August) sold off two units at 481 Clementina. Evidently, she did not raise enough capital to prevent the mechanics lien on November 4 for the [722-728] Montgomery property. And, of course, the requisite lawsuit by the builders."

Belli’s Barbary Coast (And At One Time) Belle Of A Building [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | (email story)

Plugged-In People Should Have Seen This One Coming A Year Away

"A report released Monday by the [San Francisco] controller's office shows that property tax revenues will likely be $35 million less than anticipated in the 2009-10 fiscal year that began July 1. Payroll tax revenues will probably be $24.8 million less than expected..."

S.F. home value drop, jobless drain city budget [SocketSite]
SocketSite’s Residential Real Estate Outlook For 2009 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

November 12, 2009


"The Federal Housing Administration’s net capital ratio, or reserves after accounting for projected losses, fell to 0.53 percent in the year ended in September, from 3 percent in fiscal 2008 and 6.4 percent in 2007, according to an annual review sent today. While FHA said the fund “has good prospects,” it is changing its risk models to account for the possibility of the ratio falling below zero."

"[Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan] said the economy is worse than housing officials expected and projected claims against the insurance fund are higher than forecast. The fund is already below the 2 percent reserve threshold FHA is required to maintain by Congress."

FHA Reserve Ratio Falls to 0.53%, Lowest in History [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

November 6, 2009

Half-Price Sale For (Mostly Vacant) Class A Commercial Continues

"Prudential Real Estate Investors is in contract to sell the [mostly vacant 188 Spear Street] to Shorenstein for $170 a square foot [$25 million], a 56 percent drop from the $385 a square foot or $56.9 million that the city assessed for last fiscal year. The only other Class A financial district building to sell this year, 250 Montgomery St., traded for $172 a square foot — also a 56 percent drop from its previous sale in 2006."

Shorensteins prevail in bid for S.F. building [San Francisco Business Times]
A Half-Price Sale For Class A Commercial Real Estate In San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (65) | (email story)

November 2, 2009

Employment And Earnings Matter? Who Knew...

"...the belief among many lenders is that the demand for commercial space and condominiums could be "extraordinarily weak" for several more years, in large part because businesses aren't showing signs of growing or hiring. San Francisco's unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent since June. The state figure was 12.2 percent in September, lending support to the "jobless recovery" theory."

Building in S.F. not expected to grow for years [SFGate]
SocketSite’s Residential Real Estate Outlook For 2009 [SocketSite]
San Francisco County Unemployment At 9.7 Percent In September [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (46) | (email story)

October 30, 2009

Twenty Percent Off Sale Around Union Square

"There are close to two dozen vacancies in the Union Square area, and the vacancy rate stands at 10 percent, with 4 percent more available for sublease, said Julie Taylor of Cornish & Carey.

And while very few long-term deals have been signed, flexible or shorter-term leases are being inked for about 20 percent below asking rate, according to Kazuko Morgan of Cushman and Wakefield."

Union Square goes on sale for retailers [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

October 29, 2009

Will The Stimulated Economy Be As "Sticky" As Real Estate?

"The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year, propelled by stimulus-driven gains in consumer spending and home building."

UPDATE (10/30): "Americans cut spending for the first time in five months and a gauge of confidence weakened, signaling consumers will make a limited contribution to the recovery without government incentives."

Economy in U.S. Expands for First Time in a Year [Bloomberg]
"Credits For Condos" (And Other New Homes) A Clunker As Well? [SocketSite]
From ‘Sticky’ To ‘Slippery’: A Fundamental Change In The Housing Market? [SocketSite]
U.S. Economy: Consumer Spending, Confidence Fall [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | (email story)

Lembi's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

"According to the Clark County, Nev., district attorney's office, there is a warrant out for Walter Lembi, managing director of the financially troubled Lembi Group, for allegedly passing $298,500 worth of bad checks earlier this year at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas."

UPDATE: "Under [a] deal, Lembi has agreed to pay the full amount, plus fees, for a total of $328,450, in a payment plan beginning Friday..."

Real estate leader's name on bad-check warrant [SFGate]
Lembi's markers met [SFGate]
The Chronicle Reports "Dozens," A Plugged-In Source Says Over 100 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

October 23, 2009

One Word: Target. Okay, Four: Target At The Metreon?

The Metreon (Image Source: San Francisco Business Times)

While Tavern on the Green’s bankruptcy likely killed an outpost in San Francisco’s Metreon Center, the San Francisco Business Times reports the center’s makeover might not be the only big thing in the works:

Metreon owners Westfield and Forest City have recently pulled back on several preliminary lease deals at the center and are said to be negotiating to lease an entire floor to Target.

As a plugged-in and perhaps prescient reader wrote in September, "One Word: Target."

Will Tavern On The Green’s Bankruptcy Kill An SF Outpost? [SocketSite]
Target could be bull’s-eye for Metreon [San Francisco Business Times]
Metreon Makeover Approved, Entrance Rendered And Ready In 2010 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (26) | (email story)

October 21, 2009

Take Two To Stimulate New-Home Purchases In California

"Last week, the California Senate passed a bill 35-1 that would provide $30 million in tax credits to about 4,000 additional new-home purchases [up to $10,000 a piece]. The bill now moves to the Assembly floor, which could take it up as early as Monday."

New-home buyers' tax credit may return, briefly [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

October 19, 2009

Conservation Of Land When Cash Is King

"The [595 acres] of chaparral-covered land 15 miles outside of Marysville had been slated to be bulldozed for homes. But the bottom dropped out of the economy and the plan to build homes was yanked, allowing the [the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Land] to swoop in with a $4 million offer that was quickly accepted."

Developers' bust proves a boon for land trusts [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

October 15, 2009

U.S. Foreclosure Filings Jump With Prime And Alt-A Leading The Way

Foreclosure filings in the U.S. increased 29 percent on a year-over-year basis in September, but fell 4 percent as compared to August (a record high month).

Mounting foreclosures mean U.S. home prices probably will resume falling, analysts from Amherst Securities Group LP in New York said Sept. 23. A “shadow inventory” of 7 million properties are in the foreclosure process or likely to be seized, up from 1.27 million in 2005, they said.
The pace of prime and so-called alt-A loan defaults is accelerating as subprime defaults slow, Standard & Poor’s analysts led by Diane Westerback said yesterday in a report. Prime loans are those made to borrowers with the best credit records while alt-A loans are considered riskier because they were often granted without documenting the borrower’s income.

For the third quarter U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 23 percent year-over-year.

U.S. Foreclosure Filings Jump 23% to Record in Third Quarter [Bloomberg]
Subprime And Alt-A Statistics By County: The Feds Mortgage Map [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

October 14, 2009

A Schwarzenegger Signature To Sell 23 Acres Of Candlestick Point

"The state can now sell 23 acres of land that is mostly used for parking lots in southeastern San Francisco to benefit a city housing development.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation this week allowing the transaction.

SB 792, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, allows the state to reconfigure the boundaries of the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area so that Lennar Corp. can move ahead with a long-awaited housing and commercial development in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Candlestick Point."

Candlestick Point state park reconfigured with Leno bill [San Francisco Examiner]
JustQuotes: The Redevelopment Of Hunters/Candlestick Point [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

October 13, 2009

Property Managers Pile On To The Lembi's Woes

"One of the largest landlords in The City, which is already facing a slew of lawsuits for allegedly withholding tenants’ deposits, is the subject of a new class-action lawsuit — this one related to labor laws.

The housing empire of more than 7,000 apartments — controlled until last year by CitiApartments, the Lembi Group, Skyline Realty and associated companies — has been hit hard by the real estate slump and dour credit market."

Big landlord’s lawsuits piling up [San Francisco Examiner]
The Chronicle Reports "Dozens," A Plugged-In Source Says Over 100 [SocketSite]
Lemons To Lemons For Thirty Ex-Lembi Apartment Buildings [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

October 9, 2009

Three To Five For The Transbay If The Feds Delay Until March

"An unexpected delay in funding for the new Transbay Terminal could set construction plans back [three to five] months and cost the project another $100 million."

Transbay funds delay may have $100M price tag [San Francisco Examiner]
Transbay Terminal: Banking On Stimulus Funds And Opening In 2015 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

October 8, 2009

A House Response To Rising Unemployment (And Lobbyists)

“There’s under consideration whether we extend the first-time homeowners’ credit,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters today in Washington. “And the question is, would that be just first-time homeowners or would you open it up to other purchasers of homes?”

House to Consider Extending Home-Buyer Tax Credit [Bloomberg]
$15,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Cut, Conforming Loan Limits Restored [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

October 7, 2009

Ellis Act That In-Law And It’s No A Public Hearing For Parking For You!

"Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it more difficult to evict tenants and then build a car garage, and also change the number of parking spaces allowed per dwelling unit in San Francisco’s northeast neighborhoods [to be in line with the rules developed in the Market-Octavia plan]."

"The legislation would require anyone who wants to build a parking garage and who evicted tenants using the Ellis Act to have to obtain a special permit to build the garage. The permit would require public hearings and would be appealable to the Board of Supervisors."

Chiu seeks new car garage, parking controls [San Francisco Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (64) | (email story)

September 29, 2009

Now Bill Gross (And PIMCO) Does Deflation

"There has been significant flattening on the long end of the curve...This reflects the re- emergence of deflationary fears. The U.S. is at the center of de-levering as opposed to accelerating growth." - Bill Gross via Bloomberg

Pimco’s Gross Buys Treasuries Amid Deflation Concern [Bloomberg]
Promoted From Comment To Post: Satchel Does Deflation [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (33) | (email story)

September 28, 2009

The Test Pattern For Tomorrows Six Week Market Street Closure

Chronicle Graphic: Market Street Closure Map

"San Francisco's new experiment to remake Market Street starts Tuesday when restrictions on private automobiles take effect. The six-week trial is aimed at reducing traffic traveling east on Market Street toward the Ferry Building by forcing drivers to turn right at Eighth and Sixth streets - or face fines."

Market Street traffic experiment starts Tuesday [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

September 25, 2009

U.S. New Home Sales Climb On Discounts And Foreclosures

“Sales of new U.S. homes climbed in August to the highest level in almost a year as builders cut prices at a record pace to compete with the foreclosures that are flooding the market for previously owned houses.”

New-Home Sales in U.S. Climb to Almost One-Year High [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

September 18, 2009

Wells Fargo Adds 375K Feet To San Francisco’s Negative Absorption

"Wells Fargo has terminated its 375,000-square-foot lease at 155 Fifth St. in San Francisco, adding another empty building to an office leasing market with a nearly 20 percent vacancy rate."

Wells Fargo calls quits at S.F. office building [Business Times]
San Francisco's Office Availability Rate Up To 20 Percent In Q2 2009 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

September 16, 2009

150 Otis: From Temporary To Permanent Shelter As Proposed

"[Swords to Plowshares and the Chinatown Community Development Center] want to develop 150 Otis St., a surplus city-owned building, into permanent affordable rental housing for chronically homeless senior citizen vets. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2012."

Surplus building to be affordable housing for homeless vets [Examiner]
150 Otis Street: San Francisco Homeless Resource []

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

September 4, 2009

U.S. Unemployment At 9.7 Percent, Two Tenths Below San Francisco

"The pace of U.S. job losses slowed in August as signs emerged that the recession is ending, while the unemployment rate reached a 26-year high [9.7%]....A rising jobless rate, stagnant wages and falling home values signal a lack of consumer spending may curb an economic recovery."

U.S. Payroll Losses Slow, Unemployment Rises to 9.7% [Bloomberg]
San Francisco County Unemployment Up To 9.9 Percent In July [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

September 2, 2009

Sixth Street "Shooers" Hit The Corridor This Month

"Two full-time city employees will begin patrolling [Sixth Street] and its alleys this month. They will have two-way radios to report crimes, provide advice and clear paths for pedestrians, under a program adopted by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency."

Cleaning up Sixth Street [San Francisco Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (83) | (email story)

August 27, 2009

Remember That Figurative Freight Train (And Potential HSR Delay)?

"A Sacramento County Superior Court judge said Wednesday that portions of an environmental review of high-speed rail service will have to be rewritten, which might lead to delays in the project and loss of billions of dollars in state and federal funds.

Judge Michael P. Kenny ruled that the California High-Speed Rail Authority had failed to address concerns by Union Pacific Railroad about sharing its right-of-way in a stretch of the system further south, between San Jose and Gilroy, in its environmental review.

The ruling grew out of a lawsuit filed by the cities of Menlo Park and Atherton that challenged the adequacy of an environmental impact report conducted by the rail authority. Officials are meeting regularly with Union Pacific representatives to iron out any concerns they have about right-of-way issues between San Jose and Gilroy."

Judge's order may delay high-speed rail [Business Journal]
California's High-Speed Rail Hits Its First Figurative Freight Train [SocketSite]
Peninsula Residents Aim To Slow Down High-Speed Development [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (104) | (email story)

August 20, 2009

New Subprime Foreclosures Ease But Prime Foreclosures Exacerbate

From Bloomberg:

Americans fell behind on their mortgage payments at a record pace in the second quarter as job losses and falling real estate prices thwarted government efforts to stabilize the housing market.
The share of loans with one or more payments overdue rose to a seasonally adjusted 9.24 percent of all mortgages, an all- time high, from 9.12 percent in the first quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today. The inventory of homes in foreclosure increased to 4.3 percent, the most in three decades of data, and loans overdue by at least 90 days, the point at which foreclosure proceedings typically begin, rose to 7.97 percent, the highest on record.
“We’ve seen a significant drop in the problem with subprime loans and we’ve moved now to a problem with prime fixed-rate loans,” Jay Brinkmann, the Washington-based trade group’s chief economist, said in an interview. “Job losses are driving it, and we expect that to continue into next year.”

Mortgage Delinquencies Rise to Record as U.S. Home Prices Fall [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

August 19, 2009

Proposed Conservation Of Housing Law Specific To San Francisco

"Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced legislation that would require the one-for-one replacement of any demolished housing units. The proposed law, introduced Tuesday, was inspired by the recently approved Drew School expansion."

Expansion prompts demolition law proposal [Examiner]
Drew School Expansion Plans Pass Their Appeals Test(s) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

August 13, 2009

Not A Done Deal But Closer To Closing Mirant's Power Plant In Potrero

Potrero Hill Power Plant:Aerial (Image Source:

From the Chronicle with respect to Mirant's potrero hill power plant between 22nd and 23rd Streets off of Third:

San Francisco's dirty power plant on the eastern waterfront would shut down by end of next year, under a legal agreement announced today between Mirant Corp. and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) which manages the state's power grid "has long maintained that San Francisco must have some power generation within city limits" and would need to agree to the closure.

The city, meanwhile, has argued that a major transmission line from the East Bay will ensure a reliable energy supply when it is completed in March or April.

Filthy SF power plant to close [SFGate]
JustQuotes: Potrero Hill Power Plant Plan Paused (For A Week) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

August 10, 2009

Will It Or Won't It, You Make The Call On A Commercial Backed Crisis

"Commercial property is “certainly going to be a significant drag” on growth, said Dean Maki, a former Fed researcher who is now chief U.S. economist in New York at Barclays Capital Inc., the investment-banking division of London-based Barclays Plc. “The bigger risk from it would be if it causes unexpected losses to financial firms that lead to another financial crisis.”"

Fed Focusing on Real-Estate Recession as Bernanke Convenes FOMC [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

August 7, 2009

From Historic To History For The Old Ortega Branch Library Building

Ortega Branch Library Rendering

"The old Ortega Branch Library in the Sunset district is coming down, after an appeal to save the building failed." (That's the new design above and below.)

Ortega Branch Library Proposed Floor Plan (click to enlarge)

Library appeal falls short [San Francisco Examiner]
Ortega Branch Construction []
Ortega Branch Library Design (pdf) []

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

August 6, 2009

There's Nothing Like A Good Fannie

"The Obama administration is considering an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would strip the mortgage finance giants of hundreds of billions of dollars in troubled loans and create a new structure to support the home-loan market, government officials said."

White House mulls major Fannie-Freddie shakeup [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

August 4, 2009

Additional Green Reserves To Satisfy Lenders For SFPUC's Green HQ

525 Golden Gate Avenue Renderings

"A committee hearing into the planned construction of a $190 million super-green San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters will be postponed, after officials decided to add $47.4 million in additional appropriations....the cash reserve needs to be appropriated and squirreled away to satisfy the requirements of lenders...."

Hearing delay for SFPUC's ultragreen HQ [San Francisco Examiner]
Laying The Foundation For An "Ultra-Green" 525 Golden Gate Avenue [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

August 3, 2009

When The Fundamentals Make Sense (But Please Not Before)

"[Oakland's McKinley Partners] is emblematic of a major force currently propelling the real estate market: investors and speculators snapping up foreclosed homes. Along with first-time buyers, they are a primary source of increased sales volume."

Oakland group buying Contra Costa foreclosures [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

July 31, 2009

JustQuotes: Citi Draws Deposit Ire (And Lawsuits)

"Rental security deposits held by [CitiApartments and associated companies] were funneled into an array of bank accounts and plundered, potentially affecting thousands of tenants, according to lawsuits."

Lawsuit alleges CitiApartments drained tenant deposit accounts [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

July 27, 2009

From CAMP SF To CAMFS? (Contemporary Art Museum Fire Station)

San Francisco Fire Station #1 (Image Source:

"Very hush-hush talks going on for the Museum of Modern Art to expand into San Francisco's Fire Station No. 1 on Howard Street - with speculation that SFMOMA would use the space to house the art collection that Gap founder Donald Fisher wants to show off."

Firehouse flip could create home for Fisher art [SFGate]
The Fishers Break CAMP With Respect To The Presidio's Main Post [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (51) | (email story)

July 24, 2009

333 Bush: Bought For $281M In 2007 But Now Going Back To The Bank

333 Bush Street

"Hines and Sterling American Property will give 333 Bush St. back to lenders Brookfield Real Estate Finance and Munich Hypo Bank, according to a statement from Hines executives." (Hines, Sterling to surrender S.F. building)

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

July 21, 2009

In The Words Of A Plugged-In Reader: It’s About Time

"The U.S. title-insurance industry faces increasing pressure from regulators to justify the fees charged to consumers for ensuring they have clear ownership of their homes."

Title-Insurer Fees Draw Scrutiny [Wall Street Journal Online]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (22) | (email story)

July 16, 2009

50 UN Plaza Update: Hell Hath No Fury As Architects Scorned

50 United Nations Plaza (Image Source: architectsjournal)

"The decision to select a British firm [Foster + Partners] to renovate 50 United Nations Plaza has provoked controversy as the project was made possible by the $130 billion federal stimulus fund for building renovation and construction."

American fury as Foster grabs $120m San Francisco job [architectsjournal]
We Still Believe It Would Have Made A Most Excellent Museum [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

July 13, 2009

San Francisco's Office Availability Rate Up To 20 Percent In Q2 2009

"CBRE says that downtown San Francisco’s availability rate for office space has now cracked 20 percent. It predicts that the city “will soon pass its all-time availability rate of 20.6 percent.” The brokerage reports that the city saw a 778,000-square-foot net vacant increase in vacant space [in Q2]."

Office space availability tops 20 percent mark [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

The Port In The (San Francisco Office) Storm

"The Port of San Francisco is preparing to reduce its minimum required lease payments to help fill vacant space and compete in San Francisco’s flailing office market….Under proposals due to be considered Tuesday by Port Commissioners, prospective tenants could see monthly rents for Class C space fall from $1.80 to $1.50 per square foot along the Central Waterfront….The Port plans to slightly increase its parking rates..."

Port to slash prices for office space [SFExaminer]
San Francisco's Office Availability Rate Up To 20 Percent In Q2 [SocketSite]
Request approval of the FY 2009-10 Monthly Rental Rate Schedule [SFGov]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (64) | (email story)

July 9, 2009

JustQuotes: Mortgage Rate Update

"The average 30-year rate dropped to 5.2 percent from 5.32 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac of McLean, Virginia, said today....The 15-year rate averaged 4.69 percent."

U.S. Mortgage Rates Drop to 5.2%, Freddie Mac Says [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

June 30, 2009

JustQuotes: Think New Life, Lifestyle, And Landscaping

"The Painted Ladies charmed her. The de Young wowed her. But Liesbeth van der Pol [chief government architect of the Netherlands] also savored a part of San Francisco that many locals ignore - Mission Bay." (Chief Dutch architect wowed by S.F.)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

June 29, 2009

Past Performance Recoveries Are No Guarantee Of Future Results

"The residential real estate market improved ahead of the end of the past seven contractions, with home construction starts beginning to climb an average of seven months before gross domestic product picked up and sales gaining about four months in advance, according to data compiled by David Berson, chief economist of PMI Group, a mortgage insurer in Walnut Creek, California."

Housing in Peril as Obama Fails to Get Financing Breakthrough [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

June 26, 2009

Strata And Avalon III Riding A Mission Bay Rental Wave

"The Strata, the first development on the still-unopened new Fourth Street, has leased 103 [out of 193] apartments in 90 days...four apartments a month above leasing goals, although Urban Housing Group has slashed rents about 15 percent from original projections. Meanwhile, AvalonBay’s third Mission Bay building, which opened less than a month 36 percent leased and 25 percent occupied..."

Mission Bay lures renters with new luxury housing [San Francisco Business Times]
The Scoop On Strata At Mission Bay, Its Environs And Rents [SocketSite]
Avalon At Mission Bay III (240 Berry): Now Open And The Rents [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (25) | (email story)

Will SWL 337 Or SWL 351 Meet The Same Fate As Transbay Block 8?

"With many developers predicting that highrise development of any sort won’t work economically [in San Francisco] for another five years, public agencies are struggling with a development model in which private builders pay for the right to develop valuable land and, in the process, bankroll public benefits like parks, roads and affordable housing."

Real estate slump threatens projects [San Francisco Business Times]
Transbay Block 8: No Deal Or Development In 2009 [SocketSite]
San Francisco SWL 337 Proposal: Downsized And Drawn Out [SockeSite]
Cosmic Development Karma For San Francisco's Seawall Lot 351? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

June 22, 2009

Assessing The Potential Upside Of A Down Market: Tax Basis Redux

"Starting July 2, California homeowners who think the market value of their home as of Jan. 1, 2009, is less than its assessed value for 2009-10 can ask their assessor to revise it downward. Because property taxes are based on the assessed value, a successful appeal will temporarily reduce the owner's property tax bill."

UPDATE: A plugged-in reader adds,"you can start this process early, online, for sf county."

Appeal assessment if you think it's too high [SFGate]
Assessing The Potential Upside Of A Down Market: Property Tax Basis [SocketSite]
Residential Property Assessment Appeals (pdf) []
2009-2010 Request For Informal Review Of Assessed Value [SFGov]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | (email story)

June 16, 2009

Defaulting California Homeowners Start A Standing 90 Count

"The California Foreclosure Prevention Act, signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in February [and implemented yesterday], adds 90 days onto the time period between when homeowners default on a loan and when their home can be repossessed in foreclosure. Banks can avoid the 90-day holdup by having a comprehensive program in place to make mortgages more affordable by reducing the interest rate, extending the loan term, or reducing or deferring some of the principal."

Foreclosure freeze prods banks to modify loans [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | (email story)

June 12, 2009

JustQuotes: It's A Good Time To Be A New Tenant In San Francisco

"Tenant-starved San Francisco office landlords are laying on the concessions. A new report from the tenant brokerage Studley shows property owners are now shelling out an average of $45 per square foot in concessions to tenants willing to ink a long-term deal. The amount of free rent owners are doling out has jumped to seven months, while tenant improvement allowances are now averaging $50 a square foot. Studley says asking rents are down 30 to 50 percent in many buildings and tenant demand is off 40 percent. Average Class A asking rent is $34.74 a square foot, down 25.3 percent from last year..."

S.F. landlords entice tenants with concessions [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

June 10, 2009

San Francisco's New Cruise Ship Terminal Gets A $3.5M Kick Start

Pier 27 Aerial (

"The prospect of a new San Francisco cruise ship terminal [at Pier 27] became more real Tuesday when the Port Commission authorized a $3.5 million contract with the city's Department of Public Works for architectural and engineering work."

$3.5 million OKd for new cruise ship port work [SFGate]
The Port's Plan For Pier 27: We Don't Need No Stinking Rate Of Return! [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

June 1, 2009

Presidio Main Post Plan Public Comment Period Closes Today

CAMP: Revised Design

"Today marks the end of the public comment period on land use changes proposed for the Main Post of San Francisco's Presidio - a deadline that may sound bureaucratic but in fact signals the next round in an acrimonious battle unlikely to end anytime soon."

Deadline is today for comments on Presidio plan [SFGate]
A Toned Down CAMP And Revised Main Post Plan For The Presidio [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (20) | (email story)

May 29, 2009

Lembis Look To Cut Another Twelve Loose As Rental Market Drops

"The troubled Lembi real estate empire has put 12 San Francisco apartment buildings up for sale at prices well below what it paid for the properties in 2006 and 2007."

"The buildings the family is attempting to sell include 2185 Bay St., a 24-unit complex the Lembis bought in late 2007 for $7.9 million. The asking price on the building is $5.9 million. Another building, 1305 Lombard St. sold for $2.6 million in 2007 and is priced at $1.9 million. A third property, the 14-unit 2050 Powell St., sold for $3.4 million in 2006 and is priced at $2.9 million."

"David Gruber, who owns 13 multifamily buildings in San Francisco, said rents have dropped 10 percent to 15 percent, and he is seeing an increase in requests for rent adjustments."

Lembis expect to sell apartment buildings for loss [Business Times]
San Francisco Rental Market Weakness: SocketSite Readers Report [SocketSite]
RealFacts Reports (Not So Real) Asking Rents Flat In San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

May 28, 2009

JustQuotes: While Buyers Don't Defaults Do (Move Up)

"The inventory of new and old [U.S. Mortgage] defaults rose to 3.85 percent, the MBA said today. Prime fixed-rate mortgages given to the most creditworthy borrowers accounted for the biggest share of new foreclosures at 29 percent, and prime adjustable-rate mortgages were 24 percent, [Jay Brinkmann, the MBA’s chief economist] said. It shows the mortgage problem has shifted from a subprime issue to a job-loss problem..."

Mortgage Delinquencies, Foreclosures, 30-Year Rates Increase [Bloomberg]
San Francisco County Unemployment Dips To 8.8 Percent In April '09 [SocketSite]
SocketSite’s Residential Real Estate Outlook For 2009 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (24) | (email story)

May 22, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It...Extra Fees To Develop Downtown

San Francisco's Transit Center District Boundaries

"Developers who construct skyscrapers and other buildings near the new Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco will have to pay up to $850 million in extra fees over a 20-year period, according to a city proposal announced Thursday.

The area will allow for towers taller than what is permitted downtown - including one building that could be up to 1,000 feet tall....The surcharges of up to $35 a square foot would be in addition to a package of downtown-only fees for things such as public transit, affordable housing and wastewater treatment."

Transit Center Tower Height

"The fees would be applied to all new developments, not just skyscrapers....Given the city's lengthy planning and approval process, it is unlikely that any developer would obtain permission to build before 2011."

Extra fees for new transit district [SFGate]
San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal: Website And Community Meeting [SocketSite]
San Francisco’s Transit Center District Plan: EIR Notice Of Preparation [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

May 19, 2009

JustQuotes: Five Years From A 49ers Free San Francisco?

"Santa Clara officials are expected to finalize a proposal with the San Francisco 49ers as early as today to build a 68,500-seat stadium in the South Bay city, in part with millions of dollars in public redevelopment money.

The deal lays out a funding plan to move the five-time Super Bowl champions into a new game-day home 37 miles from San Francisco in time for the 2014 NFL season, those involved in the negotiations said."

Santa Clara-49ers stadium deal could come today [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (20) | (email story)

May 15, 2009

As Go Condo Values So Goes The Land Upon Which They're Built

"BayRock Residential has slashed the price of its approved condo site on Sutter Street from $18 million six months ago to $8 million, an indication that central San Francisco land prices are catching up with the decline in housing prices the city has seen."

Value of entitled land plunges dramatically in S.F. [San Francisco Business Times]
1285 Sutter Street: The Proposed Design To Replace The Galaxy [SocketSite]
1285 Sutter: Fully Entitled, Retail Pre-Leased, And...On The Market [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

May 6, 2009

JustQuotes: Except In San Francisco Of Course...

"There was this unrealistic view that the crazy financing was limited to subprime when of course it was across the board," said Andrew Laperriere, Washington-based managing director at research firm International Strategy & Investment Group. "A lot of jumbo mortgages were nothing down with high debt-to-income ratios."

Rich Americans Default on Luxury Homes Like Subprime Victims [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (34) | (email story)

May 4, 2009

California Income Tax Revenue Drops 44% In April (Year-Over-Year)

"They just posted the [California Income Tax Tracker] results for April 30. For the full month of April, income tax receipts were $7.336B. For April 2008, the total was $12.995B. This is a 44% decline. The fiscal YTD is down 20%. I suspect that the April numbers reflect actual tax returns that show lower incomes and more refunds than April 2008. But it also must indicate that wages/incomes are dropping at an accelerating pace."

California Personal Income Tax Daily Revenue Tracker []

Posted by socketadmin at 4:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (32) | (email story)

April 30, 2009

JustQuotes: SocketSite Says...The Senate Gets One Right (So Far)

"The U.S. Senate rejected legislation letting U.S. bankruptcy judges cut mortgage terms to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, a victory for banks and credit unions that said the measure would lead to higher loan costs."

Senate Defeats Mortgage ‘Cram-Down’ as Democrats Balk [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (47) | (email story)

April 22, 2009

We Still Believe It Would Have Made A Most Excellent Museum

50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco

"San Francisco’s landmark 50 United Nations Plaza will receive [a] $121 million upgrade under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an infusion of cash that will allow the mothballed federal office building to be brought back to life, according to the Government (sic) Services Administration."

"Once the renovation is complete, the building will house the GSA, the agency in charge of federal government buildings. The San Francisco office of the GSA covers all of California, as well as Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. The GSA office is now at 450 Golden Gate Ave. About 600 GSA employees work in the San Francisco office, with another 600 in the field.

The decision to rehab the building and use it for federal office space came last year after the federal government decided to scrap plans to find a private developer to take over the property. Forest City had been looking at converting the office building into apartments."

S.F.’s vacant federal building gets $121M from stimulus for upgrade [Business Times]
JustQuotes: A Federal Falling Out For The Mid-Market Movement [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

April 21, 2009

San Francisco's Central Subway: Make That 2018 And An Extra $278M

San Francisco Subway Extension Map (Image Source:

From the Examiner with respect to San Francisco's 1.7 mile Central Subway project:

An ambitious plan to build a commuter subway between SoMa and Chinatown is going to cost more and will need an additional two years to complete.
Officials previously envisioned the Central Subway carrying passengers by 2016. But a newly released mandated federal study said the project will not be finished until December 2018 and that the total cost will likely be $1.58 billion, or $278 million more than The City had estimated.

December 2018? We'll plan on 2019 and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Subway completion faces delay [San Francisco Examiner]
JustQuotes: From Twenty To Seven In A Little Over One (Billion) [SocketSite]
San Francisco’s Central Subway A Step Closer To 2010 Start [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (71) | (email story)

April 20, 2009

Stimulating San Francisco To "Partner" On The Second Tower At ORH?

With respect to the Chronicle's report that Mike Kriozer isn't planning on paying at least five million dollars of fees to San Francisco related to the development of One Rincon Hill, a plugged-in reader reports:

[This] might be a leverage move by Kriozere in order to push the City to become a partial investor in the second tower [of One Rincon Hill] through the use of Federal stimulus money. He announced last month at an HOA meeting that his company was in talks with the City about this possibility and this could be his way a creating a quid pro quo (i.e., if you loan in with Fed money, I'll pay the development fees). Otherwise, I agree that it makes no sense because he's alienating the City and still needs to sell the second tower to try and squeeze out a profit.

Comments on the original thread.

One Rincon Hill Still 70% Sold (And Reneging On Development Fees?) [SocketSite]
It's "Official," One Rincon Hill's Tower Two Is Indefinitely On Hold [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | (email story)

April 16, 2009

Growing Commercial Concern (And Residential Parallels)

"Of particular concern for San Francisco is the fact that nearly 75 percent of the Class A - premier - office buildings downtown traded hands in the past four years, according to Tove Nilsen, director of market research at Colliers International. The flurry of activity propelled sales prices to record highs and drove the ratio of rental income to cost to all-time lows.

That might have been acceptable when rents were climbing. But the tumbling economy has emptied 1.1 million square feet of space since the beginning of last year and has pushed rents down by 24 percent, according to Colliers. Meanwhile, leases for about 6 million square feet will come up for renewal this year, as will those for more than 10 million square feet in 2010."

Commercial real estate market softens [SFGate]
Pro Forma Problems: Find Commercial, Replace With Residential? [SocketSite]
Co-opting A Reader’s Comment: Our Commercial Market Decline [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

April 13, 2009

JustQuotes: East Bay Agents And Stagers Beware

"An unusual wave of burglaries has hit unoccupied houses for sale in this affluent 1.8-square-mile bedroom community in the hills east of Oakland, and it is testing the forced cheerfulness of real estate agents who are already reeling. Last weekend, two staged houses were burglarized in nearby Orinda, a wealthy suburb, robbed in the morning hours before planned afternoon open houses."

Houses, Decked Out for a Sale, Are Burglarized [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

April 1, 2009

JustQuotes: FIFO Not LIFO For The San Francisco Economy?

"[San Francisco] continues to struggle through an economic recession that has gutted revenue from property taxes and other sources. [Mayor Gavin] Newsom said that property tax revenues, which had been climbing 11 percent every year, are now growing only about 1 percent year over year and economic forecasters said they don't anticipate that revenue will improve significantly any time soon. San Francisco was late to be hit by the recession, and may be late to recover from it, the report noted."

Report: S.F. deficit $750 million in 2011 [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

March 30, 2009

What Happens When The Bay Area Median Drops 59%?

San Francisco Chronicle Graphic: Who's Buying (Image Source:

"Underlying all the market changes is the prevalence of bank-owned foreclosures being unloaded at a discount. Two years ago, only 2.6 percent of all existing [Bay Area] homes that changed hands had been foreclosed on in the prior months. This year, more than half of the existing homes that sold in January and February were foreclosures."

Bargain home prices attract investors, novices [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

March 27, 2009

JustQuotes: Let's Be Careful Out There People

"Rescue scams are springing up across the U.S., says California Deputy Attorney General Angela Rosenau, exacerbating a housing crisis in its third year. The predators are persuading troubled borrowers they can intervene with their lenders and negotiate lower payments on their mortgages, law enforcement officials say. Instead, the players, often out-of-work real estate professionals who peddled subprime mortgages during the boom, pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance fees and disappear or bleed their victims by charging monthly payments."

Subprime Swindlers Reconnect to Homeowners in Foreclosure Scams [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

March 26, 2009

JustQuotes: HOPE(less)

Les Christie reports:

In the five months since it has been in effect, HOPE has helped exactly one homeowner to avoid foreclosure. This despite Congress having made $300 billion available to back these loans and estimating that the program would benefit as many as 400,000 families.
"As it stands now, we've only gotten 752 applications," said Federal Housing Authority spokesman Brian Sullivan. "And only insured one loan. Needless to say, the program isn't working terribly well."

Perhaps congress should stop playing dress-up in bankers' and economists' clothes.

HOPE prevents 1 foreclosure [CNNMoney]
Bam! Bam! Barney Frank’s Bailout Bill Survives As A Provision [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | (email story)

March 23, 2009

Three Cheers Quotes For Bank Of America’s New Jumbo Loan Program

"Bank of America, the country's largest mortgage lender, is rolling out a large program to finance loans between about $730,000 and $1.5 million, with fixed 30-year rates starting in the upper 5% range. The loans will be available through the bank's retail network and through its Countrywide Home Loans subsidiary."

"Bank of America quotes a minimum [down payment] of 20%....[and the new program] requires hefty liquid resources -- six months of principal, interest, property tax and insurance payments in reserve -- plus fully documented income, solid credit scores and a full appraisal."

UPDATE: A "tipster" beats us to the editorial punch (at least with respect to impact):

Countrywide/B of A has had that product since October of last year. Rates were in the 6% range.
I suspect that the debt to income hurdles are pretty high to get that rate (you'll note they don't mention it...), because it hasn't seemed to change the market that much in the 5 months they've had it.

As we’ve seen with other programs, we expect the Bank of America program to benefit qualified buyers though lower rates but not to have a significant impact on activity or demand.

New supply of 'jumbo' financing in pipeline [LA Times]
Conforming Loan Limits: A Placeholder For Discussion And Analysis [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (39) | (email story)

March 18, 2009

A Tighter Fannie...For Condo Mortgages

"[Fannie Mae] stopped guaranteeing mortgages in condo buildings where fewer than 70% of the units have been sold, up from 51%. In addition, the company won't back loans for sales in buildings where 15% of current owners are delinquent on association fees or where more than 10% of units are owned by a single-entity."

Fannie Tightens Its Conditions for Backing Condo Mortgages [WSJ]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (28) | (email story)

March 17, 2009

JustQuotes: The Martyrdom Of 1268 Lombard In the Making?

"The demolition of an 1861 building on Russian Hill is an example of what San Francisco officials say is a serious problem: Hundreds of owners are letting residential properties deteriorate or remain vacant, posing safety hazards, harming historic resources and spurring a drive for new legal powers to force corrections....Although the decay often occurs in plain sight, city officials have little power to intercede. Now [Debra] Walker is pushing to amend the city's anti-blight ordinance to require owners of houses vacant more than 90 days and commercial properties vacant more than one year to register them with the city, pay an annual fee, and keep the properties clean and secure."

S.F. cottage's demise spurs calls for new rules [SFGate]
1268 Lombard Losing Its Battle Against The Granite Wrecking Crew [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (40) | (email story)

March 13, 2009

Landlord Foreclosure Concerns: Not Just For Residential These Days

"With downtown commercial property values down 30 percent from their highs in the summer of 2007, highly leveraged owners who bought at the peak are up against huge debt payments that will be extremely difficult to refinance. That is creating a situation where tenants are avoiding some “upside down” buildings altogether and taking extra steps to protect themselves against landlord foreclosure."

Invasion of the ‘zombie buildings’ [San Francsico Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

March 11, 2009

The "Resourceful" Demolition Of A Historic Resource? (1268 Lombard)

1268 Lombard (Image Source:

From the Chronicle with regard to the pending demolition of 1268 Lombard:

Over preservationists' protests, city officials are poised to approve demolition of one of San Francisco's oldest buildings - a two-story, wood-frame Russian Hill cottage built in 1861. The city attorney's office, meanwhile, has opened an investigation into whether the owner willfully neglected the building at 1268 Lombard St. to skirt rules intended to protect historic structures.
"It looks to me like this was allowed to deteriorate so they don't have to deal with routine rules, so they [get] to have an emergency demolition and tear down the building and have a vacant lot, which in San Francisco is the most valuable thing you can have," [Building Inspection Commission member Debra Walker said].

Valuable as long as one can secure permits to build. And in this case, we’d hate to be the ones applying.

UPDATE: The recent ownership trail from a plugged-in reader:

Property was recently owned by MJSF Investments, LLC and was transferred to 1268 Lombard Street, LLC. MJ is registered to Marge Vincent at 2501 Mission Street, a Vanguard Properties office. Current entity, 1268, is registered to James Nunemacher at 1841 Market Street.

James Nunemacher is the CEO Vanguard Properties.

S.F. cottage built in 1861 may be razed [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (57) | (email story)

March 9, 2009

The Good News: Contractors Are Actually Calling Their Clients Back...

"About 25 percent of the San Francisco region's approximately 16,000 building trades workers are out of work, compared with nearly full employment last year, said Michael Theriault, secretary and treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council." (S.F. construction slows to a crawl)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (21) | (email story)

March 5, 2009

JustQuotes: Now About That Ferrari Index For San Francisco...

“Conventional wisdom has it that premium manufacturers do better in a downturn because people with more money can weather the storm,” said Michael Tyndall, an automotive specialist with Nomura in London. “This time it’s different.”

UPDATE: A plugged-in reader reports:

I saw a report from BMW North America that shows 7-series sales at 23 cars for Jan 09 versus 710 for Jan 08 (a 97% decline). The Z4 sold 45 in Jan 09 v 363 in Jan 08. Overall, BMW was off "only" 21% for Jan 09 v Jan 08 - however, the overall Feb sales are reported down by 32%.

Then again, who drives a BMW in San Francisco...

Rolls-Royce, Ferrari Suffer as Slump Reaches New Rich [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (31) | (email story)

March 4, 2009

JustQuotes: Profiting From (Their Own) Poor Underwriting Skills

"Stanford L. Kurland, Countrywide’s former president, and his team have been buying up delinquent home mortgages that the government took over from other failed banks, sometimes for pennies on the dollar. They get a piece of what they can collect."

Ex-Leaders of Countrywide Profit From Bad Loans [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

March 3, 2009

Breaking Free Of The "San Francisco" Design Mold Mould

Owen Kennerly Designed 1020 Pine Street (Photo Credit: Tim Griffith via

"San Francisco's architecture in the past has been defined by bay windows and Victorian woodwork. These days, the best work shares an attention to detail and an ability to triumph over the limits imposed by the real-world constraints of budget and bureaucracy."

New faces start a welcome trend [SFGate]
1018-1020 Pine Street: Eight Contemporary Condos Apartments [SocketSite]
JustQuotes: What's/Who’s To Blame For “Bad” Building Design In SF? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (32) | (email story)

March 2, 2009

Unplanned Obsolescence For Transbay High-Speed Station Design?

California high-speed train in the new Transbay Terminal (Image Source: NC3D)

"San Francisco's planned high-speed rail station in the new Transbay Terminal would be obsolete within two decades, state transportation officials warn, forcing them to rethink the design."

UPDATE: The part of the story that didn't get picked up by the Chronicle according to a plugged-in reader:

The consultants hired from SNCF said two years ago that the box needed eight HSR tracks and at least six (preferably eight) tracks for Caltrain, in order to have smooth operations and minimal potential delays. The CAHSRA purposely ignored them until now because bringing up a design flaw like that would have threatened winning the votes and getting funding in place. All politics, and not necessarily anything wrong with it unless they don't fix the design now.

Perhaps our headline should have read "planned"…

Unbuilt Transbay station could soon be obsolete [SFGate]
While San Francisco Might Get High-Speed Rail, Will The Transbay? [SocketSite]
Transbay Terminal Moves Forward, But Payments And Terms Change [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (35) | (email story)

February 26, 2009

The Bay Area "Jumbo Conforming" Foreclosure Bailout Amendment

"I've drafted an amendment [to President Obama's housing rescue plan] so that rather than being limited to whether the loan was conforming at time of origination, it will be based on (whether it's conforming at) the time of (modification), which will take the limit up to $729,750 in high-cost areas. This should make more people in the Bay Area eligible."

Speier plan would aid refinancing in Bay Area [SFGate]
The Bailouts Are Coming But Is The Bay Area Dying On The Vine? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (59) | (email story)

February 19, 2009

Details And Limits On The Fed's Foreclosure Plan Begin To Emerge

"Only about 50 percent to 60 percent of securitized prime jumbo or Alt-A loans meet the loan-modification standards requiring borrowers to live in mortgaged properties and owe no more than Fannie and Freddie’s loan limits, according to a report yesterday by Bank of America strategists including Akiva Dickstein and Vipul Jain. The refinancing plan will be limited by a standard preventing homeowners from qualifying if they owe more than 105 percent of their homes’ value, they said."

“If anything, the announcement of the new program created more questions than it answered,” the New York-based Barclays analysts led by Ajay Rajadhyaksha wrote in a report today. “This suggests to us the details for the plan are still being worked out.”

UPDATE: Details to date: Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan Fact Sheet (pdf).

Mortgage Plan Effect May Be Limited, Analysts Say [Bloomberg]
The Bailouts Are Coming But Is The Bay Area Dying On The Vine? [SocketSite]
Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan: Fact Sheet (pdf) []

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | (email story)

February 17, 2009

JustQuotes: Bailing On The Substation To Bailout Yoshi's Et Alli

1198 Fillmore (Image Source:

"The cornerstone nightclub of the revitalized Fillmore jazz district is about to get a $1.5 million Redevelopment Agency bailout loan — but it comes at the cost of fixing a long-abandoned building in the neighborhood.

Officials are close to taking $3.3 million intended for revamping the abandoned Muni substation at Fillmore and Turk streets and instead offering the money as loans to struggling businesses, helping pay for restaurant consultants and funding an operating shortfall at a parking garage."

"The Redevelopment Agency will vote today to transfer the deed for the Muni substation, along with valuable certificates of redevelopment, back to The City. As of now, city officials have no plans for the aging property"

Jazz district loan comes at cost [San Francisco Examiner]
Tough Times For The Fledgling Fillmore Jazz District's Rebirth [SocketSite]
The (Re)Development And Design Of 1198 Fillmore And 1345 Turk [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

February 13, 2009

If Nothing Else It Should Continue To Distort Those Foreclosure Stats

"Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley agreed to suspend foreclosures until next month and signaled a readiness to help the Obama administration craft a housing plan to modify mortgages for troubled borrowers."

Citigroup, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley Halt Foreclosures [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

February 12, 2009

$15,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Cut, Conforming Loan Limits Restored

“A proposal to provide a $15,000 tax credit to homebuyers was stripped from a $789 billion economic stimulus package that appears headed for a vote Friday, but a restoration of higher loan limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA loan guarantee programs appears to have made the cut.”

“According to a summary of the compromise bill released by lawmakers Thursday, the tax credit will still be available only to first-time homebuyers -- those who haven't owned a principal residence in the last three years. But they won't have to pay it back, as is currently the case, and the credit will be increased to $8,000 and be available through the end of November.”

“[NAR President Charles McMillan] said the bill will also reinstate the $729,750 loan limit in high-cost areas for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA loan guarantee programs that was in place throughout much of 2008…”

$15,000 homebuyer credit cut in compromise [Inman]
Proposed $15,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Clears The U.S. Senate [SocketSite]
The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009: Summary (pdf) []
Jumbo-Conforming Loans Going, Going, And Almost Gone [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

February 10, 2009

JustQuotes: A San Francisco Reader Takes A Cue From The Banks

"Well I've taken a lesson from the banks and started hording my cash. I had paid off $10k on my HELOC over the two years I've had my condo but last week I took it back. Now the only thing I have at risk in my place is the 5% down…"

JPMorgan Chase’s Jumbo Mortgage Performance And Default Forecast [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (50) | (email story)

February 2, 2009

Condo Conversion For A Fee? Yes Please (But Not Just Once)

"Building owners can spend years vying for one of 200 condo-conversion slots awarded annually via a lottery. But this year San Francisco is considering letting people skip the line, offering a one-time chance to the hundreds of folks on the lottery list to go condo now - for an extra fee. The goal is to generate more revenue for the cash-strapped city and to create building-industry jobs, because condo conversions generally require some construction work to bring buildings up to code."

Proposal: Pay fee, skip condo-conversion line [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (84) | (email story)

January 30, 2009

Game, Set, Match To The San Francisco Tennis Club (645 5th)

San Francisco Tennis Club (Image Source: Live Search Maps)

"Lena Grotz, a club member who has been active with Save Our San Francisco Tennis Club, said the Western Athletic Club is taking over the facility at 645 5th St. and would not only preserve the tennis club, but also expand it. Four of the outdoor, rooftop courts will be covered, and new workout facilities will be built."

Western Athletic rescues the S.F. Tennis Club [San Francisco Business Times]
First Game Pulte (But Many Sets To Go) [SocketSite]
Seven Hundred Fewer Condos In The San Francisco Pipeline [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

Eviction Moratorium Extended And Freddie Becomes A Landlord

"Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance companies under federal control, are extending by one month a freeze on evictions for homeowners in foreclosure as delinquencies soar in a slumping economy.

Freddie, the second-largest source of U.S. home loan money, said it will now allow renters in homes the company has repossessed to remain using monthly leases at market rates. Homeowners who have lost their houses to foreclosure can also rent the properties back from the company at market rates, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie said today in a statement."

Freddie, Fannie Extend Eviction Freeze Until March [Bloomberg]
Actual San Francisco Foreclosures Down 42% QOQ (Up 70% YOY) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

January 29, 2009

JustQuotes: Damn Those Bad News Bloomberg “Bears”

“Prospects for an economic recovery this year dimmed after reports today showed new-home sales collapsed, durable-goods orders slumped and a record number of Americans collected unemployment benefits.” Huh.

U.S. Economy: Sales of New Homes, Durable Goods Orders Tumble [Bloomberg]
SocketSite’s Residential Real Estate Outlook For 2009 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (26) | (email story)

January 28, 2009

JustQuotes: A First (And Second Zero) For The Fed, Not SocketSite

"The Federal Reserve left the benchmark interest rate as low as zero, said it’s prepared to purchase Treasury securities to resuscitate lending and warned inflation may recede too quickly."

“Deflation is an increased worry,” said William Ford, a former Atlanta Fed chief who’s now at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. “They have switched from worrying about inflation to being focused on deflation. It is the first time they have talked about that in a straightforward way.”

Fed Keeps Rate Near Zero, Prepared to Buy Treasuries [Bloomberg]
Did Somebody Say Deflation? [SocketSite]
Promoted From Comment To Post: Satchel Does Deflation [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (43) | (email story)

January 26, 2009

JustQuotes: Remember That "Positive" Sales Surprise? Surprise!

"Fannie Mae, the largest source of home-loan money in the U.S., said it will need to tap as much as $16 billion in emergency funds from the U.S. Treasury Department to stay afloat as deterioration in the housing market persists.

Fannie’s planned request, announced today, follows Freddie Mac, which said Jan. 23 that it will need as much as $35 billion more in federal aid. Unprecedented mortgage losses drove the net worth of both companies below zero last quarter, they said in separate securities filings."

Fannie to Tap U.S. for as Much as $16 Billion in Aid [Bloomberg]
U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise on Record Price Slump [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

January 23, 2009

JustQuotes: Did We Say Rumor? (And Plugged-In Traffic Picks Up)

“[Millennium Partners Managing Director Richard Baumert] said traffic through the sales office has picked up since Sunday when the real estate web site Socketsite reported the rumor that price reductions were imminent.”

Condo price cuts reach top tier at Millennium [San Francisco Business Times]
The SocketSite Scoop: Millennium Cuts Prices 15% Across The Board [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

January 20, 2009

JustQuotes: While Treasury Rates Drop, Risk Premiums Rose

"Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.96 percent last week, according to McLean, Virginia-based mortgage finance company Freddie Mac, or 2.64 percentage points more than 10-year Treasuries. Before the credit markets began to seize up in the second half of 2007, the difference averaged about 1.78 percentage points since the start of the decade."

Treasury Yields Flattened as Fed Fights to Cut Mortgage Rates [Bloomberg]
That TED Sure Is A Funny Fellow (And Worth Keeping An Eye On) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (51) | (email story)

January 15, 2009

Candlestick Development Public Airing (And Environmental Challenge)

"A plan for turning San Francisco's Candlestick Point and the Hunters Point Shipyard into a neighborhood and business district twice the size of Treasure Island - one that could include a new 49ers stadium - fails to focus enough on the area's natural ecology, according to a report due today from environmental groups.

The 133-page report by ARC Ecology and Bionic, both environmental and planning organizations, suggests that the city and Lennar Corp. have tried to force their development ideas onto an area that includes important wildlife habitat instead of building a project that prioritizes and protects nature."

"The city's complete plan is scheduled to get a public airing before two public advisory groups tonight [from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1800 Oakdale Ave]. The city will seek the groups' endorsement of the plan in the next couple of weeks, a significant step toward completing the massive development that 61 percent of city voters endorsed in June."

City's Candlestick plan under fire [SFGate]
JustQuotes: The Redevelopment Of Hunters/Candlestick Point [SocketSite]
Results: Proposition 98 Fails/99 Passes, Measure F Fails/G Passes [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

January 13, 2009

That TED Sure Is A Funny Fellow (And Worth Keeping An Eye On)

"The difference between the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that banks say they charge each other for three-month loans in dollars and the yield on the three-month Treasury bill, fell 12 basis points to 98 basis points today. The so-called TED spread last closed below 100 basis points Aug. 15. Dollar Libor dropped to 1.09 percent today, the lowest level since June 2003."

"The three-month dollar Libor is still 84 basis points above the Federal Reserve’s target, compared with an average of 12 basis points in the year before the crisis began. The spread was 332 basis points on Oct. 10, less than a month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc."

TED Spread Narrows to Least in Five Months as Credit Eases [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

January 7, 2009

Bay Area Notices Of Default: Another Source, The Same Story

"Notices of defaults (the first step in the foreclosure process) and notices of trustee sales (which often but don't always lead to actual foreclosures) reached 525,356 in 15 California counties last year, reported [Default Research Inc]. In the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and Solano, the annual total climbed 180 percent to 85,381."

Report says foreclosures, defaults up in 2008 [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

January 5, 2009

All Your Home Loans Are Belong To Us (To Boost Liquidity)

"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York started buying mortgage-backed securities today as part of a $500 billion program to support the U.S. housing market."

New York Fed Begins Purchases of Agency Mortgage Debt [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

December 24, 2008

JustQuotes: Jumbo Premiums For Jumbo Loans

"The average 30-year fixed jumbo loan rate was 7.32 percent on Dec. 22, compared with 5.38 percent for a conforming loan, according to BanxQuote of White Plains, New York.

The difference between them has averaged 2.13 percentage points in December, 10 times the average spread from 2000 to 2006 and above last month’s 1.95 percentage points that was the highest on record."

Jumbo Mortgage Shoppers Get Little Relief From Fed Rate Cuts [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (20) | (email story)

December 19, 2008

San Francisco Planning Commission Green Lights Schlage Demo

Visitacion Valley Redevelopment: Urban Concept Plan

"The City’s old Schlage Lock factory, closed in 1999 and left derelict since then, will finally meet the proverbial wrecking ball, perhaps as soon as February, according to city officials.

The Planning Commission on Thursday approved a proposal to transform the abandoned site and the neighborhood around it into a 46-acre transit village. The plan consists of cleaning up rife contamination from 70 years of lock manufacturing and building hundreds of new homes, parks, businesses and even a grocery store."

Schlage Lock factory may finally meet wrecking balls [SFExaminer]
Unlocking The Potential Of Visitacion Valley: The Former Schlage Site [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

December 18, 2008

JustQuotes: Just Because It's Foreclosed Upon Is Not Just Cause

"Tenants in rent-controlled buildings in San Francisco are protected by the need for a 'just cause' for eviction," said Darlene Wolf, executive director of the rent board. "And foreclosure is not just cause."

Renters' eviction notices often illegal in S.F. [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

December 11, 2008

JustQuotes: Let's See, Ten Percent Versus No Rent Control...

"Consultants presenting information at [a city-sponsored] workshop said that under state law, landlords are allowed to pass on 10 percent of a tenant's rent in perpetuity to pay for the cost of a retrofit [which typically runs around $100,000], even if they are in a rent-controlled unit - of which the city has 180,000.

Conversely, if a rent-controlled building destroyed in an earthquake is replaced, its units are no longer subject to rent control."

S.F. 'soft-story' buildings at risk in quake [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

December 10, 2008

Assuming They Can And Will Pay, Ignoring The Collateral If They Don't

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance companies seized by the U.S. government, are considering waiving a requirement for new appraisals on refinanced loans, their regulator said."

Fannie, Freddie May Waive Appraisals for Mortgage Refinancings [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (46) | (email story)

December 8, 2008

JustQuotes: Why Simply Reducing Rates Won't Cure The Market's Ills

"Almost 53 percent of borrowers whose loans were modified in the first quarter of this year re-defaulted by being more than 30 days overdue..."

Majority of Modified Loans Fail Again, Regulator Says [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (46) | (email story)

December 4, 2008

Bernanke Goes From Bad To Worse And Wants Your Dollars To Follow

"Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged using more taxpayer funds for new efforts to prevent home foreclosures, saying the private sector is incapable of coping with the crisis on its own.

The Fed chief outlined four possible options, including buying delinquent mortgages and providing bigger incentives for refinancing loans."

Bernanke Says U.S. Must Step Up Foreclosure Efforts [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Another "Immune" Market Has Caught A Nasty Cold

"“With all this oil money in the region, I thought the Dubai property market would be secure from the global problems,” the 30-year-old Bentley owner said, reached on his mobile phone on the beach."

Dubai Speculators Quit as Lending Drought Bursts Desert Bubble [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

December 3, 2008

JustQuotes: And Housing? Uhh...No.

“What we’ve seen since mid to late September is that business activity has shut down, along with the consumer,” Stephen Gallagher, chief economist at Societe Generale in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “There is no reason for an immediate turnaround; financial markets have not stabilized; consumers have not stabilized.”

U.S. Economy: Service Companies Shrink at Record Pace [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (20) | (email story)

December 2, 2008

JustQuotes: And We'll Add Agents And Investors

"This is San Francisco's newest frontier: the east edge of Mission Bay, a redevelopment district that has advanced in fits and starts for 20 years. The gap-toothed topography doesn't signal failure. Rather, it demonstrates how economic cycles move at their own pace, no matter what planners or politicians might want."

Yes. Mission Bay is still a work in progress. [SFGate]
An Overview Of Mission Bay [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

December 1, 2008

JustQuotes: A Short Sale Narrative That Sounds Awfully Familiar

“Here's the common narrative: A home goes on the market as a short sale - priced at less than is owed on the mortgage, so the lender must approve any sale. The bank either declines offers as too low or takes months to decide, which drives away potential buyers.”

Be persistent during ordeal of short sale [SFGate]
Did We Mention How Much That Third Party Matters? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

November 25, 2008

It's Like The Fed (And Taxpayers) Just Bought You A Couple Of Points

"U.S. mortgage rates fell more than three-quarters of a percentage point today after the Federal Reserve said it will buy as much as $600 billion of debt."

U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall on $600 Billion Fed Plan [Bloomberg]
As Lenders (And Consumers) Hoard, The Fed Commits Another $800B [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

November 21, 2008

JustQuotes: As Come Commercial Realities, Will Go Residential?

"Next year, we're going to have the sublease swap meet of the century," said David Klein, a partner with San Francisco brokerage firm NAI BT Commercial. "Sublessors competing for the same tenant (will) all say, 'I can do the deal cheaper than you,' and the landlords will be playing catch-up. It's the harsh reality of a recession."

WaMu to shut Pleasanton center, cut 1,600 staff [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

November 18, 2008

Once Again, It's Just Getting Starting (And It's Going To Last Longer)

"From a Bay Area view, the global slowdown threatens tech exports and tourism, which have so far cushioned San Francisco and the Silicon Valley from the housing bust that has already clobbered the East Bay..."

Economists say recession is here, and will last [SFGate]
The Google Chart Of The Day (And A Bit More Foreshadowing) [SocketSite]
From Underwater To Unemployed (And Sorry, But It’s Just Starting) [SocketSite]
And Speaking Of Being Plugged-In To Bay Area Employment Trends… [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

Inside Air Quality: Demanding Developers Take The Responsibility

"A proposal [sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano] would force developers of multiunit buildings along city streets with the heaviest clouds of pollution to make sure the air inside those facilities is clean, under legislation scheduled for a vote today by the Board of Supervisors."

"The worst air quality exists around U.S. Highway 101 and interstates 280 and 80. Sections of The City’s busiest corridors also exceed the [0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of roadway-specific particulate matter] threshold, including streets in downtown, stretches of Geary Boulevard and California Street, Lincoln Way and 19th Avenue."

Filthy air clogs lungs, forces action [San Francisco Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

November 17, 2008

Peskin (Et Alia?) Joins The Fisher Contemporary Museum Fray

Proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP)

"On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a resolution making it city policy to oppose the [Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP)]. The legislation, introduced by board President Aaron Peskin, says the project would ruin the historic integrity of the Presidio and violate demolition restrictions.

The City has no jurisdiction on Presidio decision-making, but the resolution would indicate its feelings on the proposal and may apply enough pressure to ensure the Presidio Trust does not approve it."

S.F. Board of Supervisors intrudes on Presidio fight [San Francisco Examiner]
JustQuotes: Presidio Plans, Proposals, And Preservationist Protests [SocketSite]
The Presidio Was Packed With Opposition, But Does It Even Matter? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (24) | (email story)

November 12, 2008

The Market Might Not Like It, But We Do: Paulson Changes Rescue Plan

"U.S. Secretary Henry Paulson plans to use the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue program to help relieve pressures on consumer credit, scrapping an effort to buy devalued mortgage assets....Buying 'illiquid' mortgage-related assets -- the reason the Troubled Asset Relief Program was established a month ago -- is no longer being considered, he said."

Paulson Shifts Focus of Rescue to Consumer Lending [Bloomberg]
$700 Billion Bailout Bill Round Two: One Down, One To Go [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

While San Francisco Might Get High-Speed Rail, Will The Transbay?

Proposed Transbay Terminal Rail Extension

While Proposition 1A passed last week giving San Francisco hope of realizing a high-speed rail line, the hope that rail lines will be extended the 1.4 miles from the current Caltrain station at Fourth and King to the new Transbay Transit Center to rise at First and Mission might have taken a hit.

“We do not need First and Mission. I am satisfied with Fourth and Townsend,” said Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority. “We are not going to pay an extra billion-plus dollars to take the high-speed rail an extra 1.4 miles.”
The extension will have to be resolved — and funded — by The City and Caltrain, he said.

In related news, the realization of high-speed rail could help speed the electrification of Caltrain which would greatly benefit the residents of Mission Bay (think diesel noise and pollution).

Transbay Transit Center going off track [San Francisco Examiner]
Transbay Terminal Moves Forward, But Payments And Terms Change [SocketSite]
Caltrain banking on high-speed rail [San Francisco Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (37) | (email story)

November 11, 2008

Fannie, Freddie and Citigroup To Join The Payment Cutting Parade

"Mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Citigroup Inc. plan to cut home-loan payments for hundreds of thousands of borrowers facing foreclosures, following similar moves by the nation's biggest banks.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will reduce principal or interest rates on some loans and extend the terms of others, people briefed on the matter said. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which seized control of Fannie and Freddie in September, scheduled a press conference at 2 p.m. in Washington to announce the plan."

Citi, Fannie, Freddie to Halt Some Foreclosures [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: Proposing To Change The Terms To Protect The Principal [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (62) | (email story)

November 7, 2008

Another Metreon Makeover: Opening Up And Out To Bring People In

"The [Metreon] will see significant changes, including a new main entrance on Fourth Street. The building will also face outward more; restaurants along Fourth Street will have entrances onto the street, and the building will better incorporate the park at its back. With new glass façades on the first two floors, the Metreon will feel much more transparent."

Metreon’s new lease on life: Culture, food [Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | (email story)

October 24, 2008

The 690 Stanyan Project Update: Conditional Use Approved 6-0

690 Stanyan Project: Revised Design

"Last night, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to approve the Conditional Use for the 690 Stanyan project, the mixed-use proposal with Whole Foods as the anchor tenant."

690 Stanyan Project: Revised Design

Comments: The 690 Stanyan Project: Public Venting Vetting Tomorrow [SocketSite]
The 690 Stanyan Project: Overview And EIR Hearing Tomorrow (2/28) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (25) | (email story)

535 Mission Street: From Office To Residential To Office To Suspended

535 Mission Street: Rendering (Image Source: Simon & Associates)

"With the markets in turmoil and rents falling, Beacon Capital Partners has suspended construction on its 27-story office tower at 535 Mission St., the only speculative downtown highrise slated to be built over the next few years.

The $100 million HOK-designed tower was put on hold earlier this month in response to worsening market conditions. A spokesman for the Department of Building Inspection said the building permits had not been withdrawn yet. The excavation on the project was complete and contractor Swinerton had completed the pile driving."

Construction work suspended at new downtown office tower [Business Times]
Approved For Residential, But Building Commercial (535 Mission) [SocketSite]
535 Mission Update: Parking Lot Closed And About To Break Ground? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (30) | (email story)

October 17, 2008

JustQuotes: Choices, Choices, Choices For SF Full Floor Commercial

"A new study by Jones Lang LaSalle broker Shamm Kelly and Research Director Ryan Carmichael found that the number of Class A full floors available for direct lease in [San Francisco's] central business district jumped from 170 in June to 218 in early October. If you add floors available to sublease, that number jumps to 264 — some 4.3 million square feet of space."

Class A full floors pile up in central business district [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

October 15, 2008

An Agent's Take On Yesterday’s Brokers Tour Traffic In San Francisco

“It was dead out there today…the only places that had a lot of traffic were those that offered free food.”

UPDATE: And from a reader:

Matches my experience last Sunday. First time I've been around open houses for six months and all bar one condo were simply dead. On prior open house tours this year I've almost always remarked at my surprise as to how much foot traffic there's been.

Keep in mind that it was fleet week weekend, and the markets on Friday didn’t exactly leave people feeling flush with cash (cue "on topic" foreshadowing). But as any decent agent will tell you, it’s the people out touring the open houses on the "rainy days" that are more likely to act.

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

October 6, 2008

Did Somebody Say Alt-A? (Yes) And Crackup As In Like A Clown? (No)

"The Federal Housing Administration has grown so large that by the end of the year it will guarantee mortgages for three in 10 U.S. borrowers, many of whom have bad credit or loans that required no verification of income."

"FHA has completely replaced subprime and Alt-A," said [David] Olson, former director of market research at Freddie Mac, the second-biggest mortgage buyer, who now runs Wholesale Access Mortgage Research & Consulting Inc. in Columbia, Maryland. "I hope it's not setting them up for another crackup. There have been so many crackups."

FHA Takes on Subprime, Alt-A Loans Shunned by Private Lenders [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

October 3, 2008

JustQuotes: Bad Market, Then Back To Big Projects Like Pier 70

Pier 70: Area

"TMG is one of a handful of San Francisco and national firms taking a serious look at Pier 70, a 64-acre waterfront redevelopment site, with 40 historic structures, that could accommodate 2.5 million square feet of new construction. Other developers taking a run at it include Catellus, Wilson Meany Sullivan, Build Inc. and Pacific Waterfront Partners."

Pier 70: Aerial

"The property, owned by the Port of San Francisco, has long enticed developers with its potential, but has always proved too costly and risky to take on. Current cost estimates come in at $600 million just to complete basic core and shell renovation of the 17 most significant historic structures, do the environmental clean-up and build the open space and infrastructure improvements that would be required of any developer...."

Pier 70: Building

"The port is proposing that $400 million of the funding come from a combination of tax increment financing and historic preservation tax credits. Roughly $76 million could come from Proposition D, a measure on this November’s ballot that would allow a percentage of the new taxes generated in the Pier 70 area to pay off bonds; $10 million could come from a recent parks bond; and $45 million could come from the sale of Lot 337, another prime property the port is attempting to develop."

Developers line up to take on Pier 70 [San Francisco Business Times]
Port of San Francisco: Pier 70 []
Pier 70, San Francisco []
Joint Giants/Kenwood Proposal For SWL 337 Into Extra Innings [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

September 18, 2008

Goodbuy (sic) Supermarkets, Specialty Retailers Are In The House(s)

"[S]upermarket sites are some of the last large real estate lots in the city. Eager developers are making such generous offers that store owners would be crazy to turn them down. No wonder supermarkets are an endangered species in the city."

Supermarkets an endangered species in S.F. [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

September 17, 2008

Mortgage Rates Dip, Applications Climb, And "Paper Losses" Count

"Last week, applications by homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages spiked 88 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinances accounted for nearly 52 percent of all application activity, up from 36 percent the previous week...purchase applications also edged up last week by 5 percent.

But while the number of applications soared last week, the approval rates will likely be low because appraisals for many homes are coming in close to or below the amount of the existing mortgages."

Applications to refinance home mortgages surge [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

JustQuotes: ARM Holders Take Note, Libor Lifts Off

"The overnight Libor rate in U.S. dollars soared 3.33 percentage points to 6.44 percent today, its biggest jump in at least seven years....The one-week rate rose by more than a percentage point, to 3.88 percent from 2.49 percent on Monday, and the one-month rate increased to 2.75 percent from 2.5 percent."

U.S. Mortgage Rates May Wreak Havoc After Libor Gain [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

September 16, 2008

JustQuotes: Defining A Meal (And The Neighborhood) In North Beach

"It sounds absurd, but the definition of a meal - and whether two or three appetizers count as one - is at the core of a 318-page proposal by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. The idea isn't to argue the semantics of food, but to find a way to keep North Beach from being overrun by new bars and restaurants. The complex legislation would allow a restaurant or bar to replace one that's closed. But it would prevent new ones from moving into now-empty storefronts."

North Beach planning effort hinges on a meal [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

A Bit Of Obvious In The Morning (A.K.A. Why The U.S. Market Matters)

"[The] modern economy that we live and operate in is incredibly interconnected, and a severe downturn in the U.S. economy will undoubtedly have an impact on San Francisco," said [Michael Cohen, the city's economic director].

Companies' fall may mean layoffs in Financial District [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (56) | (email story)

September 15, 2008

JustQuotes: The Kind Of Schadenfreude We Support

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's regulator is blocking as much as $24 million in "golden parachute" severance payments to the companies ousted chief executive officers."

Fannie, Freddie Regulator Blocks `Golden Parachutes' for CEOs [Bloomberg]
It’s The End Of The GSE’s As You Know Them (Do You Feel Fine?) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

September 12, 2008

JustQuotes: Build Inc. Aims To Rebuild DMV And Add Housing/Retail

1377 Fell

"A state agency has selected San Francisco’s Build Inc. to redevelop the Department of Motor Vehicles field office in the Panhandle, a 2.5-acre parcel that could include a mixed-use project with housing and retail, as well as a new DMV regional office.

Under the scenario being hammered out, Build Inc. would enter into a long-term ground lease for the site at 1377 Fell St., currently home to the dilapidated 48-year-old DMV office and an expansive surface parking lot. The developer would construct a new DMV office, which would then be leased back by the state, as well as an apartment and retail project that would fill in one of the largest holes in the fabric of the dense neighborhood by University of San Francisco and bounded by the Western Addition and the Haight."

Developer drives away with big S.F. DMV site [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (45) | (email story)

September 11, 2008

JusteQuotes: Delaying The Inevitable For Another 90 Days?

"U.S. Senate Banking Committee members urged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies placed under federal control this week, to freeze foreclosures on loans in their portfolios for at least 90 days."

Senators Ask Fannie, Freddie to Freeze Foreclosures [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

September 5, 2008

JustQuotes: Foreigners Buoying Sales (Retail Not Real Estate)

"San Francisco’s job market is weakening, being buoyed by ongoing strength in the tourism industry, according to The City’s monthly economic barometer."

"The monthly economic report also states that The City’s retail sector may be “cooling after several years of rapid growth.” The report points to a “significantly lower” number of cars parking at garages around Union Square compared to last year without a commensurate increase in transit ridership."

San Francisco's job market losing steam [Examiner]
Recap: What’s The Scoop On Foreign Investment In San Francisco? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | (email story)

August 21, 2008

Yesterday's Comment Of The Day: An All Too Common Misconception

"I saw a lot of (incorrect) comments above regarding how much tax "savings" there are in the case outlined by CAR: $132K income, $690K house, $4420 monthly payment, 5.69% rate, 10% down. So I decided to do a quick scenario analysis.

I assumed a married couple (joint filer), with no dependents. At $132K income, the tax savings are $1,030 per month. That's it. Once again, the idea that one can deflate a house payment by a marginal tax rate is wrong, wrong, wrong. Especially wrong at the relatively low income level of $132K (relative to $46K of deductible interest and prop tax)."

San Francisco Affordability: Is C.A.R.'s New Reality Already Old? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

August 18, 2008

JustQuotes: Potential For Below-Market-Rate Housing Priority

"Descendants of people displaced during the redevelopment of San Francisco's Western Addition and Hunters Point decades ago would be given first priority for the city's affordable housing under a measure pending before city leaders.

The proposal, which is scheduled for a vote by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors on Sept. 9, would give housing reparations citywide to people forced out of the Fillmore area in the 1950s and 1960s and Hunters Point in the 1970s, as well as their children and grandchildren. They would be put at the top of the city's lottery system that awards much-coveted affordable housing units."

Some evicted in 'renewal' may get housing help [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Sue Hestor Speaks Bluntly, But Developers "Cheated?"

"Live-work owners have been whining that their neighborhoods lack parks, when it was the developers who built their homes that cheated the city." (No work in many S.F. live-work lofts; fees eyed)

Posted by socketadmin at 1:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

August 15, 2008

San Francisco Landlord Foreclosures: Tenant PSA And Growing Trend

"State and local laws prohibit landlords from evicting tenants or shutting off utilities [due to a foreclosure], but not all renters are aware of the rules, and not all of the entities that take control of properties try to learn them."

"The issue was virtually unheard of a year ago. The San Francisco Tenants Union had to circulate a memo to its counselors earlier this year because few had ever encountered it before.

The exact number of tenants dealing with the aftermath of a landlord foreclosure is difficult to ascertain. Three tenants groups contacted by The Chronicle reported around 130 cases this year, but most counselors believe that many more tenants aren't contacting the organizations. What is known is that lenders foreclosed on 492 homes in San Francisco during the last year and a half, according to DataQuick Information Systems."

Foreclosure's hidden victims [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (30) | (email story)

August 14, 2008

JustQuotes: It's Time To Make Some Property Tax Lemonade

"San Francisco homeowners are flooding City Hall with so many requests to reduce their property values that the tax assessor said today his office may not be able to meet the demand. So far, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting's office has received about 1,000 requests for informal reevaluations - three times the number filed last year. Friday is the deadline to request an informal property reevaluation from the assessor."

"Formal requests for reassessment must be filed by Sept. 15 and Ting said anyone who does not hear back from his office - or does not agree with their assessment - should file by that date."

S.F. assessor overwhelmed with reevalution requests [SFGate]
Assessing The Potential Upside Of A Down Market: Property Tax Basis [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

August 13, 2008

It's A Good Thing It's Simply A Subprime (And District 10) Problem...

"Yields on mortgage securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae rose this week to about their highest relative to Treasuries since March amid concern that defaults are spreading to prime and Alt-A mortgages from subprime loans.

Fannie's current-coupon 30-year fixed-rate bonds currently yield 6.07 percent, 213 basis points more than 10-year Treasuries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's 25 basis points from the 22-year high of 238 reached March 6, a week before the Federal Reserve helped bail out Bear Stearns Cos.

The worst housing slump since the Great Depression has blotted out much of the wealth Americans accumulated in their homes, hurting their ability to pay bills and boosting spreads on auto-loan and credit-card backed bonds as well as mortgage securities. Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage-finance company, last week slashed its dividend 86 percent after posting a worse-than-expected loss and said it will stop buying and guaranteeing Alt-A loans."

[Editor's Note: And no, this shouldn't catch any plugged-in people by surprise.]

Agency Mortgage Bond Yield Spreads Widen as Loan Losses Expand [Bloomberg]
Subprime And Alt-A Statistics By County: The Feds Mortgage Map [SocketSite]
Fannie Follows Freddie (And Makes It Easy For The Copywriters) [SocketSite]
Fannie Mae, Battling Losses, to End Alt-A Mortgages [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: Is The Subprime Sickness Spreading? [SocketSite 7/07]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (26) | (email story)

August 12, 2008

Too Early To Be The Quote Of The Week, But Another Neighbor Speaks

"The sentiment expressed by the neighbor is not shared by all of us on the block....It is unfortunate that he was able to speak on our behalf." (the context)

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | (email story)

If Only We Didn’t Get So Nervous Every Time We Heard “Blight”

549 23rd Avenue Blight (

"Owners of blighted properties in [San Francisco] could be punished for allowing their buildings to fall into disrepair, according to new legislation to be introduced today.

The Department of Public Works would be empowered to go after owners of blighted properties and even perform the repair work and stick owners with the bill afterward.”

“Under the proposal, owners would be given 30 days to fix what is asked of them. If they fail, the department could perform the needed repairs itself and charge the owner. Failing to address the identified blight could also result in fines of up to $1,000 per day.

Under the law, a property could be considered blighted for a number of different reasons — dead trees, rank growth, garbage, litter, debris, flyers or if the paint on a building’s exterior is worn off. Other examples include deterioration of the building’s exterior stairs, roofs, or the property’s driveways or walkways; or defaced or broken windows.”

Proposal targets delinquent owners [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (38) | (email story)

Exploring The Cost Of Renovating San Francisco's Decrepit Piers

Piers 15-17 (Watercolor rendering by Al Forster)

"In 2006, the port and the Exploratorium executed a three-year exclusive negotiating agreement in which the museum would spend nearly $100 million to repair and retrofit the decrepit piers 15-17 and build a new museum. In return, the museum would obtain a 66-year lease that would enable it to move from the Palace of Fine Arts, its home since 1969.

As part of that deal, the museum stood to receive roughly $18.5 million in free rent from the port over about a 30-year period. But construction costs have escalated to $175 million, mainly due to increased pier repair costs, port project manager Jennifer Sobol said.

As part of the new agreement, the museum would get about $30 million in rent credit over a 50-year period, she said."

Exploratorium wants 50 years free rent from port officials [SFGate]
Exploratorium: Embarcadero []
Piers On Which People Can Play (Albeit More With Their Minds) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

August 8, 2008

We Know It’s Not Over, But We’re Calling It The Quote Of The Week

"I love it and have stalked it for years...if I thought peeing on the gate to keep other people away would help I would be on my way up the hill right now..." (the context)

Posted by socketadmin at 12:45 PM | Permalink | (email story)

Fannie Follows Freddie (And Makes It Easy For The Copywriters)

From Bloomberg yesterday:

Freddie Mac, the U.S. mortgage-finance company hobbled by record foreclosures, slashed its dividend at least 80 percent after posting a quarterly loss that was three times wider than analysts' estimates.

From Bloomberg today:

Fannie Mae, the largest U.S. mortgage- finance company, cut its dividend [86*] percent after posting a loss that was more than three times analysts' estimates and said the worst housing slump since the Great Depression is deepening.

It's deja vu all over again (other than that little "deepening" reference).

UPDATE: Perahaps it wasn't so easy for the Bloomberg copywriters this morning. The dividend cut for Fannie Mae has been changed from 80 to 86 percent.

Fannie Mae Posts Fourth Straight Loss, Cuts Dividend [Bloomberg]
QuickLinks: That Mischievous Little Freddie Is At It Again [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

August 6, 2008

Perhaps An Apple A Day Would Keep Their Delusions Away...

"Despite plummeting values across the nation, 62 percent of homeowners believe their property's worth has actually climbed or stayed the same during the past year, according to a confidence survey commissioned by real estate Web site Zillow. In reality, the market price on 77 percent of properties has dropped and only about 24 percent have risen or held firm, the Seattle company estimates.

Residents of western states are only a little less self-deluding. Fifty-six percent acknowledge the market value of their home fell, while 44 percent believe it maintained or gained worth. The reality is closer to 88 percent and 12 percent, respectively, Zillow said."

[Editor’s Note: And no, the irony hasn’t been lost on us.]

Homeowners delusional on value of property [SocketSite]
Luckily The Sellers Weren't Looking At Their "Zestimate" [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (32) | (email story)

August 5, 2008

JustQuotes: The Fed Holds At Two Percent, Withdrawal Yet To Come

"The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at 2 percent and signaled that weak employment and financial instability will delay any increase in borrowing costs."

"The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 35.87 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,284.88. Stocks were also pushed higher by a retreat in crude oil prices. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose 6 basis points to 4.02 percent as investors concluded that a crackdown on inflation isn't imminent."

"What we have now is artificially low interest rates,'' [Allen Sinai, chief economist at Decision Economics Inc.] said. "You overdose the patient to get them on their feet, and then you have to withdraw the overdose."

Fed Keeps Rate at 2% as Economic Growth Stagnates [Bloomberg]
Fed Shift Indicates Main Rate Will Stay at 2% to Revive Economy [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (26) | (email story)

San Francisco Takes The LEED (And GreenPoint) On Building Codes

"San Francisco took a major step Monday to cement its reputation as the most environmentally progressive city in the United States, as Mayor Gavin Newsom signed into law stringent green building codes for new construction and renovations of existing structures in the city.

The new codes focus on water and energy conservation, recycling and reduction of carbon emissions. They apply to most buildings in the city, including residential projects of all sizes, new commercial buildings over a certain size, and renovations of large commercial spaces."

"The new codes are to be phased in by 2012. Projects will be evaluated on a point system with credit given for materials used in the building, the location of the building site and water and energy efficiencies.

Large residential and commercial buildings will be evaluated under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Medium and small residential construction will use the GreenPoint rating system, which is less stringent."

Newsom signs strict green building codes into law [SocketSite]
JustQuotes: More Green For Greener Building Codes In San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

July 28, 2008

JustQuotes: Industry Layoffs – Low In Numbers, High In Significance

“From mixed-use developers like A.F. Evans to home-builders like Lennar to investment management firms like MacFarlane Partners, real estate firms active in the Bay Area have been cutting middle and upper management this year. It's not a lot of jobs -- the three companies together laid off less than 50 employees -- but for lean-and-mean developers and real estate services firms, it's significant. And in addition to scattered layoffs, companies like Cushman & Wakefield have implemented hiring freezes.”

Dramatic hiring plunge a sign of industry's woes [Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

July 23, 2008

When Being Green Costs Too Much: 525 Golden Gate Avenue On Hold

525 Golden Gate Avenue Renderings

“Lofty city plans to construct an ultra-green windmill-studded, solar-panel-embedded, water-recycling office building near City Hall have been thwarted by growing costs.

Work on the 12-story San Francisco Public Utilities building was slated to begin this year but SFPUC General Manager Ed Harrington announced Tuesday the project will be placed “on hold” because of rising costs [and lower than expected efficiencies].”

SFPUC plan for green building held up by cost [Examiner]
525 Golden Gate Avenue (SFPUC Building) [SFGov]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

Bam! Bam! Barney Frank’s Bailout Bill Survives As A Provision

“The U.S. Congress may vote today on a rescue plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after lawmakers reached a deal on legislation aimed at alleviating the worst housing recession in a quarter century.”

"White House spokeswoman Dana Perino today said President George W. Bush will sign the bill, removing the previous veto threat over a provision to include $3.9 billion in aid to communities hit by the housing recession."

"The housing bill would create a program aimed to help an estimated 400,000 Americans with subprime home loans refinance into 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages backed by the government."

Congress May Vote Today on Fannie-Freddie Rescue Plan [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: Barney Frank’s Housing Bill Reduced To Political Rubble? [SocketSite]
What’s Twenty-Five Billion Between Three Hundred Million Friends? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

July 21, 2008

JustQuotes: A Hard Lesson To Learn, So Let’s Not Forget

“The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency will leave the Western Addition in January, ending a 40-year "urban renewal" project that was touted as a move to wipe out blight but actually destroyed the city's most prominent African American neighborhood.

In total, 883 businesses were shuttered and 4,729 households were forced out, according to city officials. Roughly 2,500 Victorian homes were demolished."

Sad chapter in Western Addition history ending [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

July 10, 2008

JustQuotes: U.S. Foreclosure Filings Up 53% YOY, Down 3% MOM

“California had seven of the 10 U.S. metro areas with the highest [foreclosure rates in June], including the top three. Stockton, in the state's central valley, was first with one in every 72 households in a stage of foreclosure, followed by Merced, about 110 miles east of San Francisco, with one in 77 households, and Modesto, near the Sierra Nevada mountains, with one in 86 households. Riverside-San Bernardino ranked fifth, Vallejo-Fairfield was seventh, Bakersfield was eighth and Salinas-Monterey was tenth."

Foreclosures Rose 53% in June, Bank Seizures Triple [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

July 8, 2008

JustQuotes: Even The "Luxury Buyers" Have Started Spending Less...

"One of the last holdouts in consumer spending -- luxury-goods purchases -- may be collapsing under the weight of a sluggish and potentially contracting U.S. economy."

Saks Tailspin Indicates Hurdles for Neiman, Nordstrom [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (41) | (email story)

JustQuotes: A Proposed Retrofit Carrot For Soft-Story Building Owners

"[San Francisco Mayor Gavin] Newsom said he would introduce legislation at the Board of Supervisors meeting [today] aimed at expediting the review of retrofit permits sought by owners of soft-story buildings and waive the fees associated with the permits, which can run as high as $1,000."

Seismic retrofit program proposed by Newsom [SFGate]
JustQuotes: Think Seismic Upgrades (Or Lack Thereof) Not Soil [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

July 7, 2008

JustQuotes: You Had Better Watch Your Fannie (As Well As Freddie)

“Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae plunged in New York trading and their credit-default swaps rose as concerns grew the two largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies may need to raise more capital to overcome writedowns and satisfy new accounting rules.”

“As mortgage delinquencies grow at a record pace, the companies likely will take further losses, [Deutsche Bank credit strategist John Tierney] said. Banks repossessed twice as many homes in May as they did a year ago and foreclosure filings rose 48 percent, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a real estate database in Irvine, California. Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell 15.3 percent in April by the most on record, S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index.”

"Spreads between 10-year Treasuries and bonds backed by Fannie Mae reached a 22-year high of 238 basis points on March 6. An increase boosts the cost of new mortgages for the most creditworthy consumers. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point."

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae Plunge on Capital Concerns [Bloomberg]
Fannie Mae To Market: It’s Not Getting Better, But Rather Worse [SocketSite]
April S&P/Case-Shiller: San Francisco MSA Declines Across All Tiers [SocketSite]
Agency Mortgage-Bond Yield Spreads Rise on Potential Bank Sales [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

June 27, 2008

They're Not Building Any More Land Condos Across The Bay

"Oakland's condo building boom has ground to a near halt. While construction has continued on existing projects, Patton said no new projects have broken ground during the first half of 2008.

A June report on the East Bay condo market from the Mark Co. lists at least a dozen projects slated to begin construction in 2008 that are now on hold. And work halted on Olson Co.'s City Walk at 1260 Martin Luther King Jr. Way last July and has yet to resume because of funding problems, according to Olson spokeswoman Nancy Green.

Other projects, such as Lightner Property Group's 120-unit 3250 Hollis St. and 100-unit 2847 Peralta St. are ready to break ground, but have been put off until the market shapes up."

UPDATE: From a plugged-in developer: "I own a nearly fully entitled 16 project in a great location by Lake Merritt and it does not come remotely close to penciling out. I figure the market there has dropped 40%."

Oakland developers freeze housing projects [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (50) | (email story)

June 25, 2008

JustQuotes: The Fed Doesn't Cut, Inflation Giving Reason To Raise?

"The Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate at 2 percent, ending the most aggressive series of rate cuts in two decades, as higher energy costs threaten to boost inflation....Treasuries, which had fallen before the statement, dropped to their lows of the day before rebounding. Two-year note yields were 2.93 percent at 2:26 p.m. in New York, from 2.84 percent late yesterday."

Fed Keeps Rate at 2%, Cites `Upside' Inflation Risks [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

June 24, 2008

JustQuotes: The Big (As In Jumbo) Difference Between Can And Are

"Three months after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won the freedom to step up home-loan purchases, the government-chartered mortgage-finance companies are doing what critics in the Federal Reserve and Congress had predicted.

Instead of using powers granted by Congress to buy jumbo loans for the first time, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are purchasing their own mortgage-backed securities, helping reduce losses, company filings show. The large loans, above $417,000, made up almost a third of the U.S. market last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Since the rule change took effect in March, Fannie Mae has packaged $24 million of jumbo loans into securities, while Freddie Mac added $220 million, according to the Inside Mortgage Finance newsletter. In April, the companies spent more than $32.4 billion to buy their own instruments, regulatory filings show."

Fannie, Freddie Fail to Relieve Housing by Shunning Jumbo Loans [Bloomberg]
If Lowering Rates Isn’t Working, Perhaps Increasing Limits Will [SocketSite]
If The Plugged-In Readers Are Right, Jumbo-Conformings Are Here [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

June 20, 2008

California Unemployment: We’re Still The Best (But The Bloom Is Off)

The unemployment rate in California jumped 0.6 perentage point in May to 6.8%, "the largest one-month increase since the state began keeping records in 1976." The San Fransciso MSA, however, remains a relative - but not necessarily absolute - stalwart.

In the San Francisco metropolitan area, which includes Marin and San Mateo counties, unemployment was 4.6 percent in May, up from 4.2 percent the month before. In the San Jose area, the rate rose to 5.6 percent from 5.2 percent. And in the Oakland area, including Contra Costa and Alameda counties, unemployment was 5.7 percent, up from 5.3 percent.
"The Bay Area still is the best part of the California economy," said Howard Roth, principal economist for the California Finance Department. "But the bloom is off the rose."

State records biggest jump in unemployment in May [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

From Sand Hill To San Francisco: The Reverse VC Commute Continues

“Menlo Park-based Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley's most successful venture capital firms, has agreed to lease the top floor of the office tower Tishman Speyer is building at 555 Mission St.….If completed, the deal would be the third major tenant Tishman has landed at 555 Mission St. at a time when the city's commercial real estate market has cooled considerably.”

“Sequoia would be the latest in a growing list of Sand Hill Road venture capital firms establishing presences in San Francisco or moving here altogether. In 2007, investor Sandy Robertson moved his $5 billion private equity group Francisco Partners to the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio. At 1650 Owens St. in Mission Bay, developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities has signed deals with four VCs, including Versant Ventures, Novo Ventures and Arch Venture Partners.”

UPDATE: From a plugged-in reader: "Sequoia's office in SF may validate the recent rumor of their extension into starting a "hedge fund like entity" in the group."

Tishman Speyer tags Sequoia Capital for 555 Mission [Business Times]
A Virtual Tour Of 555 Mission Street (And Downtown San Francisco) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (21) | (email story)

June 13, 2008

JustQuotes: Additional Details (Like Dollars) On Keeping Hope SF Alive

“The program, dubbed Hope SF, calls for replacing some 1,500 units of existing public housing at three developments: Sunnydale, Westside Court in Western Addition and Potrero Hill. In addition to replacing the existing housing, densities at the three projects would be doubled with another 1,500 market-rate condos and affordable rental units.

In the largest of the proposed redevelopments, Related of California, an affiliate of New York-based Related Cos., would team up with Mercy Housing to build 1,498 units in Visitation Valley's distressed Sunnydale development. Under the $400 million proposal, Related and Mercy would build 1,070 public housing and affordable rental units, as well as 428 affordable and market-rate condos. In Potrero Hill, Bridge Housing Corp., together with its for-profit arm Bridge Infill Land Development, would construct 805 public housing and affordable rental units, as well as 446 affordable and market-rate condos, also about a $400 million investment. At the 136-unit Westside Court in Western Addition, EM Johnson Interest and TMG Partners are proposing to replace 136 units of public housing and add another 80 to 100.

A fourth project, John Stewart Co.'s $350 million redevelopment of the Hunters View project in Hunters Point, was proposed two years ago and is currently before the Planning Commission.”

Billion-dollar push on public housing [Business Times]
JustQuotes: Redeveloping The Developments (And Changing The Mix) [SocketSite 3/08]
JustQuotes: A New Vision For A Hunters Point Neighborhood [SocketSite 5/07]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (20) | (email story)

June 12, 2008

The One To Watch With Respect To Most Mortgage Rates Ticks Up

“Treasuries fell, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to the highest level this year, after a larger-than-expected gain in retail sales bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates....Futures on the Chicago Board of Trade show odds of 22 percent the Fed will raise the target rate for overnight lending between banks by at least a quarter-percentage point to 2.25 percent at its June 25 meeting. The probability of an increase by year-end is 100 percent.”

[Editor’s Note: In case it wasn’t clear, it's the 10-year Treasury that's the one to watch.]

Treasury 10-Year Note Yields Rise to Year High on Retail Sales [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

June 10, 2008

A Quote We Wish Could Be Written For San Francisco As Well

“At its best, the celebrity-architect trend is finally upending the presumption that developers can put up any piece of junk if they have the location and the view. Van Berkel and Gehry transform the constraints of building in New York, mainly its idiosyncratic zoning. Architecture again reflects the city's restless dynamism.”

Flashy Towers by Gehry, Van Berkel Drape, Pleat N.Y. Skyline [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

June 9, 2008

JustQuotes: Presidio Plans, Proposals, And Preservationist Protests

Chronicle Graphic: Presidio Proposals (Image Source:

“Over the past 12 years, the nonprofit [Presidio Trust] has renovated hundreds of historic buildings within the 1,491-acre park, many of which had been ready to crumble. The Presidio Trust now leases out these properties as homes and office space. The trust also has approved a handful of projects at the Main Post, including the creation of the Disney Family Museum and the International Center to End Violence. Each project will be located in one of the military barracks after their multimillion-dollar rehabilitation.

Last summer, Gap founder Donald Fisher and his wife, Doris, announced a proposal for a 100,000-square-foot modern-art museum at the head of the Main Parade Ground. That project - proposed as a sleek, modern, glass building - was enough to set off some people. But the proposed museum wouldn't be the only change coming to Main Post."

Proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP):
Proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio (CAMP)

"There are also plans for a nearly 89,000-square-foot lodge and a proposal to expand an existing movie theater. Less controversial plans include establishing a history center and transforming the Main Parade Ground to a grassy field with a "walk through time" that maps out the fort's history.

The analysis to be released today [Editor's Note: now available, see UPDATE below] will look at the likely impact of: the proposed Contemporary Art Museum Presidio; the 119-room hotel, which also will include meeting space, a restaurant and a bar; expansion of the old Army movie theater, where the San Francisco Film Society wants to two new theaters, a bar and lobby; and the creation of a heritage center. The new Walt Disney Family Museum, which is expected to open next year, will not be included in the analysis because it was approved several years ago."

Proposed Presidio Theater:
Proposed Presidio Theater

Proposed Presidio History Center:

"Some of the plan's harshest critics - including the decades-old Presidio Historical Association - are incensed at what they see as an about-face by the trust. The agency worked with the public for years to develop a master plan for the park, as well as strict guidelines for any changes at the Main Post. The new proposals are a severe departure from these documents, which recommend little new construction at the Main Post and suggest that a museum be placed elsewhere.”

UPDATE: The Presidio's Main Post Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is now available online. The "Proposed Action" calls for the development of all of the above.

Presidio redevelopment plan heads into a fight [SFGate]
Presidio Trust []
Summary of Key Presidio Main Post Projects []
Main Post Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement []
Plans For The Presidio’s Post: Four Alternatives And Visualizations [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (64) | (email story)

Seasonality, Surprises, And Avoiding Looking Like A Schmuck

“The index of [U.S.] pending home resales rose 6.3 percent to 88.2, the highest level in six months, following a 1 percent drop in March, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. [A Bloomberg poll projected the index would fall 0.4 percent.]

The drop in property values may be starting to lure some buyers who are able to qualify for loans, signaling purchases will improve in 2009. Still, stricter lending rules, the recent increase in mortgage rates and continued pressure on prices from mounting foreclosures will probably keep some buyers away for much of the year.”

“’What people are most scared of is looking like a schmuck,’ Toll Brothers Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Robert Toll said at a conference in New York last week. ‘What do I want to buy a home for and next year be looking at 10 percent less asset?’”

Pending Home Resales in U.S. Unexpectedly Increased [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

June 5, 2008

U.S. Foreclosure Activity Continues To Climb Rather Than Fall

“New foreclosures rose to a seasonally adjusted 0.99 percent of all U.S. home loans, up from 0.83 percent in the fourth quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report today. The total inventory of homes in foreclosure increased to 2.47 percent and the delinquency rate, loans with one or more payments overdue, grew to 6.35 percent. All were the highest since 1979, the Washington-based trade group said.”

“Prime adjustable-rate mortgages in California, the largest U.S. state, accounted for 36 percent of all U.S. foreclosures started during the period. The state's subprime adjustable loans were 26 percent of the national total.”

U.S. Mortgage Delinquencies, Foreclosures Rise to 29-Year High [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (33) | (email story)

California's High-Speed Rail Hits Its First Figurative Freight Train

California high-speed train in the new Transbay Terminal (Image Source: NC3D)

"[F]ive months before voters decide whether to approve bonds for the high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the $30-billion project has hit a new obstacle.

An old-guard railroad is declining to share its right-of-way.

Officials at Union Pacific railroad recently told the California High Speed Rail Authority that they have safety and operational concerns about running a bullet train close to lumbering freight trains."

"High-speed rail promoters say the freight hauler's hard-line stand may simply be a bargaining ploy, and could be overcome in any case by buying adjacent land."

"A prominent environmental group and several railroad advocacy organizations, however, contend that Union Pacific's refusal will prove a formidable challenge to the project at a key moment. California voters will be asked in November to approve nearly $10 billion in bonds to help finance construction."

"If voters approve the November ballot measure, project backers hope to get another $10 billion in financing from the federal government and an equal amount from private investors. Construction then could start in two to three years, and the first high-speed trains might be rolling within a decade, Morshed said."

UPDATE: And for those who like visuals, a whole host of California High-Speed Rail animations and images. And no, none of hitting a freight train.

Union Pacific blocks Los Angeles to San Francisco bullet train [LA Times]
San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal: Website And Community Meeting [SocketSite]
California High-Speed Rail Authority []

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (40) | (email story)

May 30, 2008

3400 Cesar Chavez Update: Permitted, Excavation On The Way

3400 Cesar Chavez Design

"Developer Seven Hills has received site permits for its 60-unit condo project at 3400 Cesar Chavez St. and will begin excavation in the next week or so, according to firm principal Thomas Rocca. The project, which anti-development forces in the Mission District attempted to block at the 11th hour, will also house a 12,000-square-foot Walgreens, an after-school center for kids and two other retailers."

Cesar Chavez condo project ready to begin [San Francisco Business Times]
3400 Cesar Chavez: Approved But Opposed (By MAC) In The Mission [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (31) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Think Seismic Upgrades (Or Lack Thereof) Not Soil

"[Mayor] Newsom said the Department of Building Inspection has mapped out the 'most vulnerable parts of San Francisco' to a violent quake. Residents might be surprised, however, that it is not the Marina but the Outer Sunset that is most vulnerable."

Quake safety an ‘obligation’ [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

May 29, 2008

JustQuotes: Field Poll For Proposition 98 (Failing) and 99 (Close)

"A survey of 660 likely voters conducted May 17-26 found 48 percent favoring Prop. 99, with 30 percent opposed and 22 percent undecided, according to the poll results. Those supporting Prop. 98 stood at 33 percent, with 43 percent opposed and 24 percent undecided."

"The results contrast with the two surveys by the Public Policy Institute of California that showed declining support for both propositions between March and May. Those polls showed support among likely voters for Prop. 99 declining to 44 percent from 53 percent, while support for Prop. 98 fell to 30 percent from 37 percent."

"The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for the Field Poll and plus or minus three percentage points for the Public Policy Institute polls."

Prop. 98 failing, 99 a toss-up - Field Poll [SFGate]
Proposition 98: An Interesting Perspective And Opportunity For "Play" [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (56) | (email story)

May 27, 2008

Appraisal Agreement: Violating Federal Law Or Industry Interests?

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's agreement to restrict banks from using in-house appraisal companies may violate federal law, U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan said in a letter to the companies' supervisor."

"The agreement and new appraisal code 'violate or conflict with federal law in fundamental respects' and should be withdrawn, Dugan said in a letter to Ofheo Director James Lockhart. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, has 'substantial concerns about the unintended adverse consequences' on U.S. banks, he said.

The OCC is joining mortgage and appraisal industry groups and the Office of Thrift Supervision in criticizing the deal, which was intended by Cuomo and Ofheo to improve accuracy in home valuations by separating them from the lenders making the loans.”

Fannie, Freddie Appraisal Agreement May Violate Law [Bloomberg]
Fannie And Freddie Forced Aim To Help Fix Appraisal Fraud [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

May 19, 2008

JustQuotes: Another Shot At Legislation To Stem Foreclosures

“The leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee announced agreement on housing legislation that creates a voluntary program to stem foreclosures, ending a standoff over whether taxpayer funds should be used.

Senators Christopher Dodd, the panel's chairman, and Richard Shelby, its top Republican, agreed to pay for the program through an affordable housing fund financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Dodd said today in a conference call with reporters.” (Bloomberg)

“Initial details were sketchy, although likely to be revealed soon, since the senators said the committee would consider the legislation on Tuesday. The agreement would provide tighter regulation of the government-sponsored lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Another unknown, at least as of late Monday afternoon, was whether President Bush was on board for the deal. The president has resisted legislation that, in his view, would bail out greedy lenders and market “speculators” at the taxpayers’ expense.” (NYT)

Dodd, Shelby Reach Agreement on Anti-Foreclosure Bill [Bloomberg]
Leading Senators Agree on Housing Crisis Aid [New York Times]
JustQuotes: Barney Frank’s Housing Bill Reduced To Political Rubble? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

May 13, 2008

Window Coverings: Can You Beat The Heat And Help A Reader Out?

"My son is in escrow on unit 957 at the Beacon...and we are looking for good window coverings to block out the heat. He is installing ceiling fans. Who has ideas?"

Comment: Quite Literally At The Beacon [SocketSite]
Bank Owned (With Big Windows) At The Beacon: 260 King #957 [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Potrero Hill Power Plant Plan Paused (For A Week)

Potrero Hill Power Plant:Aerial (Image Source:

"Mayor Gavin Newsom asked city legislators to delay a vote on a controversial plan to build a new power plant in Potrero Hill that will replace an older, more polluting plant, saying he needs another week to work on an alternative strategy."

Decision on Potrero power plant delayed [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

May 12, 2008

When Investment In Neighborhoods Isn’t “Enhancement” Enough...

“Imposing community impact fees on developers similar to those applied to builders with projects in the South of Market area would likely happen for future development areas, one city legislator said.

“No area plan improvements that create greater development opportunities and greater opportunities to profit from development will go forth in the city of San Francisco without having mitigation or impact fees that will provide for the enhancement of those areas,” Supervisor Jake McGoldrick said.”

Community funds to bridge economic gaps in SoMa [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | (email story)

May 8, 2008

JustQuotes: Fewer Transfers Yields Fewer Dollars And Offsets Savings

“On Tuesday, the City Controller’s Office released a report that put [San Francisco's projected budget] shortfall for next fiscal year at approximately $305 million, $33 million less than what was projected a few weeks ago.

The savings came from the departmental cost-cutting, as well as well-performing hotel, sales, property and business taxes, according to the Controller’s Office.

The “good news” however, is tempered by less-than-expected property transfer tax revenue. The City budgeted to receive $123.5 million from the sales of real estate in San Francisco [down from $144 million the year before], but have now adjusted that figure and expect to bring in $91.6 million.”

Sales of soaring skyscrapers sag [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

May 7, 2008

JustQuotes: Barney Frank’s Housing Bill Reduced To Political Rubble?

“As the House prepared to vote on a housing-relief bill offered by Democratic leaders, President Bush on Wednesday told the lawmakers, in effect, not to bother. “I will veto the bill that’s moving through the House today if it makes it to my desk,” the president said at the White House, after meeting with Republican House leaders."

“Under the [Frank] bill, lenders would be required to reduce the principal balances for borrowers at risk of default. The troubled loans, typically with high, adjustable interest rates, would then be refinanced into more affordable 30-year fix-rate loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The new loans would be limited to 90 percent of a property’s value, based on an updated appraisal, and the government would retain a stake in any future sale of the property.

The Bush administration prefers a more limited expansion of federally insured mortgages and has argued that housing relief can be accomplished by the Federal Housing Administration without new legislation.

The president on Wednesday repeated his opposition to a bill “that will reward speculators and lenders” who have suffered because of their own foolishness.”

Bush Vows to Veto Housing-Relief Bill in House [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (50) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Redevelopment Plans For Hunters Point Public Housing

Hunters Point Redevelopment Project Area

“Six residential towers will stretch up to 65 feet above the highest peaks of Hunters Point providing enviable views of The City and Bay, under newly released redevelopment plans to rebuild the public-housing site for low-income as well as market-rate residents.

Currently, 154 of the 267 decrepit public-housing units at the hilly site within The City’s southeast area are rented from the San Francisco Housing Authority, according to city documents. The rest sit empty.”

“Along with 267 public-housing units planned for the rebuilt neighborhood, there will be 315 market-rate units, 141 below-market-rate rental and ownership units, and at least 17 units built by Habitat For Humanity, plans show.”

“Narrow, tree-lined streets in the redeveloped site will follow a classical grid-pattern that connect with roads in surrounding neighborhoods — a vast contrast to the current street-design that follows the circular contours of the land, according to Torney. The project will also include a trio of parks.

Work on the redevelopment effort is expected to begin late next year…[and] is expected to finish by 2015.”

Public housing in Hunters Point to have soaring views [Examiner]
JustQuotes: A New Vision For A Hunters Point Neighborhood [SocketSite 5/07]
JustQuotes: Redeveloping The Developments (And Changing The Mix) [SocketSite 3/08]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | (email story)

May 6, 2008

The Early Comment/Question Of The Day: The Anti-Chain Weak Link?

“Here in the Castro, there are over a dozen empty storefronts and more expected. Yet, the hood chased WaMu out of a great (now empty) space. So, are people really happy with boarded up buildings instead of chains?

Comment: Contempt For Chains At The Expense Of The Current Neighborhood?

Posted by socketadmin at 10:21 AM | Permalink | (email story)

That Was Then, This Is Now (And Why Was Warren Buffett Selling?)

“[Warren] Buffett said he sold two residential units in San Francisco about two years ago. The real estate agents wanted him to list one of the properties for $995,000, but Buffett listed it above $1 million and it sold for $1,750,000 in one day, the billionaire recalled.

"There were 20 buyers that day," Buffett said during a press conference. "That wouldn't happen now -- it wouldn't happen in San Francisco today."

Buffett will look at RBS insurance unit [MarketWatch]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (40) | (email story)

May 5, 2008

JustQuotes: Record Sale Price For Edgewater Apartments On Berry

"Colorado-based apartment real estate investment trust paid $115 million for a recently completed Mission Bay apartment complex, a deal that shattered price-per-unit records for a major multi-family property in San Francisco.

UDR, formerly known as United Dominion Realty Trust, shelled out $595,855 per apartment, or $730 a square foot, for the recently completed 193-unit Edgewater Luxury Apartments at 355 Berry St., north of the channel in Mission Bay.

The seller was the apartment developer Urban Housing Group, which spent five years entitling and constructing the property before opening it in August 2007. Urban Housing fully leased the building in four months, beating projections by five months."

Edgewater's $115M price shatters records [Business Times]
Edgewater Apartments (355 Berry): An Overview And Pricing [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (38) | (email story)

May 2, 2008

Unlike The Academy Of Art, The SFUSD Looks To Sell

SFUSD Properties (Image Source: San Francisco Business Times)

According to J.K. Dineen at the San Francisco Business Times, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has hired CB Richard Ellis Consulting to evaluate the potential sale of "a group of sites totalling 11.2 acres that, with special zoning changes, could accommodate 917 housing units."

The properties extend from the Richmond to the Marina. A 36,000-square-foot site just steps from the 16th Street BART station at 1950 Mission St., for example, is zoned for four-story residential and could house 181 units. A defunct child care center at 1155 Page St., a block from Buena Vista Park, could add 36 units. The largest site -- 83,000 square feet of open space at Seventh Avenue and Lawton Street -- could be developed into 413 homes, although any construction there would be battled by dog walkers and residents who have long used the sloping grass quad as an ad hoc park, as well as seasonal marketplace for pumpkins and Christmas trees.

Seventh Avenue and Lawton (Image Source:

Other properties up for evaluation: 2340 Jackson (former newcomer High School property), 1340 Bush (parking garage), 1512 Golden Gate Avenue (Golden Gate Annex), 20 Cook (Children’s Center Administration Building), and 1101 Connecticut (vacant).

The slow and steady decline in enrollment has driven agonizing annual debates over politically sensitive school closings. In May of 2007 a citizens advisory committee looking into enrollment drop and the district's properties recommended that the school board designate 20 percent of its property as surplus and lease or sell them to third parties.

S.F. schools to market 8 properties [Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

May 1, 2008

JustQuotes: The Fed Cuts By A Quarter Point (And Takes A Step Back)

“The Fed's Open Market Committee lowered its benchmark rate by a quarter point to 2 percent yesterday, extending the most aggressive easing in two decades. At the same time, the Fed backed away from previous language signaling a preference for further cuts and described reductions to date as 'substantial.'

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is navigating between a faltering economic expansion and near-record oil and commodity prices that threaten to stoke inflation. The central bank didn't rule out further reductions, and it may take additional actions aimed at easing financial-market turmoil, such as expanding the size of cash-loan auctions for commercial banks.”

Fed May Take Breather After Seven Rate Cuts, Emergency Loans [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

April 24, 2008

U.S. New-Home Sales Slide Plunge To Near Seventeen Year Low

“Purchases of new homes in the U.S. plunged more than forecast in March to the lowest level in almost 17 years as stricter loan rules and falling prices caused buyers to hold off. Sales dropped 8.5 percent to an annual pace of 526,000, the fewest since October 1991, from a 575,000 rate the prior month....”

New-Home Sales in the U.S. Plunge More Than Forecast [Bloomberg]
U.S. Existing-Home Sales Slide (This Time Despite The Seasonality) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (44) | (email story)

Pacific Heights The Sequel (Working Title: "Landlords Gone Wild!")

“A landlord couple have been charged in San Francisco with waging a campaign of terror against their renters in a South of Market building, including cutting out the floor supports at one apartment after the tenant went to court to keep from being evicted, authorities said Wednesday.”

“The charges stem from tactics the [Kip and Nicole Macy] allegedly used after they bought a six-unit, three-story apartment building [at 744-746] Clementina Street for $995,000 in 2005 and started eviction proceedings against the five tenants living there.

When one of the tenants, Scott Morrow, successfully fought eviction, the couple allegedly told workers in September 2006 to cut the beams that supported his apartment's floor. They also shut off Morrow's electricity, cut his phone line and had workers saw a hole in his living room floor from below, prosecutors said. Morrow has since sued the Macys.”

UPDATE (4/28): Additional details emerge.

S.F. landlords charged with tenant terror [SFGate]
Bizarre account of S.F. eviction battle [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (106) | (email story)

April 22, 2008

JustQuotes: American Institute of Architects Honor Awards: SF Style

185 Post (

“One of four honor awards for excellence in architecture handed out by the [American Institute of Architects] San Francisco chapter went to 185 Post St., a six-story box from 1955 that's been turned from nondescript to knockout by Brand + Allen Architects. The firm's design kept the masonry shell but wrapped it in a layer of fritted glass. From afar, the glass is an opaque screen; up close, it's a skin-tight, see-through blouse.”

“[H]onor awards also went to the San Francisco Federal Building, by Morphosis with SmithGroup (maybe our next president will finally follow through on promises to make the upper-floor terrace open to the public), and two residential buildings: Tehama Grasshopper, a warehouse conversion, by Fougeron Architecture, topped by a chic glass penthouse; and Bridge House, by Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects.”

Place: 185 Post St. among winning buildings [SFGate]
The Modern Makeover And Façade Of 185 Post [SocketSite]
Just Quotes: Let's Hear It For (Or Against) The Feds [SocketSite]
San Francisco Living: Home Tours (A Chance To Comment In General) [SocketSite]
From JustQuotes To JustPhotos: The Aforementioned Bridge House [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

April 21, 2008

If This Has Been The Calm, What Happens To Sales During The Storm?

“The Bay Area's largest public companies experienced the calm before the storm in 2007. Amid signs of an impending recession, local companies continued to expand at a moderate pace, one that most other U.S. regions would envy.

The Chronicle 200, [an] annual report on the 200 largest public companies in the Bay Area, demonstrates the economic diversity and health of this region. Despite a national housing slump and credit crunch, most companies still delivered solid financial performances in 2007 - although there are clearly clouds on the horizon for 2008.”

“Some of that resilience can be traced to local companies' strong presence on the world stage. Most of the corporate leaders, especially Silicon Valley companies, have major international sales. The dollar's weakness has fueled the rest of the world's appetite for U.S. products.

The flip side is that many of those companies also have hefty employment rolls overseas, so while their robust global sales boost the bottom line back home, they don't necessarily translate into job growth here.”

Chron 200: Bay Area enjoys calm before the storm [SFGate]
San Francisco Recorded Sales Activity In March: Down 20.6% YOY [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

April 18, 2008

We’ve Heard Local Contractors Are Getting More Responsive Too

"Nibbi Brothers' Larry Nibbi said he has seen a flood of résumés from construction workers who were previously employed by home-builders like KB Homes and Centex. The sudden jump in the availability of workers -- and subcontractors looking for jobs -- has knocked down construction costs about 5 percent to 7 percent in some areas, Nibbi said."

"An abundance of available workers has knocked down prices for mechanical, electrical, heating, plumbing and dry wall work. Painting has remained about the same and roofing and asphalt have gone up because of the increased cost of oil."

Nibbi says housing bubble loosens labor pool [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

April 16, 2008

Much Ado Over Nothing (Except An Overflow Cow Palace Parking Lot)

Cow Palace

"The landmark Cow Palace got a new lease on life Tuesday when state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, dropped efforts to put the aging arena in Daly City up for sale. Instead, he settled for a compromise plan that will allow only an adjoining parking lot to be sold."

Cow Palace Overflow Parking Lot

Cow Palace won't be sold, after all [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

April 14, 2008

JustQuotes: Fannie Raises A Red Flag With Regard To Foreclosures?

"On March 31, Fannie Mae sent out new guidelines to lenders intended for walkaways and other foreclosure situations. Fannie will now prohibit foreclosed borrowers from getting another mortgage through the giant investor for five years, unless there are "documented extenuating circumstances." In those cases, the mortgage prohibition is for three years.

Even after five years, borrowers with foreclosures in their files will be required to make at least a 10 percent down payment, and will need minimum FICO credit scores of 680.

Freddie Mac, Fannie's rival, counts foreclosures as major credit blots for seven years, and a senior official said the company is now aggressively pursuing some walkaway borrowers "to preserve our deficiency rights" where permitted under state law."

Fannie warns homeowners who walk away [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

April 10, 2008

It's A Good Thing San Francisco's Fortunes Aren't Tied To The Valley

"Housing prices in Silicon Valley remain defiantly high. New BMWs and Saabs cruise Highway 101. But for the first time there are signs that the current economic downturn is taking its toll on the country’s cradle of technology and innovation.

Job growth has slowed, start-up companies are hiring and spending more cautiously, and early-stage investors who nurture the start-ups with money and expertise are growing more frugal."

Economy Has Become a Drag on Silicon Valley [New York Times]
And What Happened Seven And One Half Years Ago In San Francisco? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (41) | (email story)

April 8, 2008

JustQuotes: U.S. Pending Home Resale Index Hits Seven Year Low

“The number of Americans signing contracts to buy previously owned homes declined more than forecast in February, indicating no sign of a bottom in the U.S. real-estate recession that is entering its third year.

The National Association of Realtors' index of signed purchase agreements decreased 1.9 percent to 84.6, the lowest reading since records began in 2001, the group said today. The drop follows a revised 0.3 percent increase in January.”

“Pending resales dropped in three of four regions, led by a 9.8 percent decline in the West. Purchases fell 5.5 percent in the South and 3.7 percent in the Midwest. Pending sales increased 3.2 percent in the Northeast.”

U.S. Economy: Pending Home Resales Fell More Than Forecast [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (48) | (email story)

April 7, 2008

Cruising (Pier 27) And Working (Piers 30-32) But Not Sporting At All

"A long-standing and controversial plan to restore rusted piers and create a recreation and office center at the foot of Telegraph Hill could be abandoned for a new proposal that developers and port officials have been quietly discussing in recent weeks.

The new plan still would feature a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal at Pier 27. But the office development used to pay for the terminal would instead shift south to Piers 30-32. A public recreation center - which at one time included a YMCA and a marine sports basin - would disappear altogether."

Port of S.F. has new cruise ship terminal plan [SFGate]
Pier Wars [SocketSite]
Frederick Knows His Piers (A.K.A. Cruise Ships Closer To Pier 27) [SocketSite]
Proposed SF Cruise Ship Terminal Sunk [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

April 4, 2008

JustQuotes: Food For Foreclosure Thoughts (Including Data Lag)

"Borrowers in California who fight foreclosure can stretch the process to 18 months, said Cameron Pannabecker, chapter president of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers and president of Cal-Pro Mortgage Inc. in Stockton.

That doesn't take into account the woman he knows who hasn't made a mortgage payment in eight months and hasn't heard from her lender, Pannabecker said.

'Now she's afraid to mail in a payment for fear it'll come to somebody's attention,' he said."

Lenders Swamped By Foreclosures Let Homeowners Stay [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

Silicon Valley Hiring Slowdown: Meaningful Or Meaningless?

"Hiring in Silicon Valley was strong during much of 2007 but lost momentum toward the end of the year, a slight slowdown that has continued into 2008, local experts on technology employment say.

"Last year was great," said Patti Wilson, principal of, a Silicon Valley job consulting firm. "Companies were hiring and they were competing with each other for top technology talent."

This year though, hiring has dropped off and some companies are laying off workers, she noted.”

Tech companies still hiring, but pace slowing [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

April 3, 2008

Assessing The Potential Upside Of A Down Market: Property Tax Basis

“If your home is worth less than you paid, chances are you also can get a temporary reduction in your property taxes - without a battery of lawyers or dubious arguments about functional obsolescence."

"Some companies offer to submit a request on behalf of homeowners for $25 to $200, or a percentage of the property tax reduction. But there's no need to pay for this service.

“In most counties, you can simply call or write your assessor's office or download a form from its Web site and mail it in. It helps to provide recent sales prices for comparable homes in your neighborhood, but it's not necessary. The assessor's office will be looking at its own comps. If the homeowner and assessor cannot agree on a value through this informal process, the homeowner can file a formal appeal with the county's assessment appeals board.”

Assessors amenable to lowering home values [SFGate]
Residential Property Assessment Appeals (pdf) []

Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

April 2, 2008

JustQuotes: A Shift In Policy Or Simply A Shift In What's Being Said?

"Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated the Bush administration is willing to consider congressional plans to stem foreclosures by expanding government guarantees for mortgages."

"Paulson's housing comments are a shift from last month, when he said proposals to use government funds were a 'non- starter' and played down concern about homeowners whose houses are worth less than what they owe on their mortgages. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said yesterday that officials are warming to his plan to widen mortgage guarantees."

Paulson Says Treasury `Flexible' on Housing Measures [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

March 24, 2008

JustQuotes: The People (And Politics) Behind Buildings And Design

1481 Post: SOM Model

The Quote:

ADCO is proposing a 38-story, elliptical-shaped glass building with five levels of underground parking. Market-rate condominiums would be built on top of the tennis courts and next door to a residence for seniors. The street that gently slopes downward to the Japantown malls would also undergo major reconstruction, including new condominiums by owner 3D Investments.
At the current height, the 1481 Post Street project would be the tallest building in the neighborhood, an issue of concern to neighborhood residents. “The height of your building will set the tone for the rest of Post Street going west,” said Sandy Mori, president of the Japantown Task Force, referring to proposals by 3D Investments. “Right now [3D Investments’] highest building is as tall as Hotel Kabuki, which is reasonable in my personal opinion.”
[ADCO Group representative Linda Corso] indicated a willingness to modify the design of the building and reduce the height to move the project forward, perhaps due to public pressure. “We’re going to take all the input from tonight back to our design team and get back to you hopefully in a month or so,” Corso said.
The housing nonprofit that owns and operates the 26-story high-rise next door to the proposed ADCO project has hired a political consultant and sent out a mailing opposing the glass building. They received 600 responses by mail out of 7,000 pieces delivered.

And our reader's response (with which we quite agree):

Please let this SOM building rise up; it's not going to work as a short cylinder. This is a perfectly-scaled building.

1481 Post: Rendering

J-Town Concerned About High-Rise Plans [AsianWeek]
The Official Cathedral Hill Tower (1481 Post Street) Website [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (40) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Resolution Trust Corporation Redux?

"Even after cutting rates by 3 percentage points since September, expanding the range of securities it accepts as collateral for loans and giving dealers access to its discount window, the Fed has been unable to promote confidence. The difference between what the government and banks pay for three- month loans doubled in the past month to 1.92 percentage points.

The only tool left may be for the Fed to help facilitate a Resolution Trust Corp.-type agency that would buy bonds backed by home loans, said Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. While purchasing the some of the $6 trillion mortgage securities outstanding would take problem debt off the balance sheets of banks and alleviate the cause of the credit crunch, it would put taxpayers at risk."

Fed May Buy Mortgages Next, Treasury Investors Bet [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | (email story)

March 20, 2008

JustQuotes: More Green For Greener Building Codes In San Francisco

“San Francisco moved a step closer Wednesday to imposing the country's most stringent green building codes, regulations that would require new large commercial buildings and residential high-rises to contain such environmentally friendly features as solar power, nontoxic paints and plumbing fixtures that decrease water usage."

"New residential high-rises taller than 75 feet, new commercial buildings larger than 5,000 square feet and renovations on buildings larger than 25,000 square feet would have to comply with the environmentally friendly building standards known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED."

"All new residential construction would have to comply with another nationally accepted standard, known as GreenPoint Rated, which requires home builders to use such features as paint made from recycled materials and solar-powered water-heating systems."

S.F. moves to greenest building codes in U.S. [SFGate]
JustQuotes: Standards Are One Thing, Actual Certification Another [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

March 19, 2008

JQ: Capital Requirements Follow The Asset Caps For Fannie/Freddie

"Regulators for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cut the companies' surplus capital requirement in an effort to expand their combined $1.5 trillion in mortgage investments and revive the U.S. home-loan market.

The requirement was lowered to 20 percent from 30 percent, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said in a news release today. The government-chartered companies, the largest sources of money for home loans, also agreed to raise a 'significant' amount of new capital, Ofheo said."

Fannie, Freddie Surplus Capital Requirement Is Eased [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: What The OFHEO Are They Thinking? (Asset Caps) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

March 14, 2008

JustQuotes: The Ballot Battle Over Hunters And Candlestick Point

"[Carmen] Policy, still revered for his role in the 1990s 49ers dynasty, has been cast as the public face of the Bayview Jobs, Parks, and Housing initiative -- Proposition G on the June ballot. The measure would put the voters' stamp of approval on the city's plan to transform the [Hunters Point] shipyard and Candlestick Point into a sprawling, mixed-use neighborhood with 10,000 units of housing, 300 acres of parkland, 2 million square feet of commercial space (biotech, cleantech and office), and 600,000 square feet of retail."

"But the measure faces a competing initiative being led by Supervisor Chris Daly. That initiative -- Prop. F -- would require that any development at the shipyard include at least 50 percent below-market-rate housing. That is twice the 25 percent affordable housing Lennar is proposing. A study for the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development stated that doubling the amount of affordable housing from 25 percent to 50 percent would add $800 million to the developer's cost, which Michael Cohen, director of the economic development office, said would kill the project."

"The amount of investment Lennar and its equity and development partners are proposing to pump in the city's southeast sector is staggering. The initial investment of $1.5 billion would pay for new roads as well as sewer, water and gas systems. It would build 300 acres of parks, a "vast and effective transit system," and pay for the demolition of buildings, Cohen said. Some $5 billion would pay for 10,000 housing units and vast amount of commercial space."

"Supervisor Daly said city voters who care about affordable housing should support his initiative. He said he believes Lennar when it says it can't make 50 percent affordable work economically -- but he doesn't care. He said he would rather the city take the lead as developer and look for public funding "rather than handing the reins over to Lennar, which will net us a project that will fall short of meeting the needs of San Francisco."

Lennar hands ball to Policy [San Francisco Business Times]
JustQuotes: The Redevelopment Of Hunters/Candlestick Point [SocketSite]
JustQuotes: No Carrot, All Stick (Or Should We Say Daly Shtick?) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

March 13, 2008

JustQuotes: It's A Good Thing We Don’t Have Any ARMs Around Here…

U.S. Foreclosure Rates: February 2008 (Image Source: Bloomberg)

U.S. home foreclosure filings jumped 60 percent and bank seizures more than doubled in February as rates on adjustable mortgages rose and property owners were unable to sell or refinance amid falling prices….About $460 billion of adjustable-rate mortgages are scheduled to reset this year and another $420 billion will rise in 2011, according to New York-based analysts at Citigroup Inc.”

U.S. Home Defaults, Foreclosures Rise 60% in February [Bloomberg]
An ARM (And Quite Possibly A Leg) [SocketSite 6/05]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (24) | (email story)

March 12, 2008

JustQuotes: Redeveloping The Developments (And Changing The Mix)

“Three more decrepit San Francisco public housing developments will be refashioned into denser neighborhoods that include some market-rate housing, under a new agreement between the Housing Authority and construction companies that say they're up for the job.

The Housing Authority Commission on Tuesday named Sunnydale in Visitacion Valley, the Potrero Terrace-Potrero Annex complex on Potrero Hill and Westside Courts in the Western Addition as the next developments to be rebuilt using a mix of public and private funds.

The remade projects will include the same number of public housing units they do now, as well as hundreds of new affordable and market-rate rental units and homes for sale to help offset the costs. In all, there will be about 3,000 units in the new neighborhoods.”

“Bridge Housing Corp. will lead a team to build 605 public housing units and 1151 new units at the Potrero Hill development. Mercy Housing will lead a team to build 785 public housing units and 1,498 new units at Sunnydale. And Em Johnson Interest will lead a team to rebuild 136 existing units and 220 new units at Westside Courts."

3 S.F. public housing areas getting rebuilt [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

March 11, 2008

A Liquidity Boost (And A Chance To Launder Some “AAA” Securities?)

"The Federal Reserve, struggling to contain a crisis of confidence in credit markets, plans to lend up to $200 billion in exchange for mortgage-backed securities.

The Fed coordinated the effort with central banks in Europe and Canada, which plan to inject up to $45 billion into their banking systems. The Fed said in a statement it will hold auctions of Treasuries in exchange for debt including AAA rated mortgage securities sold by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and by banks.

Today's steps indicate the Fed is increasingly concerned about the investor exodus from mortgage debt, which threatens to deepen the housing contraction and the economic slowdown. While they fall short of the calls by some analysts for the Fed to make outright purchases of mortgage debt, the central bank left the door open to expanding the effort."

Fed to Lend $200 Billion, Take on Mortgage Securities [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

March 7, 2008

JustQuotes: A Boon To The Bayview (And Another Sign For Some)

"Developer Joe Cassidy has donated a Bayview district housing site to the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, a gift that will allow the nonprofit to build a 170-unit affordable housing project targeting Bayview families.

The waterfront parcel, 900 Innes Ave., has been appraised at $17 million to $19 million depending on how many units are constructed. The donation may generate a large tax write-off for Cassidy, but he said it was motivated by the weak housing market and frustration with the city's sluggish land use approval process. He had planned to build a market-rate development on the site, but three years into the application process was still years away from breaking ground. With affordable housing a priority for elected officials across the political spectrum, the THC will be better positioned to cut through the city bureaucracy, he added."

"I don't think a market-rate project out there would pencil for us at this point," said Cassidy. "The affordable guys will be able to move it and the market rate guys would be tied up for another three years, easy, plus two years of construction. I can't wait five years while the city gets its act together."

Developer donates site for big affordable plan [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

March 6, 2008

JustQuotes: Might It Draw Demand From Way Over In San Francisco?

8 Orchids Oakland

"The developer of the recently opened Eight Orchids condominium mid-rise in Oakland hopes to auction off nearly a third of the units, with some starting bids $300,000 below prior asking prices, as builders struggle to unload new properties in the current housing climate."

"The auction of 41 units is scheduled for March 30....The minimum bid for one-bedrooms is $245,000, down from as high as $520,888; two-bedrooms will start at $325,000, down from as high as $630,888; and three-bedrooms will begin at $475,000, discounted from as much as $805,888. There is no "secret reserve," meaning any unit that receives at least the minimum offer will go to the bidder."

Prices cut for Oakland condo auction [SFGate]
8 Orchids (Oakland) []

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (38) | (email story)

March 5, 2008

JQ: While The Fed Giveth (Cuts), The Street Taketh Away (Spreads)

"The extra yield that investors demand to own so-called agency mortgage-backed securities over 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose to the highest since 1986, boosting the cost of loans for homebuyers considered the least likely to default.

The difference in yields on the Bloomberg index for Fannie Mae's current-coupon, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage bonds and 10- year government notes widened about 1 basis point, to 204 basis points, or 70 basis points higher than Jan. 15. The spread helps determine the interest rate homeowners pay on new prime mortgages of $417,000 or less. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point."

"Spreads tightened last week when the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the largest buyers of the securities they guarantee, announced that temporary caps on their $1.5 trillion portfolio would be lifted. Investors have realized that the step was unimportant because the companies remain "capital-constrained," [a] New York-based UBS analysts wrote."

Agency Mortgage-Backed Bond Spreads Reach Highest Since 1986 [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: What The OFHEO Are They Thinking? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

March 4, 2008

JustQuotes: Planning/Progress The Willie Brown Way (Via John King)

"The way [Willie Brown] tells it, [neighborhood residents] were pulling every trick they could to stop the city from erecting a parking garage on Vallejo Street desired by North Beach and Chinatown merchants. So when all the approvals were lined up, Brown ordered demolition of the site's existing structure to commence on Friday night and be done by Monday morning, when the group was certain to try to obtain a restraining order.

"It was with the demolition permit I outsmarted them," Brown recounts proudly, claiming that as the critics rushed toward court, "someone shouted out to them that the building had disappeared over the weekend. They've never recovered from that little maneuver."

I pass along this florid tale because it demonstrates "Basic Brown's" basic insight into how San Francisco and other cities evolve. Things rarely happen by chance: Our landscape is shaped by competing visions of what a shared place should be. And more often than not, the winners are those who use the most brazen tactics."

Place: 'Basic Brown' reveals a brazen mayor [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

February 29, 2008

JustQuotes: The Timing On Turnberry's Tower (45 Lansing) And Sales

45 Lansing: The Lot (

"Turnberry Associates...has leased the defunct 25,000-square-foot Sound Factory nightclub at 525 Harrison St., directly next door to the One Rincon Hill sales center at 511 Harrison St. The space will be converted into a sales and marketing center for the tower Turnberry plans to start work on this summer [at 45 Lansing]. Turnberry spokesman Matt Levinson said...the sales office would open in "six to eight months."

One Rincon Hill office welcomes glitzy neighbor [Business Times]
First Impressions: One Rincon Hill Sales Center [SocketSite]
True Luxury Condos At 45 Lansing? [SocketSite]
Out With The Old: 45 Lansing And The Lot Around Watermark [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

February 20, 2008

JustQuotes: Will San Francisco Get What It Deserves?

“Many qualified and experience developers took a pass on [Seawall Lot 337] because of the perception that the Giants have it tied up -- And the Giants are encouraging this perception in order to keep down the competition. For a project of this size the experience and talent brought to the table so far is very modest - both on the lead-developer side and on the architect side.

Having a small cast of bidders with some weak members will also greater depress the potential land value offered. The Giants may be hoping for this; others have to hope the Port understands this dynamic, and can get the value the city deserves.”

The SocketSite Scoop: The Build Inc. Proposal For Seawall Lot 337 [SocketSite]
The Rendering And Additional Details For The Giants SWL 337 Proposal [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

February 19, 2008

JustQuotes: If Only It Were The Exception Rather Than The Rule

Octavia Boulevard North

"A year ago, four empty lots along [Octavia Boulevard] were awarded to architects and developers who won a civic competition. Neighborhood leaders helped draw up the rules. They praised the winning designs.

But today the land's still empty, and there's no telling when that might change. Those fenced-off lots are in limbo - victims of a larger process in which everyone has his own utopian demands, and nobody's shy about gumming up the works if he doesn't get what he wants." (Larger agendas stall city's best-laid plans)

RFPs For Housing Along Octavia Boulevard [SocketSite]
Infill Along Octavia Boulevard: And The Winners Are… [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

February 15, 2008

JustQuotes: A Reminder That They’re Not Just Building Down In SoMa

"A half-dozen housing projects are under construction or recently finished, including 130-unit Symphony Towers at 724 Van Ness Ave., a 54-unit 818 Van Ness Ave., a 50-unit project at 77 Van Ness, and a 29-condo building at Greenwich and Van Ness. A half a block off of Van Ness, at 1 Polk St., Anka Development is nearing completion on the 179-unit Argenta. Elsewhere, AF Evans is planning 282 units on a large lot at Pine and Van Ness, and Bayrock Residential has entitlements to develop 107 units and a Trader Joe's at the old Galaxy Theater on the corner of Van Ness and Sutter.

Taken together, more than 2,000 housing units are in the pipeline along Van Ness, with another 1,000 likely to be built at the four corners of Van Ness and Market streets."

"From a city planning perspective, the burst of residential activity has been a long time coming. In 1989, the city passed the Van Ness corridor plan, which changed the zoning from commercial to 'commercial/residential.' The plan also raised height limits to 80 feet in some parts of the avenue and 130 feet elsewhere. Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the urban think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, said the 20-year-old Van Ness plan serves as the model for city's 'better neighborhood' planning process.

'What we are seeing now is, through several real estate cycles, that plan continuing to be built out,' said Metcalf. 'Van Ness proved the value of neighborhood planning in the sense that we are not fighting about each individual project because we did the work up front.'

Van Ness may also be benefiting from planning gridlock elsewhere. With the Eastern Neighborhood planning process still contentious and bogged down after eight years, and Market Octavia plan still stuck in committee debate, Van Ness is one of the few centrally located parts of town where dirt can be moved, according to Chris Foley, a principal with the Polaris Group, which does condo sales and works with developers to secure sites and entitlements." (S.F. housing boom moves to Van Ness)

S.F. housing boom moves to Van Ness [Business Times]
Symphony Towers Update: 45% In Contract And Opening February 08 [SocketSite]
The SocketSite Scoop On The 52 Condos Rising At 818 Van Ness Ave [SocketSite]
77 Van Ness Rising (And Our Request For A Rendering) [SocketSite]
SocketSite Readers Report: The Grand Opening of The Greenwich [SocketSite]
Argenta (1 Polk): Ground Breaking [SocketSite]
1285 Sutter Street: The Proposed Design To Replace The Galaxy [SocketSite]
SocketSite’s Complete Inventory Index (Cii): Q1 2008 (San Francisco) [SocketSite]
San Francisco’s Market & Octavia Neighborhood Plan Moves Forward [SocketSite]
For Policy Wonks Only, Or Simply Those Who Care [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

JustQuotes: When Developers Get Carrots, MAC Makes A Nasty Stew

"Supervisor Bevan Dufty has authored a June ballot measure that would give developers who agree to build below-market-rate family-size units the ability to build more units per project site than current planning rules allow.

On Thursday, at a Board of Supervisors committee meeting, members of the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, or MAC, an advocacy group that aims to keep working-class people in San Francisco, said the measure would not produce enough affordable housing to justify the density bonuses it offered developers — and said they would oppose it.

The measure has the support of the Residential Builders Association, one of the group’s leaders, Sean Keighran, told supervisors at the meeting. Developers would be allowed to put more units into a project site if they provide two- or three-bedroom below-market-rate housing units on-site to meet city laws that require developers to offer 15 of the units on a project site at below-market rate."

Ballot measure aims to make The City’s housing affordable [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

February 13, 2008

JustQuotes: And So Have We (Noticed The Graffiti That Is)

Graffiti on Greenwich in Cow Hollow

"I lived a couple of blocks south of anonfedup's mom [in Cow Hollow] and instead of poop, I would find used condoms all over the sidewalk....The car break-ins off Union have gotten out of control. I've also noticed a lot more tagging over the last couple few months."

Comment: Apparently San Francisco Attracts A Lot Of Negative People [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 1:57 PM | Permalink | (email story)

JustQuotes: It’s Not About The Rates But Rather The Spreads

"The Federal Reserve's interest-rate cuts last month have failed to lower borrowing costs for many companies and households, increasing the chance of further reductions from the central bank.

Companies are paying more to borrow now than before the Fed reduced its benchmark rate by 1.25 percentage point over nine days in January, based on data compiled by Merrill Lynch & Co. Rates on so-called jumbo mortgages, those above $417,000, have increased in the past month, making it tougher to sell properties and risking further price declines."

Fed Interest-Rate Cuts Fail to Lower Borrowing Costs [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

February 12, 2008

JustQuotes: Consider The Why, Not Just The What ("Project Lifeline")

“At-risk borrowers with all types of mortgages, not just high-cost subprime loans, could be eligible for help under a new plan involving six big home lenders.

The plan, called Project Lifeline, will be announced Tuesday by the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said a person familiar with the plan who confirmed earlier news reports about the plan but spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not yet been made public.

Against a backdrop of surging defaults and administration officials' prodding of the mortgage industry, the plan will allow seriously overdue homeowners [90+ days overdue] to suspend foreclosures for 30 days while lenders try to work out more affordable loan terms.

On a pilot basis, the plan will involve six of the largest mortgage lenders, in hopes that more lenders will sign on. The participants are Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Countrywide Financial Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co.” (Feds to Unveil New Mortgage-Help Plan)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

February 7, 2008

JustQuotes: We’ve Been Wondering About Window Coverings Too

"On a somewhat related note, why do no new buildings in SF include window coverings? If you think [insert choice of buildings here] is odd looking now, wait till people move in and there's a patchwork of shades/roman blinds/drapes/screens, etc. In Vancouver window coverings are standard on all new buildings and having a consistent look through the building makes it look much better."

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

February 1, 2008

JustQuotes: Crunch Goes The Construction Captial For Condominiums

"While a dozen amenity-packed deluxe condo projects have vied for attention over the past three years, financing for new construction has dried up in recent months. Instead of the 10 to 15 percent equity common in past few years, lenders now look for developers to put in 40 percent of construction costs, and few banks are willing to lend more than $50 million for new condo projects, according to Michael Joseph of Kearny Street Capital, a commercial mortgage broker who worked with Jackson Pacific on [One Hawthorne].

'A lot of banks are licking their wounds right now and they are not interested in more speculative development,' said Joseph."

New S.F. condo project will be a rarity in 2008 [Business Times]
One Hawthorne: The Design (And Some Details) Of What’s On The Way [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

January 31, 2008

JustQuotes: Not Only Did The Port Get Punked, But Perhaps Prodded

“San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin made a series of harassing telephone calls to officials at the Port of San Francisco and threatened to eliminate their jobs and cut funding to the agency because staff members disagreed with him over building-height limits on the city's waterfront, the port director said in a letter obtained by The Chronicle.”

“The dispute between Peskin, who represents North Beach, and port officials involved parcels of land along the Embarcadero on the city's northeastern waterfront. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Carole Migden at the request of Newsom's office would have allowed the financially struggling port to build lucrative developments on those lots.

But Peskin and many of his Telegraph Hill constituents, whose homes look down on the Embarcadero, wanted to make sure the Migden legislation would ensure that any buildings erected on the port property would meet local height restrictions and would be no taller than 40 feet. But port officials objected to that.

The bill ultimately became law, but the lots in dispute were cut out of the final version, meaning the fight over building requirements for the parcels is bound to resurface.”

President of S.F. supes accused of harassing calls, threats [SFGate]
San Francisco Seawall Lot Rezoning Public Forum (5/14/07) [SocketSite]
Did The Port Get Punked? (San Francisco Seawall Lot Redevelopment) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

January 30, 2008

JustQuotes: The Federal Reserve Cuts Rates Yet Again (0.5%)

"The Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a point to 3 percent, the second cut in nine days, and indicated its willingness to do so again to prevent a U.S. recession.

'Downside risks to growth remain,' the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement after meeting today in Washington. In a reference to the volatility of the past five months, the Fed added that 'financial markets remain under considerable stress and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households.'

The dollar tumbled and two-year Treasury notes rose after the decision as traders anticipated another reduction at the Fed's March meeting, if not before. The cumulative reduction in rates since Jan. 22 is the fastest easing of monetary policy since 1990. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed 0.5 percent lower and is down 7.7 percent this year."

Fed Cuts Interest Rate to 3% as U.S. Growth Falters [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

January 29, 2008

JustQuotes: From The Mouth Of Reader Morgan (And John King)

As a plugged-in reader writes:

People who think SocketSite readers are "too critical" of this building [SoMa Grand] should check out this scathing attack.

An excerpt from said attack by John King:

Everything is careful and cost-effective; the interior is sleek and smart. But like too many residential containers in the Bay Area and beyond, nothing about Soma Grand engages the scene around it. It's a wet blanket at billboard scale.

And the line we almost missed (but a reader most certainly did not):

I'd gladly swap a lean version of Soma Grand for some of the towers in Rincon Hill or Mission Bay.

SoMa tower: Grand it ain't [SFGate]
Comment: SoMa Grand: A Reader’s Unofficial Sales Update And Insight [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

January 28, 2008

JustQuotes: U.S. New Home Sales Follow In The Footsteps Of Old

“Purchases of new homes in the U.S. fell to a 12-year low in December [and fell 26% on a year-over-year basis], capping the biggest annual decline on record.

Sales decreased 4.7 percent to an annual pace of 604,000, the fewest since February 1995, from a 634,000 rate the prior month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median price last month dropped 10 percent from December 2006, the biggest 12-month decline in 37 years.

The report may reinforce concern that falling home values and stricter lending rules will lead to more foreclosures and hurt consumer spending. Federal Reserve policy makers, meeting later this week, will probably cut interest rates again to try to ward off recession, economists said.”

Sales of New Houses in U.S. Fall More Than Forecast [Bloomberg]
U.S. Existing Home Sales Decline More Than Forecast In December [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

January 22, 2008

JustQuotes: At Least The North Beach NIMBYs Are Out In The Open

"There's a place for everything," [Marsha Garland, founder and executive director of the North Beach Chamber of Commerce] said. "For example, I like Pottery Barn. I'm glad there's one in the Marina. But I wouldn't want one in North Beach. We don't want chains in North Beach." ('Survivor' champ may not make it in S.F.)

Posted by socketadmin at 8:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | (email story)

January 14, 2008

JustQuotes: What's/Who’s To Blame For “Bad” Building Design In SF?

Habitat825 in West Hollywood

“What is it with San Francisco and bad design? I just finished reading the article on the condos by Lorcan O'Herlihy in the NYTimes that were built in West Hollywood, and THIS project on Corbett is the SAME PRICE as those units which are amazing? San Francisco really needs to "get out" more and see what the rest of the design world has been up to. The poor product we are expected to buy at top dollar is insulting when compared to what designers are giving buyers in Los Angeles and Chicago in this same price range.”

A Peek Inside Three New Condos In Twin Peaks: 950 Corbett Avenue [SocketSite]
Remaking the Condo With Light and Air [New York Times]
Habitat825 (West Hollywood) []

Posted by socketadmin at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (42) | (email story)

January 11, 2008

JustQuotes: Bosa Buys Parcel 5 On The South Side Of Mission Creek

“Builder Bosa Development has bought another parcel in the burgeoning Mission Bay neighborhood, paying $13.5 million for [Parcel 5 on the south side of Mission Creek] that has been approved for 270 residential units, according to Old Republic Title Co.”

“The deal comes as Bosa has topped off the first 99-unit phase of the Radiance at Mission Bay and started construction on the second phase, which will have 317 units.

The first 99 units went on the market in April and just over 50 percent are in contract. Dennis Serraglio, Bosa's sales and marketing director, said most of the units went into contract in the first 60 days after the sales office opened. During the second half of 2007, Bosa sold an average of two units a month.”

“Bosa said his construction costs are still rising; he said he would not be able to sell phase two of the Radiance for less than $1,000 a square foot.”

Bosa still bullish, buys again in Mission Bay [San Francsico Business Times]
Why You Should Care About All Those New Developments (Part I) [SocketSite]
Radiance At Mission Bay: Around 50% In Contract (And Conversion)? [SocketSite]
Radiance At Mission Bay: Sales Office Open [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

JustQuotes (And A Reader Request): What’s This Offering Worth?

Kings Road Plan

“As these are my lots, I'm curious what a knowledgeable crowd such as this feels the value of the lots might be and what value might you place on the plans by AA Architecture?”

Permits, Plans And “Panoramic Views” Of (Not From) San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | (email story)

January 8, 2008

JustQuotes: Just Don’t Bet On (Or Call It) A Potential ARM Bailout

""There is no evidence it is bottoming,"' [Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson] said of the housing decline on CNBC television during a trip to New York. "The evidence would be that it has further to run."

The Treasury chief indicated the outlook may prompt an expansion of the plan Bush administration officials brokered with mortgage lenders last month. The initiative is aimed at helping as many as 1.2 million Americans keep their homes by making it easier to negotiate affordable loans and freezing some adjustable-rate mortgages at current rates.

"We have this wave of resets coming," Paulson said, referring to the almost 2 million of adjustable-rate loans forecast to jump to higher rates in the coming two years. "One thing we will consider is maybe expanding this beyond subprime borrowers to other borrowers.""

Paulson Sees `No Evidence' Housing Decline Is Ending [Bloomberg]
Pending Sales of Existing U.S. Homes Fell in November [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

January 7, 2008

Another Contractor Comments On The Cost Of Construction In SF

“Planning can be a great friend if you know how to ask but they are crippled by the mentioned heavy conformance to CEQA and a series of mandated delays (i.e. 311 and EIR processes) that only increase carrying costs and practically invite your neighbors to force ridiculous mutations of your building envelope to suit their (often unfounded) fears and desires. We have institutionalized the rights of the established homeowner over the new entrant to a community. Precisely the kind of elitism we all publicly decry. Without these delays I could reduce the cost of each project by nearly $100K in financing alone.”

The Actual Cost Of Building In San Francisco [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:45 AM | Permalink | (email story)

January 4, 2008

JustQuotes: Words Of Wisdom By Which To Start The Weekend

"The views are what are called "peek-a-boo" by real estate agents. That's great for lingerie, but not real estate." (Reader comment with regard to 41 Federal #42)

Posted by socketadmin at 6:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Oakland Is In The House

"We still own a flat in Noe.... we moved to Oakland because of it's great livability, great hills schools, the weather, swift commute,etc. etc. It's a mistake to assume a person is broke and desperate to move out of SF..... you can have your East Bay sunshine and still get dinner at Firefly, coffee at Tartine, and lunch at the Burger Joint with a move to Oakland. Or you can eat at Wood Tavern and Bakesale Betty's......

Everybody raise their hands if they remember when they too thought the coolest thing on earth was the ability to roll out of bed and go hook up with your friends at the Fillmore, Union, "insert any street name here"... Street Fairs. Remember how "hip" it was to wait for a brunch table at Kate's Kitchen, to go hear the great music at Radio Valencia???? Byron..... grow up." (Cashing Out: If It Can Happen There, Can It Happen Anywhere?)

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | (email story)

December 26, 2007

JustQuotes: We The People Do Want Our Federal Building Views

San Francisco's Federal Building Lobby and Garden (Image Source:

"Even though [San Francisco's new Federal Building] at Seventh and Mission streets was designed to allow Jane and Joe Citizen to explore the lobby and an open-air "sky garden" that starts on the 11th floor, some agencies inside want to keep us out.

Yes, there's a guard at the entrance. Individual agency offices can't be entered without keys or automated codes. But at least one department isn't satisfied with the security, so it wants more.

Officials promise that We the People will have access. "One of the goals of the building is that people should be able to flow in and enjoy the public spaces," says Gene Gibson, the Pacific region spokeswoman for the General Services Administration. "We want this to happen as soon as we can."" (How's it going? Updates on Bay Area's big building projects)

Morphosis: United States Federal Building [arcspace]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

December 21, 2007

Planning For 5,700 New Homes In San Francisco’s Parkmerced

Parkmerced Map

From J.K. Dineen at the San Francisco Business Times: “Parkmerced's owners want to add 5,700 housing units to San Francisco's largest apartment complex in a dramatic redesign that would cost billions of dollars and nearly triple the west side community to 9,000 units.

Stellar Management and Rockpoint Group's aggressive plan calls for the construction of between 200 and 300 units a year over the next 15 to 20 years. The owners plan to file an application for environmental review with the city before the end of the year, according to spokesman P.J. Johnston.

The proposal, as envisioned by architects Skidmore Owings Merrill, would reinvent the automobile-centric World War II-era community as a denser, more pedestrian-oriented neighborhood with a new transit stop, parks, and grocery shopping. Ten of the 11 existing 13-story towers would be preserved. Approximately 70 percent of the 5,700 new units would be in townhouses of three or four stories. Others would be in new towers up to 13 stories. The housing will include a mixture of rental apartments and for-sale condos.”

Parkmerced Map

“The heart of the future Parkmerced would be a new Muni station. The developers are proposing to bankroll moving the San Francisco State University Muni station from 19th Ave. and Holloway, considered one of the city's most dangerous intersections, onto the Parkmerced property. The new station would be built on Crespi Drive and would be integrated into a Parkmerced village center with a grocery store, farmers' market, cafe, and other small shops. The owners are also considering adding one or two more Muni stops on the 110-acre property.”

"The Stellar/Rockpoint scheme calls for a number of extreme green measures. Some, like narrower streets with bike and walking paths, are commonplace. Others are more unusual, like a plan to remove the entire property off the city's power grid and instead generate electricity through wind turbines and microturbines that operate on a variety of gaseous or liquid fuels and emit very low emissions. Skidmore's design partner for the project, Craig Hartman, said cleantech advances can reduce energy consumption by 62 percent per household. A highly-efficient plumbing system and a new water recycling plant could reduce water and sewer consumption by 43 percent per home, he said."

Huge housing plan to add 5,700 units [Business Times]
Parkmerced []

Posted by socketadmin at 7:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (23) | (email story)

December 17, 2007

And Yes, A Few Kinky Condos Could Hypothetically Be Coming Soon

A slice of the San Francisco Armory

While Kink’s window restoration project for the San Francisco Armory has been replacing boarded-up and broken windows for the first time in 30 years, and the building might actually be feeling a bit festive (rather than altogether abandoned), it’s the hypothetical "Kink condos" that seem to be getting all the attention.

“Porn producer Peter Acworth, who bought the 93-year-old Mission Armory and turned it into a porn video studio, has approached the city Planning Department with the idea of converting some of the building into kinky condos - complete with Webcams for all the world to see.”
"My discussions with the Planning Department have been extremely hypothetical to say the least," Acworth said via e-mail. "There is no firm plan for using the Armory for anything but a conventional film studio for now."

We could be wrong, but it sounds more like an inquiry into establishing live-in film studios rather than condo development per se. And while we could be wrong again, it seems as thought the corner of Mission and 14th has been getting better (rather than worse) since Kink acquired the ailing armory.

Porn prince wants to build kinky condos in Armory [SFGate]
From (Proposed) Condos To Kink [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

JustQuotes: We’re Equally As Interested In The Other Four-Fifths

Chronicle Foreclosure Map: Investor Owned Bay Area Foreclosures

"The Chronicle analyzed ownership information for 6,557 Bay Area homes and condos repossessed by lenders in the first nine months of this year. Those represented 94 percent of all Bay Area foreclosures during the time period; full records of past ownership were not available for the remaining foreclosures.

Of these, just under 1,000 were owned by 439 people who had multiple properties foreclosed upon from January to September. An additional 349 foreclosures were owned by people who listed mailing ZIP codes different from their property's address at the time of purchase - suggesting the properties were an investment, not a primary residence.

The vast majority of these properties were bought with little or no money down, according to an analysis of DataQuick's loan information. About 69 percent of the investors got 100 percent financing, meaning they did not put down a dime of their own money toward the purchase prices. An additional 12 percent made down payments that were less than 5 percent of the purchase price. Only 10 percent of investors put down the standard 20 percent.

Some 80 percent of the investor-owned Bay Area foreclosures were purchased at the height of the real estate market in 2005 and 2006, public records show."

[Editor’s Note: “Investment” properties are often undercounted due to buyers self identifying their purchases as being owner-occupied in order to benefit from more favorable mortgage rates/terms.]

Investors own about one-fifth of Bay Area homes in foreclosure [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

December 14, 2007

JustQuotes: Washington Mutual Cuts On Continuing Credit Crunch

"This week Washington Mutual, the Bay Area's fourth-largest bank, said it will slash 2,600 jobs nationwide and close mortgage offices as it goes to Wall Street, hat in hand, seeking a $2.9 billion capital infusion. Even some of WaMu's top performing mortgage lenders were shown the door as the company anticipates the volume of mortgage originations will plunge 40 percent next year.” (Credit crunch forces layoffs at Bay Area banks)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

December 12, 2007

JustQuotes: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Coming To Bayview

“The world's third-largest retailer plans to open the first full-service grocery store along San Francisco's Third Street corridor, concluding a more than decadelong effort by city officials to expand the impoverished area's food shopping options.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, the aggressively expanding U.S. division of British-based Tesco PLC, has signed an agreement to buy the 15,000-square-foot retail space of a condominium project from co-developers Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Noteware Development, said Roberto Munoz, the company's neighborhood affairs manager. The 360-unit project is located at 5800 Third St., a former Coca-Cola factory.”

After years, Bayview will finally get full-service grocery store [SFGate]
Bayview Development [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

November 30, 2007

No Direct Support! But Any Bets On Tax Credits For Security Holders?

“U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is negotiating an agreement with banks to stem a surge in foreclosures by fixing interest rates on loans to subprime borrowers, according to people familiar with a meeting he led yesterday.”

“While the government can't force the industry to modify loans, Mr. Paulson and other administration officials have been using moral suasion to push for workouts, telling the companies it is in their interest to avoid foreclosure since most parties can lose money when that happens. A similar plan to freeze interest rates temporarily was recently announced by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and four major loan servicers, including Countrywide.

Among the holdouts have been investors, who typically hold securities backed by mortgages. If interest rates are frozen, they would lose the potential benefit of higher payments. But investors have cautiously moved toward cooperation, likely on the grounds that it's better to get some interest than none at all.”

“Officials in Washington have been cautious about steps that would be seen as rescuing borrowers, lenders and investors from the consequences of their own bad decisions. That is why few are suggesting direct support for borrowers who can't afford their loans. Mr. Paulson has decided his best option is to prod the markets to sort matters out themselves, as long as companies bear in mind the public interest in keeping people in their homes.”

Paulson, Banks in Talks to Stem Surge in Foreclosures [Bloomberg]
U.S., Banks Near A Plan to Freeze Subprime Rates [WSJ]
JustQuotes: What’s The Cause And What’s The Effect? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

JustQuotes: And Which Way Is The Wind Blowing In San Francisco?

"Treasuries fell and bill yields rose as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke indicated the central bank will do whatever it takes to keep the economy out of a recession....Rising gasoline prices, a housing slump and reduced access to credit will probably create "headwinds for the consumer," Bernanke said in a speech yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also cited "renewed turbulence" in financial markets."

Treasuries Fall as Bernanke's Comments Reduce Bid for Safety [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (25) | (email story)

November 29, 2007

Forget About The In-Law, What If The Parking Is (Was) Unwarranted?

Parking Pad (

"It’s already illegal for city residents to pave their front yards without permission, but one supervisor’s legislation is intended to give inspectors the teeth to enforce the ban. District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval will introduce legislation next week that would empower Planning Department inspectors to hand out or mail citations for violations of zoning regulations."

"Residents are pulling out gardens and lawns from their front yards and filling them with concrete. Doing so provides an extra parking spot, but Sandoval said it has far-reaching ill effects. “We passed a law several years ago to make it illegal, but people continue to do it,” he said. “We are in danger of becoming a concrete city.”

Sandoval takes aim at illegal property paving [Examiner]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (43) | (email story)

November 28, 2007

We’ll Say It Once Again: It’s All About Managing Expectations

“The [U.S.] housing sector has continued to decline and to erode at a very, very rapid rate,'' [Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn] said in response to a question. “It would be nice to see some early signs that it was beginning to stabilize, and we haven't seen that yet.”

Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and other banks that underwrote so-called collateralized debt obligations linked to mortgages and other credits have already warned of losses of at least $47.2 billion on CDOs and other holdings. The securities slid as investors shunned assets linked to subprime U.S. mortgages following a surge in loan defaults.

“There's further to go” in revealing losses, Kohn said today. He added that the more information that is made public about potential losses “the better,” as it will help ease uncertainty."

UPADTE: A publishing error resulted in this excerpt being published twice. And an editor’s error (damn monkeys) resulted in the deletion of the version with (rather than without) our reader’s comments (which we didn’t even have a chance to read). Sorry about that folks, no slight intended, and please feel free to comment again. And as always, thank you for plugging in.

Kohn Sees Risk of Reduced Credit From Market Upheaval [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

November 26, 2007

JustQuotes: Looking At SF Through Blue/Green Colored Glass(es)

The Infinity

"To be sure, glass-clad buildings are nothing new in San Francisco. The Hallidie Building, built at 130 Sutter St. in 1917, wears one of the world's first glass "curtain walls," in which pre-assembled panels are hung into place on a building's structural form.

But as glass-and-steel high-rises recast the skyline after World War II, overtly modern buildings sparked a backlash. The shift culminated in 1985's Downtown Plan, which decreed that new buildings should "contribute to the visual unity of the city." Another rule: "Highly reflective materials, particularly mirrored or highly reflective glass, should not be used."

The planning director at the time: Dean Macris. The planning director today: Macris, who returned to the post in 2004.

While Macris now champions contemporary design, he and Nikitas say the 1985 edict against glossy glass still applies. But the sheer number of sheer towers is causing alarm, as is the fact that the first batch hasn't lived up to planner expectations: "I can't say we've said, 'Aha, there's the perfect solution,' " Macris acknowledged."

Newest towers will give S.F. skyline a touch of glass [SFGate]
Testing tries to ensure that glass structures don't court disaster [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Is It Not Supposed To Be The Other Way Around?

“American money is migrating into Chinese real estate. Phoenix, a real estate project in Beijing, reportedly sold more than 120 apartments to Chinese Americans from San Francisco and Los Angeles in two weeks. Since last year, two-thirds of those who applied for Chinese visas at the Los Angeles and New York consulates went to China to buy real estate, according to the Beijing-based Chinese-language newspaper, Economic Reference.”

China: In Hidden Danger of Sub-prime Crisis [New America Media]
What’s The Scoop On Foreign Investment In San Francisco? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

November 21, 2007

JustQuotes: What’s The Cause And What’s The Effect?

Countrywide, GMAC, Litton and HomeEq - which collectively service more than one quarter of subprime loans to people with poor credit - agreed to maintain the initial, lower interest rate for some subprime borrowers whose rates are scheduled to jump significantly higher. To qualify, borrowers must occupy their homes, have made their payments on time and prove they cannot afford payments with the higher interest rate.

"Property values are falling dramatically, primarily because there are so many foreclosures already on the market in some areas," [Larry Litton Jr., chief executive of Houston's Litton Loan Servicing] said. "Clearly, it is not good for our investors to have the real estate back. It feels like a no-brainer for a loan servicer to keep the payment where it is, keep another piece of real estate off the market and keep the borrower in the house."

Governor, 4 big lenders agree on plan to stall high mortgage rates [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

November 20, 2007

An Annoying Anecdote Or An Actual Alternative To San Francisco?

"Ten days ago, Derek Allen donned a hard hat and walked through the newly opened models at Axis, San Jose's newest condominium tower under construction in downtown. What he saw persuaded him not to buy a condo on San Francisco's Rincon Hill, but instead put a $5,000 deposit down on a 19th-floor unit at the Axis, located on Almaden Boulevard next to the De Anza Hotel."

Downtown S.J. welcomes high rise living [San Jose Mercury News]
If This Is Old News (And You Know Even More), Then Drop Us A Line [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (59) | (email story)

November 14, 2007

JustQuotes: The Foreclosure Spillover, Symptom Or Subterfuge?

Chronicle Graphic: Subprime Spillover (Image Source:

"The losses (from foreclosures) are extending to neighbors and to entire communities," said Martin Eakes, chief executive of the Durham, N.C., Center for Responsible Lending, which released the survey on Tuesday. "The spillover effect is disturbing because we've only just begun to see the foreclosures."

"Foreclosures aren't causing prices to fall - it's a symptom of the whole thing unraveling," [Christopher ] Thornberg said. "If you had no foreclosures at all, prices were still going to fall. (Foreclosures) may accelerate the process, but it's a process that has to happen one way or another because when you look at (home) prices relative to income, it's completely insane."

Ripple effect of foreclosures touch entire communities [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (24) | (email story)

JustQuotes: A Resident Questions The Presidio’s Account(ing/ability)

I have lived in the Presidio for five years, and watched it turn into Pacific heights South, with a touch of downtown Redwood City. The emphasis is on real estate development, not on preserving the park, or wildlife....This is supposed to be a park, not an exclusive country club.”

A Not So New New Neighborhood Opens Back Up In The Presidio [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

November 9, 2007

JustQuotes: Phase I Of Trinity Plaza About To Break Ground

Trinity Plaza Plot

"The first phase of [Trinity Plaza] construction, some 440 units on the Mission Street side of the property, includes 360 "replacement" studios to house the rent-control tenants now living in the Trinity rental complex. The remaining 80 units will feature one-bedrooms: 68 market-rate and 12 below-market rate. The address of the first building will be 1188 Mission St.

[Trinity Properties Chief Financial Officer Walter Schmidt] said shoring and excavation will begin shortly and take the project into 2008 when the "pile and foundation program" will start. Trinity officials estimate that it will take two years to finish the first phase and move existing tenants over.

In all, the project will include four phases. After 1188 Mission St. is completed, the next building will be 545 units on Market Street, which will include 21,000 square feet of retail space and a large public plaza allowing pedestrians to pass through from Mission to Market Street.

The final building phase will add 915 units and include a building along Eighth Street and another west of the 1188 Mission St. structure."

Massive excavation to begin at Trinity Plaza [Business Times]
Trinity Plaza: Just One Signature (And Around Three Years) To Go [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Sometimes It's Simply About The Readers' Comments

"From the mortgage crisis to the plunge in home sales, dark clouds continue to threaten San Francisco's seemingly endless real estate summer. And yet remarkably, local Realtors I know seem as cheery as ever."

What's happening now in the reportedly stormy San Francisco housing market? [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (32) | (email story)

November 6, 2007

Dorothy Lenehan’s “Realm” Is Rising Over At The Soma Grand

Soma Grand's Realm Rising (

“Composed of 390 panels, most about 2-by-7 feet and 1/4-inch thick, the mural titled "Realm" is the biggest piece of glass art in the city. Three stories tall, it cost $800,000. (As required by local planning law, 1 percent of the construction cost has to be used for art.) Set in a shoji screen-like aluminum grid on the new Soma Grand building, the mural brings a blast of color to a gritty mixed-use neighborhood that's being transformed by a rash of commercial and residential construction.”

Towering work of art [SFGate]
The Soma Grand: The SocketSite Straight Scoop [SocketSite]
Last Night’s Week's Gathering: A Reader Driven Wrap Up (We Hope) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (34) | (email story)

October 25, 2007

JustQuotes: Pick Your U.S. New Homes Sales Headline And Spin

U.S. New-Home Sales Rose in September After Revisions [Bloomberg]
“Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in September after figures for previous months were revised down, maintaining concern the housing slump will restrain economic growth. Purchases increased 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 770,000 that matched the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. August purchases were revised down to an 11-year low of 735,000, the Commerce Department said today in Washington.”

New home sales hammered again [CNN]
“The pace of new home sales was weaker than expected in September, although it was a slight pick-up from an even weaker revised figure for the previous month, according to a government report. The pace of new home sales came in at an annual pace of 770,000 in the month, up from the revised 735,000 rate in August. Economists surveyed by had forecast sales would slow to a pace of 775,000 in the month.

But the report showed more weakness than the narrow miss of the forecast would indicate. Both the pace in July and the pace in August were revised lower. The previous reading of a 835,000 sales pace in July was cut to 798,000, while the original August reading to 795,000 was cut 8 percent to an 11-year low."

Posted by socketadmin at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

October 24, 2007

JustQuotes: Will The Effects Ripple, Or Will They Be “Contained?”

“Pointing to a map of ACORN's research showing the hardest hit areas in San Francisco - Ocean View, Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Excelsior - Quezada said she believed lenders and mortgage brokers targeted the area's most vulnerable borrowers.”

4,800 subprime Bay Area loans at risk of foreclosure by 2008 [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

October 23, 2007

JustQuotes: The Eminent Goldman Sachs Sees An Imminent Decline

"Californian homes are overvalued by as much as 40 percent and stricter lending standards will probably contribute to "material" price declines, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

Prices in the state "have proven surprisingly resilient, given the severe curtailment of credit availability and rising unemployment," the analysts said in a note to investors. "However, we believe that a downturn is imminent.''

California Homes Are Overvalued by as Much as 40%, Goldman Says [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (45) | (email story)

October 22, 2007

JustQuotes: An East Bay Owner “Trades Up” And Becomes A Renter

“Scorching or icy, booming or busting, there's nothing like California's housing market for animated conversations - and, it turned out for us, unconventional decisions.” (Want a life of leisure? Be a renter)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

October 18, 2007

(Not Quite) JustQuotes: Might Mayor Newsom Say Something Similar?

Poaching from a reader’s earlier off topic comment:

[New York] Mayor Bloomberg provided the answer yesterday to the question that's on a lot of New Yorkers' minds: Are housing prices here going to drop?
Yes - with an important qualifier - was the mayor's assessment.
"I think you can expect real-estate prices to fall," he said.
"I don't think they'll go down as much as any of the other places in the country because here people don't build or buy on spec. They build and buy and rent to live in them. And so, there's much more stability here."
At the same time, he added, "We're part of America and what happens in the rest of the country's economy is going to have an impact on our economy."

Ah, yes. The bigger picture.

The Wall Street Journal Rides The Subprime (Tidal) Wave [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | (email story)

October 17, 2007

JustQuotes: But Do They Have To Be Mutually Exclusive?

"The green guys, their moralism and do-gooderness - phew. Horrible. There has to be joy in architecture." (Sustainability and aesthetics in one building?)

Posted by socketadmin at 2:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

October 16, 2007

JustQuotes: Horton Hears A Who And A Where (Are The Buyers)

"D.R. Horton Inc., the second-largest U.S. homebuilder, said orders in the fiscal fourth quarter plunged [39%] to the lowest in almost six years as customer cancellations soared [up to 48% from 38%] and banks restricted lending."

“The reduced availability of certain mortgage products such as Alt-A loans and tighter underwriting guidelines has reduced the pool of available homebuyers.”

“More than 90 percent of D.R. Horton's buyers used fixed rate mortgages for their purchase and 14 percent had Alt-A financing, the report said. Less than 1 percent were subprime borrowers, UBS said in the Sept. 24 report. Alt-A mortgages are available to borrowers with good credit who generally cannot or choose not to verify their income.”

D.R. Horton Orders Fall to Lowest in Almost Six Years [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

October 12, 2007

JustQuotes: A Federal Falling Out For The Mid-Market Movement

50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco

"Developer Forest City's plan to transform the landmark 50 United Nations Plaza from an empty federal office building to a 200-unit apartment complex has hit a wall.

After 18 months of talks on a ground lease, the General Services Administration informed Forest City Residential West that "negotiations were being discontinued and the building will be sold," said Susan Smartt, senior vice president of Forest City Residential West.

The decision baffled both company executives and city hall officials who had been in discussions with Forest City on how to improve Civic Center Plaza, now a favorite haunt for drug dealers and their customers."

Feds halt Forest City plan for 50 U.N. Plaza [Business Times]
Historic Federal Buildings: 50 United Nations Plaza, San Francisco [GSA]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

October 5, 2007

An Ornate 1893 Victorian At 1915 Oak For 1825 Thousand (Dollars)

1915 Oak

1915 Oak Street: Living

And as much as we admire modern, we can’t help but appreciate an ornate old Victorian.

∙ Listing: 1915 Oak Street (4/2.5) - $1,825,000 [MLS]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | (email story)

October 3, 2007

JustQuotes: And What’s This Mean For The Residents/Real Estate?

“San Francisco will begin cracking down this week on homeless people who commit quality-of-life crimes in a 15-block area of the city's South of Market district - the tourist-heavy section that includes Bloomingdales, the Metreon and Moscone Center.”

SoMa patrols to shepherd homeless away from tourist areas [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (79) | (email story)

September 28, 2007

JustQuotes: Don’t Shoot (But Feel Free To Debate) The Messenger(s)

“A recession within the next 12 months is likely and its impact on the Bay Area will be "sharp but short" due to the area's strong economic underpinnings, according to a new forecast.”

“A recession will be brought on by slowing consumer spending prompted by a cooling housing market, said economist Jon Haveman. "People who have seen their house values rise 10 to 15 percent annually have been spending accordingly," he said. The Bay Area housing market is overpriced and Haveman expects prices to drop by as much as 20 percent by 2009 before stabilizing.”

“While the forecast, presented to business executives this month, predicts a relatively short recessionary period, there are risks to the local economy. Among them is the commercial real estate market, Haveman said.

Low interest rates allowed unprecedented speculation on office space. If lease rates dip, that could trigger an unraveling of mortgage-backed securities in the commercial market, the forecast said. "The same excesses in the mortgage markets have also been seen in commercial markets," Haveman said.” (Bay Area may be in for short, sharp shock)

Posted by socketadmin at 2:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

September 25, 2007

JustQuotes: It’s Happening With Debt, Could It Happen With Homes?

"Declines in the dollar, which fell to a record $1.4154 against the euro today, are souring some overseas investors on U.S. government debt...."We're shifting money to the euro from the U.S.'' A falling dollar brings losses to investors from outside the U.S. and it may spur inflation in the months ahead, [Satoshi Okumoto, who helps oversee the equivalent of $4.3 billion in non-yen debt at Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Tokyo] said."

Treasuries Rise as Consumer Confidence, Home Sales Decline [Bloomberg]
What’s The Scoop On Foreign Investment In San Francisco? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (30) | (email story)

September 19, 2007

JustQuotes: Predicting, Pontificating And Forecasting From New York

"Earlier this year, Robert J. Barbera, who’s been a Wall Street economist for 25 years, was predicting a soft landing for housing — that is, stagnation rather than substantial declines. So were most forecasters. “But now it appears that’s not the way we’re going to do it,” says Mr. Barbera, the chief economist at ITG Hoenig, who correctly predicted yesterday’s Fed move.

What has changed in recent weeks are the spike in mortgage rates, the drying up of subprime lending and the ever-growing number of houses on the market. A research firm called RealtyTrac reported yesterday that mortgage lenders had filed 244,000 foreclosure notices last month, up from only 113,000 a year earlier. Amazingly, more than a third of the filings were in just two states, California and Florida, the sites of some of the largest prices increases and the most ridiculous mortgage lending.

It’s also worth looking at what happened to home sales last month in California, where counties release property transaction records earlier than they do in most of the rest of the country. With mortgages harder to come by, home sales dropped even more rapidly than they had earlier in the year. In the Los Angeles area, 35 percent fewer homes sold this August than in August 2006, according to an analysis by DataQuick Information Systems. Around San Francisco, the decline was 31 percent.

The exact path that housing prices will take over the next few years is, obviously, unknowable. But there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that the typical home last year was overvalued by something like 20 percent. I wouldn’t necessarily argue with anyone who insisted on 15 or 25 percent."

Will the Fed Reverse the Housing Slump? [New York Times]
Bay Area Up But San Francisco Down (And That’s A Good Thing) [SocketSite]
San Francisco Sales Activity: Reported Sales Volume Takes A Little Hit [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (39) | (email story)

September 18, 2007

JustQuotes: Architecture Check (And Opinion) On Isle Three

“The new Whole Foods Market in San Francisco shows with meticulous precision why upscale grocery stores are coveted by communities that want to see themselves as fully rounded or on the map.

In the process, it also shows the design gap between mainstream America's stylish retail environments and the boilerplate architecture that surrounds them.”

John King: Place: San Francisco's new Whole Foods [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

September 13, 2007

JustQuotes: Forget Subprime, Will That Apply To Alt-A As Well?

“Congress, banking regulators and President Bush all are promoting a potential way for subprime borrowers to avert foreclosure. Called loan modification or loan workout, it means changing a mortgage's terms to make the payments more affordable.”

“Lenders are uniformly unwilling to make loan modifications for homeowners whose interest rates are resetting higher, said Rick Harper, director of housing at Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco, which talks to about 1,000 delinquent borrowers a month.

On the other hand, he said, for people with short-term financial crunches - from job loss, illness or divorce, for instance - lenders today are more amenable to modifications and forbearance.

The catch-22 is that the homeowners who most need loan modifications are not those with temporary problems. They are people who signed up for adjustable-rate mortgages and now cannot make the escalating payments.” (Modified mortgages: Lenders talking, then balking)

Posted by socketadmin at 7:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (21) | (email story)

September 12, 2007

JustQuotes: Parsing The UCLA Anderson Forecast For The Bay Area

“Despite the Bay Area's notoriously high home prices, the housing slump won't be as acute as in the rest of the state because supply and demand are in better balance, especially in the inner counties of San Francisco and San Mateo. Combine that with expected solid performances in such key sectors as technology and tourism, and the region should weather a slowdown well, UCLA forecasters say.”

“Wells Fargo & Co. economist Scott Anderson agrees that the Bay Area is California's strongest region, and he is optimistic about prospects for the region's tech sector. But he stresses the risks of a statewide economic downturn more than UCLA forecasters do, pointing to how vital construction and other housing-related jobs have been to the state's growth in recent years.”

“Statewide, home prices could fall as much as 10 percent from their peak, [Scott] Anderson expects. In the Bay Area, the drop should be less, no more than 6 or 7 percent, he said.

Both Anderson and UCLA forecasters stress that the biggest risk to California's economy is that the housing slump will prove worse than they predict. It's become harder for home buyers to get loans. And the high-water mark for rising rates of adjustable-rate mortgages is still several months away, which could mean more loan defaults, more foreclosures and more downward pressure on home prices.”

Bay Area should escape worst of the state's economic slump [SFGate]
UCLA Anderson Forecast: California Will Avoid Recession [BusinessWire]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

September 7, 2007

JustQuotes: Yesterday’s News But Still Worth A Mention Today

"Lehman, the biggest underwriter of U.S. bonds backed by home loans, and National City, Ohio's largest bank, announced the dismissals [850 and 1,300 people respectively] less than a day after 900 people were cut by Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest U.S. mortgage firm."

"The bulk of the firings at New York-based Lehman will be at Aurora Loan Services LLC, the U.S. unit that makes so-called Alt- A loans to borrowers whose credit ratings fall just short of standards for regular prime mortgages."

"Countrywide said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday that it cut 900 jobs as demand for home loans waned at the Calabasas, California-based company."

Lehman Brothers, National City Cut Jobs as More Home Loans Sour [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

September 4, 2007

JustQuotes: Signs Of Some (Prime) Liquidity In The Mortgage Market

“Thornburg Mortgage Inc., the jumbo home-loan specialist, sold bonds backed by $1.44 billion of mortgages to pay down credit lines and free up financing to accelerate new lending.

The transaction was collateralized by “prime” loans, or those to borrowers with high credit scores, Santa Fe, New Mexico- based Thornburg said today in a statement. The loans carried adjustable interest rates.

Thornburg, which stopped taking new loan applications last month after having its access to short-term credit markets curtailed, resumed lending last week and now is trying to increase the pace. The company had to liquidate $20.5 billion of mortgage-backed securities to pay off short-term debt and issue $500 million of convertible preferred stock to bolster cash reserves.

“There is apparently some liquidity in the market” after investors' bids for new mortgage-backed securities all but dried up in mid-August, Thornburg President Larry Goldstone said in an interview.

Founded in 1993 by Chief Executive Officer Garrett Thornburg, the company has survived as a mortgage-industry credit crunch forced more than 100 lenders to close operations, file for bankruptcy or put themselves up for sale since the beginning of last year.”

Thornburg Completes $1.4 Billion Financing of Loans [Bloomberg]
JustQuotes: Qualifying Is Great, Funding Is Even Better [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

August 30, 2007

JustQuotes: Qualifying Is Great, Funding Is Even Better

“U.S. commercial paper outstanding fell for a third week, dropping 3.1 percent as more investors refuse to buy debt secured by mortgage assets.”

“Commercial paper outstanding has fallen by $244.1 billion in the past three weeks as more than 20 companies and funds including Cheyne Finance and Thornburg Mortgage Co. fail to find buyers for new paper after losses on some mortgage-related securities scared investors into safer investments. An $18 billion auction yesterday for two-year U.S. government debt drew the most demand since 1992.” (Commercial Paper Falls for Third Week as Mortgage Losses Mount)

"Thornburg Mortgage Inc., the jumbo- mortgage specialist that was forced to stop making new loans, sold $500 million of convertible preferred stock to help alleviate a shortage of cash." (Thornburg Mortgage Sells $500 Million of Preferred Stock)

Posted by socketadmin at 8:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

August 23, 2007

JustQuotes: Why Listen To This Guy About The Housing Market?

“Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo said Thursday the housing market is showing no signs of improvement and could lead the U.S. into a recession.” (Countrywide CEO: economic outlook grim)

Posted by socketadmin at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (26) | (email story)

August 20, 2007

JustQuotes: Upping The Underwriting Ante (And Industry Layoffs)

“Capital One Financial Corp., a credit card and banking company, slashed its earnings forecast on Monday and said it plans to eliminate 1,900 jobs, following its decision to stop arranging mortgages through brokers....The credit card and banking company said it expects to continue to make home loans in its bank branches, where it has more control of the underwriting process.”

"The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal e-mail sent Friday to employees of Countrywide's Full Spectrum Lending unit, said the company has laid off workers in that division, which handles home loans rated between prime and subprime [i.e., Alt-A]."

Capital One closes GreenPoint mortgage unit [CNNMoney]
Countrywide said to start layoffs [CNNMoney]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

August 16, 2007

Quicklinks: Countrywide “Materially Tightens" Underwriting Standards

"As we have previously discussed, secondary market demand for non-agency mortgage-backed securities has been disrupted in recent weeks," said [Countrywide] President and Chief Operating Officer. "Along with reduced liquidity in the secondary market, funding liquidity for the mortgage industry has also become constrained.”

"Furthermore, as a result of lessened liquidity for loans which are not eligible for delivery to the GSEs [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac], Countrywide has materially tightened its underwriting standards for such loans, and, we now expect that 90 percent of the loans we originate will be GSE-eligible or will meet our Bank's investment criteria.” (Countrywide Supplements Funding Liquidity Position)

Corporate Bond Risk Rises as Bankruptcy, Default Fears Spread [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 6:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (68) | (email story)

August 15, 2007

JustQuotes: An Isolated Incident Or Important Insight?

"'The loan was approved and locked in. People were ordering moving trucks, everyone was feeling euphoric.' On Thursday, the couple buying the [$2.45 million] house learned that their lender was rescinding their loan because they were making only a 10 percent down payment.

'All of a sudden the lender, because it is backed by a series of investors that are feeling very shaky and panicky, decided it could no longer honor the loan commitment,' Hogan [their agent] said. 'This was not a subprime loan; this was fully documented, people with outstanding credit who own a $5 million home now and didn't need to sell it to buy this one.'

The buyers could have gotten a mortgage at a substantially higher rate - just under 8 percent - Hogan said, but 'they crunched the numbers and said, 'Hell, no, maybe this is a sign for us to get out.''

The buyers walked away from the deal, forfeiting their $73,000 deposit. The home is back on the market for $2.2 million, its original asking price."

Mortgage crunch has even wealthy buyers scrambling for credit [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

August 13, 2007

JustQuotes: 72 Townsend To Become 74 New Condos In San Francisco

72 Townsend

“Westbay Builders has purchased a 25,380-square-foot industrial property at 72 Townsend St. for $9.2 million and plans on developing a nine-story, 74-unit condo building on the site….The project is fully approved and will incorporate a historic one-story warehouse built in 1874 for grain storage. “ (Flynn Properties scores with SoMa, Potrero sales)

Posted by socketadmin at 4:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

August 6, 2007

JustQuotes: From Credit Crisis To Credit Squeeze To Credit Crunch?

New York Times: What To Watch

“What had seemed like a contained problem, involving home loans to people with poor credit, has suddenly mushroomed into a rout that threatens to make life difficult for everyone who needs to borrow money.

Home buyers are likely to pay more for mortgages, and some with less-than-pristine credit or an inability to come up with a down payment may find they no longer can borrow at all.”

The Loan Comes Due [New York Times]
Housings Busts and Hedge Fund Meltdowns: A Spectator’s Guide [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

August 2, 2007

JustQuotes, RandomRumors, And Readers Report: Alt-A All In One

At this time Wells no longer accepting Alt-A loans. Period. I also have CONFIRMATION that IndyMac is also tightening significantly: I have UNCONFIRMED reports that WaMu, BofA, and Wachovia are also significantly restricting Alt-A loans as of today.

Again, there will ALWAYS be some market for Alt-A and subprime...[b]ut it will be much more expensive to use those products. We are seeing more demand for down payments, more income verification, decreased loan amounts, etc. The days of 100% financing using IO or option ARMs at low rates [are] over. Some lenders will still offer 100% financing, some will still offer option ARMs or IO ARMs... but it will cost more.”

UPDATE: "Rumor modification -- I just checked with my Wells mortgage agent. He hadn't heard that they were no longer offering Alt-A. So I cruised some mortgage broker blogs. The rumor seems to be that Wells is no longer offering Alt-A's to brokers and correspondent banks, reserving them for their own branches instead."

JustQuotes: Forget Subprime In San Francisco, But How About Alt-A? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (62) | (email story)

July 30, 2007

JustQuotes: The Green Building Exchange In Redwood City

The Green Building Exchange

“[Michael] Schaeffer, a longtime California home builder who started using more-efficient methods before "eco-friendly" was a catchphrase, has started the Green Building Exchange in Redwood City, a kind of year-round trade show, education center and retail shop designed to steer builders away from natural resources and low-efficiency items and toward cabinets made from reclaimed sorghum straw and non-electrical glow-in-the-dark "exit" signs.” (Getting Green Under One Roof)

The Green Building Exchange [Redwood City]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

July 26, 2007

JustQuotes: Three Paragraphs, Two Quotes, One Bad Day

“Wall Street suffered one of its worst losses of 2007 Thursday, leading a global stock market plunge as investors succumbed to months of worry about the mortgage and corporate lending markets. The Dow Jones industrials closed down more than 310 points after earlier skidding nearly 450.

Investors who had been able for months to largely shrug off discomfort about subprime mortgage problems and a more difficult environment for corporate borrowing finally decided it was time to sell after the Commerce Department issued another disappointing home sales report.” (Stocks Skid on Lending Worries)

“The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 6.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 834,000 units. The decline was more than triple what had been expected and was the largest percentage drop since sales fell by 12.7 percent in January.” (New Home Sales Down Substantially)

JustQuotes: Is The Subprime Sickness Spreading? [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

July 24, 2007

JustQuotes: Is The Subprime Sickness Spreading?

“Countrywide Financial Corp. reported a 33% drop in second-quarter net income on Tuesday and signaled that problems in the subprime mortgage market have spread to the highest-quality home loans....Countrywide said payments were at least 30 days late at the end of second quarter on 4.56% of prime home-equity loans serviced by the company, up from 1.77% a year earlier....Payments were late on 23.71% of subprime mortgage loans, up from 15.33% at the end of the same period in 2006.” (Subprime problems spread to top-rated mortgages, lender says)

UPDATE (later that afternoon): "Wall Street pulled back sharply Tuesday as investors dealt with disappointing earnings reports and renewed concerns about the mortgage lending market." (Stocks Fall on Earnings; Dow Sinks)

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | (email story)

July 20, 2007

More 'Manhattanization' Of San Francisco: Paying More For Parking

It's a double parking whammy as underutilized downtown surface area parking lots are replaced by new housing developments with more people than parking spaces.

"Parking demand in San Francisco is rising daily," [City Park CEO Tim Leonoudakis] said. "The 'Manhattanization' of downtown parking will be complete with the opening of the residential towers in South of Market, which are all 'under parked.'"
Legislation passed last summer limits parking at new residential projects in the city's downtown to one space per every four units -- though developers can secure up to three spots for every four units under certain conditions.
Leonoudakis said most tenants need more than one space and that demand is not being satisfied on site. Tenants, he said, will overflow into the surrounding neighborhood and "that's going to impact commuter parking."
"There's a dynamic under way that we should all be paying attention to," he said. The issue has already gotten attention, in part due to a controversial measure to increase parking allotments all over the city that is likely to appear on the ballot in November.
The measure would boost the number of allowed spaces at new multi-unit residential projects downtown from a maximum to a minimum of three slots for every four units, according to Jim Ross, a political consultant who's running the campaign for the initiative. It would also increase parking to a minimum of one space for each new residential unit built outside of downtown, and "allows for but doesn't require" minimum numbers of spaces for new retail and other commercial projects, Ross said.”

And regardless of your position on this issue, there’s likely one thing on which we can all agree: the cost/value of parking in the city is going up. Now about those $225,000 parking spaces in Manhattan...

S.F. parking in tight spot [Business Times]
For Parking Space, the Price Is Right at $225,000 [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (180) | (email story)

July 12, 2007

JustQuotes: Not Too Scary In San Francisco (Unless You’re The One)

“In the nine-county Bay Area, 3,383 households received default notices in June, more than double the 1,460 in June 2006. Alameda and Contra Costa had the highest number, with slightly more than 1,000 such notices each, followed by Solano with 557 default notices.”

Contra Costa County had 1 foreclosure notice for every 198 households, while Alameda County had 1 notice for every 440 households. At the other end of the spectrum, Marin County had 1 foreclosure notice for every 2,625 households, while San Francisco had 1 such notice for every 2,179 households.

Foreclosure activity rises dramatically [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

July 10, 2007

JustQuotes: When (Not If) Rates Rise What Will Happen To Prices?

“Buyers are finding it more difficult to finance purchases because of higher mortgage rates and stricter lending standards, Freddie Mac said. The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed rate home loan probably will be 6.7 percent this quarter, according to the forecast. That's the highest level so far this year, and it's half a percentage point above the 6.2 percent average in the first three months of the year.”

U.S. Housing Sales to Tumble to Six-Year Low on Rates [Bloomberg]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (51) | (email story)

June 14, 2007

JustQuotes (And A Note): And Yet Money Is Still Relatively Cheap

“The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans climbed to 6.74 percent for the week ending June 14, from 6.53 percent the previous week. That marked the biggest one-week increase since July 2003….Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), expects mortgage rates to top out near 7 percent by the end of the year.”

[Editor’s Note: A rate shift from 6.53 to 7.00 percent would requite mortgage balances to drop by almost 5% in order to maintain the same level of payment affordability.]

Mortgage rates: biggest spike in 4 years [CNNMoney]
What’s The Treasury Got To Do With It? (Quite A Bit) [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

June 11, 2007

JustQuotes: They Say Bifurcated, We Said Bipolar (A While Back)

“It is a bifurcated market, with continued brisk sales of homes in desirable neighborhoods, especially in the $750,000-and-up range. At the same time, lower-priced homes, and houses in outlying areas, are simply not moving -- in large part because tighter lending standards, a fallout of the subprime loan crisis, mean there are fewer entry-level buyers. The shift in market mix has caused median prices to continue rising, despite the hordes of buyers sitting on the sidelines.” (Would-Be Home Buyers Hesitate)

Posted by socketadmin at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Ellis Act Eviction Battle Ends (But The War Continues On)

“Tenants of a six-unit North Beach apartment building have lost a round in their three-year battle against eviction by landlords who want to sell the units as tenancies-in-common....The case is being closely watched by property owners and renters as a test case for tenancies-in-common, in which residents collectively own the building and share the mortgage.”

"Allowing tenants to challenge Ellis Act evictions on the basis of violations of unrelated laws frustrates the purpose of the act, which is to permit landlords the right to go out of the rental business....[I]n addition to a possible appeal, the tenants will continue to oppose the eviction with several other claims that are still pending in Superior Court."

North Beach tenants lose eviction ruling [SFGate]
Court: Real estate law not applicable to evictions [FogCityJournal]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

May 31, 2007

JustQuotes: The Showcase, The Event, And The (National) Impact

“1771 North Point is a down to the studs total overhaul (remodel doesn’t do it justice) and the showcase home for the Pacific Coast Builders Conference.” (The “Marina Green Showcase” Hits The Market)

“Numbers are down this year at PCBC The Premier Building Show, a major homebuilders conference at Moscone Center that opened Wednesday, a reflection of declining new-home construction after previously hot sales.” (Premier Building Show reflects decline in sales)

“For nearly a year, the economy has been enduring a stretch of subpar economic growth due mostly to a sharp housing slump.” (Economy Has Worst Growth Since 2002)

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | (email story)

May 18, 2007

JustQuotes: A New Vision For A Hunters Point Neighborhood

“In a joint venture with partners Devine & Gong and Ridgepoint Non-Profit Housing Corp., Stewart and his team are proposing to raise $300 million to demolish a 267-unit public housing project on a Hunters Point hillside and replace it with a roughly 667-unit mixed-income neighborhood.

The public housing would be replaced one for one, but the new neighborhood would also feature 80 affordable rentals, 50 below-market for-sale units, and 250 to 300 market-rate condos, which would be priced at about $425 a square foot.” ($300M housing dream)

$300M housing dream [San Francisco Business Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 7:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

May 11, 2007

Soma Grand VIP Release Tomorrow (5/12/07)

According to a “plugged-in” tipster, the Soma Grand “VIP priority purchase” is tomorrow (5/12/07) starting at 10AM. “Selection priority is based on the date we receive your loan approval and your attendance at the sales office.” And yes, it’s ahead of the public (non-plugged-in) release.

The Soma Grand: The SocketSite Straight Scoop [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | (email story)

May 7, 2007

Just Quotes: Old School Advice (And A Calculator)

“As a general guideline, it's best not to spend more than 2-1/2 times your income on a home. Your total housing payments should not exceed 28% of your gross income. Total debt payments, meanwhile, should come in under 36%. That means payments on all loans, including your mortgage loan, school loans, auto loans and credit card debt.”

7 Net-worth killers [CNNMoney]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

April 30, 2007

JustQuotes: Lereah Leaving N.A.R. News Or Not?

"David Lereah, the author of "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" will leave the National Association of Realtors by the middle of next month after serving as the head economist for seven years, a spokesman said."

Bullish real estate economist to step down [CNNMoney]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

April 24, 2007

JustQuotes: What’s Perception And What’s Reality In Realty?

"Buyers come to us and are obviously very distressed when we tell them they're going to have to compete against quite a few people to purchase any property that is exceptional," [agent Peter Goss] said. "That's not the perception that one has. The perception that one has is very different.

"Last year's big story was the housing bubble. People finally got to the point here of realizing, 'You know what? This isn't happening here.' Now you pick up the paper and what's the story? It's the subprime market problems. That's this year's story. Here again, there are so few subprime loans in San Francisco -- it's a very different situation here than in other Bay Area cities." (Picking Up Steam)

Picking Up Steam [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (14) | (email story)

April 23, 2007

JustQuotes: Investment Bankers And Their Wacky "Fundamentals"

“Median California home prices are still creeping up, and the state's strong employment trends should support the real estate market. But Goldman [Sachs] is worried that surging prices in the state in recent years weren't driven by traditional factors such as strong employment and income growth. Instead, the bank reckons an increase in ARM mortgages offered to borrowers who were already stretching to buy high-priced homes fueled the boom.” [Editor's Note: Inconceivable!]

California home prices to weaken further: Goldman says [MarketWatch]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | (email story)

JustQuotes: Wait A Second, Real Estate Isn’t Risk Free?

“With or without bailouts, the subprime crisis is going to hurt many people. But it could have a silver lining. If it brings down home prices, more families could afford homes with realistic mortgages. And if it reminds everyone that buying a home is a risky proposition, so much the better.” (Why we shouldn't be bailing out subprime lenders or borrowers)

Why we shouldn't be bailing out subprime lenders or borrowers [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

April 10, 2007

JustQuotes: Renzo Piano Talks Tall Buildings With J.K. Dineen

“For an architect who is proposing San Francisco's tallest buildings, [Renzo] Piano does not come across as a strident advocate for height. He says he is not interested in breaking records. He recently walked away from a 1,000-foot project at Winthrop Square in Boston because the developer was pushing for a level of density that would have forced larger floorplates, and a clumsier structure.”

"When you make tall buildings you have be careful not to fall in the trap of making aggressive, powerful, arrogant buildings," he said. "(Tall buildings) can be obsessive symbols of power. Somebody talks about phallic symbols and it is true. Sometimes tall buildings don't tell very interesting stories."

“In contrast, Piano sees San Francisco as a "city about romanticism and light." Piano said he is planning to keep some of the three- and four-story buildings along First Street.”

"Modern architecture and construction tends to want to destroy what is already there, but I think it's a mistake because the growth and transformation of cities is about layers, so it's a pity not to keep some element of memory," he said. "Those little buildings at First and Mission are part of the story." (Master of detail)

Master of detail [San Francisco Business Times]
They Just Keep Getting Bigger, And Bigger, And Bigger... [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

March 27, 2007

JustQuotes: The Redevelopment Of Hunters/Candlestick Point

Chronicle graphic by Joe Shoulak and Todd Trumbull: The City's Development Plan

“The plan [for Hunters/Candlestick Point] includes at least 8,500 housing units, 2 million square feet of office space, an 8,000- to 12,000-seat arena and 700,000 square feet for retail and entertainment uses, including a large grocery store near Highway 101 at Candlestick and a smaller one at Hunters Point.” (S.F.’s Grand Plan For 49ers)

S.F.’s Grand Plan For 49ers [SFGate]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

March 23, 2007

JustQuotes: The Donald Speaks (Will You Listen?)

"Donald Trump almost lost his shirt 15 years ago when the North American real estate bubble burst. The 2007 version of that disaster will be much more benign, the real estate magnate predicts, although there is softness in some urban markets, such as Toronto and San Francisco."

Trump touts soft markets in cities like Toronto []

Posted by socketadmin at 4:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | (email story)

March 22, 2007

JustQuotes: New Design (And Same Old Problems) Along Octavia Blvd

Octavia Rendering (Image Credit: envelope Architecture+Design)

"Three teams of architects and builders have been selected to fill sites along the new roadway, and the one thing the winners have in common is that they aren't just trotting out slick designs. Each team's plan is stylish but serious, with fresh twists on how to add distinctive housing to a well-established neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the scene also shows another facet of San Francisco: a planning process where competing ideals often translate to gridlock. There's a real danger that the rebirth of Octavia Boulevard could be stalled by politically tinged disputes over the future of the area around it." (John King)

Creativity marks plan for Octavia [SFGate]
Infill Along Octavia Boulevard: And The Winners Are… [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 2:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | (email story)

March 16, 2007

JustQuotes: Home Or Investment?

Wall Street Journal Chart: Home Price Appreciation 1977-2007

“In San Francisco, where it looks like prices may have hit their high mark in the third quarter of 2006, home values peaked in early 1990 before falling for the next eight years.”

Why your home isn't the investment you think it is [WSJ]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (22) | (email story)

March 8, 2007

JustQuotes: More Pricing At The Potrero

The Potrero: Building Plan (Image Source:

“According to an email sent to the Potrero prequalified buyer list, they will be have model units open this weekend and the prices are now listed as Studios from $439,880, One-bedrooms from $545,880, and Two-bedrooms from $715,880.” (Reader Comment)

The Potrero (451 Kansas): Sales Center Now Open [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 4:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

March 6, 2007

Just Quotes: From Easy (Money) To Hard (Times) In Subprime

“We made so much money you couldn’t believe it. And you didn’t have to do anything. You just had to show up.”

“Now an escalating crisis in the market, which seemed to reach a new crescendo late last week, is threatening a wide band of people. Foremost are the poor and minority homeowners who used easy credit to buy houses that are turning out to be too expensive for them now that mortgage rates are going up, but the pain is also being felt widely throughout the business world.”

Mortgage Crisis Spirals, and Casualties Mount [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 5:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | (email story)

February 19, 2007

Just Quotes: It’s Hot In Manhattan, But What About Here?

“Since the new year began, a burst of activity has broken out in Manhattan and several Brooklyn neighborhoods as New Yorkers frenetically hunt for co-ops, condominiums and town houses, sending prices higher despite sluggish sales in many other cities.”

Housing Market Heats Up Again in New York City [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (36) | (email story)

February 8, 2007

Just Quotes: Punishing The Honorable (Another Dirty Little Secret)

“A new national survey found that 90 percent of appraisers reported that mortgage brokers, realty agents, lenders and even consumers have pressured them to raise property valuations to enable deals to go through. That percentage is up sharply from a parallel survey conducted in 2003, when 55 percent of appraisers reported attempts to influence their findings and 45 percent reported "never." Now the latter category is down to just 10 percent.” (Feeling pressure to inflate appraisals)

You Can Relist, But You Can’t Hide [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | (email story)

January 19, 2007

Just Quotes: Could It Happen Here?

“Over the last 15 years, downtown Vancouver has become a leader in North America’s urban housing renaissance. Under Vancouver’s “living first” policy, which was adopted 20 years ago, the downtown population has increased to 80,000 from 40,000, out of a total city population of 600,000. By 2030, planners expect 120,000 people to live in the city’s shimmering glass skyscrapers, which overlook the snowcapped North Shore mountains, English Bay and Coal Harbour.”

The Zoning Policy That Worked Too Well [New York Times]

Posted by socketadmin at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | (email story)

December 15, 2006

Just Quotes: San Francisco Population Growth

“Planners and demographers said Thursday it may be time for the Bay Area to bite the bullet and plan for density....San Francisco should see about 161,000 new residents by 2035...” (Population expected to swell by 2 million)

Posted by socketadmin at 12:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (34) | (email story)

November 21, 2006

JustQuotes: Slowing Luxury Home Market Gains

“In the San Francisco Bay Area, luxury homes continued the recent pattern of small quarterly gains. Increases have ranged between 0.3% and 1.8% over the past five quarters. Values have risen modestly for eight quarters.”

“Despite the slight increase from the second quarter, market conditions varied widely in the region. In San Francisco, prices and sales appear to be falling. “I see price reductions, and homes selling below the asking price,” said Naomi Glass of Coldwell Banker in San Francisco. “Few things are moving. People are hesitant because they see an uncertain market.”

Did we mention that we've been keeping an eye on the upper end of the market?

California Luxury Home Values Rise Modestly [First Republic Bank]
Prestige Home Index: San Francisco [First Republic Bank]
Keeping Our Eyes On The Upper End Of The Market [SocketSite]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

November 13, 2006

Just Quotes: So Is San Francisco Hot Or Not?

"Do not be afraid of falling prices. It's sales that are important," [David] Lereah said. "We needed prices to fall. We had a balloon and we are deflating it. It got to the point where homes were unaffordable and we reached a breaking point. That's the reason we are in this contraction."

"It's the hot boom cities -- that is where the problem is," Lereah said. "But these were the boom markets because they had good economic fundamentals, and for the most part that is still true. This is a temporary correction in these hot markets -- but how you define temporary I just don't know."

Forget temporary, how do you define “correction?”

Housing Market Showing 'signs Of Recovery' [Morningstar]

Posted by socketadmin at 12:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | (email story)

October 23, 2006

Just Quotes: Et Tu David?

David Lereah, the senior vice president and chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, “expects real estate prices to continue to fall in most U.S. markets. In areas that experienced the largest price appreciation in recent years, a correction is needed, he said, this time citing San Francisco as the best example.” (Realtors' chief economist tells Rotarians to concentrate on local market)

Posted by socketadmin at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | (email story)

September 7, 2006

Just Quotes: A Rough Day For Realtors

“[David] Lereah said home prices typically appreciate at the rate of inflation, plus one or two percentage points. Buyers who plan to stay in their homes should see those gains, but "people who purchased last year with the intent of flipping are likely to get burned," he said.” (Realtors expect home prices to fall)

""The shift we've seen lately results from psychological factors with buyers on the sidelines trying to time the market," NAR President Thomas Stevens said in explaining the sharp shift in the group's forecast." (Realtors slash home sales forecast)

Posted by socketadmin at 2:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (18) | (email story)

July 25, 2006

Just Quotes: The Times They Are A-Changin’

“The chief economist of the California Assn. of Realtors has stopped using the term "soft landing" to describe the state's real estate market, saying she no longer feels comfortable with that mild label.” (Housing Expert: 'Soft Landing' Off Mark)

“It's official - even the nation's leading group of real estate agents now says it's a buyers' market in housing, as a soaring supply of homes for sale means nearly flat prices and longer waits for sellers.” (Realtors: Home sales now a 'buyer's market')

"It shifted from being a counterculture land-reform movement to being a housing strategy." (Reaching for the American Dream)

Posted by socketadmin at 9:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | (email story)

June 21, 2006

Just Quotes: Service With A Smile

"The thing that really upsets me is that the listing agent smiles to your face and puts a knife in your back."

Consumers Get Caught in War Between Real-Estate Brokers [RealEstateJournal]

Posted by socketadmin at 8:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

June 16, 2006

Quote Of The Day: One Rincon Hill Style

It seemed like the people were staged better than the furniture. Then again, I might have had one too many 'Gincons'.” (One reader’s first impression of the One Rincon Hill Sales Center and its clientele)

Posted by socketadmin at 9:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

May 22, 2006

Just Quotes: Staging Is So Like 2005

“Dallas-based Centex built four model homes [in Santa Clarita, California], filled them with furniture, then took things one bizarre step further. The company hired four actors to play the role of a family . . .”

"Model complexes tend to be a bit stagnant and dry for people," comments Amanda Larson of Centex. "What better to show how someone might live in them?"

Seller hopes model behavior will give homes lived-in appeal [dailynews]
Model Family Will Be on Display in Model Home [REALTOR]

Posted by socketadmin at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)

May 19, 2006

Just Quotes: A Happy Garden

331 Collingwood Garden

“The extra long lot has been cultivated and nursed by a Tibetan monk.”

∙ Listing: 331 Collingwood (3/2) - $1,195,000 [BJ Droubi]

Posted by socketadmin at 10:55 AM | Permalink | (email story)

May 8, 2006

Just Quotes (Emphasis Added)

“Real estate players widely acknowledge that the Bay Area condominium market is cooling. Condo marketer Paul Zeger, president of Pacific Marketing Associates, said he now sells 15 to 20 condominiums per month on a typical project, compared with 25 to 30 per month at this time last year.”

“GreenCity Lofts, on Oakland's border with bustling Emeryville, has sold just 10 of 62 units in nine months, with a mid-range price of $750,000.”

"It's no secret the market has slowed and there seem to be fewer buyers," said Adam Lubow with Praedium, a Pleasanton firm that helps developers set prices and otherwise market their properties. "A lot of product has gotten priced out of the realm of affordability."

Lennar scraps Oakland housing deal [bizjournals]

Posted by socketadmin at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | (email story)