301 Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
UPDATE: TIC/Condo Bypass Legislation
For the past two weeks, SFAR has participated in stakeholder meetings with tenant advocates and Supervisor Mark Farrell in an attempt to find a compromise to amend the TIC/Condo Bypass Legislation which originally sought to help the 2,000 condo lottery applicants access historically low bank financing. The amended legislation creates devastating and permanent changes to the condo lottery system which will create barriers to home ownership for decades to come. In particular, the amended legislation would:
create a minimum 10-year moratorium on the condo lottery
eliminate 5-and-6 unit buildings from the lottery
create new occupancy requirement to effectively eliminate 4-unit buildings from the lottery; and
provides a “poison pill” which halts the bypass if anyone were to sue challenging it while not reinstituting the lottery. It essentially invites law suits.
Tell Supervisors David Chiu and Norman Yee that the amended legislation is designed to destroy the condo lottery and hurts home ownership. You can email or call them at:
Thank Supervisors Malia Cohen, London Breed, Katy Tang, Scott Wiener, and Mark Farrell for their efforts to provide needed help to existing TIC owners in the original legislation and their steadfast opposition to the amended legislation, which seeks to destroy the lottery. You can contact these supervisors at:
This is a great monthly analysis of San Francisco real estate market newsletter that I receive from the Assoc of Realtors. A million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to in San Francisco. It has a lot of use full information about the current market, and I wanted to share this information with you.
“Don’t you think we should ask for more than a million dollars? A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days,” Number 2 – Austin Powers International Man of Mystery.
If your clients are looking to buy a home in San Francisco after relocating from elsewhere in the nation, they can be forgiven for making the same mistake Austin Powers did in thinking he could get what he wanted (in his case, world domination) for a mere $1 million. Newcomers to the area are often shocked to find that $1 million might not get them all the amenities in a home that they desire.
Add to escalating prices, high demand, tight inventory and stiff competition from investors who can pay all cash and homebuyers may too take a moment’s pause (with pinky finger firmly resting at the corner of one’s mouth).
Single-Family Home Sales
Compared to April of last year, the inventory of single-family homes for sale in the City fell by 19.6 percent, to a total of 541 properties. The number of homes under contract rose by 11.5 percent, while the number of homes sold dropped by 4.1 percent, to a total of 212 properties.
For homes that were priced below $700,000, the months supply of inventory dropped by 42.6 percent to 1.1 months. For higher-priced homes between $700,000 and $1.2 million, the months supply of inventory also fell, by 20.6 percent to 1.1 months.
Properties being sold within just a few weeks of listing indicates a strong sellers market. Sellers are, in most cases, getting multiple offers due to limited inventory.
One region of the City experiencing a boost of mojo is the Central East section known as District 9 which includes the neighborhoods of Portero Hill, Dog Patch, Inner Mission and Mission Bay. Since 2011, the inventory of homes in this district has shrunk more than 42 percent with just 48 properties for sale in April 2013. At the same time, median prices in the area hit a 2-year high in April 2013.
The Inner Mission neighborhood has become a popular area for young tech professionals, due to its proximity to downtown, availability of mass transit, shuttles to Silicon Valley and an abundance of popular restaurants. The median price for a home here is $1,001,000, up 33 percent from the same time last year.
Along with single-family homes, the inventory of condominiums for sale in the city fell by 17.1 percent, to a total of 740 condominiums. The number of condominiums under contract rose by 20.6 percent, while the number of condominiums sold decreased by 0.3 percent, to a total of 295 units.
For condominiums that were priced between $500,000 and $900,000, the months supply of inventory tightened by 46.2 percent to 0.8 months. For luxury condominiums priced above $900,000, the months supply of inventory also dropped by 64.2 percent to 0.9 months.
One area in the City, perhaps not often thought of for condos is District 1, which includes the neighborhoods of Richmond and Sea Cliff, which sits just south of the beautiful Presidio. Condos in the area have been a hot commodity with inventory there decreasing by nearly 60 percent over the last two years. The median price for a condo in the district reached $810,500 in April 2013.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in March, increased in April. Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board said: “Consumer Confidence improved in April, as consumers’ expectations about the short-term economic outlook and their income prospects improved. However, consumers’ confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months by such events as the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax hike and the sequester. Thus, while expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend.”
The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported California home sales and prices experiencing strong increases in April, with the median price surpassing the $400,000-mark for the first time in five years. In addition, homes across the state sold more quickly in April 2013, with the median number of days dropping to 27.9 from 48 days in April 2012.
CNN Money recently reported that, “during the housing bust, sales were often derailed by low-ball appraisals that fell far shy of a home’s selling price. But now, as home prices climb and housing inventories shrink, appraisers are valuing homes at or above their selling prices.”
According to SF Gate, “San Francisco rental rates rose 15.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same time last year, to an average of $2,663 for all size units. Studio apartments averaged $2,075, up 16.5 percent in a year. The steepest rise came in one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments, which are now $2,611 – up 19.9 percent in the past year and up 30 percent from two years ago.”
With the continued success of real estate in the San Francisco market many people are wondering how much home does $1,000,000 get you in San Francisco today?
Finding your affordable home in San Francisco is not without its challenges. By Comparing three neighborhoods with diverse housing to show the types of housing available, there is some good news and some bad news….
For example: Noe Valley like many other San Francisco neighborhoods was originally developed as a working-class neighborhood. Over the years, Noe Valley has undergone gentrification and is now considered a fashionable address, and is currently home to many young professional couples with children. In March, a Noe Valley 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with 1600 square feet on Grandview sold for 1,160,000.
The Financial District is home to numerous corporate headquarters, including Fortune 500 companies. It is also home for professionals who enjoy the luxury condo lifestyle such as the Millennium Towers, 1-bedroom, 1-bath house with approximately 833 square feet that sold in March for $1,160,000.
One of San Francisco’s original “Seven Hills,” Russian Hill is in the heart of the city yet maintains a secluded feel. It is sought after for its location that is within walking distance to the famous sight seeing neighborhoods of North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Cow Hollow, the Marina, and Chestnut Street. Russian Hill is most famous for the twisting turns of Lombard Street. Russian Hill offers many living and lifestyle options including a nicely renovated 2-bedroom, 1-bath, 1200 square feet condo on Francisco near Polk sold in March for $1,050,000.
This real estate market is moving fast. It takes consistent attention to find the hidden gems especially at the one million dollar mark. There are hidden gems even in this market if you know where to look!
If you’re looking for a home in the San Francisco are, please feel free to contact me:
567 Sutter St., 3rd Fl
San Francisco, CA 94102
Neighborhood: Union Square
Bush St. Review Before Renovation with your Renovation Realtor Gary Belk from GaryBelk.com
A home renovation can involve many decisions and these decisions can be daunting to make on your own. There are homeowners who understand but they either refuse to do a needed home renovation at all, or end up with in an unfortunate situation with their contractor. Here’s were I come in as a renovation consultant and help you organize and make those important decisions.
In this second video I share the before pictures of the property with description of what the photo’s are and walk you through on what’s going to be done.
Bush St. Planning Process with your Renovation Realtor Gary Belk from wwwGaryBelk.com
Often renovation is the best way to get the perfect home. Join me, Gary Belk San Fransisco’s Renovation Realtor over the next few weeks as we follow a renovation we are doing for a longtime client. She loves her home, with just a few exceptions.
In this initial video I share the tips, techniques and reasons for spending some time planning your renovation.
The second installment of your San Francisco Property Taxes are due!
Since life can get a little hectic sometimes, we tend to put things on the back burner for later.Well just in case you put your property tax bill on the backburner, here is a reminder that your payment is due this week!
Make sure you make your payment before 5pm on April 10th or you’ll be considered delinquent. An easy way to avoid that is by paying them online; but there is a fee for doing so, it’s a 2.25% fee. You could skip paying that fee and just cut a check and make sure it’s post marked before midnight on April 10th.
If you happen to be a new homeowner, make sure your taking this seriously. If left unpaid a lien could be placed on your home. Or you might be one of the lucky and smart homeowners whose property tax is taken care of through your home loan and all you have to do is file that paper work away.
For more on paying your property taxes, visit the Office of the Treasurer’s Web site.
Last year a former client called and asked me to help her find a home to buy in Noe Valley. She wanted a home close to her daughter’s school and loved the neighborhood.
As you may know, Noe Valley is one of the most competitive real estate environments in San Francisco not to mention one of the more expensive. Her budget was not quite large enough for her to afford a move-in ready home.
After a bit of scouting for a property that would work for her I located a home owned by a relocation company. The relo company was located in Texas and did not understand the San Francisco market.
They didn’t have the house staged and they priced it above value. In San Francisco nearly every home is staged and the asking prices are usually below market. This marketing is very effective and usually produces multiple offers way over asking. Clearly the relocation company thought they knew best.
The house had been on the market for 4 months and even after 2 price reductions it was still not selling. Capitalizing on the fact that the relo company didn’t know what they were doing but insisted on driving the train we were able to make a low offer and buy it for less than market value without competition!
The house needed a new kitchen and updates but overall was in good condition. The best feature of the house was the garage/first floor; a huge open space, undeveloped and above ground with direct access to the back garden.
I immediately saw the potential and sketched out a plan to add 2 bedrooms and 2 baths on the first floor. When complete she’d have a 3 bedroom 3 bath house with a great room, west facing garden and 2 car parking. For Noe Valley that is the perfect house.
Before we could start the renovations my client’s life took a turn that made Noe Valley an impossible place for her to live. Set with a new challenge of how to flip this house I hatched a new plan.
I proposed a simple remodel, doing very smart renovations. We updated the kitchen and bath, changed out some of the flooring, added new doors to the garden, removed the asbestos shingles from the front façade (to expose perfect redwood siding) and painted it inside and out. We used the plans we had developed for the lower level in our marketing materials.
Once staged and marketed the house sold in 10 days, $58,000 over asking and making my client a 100% profit on her renovation dollars!
The media is accurately reporting that inventory is at an all-time low, which is why it’s more important than ever to have a real estate agent as your partner in your home buying search.
Last week I managed to get two contracts accepted, no small feat in the competitive real estate market of San Francisco! Laura and Cliff were referred to me by clients that I helped buy a home a couple of years ago.
They were ready to move to San Francisco from Marin County. When they moved to Marin they thought that the peace and quiet was what they wanted. But, they have both changed jobs, the commute is inconvenient and they miss the activity of the city.
My usual process is to find out what a client needs and wants in their new home and then strategically search for homes that meet those requirements. In the case of these clients my strategy was to find a property that was either not on the market publicly (real estate agents call these pocket listings) or, find a property that was flying under the radar of the hoards of other buyers.
What I found was a condominium that was flying under the radar. It was listed by an out of town agent (more on why you should always list your home with a local agent in another blog) and was not marketed properly. That is the kiss of death to a listing in San Francisco.
Buyers and agents for that matter have come to expect a property to look like something out of the pages of Architectural Digest and have glossy marketing brochures and a separate website with professional photos.
This listing didn’t have any of that. In fact it didn’t even have photos in the MLS (multiple listing services that agents use to find property). The information in the MLS didn’t even contain the basics, such as the HOA dues.
When I see a listing without photos it piques my interest! I guess I tend to react the opposite to most. Even if there were photos, sometimes the place looks better, sometimes worse. You have to evaluate the property in person, so that you can see what you have to work with. It allows you to feel and imagine what the property could be and find its hidden potential; in some houses it hides very well!
I called the agent repeatedly and finally got an appointment. The condo showed horribly but I was able to help Laura and Cliff see past the dated finishes. After a bit of negotiating and information gathering, such as the HOA dues, Laura and Cliff got an offer accepted at what I believe is about $25k under market!
They are now going to be able to move back to San Francisco to have the city life they were missing and be closer to both of their new jobs. They also have the potential to make their new home into exactly what they want.
Just remember when you are competing for properties you have to be strategic and have the ability to look past what can be easily changed. To find out more about finding the right property for you read “When You Can’t See Your Dream House for the House”
You’ve heard you can’t see the forest for the trees, sometimes in your real estate search you can’t see your dream home for the house.
In today’s market there are few choices so it’s important to consider each and every property carefully. When I look for property for a client I always begin my search online. I look at the MLS website for new listings in San Francisco every Friday afternoon when the majority of them are posted.
It never fails that I have instant reactions to each listing based solely on the photos. The number of times I have had a completely different reaction when seeing the property in person is often. Photos don’t always tell the truth. Sometimes the place looks better, sometimes worse.
It is very difficult to evaluate the properties potential from photos. You have to see it and feel it to imagine what it could be. I call it hidden potential; in some houses it hides very well! Another distraction that may keep you from seeing your dream home in the house is the sellers’ décor choices. Please overlook their furniture and paint choices; they are not important.
A can of paint can take care of a multitude of decorating sins. Even something as sustainable as the kitchen cabinets or a wall dividing the living room from the kitchen can usually be remedied easily. If you a find a property in your ideal location; make an offer! Location is the one thing that you cannot easily be changed (even though houses can be moved).
Think about things that can be changed easily in the property: flooring, paint color/wall coverings, windows, and light fixtures. Then make a list of what you need to do in the future: add parking, expand the attic or basement into living area even add space outside the existing envelop of the house. Can you make this house work for you for the next 3 to 5 years?
Also, be sure and think outside the box. Could a condo work? How about a 2 to 4 unit building? Many times in San Francisco 2-unit buildings present a great opportunity to home buyers. A 2-unit building with at least one vacant unit can be a gold mine in years to come. Not just as rental income but from a condo conversion prospective.
I can’t explain the entire condo conversion process in this article but once the other unit is vacant you can sell an interest in your building to a buyer who will owner occupy that unit. Once both units have been owner occupied for one year you can convert the building to condominiums and gain substantial equity.
Look at all your options and keep an open mind. Your home buying search will be much easier. The name of the game is to get on the home ownership bandwagon in the early years of this recovery (btw: that is now).
In your property search keep the following tips in mind:
• Don’t dismiss a property simply from the pictures you see online.
• Don’t judge the property on the furnishing, paint color or other decorations.
• Do consider a property that is in your ideal location regardless of condition or size
• Do consider different types of property: condos or multi-unit buildings
What are some things that help you when searching through properties?
In the competitive real estate market of San Francisco sometimes the best strategy is to come in second place when your trying to buy a house!
The inventory of available homes in San Francisco is very tight and this results in a competitive marketplace. Often homes receive multiple offers and the winning bid is way over the asking price.
A strategy that I have used with success in the past year has been to get my clients to submit a fair offer, one they are comfortable with and one that is at or just above market value. We try to make the offer as clean as possible; avoiding all possible contingencies.
We also have financing lined up so that the sellers are confident that we could and would close the transaction with as little headache to the seller as possible and on the sellers preferred timeline. This offer may not be the winning offer but it may be enticing enough to the seller (and the seller’s agent) to offer you a back-up position.
Sellers like to have a back-up offer because it keeps pressure on the primary offer to perform because the seller may offer the back-up position at a price less than that of the primary offer. Having the back-up position is a great place to be; it puts you in control of the situation if anything happens to the primary offer.
Think about this; in a market where buyers get sucked into an auction mentality and often offer more than they are comfortable offering; they often get cold feet or what agents call buyer’s remorse. Once buyer’s remorse sets in buyers often back out of the deal.
If you are in back-up position the seller is obligated to move you into primary position at terms that were agreed upon when you signed the back-up agreement (often more favorable terms than those of the primary offer). You, on the other hand, are not obligated to accept.
If you still think it’s the house for you and you haven’t found anything better then move forward. But if you have found something else or simply have changed your mind than you should decline the request.
Being in back-up position does not cost you anything, you can continue to shop and make offers on other homes. All the while you are in back-up position just in case the primary buyer catches a bad case of buyer’s remorse.
The 5 Things You Must Know When Buying Property in a Hot Market!
With San Francisco’s Own Real Estate and Renovation Expert Gary Belk (Renovation Realtor)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, January 31, 2013 — The good news is that real estate prices are continuing to rise. San Francisco is again in the midst of a real estate boom. The bad news is inventory is very low, making the market a difficult place to invest. Gary Belk, a 20-year veteran of the San Francisco real estate war, and real estate and renovation expert says, “There are five steps every buyer should take in order to secure their bit of San Francisco”.
Gary’s assessment of this market is, “Here in San Francisco, many buyers are scared. They know it’s competitive and they don’t want to make a mistake. They hear all the war stories ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for a house for 2 years, or I’ve made a hundred offers and I’ve always been overbid.’ They worry that they will never get a place or they will buy the wrong place at the wrong price. It’s not a place for a buyer to go it alone.”
Using his extensive experience in turning the real estate others have given up on into some of San Francisco’s most livable homes, Gary shares his top 5 things you must know to buy (and live) well in today’s real estate market:
Don’t go it alone: Start your search for the perfect place with a game plan and a professional helping you. Remember, this market is competitive — the median time is only 10 days from list to offer. You need someone looking out for you to get the best.
Prepare a “plan” in advance: By prioritizing your needs and wants. Start with a “must have” list, and then add the “nice to haves”. Don’t get caught up on things that can be changed or added. This plan will save you a lot of grief down the line. Examples of things to include on your must have list are: location, houses around you, the slope of or, size of the street or the size of the garden, views. These are things that are not easily changed. Décor, floor plans even the number of bathrooms can be changed.
Be on the lookout: for the shopworn or a stale listing (properties flying under the radar). In this market a place that has been for sale for more then a couple of weeks might be ‘flying under the radar’. These properties are overlooked buying opportunities. They may have green shag carpeting or they may just be priced to high. In San Francisco buyers are accustom to a perfectly marketed home.
That means the house shows wonderfully, is priced competitively (usually under market value) and is exposed to the right audience by the listing agent (the Realtor working for the seller). If the marketing is off, for any reason, buyers won’t give the property serious consideration. These are great opportunities to buy a house without competition sometimes even below market value. Fix the problem and you’ve got instant equity.
View from the perspective of potential: It is rare to find your version of the perfect property, turn-key ready. Many properties are gems just waiting to be uncovered with your personal touch. Examples of things you can easily change are: adding living space in an existing basement, attic or unimproved area; remodeling a kitchen or bathroom(s); wall color; flooring; lighting; and opening up the space by changing the floor plan, adding windows or skylights and sometime adding parking. Many times my clients see up to 300% returns on their renovation dollars.
Be ready, willing and able to go into back-up position: There’s no downside. Offer on every property you like, don’t be scared of competition. Gary exclaimed, “I always suggest that my clients go into a back-up position if they are not the winning bid. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the primary buyer back out and my buyers get the property. These days, without proper guidance, buyers get caught up in an ‘auction mentality.’ Once they win, they get buyer’s remorse and back-out of the deal. If you are in a back-up position, you’ll have the opportunity to step in.”
As a back-up offer the seller accepts your terms subject to the primary offer backing out. It’s a perfect place to be, this position binds the seller but, NOT YOU! You are free to keep shopping for a home and if you are notified that the primary buyer has backed out, it is at your option to become the primary buyer.
In summary Gary says, “Embrace the reality of the market. Learn how to find properties that are ‘flying under the radar’. Be open to making your dream home rather than finding it turn-key ready. The anticipation of what can be uncovered is a big part of the fun in today’s market!”
About Gary Belk
Specializing in locating properties that have potential — hidden because of the condition, size or improper use — Gary’s unique expertise as a Realtor and general contractor, along with a degree in architecture, brings a valuable perspective and vision to buying, renovating and profiting from real estate. Gary guides his clients through their home buying and renovations by providing expert advice, attentive project oversight and help in building the right team for each unique situation.
Learn more about Gary at Garybelk.com and Homevisionaries.com.
Above all, Gary is efficient, honest and knowledgeable. Unlike many realtors, Gary will genuinely look out for you and help you get the best deal, period. He really knows his market, and is always up-to-date on the latest deals. He’s very honest, down-to-earth, and frank in his opinions about the pros and cons of a [...]
Ive bought 8 houses with Gary as my Realtor. Super easy to work with and he has a great eye. He’s been in the game a long time and understands real estate cycles. I would highly recommend Gary.