Preparing Your Fireplace for Santa

by Gary Belk It’s getting close to the time of year when Santa will be using your chimney not to mention there’s a chill in the air, and one of the nicest parts about cold weather is sitting by a blazing fire. Most likely, you haven’t used your fireplace since February. It’s unwise to just toss in some wood and a match without any proper maintenance beforehand, so what can you do now to ensure you’re ready for cozy fireside nights when the weather cools? The average number of annual U.S. home fires caused by fireplace, chimney, and chimney connectors between 2003 and 2005 was 25,100, and the average costs for those fires was $126.1 million, based on the most recent statistics from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). That’s roughly $5,024 in damage per home. Annual chimney maintenance removes flammable creosote, the major cause of chimney fires, and identifies other performance problems. There are basically three levels of inspection. Read on to see which one is a fit for you and your fireplace. 1. Level One: This is a visual check with typically no roof climbing—or dancing to musical numbers a la Mary Poppins—involved. The inspector comes to your house with a flashlight, looks for damage, obstructions, creosote build-up, and soot, and tells you if you need a sweep. If so, he’ll grab his brushes, extension poles, and vacuum, and do it on the spot. A level one typically runs about $125. Add a sweep, and you’re talking another $80, or about $205 for both services, according to CSIA. 2. Level Two: If you’ve experienced a dramatic...

The Rain is Coming!

by Gary Belk On Sunday evening we had the first windstorm of the season and it reminded me that winter is on the way. The Rain is coming! I moved this summer and I’ve not been in my current home during high wind. When the wind started I was having dinner with friends.  We all looked at each other and wondered what was going on! I was amazed at the noise.  My house needs new windows (on order) and I discovered the skylights need repairing or replacing. The gusty wind blew through cracks in my rotted windows and this forced the operable skylight to blow open and then slam shut.  The garage door rattled with each gust and there were some old fiberglass panels in the garden (the garden also still in desperate shape) that rattled and knocked against the house. Needless to say it was a long night!  I was glad when the wind calmed and I was finally able to sleep. After having lived for the past 4 years in big buildings; this windstorm reminded me that when you live in a small building or single family home you need to prepare for the rainy season.  Here are a few tips to follow to help you prepare your home: Take a look at your gutters to make sure that they drain well and don’t cause water to back up. Make sure that there are not a lot of little granules from the roofing or leaves and other debris collecting in there (granules in your gutter are a sign that your roof’s coating needs to be resealed). Make...

Fall is Upon Us: It’s a “perfect storm” for buyers of real estate

by Gary Belk After a busy 3 quarters of rising prices, bidding wars and limited inventory the traditionally calmer 4th quarter has arrived. During autumn our market tends to be a bit slower paced and easier for buyers to navigate.  If you are in the market, you are in luck for two reasons: First, many buyers are distracted by the start of school, the end of summer and the coming holidays.  Second, a seller with their property on the market at this time of year is a motivated seller. This is the time of year we see many relocation’s, probate and distressed properties on the market because they need to sell.  We also have a few properties that were overpriced in the summer and now the sellers are starting to be realistic.  All of these factors combined make for the ‘perfect storm’ buyers.  So grab your all weather gear and give me a call! Here is a selection of some of my favorite properties: Great property for Land bank Land banking is buying a property for the future development of the land.  This property is a perfect example.  It is located on an RH-2 lot (can be up to 2 units).  Hold this property for 10 years and you’ll be sitting on a gold mine.  In the meantime rent the house and pay the mortgage. Perfect home to update This home is located in popular Noe Valley.  It has un-permitted space on the ground floor and needs cosmetic upgrades.  With these issues remedied you have a great family home for a great price in Noe. Best home for a...

Good ideas for narrow homes

by Gary Belk Good ideas for narrow homes: The home in this article is only 10′ wide, makes the SF standard 25′ wide home feel spacious! Other by Washington Architects & Designers KUBE architecture Good ideas for narrow homes: Design Lessons From a 10-Foot-Wide Row House Architecture, interior design, and more ∨Browse living room ideas, from sectional sofas to chandeliers and floor lamps, for your next interior design project. Browse inspiring bedroom design, then outfit your own beds, convertible sofa beds ordaybed with luxury bedding and decorative throws....

The Hill is Alive with the Sound of Music….

by Gary Belk Well actually the sound of construction and moving trucks! Potrero Hill real estate has suddenly exploded. After months of no inventory there are now several nice properties on the market. If you haven’t explored the neighborhood now is the time. I moved to The Hill (as the locals call it)  in June and have fallen in love.  The weather is great, the clerk at the dry cleaners remembers my name and the shopkeepers along 20th Street stand out front and speak to me as I walk by. With the best weather in the city; it’s strategically located close to the 280 (easy access to the South Bay), the new mega biomedical China Basin and UCSF and it even has it’s own Cal-train Station. To top all of that, unlike SOMA and other parts of the city it has a distinct small-town feeling with a slew of great eating options, neighborhood parks with playgrounds and tennis courts and of course views of downtown and the water. Here are some links that will help you explore The Hill (as locals call it) from the comfort of your sofa. Around the Hill One Badass Block (7×7 Magazine) One of My Favorite Places The Good Life Grocery Mission Rock Real Estate Currently Available [idx-listing mlsnumber=”412280″] [idx-listing mlsnumber=”412522″] [idx-listing mlsnumber=”412427″] [idx-listing mlsnumber=”411376″] [idx-listing mlsnumber=”412348″] [idx-listing mlsnumber=”412519″]   Have you been to The Hill? Tell us what you like most about the area?  ...

UPDATE: TIC/Condo Bypass Legislation

301 Grove Street San Francisco, CA 94102 415-431-8500 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: David Chiu – David.Chiu@sfgov.org – (415) 554-7450 Norman Yee – Norman.Yee@sfgov.org – (415) 554-6516 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: Malia Cohen – Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org – (415) 554-7670 London Breed – London.Breed@sfgov.org – (415) 554-7630 Katy Tang – Katy.Tang@sfgov.org – (415) 554-7460 Scott Wiener – Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org – (415) 554-6968 Mark Farrell – Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org – (415) 554-7752 Lastly, please...