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Wendy Storch, 415.519.6091, Wendy@WendyStorch.com [SOTHEBY’S]
2016-10-21T13:36:03-07:00Final results are in for experiment in German efficiency Multi-mililon dollar homes sell in Noe Valley every week, but the digs at 2123 and 2127 Castro Street were something of an experiment: They were some of the few so-called passive homes in San Francisco, built to experimental, German-based standards in which the home produces exactly as much energy as it consumes. There are only a handful of such buildings in the city. The house at 2127 first came on the market back in May asking $5 million, but had to take several price cuts totaling three-quarters of a million dollars before finally selling last week. 2127 Castro Street But its sibling next door at 2123 Castro sold a few days ago for precisely the asking price of $4,399,000, after barely a month on the market. And San Francisco’s original passive house, the so-called “Equilibrium House” on 19th Street, sold for $4 million back in 2013 after a couple of weeks. (Another house near Buena Vista Park is only “near net zero,” so we can’t quite count it in the mix.) Technically, that makes San Francisco’s combined passive house balance sheet a net $550,000 under asking...but that’s actually a pretty reasonable margin of error, and the city’s passive homes together average over $4.2 million, which isn't too shabby. 2123 Castro But of course, these are pretty nice homes already. So what do you think: Is the electrical harmony as profound of a selling point as some people hope, or is this just a case of homes in Noe Valley and the Castro doing what they always do? San Francisco’s first multi-unit passive building in the Mission, Sol-Lux Alpha, was originally set to begin sales this month, but they tell us they’ve had some construction delays and are aiming for a spring opening instead. Passive House in Noe Valley [Curbed SF] 2123 Castro Street [Redfin] San Francisco’s First Passive House [Curbed SF] Little House Gets Off Grid [Curbed SF] Sol-Lux Alpha [...]
2016-10-21T09:00:12-07:00What if Union Square becomes “Tenderloin East” instead? Is the Tenderloin really as “gentrification proof” as its reputation? We may soon see, as high-end real estate investment firm JLL sets its sights on some Tenderloin prospects. Or, as they refer to it, “Union Square West.” That would-be nickname isn’t new, and for fairly obvious reasons it’s never caught on before. But JLL’s sales materials insist things have changed now, with the city’s population and economy booming. That creates opportunities for high-end boutiques, but it also generates problems, driving Union Square rents so high you’d need an oxygen tank to dare their summits (as much as $700/square foot, JLL says). BrokenSphere Many longtime tenants of the Union Square shopping district and even more prohibitively expensive Maiden Lane have moved on. For anybody with an eye on a better deal, the blocks just to the west might beckon. JLL tells potential customers that Union Square is “expanding,” and that the area around “Mason, Sutter, Jones, and Market, is shifting toward a consumer that loves art, design, craft cocktails and beer, live entertainment, and is eager to pay premium prices.” Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, acknowledges in a Beyond Chron editorial that this is true, but takes umbrage with the attempt to rebrand the blocks. New businesses there are “doing quite well being identified with the Tenderloin,” Shaw writes. (JLL has not yet returned our calls asking for comment, but we’ll update you if they do.) Several big-time, mostly market-rate Tenderloin buildings are in production. The Tenderloin’s timelessness is something of an illusion. New development, much of it market rate housing, is already on the way to the neighborhood, and some of it is finished and leasing by now. But making the “Union Square West” moniker stick would mean a more profound change than just new buildings or even new neighbors. It would mean changing the way San Franciscans think about those blocks—and disarming the reflexive hostility that a lot of people show toward anything perceived as an attempt to change its socioeconomic status. Union Square West Story [JLL] Realtors Promote Tenderloin as Union Square [BeyondChron] Britex Fabrics Must Leave [Curbed SF] Deals That Will (maybe) Remake the Tenderloin [Curbed SF] [...]
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2016-10-20T15:17:36-07:00Can’t go home again? We’ve got five more for you Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a regular column exploring what you can rent for a set dollar amount in different neighborhoods. Is one person's studio another person's townhouse? Let's find out. Today's price: $2,350. ↑ We’ll start in the Castro (because it’s almost a tradition now), which offers a studio at 19th and Noe for $2,350/month. The neutral stucco exterior of this building is remarkably unexciting, although that does make the presence of the curbside mural all the more surprising. No dogs allowed, but cats are okay—the Castro is arguably as much a neighborhood for cats as people, after all. ↑ Any combination of the phrases "Pacific Heights" and "Victorian" are bound to jump out at you, although note that in this case it’s of course a studio rather than the entire place. (It’s all studios at this price point today, in fact.) We might argue that the building looks a little more Edwardian, but it dates to 1880, so it’s got the credentials. The price here is $2,340/month; don’t spend the extra $10 all in one place. ↑ And now for something as un-Victorian as it gets: Cubix, the SoMa condo building that never fails to put the "Tetris" theme in our heads. The formula here has always been the same: Relatively cheap homes (by modern SoMa standards, which these days means $2,300/month) but with only a little bit of space. In this case, 350 feet. No pets (grrr), although it does boast a few clubby amenities. ↑ If you’re still feeling the classics over the Cubixes, an apartment in Lower Nob Hill (near Bush and Powell, so a rare case of not trying to pass off the Tenderloin as Lower Nob—not that there’s anything wrong with living in the Tenderloin) in a 1912 building with one of those drop-dead lobbies is $2,275/month, the most affordable of the five options. It’s another cat-friendly building that puts the dogs out; rough day for the ruff set. ↑ And we finish out our studio tour in North Beach, in a building tucked away in Vaderwater Street that wants $2,345/month for a place. The ad mentions vaulted ceilings and wall-sized windows, but neither appear here. The boxy old brick fireplace does manifest to add a bit of charm to the little place, though. Which Studio Would You Choose? [...]
A tale of two sides of a city
Although San Francisco home prices are flatter than they’ve been in years, the market still resembles a Monopoly board where every square is Boardwalk or Park Place. So we’re inducting even more members into our Under $700K Club, those hallowed ranks of San Francisco homes that even those of us unable to raise $700,001 might still be able to put a bid on.
As always, buying on a budget (and yes, we do live in a world where $700K counts as a budget if you’re bay adjacent) means making choices.
For example, we have two new San Francisco listings that both came out asking for the exact same price today, ($649,000), both with two bedrooms, and both offering about 850 square feet or so. But that’s where the similarities end, so which does the discerning buyer of sort-of budget properties lean toward?
Option number one is 501 Crescent Way #5310, a two bed, two bath condo near Candlestick Point, which last sold in 2006 (when the building was just finished) for $573,500. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with the condo at all: It’s altogether pleasant, it’s still more or less new, and the view of the bay is tough to beat. Bayview may not yet be the hub of San Francisco, but conventional wisdom holds that it's only a matter of time.
The Crescent Way place does seem to lack imagination, though. The house at 1779 46th Avenue, on the other hand, is a single family home that would offer a new buyer a lot more freedom to make it their own for the exact same price. Although it’s technically a bit smaller and lacks a second bathroom, the appeal of being a SFR is hard to ignore, and some people will tell you that the Sunset is coming into its own soon too.
The problem is, the old house on 46th dates to 1941 and is clearly a fixer-upper. Some people don’t mind that, of course; some even prefer it. Others may look at a ready-to-go condo as a safer investment. But it’s your less-than $700K: If the decision were in your hands, where might you put it?
2016-10-20T12:00:03-07:00Turns out two nearby faults are joined at the hip The anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake a few days ago and today’s statewide earthquake drill probably took up most of your mental bandwidth for earthquakes this week. But we’re afraid this news is too important to wait, because it turns out that one of the Bay Area’s largest and most dangerous fault lines is even larger and more dangerous than anyone thought. A paper in the scientific journal Science Advances by Janet Watt of the US Geological Survey titled "Missing Link Between Hayward, Rodgers Creek Faults" bears some bad news for the East Bay in particular. Quake watchers have long worried about the Hayward fault, which runs right under Oakland and which, statistically speaking, is the most likely geological structure to have a major hemorrhage in the Bay Area sooner rather than later. The Rodgers Creek fault to the north has been less of a concern, until Watt and her partners took a closer look at the relationship between the two seams. Previously, the pair were thought to be "separate segments that are capable of rupturing together." Which is bad enough already. But now Watt writes that the two are actually physically connected by a fault "strand." USGS This is a problem, because the length of a fault is one of the things that determines how large of an earthquake it can produce. It also means that the two are more likely to work in tandem. "The discovery of a strand directly linking the faults facilitates a simultaneous rupture," Watt writes. The two faults together run nearly the entire length of the Bay Area, 115 miles from Wine Country down to almost the outskirts of San Jose. We now know they're also more powerful, capable of rolling out a 7.4 magnitude event—probably within the next 30 years or so. In the past, the deep mud and bubbling gases at the bottom of the San Pablo Bay made it hard for researchers to suss out precisely how the two faults might be connected. This paper lays out the imaging techniques used to spot fissures in the mud layers that pointed to a previously undiscovered seam. Courtesy Berkeley Seismology Lab Previously, the Hayward Fault was thought next to extend across the bay. Technically, it still doesn’t, although it turns out it’s getting a little help from its friend. Now, there’s no use in panicking. All this means is that the 2.4 million people living on top of the fault line, and all of us nearby, need to prepare. Living in the Bay Area, nobody knows precisely when the bell is going to toll, but we can always be confident that it’s not going to wait forever. Stay safe. Missing Link Between Faults [Science Advances] Two Dangerous Faults Connected [Popular Mechanics] Great California Shakeout Loma Priests Outside of SF [Curbed SF] [...]
2016-10-20T11:00:06-07:00SoMa is permitted to boil with envy Admittedly, it feels a bit like the ad for 3026 Tremont Street in Berkeley may have been written by a random word generating program. They describe the circa 1946 warehouse turned studio as a "gallery/loft-like, unique art-inspired home." The sentiment is clear, but we admit to being puzzled by the strict meaning. But everybody knows how many words a picture is worth, and one look at the little place immediately next to Ashby BART lets you know precisely what it’s all about. You wouldn’t think that the vibe of a Berkeley hills home could blend with the structure and facade of a low-slung work shed and yield anything good, but somehow they really did end up with the best of both worlds. The interior is such a contest of bright extremes that the effect is almost cartoon like, mostly owing to all of the old red brick popping off of the various other red accents scattered about, not the least being those beautiful old steel beams. The natural earthiness of the slate floors keeps the palate from spinning out of control. Some of the details look a bit dinged up and uneven, and we’re not really sure about the bathroom tucked into the corner there (the toilet suggests a somewhat claustrophobic experience). But if you were ever to have a vision of the most Berkeley-like live/work space imaginable, it would probably be this, right down to the tiny little pond out back. The asking price is $799,000, aka half of what you’d pay for basically the same thing in SoMa or the Dogpatch. The present owner bought it in 1999 for $248,000, which is still only about $360,000 today. 3026 Tremont Street [Redfin] [...]