I’ve been meaning to begin my own little tiny weekly post devoted to telling my loyal readers about all of the little neighborhoods that exist in San Francisco. There are 86 of them according to the San Francisco Association of REALTORSÂ® (they’ve been kind enough to carve up our City into tiny little chunks for us and then we, REALTORSÂ®, further carve up the City and add fun little names to neighborhoods like “Tender-Nob” or “Baja Noe Valley”.)
But as the weeks have gone by, I’ve found myself to be too busy to get out there and take photos of all 86 nooks and crannies that SF has to offer. Not to mention the witty descriptions I’d have to post alongside the photos, or the in-depth statistics that I’d have to compile and post. My clients come first! 🙂 My blog comes second! And so I’ve procratinated just long enough for someone else to take on this enormous task, and frankly, to do it better than I would have! [Read more…] about Tour All 86 San Francisco Neighborhoods – From Your Computer
Archives for September 2007
How to Save Money by Remodeling Green
Occasionally, I like to invite a guest blogger to share some insights about their field of expertise. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Connors of San Francisco’s Design Solutions, a team of Certified Green Building Professionals.
Remodeling an existing home, rather than building a new one, is the ‘greenest’ decision a homeowner can make. Open land is preserved and the energy required to make the materials for a new house (concrete, lumber, metals, plastics) is saved.
Making an existing home more “green” is easier nowadays than ever before. There has been a proliferation of products, systems, and materials designed to reduce energy and resource consumption. Such products reuse materials rather than extract virgin resources.
These “green” solutions help:
Here are just a few ways a home remodeling project can reduce a home’s environmental footprint:
Insulation – According to the Dow Corporation, the combined open space in the average home created by gaps, cracks and holes is the equivalent of a four by four foot open window. Installing or upgrading insulation in the walls, floors, and ceiling/attic, with special attention to the myriad openings in the house (e.g., electrical outlets) helps block thermal transfer through the home’s structure. Properly installed insulation and the skillful use of caulk and expanding foam makes a more comfortable indoor climate that requires less energy to maintain. Many new insulation products include recycled content, such as denim, to make them even more eco-friendly.
Windows – High-performance insulated windows and glass doors that block hot or cold air and the sun’s ultraviolet rays not only reduce home energy consumption, but also create a more comfortable living environment.
Energy Efficient Fixtures – Appliances rated by the federal Energy Star program for their energy efficiency — from laundry equipment to refrigerators and furnaces — are designed to work better and last longer with less energy use. Water heaters are more energy efficient. Tankless versions conserve water, too. Low-flow toilets, front-loading clothes washers, and most faucets are designed to reduce water use without sacrificing performance or reliability.
Lighting – Upgraded, Energy Star-rated light fixtures equipped with compact fluorescent bulbs and now Title 24 approved LED bulbs serve both task and general lighting needs at a fraction of the energy use required by traditional incandescent bulbs.
Non-toxic Finishes – Non Urea-formaldehyde plywood and cabinet adhesives, paints and coatings made without volatile organic compounds (VOCs) offer comparable performance without the toxic off-gassing and odor of conventional finishes, thus improving indoor air quality.
Driven by sky-rocketing energy prices, concerns about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, and the desire to make a positive difference, homeowners are searching for ways to shrink the environmental impact of their homes. Using any of the above suggestions would be a great way to do your part, save the environment, and in many cases, even save a little money!
Zephyr Weekly Sales Reports – September 26th, 2007
Below is Zephyr Real Estate’s sales data for the previous week. These are NOT properties that have closed, just listings on which a purchase agreement has been ratified and the property has gone into escrow.
It was another busy week, but the lowest number of multiple offers we’ve had in about 6 weeks. This seems to mesh with my theory that there are still plenty of serious buyers in the market, but the tire-kickers have taken a break. Also to note that while only 16% of sales had multiple offers, 40% sold over asking. So sellers are still pricing low in order to have buyers offer over asking. (And yes, a seller has a right to refuse an offer at asking price… there’s no law against it).
Here’s this week’s numbers, and check back next week to see how they change.
16% of sales received multiple offers
33% of sales sold under the asking price
27% of sales sold at the asking price
40% of sales sold over the asking price
Get Emergency Information No Matter Where You Are!
About a week ago, the area around Post and Larkin was blocked off to traffic and MUNI was rerouted. I’m not really sure what happened, but I received a notice on both my cell phone and email letting me know to avoid the area, just in case I was heading that way. I still don’t know what the hell went on, but I knew to stay the hell away!
AlertSF is a great new text-based emergency notification service that sends emergency updates directly to your cell-phone or handheld device. During the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, phones didn’t work, but text messaging did!
I won’t even begin to try to explain how texting works… I can’t even figure out the technology behind my phone working, (let alone how I hit “publish” and this blog is magically updated on the internet!) and I barely understand lightbulbs. But I do know that in an emergency, when most other communication methods fail, you are likely to be able to let your family know you are safe via texting.
AlertSF goes one step beyond regular texting between friends and can actually broadcast an emergency notice to every mobile and handheld device (and/or email address) registed with the system.
Registration is free. You can choose which devices you want to receive the notifacations, and even which neighborhoods you want to hear about in an emergency. I practically live in my car (ah, the exciting life of a San Francisco REALTORÂ®!), so I signed up to get alerts from every SF neighborhood because I never know where I will be (or where my family will be) in the event of an emergency.
Don’t hesitate! Register your mobile device today! You don’t know when the next emergency you need to hear about it coming!
Got San Francisco Building Permit Questions?
If you have questions about permits and inspections in the San Francisco building process (and who doesn’t?!), The annual Department of Building Inspection Summit is right around the corner!
Get the answers at the â€œMeet the DBI Prosâ€ Summit, on October 11 and 12, 2007, between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco Civic Center.
The summit will offer free public workshops on:
- how to obtain a permit
- residential kitchen and bathroom remodels
- earthquake safety
- landlord and tenant responsibilities
- training on the new International Code standard
- …and more
Cosponsors of the Summit are the American Institute of Architects, the Building Owners and Managers Association and the San Francisco Association of REALTORSÂ®.
An RSVP is required through DBIâ€™s web site: www.sfgov.org/dbi by Friday, September 28, 2007. You also may call 415-558-6401 or e-mail [email protected].
Click here for a sample of categories from last year’s summit!
Take the Stress out of Moving Day – How to Move Without the Drama
Whether you’re moving into or out of San Francisco, or Timbuktu, moving can add a few more gray hairs to anyone’s head. I was looking at the Gilbert Guide after a reader from the company posted a comment on my blog, and ran across a great post that can help even the biggest stress cases maintain a sense of sanity during a move.
On the lists of stress-inducing events, moving is usually one of the highest, with move day being the climax. But it doesnâ€™t have to be that way. There are two categories of needs that occur during move day. The first encompasses transactional needs, the types of activities that you find on checklists. The second category comprises emotional need. Finding solutions for emotional needs is often more complex. By planning and anticipating both types of needs, you can reduce stress on move day and create a smooth, positive experience.
Whatâ€™s the secret to planning and implementing stress-free moves? Start with the big picture; everything else is small stuff.
Click here for the whole article.
11 Steps to Selling Your Home Successfully in San Francisco- Step 3: Chosing YOUR Agent
So you’ve gotten your property evaluated by several REALTORSÂ® And you now have a ballpark figure of what to expect to put into your pocket (or your lender’s pocket, depending on how much you owe) after your home sells.
Now comes one of the most critical decisions during the whole process. Who will you choose to represent the sale of your home? I touched on the importance of having the right agent in a segment I have about buying a home. And choosing the right agent to represent you in the sale is JUST as important!
The wrong REALTORÂ® can end up wasting your time and theirs! And can leave your home with a nasty reputation in the market if it doesn’t sell within a reasonable time frame (and you with an even worse reputation as an unreasonable seller – which means other agents may not take your listing at all if the first agent isn’t able to sell it.)
So, how DO you pick YOUR agent???
If you’ve already been following along with the series, you will have picked a few agents and have looked at the evaluations of your property that they’ve given to you. Now it’s time to look past the agents’ estimated sales price, and look at the agent.
First… all real estate is local, your agent should be too! I was just talking to another San Francisco REALTORÂ® today… she has a client interested in a big expensive multi-unit building. She has been trying to get the listing agent to show the property for weeks now. However, the listing agent lives and works in Sacramento and isn’t willing to drive to the City just to show the place. Um… well… IF BUYERS CAN’T SEE IT HOW WILL IT SELL??? Sorry… I didn’t mean to yell. But I’ve had a similar situation happen to me and frankly, it just pisses me off to see agents that are NOT doing their jobs. In order to get sold, your property has to be SEEN!
Besides not being around to show the property though, a far-away agent just doesn’t know the San Francisco market like a San Francisco agent. We work our behinds off running around SF every Tueday looking at properties that are for sale. Buyers go to Sunday open houses from 2-4pm, SF agents go to Tuesday Broker/Agent open houses from 9am-4pm. That’s a lot of homes in one day! (And a lot of stairs and hills too!) We get to know the market and we know what works in the market. In short – local agents know what local buyers want!
Second – An agent who is the top listing agent may not be your best choice! That’s not to say that they are “bad”. But just because an agent LISTS the most homes in the neighborhood, doesn’t mean the agent SELLS the most homes in the neighborhood. There’s a few agents in San Francisco that work the numbers game. They get as many listings as possible, and if a majority of them sell, then they’ve made some good money for the year. But getting the listing, and selling the listing are two different things.
Don’t ask your agent “How many listings have you had?” Instead ask “How many of your listings have gone unsold or have expired?” and “What is the average number of days on the market for the properties you’ve listed?”
Third – Don’t go with the highest estimated sales price just because it’s the highest estimated sales price! A good agent will NOT just tell you what you want to hear. And a good agent doesn’t take every listing that comes his/her way. A good agent takes good listings and good sellers! This means that a good REALTORÂ® will not try to dazzle you with an unrealistically high sales price. And if that REALTORÂ® thinks that your expecations as a seller are unrealistic, he/she should not take your listing. As agents, we invest our time AND money in a listing (we pay for advertising) and if it doesn’t sell, we’ve lost our time AND money! I for one, have turned several listings away when I knew the sellers were unreasonable.
Fourth – Don’t take the lowest commission! Standard commission rates in SF run around 6%. They are negotiable! Most agents won’t take a listing for less than 5%. Keep in mind, the listing agent has to pay for advertising, and has to spend time (our most valuable commodity) on your listing, and also has to split the commission with the buyer’s agent. If an agent is quick to negotiate his/her commission and accept something less than the standard 6%… how quickly do you think they’ll negotiate for your home’s sales price and accept something less than the best price and terms possible??? You want a strong negotiator on your side, not a wimp! (And frankly, you also get what you pay for… which means a lower commission can lead to less showings of your property, less advertising, and in the end, a lower sales price!)
Finally… find an agent you respect (and hopefully like too!) You are going to be working very closely with your agent to sell your home. Not every agent will fit every seller’s needs and personality. Ideally, you should like your agent and have a good repoire with them. But you are not looking for a friend, you are looking for someone that will sell your home for top dollar and help you achieve your other sale related goals. So you need be sure to hire a REALTORÂ® that you can respect and know that he/she is out there doing the best job they can do for you!
Once you pick your agent, your job as the seller gets much easier. From here on out, your REALTORÂ® will be able to guide you in the right direction. And for now that direction is heading towards Step 4 to Selling Your Home Successfully in San Francisco – Getting Your Home Ready For the Sale! So stay tuned!
Defaults on Loans are Stabilizing
According to CNNMoney.com, Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Darlene Williams states that loan defaults are stabilizing, and while we do see a market correction in some areas of the country, the overall economic forecast is not gloomy:
“Our economic fundamentals are strong. Loan defaults are half of what they were in the 1980s and interest rates are low compared to the double-digit rates of 20 years ago,” she said.
Subprime mortgages must stay despite the current crisis as they play an important role in increasing U.S. home ownership, Williams also said.
“Subprime mortgages democratize credit, and so we don’t want to throw that option away,” she said. “Not all of these loans result in foreclosures.”
About 5 percent of all U.S. mortgages are subprime, and only a fifth of those subprime mortgages are in risk of default…
Go here to read the full article:
Housing official: Defaults are stabilizing – Sep. 24, 2007
A Day Off From SF Real Estate
So this is a little off topic from San Francisco real estate… but I’m a few hours away from SF real estate. In fact, as I type, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Monterey listening to the sounds of sea gulls squaking and sea lions barking (or whatever that sound they make can be called.)
I’m in Monterey for a seminar for REALTORSÂ® that teaches us how to get more referral business and spend less time trying to seek out new business. Since a good chunk of my business comes from referrals as it is, the seminar only mildly intrigues my interest. But I paid for it a year ago (then rescheduled a bunch of times) and I decided that going was a good excuse for me to go and play in Monterey… which is exactly what I’ve done today! 🙂
I spent the a good part of the day walking the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and the rest of the time kayaking!
I took a three hour tour from Monterey Bay Kayaks. I had an awesome time, and learned a lot from my guide Spencer! (Thanks Spencer!) And thought I’d share my photos with you!
Click HERE to view the slideshow!
600 Goats Invade San Francisco!
OK… so maybe it isn’t an invasion, maybe they were invited. And maybe they’re not all over San Francisco, but confined to a hillside that’s part of the Laguna Honda Hospital Campus in San Francisco’s Forest Hill neighborhood.
But when I drove down Laguna Honda Boulevard today, I nearly broke my neck when I caught a glimpse of the goats grazing on the hillside! The goats didn’t run away from home to party in the City, but were brought in from Sycamore Farms of Monterey County to gobble up some the hazardous grass on the hillside that might, under the right circumstances, end up as fire hazard.
Apparently, this is the third year in row that the goats have visited Laguna Honda, but just the first year that I wasn’t too oblivious to notice that they were there. They’ll be staying through the end of the month, so if you want to catch a glimpse for yourself, here’s how to get there:
Read the full update:
Laguna Honda Hospital Gets Its Goat â€“ 600 of Them