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Hiking and Running in San Francisco & the Bay Area

April 28th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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San Francisco is a city of sights and views, so if you are an active outdoorsy person there are limitless opportunities to take a hike or jog in varied environments ranging from urban sidewalks to lush waterfall greenscapes.

 

You can choose the level of difficulty by taking advantage of San Francisco’s many hills or opting for a more leisurely stroll around one of the many parks. San Francisco is famous for having more green space than any other US city, albeit some of these green spaces have been dwindling of late. For instance, a fair chunk of Presidio trees have been felled for the recent freeway addition and tunnel. Still, there is much to explore in the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. Ocean Beach is a favorite for joggers and surfers alike.

 

San Francisco is also surrounded by other great places for hiking, jogging and running. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mt. Tamalpais, Mt. Diablo, coastal trails to the south as well as San Bruno Mountain and even the Santa Cruz mountains are among them. Books and maps are available for most of these, if you want to dig deeper.

 

Many hiking, jogging and running groups post their events on MeetUp, including the Sierra Club. Yes, loving the outdoors goes hand in hand with organizations which support conservation and environmental efforts.

 

Take a look at the resources below and try them out ­­ then make your own list of favorites.

 

Best SF runs and jogs: http://www.sftodo.com/running­jogging­san­francisco.htmlHighest rated running trails:

Highest rated running trails: http://www.yelp.com/searchfind_desc=Trail+Running&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA

Presidio activities guide: http://www.presidio.gov/activities/Pages/recreation­and­wellness.aspx

Peninsula Trail Running Guide: http://www.trailstompers.com/san­francisco­peninsula­trail­runs.html

Comprehensive running trails: http://www.mapmyrun.com/us/san­francisco­ca/

Races, events and clubs: http://www.sfruns.com/

SF Waterfall hikes: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/6745­the­7­best­waterfall­hikes­near­san­francisco

Guided hikes: https://outdooradventureclub.com/day­hiking-trips/?gclid=CjwKEAiAjfq2BRDpmdHmssaW5xsSJABToP4lvSc4c0wRdXm9YuJIBtxrlKbI- segMxkhKF8J9OllYxoCzQDw_wcB#!event­list

 

This list is only a beginning of what’s available to explore in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Enjoy!

New Luxury Condos in San Francisco

April 27th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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New Luxury Condos in San Francisco

 

The new development luxury condo market is booming in San Francisco. New luxury condos are going

up in SOMA, South Beach, the Mission, in Yerba Buena, Lake Merced, the Market Street corridor

(mostly west of Van Ness), Hayes Valley and Pacific Heights. What’s mentioned here is by no means

the full extent of the development.

 

It seems there are cranes and construction just about everywhere. Demand is high and so are the

prices. As we progress through 2016, we will see many new developments coming to market. Most of

the luxury condos are being pre­marketed and often buildings are sold up to 75 or 80% when the

actual building is still being constructed.

 

While buyers definitely exist and demand still is steady, the sheer amount of luxury condos coming

onto the market affords buyers more choice and decreases the pressure to buy right away.

If you would like regular updates about new construction in San Francisco, please e­mail us.

 

Below are some of the new buildings where units are currently available.

 

Hayes Valley 400 Grove

30­unit building with average per sq. ft. price of $1300

555 Fulton 122­unit building with average per sq ft. price of $1300

Approximately 1/3 sold

 

Pacific Heights The Rockwell 260­unit building with average per sq. ft. price of $1250

This building is on a busy street between Van Ness and Franklin

Over 200 units sold

Potrero Hill       Onyx on the Park

21­unit building with average price per sq ft. price of $1250

90% sold

 

Nob Hill               Park Lane

33­unit building with average per sq ft price of $1400

Right by the Fairmont Hotel

~90% sold

 

©SFRE 2016

If you are considering selling property in San Francisco, click to get your free preliminary market analysis.

If you are considering buying property in San Francisco, please contact us at sfrealestateinc@gmail.com.

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The Role of Title for Sellers & Buyers in Property Transactions

March 31st, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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A good title company generally stands apart through the integrity of the company (read reputation & longevity) and through the company’s ability to pay claims in case they arise. Title companies provide the following services:

  1. Escrow services
  2. Title insurance services
  3. Closing services

Those services allow for smooth transactions, or at least as smooth as complex transactions like real estate can be. Title companies provide all of these services for reasonable fees and are usually the most affordable option for homeowners to close a real estate transaction. The other option is to use an attorney’s services to get this done but that is generally a good deal more expensive. In California it is customary to use a title company.

In San Francisco real estate, escrow often has been opened with a title company the listing agent and/or the sellers have chosen. Although buyers may request to open escrow with a title company of their choosing – which would usually be their agent’s choosing -, most escrows stay with the title company they were opened with. Real estate is a relationship business, after all.

 

©SFRE March 2016

 

If you are considering selling property in San Francisco, click to get your free preliminary market analysis.

If you are considering buying property in San Francisco, please contact us at sfrealestateinc@gmail.com.

The Home Buying Process: How it Works

March 24th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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The home buying process can be daunting, especially for first time home buyers. Where to start? What are the absolute must-know items?  Many buyers browse the internet for homes they think they can afford. While that can be fun, doing this first is unlikely to produce great results. There are too many missing pieces. For instance, it’s often hard to tell on-line whether the home is for sale now. Market and neighborhood trends are also difficult to assess and tend to be generic at best. That said, home buyers can glean some good information on-line also and will definitely get an overall idea.

Sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com appear to be consumer friendly but their algorythms leave much to be desired and they often display inaccurate information. Perhaps that is because these sites make their living from realtor advertising. Whatever the reason, smart consumers connect with a savvy real estate professional sooner or later.

In most market environments it is imperative to work with trustworthy, knowledgeable professionals and to consider the following:

  • A pre-approval from your mortgage professional is essential.
  • Know your price range and your absolute top offer amount.
  • Be ready to move as quickly as possible.
  • Find out what the seller wants and allow your agent to do the work on this.
  • Write an offer with as few contingencies as possible.
  • Make contingency periods as tight and short as possible.
  • Present your best & highest offer amount vs. hoping for the seller to counter your offer and then going higher.
  • Come in with a healthy down payment.
  • Close as quickly as possible.
  • Consider writing an ‘As-Is’ offer.
  • Understand that you may be writing several offers.
  • Maintain the attitude that the perfect property for you is forthcoming.

If you are hoping for a deal or insider information to get you one, that is exceedingly rare in San Francisco and especially in the current market environment.. Even fixers, probates, and REOs (bank-owned properties) generate much competition, thereby increasing prices.

Similarly, buyers who wish to procure FHA or VA funding or government subsidies stand almost no chance to get a property in the San Francisco/Bay Area because those types of financing present too many hurdles to sellers. They are also quite labor- and time-intensive for the buyers and all professionals involved. Most of all, they take time and programs can change or entirely go away in a hurry. Most sellers therefore will not even consider them.

The realtor you work with guides you through the process with skill, helps you understand trends, requirements, timelines, neighborhoods, and the list goes on. Additionally, strategic positioning to succeed in getting the home of your dreams will set you apart.

For additional facts and figures, please feel free to contact us at 415-200-7202.

 

©SFRE March 2016

The Home Buying Process

March 17th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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The home buying process can be daunting, especially for first time home buyers. Where to start? What are the absolute must-know items?  Many buyers browse the internet for homes they think they can afford. While that can be fun, doing this first is unlikely to produce great results. There are too many missing pieces. For instance, it’s often hard to tell on-line whether the home is for sale now. Market and neighborhood trends are also difficult to assess and tend to be generic at best. That said, home buyers can glean some good information on-line also and will definitely get an overall idea.

Sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com appear to be consumer friendly but their algorythms leave much to be desired and they often display inaccurate information. Perhaps that is because these sites make their living from realtor advertising. Whatever the reason, smart consumers connect with a savvy real estate professional sooner or later.

In most market environments it is imperative to work with trustworthy, knowledgeable professionals and to consider the following:

  • A pre-approval from your mortgage professional is essential.
  • Know your price range and your absolute top offer amount.
  • Be ready to move as quickly as possible.
  • Find out what the seller wants and allow your agent to do the work on this.
  • Write an offer with as few contingencies as possible.
  • Make contingency periods as tight and short as possible.
  • Present your best & highest offer amount vs. hoping for the seller to counter your offer and then going higher.
  • Come in with a healthy down payment.
  • Close as quickly as possible.
  • Consider writing an ‘As-Is’ offer.
  • Understand that you may be writing several offers.
  • Maintain the attitude that the perfect property for you is forthcoming.

If you are hoping for a deal or insider information to get you one, that is exceedingly rare in San Francisco and especially in the current market environment.. Even fixers, probates, and REOs (bank-owned properties) generate much competition, thereby increasing prices.

Similarly, buyers who wish to procure FHA or VA funding or government subsidies stand almost no chance to get a property in the San Francisco/Bay Area because those types of financing present too many hurdles to sellers. They are also quite labor- and time-intensive for the buyers and all professionals involved. Most of all, they take time and programs can change or entirely go away in a hurry. Most sellers therefore will not even consider them.

The realtor you work with guides you through the process with skill, helps you understand trends, requirements, timelines, neighborhoods, and the list goes on. Additionally, strategic positioning to succeed in getting the home of your dreams will set you apart.

For additional facts and figures, please feel free to contact us at 415-200-7202.
©SFRE March 2016

March 2016 SFRE Market Update

March 15th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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Before we begin, please note that long-term San Francisco real estate market trends tend to be more accurate than monthly real estate market trends. Changes in fair market values are better assessed through a long-term view rather than through monthly and seasonal fluctuations in San Francisco real estate values.

During the last four springs high demand coupled with very low inventory was the norm. If that trend continues, the statistics coming in the next few months may reveal sustained home value appreciation in San Francisco..

However, the  San Francisco real estate market is just starting to pick up after little activity and slow movement during the holidays and the first month of the year. Homebuyers do not appear to be overly affected by the recent volatility in the stock market.  The San Francisco real estate market overall appears to sustain growth but at a less frantic and overheated pace than just a few months ago.

Mortgage rates hit their all-time low in 2013 at approximately 3.3% but mortgage rates are still low. They currently hover at 3.6%, very close to the historic low of 2013. Mortgage rates can of course change dramatically and suddenly but for the moment March 2016 rates are good news to home buyers and home sellers. Only 11% of San Francisco households can afford to buy a home at the current median home price. An income of $254,000 is the lowest that will qualify a borrower for such a purchase. (Source: CAR Housing Affordability Index (HAI) Quarter 4, 2015)

Buying a home in San Francisco

San Francisco is an expensive real estate market and there are few neighborhoods in which the median home price is below $1,000,000. This number applies to single family homes. Some of the San Francisco neighborhoods with current real estate values below a million dollars include the Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, the Bayview, the Portola, and Crocker Amazon. Neighborhoods like Bernal Heights, Pacific Heights, the Richmond District, and the Sunset District well exceed the million dollar mark for single family homes.

Buying condos, TICs, and co-ops  in San Francisco

Many San Francisco condos are luxury condos and there are many new luxury condo buildings on the market with more coming down the pipe. TICs vary considerably in age and finishes but hold prices that are close to or on par with condos. While prices in this segment vary considerably, the median price approximates $1,000,000, especially in neighborhoods like Mission Bay, South Beach, and Noe Valley.

Overbidding

The current overall percentage properties are overbid above the asking price sits at 107% for March 2016 versus 103% for February 2016. That percentage is generic and varies considerably depending on the neighborhood, condition, specific inventory in the given neighborhood and a number of other factors.

New Construction

Development continues in San Francisco. Thousands of new units, generally luxury condos are both opening and planned. .Well over 60,000 new housing units (market-rate condos, apartments and affordable housing) are in the development pipeline for the next 5 to 6 years, plus another 25,000 in 3 huge projects that may take decades to complete.

New developments keep being added to the pipeline. Many of these projects change and depend on economic or political conditions. Just this month the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to put a city charter amendment on the June ballot which would considerably increase the affordable-housing contributions developers of projects of 25+ units must make.

How much these increased contributions would affect new home construction in San Francisco remains unclear. Ted Egan, the city’s chief economist published his Economic Impact Report in late February 2016. This report states that the proposed requirement ‘may lead to a slowdown in the development of market-rate housing, which would constrain supply and place upward pressure on housing prices.’

So far, increased supply due to completed new construction has not created significant downward pressure on prices. Most development however aims at luxury condo development. For that reason, it is likely to be the luxury condo market to experience an eventual oversupply. Single family home values are likely to benefit from this dynamic, which could lead to further appreciation for them.

The San Francisco real estate market is affected by seasonality. The rise and fall of inventory, buyer demand, overbidding and median prices all reflect this. But it is the luxury home segment that is especially affected by seasonality:  expensive home sales typically soar in the spring, drop during the summer holidays, rebound briefly in the fall, and lie dormant in winter.

As spring arrives inventory is likely to rise.

 

©SFRE March 2016

If you are considering selling property in San Francisco, click to get your free preliminary market analysis.

Tax Deductions for Home Owners

March 10th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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Tax season is here and we’ve put together a few tax deductions for homeowners. Always check with your CPA for the nitty gritty of the deductions.

Okay, here they are:

  1. Mortgage interest, mortgage insurance premiums and deductible points.
  2.  The Residential Energy Credit.

This credit requires that the property qualify. Qualifications include solar heating property with at least 50% of its energy being solar, qualifying solar electric property, qualifying wind energy property, and qualifying fuel cell property, and a qualifying geothermal pump property. Consult your CPA for specific percentage requirements for all of these.

  1. Moving Expenses

Taxpayers may deduct the reasonable expenses of moving themselves and their families if the move is related to starting work in a new location.

Deductible moving expenses are limited to the cost of:

  • Transportation of household goods and personal effects and
  • Travel to the new residence, including lodging but not meals

Where an automobile is used in making the move, a taxpayer may deduct either:

  • The actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred, i.e., gasoline and oil, but not repairs, depreciation, etc.
  • A standard mileage allowance of 23 cents per mile for 2015 (19 cents per mile for 2016) plus parking fees and tolls.

This deduction applies to homeowners who are moving a minimum of 50 miles away from their former residence as well as a work-related relocation. Make sure to look at the specific requirements for the deduction and that they apply to your situation.

Business use of home

If you have an office in your home, you may be able to deduct home office expenses related to your business. The deduction is calculated by determining the square footage of the office compared to the square footage of the whole house. This percentage then is used to calculate the business percent of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance, HOA dues, repairs and maintenance, utilities, etc.

Homeowners’ insurance, HOA dues, maintenance and repairs, and utilities are generally not deductible, though they may be if your home is also being used for your business.

Renovation Loans Provide Options

March 3rd, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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Renovation loans are available to buyers but they also benefit sellers. A number of renovation loans exist and Both Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration have programs through which buyers can borrow. Through these programs buyers are able to borrow based on what the property is expected to be worth after the rehab, while sellers are able to refinance their exisiting mortgage plus the renovation costs into one loan.

For either home buyers or sellers this means that it becomes essential to get an inspection of the home which will detail the estimated renovation costs. [Note: Home inspectors cannot provide such figures and it is best to get this done through a renovation consultant who is also familiar with the renovation loans, their requirements and their caps.] There are specific guidelines for each one of these loan products.

What you may expect for all of them is as follows:

  1. Repairs must be cosmetic in nature versus being structural.
  2. An appraisal will be required
  3. Cover repairs that add value to the home

If you are looking to finance or re-finance homes which need a complete renovation and/or structural repairs, you could consider the FHA 203k program. Again, there are caps in place on these.

In case of a luxury home or homes that fall within higher value ranges  in need of repairs, some lenders offer Jumbo renovation loans. Because details vary and can change, we’ll be happy to connect you to lenders who offer renovation loans. All real estate contracts using renovation loans ought to include the phrase: ‘based on renovation financing.’

Benefits to Buyers & Sellers

Renovation loans can be excellent vehicles to sell properties which would otherwise be much more restrictive. They allow buyers to consider properties they otherwise could not consider because they now have the ability to pay for the renovations. This is also a benefit to home sellers because the pool of buyers just increased for them and such a loan program makes their home much more marketable. That is especially true if they do not wish to do any home renovation themselves.

Home seller can also benefit by doing the renovation themselves, then selling their home for market value in real estate markets where that makes sense. The San Francisco real estate market is one such market. The same applies for the rest of the Bay Area real estate markets.

New Condo Development in San Francisco’s Lake Merced

February 25th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 3.50.10 PM  The Summit 800 on Brotherhood Way in San Francisco consists of 182 units with an average price of $700 per square foot. While that sounds more affordable as compared to other new condo developments, there are a number of things to consider when looking at the Summit 800.

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The first of those is the neighborhood close to Lake Merced and on the outer southerly edge of San Francisco. Essentially, the development is located at the San Francisco/ Daly City border and close to the 280 freeway as well as the 19th Avenue/Highway 1 thoroughfare. It is reasonably close to BART and public transit but the average commute to downtown San Francisco is 45 minutes at a minimum. The townhomes are close to San Francisco State University but there is very little within walking distance to the Summit 800. Another significant difference between the Summit 800 and other new developments in San Francisco is that the units are suburban in feeling.

Compared to the most popular new developments in neighborhoods like SOMA, South Beach, Yerba Buena, Hayes Valley, Pacific Heights, the price points of the Summit 800 units appear eminently more affordable. Most condos in the neighborhoods just mentioned exceed $1200 per square foot.

©SFRE February 2016

If you are considering selling property in San Francisco, click to get your free preliminary market analysis.

If you are considering buying property in San Francisco, please contact us at sfrealestateinc@gmail.com.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Russian Hill

February 19th, 2016 by Gabrielle Dahms

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Russian Hill is named for a Russian cemetery at the top of the hill in the district.  Although the cemetery was eventually removed, the name remained.

An intimate neighborhood with pockets of restaurants and shops, this district is tucked away yet still centrally located — only a short walk from Union Square, the Marina, Pacific Heights, Aquatic Park, Chinatown and North Beach.

Perched on some of San Francisco’s highest hilltops and most winding streets, Russian Hill is rich in architectural tradition, with an eclectic mix of Victorian, Italianate and craftsman style residences.  Hidden stairways, cozy cafes and small businesses lend a less intimidating welcome to visitors than neighboring Nob Hill.

Parks, gardens, stairwell walks, steep hills, and dazzling views sum up this quintessential San Francisco neighborhood. Old world charm abounds. Russian Hill feels private and intimate, yet welcoming. Lombard Street, the ‘crookedest street’ is lined by private homes with lush gardens and runs right through Russian Hill. The neighborhood offers a mix of Victorians, Edwardians, modern buildings, and high-rise buildings such as 999 Green & 1100 Green, for example.

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Transit/Transportation options:  MUNI Transit

SF Schools

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©SFRE February 2016

If you are considering selling property in San Francisco, click to get your free preliminary market analysis.

If you are considering buying property in San Francisco, please contact us at sfrealestateinc@gmail.com.