San Francisco’s Best Schools

Before curb appeal; before “walk-score” and commute; and way before closet space and water pressure, there’s the school.  For people with kids in tow or on the way, the primary determinant of where they want to live, right after what they can afford, is the quality of the schools in the neighborhood.

Where to turn for information?

What’s Better than One New Home-Buyer Tax Credit? Two.

California Route Marker
Image via Wikipedia

As if one new home buyer tax credit weren’t enough, the State of California recently re-enacted and extended the scope of its own version, originally passed in 2009.   As a result, some California buyers can take advantage of both — but only if all the stars align, and only for a short period of time.

The California Association of Realtors has published a useful chart that compares the two tax credits and I’ve reproduced it below (click to enlarge).

The rules are complicated, (see here for the Franchise Tax Board explanation) but here are a few key takeaways: ...  Additional Details

Enough about Owning — How about San Francisco Rentals?

I came across a site recently that not only provides a database of available rental units for many US cities, but also has nice, easy-to-read charts on rental trends for specific areas.  Unfortunately, you can’t get very precise in terms of zip code or neighborhood, but it certainly give you a good sense of rental trends.  And trends, as we all know, are what it’s all about!

Welcome to

I’ve added them to my blog-roll.

Measuring by the Foot: Does it Make a Difference?

Several readers and clients have asked me recently about price per square foot metrics.  Certainly, if you’re trying to figure out how much a home is worth, it helps to get a sense of value by knowing what houses (or condos) are going for in the area on a per square foot basis and multiplying that by the size of the house in square feet.  Elementary my dear Watson.

However, others have been curious about whether there might be a discontinuity between the median price of homes and the median price per square foot, and what that might mean, especially in the context of how much each has fallen from its all-time high.  So I decided to take a look. ...  Additional Details

Waiting for The Other Sheep To Drop


I really couldn’t find a suitable graphic for a falling shoe….

Thanks to my reader JC for pointing out the San Francisco Chronicle’s September 21 article on the $30 billion or so in “option ARMS”  that are going to reset, starting in 2010.  These are not the subprime ARMS that caused the derivative markets to unravel, the ones that closet reactionaries are still all too eager to blame on the avaricious poor (now is that an oxymoron?) who signed up for them.

No, these are the the loans that the relatively well-heeled and savvy took out to buy their higher end homes.  They appreciated the “options” an option ARM offered.  Like being able to pay just the interest for the stated fixed period of the loan — often 5 years — rather than paying down the principal as well.  Or even paying less than the interest due and rolling the balance into the principal, just like those negative amortization loans that got us into so much trouble in the 1980s.  (We really never learn, do we.) ...  Additional Details

Focus on Noe Valley

It’s been a few months since I took a look at my own stompin’ ground, Noe Valley, and how prices have been doing compared to the city as a whole.  We dispensed with the notion that Noe Valley was somehow “immune” some time ago.  Sadly — at least for home-owners — and happily for buyers, Noe hasn’t bounced back over the last few months, even though city-wide median prices have improved.

Noe Valley Vs. SF All Districts Percent change August 09

Bear in mind that “Noe Valley” means a very small area.  What’s more, there were only 7 sales in August, down from 14 in May and June, and 22 in July.   Sure, there’s been a bit of an improvement over the previous month, but there’s still an 11% difference between how far prices have fallen for the city as a whole (19%) versus Noe Valley (30%). ...  Additional Details

Beautiful Wreck: 587 Jersey, Noe Valley

Walking my dog, yesterday afternoon and I was brought up short by this beautiful wreck around the corner from where we live.


Light and shadow from the rafters seemed to make the windows glow like cardboard cut-outs.


Here’s the scoop:  Listed in mid-May for $799,000, sold on June 25 for $700,000.  1360 square feet of original detail.  $515 bucks a foot.

I quote from the listing:  “All inside doors, most hardware, some light fixtures appear original and possibly pre-1900.” ...  Additional Details