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From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group

40671708_2_1409264876

1657 Via Romero
Alamo, CA
Offered at $2,449,950

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Make sure you employ open house etiquette

I meet tons of people through my open houses – and it can be a lot of fun. Just as with everything else, though, open houses can be a mixed bag. Take this as a guide to how to act – and how not to act – when you walk into an open house.

It’s actually okay if you’re not a real buyer – I welcome your visit. I’m sociable and friendly and you’ll find me fun to talk to if there are no other visitors I need to show the house to. That said, it works better if you tell me up front that you’re more of a browser than a buyer. It’s not comfortable for anyone if you’re trying to hide that fact – sometimes people will make up an obvious story about looking on behalf of a friend or relative. I get the same thing from older couples who I suspect are tourists or day-trippers – they like to tell me they’re looking on behalf of their kid. Keep it honest, please.

The dynamics of packs can be a problem. These are groups of three, generally all the same gender, usually less than 35 years old. You can tell they’re cruising open houses for entertainment – they seem out of their element and ill at ease. They tend to talk only to each other and ignore me.

Sometimes they’re really young – teenagers. That’s when I have to track them a bit, worrying about sticky fingers. You’d be surprised at what open-house visitors tend to steal – bars of soap!

Then there are people who are just plain difficult – or worse. I once had to threaten to call the police on a neighbor when I had a listing in outer Noe Valley – not only was she drunk, she wanted to tell me how disgusting she thought the former owner of my listing was because he died of AIDS. Then there was another neighbor – with the same listing – who was so terribly lonely she would come over and stay forever. I could never figure out how to gently get rid of her.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do etiquette-wise is keeping your opinions to yourself. You never know who might be in the house. Once, while I was holding my own home open at the time I was selling it, a buyer came through and told me she hated the color of the walls. I had spent hours choosing and obsessing over that color. I also recently had a contractor do a heavy critique on one of my listings, declaring that the owner must be really cheap since she clearly didn’t care about certain elements. What he didn’t know was that the owner is one of my best friends.

If you love the house and want to buy it, it pays to be nice to the listing agent. Remember that we evaluate the buyers who come through and report back to our sellers. If you seem overly fussy, difficult and overly cautious, I take that into account if you do wind up bidding on the property.

Stay tuned for another post about mistakes in home prep. Your home has to show well if it’s going to sell.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com

From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group

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1973 Filbert Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Offered at $6,300,000

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Case-Shiller reveals trends for San Francisco, Bay Area in general

The new Case-Shiller numbers are out for June, and can you guess what they reveal? Take a wild guess … okay, I’ll tell you. We’ve got some accelerating prices on properties, folks, and if you haven’t figured that one out, you probably should have.

First, a little primer on Case-Shiller: it covers the house markets of five Bay Area counties, divided into three price tiers, each constituting one third of unit sales. Most of San Francisco’s (as well as Marin and San Mateo’s) house sales are in the high-price tier, so this is where we focus most of our attention. The index is published two months after the month in question and reflects a three-month rolling average, so it will always reflect the market of some months ago. What I’m saying is this: take it with a grain of salt.

Typically, the market cools off and plateaus for the summer months – that’s what we’ve seen in the new Case-Shiller numbers for June. However, if you look at the chart accompanying this article, you’ll see that accelerating prices have been the norm ever since the recovery began in earnest in 2012.

So what does the future seem to hold? We’re going to see another big indication of market conditions and trends in terms of the autumn selling season, which starts mid-next month That’s typically when there is a large surge in new listings and buyer demand picks up again until the holiday slowdown begins in mid-November.

In terms of the high-price home segment for the San Francisco metro area, there was no real significant change from May to June, although the low- and mid-priced segments both ticked up by a percentage point or two. However, it’s worth remembering that short-term fluctuations are much less meaningful than longer-term trends.

Specific questions? Give me a call.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com

In case you forgot: we live in earthquake country

Last early Sunday morning, many of us in the Bay Area were rudely awakened by a strong quake centered in Napa. This dramatic event was a serious wake-up call that reminded all of us of the possibility – no, the inevitability – of quakes in our neck of the woods, and the fact that we all need to prepare.

We at Paragon have gotten our hands on a USGS Earthquake Safety pamphlet that deals with the steps of preparation to minimize the negative effects of an earthquake. Now is an opportune time as any to review these steps.

First off, it’s crucial to get connected. As the pamphlet says: “Preparedness is all about people.” So what does this mean? It means turning to your community before disaster strikes can help strengthen your ties in the event of one – and help you get through it at least that little bit better. Options include connecting through digital networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Drive, meeting your neighbors on Nextdoor or signing up for AirBnB so you’ll have access to a place to stay should your home be damaged.

Second, you need to gather supplies. A good rule of thumb, according to the pamphlet, is to have three days’ worth of supplies, including water, a first-aid kit and a flashlight and extra batteries. Other supplies include warm and sturdy clothes, a battery-operated or hand-crank radio and cash.

The site also has a suite of videos for you to watch in order to get better prepared. They feature disaster survivors from Tokyo and New York City, as well as members of local community hubs.

Finally, it’s time to make a plan. Select your group, pick an out-of-state contact and agree on a place to meet. This section includes a complete PDF to help you with accomplishing this task.

No time like the present to start preparing. A little forethought goes a long way.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com

Updated S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for San Francisco Metro Area

The Case-Shiller Index for the San Francisco Metro Area covers the house markets of 5 Bay Area counties, divided into 3 price tiers, each constituting one third of unit sales. Most of the San Francisco’s and Marin’s house sales are in the “high price tier”, so that is where we focus most of our attention.” The Index is published 2 months after the month in question and reflects a 3-month rolling average, so it will always reflect the market of some months ago. June’s Index was released on the last Tuesday of August.

The 5 counties in our Case-Shiller Metro Statistical Area are San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa. Needless to say, there are many different real estate markets found in such a broad region, and it’s probably fair to say that the city of San Francisco’s market has generally out-performed the general metro-area market.

The first two charts illustrate the price recovery of the Bay Area high-price-tier home market over the past year and since 2012 began, when the market recovery really started in earnest. In both 2012 and 2013, home prices surged in the spring and then plateaued in the summer-autumn. The surge in prices that occurred in spring of 2013 was particularly dramatic, reflecting a frenzied market of huge buyer demand, historically low interest rates, increasing consumer confidence and extremely low inventory. In San Francisco itself, it was further exacerbated by an expanding population and the high-tech-fueled explosion of new wealth. The market then calmed down somewhat in the second half of 2013, but then heated up yet again in early 2014. In fact, the spring 2014 market was, if anything, even more ferocious than last year’s. Typically, the market cools off for the summer months and that is what we are starting to see in the Case-Shiller numbers (which, again, are some months behind the current market). The next big indication of market trends will come after the autumn selling season begins in mid-September.

For more regarding how seasonality affects real estate: Seasonality & the Real Estate Market

Case-Shiller Index numbers all reflect home prices as compared to the home price of January 2000, which has been designated with a value of 100. Thus, a reading of 198 signifies home prices 98% above those of January 2000.

Short-Term Trends: 12 Months & Since Market Recovery Began in 2012

image002 image004

Longer-Term Trends & Cycles

The third and fourths charts below reflect what has occurred in the longer term (for the high-price tier that applies best to San Francisco and Marin counties), showing the cycle of recession, recovery, bubble, decline/recession since 1996, and since 1988. Note that, past cycle changes will always look smaller than more recent cycles because the prices are so much higher now; if the chart reflected only percentage changes between points, the difference in the scale of cycles would not look so dramatic.

Case-Shiller_from_1990 Case-Shiller_HT_1996-2011

Different Bubbles, Crashes & Recoveries

This next chart compares the 3 different price tiers since 2000. The low-price-tier’s bubble was much more inflated, fantastically inflated, by the subprime lending fiasco – an absurd 170% appreciation over 6 years – which led to a much greater crash (foreclosure crisis) than the other two price tiers. All 3 tiers have been undergoing dramatic recoveries, but because the bubbles of the low and middle tiers were greater, their recoveries leave them well below their artificially inflated peak values of 2006. It may be a long time before the low-price-tier of houses regains its previous peak values. The high-price-tier, with a much smaller bubble, and little affected by distressed property sales, has now exceeded its previous peak values of 2007. Most neighborhoods in the city of San Francisco itself have surpassed previous peak values by substantial margins.

It’s interesting to note that despite the different scales of their bubbles, crashes and recoveries, all three price tiers now have similar overall appreciation rates when compared to year 2000. As of May 2014, as seen below, appreciation for all three tiers since 2000 ranged from 93% to 97%. In June (not shown below), this range narrowed further to 96% to 98%. This suggests an equilibrium is being achieved across the general real estate market.

Different counties, cities and neighborhoods in the Bay Area are dominated by different price tiers. Bay Area counties such as Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Solano have large percentages of their markets dominated by low-price tier homes (though all tiers are represented to greater or lesser degrees). San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are generally mid and high-price tier markets, and sometimes very high priced indeed. Generally speaking, the higher the price, the smaller the bubble and crash, and the greater the recovery as compared to previous peak values.

Remember that if a price drops by 50%, then it must go up by 100% to make up the loss: loss percentages and gain percentages are not created equal.

The two “2014″ readings for each tier in the chart below, refer to January 2014 and May 2014.

Case-Shiller_3-Tiers_Trends

San Francisco County

And then looking just at the city of San Francisco itself, which has, generally speaking, among the highest home prices in the 5-county metro area (and the country): many of its neighborhoods are now blowing past previous peak values. Note that this chart has more recent price appreciation data than available in the Case-Shiller Indices. This chart shows both house and condo values, while the C-S charts used above are for house sales only. Median prices are affected by other factors besides changes in values, including seasonality, new constructions, inventory available to purchase, and significant changes in the distressed and luxury home segments. Short-term fluctuations are less meaningful than longer term trends.

Median_SFD-Condo_by-Qtr_Short-term

And this chart for the Noe and Eureka Valleys neighborhoods of San Francisco shows the explosive recovery seen in many of the city’s neighborhoods, pushing home values far above those of 2007. San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are most effected by the high-tech wealth effect on home prices. Noe and Eureka Valleys are particularly prized by this buyer segment and the effect on prices has been astonishing.

Noe-Eureka_SFD_Avg-SP_DolSqFt_by_YEAR

Eight ways to dress up your hallway

When was the last time you gave thought to your hallway? If the answer is “not lately”, then you might want to change your evil ways, baby. As Houzz writer Shane Inman notes, “the hallways that connect living spaces to sleeping spaces to the exterior of a home are just as important as bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens.” Inman, an interior designer, offers eight ways to dress up often-drab hallways. Check these out – there are ways to make your hallways come to life after all:

1) Use a colorful rug. Inman says “instant style” comes with an eye-catching rug. Try horizontal stripes to make a narrow hallway feel wider, and a long rug extending from one end of the hallway to the other has dramatic impact as well.

2) Try a picture gallery. Extra-long hallways can benefit from a mix of family snapshots and art, which add warmth to the space.

3) Consider cabinetry. Wider hallways can handle custom cabinetry for extra display space and storage area.

4) Pick pendant lighting. Since most interior hallways lack windows, sufficient lighting is important. Hanging pendants can help light the way and add flair as well.

5) What about wainscoting? It’s a great decorative element – but it also helps keep your drywall free of markets, scrapes and bumps. Heavy-traffic areas benefit from wainscoting.

6) Benefit from bookcases. Inman notes that both a functional and aesthetic element can be added to hallways from bookcases, which help the avid reader who is flush in volumes.

7) Maybe a mural? Murals can be more affordable than wallpaper – and they come in many customizable options.

8) Framed mirrors can be the answer. Mirrors can help bring extra light and visual space into a hallway that is small, dark and in need of help.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com

How does seasonality affect the San Francisco market?

Paragon has just issued a new report: “Seasonality in the San Francisco Homes Market”, which discusses the effect of seasonal changes on our local real estate market. As noted in the report, seasonality typically affects inventory levels, buyer demand and median home prices, often in very significant ways. That said, it’s worth remembering that seasonality is not the only factor that affects market conditions and trends. Other factors include the economy in general, financial market movements, new construction projects coming online, significant interst-rate changes, local stock market IPOs, natural and political events and other various factors.

In addition, new listings and new sales are always being inked, and it is sometimes the smart strategy – depending on prevailing market conditions and a specific property – to buy or sell during slower periods.

Typically, though, there are summer and winter slowdowns. The autumn market is the litmus test come mid-September with a typical surge of new listings; so is the spring market that begins in late February/early March. According to the typical ebb and flow in the higher-end market, which is usually more affected by seasonality than the general market, this means a higher median sales price during peak periods, and a lowered price during the slower ones.

The market has been rapidly appreciating since 2012, notwithstanding the shorter-term ups and downs that seasonality can bring throughout the year. Keep in mind that in an appreciating or depreciating market, other factors typically impact median sales prices as well. It’s valuable to know that what is meaningful is the longer-term trend in housing prices, rather than the short-term fluctuations.

Questions? Give me a call!

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email cblase@paragon-re.com. www.ceceblase.com