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Looking for a quake retrofit grant? You’re in luck

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user kangotraveler

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user kangotraveler


Collapsed foundation systems have been a problem in every moderate and large urban earthquake in the state, going all the way back to the Great San Francisco earthquake in 1906,” the email from First American reads. “The region’s next major earthquake is only a matter of time, according to seismologists.”


Consider this a wake-up call – and an opportunity. It’s been more than a quarter of a century since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake that rocked the region, and while newer homes are designed to resist quake damage, older homes built to early codes are vulnerable.


This opportunity is available to homeowners in designated zip codes in Albany, Berkeley, Burlingame, Emeryville, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Oakland, Piedmont, San Francisco, San Leandro and Woodside. Hurry, though – the application deadline for the program, known as the California Residential Mitigation Program, is Feb. 20, 2016. To learn more, visit California Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program.

Get your Super Bowl 50 data here

Recently I heard from Tripping.com, which has released data that analyzes the Bay Area vacation rental market as we lead up to the big event.


Here are a few key statistics that they cited:


  • Vacation rental prices in the Bay Area are – not surprisingly – extremely high. The sky seems to be the limit here as the average price for an available Bay Area rental listing during Super Bowl Weekend (Feb. 4-8) has hit a jaw-dropping $717, representing a 20 percent increase from January and a 60 percent increase for the months of February and March.
  • The city of Santa Clara is also benefitting from its proximity to Levi’s Stadium, where the Bowl will be taking place. The average rate for a vacation rental in Santa Clara during Super Bowl Weekend is $1025 (yes, seriously). That’s a whopping 150 percent more expensive than typical listings during February and March.
  • There is no shortage of vacation-rental listings – a grand total of 8470 in the Bay Area, while Santa Clara has 789. There are even a number of Super-Bowl-titled properties (59 in the Bay Area, 19 in Santa Clara).


Looking to avoid traffic before, during and after the Bowl? Check out Sotheby’s map of street closures here.

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Jim G

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Jim G

New Case-Shiller Index for San Francisco Metro Area

The new S&P Case-Shiller Index for November 2015 for the 5-county, San Francisco Metro Statistical Area was published yesterday. According to C-S, home prices continued to tick up a small bit through the autumn market.

Most of these charts track the “high-price tier” of homes (the upper third of home sales by price), which apply best to San Francisco, southern Marin, San Mateo and central Contra Costa counties. However, note that appreciation rates do vary by market area.

At this point, the next real indication of where the homes market is heading will come after the beginning of the 2016 spring selling season (which can begin as early as mid-late February) and sales begin to close in March and April.

The past 12 months:


Since the recovery began in 2012. One can see in both the above and below charts the extreme seasonality of home price appreciation over the past year and over the past 4 years. Almost all the significant appreciation has been occurring in the spring selling season, when the supply and demand dynamic has been most out of whack, and the competition situation between buyers for new listings has been the most ferocious. Whether this spring will experience this frenzy once again, or whether an inflection point has been reached (for any of a number of potential reasons) causing a more extended plateau in appreciation or even a negative adjustment of some magnitude will soon become evident.


Over the last few real estate cycles:


And this “aggregate” chart tracks all home price segments for the SF Metro Area. Note that the 3 price tiers delineated by Case-Shiller had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of very different magnitudes, and this aggregate chart doesn’t apply well to either the low or high price tiers, but approximates the mid-price tier reasonably well:


Paragon’s full report on the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Bay Area is here.

Part Two: San Francisco’s boomtown days

In our last installment, we discussed how San Francisco is a bit of an inadvertent economic boomtown these days. Today let’s continue that discussion, as based on the BloombergView article referenced in the last post.


As the article maintains, San Francisco has been a bit reluctant when it comes to embracing its role of economic muse. It cites voter-imposed limits on office construction along with the protests and litigation that so often counter new housing developments as well as progressive local politics bent on keeping the city the same as examples of this.


In particular, homeowners opposing growth is being seen as a major issue in the San Francisco suburbs – and in the city itself. However, as the article notes, 65 percent of the city’s housing units are rentals, while 75 percent of that number are subject to rent control.


“Most of the San Franciscans who oppose new development do so apparently not to maximize the value of their property but to minimize the odds that they will be forced out of their apartments or otherwise priced out of the city,” the article reads.


It goes on to assert that anti-growth progressives, while ripe for mocking by some, are hardly crazy to worry that hordes of tech workers moving into San Francisco will change the landscape for everyone. Your thoughts on the matter?



San Francisco as economic hub

What is the economic capital of the 21st century? According to BloombergView, it just may well be San Francisco – albeit an inadvertent one.

“It is the main urban center of a region that is home to many of the leading corporations of the digital age, an area that has become an unparalleled hub of innovation, invention and entrepreneurship,” BloombergView notes, adding that as of July 2014 just 852,469 people lived in the city according to the U.S. Census – just 10 percent more than in 1950. Moreover, while San Francisco is certainly densely populated, even more people could fit here – think Brooklyn.

“In earlier decades, when suburban living was in vogue and the Bay Area’s center of economic gravity was shifting southward toward San Jose, San Francisco’s slow growth seemed natural enough,” the article continues. “But now more and more of the smart, ambitious young people who power the region’s economy would rather live in the city than in the tract homes of Silicon Valley.”

As BloombergView notes, many of these people commute south from San Francisco to suburban offices campuses including Apple, Facebook and Google, with newer tech firms increasingly locating in the city itself. The result? A city on the verge of a major economic leap. While that’s not necessarily news, here’s what is: the city itself is growing, having added something on the order of 50,000 people since 2010 as well as 8,900 new housing units under construction as of last fall. “But on the whole,” the article posits, “it’s fair to say that San Francisco hasn’t exactly embraced the role of boomtown.”

Why? Tune in tomorrow for the answer.

What does comprehensive marketing mean for your home sale?

In order to expediently sell your home for the best price possible, we at Paragon must launch a comprehensive marketing campaign in order to show your property in its best possible light. But what does this mean? Let’s break down some of the components.




Your agent will:


  • Study market conditions, figure out the type of buyer who is likely to pay the highest price and position your home accordingly. Targeting buyers correctly is one of the main ways that a savvy agent will get your property sold quickly and for the best price.
  • Price your property correctly from the start and prepare to show it at its very best. This could add substantial value to the property price since buyers want to invest in a well-kept and good-looking home.
  • Retain a professional real estate photographer to take pictures of the home. Visuals are crucial at this and just about every other step of the game.
  • Thoroughly market to other brokers to grab their attention and attract them to showings. Connecting with other brokers is another essential way to bring potential buyers in the door.
  • Create a dedicated property showcase on a website or webpage complete with photos, descriptions, maps, neighborhood information and floor plan as well as interactive features. These days, many if not most buyers are doing the majority of their research online.
  • Advertise online in a comprehensive way along with a beautifully designed print campaign.
  • Coordinate broker tours, open houses and private showings.


Questions? Get in touch.

What’s the difference between a condo and a co-op?

If you find yourself wondering what differentiates a condo from a co-operative in San Francisco, you’re not alone. This handy chart may be of help to you. Let’s look at some of its highlights.


First, let’s define the difference between ownership when it comes to these two different property types. In a condo situation, ownership means unit airspace owned by an individual, plus an undivided share of common elements. In a cooperative, the residents are shareholders in a corporation that owns the property. Owning a share entitles you to occupy the unit.


Now let’s talk monthly cost. Here the two are similar, with a bit of an exception: whereas in a cooperative members pay for their share of the actual operating cost, building mortgage (if applicable) and real estate taxes, based on the nonprofit operation of the entire community, with a condo mortgage payments and taxes go straight to the lender.


What about move-in cost? With a condo, a purchaser must buy the property, usually with a mortgage with a down payment of at least 5 percent and closing costs of 3 percent more. They must also pay the first month’s condo fee and often a “contribution to capital” of one to two months’ fee. However, with a cooperative, new members buy their share and also pay the first monthly charge in advance.


Then there’s community control. Both condos and cooperatives provide a natural base for service and activity desired by its members. However, in the case of the former, there may be state law limitations._68662_orig

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