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Where to Watch The City’s Famous July 4th Fireworks Bay Show

July 4th is just around the corner—coming right up next Monday. City residents (or visitors) always revel in the City of San Francisco Fireworks Show from the Bay (over the waterfront), considered among the best shows in the world. Two sets of fireworks are synchronized and launched: one at the Municipal Pier’s end, and the other on barges off of Pier 39. The display starts at approximately 9:30 pm Monday night. You can view this gorgeous fire storm in the sky from virtually anywhere in the Bay Area where you can see over to the SF waterfront. But here in the city it’s transcendent.

Fun fact: all the hilltops in SF have parks—naturally panoramic viewpoints for the show. And you’re going to hear the symphonic booms and pops as well.

Watch Spots:

Fisherman’s Wharf—if you can get there early enough to cram in with all the other fireworks watchers. Music and our brand of SF entertainment too.

Pier 39 has its own brand of fireworks watching, combined with family musical entertainment.

Aquatic Park: a lot of the space is reserved for VIPs, but bring your blankets and fold up chairs and you could luck out with a plumb spot.

Ghirardelli Square is fun, hip, exciting, and right near the fireworks action.

Coit Tower parking lot: will probably have to walk up to it.

There are some fantastic July 4th bay cruises offered by the several yacht cruise lines plying the bay. Requires reservations, and some feature a full dinner and dancing lineup.

So head on out and join the festivities and people of SF’s Fourth of July.

What’s Up With Current SF MLS Listings?

How about a snapshot view of SF’s listings on the MLS presented in one easy-to-read chart? Take a look below. It’s an interesting perspective hot from the records of  June 27, 2016.

Here’s my take on these numbers.

Districts 3 and 4 are growing dense with single families, which explains why there is a higher volume of house inventory there.

District 5 is where you find the largest concentration of 2-4 unit buildings, with the Potrero, Mission, Bernal and Dogpatch neighborhoods coming in under District 5 for most 2-4 unit listings.

Notice how the Soma, South Beach, Yerba Buena Districts have no single-family homes. These neighborhoods are dominated by high-rise construction and mid- rise loft buildings. It is also where many of our new home developments are located. These new high-rise buildings typically do not post their inventory in the MLS. If they do post inventory, the volume of listings available in those neighborhoods would show much, much higher on this chart.

San Francisco Neighborhood Map

San Francisco & San Mateo County District Map

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For Sale Homes Turned Into Rental Scams

Unfortunately, there’s a real old rental con that’s being pulled in 2016 on individuals looking for SF rentals and SF homeowners selling their homes. Beware if you’re looking to rent, and brokers should also be very vigilant.

Here’s the scam: target a house for sale in SF; create an attractive rental ad for the house on Craigslist; provide very detailed information on the home when queried; make excuses as to why the home can’t be seen; send out bogus lease agreements to the marks; collect by wire the first month’s rent plus two months security deposit from the mark.

Rentals are pricey here in the city, and these scam artists can easily walk away with a cool $12,000 and up for their con work on one person. Most of these con people are over in Europe where they can set up accounts on Craigslist (also Trulia, Rentals.com), and actually do all the communication remotely by email, and receive the funds by wire. 

The renters are badly stung financially. But, as well, the real estate brokers legitimately handling the sale of the home are often mentioned by name and number in the scam ads.

Brokers can prevent this by: routinely checking the listing on Craigslist or other online rental hubs to see if your properties are listed there. If so, contact the SF District Attorney’s office, the FBI and the FTC complaints department.

Renters should beware of any offer that sounds “too good to be true,” and certainly be very wary of homes with no possible personal viewing opportunities. 

Here’s a helpful link for more rental scam information.

Significant Changes in San Francisco & Bay Area Employment Trends

Analyzing new data (preliminary May numbers) from the CA Employment Development Department indicates a significant shift in Bay Area employment numbers. As seen in the first chart below, looking at the 4 central Bay Area Counties, comparing the first 5 months of last year to the same period of this year, the change in the number of employed residents during each 5-month period went from an increase of 28,100 last year to a decline of 5,000 in this past December to May.

(Santa Clara County continued to grow in number of employed residents, but at a substantially reduced rate from the previous year).

This is the first time since 2009 that the number of employed residents in this area has declined instead of increasing during this period, though this is still relatively short-term data and doesn’t prove a lasting, long-term trend.

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These next 2 charts give longer-term perspectives of year-over-year changes in San Francisco itself.

This first chart below, again, compares changes in employed-resident numbers in San Francisco alone in the first 5 months of each year. (Early 2010 saw a much greater increase, +27,000, but was not included in the first chart for reasons of scale.)

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This chart shows long-term annual changes in employed-resident numbers in San Francisco.

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Changes in employment figures, up or down, typically affect the rental market relatively quickly and dramatically – more so than the real estate purchase market – and that certainly appears to be the case in San Francisco, where softening demand and rents have been widely reported. The big increases in employment, and thus of population, in the past 5 years put immense pressure on rental rates around the Bay Area.

The decreases in employment we’re seeing in 2016 have also been coupled with recent, increased rental inventory construction, albeit most of which has been at the very high end of rent rates. In other words, a possible significant decrease in demand is being coupled with increased supply of apartments available to rent.

Average asking rents have plateaued over the last 3 quarters (first chart below), for the first time since 2011. This may disguise a decline in actual rent rates which have not yet showed up in the statistics. Comparing the annual employment chart above and the second, annual rent-rate chart below illustrates how employment numbers and rent-rates typically move in parallel.

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You might also find our market report from earlier in June of interest: Wealth, Employment, Demand, Inventory, Affordability and San Francisco Home Prices

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Statistics are generalities, longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term, and we will always know more about what is actually going on in the present, in the future.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

We’re Fifth. As a Walkable City in USA.

A few days ago I posted a blog on our much-loved city being very bike friendly, despite the ridiculously steep hills.

Now, it turns out that ours is the 5th most walkable city in the entire country. That’s a lot of walking competition, and we came out on the high ground. The ranking comes from a 2016 study done by the Smart Growth America think tank in Washington D.C. The report is cleverly named “Foot Traffic Ahead” and studied 30 cities to determine the metropolises that are super walking friendly in ranking order.

The criteria among the city contestants was: 100 or more intersections per square mile, sufficiently high commercial property density, and a walk score of 70.5 or better.

I know you’re curious. Which city was more walkable than ours? In order: New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago. However, the think tank SGA did a kind of unthinking thing that probably skewed SF from being higher. They combined every Bay Area city into San Francisco, rather than just evaluating SF by itself. Go figure that logic. But Los Angeles came in 17th, so there is justice.

One downer: good walking means higher home real estate prices. But it also means there could be some cheaper cost of living. 

Parking in San Francisco – Tips to Sneak Good Spots!

Tips on Parking in San Francisco

If you are reading this, you are already living in San Francisco or are looking to live here, and you’re wondering about parking here. San Francisco is an amazing little place, home to around 45,000 happy residents, and it can become a bit of a game to secure a parking space. There are actually tricks to parking that enable you to sneak good spots that others may miss. Here are some of them:

Check any no parking signs posted by the city or at construction sites. The dates may not correspond with the day you were parking. If the dates don’t correspond with the date your parking you can snag that space.

Also check signs in front of restaurants. They reserve their white zones for dining hours which are often towards end of day. You are allowed to park in front of Absinthe at Hayes and Gough for example, up to the noon hour. Other restaurants have even later starting times.

Nearly all of SanFfrancisco’s parking meters now enable you to pay by phone, using a little app called PayByPhone. This has been a game changer for me-I cannot tell you how much money I save on parking tickets now.

The curb your wheels thing is super important-they will ticket you even on a mild slope that seems nearly harmless.

Occasionally, very, very occasionally, you can find a red zone that has been painted by hand instead of the city. You can identify them because they will have no yellow Department of Parking and Traffic indicators painted at either end. Residents sometimes do this in an effort to reserve spaces that are conveniently in front of their houses.

Memorize your street cleaning schedule. The moment it ends, the streets can be pretty clear and it becomes easier to find parking. Some cars literally follow the street sweeping truck and park behind its path.

Figure out where the reasonably priced garages are. Some of them are run by the city and offer a rate identical to what you would pay at a meter. A little app called SFPark can help you find the nearby City garages which usually offer the most favorable rates. But if you’re in a serious bind, you can spring for luxe.com, which will valet your car from wherever you are.

Cece Blase
Paragon Real Estate Group
CalBRE#00926690

Summer Seasonality in the San Francisco Homes Market

Are we in a summer slow down for home sales here in San Francisco? The charts below reflect a slowing in June, so I’m thinking we’re in the summer season doldrums. Yet, there are new listings coming up and new sales taking place. There’s some activity even in slower months. With this in mind, and with an eye on specific properties and their marketability, this seasonal weakening period could be a smart time to buy or sell.

What contributes to seasonal slumps? Inventory levels, buyer demand, and median home prices are the major players—as the charts illustrate. Additionally, there are factors of general economic conditions, financial market movements, interest rate changes, local stock market IPOs, new construction coming on the market, and the unpredictable natural or political events. That’s quite a murky crystal ball. We’ll probably have to wait until July/August is over, and get into the autumn season to get a real sense of how the SF market is doing.

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Love Your Biking in San Francisco

San Francisco (or The City as it’s called by its proud inhabitants) is a city of close knit neighborhoods that are nearly all surprisingly bike-friendly in spite of some steep hill grades that are worthy of Double Black Diamond ski slopes.

As of 2014, 3.4 percent of the city’s work force commuted to work by bike, a number that is growing consistently year-over-year. With broad bike lines on major arteries, beating the traffic on a bike is a great way to manage a commute. And it looks pretty cool to be biking to work.

One of the ways San Franciscans manage bike travel is knowing how to get around the hills instead of over them. The best resource I’ve found for navigating the slopes is the the GoogleMaps app, which shows me two or three routes and lets me know how steep the grade is for each as well as estimated travel time.

For those heading East or South from inside The City, our Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) has strived over time to become more bike friendly, with designated areas for bicycles on each car and secure bicycle parking at its Embarcadero Civic Center stations. CalTrain to the Peninsula and ferries to Oakland, Alameda and Larkspur also accommodate bike portage.

TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW….

1. I was born and raised 35 miles south of San Francisco in Portola Valley. My father was an attorney, but I got my real estate DNA from my mother who bought and renovated investment properties in Palo Alto when she wasn’t shuttling us to ballet lessons or soccer practice.

2. I majored in French and English literature at Bennington College in Vermont and studied in Paris for a year. I speak reasonably fluent French, which is of almost no use for marketing real estate, but does make me seem more interesting and sophisticated to those who care about such things.

3. I got my real estate license in 1986 started selling real estate with a small firm that specialized in residential income property in the Haight Ashbury and Western Addition. My first office was on Haight Street in a store front that now sells alternative clothing. A head shop is next door.

4. I sing jazz standards, mostly just in the shower and alone in elevators, but did a well-received set at Martuni’s with Dorian Sarris at piano many years ago. Someday it will happen again.

5. My first home purchase was a set of flats on Grove Street in what is now known as the NOPA neighborhood. I ultimately converted the building to condos and spun each off into real estate investments in San Francisco and beyond.

6. I served as a “ball-dudette” at AT&T Park in the summer of 2016. This is very meaningful if you are a Giants’ fan.

7. My real estate career includes a stint with one of the country’s first “clicks and bricks” internet real estate companies in the last 90s. Our office was in the nascent South Beach neighborhood with its profusion of (at the time) brand new condos and lofts.

8. I try to live car-free and commute by bike and car-share whenever possible. My original intention was to reduce my carbon footprint. Current traffic patterns now also make it more efficient and convenient.

9. I have been with Paragon Real Estate Group since 2005. I chose Paragon because the agents here are smart, professional, creative, collaborative and very, very fun to be around.

10. I am passionate about affordable housing, a trait I probably got from my father, Guy Blase, who played a vital role in the establishment of the Opportunity Center, Palo Alto’s first housing center for the formerly homeless.