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Airbnb’s Payne Mansion Transforming to Hotel and Restaurant

1409 Sutter Street last year was Airbnb’s most expensive listing, a real SF mansion with all the perks of ritzy living. The Airbnb listing was simultaneous with the Payne Mansion being on the market over the past few years, at one time looking for $13.5 million. Step in Bernard Rosenson from southern California who is picking up the property and turning it into an upscale hotel and restaurant. The hotel will be called Mansion on Sutter and the restaurant is named 1881, for the year the mansion was built. Rosenson expects to open the hotel/restaurant in July this year.

Payne Mansion has been a hotel in its past, so the makeover is nothing radically new. Currently the mansion has 10 bedrooms that include a presidential suite and three executive suites. It hasn’t been announced how many rooms the new hotel will offer.

The mansion is presently outfitted with eight bathrooms and two event spaces, and Airbnb renters, if they wanted, could book the whole mansion for $10,000 a night.

SoMa Neighborhood’s The Avery Condo Tower Starting Sales Soon

SoMa is unleashing another condo buying opportunity for San Franciscans, with sales starting in June 2018 for The Avery, a 118-condo tower at 420-488 Folsom Street in the Transbay area. This continues SoMa’s 10-year track record of being a favored locale for condo development.

The Avery is a 618-foot , 55-story tower that serves mixed-income buyers and boasts 548 homes and retail square footage of 17,000 feet. It is being developed by Related California at a cost of $303 million and it’s expected to open in early 2019.

The higher priced condos of one-two-and-three-bedroom residences start on the 33rd floor with commanding views of the Bay, the Bay Bridge and the SF skyline. Related has partnered with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp to build out apartments on the lower levels for residents of mixed incomes.

The Avery is just two blocks from SF’s tallest building, the Salesforce Tower.

SFRealEstateBuzz – Will the Last One Out Please Close the Door

Hello My Favorite People!

This Buzz is going to focus exclusively on why people leave San Francisco and where they are going . And especially talk about how many are really moving away.
But first, let’s take a look at the Explosive Headlines. . . 

[According to a survey] “49 % of Bay Area residents were looking to move out.” 
Business Insider

“San Francisco is such a boomtown that people are leaving in droves.” 
Wall Street Journal

“In the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country.” 
New York Times

“San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in- and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital.”

I know. It all sounds really bad.  But keep in mind that these are juicy reads designed to grab lots of eyeballs from people who enjoy reading about San Francisco’s comeuppance– after endless stories about San Francisco’s home prices, unicorns, Google buses, and 26-year-old billionaires, who doesn’t want to read about our smug little City getting its just deserts?

But there’s always the story behind the story of a grabby headline and 1200 word article . Scratch the surface, take a closer look and things become more complicated and interesting (at least to me. . . )


A more balanced view of who’s coming, going or staying–  can be gleaned from some hard data released this month from the U.S. Census and CA Employment Development Department (EDD):

First off, more people are NOT leaving San Francisco or the Bay Area than arriving. Were the press to unload its xenophobia and factor in foreign migration, they would note more people are arriving than leaving. Yes– domestic net migration has shifted to a loss, but it is not an economic cataclysm: Among the “goers” are retiring baby-boomers moving out of state and those leaving the metro region for adjacent counties like Sonoma or Sacramento.

These first two charts show net migration in and out of both SF and the Metro Region. The first is specific to SF. ( The net loss in 2010 happened just as we were pulling out of the Great Recession.)

San Francisco County: Total Net Migration Numbers
Per U.S. Census 

5-County San Francisco Metro Area Migration

(The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number)

There is also an overall population growth, both inside San Francisco and within the Greater Bay Area. The rate is slightly slower at .6%, but that is  just one tenth of 1 percent lower than the .7% national rate. Even the WSJ admits the populations are not shrinking. I’ll posit that a slower rate of growth is a good thing, since the Bay Area is bursting at the seams and will remain so until we get our housing/infrastructure problem solved.

Long-Term Population Trends: San Francisco County 

Short-Term Population Changes: 5-County SF Metro Area

The silliest story that was frequently shared said 49% of Bay Area residents (polled online) were looking to move out. If that were true then every other home in the Bay Area would be sporting for sale or for rent right now. The reality is that less than 2% of SF house owners sold their homes in 2017. (The ratio was higher for condo owners, but still low at something over 4%.)

New Listings Coming on Market: San Francisco County 

Most newcomers to the area are here for the jobs– because t he broader Bay Area is the country’s most robust metro region in terms of payroll job growth. According to the California EDD, each of the six big Bay Area counties (5-county SF metro plus Santa Clara) had a year-over-year increase in employed residents of 60,000-90,000. And those are real people moving here to fill those offices.

Number of Employed Residents, per EDD
5-County SF Metro Area + Santa Clara County 

An indicator that the growth trend isn’t stopping: Millions of square feet of new office space is being snapped up even before it is even completed. The only possible reasons are new businesses arriving and existing businesses expanding, which fuels continued hiring.


Without argument, we’ve got problems around here:  Beyond housing affordability, income inequality, an overwhelmed mental health system, there are also the smaller injuries.  Higher state and federal taxes pinch our wallets, we have ugly commutes and it often feels like there’s a general lack of civility in our daily lives.  It’s no wonder that less expensive and crowded places like Austin and Seattle are successfully luring our businesses to relocate or expand there.

For now, however, the influx remains greater than the outflow and the Bay Area holds onto its status as one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world.

My new partnership with Meredith Martin is synergy in motion: Here’s how we’ve been helping more buyers and sellers than ever make their latest moves:

On the Buyer Side, we helped some lovely investors close on a  stunning new condo at Laguna Hayes  (thank you Tracy Sichterman for the referral). These homes sold out nearly immediately, but Meredith worked her magic to get the buyers into a great floor plan by getting them in before the project was being shown to the general public. We also helped an old client transition from a condo to a single family fixer in the Bayview. This one took a bit of luck: He was originally in back up position but moved forward after the buyer in first place changed their mind.

On the listing side, our “Views To Die For” studio on Russian Hill sold to a lovely young woman who gets to swoon each time the Lights Go Down on The City. We also forward to closing “Love on Divisadero” next week (we received five offers on that one and nicely exceeded our Seller’s expectations).

Next up on the listing side is a 3BR/2BA condo listing with parking close by Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. Stay tuned for more details on that one.

Can we help you next? How about your friends and family? We’d love to hear from any and all. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch. And many, many thanks to all!


Bringing New Vigor to Fisherman’s Wharf Struggling Businesses

Fisherman’s Wharf is probably San Francisco’s most well known iconic location, a 30-block neighborhood that is a blast from SF’s briny past and a modern dynamo of clichéd tourism. But the retail powerhouse of the Wharf is waning. And that is noticeable because 65% of visitors to the city go to the Wharf, spending $600 million buying stuff on the Wharf and $250 million on hotel lodgings.

Big bucks are at stake in Wharf land. That’s why The Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District (FWCBD) just announced its new retail strategy to upgrade the Wharf area, create more interest in the Wharf experience among locals and visitors, and mix celebration of SF’s fishing legacy with the retail milieu of the Wharf. 

The 70-page plan lays out a plan to “maintain the Wharf renaissance” that includes these 5 goals:

  1. Improve Wharf Appearance & Connectivity
  2. Curate the District’s Retail
  3. Connect to the Waterfront
  4. Promote the Wharf’s Uniqueness
  5. Enhance the Public Experience

Shake Shack About to Take Up a Stake in San Francisco

Shake Shack is a burger, fries and shakes joint out of Madison Square Park in New York City with a massive following in California, and is now about to have its first diner in San Francisco. Shake Shack started as a hot dog stand in New York City as a way to fund a park art project, and now it is taking over the old Real Food grocery store at 3060 Fillmore – 11,000 square feet of upscale, earth friendly burger diner to be shared with the Rumble Fitness studio.

So, chow down on a dripping good burger with maybe a glass of red wine, or a strawberry shake, then head on over to the gym to hit the biking or rowing machines. The perfect nextdoor balance is now available to San Franciscans.

CenterCal Properties that purchase the building for Shake Shack is foretelling that the diner and gym will catalyze shopping between Union and Chestnut Streets. This will be the 161st location for the chain.

Electric Scooters Run Afoul of Human Traffic and the Law

Small, stand-up electric scooters are the new transport startup craze in San Francisco, with three companies vying for the market to grab-and-go from point A to point B and drop-off. The three companies have seen a ton of their apps downloaded, and use growth of the largest company is at 735% increase over 3 months ago.

However, all that came to a screeching halt when a week ago the Public Works department rounded up 66 of the scooters off SF’s sidewalks and sent them to a storage yard. Those 66 are the entire stock of electric scooters from the startup companies.

The problem is that the scooters were being driven on sidewalks recklessly enough by their riders to be noticed by pedestrian walkers, and improperly parked on sidewalks. San Franciscans who walk the sidewalks were complaining about scooters driving on the sidewalks – which there is a law against – and then parking them in pedestrian pathways. Plus, riders are supposed to wear helmets, which they often forego. From now on, the city says it will deal with improperly parked scooters on a complaint-by-complaint basis.

Wine Fraud Solved by SF Wine Advisors Using Blockchain?

Wine fraud is not as infrequent as you may think. The market is now at $300 billion and by the early 2020’s will be over $400 billion. Niche markets are very expensive, which means fraud can be lucrative and not that hard to accomplish. A French newspaper in 2013 estimated that 20% of the wine market is fake. Since San Francisco is a big wine town with a fairly sizable sprinkling of wealthyr and semi-wealthy wine enthusiasts, the probability of fraud in SF is high.

Enter Maureen Downey of SF’s Chai Consulting, a wine certification company. Her idea to combat fraud is to take a bottle of wine, have it certified by a wine expert who works with Downey (18 of them across the planet), and record 80 distinct data points. This data is then put into a blockchain online where it is secure from hacking or fraud interference, and the same data fingerprint is put on a chip that is applied to the cork of the bottle. Thus, that unique bottle is tied to that unique blockchain identity. In theory, every bottle of a particular wine that is blockchained and chipped would be immune to fraud.

The process, of course, costs a pretty penny. But it ensures authenticity for pricey wines.

An Epidemic of Vacant Businesses in San Francisco

It’s hard to miss the number of retail and commercial business properties that are empty and forlorn in certain areas of San Francisco’s street landscape. It’s hard real estate to sell and the empties just aren’t turning over into new businesses – according to real estate brokers speaking to an NBC Bay Area investigative team.

So, what’s the problem? Informed observers say it’s a combination of rising rent prices, accelerating labor costs, and just plain slum-level trash, needles and feces on some of SF’s streets and sidewalks.

Incredibly, potential business owners looking to locate into San Francisco are saying, according to commercial real estate agency owner Hans Hansson, “They’re telling us that the city is filthy, that they don’t want to be there. We have a lot of people that have initially expressed interest to come out here and have chosen not to.” One of the major concerns for these business owners and investors is the lack of cleanliness on the streets fronting or nearby business locations.

Median Price For Homes in SF Rocket Skyward

While rentals in San Francisco are smoothing out somewhat and heading down in many neighborhoods, the median cost of buying a house in the city has zoomed up to $1.61 million. That’s a new record for the city and the nation, and hits new homebuyers as an eyebrow-raising event that’s akin to an earthquake tremor in the old pocket book. And it begs the question: who gets excluded by that kind of money?

According to an analysis from Paragon Real Estate, prices for home residences jumped up almost 25% from 2017’s first quarter (which was $1.3 million).

Patrick Carlisle, Paragon’s chief market analysis says, “I’m pretty surprised that we’ve started 2018 in this sort of frenzy. This may be hotter than ever. There’s a raging hunger for people to get into homes.”

To get an idea of how expensive we are in SF, our city is more than six times more pricey than the typical home purchase cost in the U.S. The national median home sales price is $241,700 as of February 2018.

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