SFAR’s Homeownership Voting Guide For The Election On March 3, 2020

As part of the Consolidated Presidential Primary Election of March 3, 2020, San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on local ballot measures, Superior Court Judges, and Democratic County Central Committee candidates.

Below are ballot measure recommendations and the slate the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® endorses on the basis of support for homeownership.

We encourage you to share this guide to all of your networks across San Francisco, even if you are not a registered voter in San Francisco. It is to our benefit in the real estate industry to have as many pro-homeownership elected officials and legislative measures in place as possible.

Additionally, the deadline to register to vote in San Francisco is tomorrow–Tuesday, February 18, 2020. Find out more information here.


Proposition A – City College Job Training, Repair and Earthquake Safety Measure: NEUTRAL
General obligation bond that would raise $845 million for City College to make capital improvements and repairs on buildings, including for seismic safety. The bond WOULD increase property taxes by $11 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Proposition B – San Francisco Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response Bond: YES
General obligation bond that would raise $628.5 million for improvements and construction to the emergency firefighting water system, fire and police stations, a firefighting training campus, the 911 call center, and disaster response facilities. The bond would NOT increase property taxes.

Proposition C – Retiree Health Care Benefits for Former Employees of the San Francisco Housing Authority: NO POSITION – NOT REAL ESTATE RELATED
That ballot measure that would make City employees who previously worked for the SF Housing Authority eligible for retiree health coverage.

Proposition D – Storefront Vacancy Tax: NEUTRAL
Ballot measure that would tax property owners or small business leaseholders whose storefronts have been vacant for 6 months or more of the year (consecutive or nonconsecutive). The tax would begin in 2021, starting at $250 per linear foot and increasing to $1000 per linear foot by 2023. The tax applies to storefronts who are adjacent to a public right-of-way and are located within a Neighborhood Commercial or Neighborhood Commercial Transit District.

Proposition E – Limits on Office Development: NO
If San Francisco fails to meet its affordable housing goals every year, this proposition would reduce the amount of office space the City is allowed to build. Office development helps fund affordable housing construction, thus the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development estimates that Prop E would cut $600-900 million from affordable housing funding. The City Economist estimates Prop E would cut the City’s GDP by 8.5% and increase unemployment by 5%.



Superior Court judges are elected by voters of the county on a non-partisan ballot at a general election. The term of office for a trial judge in California is 6 years. Superior Court Judges preside over all civil, criminal, and small claims cases.

Seat 1
Pang Ly
Commissioner Pro Tem – San Francisco Superior Court

Seat 18
Dorothy Chou Proudfoot
Administrative Law Judge – SF Rent Board

Seat 21
Kulvindar “Rani” Singh
Managing Attorney – SF District Attorney’s Office


Every four years, each political party elects its County Central Committee, the governing body of the political party for that county. The Democratic County Central Committee forms the leadership of the San Francisco Democratic Party and has tremendous influence over San Francisco politics.

If you live in Assembly District 17 (Eastside of San Francisco), vote for all these 12 candidates:

Kristen Asato-Webb
Environmental Non-Profit Manager

Nima Rahimi
Transportation Policy Attorney

Mike Chen
Data Engineer

Austin Hunter
Non-Profit Policy Analyst

Tyra Fennell
Director, Arts Non-Profit

Victor Olivieri

Mick Del Rosario
Public Health Manager

Carole Migden
Grassroots Educator

Bivett Brackett

Tami Bryant
Youth Employment Coordinator

Steven Buss
Housing Data Analyst

Nancy Tung
Deputy District Attorney

If you live in Assembly District 19 (Westside of San Francisco), please vote for all these 10 candidates:

Kathleen Anderson
Small Business Owner

Nadia Rahman
Digital Communications Strategist

Cyn Wang
Small Business Owner

Suzy Loftus

Jane Natoli
Financial Crime Investigator

Ahsha Safai
Supervisor, City and County of San Francisco

Seeyew Mo
Civic Tech Entrepreneur

Paul Miyamoto
Sheriff Elect

Mary Jung

Mawuli Tugbenyoh
Chief of Policy

Questions? Contact Jay Cheng, SFAR’s Government Affairs and Community Relations Deputy Director, at jay@sfrealtors.com.


Throwback Thursday

I sold this cute 2 Bed/1 Bath condo at 138 Cole Street nearly twelve years ago for $876,000. It went over asking, and I thought it was a fabulous price at the time. It seems they’ve added a 3rd bedroom. Today it would likely go for over $1.4 million. Nice! Check out the kitchen photo from before. I kind of still like that blue tile, but I’d be curious to see if they’ve done any updates since.

Throwback Thursday

Here is another fun one.  I sold this adorable two bed, two bath home at 1040 Broderick Street back in 1997 for only $445,000.  I recently saw it listed for $2.3 million in 2018, but for whatever reason, the sellers pulled it off the market and decided to rent it for over $12,000/month.  Fabulous rental income!

Check out the photo below to see what it looked like in 1997.  The trees have really filled in.

What’s Happening Around the Bay Area



Throwback Thursday

I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the properties I sold at the beginning of my career. You’ll be amazed at what they sold for then versus now. Here is a condo that sold for only $240,000 in 1994 at 1350 California Street. The most recent sale price on record for this home went for over $1 million. Wow, that’s some nice appreciation.

Some Hidden Traps For First Time Home Sellers

Selling your home for the first time? Don’t glue yourself to the HGTV network as you may pick up some bad habits and misperceptions. Here are a few tips to avoid walking into bear traps in selling your home.

If you’re thinking of renovating or doing a makeover or major repair on your home, think again, and talk to a knowledgeable local real estate agent to see if makeovers or repairs are really necessary to sell your home in a hot market, or if it would really be helpful to renovate in a cooler market.

Don’t jump into current trendy design approaches without some real solid research as to what works in your neighborhood and what doesn’t. Experts say upgraded baths and kitchens are fairly safe, but beware of going into strong designer wall colors and bright accent walls or trim. A neutral palette is best to allow potential buyers to visualize their painterly preferences and furniture.

Planning your next chess move as to moving to your new home from the one you’re selling is extremely helpful. This is not a matter of get up and go, and in SF homes sell very quickly so you need to have everything for your upcoming move and new home well in place. This should include financial prepping for possibly higher taxes and expenses.

San Francisco’s Incredibly High Costs to Build

We all know that high demand and a shortage of housing units both drive up the costs to live in San Francisco.  Yet one thing that isn’t discussed as often is San Francisco’s part in these high costs.  The following article from the San Francisco Chronicle does a great job of showing how an abundance of City fees and an exhaustive permit process are two of the largest barriers for developers to build in the city, delaying multiple projects that have been in the works for years.

More information at the SF Chronicle here.

Do You Make Enough to Buy?

My last post showed us median home prices in the Bay Area.  Now let’s look at income.  The chart below compares median income by county. The difference in income among the top three (Marin, Santa Clara and San Mateo) is negligible. SF’s is a notch lower, perhaps because we have a larger number of recent graduates who are seeking to launch their lives in the “Big Bad City.” Rent control has also enabled many with lower incomes to stick around. 

Median Household Income

Minimum Income Requirements

It’s the comparison between this chart and the one just above that shows just how out of reach Bay Area housing is for most of the people who live here. The silver lining is that a slight drop in prices, along with a significant drop in interest rates has increased affordability for some.

We should also keep in mind that this is affordability for a median priced house. Half of our house sales are below that number.

Monthly Housing Costs

This is where the story gets interesting, at least to me. $8,400 may seem like a lot to pay per month to own in San Francisco, but this is pre-tax. About $1500/month of your payment is going to get refunded to you each April, so your net payment is actually $7,000/month. The other cheerful news here is that the payment has actually gone down by over $1,000 since last year, mostly due to lower interest rates.

San Francisco Median Home Price Now Above $1.5m

Yes, you read that correctly.  Today a median house in San Francisco is $1,580,000, the highest in the Bay Area. And while not in this chart, a median condo is $1,125,000.

Wondering what a median priced house and condo look like in San Francisco? Here are the two most “quintessentially San Francisco” ones I could find in the MLS. One’s a Victorian in Bernal. One is a Mid-Century on Nob Hill. You can click on each pic to get a full readout.

When Selling a Home is Like Selling a Secret

When I moved here in the mid-80s, I learned San Francisco on foot by climbing its hills and counting its blocks. Back then the City unfolded itself to me in a series of unexpected moments as I stumbled across places like the Vulcan Stairs, Sutro Gardens, or the heart-stopping crest of the hill at Filbert and Hyde. At the time, I thought these discoveries were all mine and that no one else really knew about my secret spots.

An early favorite find was the first block of Liberty Street. If you have yet to discover it yourself, I recommend approaching it from the Valencia Street side holding an ice cream cone from Smitten. When you turn the corner, you’ll trade clutter and chaos for a canopy of Gum and Ash trees that frame front stoops and Italianate facades. The 19th Century homes are perfectly sized for this little street and love to show off their bits of gingerbread and clapboard in the dappled sunlight.

One of the best things I love about my job is that I not only regularly visit my favorite nooks and crannies but can also become part of their history–if only for a brief month or two. My recent sale at 22 Liberty was a thrill for me and for my buyers– who love the location as much as I do.