Noe Valley Voice June 2002

The Cost of Living in Noe
Sharing Flats: A Way to Get Your Foot in the Door

By Corrie M. Anders

As real estate prices continue to soar, some local renters have found that the only way they can afford to buy a home in San Francisco is by hooking up with a friend and sharing flats under a "tenants-in-common" agreement.

Though TICs are controversial (especially when other renters are displaced), they remain a viable option for some.

"Prices are high enough these days that people are considering tenancies-in-common as an alternative to high prices," says Randall Kostick, office manager at Zephyr Real Estate on 24th Street.

Most TIC partners look for small buildings with equal-sized units, so they can evenly split the cost of the property.

Flats apparently were the purchase of choice in April, as the month posted the sale of seven small properties, according to data provided by Zephyr. That was the highest number of sales of small properties -- those with two to four units -- in more than two years.

Small doesn't necessarily mean cheap. The most expensive among the seven properties was a two-unit building in the 4200 block of Cesar Chavez Street -- with parking -- which sold for $1,350,000. The least expensive cost $480,000.

"I suspect we'll see more of that kind of thing taking place in the future, because I don't see housing prices coming down," Kostick says.

For some time, the average price of a single-family home in Noe Valley has hovered around $900,000. And sales activity in April reflected a more robust housing market than in April 2001.

Noe Valley shoppers purchased a total of 22 single-family homes and condominiums during April -- the same number bought a year earlier. But shoppers were far more willing to pay above asking prices to obtain a Noe Valley address.

Buyers of detached homes in April paid an average 12 percent above the initial price; they were satisfied to pay only 2 percent over asking price a year ago. And it only took about two weeks to close the deal on a detached house and about a month on a condo -- both considerably quicker timeframes than one year earlier.

A three-bedroom, two-bath house in the 700 block of 27th Street was the most expensive single-family home sold during April. It cost $1,380,000. The most expensive condo was a four-bedroom, two-bath unit in the 3300 block of 22nd Street, which sold for $850,000.

For apartment owners and renters, the numerous "for rent" signs and concessions reflect the changing times in Noe Valley. Rent prices have declined dramatically from the dot-com heyday of 2000, as high-paying jobs and workers have disappeared.

To lure prospective tenants, some owners are advertising "move-in specials" that range from a half-month free rent to reduced costs to get into an apartment. Owners also have relaxed their pet policies.

Noe Valley Home Sales*
Total Sales Low Price ($) High Price ($) Average Price ($) Average Days
on Market
Sale Price as
% of List Price
Single-family homes
April 2002 12 $559,000 $1,380,000 $863,425 15 112%
March 2002 11 $561,000 $1,430,000 $967,818 42 108%
April 2001 15 $561,000 $1,700,000 $894,533 20 102%
April 2002 10 $435,000 $850,000 $651,100 33 104%
March 2002 9 $354,000 $820,000 $586,555 32 105%
April 2001 7 $300,000 $699,000 $440,000 74 98%
2 to 4 unit buildings
April 2002 7 $480,000 $1,350,000 $921,428 42 102%
March 2002 0
April 2001 4 $585,000 $1,450,000 $1,116,250 57 98%

Noe Valley Rents**
Size of Apartment Average Rents
Jan-March 2002
Average Rents
one year ago
Jan-March 2001
% increase (+)
or decrease (-)
Studio $1133 $1313 -13.7%
1 bedroom $1649 $2088 -21.0%
2 bedrooms $2303 $2604 -11.6%
3+ bedrooms $2997 $3536 -15.2%

*Information provided to the Noe Valley Voice courtesy of Zephyr Real Estate ( and based on all Noe Valley home sales (closings) recorded during the month. "Noe Valley" in this survey is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets.

**Data courtesy of Rent Tech, Inc (