Noe Valley Voice May 2002

The Cost of Living in Noe:
Someone Is Happy and Someone Is Not

By Corrie M. Anders

It's been a good spring to be a home seller in Noe Valley or to be a potential renter. But home buyers and landlords are no doubt in shock over recent ups and downs in the city's real estate market.

Prospective tenants looking in Noe Valley have found that apartment owners are charging dramatically less than they were a year ago. In the first quarter of this year, rents were anywhere from 11.6 percent to 21 percent below that of the first quarter of 2001, according to statistics provided by Rent Tech, Inc., an apartment listing and referral service.

Consider the asking price for a one-bedroom rental. Rent Tech's data shows that the average rent that tenants were asked to pay in January through March of 2002 was $1,649, compared to $2,088 in the first quarter of last year. That represents a savings of $439 a month, nothing to sneer at these days.

Ranking behind the 21 percent decline for one-bedroom units, three-bedroom rentals dropped by 15.2 percent, or $539 a month; studios fell by 13.7 percent, or $180; while two-bedroom units dropped by 11.6 percent, or $301.

This is the second year in a row rents have declined, largely due to the tech-industry slump. The lower rents have scared off would-be landlords and apartment investors, who now appear less than eager to buy big buildings.

Not a single apartment complex was sold in Noe Valley in March, according to sales data provided by Zephyr Real Estate. In contrast last March, investors snapped up six buildings of two to four units and one complex with five or more units.

While investors may have been skittish, home shoppers certainly were not. Buyers in March purchased 20 homes -- 11 detached homes and nine condos -- five more than were bought the same month a year ago. Bidding wars, reminiscent of the market frenzy of 1999, forced buyers to pay an average of 9 percent over asking price for detached homes and 5 percent more for condos.

"Some properties were selling at or above 1999 prices...the top of the market in Noe Valley," said Randall Kostick, Zephyr's real estate manager. "There were more buyers than sellers and not an adequate supply of properties available, [and] that is what forced prices over asking.

"When it's a skewed market like this," said Kostick, "someone is happy and someone is not."

The most expensive property sold in Noe Valley in March was a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home in the 900 block of Castro Street, for which buyers paid $1,430,000. A three-bedroom, two-bath condo in the 700 block of Clipper Street was the highest selling attached home in March.

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
March 2002 11 $561,000 $1,430,000 $967,818 42 108%
Feb 2002 11 $525,000 $1,470,000 $881,861 42 105%
March 2001 9 $503,000 $1,250,000 $857,000 23 109%
March 2002 9 $354,000 $820,000 $586,555 32 105%
Feb 2002 5 $430,000 $750,000 $615,300 49 97%
March 2001 6 $250,000 $850,000 $613,333 19 102%
2 to 4 unit buildings
March 2002 0
Feb 2002 2 $825,000 $950,000 $887,500 28 96%
March 2001 6 $510,000 $1,206,000 $934,333 55 103%

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 (