Noe Valley Voice February 2003

The Cost of Living in Noe

By Corrie M. Anders

No matter how far the economy slid in 2002, the charm and panache of Noe Valley continued to trump the sting of high home prices in the neighborhood.

Noe Valley gained a total of 42 new homeowners during November and December. (During the same two-month period in 2001, there were 41 home buyers.) And how much were those buyers willing to pay for location, location, location?

A four-bedroom, four-bath home in the 4100 block of Cesar Chavez Street sold for $1.5 million, while a new condominium in the 1000 block of Noe Street, with three bedrooms and 31/2 baths, set the buyers back $1,065,000.

The average sales price for the 29 single-family homes that sold in the last two months of the year was $822,173.

But the brisk exchange of homes didn't just occur in November and December. "For Sale" signs were going up quickly and coming down quickly all year long.

According to Randall Kostick of Zephyr Real Estate, who supplies the Voice with monthly sales data, sales during 2002 were "somewhat of a recovery from the previous year," when the high-tech bust and subsequent lost jobs sapped the wallets and confidence of home buyers.

"Some people who [earlier] lost jobs were employed last year," Kostick says. "Some felt a little more secure about their future. And of course the interest rates were just incredibly low this year," he notes. "Every time we thought it had reached a new low, it got lower."

Speaking of new lows, apartment rentals last year dropped to prices that hadn't been seen since the pre-Internet boom.

"The rental market has been extremely soft," says Kostick. "I've had contact with many landlords who've complained that they've had difficulty in renting their flats, and [some] may be offering rents at two-thirds of what they were a year ago."

Two years ago, when huge crowds lined up in front of vacant apartments with cash deposits, credit reports, and fresh-baked cookies in hand, the average asking price for a three-bedroom rental was $4,085 a month.

Nowadays, the average asking price for a three-bedroom rental is $2,906, according to Rent Tech, a local apartment listing service. That figure for the fourth quarter of 2002 is nearly 30 percent less than for the same period in 2000.

It was a similar story for two-bedroom rentals. The average asking price during last year's fourth quarter was $2,093--down 25 percent from $2,790 two years earlier. Rents were down almost 12 percent for studios and 18 percent for one-bedroom units. (For 2000 figures, see the Voice archives at

The switch to a renters' market has prompted some Noe Valley landlords to offer concessions to fill empty apartments. Not only have they marked down rents, but some are accepting pets and smaller security deposits. Current renters also have begun to negotiate with their present landlords for lower rents--and landlords are agreeing, rather than lose a tenant and face the prospect of finding a new occupant.

Still, some market forecasters contend that renters may have a relatively short window of opportunity to try to negotiate lower lease payments. The reason? An increase in mortgage interest rates is a distinct possibility this year.

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
December 2002 17 $453,500 $1,195,000 $795,000 36 100%
November 2002 12 $615,000 $1,500,000 $860,667 37 101%
December 2001 16 $575,000 $1,495,000 $834,781 34 100%
November 2001 17 $524,500 $1,600,000 $829,764 30 98%
December 2002 8 $415,000 $1,065,000 $699,125 38 103%
November 2002 5 $357,000 $925,000 $581,200 72 99%
December 2001 3 $405,000 $640,000 $501,666 48 98%
November 2001 5 $431,000 $589,000 $510,600 24 103%
2 to 4 unit buildings
December 2002 4 $725,000 $1,205,000 $936,250 56 101%
November 2002 6 $575,000 $1,499,000 $1,015,667 27 99%
December 2001 3 $645,000 $735,000 $686,333 76 98%
November 2001 4 $635,000 $1,199,000 $803,000 26 100%
5+ unit buildings
December 2002 0
November 2002 1 $1,425,000 $1,425,000 $1,425,000 16 114%
December 2001 0
November 2001 0

Noe Valley Rents**
Size of Apartment Average Rents
Oct-Dec 2002
Average Rents
one year ago
Oct-Dec 2001
% increase (+)
or decrease (-)
Studio $1126 $1137 -1.0%
1 bedroom $1570 $1657 -5.3%
2 bedrooms $2093 $2373 -11.8%
3+ bedrooms $2906 $2931 -0.9%

*Information provided to the Noe Valley Voice courtesy of Zephyr Real Estate ( and based on all Noe Valley home sales (escrow 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 (