Noe Valley Voice June 2004

The Cost of Living in Noe:
Homebuyers Go Bananas in April

By Corrie M. Anders

Realtor Linda Gordon's clients were more than a little frustrated in their efforts to buy a home. They had made superb offers on several wonderful homes over the past few months, only to lose out to rivals who offered to pay even more.

So when the couple spotted a large Victorian on 23rd Street, they took a deep breath and dramatically upped the ante. They offered $300,000 more than the seller's $949,000 asking price.

Their successful bid--which beat out 13 other contenders--was emblematic of a wild real estate market in April, which saw a record 23 single-family homes sold in Noe Valley. Many buyers paid well above what the sellers initially requested.

How pricey were these Noe Valley homes? Sales data, provided to the Noe Valley Voice by Zephyr Real Estate, shows that 14 or nearly two-thirds of the 23 homes which closed escrow in April cost at least $1 million each.

There were so many shoppers willing to splurge in Noe Valley that unrestrained bidding wars rewarded sellers with bonuses averaging 15 percent over their original asking prices. In three instances, buyers paid an astonishing 30 percent premium in order to beat out the competition for a Noe Valley home.

That was the case with the couple described above, who finally won their prize--a three-bedroom, two-bath Victorian on 23rd near Dolores Street--by making an offer of $1,250,000.

"We went in with no contingencies, and we closed in 10 days," says Gordon, a sales agent with Herth Real Estate who represented the buyers. "There were 14 offers, but our offer was a little bit stronger than the others."

Randall Kostick, sales manager at Zephyr Real Estate's 24th Street office, said April's high-flying activity was the result of a generous supply of springtime homes hitting the market after a meager winter inventory.

Also, mortgage interest rates were low, consumer confidence in the economy was rising, and "we had all those pent-up buyers just waiting to buy," he said.

And buy they did. The number of single-family homes sold was the highest monthly total since 22 homes closed escrow in December 1999, during the irrational exuberance of the dot-com boom. At that time, the average sales price for the 22 homes was $680,000, with buyers paying 6 percent over the asking price. The average in April 2004 was nearly $1.1 million.

The most expensive home of the lot was a three-bedroom, two-bath house located in the 500 block of Elizabeth Street between Noe and Castro streets. The home sold for $1,625,000.

A three-bedroom, two-bath unit in the 500 block of Diamond Street, between 22nd and 23rd streets, topped the condominium price charts at $1,040,000.

Kostick said he expected Noe Valley's real estate climate to remain hot--though not as blistering as April's--throughout the summer. One sign, he said, was the stampede created by a stunning home that became available in May.

"It brought in 50 offers," says Kostick, "which I'd never heard of before."

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 2004 23 $715,000 $1,625,000 $1,083,522 34 115%
March 2004 12 $828,000 $1,464,000 $1,120,667 23 108%
April 2003 14 $675,000 $1,530,000 $893,071 26 101%
April 2004 9 $525,000 $1,040,000 $738,556 34 112%
March 2004 9 $323,000 $997,000 $679,778 24 111%
April 2003 7 $645,000 $1,100,000 $855,571 45 98%
2 to 4 unit buildings
April 2004 5 $895,000 $1,165,000 $991,800 45 107%
March 2004 5 $810,000 $1,550,000 $1,136,200 31 101%
April 2003 5 $875,000 $1,315,000 $1,112,000 40 102%
5+ unit buildings
April 2004 2 $1,129,000 $1,405,000 $1,267,000 108 107%
March 2004 0
April 2003 0

Noe Valley Rents**
Size of Apartment Average Rents
Jan-March 2004
Average Rents
one year ago
Jan-March 2003
% increase (+)
or decrease (-)
Studio $1080 $1058 +2.0%
1 bedroom $1587 $1497 +6.0%
2 bedrooms $2121 $2145 -1.0%
3+ bedrooms $2683 $2728 -1.6%%

*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 (