Noe Valley Voice March 2005

The Cost of Living in Noe
We Don't Bat an Eye at $1 Million Anymore

By Corrie M. Anders

Not too long ago, say around the start of the decade, many people viewed the million-dollar house as the ultimate status symbol. One million got you keys to a starter mansion in Pacific Heights or Sea Cliff, or perhaps a small vineyard in exclusive Napa Valley.

The hot real estate market of the last few years has brought a new reality. Today, even in formerly working-class Noe Valley, the million-dollar price tag is a given. Would-be homebuyers may weep, but they no longer blink when they see all those zeroes.

Sales of million-dollar homes more than doubled last year--jumping from 106 to 216--in the two zip codes that encompass Noe Valley, according to DataQuick, a firm that tracks home sales throughout California.

A total of 136 million-dollar homes were sold last year in 94114, which includes parts of the Castro District. That's considerably higher than in 2003, when 80 such homes were sold in the zip code. In 94131, which includes Upper Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, Glen Park, and Twin Peaks, buyers purchased 81 million-dollar homes last year--compared to a mere 25 the year before.

The DataQuick data does not break out sales for specific neighborhoods. But it does provide a statistical portrait of how seven-figure homes--we're talking nice but not swank--have become routine in Noe Valley and elsewhere in the city.

"A million dollars isn't what it was in the olden days. Five years ago, it was a pretty rarefied home category," says DataQuick analyst John Karevoll, who once lived at 30th and Church streets before leaving in 1987 for the quieter and less expensive environs of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Monthly sales data that Zephyr Real Estate compiles for the Voice confirms the commonality of the million-dollar home in Noe Valley.

In January, six single-family detached homes closed escrow. All of them sold for $1 million or more, except for one which sold for $50,000 shy of $1 million. Together, the six homes sold for an average price of $1, 336,000.

The most expensive home, however, pushed up against the $2 million mark. The buyers paid $1.8 million--$205,000 more than the $1,595,000 asking price--said Zephyr's 24th Street office manager Randall Kostick. "It sat on the market for all of 20 days," he said. The home, located in the 700 block of Elizabeth Street, has four bedrooms and 33/4 baths. The other homes that sold in January each have three bedrooms.

Two condominiums, both with two bedrooms and one bath, changed hands in January and sold for an impressive 24 percent over the asking price. The most expensive unit, $825,000, was in the 100 block of 28th Street.

"There are not enough properties to go around" to meet the demand of buyers who want to live in Noe Valley, said Kostick in explaining the seemingly nonstop price spiral. "We're continuing to see overbidding of properties."

Which means it won't be long before the $2 million house and the $1 million condo become the norm.

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
January 2005 6 $950,000 $1,800,000 $1,335,833 46 109%
December 2004 7 $675,000 $1,430,000 $1,074,286 22 110%
January 2004 4 $725,000 $1,289,000 $1,100,250 37 110%
January 2005 2 $780,000 $825,000 $802,500 19 124%
December 2004 2 $1,135,000 $1,353,000 $1,244,000 18 116%
January 2004 2 $470,000 $645,000 $557,500 28 110%
2 to 4 unit buildings
January 2005 3 $912,000 $1,435,000 $1,115,667 57 114%
December 2004 2 $1,350,000 $1,535,000 $1,442,500 92 100%
January 2004 2 $851,000 $1,150,000 $1,000,500 21 130%
5+ unit buildings
January 2005 0 - - - - -
December 2004 0 - - - - -
January 2004 0 - - - - -

Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents Average Rent, February Average Rent, January
Studio 3 $985-$1450 $1262 $1208
1 bedroom 15 $950-$1950 $1366 $1532
2 bedrooms 15 $1550-$3800 $2122 $2521
3 bedrooms 9 $2050-$4000 $2703 $2600
4 bedrooms 3 $5000-$6800 $6000 $4950

*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.

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 45 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on on Feb. 17 and 18, 2005. The previous sample, published in the February Voice, was collected Jan. 17 and 18.