Noe Valley Voice July-August 2009

The Cost of Living in Noe

By Corrie M. Anders

Homebuyers on a budget are well aware that Noe Valley is the Nordstrom's of the local housing arena. Still, they shouldn't forget that the upscale department store also has "The Rack."

In May, purchasers of single-family homes in Noe Valley made more than half of their buys in the bargain basement.

Eight of the 14 houses sold in the neighborhood had price tags of less than $1 million, according to monthly data supplied to the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate. Of course, the remaining six were above $1 million, with two home sales topping $2 million.

The discount deals reduced the average sales price of a Noe Valley house to just under $1.2 million. That was about $230,000 less than the price in May of 2008, when 14 buyers paid an average of $1.4 million.

Also, May was a busy month. In fact, sales activity was more than four times that of April '09--which registered only three sales (averaging a statistically meaningless $1.8 million).

But homeowners shouldn't put too much stock in the sudden rise in sales. Zephyr general manager Randall Kostick explains that several homes that normally would have closed in April "rolled into May," having spent two or three months in escrow.

One reason for the lag is that luxury homes have become more difficult to finance. Since the housing market fell off a cliff last fall, mortgage lenders have tightened the rules for shoppers who need loans higher than $730,000--as many buyers in Noe Valley do.

"I think April was just weird data," Kostick said.

The most expensive house to change hands in May closed escrow in just 13 days--typical of a sale where a buyer pays all or mostly cash, and does not need a loan. Buyers paid the asking price of $2,895,000 for the five-bedroom, four-bath home with 5,852 square feet of living space. The house, with two-car parking, is located in the 1000 block of Church Street between 22nd and 23rd streets.

The deal of the month was a $750,000 home in the 300 block of Duncan Street between Church and Sanchez streets. Buyers picked up the keys to the two-bedroom, one-bath house, with room for one car, after the sellers agreed to knock 10 percent off the original price.

Condominium sales remained steady. Four condos sold in May, the same as in April and one more than a year ago. The average sales price was $826,000--up about 5 percent from the $783,000 posted for condos in May 2008.

Buyers paid $1.2 million--$95,000 less than the asking price--for the most expensive unit, a three-bedroom, three-bath condo with about 2,000 square feet of space, located in the 600 block of Clipper Street above Douglass Street.

Two Super-Green Homes Up for Grabs

Real estate agents often hype location, location, location. In Noe Valley, you can add "green" to that mantra.

At least two properties that are loaded with environmentally-friendly features have hit the market in recent months.

In June, three local entrepreneurs unveiled a three-story, four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home at 3961 25th Street that they're calling "a house with a conscience." The Victorian home, which was gutted during the renovation, has everything from rooftop solar panels and insulation using recycled denim, to bamboo floors, a tankless water heater with "on-demand" hot water, and a "nanawall" high-tech wall, door, and window system.

Going green isn't cheap, however. The price tag for the 25th Street home, listed with Paragon Real Estate, is $2,850,000.

A month earlier, Vanguard Properties listed an even more expensive home that has many of the same eco-friendly features, including water-saving toilets, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, radiant floor heating, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

The boxy, ultra-modern home at 465 Hoffman Avenue near 25th, designed by award-winning architect Joel Karr of Group 41 Inc., has four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, and a $3.9 million sticker price.

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
May 2009 14 $750,000 $2,895,000 $1,172,536 53 98%
April 2009 3 $875,000 $2,400,000 $1,823,333 99 98%
May 2008 14 $850,000 $2,675,000 $1,409,714 33 105%
May 2009 4 $600,000 $1,200,000 $826,250 38 98%
April 2009 4 $665,000 $1,155,000 $911,000 124 98%
May 2008 3 $525,000 $1,249,000 $783,333 23 102%
2 to 4 unit buildings
May 2009 4 $925,000 $1,200,000 $1,090,000 42 99%
April 2009 2 $1,048,000 $1,550,000 $1,299,000 147 99%
May 2008 4 $1,185,000 $2,000,000 $1,615,000 23 104%
5+ unit buildings
May 2009 0 - - - - -
April 2009 0 - - - - -
May 2008 0 - - - - -

*Sales figures include all Noe Valley home sales completed during the month. In this survey, Noe Valley is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets. The Voice thanks Zephyr Real Estate ( for supplying the data.

Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents, June 2009 Average Rent, June 2009 Average Rent, May 2009 Average Rent, June 2008
Studio 7 $1050-$1500 $1263 $1335 $1433
1 bedroom 25 $1400-$3000 $2043 $1853 $2023
2 bedrooms 44 $1845-$4950 $2856 $2776 $2854
3 bedrooms 16 $2600-$5400 $3794 $4158 $3902
4+ bedrooms 7 $3800-$6500 $5398 $5532 $6041

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 99 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on from May 31 to June 9, 2009.