Noe Valley Voice November 2009
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The Cost of Living in Noe: Buyers Still in Charge

By Corrie M. Anders

Noe Valley home buyers purchased nine single-family homes in September as neighborhood housing activity appeared to pick up slightly.

According to data supplied to the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate, the number of sales during the month was two more than in August and one more than in September a year ago.

However, the sellers of those homes received slightly less than what they were asking for, and the deals took almost two weeks longer to complete than they did last year.

"The number that seems to have changed the most is the list-to-sales price--it has gone down from two years ago and from last year," said Randall Kostick, Zephyr's general manager.

The figures showed that September buyers paid, on average, 98 percent of the seller's asking price. A year ago, home purchasers paid 101 percent. Two years back, bidding wars pushed windfalls up to 109 percent of the asking price.

Some properties continued to attract multiple bids, Kostick said, but they were few and far between.

"We are seeing buyers who are more comfortable" in making lower offers or aggressively bargaining "to get the price down," he said, especially for properties that are less than perfect, such as those without garages.

It might come as a shock to Noe Valleyans, who have seen $2 million homes become the norm in recent years, but half of the residential properties in September sold for under $1 million, and none topped the $2 million mark.

The most expensive home was located in the 3800 block of 25th Street, between Dolores and Church streets. The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath house was on the market for 96 days before it sold for $1,795,000--down from the original asking price of $1,995,000.

The average sales price for September's nine homes was $1,163,000. That figure was about $23,000, or 2 percent, higher than in September of 2008, but some 15 percent below the $1,365,000 average of two years ago (see www.noevalleyvoice.com).

Homes were on the market an average 10 weeks before the deals were finalized. By contrast, buyers took about eight weeks to close escrow in August 2009 and slightly more than nine weeks in September of last year.

Kostick said the longer escrow was likely the result of the tighter rules that banks now impose on mortgage contracts. "We have new problems with lenders every single day," he said.

Still, the nation's still-struggling economy and job losses in the high-tech industry are the main drags on Noe Valley's housing activity, said Kostick. Because the neighborhood is home to many computer and software workers, "the current lack of overwhelming success in high-tech is affecting [home] sales in Noe Valley," Kostick said.

Five condominiums sold in September, compared to six in September a year ago. The average sales price, $723,000, was down about 20 percent from September of 2008.

The priciest condo sold in 15 days for $969,000--$10,000 below the asking price. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is located in the 3700 block of Cesar Chavez Street, between Guerrero and Dolores streets.

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
Sept. 2009 9 $780,000 $1,795,000 $1,163,222 73 98%
Aug. 2009 7 $818,000 $1,995,000 $1,260,543 53 101%
Sept. 2008 8 $970,000 $1,525,000 $1,140,313 64 101%
Condominiums
Sept. 2009 5 $455,000 $969,000 $722,900 83 98%
Aug. 2009 6 $605,000 $1,225,000 $833,250 67 98%
Sept. 2008 6 $690,000 $1,150,000 $907,500 55 100%
2 to 4 unit buildings
Sept. 2009 4 $688,020 $1,571,000 $1,179,755 57 101%
Aug. 2009 1 $938,000 $938,000 $938,000 163 94%
Sept. 2008 2 $1,475,000 $1,820,000 $1,647,500 79 102%
5+ unit buildings
Sept. 2009 0 - - - - -
Aug. 2009 0 - - - - -
Sept. 2008 0 - - - - -

*
Sales include all Noe Valley home sales completed during the month. Noe Valley in this survey is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets. The Voice thanks Zephyr Real Estate (www.zephyrsf.com) for supplying the sales data. NVV 11/09

A Snapshot of Noe Valley Rents**

Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents,
Oct. 2009
Average Rent,
Oct. 2009
Average Rent,
Sept. 2009
Average Rent,
Oct. 2008
Studio 7   $1,200 - $1,500 $1,335 / mo.  $1,333 / mo. $1,602 / mo.
1 bedroom 30 $995 - $2,500   $1,736 / mo.  $1,987 / mo. $2,070 / mo.
2 bedrooms 24 $1,950 - $4,550   $2,719 / mo. $2,684 / mo. $3,269 / mo.
3 bedrooms 20 $2,650 - $7,500    $3,989 / mo. $4,088 / mo. $4,495 / mo.
4+ bedrooms 2 $3,395 - $3,850    $3,622 / mo. $5,527 / mo. $7,850 / mo.

**
Survey based on a sample of 83 Noe Valley listings appearing on Craigslist.org from Oct. 2 to 12, 2009. NVV 11/09