Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Octavia Boulevard Development Project

Often times in City development projects, it is difficult to come across the finer details of projects, the details that determine how these projects impact neighborhoods. I am providing all of the information I have located on the Octavia Street Boulevard project.

The most extensive information about the project is available at the
City’s official website. This site shares the extensive reasoning that led to the final project’s design plan.

The
Octavia Street Boulevard website offers a brief summary of the history of the project, which is all one really needs. The site shows nice pictures of the before and after if the project (don’t bother if you have dial-up), and pats itself on the back for offering traffic delay information and community outreach programs during construction.

The
San Francisco Transportation Authority website also relates the entire history of the project, but nothing beyond that.

It was through local bloggers
SFist that I came across the housing portion of the plan. Their diligence uncovered the fact that several city groups have come together to create a design competition for the housing that will be constructed along Octavia Boulevard. By devouring all of the information provided at SFPrize.org, the competitions official website, one is finally able to get down to some interesting facts about the Boulevard that is to come:

1. No high-rises. Competing architects are called upon to design housing that blends with established neighborhood architecture. Buildings can not be higher than 4 stories.


2. This project calls for a combination of market rate, affordable, rental and senior housing, as well as mixed use (commercial/residential) buildings on 22 parcels of land. No exact number of housing units has been identified.

3. The goal of the project is to create a pedestrian-biking-public transportation focused neighborhood. What does this mean? LIMITED PARKING. In fact, the competition clearly and repeatedly states that parking is NOT a design requirement, and if parking is planned into the design, it must meet the parking ratio guidelines outlined in the competition rules.

4. In June 2005 a winner will be selected. A jury made up of a variety of local historic and planning experts will pick the winning architectural design. However, the winning concept may ultimately be altered to the city’s liking.

If you are interested in getting continuous tidbits on the direction of the Octavia Boulevard project, I’ve found that occasionally checking SFPrize.org’s Questions/Answers section, where architects competing ask for more specific information, is a good place. Also look in the menu bar for any briefing notes the organizer’s provide.

Have more questions about trends in the housing market? Questions about selling or buying a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.


Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
ablakeley at mcguire.com
(415) 296-2173 Direct

The Dirt: New Homesteaders

It seems that there is a nationwide renaissance of land acquisition. This doesn’t have anything to do with the San Francisco real estate market. Or does it?

Astronomical housing prices are forcing many Bay Area residents to reconsider the location of their primary residences. We all know a few friends or neighbors who have packed up in search of the more affordable. Conversely, we also know a few people who won’t budge as they continue to see the value of their property climb.

So isn’t it a wonder that some states are
giving away land? That’s right, it’s free. Centuries after the cry of "Free Land!" and the induction of the Homestead Act of 1862, small towns in Kansas and North Dakota are looking to increase town population. It is hard to believe, as we continuously see new strip malls and towns dotting our road trips to Tahoe and L.A., that the Great Plains area isn’t developing as quickly. But hey, if you can take your business with you, you might as well get yourself some free land to build a nice home on (complete with home office, of course), and earn few tax incentives while you’re at it.

On the investment side of real estate, a recently published
article in the L.A. Times discusses the growing trend in ditching stocks and buying “dirt.” As more people hear real estate investment success stories, they are diving in for their piece of the pie. Unfortunately, investment newcomers discover that hot markets appreciate so fast that by the time they find out about the “new hot market,” housing prices there are already out of reach. Instead they are buying up land in hopes that development will eventually strike.

Human migration is a complex and interesting thing. It involves a blend of human desire, economic necessity, real estate trends, nature, and sometimes government involvement. Whether you’re searching for the perfect new homestead for yourself or the next best real estate investment, you might want to look from the ground up.

Have more questions about trends in the housing market? Questions about selling or buying a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.

Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
ablakeley at mcguire.com
(415) 296-2173 Direct

Friday, March 18, 2005

Megan's Law Database Now Online

Website access to California's sex offender registry is now available to the public. In response to a legislative mandate, the California Department of Justice recently started providing online information about registered sex offenders at meganslaw.ca.gov

Thursday, March 17, 2005

SF Resale Housing Prices Hit Record High

In my last post post, I advised that all those in the housing market, whether buying or selling, should expect a slight balancing of the market in the months to come. Typically, spring and summer are the most active real estate transaction seasons, and impending mortgage rate hikes will push sellers onto the market now, and buyers out later on.

Newspapers today assaulted readers with stories of record sales in the resale home market all over the Bay Area. The SF Chronicle notes that the threat of mortgage rate increases is pushing buyers into the market now, before it happens.

Siliconvalley.com also has an article on the record hitting phenomenon, with a complete Bay Area breakdown in a table at the end of the piece.

So, what should you do?
Sellers: If you're a seller that has been considering taking advantage of the market, do it now. The hyper-activity of the market you see now will subside within 2 months.
Buyers: If you're a buyer with a lean budget and think the increase in mortgage rates will knock you out of the market, it's time to start aggressively putting those offers in. If you're a buyer with a little more wiggle room, it's best to wait until the market balances out a little more. If you are working with a good real estate agent, they will be experienced enough to know which way to advise you.

Have more questions about trends in the housing market? Questions about selling or buying a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.
Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
ablakeley at mcguire.com
(415) 296-2173 Direct

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Will Spring Still be a Seller's Market?

With the growing concern that mortgage rates are about to climb, more sellers are putting their property on the market. There is a typical increase in homes and condominiums for sale as the summer season approaches and families begin to consider their vacation plans. Add to that the fear of increasing mortgage rates, and you begin to see a slight balancing in the market place.

This is good news for first time buyers, who have of late been in a highly competitive market. It in no terms means an end to the multiple-offer situation that has continued to frustrate entry level home buyers for several months. What it does mean, however, is that there will be a decline in the number of offers submitted per property. Additionally, there is the possibility that the list price-to-actual sale price ratio may become tighter, meaning that the percentage over asking price will be lower, and more in line with actual market value.

The upcoming months will not be all roses, however. As the inventory expands and the number of competitive offers per property decline, it is likely that sellers will insist on slightly higher asking prices. Since sellers won't be able to rely on buyers to push the sales price from affordable to barely reasonable, they will most likely set list prices where they truly expect to land at the end of the sale.

Buyer's tip: Make sure you're Realtor does an extensive comparable analysis to any property you are considering putting an offer in on. Finally, always arrive at an offer price after doing your homework: factor in information revealed in the disclosure packet, and always make an offer based on what price YOU think is reasonable for the property in question.

Have more questions about trends in the housing market? Questions about selling or buying a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.

Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
ablakeley at mcguire.com
(415) 296-2173 Direct