Friday, September 14, 2007

Esprit Park Promises to Impress for Less

McGuire Real Estate agents received an impressive sneak peak of Esprit Park and considerable details on design & finishes, building amenities, completion/occupancy dates and more. The project rivals most of the newer condo projects in SoMa/Mission Bay, and has a much sweeter price per square foot.

Located in the up and coming Dogpatch neighborhood, Esprit Park will consist of 142 units in 25 different floor plans, including 14 2-level penthouse townhouses with rooftop terraces. Almost 85% of the units will have some outdoor space in the form of a balcony, terrace or roof deck. The completed units will have any one of three pre-chosen design palettes, all of which are modern, sophisticated and calming. Kitchens are finished out with fantastic appliances: Liebherr side-by-side stainless refrigerators and Bertazzoni stainless gas ranges. Prices from the mid-$600’s to $1.5M+ with surprisingly low HOA (mid-$300’s to the high $400’s).

The Sales Office is slated to open the end of this month. Buyers interested in Esprit Park should contact me immediately for more information and an exclusive opportunity to get in prior to the opening of the sales office.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Buying Property in SoMa

San Francisco buyers who are tired of battling through the endless tide of multiple offer properties might consider buying in the South of Market area. Although the neighborhood may not appeal to everyone, the opportunity to buy sans competition may just be worth it.

With a number of developments with available units, and even more developments on the way, SoMa, more than any other area in San Francisco, is a location where buyers can actually walk away paying asking price for a property. Additionally, although I occasionally question the price per square foot projections for some projects, SoMa’s long-time residents have developed a solid community; they are not only defining what type of retail dynamics will be coming to the neighborhood, but they are accelerating how quickly the retail is coming in. Seeing this type of positive hyper-movement makes me more comfortable with future appreciation for SoMa properties.

Many purchasers of SoMa properties, I have discovered, simply enter the Sales Offices, review a model or two and floor plans, and proceed to write an offer with the sales team. What these buyers often fail to realize is that Sales Offices for developments are agents for the seller. The tragedy is that, without proper buyer representation by a knowledgeable Realtor®, they are quite often leaving money, or developer concessions, on the table.

Here is some helpful advice on how to purchase in SoMa:
1. Use your own real estate agent;
2. Shop multiple buildings and make sure you and your agent walk out with financing sheets and priced floor plans for units you are interested in;
3. Let the sales office know you are doing this;
4. Make sure you purchase parking if it is not included in the sale;
5. Ask for seller concessions or you have little chance of getting them.

Have more questions about the San Francisco real estate market? Ready to buy or sell your home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.

Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
McGuire Real Estate
(415)296-2173 Direct
Ablakeley at

Saturday, June 23, 2007

KRON 4 Reports on the Complexity of the Bay Area Real Real Estate Market

Maureen Kelly of San Francisco's KRON4 News came across my recent post regarding demand in the luxury real estate market. Intrigued, she did some additional research, and shortly thereafter, did this segment on the evening news, which gives great case-in-point examples of a demand-driven real estate market.

Thank you for persmission to embed the video, Maureen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Question From a Reader - Fractional TIC Financing

A lot of readers come to my blog looking for information about TICs (Tenancy-in-Commons). One reader asks:

Q: I am a Mortgage Broker from Los Angeles and [I have] a client who asked me about purchasing an individual unit in a building that is being converted into a TIC property... having never heard of a residential TIC property, I did my research today and found your name on an article about Sterling Bank & Trust and their entrĂ©e into the individual lending on TIC properties. The property in question is in Santa Monica, CA where Coop’s and condo conversions are the norm and where apparently there are only 2 of these TIC properties either being built or in the process of conversion too – My question can you forward me any additional info on TIC’s and do you have a contact at Sterling that I might call and get loan info from?

A: Thanks for your inquiry. First off, there are 2 ways to purchase a TIC. One is in the traditional TIC way, is in which all buyers purchase a percentage interest in the property that adds up to the total of the purchase price TOGETHER. This is the most common way. So, if there are 4 units, each buyer is purchasing a percentage of the whole building, and each is doled out a “unit” which represents his or her percentage, all on one loan together. This is risky, as if one person defaults on his or her portion, all of the others have still have to pay the entire come up with the entire mortgage. The second risk in TIC ownership is that local and state changes in legislation can be put into place which directly affect ownership rights (in San Francisco, for example, TICs groups can enter into a city lottery to convert to condominiums, but the city can change the rules and upset the balance at any time). Also, no one owns a unit separately – so they don’t have the same rights as condominium owners do (which is why the impact of legislative changes makes this a rather volatile sector of real estate).

Individual TIC financing, (known as fractional TIC financing) is a relatively new financing tool that was born from the above noted risks in attempt to minimize the volatility of owning property as a TIC. A few banks, such as Sterling, have come up with a way to allow TIC purchasers to each have SEPARATE loans for each unit, which act much like loans for condominiums. Since the risk is higher for the bank, because it cannot leverage the entire building in case of a default, these loans tend to be at a higher interest rate, need better credit scores to obtain, and ultimately require a high down payment (20-25%), which historically has created a barrier for some people in purchasing units in this fashion. Additionally, fractional TICs must be in place for every unit in the building; your buyer cannot just decide that she, outside of everyone else, will have her own, individual financing, while everyone else is on a loan for the remainder of the building.

I just last week received a notice from Sterling Bank & Trust that announced they can now offer fractional TIC financing which would only require 10% down, which may make fractional financing a more viable route to affordable housing. The phone number listed on the announcement is (415)970-9889. If you would like to learn more information about TICs, Attorney Andy Sirkin has a great
website that addresses the most frequently asked questions. Good luck!

Are you ready to buy or sell your home? Contact me today.
Amy Blakeley, REALTOR®
McGuire Real Estate
ablakeley at

Friday, June 08, 2007

San Francisco Sets New Record in Luxury Home Sales

The lack of housing inventory across all price ranges in San Francisco continues to fuel a real estate market that contradicts national and state trends.While condominum and home sales are slightly below last year for the month of May (239 in 2007, 273 in 2006*), San Francisco has set a new record in its luxury home sector.

May 2007 recorded the highest home sales in the $2,000,000 and up range for a one-month period in San Francisco history, remarked
Aldo Congi, Vice President and Manager of McGuire Downtown, this past Wednesday. With an unprecedented 36 single family home sales at a price of $2,000,000 or more, the month of May beat out the previous record of 29 homes set in the same price range in 2000.

The hot market for luxury real estate is expected to continue if inventory levels remain low and the Bay Area economy maintains its current course.

*statistical data provided by McGuire Real Estate via BrokerMetrics®.

Have more questions about San Francisco luxury real estate? Ready to buy or sell your home? Contact me today.

Amy Blakeley
McGuire Real Estate
ablakeley at

SB-464 Ellis Act Legislation Stalled

The state proposed changes to California's Ellis Act, SB-464, failed to pass the State Senate. From Beyond Chron:

"Senate Bill 464, the bill to reform the Ellis Act by limiting its scope to landlords who have owned the property for a certain number of years and sponsored by Assembly member Mark Leno and State Senator Sheila Kuehl, has failed to garner the 21 votes needed to pass. The bill appeared to come within a single vote of passage, only to have San Jose's Elaine Alquist switch to a "no," killing any chances for passage this year. The bill was not brought up for a formal vote, but instead becomes a "2-Year Bill" eligible to be voted on again in January. Beyond Chron will provide a full report on the efforts to win Senate passage next week."

No word on if the retroactive effective date of the legislation, currently proposed as March 27, 2007, will remain the same as the bill comes back to the table next year.

Have questions about the real estate market? Ready to buy or sell your home?
Contact me today.

Amy Blakeley
Realtor ®
McGuire Real Estate
abakeley at

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Just Listed: 1925 10th Avenue


Golden Gate Heights ~ Single Family Home
1925 10th Avenue, San Francisco

Warm and welcoming two-level home in Golden Gate Heights. Three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, this home abounds in natural light. Views from every bedroom to the terraced yard. Large kitchen with walk-out to garden. Lovely wood burning fireplace and French paned windows in the living room. The one car garage offers additional storage space or possible development potential. Freshly painted. Near UCSF Medical Center.

Interested buyers or their agents may contact me with inquiries at (415)296-2173, or email me at "ablakeley at"
Amy Blakeley, Listing Agent
James Winans, Listing Agent
McGuire Real Estate
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at

SB 464: Legislation Threatens Affordable Home Ownership in San Francisco

In a move to protect housing rights for the 70-some-odd -% tenant population of San Francisco, housing bill SB 464 proposes to be another hindrance to San Francisco’s never ending struggle to provide enough real estate for sale to meet the City’s demand.

Penned by Senator Sheila Kuehl (who also brought us the recent “60-day notice to vacate” requirement to landlords whose tenants have been installed longer than 1 year), SB 464 would “amend the Ellis Act (the State law that allows rental property owners to go out of the rental business) by limiting its application to the owner of any residential real property who has owned the property for five years. In addition, SB 464 would allow a public entity to require that if any tenant is at least 62 years of age or disabled, and has lived in his or her accommodations for at least one year prior to the date of delivery to the public entity of the notice of intent to withdraw pursuant to the Act, the date of withdrawal of the accommodations to be extended to one year after the date of delivery of the notice”( – San Francisco Association of Realtors). If passed, the new legislation would apply to all buildings purchase on or after March 27, 2007.

The creation of SB 464 appears born from an understanding that owning a multi-unit building is exclusively for the purpose of becoming a landlord and renting units to tenants. Although this may have historically been the reason to purchase multi-unit properties, the continuing demand for more affordable ownership options has grown the Tenancy In Common (TIC) market, which shares the same inventory pool. The result is a new generation of multi-unit building purchasers, who have absolutely no intention of becoming landlords or retaining all units as rentals, rather, they are people attempting to stop being renters and start being homeowners the most affordable way possible in a very expensive city.

So what does this all mean? If SB 464 passes, purchasers of multi-unit buildings must wait a minimum of 5 years before they can use the building for any other purpose than a rental property. This will naturally force seekers of possible TIC properties, who often immediately use the Ellis Act to "get out of the rental business," out of the market, and limit the already meager affordable ownership inventory in San Francisco.

Additionally, the market value of multi-unit buildings will most likely go down, because any possible upside of converting the rentals into sellable units (which is often built into the price) won’t become viable to the purchaser for 5 years. Conversely, stalling the Ellis Act rights of owners on multi-unit buildings will drive demand up even further for single family homes and condominiums… making affordable ownership opportunities less available… and creating… you guessed it….more tenants.

For the health of affordable real estate in San Francisco, I urge you to contact our few wavering Democratic politicians and ask them to vote NO on SB 464:

Leland Yee
State Capitol, Room 4048
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4008
Fax: (916) 327-2186
Email (click "Contact Senator Yee" at left):

Joseph S. Simitian
State Capitol, Room 2080
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4011
Fax: (916) 323-4529
Email (click "send an email” at left):

More (pro and con) information on SB 464 can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Chat With Redfin

I chatted briefly with the folks at yesterday. Oddly enough, the call came shortly after I watched part of a video interview of Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman on The Scoble Show (via Sellsius Real Estate blog).

The call, spurred by my last post, was a friendly discussion on the differences in services and style offered by their online realty service versus that of the traditional broker. We both agreed that the main difference is that, as most other online firms are, is geared more toward the Do-it-Yourselfers, and that although they service a certain niche of the market, there is room for both types of brokerages. In fact, although that was supposed to be the point of the last post (sometimes the online business model works out in a deal, in this case it didn't appear to), the little chat made me realize that I hadn't clearly communicated that.

Thanks to Max in Redfin's San Francisco office.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You Get What You Pay For: How a "Discount Agent" Fails in San Francisco

Parlaying from my last post on the re-birth of multiple offers in San Francisco, here is a tale of a recent multiple offer situation where one buyer lost out using the discount online broker's home page claims that buyer's work with experienced local agents who are experts in negotiating. They also offer 100% satisfaction and a 66% commission refund. Since the birth of, I have not yet met one of their agents.

Yesterday a agent put in an offer for a buyer on a single family home in the Inner Parkside. Ocean views and decently priced, with an offer date of 15 days after it had hit the market.

The agent never went to the property prior to submitting the offer for his clients. He never personally spoke to the listing agent and faxed the offer in. The offer was below asking price. The property received 12 offers and went into contract way over asking.

We aren't sure why the agent submitted an offer under list price. Perhaps that was all the buyers could afford. Or perhaps the agent didn't do his homework; if he had at least called the day before final submission, he would have known there was tremendous competition for the property and either helped the buyers be more aggressive or realize they had to bow out.

Of course, the possibility does exist that one can work with a physically available, local, human agent here in San Francisco and still receive the same lacking service, dedication and skill. My advice: get a new agent fast. When it comes to real estate agents, you get what you pay for.

Have questions about the real estate market? Ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me today to work with an honest, experienced agent.

Amy Blakeley, Realtor
McGuire Real Estate
ablakeley at

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Offer Dates: Back with a Vengeance

Just on the heels of news that San Francsico's February '07 housing sales volume was down compared to not only Feb '06 but also January '07, comes the return of every buyer's nightmare: The Offer Date.

Since the beginning of March, more and more houses I tour or see on MLS have set offer dates. An offer date is a day, 10-14 days after the first open house, on which all interested parties need to wait (or in some cases rush) to get their offers in by. Every offer I have submitted for clients in March has had a set offer date and resulted in multiple offer scenarios of anywhere from 3-7 offers.

Yes, offer dates and multiple offers are back, despite news of problems in the sub-prime lending sector and February unit sales down 12% from last year.

Actually, the lower sales volume in February is directly associated with the fact that inventory overall is low - in every price range. Sunday open houses since mid-February have been very well trafficked, with middle-range priced homes seeing up to 150 visitors on a Sunday. Buyer demand is still incredibly strong, but the lack of inventory to meet that demand is pushing the market back into the frenzied state we saw a year and a half ago. That's once again good news for Sellers, especially if they are the only home in the neighborhood on the market.

Have questions about the real estate market? Ready to buy or sell your home? Contact me today to work with an honest, experienced Realtor.

Amy Blakeley
McGuire Real Estate
ablakeley at

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lucky Sevens

207 Clipper at Sanchez in Noe Valley is listed at $777,777 with Keller Williams. A 2 bedroom, 2 bath single family home with the most intriguing hardwood floors I've seen in a while. No doubt this cute little house will get plenty of attention without the peculiar pricing.
Photo taken from MLS listing #319953.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nobody's Leaving California: US Migration Statistics

United Van Lines, the largest household moving company in the United States, released its 2006 annual report on US Migration earlier this month.

North Carolina and Oregon were the top two states for inbound traffic, United Van Lines reported. South Carolina, Nevada and Idaho rounded out the top five.

California saw it's lowest exodus of residents in four years. Considering the 2005 "peak" in the real estate market and the subsequent moderation of sales since, it seems that people are staying put. The study should soothe those sellers and buyers who have fears about home appreciation and re-sale value.

Have questions about the San Francisco real estate market? Ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me today.
Amy Blakeley, Realtor®
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at mcguire dot com

Thursday, January 18, 2007

First Impressions: 3208 Pierce Street

The new condominiums at 3208 Pierce Street were open Wednesday evening, and the crowds definitely indicated a high level of public curiosity. After all: luxury condos with views of IHOP to the south and the Pierce Street public parking garage to the north?

But, if you want new construction and modern, clean design within walking distance of Chestnut and Union, this is your building. Eleven of the 14 units were open (3 units are indicated as SOLD). The kitchens and bathrooms are beautiful with dark cabinetry and nice countertops. High ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows help these rather tight spaces seem bright and airy. All 2 bedroom units (plus the 1+den unti) are 2-levels, with laundry hook-ups (washer/dryer not included) usually well-positioned on the bedroom level. There is an underground garage with one deeded parking space for each unit.

So, all in all, 3208 Pierce does come across as a modern urban oasis. As long as you don’t open your windows if you face Lombard Street. Oh, or open the blinds if you face the Pierce Street Garage. Prices range from $749,000 to $1,199,000. Listed with Vanguard Properties,
James Nunemacher.

Have questions about San Francisco real estate? Ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.
Amy Blakeley
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at

Just Listed: 509 Frederick

509 Frederick Street#1, Cole Valley
Offered at $959,000

Located near the heart of Cole Valley, this beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 full bath condominium (with 1 car independent parking) was built with intelligent design in 2005, but still maintains the neighborhood's distinctive 1900's era exterior.

The interior boasts engineered hardwood floors with in-floor radiant heating, managed by thermostats in 4 different zones. With an open floor plan and wide hallways, the 1323 sq. foot space (per condo map) offers ultimate flexibility. The living room has sliding wood doors and ample closets and could be used as a third bedroom.

The kitchen, complete with a roomy dining area, features hand-crafted cabinetry, high-end appliances, skylights and an extra-wide lightwell to allow an abundance of natural light.

Both bedrooms face southward and look out to a lovely deeded patio. The master suite has custom closets adjoined to a full bath.

Constructed with extreme care and precision, this first floor flat, complete with stacked washer and dryer, has double-paned windows throughout, receives northern and southern exposure, and is incredibly quiet. There is direct stair access to the indoor garage. The property is located one block from public transportation, and is in close proximity to Cole Street shops, the Haight Ashbury district, and Golden Gate Park.

Interested buyers may contact me with inquiries at (415)296-2173, or email me at "ablakeley at" Property is listed with Lena Emmery, Real Estate Broker. Agents may contact her directly.
Amy Blakeley
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Adding to the World Map

I normally don’t venture far from local real estate news, but sooner or later we are all going to be talking about “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” and today I got a sneak peek at the investor website.

For years, Dubai, part of the 7 emirates in the Middle East that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been building itself into a globally significant business and tourist destination for the world’s elite. One of the most recent and aggressive projects has been the creation of 300 islands off the Dubai’s coast of Jumeirah. Today the web designer of one of the development’s websites sent me the link to get my feedback.

Check it out for yourself:, then go buy a freehold property! I particularly like that it makes me feel like I am watching PBS. I don’t like that the video plays every time you click back to the home page from somewhere else in the site.

From what I’ve read, there will be extensive global marketing plans for the properties, focusing on Europe and America’s most prestigious cities and clientele. Trump, eat your heart out: you are not the King of Real Estate; the
Ruler of Dubai is.

Chicago Tribune
Ten Guide

Have questions about San Francisco real estate? Ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.
Amy Blakeley
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Public to Have Access to the MLS Until February

Public access to the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service (MLS) will most likely extend until the end of February, I was told this week by a SFAR representative. Due to the unexpected cancellation of a reciprocal service combining the SF MLS listings with those of other Bay Area listing services, public access will stay in place as a work around for those real estate practitioners whose work crosses county lines.

Once direct entry to the system is cut off, the public will still be able to access complete San Francisco listings through realty and real estate agent websites. For example, this link will take you directly to the MLS page on my website.

Have questions about buying or selling real estate? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me for honest, experienced answers.

Amy Blakeley
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cell Phone Swapping Website Could Become a Realtor Favorite

TechCrunch today highlighted a website called cellswapper, which allows people to hang up on their current cellular service provider by selling it to another user who is looking for a cheap way to activate a new cell plan.

As Realtors we are always chasing the best tool to keep in touch with clients, which sometimes means foresaking our current mobile service provider for the one who has the best phone/PDA to meet this need. If you find another user of cellswapper who is interested in your plan (and probably your phone), you can eliminate the excessive early-cancellation fee that most carriers charge to leave them.

Of course, cellswap is for everyone. In the article, TechCrunch also mentioned this site would be a boon to the many consumers that are drooling over Apple's new iphone, which will only being carried through Cingular. In fact, just one day after the MacWorld conference began here in San Francisco, there are already over 4000 photos tagged "iphone" on Flickr, a public photo-sharing site. Even a few of us Realtors are drooling over iphone.

Have questions about buying or selling real estate? Ready to buy or sell a home? Contact me today for honest, experienced answers.

Amy Blakeley
(415)296-2173 Direct
ablakeley at