Archive for September, 2007

FREE Concert Today at Yerba Buena Gardens and Recap of Last Night's Cut and Paste Competition

So can I just say again how much I love this city! Last night I attended the San Francisco leg of the 2007 International Cut and Paste competition at Yerba Buena Center in South of Market’s Yerba Buena Gardens. The creativity flowing in that room was a site to behold; and the crowd, who were incredibly polite I might add, ranged from early 20’s to mid 50’s so no – I wasn’t the oldest one in the room – for the record.

Adobe Sponsored Cut and Paste is an International Digital Design competition live and on four screens – think Poetry Slam or Iron Chef, but for Graphic Designers…

Grand Prize is the Creative Suite 3 a particularly spectacular piece of software I’m told that retails for over $3000 and is coveted by Graphic Designers and Videographers world wide. I watched an interesting demo on our very own San Francisco based DL.TV for one of the tools that seamlessly blends multiple shots into one panoramic shot, a highly secret piece of software that competitors are very busy trying to copy….

Here are a partial list of the parameters taken from Cut and Pastes web site
· All work must be completed in 15 minutes
· Competitors are provided with themes for each round one week in advance
· Competitors may bring in approved objects to capture with a digital camera
· All approved objects are available for anyone to use during any round
· No finished artwork, photographs, pre-made digital elements – all work must be constructed from scratch

The photo above was a design with the theme being Currency. (Have a field day with that one bubble bloggers…)

All the big design firms were out in force scanning for new talent, but for me it was just fun to watch and be a part of such explosive energy. This city is home to some wickedly creative people.

A bit of reference for those who may be new to the city or reading from afar Yerba Buena Center is located next to the Metreon in South of Market, and is an area that has turned into one of the many art Meccas this city has to offer. SF Moma is on the adjacent block, as is the W Hotel, the fairly new St. Regis Hotel – which has turned into a hot drinking spot for straight and gay singles and includes their residential condominiums which have a couple of resales up right now. Also The Four Season Hotel is on the opposite block facing Market Street which is home to my favorite gym in the world Sports Club, and was the first to start the full service Luxury hotel style craze currently sweeping a number of International destination cities. The Four Seasons currently has a one bedroom available as well, which is rare as there aren’t very many one bedrooms. Great building/location if you’re in that price point.

As for the stunning Yerba Buena Gardens I can highly recommend walking the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as it’s a particularly serene place to meander through – handicap friendly no hills – so if your entertaining out of town relatives for the upcoming holidays and don’t have much in common it’s a great place to go as the place speaks for itself aka: no awkward silences with the inlaws.

****(Yerba Buena hosts a number of free events at any given time – Notice I love anything FREE ) – today at YB catch the Latin Jazz Festival from 1-3pm

All for now, gotta get ready for my real job – swindling all those unsuspecting buyers out of their hard earned money and into sub prime loans (ok, I’m not bitter I was called scum…he could have at least made it more romantic or creative and called me ‘pond scum’ and no I’m not linking to the final comment…find it on your own)

Desperate Sellers do Desperate things and the Agents that help them

Yesterday was our annual mandatory Broker Risk Management Seminar which always manages to scare the pjesus out of me. Thank god Bill Jansen is part comedian because the pickles agents find themselves in are anything but funny. Two of my favorite quotes from today’s session were ‘there are 1 million attorneys in the United States, 1 in 5 are in California’, and ‘first a person is unconsciously incompetent until they become consciously incompetent then you move up to being consciously competent until ultimately you arrive at Unconsciously Competent (kind of like driving a car).’ I thought that pretty much sums up the various levels of real estate practitioners I meet out there on a daily basis.

Bill represents Brokers exclusively and works throughout California – accordingly he gets a broad view of what is happening throughout the state, and as the media has been accurately reporting, the picture isn’t pretty for most of it.

What he is seeing is a replay of the real estate market from the early 1990’s, with exceptions being the over $2m price range and San Francisco. I’ve only been practicing real estate for 13 years so I just hear the stories of writing contracts on the hoods of cars – that was back when the purchase contract was two pages, and buyer beware.

Bill was the one that first clued me in last year to the fact the FBI had set up a special task force, just for lender fraud in the Bay Area – almost a full year before the credit debacle broke in the mainstream media – so it came as no surprise when the proverbial shit finally hit the fan. I remember to the day I first heard a client tell me his mortgage broker was going to get him 100% financing; to which I adamantly replied his lender was smoking crack. Little did I know.

So what kind of cases are coming across Bill’s desk now? Violations of the Home Equity Act, (pg 5 of PDF), agents being sued for practicing law by trying to write ill advised Lease Options to Purchase and fraudulent Seller financing including subject to first seconds the primary lender doesn’t know about and wrap around loans.

My father when he used to do public speaking always used a quote I cannot credit as I have no idea where it originally came from but it seems appropriate today.

‘A recession is where your neighbor loses his job, a depression is where you do.’ Opine all you want about bubble or no, but the reality is a lot of people are being hurt and despite what some may state – good agents are not in solely to make a quick buck. Some of us treat it as a career and as such like to see stable, ethical, and practical principals applied.

Oh, and both notices of default and trustee sales in San Francisco are down over this time last year – notice the chart at the bottom of the article…


Bubble Blah, Blah, Blah… Bloggers

Yes, that’s me quoted in Carolyn Said’s article in the Chron this morning about Bubble Bloggers, and in particular,

…many real estate agents are less enthusiastic.

“I laugh at bubble bloggers,” said Matt Lanning, a Realtor with Zephyr Real Estate in San Francisco, whose takes a considerably more upbeat view of the market. “I don’t claim the world is always going to be stable, but there is no way the San Francisco market will collapse. It’s a lot like the sensational journalism we’re seeing with subprime mortgages which are far less of an issue than the media is making them out to be.”

As for Killelea, Lanning said: “He has not been right about anything. Most of what he does is scour the Internet looking for anything to back up his position as someone who is forecasting the coming apocalypse of the real estate market.” [more…]

I must add that in my interview with Ms. Said, I was very clear about my stance that Mr. Killelea has not been right about San Francisco. I don’t claim to know or care about the ‘fundamentals’ that he speaks of for other markets, even within the Bay Area.

The basis for my comments are that there will always be people who have their opinions about something and fight their fight to continue to prove themselves correct. I won’t exclude myself, or this blog, from that category.

And while the SF market is not what it was in the past few years, it is FAR, FAR, FAR from collapsed.

So, comment away, but remember, that I only ever refer to, or comment on, the San Francisco market. I really don’t care what’s happening anywhere else.

And would also like remind everyone that Mr. Killelea uses his site for profit… If he’s not driving traffic through sensational, far-reaching commentary, he’s not going to make any money (so he can continue renting).

Real estate blogger taps into bursting market bubble [SFGate]
Another ‘bubble’ blogger gives up [SFHomeBlog]
Have we finally seen a bubble burst… With the ‘bubble’ bloggers? [SFHomeBlog]


This Friday watch Betrayal on a $3 Million Dollar Screen

I recently had the honor of accompanying my good friend Gail Stark (Happy Birthday Gail!) – to opening night of the 2007-2008 Opera Season. David Gockley, the new general director of the second largest opera company in North America, is widely considered a breath of fresh air for a San Francisco institution that is actively going after a new generation of Opera Goers.

For Immediate Release January 11, 2006 “SAN FRANCISCO OPERA GENERAL DIRECTOR DAVID GOCKLEY UNVEILS NEW VISUAL IDENTITY FOR THE COMPANY SAN FRANCISCO— The San Francisco Opera today unveiled a new visual identity for the Company, heralding the beginning of a new era under the leadership of David Gockley, who became the Company’s sixth general director on January 1, 2006. Elements of San Francisco Opera’s new image include a new logo, a glamorous and sophisticated new look for the print materials, and a major redesign of the Company’s Web site..”

Having been an occasional patron myself, I am thrilled with the new look and feel for the Opera, designed by our very own ‘internationally acclaimed’ San Francisco based Pentagram Design who has long been a staple owner of the Tehama Lofts at 5th and Tehama. By all accounts there are one or two new lofts coming to market there soon, which is rare for a building that does not see much turnover and is a short walk to the recently opened Barneys in Union Square (scared to cross that threshold, I get in enough trouble with Nieman’s).

Back to my point – this coming Friday you have the opportunity to check out the new look and feel of the Opera for yourself in a slightly less traditional venue, South Beach’s AT&T park. Mr. Gockley, in an ongoing bid to promote Opera awareness, is simulcasting Friday’s Samson and Delilah’s performance onto our very own $3,000,000 High Definition screen – which lets face it has to be better than what’s been showing this season based on the Giants record. I don’t even have the heart to link to those stats.

Back to something more heartening….AT&T park for those who haven’t been, is a beautiful venue, with stellar views of the city. And one of the very few reasons this baseball season was bearable (that and watching history be made on the 7th of August – thanks Matt and Jay).

Tickets are FREE – did I mention FREE? My favorite kind, and as of today are still available. No idea on the seating set up…I’m assuming it’s general admission. The weather Friday night is supposed to be fine.

For tickets and more information go to

PS: Gail I’m putting in writing my formal request for your front row Grant Tier Seats if you ever leave the bay area – Shotgun on your Seats!!!


TIC Owners – TONIGHT's the Night!

TONIGHT: Plan C SF TIC Homeownership Summit

Date: September 20, 2007
Time: 6:30 to 8:30pm
Location: St. Marys Cathedral Basement Level – 1111 Gough Street at Geary.

Free Parking!!

I know, you’re fried – it’s after work, and a meeting is the last thing you feel like going to, that happened to me just last night. But honestly the more people that show up, the more the city knows these issues matter to you. It’s just how politics work – no comment on the antiwar demonstrations here – I’m talking local politics now… So grab a cup of coffee and turn out to see what happens.

From the PlanC web site:

Currently scheduled speakers: Assessor Phil Ting, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, Sterling Bank, Bank of Marin, America California Bank and Circle Bank.

City Assessor Phil Ting will make an important announcement on TICs – come hear the announcement as it’s made! A panel of TIC lenders will discuss future trends in fractional TIC loans. And Supervisor Sean Elsbernd will lead a discussion of possibilities for condo conversion reform and pro-homeownership measures at City Hall.

If you own a TIC, want to be a homeowner some day, or just believe that homeowners are good for San Francisco’s neighborhoods, then we hope you’ll come to the Summit.

As Gordon* has so eloquently stated – ‘it should be interesting’ and there’s no guarantee of the city doing anything so come let your voice be heard. Did we mention FREE PARKING?

*Gordon, who I’ve only met via email thus far, is on the Board of Plan C:
Encouraging home ownership via TICs is only a small part of what they do – so check em out!