Archive for March, 2011

SFO Stepping it Up and Going Green


The new home for American Airlines and Virgin America at SFO International airport is set to reopen in April of this year making travel to and from San Francisco even more convenient.

The $383 million renovation of San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2 (T2) is scheduled to be complete by April 9, 2011, with the first flights commencing on April 14, 2011.  The new home for American Airlines and Virgin America, T2 will be one of the most sustainable and modern airport terminals in the United States.

These extensive renovations make SFO’s T2 the first airport terminal in the United States to be LEED® Gold-Registered. Not only will it feature natural light, cleaner air, paperless ticketing, energy efficiency and sustainable building materials such as terrazzo flooring with recycled glass chips, recycled-content carpet and innovative and efficient use of structural steel, it will also highlight SF-focused slow food restaurants and modern airport standards like free WiFi and outlets.

View walkthrough photos on Virgin America’s facebook page here.

San Francisco International Airport: Value Beyond Price and Convenience [Only in San Francisco]
A First Look @ SFO’s new Terminal [7×7]

Meredith Martin is a life long resident of the bay area and a real estate professional with over 15 years experience. She can be reached at

SF Streets Are Second Worst In The Nation


photo via ejbSF on

But, there is a silver lining that makes San Francisco amazing yet again, and it can ease your pain. If your vehicle is damaged from a pothole or other road hazard, you can make a claim to the City Attorney’s office and be reimbursed for your expenses. I’ve done this…it really works. You must note specifically where the predatory pothole or hazard is, and you must show evidence of the damage. A claim must be filed within 6 months of the incident.

To make a claim, click here.

If your appetite for road knowledge is still not satiated, you’d like to know where the first asphalt road was built 4600 years ago, see a running total of the SF parking ticket revenue, or learn the best tips, tricks and secrets on how to find a parking place, click here.

SF Streets Are Second Worst In The Nation by David LaBua [7×7 Magazine]

Meredith Martin is a life long resident of the bay area and a real estate professional with over 15 years experience. She can be reached at

What’s Happening in the San Francisco Market Today?

Prices and market dynamics in neighborhoods all over the city. Select the neighborhood below to get the latest details.

San Francisco City Overview
Alamo Square Mission
Anza Vista Mission Bay
Bayview Mission Dolores
Bayview Heights Nob Hill
Bernal Heights Noe Valley
Buena Vista Park North Panhandle
Central Waterfront North Waterfront
Clarendon Heights Ocean View
Cole Valley Outer Mission
Corona Heights Outer Sunset
Cow Hollow Pacific Heights
Crocker Amazon Parkside
Diamond Heights Parnassus / Ashbury Heights
Dolores Heights Pine Lake Park
Downtown Potrero Hill
Duboce Triangle Presidio Heights
Eureka Valley Richmond
Excelsior Russian Hill
Forest Hill Sea Cliff
Forest Hill Extension Sherwood Forest
Forest Knolls Silver Terrace
Glen Park South Beach
Golden Gate Heights South of Market
Haight Ashbury St. Francis Wood
Hayes Valley Sunset
Ingleside Telegraph Hill
Ingleside Heights Tenderloin
Ingleside Terrace Twin Peaks
Inner Richmond Van Ness / Civic Center
Jordan Park / Laurel Heights Visitacion Valley / Portola
Lake West Portal
Lake Shore / Lakeside Western Addition
Marina Westwood Park
Midtown Terrace
Meredith Martin is a life long resident of the bay area and a real estate professional with over 15 years experience. She can be reached at

A Double-dip for San Francisco Real Estate?


For the past 2 years, new predictions for additional, significant (10-30%) price declines – the so-called double-dip in home values – have been made on an almost weekly basis. The reasons: turmoil in financial markets, foreclosures, shadow inventory, debt crises, jobs, China, oil, the groundhog saw its shadow. For many of these pundits, analysts and bloggers, the market is always bad and about to get worse. Good stuff for headlines. Frankly, it’s a little disturbing how many people take pleasure in, even gloat over, the idea of everything always getting worse. (See the comments section of any online real estate article).

That is not to say they’re never right, much less those real estate agents who believe it’s always “the best time to buy.or sell.” What’s missing most often from the articles, blogs and predictions is context; in-depth market expertise; and understanding of location, inventory, seasonality and how buying trends can change (without necessarily affecting values). Instead, typically a single statistic, poorly understood, is seized upon to trumpet a conclusive unified theory of US, California, Bay Area or SF markets.

What will happen tomorrow in the San Francisco home market? Don’t know. Has there been a significant decrease in values since prices stabilized after the big decline of late 2008? No. Is a double-dip possible? Yes, the future is full of unknowns.

But is a double-dip likely?

Ever since the large drop from 2007-2008 peak values – 15% – 25% in most of the city’s neighborhoods – median prices in SF have been generally stable: indeed, median prices for both houses and condos in 2009 vs. 2010 were virtually unchanged. Which suggests we may have hit the bottom of this cycle. Also, San Francisco, especially its better neighborhoods, has a miniscule rate of foreclosures when compared to the state and Bay Area overall. Though some of our least affluent neighborhoods were badly hit, the predicted onslaught of foreclosures never arrived, and it seems unlikely to show up now.


Even in a stable market, median prices will jog up and down by 1-5%, because there are a number of factors besides value which affect them in the short term. It is what occurs consistently over the longer term that indicates a verified market trend. The computer generated algorithm one constantly hears about, the Case-Shiller index, may be the best available, but is still a very blunt analytical tool for something as diverse as the values of specific (relatively unique) homes in specific (relatively unique) locations. Yet it’s treated as a precision measurement – “According to Case-Shiller, home values fell [exactly] 3.7% last month” – when, at minimum, a 5% +/- margin of error should be assumed.

Consider this: the Case-Shiller index for the “San Francisco Metro Area” comprises 5 counties, encompassing wildly different markets from Pacific Heights to Martinez, Hillsborough to the Tenderloin, areas with 50%+ foreclosure rates and those with less than 3%, but every month, a percentage change calculated to one tenth of one percent is delivered as generally applicable to all.

If the market is indeed strengthening, instead of being on the cusp of another crash, what might be the reasons?

1. A growing suspicion that, 2 ½ years after the crash, the SF market has bottomed out price wise. If true, that makes it an excellent time to invest.

2. Indications that consumer optimism about the economy has finally turned a corner. Nothing impacts market dynamics more.

3. Very low interest rates that have recently started to rise. (Very motivating for buyers.)

4. Reduced inventory: among other things, the city’s flood of new condo units over the past decade is slowing to a trickle, and that will not change for years.

5. An influx of young, new buyers, from Bay Area companies such as facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter and Zynga, who strongly desire to live in San Francisco. And who suddenly have a lot of money.

6. The stock market: SF buyers are relatively affluent (by necessity considering our prices); when the stock market climbs considerably, as it has, they benefit most.

7. That old canard: San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is only 7 miles by 7 miles and cannot grow larger. SF is the center for flourishing high-tech, biotech and financial industries in one of the most educated and affluent areas on the planet. Our market has always been different: it usually declines last and recovers first.


Meredith Martin is a life long resident of the bay area and a real estate professional with over 15 years experience. She can be reached at

Healthy Rise in Pending Home Sales Points to More Robust Rebound in San Francisco in Coming Months


Pending home sales activity in San Francisco increased 8.9 percent during the month of February which should result in stronger homes sales in coming months, according to the most recent Market Focus report issued jointly by the Rosen Consulting Group and the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®. The current pending sales rate equates to a 2.6 months of supply inventory. The single-family months of supply inventory declined across price segments, with the months of supply inventory for homes priced greater than $1.2 million showing the greatest improvement, declining to 2.2 months from 2.9 months in February 2010.

Though stringent mortgage lending standards continue to keep potential homebuyers out of the market, mortgage rates have reverted to the sub-5 percent range in recent weeks, supporting higher affordability levels.

Foreclosures and short sales make up a much smaller proportion of sales in San Francisco than other areas of the country. Despite this, in February 2011, the median sales price of a single-family home declined by 7.2 percent year-over-year to $645,000. Closed sales also contracted by 7.2 percent during this time.

Condominiums sales increased by 10.3 percent year-over-year in February 2011, while the median price during this time declined 12.3 percent to $565,000.

The current rebound in employment growth is expected to gain momentum through the coming year, which, when combined with elevated affordability rates and limited new construction, should result in a more robust housing market recovery in the coming quarters, according to the Rosen Consulting Group. Driven largely by increased hiring across the tech industry, payroll levels in Bay Area metropolitan areas have rebounded in comparison to the same time last year. In January 2011, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, total employment levels in the San Jose and San Francisco metropolitan areas increased by 1.8 percent and 0.3 percent year-over-year, respectively. During this period, the contraction in East Bay employment levels flattened to a 0.4 percent year-over-year decline in jobs. Combined, job growth within these two Bay Area metropolitan areas during this period resulted in the addition of approximately 13,600 jobs. As the real estate market is driven largely by job creation, this trend bodes well for housing demand in the months to come.

Healthy Rise in Pending Home Sales Points to More Robust Rebound in San Francisco is Coming Months []

Meredith Martin is a life long resident of the bay area and a real estate professional with over 15 years experience. She can be reached at