Get insider tips and exclusive access to hot properties, including off-market listings.

It’s Trivial: Noe Valley

February 28th, 2011

Every so often we share a few facts, tidbits, and morsels of San Francisco trivia that you may find interesting or – at the very least – provide you with some interesting coffee talk.

This week:  Noe Valley

Where does the name Noe Valley come from?
Noe Valley was named after Jose de Jesus Noe. He served as Alcalde (Mayor) of San Francisco in both 1842 and 1846.  Noe received a government land grant of over 4,000 acres in 1845 and named the land Rancho San Miguel.  When California came under the control of the United States, Noe began selling off parcels of the ranch, including the portion that we now know as Noe Valley.

When did Noe Valley transform from a ranch to the streets we know today?
John Meirs Horner became a wealthy farmer selling fruit and vegetables to the gold miners.  He used his riches to buy a portion of Racho San Miguel from Noe for $200,000 sometime around  1846.  The area became known as “Horner’s Addition.”  He laid out a grid of streets naming Elizabeth Street after his wife and Horner Street after himself and his brother, William.  Horner Street eventually became 23rd Street.  Horner soon became bankrupt and sold the land off to developers who built the Victorian homes that Noe Valley is now famous for.  The earliest owners of these newly built, modest homes were primarily working-class Irish.  Mostly manual laborers (carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, etc.), the neighborhood quickly developed a “village within a village” feel to it.  This is a characteristic that many people claim still exists over 150 years later.

What are some other sources of street names in Noe Valley?
-Castro Street was named for Jose Castro, who was a descendant of a soldier in Anza’s company. He was active in resisting United States rule after Monterey and Yerba Buena were taken by American forces. He failed in his efforts to regain Monterey.
-Sanchez Street was named for Antonio Sanchez, a one-time commandante of the San Francisco Presido. His family once owned a 15,000 acre ranch running from today’s South San Francisco to Burlingame.
-Alvarado Street- Named for Juan Bautista Alvarado, Mexican Governor of California from 1836 to 1842. Joined Castro and Pico in Mexican opposition to occupation by United States.

What is the most expensive house on record to have sold in Noe Valley?
625 Duncan sold for $5,818,000 in November, 2008.


Houzz = my new addiction!

February 22nd, 2011

Every few weeks a new app consumes my late nights.

I’m not sure how flinging angry birds across the sky or tossing virtual paper into a trash bin can be so addictive, but let’s just say I’ve spent hours on end doing both!  First it was Angry Birds, then Paper TossWords with Friends, and now I’m addicted to a simple little app called Houzz.  It’s actually both a website and an app.  So no worries if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad – you can still waste hours online!

I’m a self-proclaimed home improvement addict.  Many people relish in being done with a remodeling project.  I feel lost when the last workman leaves.  So I fill those voids between projects by paging through design magazines like Dwell.  I keep a messy little box of clippings of photos I like from the magazines.  And, when it’s time for the next project, I pull them out and get inspired.

Like most successful apps, Houzz takes this simple concept, attaches a great interface, and … keeps me up all night.  The idea is simple;  designers submit photos from their portfolios to Houzz.   Homeowners flip through the photos and can save inspiring shots to any number of “Ideabooks” that you create.  That’s it.  It’s as simple as tossing a virtual paper into the basket or flinging the angry birds.  You can tag the photos to identify where a sofa can be sourced and you can comment on the photos to share ideas with other homeowners and the designers themselves.

So, design cohorts; go forth and start clipping… virtually.


Reducing the Mortgage Interest Deduction: Is this really the right time?

February 10th, 2011

One of the definitive values of home ownership, particularly in places like the Bay Area, is the ability to deduct mortgage interest.  While the idea of a deduction itself isn’t in danger, the Administration has proposed limitations on the amount an individual is able to deduct.  This means that, if you are in the 33% or 35% tax bracket your deduction would be limited to 28%.   Most experts agree that the economic recovery is hinged to housing values.  Is this really this time to limit the benefits of home ownership?

The National Association of REALTORS has done a nice job of identifying and explaining the core issue:

What is the fundamental issue?

Individuals are permitted to deduct mortgage interest paid on mortgage debt of up to $1 million. The deduction is available for interest on mortgages for a principal residence and one additional residence. The $1 million limitation represents the combined allowable debt on two residences. Mortgage interest on up to $100,000 of debt on home equity loans or lines of credit also qualifies for the deduction.

As part of its FY 2011 budget, the Administration has proposed limiting the value of the MID for upper income taxpayers by, in effect, converting the deduction to a 28% tax credit for those individuals who are currently in the 33% or 35% tax brackets. Individuals with incomes below $250,000 would generally not be directly affected by this proposal.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook:

Currently, taxpayers in the 33% and 35% income brackets are able to reduce their taxes through deductions for mortgage interest payments, charitable contributions, local taxes and other expenses by 33 and 35 cents, respectively, on the dollar. Under the Administration’s proposal, these individuals would only be able to reduce their tax bill by only 28 cents on the dollar. The Administration estimates that the change would raise $318 billion over the next 10 years.

S&P/Case-Shiller Index and San Francisco

February 1st, 2011

It’s become almost as commonplace as hearing the weather forecast during the evening news.  Each month when the latest S&P/Case-Shiller index report is released, the media and blogosphere goes crazy reporting on the latest trends in real estate. Terms like “double-dip recession” are thrown around and a media buzz ensues.

So, what exactly is the S&P/Case-Shiller index?  And how does it relate to San Francisco?

There are basically four S&P indices:  a national index, a 10-city composite index, a 20-city composite index, and 20 individual metro area indices.  These indices are touted because they compare repeat sales – essentially comparing apples to apples over time.  So if a house at 123 Castro St sold in 2002 and again in 2010, this is the data that is used to generate assumptions.

It’s important to realize that when you look at composite indices that they are just that – composites.  They are averaging data from either 10 or 20 cities.  These cities include cities that have bottomed out like Phoenix, Tampa, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

When looking at the San Francisco Metro Area, this includes parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo counties.

So,  where does one turn to get information about trends in San Francisco real estate?  Where does one get information about specific areas in the City? This is a city where real estate is truly valued block by block, and house by house.  Trends for one neighborhood can be vastly different from another; one property type (say, single family houses) can be very different from another (condos, TICs).

This is the work we do.  We can provide you with “feet on the pavement” statistics.  It’s the stuff you can’t get from websites like Zillow, a news report, or a large statistics house.  We can directly check sales of houses in your area and in San Francisco.

If you haven’t already, check out our latest thoughts on the market in San Francisco.  It’s something we’re calling the “New Normal.” If you want us to email you a copy, just send us a quick email.