Noe Valley Voice May 2004

The Cost of Living in Noe

By Corrie M. Anders

There was nothing lamb-like about the start of Noe Valley's spring home-buying season.

Noe Valley home shoppers in March closed escrow on 21 single-family homes and condominiums.

That number was 50 percent higher than the 14 homes and condos sold in March of last year, and 75 percent above this February's 12 sales, according to sales data provided to the Noe Valley Voice by Zephyr Real Estate.

March buyers picked up front door keys for 12 single-family homes, seven of which cost more than $1 million. Those luxurious digs pushed the average price of a detached Noe Valley home in March to more than $1.1 million.

Buyers paid nearly $1.5 million for the most expensive home--a three-bedroom, 31/2-bath property in the 4200 block of Cesar Chavez Street. The second costliest purchase, at nearly $1.4 million, was a four-bedroom, 21/2-bath home in the 1200 block of Dolores Street.

Nine condos also changed hands in March. A three-bedroom, two-bath unit in the 1100 block of Church Street took top honors, selling for almost $1 million.

Despite Noe Valley's gilded prices, it's still possible to buy a home without robbing a bank. A one-bedroom, one-bath condo on Grand View Avenue set the buyers back a mere $323,000.

Generally, the home-buying season awakens in late spring and builds momentum during the summer. But this year's sales began early and with a roar.

"It's a booming market," says Randall Kostick, who manages Zephyr's 24th Street office.

What's all the rush? Kostick points to two factors: current mortgage interest rates are still relatively low, and there has been a significant increase in the number of homes for sale in the neighborhood. "More inventory means more sales--and we have plenty of buyers," says Kostick.

Rents Go Up for One-Bedrooms

Meanwhile, apartment hunters are finding slightly fewer bargains in Noe Valley this year. They paid more to rent studios and one-bedroom units during the first months of this year than they did during the same period in 2003.

Landlords charged new tenants an average $1,587 for a one-bedroom apartment during the first three months of the year, according to Rent Tech, an apartment listing service. That's a 6 percent ($90) jump from the first quarter of last year.

The increase was relatively small for renters looking for studios. The average price was $1,080, a 2 percent ($22) rise from a year earlier.

Prices for two- and three-bedroom units fell, however, continuing a general trend that started when the dot-com bubble burst three years ago.

But the declines were modest--falling 1 percent ($24) for two-bedroom rentals and 1.6 percent ($45) for three-bedroom apartments.

Noe Valley Home Sales*
Total Sales Low Price ($) High Price ($) Average Price ($) Average Days
on Market
Sale Price as
% of List Price
Single-family homes
March 2004 12 $828,000 $1,464,000 $1,120,667 23 108%
February 2004 6 $929,000 $1,200,000 $1,051,667 38 110%
March 2003 10 $597,100 $902,000 $769,510 22 105%
March 2004 9 $323,000 $997,000 $679,778 24 111%
February 2004 6 $650,000 $1,086,000 $842,333 23 111%
March 2003 4 $427,000 $770,000 $520,500 63 104%
2 to 4 unit buildings
March 2004 5 $810,000 $1,550,000 $1,136,200 31 101%
February 2004 3 $1,200,000 $1,608,000 $1,450,000 73 102%
March 2003 4 $845,000 $1,400,000 $1,067,959 78 96%
5+ unit buildings
March 2004 0
February 2004 0
March 2003 0

Noe Valley Rents**
Size of Apartment Average Rents
Jan-March 2004
Average Rents
one year ago
Jan-March 2003
% increase (+)
or decrease (-)
Studio $1080 $1058 +2.0%
1 bedroom $1587 $1497 +6.0%
2 bedrooms $2121 $2145 -1.0%
3+ bedrooms $2683 $2728 -1.6%%

*Information provided to the Noe Valley Voice courtesy of Zephyr Real Estate ( and based on all Noe Valley home sales (escrow closings) recorded during the month. "Noe Valley" in this survey is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets.

**Data courtesy of Rent Tech, Inc (