Noe Valley Voice December-January 2008

The Cost of Living in Noe: If You Liked Last October...

By Corrie M. Anders

Surprise--the sales figures for Noe Valley homes in October look almost exactly the same as the figures for October a year ago.

And despite worsening economic news nationwide, the data shows buyers continued to pay more than the sellers' asking price to live in the neighborhood.

According to numbers collected for the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate, buyers purchased seven single-family homes in October 2008, at an average cost of $1,456,000. That compares with six deals posted in October of last year, with a price tag averaging $1,429,000.

Admittedly, there was extra enthusiasm last year. Shoppers this October paid 4 percent above the seller's asking price. A year earlier, buyers coughed up 14 percent more than the list price.

However, most deals, both then and now, closed quickly. Buyers got their mortgage loans in about three weeks this year, as compared with about two weeks last year.

The most expensive home this October closed escrow in 21 days and sold for $2.2 million--11 percent more than the original asking price of $1,995,000. The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath residence, with a two-car garage and 3,260 square feet of living space, is located in the 400 block of Day Street, between Noe and Castro streets.

Slower Pace for Condos

The average price of a Noe Valley condominium unit sold in October was $1,038,000--about $60,000 more than October 2007's mean price of $977,000. In both cases, buyers paid slightly more than the asking price.

Still, only five condominiums exchanged hands this go-round, compared with eight a year earlier.

The priciest condo was a three-bedroom, two-bath unit in the 1100 block of Dolores Street, between 24th and 25th streets. The 1,670-square-foot unit sold in 30 days for $1,370,000--5.5 percent more than the $1,299,000 asking price.

Three buildings in the two- to four-unit category were sold in October, compared with just two last year.

Randall Kostick, Zephyr Real Estate's general manager, noted that all of the recent sales involved two-unit flats, a favorite of those seeking tenants-in-common (TIC) buildings, which can be shared by two or more owners.

Subprimes Scarce

So, has the subprime crisis, which is causing loan defaults around the country, been an issue in the Noe Valley housing market?

Not actually, said Kostick, who has worked in neighborhood real estate for 22 years. For the typical Noe Valley buyer, he said, getting a standard fixed-rate mortgage "has never been a significant problem." Therefore, few subprime loans show up here, he said.

Kostick noted there was a brief "one- or two-week period in September when it was impossible to get any type of loan." That was when several major banks "were facing serious problems," and AIG insurance corporation was on the brink of collapse.

"We froze while that was happening," he said. "Then the [loan] market started opening back up."

Kostick described October's activity as "the last good month of the year," before buyers and sellers take a breather for the holiday season.

"Between the uncertainty of what the federal government is actually doing and the economic environment, and the fact that people want to have a Thanksgiving and Christmas because they really need it, there's not going to be much activity" in December, Kostick said.

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
October 2008 7 $998,000 $2,207,000 $1,456,429 23 104%
September 2008 8 $870,000 $1,525,000 $1,140,313 64 101%
October 2007 6 $979,000 $2,220,000 $1,429,000 15 114%
October 2008 5 $775,000 $1,370,000 $1,037,800 42 101%
September 2008 6 $690,000 $1,150,000 $907,500 55 100%
October 2007 8 $723,000 $1,300,000 $976,938 41 102%
2 to 4 unit buildings
October 2008 3 $1,326,000 $1,502,000 $1,395,667 70 102%
September 2008 2 $1,475,000 $1,820,000 $1,647,500 79 102%
October 2007 2 $1,510,000 $1,560,000 $1,535,000 23 93%
5+ unit buildings
October 2008 0 - - - - -
September 2008 0 - - - - -
October 2007 2 $1,515,000 $1,650,000 $1,582,500 56 100%

*Sales figures include all Noe Valley home sales completed during the month. In this survey, Noe Valley is defined as the area bordered by Grand View, 22nd, Guerrero, and 30th streets. The Voice thanks Zephyr Real Estate ( for supplying the data.

Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents, October-November 2008 Average Rent, October-November 2008 Average Rent, September-October 2007
Studio 8 $1200-$1950 $1439 $1424
1 bedroom 37 $1500-$3250 $2119 $2042
2 bedrooms 32 $1995-$4750 $3085 $3069
3 bedrooms 19 $3000-$6500 $4462 $4579
4+ bedrooms 8 $4000-$8750 $6253 $7560

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 104 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on from October 30 to November 12, 2008.