Noe Valley Voice February 2006

The Cost of Living in Noe

Home Sellers Had Fun Over the Holidays

By Corrie M. Anders

In what is likely to be its last hurrah, Noe Valley's housing market staged a dazzling sales performance at the end of 2005.

Eager homebuyers closed escrow on 32 detached homes during the last two months of the year, according to sales data provided to the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate. Nineteen homes sold during the 2004 November­December period.

The most recent November­December total was the highest since 33 homes sold at the end of 2001, when the neighborhood's nascent real estate boom was just starting to grab attention. The sales data shows, however, that soaring prices and a gradual rise in interest rates may finally be putting the brakes on the five-year run.

Homes took a week or two longer to sell, and buyers were a tad less eager to offer the shirt off their backs. They paid an average 6 percent more than the sellers' asking price in December, and 9 percent more in November--not the 12 to 15 percent premiums buyers were willing to pay during much of 2005's red-hot market.

"We're watching the days-on-market slowly increase," said Randall Kostick, Zephyr's general sales manager. "It's an indication things aren't quite as fast and furious as they were."

Without a doubt, buyers still are throwing extra money at Noe Valley's more desirable properties. But for the most part, "people are buying at asking or below asking" prices.

The hefty load of year-end closings involved sales that were initiated in September and October. Those were the months when a large number of sellers began to put their properties on the market.

"There were a lot of sellers [in the past] who said, 'I don't want to sell because the market is going up.' Now they're getting the message that things aren't quite as crazy and that now is the time to sell," Kostick said.

The more bountiful supply of homes last fall meshed nicely with the ongoing demand from shoppers, who also sensed that the rampant appreciation had slowed.

"We've got interest rates that are still [relatively] low, buyers who've wanted to buy for the longest time, and all these properties became available," Kostick said, "and they were buying."

Not that prices were anywhere near the bargain basement. Buyers in December paid an average $1.2 million for a Noe Valley home and nearly $1.5 million in November. December's costliest residential property was a four-bedroom, 31/2-bath home in the first block of 27th Street, between Dolores and Guerrero streets. It sold in exactly three weeks for slightly more than $2.1 million--or 11 percent more than the asking price. The most expensive detached home sold in November was a four-bedroom, two-bath residence in the 100 block of Vicksburg Street, between 23rd and Elizabeth streets. The home also closed in 21 days with a sales price of nearly $1.5 million.

The Zephyr sales data shows 23 condominiums closed escrow in November and December of last year, compared with 13 sales during the same period in 2004. A three-bedroom, 21/2-bath unit with 1,500 square feet, located in the 900 block of Elizabeth Street, between Hoffman and Grand View avenues, sold in December for $1.5 million. It was the month's most expensive condo. The costliest November sale was a three-bedroom, 21/2-bath unit with 1,500 square feet, located in the 200 block of Grand View, between 21st and 22nd streets. It sold in November for $1,350,000.

December also featured a sales rarity. A 26-unit apartment building sold for $6.6 million. The building is located in the 600 block of Alvarado Street, between Castro and Diamond streets.

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
December 2005 15 $675,000 $2,145,000 $1,203,533 37 106%
November 2005 17 $860,000 $1,465,000 $1,145,370 28 109%
December 2004 7 $675,000 $1,430,000 $1,074,286 22 110%
November 2004 12 $685,000 $1,625,000 $1,132,042 29 110%
December 2005 14 $575,000 $1,510,000 $890,321 42 105%
November 2005 9 $392,000 $1,350,000 $949,944 20 112%
December 2004 2 $1,135,000 $1,353,000 $1,244,000 18 116%
November 2004 11 $387,500 $1,270,000 $862,591 35 108%
2 to 4 unit buildings
December 2005 4 $937,500 $1,716,888 $1,233,597 56 106%
November 2005 4 $1,200,000 $1,806,000 $1,499,262 22 102%
December 2004 2 $1,350,000 $1,535,000 $1,442,500 92 100%
November 2004 1 $1,301,000 $1,301,000 $1,301,000 38 100%
5+ unit buildings
December 2005 1 $6,160,000 $6,160,000 $6,160,000 99 104%
November 2005 0 - - - - -
December 2004 0 - - - - -
November 2004 0 - - - - -

*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.

A Snapshot of Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents, January 2006 Average Rent, January 2006 Average Rent, One Year Ago
Studio 5 $995-$1200 $1078 $1208
1 bedroom 14 $1250-$1975 $1575 $1532
2 bedrooms 14 $1900-$2995 $2399 $2521
3 bedrooms 12 $2300-$4000 $2963 $2600
4+ bedrooms 4 $3950-$7500 $5150 $4950

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 49 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on January 10-17, 2006.