Noe Valley Voice October 2007

The Cost of Living in Noe

By Corrie M. Anders

Apartment rents in Noe Valley, which have never been cheap, have gotten even pricier. But that hasn't stopped apartment hunters from snapping them up -- sometimes before the old tenant moves out.

In September, shoppers for two-bedroom units were confronted with prices averaging nearly $3,000 a month, according to postings on Craigslist, the online classified ad site. The typical rent that landlords asked for a one-bedroom unit in Noe Valley was a little under $2,000 a month. Those Craigslist prices for the two most popular-sized apartments were 5 to 8 percent higher than in September of 2006. But local property managers say rents have risen as much as 10 percent in the past 12 months. Still, J.J. Panzer, a broker and property manager with Real Management Company on Castro Street, says he's "seeing a lot of competition for apartments in Noe Valley.''

One sign of how competitive the rental market has become is the neighborhood's low vacancy rate.

"I'm not seeing a lot of turnover. I'm not having a lot of tenants stay for a year and leave. People are sticking around," Panzer says. When a tenant does give notice to vacate an apartment, "I frequently rent them before they're empty.''

After declining in the wake of the dot-com bust of 2000­01, Noe Valley rents began rising again 21/2 years ago.

The current demand for Noe Valley rentals has been fueled by two factors: a surge in the Bay Area economy in recent months, especially in the high-tech arena, and this summer's mortgage crisis, which has impinged on homebuying.

Noe Valley is a draw for many well-paid high-tech workers, in part because of the neighborhood's easy freeway access to Silicon Valley job centers. "They come into my office with a list of the Google limo stops," says Panzer, referring to the free shuttle service that the Mountain View company offers from 24th and Castro streets and several other locations in San Francisco.

But the mortgage crisis that first affected less-creditworthy homebuyers has also made it more difficult -- and more expensive -- for consumers to obtain mortgage loans. "So people say, 'I'm just going to rent for a while,'" notes Panzer.

That said, 11 single-family homes in Noe Valley were sold in August, according to statistics provided to the Voice by Zephyr Real Estate. The total compared with 10 sales in July, but was down from 15 a year earlier. Buyers typically paid 5 percent more than the seller's asking price -- a premium that helped boost the average sales price to $1.7 million.

The most expensive property sold during the month was a four-bedroom, 31/2-bath home in the 800 block of Alvarado Street between Douglass Street and Hoffman Avenue. It went for $2.7 million, slightly more than the asking price.

Condominium activity also remained steady. Condo shoppers purchased nine units in August, one less than in July and three fewer than in August a year ago.

Condo bragging rights went to a three-bedroom, three-bath unit with 2,347 square feet, in the 4700 block of 25th Street between Fountain Street and Grand View Avenue. The price was just under $1.5 million.

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
August 2007 11 $850,000 $2,700,000 $1,692,273 35 105%
July 2007 10 $1,037,000 $2,300,000 $1,497,800 13 119%
August 2006 15 $657,000 $2,800,000 $1,597,000 40 102%
August 2007 9 $790,000 $1,465,000 $1,157,778 28 106%
July 2007 10 $457,000 $1,910,000 $1,198,305 20 109%
August 2006 12 $635,000 $1,200,000 $866,258 44 103%
2 to 4 unit buildings
August 2007 6 $950,000 $1,989,000 $1,348,908 58 101%
July 2007 7 $1,100,000 $1,765,000 $1,389,571 76 101%
August 2006 7 $865,000 $1,750,000 $1,401,143 52 105%
5+ unit buildings
August 2007 0 - - - - -
July 2007 0 - - - - -
August 2006 1 $1,530,000 $1,530,000 $1,530,000 84 97%

*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, September 2007 Average Rent, September 2007 Average Rent, One Year Ago
Studio 2 $1300-$1450 $1375 $1396
1 bedroom 17 $995-$2500 $1901 $1756
2 bedrooms 27 $2150-$4299 $2972 $2804
3 bedrooms 9 $3350-$4800 $4078 $3830
4+ bedrooms 0 - - $5533

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 55 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on August 27 - September 14, 2007.