Noe Valley Voice February 2009

The Cost of Living in Noe: Home Sales Few and Far Between

By Corrie M. Anders

Noe Valley homebuyers showed a marked change in their habits during the last two months of 2008. They stopped paying full price for residential properties.

The new frugality drove down the average sale price--about 20 percent in a year-to-year comparison of December single-family home sales--according to data supplied to the Noe Valley Voice by Zephyr Real Estate.

In addition to a drop in home values, the neighborhood experienced an uptick in the number of days a property spent drifting slowly in the wind. In fact, the housing market was in near hibernation, as sales frequently took two to three times longer than last year to close escrow.

In December 2008, six detached homes sold at an average cost of nearly $1,220,000. Buyers paid 99 percent of the asking price and finalized the transaction in 75 days.

The previous December, buyers purchased just four homes, but at an average price tag of nearly $1,537,000. They paid 103 percent of the listed price, and picked up their keys in only 35 days.

Seven detached homes changed hands in November 2008, and buyers paid an average 95 percent of the asking price, down from 99 percent a year earlier. The sale of a home for a record $5.8 million, however, skewed the average sale price, pushing it to $1,921,000. That's compared with $1,572,000 in November 2007. (See "House Sells for $5.8 Million," December 2008/January 2009 issue.)

With buyers also writing smaller checks for condos, Zephyr general sales manager Randall Kostick acknowledged that Noe Valley's housing market had cooled since the boom in mid-decade.

"There's just not as much enthusiasm about buying and selling," Kostick said. "We're definitely seeing typically longer days on the market...and you don't have the over asking prices that we had two years ago."

Many of the transactions involve owners who need to sell for lifestyle reasons, such as a job transfer. Additionally, said Kostick, buyers may be taking advantage of opportunities that are "overwhelmingly in favor of them," including low mortgage interest rates.

Kostick blamed some of the sluggish activity in November and December on the lack of consumer confidence in the nation's economy.

"People watch the news and read the papers, and as far as they're concerned, it's disastrous out there," he said. "We have no idea how good we have it here [in Noe Valley] compared with so many other places, but we're feeling it."

As the Voice previously reported, the $5.8 million house sold in November is located in the 600 block of Duncan Street near Newburg Street. It has four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, four-car parking, 5,000 square feet of living space, and a separate one-bedroom, one-bath rental unit.

Buyers paid $1.5 million to snare December's most expensive detached home, a four-bedroom, 2.5-bath dwelling with 3,100 square feet of space and four-car parking. It can be found in the 600 block of 28th Street, between Diamond and Douglass streets.

Plight of the Condo

Only two condos closed escrow last November, selling at an average price of nearly $870,000, or 94 percent of what the seller originally sought. The transactions closed in 91 days--taking three times longer than a year ago, when five sales averaged $1.1 million and buyers paid 106 percent of the asking price. (Note, however, that a pair of condos is too small a sample to take too seriously.)

Shoppers purchased four condos in December, the same number as the year before. But the average cost was about $870,000, or 2 percent beneath the asking price, down from an average of $975,000 in December '07, when buyers typically paid the full list price.

The most expensive condo sale in December '08 occurred in the 4100 block of Cesar Chavez, between Castro and Noe streets. The nearly $1.2 million unit offered two bedrooms, 2.5 baths, parking, and 1,550 square feet of living space.

Buyers paid the asking price of $895,000 for November's top-selling condo, a two-bedroom, one-bath unit with two-car parking and 1,400 square feet. The condo is located in the 100 block of 28th Street, between Dolores and Church streets.

For those who think the only way they can purchase a home in Downtown Noe Valley is by winning the lottery, here's a teaser. In November, a buyer paid $324,000, a relative pittance, for a condo on 24th Street between Noe and Sanchez streets. To be sure, the condo has only 445 square feet and no parking.

Still, "that's the lowest price I can remember in quite a while," said Kostick.

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 2008 6 $885,000 $1,500,000 $1,219,833 75 99%
November 2008 7 $1,000,000 $5,818,000 $1,921,143 32 95%
December 2007 4 $1,450,000 $1,700,000 $1,536,500 35 103%
November 2007 7 $900,000 $2,350,000 $1,572,157 42 99%
December 2008 4 $650,000 $1,198,000 $869,500 76 98%
November 2008 2 $324,000 $895,000 $609,500 91 94%
December 2007 4 $725,000 $1,150,000 $974,500 38 100%
November 2007 5 $642,500 $1,987,500 $1,100,900 32 106%
2 to 4 unit buildings
December 2008 0 - - - - -
November 2008 3 $1,050,000 $1,360,000 $1,195,000 64 100%
December 2007 4 $899,900 $1,501,000 $1,239,275 39 99%
November 2007 4 $899,000 $2,350,000 $1,437,250 29 95%
5+ unit buildings
December 2008 1 $1,960,000 $1,960,000 $1,960,000 197 96%
November 2008 0 - - - - -
December 2007 0 - - - - -
November 2007 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.

Noe Valley Rents**
Type of Unit Number in Sample Range of Rents, January 2009 Average Rent, January 2009 Average Rent, November 2008 Average Rent, January 2008
Studio 10 $1100-$1850 $1429 $1439 $1375
1 bedroom 27 $1400-$2650 $1880 $2119 $1865
2 bedrooms 43 $1899-$4200 $2972 $3085 $2809
3 bedrooms 15 $2495-$5950 $4086 $4462 $4088
4+ bedrooms 10 $4400-$8500 $6759 $6253 $7106

**These rent averages are based on a sample of 106 Noe Valley rental listings appearing on from December 23, 2008, to January 9, 2009.