San Francisco Schools Ranking – Under-Appreciated Excellence

920x920Go into any San Francisco coffee shop full of people with strollers and you will hear them lamenting the public schools and talking about how they might move out of San Francisco to get into a “good school district.”

The latest US News & World Report rankings placed four of the top 30 high schools in the Bay Area in San Francisco Unified School District. Lowell, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, Lincoln and Washington High Schools all made the list. Lowell is rated #3 in the state and the schools it is behind are much, much smaller. San Francisco, in fact, has to keep making Lowell bigger because there are so many motivated, qualified kids trying to get in. It’s currently up to 2,700 of the hardest working kids you’ve ever seen.

Read the article here.

You’ll be surprised who is and isn’t on the list. Piedmont, so famous for it’s schools it’s often in divorce decrees that a parent live there, isn’t in the top 30.

You might say, “But that’s high school – I have five year old and the elementary schools are awful. The process is awful. You can’t tell where you are going to go.”

With this end result, how could one conclude that the elementary schools are no good? There are 77 public elementary schools and the vast majority of these college ready, amazing high school kids came up entirely through SFUSD! Sure a few independent school and parochial school kids opt in at 9th grade, but it’s a minority. The thing that scares parents away from SFUSD – the lottery system – is one of it’s strengths. You can find the right school for your kids if you just trust the system. You will be in a diverse environment and have lots of choices (Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Italian or Filipino language pathways for example). It is not comfortable not knowing exactly where you are going to end up, but families seem to end up at the right schools in the end.

I am proud to be a San Franciscan, proud to be a SFUSD parent and exceedingly proud to have represented so many San Francisco teachers in the purchase of their homes. I am thrilled to help keep these teachers in SF and am grateful for their contribution to our city. Being a great city – not just a 20s/30s party town – requires great public schools. We have them, and I am so happy to see them acknowledged. read more →

Value of a 2nd bath


Some clients considering remodeling asked me yesterday to evaluate the value of 2nd bathrooms versus 1 1/2 baths versus just one bath. I hadn’t quantified it in a while so I didn’t have a calculation off hand. I pulled all the sales of two bedroom condos in District 7 (Cow Hollow/Pac Heights, etc.) because of the volume of sales created a big enough pool to get some meaningful averages.

Here is what I found for 3/11/16 to 9/11/16:

2 bedrooms/1 bath: 6 sales, average price: 1058k
2 bedroom/1.5 bath: 2 sales, average price: 1,272k or + 20.2%
2 bedroom/2 bath: 44 sales!, average price: 1,487k or + 16.9%

It appears that, at any San Francisco price point, the value of a 2nd bath justifies putting it in. In the case of District 7, the value may be more than 4x the maximum cost I can imagine for installation. Another way of looking at it, is that it appears that each 1/2 of a bath is worth approximately 200k in district 7. That is a huge increase in value.

To be completely fair, places with 2 baths are on average a bit more re-done generally so they may be higher in value for that reason as well. But with this many sales being used for the calculation, it seems to me that the bath itself is to be credited for a lot of the value differential. Even if we cut the overall increase in value in half, the increase between 1 bath and two is just under 20%. Still very worth doing from a value – and probably from a lifestyle – perspective.

Call the plumber! And let me know if you need to know who to call! read more →

Sold: 707 Guerrero #2

1-707guerrero2-extSold for $1,525,000
Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2

(more…) read more →

110 15th Avenue


This home should serve as a caution to anyone considering radically modernizing a period home. While updating a home to a “au courant” style can be fun at first, over time I find that the home is served better with a less is more approach. This home has stunning floors (under the wall-to-wall), great space, floorplan and location going for it. But the 1960s demanded tribute of all other period details – moldings, fireplace, built-ins are all gone.

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August 2016 – The Shift Has Started

At last week’s Keller Williams Mega Camp in Austin, Texas, Co-Founder and Chairman Gary Keller focused heavily on the Shift that is beginning in the real estate market and how sellers, buyers and agents must be preparing for it.

What’s the Shift? It’s the inevitable cyclicality of the real estate sales market. It is the constant tide flowing from a sellers market to a balanced market to a buyers market to a balanced market and back to a sellers market.

In San Francisco and the Bay Area, we have been in a strong sellers market for the past three years. This year in San Francisco, single family home median prices peaked in February at $1,390,000 and have been trending down since then, currently at $1,335,000 in July. In a normal buying season, median price peaks in June or July (as it did in the past three years).

198 single family homes sold in July, down sharply from June’s 245, and also the lowest number of July sales in four years.

In the Condo/Loft market, median price has been bouncing around $1.1M for the past 16 months. This June’s $1,162,500 was the top so far (a fraction above last June’s $1,150,000), but it dropped sharply ($100,000!) in July to $1,062,500. Count on June being the top of the market for this cycle.

Mimicking the falling number of single family home sales, the 220 condo/lofts sold in July was also the lowest number of July sales for the past four years.

How to prepare? When pricing property, sellers and agents should be looking at three sets of data:

  • Past Sales
  • Current Competition
  • Forecasted Trending

Once the market has started shifting, the critical action is to get out ahead of a falling curve. A great question to ask is “How much of the gain from the last three years do you want to give up? Because in a down-trending market, that’s the cost of incorrect pricing – the longer the property is on the market, the more of that gain is lost.


As in June, year-on-year Median Days on Market are up considerably for Resale Condos-Lofts clocking in this month at a 50% increase over July 2015. Likewise, Single Family Homes also continued the upwards trend , at 37% ahead of last July’s number. We still have a strong sellers market, but buyers are shopping more and standing on the sidelines more.

Months Supply of Inventory dropped slightly from June to July for Resale Condos-Lofts and was level for Single Family Homes. It is up, however, year-on-year (see next page for details)


Single Family Homes New Listings dropped by 18 from June to July, 2016 and is also down 124 year-to-date from 2015.

Resale Condos/Lofts is also down year-to-date, with 76, or 4.4%, fewer new listings in 2016 than 2015.


Why Months of Inventory is Rising:

Single Family homes have had 115 fewer sales in 2016 than 2015, while the number of new homes on the market has also fallen, but only by 124. Likewise, Resale Condo/Lofts have had 92 fewer sales year-to-date than 2015, while the number of new listings has also fallen, but only by 76.

So, we have a less active sales market, coupled with a slight inventory build up, which leads to a larger months-of-inventory calculation. read more →

Enhancing San Francisco Street Trees Through Friends of the Urban Forest!

San Francisco looks and feels drastically different in many neighborhoods due to the efforts of a single, amazing organization: Friends of the Urban Forest.

I remember in the early 90’s, street trees were few and far between, isolated to the very posh neighborhoods. At that time Noe Valley was not one of them! I will never forget the transformation that took place on my block in Noe Valley, just in one single day. We helped plant a Chinese Elm on Elizabeth Street and later a Plum Tree in front of our home on Fulton.

Now out on 47th Avenue, we are again planting a tree because the tree there has become so old it is at the end of its life and needs to be removed. If the tree had been better maintained, its 25 foot canopy might have been able to survive years longer. This is a very costly endeavor and many property owners might not be able to afford to plant and maintain trees in their neighborhoods. This is where the Friends of the Urban Forest can step in and help keep the trees alive in our city.

You may be asking, who is Friends of the Urban Forest. This is a group that believes in the “green infrastructure” that improves and adds beauty to each of our neighborhoods. Along with all of the benefits that trees add to our ecosystem. Still asking questions, please click here for their full mission statement and available programs.

This fall the Friends of the Urban Forest are spearheading a ballot initiative due to an unanimous vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The best part is, this will not include a tax to the parcel homeowners AND because of that, passing this amazing program will only require a simple majority vote by all our friends and neighbors in the city. This measure will require that the City and County of San Francisco take responsibility for the maintenance of all street trees in the city, the repair of all tree-related sidewalk damages, liability for all trip-and-fall lawsuits due to tree-related sidewalk damage, the maintenance of trees in public schoolyards, AND it will also cover the cost of caring for an additional 50,000 new trees in the coming decades. Due to the hard work and creativity among the members of the Board of Supervisors, all the funding will now be acquired from a set-aside budget. The set-aside budget is a requirement that a specific amount of revenue be spent for a specific purpose each year, and ensures the funds will be used for our urban forest mission.

How can you help to get the word out and pass this along? You can join a committee that is sponsored by the Friends of the Urban Forest called the Coalition for Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks. Or, check out their website to learn more about volunteering, adopting a tree and support efforts of this great community program.

Painting by friend and client, Myriam Mardinian

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I’m at the building department this morning pulling a permit for my mini-remodel at the new house and I saw this.

Ever wonder what is happening or likely to happen with surrounding properties? The answers are all here! Perfect for data junkies and busybodies and people who wonder what’s possible. Check it out!
Other news from the building department. Our house on Fulton has been reclassified as a Class A historic resource because it is part of the NOPA Historic District. You can look up your house here:

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