How Long do Things Last?

March 17, 2008

Hello My Favorite People:

This issue includes:

1.  A short market update

2.  An article on how long you can expect different components of your home to last

3.  Paragon’s upcoming and pocket listings.


Market Report:  

The last two weeks on the market here are sales figures:

  • Single Family Homes:  26 over ask, 30 under ask and 14 @
  • Condos/TICs:  25 over ask, 36 under ask and  15@.  Note:  the under asks were concentrated in larger buildings…most of the overs were in 2 to 3 unit buildings.
  • 2-4 Units:  6 over ask, 6 under ask and 1 @

What does this mean?   Well, two years ago, the first like would have been more like 65 over ask, 15 under ask and 10@, so it is showing a lower volume and that buyers have more negotiating power, but it still indicates a strong market for sellers, particuarly if the property is very well prepared and agressively marketed.  It also shows a market that has slowed a bit in terms of volume, but from such a crazy peak that it is still quite active.  If you’d like info about how to prepare and market your home to be one of the “over asks,” just give me a call or shoot me an email.

And a word about our lovely mortgage market.  Any of you who are out there looking at loans these days know that a) rates are very volitile right now, and b) it’s very hard to get any loan over $417k with a reasonable rate.  I think the change in conforming loan limits that will be put into practice starting April 1 will affect this dramatically .  This change will create a secondary market for many loans that would previously have been either securitized or held in a bank’s own portfolio and will therefore free up some cash for banks to loan out in less liquid products.  Is this all greek to you?  I would be happy to explain if you really want to hear all my theories – just call or email. But if what you want is to know when this is all going to end, the answer is we don’t know exactly, but there should be some relief on the way in the next 4 weeks or so.  I don’t expect it to be immediate after April 1, because it will take some period of time for the new liquidity to filter down to the consumer level.

How Long Does Stuff Last? (article courtesy of Cece Blase)

One of our managers recently passed out a report by the National Association of Home Builders and BofA entitled Study of the Life Expectancy of Home Components. That sounded like a big yawn to me at first, but once I dug into it, I found some surprises and interesting tidbits.  

So here’s how long some of our stuff is supposed to last–

Appliances:  When my sister and I were teenagers, we used to open and shut the refrigerator door over and over, hoping that there would somehow be something different inside. Eventually our mother would go a little buggy and yell, “Each time you do that is one less time it’s going to open!” Â We probably shortened our refrigerator’s life expectancy of 13 years. . .

Dryers also give out after about 13 years. And the shortest lifespans belong to the compactors (6 years), dishwashers (9 years) and microwave ovens (9 years). Â Gas stoves have the longest lifespan—about 15 years. No mention was made of toaster ovens– probably because those suckers last f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Cabinetry and Storage:  Kitchen cabinets are expected to last 50 years— that’s long enough for them to look cool, then ugly, then cool again.  Medicine cabinets can hang in there for 20 years, which is unfortunate because they get a cruddy look about them after a few years of hard use.

Countertops: Natural stone can last a lifetime. Cultured marble countertops (think bathroom, not kitchen) can go about 20 years. I looked up Cesarstone– my new favorite counter material. The warranty only lasts 10 years.  I also dug around for info on how long green alternatives last, but all I learned is that PaperStone and glass composite countertops have ‘lifespans comparable to standard countertop material.’

Decks: It depends on region, but under ideal conditions decks last about 20 years.  I dread a  deck inspection when I sell a house because it’s alwys a hotspot for its exposure to wet leads to inevitable dry rot. Again, think green and check out Trex Decks.

Doors: Your exterior wood door will last as long as your house. Vinyl doors are only good for 20 years, which I think is kind of weird because vinyl is supposed to be more weather and water resistant. Maybe the framing warps or cracks?

Sinks and Faucets: Kitchen sinks made of modified acrylic (like Swanstone) will last 50 years. Kitchen faucets can go about 15 years. Showerheads last a lifetime and whirlpool tubs can go 20-50 years, depending on use.

Heat: Furnaces last 15-20 years. Standard water heaters give out after about 10 years. Â Tankless water heaters go more than 20. I love tankless water heaters, but am told that it can be difficult to retrofit our older homes for them.  

Roofing: If you want your roof to last more than 50 years, go for slate, copper or clay/concrete. Asphalt shingles last about 20 years. Fiber cement shingles can go 25 and wood shake can hang in there for about 30 years.

I have a copy of the complete report in pdf. Email me if you want one.


Upcoming Listings.  This is advance notice of things Paragon either has coming on the market or are off market “pocket listings.”  If you see anything that piques your interest or that of a friend, I’d be happy to get you in early for a private showing:

$759,000  /  241 Carl        BR/BA: 2/1.5     / PKG:    0     /  33.33% TIC sunny Edwardian flat  I WILL BE HOLDING THIS OPEN SUNDAY 3/16, 2 to 4 p.m.  Please stop by if you’re around!
$1,675,000/ Noe Valley /  3BR 3.5 bath/ house-like condo, on 2 levels, over 3,100 SF. Open Sunday 2-4.
$1,049,000 / Potrero Hill/ 3BR/3.5BA/1PKG  Sweeping Bay views from atop Potrero Hill! High ceilings w/curved timber detailing. Hdwd/carpet, and hi-end finishes throughout. Granite in kitchen/baths. Decks off main living and bedrms. Roof deck off the Master suite. Shared elevator with the adjacent unit.

$995,000/ Nob Hill/  2BR/ 1 bath, garage pkg.  To-the-studs renovated TIC in a free-standing Victorian 3 unit.  Private yard, over 1,250 SF.  Seller will finance till conversion, which will be in about a year.  

$859,000   / Twin Peaks/ BR/BA:  2/2    PKG:  1    Description:  Top Floor gorgeous VIEW unit on a quiet Upper Market cul-de-sac.  Very sophisticated redmodeled kitchen & baths. In-unit Laundry. Deck.     

$639,000, South Beach/ 1+ BR/ 1 bath.  Extremely large 1BR Portside condo, over 920 SF, with study, HW flrs and private deck.  

469,000 / Lower Pacific Heights/  Charming, bright, top floor studio condo with sleeping alcove in 12-unit bldg, overlooking garden with panoramic downtown views.

Price Reduction:

New Price: 1,795,000/ Old prices: 1,835,000 / Eureka Valley / 4654-56 18th St.  BR/BA: 4/4.5     PKG: 1/1 Grand home w/apt.


Finally, a repeat:  Save the Date

Do you ever get in discussions about what to call homes you see?  Is it a Queen Anne, an Italianate, a Stick or an Eastlake variant?  Is it an Edwardian or is it a Craftsman?  Is it a Spanish Revival, Eclectic or Colonial?  Sometimes, as we all love our homes and the City, these debates can even get rather heated…
Well, I recently met someone who knows all the differences and, not only that, is good at explaining them in memorable ways.  This brilliant person is San Francisco Architect James Dixon.
Your next question is probably, where can I see James and learn all about it.  The answer is at the Poleng Lounge on Wednesday, April 2 @ 6:30 p.m.  James and I are co-sponsoring an event entitled “San Francisco Residential Architectural Styles.”  There will be a slideshow and Q&A.  Be sure to bring a picture of your house for expert analysis . . . and your friends who need to meet a great Realtor!
Thanks again to friends and associates who continue to send their referrals.  I rely on you to keep the engine of my business going—and am grateful for your support.

See you soon!