The price/ sq ft. numbers are artificially inflated in the recently sold category. There is NO WAY that 313

Asked by Suspicious, Noe Valley, San Francisco, CA Wed May 13, 2009

Duncan is 915 sqft. There is NO WAY that 22 Hoffman is 1250 sqft. There is NO WAY that 731 Douglass is 1175 sqft. JUST LOOK AT THE PHOTOS! So what's going on here? My theory is that they are listing the square footage of the downstairs, one bedroom, nanny units. Please address this question!!

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Mike Ackerman…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu May 14, 2009
Good Morning Suspicious!

Did you get a chance to view any of these beautiful homes? If not you missed some beautifully finishes and grand spaces. I certainly share in your frustration on square footage reporting, but that's because the SF DBI (Dept of Bldg Insp) and the Assessor's office haven't updated their files yet and the new numbers not unlike the TARP funds haven't really trickled down the system yet...

Perhaps you can help explain the obsession people have with price per square feet? I've always looked at It is a rough estimator of value, having many more factors than a simple number could ever represent. Have you ever known anyone to buy a car simply on its MPG rating? It's simply a number which *may* give an indication gas and mileage; however I don't think it's ever dissuaded someone from buying a Hummer. Price per Sq Ft never takes into account finishes, location, views and floor plan.

BTW If you're frustrated about square footage reporting, please direct that towards the reporting system and the Assessor's office. They get the numbers from DBI and then it sits on somebody's desk from there it slowly filters through the system.

These were all gorgeous homes and those happy home buyers certainly didn't peg their hopes, dreams or lifestyle solely on a price per square foot, so tell me what is your obsession with this number? }:-)

22 Hoffman:…

731 Douglass…

313 Duncan…

Mike Ackerman
Zephyr Real Estate Noe Valley Office
Web Reference:
2 votes
Smarterthana…, Home Buyer, Berkeley, CA
Tue Aug 24, 2010
How many sellers under estimate their sq footage? Its a ethical question.........The obsession with "cost" (buyer perspective) per sq foot is that it provides a quantitative method of performing comparable analysis. From the sellers perspective, "Price" per sq foot provides a baseline in which to "price" their property. In this buyers market cost per sq foot means everything. The most important part of performing a comparable analysis is that old cliche "comparing apples to apples." Qualitative analysis such as valuing a view is a great way to price in a premium from the sellers perspective. I personally think from a buyers perspective paying premium in this market for a view is not the way most people are thinking right now.
0 votes
Laura Lambert, , San Francisco, CA
Thu May 14, 2009
I checked the city records for these properties and you are correct that they seem only to be including one level. It is not unusual to find that these records are not up to date (that's why it's good to consult a real estate professional).

Here's what the city records show:

313 Duncan: 919 SF for 1 story only (lot size 3,001 SF).
22 Hoffman: 1,250 SF for 1 story only (lot size 2,648 SF).
731 Douglass: 2,689 SF but record says it is only 1 story and it has to be more since structure is larger than the lot! (lot size 1,341 SF).

Make sure your agent checks the 3R report for anything you want to purchase so you know that any additions were legally permitted. Good luck - right now is a good time to be a buyer in the market.

Laura Lambert
The Azari Group
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0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu May 14, 2009

This is a perfect example of why any source of information that is based soley on tax records is unreliable as they can be anything from accurate to way off. That's why you need too visit properties. It's very frustrating for us professionals as well, especially when the square footage isn't listed at all.

And Jed is correct about sq footage not being an exact science. Some sources include stairwells and walls. For example, one client was buying a property that showed 1507 sq ft in the MLS remarks but only 1385 in the condo map. From my perspective to knowingly include non-usable space such as stairs and walls in the square footage number is ridiculous and a gross misrepresentation of the property, yet it is still done.

Foregoing aside, even if all the properties had accurate square footage using the same criteria, when viewing a number of properties you're going to come up with an average price. This is not really a useful number in San Francisco where there are massive differences in building age, condition, views, proximity to projects, traffic noise, proximtity to public transportation, legal issues, etc...

The best thing you can do is make sure you have a representative who is knowledgeable about all these issues.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Managing Broker
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Thu May 14, 2009
When most agents place the square footage number we use and referance another source. Look for key words such as "per tax records" or "per appraisal". Brokerages have been sued for false advertising when the agents and therefore the brokerage states a number without naming the source.
Most people don't realize it but square footage is not an exact number. Two different appraisers can come up with different numbers.
If the rooms down, "nanny rooms" were added with permit they would be on the tax records. Look for the reference, if it isn't there have your agent ask the listing agent where the number came from.
Also be aware of the use of wide angle lenses and the difference the lack of use will have on a photo.
Suspicion should become infomred and it's no problem at all if an agent asks me a question becasue I have taken an oath as a Realtor to treat every party of a transaction with honesty and openness.
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