I want to sell my condo.

Asked by Darwin, Diamond Heights, San Francisco, CA Thu Apr 23, 2009

I have a condo up on Diamond Heights.I don't live in the city anymore (overseas on assignment). My questions are:

How is the market in SFO in general. Truthfully, I have been out of touch on SFO market especially Diamond Heights area. Was it hit hard by recent recession?

-Let me know what kind of price I can fetch for a 1 bdroom condo up on Diamond Heights? My unit is one bdroom with an awesome/panoramic view of the east bay unobstructed. Around 700 sq. ft.

-Also, for rental what can one fetch given my unit has a great panoramic view of the east !

Hope all is well. I love to hear your comments.

Mr. Tu

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Danielle Laz…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat Apr 25, 2009
Hi Mr. Tu,

I firmly believe that whether or not it is a good time to sell or buy property depends on your individual situation rather than outside market forces. Of course, one must factor market conditions into the equation but ultimately, the decision is based on your own needs.

The good news is that San Francisco real estate is faring better than most communities nationwide and many folks are successfully selling and buying property.

Right now, condo financing is tough and often requires a minimum of 15% down payment from the buyer. This has softened the market quite a bit.

However, Diamond Heights Village is on the list of condo complexes that are pre-approved for FHA home loans with super low down payment requirements (starting at 3.5% and up).

The ability to use FHA home loans makes it SO much easier for you to successfully sell your condo. This aspect should not be under-estimated.

Right now, there is very little inventory in Diamond Heights: a good thing!

Sales of Diamond Heights 1 bedroom condos since January 2008 have ranged from $217,845 (for a special "Below Market Rate" unit) to $500,000 for an 830 square foot unit with views. There have been 9 sales.

(Note: Normally, I would only look at the past 90 days but since the inventory is so low I want to see a bigger picture. We'd have to adjust for current conditions but this can give you a sense.)

There are a lot of other factors involved in the process. To get into the details and see what makes the most sense for you, we'd need to speak offline with zero pressure or obligation. Properly priced and presented properties are selling in today's market.

Warm regards,

Danielle Lazier, San Francisco Realtor
Zephyr Real Estate
415.731.5000 x158
danielle (at) zephyrsf.com
0 votes
Cheryl Bower, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 23, 2009
Hi Darwin,

You’ve received a number of valid points. As has been mentioned, there is limited sales data for 1 bedrooms & it’s impossible to determine property value without seeing a property.

Hopefully, you’ve owned your condo for 5+ years and have equity in the property. Otherwise, the numbers may not make sense if you decide to sell after commissions & other sales expenses are factored in.

If you think there is the possibility that you will return to S.F., your best option could be to hold onto your condo as a rental. That is correct, rental prices are somewhat soft but as is typical there is very limited pet friendly rental inventory. This has been a great niche market for myself & my clients.

In my 10+ years of leasing, I’ve never had to withhold a portion of the security deposit due to pet damage. I believe your complex allows 1 pet up to 25 pounds. If so & if you’re open to the approach of renting to someone with a cat or dog, it will result in a higher rent than units that don't allow pets and less vacancy time.

Currently on Craigslist for the Diamond Heights/Twin Peaks area there are only 5 rentals that are under $1800/mo which allow cats & 3 of these allow dogs. My rental property has predominantly been filled with dog owners for the last 10+ years.

To further illustrate this demand, I just had two vacancies at my Glen Park property mid-March both of which were leased fairly quickly (within 1 & 3 showings) to dog owners. One unit had a rent increase & one unit had a small decrease; I offered no rent concessions either.

There is a link below to my blog for additional rental strategies:


Another detail: condos are not under rent increase limits so when the rental market rebounds there is the potential to increase the rent to market rates by giving a tenant the appropriate 30-60 days notice.

As for the sale approach, the recent trend is that the most active segment of the sales market are for properties under the $700K price point. Financing is a lot easier below this limit, rates are lower & first time buyers who had been priced out of the market for the last several years now have an opportunity to buy.

I hope this is helpful information.

Best wishes!

Cheryl Bower, Realtor , GRI, ABR
Zephyr Real Estate
Cell 415.999.3450
Web Reference:  http://www.sfbungalow.com/
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 23, 2009

The market in general is all over the place. Recently we held open houses in two different parts of the city. One had 8 visitors, the other over 100. Properly priced properties in the right areas still can obtain multiple over ask offers, while others can languish on the market.

First regarding your rental. The best resource to see what current rents are in my view is craigslist. Although there was one 1BR that was asking $2K per month, most of them were in the $1500 range. Some claimed great views. In the end it's what the market will bare, but rent prices have softened up citywide over the last year. Here’s a link to the search we ran - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/apa/sfc?query=&minAsk…

In order to determine a realistic offer price we visit all comparable properties and then adjust up or down accordingly. We take into account views, unit size & layout, property condition, HOA fees, amenities, location, traffic noise, upper or lower unit, grade of appliances, and fixtures as these all play a huge role in pricing. Then we look at solds, pendings, and expired/withdrawns, and finally have a discussion with the seller about what their goals are before determining a final suggested offer price.

In your case it's difficult to even give you a realistic idea because there are currently no active listings. Additionally, when you look at comps for sales in Diamond Hts 1 BR's there isn't enough data to give you a solid price. Looking at all statuses, there were five 1 BR's ranging between 682 - 744 sq ft that were listed between $399K - $479K, but none of those sold (expired or withdrawn). There were 2 solds, but one was a short sale and the other was part of the Mayor's office of Housing Moderate income Housing Program. Because of this the price per sq ft doesn't really mean a lot, but since you asked - the listing price averaged out at $576 per sq ft. Average sold price per sq ft was $461, but again these numbers are based upon low income and short sale properties.

If/when you decide you want to take a serious look at selling, because of the market conditions it is imperative that your representative has a solid and imaginative plan for selling your property that includes a lot more than sticking it on the MLS. I would talk to a few reputable agents/brokers and ask them about their plan and make sure they have a solid feel for what's going on in that area.


Lance King/Managing Broker
0 votes
Peter Brunton, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 23, 2009
Hi Darwin,

Like Arrian said, there are a lot of variables in pricing a property accurately. Views, amount of hoa fees, views in comparison to like kind properties, etc. all make a difference. That being said, the Diamond Heights area does appear to be showing some weakness in both the resale and rental market. San Francisco should always have a high demand rental market, but right now a lot of landlords are giving promotions/specials on their units because of the economy. If you look at the Avalon in Diamond Heights, they are offering extremely low security deposits and other specials in order to attract tenants. This wasn't true a few years ago.

Feel free to contact me at peter_brunton@yahoo.com if you have any questions about selling and the rental market in general.
0 votes
The Binnings…, , San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 23, 2009
Hi Darwin,

The SFO market showed resilience for quite a while but then rapidly declined, making up for lost time so to speak. The rapid decline began around mid-2008, while other markets around the nation were declining as early as 2006. As as potential seller, this of course is not good news.

The Diamond Heights area has only had 6 condo sales in the last six months, 3 of which were either distressed sales or BMR (below market rate) units provided by the Mayor's office. So out of the six sales we really only have 3 indicators of market value in the area. What's worse is that six months is an eternity in this market - as it has been changing so rapidly.

If you just look at the price per square foot metric, the most recent sales indicate around $500-$525/square foot. As far as appraising your condo over the Web, well, I'm sure you know that just can't happen. There are too many variables and each home presents a unique set of circumstances. It really would require a visit to the property to learn as much as possible about its attributes - both positive and negative. Only then could an accurate value be determined, both for a potential sale or a tenant-occupied scenario.

Spring and early summer are perhaps the best times of the year to be a seller but there is no doubt that Diamond Heights has experienced similar drops as the rest of the City.

I hope this helps and if we can arrange to see your place in person, more detailed answers to your questions would be possible.

Web Reference:  http://www.binningsteam.com
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