From the listing: “The existing home is very small and is uninhabitable and without much merit.” And while the price per square foot ($1,649) is sure to send some into seizures, just remember, “you’re buying the lot.”
Of course you’ll have to tear it down in order to build it back up (and hope that nobody objects). And from a tongue in cheek tipster, “[f]or $950,000 [you think] they could have done some staging…”:

∙ Listing: 4027-4033 26th Street (1/1) – $950,000 [MLS]

87 thoughts on “JustQuotes: There’s Always One On (Almost) Every Block”
  1. If you’re really paying for the lot and it doesn’t matter what the house on top is like then price should correllate with lot size. It would be interesting to see if that was really true in the data.

  2. This house has lots of merit — for the right person. But the price is absurd. Someone is so still living in ’05.

  3. So at 950000 for .065 acres that means that land in SF is worth $14.5M/acre. Does that sound about right to people?

  4. In many other ‘hoods this intact facaded house would never be permitted to be torn down. But, driving around 26th Rich. or Sunset — apparently anything goes. This is a lovely, if simple facade & it would be a shame to see it replaced with the cheapeast plywood-sided, plastic-windowed crap which mars street after street in the Rich & Sunset.

  5. Sure, diemos, don’t you know? The land under SF is worth more than the total value of all the land in Japan, and One Rincon Hill is worth more than the whole Forbidden City in China.
    For those of us who were out of grade school by the late 1980s, I guess the circle of life goes on…..

  6. Invented – if this POS has a “lovely” facade, can you give me an example of an ugly facade? Anyone foolish enough to pay almost $1M for this mess should have the absolute right to nuke the structure if they want. San Francisco is insane.

  7. This has to be a joke. There’s what appears to be a very nice 4 BR house on the market just 1 1/2 blocks to the east on Cesar Chavez for $1.8M (which itself appears to be grossly overpriced — sold for $925K in March ’06) and a 5BR house about 6 blocks west on Hoffman in a better part of the neighborhood for $1.3M. Who in their right mind would even pay 1/4 of what they are asking for this dump that they then need to tear down (making the big assumption that the city permits it), then spend another $600,000 to build a pretty tiny place that you might be able to move into in about 2-3 years if you’re lucky?

  8. The price is way off. A house on a similar lot but in much better condition in the same neighborhood sold for about 800k within the last 9 months. All it needed was a new foundation, a new kitchen and a new bath. It was also not scary at all like this place. What could these people be thinking?

  9. Who abandons houses these days in SF? I mean this isn’t exactly Detroit…not yet at least! This is a teardown…forget the gorgeous Sunset “facade”. This thing has to be full of dry rot and termites.

  10. I just drove by this place yesterday… There are a lot of these homes in Noe Valley for some reason. Demo permits are difficult, but not impossible. You could easily build three condos on the site each priced from 800k+. So I really don’t think the price is that unrealistic.

  11. Twenty sixth and Sanchez is a pretty desirable location and this is in no way a small lot. It’s 25 X 114, it already has a garage, and the yard faces south. Yeah, they might have to keep the facade. But even if they do, most developers would try go outside the envelope and build a large scale home. All things being equal to today’s market, that could be worth the high 2’s. After a two year hold that would pencil in for a decent return.

  12. Noe used to have a lot of these. It still has a fair amount. But they’re running out. Are they abandoned, or were they long inhabited by older folks and then families who can’t agree on anything?

  13. A quick analysis gives me a 14% unleveraged return. And I’m usually fairly conservative. This assumes one year to get permits, one year for construction, $400 psf in construction costs, and a sale price of $700 psf.
    Throw some debt on it and you’re getting returns in the mid to high 20’s.

  14. good luck demoing.
    planning will see this as a historic resource and the facade will have to be rebuilt in kind.
    just the state of this backwards city.

  15. If you’re selling the neighborhood and lot rather than the house, I think you should show pictures of the neighborhood and lot rather than the house. What’s the point of half a dozen pictures of the interior of a tear-down?

  16. will_h – in your analysis, what is total finished square footage? At 2,500 sf, your construction costs will total $1M (@ $400 psf). So your total costs would be well over $2M. You would need a sale price over $800 psf just to come close to breaking even. Maybe if you built out to 3,500 – 4,000 sf the economics would look better (or if you could build at less than $400 psf), but it seems like a pretty thin proposition when the land costs are $300 – $400 psf before you even get started.

  17. diemos, $10m/acre+ is common in the city & Noe is a premium area. . . . check out 1644 diamond at $949,000 for 1929 sqft – or $21million / acre.

  18. There is a building in my neighborhood, the Haight-Ashbury, at the corner of Waller and Downey that has been empty since I moved here in 1979. Except for regular and mysterious removal of flyers and free newspapers from the front porch, I have never seen signs of any activity. A very large and imposing 3 flat Italianate with 4 or more garages wandering up Downey, it looked threadbare like the subject of this post until they re-roofed and re-painted it in 2006. After taping fresh paper over the windows, it remains empty to this day.

  19. in any reasonable city we could decide if this building would pencil out. but SF is not a reasonable city.
    only God would know what hoops you’ll have to jump through to renovate or tear down this house.
    the risks are just too darn high, and the planning process is too long.

  20. I wonder if you could make a little extra cash for Christmas starting mysterious fires in these buildings. That oughtta add about $100k to the selling price…

  21. Is this an abandoned attempt at an intended remodel at some point? I mean, from the mess in the bathroom, it looks like that stuff was torn down. A property doesn’t just fall apart like this on its own … or does it?

  22. A quick question. Were any of you guys doing the math the same people talking about how nice of a Sunset or Richmond facade it was? If so, um, thanks?
    Just checking.
    $400 a foot construction? $700 a foot for new, on the backside? Yeah. Those are very conservative numbers. Try $250 and $850. I work with contractors all the time. They quote 200 to 300 typically. And nice, finished, and new, in a good Noe location, is 800 to 900 a foot.
    Before all you bears start growling, look at nice and new, and large, in Noe. The past four months only. I really only see one house similar to the possible build that this one projects
    out as. That’s the 27th street property, sold during the biggest scare so far.
    I’m not saying this is a good deal. Far from it. I’m saying that all things being equal to this moment in time, for the right contractor, this pencils in. End users should shy away. Unless they plan on occupying it forever.

  23. I find it fascinating that in a city of million dollar homes and expensive condos and buildings, we even have dumps like this in the first place. How long does it take for a place like this to become this crappy? Why didn’t any of the owner(s) just sell it when it was at least habitable and take the cash and run?
    What’s really amazing is that despite the value of the land, the cost of rehabbing or demolishing it is also so high, we’ll have this piece of crap taking up space in SF . All the smart people and all the rich people in the world can’t seem to find a way to get this thing fixed, burned to the ground, or made useful.
    says a lot, actually.

  24. Let’s validate my math.
    $400 psf includes hard and soft costs AND demolition, but not interest. Conservative? Maybe, but who knows where construction costs will be in a year and throw in some fat for the cost of development in SF.
    Sale prices of $700 psf in two/three years is reasonable. You can’t project $850 psf with strong confidence in this market, particularly 2-3 years out. Conservative? Probably.
    The amount of square footage is based on the 1.8 FAR for the RH2 zoning. At a lot size of 25×114, this comes out to over 5,000 sf of buildable space.
    Land costs: $1 million
    Construction costs: $2 million
    Sale price: $3.5 million
    That’s an UNLEVERED return of 13.7% using semi-conservative numbers. Egg nogg or not, the numbers don’t lie.
    I’m not at all saying this is a slam dunk. If it was, I’d have an LOI out 2 hours ago.

  25. That’s part of the joy of private property njudah. Most people are sane and reasonable but there’s a fraction of the population who are nuts, and some of them own property.

  26. First off, urban land is not priced by the acre – that metric is used for unimproved subdivision land. In-fill urban lots are based upon a price per unit, not price per square foot as you can go four to five stories up typically. The real question here is if you can tear it down or not – and truthfully unless you have gone through the process to get a Soundness Report and a demolition permit, you don’t know either way. So, you are either buying a house that you can’t tear down but can remodel or you are buying a three unit lot (assuming it is zoned RH-3) that you have to wait 18-24 months until you can do anything on it. Typically you can’t add additional units on an existing house due to parking issues, but you might be able to if the configuration is right. As for you price per square foot and investment analysis – first of all, you don’t know what you can do on the property and secondly, renovation and remodeling costs do not fall into a simple price per square foot box – they are all over the place depending on what is there. These types of properties are usually fairly profitable to redevelop, but they are anything but a simple slam dunk.

  27. OK. You use your figures, I’ll use mine.
    Mine go like this: land cost 950K. Construction cost 750K. Holding costs 175K. Staging 10K. Transfer tax 18.175K. Realtors 62.5K. Sales price $2.5M.
    That should work out to a 500K profit.
    Because let’s assume they put 190 down to purchase. They finance the construction with hard money at 15 % apr — highway robbery, costing 225K. Out of pocket They are 190+225+175+10 = 600. (Realtors and transfer tax are not out of pocket.)
    It’s 500 pre tax, on 600. That’s a good return. Is this the buyer’s “principal residence”? Are they married? Two buyers? If so, the gain is tax free. A flat 500 on 600 in two years.
    Whole lot of risky, risky if’s in there. But somebody out there will think they can do better than what I’ve just illustrated. This one will go, fast.

  28. Both fluj and will_h’s numbers look pretty reasonable for a rough ballpark. They suggest that there is $500K +/- of profit out there for someone willing to take on the effort and risk. Not sure if this reward justifies the risk – but, as fluj points out, we’ll probably see soon if someone takes the plunge.

  29. You’ll need to allow $350/sf for construction costs alone.Full seismic upgrade, foundations, rear addition, third floor addition, high end finishes thruout.

  30. Quote: “I find it fascinating that in a city of million dollar homes and expensive condos and buildings, we even have dumps like this in the first place. How long does it take for a place like this to become this crappy? Why didn’t any of the owner(s) just sell it when it was at least habitable and take the cash and run?”
    I remember that it was about 1984-85 when Herb Caen (a daily newspaper columnist steady from about 1935 to 1995) noted the first residential real estate sale over one million dollars in San Francisco.
    Buildings like this were the norm throughout San Francisco for 95% of the history of the City. The remaining 5% of the history has experienced rapid real estate bubbles that tend to warp our expectations.

  31. $350 for construction is high.
    Have any of you doubting Thomases been throught this process? More than once? More than eight times?

  32. Yep. Been through the process. Try a multiple of eight. However, in internet dollars that’s the equivalent of a night at a Holiday Inn. I would suggest that this property might be worthwhile
    for socketsite to follow.

  33. OK then, I will go against the Socketsite grain and actually take your word for it. But $350 a foot? That’s a really high quote. Of course, everything is site specific. This happens to acutally be a pretty flat I think. I doubt foundation work will be crippling.

  34. Fluj,
    I agree with your sentiment, though $250/ft is really hard. It requires using non unionized labor and cutting corners left and right.
    noearch alone will cost you $30-$40/sqft.
    The reality is that all those buildings recently sold for the 2.5M-2.7M range came through acquisitions of “land” in the 900K-1.1M range. So people could make it work, though I agree that it is getting much tougher.
    Either way that would be a hard 500K to make.. no free lunch.
    My biggest concern with this place is the windows on the adjoining property they could be a huge roadblock for exapnsion.

  35. In response, as an architect experienced with this type of project. I’m currently having two similar homes in Noe Valley renovated as we speak. Both are similar age and condition.
    Projects were bid by 3 general contractors, based on detailed plans and specs. costs ranged from $295-$400 per sf. Bids selected: $350/sf
    Permit time for 1st house: 16 months; 2nd house: 8 months.Permit fees each house: about $12k.
    Architectural and engineering fees: about $23/sf.
    Oh, by the way: any complaints about the “modest” fees for architect and engineer, think about the outrageous real estate commission when they sell. And realtors dont have near the liability an architect or engineer has. Thankyou.

  36. I wouldn’t begrudge your fees of $23/sf noearch – seems OK to me for a major quality project. So, it looks like you should plan on about $400 psf for construction, engineering and permitting – and then allow at least 2 years for the whole process. The land cost looks like it is at least $300+ per buildable sf. And then you still have the risk of dealing with the Planning Dept and blocking your neighbors windows,etc. But when it’s all done, your property would be worth $800 – 900 psf based on today’s (or maybe yesterday’s) prices. Seems incredibly risky to me as an investment. Maybe if this was your dream address or maybe if you are a contractor with a bunch of idle workers you could make the case for acquiring this property. I agree with fluj and Unowho that this one would be interesting to follow.

  37. Good comments FSBO.. I agree with most. Yes, plan on budgeting about $400/sf for hard and soft costs, as you said.The time frame is rough, I know. Allowing for actual design and engineering time, total project time from hiring the arch to completion and move in can easiy be 3 years. One client hired me in November of 2003. I know..crazy. Planning Dept is very difficult, but not impossible to move thru.
    As for “blocking windows”..views are absolutely not protected by law. If the neighbors windows are on their prop line, you can block their views but may have to set back your new wall 5′ from the prop. line, per the new CA building code.
    Building here in SF is not easy, I agree. But those who persevere, and have patience..and work with experienced people can achieve it.

  38. Duggo, real estate brokerages can have plenty of liability. Puh-LENTY.
    We don’t see a whole lot of union carpenters on residential. Five to six men crews, all union?

  39. One more note: add 4-6 months for a complete Historical Evaluation by the planning dept. most likely they will not allow the front facade to be demolished, as it shouldn’t be.

  40. “Oh, by the way: any complaints about the “modest” fees for architect and engineer, think about the outrageous real estate commission when they sell. And realtors dont have near the liability an architect or engineer has. Thankyou.”
    Noearch, if we architects could have the AIA pound the same power in Washington and elsewhere the way the NAR does, we could all be living like realtors too. I will never understand how realtors have been able to continue 5 and 6% sales commissions.
    As for this house, the fact that so many places like this still exist show how difficult and expensive building is in San Francisco.

  41. Anonarch..
    yes, I would agree completely. We need to keep emphasizing the VALUE of our services and charge accordingly. I turn down clients who want me to cut my fees. I won’t do it.
    Realtors get their fees, I guess, by price fixing..and not giving in to fee reductions. they dont have anywhere near the training and licensing requirements that we have.I’m not saying they don’t perform important services, just think, as many do..they are overpaid.
    I can just see the architect bashing about to begin.:)

  42. @noearch – in addition to keeping your fees high, don’t you also do everything you can to get your places showcased in the magazines? And partner with a realtor with the same affinity for cutthroat self-promotion?
    Maybe you should put some of that energy into lobbying.

  43. Why you always go after realtors as somehow related to the fees architects do or do not command is something I don’t really understand.

  44. Man, whatever. Express an opinion sometime. Stop chasing me around the internet hanging on my every word.
    It’s very easy to criticize and appear informed. It’s even easier to write in a harsh manner.
    Buzz off.

  45. By the way, that Douglass property required an enormous amount of excavation and foundation work and it was not a new build. So it was more than $250 a foot I’m sure.

  46. LOL.
    Thanks “someone”. much appreciated. fees are normal and reasonable for the quality produced.
    I’m not concerned with getting my work published. doesnt matter to me. Client satisfaction is number one.I never “partner” with realtors. I prefer to partner with a good contractor.
    As for realtor fees, I’m sure others would agree with me that they are very high compared to what architects charge. My opinion, thats all.

  47. All this talk of planning commissions and Historical Commissions and whatnot, waiting years for permits etc. etc. when a smoldering cigarette in an old couch will solve all your problems quick as can be.

  48. At least for once the realtor told the truth in the listing. Pretty rare to see language like “unihabitable” or “without much merit.” The interior shots are rather brave too. If the block is “nice” as promised then I would expect more shots of that block than the wasteland of the buildings rotting guts.

  49. People who think this facade is any notch above the threshold of hideous are really outrageous. This is such an ugly facade, most likely one that when built during the early 20th century, neighbors lambasted as the ‘plywood sided’ ticky tacky knock off design just like those in Sunset that we criticize so vehemently today. I say, get rid of it, the sooner, the better !! Build a big aluminum box, it would look better than what is there now.

  50. RE the unoccupied building at Waller and Downey.
    My understanding is that the owners had tenants who trashed their beloved building long ago so they decided never to rent it out again. They love that building and don’t want it ruined by human contact.

  51. If someone follows Jimmy’s “advice” they better do a good job.
    15th and Dolores suffered a fire, was sold and now that wonderful graffiti/meth/heroin addict magnet is a “historic” building.
    If only the planning commission had to buy and maintain the properties they deem historic…

  52. FSBO and noearch – I wouldn’t worry too much about the neighbor’s windows. The large window on the house to the west is a new installation, on the lot line and unpermitted. They certainly can’t complain too loudly.

  53. Windows are a problem, the issues around them can be resolved, but plan to spend alot of time fighting with the city, AND you may still end up with a window that has fire grade wires making your view a little bit ugly. I realize the thread was more concerned with the windows that would be blocked by the new construction. However, a the new construction itself would have windows facing neighbors or walls.
    Also, the commissions are outrageous. If real-estate agents were making 5-6% commission when the average price of real estate was 1/2 of what it is today only a few years ago, what have they done in order to double their salary? I mean besides becoming more cut-throat.

  54. In this case windows are a huge problem, there are four of them facing the area to be developed. dealing with that would be extremely time consuming unless the owner of the west apt bldg is very nice….
    Personally I think the facade is quite charming, but missing all the details, throuble is that the 1st floor is much shorter than other homes of that period, so there is really very little to salvage.

  55. I walked by the property again today. The windows on the uphill property are NOT an issue. Here’s why: As I said before, views from neighboring properties are not protected by law. The windows in question appear to be installed without permits (you can see the new siding)..the existing windows are probably from many many years ago. They can remain.
    The subject property does not REQUIRE windows to be on both property line sides. They may be desireable and are possible with the code two ways: either set them back 5′-0″ from the property line (allowed) or make them fire rated glass (non-operable). The new fire rated glass does not contain wires, as in the old style.
    Of course if the subject property added windows for views on the property lines, those windows could someday be blocked by an upper addition to the property east of them.
    Also, I really think the facade is worth retaining,and probably is protected by the current planning code. It’s a good example of an Italianate cottage, probably built around 1900.

  56. noearch,
    I didn’t say that those windows are protected in any way (both old or newer ones), but I don’t understand how do you say they are a non issue.
    Let’s be specific here. With $400-ish/sqft, selling price of $850 and at least $250K profit for the risk involved, you have to build about 3000 sqft. This would require 3 stories. Let’s say the top floor is set back from the facade so the false front will hide it. With 45% minimum back yard and even the 12′ pop out, you will need to block these uphill property windows. The owner will object and the case will be sent to for a DR. That by itself will waste 3-6 months. At that point, I’m skeptical that the planning department will take a clear side and tell the neighboring property to back off. A more likely scenario is a request for some compromise, say a light well or moving the addition away from the property line.

  57. I didnt either..i said views are NOT protected, referring to a much earlier comment. I’m really not in the business of caring about profits, selling price, etc. That’s for someone else to figure out.
    My interest lies in the architecture of the solution.Maybe it’s a case of words, “semantics”. Yes, the neighboring windows and views will be blocked by a potential 3rd floor addition. So what? And, as I said previously, if windows are desired in the subject property side walls, then they can be set back 5′ anyway. From my exp, the planning dept won’t be influenced by existing, non-conforming illegal windows on the adjacent property.

  58. @garret: a home that is priced below market sells for over asking with numerous offers and i’m supposed to be amazed? you’re right that is lame.

  59. nonanon–
    you’re not supposed to be amazed at all. “blahhh” posted a link. there is a more updated story, so i posted it as i thought he/she would be curious to see it. what is amazing is the fact that the poor conditioned home was grossly mispriced in the first place in this market. where it gets interesting is the agent represented both sides in a situation where there were 28 other offers and agents. hhmmm…

    i’m just sharing info nonanon–no need to get fiesty.

  60. Would a little match flicked onto this mess of a building in the wee hours of the nights followed by a quick romp over to the public phone booth to scream “Help! Fire!” really cause much guilt from a prospective buyer of this lot? Do you think that would make the lot value increase or decrease? What are the odds of somebody catching you and finding out? Seems a lot easier and saves the taxpayers money over the mess you will have to go through with planning dept.

  61. That 26th Avenue home was priced at $629K. The median in that area for $$psgft is $580. This was priced at $534 a foot and it was a fixer. That is not gross mispricing. Rather, it is a gross example of how many 500 to 700K buyers there are in San Francisco. The place had views and the right buyer could actually add equity. But Central Sunset, under 1200 feet, and $629?
    Oh the evil REALTORS. It’s all their fault!

  62. Perhaps a vote on the correct “staging” for this property.
    Option A – paint the whole thing sky blue with clouds, aka “picture this house not here”
    Option B – construct false plywood/fabric facade complete with rendering of a possible new structure
    Option C – painted “chalkboard” grey background with the numbers crunched out right on the existing facade

  63. $950K for ths place does not seem out of line. There was a similar place on 22nd between Valencia and Guerrero (25 x 144 lot with a total decripit house and a historic facade) that sold for a around $900K in late 2005. The central Noe location is probably somewhat more desirable than Valencia Corridor, so asking a bit more seems reasonable. While the market is not as hot as it was in 2005, I don’t think prices in District 5 have actually declined meaningfully, so $950K is probably a reasonable asking price.

  64. Well, of course Fluj is right, because he is in the field working with buyers, and he knows the market – what people are buying and selling, what areas are hot, and what areas are not.

  65. WOW – $935K for this, and in this market??? I know it went for “under” list price and, from the above posts, I can see that there may be some scenario (maybe .001% probability) that the buyer could actually make money – but, come on, someone actually forked over nearly a million dollars for this!!!
    They used to say “only in San Francisco”, now it’s just only in Noe Valley. The bubble lives on in Noe Valley.

  66. Interesting, but I think it only proves that there is an ass for every seat. Socketsite should follow this property for the post-reno listing.

  67. Nope, question was how much the place could bring if reno’d and sold, with the gold jacket crowd confidently claiming an easy $500K. Maybe, maybe not, but as check back next year. BTW, any gain should be in constant dollars-just in case bread costs $6 a loaf in 2009.

  68. Here’s some info the site data document (July 2008) distributed to neighbors of this property. Walters Architects (1299 18th Street, Potrero Hill) has the plan for “remodel and additions.” Specs:
    – project site: 4033 26th St, block 6564, lot 035
    – existing vacant single family dwelling, 1280 s.f., RH-2, 40-x
    5 NR 4 stories – 5 bedroom, 4.5 baths, R-3 single family dwelling, 3850 s.f., remodel and addition; horizonal and vertical
    Propose to raise the existing dwelling 1 story to allow for: new 1st floor, 1137 s.f.: 2 car garage, 2 bedrooms and bath; exterior entry stairs to 2nd floor entry.
    Interior remodel of existing dwelling to include: 2nd floor, 1109 s.f.: greatroom, dining room, and kitchen and new stairway to:
    3rd floor, 1109 s.f.: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and rear roof deck.
    4th floor, 500 s.f.: of 1 bedroom, 1 bath and rear deck.
    Changes to exterior: removal of front entry stairs, relocation of front door and removal of kitchen and bath extension at rear wall.
    Exterior walls: north, east and west to remain as is.

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