549 28th Street
455 27th Street
It’s another reader’s comment (with which we very much agree):

I have been an architect and developer myself for over 25 years and it has been interesting, to say the least, to see so many people jump into the business of building homes. I think they became confused between the profits earned from a rapid escalation run-up brought on by cheap easy financing, and times past when good quality product in good locations sold because of real established value and experience. It will be nice when this market shakes out all of the “developers” and “designers”.

And yes, we’ll let you make the call (right here and now).
∙ Listing: 549 28th Street (4/4) – $2,100,000 [Virtual Tour] [MLS]
∙ Listing: 455 27th Street (4/3.5) – $2,595,000 [Virtual Tour] [MLS]
Could “Priced Right” In Ashbury Heights Be Less Than What Was Paid? [SocketSite]

24 thoughts on “Two Noe Valley Renovations A Block (And A Half Million Dollars) Apart”
  1. I’m not really a fan of either of those homes from the exterior or interior.
    There was a re-model on Douglas a while back that was 5x better than these at around the same price.

  2. Some criticism of the 27th St. property: The kitchen design is mediocre. Why no cabinets over the sink? It’s almost impossible to reach back into that dead end corner cabinet to get access. It doesn’t work well. Why don’t the cabinets go CLEAR to the ceiling? that small space above them is a dust collector. Cheap? yes.The 36″ high island is not very comfortable to sit at with stools. Wrong height for a sit down bar. Island should have been at 2 levels. And why no hanging lights over the island? Again, cheap looking and not very functional. For $2.6m a kitchen should be well designed and this one is not.

  3. Cheap Cheap Cheap. Not the price but rather the kitchen. I agree with Eddy. If you are going to design a kitchen (27th St) don’t be cheap – If you want 2.6M for your developer designed flip then maybe it requires you to take that extra step and put your money where your mouth is. The City already has too many overpriced developer designed flips that require new owners who plan on actually occupying to gut and start all over.
    Granite and stainless steel are today’s linoleum and avacado green of yesteryear.

  4. Obviously developers stick in cheap, functional kitchens thinking the buyers are going to tear it out anyway. So the ugly kitchens don’t really bother me. People’s tastes in kitchens varies so much that it can be counterproductive to spend a lot of money on a really spectacular kitchen.
    Also, once again I pose the question. What other material would you use for your kitchen counter tops other than a stone?

  5. “Obviously developers stick in cheap, functional kitchens thinking the buyers are going to tear it out anyway.”
    So, let me get this straight. $2MM+ for a modest, basically nondescript house, and people are saying that it’s no big deal, because the buyers are just “going to tear it out anyway”.
    No, no bubble here. Move along, move along, nothing to see…

  6. Two comments as an architect here:
    1. A good kitchen should be requisite in a $2m+ house, no questions. That means functional layout, quality cabinets, sufficient cabinets, quality lighting, appliances, flooring and materials. The 27th St. kitchen was just a cheap kitchen knocked out by a greedy developer.
    2. Alternate materials for counters include the following: Solid surface, i.e. corian, zodiace, silstone; stainless steel, plastic laminate, concrete.All valid materials as an alternate to granite.

  7. Went to the open house for 549 28th Street this weekend. Its a nice home, large and has lots of rooms. The decking is nice… the finishes are lovely. There are a LOT of stairs. If you were older and thinking about this home for long term that is a consideration. Personally, with older in laws and parents to consider, this many stairs is an issue.
    Also 1 1/2 blocks away were two more heavy hitters at 1.89 and 1.78 Million 3/3.5 and a 4/4 that were 3 and 4 stories.
    Great views in all the homes, but my goodness those stairs!

  8. I didn’t realize that so many others out there are so sensitive to price = value. I guess I am not the only one to give a chuckle when it comes to seeing some greedy developer flipper stuck with an overpriced – underbuilt flipper. Its too often we see speculators and want to be developers trying to pawn off their bad remodels with expensive staging. Good to see that common sense prevails on this site. You will see the price will go down after a couple of months of mortgage payments and other costs. Remember price right and it will sell. Don’t get greedy.

  9. Thank you Noearch for the info on alternate surface materials.
    What about wood? How do people feel about using a blend of say, wood and a bit of marble?
    Also, I’m getting really tired of the same staging in every home. I mean, the same beds, the same sheets, the same pillows! I’m really over this look.

  10. Good comment, Amazan8. I agree.
    One of my reasons to offer commentary here is to get people to think like an architect when looking at a property. Be very critical, since it is about money..and getting a good value for the price. It does no good to just say the decking is “nice” or the finishes are “lovely”. Look at how the deck drains properly so you don’t end up with leaks soon after and costly repairs. Too many buyers are awestruck by the “fake” staging..and colors. Forget that..Look at the quality of construction, the layout, overall functionality. Ask hard questions to the realtor during the open house. Too often they give very lame answers. Be critical. After all, it’s your money. It may be your next home.

  11. I know I’ll probably get bashed good for this but..I wish, quite frankly, that staging would go away. It’s become a sneaky way to mask or hide many obvious negative attributes to a house. Staging didnt really exist 10 years ago, or earlier. I prefer to see a house with no furniture and not all flashed up with color and crap. Show me the raw house, and it’s much easier to judge it’s qualities and drawbacks. Staging, I feel, is a dumbing down of the potential buyer, by the real estate industry. No one really lives the way a staged house looks anyway.
    As for wood countertops, be careful. Wood is porous. Some wood can be nice, such as a built-in maple butcherblock into an island. but all wood countertops are not a good choice. Think water resistant for long term.

  12. Anyone have any idea as to what might be the problem with the 2 big houses a block or two away from these places on Valley St. (at 501 and 515) that were mentioned above? They both look big and nice, but have been on the MLS for quite a long time and have seen big price drops (down $200k to $1.75M and down $600K to $1.895M). I have not seen them but was just wondering if there was anything in particular that was a problem or if they are just priced higher than the market will support.

  13. Trip, I looked at both Valley properties a couple months ago when each was priced above $2 million. There were a lot of people milling through the open houses. Both seemed nice, but for me neither had any WOW factor. The location is ok, but just a tad far from the “heart of Noe Valley.” There may be other, more specific problems with the properties; I don’t know. But if you’re gonna pay $2m plus, you need a little WOW. I also seem to recall that neither had meaningful outdoor space. Several comparable Noe properties not far away sold for over $2million (a couple way over asking price) during the time that these two properties languished. So, the buyers are out there at this price point, but clearly not for these two properties. I also think that it did not help that they both came on the market at the same time — made each seem somehow less original and a little, well, mass-produced.

  14. Re: the properties on Valley. Both are very mediocre “suburban type” of houses. crappy details, doors, fire escapes off the back walls. The rear yards are only 15′ deep, the code minimum.
    Done by a developer who simply squeezed the max footprint allowed, nothing about quality of materials or spaces. Check out the cheap side exterior exit stair of one of the units; exposed pressure treated lumber, no trim. The windows are also flashed improperly and probably will leak. Total rip-off for the $2m price.

  15. I’ve gotta agree with noearch about the staging. As a buyer, I hate looking at staged properties (and it’s hard to find properties around here that aren’t.) I’d much rather look at an empty home, warts and all… I feel much better when I can actually see what I’m (potentially) getting, and I can better envision how my things might fit in the space.
    As a seller, I hate paying for staging, and fixing the inevitable marks from moving things in and out. And who knows, the staging might be turning off buyers who have different decorating tastes than the stager.
    I find it interesting that staging is not common in many other real estate markets. Even in Southern California, I’m told that staging is the exception and not the rule.

  16. Agreed that staging tends to be a distraction. My concern is for the space and the construction, and my decorating is not going to match what is popular.

    The worst experience I have had with staging was at Yerba Buena Lofts on Folsom where I found not only did the 12 foot width make the units unappealing and nearly unlivable, but someone had filled the open unit with my Grandmother’s furniture. She’s a nice lady, but that aqua midcentury look instantly brought me back to her house in exurban Cleveland. Gakk!

  17. If I can add my 2cents on the staging issue in San Francisco. I am constantly looking at what other architects and developers are doing in similar markets (L.A., Chicago, etc), and I cannot figure out why so many of our homes are staged so that they all look like eachother? There is definitly a fondness for WestElm and Room and Board, but why? My two favorite cities for real estate porn are Los Angeles and N.Y.C. Many of their upper bracket properties are not staged because they DO NOT have to stage them. I have noticed that owners and builders in L.A. and N.Y. are much more willing to take risks on the interiors, and try not to present the same product over and over again. One advantage L.A. has over us is that many high end furniture stores are willing to rent out their furniture not only for movies and television, but for homes for sale as well. I worked on a project in Newport Beach and was suprised at who would loan furniture (Armani Casa, Donghia, Minotti, De La Espada), for similar type stores in S.F. don’t seem to be interested in this opportunity. By the way, we ended up selling all of the furniture to the client who purchased the house.

  18. Hey noearch,
    Did you even go to the house? Its not granite, bozo, its marble. And its not cheap – easy to slam developers when you are not getting any work, huh?

  19. i actually appreciate noearch’ opinion on that work. i have heard for years that folks were buying up sh*tholes in the area and then bringing in irish immigrant work crews to make them flippable as quickly and cheaply as possible. is this one such example?

  20. Didn’t think this was a site to bash other people. I thought this is about real estate, design, etc.
    Anyway…as I was referring to the houses on VALLEY St..I watched them get built..They are built with the cheapest, but code compliant materials and methods. Seriously, would you want steel fire escapes on the rear of a $2m+ house? There are other solutions for the second means of egress. And when I see window heads with surface mounted flashing, I seriously question the developers motive. Those windows will leak.
    There is nothing wrong with building a project for profit. That’s perfectly acceptable. But cutting corners on quality, and materials (that most potential buyers do not see), is just being greedy and cheap. period.

  21. This site is a real estate site – viewed and commented on for the most part by realtors, investors and others associated. Most of the prior comments posted on these homes have been negative. Maybe because as a whole our industry has been getting alot of negative publicity regarding dine and dash fixers – quick flips – shoddy remodels – these just happen to be fairly good examples of overpricing and underdelivering on a product. We all want to make $$$ but lets try to bring value and innovation to the market. I am tired of seeing so much recycled cookie cutter garbage on the market. We [live] in a world class city that can command $$$ for real estate but lets demand better that what is on sale for $2mill
    [Editor’s Note: Actually, only 20% of our readers are in the industry (agents, brokers, developers, investors, etc.) while 80% are not. But as to your main point, we agree.]

  22. this is a great discussion. i think the sad reality is that until you go through an extensive remodel yourself, most folks do not know the difference between high quality and craptastic work and finishes on anything. i feel most sorry for the folks that overpay for these places since they just really need a place to live and transferred in from out of town. they will learn as the place starts to fall apart.

  23. I think it’s fair to say that, as an architect, I’m part of the “industry”..Architects, for the most part, can create great, livable projects..and also sometimes not so great projects. I don’t blame realtors and brokers, per se, for shoddy construction. But…I do expect them to be educated on cheap work..and good work. And to not useing staging, solely, as a way to bluff their way past the potential buyer.
    My comments are offered as a constructive, but sometimes critical review of building quality, in the hopes of educating buyers on what to expect in this high priced market. I also enjoy praising a project when I see great solutions, in the hopes of “raising the bar” in SF and the Bay area for quality residential design.

  24. Both houses done by same flipper. 27th street house was originally a marina style. 28th street house originally a 50’s moderne. these are now suburban type houses imposed on an urban neighborhood w/o an appreciation for the city. they are pretty generic, boring, with too many stairs inside. the 27th street one is really poor design trying to blend in with the adjacent housing but really standing out because it is basically bland. the insides of both are “slick” due to the staging. these houses are like hotel rooms, not homes, certainly not homes in SF. I think the comments that developers think they can get away with anything if they can stage it before they sell it are accurate. maybe someone will figure it out some day, that staging may misrepresent a house to buyers and thinking about buying a house that has been staged is like taking a stroll through a Pottery Barn.

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