76 Caselli
From a plugged-in “tipster” when it was listed for $2,458,000 two months ago:

That’s a first class job and a reasonable price in a great neighborhood. They really did everything well. The only thing missing is the market….If I didn’t think I could get something like this next year for even less, I’d jump on it.

From one (not the) secret agent “sanfrantim” a few moments later:

Very nice. At the new price ($877 psf), this will sell fast (just not to tipster).

And from the newly minted listing today: $2,288,800 ($817 psf).
Will those triple eights be auspicious? Will it be enough to make tipster jump? We’ll keep you posted. And of course, plugged in.
UPDATE: Although those beautiful rear stairs don’t appear to have made the cut this time around, listing photos are now online.
UPDATE (8/9): The stairs are back (along with a handful of other photos).
∙ Listing: 76 Caselli (3/3.5) – $2,288,800 [MLS]
Our First And Second Thoughts For The Recently Reduced 76 Caselli [SocketSite]

87 thoughts on “Eight Eight Eight On Eight Eight Oh Eight: An Auspicious Return?”
  1. I don’t know the neighborhood too well, but I guess I’m (at least) as qualified as the agents who advised the potential sellers of this and the nearby 65 Caselli to descend the “slope of hope”.
    $817 seems sort of high. This isn’t Noe Valley. Nice, large places in nice parts of District 4 (I know this isn’t 4, but it’s pretty close) can often be had for under $500 psf.
    65 Caselli was featured on SS a number of times. If memory serves me right, it started out at $2.2M. It was then lowered to $1.99M. At that point, the agents came out and said, “it will sell”, “we’re in the trenches”, and all that nonsense.
    It then went down to $1.699M, and then finally to $1.499M. I don’t think it ever sold, and the comments seemed to all be that it was a very nice place. 65 Caselli was 2542 sq ft, and so it looks like it failed at $590 psf.
    Anyone who pays $817 psf for this house (basically next door) is either delusional or has a lot of money to burn and doesn’t care about the “investment” asset. I think all those guys are over in the next valley from Eureka.

  2. The listing prominently notes that the “Sellers are licensed real estate agents.” Not sure why anyone would put that in a listing, maybe to signal that “it must be priced right because we are agents.” As to Satchel’s post, they’re advising themselves, perhaps not too well.
    For what it’s worth, I like this area far better than Noe Valley. Nice place. But by waiting, tipster has already saved himself $170,000. And he’ll still get something like this next year for even less.
    [Editor’s Note: It’s actually a required disclosure.]

  3. Satchel – Caselli street is a very nice street and on par with most of Noe. Some buyers will find its proximity to the Castro a plus. Its a quick walk, but far enough away to be out of the hubub.

  4. Satchel, here you are again going out on a limb and then dismissing people in a rude fashion.
    Actually the five or SFRS sold on Caselli street have averaged 902 dollars a foot over the past year and a half. In fact the 91 SFRs sold over the past year and-a-half in 5-K (with at least one car parking) have averaged 862 a foot.
    What you did here was you grabbed another inferior property (that had a weird layout)because it is a neighbor. Then you propped that up, and projected it outward to make a point about people being delusional. And you know what? The whole thing was really uninformed and lame.
    And Trip agents need to disclose it if they are owners. It’s the law.

  5. Ah, thanks for the info on the agent disclosure law (not my area, even though I think I am technically a licensed real estate agent!). I stand corrected on my snarky comment.
    Fluj, any info on more recent sales in this immediate area — say the last 6 months? I’m not sure going back a year and a half to come up with averages is really valid given how things have changed so in the last 6-12 months. Also, 65 Caselli was a really odd duck in its layout, so on a $/sf basis, that one would skew too low.

  6. Ah fluj,
    I know how some love these slugfests.
    “Actually the five or SFRS sold on Caselli street have averaged 902 dollars a foot over the past year and a half.”
    Post these addresses. I’ll go out on a limb here and say not a chance. I’ll look into it as best I can and report back.
    You know the “$/psf” fraud. The data in the tax records is bad. Maybe it’s not a big deal when comparing aggregates of properties one year to another. But comparing a specific property about which we have a true square footage figure with an aggregate that contains bad data is a statistics 101 no-no. Really common sense, if you think about it.
    Like I said, I’ll go out on a limb here. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong and I’m always the first to admit it.
    And BTW, I didn’t say that 76 Caselli should sell for the less than $500 psf that is typical of many (perhaps most?) District 4 properties, or that it should trade for less than the $590 psf that its next door neighbor with the weird layout (funny how none of the agents mentioned that back when it was priced at $2.2M or $1.99M) FAILED to sell at. I just said that in view of these data points $817 psf seems high.
    Anyway, please post those addresses and dates of sale. This should be fun.

  7. Too bad. Pretty house on a great street. They’ve done a great job with it. The market just wasn’t there.

  8. Caselli is as good as the City gets. Of course it’s not Noe. There are trees.
    For results they should have taken the price under two million. Maybe later.

  9. It’s almost laughable to hear someone like the “tipster” behind that quote talk about cheaping out, not wanting to pay 2.458, when he or she might pay 7% less next year.
    I mean, come on. You’re paying cash (2m or higher are rarely not cash, as is my understanding). What’s 250k to you? Very, very little, I’m sure…
    If you like the place, buy it. 250k to this person is like 500 bucks to mere mortals.

  10. go read “Freakonomics” if you’re curious as to why the disclosure that the seller is a licensed realtor matters

  11. I will never understand why Noe costs more than the Castro. The Castro has more trees, better views, better transportation, more interesting architecture, and a more interesting vibe. I know Noe is closer to 280 and to Silicon Valley but so much of the housing is of poor quality and much of it has not been fixed up.

  12. Here are sales of SFH’s on Caselli since June 2006 per MLS:
    111 Caselli: $1.40M, 1,720sf, $814psf, 6/15/06
    116 Caselli: $2.426M, 2,443sf, $993psf, 6/12/07
    203 Caselli: $1.25M, 1,540sf, $811psf, 8/27/07
    226 Caselli: $1.42M, 1,700sf, $835psf, 11/27/07
    65 Caselli: $1.45M, 2,542sf, $570psf, 5/23/08
    I had to SWAG the square footage for 226 Caselli. MLS showed no sf – but a prior sale on Property Shark showed 1,298sf and permit history indicates a finished basement master BR was added. So I used 1,700sf – might actually be higher. 116 Caselli is the highest at $993 psf, but it was a pretty high-end remodel (and sold just prior to the credit crisis). 65 Caselli may be an aberration at $570 psf – but it is the most recent. $800 psf may be the norm or mean – I might aim a little lower if I were bidding.

  13. Man will this Olympic parade ever end….
    I love the main door, the sliding door (shoji?) and of course, the double bass for impromptu jazz sessions. Fly!

  14. Noe has historically been more expensive than Eureka Valley because of the gay factor. I kid you not.
    Any SFR in Eureka valley used to marketed as Noe Valley (say 5-10 years ago). I used to delight in walking into open house and asking loudly “is this really Noe Valley?”. But there seemed to be a belief that if you could just lure the straight folks over the hill…
    Well, it seems to have worked. I haven’t seen places in the Castro marketed as Noe Valley in the last few years. The Castro is, in fact, much more mixed these days than it was a decade ago, and times have changed as well. I think Noe is slightly more accessible to South Bay jobs, while Eureka is significantly more accessible to downtown jobs, so it all balances out….

  15. FSBO,
    Thank you very much for the information on recent sales on Caselli. You are obviously one of the very few people in the re industry who cares about acuracy. I bet anything you are not involved in residential brokerage.
    I did a little digging, and the 226 Caselli property was totally renovated, had 2050 sq ft, and so sold at $693 psf.
    From google’s cached listing page:
    “226 Caselli Avenue , San Francisco, CA 94114
    Bedrooms: 3.00
    Bathrooms: 2.00
    Interior Size: 2050 sq. ft.
    Lot Size:
    Open House:
    Eureka Valley charm remodeled down to the smallest detail — located right in the epicenter of all that Eureka Valley has to offer, yet located on one of San Francisco’s quietest streets! Offering over 2,000 sq. ft. of living space, this remodeled home boasts a gourmet kitchen complete with Viking 6 burner range plus griddle, Bosch dishwasher and designer cobalt blue granite counters. In addition, there is recessed lighting throughout, hardwood floors, abundant skylights, and a huge lower master suite overlooking an amazing walk-out deck and garden! There are two bedrooms upstairs as well as a beautiful bathroom. The home is wired with the latest and highest-end technology for automated video, audio, home theatre, monitoring and security. Just steps away from Kite Hill Park, Castro Village, shopping, restaurants and public transportation, this property is as good as it gets!
    Beautiful Period Details
    3 Bedrooms/2 Baths
    1 Fireplace
    Hardwood Floors
    Square Feet: 2,050 (per tax records)”
    The 116 Caselli property was very high end renovated (with “green” features no less) – perfectly calculated to snare someone with more money than sense – and it did, selling in an overbid situation. Still, it’s a comp, as is the recent (disastrous – originally listed at $2.3M!) sale of 65 Caselli. (google “vickivalandra” and the 226 Caselli sale and in depth description of the property on the front page of her listing site.)
    I also turned up another comp, a 2-unit fully renovated (very high end with “steel beam” addition that increased square footage from 2000 to about 2400) property at 85-87 Caselli. This sold for $1.724M on 02/24/2007, or $717 psf. The owners recently submitted a condo application, to split the property. Looks like they will have missed the market too.
    So, fluj said my quick analysis was “totally uninformed and lame”. He threw out a number of $902 psf for the 5 or 6 properties on Caselli that have sold in the past year and a half. Of course, he was wrong. No big deal. But it is surprising that someone who is “in the trenches” would have such a poor feel for the analysis. (I’ve discounted most of what fluj says ever since I looked into the Merced Manor and Miraloma Park “apples” and fluj’s spin on them. It looks to me like his grasp of valuation is pretty shallow.)
    So, what is the “true” psf selling price. Based on the 6 comps (which includes the wild overbid/special property of 226 caselli), it’s been about $760 psf (on both a simple average and weighted average bases). Two of these “comps” are post-credit crisis (8/07), 65 and 226 Caselli. The average selling price psf of these two is about $625-630 psf, again either on a weighted or simple average basis.
    If you knock out the “wild overbid” property, the selling psf falls to around $705 psf or $720 psf (on weighted or simple average bases, respoectively). However, I wouldn’t recommend this sort of “clipping” the data here – too few observations.
    So, fluj was only off by 16% or so. Close enough for residential realtor work I guess. I mean, after all, it’s not their money on the line. Also, again using fluj’s average district 5-K numbers ($862 psf, given), it seems like Caselli is a less than desirable street. Who would have known?
    $817 psf for 76 Caselli still seems high to me, but you only need 1 person to fall in love with a property to genrate an irrational sales price.

  16. Last point about this property from my end, and I would like to hear from people who have actually been in both 76 Caselli and the recently sold 65 Caselli.
    fluj wrote above:
    “What you [Satchel] did here was you grabbed another inferior property (that had a weird layout)because it is a neighbor. Then you propped that up, and projected it outward to make a point about people being delusional. And you know what? The whole thing was really uninformed and lame.”
    It looks like 76 Caselli is also zoned as a 2-family house, as are many (perhaps most?) on this part of the street. I’m not an architect, but looking at the facade, isn’t that the “ghost” of a second door just to the right of the main door? It looks like they simply put a half-panel and some “wainscoting” there to hide it. Is this done to avoid having to have the zoning changed?
    Also, to fluj’s “point” that 65 Caselli had a weird layout and was undesirable, it was also a 3/3.5 – just as this one is. Looks like BOTH are zoned 2-family homes that have been “cobbled together” into quasi-SFHs without changing the designations, again to my “lame” and “really uninformed” eye. Does 76 Caselli “flow” any better than 65 Caselli?

  17. Noe has historically been more expensive than Eureka Valley because of the gay factor. I kid you not.
    I don’t think that this is true, but I can’t find any hard data on this. I remember when I was looking in the 2000-2002 time frame, I found places in Upper Noe that were in my price range, but none in Eureka Valley. Looking at sold homes from the last month, they appear to be very close, both around a median price/sq foot of $750, with Noe slightly higher.
    Does anyone have access to better historical data? It is entirely possible that the current Noe Valley fetish has pushed prices higher here, but I am pretty sure that this has not always been the case. Castro is better located and has better weather. The “gay factor” works both ways and probably boosted prices in the 80’s and 90’s.

  18. SAtchel,
    I don’t love slugfests.
    “$817 psf for 76 Caselli still seems high to me, but you only need 1 person to fall in love with a property to genrate an irrational sales price.
    There you are, at it again. Caselli is a very good 5-K street. @ Trip, in the past six months, the 33 SFRs sold in 5-K have averaged 879 a foot. I happen to know that one neighboring property featured on this site is set to close for a whopper in a matter of days, too.
    Your comment was really uninformed and that’s all there is to it. I can sit there idly and let you say inane things. No problemo. The thing that irks me is when you try to use your incorrect summations as a platform for poking fun at people buying property in such a haughty manner.
    Read the previous comments about the neighboring property closely. The neighboring property was zoned for a two unit, sure — and poorly laid out as a somewhat dysfunctional two unit as well. Hence its low price. (I myself was wrong about it before I learned of its layout. That should teach me from making comments without viewing properties.)
    So believe whatever you want. Nice houses on Caselli can grab 900 a foot, easy. I really don’t care if you don’t choose to know and understand that. Just spare us the “everyone who pays over 827 dollars a foot is an idiot” baloney. To each his own, pal.

  19. NVJ,
    The 57 Noe SFRs sold in the past six months (with at least one car parking, that was a criteria for the 5-Ks too) have averaged 804 a foot.

  20. “Noe Valley fetish”, NVJ. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s just more fashionable to be in Noe than in Eureka Valley these days, despite the inferiority of the housing stock, weather, lack of trees, etc.

  21. The stroller brigade likes the flatness of Noe Valley. That is a big part as well. Castro is only flat in the commerse areas

  22. Um, you did see that the ppsqft for SFH with garages in Eureka Valley is still a bit higher than in Noe, right? Thanks for the data fluj.
    I don’t really understand why Noe is so popular either, but I do know that I like living here and would gladly trade up if I could afford it. There must be a lot of people like me.

  23. There’s an article today in the Times that gives some context to this slugfest.
    Ends with this comment “Let me just say this, as an economist, that asset pricing is something we’re exceptionally bad at.” (Willen of the Boston Fed.) Well said.
    Sorry is this is OT to this particular thread, but these issues are compelling because there’s a lot of money at stake here, along with the people’s lives and communities. Here is the Times economists’ survey of measures to determine the home valuations.
    1) Rate of house appreciation in the decades before the bubble. Case says trends from past national housing cycles are not especially helpful this time around. UCLA Anderson Forecast says this measure does not capture the many differences between the economic conditions of the 80’s and today, or even 2002 and today.
    2) Ratio of home price-to-rent values. No citation here, but comments that the inventories may not be comparable.
    3) Ratio of housing inventory to sales. A recent IMF paper argues this measure is the strongest short-run measure.
    4) Ratio of home prices to per-capita income. This understates affordability by 20 percent because of the differential between mortgage and 10-year Treasuries, says Mayer of Columbia Business School. But get this, he says that San Francisco and Boston homes are corrected to the right level but that prices may probably continue to fall because markets in real estate are local.
    The article repeats that anyone who says with confidence they know where home prices are going is delusional. (Case) I’m a novice on these issues, so take that into account. But here’s what I’ve observed so far on the SS discussions.
    Disregarding personal attacks, postings about home asset pricing fall roughly into the Satchel/Fluj divide, with Satchel arguing from a macroeconomic view and Fluj from a local sales-driven view. Satchel analyzes Fluj’s data and finds it lacking; Fluj argues that Satchel’s analyses are not validated by the actual market in areas where most SS readers would consider living and buying.
    Satchel’s bias is his considerable expertise at rational analysis based on hard, cold numbers. He seems to make the claim that it approaches the level of scientific predictability (bubble theory, etc.) Fluj’s bias is his considerable and long professional but anecdotal experience in the SF market.
    Fluj is definitely not a perma-bull but predicts that prices will fall somewhat but not crash. That is also my anecdotal experience of the SF market over my family’s longish history here. The problem is that experience based on past performance can obscure long-term trends.
    Very few if any posters can match Satchel’s encyclopedic financial acumen, with the possible exceptions of enonymous and ex-sfer. He is also a bear (I didn’t say perma-bear) who makes frequent references to the Great Depression along with predictions of economic catastrophe. I always appreciate his factual analysis but less so his forays into unapologetic glee at the pain of others. Er schreien nicht Krokodilrissen ; >)
    Really it’s an unfair fight unless someone else with the time and theoretical acumen can go head to head with Satchel. That doesn’t make him right, as Fluj points out above.

  24. A fair and entertaining synopsis, Michiko. Satchel trades his own money and has an estimable financial understanding that I will never approach. On the other hand, when he says stuff like, “If (and let’s face it he thinks rather “WHEN” than if) there’s another Great Depression I’m gonna buy this mansion on the best block of Liberty Heights for X amount of gold” he is begging someone to step up to the plate.
    And really this is macro versus micro, innit? I long ago conceded SF should have taken a much larger hit than it did. It’s a very strange thing indeed. No one person can figure it out. I point to our city changing rapidly in front of our very eyes more than anything else. Goodbye poor people, essentially. For as much as I dislike the Disneyland for Adults and Colonial Williamsburg by the BAy chatter — they are on to something.I

  25. Noe Valley has been a desirable neighborhood for at least 10 years now. There was an article in some magazine I remember reading about Noe Valley being the best place to live in the US a few years back. Everyone wanted to live there.
    Whenever I met people, they all lived in Noe Valley. Right.
    I should have bought there back then, but could not believe there were hardly any trees and the properties were not all that. Just expensive. I still don’t like it, althought it does appear that all the new residents have dressed up the area from what it used to look like.

  26. Satchel is a big proponent of the Australian school of economics, which is the intellectual progenitor of neoliberalism. It always amuses me when the libertarians complain about Greenspan’s monetary policy as the root of the housing bubble, because he is one of them, being a big Randian. Most peoples introduction to these ideas comes from _The_Fountainhead_ in high school or college.
    He always predicts economic collapse, because laissez faire economic policies would lead to one and they in fact advocate periodic downturns as needed to reallocate capital effectively. Thankfully, these guys ideas are out of favor right now and we will probably elect a Democrat as President, who is likely to follow the other main school of economic thought, Keynesian, which calls for government spending to increase economic demand. This is sure to soften the blow of any recession, at least in the short term.
    Disclaimer: This is all my half-baked opinion, I am not an economist of any sort, though I have read Keynes, Hayek, Von Mesis, Marx, Galbraith and Adam Smith in the original. I read The Economist every week. I am a big fan of FDR and The New Deal.

  27. Ooops, Austrian, sorry.
    I don’t know what the Austalian school of economics would look like, but it would probably be a good one, eh mate?

  28. “It always amuses me when the libertarians complain about Greenspan’s monetary policy as the root of the housing bubble, because he is one of them, being a big Randian.”
    It’s fascinating to look at a chart of M3 during Greenspan’s tenure. He actually stopped the endless growth of the credit supply and the resulting economic slowdown cost Bush I reelection. Then in 95 there’s a kink in the graph which I surmise happened when someone in the White House remembered that, “It’s the economy stupid” and demanded that the economy be goosed in order to insure reelection. I assume it was communicated that if Greenspan wouldn’t do it then he would be replaced with someone who would.
    It’s important to remember that the Fed is independent … as long as the white house says it is and no longer. Or to paraphrase Stalin, “How many divisions does the Fed have?”

  29. Boy, how I would love to talk econ, Austrian School, FDR, New Deal, libertarianism (no NVJ, I’m no libertarian – I’m a limited government guy with many of the same basic views as the Founders), but I’ll hold my tongue (for once) and get to the micro.
    @fluj – thanks for the kind words about my financial acumen. I have a lot of experience in asset management.
    But look, you said that 5 or 6 houses sold on Caselli in the last year and a half at an average price of $902 psf. Are you just wrong? the comps from FSBO (and the 1 “comp” I came up with) seem to show $760 psf, at best. Where did you get that $902 psf info?
    You said that 5-K properties w/garage averaged $862 psf. Is this figure from the same source as the (erroneous) $902 figure? If so, would you agree with me that it is wrong as well?
    Now you say that nice houses on Caselli “can” go for $900 psf (I thought this was the “average”, hehehehe). Can you point to even one that did, other than 116 Caselli that FSBO posted?
    You say that 65 Caselli had a weird layout (fair enough, and yes I read the posts VERY carefully when they came out, and noted that the criticisms came out only AFTER the reductions started happening). I believe you, never having been in it myself (evidently, you’ve never been in it either).
    My point now about 76 Caselli is that it appears to be the same “hodgepodge” of a 2-unit (on the east coast we call them 2-family) house. CLEARLY, there was a second door on the Caselli property that is now barely disguised. Obviously, they simply walled off the old entry vestibule/landing, turned the bottom of the staircase that originally led to the upstairs unit, and removed the old wall that separated the staircase from the lower unit. They took out the upstairs kitchen I take it. This all sounds VERY similar to what they did with 65 Caselli, doesn’t it? Hence my question to those who have seen both: does 76 Caselli “flow” any better than 65 Caselli (the one with the weird layout that the owners clearly took a huge bath on – bought in 2005 for $1.415M I think, and then fully renovated)?
    The owners were originally aiming for $2.5M+ for 76 Caselli (the guys at 65 Caselli originally sought $2.3M). If I were going to spend that amount of scratch for a working-class level house built in 1900 (even if it does have fine finishes, the bold look of Kohler, pretty colors, and all that), I wouldn’t want to “squeeze” through a tiny standard 33″ or so front door that is next to the ghost of the old one. Maybe that’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to be reminded so blatantly of the very pedestrian origins of the house that now costs something like 30 times the median income of the area. Would putting a big door in require a separate permit/planning board process, and would this trigger all sorts of problems because one would need to change the zoning from 2-unit to 1-unit (that’s a general question to people with experience in this area)?
    Thanks for any info.

  30. Satchel,
    It was one family, and remained one family. They did a rear addition, raised the house, and did an interior remodel. The city won’t let you remove a unit 2 to 1 (anymore). That detail of the door on one side and a window at the stair is pretty typical. And not created for this.
    I have done what you spoke about, 2 to 1 conversion. That actually makes a really nice layout. The front living room is a bed, a bedroom remains, bath remains, kichen/dining/powder/sun-room become the master suite.
    That didn’t happen here.

  31. “Are you just wrong?”
    No, I’m not. That is what the average I grabbed from the database? I mean, that is how the database averages the last however many Caselli houses sold over the past year and a half? I just took it back to 1/1/5. The 11 houses sold still average830 a foot. (By the way, 65 Caselli only says 1450 feet in the tax records? Not sure where the extra 800 feet comes from. But it doesn’t matter.)
    The 5-K figure from the past six months is from the same source. It’s about to go up, too. And that salient point also refutes your stance.
    I shouldn’t bother. And I wouldn’t if you weren’t so arch. I mean, you’re on here going, “this is similar to District 4 and …” in the first place. Well, that couldn’t be more wrong. It just couldn’t. The Castro versus St. Francis Wood? Come on man. You are speaking way, way out of turn and you’re being mean about it. That’s the rub.
    District 4 is its own thing, distinct from Distict 5, quite distinct. It is not central SF and not urban. You would do well do process that before once again proclaiming how dumb any would-be buyer is.
    You don’t even distinguish between very, very established SF values. You know a lot about economics, but you view SF r.e. through a very “me and my surroundings” prism. Yeah man. District 4 has nice big homes and yards. But man, D4 is historically nowhere near as expensive in terms of $psqft. And that’s irrefutable.

  32. Fluj,
    I’m a little lost. Is the average $900 or is it something much less? You pretty much based your argument on two points: 1) the average is 900 psft and 2) the house next door is not a comp.
    So what on earth is the average? FSBO appeared to list all of the sales in the last 18 months on that street. Were there any others? If so, can you list them, or is 900 an aberration from the fact that your database does not always have the most up to date square footage, and therefore will overstate the ppsft?
    The reason I ask is that you have regularly posted ppsft, and not, IMO, with any intent to mislead.
    But it appears that your ppsft postings may have been, and probably always will be, far too high.
    I don’t mean to get in the middle of the discussion, I’m just trying to clarify for past and future purposes, that it appears that your database has been exposed as one that overstates.
    If that’s the case, then it would be helpful to understand the bias (which appears to tend 15% high, in this small sample size) in that database and move on from there. By “bias”, I don’t mean anything intentional, just one that exists.
    This is a pretty big issue, and you haven’t really addressed it head on. Why did you think it was 900 when it doesn’t look even close to that?

  33. An important question for SS readers that occurred to me as I was looking at some of these bathroom pics.
    I notice that a lot of new bathrooms are being done without tubs in them. Just a shower, toilet, sink. Do you think that if you didn’t have a single tub in a house that it would be a negative (I guess that women use them?)
    I’m thinking of ripping the tub out of my condo and putting in a shower only… so much nicer than standing in place in a narrow tub.

  34. It is pretty important to have a tub when you have kids, as they can’t really use a shower until they are older. I don’t know if your place would appeal to families or not.

  35. I still am concerned that the trend of removing all original architectural interior details from homes like this and many others will come back to haunt long term owners. What happens if the trend flips on flippers and ten years from now people will hate the Dwell fireplace in this home and wonder if the original fireplace mantle can be put back (but it can’t because it was thrown out). The new bathrooms in this house are already dated as I thought the Zen-Spa-Dwell bathroom interior was alredy finished.

  36. The MLS shows a 902 a foot average for the sales of houses on Caselli street going back to 1/1/7. What’s FSBO anyway?
    Who has the incorrect data, you or I? For example, why would they not show 226 Caselli’s square footage in a newer iteration, when it displayed 2000+ previously? There was no remodel between the ’05 and ’07 sales … and the ’05 was higher. Frankly, I think it is you who has the incorrect data. And on that note I’ll not be challenged on this issue by the likes of either of you two further. Really. You and your National Association of Realtors mind control serum in Hetch Hetchy conspiracies and Dr. Satchel Paige and his District 4 curveballs. Enough.
    Once again, if you choose to doubt that Caselli can command 900 a foot for a nice home, when the entire district displays 879 for the past six months, that’s entirely your prerogative.

  37. There is a curious disparity between the studies featured in today’s NYT article referenced by michiko in his/her post above, and the observation by gmh on this thread, https://socketsite.com/archives/2008/08/mixed_messages_for_the_secondary_market_at_one_rincon_h.html#comments, that based on the Credit Suisse study the SF house price/rent ratio is about 75% over its historical average. The studies in today’s NYT suggest that SF housing prices in the range of equilibrium to 10% overvalued; by contrast, gmh infers that equilibrium is around 60% of today’s prices. (Unless rents go up dramatically.)
    What gives? Setting aside the possibility of a massive run-up in rents (and I don’t see a pending wave of business relocations or other population migrations that might cause such a run up), one possibility is that there has been a massive divergence over the last ten years in the *quality* of the rental units and the owner-occupied units that are reaching the market. The vast majority of rental units are rent controlled, and therefore tend to remain fairly constant or decline in quality over time (owners have little incentive to improve their buildings). By contrast, most of the units intended for owner occupancy that have hit the market in recent years have benefited from major kitchen renovations, bathroom additions, skylights, heating systems, etc.
    The rent-control incentive problem obviously predates the latest run-up in prices, but I don’t know that there was nearly so much developer/flipper involvement in improving (and building new) condos and SFHs prior to the bubble of 1998-2007. Thoughts?

  38. Boy, how I would love to talk econ, Austrian School, FDR, New Deal, libertarianism (no NVJ, I’m no libertarian – I’m a limited government guy with many of the same basic views as the Founders), but I’ll hold my tongue (for once) and get to the micro.
    Yeah, there is no point in recapitulating all the arguments of the 20th century economists, especially on a real estate blog. But I just wanted people to know that your knowledge of macroeconomics, while obviously extensive, draws mostly on one “school” and that there is more than one conclusion that can be drawn from the current set of events. I think that neither one is entirely satisfactory, especially in the current global economy, where Chinese savings rates have as much to do with American money supply as anything the Fed can do.

  39. I hope that people read the exchange between fluj and myself over the data on Caselli Street very carefully. If you are contemplating using a realtor, read it VERY carefully.
    Things like true square footage are typically pretty easy to discover through google searches for the original listing flyers. Actual sale prices can typically be found on propertyshark. One can often compare the tax valuation (available on the SF tax assessor website) to the prie to make sure that they square (remember to add the 2% annualized prop 13 increase to the tax assessment, which will have been set intially at the sale) because there are bound to be errors in the propertyshark data.
    The data that I have given and FSBO have given are pretty certainly accurate. fluj’s data are wrong, and his insistent reliance on them leads him to a reductio ad absurdum conclusion – namely that “Caselli can command 900 a foot for a nice home” in the very thread about a house on Caselli that failed to sell at $877 psf. Isn’t 76 Caselli a nice house? Is there a nicer one that you are thinking of?
    In other instances – no need to go into them here, but continued insistence that I am wrong by fluj will lead me to do the SS google exercise and recount them – fluj has given bad $psf data. His database is wrong, of course.
    The real question is why the industry as a whole (and fluj, in particular) has no intellectual curiosity about the accuracy of the data. No independent atempt to try and verify. No feeling of professional responsibility towards their “clients” as regards getting accurate information out. And finally, even when presented with the explicit evidence, a blatant failure to consider it. That’s pretty much the real estate brokerage industry, at least at the residential level.
    If the database is accurate, post the addresses, sales prices and dates on your database regarding the sales that average $902 psf. I asked you this above yesterday (see “Posted by: Satchel at August 8, 2008 5:29 PM”), and you have since made FIVE SEPARATE posts. But none of them gave the info requested. Not one. I think you and I both know why. Don’t make me go and get access to the full MLS! (and you know how trivial it is for someone with credentials to get a full broker’s license)
    I am actually interested in systematic distortions in the data that are “peddled” by those in whose interest it is to not dig below the surface, as anyone who reads my posts knows. So, once again, I ask you fluj to post those addresses and sales prices. I said above that if I was wrong, I would be the first one to admit it.

  40. @NVJ,
    Fair enough. But I do have a pretty good grasp of Keynesianism, monetarism (of which the Austrian School is sort of related), Chicago School, etc. I think the Austrian School is right.
    BTW, just one diversion into the macro world – the idea that the Chinese have this great “savings” rate is probably largely a myth. I mean, there’s atill something like 600-700 million Chinese living in abject poverty, with another 300-500 million just barely above it. Can’t see how they’re saving too much.
    I think we’ll discover in fairly short order that this “Chinese savings” is really the Bank of China printing yuan in order to monetize their trade inflows without offsetting sterilization. Let’s check back in 10 years, because in an opaque economy like China’s we will not get accurate info for a looooong time.

  41. Satchel,
    Caselli street is no secret. Look at 116 Caselli for example. Is it 1095 square feet? I just looked it up and that’s what a title search showed me the tax record says. Is it 3300 square feet? That’s what the incomplete remodel in the 2006 remodel sale boasted? Is it the 2600 feet described by the next sale? No, I think it’s more like the 2443 feet advertised in the last sale, for 2.426M in June of 2007. Why shrink square footage in a sale? Why? because you don’t want to be sued. The last sale puts 116’s $psqft at 993 a foot.
    I don’t wish to continue this discussion further. In your own sanctimonious fashion you have offered up a near slander. I’m going to bear that in mind regarding any future discussions.
    I got a kick out of how you began your missive, tho. As if. People read you for a second and then when they see you aren’t talking economics, they bail. Have a pleasant Saturday evening.

  42. “The real question is why the industry as a whole has no intellectual curiosity about the accuracy of the data. No independent atempt to try and verify. No feeling of professional responsibility towards their “clients” as regards getting accurate information out.”
    Well said Satchel! Will we ever see the day when real estate information in this country is more easily available the way it is in Europe and Asia? In many countries there is no guessing since all the information is public. (Sales price, taxes, square feet, sales history, etc. etc.) Maybe that is why realtor fees are less as a percentage in most parts of the world?

  43. “”The real question is why the industry as a whole has no intellectual curiosity about the accuracy of the data. No independent atempt to try and verify. No feeling of professional responsibility towards their “clients” as regards getting accurate information out.””
    That’s complete hogwash Satchel! Why is it that you trumpet your FSBO as superior to the MLS? Because it pulls tax records? Did you see in the thread about the Church street property where I actually argued that a bonus room must be included, else the property would have 1300+ $psqft.
    Think of this. Wouldn’t the tendency be to reduce $psqft by lying about how large a property is at sale? You’re arguing that agents actually do the reverse, to manipulate data! No, intellectual curiousity? I research r.e. more fully than you will ever know on a daily basis. Rest assured, I do my homework, pal. But for the purpose of posting on blogs? Hey, if you aren’t interested in me displaying $psqft as from the MLS, just tune out. Tune way out. Please, please, do. You do not know what you’re talking about when it comes to San Francisco real estate and you talk very loudly.

  44. 2 points;
    1 is that Satchel you say through-out here and I responded how you don’t like this place and think the facade looks poorly done and possibly illegal. But to fluj you act like it’s top of the line. Not to mention that for many other reasons this place ain’t that great and still at $820.
    2 is that this site needs some realtors for give and take. If you don’t like the data fine don’t use it, but neither you nor socket site are fluj’s actual clients so don’t expect him to be fully informed he’s admittedly pulling numbers on places he hasn’t seen. I think those numbers are close to accurate and better than nothing.

  45. Fluj, you argued that 116 Caselli had to be 2443 sqft, and not the other numbers listed. But that was exactly what FSBO said it was up above. So you did not prove FSBO wrong, you proved him right: lots of potential numbers and he picked the right one.
    If he’s right on the others (and there aren’t that many of them: you could easily post all of them, not just pick the highest one), then your database is off.
    And it’s become pretty clear by your lack of any real response, which would be trivially easy for you to do, that your database is NOT accurate.
    And if your database is not accurate, then it’s probably not accurate for the subdistrict 5K you keep arguing. Your point is that Caselli cannot possibly be less than the rest of 5-K. I understand that and agree with that.
    But if your database is inaccurate for Caselli, which it appears to be, then it could be, inaccurate for 5-K as well, and probably is for the same reasons.
    So if 5-K is NOT 873psf, but is in fact 15% lower (i.e. by the same amount as Caselli), or $742 psft, then the Caselli average could very well be around $800psf. The lack of a sale of this very nice home (the subject of the thread), which should go for well above the median, for even the median $ppsft, seems to bear this out, though there is lots of variability among ppsft for other factors I am sure.
    Fluj, this isn’t a dig at you: it’s just the database you are using. You’ve earned a lot of people’s respect on here. You’ve posted your real name and I for one have that name written down as someone whom I’m going to call to represent me after the option ARM resets hit and the prices in SF drop as a result. I’m sure there are others who feel the same way as well.
    I wouldn’t blow that credibility because a database you thought was accurate is not. No one is going to fault you for the problems of a database you had no reason to believe was inaccurate. I’d either post the sales you think are different from FSBOs original list (couldn’t be more than two or three) to counter it or admit your database appears to be wrong.
    I don’t think I’d hold your ground on this one without backing the numbers up, because the number of sales it would take to do it is very small, and so I think we’re all going to find it more than a little hard to believe that you can’t easily show everyone that FSBO is wrong and your database is right. The way it looks to all of us is that you are now trying to protect the integrity of a database that we have just been shown is inaccurate.
    By the way, I should also pony up. I thought the placed was priced pretty close to correct, after the first reduction, and I blew it.

  46. fluj is correct when he states that the MLS system returns an average price per sf of $902 when you query SFH sales on Caselli since 1/1/07; however, there are only TWO sales in this calculation (#116 at $993psf and #203 at $811psf) since the other records show no square footage. But, as we have shown, square footage can be obtained from other sources (with reasonable reliability).
    The MLS system provides a lot of canned statistics when running queries and standard reports. But they don’t scrub the data. They show average (mean) price per sf and average (mean) and median selling prices. They don’t provide median price per sf (which some might find useful). Sales with missing square footage are excluded from the mean price per sf results. Of note though is *asterisk selling prices are included in the results. An *asterisk indicates that the selling price has not been disclosed and in this case the selling price field is set to the list price (plus an *). The list price is then used as the selling price for ALL calculations – median and mean selling prices and mean price psf. Now, some might argue that this introduces an upward bias – since the actual selling price that is being masked is likely LOWER than the list price (right?).
    Look at the SFH sales in District 5C. I concur with fluj that there were 57 sales since Feb 08 with an average (mean) price per sf of $803.70. But consider this – 6 had masked selling prices so the selling price was set to the list price for calculations. These 6 were among the highest list prices in the $2.4 – $2.95M range (with one at $1.1M – why are they masking these?). And 14 were missing square footage data. As info, the median price psf for the 43 records with sf data was $780 – so it was pretty close to the mean. I spot checked a few of the 14 sales with missing sf’s and you can usually get some sf data from other sources. For this batch, I don’t think it would change the mean or median price psf significantly. But, if you assume that the masked selling prices were, say, 10% below list price, that adjustment would drop the mean price psf from $804 down to $793.

  47. All of these databases/data are flawed. We work with what we have. If you choose to not believe that Caselli can command 900 and up, god bless ya.
    We have all talked about flawed ad nauseum. You guys all clamor for information. I share it. I get lambasted for it. I’m calling b.s. on that.
    What really hhappened here is that I got Satchel mad because I pointed out how little he knew about this area of town, and he went off on me. I wouldn’t have done it if dude wasn’t so insensitive about calling people stupid for making purchases.
    FSBO if you want to take the lead as far as sharing MLS data in the future, feel free. These guys want transparency and then they shoot the messenger. Have at it.

  48. I have read the thread carefully, and it appears to me that fluj was wrong. No big deal… I too once made a mistake in 1998.

  49. fluj,
    So, after all this Sturm und Drang! What is the average $psf selling price of the 5 SFRs that have sold on Caselli in the last year and a half?
    In your first post, you said the average was $902 psf (see “Posted by: fluj at August 8, 2008 4:37 PM” above).
    In response, using my admittedly limited knowledge of SF real estate values and lacking access to the MLS data that would have made this a trivial exercise, I said, “Not a chance” (see “Posted by: Satchel at August 8, 2008 5:29 PM” above).
    So, what was the average $psf selling price of those 5 SFRs, fluj? (I never really expected you to admit you were wrong, hehehehehe)
    BTW fluj, sorry if it seemed to you that I got “mad” (see “Posted by: fluj at August 9, 2008 9:48 PM”). It’s just my poor ability to communicate, because nothing could be further from the truth.
    The time for thinking people to have gotten mad was 2004-2006, as the bubble inflated beyond all sense (especially nationally). Those of us who understood what was going on saw the massive misallocation of capital and understood that this would ineviatbly lead to massive loss, which would of course leave all of us collectively worse off than before (even if some of us were smart enough to profit from it). That’s what bubbles do. No, now is not the time to get mad – there’s nothing we can do about it anyway (in 2004-06, at least we could have tried to convince friends and relatives to shelter themselves from the coming storm, or at least not fly straight into it!). Both from a trading perspecive, as well as from the perspective of someone who wants to see misallocations of scarce resources “washed out”, the last 6 or 7 months have been a real joy!

  50. @ sparky,
    Thanks for the useful info about the contracting/architectural aspects of 76 Caselli.
    I think you’re reading a little too much into what I was writing. (For instance, I don’t think the facade or zoning issues are illegal or anything.)
    I’m just saying that it looks pretty clear that this was a 2-family house at one time. Perhaps it was a 1-family in 1900 when it was built, and then in the postwar period it was divided? I feel pretty sure that there were once two doors on that facade – no way was it designed like that in 1900 is my guess! And perhaps at some point prior to its most recent renovation it got put back together, maybe when the garage was added? (just speculating – I have no idea)
    That’s really the only reason I asked the question, because at some point in its life, this house must have been 2 units as was the much maligned 65 Caselli (of course, it was only maligned after it failed to sell at a good price). I guess they did a much nicer job with 76 Caselli than the owners of 65 Caselli did.

  51. Fair enough, I may have read into the illegal part. But I was trying to say by bringing these thing up you don’t like the place. I don’t like it either. I didn’t comment when it was up before but lots of people did and felt it was hit and miss. Anyway the thought being it shouldn’t get top dollar. And I think top dollar can be over the $900 per in this area. I would take this over Noe. But, like you I would go SFWoods before both.
    Also, per your fluj battle, I think FSBO cleared it up. “fluj is correct” per what he searched.
    As far as $/sq.ft. I have huge problems with this, and it’s hard to track. People lie about it, agents don’t post it if they know it’s low, people write “per my cousin” and all kinds of other stuff so then can mistakenly add the garage and other non-conditioned space. $/sqft. is everything around here, and it sucks because the flow of the space is so much more important, that and the feel/liveability of the rooms per there purpose. It drives me crazy. I mean I can design 500 sq. ft. of extra hallway into a place, and put a 200 square foot powder room in. Did I really add $550,000. Yes is the concensus.

  52. Satchel, since you have been pestering me and pestering me, I dug down. Guess what? I’m right.
    The first number is the tax record. The second, the reported MLS figure.
    Assume that people don’t lie to say their properties are smaller. (Who would?)
    65 Caselli somewhere between 1750 and 2542 sq ft
    116 Caselli somewhere between 1095 and 2433 sq ft
    203 Caselli somewhere between 1317 and 1540 sq ft
    111 Caselli 1720 sq ft (MLS and tax records match)
    226 Caselli somewhere between 1298 and 2050 sq ft
    And here’s a new one, since 111 goes back to 6/6:
    31 Caselli. Its tax records state 1000 sq ft, sales price 4/12/6 1.928M. Let’s call it 2200 feet — that’s what this type of property often is, ballpark.
    How do you want to play it?
    By simply allowing the MLS to default, the $psqft shows 873 now. However, there is are discrepancies. We assume that due to its numerous recent sales 116 was vetted to the proper figure. But what of 203 and 65 Caselli? Two oh three especially. But why do you guys give 65 so much credence for its 2542 sq ft when the tax records don’t support it? (Um, cherrypicking? Just a guess. It is waaaay off the other figures. But I digress.)
    So how do you want to play it?
    Do you want to take the verbatim numbers as once reported in the MLS? Well, in that case everything you said about me using MLS figures was patently unfair and I’d like you to retract it forthwith.
    Do you want to average the two numbers? In that case, I am more than correct.
    Do you wish to subtract, say, 20% off the reported MLS figure, to allow for human greed? (The human greed model!)
    Or do you want to tack on District 4 $psqft averages for each and every house sold on Caselli street? (I think that is what you would like to do, since you begin every r.e. values thread with “Well D4 is like this and …. “) Of course we can’t do that.
    So let’s go with the human greed model for the discrepant properties:
    65 — 2033 sq ft 1.42M
    203 — 1317 sq ft 1.25M
    111 — 1720 sq ft 1.4M
    31 — 2200 sq ft 1.928M
    116 — 2443 sq ft 2.426M
    226 — 1640 sq ft 1.42M
    This comes to 865 a foot. With two in the high 8’s and two in the mid to high 9’s. One in the low 8’s, and one at 698 (that’s 65, with the dysfunctional floorplan.)
    So now, remove the ugly stepsister, #65, with its walk-through-the-main-house-to get-to-the-unit floorplan.
    That averages out to: 899.4
    what did I say, straight from the MLS, 902?
    gee, I stand corrected. (And remember I generously gave # 31, a 1000 sq ft tax record property a value of 2200 feet. I also acceded that # 116 is 2433 sq ft because it has likely been vetted by now)

  53. I can clear up a small bit of the sf confusion re 65 Caselli. It was two units (65 and 67) that they “converted” and sold as one (65). So the sf of that sold as 65 Caselli is the total of what is recorded for both units.
    I must say this thread has been illuminating. I had known the MLS database was far from perfect but I did not know that the data it contains were so extremely dirty. There is nothing wrong with that as far as it goes (you can only report the data you have), but any realtor comp claims based on MLS data really should have all sorts of disclaimers or you’re approaching fraud.

  54. “what did I say, straight from the MLS, 902?”
    What you said was, the average on that street for the last 1.5 years was 902. What you didn’t say was, “and if I drop the lowest psft price (without dropping the corresponding highest psft price) and go back an extra 9 months, my numbers will work out.”
    If I go back up and look at FSBOs numbers, if you drop the two outliers (e.g. dropping one highest and one lowest ppsft, which is more intellectually honest), you get about $820 psft.
    You said 900 based on two data points and Satchel called you out. You stalled and stalled and now you have changed the parameters to hit your number. Only the most mathematically challenged would buy that argument.
    I think the only thing you can really say is that you were wrong, or best case, that you based your 900 on an insufficient number of sales: two. The correct number from recent sales is somewhere far south of 900.
    Fluj, we’re all very happy you post here. It’s just a good idea to be intellectually honest with your data. Had you pointed out from the get go that your 900 number was based on two sales, that really would have been all anyone could have expected. Had you noted that when called out, well, that still would have been OK.
    As I’ve said before, no one has to be right all the time, as long as you state your assumptions, it never hurts your credibility to be wrong. I’m wrong a lot. I was wrong on this price – I thought the old one was reasonable. You’ve been right more than you’ve been wrong. Just don’t make it look like you’re trying to hide the ball, and everyone will still trust you.

  55. fluj,
    Thank you very much for such an in depth discussion. It is fascinating to watch you attempt to back into a number ($902 psf) that you very sloppily threw out there in response to my feeling that $817 psf for 76 Caselli was too high. It’s quite clear what you did – you simply used the average of TWO sales (116 Caselli and 203 Caselli) and paraded them as being the average of all FIVE sales of SFRs since 1/1/07. This was pointed out definitively by FSBO (see “Posted by: FSBO at August 9, 2008 9:16 PM”). As I said above, this sort of sloppiness is evidently fine for residential realtor work. After all, it’s not their money on the line 🙂
    In the attempt to “back into” a number close to $902 psf (really, a very weak attempt), you’ve made a number of conceptual and procedural mistakes that in fact contradict what you yourself say one should do (in particular, that we should rely on what realtors put in their listing sales flyers because they will err on the low side; “Why shrink square footage in a sale? Why? because you don’t want to be sued.” see “Posted by: fluj at August 9, 2008 7:11 PM” in this very thread).
    It is getting a little tedious, and I imagine many readers must be pretty bored. Nevertheless, as Trip points out, getting into the nitty gritty of the data is critical to understanding what is going on.
    Here’s what I’ll do. First, when the thread is a little older (tomorrow) I’ll post a comprehensive review of the 5 subject properties that you were using, fluj, when you erroneously threw out the $902 psf number. You will see that the “true” average $psf is no more than $760-800, depending on how you might clip the data. You will also see evidence of “apples-to-apples” decines for two of the properties since 2005.
    Second, I am going to undertake to get full access to the MLS. It’s not fair that only you have to bear the burden of requests for information (although of course here nothing was requested of you – YOU volunteered the erroneous information). It might take a few weeks or so for me to get up and running, but this should be fun! In truth, I’ve been looking for an excuse to get my brokers’ license, as I have a number of friends who are starting to get interested in Novato and other parts north from an investment perspective.
    Like I said, I’ll post something comprehensive (but hopefully not too long) tomorrow on these Caselli sales.

  56. This thread puzzles me…who cares whose data is right….the only reason anyone would discuss past sales is to predict future numbers.
    It would be more fun to have some friendly wagers… make your prediction on the final sales price, and whoever loses can buy icecream for everyone else (or, at least come here and say “I was wrong, XXXX was right”)
    So, instead of having a argument over how to calculate the price/sqft, how about give some predictions. Satchel, fluj, FSBO, Trip, tipster? Just throw your numbers out and we can come back later to see who is closest.
    I would pass since I don’t know that neighborhood and have no interest in that neighborhood.

  57. John,
    I already lost “the price is right”. I guessed it would go for about the last price. I’m out.
    How does one get a broker’s license? Wouldn’t you have to pay some yearly fee to get MLS access even if you had the license?
    about the best that can be said for the addition of the older data is “While it was once routine to get $900 psft for Caselli Street, now that the bubble has peaked and prices are heading down, it has become increasingly harder to do so.”

  58. tipster,
    It’s been some time since I looked into the actual requirements for a broker’s license in California, so some of this info may be out of date. One important recent qualification is that you have to have a college degree – incredibly, up until a year or two ago, you didn’t. I mean, it’s not like you are going to advise on anything important or anything, just about 15-30 years’ of your client’s entire “economic surplus”.
    Licensed attorneys (licensed anywhere I think) do not have to show any coursework or anything. I believe that CPAs do not have to either, but I hinestly do not know. Others I think have very minimal education requirements (some very low level finance and real estate stuff).
    All applicants must pass a background check, although it is nowhere near the type of background check that is required for attorneys, for instance. Draw your own conclusions…..
    I believe both applicants for a sales agent’s and full broker’s license take the same licensing test, although I think that thre may be an additional portion (or higher passing hurdle) for brokers. A broker’s license gives one the right to supervise junior agents, who must “kick up” to the capo.
    When I say that the test is ridiculously easy, please understand that I am overstating its dificulty. Seriously, it is scheduled to take something like 3 hours but can easily be passed in less than 40 minutes. Don’t ask me how I know.
    The level of finance and real estate valuation, tax questions, ethics, etc, that is tested is extremely low level. A bright eigth grader could pass. Seriously. It actually helps if you don’t know too much, as much of the finance (for instance) is borderline wrong, and gets into subtleties that probably escape the test writers.
    In any event, there is no need to be concerned. ALL the possible test questions, together with the multiple choice answers and correct answer, are given out in advance, and are contained in Minne Lush’s book, “California Real Estate Exam Guide” (available from Amazon). This reduces the testing hurdle to a triviality.
    fluj, have I missed anything here?
    About MLS fees, I am assuming there are some, and I am just now looking into how expensive it would be and what would be the most cost effective way to get full access. Any advice from SS readers out there would be most appreciated. No doubt there are fees, but given the numbers of real estate agents out there and the number of small brokerages, I am assuming that these fees would not really be very material. Probably less than 1 month’s differential between the cost of owning your house (bought in the last few years) and just renting it 🙂

  59. John,
    “So, instead of having a argument over how to calculate the price/sqft, how about give some predictions. Satchel, fluj, FSBO, Trip, tipster? Just throw your numbers out and we can come back later to see who is closest.”
    My data for the past 1.5 years show average $psf for Caselli as about $765 psf, using all available data points. Most of these “comps” were extensively renovated, including one that appears to be much nicer than 76 Caselli.
    I’m not an expert in this neighborhood, but I’ve walked this street before (my barber moved from Sunnyside to Castro and I used to park my car up there and walk down and around the area). I know enough to know that $900 psf was obviously wrong as an average, for instance.
    Clearly, valuation has gone down over the past year or two. The large scale reductions in listing prices for 65 Caselli – about 34% – and now 76 Caselli – about 10.5% reduction so far – pretty much tell you that. Additionally, 226 Caselli shows a sales price decline of 6.3% from its sale in August 2005 to its sale in November 2007, which supports the idea that prices apples to apples are down here. (However, another, less renovated house, appears to have increased a bit prior to the credit crisis.)
    Long-winded I know (what else is new?), but since 76 Caselli appears a little nicer on average than the recent neighborhood “comps” but the market has deteriorated a bit, I bet it goes for average – $765 psf, or $2.145M.

  60. I had no interest in jumping into this Gladiator challenge, but this caught my eye:
    “Very few if any posters can match Satchel’s encyclopedic financial acumen, with the possible exceptions of enonymous and ex-sfer. He is also a bear (I didn’t say perma-bear) who makes frequent references to the Great Depression along with predictions of economic catastrophe. I always appreciate his factual analysis but less so his forays into unapologetic glee at the pain of others.”
    I hope that the bolded “he” doesn’t refer to me. I am a RE bear. I don’t know that I make frequent references to the Great Depression though. And I certainly don’t feel that I have unapologetic glee at the pain of others. I’m hoping the bolded “he” means someone else (satch or enonymous)? because if that’s the vibe I’m giving off then my writing style is crap!

  61. I promised yesterday to provide some information about the Caselli sales that fluj (mis)represented in his first post and refused to come clean about for the subsequent 8 or 10 posts from him.
    But after reading the entire thread again carefully, I think it’s pretty clear that the $902 psf originally put out was wrong. The digging I did confirmed the numbers FSBO posted (see above “Posted by: FSBO at August 8, 2008 9:29 PM”). The only correction/addition I would make is 226 Caselli, which FSBO pegged at 1700 square feet ($835 psf), but which was actually a nicely renovated 2050 square feet SFH (actual selling price $693 psf). I gave some details above on this property at “Posted by: Satchel at August 9, 2008 7:18 AM”.
    There’s no real need to pile on here; it’s pretty obvious what’s gone on here. I hope fluj understands that he attacked MY credibility or “feel” for the market, and in the process ofd oing that threw out some bad info that was nevertheless very enlightening for those of us who care about data.
    Two points about recent $psf selling prices on Caselli.
    1. If we use ALL the data points, we get an average $psf of $772 (weighted) or $776 (simple). Dropping out the “ugly stepsister” 65 Caselli, we get $838 and $828. If we “clip out” both the low observation and the high (the “overbid” situation with 116 Caselli), we get $766 or $773. Because there are so few observations, good statistics practice would argue against any type of clipping here (as I pointed out above in “Posted by: Satchel at August 9, 2008 7:18 AM”).
    (For clarity of discussion, and to just go with FSBO’s and fluj’s data set, I omitted the data from the sale of 85-87 Caselli that I turned up, and which I mentioned in the post referenced immediately above. Inclusion would have lowered the $psf selling prices.)
    2. There were two sales post-credit crisis (8/07), 65 Caselli and 226 Caselli. (One other – 203 Caselli – closed a week into it, and so was clearly negotiated and rate-locked before.) These sales were at $570 psf and $693 psf, respectively.
    Last, I reread my “diatribe” against the low standards in the real estate licensing world. They ARE too low. WAY too low, in view of the size of the transactions. However, there are good, ethical and qualified agents out there. Apologies to all of them (ok, “both” of them, hehehehe…just kidding, hold your horses) for sounding snarky.
    Once I get up and running with the MLS (tipster, I’ve seen references to an annual cost of about $1200 per year, which wouldn’t be a big deal to renters like us!), SS will have another poster with access to the numbers, and some facility with numbers and statistics, and that should help the comments. For instance, this “slugfest” in this thread would have been *instantly* avoided, as it would have taken me approximately 10 seconds to realize where fluj went wrong had I had access to the database.

  62. ex-sfer,
    It’s my writing style you’re referring to that’s crap and that sentence is sloppy. If you read my whole post, the reference is to comments by Satchel and others in response.

  63. Satchel,
    Is a college degree required to start or run a hedge fund, start a software company, become a police officer or firefighter? Does holding a professional license (in any industry) prevent fraud, abuse, or moral & ethic violations? I must be missing your point. My takeaway from all this banter is that higher education along with condescending financial babble has a direct correlation to being a complete jackass. Thanks for another one of your educational lessons.

  64. Wow,
    from 900+ in 2006 to sub 800 in 2008. Who would have thought it?
    The good news is that we all have fluj to thank for this. He proved it was much higher in 2006 and has called our attention to the fact that it’s significantly lower in 2008.
    Thanks fluj!

  65. @FSBO & Satchel:
    Thanks for an incredibly illuminating diary discussion. I read the whole thing and come out with two salient conclusions: Fluj can never admit he’s wrong, and SFRE is a sucker’s bet unless you have all the information. Once I’m back in the market, perhaps I too will get an RE license, doesn’t sound too tough…
    Oh, and FSBO: Thanks for providing the info without varnish or spin. Don’t believe fluj when he says people on here just shoot the messenger.

  66. If it’s not clear, I wasn’t making a value judgment about Satchel referring to the Great Depression. Lots of people are, even Fannie Mae (Bloomberg, 8/07/08).
    On the other hand, property values in certain parts of SF are still pretty lofty. Even at the declining and lowest $772 p/sf Satchel determines above for this property, the values are holding up a lot better than I expected given the severity of the downturn.
    I have a vested interest in making sense of what’s happening to property values locally and nationally. That makes it critical to have a least a limited grasp of economic theory.

  67. I know you all enjoy your fluj bashing, but $902 for what he looked up is correct. And FSBO can back in to confirm that. Everything else on both sides is spin. Fluj didn’t look into the numbers, that where here should just say “I typed the parameters in, this is what came out. I then typed it into Socketsite. I should have dug deeper, but I didn’t. Sorry for that”
    However, he did say he didn’t see these properties. Neither did most posters here. I’m not talking about the own at 76 caselli. I am talking about all the others. Lot’s of guessing at square feet going on. Let alone flow or level of finish

  68. You guys are acting like the nicer properties on the street didn’t sell for around or north of 900, and they did. Or that it’s one of the nicer streets in 5-K and the averages for the area sync up. But yeah. I should have stated that I merely did a cursory glance, that when I looked closer it was only two properties averaged, etc. The thing is that I know the values and it matches. Oh well. That and Satchel saying, “Everybody. Stop. Look at me. Realtors are devious charlatans and here’s why.” But whatever. I should just let Satchmo blow his horn and be cool.

  69. Satchel,
    Yes, it is relatively easy to pass a r.e. exam. Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? I think it was expressly typed by you for no other reason than an effort to belittle me. Well, you’re right. It is relatively easy to pass the California Broker’s exams. Thank you for pointing that out. I’m sure no one else who reads SS was aware of this fact before you illuminated it.

  70. I’m not sure why everyone is so enamored with Satchel’s comments. I think his posts are incredibly long winded, tiresome and ill informed.

  71. I would just like to add that it’s been an illuminating thread… a fascinating peek behind the curtain. Thanks to all the contributed.

  72. Agreed with Chuckie. I can’t speak for others, but I personally thoroughly enjoy most posts by Satchel & team because he/they actually take the time to dig in to all of the numbers/stats to divine what’s really going on. The degree of opacity in the real estate industry borders on negligence, especially considering the size of the investment being made by buyers. I have neither the time nor resources to cut through it myself, so I greatly appreciate the legwork of others.

  73. I’ll third chuckie & Dude. I’ve learned so much from reading these threads and I’m particularly fascinated with all the discussion on the inner workings of our often confusing economy. I’m just a simple techie, unfortunately not one of the multitudes of Googlaires that are supposedly keeping the SFRE market afloat, and it’s nice to have someone explain these things in understandable and honest terms. So I beg all of you, please keep the information flowing!

  74. To be fair, numbers are good (thanks to FSBO), but nothing beats viewing the properties in person.
    We (including Satchel) all know the remodeled basement is not worth (/sqft wise) as much as the main floors. The ceilings are lower, the remodels are cheaply done, and the stairways into the basement is narrow and steep, making the basement not as comfortable.
    Normally, the tax record shows the main floor area, because the basement area may not have entered into the system. For example, the 65 probably has 1700 sqft on the main and upper floors, and 550 or so in the basement. If the main floor is worth $700/sqft, the basement is probably worth $400/sqft.
    Personally, I believe the key to improve the value of the remodeled basement is the stairway. If you can make it open and wide, so the basement doesn’t look like an after-thought, it can get almost as much /sqft as the main floors. This particular property (76) looks like having nice stairs going down.
    Disclaimer – I have no interest in this area and saw neither 65 nor 76. Just my theory why 65 went so low.

  75. I also agree with Chuckie. There’s a lot of spin out there, often with some sort of unrepresentative, halk-baked or otherwise misleading data thrown in, and if you take it at face value without digging a little deeper and thinking about things you will lose a lot of money (in RE, in the markets, and in life in general). Posters like Satchel, ex-sf’er and enonymous do a lot of that digging and post the results here for everyone’s benefit.
    So, thanks to them for all of their contributions (and to SS for creating a place that makes it possible…).

  76. The sellers are licensed real estate agents…
    I would think twice before buying.
    They have probably extracted all the potential value from this place. If you’re buying from them, you’re paying full price and then some with no wiggle room for further appreciation for you and your family.
    Whatever good deal they got on the buy side, you will not see one penny from it. Plus they probably had work done for way cheaper than anyone on the market.
    After all it’s their job to maximize a place’s potential, be it real or just in the appearance. They are the masters of buyer’s psychology and in any financial transaction, you want the psychological factor to be in your advantage, and here it is not.
    They own the terrain, the place, you are likely to be sent to the cleaners. All the secrets of the trade have probably been used and in that case, it will be at the expense of the buyer. And if you have any issues/promises to resolve, good luck on your recourse.
    Just like you should NEVER sell to a lawyer, you should NEVER buy from a Realtor.

  77. Bravo Fonzi – seems you’ve created a safe, simple world to live in during your two short years here in SF.

  78. albin_sf,
    Sure, care to counter my points?
    The past bubble has more than proven them. This bubble was 90% psychology and 10% reality. Professionals understand that psychology is a big part of their business, otherwise they wouldn’t advise sellers to chose certain colours, or to stage their place (WTF is it with staging? Is the place you’re buying any different with furniture? Nope. It’s all about that first impression).
    Realtors have access to value before us mere mortals. They have a competing advantage and you cannot deny that.
    When a professional who claims to be an impartial observer of the market takes part into the market, this is a giant red flag in my book.

  79. I guess you can’t blame the sellers for fishing for a greater fool. It doesn’t cost much : carrying costs + marketing costs compared to the extra $500K they may have reaped in a chance encounter with an irrationally exuberant/impatient buyer.

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