1409 20th Street
It’s a single-family “No. slope” Potrero Hill home with two bedrooms, a split bath, one car parking and “lower level & attic expansion potential!” There’s a deck with urban views off the back and a playground out front as there were in May of 2005 when purchased for $860,000.
A sale at asking would represent average annual appreciation of 1.5% over the past three and three-quarter years for 1409 20th Street. And if you’re planning on playing the “I told you so card” with respect to its eventual sales price, go on record now or forever hold your peace (bulls and bears alike).
UPDATE: Additional background from a plugged-in reader: “This place started as a pocket listing at 949K a few weeks ago.”
∙ Listing: 1409 20th Street (2/1) – $899,000 [MLS]

40 thoughts on “A Potential Single-Family Apple Atop Potrero Hill: 1409 20th Street”
  1. Nice touch for the bottle on the mantle to try and match the very green tiles…
    My wild guesstimate will be around 600/sf or 735K. 1 Bath and tiny Victorian rooms are the reason behind my lowballing. Plus, it needs hardwood floors.
    I like it but it’s not the standard 3/2 families will want to pay 1M+ for.

  2. can’t make an educated comment about potrero market prices but it sure seems obvious that the asking price is solely based on the seller’s hope to recoup his cost + a 5.5% broker fee.
    i.e. probably unrealistic and way too high.
    put me down for a guess of $600/ft or $735K

  3. looks to me like a 1-BR with a double parlor, half of which serves as the 2nd bedroom.
    I say this thing doesn’t break the $600/sqft barrier (from below)

  4. and sorry i meant a 4.5% commission.
    by the way has anyone heard of commissions being negotiated below 4%? if so, what’s the seller/buyer agent split.

  5. i’ll split the beer with you.
    It might take some time before we can do that! There will be denial, anger, bargaining and then closure followed with beer popping.

  6. Why would you pay $860 for 1200 sf 2/1 in Potrero Hill when you can get 1200 sf 2/2 in downtown for $660? If you have a family, you’d need more than 2/1 anyway.

  7. I don’t know anything about this nabe other than it is a plan C area. Plan C sellers cannot take a $200K loss.
    I’d guess this is going out as a short sale or it comes off the market entirely and then gets foreclosed in two years. It’s coming up on 4 years out, so it could be the first in the wave of option arms that the owner is about to hit the payment limit recast. Maybe they are testing the market to see whether they can get out before their payments go up. If they can’t, they’ll up their payments to stay under the recast cap and wait it out another year. Obviously just a guess.

  8. This place is OK, but I agree that a 2/1 here should be a tough sell as anyone buying now is committing to stay in a place for a long time. Maybe a childless couple would be thrilled with it.
    My guess is $720k — within the conforming loan limits makes this place more marketable than higher-priced places. Any higher price than that puts you in competition with nice places in much better parts of town. But some people really like Potrero Hill (more than I do). The big IF is whether the sellers can afford to take a loss on the place — if not, it just sits unsold.

  9. tipster – the owner financed $750K with a $650K 5/1 ARM (resetting 6/10) and a $100K 2nd. Maybe they’ll end up only losing their down payment, maybe they’ll break even. Either way, there have probably been cheaper ways to have a roof over your head the last few years.

  10. Somebody actually put down $110K of cold hard cash on this place in 2005. Why would anyone do that? Anyone could see that SF was in an unsustainable bubble, and the first rule of any bubble is always to use 100% of someone else’s money! I don’t think there was any problem doing that back then, either.
    I hope the propety shark info is wrong or at least incomplete (maybe there was a cash out refi or HELOC in there, that hasn’t been picked up?? – I hope so). As for predictions, assuming the downpayment is real and hasn’t been hedged out through refi or HELOC, I predict that that downpayment is now in money heaven. I hope that wasn’t a lot of money for these buyers.

  11. resp wrote:
    > By way has anyone heard of commissions being
    > negotiated below 4%? if so, what’s the
    > seller/buyer agent split.
    Since most buyers work with an agent and all agents need to make a living the lower the fee to the selling agent the less offers you will get. While the higher the fee to the selling agent the more offers you will get. Agents with buyers will do whatever they can to avoid showing a home with a 2% buyer agent fee and will do anything they can (including telling people that the Excelsior District is the “New Noe Valley”) to sell a home with a 4% fee. Over the years I have seen agents lie to buyers faces telling them that homes with low fees are “already sold” and bribe home inspectors with cash (you have a lot of extra cash when you sell a $1mm home with a 2% higher fee) to “miss” problems with high fee homes.

  12. which is exactly why my opinion of agents is so low.
    hopefully with today’s market we’ll move from agents saying “i’ll work for 3% but not 2%” to owners saying “you’ll work for 2% or zero”.

  13. This is so not the north slope of Pot. Hill. It’s right on the border, but it’s a world of difference between 20th and 19th/18th where you have nice downtown views. This is on the big pink project side of the hill. If this really were on the north side I would say it has a chance of selling in the 700’s – it’s a cute 1 bedroom with a double parlor (NOT a 2 bed, god that pisses me off when realtors write that, at least say “flexible floorplan” or something) and a bit of outdoor space. At this location? 600’s wouldn’t surprise me.
    And LMRiM, as hard as it is for you and I and most other socketsitekateers to imagine, unfortunately most people did not recognize the bubble for what it was, and if they did, thought we were in for more of a protracted soft landing, not the wholescale economic implosion that surrounds us.
    [Editor’s Note: Perhaps we misinterpreted that “prime No. Slope block of Potrero Hill” line in the listing…]

  14. It has a lot of curb appeal, a geat view, and easy lower level expansion potential. Plus it is close to all the new office space in Mission Bay. My guess is it goes close to asking.

  15. Not really prime Potrero, true. Not too bad, tho. Some of those Mississippi street houses south of 20th have awesome huuuuge Bay views. This one will be interesting to watch. Don’t feel like guessing, tho. Every time I do all the nincompoops on here put too much on it. It becomes a “wager,” it’s all or nothing at this moment in time, etc.
    And Excelsior is the new Noe Valley? Doubt it. What’s the context there? You’re a fly on the wall eavesdropping on a dialog between an agent and a perspective buyer? Also, 2 % is a lot of money, clearly. Better to get a deal done PERIOD… and that’s most agents’ opinion, IMO.

  16. Potrero Hill is my favorite neighborhood, and not just because I commute South via Caltrain. There hasn’t been much moving in the area lately. However, the exception was the very recent sale of a 2/1 SFH a couple of blocks along on 20th St. It had a sale pending sign about a week after first hitting the market. Listing was $799K. Does anyone know what it went for? That might be a meaningful comp.

  17. Ahem, I live on this block, a few doors down. It’s a great block. The projects are two blocks away, but you go down steeply for a block and then up to get there, which discourages foot traffic from there. 20th Street has gotten some amazing gorgeus new construction a stone’s throw from here. You are on the ridge so there are view in many directions, depending on your particular spot.
    That said, the house is on the small side. It is a good neighborhood for kids, though.
    Long term, those projects are getting rebuilt. That’s been said before, but the plans are locked and the community process has already started.

  18. You can see from the view pictures on the listing that this really isn’t on the north slope. It’s on the plateau at the top of the hill. Only a realtor ™ would escribe this as a “prime No. Slope block of Potrero Hill”.

  19. jj wrote:
    Why would you pay $860 for 1200 sf 2/1 in Potrero Hill when you can get 1200 sf 2/2 in downtown for $660?
    Um…perhaps because the 2/2 downtown for $660 would probably be a condo and not a single family home? Just guessing here.
    Even if I were single, I’d prefer a single family home to a condo for two properties in anywhere near a similar price. And that’s because the condo would come with substantial HOA fees and the single family home would not.

  20. the condo would come with substantial HOA fees and the single family home would not
    There are so many extra costs associated with SFHs that they’ll easily make up for the condos’ high HOA fees… Plus a lot of the maintenance you pay on the HOA fees benefit from a scale effect.
    Single family home-ownership makes the world go round.

  21. Having spent the last two years working at the base of the north slope in Portrero Hill, I’ve grown very fond of the neighborhood. Nice vibe, enough bars, restaurants and entertainment options to keep me happy. Great weather. This kind of place would be perfect for me and my wife as we don’t have kids.
    But this is the kind of place that’s going to get KILLED. As other posters have pointed out, it’s not a legitimate two bedroom, nor is this “prime North slope” as the agents have described it. Plus, it’s only 1200 sq. feet.
    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Spencer’s “bid” would be too high. This seller would be lucky to get 700K for this. I’m really interested to see what happens to this place.

  22. My bet – it will sell for 750K in May.
    This place started as a pocket listing at 949K a few weeks ago.
    This suggests that the seller/agent refuses to accept the new market conditions, and so I predict a long process of small price reductions until it sells.
    I saw it – it’s small, dark, and dowdy, in an ok but not great block. That said, it is a SFH so mid 700s is not out of the question.
    This place captures the state of the market in Potrero and similar neighborhoods with few, mostly way over priced properties. It’s probably a matter of time until someone breaks the implicit collusion and starts the rough correction.

  23. Clever1…I totally agree with you. That view of the back of the house…omg, how can that realtor justify putting that picture in there!
    Granted Potrero Hill has great weather and the freeway access is awesome but it’ll never be Pacific Heights or even Noe. So for this place to be asking $899k…I just don’t get it. I’ve seen a lot of homes in the hood and have never experienced good bones unless it’s been totally rebuilt. Then of course you’re living right next to people with their 1970’s campers taking up all the parking spots and ruining the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

  24. I love Potrero Hill and went to see this place as soon as I could.
    It’s really, really small — the “second” bedroom is indeed a joke, and there is a lot of noise on 20th St, not to speak of the freeway noise on the back deck. I consider it a fixer — about $100K to begin, twice that if you want to build up to really get a good view.
    I wouldn’t pay anywhere close to the asking price, but then I see a lot of things that I couldn’t imagine paying asking for and they sell.
    I guess I’m just old fashioned: I actually want space for that much money.

  25. Aw. I have been a spectator who would love to buy a home in SF but really believed that the last few years were an unrealistic bubble.
    With the above being said, it was more fun to figure out prices of homes as they were climbing since there was nobody to injure.
    Prices are dropping (I we agree on this) and, now I have no fun figuring out how low, especially when we know the owners bought the home in the last five years and will probably be under water.
    Sigh. I can’t watch this train wreck…

  26. Anybody get a chance to see 658 Wisconsin? It just got into contract after eight days with a 1.249 list. Tax records read 1050 square feet, but the very nice looking master down is unwarranted. Judging from the photos I’ll cede that space about 500 feet or so. Right now that’s looking like 806 a foot, but let’s see what happens.

  27. 1409 20th Avenue is now down to $829K, 3.5% below its 2005 sale price. As I noted somewhere above in the comments, $110K was put down in the first loss position, and so the lion’s share of that is now gone.
    Unlike a comment I read on one of the other threads that only cash buyers are not “trapped”, I’d imagine that sellers such as this one are the ones who are trapped by the psychological desire to recoup some of the initial “investment” and by the fear of a credit rating hit.
    Once the price falls enough (and enough time has passed to internalize the loss of imaginary wealth – remember, this started out as a $949K pocket listing), these psychological hurdles are overcome and the sellers become “free” again. A little poorer for sure, but bubble lessons are not always cheap. The no-money down crowd was always free from day one, which is why as a group I tip my hat to them for playing a rigged market well. They understood intuitively how to gamble the way the sophisticated financiers do: heads I win, tails you lose.

  28. 1409 20th is now down to $799K, 7% below its 2005 sale price. From the listing, “LAST CALL! Final $ Reduction.” I’ll say! The whole $110K downpayment is now in “God’s waiting room” and there’s not much point I’d guess reaching into your pocket to pay the realtors and banksters. Prop shark doesn’t show any refi activity, so there shouldn’t be any legal worries here on the nonrecourse purchase money debt.

  29. Too bad they’re still asking 800k. This is exactly the kind of thing my wife and I should be interested in … SFH w/parking and a backyard in the City, on stable (non-liquefaction) ground, close to 22nd St Caltrain (for her commute to SV) and close to 3rd St Muni (for my commute downtown).
    But alas, even with 200k income, 800k just doesn’t make sense.

  30. Property Shark lists a sale 6/29/2009 for $799K.
    No liens listed. Looks like a standard “purchase price plus selling costs” attempt at an exit. Either a job loss or the place did not turn out to be everything the new owners dreamed. Ah well.

  31. Well … I’m not sure what they think it’s worth but they sure hope someone else thinks that.
    Preferably someone with 135K of family money that can be put down in a first loss position so they can get that sweet conforming FHA loan.

  32. 1409 20th is now down to $799K, 7% below its 2005 sale price. From the listing, “LAST CALL! Final $ Reduction.” I’ll say! The whole $110K downpayment is now in “God’s waiting room” and there’s not much point I’d guess reaching into your pocket to pay the realtors and banksters. Prop shark doesn’t show any refi activity, so there shouldn’t be any legal worries here on the nonrecourse purchase money debt
    Man how this guy talked, talked, and talked some more about a market he did not know.

  33. I went to see the property and I have to say it shows better than it did last year. They seem to have fixed the roof and done some cosmetic work. There are very few properties on the market in the area right now and so I would not be surprised if this sells quickly for the low 800s.

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