CFAH

830 El Camino Del Mar

From a plugged-in reader last June:

“I know this house and [had] spoken with this owner decades ago. Since 1998 he has put it on the market 11 times, each time with a [high-end/profile] realtor at an improbable price.”

Make that twelve. 830 El Camino Del Mar is back on the market asking $15,000,000. And while that’s $3,000,000 less than eight months ago, it’s also $6,000,000 more than was being asked in 2002.

830 El Camino Del Mar: Living

Once again, two bedrooms and under 4,000 square feet, but “approved plans for a huge [penthouse] addition sure to be the world’s most dynamic master” are included.

830 El Camino Del Mar: Roof and expansion area

Our estimated cost to actually affect said addition on this particular home? Priceless…

UPDATE: With new photos added to the listing since we first posted and an “interactive brochure” now online (complete with soothing wave sounds), our piece on 830 El Camino Del Mar heads back to the top of the page.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by jessep

    By the way, I love the rocks above the fireplace.
    Great touch. =)

  2. Posted by Morgan

    It’s not just the Lava Rock fireplace, but the whole style seems to say Hawaii 1975. Was the owner’s original goal to make this feel like Hawaii in Seacliff? I have always thought this house would be an incredible remodel project, but not at this price. Funny, in that I am posting from island of Lana’i where I am working on a project , and if this style and vintage of home were in the islands, it would command a premium as this “look” is rather popular right now with clients.

  3. Posted by kthnxybe

    So talking about seemingly unsalable Sea Cliff properties, whatever did happen to The Captain’s House (300 Sea Cliff)? Did it ever get sold? If it did, who bought it?
    [Editor’s Note: Withdrawn without selling as far as we know.]

  4. Posted by eroom

    Didn’t the rock band “jefferson airplane’ own this once?

  5. Posted by Sleepiguy

    My eyes just glazed over while trying to read that…
    Seriously, what is this house actually “worth?” Say you wanted to sell it tomorrow – 6 million? 5 million? Maybe less?
    Also, what exactly does “approved plans” mean? Planning is still a bit of a mystery to even me. Even if plans are “approved,” that certainly doesn’t mean you can start construction ASAP.

  6. Posted by flaneur

    It beats any penthouse…

  7. Posted by Carter

    $15 Million…and not even a yard.

  8. Posted by SausalitoRes

    Stunning. Amazing ocean views. Nothing about this home feels like “San Francisco”…and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
    The outside decks are spectacular but doesn’t Sea Cliff tend to be foggy and cold?
    And seriously, $15 million for a two-bedroom? That’s >$3,750 per square foot (putting aside the value of the expansion potential). The 2002 sale price of $9 million is >$2,250 per square foot, which may be about right. How many single-family homes in San Francisco have sold over $2K per square foot?
    That said, when’s the open house?
    [Editor’s Note: Just to be clear, 830 El Camino Real was asking but failed to sell for $9,000,000 in 2002.]

  9. Posted by SausalitoRes

    @ LMRiM
    Care to take a SWAG at “Fair Value”?

  10. Posted by Eoral

    Yes, used to be owned by one of the Jefferson Airplane crew. Not sure which, maybe Grace?
    As for the crack about a backyard, honestly, you have the pacific ocean. If you really really need a lawn, the golf course is only 2 blocks away.

  11. Posted by San FronziScheme

    Agreed with flaneur. I’d take this place over any “luxury” tower penthouses.
    Amazing location, place, feel.

  12. Posted by jessep

    Is this really a bad price? It is SeaCliff.

  13. Posted by EH

    Needs a window where the fireplace is.

  14. Posted by LMRiM

    No, SausalitoRes, properties like this are really too unique for sensible fair value analysis. That’s going to be true for some small portion of any asset class, especially when the asset class is characterized by such heterogeneity of assets as residential real estate. However, I will say that this seller seems pretty delusional (from the long history of failed attempts to sell) and probably values the property higher than anyone else in the world does!

  15. Posted by BobN

    OK, I want the sliding skylight!
    But what’s the point of double-pane deck railings?

  16. Posted by Geo

    You just have to ask yourself why now??? in the teeth of the worst economic downturn since anyone can recall….
    Bizarre.

  17. Posted by Louis

    yes, this is a bad price. there is a fair value for everything. in seacliff of not.
    if you wanted to sell this today – that means close in 90 days – $5-6 MIL.
    if you had “time” – $8-9 MIL.

  18. Posted by eddy

    I think the home is incredible. The view from the kitchen looks like a Plasma TV it’s so clear! I’m glad it’s on the market as otherwise I’d never need the pics. I would agree that this is probaly a hard home to value. What to Malibu beach front homes sell for on a psf basis. I’d put this at 65% of that price given that it’s not Malibu, not beachfront.

  19. Posted by kaya

    @Sleepiguy
    “Approved plans” means that there is already a permit that just needs to be renewed (automatic, albeit with a fee). If the buyer wanted to make any changes to the approved plans, they’d have to get approval for revised plans. Depending on how long ago the originals were approved and how extensive the revisions, it could get complicated.

  20. Posted by LMRiM

    With all respect, I think you guys are confusing “fair value” (or “intrinsic value”) with conceptions of “fair MARKET value”. Fundamental value has a lot of theoretical and practical limitations as an analysis tool, but it certainly doesn’t depend on how quickly the property needs to be sold! That’s very much along the lines of an FMV-type concept used by appraisers, agents, etc. (meaning arms’ length, no distress, etc.). I’d definitely defer to eddy and Louis regarding what this would likely sell for.

  21. Posted by sleepiguy

    Well, that’s why I put “worth” in quotes. lol.. I knew I should have avoided using the word all together!
    Kaya, thanks.. That is what I wanted to know. I still wonder, though, if applying for a new permit even with identical plans there would still be a subsequent review process making sure that the previously approved plans match current code guidelines. (They probably don’t) Then, any minor changes made to existing plans would have to go through planning all over again. That said, the odds of a high-end buyer following existing plans to the letter are pretty much nil.

  22. Posted by jessep

    question, do GG views pay a big premium?

  23. Posted by movingback

    And at this very unrealistic price, the owner will once again continue to waste another agent’s time and money.

  24. Posted by Anon

    Absolutely beautiful, although it is probably not a wise idea to wander the grounds after a few drinks.
    I know the subject may be worn out, but is it too much to ask that a MLS description be written in proper English?

  25. Posted by jessep

    This sold for 3 million in 1997? God what a difference 10 years makes.

  26. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    “This sold for 3 million in 1997? God what a difference 10 years makes.”
    The owner’s only asking for a 16% CAGR on this place.
    I don’t know what the issue is? That’s really not that much.
    Pretty much any dart-tossing monkey made 16%/year returns since 1997 in practically every asset class.
    He should be asking $20 million.
    Or perhaps “billion” for that matter….

  27. Posted by Mark D.

    Re: “And at this very unrealistic price, the owner will once again continue to waste another agent’s time and money.”
    The waste of agent’s time and money is completely at the discretion of the agent. The agent always could have (and should have) refused the listing unless the property was priced at a level that s/he thought it could sell at.

  28. Posted by Max2

    If you are a geologist and would like to speak to ground stability, please pipe-anonymously-up.

  29. Posted by viewlover

    did this really sell for 3 million in 97? I remember seeing this on the back of the real estate times and I thought it was much higher than that.

  30. Posted by The Drizzler

    “Pretty much any dart-tossing monkey made 16%/year returns since 1997 in practically every asset class.”
    Ummmm…no they didn’t. People that made $ in dot com stocks in the late 90s lost it. People that made $ in real estate in the 2000s lost it. People that were cautiously invested in the stock market since 1997 and remained invested through the train wreck we are in have made about 4% CAGR. So what dart-tossing monkeys do you know that have made 16% CAGR over the last decade? Most monkeys, just like the rest of us, don’t know how to sell at the top…

  31. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    ’twas simple sarcasm from me, my good man.

  32. Posted by LMRiM

    I think plain old US Treasury bonds returned CAGR of about 10% (including coupon) since about 1997, but I’d have to check.
    It wasn’t too hard to get out of stocks in 1999, or in 2007. If you missed the exact top (who didn’t?), it wasn’t too difficult to get out before much damage was done to your portfolio. That’s what trailing stops are for!

  33. Posted by The Drizzler

    Debtpocalypse – My bad for not picking up the sarcasm. People have made crazy statements along those lines on here before…
    LMRiM – Really? That seems high but I have to admit, I am not a Treasury guy so I’m not even sure how exactly to figure it out. But I would be curious to see the back of the envelope analysis if you feel like sharing it.
    Oh, and regarding this house – yes it is probably overpriced in this environment but I would love to own it, I think it’s great RE porn.

  34. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “The view from the kitchen looks like a Plasma TV it’s so clear!”
    That’s actually photograph trickery at work. What you are seeing in photo #6 is a composite of two exposures.
    A normal photo would either show the interior too dark or the exterior view washed out and nearly white. Look at photo #13 : that’s a normal interior view outside of a window. The view out the window is almost completely white.

  35. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    Errr…. aren’t the windows in photo #13 simply frosted?

  36. Posted by LMRiM

    Debtpocalypse,
    OT ALERT
    If I still had my bloomberg terminal it would be trivial to figureout the returns on Tbonds, but those days are past for me.
    Digging around the internet quickly, I came up with this, showing tbond returns of (nominal) +10% over 25 years (!!):
    http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=8581578&story_id=12582907
    You can also back into it by using a little bond math by looking at the fed’s 30Y constant maturity series (the 30Y has breaks because they stopped issuing them for a while):
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/data/Annual/H15_TCMNOM_Y30.txt
    (add the coupon, assume semiannual reinvestment, and calculate the change in principal amount using standard YTM function – that’s what bloomberg is for 🙂 )
    Just eyeballing the data, and the economist’s 25-year calculated rolling return averages, 10% CAGR since 1997 seems in the ballpark. Last year alone, they returned around 30%!

  37. Posted by Debtpocalypse

    Wow. Thanks for that.
    I had actually pulled up the 30-Year Treasury chart from yahoo to eyeball what they were yielding back in 1997, and found a high yield of ~7.125% in April of that year.
    That Economist article is essential reading for young investors to understand why they should exercise contrarianism at every available opportunity.
    FWIW, I don’t think the long-end is going to provide today’s investors with +10% returns over the next 25 years… LOL.
    ————————————–
    Since it’s a weekend, and obviously time to derail at least one thread….
    Just to test my bond math. Your referenced Fed table indicates 1997 constant maturity was 6.61%. In 2008 it’s indicated at 4.28%.
    Back in 1997:
    N = 30
    PV = -100 (assume)
    FV = 100 (assume)
    I/Y = 6.61
    Ergo…
    PMT = 6.61 (annual… given, since coupon = yield for bond priced at par)
    Move that bond’s coupon stream forward to 2008 and calculate PV using the new constant maturity rate:
    FV = 100
    PMT = 6.61
    N = 30 – 11 = 19
    I/Y = 4.28
    PV = 129.88

  38. Posted by Carter

    “As for the crack about a backyard, honestly, you have the pacific ocean. If you really really need a lawn, the golf course is only 2 blocks away.”
    For $15 Million I would like a patch of grass for my dog to go pee…
    Golfers get cranky when you let the dog on the fairway.

  39. Posted by Jim

    This was the projected site of two houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright but never built. In 1945, Mr. and Mrs. V. C. Morris came to Wright and he designed an elaborate multistory house dropping down the hillside – sort of a high-rise in reverse. Then in 1948, the Morrises had Wright design beautiful Morris Gift Shop on Maiden Lane (now the Zanadu Gallery), precursor to the Guggenheim museum, with its reinforced concrete spiral ranp. In 1953 Wright produced another house design for the Morrises on the site, but this time located half way down the cliff, and somewhat more affordable. Mr. Morris died before it could be built. Subsequently Mrs. Morris commissioned a different house in Marin, but Wright died (1959) before it could be built.

  40. Posted by Eoral

    Have the dog pee off the cliff.

  41. Posted by missionite

    “Then in 1948, the Morrises had Wright design beautiful Morris Gift Shop on Maiden Lane (now the Zanadu Gallery)”
    I was just there with my little boy two months ago. It is a mini-guggenheim, and has beautiful and remarkable lighting that is also original and designed by Mr. Wright. Also has a special “cat tunnel” under the ramp, with several exit points that were designed to accomodate the Morrises cats.
    Zanadu Gallery has some truly ancient pieces, and qualifies in my mind as a museum where you can buy the stuff on exhibit (provided you got the dough). Unbelievable experience, and costs nothing. If you are in Union Square you should stop by, as it’s fifteen minutes well spent.

  42. Posted by Rocco

    Sothebys could afford proofreaders. Checking out the virtual media there’s definitely an oceanic theme here, but plaster is not trawled, it’s troweled. Trawlers are those big ships that catch fish in nets. Sort of like Sothebys, come to think.
    Nice house, and one of San Francisco’s postcard opportunities, but very tired looking. The decor screams “Grandma’s house”.

  43. Posted by Kathleen

    Book ’em Danno. Wasting time should be a crime.

  44. Posted by Mole Man

    Return on bonds should outpace appreciation on properties. Tracking government inflation numbers the value of this property should have gone from $3 million to almost $4 million.
    For those curious about earthquake information, some of the most accessible and relevant is on the Association of Bay Area Governments site here:
    http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/
    It might be worth mentioning that most of the information for these reports comes from the USGS.

  45. Posted by crash

    I visited this house in 1977 when members of Jefferson Starship still owned it. Looked a lot different then. Waaay overpriced now.

  46. Posted by Ryan

    “10 minutes to downtown”
    Are you sure?

  47. Posted by joe shmoe

    It does look spectacular, but that price is very high. Everybody has their own risk perceptions, and while aggressive tree planting may have helped stabilize the cliff, who knows? I’d want to have a geologist inspect the site even it was much cheaper.
    Sea Cliff does seem to be a part of town where sellers and potential buyers have different ideas about what it is worth. Very trendy and popular with the stars decades ago, I have not heard about any new high profile residents (correct me if I’m wrong). It is still a great neighborhood to live in, great housing stock, ample parking, easy access to parks and restaurants, but it seems to have lost the luster that propelled it when Cheech and everybody was moving there.

  48. Posted by bgelldawg

    For $15 million, you would think they could take a moment to proofread the ad copy.
    “double-pained” skylight? I’m sure that is what it will be when it leaks. The furniture and carpet in that room will be faded in months with that exposure. And with it open, I hope you don’t mind sea gull crap in your house.
    “Brazilian blood wood?” I’m sure it is.
    What is so special about the “destined for a museum” front door?
    I don’t understand why the marketing for this and other properties includes extreme close ups of furniture, flowers, and decorative items that aren’t included in the sale.
    The roof deck photo is taken from an extreme corner and make me wonder if the view of the bridge is partially blocked from elsewhere on that deck.
    One bit of spot-on accurate marketing: If you pay $15 million for this place, “Your life may never be the same.”

  49. Posted by diemos

    “For $15 million, you would think they could take a moment to proofread the ad copy.”
    You would think that the prospect of getting 6% of $15M would be sufficient motivation to do a good job. However, since the reality is that they are going to get 6% of nothing for this listing they gave it all the attention it deserved.

  50. Posted by anonna

    “People that made $ in real estate in the 2000s lost it. People that were cautiously invested in the stock market since 1997 and remained invested through the train wreck we are in have made about 4% CAGR.”
    A lot of people who bought in the early 2000’s made a huge return on r.e. in sf, and you have no idea what they did with it, pal. LOL. This type of post is a validation of 1/2 of certain serial posters endgames. Kudos to Tipster and others. Job well done. Now to get that $.50 Pacific Heights condo!
    And Eddy, I was just in Malibu yesterday. It does not contain a view that is remotely comparable to the one this propety offers. Tough to put a pricetag on this sort of thing tho, agreed.

  51. Posted by Salarywoman

    Something else is going on here. I don’t think this house is really for sale.

  52. Posted by anonna

    “You would think that the prospect of getting 6% of $15M”
    Is it too much to ask for accurate realtor bashing? If you’re going to go that route (you are) at least get the metrics right? LOL. But for the record, the MLS blurb I would deliver for 90K would blow yer everlovin mind.

  53. Posted by diemos

    “Is it too much to ask for accurate realtor bashing?”
    I shall strive for greater precision in my realtor bashing. 😉
    And also for the record, 6% of 15M is $900K.

  54. Posted by LMRiM

    LOL, diemos. On a related topic, maybe 5 months back I was a “fly on the wall” during a Tuesday broker’s tour for a $3Mish Tiburon house. The hosting realtor was on the phone (no one else was there) and she was discussing something with someone who seemed to be another realtor. She was trying to figure out half of 4.75%, and the (one sided) one sided dialogue was hysterical. They went back and forth, and at one time I heard her exclaim, “Well, I know that half of 5% is 2.5%, but I don’t have a calculator with me now so I can’t tell you what half of 4.75 is.” I don’t think they figured it out (tough to tell because I was only hearing one side of the conversation).
    I later asked my just-turning 5 year-old what’s half of 4.75 and within seconds he said “2.375”. True story, although I’m sure many of the readers out there will doubt it, etc. (I could do that problem at 4, and I’m sure you could have, too, diemos.)

  55. Posted by jessep

    I’m curious…are there any stories about houses in Sea Cliff “falling off the cliff” so to speak? That looks dangerously uneasy to me…particularly in Earthquake City.
    No question the views are incredible. =)

  56. Posted by anonna

    And also for the record, 6% of 15M is $900K.
    haha. true. Whoops. Best believe I’d make it purty readin for 900 dollas too.
    But why 6, and why all to one person? Because you are a realtor basher!
    Let’s definitely keep each other honest, tho. You’re the only one I can trust Diemos ole buddy ole pal.

  57. Posted by anonna

    “I later asked my just-turning 5 year-old what’s half of 4.75 and within seconds he said “2.375”. True story, although I’m sure many of the readers out there will doubt it, etc.”
    yeah well one time you said the fair value of a rather attractive victorian house on steiner was like 47 cents or something. (Not really, but probably closer to the sum than your guess.) so save it. most people one will encounter in america suck at math. surely you know this.

  58. Posted by diemos

    “But why 6, and why all to one person? Because you are a realtor basher!”
    Edumacate me compadre. From what I’ve picked up it’s split half between sell side and buy side and then split in half again between the agent and his office.
    So what is the going rate these days?

  59. Posted by sleepiguy

    Regarding the 6% commission. I’ve bought and sold several properties over the years (including peak years) and neither I nor the sellers were ever charged over 4.5% and I’ve only ever used the top realtors in the city. Did any seller ever pay the full 6%?

  60. Posted by anonna

    These days it is 5 by and large. Then that is split in two. So either agent takes half minus the broker’s cut.
    That said, with an albatross such as this one? Heck, man. At this goofy pricepoint? They should pay 10 points to the rainmaker.

  61. Posted by San FronziScheme

    A lot of people who bought in the early 2000’s made a huge return on r.e. in sf, and you have no idea what they did with it, pal.
    Some took the money and ran, while others doubled up and are still waiting for the market to bail them out… You’ve got also a few in-betweens, that built a cushy rainy-day/ready-to-pounce fund but still invested in RE. Smartest hedging move, imho. Never put all your eggs in one basket.

  62. Posted by sf

    The best piece of land in the country. Pacific Heights & Concrete, no thank you!

  63. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Debtpocalypse – yeah, that is probably frosted glass. I couldn’t find any other good example in this listing since all of the window shots are doctored.
    If you want to see what undoctored window views, take a look at most other listings. For example, see the window views here :
    http://sfarmls.rapmls.com/scripts/mgrqispi.dll?APPNAME=Sanfrancisco&PRGNAME=MLSPropertyDetail&ARGUMENTS=-N341608376,-N231373,-N,-A,-N17047790

  64. Posted by Rubicon

    this thread may be played out but . . .
    one intriguing aspect of real estate is striving to appreciate “intrinsic value”
    to detatch from the herd and be brutally honest with yourself — easier said than done — indeed, constant vigilance required
    Anyway, re. intrinsic value, reading a book last night I came across a passage wherein the character built a grand house in Rock Creek Park in D.C. and in order to do so had to pull all his money out of the stock market — just before the Crash of ’29
    “From the bathroom window, James observed the green of Rock Creek Park, already hazy in the moring heat. Fortunately the house was cool. Built of solid gray stone, it was exactly the sort of house he had alway wanted. Walls that would last for centuries, high-ceilinged rooms, long windows with a view of gardens. He was hardly a rich man but he had never once regretted bulding the house, which had, in any case, saved him from being wiped out by the Depression. For no reason other than a desire to build a great house, he had taken his money out of the stock market and put it into stone, mortar, wood, slate, glass, and made something beautiful which would last forever, despite a recently increased mortgage.”

  65. Posted by Eoral

    There was one house that sort of fell off the Cliff, only it wasn’t into the water, it was into the gully of the Presidio off 25th Ave and El Camino Del Mar. Its an empty lot now, but I remember seeing it on the news at the time, a drain pipe broke that channeled the stream, and the house basically rolled down the hill into the gully. Was at the intersection of Sea Cliff, Presidio and Lake Street neighborhoods.

  66. Posted by FormerAptBroker

    annona wrote:
    > These days it is 5 by and large. Then that
    > is split in two. So either agent takes half
    > minus the broker’s cut.
    I have (almost) never represented myself in any real estate transaction and I always paid a 6% fee with 2% to the listing agent and 4% to the selling agent. When you do this (for a normal well priced property) you always get top dollar since every agent with a buyer in the county is trying to sell your home.
    P.S. As a young apartment broker I took a couple overpriced high end listings that I knew would never sell since it gave me a reason to call the owners of other high end properties. I would also mention the high end listing when talking to the owners of low end properties who would think I was older and not a 23 year old kid just out of college…

  67. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    FWIW, I don’t think the long-end is going to provide today’s investors with +10% returns over the next 25 years… LOL.
    No kidding. I remember Satchel touting TLT back in December, it is already down 16% from its high mid-December. Anyone long on the far end of the T curve is really taking a huge inflationary risk right now, imo.

  68. Posted by Paul Hwang

    This house has amazing views, but seems to have gone through a couple of iterations.

  69. Posted by jlasf

    So many thoughts, where to begin:
    Here is an animated view of Wright’s Morris House for this location:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2fSPS4y6qc
    Xanadu Gallery. Yes, great building. But I want to beat the current owners with a stick whenever I see the cheesy “Open” sign they cut into the gate. Have some respect for a great building!
    About sun damage from the skylights: check out Huber Optik.
    They make amazing UV window coating that is truly invisible.
    As for snarky comments: the bedding looks like a Motel 6.
    Most of the ceiling lights are really bad.
    Great views, but Sea Cliff gets lots of foggy days in the summer.
    10 minutes to downtown? By helicopter.
    $15,000,000 in this economy? Yeah, right. (Or perhaps, Wright.)

  70. Posted by Conifer

    Greater fool theory, now failing. Seller cannot find a single greater fool after all this time. A lot of people who want to live in Sea Cliff, want to live in real SF, which this house is not. A wonderful real SF house on El Camino del Mar recently sold, for about $4 million, roughly $1000/sq ft. Needed upgrading of kitchen and baths, but otherwise fine as is. An old time San Franciscan might not even change it much.

  71. Posted by derrysf

    @ jlasf,
    I think you mean Hüper Optik films, great stuff.

  72. Posted by Eoral

    Real SF? How is Sea Cliff any less real than HP, the Sunset or Haight?

  73. Posted by Geo

    Price reduced to $13.9 maybe a serious seller this time 😉

  74. Posted by Geo

    Now $11.5 million — they are motivated now…

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