159 Downey circa 2006 (Image Source: MapJack.com)

As the onetime dry rot and insect infected 159 Downey looked when purchased for $895,000 in August 2006 above. As the newly expanded (both horizontally and vertically), exterminated, remodeled and refaced single-family Victorian looks today:

159 Downey

Asking $2,295,000 in 2010. And besides the stomach saving vinyl-and-rock-ectomy out front, it was the La Cornue in the kitchen that caught our eye inside.

159 Downey Kitchen

50 thoughts on “Up, Out, And Fake Rocks Be Gone At 159 Downey”
  1. That’s a great improvement in the facade. It looks like the owners made a huge investment in this property.
    A question on that kitchen photo : the upper cabinets appear to be really shallow, maybe nine inches deep. Is that an optical illusion ? Or maybe the world’s largest medicine cabinet ? I do like the open shelves in the corner : it makes that space a lot easier to reach.

  2. @TMoD – That appears to be perspective distortion at the edge of a wide angle lens. Look at the cabinet depth to the left of the range hood and compare it to those on the right. Unless different cabinets are different depths, you can see the apparent change as you move to the edge of the frame.
    @Editor – Rock-ectomy (ROCK-ECK-tomy) doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nice as Roc-kectomy (raw-KECK-tomy) does. I petition we move the hyphen over one letter

  3. You made me laugh bernalkid. Then I cried thinking of all of the other specimens like this in D10 and Daly City.
    rr – yeah, I had suspected perspective correction here though don’t recall it causing depth compression at edges. I’ll have to pay attention to other kitchen photos since using a 14mm lens for interior photos seems to have become de rigueur.
    But now I think I see what is going on. The photograph was taken just barely in front of the plane of the rightmost cabinet’s side wall. If the photographer had taken one step forward, you’d see no side wall at all. But at this location you barely see a little strip of panel in the original wide angle photo. The resulting perspective correction sort of makes the rest of the photo look right, but that side wall looks way off and just plain weird.
    Kudos to the owners of this place for improving the value of the neighborhood. I hope that they are rewarded for their efforts.

  4. This is about 4 houses up from me – the change was welcome and dramatic. I’m not surprised the stone was allowed to go – the old version of this house stuck out like a thumb compared to most others on the street. Modernizing and updating of homes has continued steadily since I moved onto Downey in the fall of 2005.
    What I am surprised about is the vertical rear addition. A house around the corner at Frederick and Stanyan was denied permission to expand into the rear yard around the same time.
    Homes on the west side of Downey are in much greater demand than homes on the east, as they generally have sweeping views from the rear. I have a lovely view of my neighbors behind me on Ashbury as they live their lives, for instance.

  5. This is a great restoration of a formerly remuddled Victorian. I love it when people put the original facades back on these buildings and this one is testament to how great they look when renovated. I’m sure they encountered no opposition to removing the fake stone facade, which is not original to the house.

  6. Absolutely spectacular remodel, I was blown away when I walked through the home on Sunday. The owner did a remarkable job of updating with what appears to be the finest of modern day conveniences and systems but at the same time he really stayed true to the essence of the 1890’s Victorian. The dark hardwood floors are beautiful, the dining room is elegant in particular the ceilings are very cool. The Kitchen area is an awesome space with big picture windows looking out with a great amount of sun-light shining through. Large/cool media room downstairs with access to the rear yard. High ceilings, incredible attention to detail and high end finishes…I loved the home, truly stunning!

  7. One of the best homes I have seen in a while! You can tell the remodel was done with a great amount of pride, passion and attention to detail. I have seen most homes in Cole Valley that have come up for sale in the last 6 months and this appears to be the best one of its caliber. I liked 173 Downey but this one flows better and the finishes in my opinion are better too. If you have not seen this home you must see it in order to get the full sense of the quality construction and finishes as well as to feel how good the home feels and flows in one of the City’s best neighborhoods…Well priced at $2,295,000 in my opinion.

  8. “Carlo” and “Christina” look like shill comments. Nice that the agent or owner waited 10 mins in between!
    Why is it that most shill comments have an excess of ellipses or at least ellipses that shouldn’t be there?

  9. Lot’s of Pride for sure; and Prejudice. LOL @ Shills.
    FWIW, I though 173 Downey was a great home and very well done. I liked it better than this home on paper.

  10. Does any one neutral out there think this is worth $ 2 MIL on downey street, whatever the reno quality, and have any comps to back it up?
    i live in the area, like it and know it well, and this pricing seems beyond.
    agreed the comments above sound staged.

  11. very well done remodel. nice stone work, nice fixtures. and a better view, imo, than 173 downey has.
    this nabe is seeing lots of high end sales lately; 173 downey,900 clayton, 2 other 900 block claytons,737 cole, 400something belvedere. this one will probably do just as well.

  12. I think they did a great job on this home. Remodeling these homes that have been left for dead is very difficult. It is especially challenging to try and actually restore it back to the period it was constructed.

  13. sfrenegade, I am neither the owner or agent just a neighbor on Frederick who really likes what they have done on this home and glad to see it done so well. I hope they get their price, clearly tthe owner has put a lot into it and it shows.

  14. Does any one neutral out there think this is worth $ 2 MIL on downey street, whatever the reno quality, and have any comps to back it up?
    Yes, 173 Downey sold for 2.3M about two weeks ago.
    For very nice SFRs this neighborhood seems to be doing the same as it did in 2006 and 2007, by and large.

  15. BobN – The way to detect a truly staged comment is to look for the chopped pillows. They look like this :
    .__ __. .__ __.
    ( V ) ( V )
    (_____) (_____)
    (or at least they look like chopped pillows in a fixed width font. I hope they come through on the SS font. Here goes ….)
    FWIW, the Carlos and Cristina comments also look to be generated by the same person to me. As sfrenegade notices “both” writers made the same unusual use of ellipsis at roughly the same place in their comment. Quite a coincidence if they are indeed two different people. Also know that a person need not be the owner or agent to be motivated to make shill comments. Owners and agents have friends too !

  16. Explain your thinking there, would you? How does being priced higher initially make something concrete? These Downey lots are small lots for 5-E, and 2.695M was a very tall order. Plus the market is better now than last July, or any other time since 173 Downey went on the market. So I don’t really follow your thinking at all.

  17. Wow! They performed a miracle on that ugle duckling of a house.
    I used to live on this block. Anyone planning to use public transit to get downtown from here is going to face very healthy uphill hike at the end of each day from the N-Judah stop at Carl & Cole. The walk in the morning is downhill, but the N-Judah is packed by the time it gets to that stop. For that reason alone I would never move back to that neighborhood.
    The price seems far too high for this street, but there is no denying that they did a beautiful job making great improvements to this property.
    Can someone clarify whether or not 173 actually sold and, if so, how the square footage compares to this property?

  18. bgelldawg – The walk up the hill isn’t a problem. It’s a moderate hill, not steep, and it’s a short distance. Most if not all my neighbors who ride the train are 25-45 and in great shape.
    The bigger issue for me is how crowded the trains are by the time they reach Carl and Cole, so I stopped riding the N to get to Civic Center very quickly after moving here. I switched to the 6-Parnassus, which stops on Frederick at Ashbury and adjusted my start time to avoid the worst of the crowds. Because of the overcrowding in the Market street tunnel during the morning rush the 6 takes maybe 5 minutes longer. The lower stress level because I wasn’t on a sardine can was well worth it.
    More recently I now walk to work because I’m tired of the erratic Muni and I get to 8th/Market in 40 minutes and am much healthier for it.
    The neighborhood has a large number of business executives and finance types as well as a very strong French expat community due to the French primary school at Ashbury and Frederick.
    There are just enough rentals (for people like me) and homes that have been in families for generations to keep it from being completely filled with the stereotypical Type A crowd. The very down to earth lady who lives across the street from me lives in the first home built on the street and the photos she has from that time are amazing.

  19. @anonn: You can’t even follow you’re own thinking.
    “For very nice SFRs this neighborhood seems to be doing the same as it did in 2006 and 2007, by and large.”
    If it was doing “the same”, the owner/remodeler/flipper would have gotten their price instead of $395K- plus taxes and other expenses- less. It was too expensive for the neighborhood when it came on the market. However lovely it might be.
    You realtors are all alike. The same lines over and over.

  20. Amazing home. I had the pleasure of touring it last week. The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and respect for original period architecture are evident throughout. This is blended seamlessly with all the updated pracitcal amenities most people and families could ever need. Will make a cozy abode and great place to entertain. If you are a native of this city, truly appreciate quality, and intend to invest in your long term dream home, you should check this place out. Naysayer pessimistic bloggers: Go rent a place on Telegraph – you will be disappointed with this property.*
    *Note: The above comment is not staged nor was it penned under duress, but was rather written of my own spontaneous, optimistic volition.

  21. If it was doing “the same”, the owner/remodeler/flipper would have gotten their price instead of $395K- plus taxes and other expenses- less. It was too expensive for the neighborhood when it came on the market. However lovely it might be.
    You realtors are all alike. The same lines over and over.

    Huh? Thanks. This site, man. Wow.
    What part of smaller lots, most expensive ever on street, or better market now than when they started didn’t you understand?
    Just because they priced it at 2.695 last summer doesn’t magically mean it would have gotten 2.695M in 2007. Even in a red hot market, overpricing is pretty much the only mistake one can make. I’ve sold a home in this area on a co-listing with the very same agent who sold 173. He knows the market. Looks to me like it was seller driven.
    So yeah. You don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re trying to talk down to me. Weird.

  22. Sweet ass home on a great block, this type of upgrade should be welcomed and appreciated. Many of the comments on here are silly. Seriously, you are complaining about the walk from Cole and Carl to Downey Street, give me a break. 173 Downey sold for $2.3 million and several other homes in the hood have sold for $2 million plus and this home should be no different especially given the quality of the work. As far as prices and values go, look to the SF Gate article, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/28/BUG61CKCG4.DTL, entitled, “Pinpointing home prices by ZIP code,” and you will read that homes in the 94117, which includes Cole Valley, Ashbury Heights and Buena Vista, are trading for slightly more than their peak per-square-foot prices. Good luck Mr. Seller with your sale you did a great job!

  23. bgelldawg…3150 square feet listed on the sales website for 173. So 730/square for a large house. Not cheap.

  24. this is my favorite neighborhood in the world, downey is a dream come true, and this house looks perfect . . . on the outside. to me, the inside just doesn’t look that great. lovely, to be sure, but not fabulous.

  25. 173 is about a third of a house larger. It was featured here as the home with the most spectacular kitchen listed around thanksgiving.
    Contrast this smaller home with a smaller nothin-special apartment sized kitchen that they are asking the same price as 173 sold for and you can see they have their work cut out for them.
    BTW, 173 was sold at a loss to the developer, so I can see why these guys want to try to get a higher price. No one wants to lose money – I don’t blame them.
    At least the developer here has lots of friends to come on here and shill for him. Bad sign: it seems like the homes that aren’t going to sell for anywhere near the price always get shilled the most and this is practically a record (note: 728 Duncan Street is still available). It’s almost like the developer here has a sixth sense or something!

  26. Silly ol’ bears. Don’t you understand that a place that takes 9 months to sell, goes for $400,000 under asking, and loses money for the developer is a sign of market strength, not weakness? And the market now is much better than it was way back on April 2 when 173 Downey closed. If you don’t get these obvious conclusions, then there is no point trying to explain my pretzel logic to you. Haters. Bitter renters. Talk downer to flujers.

  27. Saw it on Sunday. Very well done. I think the asking price is in-line with what things have been selling for in this neighborhood.
    We own a home in Cole Valley and can’t believe the comment about the long walk to Downey.

  28. From the website:
    1890s Victorian masterpiece
    Now they could sell it as a masterpiece renovation, but the original house was probably pretty standard for the time. But you’re not going to sell a 2M+ former working family house by saying it was plain and ordinary…

  29. loses money for the developer is a sign of market strength
    Why you’ve inserted your frequently errant novice self into this is obvious. You see people arguing with me and mistakenly think you can pile on. But yes, I agree with Tipster and happen to think that at 2.3M they probably didn’t make much. Whether it was a loss I can’t say. (Nor can the likes of Tipster, or, especially you.) But that’s why they tried to sell for 2.695 in a poor market when it was not supported by comps. You know, like I said? “Seller driven” ? So now it’s pretzel logic. haters. bitter. market better now than two weeks ago. pretzel logic. blahdy blah blah blah and blah some more.” Say something real once in a while.

  30. This isn’t a bad uphill walk at all. I live right nearby on Clayton Street. The southern part of this block of Downey St, where the house in question is located, is pretty flat, so the only uphill is the walk from Cole to Clayton. I also heartily agree with the rider of the 6-Parnassus – I’ll take it over the N in the mornings any day! All in all this is a great location and Downey St is a quiet street. However, the lots are small. I didn’t see this house yet, but the small size of the rooms in 173 Downey really struck me (compared to the room sizes of our house on Clayton) and I suspect that this house has similar room sizes.

  31. No kidding. Downey St has done remarkably well for such a cramped street. There appears to be a vacant lot across the street here begging for development.

  32. Staging be dammed. Listed @ $2,499,950 11 days ago; 200k over its 2010 sale price and already In Escrow. More like en fuego. This has to be one of the worst staged homes I’ve seen in a while; as in, it’s not staged.

  33. Pretty good. Did about 1% better than inflation over the last two years.
    A loss in real dollars with the commissions, but let’s pretend those doesn’t exist.
    S&P 500 is up 25% over the last two years – with negligible commissions, no property taxes, and dividends. Does “en fuego” mean sputtering?

  34. anon: A house is more than an investment. It is also shelter. So perhaps a more apropos metric is the cost/benefit of ownership to that of renting, not to the performance of the stock market — which, by the way, has also had periods where it dropped faster than the housing market.

  35. NJ, I wholeheartedly agree. If you add up the total cost of ownership for the two years — property taxes, commissions, mortgage interest, etc. — the 2010 owners came out about even. Pretty astounding given that they sold the place for 200k more than they paid for it!
    I was just reacting to the “+9%” that eddy noted. If one IS going to discuss a home as an investment, then it is appropriate to compare it to other investments.

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