1640 Fulton
Purchased as a 3,245 square foot fixer for $1,199,000 in 2006, the “Grand Victorian Estate” at 1640 Fulton is back on the market for $1,400,000 having yet to be fixed up, unlike the NoPa neighborhood in which it resides. Now where to put the La Cornue
∙ Listing: 1640 Fulton (5/2) 3,245 sqft – $1,400,000 [Redfin]
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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Sausalito_res

    I’ll go against the grain on this one and say that it’s a shame this house will be renovated. It shows poorly due to the furnishings and window-coverings. A reasonably modest amount of money, judiciously spent (exterior paint, blinds, floorcoverings, some work in the kitchen, bathrooms?) would make this place very liveable for a family without great wealth.
    Why must every old house in the city be tarted-up as some sort of Architectural Digest wannabe? San Francisco is losing its soul, one old house at a time.
    Just say no to granite counters!

  2. Posted by lyqwyd

    It looks like it just needs cosmetic upgrades, although it could need electrical and plumbing. Seems like a reasonable price for the size and location unless there are some major systems upgrades needed.

  3. Posted by shza

    ^^ They’re asking 1.4 million for it as is. For a family making less than 400-500k a year, it’s a stretch already. The middle class is not in the market, regardless of what renovations might be made.

  4. Posted by futurist

    Who said anything about granite counters?
    Just cosmetic upgrades? Really?
    Foundations are likely unreinforced brick.
    No insulation at exterior walls.
    Electrical and plumbing systems outdated.
    Probably single glazed windows.
    Exterior siding appears to be cement asbestos panels. Underneath is mostly likely original Victorian siding and trim.
    Big place. Could become grand once again.

  5. Posted by BDB

    There are much nice houses on Baker/Lyon that have sold, and I don’t think any of them have gone for 1.4M Looking at Zillow I’ve seen a couple around the 1.3 mark and they were not fixers.

  6. Posted by lyqwyd

    Note the word NEED. Also note that I said unless there are major systems upgrade, which a foundation, plumbing or electrical upgrade would qualify under. And you have no knowledge of the status of the foundation, it could have been upgraded since it was originally built.
    The rest is optional. Sure somebody could choose to make those changes, but the house is perfectly livable as is.

  7. Posted by CH

    Zero chance this gets fixed up as a Victorian or middle-class family housing.

  8. Posted by futurist

    When buys a house at this price range, one should also be realistic and make long term prudent decisions about the remodeling.
    “Cosmetic” upgrades are not long term. One assumes that the foundations and all other major systems are inadequate and outdated. Sure you can do these changes in phases, based on cost, but long term it makes sense to bring the entire house up to 21st century standards, making it ready for the next 100 years.

  9. Posted by Joshua

    who was the stager — great work on pic 3 & 4

  10. Posted by lyqwyd

    Recent nearby single family sales in the last year:
    ADDRESS Sale Price BEDS BATHS SQFT Sale Date
    2 Atalaya Ter $1,225,000 3 1.5 2125 4/27/2012
    601 Broderick $1,401,000 4 2 4085 5/21/2012
    1045 Divisadero $3,850,000 5 3.5 5137 4/13/2012
    2145 Turk Blvd $1,285,000 3 3.5 2120 2/22/2012
    442 Lyon $1,222,000 3 3 2140 12/28/2011
    2011 Golden Gate Ave $2,300,000 5 4.5 11/1/2011
    1960 Golden Gate Ave $600,000 1 1135 12/1/2011
    332 Ewing Ter $1,290,000 3 2 9/7/2011

  11. Posted by lyqwyd

    Not everybody wants to remodel. And one doesn’t assume anything when buying a house, one gets inspections.
    As I said before, the price seems fair for what it is unless there are major systems upgrades needed.

  12. Posted by wc1

    Maybe someone will buy it who will love it and keep the original layout. However as futurist said, it still needs to brought into the 21st century.
    Great bones, and it looks like it’s the worst (or close to it) on the block – good potential.
    Regardless of your opinion of granite, no one is going to want to live with that kitchen even close to how it is now.
    All the stuff that people don’t see is what needs fixing here. The million dollar question is how much will that cost?

  13. Posted by sf

    Why would anyone want to buy a house like this and get tangled up in litigation from neighborhood busybodies and preservationists when you want to do something as simple as painting the stairs?

  14. Posted by futurist

    No, sf: Preservationists and so called neighborhood busybodies have nothing to do with painting the stairs. Where did you hear or read that?
    As for the cost of the renovations items I mentioned: I would probably budget $500-750k for all the work. And of course you could spend more.

  15. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    There are buyers who want this much space but can barely afford the asking price. Those buyers would be limited to basic cosmetic improvements without “needing” to do major upgrades. Those major improvements can come later after savings are built up because after all isn’t it cheaper to own than rent in the long run?
    The constant push towards fully upgraded homes is one of the factors that keeps the middle class from moving into the city. Not everyone needs a high end home. Many just want space in a workable structure.
    This block seems to have a really deep lots. 150′ ?

  16. Posted by futurist

    @ MOD. Don’t think you get it.
    I’m not talking about a high end home. I’m talking about upgrading a big Victorian so the electrical is safe in all rooms, the plumbing doesn’t burst in the middle of the night inside a wall, the windows don’t allow cold air to infiltrate, a decent heating system to use during our cold, damp winters, a functional kitchen and baths, and yes, a foundation that does not collapse when the Big One comes. Yes, the front exterior renovation could wait for a while.
    As for the “middle-class” moving to the city and owning a home, the existing home prices already seem to preclude that from really happening. Not everyone can afford to live and own here. Just reality. Not a judgement.

  17. Posted by DataDude

    Isn’t the best comp for today’s market value the 2006 price +/- an adjustment for whether today’s apples in this hood have appreciated or declined over the past 6 years?
    Maybe the current owners bought 6 years ago with idea of replacing foundation, systems, roof and skin; and after six years of neighbor disputes have thrown in the towel?

  18. Posted by Craig

    @ Futurist: Any thoughts on this neighborhood? Have you spent any time there? (Seems to me that it is becoming a pretty desirable area these days.)

  19. Posted by Invented

    Kill the shingles. Re-facade. Fulton is somehow a harsh, unpleasant traffic-y street. Although we have cycle lanes.

  20. Posted by BDB

    @lyqwyd Nice list – Thanks!
    601 Broderick is the old Church – A Corner Lot.
    That’s an interesting sale in it’s own right. I’m assuming to be demolished and rebuilt as a 2-3 level apartment building.
    I could go through the others, but my point was more about how spending 1.4 to purchase this and then spend 3-x00K renovating it seems like a lot for the area.
    It’s on Fulton which is less desirable than the N/S running streets. It’s 3 lanes on that block of traffic.
    I just think it’s expensive for something that cosmetically needs work.

  21. Posted by curmudgeon

    Best realtor description EVER!
    601 Broderick is a charming old church on an oversized lot (+/-4996 sq ft) in the heart of NOPA. The church is approximately 4,280 square feet. Not for the faint of heart or the faithless. This property needs a revival. If your clients are clamoring for something different, you can make them believers. Transform the building into something new and spectacular. Heaven only knows what the possibilities could be!

  22. Posted by sparky-b

    I agree. This seems expensive. $1.4M and needs work in the western addition. I would think there are better deals out there, partly becuase I don’t think there are many people locked into looking in that location, they probably have a wider net.

  23. Posted by curmudgeon

    Re: what sparky-b says…despite the fact that the neighborhood has come up, I agree that people are not locked into that location. The advantage is that it’s central and there is great GGPark access. But it is not great for a commute South (like Noe, for instance); the commute downtown on Muni, in a word, sucks (much better to be on muni metro line), and the neighborhood, although a lot more vibrant than it once was is still a bit barren of commerce. I think that should keep a lid on prices.

  24. Posted by moz

    “Just say no to granite counters!”
    Amen to that.

  25. Posted by sparky-b

    Why? What do you like better

  26. Posted by BDB

    The commute downtown is fantastic on a bike, assuming you don’t get nailed by Stanley Roberts and his people behaving badly segment..
    I live in the neighbourhood, and it’s certainly a lot nicer than it was 13 years ago, but I don’t see any trophy houses popping up yet, which would be the sign that it is Noe-esque.

  27. Posted by lyqwyd

    I just point to the comps.
    3,200+ square feet is pretty big, and it’s on a big lot. At asking this is priced as $431 psf, while the comps, except for the church were between $525 – $750 psf. Some of those were fixers as well.
    Somebody could spend $750K as futurist suggests, but there’s no way that is required, and it probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. If they wanted to upgra
    Fulton is a busy street, and I definitely agree that this is not the best block in the neighborhood, but neither is it the worst, and NOPA is a hot neighborhood.
    Nobody is locked into any location, but for anybody who is looking to live in NOPA, particularly in a single family, this is a good option.
    It’s priced well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go over asking.
    The church is definitely not a good comp, but I didn’t want to edit the comps. Taking it out only makes this place look better priced.
    I live in the neighborhood, so I am biased. It may not have the busiest commercial district in SF, but it’s far from barren, with plenty of great restaurants and shops.

  28. Posted by futurist

    Well, here’s my take on this property, again.
    This is an up and coming central urban neighborhood. Just because it does not have the cache’ of the Noe south bay commute, doesn’t mean it can’t be a great urban commute downtown.
    There are only so many of these very large, old Victorians left. As each one gets bought up and renovated the price rises on the remaining un-renovated ones. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Newer units/condos are no where near this size of square footage, and are priced much higher.
    Long term, with carefully phased renovations (both needed and cosmetic) will make this property more valuable and desirable in the very near future.

  29. Posted by lyqwyd

    ^^^ No argument there.

  30. Posted by shza

    But is this place really up 17% apples-to-apples since 2006? That’s what strikes me as insane here. But I guess we’ll see.

  31. Posted by lyqwyd

    That’s a good point, the neighborhood is doing well, but are prices really above the peak? And by that much? Hard to believe when you put it that way…

  32. Posted by Jack

    Well the neighborhood has improved tremendously over the last 6 years or so, IMO.
    There are/is:
    Great restaurants ( nopa, Little Star, Ragazza, Green Chile, Bar Crudo, etc.)
    Grocery stores (Whole Foods, Lucky, Falettis, Trader Joes, Bi-Rite coming soon)
    Coffee Shops (Central Coffee, Matching Half, The Mill coming soon)
    Great access to parks (GG, panhandle, Presidio, Alamo Square)
    Target coming soon (hopefully)
    Etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. Love it here.

  33. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “I’m talking about upgrading a big Victorian so the electrical is safe in all rooms, the plumbing doesn’t burst in the middle of the night inside a wall, the windows don’t allow cold air to infiltrate, a decent heating system to use during our cold, damp winters, a functional kitchen and baths, and yes, a foundation that does not collapse when the Big One comes.”
    I think I see where this one is headed. Tell the client that their house is a ticking time bomb with all manner of menace ready to leap forth from within the walls. OK, now we’re bought into a whole systems upgrade and, hey, since all of the walls need to be opened up then why not reconfigure the whole place? Move the staircase, flip the dining and living rooms, create a master suite. Now we’re talking big architecture fees.
    Neat trick there, playing on the client’s fears to upsell. Though it totally makes sense to go for it with more design options once the plaster is torn off the walls the motivation should be the other way around. Doing a radical remodel? Then you should upgrade systems since the walls are gonna get torn up anyways.
    Yes, old systems do eventually fail though very few people can predict when end-of-life approaches on any one system. Clients should be wary of accepting advice from people who have little hands-on experience but who benefit from selling enhanced services.
    When the electrical and plumbing were installed into this house they were done to the code at the time which is based on the same engineering principles as modern day code. Nothing has changed except now we have access to more modern materials that can reduce costs. In fact some of the old systems are safer in some aspects compared to today’s. For example a rat can gnaw through Romex and create a short. That can’t happen with knob and tube wiring. And if you want to address the shock hazard of the old 2 wire electrical that can be done by installing a GFCI breaker at the head of the circuit.
    My current home has systems nearly 70 years old and I’ve heard those fear stories before yet the old pipes and wires keep on working just fine, long past the point that some “professionals” had predicted catastrophe would visit. My last home had systems that are probably a century old, same deal there. No leaks suddenly spring up from the old pipes in the walls. Electrical was mildly upgraded to increase capacity with minimal disruption to the walls.
    And yes, we should be concerned about pipes springing leaks within walls because of the safety hazard and potential for extensive water damage. But it isn’t just old pipes to worry about. I’ve had two leaks so far, below the floor rather in the walls. Both times the leaks came from newly installed copper pipe done on permitted work (bathroom and utility room). Those familiar with the bathtub curve (no relation to plumbing) will recognize this hazard as infant mortality, a problem brought on by taking action rather than inaction.

  34. Posted by futurist

    Nope. No fear mongering here. It’s about a long term investment on a very old house. Pretty simple.
    Hey MOD, you really should be more upfront that you greatly dislike and distrust architects. I hear you and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.
    But it’s not about “enhanced services” as you imply. My clients make all the decisions: I just offer them options and recommendations. I take on small projects and large projects. Each one has the goal of improving a property to make it more liveable, even if that means phasing the work over time.

  35. Posted by www

    What does dislike of architects have to do with upgrading plumbing or electrical? I did a mostly to-the-studs remodel a few years ago with an architect, and whether we ripped open more existing walls mattered not at all to the architect (or his work or his price).
    On the other hand, the electrical subcontractor told us we had to bring some adjacent rooms up to current code (house was 50 years old), and so for those reasons the sheetrock had to be cut open and additional work not in the new plans done.

  36. Posted by lyqwyd

    I went to the open house and the place is huge, but definitely funky.
    It has a concrete foundation, but the agent didn’t know if it’s been capped, is is fully concrete. The plumbing works, and the electrical is unknown state as well.
    It’s livable, but like I said, funky. I think it could be made quite nice for $50-75K which would cover painting, patchwork, openning up a wall, updating the fixtures, and replacing the funky old carpeting, but not including bathrooms and kitchens… cosmetic stuff.
    I would personally redo the kitchen & baths, and add at least 1 more bath room.

  37. Posted by lol

    A quick search of permits in sfgov indeed shows that a foundation (on the western side of the building) was added in 1986, some siding work, other work inside. No trace of electrical or plumbing permits though.

  38. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I don’t distrust architects in general futurist. I am however wary of someone citing catastrophic scenarios to steer clients their way. Like the mechanics who exclaim that while they were down there installing the tires they noticed that the brake system was leaking and needs to be entirely replaced, calipers, lines, master cylinder and all. I’ve heard that on two occasions so far. Both times their diagnosis was bogus and feeding into a scam to upsell more work than needed.
    Recently a swallow built a nest on my back porch so I read up about their behavior on the internet to understand what this little visitor from the wild world was doing. I found the website of a birdproofing specialist that would have you believe that swallows brought in disease and pestilence. And if you tried to remove their nest you’d be in trouble with federal laws. Better call in a specialist right away! You’ve got protected tenants!
    Oversell ploys are attempted all the time because often the client takes the bait. Isn’t it the basis of those “quick lube” shops? They aren’t profitable from just $20 oil changes.
    Surely someone’s tried to convince you to pay for a service you didn’t need. Maybe they have tried and succeeded but you never noticed. Despite my vigilance I’ve been burned a few times too.
    Thanks for the report on the ground lyqwyd. It sounds like it would be my kind of place if it were only smaller and in a different neighborhood. Sigh!

  39. Posted by lyqwyd

    Looks like it sold for $1,249,000 on October 31st, 2012.

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