CFAH

1755 Alabama

As we wrote about the three bedroom and three bath home at 1755 Alabama under the headline “‘Bama By Three(s) Up In Bernal Heights” last month:

Purchased new for $1,375,000 in January 2011 with a listed 2,063 square feet, the modern Bernal home at 1755 Alabama has just returned to the market listed for $1,495,000.

The sale of 1755 Alabama closed escrow last week with a reported contract price of $1,605,000. Call it $778 per (unreported) square foot for the “stunning, modern and sexy” North Bernal home, up 17 percent ($230,000) over the past 21 months.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by lol

    North Bernal looks more and more like a Noe-dot-2.
    With inflation, costs and taxes, that’s still roughly 80K-100K or so in the bank.
    I’m still thinking we’re in the middle of a healthy rebound and right timing (market bottom + season) made this work, because in normal times, a less than 2 year hold that yields a profit even after purchasing/selling costs and taxes would look suspiciously bubbly.
    But if we see similar deals one year from now, I’ll officially declare this a bubble.

  2. Posted by PDXer

    Who are all these people buying new $1.4MM homes and then leaving 1-2 years later? I’m shocked how fast so many of these homes turnover.

  3. Posted by unwarrantedinlaw

    The market bottom was in about March 2009. Bears were the loudest then, wailing and gnashing teeth. Bears scream the most when prices are at the bottom.

  4. Posted by lol

    Sparky’s Official Bottom (TM) was indeed around March 2009, but the mid-2010 bump was a dead cat bounce triggered by tax credits. For what I saw the second bottom almost equaled the first one in late 2010 then prices lingered a bit until late 2011. I’d say it was a 30-month bottom overall.
    And yes, bears screamed a lot. Was there anything wrong with that in retrospect?

  5. Posted by Boo

    Why do the other two $1.5M deals in Bernal, 83 Banks and 455 Prentiss, no longer show on Redfin even though they had previously been pending?

  6. Posted by REpornaddict

    spring 2009 was the bottom. Hank Plante got it right.
    2010 was the start of the recovery, 2011 was the “bear trap” (“everybody who buys now is a complete idiot” etc…)
    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article9372.html
    (first graph)
    Capitulation and despair never really happened in SF, and we are moving quickly beyond media attention and into enthusiasm.
    Thats SF. Things are/were indeed a little different here, the lows are shorter and shallower, and the highs sustained by real wealth. It was, as far as the housing crash goes, pretty much last in, first out.
    THis is a good result for this house, but gains like this are starting to become increasingly not that uncommon again…
    [Editor’s Note: Perhaps we have different definitions of “the bottom,” but keep in mind the sales price per square foot for single-family homes in the area around 1755 Alabama Street was lower in 2011 than in 2009.]

  7. Posted by unwarrantedinlaw

    Anonn/fluj/anon.ed called the spring 2009 low based on what he was seeing in the market. It was ugly and then it kept getting better and better.
    The press told a different story than the reality of what was happening on the street.
    Sure, there may have been localized lows in certain condo areas, and as the editor points out, the 1700 block of Alabama Street may have been one such isolated spot. But in general, the howling bears told a very misleading story to people thinking of buying in SF.
    [Editor’s Note: Unfortunately it wasn’t just condos or this block of Alabama that bottomed after 2009, but much of San Francisco. Even over in Noe Valley, the sale price per square foot for single-family homes in both 94131 and 94114 bottomed in 2011 having peaked in 2008. But that’s based on the data, not a gut feeling.]

  8. Posted by nonanon

    ^”Anonn/fluj/anon.ed called the spring 2009 low based on what he was seeing in the market.”
    What Anonn/fluj/anon.ed was seeing in 2008 just before the market tanked: “Scare tactics are dead. San Francisco never really took a price hit and it won’t, either.”

  9. Posted by REWpornaddict

    So is median price per square foot suddently the be all and end all of metrics?
    It’s useful..but could be misleading too, in my opinion. For example if bigger houses started selling again it could pull down the median. I certainly don’t think should be the sole indicator of what defines the bottom…
    and its funny you mention 94114 having peaked in 2008. In 2008 I was on this site, and the argument then was that the data was misleading, it was a mix thing and that prices were already falling across the City despite medians, medians per sq foot etc showing otherwise.
    So it goes.

  10. Posted by lol

    in general, the howling bears told a very misleading story to people thinking of buying in SF
    So wrong.
    I was one of those bears. The downturn in price was not due to “howling bears” but because of a market that relied on way too much debt. Bad debt was flushed out and the market is now sustained through bigger downpayments and high-quality buyers.
    I get that howling bears probably made people think twice before getting into the market and this caused lower volume and diminished commissions for Realtors, but what was the alternative?
    Permanent bullishness? Look where that led us! The biggest bubble in US history that created so much grief.
    People were priced out, postponed their life’s plans, others got into too much debt and lost everything.
    Bears MUST exist. They MUST be excessive. If their ideas stick, there’s probably a good reason for it. If they don’t, that’s more fuel for the bulls.
    Bears are an essential part of a healthy sustainable environment.

  11. Posted by sparky*b

    I nailed it, plain and simple. Price/sq. ft. leaves out expensive places that don’t say the footage or inflate it and it misses on fixers as well.
    Here is an example. Buy a 800 ft. fixer for $800K, sell a 3000 house for $2.9M a few years later. Prices are down.

  12. Posted by lyqwyd

    I see the bottom at the end of 2011 based on $/sf ,which is much less variable than median price, and and apples-to-apples. Median sale price, as has been pointed out many times over the years, is much more sensitive to mix that $/sf, and is probably the worst metric when market conditions are changing. There’s a reasonable argument to call 2009, 2010, or 2011 as the bottom, but from my perspective the evidence is stronger for 2010 or 2011 being the absolute bottom.
    It’s certainly not a situation where one can clearly point to 2009 as “the” bottom. I don’t think anybody who bought in winter 2010, or winter 2011 is going to see much difference in their return as compared to 2009.

  13. Posted by sparky*b

    There are 285 houses for sale in D1-D5 right now. 53 of them do not say the sq/ft. How accurate is the $/ft. if 19% of the houses don’t count into the figures?

  14. Posted by lyqwyd

    There’s no perfect measure, but $/sf is far more accurate than median sale price.

  15. Posted by Anew

    Of course it is. Not the point. Obviously. But the novices talk to the pro’s. lol

  16. Posted by R

    “[Editor’s Note: Perhaps we have different definitions of “the bottom,” but keep in mind the sales price per square foot for single-family homes in the area around 1755 Alabama Street was lower in 2011 than in 2009.]”
    I guess it depends on your definition of “in the area” but according to Redfin there were a grand total of 3 SFH in the immediate 2-3 block area around 1755 Alabama that sold in 2009 with listed square footage, and another 3 in 2011. Not the dataset I would hang my hat on.

  17. Posted by jack

    “Why do the other two $1.5M deals in Bernal, 83 Banks and 455 Prentiss, no longer show on Redfin even though they had previously been pending?”
    I think those two closed as well at $1,575 and $1,549.

  18. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    The editor is right, I am not sure how this is controversial:
    http://graphs.trulia.com/real_estate/San_Francisco-California/graph.png?version=326&width=600&height=250&type=qma_price_per_sqft&city=San+Francisco&state=CA
    Median home prices for comparison:
    http://graphs.trulia.com/real_estate/San_Francisco-California/graph.png?version=326&width=600&height=250&type=qma_median_sales_price&city=San+Francisco&state=CA
    You can see the lowest price per square foot was in 2011, though winter 2011/12 was about the same.
    I am kind of wondering if we are seeing a false spring right now. People are too sanguine about the problems that will happen if Washington DC doesn’t get its act together with regards to the fiscal cliff.
    I am predicting a very good chance of a recession in 2013 and another dip in home prices, even in San Francisco. It will probably be mild, but The Fed won’t be able to come to the rescue my lowering interest rates this time.

  19. Posted by sparky*b

    How do you read early ’09 in those charts Jim?

  20. Posted by Boo

    @Jack
    Looks like you’re correct. I must have been searching Redfin right between when they take the listing info down and put the sold info up.
    All listed within a week of each other and sold within a week of each other all near the same $$. 455 Prentiss was a much larger property but many thought no one would pay $1.55M in that location. Turns out they will, and quickly.

  21. Posted by jack

    @Boo
    Agreed on the less-desirable location of the Prentiss property. I believe that might be the 3-4 year record (if not ever) for south of Cortland?
    Interestingly enough that all 3 properties here closed around the same price-range of $1.5m-$1.6m, which I had previously thought reserved only for the “prime” properties. I can see why Alabama and Banks would garner that “prime” designation, but Prentiss was a surprise.
    The wheel of gentrification continues in Bernal, and especially so in South Slope.

  22. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Early ’09 looks lower than 2011 to me, though early 2010 might be the same or even a bit lower. Anyone have access to the raw data?

  23. Posted by PDXer

    I’m also very surprised about the South of Cortland $1.5+ sale. I never thought that would happen. Wow.

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