The three-bedroom house at 912 Noe Street was built by John Anderson. And according to its listing for $1,199,000, the home has “all the rare and coveted architectural details that one would expect from Noe’s most renowned builder/developer of yesteryear.”
The listing also casually notes the building has “much deferred maintenance and needs some TLC.” And with “tons of expansion potential,” we’ll let you wager as to how many of the rare and coveted architectural details will survive, here and elsewhere.
∙ Listing: 912 Noe Street (3/1.5) 1,592 sqft – $1,199,000 [via Redfin]

74 thoughts on “Will Any Rare And Coveted Architectural Details Survive?”
  1. Seems like a great price for a 3/2 sfh in noe. Something funky, a real small lot maybe? Seller has deleted lot info from Zillow.

  2. 906 and 918 Noe both have their lot size in Zillow set at ~2500. This means the lot is 100-foot deep. Not a small lot.

  3. If the person who is going to buy this home is reading this post now, please, please, please do not gut this house and turn it into another bland contemporary space with no regard for the vintage beauty of the place. Except for the kitchen: a bad 70’s remodel (tile counters-yuck). And the leaning shack expansion needs to be demolished. Can someone please remodel a house melding antique with the right amount of updates?

  4. County records show the lot size as 2,495. Not big, but not too small either.
    Seems like a pretty competitive price, unless there are some serious structural problems. I see at least some updated plumbing and electrical in the basement pic.
    I bet it goes over asking, and yes, it would be sad to see the charm in the property eliminated. Please keep as much of the original detail as possible.

  5. The structural problems, I am assuming, will be to replace all the brick foundations with reinforced concrete,and add shear walls or steel moment frames at selected locations.
    This is really the first thing you should do that makes the most economic and livability sense;, then, of course, kitchen and bath remodeling, heating and plumbing systems, insulation, new windows, electrical and finishes.
    And please, get some landscaping in front.
    And yes, IMO, this will go substantially over asking, probably $200-300k more.

  6. If I bought this place I’d preserve everything except for the kitchen and basement level. It is kind of up my alley, a house in decent shape but needs refreshing.
    I have a hunch that the buyer here is going to totally rip out that top floorplan and convert it to 2BRs with a larger bath. Or two baths.

  7. Of course the new owner will gut it. The place is a train wreck and it needs to be gutted. The current floor plan is terrible, no matter how historic it is. In the 21st century people of sufficient means to buy this and fix it up (or to buy it after a previous buyer has remodeled it) do not want to live in small dark rooms with no closet space. I’ll take bland modernism over faux wainscoting and crown moldings any day.

  8. “Much deferred maintenance” = $$$$$
    New owner will put in a tidy some and then put it on the market for well more than double the purchase price. Tune in Spring 2014.

  9. Hmmmmm… I’d hardly call this floorplan terrible. I’ve lived in similar floorplans for years.
    But I do agree that the next resident is likely to be someone affluent who wants the latest greatest look. And I also agree that a better floorplan could be laid down here. Though the current floorplan is just fine too.

  10. Yeah, floorplan seems just fine to me, and even if they want an open floor plan, it is not hard to open walls but keep the existing character. There’s almost no hallway on the first floor so there would be little reconfiguration needed.

  11. formidable doer wrote:

    Of course the new owner will gut it…In the 21st century people of sufficient means to buy this and fix it up…do not want to live in small dark rooms with no closet space. I’ll take bland modernism over faux wainscoting and crown moldings any day.

    Uh…did you actually look at the pictures on the Redfin site before commenting?
    This place isn’t a typical dark Victorian with small rooms. And even though some of the exterior details are not all that elegant or well-executed (even if they are all original, which I doubt), there’s nothing wrong with the interior details and nothing about the wainscoting looks fake.

  12. I continue to be amazed at those who would call this floor plan “just fine”. Exactly what is just fine?
    Here’s what does not work:
    The corner fireplace is awkward; lack of good furniture layout.
    No entry closet. In fact I see no closet at all on the main floor.
    Bath off the kitchen: brilliant (not) and typical of the old porch tacked on.
    Kitchen removed from much natural light.
    Bedrooms lack real closet space.
    One small bath on the bedroom level.
    It needs to be gutted down to the studs, opened up and brought up to modern living styles. I would not keep any of the interior details and granny crap. Add 1/2 bath at main floor; Master bath and family bath on upper floor.
    Add living space/media room and bath at lowest floor.
    Do the usual structural seismic mechanical electrical I already mentioned. Budget about $850k.
    Sell for $2.4-2.6m.

  13. The simple reconfiguration for this (very typical) SF housing type is to merge the two small bedrooms into one, and create private baths upstairs, since people have an absolute horror of sharing baths these days.
    But anyone buying this is going to want to do something about the kitchen and the badly placed half bath, which is probably going to quickly morph into a substantial reorganization of at least the back half of the first floor with at least a small rear addition.
    The more complex version, which I would expect here, would be to do a really substantial rear addition to create a much larger kitchen/great room downstairs, a true master bedroom suite upstairs. When folks do this, they usually end up completely gutting and reorganizing the spaces, and only the front facade (and maybe the internal banister) remains “as is”.

  14. so futurist you’ve got:
    buy at “substantially over asking”: $1.45M
    spend $850K on the build.
    Sell at $2.4M to $2.6M
    less closing costs of say $170K-$180K
    and a 2 year hold of $200,000
    Profit: -$245,000 to -$80,000

  15. How about buying it at a good price, painting, and then just living there? Why does everybody ‘need’ to live in a product of the Reno-industrial complex? If it really needs a new foundation this can be had for about 500/linear foot. Hang some bare Edison bulbs and paint it all white if you want stylish.

  16. Everybody doesn’t need to live a product of the Reno-industrial complex, but I do think a door on the oven would be a nice feature.

  17. The tech families moving into Noe will not want to live in granny’s old sewing room.
    My new neighbors who moved in across from me, as RENTERS while their Noe property is being fully renovated are driving a new Audi suv and a new Tesla. What does that tell you?
    They want what I suggested and will pay for it. In 3-4 years a typical Noe house like this one, fully renovated will be selling for $2.6-4m, depending on size, finishes and views.

  18. The Internet types who talk about older details being worth keeping, and would someone please do this so that viewing future ohotos will be “fefreshing,” never view these properties in person. Reality and these hacks don’t cross paths on this website!

  19. I bet dollars to donuts there’s a closet under the stairs, and if there isn’t, you add one.
    Kitchen obviously needs to be gutted, and I personally would open up the space between the kitchen & dining room, dining room and living room, and living room and entryway.
    This internet type happens to be both a tech family and buyer of a very similar type property and am actually doing the changes. I like modern architecture in a modern house, but I hate modern in a victorian. It’s so rarely done well. Let modern be modern and victorian be victorian.
    There are many ways to update to modern tastes while still respecting the past, which is exactly what I’m doing. My house is not a museum, but still has the aesthetic of a victorian. I made some changes to layout, added closet space and changed the flow where appropriate, but overall it is still very recognizable as a victorian.
    If I had followed the advice futurist suggests I’d be massively underwater today, instead I’ve quadrupled my equity, and significantly improved the value of the house.

  20. I have to admit that the photo with the oven door on the floor may be a red flag. Assuming that the agent is working in the interest of the seller, it could mean that there are significant issues with the house that lead both the seller and the agent to prefer the house be gutted and rebuilt, in order to erase any trace of liability. If these issues exist, they will likely be called out in the disclosures — one of the few things that makes agents honest is the possibility of a lawsuit down the line.
    But if this is indeed just an old house with nothing seriously wrong with it besides a brick foundation and a shabby kitchen, I for one would cheer on somebody approaching the home with the same sense of restraint as lyqwyd did with his (or hers).

  21. There’s no closet under the main floor stair, because there is a stair UNDER that stair, leading to the garage level.
    That stair leading down is a major selling point; You pull into the garage and haul the kids and your groceries upstairs. Huge selling point and must be kept. I have many remodeled houses in the $1-2m range where there is NO stair from garage leading up. So, for your money, you must walk outside either to a rear stair or the front stair, in the rain of course, and enter the house.
    Gut the entire interior of the house and make it work for the “modern” family, whoever they may be.

  22. @futurist
    I stand corrected on the stair and agree basement access is more valuable than the closet, the rest of my point remains.
    Sure you could gut it, and per your own estimations lose a ton of money.
    Or you could make less extensive changes and have a perfectly livable and enjoyable house while at the same time making money.
    Modern houses can look great when they are built that way from the ground up, or even when remodeling certain types of houses that don’t have much character of their own.
    Victorian shells around modern internals tend to look ridiculous.
    If it were my project and gutting was absolutely necessary I’d still want to return it to as much of it’s former glory as reasonable. On the other hand if I were building from scratch I’d make it modern or contemporary, as they are more appropriate for new construction than trying to recreate styles of the past.

  23. @around1905
    Yes, that kitchen is definitely of concern, if that’s the level of care that’s been taken with the rest of the house then I’d anticipate some serious work! It’s hard to tell from the pics, but it looks like the floors are not in good shape, and even some of the ceilings look dodgy, but I can’t really tell if it’s just a trick of the camera, or actual damage.

  24. This may be news to some people, but it’s not just “tech families” (whoever they are – the Jetsons?) who like to live in updated comfortable homes with natural light and practical, spacious floor plans.
    But the great news is there will always be plenty of SF landlords who never fix up their old crap (thanks to rent control) so you don’t have to worry about “coveted” period details being preserved.

  25. Someday small cozy rooms will be “in” again and all those large open spaces will be closed off because people will think why oh why did anyone ever want to live in a place that looks and feels like a restaurant with the kitchen visible. Plus John Anderson homes are so Noe Valley and the exteriors of them are as important as the interiors

  26. @formidable
    “tech families” is futurist’s phrase. I suspect it means families where one or both adults work in the tech industry, that’s most likely who they are.
    Now this may come as a shocker to you, but one can have updated comfortable homes and keep period details. Another shocker may be that there are lots of people who find that desirable, evidenced by the large number of SF properties that are updated without having their character ripped out.

  27. Sure, it’s a personal choice about preserving and “liking” interior period details.
    My approach is that the period details are not so problematic as are the actual floor plan layouts and flow of spaces from room to room. Most original plans like the subject property were simply designed for a different type of living 100 or more years ago: kitchens were not somewhere you hung out in; bathrooms were often tacked onto the “laundry porch”; closets were not important and almost non existent; living rooms were small and required awkward furniture placement.
    For many, (most in my book) well to do, upscale families, these types of floor plans simply do not work.
    The interior details and trim are basically incidental and often would look out of place and rather silly; such as as a beaded picture rail left in a high end kitchen of granite and stainless.
    But yes, personal preference perhaps. But what sells generally is a clean, fairly open, modern interior.

  28. @futurist, we have already arrive at the 3 years out future, apparently. A number of renovated Vics in Noe have sold in that price range in the past year or so: 1566 Sanchez (@2.8MM), 290 Jersey (sold off market for $2.8MM last month), 4179 23rd st (ask was $3.6MM, went pending this week after a week on market) – just to name a few.

  29. That 23rd st one has every developer in town scratching our heads. The 25th st one? New era in Noe. But that 23rd is a humdinger and not of the same calibre. But on this one? The details worth keeping are on the exterior. Anyone talking otherwise based only on pictures needs to experience reality more often.

  30. I saw this house today and think that it is inferior in every way to 439 Alvarado, which sold for $1.45M 4 months ago. It is a smaller lot, on a steep hill, with a west facing yard and less expansion potential. So I think it will go for less than $1.45M.
    My best estimate is $1.3M, though perhaps the market has moved up in the last 4 1/2 months.
    If I bought it, I would update the kitchen and bathroom and keep most of the rest of the floorplan intact. It is perfectly fine as is, though it needs refreshing.

  31. Okay, I take back what I said about every way: this house already has parking, and Alvarado did not. Though I am sure whoever bought it will lift it up and add a garage. That place will be back on the market in a year with a $2.5+ M asking price for sure.
    This one already has parking, so might be more attractive to the non-builder bidder.

  32. NVJim,
    I think the buyer of Alvarado goes much bigger on the build. Once you have lifted it for the garage, the plan will probably be to go back as well. The adjacent houses allow for it and the market is saying there is an appetite for it. Lifting the house is a vertical addition so it will be a longer process than 1 year either way.
    Also, similar to my point above, with the prices people are paying for these a 2.5M sale probably loses money.

  33. SF Builder:
    Just curious: why are the developers scratching their heads about the (4179) 23rd street property? My take is that it’s fairly “pricey” (high p/e ratio, or good returns for the developer), and I’m wondering if that’s also the view shared?

  34. Not sure about the developers, but as an owner in Noe (and someone who watched the renovation process of 4179 23rd during occasional jogs by the job site), it feels like that house may have just opened/validated a whole new 5 step genre of Noe renovation:
    1) buy and gut a total fixer within easy walking distance of the tech shuttle stops/24th street
    2) make sure you’ve got a big altitude differential between front and back (ideally with southern exposure on yard in the rear)
    3) propose the addition of a ‘garage’ as a reason to excavate and raise the house just a few feet
    4) while digging the garage, go down another 25-30 feet and add an additional floor or two below, ideally consolidating sleeping rooms on the same floor/same area (a must for young families)
    5) trick out the interior with all the requisite high end gadgetry but allow space for customization by the new owner, then list at the very top of all comps in the area to generate flow from the desired income bracket.
    I have not heard if 23rd street priced at/near/above the $3.6mm ask, but I’m probably among the masses who were floored that it cleared so quickly…and presumably around ask if it came off market so quickly. Kudos to those who had the vision to turn this one around and ride it to success!

  35. Saw this place and also 891 Noe ($1.15M for that fixer). It was pretty smart to have the agency showing them both at the same time. Noe/22nd was a zoo of activity yesterday.
    On this place, agree with most in that you don’t seem to need as much re-do as required. I really liked it overall. Like the sunny-yard, like the interior garage access, great facade, great location (22nd is right there / flat street). On reno: u could do a lot or just a little. I’d re-do the top floor and somehow get another bath in – the master was large so maybe a bath in the master, and then jack/jill bath for those other two rooms.
    The big ?: the basement. It didn’t seem tall enough to be a regular build-out (what’s code?). If not, that’s big $$ and then I think this place is a pricey fixer.
    btw, from a true “fixer”, 891 Noe was interesting. Wow, what a *hot-mess* that was. Huge sq ft but you’d want to do a massive spend there. Gut the heck out of it and start fresh I guess.

  36. no+vally nailed it, though I have to admit my view on this place was based on knowing the site and seeing the pics. Yesterday I saw it in person and was looking to hate it but overall was pleasantly surprised. They somehow managed to get a lot of light into this bottom 4bd cave. Weather was great but this specific site benefits from not having a real neighbor to the west and close enough to the corner to get a lot of light in. On the flip side you have ZERO privacy, starting with the ~8 homes looking into your yard (diamond+ Elizabeth) through the frosted glass.
    New owner must be a newly minted millionaire, because only here clueless first time buyers have 3.6M to spare.

  37. @Jack,
    Because it is a view less, reverse floor plan home, the bedrooms’ light is all from light wells, and the finishes are b-grade IMO. It wouldn’t have gotten 3 mil a year ago. Now the word was multiple offers? Wild.

  38. no_valey, one that looks to fit your 5 step formula is 469 Valley.
    That place was a total fixer on a hill with permits that say “CONSTRUCT NEW BASEMENT AND LOWER BASEMENT” and then a follow up permit to “ADD AN ADDITIONAL BASEMENT BELOW THE EXISTING BASEMENT”
    Three basements! Permitted for non-habitable space (for now).

  39. @sparky–yeah, wow…from the streetview, 469 Valley could be the ugly stepsister of 4179 23rd, perhaps separated at birth? Too bad I didn’t apply for a process patent on the Noe 5 Step Plan…GOOG would be forced to buy it.
    And bad pun of the day: clearly, we are on a path towards the ‘debasement’ of building codes here in SF

  40. And further supporting NVJ’s perspective…just noticed on another site that 290 Jersey (great location at Noe St; a recently renovated 4br, 2,500 sqft place on an undersized lot with no yard) went for $3.2mm, well over asking. Crazy that going into the spring selling season there seems to be not a single turnkey SFH in the Noe core area (only upper Noe and in the Heights).

  41. 891 Noe had more offers, ~10 of them were above $1.4M.
    Let’s even ignore the price, who are those +20 people who have $2.5M (purchase + build) at the same time?
    Can’t imagine there are too many Pros, as margins are too tight.

  42. I would not rule out the Pros. With 23rd street getting lots of offers at $3.6M, that 25th street place getting $3.9M and the Jersey one no_valley brought up getting $3.2M, I can see a lot of builders thinking the margin i not tight.
    Oh, and 533 Laidley came out at $2.65M and went straight into contract.

  43. @Sparky, given how tight were those 10 offers, I can see some builders trying to play this out. The 4xx alavardo place must be a developer b/c they already filed for plans, homeowners take a lot longer.
    Noe Inventory and pent up demand drives up prices, how sustainable is it?

  44. “how sustainable is it?” That is $3M question. It does seem like there are a lot of buyer compared to houses, so I think it will continue for a while. If there are 14 left over from this place, 9 left from 891Noe, and 5 left over from 23rd street, then there might be as many as 28 buyers out there. With hardly any thing looking finished coming out soon (per my drive-bys) that will take a long time to absorb. Plus traditionally more buyers in the spring/summer

  45. Sparky*b, just 2 years ago we were questioning the viability of 800K teardown projects as opposed to more reasonable 600K or less when the end product would be marketed at 1.8M to 2M. These recent sales are putting things into prospective, aren’t they?
    Apparently there’s a relative abundance of buyers with $5M++ net worth and nothing much in terms of supply in their quality range.

  46. I would still question the viability of buying at $800 and selling at $1.8M. Not sure that I was saying buying at $800K was a bad idea a year or two back for D5(and glen park, too). And to be clear I still think people are overpaying for fixers. But, I can’t believe 23rd street got multiple offers at that price either.
    Will it come down to earth? And by back down to earth I mean $2.8M-$3M for the nice places. Maybe it won’t, the lack of supply and surplus of monied buyers may have changed the area pricing for good.

  47. I *do* think this is a secular trend. For those of us who are watching this a little longer, prior to 2006-ish the high end here was in the low 2M and then all of a sudden a sequence of 2.7-2.9 arrived just to top out in 2008. I think this extra 500K push is going to stay BUT as this pent up demand gets absorbed there will be a gap, and those high end places would just sit there.
    You got a bunch of 2011-2012 new money crowd (Apple, Google, FB, Twitter and few dozen of high level execs in traditional companies, 1-2 layers, doctors, etc…) Once you build 15-20 homes they’ll get absorbed and then we are back to a handful/yr of real demand.

  48. Yes but when a crowd of 20 or so are added to the handful/yr of new buyers it may not every get absorbed. There have only been 34 sales over $2.25M in the last 3 years. That is less than 12 a year with 20 some people trying to buy right now.

  49. Wow, came back to this post as I drove by this place and saw it already has a ‘sold’ sign. Jeez.
    On 891 Noe, 10 above $1.4M? Jeez. That one has to be a pro, no? I do think if a pro got a hold of that one and did almost a complete demo ($1M spend?), they have a site that could easily above $3M – maybe $3.5M.

  50. DanRH.
    I think 891 Noe sold for closer yo $1.6, you can make it $3.5m, especially as 2U condos.
    But you’d need to seriously dig to get an extra garage and improve ceiling height and by the time you add carrying costs and marketing /commissions you are north of $3M.
    Seems too risky to me but not crazy.

  51. My agent says that 912 Noe went for $1.6M too. All cash, 14 day close kind of offer. I think I just got blown out of the market.

  52. I’ve been having my usual internal debates 🙂 and I think a regular end-user will look at this $1.585m for 891 Noe and more likely than before give 307 Mullen a fresh look, despite the later not being Noe, etc.

  53. I hope for the developer sake the model is not the link above. That house is listed at $2.695M. Buy at $1.6M hold for 2+ years, spend $1M and come out a $2.695M is not a great plan.

  54. @sparky*b it’s me again, the armchair contractor 🙂
    Just curious, and taking into account different risk tolerance due to an individual’s level of capital reserves already in place, if a contractor were to purchase a $1.6m fixer, expecting a 2+ yrs hold, and planning a $1m construction cost, what would be an acceptable range of return (in percentage terms is fine)?
    Also, for a $1m construction, would it be reasonable to expect that 60% of that is pure construction labor costs, as in 60% construction labor, 10% for hold, 20% finishes, and 10% soft (permits and architect)?

  55. jack,
    The $1M is a best guess of a cost of an unknown remodel. I think the carry is about $100K. I think that design and permits is another $100K. That leaves $800K for construction. What percent of that is finishes I don’t really know how to calculate how much play there is in that. Meaning you need kitchen cabinets, so cost of kitchen cabinets isn’t all in finishes that can be adjusted, only the quality of the finishes is adjustable. I would guess that is in the 5% range on $800K.

  56. Thanks, sparky.
    It’s buried above: what’d be your minimum acceptable gain if you were to put in a $1m remodel?
    My guess is 50%. Unreasonable? 🙂
    $1m requires 50% gain.
    $.5m requires 75% gain.
    $.25m requires 100% gain.
    Man, I need to quit my day job.

  57. Jack,
    Minimum acceptable isn’t up to the developer, it is up to the buyer. You start with projected profit, but that is years from the selling date. As far as the projections, I want to make your regular margin on the construction plus 50% return on money put in. That depends on loans, the first and construction, and carry. Maybe there is a construction loan, maybe not. Investors or not? The variables are always different.

  58. The only thing I can add here is to replay sparky’s comment: “Buy at $1.6M hold for 2+ years, spend $1M and come out a $2.695M is not a great plan.”
    Maybe the buyer plans a cheaper remod or a higher resale price? Or maybe the buyer isn’t a developer.

  59. Hey, I met the lady who bought this place on the sidewalk today (amazing, talking in person! Was a very short chat) and she was busy removing something from the walls with a machine. All the postulating, the reality is likely so simple ;). It’s theirs, they’re working on it, they’ll live there. It’s their home

  60. Hey, I met the lady who bought this place on the sidewalk today (amazing, talking in person! Was a very short chat) and she was busy removing something from the walls with a machine. All the postulating, the reality is likely so simple ;). It’s theirs, they’re working on it, they’ll live there. It’s their home

  61. Cool! Nice to know that ordinary homeowners can still buy fixers in Noe (for a price though !)

  62. What amazes me is that many of these buyers were already in position to purchase 3 years ago, and for 30 to 40% less than today. But there are many ways to rationalize this when you love a place. Psychology is everything and confidence seems to be back in full force in SF.

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