625 Duncan

Purchased by a young tech couple for a record setting $7 million twelve months ago, after which the couple quietly acquired the adjacent parcel to the west, upon which they were planning to build an underground addition and private urban playground, the 6,000-square-foot home at 625 Duncan Street returned to the market three months ago listed for $6.5 million, having been “stripped out in some areas to allow for alterations.”

Reduced to $5.5 million the month before last, the sale of 625 Duncan has just closed escrow with a reported contract price of $4.4 million.  The sale didn’t include the adjacent undeveloped parcel at 645 Duncan, upon which a 5,000 square-foot-home is approved to rise if the couple’s aforementioned expansion plans are scrapped.

As we first reported about the couple’s proposed project last year, “the west side of the existing home at 625 Duncan will be redesigned, opening it up to the landscaped lot to create a massive Noe Valley estate, the total cost for which should easily total eight figures.” Or not.

The sale of 625 Duncan did include estimates for “a speedy and efficient completion of the current work in progress.”

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Pioneer

    Several factors contribute to this stunning drop in value. The towering new development at 538 28th Street diminishes privacy of the rear yard. This new 4-story building sees right into the back 625 that was private before. Demolition permit and construction permits have been issued for a new 3 story over garage at 647 Duncan, west adjacent to the vacant lot that was retained by the seller. The annoyance of certain excavation and construction for the near future (2-3 years) diminishes value. The seller-retained lot at 645 that is already approved for massive development also factors into a large annoyance and uncertainty charge. Lastly, the interior gutting of 625 demolished a perfectly lovely, legal dwelling unit with a separate entrance. All of these things contributed to a real drop in privacy, flexibility, and value. The bubble has not burst.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Well, there certainly is a lot of hyperbole and drama in your comments. You are merely speculating that any of the factors you mention contributed to the price drop.

      1. You fail to mention that 538 28th St. is built onto an upsloping lot of at least a 45 degree slope. It does not “tower” above anything. The roof peak lines up with adjacent existing roof peaks.
      2. No one has a right to a “private” back yard. We live in a city, not the country. You seem to forget that 625 Duncan ALSO looks into the rear yard of another property.
      3. Anyone is entitled to construction on the adjacent lot. Yes, there will be noise. what a surprise!
      4. Massive development (your words) is simply drama.

      The mistake the owners of 625 most likely made is gutting part of their interior and then not following thru on the project. And, oh, by the way: maybe overpricing the property to begin with.

      • Posted by pioneer

        Not speculating. I look down on this from spitting distance. Demolishing the permitted second dwelling unit was a big mistake and probably illegal.

      • Posted by Orland

        All of which may well be true but he was merely talking about relative value upon all of which they have a bearing.

      • Posted by steve

        I agree with what Futurist must be saying, “Noe Valley prices are collapsing.” 😉

    • Posted by Michael

      The 28th Street project was permitted before they bought the house, plans for the lot next door were already approved. 647 will have little effect, might even be a plus.

      Gutting a few of the rooms dropped the value but not by more than $1M for time and expense.

      Seller’s lost at least $3M on the house. Will be interesting to see what they do with the lot.

      • Posted by anon

        “gutting a few of the rooms” is not an accurate thing to say. the place was gutted. And Pioneer’s points are pretty valid, timelines or not. Why Futurist took exception to the word “towering” is not known. No, it does not tower above its neighbors on 28th. Yes, it towers above 625 Duncan due to topography. And there’s another one on 28th as well, that takes up afternoon light.

        • Posted by Futurist

          Simple fact is that the 28th st. house does not tower over anything. Go look at the topo on 28th. it’s steep, almost a cliff and the other houses adjacent line up with this one. Pioneer is just using hyperbole to create drama and untruths.

          • Posted by anon

            yes, the adjacent homes do, and yes, due to the hill it towers over the northerly neighbors. that was said.

          • Posted by Futurist

            It’s laughable, but I’ll concede that we all have different definitions of what “towering over” really means.

        • Posted by nardle

          “And Pioneer’s points are pretty valid, timelines or not”

          But when talking about a change in value over just 12 months, timeliness does matter. Because if these factors were known 12 months ago they already factored into the previous $7M sale price.

          Don’t know how much was gutted, but $2.6M is a steep steep hit for interior work. Realistically more than a $2.6M decline in value since prices were up sharply over the last year.

    • Posted by Mystery Realtor

      You sound like the worst kind of NIMBY. I heard a rumor you were a Realtor to boot!

  2. Posted by NovyEncy

    That is some hyper-local insight on this property! Thanks Pioneer

  3. Posted by no_ vally

    I think this also reinforces the concept (as NV locals are aware) of “inner Noe” and “outer Noe”. Inner Noe is the easily walkable to 24th street, close to tech shuttle stops, generally flat rectangle that’s navigable with stroller and sits roughly between 23rd/26th and Dolores/Diamond. Because people tend to stay put in the core, very few properties there come to market (representing <15% of all sales in Noe in the last 3 years)…and when they do they tend to price well above comps outside the core. For a quick illustration, 4065 25th is about half the size of Duncan and cleared last week for $4.2mm…almost on par with Duncan. I'd expect that walkability to tech shuttle stops and continuation of the Noe tech invasion will make this disparity even more pronounced in coming years.

    • Posted by 4oceans

      oh noie not an outie knowie…

    • Posted by Mark12

      Inner Noe is sooo much better than outer Noe. So much to the point that you have to count the percentage of sales that happen within your elite core. The reality is 15 Fountain St (I’m sure you think that’s Twin Peaks or Diamond Heights) sold for more than 4065 25th St. (on a per square foot basis) almost a year ago. There are many other properties in outer Noe that sold for comparable prices. I don’t even live in the neighborhood, but your post is clearly biased based on your own self interests.

    • Posted by Futurist

      We actually call it Upper Noe, as in Upper Noe Rec Center and Upper Noe Neighbors.

  4. Posted by anon

    I don’t know. Church st has better restaurants, and it’s closer to 280. I think the ultra-desirable Noe thing will wind up being two fold, including walkability to Church but not right on Church. Also, the 625 Duncan house has great views but the drop dead gorgeous downtown view you think you’d be getting is obscured by a giant tree across the street.

  5. Posted by Rebecca E

    Here’s my theory: the owners of 625 purchased the house in order to knock down the structure due west at 645 and combine the lots to create a larger structure with the part of the house next door existing primarily underground in order to preserve the westward view of 625 and provide a westward facing large yard for the house as well.

    Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, their big mistake was in demolishing the existing (very small) structure currently located at 645 without showing any plans (much less, intentions) of replacing that structure with another housing structure above ground at that address.

    Unlike nearby locales like Palo Alto, San Francisco has very strict limits on taking housing off the market. (If San Francisco did allow this, Pacific Heights could easily become fully owned by just a few billionaires with monster-sized lots, like many neighborhoods in places like Palo Alto due to billionaires buying numerous adjacent lots to build monster houses on gigantic lots.) This prohibition on combining lots actually keeps home prices lower than they otherwise would be (hello again, Palo Alto, where the median price of homes in neighborhoods like Old Palo Alto hover around $8M) by reducing the demand that would otherwise arise from the billionaire lot-combining factor. I’m not usually a proponent on regulatory means of controlling real estate — for example, there is no law that I believe has harmed California’s real estate market more than Prop 13, don’t even get me started! — but this prohibition on lot-combining seems to make a lot of sense in the geographically small market of San Francisco.

    At any rate, I have to wonder why the “tech couple” would be no uninformed about the law of real estate in SF. They must have had an attorney — who in my opinion may have committed malpractice by telling them that taking down the small structure at 645 would be a good idea. Had they just kept the structure there, keeping it with a separate address and possibly using it as a rental (or for their live-in nanny or staff), they may have escaped scrutiny.

    In other words, when I hear about homes that were gutted then quickly put on the market, I immediately think “red tag.” To assume that this one case reflects any kind of actual change in the real estate market in Noe Valley, or that it reflects some sort of difference between “North Noe” (which actually this house counts as, given its view of the East Bay) and “South Noe” is irrational and unfounded.

    • Posted by anon

      ^ not what happened. you were told what happened, if you read.

      • Posted by Rebecca E

        This is completely consistent with what happened. What part do you diagree with?

    • Posted by Futurist

      You have no idea what you’re talking about. This not what happened at all. Pure speculation on your part, almost like gossip.

      And there is NO “North Noe” or “South Noe”. Anyone who lives here in NV knows that.

      • Posted by Rebecca E

        I live in NV and have for a long, long time. I think that you are the same person as “anon.” Please correct what was written in error. Because as far as was reported:

        1. 625 purchased for $7M
        2. 645 purchased with intention of using it as yard and underground bunker.
        3. Work was started on 625 with internal demo done inside.
        4. Structure on 645 was demo’d.
        #4 would trigger review and almost certainly would be found to violate SF’s real estate laws and regulations.
        5. Seeing that they could not do what they wanted to do with the property, owners cut their losses and put 625 up for sale.

        Which one of these is inaccurate and what is the correct version? Spewing ad hominem attacks is not a rational response. If there is an alternate story, I’d be curious to hear it. But all statistical markers do not support a 20% drop in real estate values in Noe Valley, especially when the median price of homes just hit $2 M. Just saying.

        • Posted by anon

          I’m certainly not Futurist and if you had been on SS for a while you’d know that Futurist is no bear, least of all on NV. (Which is probably what “steve” above was joking about)

          And given the legal wrangling with 645/625 it just seems inconceivable that the owners were naïfs about SF RE.

        • Posted by anon

          from 4 and on you begin to make things up, that’s why. what 645 demo, for one …

        • Posted by anon

          Also, the 645 lot recently retraded to another buyer for 2.5M and change with its plans not two years old. i agree about noe not taking 20% hits, rebecca, but you are not talking about the various deals that actually occurred. the lot was called 649 before. it was vacant. A developer — the same guy who did the Cube house, actually, bought 649 Duncan for 600K and entitled it. He planned to build but was fought tooth and nail, it took years, so he was ultimately OK with selling the entitled lot to the 625 owners for 3M. They gutted their place, 625, and began developing plans to create their own compound at 645 (former 649). They abandoned both that idea and the remodel. They then knowingly sold at a discounted rate, as the place was gutted. They gave the new 625 buyer right of first refusal for the 645 lot. That new buyer ultimately did not take 645. So the new 625 buyer bought a gutted place with the knowledge that a very large new house would be built next door, relatively soon. That’s the story. That is why it sold for so much less. Your ideas about lawyers and demos and violations are your own opinions based upon i don’t know what

    • Posted by nonanon

      “To assume that this one case reflects any kind of actual change in the real estate market in Noe Valley…is irrational and unfounded.”

      Looks like the $5M remodel at 752 Duncan fell out of contract today. Coincidence?

      • Posted by sparky-b
        • Posted by anon

          Just give that one a year too 😉

        • Posted by San FronziScheme

          The proof that a rising tide might not lift all boats, and that the market might not save ALL your bad decisions.

          People who spend 5M+ tend to be a bit picky, lol.

          • Posted by sparky-b

            I agree I think picky people tend to want a kitchen, some bathrooms and finished floors for their $5M. That may be why this Duncan one couldn’t quite get there.

          • Posted by anon

            Easy to spot a bad decision in hindsight.

            Funny though to look at all the folks cheerleading the buy in the prior threads on this house.

          • Posted by San FronziScheme

            Yes but that house was in a finished state. There are a lot of irrational things going on in this market. Contractors and developers are working with numbers. Buyers and sellers are working with perception.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        The list price for 752 Duncan has just been cut $200,000 (4%), now asking $4,795,000.

  6. Posted by anon

    Surprising. The home is much nicer than several other ones that have traded for 5M+ recently. Including, I think, the one that is debuting today on Hoffman for 5.7M, judging by the photos. TBD on that.

  7. Posted by anon

    And now 4207 25th St gets a price reduction.
    Not too long ago Noe Valley Price Reduction was an oxymoron.

    • Posted by anon

      Price reductions happen in all markets, Not everything is the same. “Noe Valley” is higher priced than it has ever been.

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