554 46th Avenue Aerial

The sale of the two-level cottage at 554 46th Avenue, which sits on 644-square-foot lot behind two other homes which had shared a Sutro Heights parcel that has since been subdivided, has closed escrow with a reported contract price of $665,000.

554 46th Avenue

Legally a single-family home following the parcel’s subdivision, the cottage, which appears to have been built as a workshop for Sutro Gardens at the turn of the century, and was converted to a residence around 1914, measures 660 square feet per tax records or 830 square feet per its most recent listing.

Purchased for $311,000 in early 2000, the cottage was on the market for $499,000 in 2012 but failed to sell.  The cottage returned to the market listed for $599,000 at the end of last year.

19 thoughts on “One of the Smallest Houses in San Francisco Fetches $665K”
  1. The place is decent enough. But . . . $665,000 for a tiny place, with low ceilings, on 1/4 lot, with no yard, no garage, and way out in the avenues. That is just sad imho. I’d have bought outside of SF. In soccermom’s favorite alternative, Vallejo, they could have bought a good sized 4BR house (with a yard a garage). And a second 2BR place as an income property. But to each his own.

    1. I keep tellin people, east oakland.. the last frontier of affordable housing. Get em while theyre hot. Who wants to commute on I80 to & from Vallejo, its about a gajillion hours each way.

      Another few years and all the gangsters will be priced out of Oakland, just wear kevlar till then…

    2. Oh Yes and in 10 years when their tiny cottage is worth over a million bucks they’ll be glad they weren’t dodging bullets in Vallejo! And their Vallejo property will increase in value a few grand…haha

  2. Soccermom arbitrage of the day is to get a derivative contract where I sell three of these cottage houses, and I buy two of 72 Oceanside Drive in Daly City for $699K. In DC I get a yard a garage, 3 beds 2 baths and a view of the Ocean. I’d add Redfin link but that gets my comment moderated. Just throw that address into Redfin.

    Oh and all for less than our supervisors want to spend on one unit in the Mission.

    1. Daly City may have some good deals, but the sea cliffs are prone to landslides. The soft soil and the San Andreas fault passing through there makes the land particularly susceptible to erosion. Oceanside Drive borders an enormous ancient landslide, the Mussel Rock Landslide, that extends out to sea and moves at a rate of a few feet per year average, but mostly goes in big chunks during earthquakes and rains.

      The epicenter of the 1906 quake was off the coast near here and large sections of cliff collapsed. It wasn’t residential then, but thousands of feet of railroad ROW were lost. Yeah they were building a railroad down the coast. Those crazy transit firsters.

      The Westlake Palisades subdivision should have never been built and the land should have been reserved as a park to reduce the soil erosion, something like Fort Funston. Eventually, Oceanside Drive will fall down the cliff to the ocean. Beautiful area for a walk, though.

      1. Welcome to life in the San Francisco area. If you have a problem with seismic activity, better to look elsewhere. Also the sun will eventually explode and envelop the earth. In the meantime, you get a beautiful view of the Pacific, and you can lay off your financial seismic risk on the California Earthquake Authority.

        Value-wise I would put 72 Oceanside up against anything we have seen on Socketsite in the past 24 months for home buyer value (No, I haven’t seen the inside, it could need some work. I am just going off the easily observed metrics. $524 per foot and all).

        The entire 94015 is underpriced as far as I am concerned. Of course, I like safe neighborhoods more than edgy beardy places. That you can buy a three bedroom house overlooking the Pacific for around 700K just seems like a mis-pricing to me.

        1. Soccerma got just a bit too glib here; there is a broad spectrum of seismic risk within the BA and buying a house right next to a fault is not the smartest. Also, enjoy paying 3 to 5 thou a year for CEA insurance. And by the way, as Jake says below, they don’t cover landslides or other damage to the soil (such as liquefaction and settling).

          1. There are definitely houses in this area that seem ready to slump (see 906 and 910 Skyline). I don’t think 72 Oceanside has nearly the same risk. Most of the observed slumping is directly east of Mussel Rock, while 72 Oceanside is to the north.

            Here the USGS site offers two seismic maps of the bay area. One of liquefaction susceptibility, and another documenting the underlying geologic formation. It is possible to fairly easily triangulate the location of the street we are discussing by referring to Mussel Rock on whatever map is of interest.

            There are two pockets of “moderate” liquefaction risk areas (shown in yellow) to the west of Oceanside drive, and the eastern edge of one of those may be within 20 feet of the rear yard of 72 Oceanside. Otherwise, the area of Oceanside Drive and the other homes West of Skyline here are shown as being ‘Very Low” liquefaction risks. The underlying rock is listed as “Early Quaternary and Older: Older deposits and bedrock”

            I can’t conclude from these maps that “The Westlake Palisades subdivision should have never been built and the land should have been reserved as a park to reduce the soil erosion, something like Fort Funston. Eventually, Oceanside Drive will fall down the cliff to the ocean.”

          2. The gap in the line of houses on the oceanside of the 900 block of Skyline Drive used to have houses, then rain eroded the land under them. 21 houses on Westline Drive were declared unsuitable for human occupancy and removed. Near the northern end of Skyline Drive, Lynvale Court technically still has one house. The rest had to be removed. FEMA has been involved. Home owners filed lawsuits, not against the long gone developer Doelger, but against Daly City.

            The bluff is unstable, not just the enormous Mission Rock Landslide that marks the San Andreas. The rains we are having will open new cracks in the cliff faces and widen old cracks. And the land will gradually fail. This process has been going on for thousands of years. The pavement worsens the runoff and erosion. Daly City has paid for geo studies to see if they could stabilize the cliffs. Decided they can’t win. Instead they watch and wait and move the fences back as the cliff retreats. Fortunately, the erosion from rain has been gradual enough to allow people to evacuate.

            Amateurs squinting at seismic maps is no way to assess a hazard of this magnitude. The last movement on this section of the fault was back in the 1950s and it was only a 5.3. No one can tell you when the next major earthquake will come or how these cliffs will act, but sooner or later …. yes, “there are definitely houses in this area that seem ready to slump.” And maybe more than slump.

            The article at namelink has a longer and more informed narrative.

          3. Jake – Thanks for pointing out some of the geologic issues in this area. It’s worth taking those into account when purchasing a home. The houses on Skyline that were eliminated are 1/4 mile south of 72 Oceanside. The houses on Westline that were abandoned are roughly 1/2 mile south of this location. I think you meant Mussel Rock though you called it Mission Rock. As I suggested earlier, these landslide locations are all east of the rock, while Oceanside Drive is well North. It doesn’t take much squinting to understand that.

            In all likelihood if a potential buyer got a geotechnical engineer on site, that engineer would give the same opinion you have suggested, to run away. That’s certainly the safest thing to do. You feel safer in a neighborhood with brick buildings that will only move a couple of inches in an earthquake. Other people think high crime areas like East Oakland are a good trade-off. I think a blanket statement like “all of these houses are going to fall into the ocean” exaggerates the risk here.

            My original point was that I think it is questionable to pay $665K to live in a cottage in someone’s backyard, while you can, 10 minutes down the road, get a yard, three bedrooms two baths and a garage for very nearly the same price. If you don’t like the ‘edge of the hill’ trade, buy a house across the street for about the same amount of money and give yourself another buffer of protection. Good luck to all!

          4. Sorry, yes, I meant Mussel Rock not Mission Rock.

            FTR, Lynvale Court is well north of 72 Oceanside Drive and Mussel Rock. As is Thornton State Beach which had a huge landslide in the 1982 el nino. And Avalon Canyon, which despite Daly City in 2000 paying for a major regrading and new storm pipes had a big landslide in 2003. From the article at my previous namelink:

            “in Daly City, the cliffs retreated again in a major landslide in December 2003 near Northridge Park at Avalon Canyon, between Mussel Rock and Thornton Beach. About 500,000 cubic yards of earth flowed down the hill and out to sea. For a short time, the landslide created a prominent peninsula extending out into the ocean, but the waves carried all the material away in a few weeks. Two months after this landslide, the bluffs above Thornton Beach failed again in a large storm and a large chunk of the cliff washed to sea.”

            While you can, checkout the parking lot of the church on Northridge Drive more than a half mile north of 72 Oceanside. It has a great view, even though the corner of it is slightly hanging out over the cliff edge. There is no doubt that eventually it will join the debris pile of this active landslide.

            Many landslides exist both north and south of 72 Oceanside. These are active landslides. Don’t think of them as events, they are ongoing and unstoppable. The bluff is gradually falling into the ocean. Has been for thousands of years. These cliffs used to be further west, they are moving east, relentlessly. There is no uncertainty that Oceanside Drive will become uninhabitable. There is uncertainty about how soon that will happen and whether it will happen gradually allowing for a managed evacuation, or in minutes or mere seconds. To live there is to bet on the former, but no one knows. If the land fails in a large chunk, as it has done many times on these cliffs, then which side of the street you are on may not matter. And if you have to ask if this is fairly priced into the asking price for 72 Oceanside, then you probably can’t afford the answer.

            This isn’t like the soft soil pan so common in SF, where your house may gradually settle a little into the land or the land may liquefy in an earthquake, but by building your house atop a concrete barge-like foundation or an array of steel and concrete anchors you can ride it out. It’s like the difference between building a houseboat to ride out harbor waves and building one to go over a waterfall or down a cataract.

      2. Thanks for the welcome, but I’ve been here long enough to have been through earthquakes and rainfalls that collapsed sections of the cliffs in Westlake Palisades, destroying houses and streets.
        You are welcome to live on an landslide in the crush zone of the San Andreas, but you’d be a fool not to consider the personal risk regardless of whatever you think are the financial risks. I’ve never priced it for a property on a landslide and am no expert on it, but AFAIK usually earthquake insurance does not cover damage to your land, like it turning into a pile of sand 100 feet down below on a beach.
        BTW, in the 1906 quake, surface movement around 72 Oceanside was as much as 13 feet, and thousands of feet of the railroad ROW along there collapsed. Where I live it was maybe a couple inches and even brick buildings stood with little more than cracks, in many soft parts of SF it was more than a foot and you’ve probably seen pictures of what that did. I do consider the seismicity when I decide where to live, where to work, and where to invest. And I have worked with geo techs, structural engineers, architects, and builders to ensure the life-safety of both commercial and residential buildings in the SF area.
        Land under houses in Westlake Palisades has been problematic since the very beginning. The developer had to move some of the houses. There is a reason those houses overlooking the Pacific are so cheap. The Pacific is undercutting the houses.
        There are certainly many places in the 94015 that do not carry similar risks.

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