Friday, November 7, 2014

LuminaSF, an amazing luxury building in San Francisco raises!

Lumina, a new construction luxury building in San Francisco

Lumina provides a convenient entry into the San Francisco luxury market. I've been in this market, for myself, since the mid 90's, then in 2001, sharing information with buyers and sellers, so it may be useful to hear the benefits that i offer those buying at Lumina.

In San Francisco everyone learns about under-pricing and multiple offers. Lumina is not under-priced, but if you know what you're getting, you can save yourself a lot of time and emotional energy.

My buyers at Lumina, as with many of my clients tend to be,  are very smart and very busy. They have the funds, but not necessarily time that it often takes to physically compare San Francisco properties, where the process is often characterized as a blind auction.

In order to save their time, i collect and organize information about Lumina. How does Lumina compare to resales or other new construction projects? Are there patterns to recognize and share; patterns might provide an advantage for Lumina buyers?

For my recent sale at Lumina, we ran scenario's and I provided feedback and observations. Rather than getting into a bidding war over the most obvious choices, my clients were able to rapidly adapt; reserve early; confidently choosing a Lumina unit of great value based on sound-reasoning.

Almost immediately after, and since, we've seen several other sales supporting that timely decision as wise and well-founded.

For more specific information, call me to discuss. 415-756-5730

Buyers line up outside Saturday for the second release

*LUMINA is marketed exclusively by the Polaris Pacific

Sunday, May 11, 2014

“ONE SIZE FITS ALL” is not always the best real estate selling strategy

Consider 2 different listing price strategies for a home:  under-market value Vs. Off-market

1. Under-market value: Most utilized in San Francisco, pricing below-market value maximizes attention.  This is when staging and very public marketing makes the most sense. This strategy provides the best chance of getting the best offer, by allowing the market set the price like an auction; ideally giving you, as seller, leverage for choosing among, and improving upon, multiple competing offers.

2. Off-market:  “test the market at your price”
Your property has tenants; you don’t want to stage; you’re not ready for open houses, and you’re not in any hurry to sell unless you get your price. This is not the best method for maximizing price with multiple offers. However, it can be the most convenient way, after reviewing recent sales, to see if you can get an offer for a comparably good price. If not, than wait until a time when you are ready for a fully-public marketing effort. One might say: “If I don't get my price, I'll wait: no harm done.”

Sellers reserve the right to accept or reject any offers, anytime, regardless of pricing. Understanding this is where your realtors skill and insight can be so valuable.

Exceptionally skilled agents identify properties and people whose expectations fit, utilize matchmaking skills, and narrow down a search in order to offer convenience, time, and money saved for our clients.

If you don’t want a “one size fits all” strategy, and you haven’t started working with another agent, whether you're buying or selling, let’s meet and talk about the possibility of working together, thinking outside of the box with strategies that get you what you want.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My new sale of a very exciting parking space!

This week, my clients got into contract on an $85,000 parking space.

Writing an offer on a parking space is new territory for me.

For me, selling real estate has always been easy because I love everything about it. I love getting to know people; thinking about the living space; imagining what it will be like shopping at the local market, bringing back food to cook in the kitchen; arranging furniture for guests; the view; the life style. I can spot a good opportunity when i see one because i can use empathy and intuition to imagine the best options to present to clients based on what is important to them and how i can help them save time.

But i admit, I'm not as experienced at spotting a deal on a parking space. My clients found this one.

Over the past couple of years, i've been working with investors who have purchased multiple properties through me. And I always learn something working with people who look at real estate from a different perspective.

For some, it's simply all about the numbers.

For an art major like me, "numbers" bring to my minds-eye, world events, historically low interest rates, cost of parking, the direction of development in the city: an ever changing combination of factors that cause people to speculate on different outcomes and options, stretched over time. Even after witnessing several real estate cycles, I'm optimistic about the overall direction of real estate in San Francisco and opportunity for long-term financial benefits.

Yes, in San Francisco real estate, even a parking space can be exciting!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

San Francisco Real Estate Bidding Wars

San Francisco Real Estate bidding wars.

I had a client say to me recently "We don't want to get  involved in any San Francisco Real Estate bidding wars."

I understood. We've all heard the stories about San Francisco Real Estate bidding wars. At the height of a past real estate "bubble," buyers who overbid on homes see values fall.

After hearing such a story, why would anyone want to participate in San Francisco Real Estate bidding wars?

The practice of multiple offers, happens every week in San Francisco, even during the very slowest seasons, worst markets but especially when the market is hot. The reason? Winning in the San Francisco Real Estate market all comes down to strategy.

When executed well, San Francisco bidding wars, even in a depressed market, unleashes the power of underpricing.

The most important part of any strategy: that it's truly your own. Underpricing a property to elicit a high number of competitive bids -- and obtain the best offer -- under the right circumstances, is a proven strategy. But since sellers have their own strategies and objectives, and you and your agent have your own, you shouldn't be rushed or pressured into any approach if it makes you uncomfortable.

The element of surprise is essential to victory. When you prepare ahead of time with your agent, s/he can help ensure that you will be the first to be aware of opportunities and keep your supply lines established. They do this with:
  1.  Prepared financing
  2.  Identified and prioritized property needs
  3.  Understand comparable sales and other measures of objective property values
This provides you with focus to act in the face of distraction, and a stable foundation to know whether you should or should not compete for a property. As a result of being prepared you can recognize and seize an opportunity while others are still grappling with uncertainty.

Mostly, your agent should be willing to listen to you, remind you of your needs that you've identified, and know the terrain of comparable values and strategies common in the San Francisco real estate market. They can prepare you to fight a more intelligent battle, to save you both your resources and your time. 

After all, the objective is to find a home that fits your needs so that you can move-on to your next mission: to begin enjoying your new home in San Francisco.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mission Bay Shuttle

I love the Mission Bay Shuttle! 

Not just because the Mission Bay Shuttle is free and convenient way to get downtown San Francisco from Mission Bay but also because it doesn't feel like riding on public transportation downtown. On the Mission Bay Shuttle they play classical music. From Berry street, you can hop on the Mission Bay Shuttle and be downtown in 15 minutes or less.

Mission Bay Shuttle stops

There are two shuttle routes -- East Side and West Side.

West Side goes down Berry Street and stops include 5th & Berry, in front of Crescent Cove, and at Owens St. & Campus Way

East Side stops include 4th St. at the Library / China Basin, at the Strata, and 455 MBBS (Nektar).

Both East and West stop at 4th & Townsend (Caltrain) on their way to and from Market St., mid-block between 4th & 5th St., in front of Juicy Couture, near Powell St. BART/MUNI.

There are signs along the routes at some of the Mission Bay huttle stops.

Morning service is roughly between 7 and 10 a.m., and afternoon service is roughly between 3:45 and 8 p.m. But always check the Mission Bay Shuttle transportation management association web site for the latest timetable.
Mission Bay Shuttle map
Mission Bay Shuttle Route

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Craigslist post: GoldiLocks seeks SF Realtor

Once upon a time, Goldilocks tried to find the right SF Realtor to help her find her new home in San Francisco. So she started asking around and even placed an ad on Craigslist.

 This is what she found: 
Realtors from the East coast are too Harsh:  New Yorkers seem to disagree with everything just for the sport of it.  Your candor is appreciated, New Yorkers but to Goldilocks, you come off as impatient and just too rude!  
Realtors from the West coast are too Mellow:  You send back a pleasing reflection of whatever "vibe" that you are feeling, but Goldilocks needs more opinionated feed-back!  
Realtors from the Midwest are just right: They always say what's on their mind yet it's perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree. Not everyone has the same tastes, and that's ok.
Note from Bill Williams: your San Francisco Real Estate Consultant! © ------------------------
As I ponder the nuances of cultural variation across the country, as a San Franciscan raised in the midwest, I've come to appreciate both the candor of New Yorkers as well as the non-judgmental, tolerant attitude that you find on the West coast.
As a Realtor, I strive to have opinionated transparency, to the point of listing any rationale for the conclusions I offer.  While I may generalize, as I have in this blog, it serves the purpose of grounding Goldilocks' attention upon the sorts of factors to be considered as part of her need to employ critical thinking and informed decision making, such as prioritizing her needs including: 
• price range or affordable monthly payments 
• future appreciation
• security   
• location 
• walkability 
• square footage 
• light 
• tolerance for property improvement projects
and so on...
Weighing the factors that meet her specific needs can only be determined by Goldilocks...While my midwestern sensibilities and statements can be redundant and i can make generalizations that don't always fit in her circumstances—she likes to be gently challenged by being asked the right questions and hearing helpful opinions. The happy ending: Goldilocks found Bill Williams is just the right Realtor in San Francisco to help her find her new home.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mission Bay Community Enhancement fee

As a local real estate specialist, i notice many people buying or selling in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco are caught off-guard by the Mission Bay Community enhancement fee which is .0025% of the sale price or 1/4 of 1%. As a buyer, the Mission Bay Community enhancement fee must be disclosed to you, though often, I think that people forget about it until they see it on their estimated net proceeds sheet.

The reason it is important to know about the Mission Bay Community enhancement fee is that under certain conditions, you can work with your listing agent to ask the buyer up-front to pay it.  If you or your realtor are unaware of what the Mission Bay community enhancement fee is, you may end up paying for it when it might have been possible to negotiate in your favor.

What are some of the "enhancements" paid for by the Mission Bay Community enhancement fee?

The 41 acres of new public open space in Mission Bay will include playing fields, sports courts, a children’s park, informal recreation lawns, habitat enhancements, a waterfront promenade, and public gathering spaces.

The open space parcels in Mission Bay are owned by the City and leased to the Redevelopment Agency, which is responsible for management and operations. All operating costs are paid by private property owners in Mission Bay, (through the Mission Bay Community enhancement fee). The agency contracts with MJM Management Group to provide maintenance, security, landscaping and janitorial services in the Mission Bay parks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What caused the housing crisis?

We can all breath a sigh of relief now that housing is showing widespread signs of recovery. In San Francisco we're back to the low inventory that causes pre-emptive and multiple offers. 

For buyers in today's market, the question remains: "How the housing crisis happen?", and "How can we avoid the same mistakes that happened over the last few years?"

We all have our theories about it but what strikes me is that even in the most transient, urban neighborhoods of San Francisco, people stay in their homes an average of 5 years. For much of the country, it's decades.  Simply put: value primarily comes from supply and demand: People have to live somewhere and as people want to move to San Francisco from all over the world, demand and values increase: This is economics 101.

Clearly, the cause for the housing crisis was something beyond the most basic driver of value; supply and demand; So what's really behind housing crisis?

Over the past decade booming international trade unlocked Chinese savings that led to a excessive global liquidity. It may be surprising, but the crisis started with a lot of extra money in circulation, not the lack of it.  And the extra liquidity unleashed a relentless worldwide hunt for higher and higher yields. 

Worldwide investors demanded increasingly higher and higher returns. Yet quantity comes with risk, and getting more often comes at the expense of quality.

Do you remember 5-10 years ago when kids, sometimes even pets were mistakenly sent credit card offerings?

Lenders gave credit out like candy!

For most homeowners it seemed reasonable to respond: "if the bank will offer a line of credit on my home at 6% and my credit card is at 9%, why not take the tax deductible line of credit against the home to pay off all my credit card debt; do home improvements; or to improve my cash-flow and save money. People leveraged and re-leveraged their homes.

Meanwhile the financial alchemists on Wall Street fed into this cycle, bundling thousands of home loans and reselling them as collateralized debt to satisfy the relentless demand from investors. Since the banks could so easily resell them, it made sense to originate but not service loans: they were getting rid of them as fast as possible, taking the profit while concluding that somehow, the responsibility for the risk was someone else's problem. They worked to churn out as many loans as possible, even profiting later by betting against the very loans they originated.

Lenders who had previously been like Robin Hood, offering tantalizing savings of cash-flow for their customers, suddenly became like Robin Hood in reverse, keeping the interest rates high, slowly bleeding their existing customers dry, while offering sweet rates for new customers. Many homeowners know too well how their bank refused to rework their monthly payment schedule in a way that would allow them afford their existing home payment given this new reality of their economic circumstances. 

Instead of working out a solution to save the relationships with their clients, lenders wrote off bad debt by foreclosing or short selling the home to new customers for pennies on the dollar and in the process destroying neighborhood comparable sales, street by street. Some compared this behavior by lenders as poisoning the well; spreading toxic waste; going nuclear or fouling their own nests: homes in communities where banks may even now begin prospecting for new clients, were dumped and left in disrepair.

What have we learned from all of this?  Should we stop lending or borrowing money? Should we all start storing it under the mattress? Or would this be the same mindset that contributed to the crisis from which we finally find ourselves reemerging? This year I've seen a lot of savvy buyers buying now at a lower cost basis before prices fully recover. 

Perhaps the best investment strategy for all of us is to "go long" on lifestyle. I think Americans have learned we need to prioritize: quality over quantity. Nurturing community connections for the long term; valuing ongoing education; life experiences and yes, being thankful for our homes. You don't have to "own" in order to make a home. Many have chosen to downsize to a smaller but more central home where they can use their car less.  However people choose to adapt in the long run, I believe owning a home still contributes to stability and lifestyle that still is, and always will be, part of the American dream.

*references to "lenders" or "banks" do not include all of their employees.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Technology hot spots on San Francisco map

After reading J.K. Dineen's 04/12/12 Article in SF Business Times entitled:

"Here's where San Francisco's new economy is being built",

which describes some key "new economy" HQ locations, but shows interior photos inside these buildings and since this is my area of specialization as a real estate agent, I thought it might be helpful for people to visualize these locations in proximity to one another on a San Francisco map.
Where is all the new economy thriving in San Francisco?
click link to enlarge:

I added a few.  Do you have others to suggest? Let me know:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why do I even need a real estate agent?

San Francisco is the home to incredibly smart people.  People who move here from all over the world including technology entrepreneurs, who've sold their companies to Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Zynga. I've worked with brain surgeons.  For many, English is only one of their several languages and these new San Franciscans often own multiple properties in multiple countries. They know their next real estate move before I even open my mouth.  

I work with people who I admire so much that sometimes I almost wonder aloud: "Why do they even need me?"

I find all this very humbling, yet humorous as I walk into a meeting with prospective clients and they have their laptop out and know all about a property before I do.

Anyone who is paying attention can see how the information revolution is changing the way agents, buyers and sellers interact with one another. 

Then I put myself in their shoes and remember why they need me: We all share these tools to find information more quickly than ever before.  Sometimes they're smarter than me.  And the trend IS toward self-service. Yet, when you work in this industry full-time, like I do, you'll notice that even smart people don't move without help from a trusted agent such as myself, who looks at the same information and helps put choices into context.

Among benefits I offer as an Real Estate Agent / collaborator:  
- Help focusing on what is real (to avoid false prospects)- Helping you stay on course (reminding you of your own stated goals)- Finding off-market opportunities (alternatives for comparison)- Collaborative investigation of options (placing things in context)- Saving your valuable time (co-creating reasonable expectations)- Getting around all the red tape (transactions have potential hang-ups)- Contingency planning: viable alternatives (plan B)- Getting results

I don't like dealing with "sales" people. Though I grudgingly acknowledge my need for them when I want the convenience that their help represents. Many are very nice folks.  The ones that I like the best are those who are always willing to share everything they find and even stick their necks out with some advice without taking it personally if I don't follow all their suggestions. I'm glad to hear their opinions. It places my own choices in context but ultimately they understand that choices must be made by those who need to live with the results.

When all is said and done, I know that my choices are subjective yet I still can't resist asking the waiter "What will I like better, the fish or the pasta?"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Value of Convenience in Real Estate

Convenience has such an influence on home sales prices in San Francisco.  Yet too often, people overlook the value of Convenience both for themselves and to others.

Consider home staging:  A professionally presented home may be invisible to buyers because buyers touring open houses notice what's wrong yet a well-presented house gets past their critical filters.

On the sellers side, I've heard: "Why should I spend to paint and stage when we're moving out?", "If I were the buyer, I'd rather have the cost off the price and paint it myself: in a color that I want."

This thinking assumes that convenience won't matter as much to other people. I've seen people start out thinking they want distressed sales look at the condition and complications associated with those transactions, and after some initial frustration, move on to the convenience of brand new construction.

It pays to recognize the value of convenience. 

The fact is, staging is extremely helpful and here is a study showing how much it helps:
Staging’s Impact on Sales Prices:  Our analysis compared the difference between the asking price and selling price for approximately 678 residential properties sold in the San Francisco bay area (2005 yet, still relevant).   For 396 unstaged homes, the final sale price averaged $26,632 over the asking price.  By comparison, the survey collected data on 282 professionally staged properties.  The average difference between asking price and selling price for these staged properties was $81,014.   Therefore, on average staging a home is associated with an increase in the final sales price of $54,382 (Table 4, Page 9).

Return on Investment. The survey found that the average cost of staging a property was $3,305, resulting in an average return on investment for the home owner of $16.45 per dollar spent on staging.

Offers Received by Homeowners.  Not only does staging impact the final sale price of residential properties, it appears to increase the number of offers received by the owner.  Comparing the two types of properties (staged and unstaged); professionally staged homes received and average of 4.7 offers, while their unstaged counterparts received an average of only 3.7 offers (Table 5, Page 10).  

here is the link to a study.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rents are Soaring in San Francisco

I'm seeing a shift in the San Francisco real estate market.

I keep tabs on rental prices by talking with rental agents; to stay informed for advising clients; for my own properties in the past and in early July I was preparing to lease a loft I own. Previously it was bringing in less than I was paying the bank so I needed to raise the rent substantially and I wasn't sure but really hoping it would go well.

To my pleasant surprise, I was swamped by potential renters, mostly from the social gaming industry!

While talking with so many potential renters, i met a very nice couple who weren't "ready to buy just yet".  They were noticing that their monthly cash-flow would be better owning in Mission Bay, rather than paying the new, higher rents. Their 1 bedroom at the Avalon was being raised by $1000 per month!  I talked with them about a few prospective properties and now, they're are happily in contract for a new home that I helped them to find.

To see their new home, click here for a video tour of it that I made.

So many new tech jobs are being created that I am meeting people moving into SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay and Potrero Hill; not only from all over the U.S. but also Europe, the middle east, Asia and South America. This reminds me of the dot-com days when I moved to San Francisco in the 90's. Technology workers are landing in San Francisco for their new job, searching for rentals, yet unable to find what they could have just one or 2 months ago because rents are soaring. The Zynga IPO may have a lot to do with it yet while Zynga is not the only social game in town,  it appears to me that their IPO is the catalyst for this sudden spike in demand.   

---> I am predicting we are just beginning to see this market activity spill over from the rental into the resale market. 

---> China and the European central bank raised their interest rates yesterday. 

In a world where there is a constant flight to quality in capital markets, especially as we begin to see inflation, San Francisco Real Estate will continue to be a very solid investment and hedge against the erosion in value from inflation that might be starting to  take place in Asia and elsewhere in the world. Interest rates here in the U.S. are at record lows but even if they begin to climb, i think we're just starting to see a flight to quality; to bay area real estate, especially where the jobs are.

I've been working in the San Francisco real estate market for 10 years but focusing very closely over the past few years and particularly in areas that i believe have a great up-side in the very near future. While I don't have a crystal ball, if you or your friends have an interest in talking with me, I'd love to get your referrals and meet you for coffee.

Your San Francisco Real Estate Consultant

find me on Yelp!, Facebook, twitter, youtube: RealBillSF

Friday, May 13, 2011

Is your real estate agent "too nice"?

A friend recently said to me, with a slightly cynical smile,  Bill you are "too nice."

The implication is that a person who is "too nice" puts too much faith in others' good-will, allowing someone to easily take advantage.

I disagree. However, there is some truth in my friend's characterization.

Before I became became a real estate agent 10 years ago, I was a creative professional, which is an occupation that doesn't require dividing statements that people make between such simplistic categories as either "true" or "false." While I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that one needs to discern and to detect subtle differences between fact and fiction, sometimes shades of gray makes it important to suspend judgement.  It's worst to assume that a statement that falls into the "false" category must be "a lie."

When we give people the benefit of the doubt, we serve our own interests more effectively than when we assume the worst.

You've got to "give" to "get"
This may mean assuming the best in people even when by appearance, they seem to be less than forthcoming.  People in our culture suffer from their inability to trust — assuming that an adversarial process should always be applied in order to "WIN"— as if every transaction must be a zero-sum game. I think this is a misapplication of the sports metaphor confused as "real life."

Collaboration, for the WIN!

In fact, the most successful people win by being helpful; building trust; then through skilled cooperation, discovering ways to quickly uncover and satisfy needs of the interested parties' .

Quid Pro Quo
Far from abandoning your own needs, think of this process as aggressively seeking to meet your needs by quickly learning what the other side wants. We are best able to hear and learn by not getting so easily offended or overly skeptical but through hyper-awareness of priorities — especially as we learn how the interests of others can be mutually aligned to meet our own needs.

It is a kind of blindness to assume in the negotiating dance, that one can only "gain" when the other "loses."

It takes work to discover opportunities for mutual interests and this can be done most effectively in good faith collaboration with others. This is when working with a skilled negotiator such as myself can be so valuable.

So, for those who think it is naive to be "nice"; who confuse kindness as a weakness I say: "being nice is effective strategy". In fact, it's my weapon of choice ;-)

Friday, February 4, 2011

OH, what a nice condo!

Recently I met new clients at one my weekend open houses. Like a lot of buyers these days, they were looking for foreclosures and short sales because they know it's a buyers market and really wanted to leverage their down payment to get the best deal.

Who doesn't want to get the best deal, right?

But the more they visited these kinds of properties, the more I got the impression that they wanted downtown-view, central location with turn-key-luxury-convenience.

In short, the price-per-square foot was great on some of the "deals" out there and compared great on the computer screen but they really wanted was something special that would get them excited about moving.

So we visited One Hawthorne and when we walked into this particular upper G plan, it was love at first sight. This building has the views and most central location in a dynamic, Manhattan-like area of downtown San Francisco.

“G” is the North East corner with downtown views and views East including the bay bridge.

Here are a couple of photos I shot with my cell phone...I always offer to visit the places in person with me because it's really the best way for us to compare in order to understand the details.

Across Hawthorne street is Benu, recently featured in the New York Times article as one of 10 restaurants worth a plane ride, only 3 of them in the US and it was the only one mentioned in San Francisco.

The husband walks a couple blocks to Bart and the wife has easy access south so it is perfect for both their commutes to work. The views are really exceptional and the moment they walk out onto the street; starting in on the very same block where they live: the downtown will be their new playground.