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Yesterday, I toured San Franciscos’ Luxury Tower, The Millenium with my colleague, Uche Nchekwube, M.B.A., Realtor at Vangaurd Properties. We were greeted by the valet as we drove up and met by the buildings’ concierge who escorted us to our private showing appointment.We had the luxury of viewing the gorgeous homes currently offered for sale.
Our showings consisted of a visit to the City View residences, loft like urban dwellings with seamless finishes like marble bath and kitchen, soaking tub, sleek cabinetry, picture windows, and urban views! Very modern, streamlined and sophisticted. The hallways are quiet, plush and serene. Then we were escorted to model homes at the ‘Residences’, 1 and 2 bedroom homes on the lower floors and the slightly larger, Grand Resdiences with stupdendous views, on the upper floors. They have numerous floor plans to choose from, for each Residence group. We saw Floor Plans A, C and F, each featuring something specical, an extra walk-in closet, a guest room/office, a den, more square footage, a commanding view, a new and different lay out! It’s easy to see why the most exclusive buyers are making the Millenium their home. It’s fresh, clean, beautifully designed and luxurious. Everything has been thought of for you in terms of surroundings, service and comfort.
There are enormous views available of the City and the bay and our colorful urban landscape. In our busy lives, the Milleniums’ Owners’ level offers the relaxation, socialization and comfort that one would book a resort stay for. Spanning the entire lower level, you will find a temperature controlled wine storage locker, a wine tasting room shaped like a wine barrell, an owners lounge with the latest magazines & periodicals with a fireplace, private dining room, and a snack/coffee bar. If that’s not enough you can take advantage of the movie theater, the indoor swimming pool, the private spa rooms and lounge by the enormous fireplace on the outdoor terrace. Wanting to exercise, there is a workout room, pilates studio and fully equipped gym, plus a play room for the kids. The concierge on this level can arrange any private party or event in any room on this level for you.
At every turn The Millenium offers an air of luxury and sophistication that is evident from the moment of entry. These homes demonstrate the exclusivity that is sure to appeal to the most discerning city dwellers and home owners. Allow me to fill you in on some of the features and benefits of these homes and schedule your private showing. Reach out at 415.321.7076 to view at your convenience.
Today I previewed a compound Oasis in the heart of San Francisco on Divisadero. I was frankly flabbergasted at the amazing modern meets Storybook Victorian home that was behind the ornate well cared for visage. Not on the market presently, though it will be any moment now, so I’m giving you the first glimpse.
Sitting on a double lot gives it the feeling of being a compound. It’s garden setting and sophistication make it an oasis. The main home on 2 levels have 3 beds and 2.5 baths, with a master suite with an additional office. An elegant spaciousness is made by the open vistas of this fabulous entertainment home. Throughout is the notable gleaming walnut radiant heat hardwood floors, marble fireplaces, ornate pillars, exposed brick and beams, stained glass, high cielings with modern touches and high end finishes. There is a deluxe sound system.
The chef’s kitchen features stainless counters and all of the extras you would expect including a sleek breakfast bar that seats a crowd. The master marble bath has a free standing soaking tub with outdoor deck access to lounge on 1 of the private decks after your bath. One bath features vintagelike beadboard and bath furniture and even of course, there is a modern powder room. All well thought out and impressive, providing class, elegance with modern touches and conveniences. This is truly a San Francisco home at its’ finest and most impressive. Did I mention the turret room…it’s round of course. Continue reading
San Franciscos’ One Hawthorne, a Luxury Highrise in the Middle of the Action – Affordable and Stylish
Downtown San Francisco is host to many new and newish high rise luxury buildings offering homeownership opportunities to the most discerning urban dwellers. Experience life with all of the amenities, like exercise rooms, valets, roof top gardens with outstanding world-class views and some buildings include concierge service.
Tonite I attended an invitational cocktail fete hosted by the sales team of One Hawthorne. Catty-corner to our new Vangaurd Office at 199 New Montgomery. One Hawthorne’s sales office is at the corner of Hawthorne and Howard with the building entrance around the corner on the quiet Hawthorne Street, not a thoroughfare, a calm street in the midst of the action.
Greeted by the sales team who offered wine and beautifully prepared nibbles, I was given the inside scoop on the upcoming offerings in this building. Sales have picked up, are brisk with available homes moving quickly.
Sold in phases, the first phase has only 8 units left before the anticipated release of the upper floors 21 to 25 in the next several months. As the floors go up, so does the pricing. Jessica gave us the grand tour of the sleek, modern, impressive models of a junior one bedroom, the perfect pied a terre, a 1 bedroom at 800+ Square Feet and the 2 bedroom/2bath of over 1200 Square Feet. Continue reading
Billy Crystal was impeccable tonite as presenter of the 84th Academy Awards. This is one red carpet and awards show I make sure to watch! This year, Nine Films were nominated for Best Picture.
Billy’s opening number delivered and some of his one liners hit home! I think it’s true, a lot of the actors are smaller and shorter than we realize, though they surely look good on the big screen. The French do have cause for celebration winning the Academy’s Best Actors and Best Film awards, though my French friends DO exhibit joy, contrary to Billy’s contrary joking!
Missing from the audience were Jack Nicholson, though I did see Tony Bennett. The camera as usual loves Brad and Angelina plus this years “most panned to”, George Clooney and Stacey Keibler, so beautifully dressed in a gold Marchesa gown. Tina Fey surprised us in an elegant eggplant colored gown with peplum and delivered her funny lines as presenter having me laugh out loud as usual.
It was humbling and well deserved though I say, “Don’t miss the book”, as with most films it captures nuance the film doesn’t convey. My pick for Best supporting actress was Jessica Chastain from the same film. I hadn’t realized it was her when watching the film until the credits rolled. She is one to watch.
Surrounding Union Square are some of the Cities best offerings for those looking for that exclusive luxury home vase, work of art, custom upholstered furniture or unique, one of a kind accessory to add to your homes elegance? San Francisco hosts a myriad of luxury home stores for you to fulfill your decorating itch.
Try Gumps, a harbinger of elegance and sophistication, at 135 Post St. in San Francisco. ‘Ohh and ahh’ through their beautifully dressed retail store. Contact their concierge to host your private event, cocktail reception or dinner, bridal event or arrange a private seminar with one of their designers or artists.
Nearby find Neiman Marcus at 150 Stockton Street, now showing Spring Home Trends like their “Global Perspective, New Preppy, Nouveau Cottage, Coastal Charm and the traditional Country Estates”. Designer’s like Lily Pulitzer, Calvin Klein Home, Mac-Kenzie Childs, and Jonathan Adler contribute to the homes collections. For Baccarat and Lalique, this is your destination.
This Friday you can catch Barton Perrerias’ Sunglass Trunk show at another luxe shopping “go to”, at Barney’s New York’s San Francisco store at 77 O’Farrell Street at 11am. Barney’s sets itself appart with its’ selection of sophisticated urban decor, tech and travel, desk, gourmet and even the dog department.
Pockets of Movement in the San Francisco Housing Market, Despite Lessening Inventory
The nice spring-like weather we have been experiencing has had some positive effects on the home buying public, as it has brought more buyers into the market. And with interest rates continuing to stand at a 60-year low, this has made homes more affordable and led to a wave of refinances that has increased disposable income for property owners. But despite these encouraging trends, the city’s inventory has tightened.
As inventory levels dropped in January by 32.9 percent, compared to January 2011, the number of homes under contract rose by 8.7 percent. But the low inventory seemed to also contribute to fewer completed sales, which is fairly normal market behavior for this time of year.
For homes that were priced below $700,000, the months of supply inventory fell by 47.3 percent to 1.6 months. For higher priced homes between $700,000 and $1.2 million, the months of supply inventory fell by 38.9 percent to 2.4 months. These short time frames continue to indicate a seller’s market, where sellers have more leveraging power over buyers who are competing against a limited pool of properties.
With new construction on the rise and the current affordability of homes for the median income earner, consumer confidence is returning to the real estate market.
National Housing starts rose 1.5 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000 from the revised December estimate of 689,000, and they were 9.9 percent above the January 2011 rate of 636,000, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. Housing starts for single-family homes fell 1 percent in January to 508,000, down from 513,000 in December.
San Francisco has been positioning itself for the America’s Cup race to be held here, with the hope that it brings scores of visitors to make this a tour de force event a cash cow for our economy. The City has been negotiating a deal to fix old worn out piers in exchange for development rights. The question is the draw of the event and whether it will deliver as the City expects.
Over the next 2 years, 58 days of racing will take place. The City would benefit by the influx of attendees’ to restaurants and hotels. Slow fundraising has been a concern for county supervisors who know that $52m is earmarked to spend on prepping for the event.
Analysis of the anticipated 8,800 jobs creation, and $1.4Billion in revenue were made from other America’s cup events held worldwide. As of now, only 3 of the 9 expected teams have signed on for the 2013 finals.
The America’s Cup organization stands behind its forecast, while some supervisors believe the projection is grossly overestimated. San Francisco has a world renown sailing tradition, multiple yacht clubs, visible weekly Regatta’s on the bay which will have us looking forward to seeing if this event brings the funds, crowds and participation anticipated or is a complicated way to repair a waterfront badly in need of attention….and it looks like, possible development.
Today I sipped wine on a dock of the Bay! The San Francisco Chronicle sponsors the largest American Wine Competition in America, held on Feb. 6th with the VIP reception, which I attended, and public wine tasting that followed, on Feb. 18th in the Festival Pavilion of Fort Mason. Hic! While sampling the Best in Class and Gold Medal Winners in the VIP reception this afternoon, an attendee warned me, “You better go down to the tasting floor before the public arrives, as it will be 5000 strong”. He wasn’t kidding. So we did. Sampling wines from multiple AVA’s, (American Viticulture Areas) from Lodi, Sonoma, Russian River, Napa, Glen Ellen, Santa Maria, Petaluma, Temecula, to name a few. Continue reading
President Obama has come to town, to visit, raise his campaign profile and to raise funds. We haven’t heard much from his camp, aside from today’s visit, about his campaign for the next term. Though I enjoyed Michelle’s’ (yes, we are on a first name basis, at least in my book), public announcements and TV appearances touting the humanity of our current present, his devotion to family and dog and his character as first and foremost, a man of ethics. She spoke clearly about the sacrifices that wife and children make to stand behind their man in the white house, and having said that – endorses him for another term out of her conviction that he will continue to be the right leader for our country or she and the kids would not be making this sacrifice again! Continue reading
Today I took out a client who wanted to tour luxury property in all neighborhoods of the City! That was a big bill to fill as luxury means something different to each person. In this case, it was in the form of at least a 3 Bedroom, 3 Bath home of over 1800 SqFt, with a price point of $1m-$2.3m and up.
Luckily that is easily achievable in our town. Though we are a great city, buyers often note, its’ diverse neighborhoods make it feel like a town. We began our tour in St. Francis Woods. Known as District 4, this neighborhood sports detached mansion like homes on larger parcels of property. I would call this “the country in the middle of the city”. Some of our oldest and most beautiful Mediterranean and Spanish style homes are in this neighborhood that exudes a charming elegance. They loved West Portal, the 3 block shopping district at the base of St. Francis woods and its’ boutiques, pubs, cafe’s and art cinema.
There is a special natural fabric of the city that is made by its’ open preserved space. Golden Gate Park, The Presidio, Fort Funston, Fort Mason, Stern Grove, Mountain Lake Park, and Lands’ End. These spaces provide leisure activity in the form of hiking, walking, biking, picnicking and more.
Take a approx. 3 mile round trip hike from near the Cliff House and Sutro Baths’ on a bay ridge trail with outstanding views to reach Lands end outlook bordering Sea Cliff neighborhood. Travel to the base of Presidio to find Crissy field, an old airstrip on the former Army base that serves as a greenbelt for a lengthy bayside trail that leads from the Marina District to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Presidio itself has multiple hiking trails where you can be among the trees and get away from it all, stretching from Crissy field all the way to Laurel Heights and the Richmond District.
San Francisco boot camps are all the rage. I don’t mean the military kind, but rather the sunrise exercise classes taking place outside, in all neighborhoods throughout the City. Anywhere from 4 large groups of fitness devotees will be taken on a series of high intensity exercises using the environment for props and as a backdrop. Ever see a group stretching at the big magnolias in Delores Park. Or doing push-ups against a bike rack?
Thinking my Yoga routine had qualified me, I decided to join a boot camp recently and I’m embarrassed to report that I made it through the warm-up and not much more. I realized that I have to ramp up my routine just to join these dedicated athletes. Continue reading
Today Vanguard Properties, the well-known San Francisco real estate firm headed by Principal James Nunemacher for nearly 30 years, announced the “21 Club” Top Producers of Vanguard Properties for 2011, including Erika Burke.The achievements of these very hard working Realtors and Broker Associates are recognized yearly by the firm, in alphabetical order, are as follows:
“We are thrilled with all of our agents performance and this past year’s gain in what has been touted as a down national real estate market,” said Mr. Nunemacher.
The 2011 year end numbers for Vanguard Properties posted close to a 30% gain in sales over 2010. “We are thrilled with all of our agents performance and this past year’s gain in what has been touted as a down national real estate market,” said Mr. Nunemacher.
The firm is looking forward to yet another year of growth with the opening their new sales office in downtown San Francisco located at 199 New Montgomery Street.
I confess, I’m addicted. To San Francisco’s’ museums. It’s true. If you go to one, watch out, you will become addicted too, in a very good way. There are dozens to choose from, many centrally located and accessible by public transportation. Some are housed in architectural treasures, like the Palace of Legion of Honor on the Inner Richmond near Lands End. Before you even enter you are entranced by the sweeping stair, the lawns and fountains, and the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge. They offer changing exhibitions from all corners of the earth, along with their impressive old masters collection. Last year I took in 2 exhibitions and saw a concert!
New restaurants open daily in San Francisco. Because we all love being in the know, let’s take a look at some of the most buzzed about openings slated for the next few months. Here is the dish (pun intended) according to Eater SF:
Address: 1 Letterman Dr, in the Presidio
The Situation: Chef Joseph Humphrey, who earned Michelin stars atMeadowood and Murray Circle, finally gets his own personal project. He’s taking over the former Pres A Vi to create an un-stuffy restaurant combining elements from California and the South.
Major Players: Chef-owner Joseph Humphrey, designer Michael Brennan, general manager Khalid Lahlou
Projected Opening: Late fall, “with any luck, right around Thanksgiving”
Buzz Factor: 7
2) Wo Hing General Store
Address: 584 Valencia St. (@ 17th)
The Situation: Charles Phan marks his poignant return to the originalSlanted Door space with a new Chinese street food concept named after his father and uncle. Keeping things current are craft cocktails, local wines, and a brand new bar built-out on the ground level.
Major Players: Executive chef-owner Charles Phan, chef de cuisine Michelle Mah, bar manager Brooke Arthur
Projected Opening: Mid October
Buzz Factor: 8
Further Reading Continue reading
San Francisco has a tradition of fostering its’ artists and creative’s. Nowhere is this as evident as with the prolific amount of mural art exhibited on the exterior of buildings throughout the city! This art expresses local tradition, cultural expression and adds a dimension to the city that makes us unique.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visual Center at 2981 24th St., in the Inner Mission is home to a non-profit mural arts center, store and awareness program representing local mural art and artists. Visit their locale to purchase posters of the art and find out more about the locations and artists. Continue reading
We all know it is a professional who is licensed to facilitate the sale of purchase of real property, homes, commercial, lots and land in a given area. But what does a realtor do? Just show a few homes and facilitate a contract? Hardly.
A realtor is a devotee to their clientele and their brokerage. They often work 7 days a week, or at least make themselves available to their clientele. They must study and pass a rigorous exam and are remanded to fulfill continuing education requirements. They work from their brokerages and often a home office. They do their own accounting and pay taxes from each commission. They place their own advertising, attend networking events to raise their profile, they learn to brand themselves for their specialty.
Realtor’s are social networkers who have mastered technology and social networking skills to promote themselves, your listings and attract buyers through business building on the internet. They use computers, tablets, smart phones, faxes, electronic documents, copiers. They design and use mailers to connect with the public and their clients. They know about bulk mail, folding machines, types of paper.
Celebrating New Year’s, is kind of like a collective birthday, except there are no candles to blow out when you make your wish known as “The New Years’ Resolution”. I quizzed a dozen people at our annual office party and came up with a dozen different resolutions. “To get my teeth whitened, and work on smiling more”. I liked that one….it was easily achievable. How about, “learning to balance work and play, since I work all the time”. I’m still waiting for the answer to that one myself. “I’m going to be nicer to my ________”. If you fill in the blank with husband, then I say – good luck. There’s not a wife on the planet that has successfully fulfilled that one, in my opinion. Never to late to try though. Starting the year with the thought is as good as making it happen. Reasonable goal setting.
2011 was a tough year with the mortgage crisis, skyrocketing unemployment, vacillating stock market, natural disasters and a general level of uncertainty that pervaded. A chance to start afresh with renewed zeal is generally welcomed by all. So this holiday, replete with popping champagne bottles, fancy dress, galas and major promises to ourselves and others is a tradition that unites us globally in a promise for a brighter, better tomorrow. At least after we recover from the festivities!
As the nation’s economic recovery continues at a slow pace, San Francisco is a bright spot in the region, the state and beyond. Recent indicators are encouraging, showing strong growth in key industries which are in turn creating jobs and moving the economy forward. This is good news, and we can keep the momentum going well into the future.
One critical measure of The City’s economic health is tourism, which generated more than $8.5 billion in spending last year. Thankfully, the 2011 summer tourist season did not disappoint. Activity at San Francisco International Airport hit a spring-high with domestic air travel increasing 5 percent year-over-year. International flights have also seen a 6.5 percent year-to-date increase. This influx of travelers has given a needed boost to local hotels, restaurants, retail and other businesses. According to the city controller, hotel occupancy, room rates and retail activity are all following positive trends. Continue reading
Question and Answer Christmas Jokes
Q: What’s the most popular wine at Christmas?
A: “I don’t like sprouts” !
Q: If athletes get athletes foot, what do astronauts get?
Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Talking about Union Square for holiday shopping, take a seat on the parks’ steps or benches in the center and watch the passerby while you determine what world class shop to visit!
Weekends you may find art events, performances and in the winter an ice skating ring. A preserved plot of land that can never be built on due to a trust of its’ original owner. Around the square are some of the most famous stores in the world! This is luxury shopping and dining central, but know that a deal can still be had.
My favorite secret of the area is Maiden Lane. A 2 block side street between Geary and Post, featuring shops like Hermes, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Brittex Fabrics, a number of salons and charming little cafes with outdoor tables. During the day, the street is blocked to traffic for easy navigation and dining. These are the back door entrances to these highly touted shops, making your journey quaint. Take in their windows that change regularly for some high art window dressing. When the ballet season began last year, almost every vendor featured mannequins with authentic vintage ballet costumes.
Borrowers without the income required to qualify for the mortgage they need have many possible options. “Income adequacy” is governed by general guidelines that can be adjusted to meet individual circumstances. It is “softer” than the down payment requirement, discussed last week.
The measure of income adequacy most often used is the sum of the monthly payment on the new mortgage, plus property taxes, homeowners insurance and other debt payments, divided by income. The maximum ranges from 40 percent to 43 percent, but underwriters have discretion to accept higher requirements if they believe that circumstances justify them.
Debt payments are those that extend beyond the next six months and are not deferred for a year or longer. This includes HELOCs and other revolving credits, credit card debt that you don’t pay off at month-end, student loans, and alimony and child support payments. Continue reading
Whether you’ve rented your whole life or own a portfolio of properties, you’ve undoubtedly heard the real estate saying, “Location, location, location,” which simply means that a home’s value is highly dependent upon, well, its location!
The timeless truth of this saying is beyond dispute, even in tough times like these for the housing market. The recessionary fates and foreclosure rates of an individual housing market are highly dependent upon the economic and employment prospects of that market, and even the desirability of an individual neighborhood or lot. Continue reading
The Appraisal Institute recently released a form to help appraisers factor in energy-efficient home features when valuing homes. The forms can also be used by real estate agents in describing “green” properties on the MLS, the Appraisal Institute notes.
Everything from a home owners’ energy efficient appliances to solar panels may now get more attention from appraisals with the added form.
The new form allows appraisers to identify and describe a home’s green features. It will serve as an optional addendum to Fannie Mae Form 1004, which is the appraisal industry’s mostly commonly used form for mortgage purposes, used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration. Continue reading
Borrowers qualifying for mortgages today are paying for the excesses of yesterday. During the go-go years leading to the crisis, underwriting rules became incredibly lax, and now they are excessively restrictive. Mortgage underwriting rules have become increasingly detailed and rigid, with much less room for the discretionary judgment of underwriters.
To help borrowers deal with this problem, I am developing a program for my website that will show potential borrowers whether they qualify, the type of mortgage for which they qualify if they do, and exactly where they fall short if they don’t. Continue reading
San Francisco doesn’t get much media attention outside of the tech bubble. So I was very excited when Contagion — a star-studded action thriller about an international pandemic— filmed on our streets. (I kept walking my dog around Washington Square park hoping he would be asked to be an extra. no go.) The film was shot all of San Francisco with the intention of highlighting their location in the city.
Filming movies in San Francisco pumps pride into city residents, and money into the economy. Hopefully we will start to see more and more movies filming here! Up next is the HBO production “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen.
What are some other famous films starring the City by the Bay? Here are some of the Estate’s Groups favorites:
MILK Sean Penn earned an Oscar when he portrayed gay activist Harvey Milk in the rally cry for equal rights. Follow the uber-talented supporting cast (Franco, Hirsch, Brolin) through the Castro in the ’70s, a.k.a. a pretty entertaining place to be.
Robin has a wonderful eye, and always consults at the beginning of our listing process to make sure she has the right vision for the space. She adds custom art (many of the pieces painted by Robin herself). Robin goes the extra mile – making sure her stages remain pristine throughout the showing process. I know that when Robin is called in to stage an Estates Group Listing not only will the job be done with no fuss or issues, but it will exceed our expectations. To see a sample of her work, visit our current listing at 450 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110.