We deliver value-added services focused to benefit our clients who buy and sell real estate in San Francisco with knowledge, enthusiasm and humor.
— Kevin + Jonathan (and Raffi)

Clients Say…

This far exceeded where we thought it would go. You have worked a miracle inside and out!

— Gene & Sally

Sellers, Retired, Entrusted Home Renovation Choices to Kevin, Twin Peaks

Our Mission:

It’s All About You. 

Grow your success, wealth and happiness together with Kevin + Jonathan.

My name is Kevin Ho and I am Broker Associate and Top Producer at Vanguard Properties, one of the top San Francisco brokerages that is also locally owned and operated. I am also one of San Francisco’s Top 10% of Agents. Together with my partner Jonathan McNarry, we specialize in residential real estate in and around our fair city of San Francisco representing buyers, sellers, investors and builders.  Our methodical, all-encompassing and creative approach is focused on advancing our clients’ interests. We look at real estate as being a valuable exercise that betters the community and as many people’s lives as possible.

Our client base and business continues to grow — success begets success. 

I am from Iowa City, Iowa originally, I am also an active attorney in California and have lived in San Francisco for 10 years.  Jonathan hails from the U.K. and cane to San Francisco via Atlanta. He worked in large-scale community-sized real estate development helping with planning, implementation and sales. He currently works as an ICU nurse at UCSF in addition to real estate. He’s good at identifying what needs to be done and when it needs to be done and remains cool, calm and collected where others wouldn’t.

We do real estate differently — we genuinely love what we do. To us, it’s not work but it’s what we do best. 

I’ve been an invited commentator/expert on Curbed SF, have been quoted and featured in the New York Times for innovative real estate marketing, and interviewed a number of times on local television news talking about real estate.

Tap into all of this knowledge, personality and experience right away by contacting us today.




Kevin K. Ho, Esq.


Top Producer & Top 21 Club Vanguard Properties (bre 01875957 | sbn 233408) Member: SFAR MLS & Technology Committee, Residential Builder’s Association, State Bar Real Property Section, Bar Association of San Francisco, AIA, Top Agent Network (Top 10% of San Francisco Agents)




Jonathan McNarry


Realtor Vanguard Properties (bre 01747295)

The Latest...

What’s the Latest?

Data Bits | August 23-30, 2014

For the past 7 days (August 23, 2014 – August 30, 2014) there were 135 properties that closed escrow (+8 from last week).

  • Single-family homes: 52 (+6 from last week); 7 sold under list price, 4 at the list price and the other 41 sold above the list price.
  • Condominiums, Tenancy in Common/Co-Ops: 62 (-5)
  • 2 to 4 unit buildings: 17 (+5)
  • 5+ unit buildings: 2 (+1)

This Week’s Most-Over-Asking Price Single-Family Home goes 882 Chenery, a 2-bed, 1-bath art deco pastel home circa 1939 in Glen Park on an extra-deep lot (140′ opposed to the usual 100′ therefore nearly 3,500 sqft instead the normal 2500 sqft) with an upgraded Gaggenau appliances (but little else upgraded). Purported plans for an office expansion and legalization of unwarranted space, this house was listed at $849,000, the all-cash buyers closed in just 13 days at 141% over the list price at $1.2M. While the agents failed to disclosure square footage, tax records state that the house is just 750 sqft — making this sale clock in at $1,600/sqft! 


line-book2Over the past 4 years Kevin has been compiling our collected experience, learning and knowledge in one place — our ongoing and evolving Buyers’ Guide, which you can download below.

  • Learn how our clients win at competitive bidding without being the highest offer.

  • Familiarize yourself with San Francisco’s neighborhoods.

  • Get your ducks in a row so you can buy right away

  • Gain valuable knowledge so we’re competitive.

All of this and more by downloading our 100-page long Buyer’s Guide here.


T H E  W E E K  I N  R E V I E W

In the Know with Kevin & Jonathan: Labor Day Edition

August 29-30, 2014 Edition, No. 35

Salutations September!

Vanguard Passes a Billion Dollars in Volume for 2014 and there’s still 1 Quarter Left!

In honor of Labor Day’s celebration of, well, labor, we wanted to highlight the benefit of working with two agents and a big black dog. Unlike a Zillow/Trulia type (who are avowedly not brokers) us realtors are much more than sheer automated algorithmic information. Instead, we’re people people and we ‘get it’ by comprehending what motivates our clients. That’s the broker told us that she had really sophisticated and computationally gifted clients Who, when pricing of the property created massive and complicated spreadsheet that took them more than 12 hours to compile. When it was all said and done, the agent’s intuition told her to price the property at one amount, which varied from the spreadsheet amount by just $10,000. We are lucky enough to work with people who are inspired who have an interest in making their lives better. We hope we inspire the folks we work with as much as they inspire us.

Anyway, last week was one where many buyers got properties at, or very near list price in many cases according to the Stories of the Week that you’ll see below. Of course, feel free to ask us details about what you read here as there’s usually much more detail and context that we can share.

Is the Verge of September Selling is Nigh?

But, as this week’s paltry and 36 as last week’s sales volume confirms, we are just finishing our traditional summer slowdown. Traditionally, September is the busiest time of year (apart from January/February) and this year looks to continue the pattern. At least three new residential condo developments will begin selling in September, one on Dolores Street across the street from the Whole Foods, another Vanguard Project at Mission and 15th Streets and one over near the Park Merced/SF State area called Summit 880. The development at 20th and Valencia Street will be competed sometime this fall.  These units are generally bigger than the ones on Valencia and 19th that Vanguard sold last year, with a selection of 2-level town homes (3bed/2 1/2bath) and flats (both 2/2 and 3/2). The town homes have roof decks with great downtown views. Pricing TBD but you know it won’t be cheap.

As for non-mass construction take a quick drive around Noe Valley and Bernal Heights and you’ll spot scaffolding, porta potties and permits — all of which hare signs that things are in the works. Indeed, Advances and Exclusives of the Week — our spotlight of listings coming to the market or otherwise off the market — is chalk full this week. So take some time to read about those.

No Bubbles Here, Right?

A recent SPUR lunchtime forum and article (SPUR is the urban planing non-profit based in SOMA) concluded that we’re not in a bubble but, in realty, in an affordability crisis bubble that can and is being fixed with new construction producing new housing inventory.

Measure G NO!


You know what they say, it was the best of times and the worst of times…. Well, maybe that’s the logic behind this November’s Proposition — because it’s the best of times for property owners, sellers and realtors, that it must be the worst for someone else. And because San Francisco is full of divergent folks who like to meddle when they can, Proposition G was born. The proposition, if passed, would impose a 14-24% residential surtax on the sale price (not the profits) for property that’s bought and sold within 5 years of sale that would be retroactively applied to sales starting in 2010 for properties that have 2 through 30 units, which is almost 80% of the City’s multi-unit properties. This definition includes single-family homes with in-law units, some 15,000-20,000 of them. This will have the impact of even more folks getting out of the landlord business (fewer units). Whether the tax applies to in-law is rented out or not is unclear. Also, while there’s an exemption for owner-occupiers who live in their property for 12 consecutive months before a sale, the way the law could be applied could mean that if a seller leaves their property to stage a property, for example, that the tax would apply regardless.

If the average home price in San Francisco is $1M then this could mean an additional tax of $240,000 being due upon sale in addition to the 1% transfer tax. What does this mean? It means that if you bought a home with an in-law unit and had to move because of illness, family growth or — well — life happening within the first 5 years of ownership you’d be hit with the tax. No exceptions bar death, but even then the typical probate process takes 2 years!

This tax would impact a lot of minority groups and other investors who invest their money in real estate instead of the stock market.

Our Network is Bigger than You Think.

Leverage Your Real Estate Position Anywhere in the World with Vanguard Properties

Don’t forget that Vanguard is aligned with Leverage Global Partners — with a network of 140-member independent brokerages including the Partners Trust in LA and CORE in New York. The network is comprised of vetted brokerages that are connected to each other and bound by a common set of life-style like-minded agents. How’s that for a better alternative to Realogy?


J U S T  S O L D


Gone Within 72 Hours of Market Debut

Congratulations to our clients Ron and Rick for successfully selling their Esprit Park 1-bed/1.5-bath serene condominium in just 18 days. After they bought an off-market opportunity we identified for them on 18th Street in Eureka Valley the time came to move, prepare and sell their Dogpatch condominium. We happily helped them to:

  • Develop the overall schedule move-out and marketing schedule coming on a week earlier than thought. This included us referring one of our stagers, initiating a few small upgrades (new paint throughout, a new kitchen faucet and additional under cabinet task lighting) and getting the property ready for presentation.
  • After we were done with the preparations, folks commented on how light the space felt which was quite a compliment that when we first saw it we thought it was dark!
  • We directed our professional photographer to capture the property at its best and prepared a tailored website and focused collateral marketing materials.
  • We ended up getting in contact before the first open house and closed at the highest price for their particular plan has seen in the building. But of course, we had a glitch during our escrow when a flawed appraisal came in. We had to martial my argumentative and persuasive writing skills to counter the appraiser’s conclusions and we were successful at that too.

In the end, we closed at $825,000, which was 12% above the list price of $739,000, at $964/sqft, the highest recorded sale in the 868 Minnesota building to date.

Step One of Your Success Story

Contact Kevin + Jonathan


Clients Say…

We bought our house and Kevin was super responsive, incredibly helpful and full of knowledge. He was the perfect guide in navigating what can be a complicated and confusing process. Thanks Kevin!

— Chris & Christel

Buyer, Internet Design Professional & Landscape Architect, Berkeley


The Latest Real Estate RSS News:

RSS The Latest from Our Friends at Curbed SF

RSS From SF Gate’s On the Block

  • What median prices get you in Piedmont and Oakland August 28, 2014
    Last week, SFGate ran a piece on what it costs to buy a home around the Bay Area. While Oakland is still bargain-priced for the East Bay overall—at a median price of 555K for a two-plus-bedroom home versus 875K in Berkeley, 760K in Alameda and 700K in El Cerrito—Rockridge comes in at almost twice that […]
  • Bay Area home appreciation slows August 28, 2014
    It’s the news buyers have been waiting for and sellers have been dreading: the Bay Area’s rapid price appreciation seems to be showing signs of slowing down, according to the S&P’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The index measures home prices across the nation and in 20 metro areas. The San Francisco Metro Area includes San […]
  • Staging disaster: interior decor that repels, rather than entices August 26, 2014
    So you want to sell your house, do you? Are you going to spring for staging, which according to some estimates is very worth the expense?  An estimate on the value of staging suggests sellers can expect 10%-12% higher offers than without staging,” Of course, this estimate suggests the staging is good; surely, staging quality can […]




868 Minnesota, No. 411, Chic, serene & spacious condominium with 1 bedroom / 1.5 baths at Esprit Park. Serene, bright & amenity-filled. (MLS 423598) Listed at: $739,000 SOLD at: $825,000



1050–1056 Stuart Street, Lafayette, CA. 4-unit income property in pretty & affluent Lafayette (SF MLS 423535) Listed at: $1,050,000


Just Sold.

135 Valencia Street, A210. Valencia Corridor/Mission condo with 2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car parking, elevator. Spacious & smart (MLS 421175) Listed at: $599,000 SOLD AT: $725,000


Listings in the Works:

Top-Floor Mission Dolores Condominium SOMA, 2-Bed/2-Bath, 2-level Loft Condominium Large Parkside Single-Family Home with 4 beds/4 baths and 2-car parking with yard

Exclusive Listings from Two Real Estate Agents and A Big Black Dog from the recent past, present and future.


Now Available:

Two Vacant Development Parcels in Lafayette in the affluent San Francisco suburb of Lafayette. (SF MLS 423537 & 423549) Listed at: $1.798M


Just Sold!

788 Minna Street, No. 403, Mid-Market/SOMA condo 1-bed, 1-bath, 1 car parking, elevator. Sophisticated and bright (circa 2011)(MLS 421876). Listed at: $600,000 Listed at: $600,000 SOLD AT: $607,500 (July 21, 2014)


Recently Sold:

471 Hickory Street. Hayes Valley single-family home with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 2-3 car garage parking, private center patio. Cute, bright and chic. (MLS 421090) Listed at: $1,060,000 SOLD AT: $1,400,000 (June 12, 2014, multiple offers)


Recently Sold:

273 Romain Street, Twin Peaks/Upper Market view single-family home. Refreshed with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1 car garage parking and private yard. Quiet street, light, airy with incredible 180º views from Bay to Peaks. (MLS 420070) Listed at: $995,000 SOLD AT: $1,270,000 (May 30, 2014, multiple offers)

What’s Out There Now?

(Criteria: 2 bedroom, 1 bedroom, Active, $1M minimum)

See all What did you find?.
(all data current as of 9/1/2014)

  1. 2 beds, 2.50 baths
    Home size: 1,700 sq ft
    Listing provided by Suzanne Gregg, Paragon Real Estate Group
  2. 2 beds, 1.50 baths
    Home size: 1,100 sq ft
    Listing provided by Suzanne Gregg, Paragon Real Estate Group

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.


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Sell first, decide later Sell, downsize and stay in SF Sell, upsize and stay in SF Sell, leave SF, buy elsewhere in the Bay Area Sell, leave SF + Bay Area, decide later Sell, cash-out, take cash (For income properties) Sell, cash-out (pay capital gains) (For income properties) Sell, exchange into another property Other 

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Recent & Current Buyer Activity

Let’s Roll.  What would you like to do today? 

Are you buying? Selling? Browsing? Regardless of what you’re doing we’re here to help. Take a gander at current listings by using the MLS search form to the left and/or call us to learn more about a given neighborhood, property or trend and we’ll get going.

Hire Us.

At a good friend's wedding.


(Search the MLS Live using Kevin’s credentials)

Sell Smart.




(Open House Picks for August 24, 2014)

Buy Wisely.




(Tuesday, August 26, 2014)



In the Know with Kevin + Jonathan …

This is custom, non-automated, weekly email newsletter grants you access to inside information about upcoming/off-market listings; relevant San Francisco real estate news; and, Stories of the Week the inside information about how a listing sells, e.g., multiple offers, over-asking or winning terms.

Become a Real Estate Insider with Kevin & Jonathan by signing up!

Take the Plunge.
Readers Say…

I love the style of your newsletter! It is so informative and fun! I love to see what is happening in my neighborhood too.

—Cynthia W.

Home Owner, Noe Valley

Top 10% of San Francisco Agents


Remodeling and Home Design

Clients Say

We couldn’t be happier with the service we received from Kevin.

He’s personable, helpful, tech-savvy, and extremely dedicated! Kevin is a very opinionated realtor, but I say this in a good way.  There were many homes that we were willing to bid on in what was a very challenging market, but thankfully Kevin kept our best interests in mind.  Rather than going for a quick close, he actually talked us out of a few homes to make sure we stayed true to our criteria.

Aaron & Ashley 

Buyers, Charming Victorian (Noe Valley)

Real Estate Starring Raffi (Our Dog)

Check This Out

Relevant information for you now

Why You’re Hiring Vanguard Properties

Vanguard Properties continues its Number 1 position in District 9 (SoMa, South Beach, Dogpatch, Potrero, Bernal Heights) and have moved up in District 5 (Noe and Eureka Valleys, Twin Peaks, Mission Dolores) to the Number 2 position just $10M short of Zephyr (a company that has nearly 80 more agents than Vanguard Properties) with 14.5% of the district’s market share. And of note, Districts 5 & 9 are the most traded in the City. Overall for all of San Francisco, Vanguard Properties is now Number 4 in overall trade/dollar volume as based on closed transactions. Vanguard Properties just surpassed $1B worth of sales’ volume for 2014 thanks to all of you and your referrals. Keep them coming!

At Vanguard Properties we are committed to understanding your individual needs. We promise to provide you with the kind of quality service that will exceed your expectations. Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilled execution. And all of this is thanks to you and yours. Keep up the support and help us succeed in helping you succeed.

Learn more HERE.


San Francisco is Worth the Price

kevinhoSFO map You’ve heard it before — San Francisco is a truly international city that will command a premium that attracts international buyers the world over. And while you may hear of growth in Houston, for example, would you really want to live there? Would the rest of the world’s people want to visit? Instead, San Francisco stands out from most of the country (bar NYC) as being tops in real estate and the place to be for tourist and techie alike —18 of the top 25 tech companies are here for example.

Our universities, proximity to emerging markets, financial base and diversity attracts the best and the brightest (although Berkeley and Stanford may have something to do with it). Plus our climate, while foggy sometimes, still beats cold vortexes and heat waves. And because land is scarce here … well, you get the picture.

Did we mention there’s wine here too?

Our clients benefit from having two agents with a big black dog working for them. They get the benefit of our experience of being a lawyer, mediator, reporter, rapid response nurse, personal banker, insurance agent and more.  



Kevin + Jonathan: Your Winning Real Estate Team

Team Kevin and Jonathan’s background and personality lend themselves to real estate naturally.  Kevin loves what he does and doesn’t think of it as work at all. It beats being a full-time lawyer hands down, but Kevin values being a lawyer at the same time as it gives him an edge in that he can interpret documents for clients as well as to bring an additional layer of confidence, knowledge and authority. Meanwhile, Jonathan brings a background of large-scale real estate development and health care to the table. He worked with his family in the Southeast as they developed large tracts of land into communities and has been selling real estate since he was 18. Jonathan works as a RN at UCSF where he has provided healthcare to patients of all ages, shapes and sizes. He is part of the hospital’s elite Rapid Response Team, works with ICU patients that requires absolute focus and the ability to handle all kinds of situations adeptly, calmly and professionally.  He has also worked as a paramedic/EMT, Respiratory Therapist, banker, insurance agent and Notary Public. He brings experience as well as a perspective that is cool, steady and nimble — just what the real estate doctor ordered!

Here’s what Kevin has done in bullet-point form:


  • California Real Estate Broker, ’09 to present (BRE 01875957), Top 21 Club (Top Producer) Vanguard Properties, Top 10% of all San Francisco agents
  • Lawyer, ’04 to present (Cal. SBN 233408)
  • Law degree, (JD) U.C. Berkeley (Boalt Hall) ’04
  • Master’s in Diplomacy & Int’l Studies (MA), University of London (SOAS) ’01
  • BA, East Asian Studies,WashU ’00 (Junior Year Abroad, New College, Oxford University)
  • Worked as a: reporter, lawyer, mediator and legal clerk
  • Bay Area resident, 14 years Born & raised, Iowa City, Iowa. Lived: St. Louis, MO, Washington, D.C., Oxford, UK, London, UK, and Berkeley, CA
  • Fluent: English, Cantonese (spoken)
  • Minimal: Mandarin, German
  • Likes to: Cook, Bike, Play with Raffi (a former Guide Dogs for the Blind trainee), Interior, Web and Graphic Design, Real Estate Reality TV


  • Starting in 2011 until present: year-end sales volume (to nearest hundred thousand): $2.6M (2011); $8.2M (2012); $18.3M (2013)….
  • Client Breakdown: active pool of 15-20 buyers looking to buy property from the $500,000 range to $4M; sellers average of 2-5 listings being prepared for market
  • Average of 3-4 escrows open at a time
  • Vanguard Properties is one of the City’s most experienced and cooperative brokerages that expanded from 2 offices to more than 5 in 2013 alone.

Because we are curious and enterprising we are always listening and learning — plus we like people! This is how we can deliver our clients exclusive opportunities that others cannot.

We incorporate technology effectively in our practice using iPhones, iPads, laptops, laser measurers and mobile technology to streamline the entire process for our clients freeing us to spend more time assisting clients on what’s important. We work creatively and think broadly but also approach real estate under the premise this is important business — home buying is the most important decision people make and it’s something we love doing and we hope you love what we do.

Take the next step and contact us today to get started.



Our Services For You.

Brainstorming and Creativity at Your Service

An agent who can see what you can't is one who sees the potential for success

It's a Vision Thing that Translates into a Success Thing.

I have worked with many agents. Kevin always makes himself available and is willing to go the extra mile for his clients. He is helpful with ideas and brainstorming. He definitely has a passion for real estate. — Edward G. Successful San Francisco Real Estate Developer, Buyer, Multi-Unit Fixer (Mission Dolores)

Successful Buyer Representation

How to identify and win the right property competitively but prudently.

Sold! A Winning Noe Valley Example.

We worked with Kevin as buying agent and he was superb. He invested considerable time and energy to help us understand how the market and process here works and is super-responsive, even late at night…. Importantly, he had great suggestions and advice on making our offer compelling. —Ross & Sarah M. Googler & EBayer, Buyers (Noe Valley)

Streamlined, Technology- and Data-based Responsive Service

We're in a 24/7, connected, data-rich world. Your agent should be too.

Knowing how to navigate the 1's and 0's of real estate with technology

If you have Kevin on your side, I think you will end up with a real advocate for your needs who can streamline the entire home-buying process for you. He’s also up-to-date with the latest tools to conduct the transaction…. —Hass L. SF-based Start-Up, Buyer & Seller (Mid-Market/SOMA & Uptown Oakland)

Broader Counsel from an Experienced Attorney

Clients benefit from a lawyer's experience and background.

Cutting through the paper chase.

Kevin reads contracts in detail and really protects your interests — he knows his stuff on this. He had a stronger understanding of the market than other realtors I spoke with. I felt a lot of confidence throughout the process knowing I was working with someone who knew their stuff inside out. —Joanna S. Manager, Clinton Global Health Initiative, Buyer (Noe Valley)

Connected Insider with Powerful Knowledge

How exclusive advance information from a connected agent will benefit you.

The Results from Being Attentive, Listening and Asking the Right Questions

He truly knows about all available properties and not just what’s on the market, but more importantly, what’s coming on soon so that you get early previews… — Jay S. Startup Mogul, Buyers and Sellers (Duboce Park & Upper Market/Eureka Valley)

Winning & Comprehensive Seller Representation

How to get the most money & satisfy your goals using your property.

Broad and Comprehensive Service that Goes Above & Beyond

If you want a realtor who lives and breathes your deal, keeps you constantly abreast of your property’s progress and does nice little things for you, you have to call Kevin Ho. We have ushered in the era of smart, technology literate, well educated, vibrant deal closers like Kevin Ho. —Peter G. Media & Advertising Director, Seller (SOMA, the Palms)


Clients Say…

Importantly, [Kevin] had great suggestions and advice on making our offer compelling, helping us secure the property we really wanted despite not being all-cash nor the highest offer.

— Ross & Sarah

Successful Buyers, Noe Valley Single-Family Home

Sold in Noe Valley!

Clients Say…

outside copy clementina

Kevin listened to our story and took the time to understand who we were and our personalities and then asked more than a few more questions to narrow down where we should live.  His advice definitely helped us narrow down the choices and helped us with the all important targeting of our search. [H]e gave us very candid and honest responses to our questions including dissuading us from a couple of apartments that in retrospect would have been completely wrong for us.

When we finally found a place that we unquestionably loved, Kevin guided us through the process in winning a bidding war before the house even made it to its first public open house.  He helped quell a lot of the eleventh hour jitters and pushed us in the helpful way not the overbearing way.  Ultimately, we were absolutely delighted with the purchase and he was integral in the process and could not recommend him more to others.

— Mitchell & Debbie

 Buyers, Relocated from New York, SOMA


Clients Say…

Kevin was a superb real estate agent, and did a great job helping us buy our first home! Kevin is funny and personable, and knows how to get the job done.

—Dana & Drew

UCSF Med Student & Chip Engineer

First Time Buyers (Miraloma Park)

“[Kevin] You’re amazing. And, you’ve really found your calling.”

— Susan H.

Buyer, Corporate Consultant


See Kevin Move and Talk: Hello & Welcome

Raffi's Real Estate Videos: 4658 18th Street — Someone is Waiting for You at Home

Raffi Returns: 243 Romain — What Goes On at Home While You're Away

For More Vimeo Videos from Kevin (and Raffi), Click Here or on YouTube.


We received a lot of good offers… but based on our past relationship and how smoothly it went, I pushed for your offer.

— Listing Agent, San Francisco, Corona Heights
(Our Buyers closed on property beating out 2 other offers)

 I presented your clients offer to my sellers and told them about you in particular  and encouraged them to go with you.

— Listing Agent, San Francisco, Eureka Valley
(Our Buyers’ offer was accepted instead of going to market)

Your clients got the property because of you!

— Listing Agent, San Francisco, Haight
(Our Buyers closed on property beating out 1 other offer)
Put this Goodwill To Use for Yourself!

Not only do Buyers want to work with Kevin + Jonathan, but Seller Agents do too.


Starting in February 2012, the market changed in SF — and it hasn’t looked back ever since.

In February 2012 things changed in San Francisco’s residential real estate market. From the slump where there were far too few qualified buyers we started seeing far more buyers going after a smaller amount of properties fueled by cash, low interest rates, high rents and sheer determination

What Caused This to Happen?


Public Policy Choices and Property Prices

Inventory levels have declined and remain downWhy? San Francisco is limited physically in how much of its land can be developed and development is limited by public policy choices — e.g., Rent Control, historic preservation, neighborhood input and environmental considerations combine to constrain home demolition, planning and construction. Meanwhile, other factors like capital gains taxes (some 37% after any primary residence exclusions), Proposition 13 and the limitation of capital gains exclusions have ossifed the marketplace as folks who would otherwise sell properties that are too big for them or who otherwise want to downsize cannot because of the sheer tax burden of a replacement property, because of the value gains they’ve had and because replacement properties are hard to find.

The number of REO and short sales in San Francisco, which were less than other parts of the country, are largely gone.


We Have Better Buyers Now & Better Fundamentals

The tech sector has created new jobs that are high-paying thus creating a new crop of well-heeled buyers.

Moreover, interest rates are low and have stayed low for a lot longer than people thought. Because rent is up, mortgages — while tedious to get — are increasingly more affordable than rent in San Francisco.

The generation of current, newly minted young buyers is competing with aging baby boomers who are looking for a home in the city either as a second home, a downsized home that is walkable and accessible by transit. Or, in some cases they are buying units for their adult children and holding on to them.


Many Buyers, Many Offers, Much Manipulation?

There are more buyers out there, which means there are multiple offers (as many as 22 in one recent example on Landers Street in the Mission Dolores area) on desirable (and even less desirable ones) properties. For every one property that sells this way there are scores of unsatisfied buyers still looking (saving more money all the while)

Agents have been using the Offer-Date System. Sellers and agents have maximized this scarcity by using the Offer-Date System, which produces gamesmanship, pre-emptive bids and an auction-like atmosphere that is competitive as it is expensive. This leads to price escalation.

Concessions to sellers have gone up. Apart from cash offers, a lot of buyers are waiving inspection rights and are doing other things like offering long rent-back periods after escrow closes or not having any financing contingencies or appraisal contingencies.


Rapidly Spreading Goodness & Strength

The growth is more widespread. In Noe Valley, 3 is the new 2 — as in million. Just a couple of years ago, spotting a transaction in the $3M+ range was rare while $2M+ would get you a really large and nice home. For example, Noe Valley now rivals Pacific Heights for the number of homes selling in excess of the $2M threshold and home are now pushing the $4M threshold more and more. This means that other parts of the city are also getting attention from those priced out of traditionally popular areas.


Kevin + Jonathan: How Buyers and Sellers Succeed in this Market

Kevin + Jonathan are here to help you, your family and friends succeed. So get in touch with us today to start.

It’s time. Email Us Already.


P A R T I N G  S H O T

Big Daddy’s Big Data.

One More Thing: Data is King!

Why 2013 and 2014′s recovery in San Francisco is more profound that just another market cycle. Like all economic cycles — up and down — there is a recovery period that is to counterbalance the period of slower growth that preceded it as the system reaches a new equilibrium. So then, 2013 and 2014′s growth bear the hallmarks of recoveries in the mid-1990s and early to mid-2000s. Among the similarities are these:

1. We have ready, willing and able buyers chasing after…

2. Low inventory, but that are nevertheless financed by…

3. Low mortgage borrowing rates.

But in distinguishing this cycle from previous ones and why there’s been a shift that is more profound than other past real estate surges, consider a large shift. Yes, like all cities, we see growth too. Detroit has seen a big gain of +16% in home prices (San Francisco has seen +26% so far since 2012). But what explains the phenomenon that the median sale price for a single-family home and/or a condominium is now solidly above $1M? Why has 80% of all demand for limited office space within San Francisco city limits has been by tech sector-related companies. One fact should be clear: we now have different types buyers looking San Francisco and these folks are the kind who live in a place that takes the lead in a new technology and data driven society. So what type of buyers are these folks?

A. San Francisco Buyers are A+ Buyers who may know something about C++. We have folks who have cash or access to credit that want are using different metrics for valuing properties. Mainly, they’re eschewing metrics like dollars-per-square-foot and previous comparable sales and are instead judging their target properties by zip code, proximity to transit and cachet factor that trumps all other data. In other words, they’re looking for how a home will suit their lifestyle more than anything else.

In past market cycles, you’d be leery of such an approach. But the salient distinction that sets our Bay Area Buyer 3.0 apart from those in the past and those in other parts of the country is Silicon Valley. Arguably two bubbles were caused by tech folks over leveraging and pie-in-the-sky startups that had no chance of succeeding. That and society probably wasn’t ready for pets.com yet. But technology, which supported the first wave of Silicon Valley is now integral to all of our lives.

B. Why there will be more A+ Buyers who know about C++. The Bay Area’s future looks to very different than other places in the world because its linked with a new, digital, era: The paper options are gone and the online, mobile and cloud-based solutions are often the only options these days. Technology isn’t just part of the economy it is the economy. You can’t do much of anything these days without using technology. And while technology allows us to be more efficient and more productive it also allows us to do something more profound: namely, technology is the means of collecting vast amounts of data and insights about people, places and things that was once impossible.

And herein lies the reason why we shouldn’t expect Silicon Valley boom to go the way of Detroit’s boom-to-bust.


C. Hello Big Data Mining. Silicon Valley created a enormous amount of wealth in developing the technologies that support daily life, but now they’re the leader in the next big thing — namely we have entered into a data resource-rich environment and data-based economy. Like crude oil, unrefined data is messy and unwieldy when it first comes in. But like refining oil our big Silicon Valley/San Francisco titans take that raw data and refine it into insights about consumer behavior, consumer wants, vital data that influence medicine and public health trends, finance, energy, etc. It is a highly valuable prize that will add ever more value to our economy and our real estate.

Okay, you’re skeptical of the pie-in-the-sky stuff. Let’s look at the numbers instead:

If more than a billion people access Google and Facebook per day and these companies are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue where is it going? Also, big folks like Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and more are sitting on a collective $3 trillion worth of cash with another $7-$8 trillion offshore. That is a staggering amount of cash that could almost pay off the national debt! What are they doing with all that money? Yes, they’re buying up companies ($40 billion on Oculus, Beats Music, What’s App anyone?) and they’re paying their employees and where do those folks live? Where do they want to live? Here is where and not just here in the Bay Area, but here in San Francisco proper, why else did google pay $60M+ for an Embarcadero building to bring its total office footprint in the city to more than 700,000 sqft.? (Hint: you can google the answer on your iPhone while listening to your Beats headphones while waiting for your Tesla to charge).

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