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Quick Tip on Financing

 

As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can take down that “for sale” sign on your new home.

 

Get pre-approved. Sub-primes may be history, but you’ll probably still be shown homes you can’t actually afford. By getting pre-approved as a buyer, you can save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford. You can also put yourself in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. By doing a thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll be less likely to get in over your head.

 

Choose your mortgage carefully. Used to be the emphasis when it came to mortgages was on paying them off as soon as possible. Today, the debt the average person will accumulate due to credit cards, student loans, etc. means it’s better to opt for the 30-year mortgage instead of the 15-year. This way, you have a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time—and given the current real estate market, you should—taking the points will save you money.

 

Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer on a home, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider especially sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

What could possibly hurt your home value?

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We see tons of articles about how to increase your home value. Did you know there’s some surprising and surprisingly common mistakes that hurt your home value? Here’s some.

Sinkhole damage sucks property values down a staggering 30%

The prevalence of reports of sinkhole damage in the U.S. this year has raised questions about the impact on property values.

It’s not the threat of a sinkhole that damages property value –– there’s insurance coverage specifically for sinkhole damage. In fact, a 2007 study found no statistically significant difference in home values in areas prone to sinkholes. Like earthquakes, it’s only after sinkholes hit your property that problems arise. -Business Insider

Choosing a Crazy Exterior Color
OK, not everything can be iconic as The Painted Ladies. Curb appeal is almost always, everything. Sure you want to stand out but do so in a way that fits your property and its environment.

Single Garage or No Garage

In the U.S., we love our garages almost as much as we love the cars that go in them. Garages have evolved from practical places to park and protect our cars to essential overflow storage for sports equipment, bikes, seasonal decorations, and lawn equipment. Homes with no garage space have limited appeal. And those with only a single garage will restrict a seller’s market to one-car families — typically, retirees and singles. -Wisebread

Neighborhood Conditions

Apart from nearby foreclosures, many other aspects of a neighborhood can detract from how much buyers will be willing to offer. If you live by an airport or train tracks, for example, the resulting noise pollution might devalue your home. Light pollution from a nearby highway or athletic complex could make buyers wary, too. Power plants and landfills are bad news, too. They’ve both been proven to affect home values negatively. Times change and so do neighborhoods, and if yours has gone downhill, the value of your home could suffer.

Maintenance
If your home is outside of a controlled community, either a homeowner’s association or planned unit development, neighbors do not have strict regulations governing how they maintain their property. Your yard may be pristine, but your neighbor’s may be surrounded by a chain link fence corralling barking dogs, with trash, disabled cars, motor homes, boats or other unsightly vehicles haphazardly parked on their front lawns. This will surely bring down the value of your home. -SFGate

Multi-Story Homes

Although multi-story homes pack more square footage into a smaller footprint, they aren’t always an attractive selling feature for homebuyers. For obvious reasons, families with toddlers and older buyers tend to shy away from homes with stairs. Multi-story homes that feature a bedroom and bath on the main level fare better than those without.

Unfortunate Positioning: T-Intersection or End of Cul-de-Sac

While cul-de-sacs are often viewed as safer neighborhood street design, being at the end of one means constantly having cars turn around in front of your house and getting used to headlights sweeping through your windows at all hours of the night. The same effect can devalue houses positioned at the end of T-intersections. Savvy house hunters will immediately see the potential for a not-so-quiet home life with these properties.

Towering Trees Too Close

Large trees planted too close to a house mean complex root systems may eventually pose a threat to the home’s foundation. Additionally, mature trees that tower over the roofline require diligent pruning to avoid damage from falling limbs during storms. A good rule of thumb is to plant smaller breed trees about 15′ from the foundation of a home. Larger varieties should be planted at least 20′ from the foundation. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors has lots more good advice about tree dangers homeowners and buyers should consider.

Sub-Par Schools

Being in a top-notch school district remains a top priority for many homebuyers for a range of reasons. Living near a low-performing school can drive down home values and limit the market to those buyers without school-aged children or those who can afford the added expense of a private education.

Oldest Victorians: Leal House 1860

San Francisco Landmark #45
Leale House
2475 Pacific Avenue Between Fillmore and Steiner
Pacific Heights
Built 1860

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Scholars disagree on the exact provenance of the Captain Leal House, but it is certainly one of the oldest residences in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of Pacific Heights. The structure was originally the main house for a dairy farm and may have been built as early as 1853. Captain Leale, a ferry boat captain, bought the house in 1883, and either he or the previous owner remodeled the façade with a false front in the popular Italianate style. In the back garden, the Captain built a little study, nautically furnished and fitted to resemble a pilot house.

Oldest Victorians: House of the Flag 1860

San Francisco Landmark #46
House of the Flag
1652-1656 Taylor Between Broadway and Vallejo
Russian Hill
Built 1860

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This First Bay Area Tradition style house is located at the southeast corner of Vallejo and Taylor. It is best known for being dramatically rescued from the 1906 earthquake fire. As the fire approached, the occupant, a flag collector, raised the American flag on a staff beside the house. A company of soldiers spied it from below and were inspired to charge up the hill to fight the fire. It is reported that they found a bathtub full of water, sand from a nearby construction project, and soda siphons to squirt into hard-to-reach places. The soldiers are credited with saving the house and protecting the rest of the hill.

Source: Russian Hill Neighbors

Oldest Victorians: Feusier Octagon House 1858

San Francisco Landmark #36
Feusier Octagon House
1067 Green Street Between Leavenworth and Jones
Built 1858

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The Feusier Octagon House is one of only two surviving houses in San Francisco built on the octagon plan. The other is the Colonial Dames Octagon on Gough Street. Both houses retain their original exterior construction and reflect their eight-sided shape in the interior. The original two-story house was modified (not to its detriment) late in the century when the Feusiers added a third story with Mansard roof, surmounted by an octagonal cupola. Like other buildings on Russian Hill, the Feusier House escaped the 1906 Earthquake but was menaced by the Fire; the outbuildings were dynamited but fortunately the main house was saved.

Oldest Victorians: Tanforan Cottages 1853

San Francisco Landmark #67
Tanforan Cottage 1
214 Dolores Street Between 15th and 16th Streets
Mission District
Built 1853

This is one of a pair of redwood cottages built by the Tanforan ranching family on land that lay within the 1836 Mexican Grant to Francisco Guerrero. Located only half a block from Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco, these two cottages are probably the oldest residential buildings in the Mission District.

It is thought that the Tanforans built 214 and 220 Dolores as farm houses. 214 was built first, and 220 followed a year or so later.  The homes are simple frame structures with classic revival facades (an architectural movement based on the use of pure Roman and Greek forms in the early 19th century). Their false fronts, full width porches with square posts, and four-over-four window sashes (four panes of glass on the top frame and four panes of glass on the bottom frame of a double hung window) are common features of the 1890s. The deep-set backyard, another feature of that era, holds a carriage house that contained a Tanforan-owned carriage until 1940.

Oldest Victorians: Atkinson-Escher House 1853

San Francisco Landmark #97
Atkinson-Escher House
1032 Broadway Between Jones and Taylor
Built 1853

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The following is excerpted from the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board Final Case Report dated 19 January 1977:

Purported by many to be one of the oldest standing houses in San Francisco, this Italian Villa was built in 1853 by Joseph H. Atkinson, as his own home. It was remodeled around 1900 by Willis Polk. Particularly in this area of the city, it is remarkable that the dwelling, located within walking distance of the original settlement at Yerba Buena Cove, has survived for 124 years. An incised stone plaque above the front door reads:

EXCEPT THE LORD BUILD THE HOUSE
THEY LABOR IN VAIN THAT BUILD IT
EXCEPT THE LORD KEEP THE CITY
THE WATCHMAN WAKETH IN VAIN
MDCCCLIII

Oldest Victorians: Abner Phelps House 1850

San Francisco Landmark #32 Abner Phelps House
1111 Oak Street Between Divisadero and Broderick
Built 1850

 

Although accounts vary as to its date and builder, the Gothic Revival Abner Phelps house is generally considered to be the oldest unaltered residence in San Francisco and dates from 1850-51. The house has been moved twice. With the grading and building of Divisadero in the 1890’s, the house was repositioned on the land. In 1904, it was moved backward to its present location in the middle of the block to enable Phelps to build stores on Divisadero Street.

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Landmarks: Alamo Square District

 

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Alamo Square is a residential neighborhood and park in San Francisco, California, in the Western Addition. Its boundaries are not well-defined, but are generally considered to be Webster Street on the east, Golden Gate Avenue on the north, Divisadero Street on the west, and Fell Street on the south. Alamo Square Park, the neighborhood’s focal point and namesake, consists of four city blocks at the top of a hill overlooking much of downtown San Francisco, with a number of large and architecturally distinctive mansions along the perimeter, including the “Painted Ladies”, a well-known postcard motif. The park is bordered by Hayes Street to the south, Steiner Street to the east, Fulton Street to the north, and Scott Street to the west. Named after the lone cottonwood tree (“alamo” in Spanish), Alamo Hill, was a watering hole on the horseback trail from Mission Dolores to the Presidio in the 1800s. In 1856, Mayor James Van Ness created a 12.7 acre park surrounding the watering hole, creating “Alamo Square”. -wiki

 

The Westerfeld House and Postcard Row are as identified worldwide with San Francisco as the cable cars and Coit Tower. With a variety of architectural styles, the district is unified in its residential character, relatively small scale, construction type, materials (principally wood), intense ornamentation (especially at entry and cornice), and use of basements and retaining walls to adjust for hillside sites.

San Francisco Landmarks: Albion Brewery Hunter’s Point

San Francisco Landmark #60
Hunters Point Springs-Albion Brewery
881 Innes Avenue at India Basin Shoreline Park

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1870

John Hamlin Burnell purchases property on the edge of San Francisco Bay to obtain rights to the natural springs which run underneath. He builds the Albion Ale and Porter Brewing Company in a traditional Norman style using stones which may have been recycled from ships’ ballast or may have been quarried locally. Later he builds the Albion Water Co. next door to sell bottled spring water.

1919

The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within…the United States,” thus destroying Albion Ale and Porter Brewing Company after its successful run of almost fifty years. The brewery structures fall into ruin.

1933

Adrien Alexander Voisin, a sculptor, purchases the property and spends more than twenty years restoring and remodeling it for his studio and home.

2005

The property remains a private residence and studio.