San Francisco Real Estate, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers, San Francisco Real Estate Market Conditions, San Francisco Real Estate Resources

How Will Rising Mortgage Rates Affect San Francisco Real Estate?

1 Comment 18 November 2009

San Francisco Real Estate Question

I just got a question from a reader:

Q: I just heard that mortgage rates might be heading upwards.  Do you think prices in San Francisco will keep falling?

Well – first thing to note, is that prices have actually stabilized and in some neighborhoods, are actually rising, albeit slowly.  So the term “keep falling” may not apply to SF at all.

Some say that the low interest rates that we see now will be a thing of the past in just a few more months.  The Fed is keeping short-term rates low, but rumor has it, will be buying fewer mortgage-backed securities, which would cause rates to rise.

This would definitely decrease the purchasing power of home-buyers and may have an impact on prices, but with San Francisco, it’s hard to tell since we have consistently bucked the trends that the rest of the country seems to experience. 

In fact, right now, multiple offers over the asking price are fairly common in SF. 

So, unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball in real estate, especially in San Francisco real estate.  Since we’re not even sure that rates will increase soon, we have too many unknown variables to even make an educated guess at to what 2010 will bring.

Readers, do you have any thoughts?  If so, email me, or drop a note in the comments.

Misc Musings from Your San Francisco Realtor, San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers

Can an LLC Buy San Francisco Real Estate?

Comments Off on Can an LLC Buy San Francisco Real Estate? 06 July 2009

As a Realtor, people ask me all sorts of real estate related questions.  The latest question I received was whether an LLC could buy property in San Francisco.  And, well, the answer is a mixed bag. 

Sometimes, I have the best answers.  Other times, I turn to people on my “super star team!”  (Some members of that team include escrow officer, Michelle Patterson of Old Republic Title, stagers Lisa Violetto and Gary Tarmine, and mortgage broker Marc Geshekter.)

This time, Marc Geshekter comes to the rescue with an explanation about LLC’s and property ownership in SF:

Most lenders today are not interested in lending only to an LLC as the only recourse a lender would be to hold only the LLC liable for the debt or take control of the property.  Lender enforced foreclosure is a losing proposition for a lender and is something that lenders try avoid as much as possible.  Lenders today are fully aware of the fact that one of the purposes of an LLC is to help shield its members from possible liability arising from the business dealings of the LLC.  Because of this lenders today typically require additional security be included in the form of the personal assets of those members of the LLC in order to approve and close the mortgage loan.

A few lenders do still exist today who allow the title to the property to be placed in the name of the LLC.  These lenders do still require the individual(s) to qualify for the loan based on standard lending guidelines which includes holding the individual liable for the note in the event of a default.  The short answer is, no, typically a lender will not lend only to an LLC without some form of additional security other than the LLC.  Please contact me directly with additional questions about lending to an LLC.

Marc Geshekter
Senior Mortgage Consultant
RPM Mortgage, Inc.
415.722.3196 – cell/text
866.743.2252 – eFax
[email protected]

Misc Musings from Your San Francisco Realtor, San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers, San Francisco Real Estate Market Conditions

San Francisco Real Estate Blog Readers Ask…

Comments Off on San Francisco Real Estate Blog Readers Ask… 06 May 2009

…and I try to answer.

Once in a while, a reader writes in with a question I don’t know the answer to.  And when that happens, I turn to my resources for help. 

A SF blog reader wrote in and asked:

I know you’re not a mortgage broker, but was wondering if you’re familiar with the situation now for refinancing. I bought a condo last year when I could still put 10% down. I have two interest-only loans (5/1 ARM and HELOC), and would like to refinance the first to a 30-year fixed, if possible. Is this impossible to do since I only have 10% equity in my condo?


Well, she’s right.  I’m not a mortgage broker.  So I asked my favorite mortgage broker if he had an answer to this conundrum.  As usual, he came through:


Provided you can obtain a new refinance appraisal with the current market value showing you still have a minimum of 10% equity in your condo you will be able to refinance your 1st mortgage from the LTV/CLTV perspective.  Good credit, typically a DTI under 50%, and 2-6 months of liquid reserves (lender specific) are the additional guidelines needing to be met in order to approve the new 1st mortgage loan file.< ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o ns ="" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Current lender guidelines for a new Conforming 1st mortgage (max loan amount of $417k) read 80% LTV and 95% CLTV.  If you’re attempting to refinance a 1st mortgage into a High Balance loan (over $417k) then the Fannie and Freddie guidelines for which all lenders are underwriting against these days read 80% LTV and 90% CLTV.  The only exceptions to these guidelines would land with the current portfolio lenders.


Additionally, your current 2nd mortgage lender will need to approve subordinating their existing 2nd mortgage behind the new 1st mortgage.  Most 2nd mortgage lenders including HELOC lenders today are approving subordination requests provided you’re refinancing into a new loan program with P&I monthly payments.  Showing ability to make the new P&I monthly payment must also be established with the 2nd mortgage lender which plays into DTI ratio’s and DTI guidelines.  Although many 1st mortgage lenders may allow up to a 50% DTI to approve the new 1st mortgage some 2nd mortgage lenders are requiring the DTI to be at or below 45% to approve the subordination request.  Getting the subordination request approved will be one of the key factors in completing your refinance.


Feel free to call me if you have further questions.



Marc Geshekter

Senior Consultant

RPM Mortgage, Inc.


So – do YOU have questions about San Francisco real estate, financing, taxes, rentals, or anything else?  Give me a call at 415–307–1392 or email me.  I’m always happy to help! 

Misc Musings from Your San Francisco Realtor, San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks

Plea From a Local San Francisco Non-Profit

2 Comments 06 March 2009

Hire-Ability is non-profit vocational services program partnered with San Francisco Department of Public Health and California State Department of Rehabilitation which serves the San Francisco Bay Area community by connecting employers with trained, assessed and pre-qualified employees.

They specialize in providing employers with a pool of employees that reflect the diverse and multicultural population of the region. Specifically, they assist employers in achieving their diversity goals by matching them with qualified individuals with disabilities. 

A good friend (and loyal reader of The City Update (TM)) that has been dedicated to the Hire-Ability mission has sent in a plea for help.  She sent it to her friends and family, but the request is worthy enough to share with you all (who I consider friends and family).  So please read on… 

Hello Friends,
As you all know, I work in vocational services for people with mental health disabilities, and just like everyone else, we’re being affected by the current economic burp (crisis?!). 

Businesses are tightening their budgets, layoffs are happening everywhere, and employers are now more hesitant to give our clients a chance.  

In order to meet our State goals, we need to find jobs for 30 people by the end of March.  

I know you’ve all heard me go on and on before, and know how passionate I am and how important reintegrating people into society is to me, so please let me know if you, your company or anyone you know is looking or thinking about hiring.  

We have clients who are trained in Janitorial, Food Service, Warehouse work, and Clerical / Basic Administrative, and companies may be eligible for tax credits. It’ll bring you many good karma points, I promise!
Many Thanks & a Big Hug,

So you all don’t officially know Michele, but trust me, if you did, you would know just how passionate she really is about her organization’s cause.  


If you think you might have a lead on a position that fits the above criteria, please give Michele a holler. And if you’re curious about the Hire-Ability, please check out their site at 


Misc Musings from Your San Francisco Realtor, San Francisco Neighborhoods, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers

San Francisco Real Estate Blog Readers Ask: What About Tidal Waves and Earthquakes?

Comments Off on San Francisco Real Estate Blog Readers Ask: What About Tidal Waves and Earthquakes? 23 February 2009

So a reader of this here SF Real Estate blog and The City Update (TM) wrote in and asked:

“We live in the Outer Sunset District.  Tell me, what is your honest opinion about owning a house in the Outer Sunset as far as both earthquake and tidal-wave dangers go.  I’ve always said I’d never buy a house out here because of those two factors, but I don’t know if I’m being paranoid… and we’re liking the neighborhood more and more.

Thanks for your input!


Well S.S., here’s my take on it.  (Full disclaimer – I live in the Outer Sunset so the answer may be a bit biased.)


The area from about 46th Avenue to Ocean Beach (with a few exceptions) is mostly liquefaction zone – that’s the “dangerous” part in terms of earthquake safety.  This means that a lot of the area is not consider high risk in that aspect.


The reality is though, that while risk of damage from a quake might be higher in these areas, you never know how a home will react in an earthquake because the type of movement the quake presents and the epicenter of the quake all impact the damage greatly. 


The key is to make sure you have taken precautionary measures (no matter where in SF you live) that involve retrofitting your home and preparing it for a quake. 


This includes (but isn’t limited to) items such as bolting down the foundation, making sure there are T-straps where they are needed and installing shear walls.  This is something that a professional should guide you through even if you are handy enough to do the changes yourself.  < ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o ns ="" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


In terms of tidal waves (aka tsunamis), hmmm.  I just don’t think of them to be honest.  The odds are that something that will wipe out the Outer Sunset will come along are unlikely (legal disclaimer – I’m not a tidal wave expert so don’t make any decisions based on that statement.


We also now have a tsunami warning system in place complete with sirens and notifications via TV or radio (via the emergency broadcast system.) 


I’ve lived in the City since I was two, and only remember one warning that something might happen, and the water was the same as it always was that night.


Here’s the thing.  I love the neighborhood.  I call the Outer Sunset “home” and in face, live right on the Great Highway.  And there will always be some drawbacks and potential risks. 


The way I figure it, I don’t have to worry about hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, etc.  But, I have to know earthquake safety, and be prepared to deal with an emergency (that means having an emergency kit and an emergency plan in place.)


Though – all that being said, that’s JUST my take on the topic. 


The true answer lies with your personal aversion to risk. 


If you’re not going to sleep at night because the worry will just eat you alive, then don’t buy here.  But if you can handle the risks involved, take precautionary steps to keep your home as safe as possible and know what to do in the event of an emergency, then, well, you might just be happier living in the Outsidelands if you find you love it already.


Oh, and P.S., this all applies to the Outer Parkside disctrict as well.


Do YOU have questions about San Francisco real estate?  The right answers can make all the difference.  Call me at 415–307–1392 or email me.  I’m always happy to talk “real estate.”


San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco Mortgage & Financing Info, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers, San Francisco Real Estate Market Conditions

SF Real Estate Blog Readers Ask: Is a 10% Downpayment Still a Fantasy?

Comments Off on SF Real Estate Blog Readers Ask: Is a 10% Downpayment Still a Fantasy? 30 January 2009

A reader of this here San Francisco Real Estate Blog wrote in and asked:

“Have you heard any updates on the 10% down payments?  Is it still pretty much impossible for me to buy without a hard money loan?”
Being that my expertise lies in helping you buy your home and not finance it, I turned to Marc Geshekter with Residential Pacific Mortgage for an answer. 
Marc says:
“Lenders are offering the 10% down program, but mortgage insurance (MI) companies are not insuring loans over $417k with less than 15% down.  The only 10% down program that is insurable with MI is for a loan amount of $417k which backs into a purchase price of $463,333.  Not sure what’s available in the city for that price.

The only other 10% down option is if the borrower finds a private money 2nd (not impossible…) or the seller carries back the additional 10% on the sale which really only works if the seller is highly motivated and there’s no other offers.
Wish I had better news.  Its a 20% down market these days.”
So, Marc didn’t bring us good news, but it’s nice to have a reality check.  There are, of course, some other options, including FHA loans, and of course, the private money 2nd option.  If you are looking to buy and have just 10% down, contact me and we can explore your options and whether we can get creative to make something work, or whether you need to work a little harder to make your homeownership dreams come true.

San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers, San Francisco Real Estate Market Conditions

SF Real Estate Blog Readers Ask about OMI’s

Comments Off on SF Real Estate Blog Readers Ask about OMI’s 23 September 2008

I recently had a client and blog reader ask about doing an Owner Move In on a single family home in San Francisco. 

Typically owner move-ins are allowed, unless the tenant has protected status based on age, disability or is terminally ill.  However, in a single family home or rented condo unit in San Francisco, the tenants lose any protected status that they have.  Here’s the answer to the issue below:

First, a disclaimer.  Please do not take the following as concrete fact.  We live in SF and we ALL know that things are quirky here so do not assume the following will always be true add correct.  ALWAYS check the status of the rent code and ALWAYS consult an attorney for clarification.  The following is not meant to be legal advice about any landlord/tenant/eviction issues in San Francisco and is NOT meant as legal advice!!!  < ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o ns ="" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 That being said – here’s the section of the rent code that applies:

Section 37.9(i)(2) of the Rent Ordinance states: “(2) The foregoing provisions of Sections 37.9(i)(1)(A) and (B) shall not apply where there is only one rental unit owned by the landlord in the building, or where each of the rental units owned by the landlord in the same building where the landlord resides (except the unit actually occupied by the landlord) is occupied by a tenant otherwise protected from eviction by Sections 37.9(i)(1)(A) and (B) and where the landlord’s qualified relative who will move into the unit pursuant to Section 37.9(a)(8) is 60 years of age or older.”

In a nutshell – if the SF building is indeed a TRUE Single Family Residence (ie. NO illegal units, NO in-law units, etc), then there is indeed NO such thing as a protected tenant there.  It appears that if a person owns JUST ONE condominium in a San Francisco building, the same exemption to protected status applies.  It also appears that if the landlord owns more than one unit and ALL are occupied by tenants that would be protected in most cases, but the landlord wants to move in a relative that is over the age of 60, the landlord can do so.

How does this affect you?

Well, it depends on whether you’re a landlord, a tenant or a prospective buyer.  If you need advice about your particular situation, contact me – I can point you in the right direction to get you the information that you really need.

Misc Musings from Your San Francisco Realtor, San Francisco Mortgage & Financing Info, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers

SF Real Estate Blog Reader Comments: Loan Failures

Comments Off on SF Real Estate Blog Reader Comments: Loan Failures 10 September 2008

I few days ago, I wrote about escrow failures and a reader wrote in with more anectodal evidence that lenders have tightened up standards.

Here are two new ways to fail to get a loan.
1) If you have an open building permit not marked as COMPLETE on the DBI web site on a property the loan app can be rejected.
Reason given by lender was that some people begin a project like a kitchen remodeling then walk away from their mortgage leaving the lender with an unfinished and un-saleable house.   Of course, that assumes everyone in S.F. takes out building permits for remodeling work. Nonsense.
2) If your name has not been on the title for less than six months a refinancing can be rejected.
Neither of these two “rules” were mentioned on the loan application documents or in face to face meetings with the bank until after we paid for the loan application package.
Thanks kind blog reader!  It’s true.  Lenders have all sorts of new restrictions they’re throwing into the mix.   I recently had an FHA loan fall apart because one person in the building owned more than 10% of the units (one person owned 3 units which put it at 14% for the building.) 
Do you have San Francisco real estate stories you’d like to share with others?  Questions you’d like answered?  Holler.  Other readers can (and want to) learn from you. 

San Francisco Local Resources, San Francisco News and Events, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers, San Francisco TIC (Tenancy in Common) Info

Readers Ask: What’s the Latest with Daly’s War on 2 Unit TIC’s?

2 Comments 06 August 2008

I have thought about making a dart board with little post it notes with the various things I can’t stand about Chris Daly on it.  I decided against it because I suck at darts, and would just put a whole bunch of holes in my wall. 

Apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks Daly is the TIC anti-christ.  I’ve had lots of readers write in and ask all sorts of questions about Daly’s latest crusade to make 2 unit TIC’s more difficult to convert to condos. 

I recently had a reader, Andy, write in and comment on the blog.  Andy wrote:

Luba – I am closing on a vacated 2 unit TIC building with a friend of mine TOMORROW!! I just found out about this potential legislation yesterday, just read your blog, and am freaked out!!

I am 26 years old and am putting my entire savings up for this duplex and felt comfortable with the thought of being able to convert to condos within just one year. We found the perfect place: 2 unit, vacant, no evictions since 04 and we were planning on living in each unit for well over a year. We read all kinds of articles on conversion bypass to confirm our situation applied before making the decision to move forward… and now this?

Please let me know any news you hear and if there is anything at all we can do to stop this.

I responded to Andy and said:

First- congratulations on being so together at such a young age.  Few people can get their act together to buy a home at 26!

We don’t really know what’s happening with the legislation.  I’ve been writing my supervisor asking for a status update with no response just yet.

I’ll send you an email a little later today or tomorrow with whatever I think you can do, and whatever the current rumors are.

For now – you can call Chris Daly’s office to express your viewpoint, and you can also look for Plan C, which is a great organization that is battling for better condo conversion measures, among other things.

In a nutshell, as of now, you are fine and with 1 year of owner occupancy, you can apply for fast track conversion.

But – get involved.  Express your concerns to your city supervisor, to Chris Daly, and to anyone else you can think of.

And keep reading the blog – I will post updates as I hear about things.

Now, Andy didn’t just ask.  He took action. 

Andy wrote EACH of the 10 supervisors in San Francisco!

Andy wrote:

I am writing in hopes of a vote against the proposed legislation by Supervisor Daly that would stop 2 Unit TIC Owner Occupied buildings from bypassing the Condo Conversion Lottery in < ?xml:namespace prefix ="" st1 ns ="" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />San Francisco.< ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o ns ="" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I am a first time home buyer about closing on a currently eligible 2 unit TIC property tomorrow, and will be putting my entire savings into my unit along with a friend of mine. We researched thoroughly the ability to condo convert before making the choice, and just found out about this proposed legislation yesterday, and, to say the least, we are pretty freaked out.

I have included below an email I sent to Chris Daly this morning expressing my concern.

Please let me know your thoughts if you have the chance. I hope that you and your fellow colleagues on the Board are listening closely to the community regarding this issue as it looks like everyone is sharing my concern (even though most are not directly affected like me).

Thanks in advance for any support on this issue.

Best regards,

And Andy got responses from lots of the Supervisors!  Most mentioned that Chris Daly didn’t get enough support for his legislation to make the ballot. 

The BEST news came from Chris Daly’s office:

This ordinasnce [sp] has been sitting in committee and will not make it to the ballot. Chris has no plans with it at this point. You could consider it tabled for now and take it off of your list of concerns.

Thank you

Lena-Nsomeka Gomes

Legislative Assistant

San Francisco Board of Supervisors


415-554-7974 (fax)

Now – while I like the part where it says “no plans” but I don’t like the part where it says “at this point” and I like the part where it says “tabled” but I don’t like the part where it says “for now.”

So…. what’s a San Francisco real estate owner/buyer/seller to do???  BE LIKE ANDY!

Take a moment to become a member of Plan C.  And then, write your supervisors!  Or hell, write ALL the supervisors!

The reality is – San Francisco real estate is expensive.  And when you’re trying to get started in the SF market, oftentimes, a TIC is your best option.  As long as tenants aren’t being forcefully evicted to make way for condo conversion (which can’t happen due to rules prohibiting condo conversion on Ellis Acted buildings or buildings with more than one owner move in), I think that TIC ownership and condo conversion must be a part of the SF real estate market in order to serve the needs of the first time homebuyer. 

So there.  If you agree, get involved.  If you don’t voice your opinion – no one will know to listen.

San Francisco News and Events, San Francisco Real Estate Blog Reader Asks, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Buyers, San Francisco Real Estate Info for Sellers

SF Real Estate Blog Reader Asks: What’s The Latest on Chris Daly vs. TIC’s?

4 Comments 23 July 2008

Occasionally I get a question from a reader of the blog that’s worthy of sharing with the world – I thought this one was worth sharing. Hope you think so too…

Oh – and if you have questions you’d like answered, email me – I know stuff.

A reader recently wrote in to ask:

Q.  Hi Luba.  I just read your June 18 blog regarding Daly’s proposed ordinance that would place two-unit TICs in the condo lottery and was wondering if you’ve heard any additional news about this.  Thank you.


A.  I’ve heard mixed answers and am not sure about the truth of any of them.

I recently heard that Daly is trying to put this legislation on the November 2008 ballot – but he needs the votes of three other supervisors to succeed.

But I also read a post from “anon8mizer” on The Front Steps Comments (and lots of Zephyr Realtor emails that confirmed the scoop) that the legislation is not moving forward, period.  At least not now.

I’d like to believe the latter, but am prepared to deal with the former until I can get my hands on something more official.

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About the Blog

Luba’s San Francisco Real Estate Blog was created to share insights about San Francisco Real Estate and about San Francisco living. Written by Luba Muzichenko, an "almost-native" San Franciscan and a local Realtor® with Zephyr Real Estate, Luba’s San Francisco Real Estate Blog is meant to inform you about a variety of good things and happenings around SF and its unique neighborhoods, about buying and selling homes in the City and about the real estate market in general. If you like what you see, please tell a friend.

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Luba Muzichenko
Top Producer
Certified Residential Specialist®
Zephyr Real Estate
415-307-1392 (cell)
[email protected]
DRE License #01768716
Top Agent Network 

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