So you’re thinking about buying a house in Noe Valley, but you just can’t make heads or tails of the prices? For instance, some homes are priced low and then are sold for a million over asking, while other homes sit on the market and don’t sell at all.
Maybe you’ve heard that price per square foot is the key metric, but you see some homes that sell for $900 a square foot and some that sell as high as $2,000 a square foot. How do you make sense of it? I’m going to walk you through a few different homes in this blog and a few different price points in this blog to help you understand how to value homes.
I’m going to discuss one of my latest listings that’s located at Diamond and Jersey in the Noe Valley neighborhood in San Francisco. I’m going to walk you through this $4.2 million home and tell you what you should be looking for if you’re shopping for a home at this price point.
And don’t worry, if you’re not shopping for a $4 million home. I’m going to walk through a few other price points, including one of the best values in Noe Valley.
This five-bedroom home in Noe Valley has a perfect layout for homes at this price point. Coming in at just under 4,000 square feet, it features three bedrooms and two baths, the entertainment space down below, another office or bedroom, and then an in-law suite or family room below that.
A lot of buyers want to use price per square foot as a metric for how much a home is worth, and as Realtors®, we use that as well, and we guide buyers to use that. But, it can be very confusing. For instance, there’s a large range of price per square foot in Noe Valley – it’s anywhere between $900 to about $1,700.
This is dictated by a few things: one is updates.
A renovated home is something that buyers are looking for because renovations, especially in San Francisco, are quite expensive. Costs have gone up 30% per year for many years running. Also, dealing with San Francisco codes and permits and close-by neighbors can just be a nightmare. Buying a home that’s done is definitely on people’s preferred list.
The bathrooms in this particular house could have used a little bit of an upgrade, but I don’t think that buyers are that deterred by the need to update a bathroom as opposed to having to renovate a kitchen, move walls, or do that type of major work. Changing out tiles and smaller jobs like that are relatively simple.
By the way, for a bathroom remodel, you can spend anywhere between $30,000 and about $100,000, depending on how rich your taste is and how high-end you want to go.
Next up on the things that make a $4 million home perfect: layout.
Three bedrooms and two baths on one level are the sweet spot. This is the preferred layout for those with young children. Of course, you want to be near them on the same level to get up with them in the middle of the night and take care of them.
But as they start to age (mine are 11 and 14) there comes a point where you might want to be away from them a little bit. You might want to have space for them that’s not in your main entertainment space.
A great layout allows you to create flexible space. For example, if there’s extra space where you can put a sofa and a TV, you’ve just created a great hangout space for the kids. This is perfect, as you’ll be entertaining your own set of friends upstairs.
Another thing that’s going to help push up that price per square foot is proximity to the outdoors.
This particular home has a large patio and it’s right off of the kitchen and living room, but it’s a little smaller than what some buyers will desire. If this was larger, this would push the price per square foot up. A smaller outdoor space is going to deter some buyers with children who want to play soccer in the backyard.
Lastly, on the list of important things is a home office. One thing that COVID changed is our need to work from home. Even though a lot of people are going back to the office, many people are working in a hybrid model, meaning that people need that extra space to work in.
We staged the fifth bedroom as a bedroom with a desk, but the sellers used it as a nice large office. And here you have the three bedrooms, two baths on one level, and an additional au pair suite or family room down below and an office. What could be better?
So to wrap up, what would push this home up to that $1,700 a square foot level?
Well, it would have to be recently renovated down to the studs with top-of-the-line finishes and potentially be on a little bit of a less busy street—that would push it up to the max. Also, having a large backyard. But what you get for $4 million is you get a perfect layout. So it does check a lot of boxes for most buyers who are looking at this price point. I think this home is going to do well.
(Fast forward five days and we have this home under contract.)
Yes, the market is soft in parts, but it’s been really hard to find a good home in Noe Valley this year. The home we shared above did well. And, how do we know that it did well? Well, according to the data, the median price in the city right now is right around the median 2019 prices.
This home was purchased for just under $3.9 million in 2018, and it sold in 2023 for $4.2 million.
As a buyer, you probably want a simple formula for how to value a home, but it’s not that easy. Supply and demand in certain areas mean that there’s still upward pressure on certain homes and certain price points. And even though the $3 to $5 million price point is supposed to be the softest per the data that Compass just published, this one didn’t perform that way and many aren’t. And, of course, the prep and the agent matters.
Now, let’s talk more about how you can understand the values by looking at a few other things.
It’s important to understand that location matters. Let’s check out a map and I’m going to discuss some of the most desirable locations based on what buyers are looking for.
The main street in Noe Valley that everybody’s super excited about is the 24th Street corridor. So, the easier it is that you can walk to this 24th Street corridor, the better. The most walkable streets are going to be Elizabeth, 23rd, Alvarado, and 22nd. All of these have super high desirability. Now, if you go to the south, you’ve got Jersey, a very desirable and beautiful street, 25th (which is also wonderful), and Clipper, which is a little bit busy. So the prices are going to be much lower than you would see in Jersey or Elizabeth.
An interesting thing about Noe Valley is that some areas here don’t have views. Because to have views, you have to have hills, and people in Noe Valley value walkability and sun.
Now that we understand more about location, and before I jump into a few other things, let me just say that we get calls every single day from people looking to move to Noe Valley and all areas of San Francisco. So, please reach out to us, we’d love to help.
Okay, so now let’s look at a few other examples of homes that have sold at different price points. We just discussed the $4 million home on Diamond, but remember that you can’t have the same expectations in a $3 million home as a $4 million home or a $2 million home as a $3 million home.
Let’s look at a home sold by Generation Real Estate as an example.
We just discussed the things that made a $4 million home perfect, and I told you that if a home had all of those things, it would sell for around $1,700 a square foot and instead it sold for $1,100 a square foot. So, to make matters more confusing, this one sold for just under $1,700 a square foot. But it didn’t have all those things.
And I know I’m supposed to make this less confusing, but smaller homes will sell for higher price points, especially in great areas. This one sold for around $3.2 million This was a nice Craftsman style home with the kind of look that a lot of people are looking for.
Now, we talked about the importance of renovations. So on this one, I would say the renovation is okay. The kitchen looks decent, bathrooms probably could use a little remodel. So, the other thing that we talked about is bedrooms being all on one level. And you do get the bedrooms upstairs, which are considered more valuable than the bedrooms on the main level.
But this bedroom configuration is three bedrooms on one level, which is kind of the number that everyone’s looking for in Noe Valley. But if you take a look at the floor plan, what you see is that you have three bedrooms on one level, but only one bath on that same level. And you do have this office here, and I think what a great thing to do here would be to make this primary and turn this into a bathroom.
Another thing that I told you that would make it sell for more is if it had an extra family room. This one doesn’t. You have a living room. So an extra family room would probably have to be at the garage level. And you don’t have that here.
We also talked about the proximity to the backyard. And as you can see here, it is off of the kitchen, but it’s a very small door. You’re not going to feel a great sense of the outdoors, but it is on this level. It is desirable to have it on the entertainment level so that checks a box here.
The other thing that’s important to understand is that with this home being $1900 square feet, it did push up into the $1700 a square foot zone, but it still ended at $3.2 million.
There is an entry-level point to get into Noe Valley and it’s about $2.5 million. I’m going to show you where you can get a home for that entry-level price point.
My friend Greg Fulford sold This one some time ago with Sotheby’s. They received several offers on it.
What you can get at this price point is going to be something other than three bedrooms, and two baths on one level. In this case, the primary suite is down. The house was beautifully remodeled. You do have a deck off of the main space, so you have access to the beautiful backyard from both the primary and the deck.
As I mentioned, walkability in Noe is a very big deal. If you’re up on a hill, you are going to have views, but it’s going to be harder to walk. There are nice views in this area of Noe Valley.
Looking at the floorplan of this house – living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, one bath, and then a primary down. This is a floor plan that you would see consistently in this area of town and you can expect to score something there for $2.4 up to about a $3 million price point.
Lastly, I wanted to give you an example of what sells for around $2,000 a square foot, or what pushes up those prices per square foot the highest. This is a home that I sold. It is located on 25th Street, one block from 24th Street.
We talked about a few things that pushed up the price point, one being renovation, and this renovation was spectacular. The house had a country farmhouse transitional style that’s very, very hard to find. And it was pretty new construction.
A lot of times in San Francisco when you’re getting a newer-built home, it ends up being very generic with lots of steel and glass and they all kind of look the same. This developer developed this home for himself and it was done with a lot of love.
This was a stunning home. One of the things that I mentioned pushes up the price per square foot is three bedrooms on one level, which it had. This home closed for $5.8 million.
Now, this was a little while ago when the market was very, very high. Today, I think the home would close for significantly less. My guess would be closer to that $1,700 a square foot. If you remember, the Alvarado listing that I showed you also sold for $1,700 a square foot, and it didn’t look anything like this home, but this one is a 3,000 square foot home.
The bottom line is that the bigger a home is, the more it’s going to kind of push down that price per square foot. The smaller it is, the more it’s going to push up the price per square foot.
So, if you’re looking at a 1,300 square foot home as opposed to a 4,000 square foot home, the 1,300 square foot home could be a total dump and sell for a higher price per square foot than the 4,000 square foot home. And, buyers with different budgets are going to have very different expectations at $2 million than they will at $5 million.
If you’re interested in learning more about what you can buy in different neighborhoods, we have a video series on our YouTube Channel that takes an in-depth look at Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, and all of the surrounding neighborhoods. Watch our neighborhood vlogs and see what area might be a fit for you.
Whether you’re considering a move to San Francisco or already live in the city, we’d love to be your go to real estate resource.