Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Who's Going to Buy the Rare Edwardian with Killer View?

If It Were My Listing I'd Add "Oh-So-Rare"
I very rarely do this--plug someone else's listing--but my colleague Fritz Hochfellner has 157 Hagar Ave. on the market right now and it didn't get an offer this week. Here's why you should mention it (or forward this! See below) to friends and colleagues thinking about getting into Piedmont, because someone will smartly purchase this home during the holiday lull (I'm in town and working, by the way.....):

1. An arts-and-crafts home with a "killer" Bay view is really really hard to find in Piedmont. Think about it--many of the Edwardian homes downtown had relatively low Bay views when they were built, but the view was encroached upon as homes downhill were built out. And further up the hill were cow fields back in 1910. Just a few homes--my own included--are Edwardian and sport truly exceptional views. 157 Hagar is another such home. 

2. Also relatively rare for homes of this age are two items: recently updated kitchen and baths (in this case, period-appropriate!), and inclusion of a family room--not may homes back in the day had family rooms! 

3. As you know, Piedmont is a great place to live, and this home has all the wonderful lifestyle benefits of a central Piedmont home--from walkability to school, play dates and casual carpool to SF; to after-school care across the playground; to easy access the town pool, TaiKwonDo and ceramics classes at The Rec; to quick rides to OAK and SFO; to great meals on Piedmont Ave., College Ave., and Oakland's Uptown; to easy access to freeways in all directions.

You see from the photos at that this home includes all the period details you might expect. It's three bedrooms/two baths on the main level, and has a gorgeously updated suite on the entry level as well. 

About that main level--this home was artfully organized to take full advantage of the view. As a result, the main level, with all the public rooms and three of the four bedrooms, is upstairs--what we call a reverse floor plan. At the street are the spacious entry area, the family room and that great guest suite, office, or master suite.

Easy peasy--when guests arrive at the house, you let them in and "take them up" to the main level, including the enclosed room-sized space jutting out over the entry porch, where you can offer them drinks and a seat. The public rooms enjoy what is probably a four-bridge view with the master suite facing the South Bay and probably the fifth bridge (I admit I haven't counted). Needless to say, there is East Bay light drenching the entire home.

And finally--so you know I'm covering the pluses and the minuses--portions of the home are not currently bolted to the foundation, and it has an attractive asbestos-shingle exterior. I'd advocate bolting asap (as would your insurance company) but that's a very straightforward task. A Jamie Pearl estimate for seismic retrofit is pending, and I understand it's under $10,000. You could also remove the existing shingles and revert back to a traditional brown shingle exterior, or stay with the currently well-encapsulated shingles for several more years. In either case, the tasks and charges are straightforward, and do not involve cooking in the basement for three months! Note you're trading a large flat backyard for a killer Bay view--but there's just nothing like the view and there are plenty of places for kids to play downtown.

Given these items, I think the nearly 3500 sf house was well-priced to start with at $1.695M (a tad less than $500/sf, when the average for Piedmont was $550/sf this summer, without the killer view!). If one could get it for a bit less, any bolting and shingle costs could be covered, and you have a central Piedmont classic with the oh-so-rare "killer" view for well under the average price (/sf) for a Piedmont home. The smartest buyers buy during the holidays.....

How's that for a great holiday present?

And speaking of holidays, enjoy yours! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Not So Open Kitchen After All....

I guess it had to happen eventually. Hemlines go up and down, brass goes "in" and "out," and the Wall Street Journal reports that designers are increasingly enclosing kitchens again.

Not one to be at the cutting edge of fashion (she says in her holiday red-and-green thrift store turtleneck, black poly vest and pants others would use while horseback riding--the dog and I are anxiously awaiting the end of the downpour), I was struck by a town home up in Hiller Highlands that had a recent complete kitchen renovation, yet the owner did not take down the upper wall between kitchen and living room.  I guess she was the smart one!  Maybe to come are moveable kitchen islands with "blank" walls attached; position it in the classic island location demarcating the shift from kitchen to living area in your downtown loft, and it blocks the view of dirty dishes and such.

The illustration in the story that makes no sense to me is the wall of glass between kitchen and dining.  You get the same dirty-dishes view as before, plus a large piece of glass to clean that's forever marred by atomized grease.