The median price for a one bedroom home in the “City by the Bay” is estimated at $820,000 (meaning half of comparable homes cost more). The most affordable home listed in San Francisco in February was an uninhabitable (hey, what do you expect?) 1,085 square foot, one bed, one bath single family home on a 0.06 acre lot about five miles from the city’s center.
Originally built in 1900, this property was listed for $399,000.
Like all good real estate professionals, the listing agent did what he could to tactfully describe the home in order to drive both interest and perceived value. “Very poor condition,” the listing bragged. “Very little likelyhood (sic) of buyer obtaining a loan,” it boasted. Hey, even Charles Dickens may have been at a loss for words when it came to describing this property charitably.
Naturally, the agent complemented his literary listing remarks with photos designed to highlight the property’s best features.
Unfortunately, the most appealing photo, a landscape shot designed to provide supporting evidence for the claim of “Terrific Bay Views!”, looks to me like a terrific view of the world’s most expensive shanty town.
The images quickly went downhill from there.
Now, I’m no remediation expert but I’ve discovered enough fuzzy, gray/green leftovers over the years to know mold when I see it, and one glance at the picture of the home’s dark, sooty and battered entrance hall suggested a ceiling festooned with growth like last Thanksgiving’s forgotten cranberry sauce.
The rusty, moldy and otherwise dilapidated bathroom (with an avocado green tub) looks like a perfect location for a scene in the next installment of the “Saw” horror movie franchise. The one bedroom home’s kitchen photo inexplicably features six befouled mattresses.
Finally, had you spoken with the listing agent, he would have disclosed that none of the appliances worked, that the plumbing was not functional, and that the heating system, flooring, and interior sheetrock were all severely damaged.
With all that going for it, San Francisco’s most affordable house naturally attracted multiple competitive offers from prospective buyers. Of the 23 offers received, 12 were over $520,000 (for a property listed at $399,000), and the winning offer was for $565,000, cash.
"This is 'affordable housing' in San Francisco," the listing agent said during an interview. "When you have a property that's below a million, it's a steal. If it's close to $500,000, it's a joke."
Now that we’ve addressed the City by the Bay, let’s cover the City on the Lakes.
The median list price for a one-bedroom, single family home in the Laconia is presently $80,000 (about one tenth of San Francisco’s median). The highest valued one bed, single family home listed at this time is an immediately inhabitable 674 square foot one bed, one bath, four season cottage on a 0.61 acre lot (more than ten times the size of the lot in San Francisco) with a boat slip and 125 feet of Lake Winnipesaukee waterfront.
Lovingly updated since its original construction in 1966, this home is listed for $524,900 (that’s over $40,000 less than the uninhabitable home in San Francisco sold for).
The listing agent (full disclosure: his barber cuts my hair) evoked the spirit of Charles Dickens and wrote:
“You just can’t get much closer to the water than 87 Harglen. This adorable four-season waterfront cottage could be a playhouse for your inner child, a happily-ever-after home for your retirement years, or both. This personal paradise is located on one of the best lots in quiet, private, no-wake Pickerel Cove, which connects you to over 45 thousand acres of beautiful Paugus Bay and Lake Winnipesaukee water… With a nearby private beach for the community, snowmobile trails and skiing, there are infinite recreational possibilities outside, and easy-to-maintain single floor living with no stairs once you're back inside…The property also features an external 12’ x 16’ multipurpose room which could serve as a bunkhouse for guests, an art studio, personal workshop or more…”
Naturally, the agent complemented these literary listing remarks with photos designed to highlight the property’s best features.
If you were to search MLS # 4682787 or visit www.87HarglenLane.com, you’d see that this home has legitimately terrific interior and exterior views of the water (which is literally steps away) and the Belknap Mountains.
The entrance to this property is a bright 17 by 8 foot heated lakeside sunroom with views of water and mountains.
The bedroom easily swallows a king-size bed, the bathroom is nicely finished, spacious and well tiled, and the bright, open kitchen flows naturally from the living room and is well-appointed with exotic granite countertops, high end laminate flooring and new cabinets.
If you spoke with the listing agent, he’d disclose that the appliances—including the Deco All-in-One Compact Electric washer/dryer—all function and can convey with the sale. He’d also tell you that 87 Harglen Lane in Laconia is a special property that offers a million dollar view for half the price and proves you can live large in a small home.
So there you have it, a tale of the sale of two cities. In San Francisco, “If it's close to $500,000, it's a joke." In Laconia, a similar investment secures a personal paradise with peaceful water and mountain views that will make you feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.