Real Estate Wrap: Good news for home sellers; where are the hipsters?; 3 ‘small-is-cute’ listings

In real estate: Prices across the Bay Area are up while homes sales are down; hipsters AWOL in East Bay; plus: three houses for sale under 1,000 square feet.

A local real estate expert compares those wanting to purchase a home in the Bay Area like “buyers … lining up [at] the Apple store.” Photo: Henrik Ahlen/Creative Commons

It’s a sellers’ market as home prices continue to rise, inventory falls

Despite some rumblings about a real estate bubble about to burst, home prices across the Bay Area’s nine counties rose by nearly 11% year-on-year to October 2017, according to the Mercury News, which reports that the region’s median sale price of a single-family home was $800,000. In Alameda County that number was $815,000, while in San Mateo and Santa Clara the figure easily surpassed $1 million. Home sales in the Bay Area fell in the same period. Some of that slowdown is attributable to the devastating North Bay wildfires, according to CoreLogic, which supplied the data, but it’s the cycle of low inventory and high prices that mainly accounts for sluggish sales activity, the article reports. The dearth of inventory is likely good news for those who do put their home on the market. As Tim Ambrose, president-elect of the Bay East Association of Realtors, put it: “Buyers are lining up like the Apple store.”

Where did all the hipsters go?

Customers at Arthur Mac’s Tap + Snack’s beer garden in Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

While craft microbreweries and vegan restaurants seem to be proliferating at a rapid clip in the East Bay, this does not, it appears, signify that Berkeley or Oakland are hipster hubs. Neither is San Francisco, despite rumors to the contrary. According to the U.S. Hipster Index (yes, you read that right), compiled by, the most hipster cities in the Bay Area are Santa Rosa, Modesto and Sacramento. The most hipster city in the country? Vancouver, Washington. How does one define hipsters you may well ask. MoveHub describes them thus: “… hipsters are a subculture of 20- to 30-somethings who position themselves as non-mainstream pioneers; free-thinkers and non-conformist conformists.” MoveHub uses five criteria to compile its ranking: number of microbreweries, thrift stores, vegan restaurants, and tattoo studios per 100,000 city residents, and rent inflation in the last year. Oakland ranks just behind San Francisco in the survey, which ranks 61st. MoveHub notes that bigger cities simply can’t compete in the index — Los Angeles is in 133rd place and New York is at 143rd — because “their hipsterness is diluted by their size.” Of course, there are many who would consider it a win coming in last in this particular league table!

The allure of the ‘petite’ size house — times three

1198 Cornell Ave. Photo: MLS/Red Oak Realty
1420 Harmon St., Berkeley. Photo: MLS/Marvin Gardens Real Estate
3750 Madrone Ave., Oakland. Photo: MLS/Red Oak Realty

Paying $800 per square foot for a home in Berkeley, where the average is nearer to $620, according to Redfin, may seem questionable, but there is something about diminutive houses — often referred to as ‘sweet bungalows’ or ‘cute cottages’ in real estate speak — that appeals. Curbed SF says the 786-square-foot, two-bedroom, “totally teal” bungalow at 1198 Cornell Ave., makes up with charm what it lacks for in size. Priced at $629,000, it has been on the market for 14 days. In Oakland’s Laurel neighborhood, its listing agents stress the charm of the 933-square-foot home at 3750 Madrone Ave.,  on the market at $649,000, putting it at $696 per square foot. Perhaps what it lacks in indoor volume is compensated for by front and backyard spaces that include a “protected vegetable garden, side yard, large deck area, dog run and a one-car garage.” Also coming in under 1,000 square feet is 1420 Harmon St. in Berkeley which is described as a “sweet two-bedroom, one bath bungalow on quiet street.” Listed at $695,000, the home is 928 square feet ($749 per square foot).

Don’t miss the Neighborhood Guides in Berkeleyside’s Real Estate section: from Albany to Uptown Oakland, these area profiles, curated by local real estate experts, include information on housing inventory, neighborhood hotspots, lifestyle, walkability and commutes.