Broker caravan winds through San Francisco’s spiffy neighborhoods

Luxe agent Butch Haze strives to visit seven listings on a typical Tuesday morning

Just moments after mentioning his incredible parking karma, Butch Haze can’t find a spot. 

The Compass agent is taking TRD along on a Tuesday Brokers Open Tour day in the upscale northern neighborhoods of San Francisco where he plies his trade. 

Not wanting to waste any time, he decides to take a chance parking in a spot a block away from a new $6.5-million listing in Presidio Heights, even though a nearby construction worker tells him the street cleaners are on their way. 

He’s just going to run in for five minutes, he tells them. 

Haze has actually already seen this particular house, 3575 Clay Street, which is on the market for the first time in over six decades. He pitched the children of the owner, who had passed away. Instead, the listing went to Nina Hatvany at Compass, and Haze says he holds no grudges. 

Broker Caravan Visits Listings in Spiffy San Francisco
3575 Clay Street

“One of the gifts of our industry is you can’t be upset,” he said, adding that it’s always validating on the occasions where he has brought the buyer on listings he’s lost out on. “There’s no better reward.” 

Once in the home, he chats with other agents and Hatvany, who is calm about an old oil tank just discovered right in front of the driveway, even though it has led to a large hole and active remediation just in time for her new listing to hit the market. That hasn’t stopped 80 to 90 agents from coming to see the charming 1910 property, she said, where she did minimal staging other than a paint refresh and some new fixtures. 

She expects multiple offers. The property ends up going into contract in three days with an over-asking offer. 

“It’s a lovely home with the great light, the lovely details, a beautiful flowing floor plan and, above all, a very warm welcoming feeling,” she said. “It’s intangible, but some homes have that and some just don’t.”

After looking over the house, Haze returns to his car to find a parking ticket. He shrugs it off and the tour continues onto the next property. 

“There’s so many houses to see, more than you could possibly get to,” he said. 

Northern neighborhoods

Haze sticks to luxury northern neighborhoods such as Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Russian Hill and Cow Hollow. 

The brokers tours, or so-called agent caravans, in his top neighborhoods run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with each neighborhood’s hours set by the San Francisco Association of Realtors. If he’s lucky, he can hit about seven listings each Tuesday. Properties in the city’s southern half are later in the afternoon, but he rarely needs to see anything there.

“I go to L.A. more than I go to the Mission,” he said. 

Each property has a two-hour window and if you’re even a few minutes late, as happened when he arrived at Maison Pacific, a new-construction condo building in Russian Hill, the agent may already be gone. Luckily, Haze calls and the sales team from developer JS Sullivan agrees to come back and show one of the penthouse units in the building, which is still available, though 10 other units are currently in contract, according to a recent Polaris report. That makes the 2023-built project 90 percent sold.

Broker Caravan Visits Listings in Spiffy San Francisco
Maison Pacific

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“It’s really exciting to have new construction on the north side of the city,” Haze said, as much of that development has happened downtown. 

Agent facetime

The Tuesday tour is essential not only because it allows Haze to preview properties for his clients and stay knowledgeable on the market, he said, but because he can gauge the interest in a property or try to nail down an agent who hasn’t been returning his calls. 

“Sometimes agents don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to another agent because they don’t want to let out any information that might be valuable or share information that would change the value of their offer,” he explained.

But confronted face-to-face, the agent can’t duck questions about how many disclosure packets have been sent out or how many other offers have come in. 

The Tuesday Tour also allows agents to get face time with their peers, network and talk shop. For the stop at 769 Francisco Street, listing agent Max Armour of Compass is there, and he and Haze talk about staging companies for a few minutes before moving on.

Broker Caravan Visits Listings in Spiffy San Francisco
769 Francisco Street

Even though it’s a $1.5-million condo and Armour also reps houses on the market for more than $30 million, he still makes it a point to show up in person for the Brokers Tour. Armour said Tuesdays are key for all agents, but especially new ones. 

“If you’re an agent, up and coming, you need to go out and see every single property out there because you get to meet everybody but also see the inventory so you can speak intelligently about it,” Armour said. “Without the broker tour, we don’t get a lot of deals done.”

The two-bedroom, one-bath full-floor flat with a private-use, south-facing backyard goes into contract nine days after it lists — and about a week after its Broker Tour debut. 

Stabilizing market

The interest is so high at one of Haze’s own listings that he decides during the tour day to set an offer date. The property goes into contract after just 16 days on the market. The three-bedroom, three-bath with just under 1,900 square feet at 2785 Jackson Street right by Alta Plaza Park had an asking price of $3 million. 

As for market dynamics, buyers have waited for this huge downturn that’s not happening, Haze said. They have finally decided they can’t wait anymore. 

Last spring the market was slower, in part because “we had two major Bay Area banks implode,” he said, but this year things are more stable and everyone expects interest rates to drop since it’s an election year. Meanwhile, families are growing, or couples’ divorcing, and they need a place to live that reflects where they are today.

“We’re finding life just goes on,” Haze said, before hurrying off to the next listing.

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