Two peculiarities afflict approximately 3 of every 5 sellers of San Francisco properties:

  1. Asked if the fireplace is operable, they don’t know
  2. Asked if the security system is operable, they don’t know.

Furthermore, these homeowners:

  1. Have never tried to use the fireplace or the security system
  2. Don’t believe the fireplace or the security system ever worked
  3. Are pretty sure that the previous owners and the owners before them and possibly the owners before them never used the fireplace or the security system

Listing agents’ inspections proclaim no knowledge of the status and condition of fireplace or security system, and advise prospective buyers to “obtain a professional inspection” of the mysterious fireplace and “contact the vendor who installed” the enigmatic security system.

Luckily, it’s rare that we San Franciscans actually need either of these items. A posse of fat candles can evoke the ambiance of a wood-burning fire (without the pollution and mess). While quality hardware and concerned (albeit slightly nosy) neighbors go a long way toward preventing burglaries.

Still, what does it all MEAN? And how can we learn more about the mystery of the fireplace-security-system Bermuda Triangle in San Francisco?

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

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