Tag Archives: San Francisco homes for sale

Throwback Thursday: The Realtor/Stripper Connection

Sally Rand, striptease artist

This post from August 2012 when the market was really starting to heat up.

I was the most popular gal in San Francisco on a recent Sunday afternoon. (Not counting the hard-working women employed at the Gold Club, of course.)

That’s because I had a hot new listing that everybody wanted. It was in fantastic shape, freshly remodeled and beautifully staged. It smelled divine. It was totally available and it was really cheap (relatively speaking).

As a result, everybody who came to the open house loved the place and, in an attempt to butter me up, loved me too.

If you’re ever feeling down about yourself, just get a California Real Estate License, procure a well-priced listing in our fair city, hold an open house and stand in the foyer handing out flyers. You can be as repellant as Donald Trump and people will still find something to compliment you about. They will dig deep to sweet-talk you.

“That smiley-face tie is so arty!”

“Your purple cell phone is the nicest one I’ve ever seen!”

“These chocolate chip cookies are fantastically tasty! Did you buy them at Safeway yourself?”

Generally speaking, agents are even more shameless than the general public. They flatter you about how skinny you’ve gotten; how you’re so darn tiny all of a sudden?! (Always amusing, since on the morning of my open house, I’d torn my bathroom apart in search of a safety pin to let my pants out an inch or two.)

Anyway, I counted 100-plus visitors to that open house; pretty heady stuff. It’s like having the ultimate my-parents-are-out-of-town party of your dreams—everybody wants in! People can’t move from the front to the back because the hallway is so crowded. Yet, unlike the guests at an impromptu high school bacchanal, your open house visitors are polite and respectful. Nobody is raiding the liquor cabinet or throwing up in the hydrangeas.

With an attractive San Francisco listing to show, a REALTOR®—at least for two hours every weekend—can be the most popular person in an entire neighborhood. No wonder we agents plaster our photos all over the place.

Think about it. In what other profession do practitioners affix their photos to every communication or marketing vehicle? Not doctors, lawyers or Indian chiefs. Not tinkers, tailors or internet wunderkinds.

You guessed it: Strippers. It’s what strippers do! Maybe that’s why so many successful REALTORS® have what sound like successful stripper names.

Remember the trick about how to discover your stripper name? You combine the name of your first pet with the name of the street you lived on as a kid. Using this technique, my alter ego’s handle is Blue Laurel.

Just for fun, I tried creating stripper names using a new method. I mixed up the first and last names of Bay Area real estate agents (to be fair, I threw both my real names into the pot). Here are some of the results: Missy Cummins, Francesca Holmes, Eva Wood, Adam Upjohn, Mona Cherry, Candace Merryman, Max Shine, Luba Hand, Cynthia Ho.

I bet you can come up with some better ones yourself; just go to any real estate website and start mixing.

Blue Laurel. Not bad for the stage. But not great either. I think I’ll stick with my day job.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.


Amorphous solid (non-crystalline) blah ba de blah

My theme for this Tuesday’s tour is GLASS. I saw lots and lots of it this week. Vases, bowls, sculptures, dishes — all used for staging.

According to Wikipedia, GLASS is “an amorphous solid (non-crystalline) material that exhibits a glass transition, which is the reversible transition in amorphous materials (or in amorphous regions within semicrystalline materials) from a hard and relatively brittle state into a molten or rubber-like state.”

(Easy for YOU to say, Wikipedia.)

I just thought all the glass was pretty. I took photos with my vintage Samsung Galaxy phone, then put them through Waterlogue. These images are the result.

Painted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in Waterlogue

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.




Highly Desirable Semi-detached Villa

“The new residence was…to be of some mysterious size and proportion, which would make us both peculiarly happy ever afterwards…It was neither to cost too much nor too little, but just enough to fitly inaugurate the new happiness.” 

View of the Mission in 1865, described as, “Looking E. from Reservoir Hill, Market & Buchanan Sts., Vicinity Market & Valencia.”

In 1865, the writer Thomas Hardy published a short story called How I Built Myself a House. I came across mention of it in a Writer’s Almanac post, then googled it.

I was delighted to find that, apparently, not much has changed since 1865 in the realm of residential real estate. In the story, the dynamic between Hardy and his wife is very similar to what I see on a daily basis.

Thomas and Sophia shared many hopes for their new home near London, but disagreed on numerous details. After arguing about whether or not trees should be felled to improve the view (Sophia — in favor of the ax — prevailed) the Hardys quarreled over the floor plan. Thomas writes:

“I made my sketch, and my wife made hers. Her drawing and dining rooms were very large, nearly twice the size of mine…We soon found that there was no such thing as fitting our ideas together.”

Later, when costs get out of hand and Hardy tries to staunch the overruns, Sophia tells him, “…Elegance and extreme cheapness never do go together.”

And here’s a delicious bit that reminds me of a scenario I’ve witnessed a hundred times during home inspections:

“We were standing beside (the house) one day, looking at the men at work on the top, when the builder’s foreman came towards us.

‘Being your own house, sir, and as we are finishing the last chimney, you would perhaps like to go up,’ he said.

‘I am sure I should much, if I were a man,” was my wife’s observation to me, ‘The landscape must appear so lovely from that height.’

This remark placed me in something of a dilemma, for it must be confessed that I am not given to climbing.”

And so forth and so on. To read the entire story, click here. It’s most entertaining.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Homewords: Beauty for Sale


“Endeavoring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love.”

― Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

Hot on Tuesday Tour: “Same As It Ever Was”


And you may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife

And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’

from Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads

“Same As It Ever Was” is just one work on display (and available for purchase) at 2222 15th Street, a delightful “secret garden” condo that shows like a veritable art gallery, thanks to an abundance of natural light and smart staging. Represented by Lance Fulford at Alain Pinel, the spacious one bedroom is listed for $699,000.

Check out the condo’s website for more information (and better photos than mine). Or contact me to schedule a showing.






Baseball, Buying and Mixed Metaphors

It’s double-extra-super tough being a buyer in San Francisco right now. But if you’ve written six offers without winning a property, it’s time to reexamine your strategy.

Ask your agent to ask you the “hard” questions about your motivation and your goals. And ask your agent about his/her batting average in multiple-offer situations. Re-think your approach. Maybe call in a relief pitcher.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Throwback Thursday: 7 Ways Buyers Sabotage Themselves

Aesop's Fable 133: The Dog and Its Reflection
Aesop’s Fable 133: The Dog and Its Reflection

This post from February 2012. (Perhaps you, too, are tired of silly lists like “10 Ways to Do Such n’ Such” or “5 Top Reasons for This n’ That” but I’m told numeric list-making is supposed to catch readers’ attentions. Well….did it? Catch yours? Let me know.)

This week I heard of several first-time buyers’ plans to shoot themselves in the proverbial feet, so I thought I’d offer just a smidgen of advice. Here are seven things that make it hard for a so-called buyer to actually buy.

1.) “All my agent cares about is making a sale.” It’s possible that you are indeed working with an agent who only wants to make a sale (see #3 and #4). However, the smart agent knows that ensuring a client’s happiness is the key to continued success. A satisfied buyer brings return and referral business to the agent who cares.

2.) “I’m going to work with a family friend.” There’s a teeny chance the family friend is qualified to represent you, but more likely he/she is either: a.) Part-time b.) Semi-retired c.) Completely unfamiliar with SF inventory, contracts, customs, or pricing d.) Responding to the wishes of the buyer’s family, not the buyer themselves. Saving money is usually the true (unstated) motivation for this choice, but the kickback of commission seldom compensates for poor service and bad advice.

3.) “I don’t need an agent, I’ll just look on my own and have the listing agent help me.” Typically, the seller has already contractually agreed to pay buyer’s agent’s commission. Why wouldn’t you avail yourself of free expertise from a professional whose sole purpose is to please you? (Also see #2 and #4)

4.) “I’ll have the listing agent write my offer.” You think the person who has a fiduciary obligation to get the very best result for the seller is going to serve the buyer best as well? Buyer can buy anything currently listed for sale in his/her price range. The listing agent has a vested interest in selling this one property. Ever read Aesop’s fables? I’m sure there’s one that applies to this scenario.

5.) “I’m in no hurry, I don’t have to buy now.” Then why are you searching the internet, going to open houses, getting preapproved for financing, asking for disclosure packages, contemplating writing an offer, writing an offer, writing a counter offer? We know you don’t have to buy now. We can’t and won’t wrestle you to the ground and force you to pay cash for a place you don’t want at a price you can’t abide. Why, then, are you going on about how you don’t have to buy now? Do you think that inspires us to pull out all the proverbial stops? What’s really on your mind?

6.) “I’m going to work with a high-profile agent, not a rookie.” It’s true that most high-profile agents are hardworking and devoted to their clients. That’s how they achieved their current status and success. However, despite their best intentions, Top Producers may not have a whole lot of time to offer first-time buyers. A hungry, relatively new agent may be a better bet.

7.) “My agent wants me to pay more so they’ll earn a higher commission.” First, revisit #1 above. Second, consider that the individual agent’s take-home commission is going to be somewhere in the vicinity of 2% of the purchase price. On a $1,000 price increase that’s $20 (before taxes) more for the agent. Yet, that same $1,000 could determine whether or not the seller accepts your offer. You do the math.

To conclude, if you’re a real buyer and you’re not a liar (as the crude saying goes), start acting like a real buyer. Find your agent, get your financial ducks in a row, and buy something.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Homewords: Humor from Dave Barry

Study the listings carefully and make a note of any houses that look right for you, so your broker can confirm that they were all sold just that morning. This is actually good, because it will help to get you into the proper highly desperate frame of mind where you will do almost anything to get a house, including paying large sums of money you really don’t have to people you really don’t know for reasons you really aren’t sure of. Which is the essence of real estate.

— Dave Barry from “Homes and Other Black Holes”

Hot on Tuesday Tour: Literally

During brokers’ tour yesterday, real estate agents were melting all over San Francisco.

We were blasting our car air conditioners. We were panting up two flights of Victorian stairs. We were showing (for better or for worse) not just properties but huge swaths of our flesh.



I had to dig deep — beneath the wool sweaters and boots and long underwear — to find my “hot days dress.” I only have one. And I only have one pair of dress-up high-heel sandals.

Wobbling across a Presidio Heights street en route to a colleague’s listing, a pair of tourists stopped me. Did I live here, they wanted to know. Could I point them toward a store where they could buy some sunscreen and water, they wondered.

I was so damn hot I had to stop in order to think straight. Which was fine because it gave me a minute to fan under my armpits.

“Water? Sunscreen?” I scowled — confused because normally tourists ask where they can buy a sweatshirt or a jacket because it’s like 45 degrees at Jackson and Presidio.

“That way,” I managed, pointing south toward Sacramento Street.

“Are you okay?” they said, looking worried in their shorts and t-shirts.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I replied, “We’re just not used to this weather. This is San Francisco, not California. Stay cool.”

They thanked me and moved away quickly. Still resting in the puny shade of a sidewalk tree, I watched them as a half a block away they stopped another agent to ask for directions.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.


Now is the Perfect Time to Buy and Sell but First…


I remember my first home in San Francisco: a two-unit building purchased with my husband (let’s call him Pablo) and our partners/my clients (let’s call them Curt and Sally).

Loma Prieta had shaken us silly that October of 1989, but it didn’t stop our real estate search. Curt, Sally, Pablo and I first viewed our future home – a spacious hunk of Victorian history on Divisadero near Golden Gate – that Halloween. By the time we closed in December the San Francisco market was looking rather spooky. Seems we’d bought at the peak.

But we made the best of it for the next five years, during which time the market continued falling yet began rising again. We remodeled, painted, added parking, started families, celebrated holidays and watched the neighborhood improve. We converted our flats to condominiums. Then we sold and purchased single family homes in the Richmond district.

In retrospect, we were smart to get in when we did because the market hasn’t turned downward in any significant way since that time.

Ask any agent – on any day during any month during any year – if it’s a good time to buy and they’ll say one of three things:

  1. Now is a perfect time to buy
  2. Five years ago was a better time buy
  3. In hindsight, tomorrow will prove to have been a great time to buy

The main thing is to get your foot in the proverbial door. But you’ll need an agent’s help:

  1. Ready? Interview three agents.
  2. Set? Choose the person who feels like your true ally.
  3. Go!

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.