San Francisco to Remain a Top Market for International Investors in 2016


HH52-43 "Resolutions" One of our family resolutions for 2011 is to continue to learn more about other countries and to do what we can to be good global citizens. We, and I am happy to say our girls in particular, have been deeply interested in Afghanistan and Pakistan since our first introduction to the work of Greg Mortenson several years ago (hence the focal point). Nothing like a globe to bring some perspective to the size of our world.


The U.S. is by far the most favorable country for foreign real estate investors seeking a safe haven for their money, new survey results say. And just as last year, San Francisco is one of the top destinations for international investors, both on a national and global level.

That’s according to the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, a global industry trade group that polls its membership each year. About two-thirds of respondents said they planned either moderate or major investments in U.S. real estate in 2016, while 31 percent indicated they would maintain their current portfolio. None of AFIRE’s members said they would decrease their investments over the coming year.

Sixty percent believe that the U.S. provides the most stable investment environment, far ahead of second-place Germany, which garnered 19 percent of the vote. The U.S. is also seen as the best place for capital appreciation by 46 percent of respondents, compared with second-place Brazil at 17 percent.

“The investment opportunity is the United States itself,” James A. Fetgatter, AFIRE’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The real estate fundamentals are sound; the economy continues to remain strong; there are opportunities across all sectors of the real estate spectrum, and in both gateway and secondary cities.”

On a global level, San Francisco ranks as the No. 5 most popular market for international investors, down from No. 3 in last year’s survey. New York remains the top city for global real estate investment, while Los Angeles rose from No. 10 to No. 3.

When examining expected activity only in the U.S., San Francisco ranks as the No. 3 best market, down one spot from last year’s survey. New York and Los Angeles rank No. 1 and No. 2 respectively; Washington, D.C., places No. 4; and Boston and Seattle tie for No. 5.

The vast majority of respondents — 85 percent — said that their perception of the viability of the U.S. housing market was unchanged from last year, although 80 percent cited some degree of difficulty locating properties. When asked what factors could most likely trigger a housing market downtown, rising interest rates was the most common answer, cited by about 40 percent of those polled.

According to Frank P. Lively, executive vice president of the Wafra Investment Advisory Group and AFIRE’s chairman, the survey’s results confirm that the international dollars flowing into the U.S. housing market are justified and predicted that top cities will continue to pay investors dividends in the long run.

“Foreign capital continues to view the U.S. as the safe haven that it is typified by stable, albeit expensive markets,” he said. “Investment in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, all ranked among the top five global cities, along with the historically stable and consistent Washington, D.C., have and will continue over time to reward cautious and careful institutional investors with the best risk-adjusted returns for their real estate capital.”

(Photo: Flickr/Stephen Ritchie)

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Top 3 Tuesday: Places to Work Out in Marin

In 2016, the Carey Condy team would like to reinforce our commitment as the lifestyle ambassador to “Marin Living Beyond the Four Walls.” As such, every week, please watch for our “Top 3 Tuesdays,” where we list Carey’s “Top 3” of everything in Marin.

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, see below for this week’s top 3:


1 . Running/Hiking on Mt. Tam

mt tam

2. Bay Club Marin, Corte Madera

bay club marin

3. Soul Cycle, Larkspur

soul cycle



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15 Flawless Fitness Rooms

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Sometimes literally.

In the tug-of-war between form and function, it is overwhelmingly the case that gym design exists in service of the latter. This makes sense as a gym is, when stripped of amenities like saunas and steam rooms, a room for doing. It exists in opposition to leisure, and it is no coincidence that the pulleys, ramps, benches and bars are referred to as “equipment”. There is little we can do to make your exercise regime less laborious and more pleasurable — but we can help out with your surroundings. To help you get inspired (and maybe even jumpstart a New Year’s resolution), we assembled a gallery of 15 of the world’s best-looking gyms, ranging from a converted downtown Manhattan factory to a Space Age Eastern Bloc architectural gem. Scroll down to see more. After all, form is paramount when working out.


In Baltimore, Maryland, MV Fitness is housed in a restored 1920s brick mansion. Members can practice yoga, pilates, spinning and more among the building’s beautifully preserved period millwork, flooring, light fixtures and plasterwork.

Photo by Ron Solomon via MV Fitness.


The Library Gym, located in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, deliberately eschews utilitarian gym decor. “The whole design was a space where you actually want to be and you feel special being in. While the whole core philosophy is to get results, we genuinely want to make people comfortable and feel like they are in their own home,” says owner Zana Morris.

Photo via The Library Gym.


“Health, Recreation, Grace and Vigor” is the motto of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, founded in 1880. Since 1912, the club has operated from a grand, 12-story Beaux Arts building in the city’s Downtown neighborhood. A comprehensive renovation of the space by SRK Architects is expected to open in January 2016.

Photo via LAAC.


The architect Peter Marino is known for his soaring buildings and fitted, all-leather ensembles. So it’s little surprise that the gym in Marino’s self-designed Rocky Mountain retreat exhibits the brawny, bold style for which the architect is celebrated.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.

The Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre at London’s Hotel Café Royal is comprised of four distinctive spaces, each corresponding to a specific natural “element”: earth, water, fire or air. Designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the gym is inspired by fire, thus, the ceiling lights color adjust in concert with various workout routines to compliment the red hues of the room.

Photo via Trabber.


In Amagansett, New York, goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow’s freestanding, plywood-clad yoga and pilates studio was inspired by a Japanese tea service room.

Photo by Eric Cahan via House and Garden.


At the aptly named Sky Wellness fitness center in Belgrade, Serbia, reflective resin floor finishes and a semi-translucent ceiling illuminate the exposed sleek forms of training equipment in an open plan arrangement.

Photo by Ana Kostic via Arch Daily.


When he’s not on the field with the New England Patriots, football star Tom Brady stays in shape at his custom home gym in Brentwood, California. The lavish facilities — replete with a set of monkey bars — were designed by architect Richard Landry and fitness firm Out-Fit.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.


No special effects are required in director Michael Bay’s home — architects Chad Oppenheim and Rios Clementi Hale Studios created a dramatic, cantilevered three-story home for the Transformers auteur that juts sharply from a steeply sloped canyon wall. Interior designer Lynda Murray created a minimalist gym that lets the scenery shine.

Photo by Roger Davies via Architectural Digest.


The white limestone French-neoclassical façade of television personality Donny Deutsch’s New York City townhouse dates to 1915 — but architect Frederic Schwartz and interior designers Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper completed a thoroughly modern, “white cube” renovation a century later. The six-story mansion has an airy gym on its top floor, which Matt Lauer deemed “the coolest in New York”.

Photo by Nikolas Koenig via Architectural Digest.


Harrigan Fitness designs bespoke “workout environments” for their clients. In this Beverly Park, California home, the firm made use of a dramatic, arched window to create a light-filled, neutral-colored fitness room.

Photo via Harigian Fitness.


A dramatic caged ceiling, color-changing lighting and curvilinear banquettes deliver on the “club” part of fitness club at the FIT Gym in the W Hotel in San Francisco, California.

Photo via W Hotel.


On the Bowery in New York City, upscale gym ModelFit — a favorite of Victoria’s Secret runway denizens — is housed in a former factory space built circa 1900 with coveted elements of loft architecture, including industrial windows, an open floor plan and high ceilings. The space also has a more modern pedigree: until recently, it served as photographer Terry Richardson’s studio.

Photo via ModelFit.


At the Park Hyatt Tokyo — the second tallest building in the city’s Shinjuku neighborhood — a fitness center designed by renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange offers expansive views of the Japanese capital and Mount Fuji, in the distance.

Photo via Park Hyatt Tokyo.


In the above waterfront gym, an icon of modernist design — Harry Bertoia‘s steel rod chair — sits opposite a Ciclotte. This state-of-the-art, carbon fiber exercise bike is one part design object, one part functioning equipment piece.

Photo via Ciclotte.


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U.S. Home Sales Projected to Reach Decade High in 2016

U.S. home sales should climb in 2016 to levels we haven’t seen since the last housing boom — with millennials leading the charge — as continued economic prosperity appears to be on the horizon.


In its 2016 Housing Forecast, projects that new and existing home sales will reach 6 million in 2016, the highest level since 2006. According to the report, home starts will see a 12 percent annual uptick, while sales of new homes will grow by 16 percent year over year. Home price appreciation will moderate to 3 percent next year, which Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke says signifies that the housing market is normalizing.

Millennials — defined here as those ages 25-34 — are expected to make up the largest percentage of homebuyers in 2016, spurred on in part by growing incomes. Generation Y buyers are most concerned with neighborhood safety and home-construction quality, and they also want a reasonable commute.

Having rebounded from the recession, Gen Xers on the younger side of the spectrum (ages 35-44) will account for the second-largest pool of buyers. Two-thirds of this demographic are move-up buyers and will be trading up for a larger property or a nicer neighborhood.

Older Americans ages 65-74, the third-largest projected buyer demographic, will look to do the exact opposite, selling their spacious homes for smaller, newly constructed ones. These homeowners are expected to put their properties on the market in March or April and will place an emphasis on customization when searching for their next home. predicts the U.S. economy’s health to hold in 2016, with the GDP increasing by 2.5 percent, up from 2.1 percent growth in 2015. Unemployment will decline from 5 percent at the end of 2015 to 4.8 percent by the end of 2016, while the number of jobs created — 2.5 million — will remain roughly unchanged. The forecast warns that tougher access to credit and rising home prices could ultimately stifle demand for housing and temper the benefits of the thriving economy.

(Photo: Flickr/Sean Creamer)

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Where to Eat on Christmas Day in San Francisco

union square at Christmas

You mailed the cards, went to the parties, wrapped the presents, baked the cookies, decorated the tree…and all you want to do is enjoy a nice meal on Christmas Day without lifting a finger. The only problem is that most places in SF close on December 25, so hard-working employees can take a much-needed day off. However, there are a few great restaurants open (and they’re not even all in hotels!) where you can get everything from an affordable burger to a fancy filet. The only catch? You’ll have to change out of your pajamas.





eater5 eater6














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Fans angry over fight for Adele concert tickets

adele photo

(CNN) — If you weren’t able to score Adele concert tickets, you are not alone.

As tickets for the British songstress’ “25” North American tour went on sale Thursday, social media was filled with disappointed fans who used a popular refrain from her hit: “Hello from the other side; I must have tried a thousand times.”

Heading over to reseller StubHub won’t make you feel better.

Tickets there cost several hundred dollars to several thousand. The prices for those lucky enough to score from Ticketmaster or the diva’s site found prices ranging from $39.50 to $149.50.

Wednesday’s presale gave fans a glimpse of how in-demand the tickets are.

Those who registered for were emailed a presale code to try to nab tickets early.

The struggle for Adele tickets is real, and not everyone was successful in their quest. One fan shared the stress with a cry of “Someone give me a Xanax and a shot of tequila.”

Adele’s 56 North American tour dates will kick off in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 5 and end November 15 in Mexico City. It will be her first tour on this side of the pond in four years.

Adele announces her North American tour

The excitement was heightened by Monday’s NBC concert special “Adele Live In New York City.” Deadline reported that 11.2 million viewers tuned in, making it the network’s most-watched concert special since the “Cher Farewell Tour” lured more than 16 million viewers in 2003.

Even celebs were freaking out over the special, with actor David Arquette tweeting, “I’m already crying and it’s just @adelle show intro.”

The singer is clearly on a roll. Her new album, “25,” has sold more than 5 million copies and is the top seller of 2015. Her appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late night “Tonight Show” went viral, as did her stint as a musical guest on “SNL.”

Adele mania started in October when she debuted the album’s first single, “Hello.” The video has over 720 million views on YouTube.

Billboard reported that her team’s strategy to stop scalpers during the presale for the European tour led to a few glitches.

Her camp has sought to cut down on ticket sales via secondary sites by carefully screening buyers via her site and its partnership with Songkick.

European fans complained of long wait times and site crashes.


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Remodeling Your Home? Start With the Kitchen and the Roof.

If you’re planning interior and exterior renovations in advance of putting your home on the market, upgrading the kitchen and the roof may be the smartest calls, according to results of a new survey.  And even if you intend to stay put, the right home remodeling jobs can increase your satisfaction and quality of life.


In its 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, the National Association of Realtors used poll results from and its own members to determine the home renovations that appeal most to buyers and add the most value. The report offers perspectives on 20 common interior and exterior remodeling jobs and assigns each with a JoyScore from 1 to 10, representing the owners’ level of satisfaction with the results.

Kitchen upgrades and complete kitchen renovations topped the list of remodeling jobs that appeal most to buyers and are likely to deliver the most value upon resale. Nearly 60 percent of real estate professionals surveyed suggested that their clients upgrade the kitchen before attempting to sell, compared with 17 percent who recommended total kitchen overhauls.

NAR estimates that the average kitchen upgrade costs $30,000 and would recoup 67 percent of its value at time of resale. Kitchen upgrades earn a JoyScore of 9.4, with 82 percent of owners reporting a greater desire to be at home after completing the job.

Complete kitchen renovations are of course more expensive, with the average project costing $60,000 and also recovering 67 percent of the job’s value. Full kitchen overhauls receive a JoyScore of 9.8, with 90 percent of owners saying that the remodel makes them want to stay home more.

Turning to the home’s exterior, a new roof was the renovation projected to appeal most to buyers and add the most value. New roofing is a sound financial investment, with the average $7,600 job recouping 105 percent of its value. Nearly half of real estate professionals surveyed recommended that their clients replace the roof before attempting to sell their home, with the job earning a JoyScore of 9.6.

Even if you’re not planning to sell your home in the near future, NAR says that you can still reap substantial benefits by undertaking a remodel. Nearly two-thirds of onwers reported increased enjoyment with their home after a renovation, and three-quarters said they felt a sense of major accomplishment when the job was done.

“Realtors know that remodeling projects aren’t just done to get more money for a home once it’s time to sell — a home is your sanctuary, the place you raise your family and where you make lifelong memories, which is why the report can also help consumers decide which projects could enhance their current quality of life and happiness,” NAR President Tom Salomone said in a blog post accompanying the report.

(Photo: Flickr/Chriss Knisley)

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Winter Storms Are Coming. Are You Ready?

leaves in roof gutterWhen was the last time you checked your home’s gutters and downspouts to make sure that they are clear of leaves and debris? What about storm drains on or near your property? The heavy rains projected to soon pummel the Bay Area are a wake-up call for homeowners to be prepared for stronger storms coming in the months ahead.

There is no debate about the strength of the El Niño weather patterns this winter: There will be lots rain and flooding. But forewarned is forearmed, and the steps you take now will greatly improve your chances of weathering the storms high and dry.


  • About those gutters and downspouts: Clean them out and then do it again after the next heavy rain. Check to make sure they are tight against the roofline. Check storm drains periodically.
  • Consider a quick touch-up paint job if the exterior wood trim is cracked. Cracks can carry water into the wood and promote dry rot.
  • Invest in a generator and, if you have a basement or other below-grade spaces, a sump pump.
  • Check balconies and decks to make sure water flows away from the walls. And make sure your yard drains properly. Place three to four inches of mulch in flower beds and areas where water will drain or collect.
  • The ground may have become compacted during the drought and will repel water initially. Loosen soil by tilling in compost and covering with mulch.
  • Install rain barrels at downspouts to capture water for later use. Make sure you direct the overflow away from the house.
  • Turn off your automatic watering system.
  • Store emergency repair materials such as sandbags and plastic sheeting in a safe, dry place.


  • Make sure your car is running properly. Do the tires have enough tread to drive safely on rain-slick roads? Install new wiper blades. Check your car’s lights, battery, and brakes.
  • Never try to drive through a flood. It takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car and 18 to 24 inches for larger vehicles. If you are in your car when the water begins to rise quickly, abandon it and move to higher ground.
  • Put together preparedness and disaster supply kits for your home and car, although hopefully you already have these. We live in earthquake country, after all.
  • Store family items and important documents on the highest level of your home. If you live in a single-floor home, put items on shelves, tables, or countertops. Secure important documents online or on a thumb drive.
  • Do not walk through flood areas; just six inches of water can sweep you away. Make sure your children know to always turn away from floodwaters.


The California Department of Water Resources is responsible for flood-safety preparations in the state and has an excellent website that explains the dangers we face and the resources to help us recover. Make it your first stop online.

When inclement weather approaches, check out the National Weather Service’s Bay Area forecast website for a summary of current conditions and forecasts, detailed maps, preparedness information, and useful links. And for an explanation of what El Niño is all about, visit the NOAA El Niño Portal page.

The American Red Cross has a free app for your mobile phone or tablet with preloaded information on what to do in the event of flooding and where to find help — especially helpful if cell towers are down and TV service is unavailable.

FEMA’s FloodSmart website is the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program and an excellent resource for information on flood dangers and recovery. One of the interactive tools on the page shows the cost of a flood to your home, inch by inch. Flooding of just six inches in a 2,000-square-foot home, for example, can cost nearly $40,000 — including more than $15,000 for damaged flooring and carpeting alone.

(Photo: Flickr/mtnbikrrrr)

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San Francisco Reclaims Title of Nation’s Hottest Real Estate Market

The Bay Area may be in the midst of a cold-weather snap, but our local housing markets are still among the hottest in the country, with the San Francisco metro area back on top.


Each month, ranks the country’s 300 largest real estate markets to find the 20 hottest, based on the fewest days it takes to sell a home and the most listing views on its website. In November, 12 of those sizzling markets were located in the Golden State, even as activity across the rest of the country begins to cool with the coming of the holiday season.

“We are starting to see more movement (in the ranking) in the hottest markets as the season brings material declines in demand in many markets,” Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said. “However, California remains hot as pent-up demand continues to drive activity in very supply-constrained markets.”

After losing the No. 1 spot to Denver in October, the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area was back on top in November, just as it was throughout the summer and early fall. Vallejo-Fairfield ranked as the country’s second-hottest housing market, a gain of three spots from the previous month.

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area fell two positions from October to No. 4 and remains the most expensive of the 20 markets, with a median list price of $859,000. The other California metro areas to make the list are San Diego (No. 6), Sacramento (No. 7), Santa Rosa (No. 8), Oxnard (No. 9), Stockton (No. 10), Los Angeles (No. 12), Yuba City (No. 13), Santa Cruz (No. 17), and Modesto (No. 19). All 12 Golden State cities on the list were also among the country’s 20 hottest in October, although some shifted positions.

Nationwide, homes sold in an average of 84 days in November, a bit slower than in the previous month. Prices also cooled slightly, with the median list price inching down to $230,000.

Homes in certain Bay Area pockets are selling more than twice as fast as the national average: 38 days in San Francisco and 39 days in San Jose. The country’s fastest moving markets are actually located in California’s Central Valley: Modesto (36 days) and Stockton (37 days). The rapid pace of sales in those two markets is perhaps a reflection of increasing buyer urgency, as those priced out of the Bay Area look to the Central Valley for more affordable housing.

(Photo: Flickr/Sudheer G)

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U.S. Home Sales to See Modest Growth in 2016, Forecast Says

A strong job market helped propel the U.S. housing market to its best year since the recession, and activity is expected to further increase in 2016, although rising mortgage rates and tight supply conditions could affect the pace of sales.monopoly_houses_113015

At last month’s 2015 Realtors Conference & Expo in San Diego, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun projected that U.S. existing-home sales will total 5.3 million by the end of this year and will increase by 3 percent to 5.45 million in 2016. According to Yun, the modest uptick in sales will be due to more move-up buyers entering the picture.

“Sales activity in 2016 will once again be primarily driven by the ongoing release of more pent-up sellers finally realizing their equity gains and using it towards the down payment on their next home,” he said.

NAR also points to heightened consumer confidence and job growth — particularly in Western states — as additional drivers of 2016 home sales activity, but it cautioned that more inventory is needed to meet demand and keep prices from rising too high. Although Yun expects housing starts to increase from 1.1 million this year to 1.3 million in 2016, he says that 1.5 million new homes are necessary to meet current demand. Supply conditions have been a particular problem in the Bay Area as the economy has exploded; in October, six local counties had the smallest months’ supply of inventory in California.

Cris deRitis, senior director of credit analytics at Moody’s Analytics and one of Yun’s co-presenters, said that a spike in new-home construction could help attract more first-time buyers to the market, a demographic that is at its lowest level in nearly three decades. Besides a lack of affordable inventory, first-time buyers face competition from investors and are burdened by student loan debt. NAR says that 41 percent of successful first-time buyers are carrying an average debt of $25,000, which hampers efforts to save for a down payment.

A final factor that will impact next year’s sales volume is the interest-rate hike that was projected for 2015 but never happened. NAR expects that the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates as early as this month and that they will reach 4.5 percent by the end of next year. For the week ended Nov. 25, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.95 percent according to Freddie Mac.

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