A 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom one-bath cottage in the Excelsior District just sold on Friday for the bargain price of $535,000 — a full $353,000 below its asking price of two months ago. And at that price, it is possibly the least expensive free-standing single-family dwelling to sell in SF in recent years.
The house at 228 Athens Street was listed at $888,000 back in November, well above its Redfin estimated value of $767,000 though close to its "Zestimate" of $877,000, as Socketsite notes. The listing said that the cottage, built in the 1906-1907 post-earthquake era, had not been on the market in "over half a century" because it had been "handed down to family & friends over the years."
Like all such bargain properties in San Francisco, it has some obvious drawbacks — and the listing included only a sole MLS photo of the front exterior, shaded by much shrubbery. Socketsite posted an aerial shot that shows the front yard of the cottage choked with overgrown greenery, and the listing only says that one "descends" from the sidewalk to find a "a cute storybook-looking cottage."
An even tinier home in Glen Park sold last year for $652,000 after a couple of price reductions. That house at 17 Laidley Street was just 580 square feet and it sat on a sub-standard lot of just 614 square feet. So this one in the Excelsior, which fetched $535 per square foot, has that one beat for a bargain. The Glen Park house works out to $1,124 per square foot, or more than double.
Referring to them as "San Francisco's original tiny houses," Curbed had a 2015 piece about the so-called earthquake shacks that still dot the city. The little homes were part of a joint project by the San Francisco Relief Corporation, the San Francisco Parks Commission, and the U.S. Army, utilizing union carpenters to construct around 5,000 of these cottages in multiple neighborhoods to house those who were made homeless in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Most of the cottages were far smaller than the Athens Street home at 10 by 14 feet, or 14 by 18 feet, and they were built on temporary camp sites as the winter of 1906-07 approached, in order to house the many thousands who were living in tents up to that point.
As Curbed explains, they were rent-to-own at $2 per month, with some residents taking four years to pay off their $50 cost to construct. The cottages then had to be moved to more permanent locations, and were often added on to in various ways.
A couple of these former earthquake shacks in Bernal Heights sold in the last decade for pretty high prices — one nicely renovated two-bedroom example at 331 Prentiss last sold for $1.475 million in 2016. And another 800-square-foot example at 20 Newman Street sold for $1.2 million in 2018.