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The High & the Low: San Francisco’s most and least expensive homes this week

All the glory goes to the western neighborhoods, with Sea Cliff and the Outer Richmond splitting honors

Friday is time for the High & the Low, a Curbed column chronicling the most and least expensive homes sold in San Francisco in the last seven days. What surprises did the week hold?

The time has come for the western neighborhoods to rule the roost, as both of the San Francisco’s most noteworthy sales this week happened in the same northwestern corner, less than two miles apart.

First, the big news: A Sea Cliff classic closed a sale this week for only the second time in its 101 odd-year lifespan, running up a total of $5.37 million.

That’s more than the most recent list price, but still a drop from its first asking of over $5.9 million last summer. Those small declines matter a lot when adding up statistics and assessing the strength of the market, but probably not all that much when cashing the check.

According to old census records, this was once the home of James Ballentine, a banjo-playing, Harvard- and Yale-educated lawyer born in Detroit, who moved (to Oakland, originally) for a Hastings’ College teaching gig just in time for the 1906 earthquake.

Rather than move again, Ballentine stuck around to eagerly await the rebuilding of the libraries, raised a family in this now four bed, four bath Sea Cliff home, wrote a dictionary of “words which have peculiar meanings in the law,” and died in 1949.

Anyone who ever wondered whether legally trained banjo enthusiasts by way of Detroit and Oakland have good taste, behold:

The city’s cheapest sale as far as public listings go has no musical lawyers and earthquake veterans in its history, dating only to 1982. Instead, it’s a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment at 855 La Playa that squeaked out for $539,000, around $10,000 under asking.

The city records that last time this unit in the mild eyesore complex bordering the Great Highway and Golden Gate Park sold was 1990, for a mere $145,000, about $266,000 today.

And both of this week’s buyers are close enough to almost call each other neighbors, so maybe they’ll stop by each other’s respective place’s on move-in day.