How Quickly is Lumina Rising?

The Lumina is growing up. Literally. As in, Lumina Rising.


Lumina – Tower B – August 15, 2014

We were the only real estate group invited to the groundbreaking for The Lumina, and it has been a pleasure watching the site grow from a parking lot into two towers and two mid-rise buildings.


Lumina Tower B – November 11, 2014

As you can see from the above pictures, in the middle of August Tower B had made it to 14 stories plus a few under wraps (I believe the wrap at the top covers up about 3 floors, but if you’ve got more precise information I’d love it if you could leave a comment and let us know). By November 11, Lumina Tower B had risen to 27 visible stories plus those under wraps. How fast is Lumina rising?

In the 12 weeks (plus a few days) between the pictures I took on August 15 and the pictures I took of The Lumina on November 11 the Tower had risen by 13 stories. So, for the sake of simplicity we can say that Lumina is rising by roughly a floor a week on Tower B.

Given that Tower B will be the taller of the two towers, coming in at 42 stories, I would expect it to top out in the late February time frame, assuming there are no weather or other delays. Tower D will rise to 37 stories, and I’m going to go back and dig through the photo library for a similar post looking at the speed at which Tower D is rising, but I would expect it to top out by the end of the year.

Sales at Lumina so far have been in Plaza A and Tower D, which will be the first two buildings to be completed – look for a release of more homes in Plaza C and Tower B in early 2016. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to be in touch if you’d like to help understand what an investment at Lumina means given the surrounding buildings and neighborhood plans.

New Construction Update & Availability

It’s going to be a black and orange evening, and whether or not the Giants can buck historical and statistical trends and win Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City remains to be seen. While I don’t know much about Baseball, I know that regardless of what happens tonight this Friday evening will involve free candy. And lots of it. I also happen to know a lot about new construction homes in SF, so I’ll switch gears to a new construction update. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about the buildings that seem to be the home runs and those that are walking their way towards the finish line.

35 Dolores is moving full speed ahead, with scaffolding down and the exterior beginning to take shape. The bronze/burnt orange color feels to me like it probably has a bit more “staying power” than the orange we’ve seen on some of the other buildings (yes, 2299 Market, I’m thinking of you). Homes in the development are moving quickly, and occupancy is still slated for before the end of 2014. If a new home in the heart of central SF is on your shopping list, get in touch and we can update you with the specifics of particular homes, floor plans, and prices at 35 Dolores.

Across town at The Arden, the un-official city bird is hard at work. The building is pretty much sold out, but with long escrows things happen. If living in a brand new home in Mission Bay is important to you, let us know and we can work our network of off-market and private listing opportunities to see if something might be possible.


The Vida in the Mission continues to sell, and occupancy is slated for early 2015 (January), which keeps them on track with their original scheduled completion timeframe. The developer has updated the building address to reflect the fact that the building entrance will be on Barlett – the official mailing address for the building will be 45 Bartlett St. The building has both one and two bedroom homes remaining, some with nice north facing (downtown) views. It’s a changing neighborhood, and if you’d like to be a part of the change, our team can help make that a reality.

8 Octavia, meanwhile, is the closest of the current new construction buildings to new-resident occupancy. If all goes as planned, new owners will be getting their key fobs and moving in November. The building has a great selection of homes, and if you are looking for modern, minimalist, and Hayes Valley it’s the only game in town.

The Amero in Cow Hollow just announced that they’ve passed the 50% sold mark – no surprise given the relatively scarcity of new construction on the north end of town. We had the opportunity to attend an exclusive tour a few weeks ago, and we’d be happy to share the additional information we learned.


The Amero & Vida SF Begin to Take Shape

The Amero and Vida SF are both doing their best impressions of a Beverly Hills housewife recovering from plastic surgery, with the exterior wraps slowly coming off of both new buildings:

While the two buildings have very little in common other than the fact that they are both being built in 2014 and their scaffolding is coming down, in this blog post we’ve given you a two for one special!

Over in Cow Hollow, The Amero still has scaffolding up on the Filbert side of things but the wraps have come off on the Van Ness side, revealing a rather conservative design ethos that probably won’t win any awards but also is fairly unlikely to raise the hackles of anyone. Although, let’s face it – if you live in San Francisco you seem to have some duty to object to the look of any new building.

While the Amero design aesthetic may be mellow, over in the Inner Mission the design of Vida SF is anything but subtle. The building facade features a multitude of colors and panels of glass that alternate between pivoting towards or away from the building in a vertical design. When it’s time to do the rendering vs. reality on Vida, I’d say the renderings got it pretty darn accurate.

We are not the listing agents for either of these buildings, but we do offer buyers independent representation at new and existing construction across San Francisco. The Amero is listed by the fine team at the Mark Co, while the equally fine team of Polaris Pacific represents the developer of Vida.

What are your thoughts on the look and feel of these two new additions to their respective San Francisco neighborhoods? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, on our facebook page, or on twitter.

New San Francisco Home Sales Update

How is inventory looking at new construction developments across the city? Here’s what we are hearing about San Francisco home sales, let us know what you’re hearing in the comments below, on facebook, or twitter. We’ll start with what was once Hunter’s Point Naval Base (but was many things before that) and is now The Shipyard down in District 10.

The Shipyard hasn’t given out any numbers (to us, at least), on how The Olympia townhomes or Merchant homes are selling. We also haven’t been inundated with requests about independent buyer agency at the building. If you’ve heard of how they are selling, we’d love to know what you know. Feel free to shoot us an email, and we’ll of course keep any information confidential unless mutually agreed otherwise. But if you are interested, they’ve got a new release of homes this week, and prices are still in the $400,000’s. Meanwhile, at Millwheel North…


Move-ins are happening at Millwheel North, and the building is 75% sold from what we hear. They were out of one-bedrooms pretty much the day they opened their doors, but they have some two and three bedroom homes remaining, but given how aggressive they’ve been with their pricing, they probably won’t be around for much longer. Up 3rd St. and a little to the west we find Arden by Bosa.


Arden by Bosa is the largest of these three projects, but has sold by far the most number of homes. From what we hear, they are out of one bedrooms, and the pickings on the two and three bedroom homes are getting down to the final choices. We’ve been able to offer buyers some opportunities that have arisen when current purchases switch units or don’t complete their initial deposit. So if you’ve got interest in the building, sooner is probably better than later.

Linea: From Rendering to Reality

The major thing that stands out to me in the Linea renderings vs reality comparison is that the as-built Linea has a heavier, darker feel to me. Many of the renderings seemed to suggest a lightness and transparency that I don’t think made it into the final build.

The Linea hasn’t quite sold out – but they are mighty, mighty close. With that in mind, we offer you these comparisons between architectural renderings of the Linea and reality.


Image courtesy Polaris Pacific

The Linea at 8 Buchanan as envisioned and rendered (above), and as built (below). It’s pretty tough to duplicate the angle of the above rendering because that would require either using a drone right next to the US Mint facility, or being in the US Mint facility. We’ll swing by again and see how the Buchanan side of the building photographs from street level.



Image courtesy Polaris Pacific

Linea as rendered from the Market St. perspective, and as built from a similar perspective.

What are your thoughts on the Linea building? I’d call it an improvement over what was last at the site (gas station), but as with every building in San Francisco, some people tend to love the design and others can’t stand it.


400 Grove begins to take shape

400 Grove has been slowly rising across the street (just to the north) of 300 Ivy, at the intersection of Grove and Gough. Quick referesher: 400 Grove will be home to 34 condos (30 market rate, 4 BMR homes) in a five-story mid-rise c-shaped building with a central courtyard.

When complete, the exterior or the building is rather angular, and you can begin to see that in the angled lines of the concrete floors.

The above picture was taken from Gough, looking to the west and south. you can see 300 Ivy in the far left side of the picture.

The Story of Live/Work Lofts (or) Laws Matter

A live/work loft

When explaining why parking isn’t very available in some buildings (300 Ivy, 8 Octavia for example), the city’s transit-first policy inevitably comes up, because that is what limited (and limits as of this writing) the developers ability to construct and ultimately sell parking spaces.

So yes, laws very much matter.

Another example of a San Francisco law and its impact on housing is live/work zoning (not to be confused with conversion lofts, which happen to be a permutation of live/work). It’s a story that’s been told before, but it’s worth telling again in this context.

“The law was set up with good intentions, to allow artists to have a place to live and work, so that they didn’t have to rent a separate studio,” said Paul Lord, a city planner who helped write the ordinance. “But it was very hard to enforce.” – from Chronicle article

Live/work legislation was originally designed to help keep the “creative” in San Francisco, but in the end was used for other purposes. While I’m not sure when the zoning law was passed (anyone? Please leave a comment or get in touch), only 38 live/work lofts were constructed prior to 1993. However, under a pro-growth Mayor Willie Brown and with loosely written legislation, developers applied for and received approval for live/work construction because it gave developer’s some unique benefits:

  • Approval over-rode existing zoning/use allowances
  • Exemption from many city development fees (to the tune of millions in city revenue)
  • Exemption from open-space  requirements
  • Exemption from parking requirements (ironic, right?)
  • Higher density allowances than normal/customary

By the late 1990’s about 3,000 live/work lofts were built in San Francisco. It all came to a halt when a Board of Supervisors with a very different land-use agenda was elected.

So what does this mean for you? Laws matter – our housing stock (or lack of it) came to be because of very specific government decisions. If we don’t like the decisions (and I’m not pro-transit, or anti-transit, I’m just for muni-needs-to-be-on-time-Transit) that are being made, elections really do matter.

A Rooftop Pool in a Sunny Neighborhood

“Let’s go hang out at the roof pool on this sunny day,” isn’t a phrase you hear spoken aloud on a typical San Francisco day. The fine listing team at Vanguard properties has the upcoming listing for M @ 1875 Mission and they’ve been teasing us all with the news that the building will have a rooftop pool.

While out on broker’s tour, we happened upon a photo opportunity in the direction of said building (we also got some fun pictures of the new apartment building across the street, all with proudly flying its flags in the background). It feels like a very San-Francisco-in-2014 picture.

So while a rooftop or rooftop-ish pool isn’t completely unheard of in San Francisco (The Madrone pool sits on top of the parking garage, The Brannan has a pool on top of something, The Arden pool will be above something…), it is still a pretty rare amenity. And fortunately for all, this one happens to be in a neighborhood where we feel it will be getting a lot of appreciation. And hey, if you happen to work across the street, what better place to keep up with your professional tanning obligations?

Preferred Lenders in New Construction – What you Should Know

New construction developments always have preferred lenders. Why?

In a nutshell, the answer is that new construction developments – whether in San Francisco or Iowa – don’t conform to loan underwriting guidelines for the secondary mortgage market. Because of this, not every lender will lend on the development, or a lender might be willing to lend on the development after a set number of sales have been completed (often 50%, but it varies).

To make sure that they can sell their homes, developers work with several lenders to pre-approve a development. This way, the developer knows that there are lenders that will underwrite mortgages on the new homes from Day 1.

What items make a loan in new construction different from a typical condo or home loan?

In the beginning…

  1. … the homes in the new buildings are empty. Lenders don’t like to lend on empty buildings.
  2. … all of the homes are owned by one entity (the developer). Lenders don’t like it when a large concentration of a building is owned by one entity.
  3. … the HOA is under developer control (see above). Lenders don’t like it when one entity controls the HOA
  4. … the HOA has been in operation for less than a year. Lenders want an HOA to have been around for at least a year.

Just because you have been pre-approved with a preferred lender, you DO NOT have to use that lender to get a mortgage for your new home. You are welcome to use any lender you want, but you will want to make sure that they understand it is new construction and that they won’t have any problems underwriting/approving the loan.

We hope our quick video helps you understand a little more about preferred lenders in new construction. We offer buyers independent representation in new and existing construction across the city – drop us an email or give us a call or learn more if you’d like to find out if working together would be a good fit.