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 kink.com 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.

$1,500 a square foot in the Mission

1875 Mission is about to make its debut. Or should I say, its re-debut? (Is that a thing?) Originally built in 1925, it will soon be home to 39 condos ranging in size from studios to two-bedroom homes.

The wrap is off and M @ 1875 Mission will open soon.

More specifically: 10 studios (up to 640 square feet), 13 one-bedroom homes (up to 840 square feet), and 16 two-bedroom homes (also up to 840 square feet).

We can’t wait to see the dog run and the rooftop pool!

There aren’t a ton of amenities, which is probably a good thing in terms of keeping the HOA dues somewhat reasonable. But there’s a pool. Not just a pool — a rooftop pool. How cool is that? Plenty of buildings in SF have pools, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are on the roof, unless you count the 50,000-gallon tank on top of the tower at One Rincon that’s meant to minimize the sway of the building in the wind. There’s also a dog run, a rooftop deck, a residents’ lounge, and direct access to Kink.com across the street. I’m just kidding about that last one, although when your aunt and uncle come to visit from the Midwest and ask what that giant brick building is across the street, you can tell them that it’s a BDSM movie studio and see if they know what you’re taking about.

The word on the street is that prices will start at about $630,000 for studios and go up to about $1.3 million for the two-bedroom condos. I must admit when VidaSF came on the market with most units priced north of $1,100 a square foot, a bunch of us at the preview party raised our eyebrows and said, “REALLY?” And now, M@1875 Mission is upping the bar to just over $1,500 a square foot for the primo two-bedroom homes in the building. I haven’t seen this building yet so I can’t comment on the likelihood that these prices are realistic, but I’ll report back once we’ve gotten a look inside.

Attention & Full Disclosure: We are not the listing agents for 1875 Mission St. We provide buyers with independent representation at new and existing construction across the city of San Francisco. The developer of M 1875 is represented by Vanguard Properties – the fine team of Rusty Wadatz, Rita Schmid, and Roxana Melgarejo. If you’d like to work directly with the developer, get in touch with them via the link above. If you’d like independent representation, please let us know you’d like to learn more

Lumina (is) Rising!

The Lumina in South Beach is growing up. We’ve heard rumors of the opening date for the sales office, as well as some interesting other tidbits about the building. We don’t represent the developer of The Lumina (that distinction goes to the fine team at Polaris Pacific) but we do provide buyers with independent representation at new and existing homes across the city of San Francisco.

As you can see from the pictures above, Lumina is indeed becoming a reality. The mid-rise buildings have made a lot of progress, and the towers are going up, up, and up. When the towers are complete, they will be just slightly taller than the existing Infinity towers, and will have 38 and 43 floors, respectively. For reference, the Infinity has 37 and 42 stories in each of the towers.

In addition to the building happening at The Lumina, there is an incredible amount of construction happening within a very short distance of this building site. 45 Lansing is getting taller, 280 Beale is under construction, multiple sites on Fremont are in various stages of excavation and/or construction, and even more is planned.

What are your thoughts about Lumina? We’d love to hear from you – either on our FaceBook page, twitter, or right here on our blog! And remember, if you are curious about the prices of buildings near Lumina, click over to our sister site and download our 2014 Luxury Condo building price guide.

Philz Coffee comes to Millwheel North

A tip of the hat to Biz Times for the scoop via eater from my twitter feed that Philz Coffee is bringing its buzz to Millwheel North in a big way. Pic of the Minnesota commercial space under construction (photo credit: Matt):

Commercial Space on Minnesota side of Millwheel North - Taken in 2013 when Millwheel North was Under Construction

Commercial Space on Minnesota side of Millwheel North – Taken in 2013 when Millwheel North was Under Construction

We are not the listing agents that represent the developer of Millwheel North. Polaris Pacific is the broker of record – and a great group of people, if we do say so ourselves – for Millwheel North. We do provide buyers with independent buyer representation in new construction. We also weren’t involved in the commercial side of any of this. Ok, enough disclaimers. Here are some pics of the interior finishes of the Millwheel North condos.

And a quote from the biz times article (link above):

Landing at 1258 Minnesota Street, the new Philz Coffee will serve as a new training facility, office space and retail locale for the company on the ground floor of a 39-unit condo development, Millwheel North.

Does the arrival of Philz in the dogpatch – a company that may soon run into issues with SF’s notoriously strict formula retail laws – mark the tipping point of Dogpatch eras? With the planned opening of Philz in 2015, will residents soon demarcate themselves into those were BP and AP? And does the developer have to be worried about a lawsuit over the excellent coffee aromas that will arrive soon from some rom some purely hypothetical and contrary tea-drinking-British-Expat who buys a condo directly above Philz?

These are the questions we sometimes wonder about. We’d love to hear yours – either on our Facebook Page, twitter, or in the comments directly below. And word on the street has Millwheel north past 50% sold – get in touch if you’d like to know more.

What will Lumina be Priced At?

The Lumina – aka phase II of The Infinity – is quickly going from groundbreaking (we were there) to being ready for sales. The million dollar question these days is what will the pricing be when the sales office for the Lumina opens later this summer (we’ve been given a tentative date, it is getting closer!).

Since the development is the “sister project” to the existing buildings at The Infinity, we thought we would look at recent sales in The Infinity to give us a ballpark idea of where the developer may choose to price the homes at The Lumina. Please note – we aren’t the listing agent for The Lumina, and do not represent the developer. We have not had any conversations directly with either party about how they plan on pricing. The developer is represented by the fine team at Polaris Pacific.


Sales at The Infinity – 2014

There have been 23 sales at The Infinity reported in the SFAR MLS this year so far. Of those, one was for a studio/jr. one bedroom home, nine one-bedroom homes, nine two-bedroom homes, and four three-bedroom or larger homes. Of those homes, the average sales price grouped by number of bedrooms, as well as location in the building, is shown in the picture above.

The one bedroom homes that have sold this year have been on the lower floors, while most of the two bedroom or larger homes have been on the upper floors. As you can see, two bedroom homes are selling for just shy of $1,300 per square foot while one bedroom homes are just north of $1,100 per square foot and three bedroom homes are averaging just north of $1,500 per square foot.

Based on these numbers, it seems likely that the minimum price to live in Lumina will be at least $1,400 per square foot. What are your guesses (educated or otherwise) or thoughts about pricing at Lumina and across the South Beach neighborhood?