May 22, 2007

Harbor Lofts Living For Less (If You Can Find It)

Perhaps the photos don’t do it justice (it’s looking a bit cave like), and it is a relatively small one-bedroom (and a loft "one bedroom" to boot), but it’s also Harbor Lofts living for $334,383 (and that includes parking).

∙ Listing: 400 Spear St #114 (1/1) 480 sqft - $334,383

The only problem…we can’t find a public link to it on the MLS (or any other website that doesn’t require registration). An opportunity lost? And if so, for who?

UPDATE: As a couple of "plugged-in" reader's quickly noted, there are actually a few more "problems" with this listing: 1. it's a "100% of Area Median Income" BMR (income limit of $63,850 for one person); 2. neither ZipRealty nor CleanOffer have it designated as such (although both offer pictures); and 3. while the odd price did raise a red flag, the $700/sqft had us convinced otherwise (and now simply leaves us scratching our heads).

UPDATE (5/24): As of this afternoon the listing notes, “BMR Loft 1/1 great! max income 1person $63K 2person $72K” and “Leased PKG.” Funny how that happens. And yes, we're still left scratching our heads.

Harbor Lofts (400 Spear): San Francisco Warehouse Conversion [SocketSite]

First Published: May 22, 2007 9:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

So, where does this information come from? What photos are you referring to?

Posted by: Pete at May 22, 2007 11:41 AM

Its a BMR Unit and thats why the price is so low.

Posted by: ??? at May 22, 2007 11:44 AM

??? is correct - see listing under Resale Units here:
http://www.sfgov.org/site/moh_page.asp?id=17815

Posted by: Pete at May 22, 2007 11:49 AM

how is 700sf for a Condo BMR when SFH are selling for the same price in SF? ... come on ... 700sf IS market rate.

It is your avg loft condo not some luxury residence in one Rincon going for 1000sf.

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at May 22, 2007 12:20 PM

I think that the point, ???, is that the price is NOT "so low." $700/sq.ft. is a market rate price.

See, this is the problem with SF - the unit is only 480 s.f., but when a seller or agent goes to price the unit and they know it is only worth about $400/sq.ft. (which, in reality, is 4x what it would be worth in any other city, let alone 2x what it probably cost to build it), the sale price winds up being only $192k. God forbid it be put on the market for ONLY THAT! I mean, that won't make the seller and realtor RICH! That would be a price that the average San Franciscian could ACTUALLY AFFORD! So let's add another $150k onto the price, cause what's a measly $150k anyway?

Posted by: rg at May 22, 2007 12:56 PM

Well the income requirement is pretty ridiculous too. 63k household income for a 334k condo is basically the max affordability for 30 yr fixed with 20% down.

Gee, so that means at 334k the place just grazes the traditional affordibility threshold for the rest of the US.

Congrats on pricing a an avgerage condo at a price an average working professional could afford.

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at May 22, 2007 1:06 PM

$700 psf? Do they throw in the obligatory two years of HOA, and free kitchen appliances and upgrades?

If not, you could probably get just as good a deal on the open market!

Posted by: tipster at May 22, 2007 1:30 PM

I would suspect the City set the price on this unit if it is a BMR unit, not a realtor/appraiser. I could be wrong.

Posted by: Jamie at May 22, 2007 1:33 PM

well then 'the city' should get 'plugged in' and read SocketSite. ;-)

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at May 22, 2007 1:45 PM

According to the Mayor's Office of Housing website, a 1BR in the 100% median income category should have a maximum price of $233,628.

Posted by: anon at May 22, 2007 2:48 PM

badlydrawnbear - when did a 480 s.f. condo become "average". My studio apartment is larger than that! Does it even have a bedroom? Or maybe it has a "loft" like the Book Concern Bldg. Cuz, at 32 years old, I love feeling like I'm still in boarding school. "Hey babe, wanna come back to my place. You can have the top bunk."

Posted by: rg at May 22, 2007 6:11 PM

ok ... it's below avg

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at May 22, 2007 8:16 PM

rg, your post @ 12.56 is naive and simplistic in the extreme. Since when is the seller obliged to subsidise the buyer? In your field of employment doyou strive to work for the very least $$$ or do you strive for what the market will pay you?

Posted by: Wayne at May 22, 2007 8:46 PM

"subsidize the buyer"??? Since when is selling a unit for the price it is WORTH subsidizing anyone? Let alone that the price of this below average unit is $120k more than the median HOME price in the USA. Let alone that $334k is still out of reach of the average San Franciscan (who couldn't even FIT in the unit anyway).

In my field of employment (which is architecture, by the way, so my comments are neither naive nor simplistic, it IS my job to know the s.f. price/worth of construction), I strive to give my clients the best deal I can while not screwing myself. Whether I charge them a "market price" or give them a deal because I really want to work on their project, I strive to do 10x better a job than any competitor could do. Similarly, when I see a home selling for anything over $500/s.f., I expect to see Sub-Zero and marble, because I know that I regularly get my clients that level of quality for far under that price.

Posted by: rg at May 23, 2007 10:23 AM

Something is WORTH what another is willing to pay for it in the free market. This is what you chargt for your architectural services. You seem to be confusing Price/Worth with Cost. As an architect you should know the cost but the Market value is a seperate issue. The "the median HOME price in the USA" has nothing to do with it.For your information the all inclusive cost of new construction in San Francisco is well over $500 sq ft.

Posted by: Wayne at May 23, 2007 1:10 PM

"For your information the all inclusive cost of new construction in San Francisco is well over $500 sq ft."

Wayne, where are you getting your information? Because you are very wrong. Sure, if you want to pay over $500/sq. ft., go right ahead. But most contractors charge far less and ground-up residential construction goes for as little as $150/sq. ft.

And I would argue that what something is WORTH is not at all what someone will pay for it. The sucker who pays more is just a sucker in the long run. I don't know why all San Franciscans act like they were born yesterday when it comes to real estate, but I'm selling a nice orange bridge if anyone wants to make an offer...

Posted by: rg at May 23, 2007 1:56 PM

Not to put words in Wayne's mouth, but I'd assume "all inclusive" includes land, plans, permitting, etc. which is definitely closer to if not over $500/square foot.

Posted by: Michael at May 23, 2007 2:40 PM

rg, your numbers are so far off I'm pretty sure you have never built anything in San Francisco and certainly not in the last 2 years.Let me give you some actual numbers fom a project that I presently have in planing but not approved. This is for 14 units (including 2 builder subsidized units)for a total of 12,500 saleable Square Feet.My land cost was $185 ft...my soft costs which cover a myriad of professional reports demanded by planning, Architect, Engineer,Legal, insurance, propert Tax, Demolition, finance fees, broker fees, city permit fees as well as other Misc costs will cost me a MINIMUM of $300 ft. Actual construction will be AT LEAST $250 ft as the price of concrete and steel has almost doubled in 2 years.I am my own general Contractor and my numbers here do not take into account any return on my cash invested or wages for myself. I am already at $735 ft and don't even have approvals yet. When all is said and done I will need to sell my units for over $800 ft, JUST TO BREAK EVEN. That my friend is REALITY.

Posted by: Wayne at May 23, 2007 4:23 PM

Wayne, all of these numbers you are throwing out have absolutely nothing to do with the discussion of a high sale price/s.f. for a below average unit. Some of these numbers are your cost of doing business and, in my professional opinion, are too high. I'm not saying that you aren't paying that, but you better be getting high-quality work/products for what you're paying. Since I haven't seen a nice 14 unit building go up in decades, then I doubt it. For instance, don't try to blame Planning for high costs, because their fees are not that high - it's their timeframes that are frustrating. I just met an architect yesterday that charges $2/sq. ft. That would make your architect's fee about $35k for your size project (I, however am more expensive). Based on the size, I'd say that my structural engineer could do the work for about $10k (and I also have a moonlighter who would do it for $3k - I'm sure it's simple wood-frame construction). Let me also say that you obviously paid a lot for the land. Perhaps it was not a good financial decision and you are now tied to charging a lot to just break even? I, for one, am not in the market for $800/s.f., and I hope that others start to demand more for less as well. Your job WILL become harder in the near future.

Posted by: rg at May 23, 2007 10:30 PM

rg, I honestly think that you are simply too misinformed on too many levels. It's not worth my time getting into an argument with you.

Posted by: Wayne at May 23, 2007 10:43 PM

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