October 3, 2008
Symphony Towers Update: Buying Love (But Dropping Prices Too)
Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness) is now offering brokers 4% commissions as well, with studios starting at $329,000 (down from around $350,000 when they first opened a year ago and buyers lined up to buy).
And in terms of sales, as best we can tell Symphony Towers is around 55% sold which would mean roughly 15 net new contracts over the past ten months. At this rate the development should be sold out by 2012.
∙ The SocketSite Scoop On Sales At Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness) [SocketSite]
∙ One Rincon Hill Update: Now Offering 4% Commissions [SocketSite]
∙ Symphony Towers: A SocketSite Reader Reports On Opening Day [SocketSite]
∙ Symphony Towers Update: 45% In Contract And Opening February 08 [SocketSite]
First Published: October 3, 2008 2:00 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
When developers compete - you win!
Posted by: diemos at October 3, 2008 2:13 PM
i don't like how developers require your realtor to bring you during your first visit, or else you forfeit the right to use a realtor. in my case they are shooting themself in the foot. i am kind of new to the buying process and have a trusted friend whom i will use to make offers, but i'm not about to bother him to bring me to every single development that i'm curious about but can easily go to myself. after i visit the development on my own and i'm on the fence about buying, i will forgo it, knowing i can't use my realtor to help me make offers.
Posted by: condoshopper at October 3, 2008 2:41 PM
I would love for SocketSite and its readers to provide more information about diemos' comment.
I have toured several condos during the past year--without an agent--and I would like to make an offer on a condo using Redfin, but I'm under the impression that the developers will not let me do that, which shoots them in the foot because I sure as hell do not want to buy a place directly through them without having a third party review the paperwork, etc.
Posted by: BigG at October 3, 2008 2:57 PM
1. i think it is insane that developers offer a 4% commission--total BS. why would an agent need a larger commission. Instead, they should offer that cash to the buyer in some form of incentive. i understand that a ton of developments offer a zillion incentives, but the 4% commission thing is wasted money as far as i'm concerned. wasteful and going into the pockets of the wrong party.
2. @ BigG--unfortunately, many new developments require a new visitor to register with their real estate agent. i assume it's because they are trying to get out of paying a commission in any chance they have and if they can argue--"the rules are, you must register with an agent upon your first visit" then they got ya by the...
2a. i am finding that more and more developments are bending on the registration rule. if you found a unit you like and you want to use an outside agent, i would recomend going to the sales office and telling them that you'd like to buy a unit, but you're only willing to do it with an agent. OR, have your agent call/stop in and do the same thing. My clients visit developments from time to time without me and I still end up helping them through the process, even if they registered without me. C'mon, with the glut of inventory in new developments, do you really think they will let you walk away over the commission they have to pay. shit, perhaps suggest to your agent not to take the 4%, that way everybody wins.
Posted by: garrett at October 3, 2008 3:13 PM
i have found a loophole, however. when you first visit, you can write down any arbitrary name on their sign-in sheet or registration card, and any b.s. phone and address you like.
Posted by: condoshopper at October 3, 2008 3:44 PM
Obviously, if you just wait a little longer, they'll drop their prices. If things were moving, they wouldn't need to try this, which is usually a prelude to lower prices.
Let them try, it isn't going to do much good.
It just means if you are on the fence anywhere in SF, waiting will save you a lot of $$
Posted by: tipster at October 3, 2008 5:54 PM
Is it just me or is the SF condo market over-saturated? I've been reading on this board that each new condo development is running only 50% full. If these were Las Vegas hotel rooms, they would be giving buyers loads of incentives, and money to stay at their properties.
The same reasoning should apply here -- wait long enough (mid to late 2009) and these developers will drastically lower their prices. As a buyer, you have nothing to lose. Time is a developer's enemy
Posted by: Live Smart at October 3, 2008 6:33 PM
Cubix is a really nice studio project. I wish I could live near Whole Foods - or as many call it Whole Paycheck. Just seems nice to not have to ever drive to the grocery store and be able to go each day to get what you need to cook.
Cubix has a gorgeous roof deck with a garden. I would like to learn more about the garden. Does anyone know about it?
Unfortunately, husband and two dogs not to mention our bikes would prohibit us from living in a studio. The simplicity sure is appealing. I think they have a bike rack but can’t remember. Doesn't mention it on the website.
Many of the new buildings have bike racks. A nice touch for those of us that like to ride instead of drive.
They have City Car Share in the garage. Nice.
PS> This is not my listing or a Paragon listing. Just a building that I like.
Posted by: Katy Dinner at October 3, 2008 8:25 PM
have you been to cubix? its hardly enough room for one person. and many here will say thats pushing the envelope. I would go take a look see if you haven't already.
Posted by: Ryan at October 3, 2008 10:17 PM
I may be mistaken, but I think the CUBIX studios are only slightly smaller than the Symphony studios.
What would a studio like this rent for?
Posted by: anon at October 4, 2008 5:00 AM
One major difference is that ST studios have real kitchens, not those efficiencies that Cubix has. Also, they have washer/dryer.
Posted by: Michael at October 4, 2008 10:35 AM
katy, if you are the cooking type, cubix is not for you. the stove top is mini, with 2 burners. the sink is tiny - you can barely put a plate into the sink. maybe good for washing some cups or something. the fridge is tiny, like the portable ones that college freshmen bring to their dorm rooms.
Posted by: condoshopper at October 4, 2008 2:17 PM
With Whole Foods right next door it would be very easy to make simple one night meals.
I am not the cooking type and everything in my fridge goes bad - to just have Whole Foods right next door...
Laundry Locker. Life made easy.
If you are looking for a studio, Cubix is worth checking out.
Regarding renting - they pencil out if you put about 50% down. Nice alternative for renters who do not want roommates and want to be conveniently located to freeways and some services.
Posted by: Katy Dinner at October 5, 2008 12:35 AM
I would rather choose saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars monthly to not live near whole foods (tm), instead buy a nice, snazzy place, spending a little bit more, and grow my own food in a garden.
Posted by: sf at October 5, 2008 7:49 AM
Other than the kitchen, how big is this studio comparing to Cubix?
Posted by: John at October 5, 2008 8:59 AM
What's the point of being by a freeway if you have nowhere to park a car? Also, I don't think most people with $150,000 to put down are looking for a 300 ft studio.
Posted by: Michael at October 5, 2008 9:02 AM
If 300 sq. ft. is unacceptable for public housing, it shows how the now past real estate frenzy had people suspending all rational decision making, all so you can say you "own" your shoe box? If I were under 30, I would rather buy a 2bd with parking for the same price in Portland, San Diego, or even Chicago. Sure those places are not San Francisco, but so what. Things that were once only available here are now everywhere, and for less.
Posted by: anonfedup at October 5, 2008 9:28 AM
^^^Except for jobs in my industry (unless I want to take a 50% pay cut and become a back-office IT guy)
That's why many of us don't move to another city, dude.
Posted by: anon at October 5, 2008 10:12 AM
Tiny kitchettes are fine for cooking. NYC apartment kitchens are often as minimal as what one might find in RVs, and yet foodies are pervasive. Having a showplace kitchen can be fun, but tiny spaces work just fine if you are determined to cook. Many of the complaints about studios seem to come from people who are completely incompatable with them anyway.
Posted by: Mole Man at October 5, 2008 10:34 AM
"Except for jobs in my industry (unless I want to take a 50% pay cut and become a back-office IT guy)"
O.K. "Dude", but let's check back in about a year. Those "back-office" IT jobs in Portland may not look so bad. Perhaps you should check out Friday's NYTimes regarding where the Tech economy is about to go in the Bay Area. We have seen this before about 10 years ago. Check out Apple's stock lately? When all those invisible people in flyover land stop spending money on laptops, software, and ipods, it will come back to haunt our safehavens in Noe Valley and Cow Hollow.
Now, when will people stop pretending that EVERYONE here works in Tech, when in fact most jobs in the city are either in government services or tourism? It is like saying EVERYONE in Los Angeles works in entertainment, which is also not true. The cost of housing in San Francsico has more to do with no longer available junk loans than because of high paying tech jobs.
Now I own my home, free and clear, but I would rather rent a studio, and save the difference for a larger unit after a couple of years. What possible financial advantage is there to owning a studio at this price?
Posted by: anonfedup at October 5, 2008 10:55 AM
Most jobs are in tourism? Please elaborate. I know a large percentage of our tax income comes from tourism, but I have never heard that "most" jobs are in tourism. Is working retail in Union Square considered "tourism?" How about MUNI operators? Ferry drivers? Toll collectors? Parks maintenance? Hooters- sure I'll give you that. But really, ANYTHING can be considered the "tourist" industry, including all of our bars and restaurants. By the way I work in the financial and media sectors, the former has taken a hit but the latter is still going strong (ever heard of CurrentTV? New Media? SF is the capital of New Media in the U. S.)
Posted by: sf at October 5, 2008 11:26 AM
anonfedup, "most" jobs in tourism is complete BS, first off, but you need to look at the jobs of people making enough to buy for it to be valid anyway. Many people who work outside of SF buy housing in SF, so who cares if "most" jobs here are in tourism - that obviously has little effect on the real estate market.
Most jobs actually in Aspen or Jackson Hole don't pay much either. You think that keeps housing prices low there?
Posted by: anon at October 5, 2008 12:12 PM
NEVER pay an agent with new development. I've bought at 3 new developments in SF over the last few years and always write down my own name on the registry card. When we get to discussions later, I let them know that I am not an agent, but I expect to take the fee they would have paid the agent. They push back, but I have always got the amount in some form or another.
I generally couch it that I am taking a risk in not having an agent look out for me so I expect to be compensate and, in doing so, they are placed in the same position they would have been in before.
Posted by: Tom at October 5, 2008 12:12 PM
Regarding who can afford housing in S.F., especially studios and 1bd units, I would imagine that my cousin who is one of the managers of a hotel near Union Square should be able to qualify since she earns around 150k a year? (not all high paying jobs are tech. jobs)
One of my clients owns two "better" restaurants here in the city, and he estimates 60% of his customers are tourists. He purchased a 2.1m home in Cole Valley our firm helped redesign.
I looked on SFGov and "Tourism and Related Industries" is the number one employer and economic sector in the city. Many of those people you see at Barney's, Zuni, Delphina, and other places may be even from the Midwest (Gasp!)
Posted by: anon2 at October 5, 2008 2:20 PM
"number one employer" does not equal "most."
Posted by: Sf at October 5, 2008 6:06 PM
I agree with you if the person is a "sophisticated" buyer. However, developers are protecting their interests, not the buyers. If the buyer is knowledgable enough to protect their interests - great. If not, the buyer should get advice from a professional.
Which is the better scenerio? You don't get professional help and wish you would have. Or feel like you wasted some money.
Posted by: Publius at October 5, 2008 6:35 PM
Overpriced shoe boxes. Spend 300K+ to live in this sorry nondescript neighborhood. This is not London. This is not even Paris and yet they still try to make us spend 60% more than the City Of Lights.
It's central but oddly far from everything that matters. And you've got to cross the Tenderloin or Market's "Miracle Mile" to go anywhere. Wouldn't do it after 7PM. Yuck!
Wait long enough and you'll be rewarded.
Posted by: San FronziScheme at October 5, 2008 10:30 PM
Tom...I've bought twice from a developer with no agency.
First time was in suburbia away from the bay in a 'slow' market time. I asked for and got the 3% off with nothing but a somewhat stunned look and comment from the seller, as if they didn't expect to hear me ask for it.
Second time was here in SF a few years ago when it was still "active". The developer's salesperson just said "no". Same thing with the Transfer Tax. I waffled for a week, talked to them again, and he said "we've got the new price list, and if our agreement expires unsigned, your unit price is going up by (x)". In the end, I took the price and not my 3% commission refund, paid the seller's transfer tax, and good to their word they raised prices (and did so a few more times before selling out). I bet now, however, the tune would be different. Carrying inventory is a killer in a capital heavy business.
Posted by: whorfin at October 5, 2008 10:35 PM