April 23, 2009

Skate Design Or Die: Pushing The Envelope On 264 Clipper Street

264 Clipper (Image Source: envelopead.com)

The Envelope Architecture + Design remodel of 264 Clipper Street over in Noe Valley lands in The New York Times today.

264 Clipper: Kitchen (Image Source: envelopead.com)

Purchased for $1,368,000 in August of 2005 according to public records ("$1 million in 2005" according to the Times). Renovated at a cost of "just under $500,000" in 2007.

264 Clipper: Studio (Image Source: envelopead.com)

There's a sweet little studio below with garage door leading to a backyard designed by Flora Grubb. And sorry, it's not on the market (as far as we know).

Envelope Architecture + Design Projects: (264) Clipper Street [envelopead.com]
When Skaters Grow Up [New York Times]

First Published: April 23, 2009 2:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Thank god the bidet and toilet are side by side.

Posted by: Sunset Guy at April 23, 2009 2:09 PM

This article really bugged me. An art school student slash magazine writer and a guy who used to work construction and now sells skateboards dropped $1.9 million to build their own Never Never Land house in Noe Valley. Keeping in mind that I don't know these two people and I could be casting unfair aspersions here, where in Hell did the money come from? Dad? Grandma? The Lottery?

Also, in what way does this behavior qualify as growing up?

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at April 23, 2009 2:25 PM

cool digs 'boarder dude and funky-designy girl....but somehow...I smell trust fund buried somewhere in all that self proclaimed eclectic-americana-individualism. Jus sayin'. Yo, peace out bro.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at April 23, 2009 2:28 PM

I always wondered where the sewer emptied out...

Posted by: Jeff at April 23, 2009 2:28 PM

Silly article, tho the house is pretty cool.... obviously skater dude and midcentury furniture chick are rich. Who else in their twenties spends almost 2 mil on a house?

Posted by: snark17 at April 23, 2009 3:00 PM

Property Shark says that Ms. Bigbie purchased the house alone in August 2005 for $1.37M. She's also the graduate of an exclusive prep school in Seattle that caters to old money types (Bush). I'm going to guess - trust fund.

Posted by: unearthly at April 23, 2009 3:01 PM

First of all, great job on the house - love it and love the choices they made.

But, after reading this article yesterday in the nytimes, I significantly depreciated my emotianal response to this place. According the article, a 26 and 29 year old buy a 1M "fixer" in Noe Valley and hire a top SF architect to outlay another $5K in renovations, With that kind of cash outlay, of COURSE it's going to be the coolest place on the block.
By no means do I mean to disrespect the owners of the house with this comment - they took pains to restore an older house, looks like they did a lot of work themselves, and are extremely creative and talented. Their life is their life and their fortune is their fortune. But there is no question that their "house story" is completely disassociated from the reality for their age group.

Jealous? yes!

Posted by: nytimes at April 23, 2009 3:05 PM

I'm going to take a stab here and guess that one or both inherited their money from one of America's legendary taxidermy families...

Posted by: BobN at April 23, 2009 3:14 PM

Ah ! I wondered whether the Church of Satan had moved after their California Ave. house was razed.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 23, 2009 3:18 PM

Frankly, I think this kinda thing is par for the course. I don't read Architectural Digest, but in Fine Homebuilding, American Bungalow, and Old House Journal, the articles never let on as to how these seemingly normal people can afford the obviously incredibly expensive, time-intensive remodels. And they hardly ever mention the client's occupation.

I guess it's considered crass or déclassé.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at April 23, 2009 3:19 PM

I remember when I was young and I read articles like this, and thought that all I had to do to make a home like that possible was to have good ideas and grow up. ;-)

Posted by: kthnxybe at April 23, 2009 3:25 PM

Milkshake,

You took the words right out of my mouth!

Posted by: HappyRenter at April 23, 2009 3:32 PM

A victorian painted all black is one of the saddest things I can imagine (architecturally).

Posted by: missiondweller at April 23, 2009 3:38 PM

I thought all original Victorians were dark colours?

Posted by: BDB at April 23, 2009 3:51 PM

Since this is a real estate site, and this is an article about a house, I think it would be best if I commented on the people who live there.

Posted by: agvvf at April 23, 2009 3:52 PM

I like what they did (don't love it) but I adore the blue/black custom paint- especially on a victorian.
A lot of you seem mighty grouchy that some 20 somethings took some money they didn't earn themselves and spent it on an interesting renovation for their home-- better than blowing it on smack I say.

Posted by: Katherine at April 23, 2009 3:57 PM

Its an interesting property, and I am happy that the owners got to build their dream house. Its also cool of them to open up their house for the public to see their design choices, which I believe was the point of the article. As for the source of their money, that is not a focus of the article and also none of my business. Nor do I care.

Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 4:00 PM

Sloppy reporting on the part of the Times, I hope their financial reporters don't regularly round down by 27%.

Seems strange that this 2007 remodel is hitting the Times now, wonder if it's about to come on the market?

I really like the remodel and it's nice to have the numbers...$269/sqft budget at 1,862 sqft.

Posted by: Michael at April 23, 2009 4:06 PM

There was a Hell's Angels Victorian up the street painted black for 20 plus years on Hearst Ave. We were so relieved when it was painted light gray.

Posted by: Chauncey at April 23, 2009 4:16 PM

This house is wonderful.

Posted by: mortgage analyst at April 23, 2009 4:26 PM

I absolutely love it in black.

Posted by: anon at April 23, 2009 5:41 PM

i'd welcome a trust fund buyer over a low downpayment in-over-their-head-hoping-for-a-bailout buyer anyday.

this house is really excellent, and in one of the more skater friendly cities too - good for them.

Posted by: mrbogue at April 23, 2009 5:54 PM

Two questions about black:
1 - Chips will be more visible than clear paint.
2 - South-facing hence faster fading which is not pretty for black.

But I agree it looks pretty cool.

Posted by: San FronziScheme at April 23, 2009 6:08 PM

RE: Church of Satan.

Better yet, try "Church of Skatan" in Santa Barbara!!!


View Larger Map

Posted by: San FronziScheme at April 23, 2009 6:19 PM

No, you don't divorce the house, it's design, it's inspirations from the owners. And a BS article like this (and many others in design rags) simply ignore the owners finances. Maybe the magazine is embarrased to fess up to the familial financial resources, but hiding them in blatantly obvious cases is ridiculous and takes away from the integrity of the owners vis-a-vis their design concepts. I'm sure this couple is cool, but the magazines choice to deliberatly leave out the resource story is a dis-service to the owners.

NYT is going the way of bravo tv reality extravaganza. But at least bravo and it's audience do not take themselfs too seriously and the resultant irony of money-class-crass provides for endless entertainment. NYT and it's ilk should grow some editorial balls and either be frank about the featured 'lifestyle' couples resources or go for a post modern expose of wit and irony. But don't bludgeon me with this opaque and clandestine semi serious bullsh!t.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at April 23, 2009 6:26 PM

exactly how is the "magazine's choice to leave out the resource story a diservice to the owners" of the house?

Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 6:34 PM

This story is in the HOME & GARDEN section of a newspaper, albeit a reputable serious newspaper, but its the Home & Garden section nonetheless. This is a section known for fuzzy feeling fluff pieces with pretty pictures, not ground breaking journalism!

Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 6:54 PM

The source of the kids' money really seems to be the elephant in the room/article. Who WASN'T wondering it the entire time you were reading it?

I love the remodel, esp. the pool bathroom, and the blue-black exterior is a nice touch.

And, as a single 30-something still paying off student loans to a public university and struggling to cover rent on my 1-bedroom and attempt to save at the same time, I am terribly jealous.

Posted by: enid d at April 23, 2009 7:28 PM

Radikewl! The stylings are fun, but the angular squiggles tire me out and the exposed light bulbs scare me. The hat and coat rack is really nice. Maybe that is the evidence of having grown up? Also, palms seem like an odd choice for the rear yard. The bundle of antlers light reminds me of what J. K. Rowling said about skinny models.

Looking at all the funny lights, big windows, odd colors, and that garage door in back at least it is clear this is one stylish redevelopment that didn't obsess over sustainability. As far as the money goes, real bay area hot spots are full of far worse examples of vast sums being spent on trophy homes that suck.

Posted by: Mole Man at April 23, 2009 7:47 PM

Gosh,
I must be the only person who really dislikes this house.

I hate the black.
I hate the kitchen ceiling (so dark)
I hate the wall paper, and whatever treatment is below it that don't go well together at all.
I hate the dining nook plywood.
I hate the red bathroom
I dislike the cabinets
I dislike the garage door to the back yard. industrial does not mesh well with victorian.
I hate the blue accents, that don't go with anything

The only thing I like is the floors, and the room with the Deer-head in it... that's cool wallpaper.

that said, although awful it is a very intrguing and very unique house.

I'm not sure you can say that they have old money just because one kid went to prep school. Skateboarding can be very lucrative depending on what you do in the skateboarding world.

I knew a kid one time who started a line of skateboard accessories and was well into the high 6 figures per year.

Posted by: ex SF-er at April 23, 2009 7:56 PM

I love this house. A lot.

Posted by: Ryan at April 23, 2009 9:06 PM

it really comes off as terribly trendy and of the moment. the interiors look right out of Ikea and Room and Bored...maybe pottery barn thrown in too. it screams; "we are young, hip and cool"..
the black exterior is equally harsh and screams for attention.

so theyre well off. so what? shows you that just being young, hip and rich doesnt mean you have taste.

Posted by: noearch at April 23, 2009 9:09 PM

I am not jealous. I would not trade my struggling twenty-something years for anything! I had a lot of fun with everyone else who were in my shoes too, which is most twenty-somethings (totally am not jealous--I loved my twenty-something years).

As far as the house is concerned: I think it is a cool pad but, not quite my forty-something taste.

And, black? I think it is neat. I like the way the city is sprinkled with them.

Posted by: pumpkin patch at April 23, 2009 9:09 PM

I really can't remember a post on this site that obsessed more about how the people got the money for the house in question-- it is usually all about how they overpaid, will take a bath when they want to sell, were dumb fools for how they renovated... but this is so much more about just being JEALOUS-- I mean really... a puff piece on a home renovation by some well off skate rats sucks because there is no mention of the source of their funds? Not relevant- unless they stole it from you or your mother.

Posted by: Katherine at April 23, 2009 9:10 PM

Blatantly ignoring income source is a disservice to the owners cause it makes them appear vain. And it begs resentment from some readers. I have no problem with the design. it's highly individualized and I'm sure the owners put alot of effort into it, but a little financial honesty by the NYT would certainly lend a more realistic perspective- certainly to most 20-somethings out there struggling to pay their bills as a select few publicly celebrate multi million dollar homes. As I said, it's not the kids fault but the glib attitude of all too many NYT vanity pieces.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at April 23, 2009 9:17 PM

ex SF-er, the skateboarder boyfriend is not on the title or the subsequent transfer to a named trust. I actually like this place minus some of the highly styled wallpaper.

Posted by: unearthly at April 23, 2009 9:18 PM

You'd think this article was written in 2005. I loved all the name dropping though. It made me laugh a few times for sure. I think "nytimes" sums it up best. two twenty-somethings buy a $1MM+ fixer in Noe, drop another $500k in renovation and have a top SF designer they found at Delfina to plan it all out, oh and they they have their close and personal friend Flora Grubb do the backyard. Of course!

I'm jealous too.

Posted by: Ryan at April 23, 2009 9:31 PM

"Ms. Bigbie — who had been collecting furniture since she was 14..." Really?

Posted by: jl75 at April 23, 2009 9:52 PM

I lived near this house for a few years. You can't tell from the photos but there's a Space Invader embedded in the concrete on the front. It always made me smile to walk past it, and so I'm really happy to see the inside.

Posted by: perplexed at April 23, 2009 9:58 PM

Oh please.

Did the NYT force these folks to display their house at gunpoint? I suppose the skateboard picture was snapped by paparazzi (but seriously, how many takes do you think it took to get the arms just right?).

The article is as much about the owners as the house, so it's pretty natural (and not jealous) to ask some obvious questions. This is Noe Valley, not Amagansett! :)

What's the Nov 2004 sale at 119,500 (sorry if it was mentioned above)?

Dollars to donuts this house will be for sale soon, using this article as marketing material. Cool.

Posted by: dub dub at April 23, 2009 10:35 PM

oh god, a space invader embedded in the concrete? now i'm really jealous... seriously.

Posted by: mrbogue at April 23, 2009 11:11 PM

45yo hipster- I don't think the owners mentioning that they used inherited/gifted money to fund their design choices would make them appear any less vain or make anyone less envious of their position.

Regarding tone- Its a fluff piece in a home and garden section, not an investigative piece, what do you expect?

dub-dub: "so it's pretty natural (and not jealous) to ask some obvious questions."

Really? Tracking down where the gal went to high school and then posting it on this real estate board is the natural next step?

Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 11:23 PM

Sure it's a fluff piece so you type in the owners name into Google and voila - first link is to classmates (and said high school). You lose your privacy when you get published in the Times. Quit being so defensive, are you her publicist or something?

Posted by: unearthly at April 23, 2009 11:31 PM

Unearthly, keep your cyber stalking to yourself. We all know how to google.

Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 11:39 PM

"Tracking down where the gal went to high school..."

Don't be hysterical. It's *unbelievably easy* to look this stuff up, nowadays, and unearthly did not reveal any identifiable information above.

It actually takes less time to do a cursory background check on someone (or a property!) than waiting for a SS post to clear. If these folks are going to wh*re themselves out, that's what you get!

Those iphones you are twittering your facebook on are deadly privacy weapons, too :)

Posted by: dub dub at April 23, 2009 11:40 PM

dub dub - don't disturb the Realtor troll; they're a bit on edge these days.

Posted by: unearthly at April 23, 2009 11:46 PM

well, my design opinions aren't worth much but so long as I have already posted here are my two cents:

1. I'm not normally a fan of black facades but it works. Bold and successful design choice. I think its cool and adds a nice differentiation on the block.
2. The antler chandelier is not so successful. The whole stuffed carcasses thing doesn't work for me either.


Posted by: Auden at April 23, 2009 11:48 PM

all the dropped jaws at how two kids can afford to do what they did is evidence that y'all don't realize why SF hasn't borne the brunt of the bubble like every where else.

you all hate the "sf is different" and "real sf" arguments, and when you finally see what we Realtors see every day, you're surprised.

this is par for the course in "real sf"

Posted by: hangemhi at April 24, 2009 12:20 AM

for the tiny Victorian house

and

2,000 square feet including an in-law apartment

funny what's tiny to others... especially the NEW YORK times.

btw, they did over pay in '05.... nearly 30% over asking.... I bet they out bid the next highest bidder by $150k. so there's your 10% "froth" drop.

by the way... they have "dressing room". skate boarders need a "dressing room"?

Posted by: hangemhi at April 24, 2009 12:47 AM

I like this place, I think it is cool. I can't imagine how they could have spent this much money making a cool, funky place though. This is the kind of design you get my trolling second hand stores, doing your own painting and getting your cabinets at Ikea.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at April 24, 2009 1:02 AM

What this interior tells me is that many secretly wish they lived in Los Angeles but just cannot stomach the thought of what their hipster friends would say. From the landscape selection choices in the back to help create the Palm Springs fantasy the owners desired (see article), to the Neutra-esque views in some rooms, why buy a Victorian at all?
I love modern, and collect mid century furniture myself, but why take a Victorian and pretend it is a house in the Hollywood Hills? A question I have been curious about is, what is the point of preserving these Victorian facades at all? I would not want to live in a Victorian, but if many are going to rip the insides so that they have nothing to do with the architecture of the home, why preserve the facade at all? The homes many people seem to now fawn over are the ones that have had every Victorian detail removed from the interior so that the owner will never be reminded of what the home was. Why not just rip it down and build a modern house? Why does the city keep forcing us to "love" homes we secretly hate.

Posted by: Modern Lover at April 24, 2009 2:23 AM

all the dropped jaws at how two kids can afford to do what they did is evidence that y'all don't realize why SF hasn't borne the brunt of the bubble like every where else.

you all hate the "sf is different" and "real sf" arguments, and when you finally see what we Realtors see every day, you're surprised.

ROFL.
need we pull the demographics for SF again? You know, the one where we find out that only 10% of SF households make more than $200k/year?

I don't know anybody that is surprised that there are trust fund babies in SF or around the world. Heck, I know some of them. The only debated issue is how many of them there are.

I'll take the data that shows that 70% of SF purchases were Alt-A (up from less than 5% in the 90's) over the sprinkling of I-saw-a-rich-kid-buy-a-house allegory anyday.

that said, I do wish that we could get Alt-A, Option ARM and Prime data broken down by zip code or neighborhood as well.

too bad RE is so opaque.

Posted by: ex SF-er at April 24, 2009 4:29 AM

"need we pull the demographics for SF again? You know, the one where we find out that only 10% of SF households make more than $200k/year?

I don't know anybody that is surprised that there are trust fund babies in SF or around the world. Heck, I know some of them. The only debated issue is how many of them there are.

ROFL? That's precisely the point. Your household income demographics does not measure family money. In simple point of fact, there are a lot more family money types living in SF these days than you, or most people on here, would think. It isn't always "trust fund," either. It could be a one-time event. And again, large cash payments down THAT WERE Alt-A, are easily refinanced.


Posted by: anonn at April 24, 2009 8:12 AM

Ex SF-er- you're not poking at the numbers correctly. First, 70% of SF residents are renters. Of the 30% owners, the percent that makes over $200k is much higher than 10%.

Secondly, the significant amount of trust funders, etc is precisly the point hanghemi was making, as they do not need high incomes, given their family wealth. And there are many more not doing highly visible vanity projects, but quietly living in condos and TICs purchased by their families. In total these buyers are not an insignificant sum, and materially affect SF property values.

As for alt A loans, these were popular for a few years by some buyers. Looking collectively at all SF property 1) a dispoportionatly high number are owned outright 2) many others have fixed loans. So the alt-A as a percent of total is much lower than you suggest.

Posted by: 45yo hipster at April 24, 2009 8:34 AM

I completely agree with Modern Lover. This house screams uber hip Silverlake/Los Feliz/Hollywood hills, not Noe. Good for them that they have/had the liquidity to overpay for a house they wanted and redo it to their liking. I do think if this was piece done about almost any other couple, we would have been given specifics, like Mr and Mrs Smith a hedge fund guy/lawyer/doctor/banker. It seems the NYT wanted to do a feel good piece about living the American Dream, even though the people living the Dream probably did not pay for it.

Posted by: MarinaLocal at April 24, 2009 8:42 AM

I am sickened by what I see.

In a photo provided on the envelopead link is the stuffed head of what is clearly a Jackalope, one of the rarest animals in the West. To take this beautiful animal from the wild, kill it and stuff it and make it a "trophy" - I do not know where to begin.

The antlers hanging from the ceiling in another photo could well be from 'lopes as well.

I am on the phone to the Department of Fish and Game as I write.

Posted by: Unwarrantedinlaw at April 24, 2009 9:01 AM

Not sure why everyone is questioning the finances. It says he manages the Think skate team and she is an interior designer, both of which can be pretty damn lucrative.

Anyway, I want to see the Space Invader in the sidewalk, where do I go for this?

Posted by: anon at April 24, 2009 9:22 AM

"This house screams uber hip Silverlake/Los Feliz/Hollywood hills, not Noe."

Thank You! That is what I find so strange about many of the highlighted homes of San Francisco both here and elsewhere. Again and again it is obvious to me that many people seem to almost have a secret desire to Los Angelize their homes as much as possible. The Regional Modernists of the Bay Area, both currently, and from the past, are ignored in favor of copying what is happening in L.A.

A Noe Valley Victorian is ripped apart to become a Silverlake Mid Century Skater home. As the article says...The landscape is inspired from Palm Springs, how San Francisco is that?

I will never understand why people just dont refurbish an existing San Francisco modern home, instead of trashing a Victorian, or as I wrote above, if many of us dont want Victorian, why are we forced to preserve them if all they are is a facade hiding a modern house?

Posted by: Modern Lover at April 24, 2009 9:35 AM

^^^Why does it matter? Does everything in San Francisco have to be "Bay Area"? What's wrong with bringing in some styles from other areas? Are we that smug that everything has to be "local"?

The smugness of many people in this area drives me nuts.

Posted by: anon at April 24, 2009 10:02 AM

Many fixers don't have any Victorian finishes left inside them. People are rarely ripping out nice finishes for modern. They are ripping out crappy 60/70's remodels and adding crappy 2000's. (To be re-ripped again in 10yrs, bless 'em)

And no, you cannot tear it down and build a modern house. Anything built before 1954 needs historic review.

Posted by: sparky-b at April 24, 2009 10:08 AM

"Anyway, I want to see the Space Invader in the sidewalk, where do I go for this?"

It's on the concrete supporting the lowest flight of the front stairs.

I've seen these tile space invader things all over Europe as well. This must be some artist's work. Does anyone know the story ?

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 24, 2009 10:13 AM

You can see the Space Invader on Google Maps.

http://tinyurl.com/cdjauv

Posted by: deepbluesea at April 24, 2009 10:22 AM

Ex SF-er- you're not poking at the numbers correctly. First, 70% of SF residents are renters. Of the 30% owners, the percent that makes over $200k is much higher than 10%.
===

Actually I am poking the numbers correctly.

It doesn't matter if 70% of SF residents are renters. I'm NOT USING MEDIAN INCOME DATA. I'm using top 10% income data. I'm also not using percentages, I'm using ABSOLUTE NUMBERS.

Presumably, almost all (95% or more) of the $200k+/year earners in SF own a house. The problem: there aren't very many of them.

There are less than 32,000 HOUSEHOLDS that make more than $200k/year in SF.

but there are at least 340,000 structures (likely much more, there were around 350k in 1998)

So even if every $200k/year household owned FIVE structures in San Francisco that would still only be 160,000 structures. leaving 180,000 structures

see the problem? or are you suggesting that there are 180,000 structures owned by trust fund babies and rich foreigners???

if so, why are so many properties now owned using Alt-A products????

why did the closure of the mortgage market affect SF so heavily? (trust fund babies and all-cash foreign purchasers don't rely on mortgages).

and don't tell me it was just "the market" in general, because SF RE activity plummeted THE SECOND that mortgages got hard to obtain.

in the end, although I'm sure you all hate to hear this, the vast majority of housing in SF is purchased by regular people making good (not great, and not median... good) incomes in SF. (the $100k/year and up set).

and unfortunately, the $100k+/year set cannot afford SF priced real estate. which is why you see the downturn.

and although there are rich Brazilians and legacy Chinese buyers and trust fund babies and suburban pied-a-terrans and midwesterners wanting second homes and all that, they make up a much smaller part of the SF market.

SF is not Aspen Colorado or Monaco.

Posted by: ex SF-er at April 24, 2009 10:33 AM

Wait, what - I wouldn't say 95% of >200K earning households own a home in SF. Not even close.

Posted by: kthnxybe at April 24, 2009 10:39 AM

Only 10% of us make over $200K a year? Wait...NoeValleyJim recently argued emphatically that over 20% of SF households are millionaires:

http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2009/04/a_pluggedin_perspective_on_the_economics_of_the_medical.html

Posted by: Legacy Dude at April 24, 2009 10:49 AM

There are a substantial number of properties that never changed hands in the last 15 years; much of it due to prop-13. I doubt that the median income of owners is much higher than renters because of prop-13.

Posted by: unearthly at April 24, 2009 11:02 AM

ex-SF-er, how many properties actually changed hands in the past 10 years? All of them, as you imply? Not even close. Not even close.

Posted by: anon at April 24, 2009 11:14 AM

Markets are made at the margins. In places where people view living in the property to be worth more than selling the property, prices tend to rise - part of the reason prices in SF are so high. So few properties change hands each year, partially because so many people view living in the house to be of higher value than selling the house and buying one somewhere else (or doing something else with the money). It takes generations for massive price distortions (like the distortion between price/income in SF) to correct themselves in places like SF.

Posted by: anon at April 24, 2009 11:18 AM

There's also other factors at work. There are probably tens of thousands of properties owned by absentee owners. There are also tons of owners who own more than one property. In fact, there are probably tens of thousands of absentee owners who own more than one property. Did every single one of those hit the market? No way. Buy and hold has always been the mentality for this sort of owner.

Posted by: anonn at April 24, 2009 11:30 AM

I'm not sure that the assumption that almost all households in SF over $200,000 own a house is a correct one.

This discussion of yearly income ignores the reality of how long it takes to save for a down payment.

Based on my experience:

If you make $250,000 a year, you actually take home around maybe $175,000 (this will vary depending on your 401k distribution,etc)

Assuming a 10% savings rate, at $175,000 per year, it takes almost 12 years to save for a 20% downpayment on a $1 million house.

It takes over 10 years to save for a $900,000 house. Close to 10 years years to save for a $850,000 house. 9 years to save for a $800,000 house. Etc.

Single family housing stock becomes difficult to find in SF at $800,000.

If you can save %15 a year, you could save for an $800,000 in a little over six years.

If you can save %20 a year, you could save for an $800,000 in just under 5 years.

Saving rates are obviously going to vary tremendously depending on whether or not you have children, how many children you have, and whether or not you need to pay childcare costs, or school tution; what your student loan costs are, etc.

And- this is all assuming a starting savings of zero. However, that is a reasonable assumption if you are in your twenties or early thirties, and have student loan debt, spent time out of the workforce going to grad/law/medical school, etc.

It also assumes no parent or grandparent assistance. No, or little, parental or grandparent assistance is a reality for most people raised in low income or middle income homes, although I understand that the common assumption is that parents contribute.

And that's just for the down payment. Buying a house when you reach your downpayment number might wipe out your savings entirely. Most prudent people would wait another year or two, to build up an additional savings cushion.

This is just one scenario with alot of assumptions. Alot depends on the age distribution and prior earnings distribution of the >$200,00 category.

Posted by: sunset at April 24, 2009 12:18 PM


54,000 houses in SF have a mortgage.

Oh and like someone in this thread said (and I have said before) there are a lot of Option Arms because the banks pushed them, even to people who could afford a fixed. Now my rate is in the 3's so I'm not complaining.

Posted by: sparky-b at April 24, 2009 1:12 PM

This place makes more sense in Bernal Heights or even Fairmount Heights than Noe, but I am happy to have them as neighbors.

Have you seen the house painted Industrial Orange that is in Bernal? It kind of reminds me of this place, but it was probably done for much less money.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/telstar/sets/1354525/

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at April 24, 2009 1:38 PM

NVJ: I, too, was reminded of the Telstar house on Precita. I really like both houses. Undoubtedly, the budget for the Precita house was substantially lower, but more creatively applied, versus the Clipper house, for which money appears to have been no object.

Posted by: Dan at April 24, 2009 2:40 PM

Thank you Sunset. My husband went back to school late in the game and didn't really get his second career rolling until almost 40 - and I mommy tracked so that he could. Now ten years later, it hasn't been that long that we've >200K bracket consistently.

We're comfortable, we save as much as possible, have a deep cushion for emergencies, zero debt, but we don't have the down payment for a 1M+ house quite yet. Our parents need all their cash for their own retirement.

I'd bet that there's plenty in our generation in the same boat. It's not awful but it's hard to not be able to buy in the neighborhood where you've made your home for a couple of decades when the generation ahead of us weren't as relatively fixed as we are and do own houses.

Posted by: kthnxybe at April 24, 2009 4:46 PM

Which has nothing at all to do with this cute house. I think it's great.

I'm not mad at these kids for having it so easy. It's just that these stories always make it sound like all you need is a keen eye and some elbow grease.

Posted by: kthnxybe at April 24, 2009 4:48 PM

NoeValleyJim, that house is painted the color of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it looks great.

Posted by: anon at April 24, 2009 5:29 PM

Yeah, it is International Orange, not Industrial Orange, sorry.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at April 24, 2009 5:55 PM

Agree with Sunset and kthnxybe. That is definitely my experience. My wife and I are 2 and 5 years out of law school respectively. We'll make around $450k this year, but we're still sitting on over $100k of law school debt (which we'll take our time on since it's all at under 3%). And we have 2 kids. Of non-partners at the two law firms I've worked at -- so these are all people with household incomes of over $200k (unless they're sufficiently junior and single) and (generally) under $600k -- less than half are homeowners. The partners obviously all own houses, but the economics are quite different for someone who's 10 years out of school and making $800k - $3M/year. (Many of these folks also bought in the 90s for a tiny fraction of what their homes would cost now.)

Additionally, it's statistically unlikely that any law firm associate's salary will do anything but fall (since most do not make partner and either burn out or are asked to leave at or before year 9). (That's not unique to law firms either; it's typical of any pyramid-structured organization -- ibanks, etc.) So taking on a mortgage based on current income would be unwise (now that we don't have absurd home price appreciation).

To the points about trustfunders etc., my anecdotal experience actually is that nearly everyone I know under 40 who owns a home got at least some help ($100k or more) with a down payment. (Several over 40 as well.)

Posted by: shza at April 24, 2009 5:56 PM

The NY Times article is a marketing piece popped by the owners. I'm a neighbor, so know that the story is so far from complete, as to be almost wholly lies.

These two spoiled children thought they could do whatever they wanted without building permits, without considering about how it would affect their neighbors, without worrying about the consequences of their constructing the dream house. There's a long list of their dangerous construction practices (flooding from a "tiki room," an unsafe, unpermitted, two story skateboard ramp in the yard, a partial collapse because they removed supporting walls) followed by a string of lawsuits they lost with neighbors and the city.

They threatened to bankrupt an elderly neighbor who called the building department and the police (and tossed lit cigarettes into her yard, just to scare her). They threw garbage into neighbors' yards. They wrote obscenities and insults on the sidewalks in front of their neighbors' homes, then washed the chalk off with beer. They and their friends urinated on people's front steps. They refused to pay for garbage collection saying they "were recycling to the world." Oh, and they didn't use any recycled material, all new. That crane lifting a tree into the yard, well, they"forgot" to ask to block the major artery that is their street, so got fined for that too.

It's not about where they got the money to do whatever they did, it's that they believe that having money entitles them to do whatever they want, including buy credibility and status.

Posted by: MC3 at April 25, 2009 9:41 AM

Ah- some meat for the lions... here we go...

Posted by: Katherine at April 25, 2009 10:00 AM

54,000 houses in SF have a mortgage.

Where does this number come from sparky? I assume you must mean SFH here, since it is hard to believe that only 54k of the total 300k housing units in SF have a mortgage.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at April 25, 2009 10:16 AM

shza, you and your wife are clearly very smart not to have jumped into the bubble. When we bought our house in late 1998, I was a second-year associate and my wife was a new city attorney. Biglaw associate salaries were a lot lower then (and I fear they are headed back down -- partners [like me] have to protect their PPP), but I got a nice bonus that year on a big contingency fee win (hello down payment). And I had no debt since I worked several years before law school (my wife had about $20k).

We were able to buy our nice 3BR (since added a 4th finishing the attic space) without a lot of stress, and we were ahead vs. renting from day one. I first became aware of this bubble about 4 years ago when our new associates started buying million dollar condos with nothing down, interest only, and $100k in student loan debt. This was almost double what we had paid for a nice SFR not that long before, and I became interested in how this was even possible on a $135k salary. Lending standards had changed considerably! They bought, of course, because it was a "good investment" and they did not want to be "priced out forever." Most have since left the firm, so I have no idea how they will handle the crash in prices.

We're heading right back down to the long-term trend of home prices correlating to incomes more reasonably. You're in a good field -- rate pressures have been less extreme in IP. Nothing you don't already know, but you can rent a very nice place on your incomes. In 2-3 more years, I suspect prices will have reached the level where buying makes sense again. That will actually make your decision tougher since it may not so clearly favor renting!

Posted by: Trip at April 25, 2009 11:11 AM

"That crane lifting a tree into the yard, well, they"forgot" to ask to block the major artery that is their street, so got fined for that too."

That answers my question on how they put such huge palms in their backyard.

Posted by: Morgan at April 25, 2009 12:31 PM

I'd like to see a study/survey done to get to the bottom of why we Realtors see things that don't appear to show up in Census numbers. And it's probably got to be a survey of Realtors... say each of our last 10 or 20 transactions.... or of those who bought in the last 5 years.

Looking back at my last 10 transactions, 3 were all cash. 2 were pied-et-terre buyers, one was out of town parents buying for their daughter.

Of the 7 transactions that got loans... 3 sold other homes which enabled them to have large cash down payments (all 3 bought 9 to 15 years ago). 3 others were dual income no kids or 1 kid, and they made significantly more than $200k per year. The last one got help from her parents both in qualifying for the loan, and with downpayment.

Speaking to supply, only about 7,000 of 125,000 owner-occupied units change hands each year. So there are many that simply don't sell for many, many years further restricting supply from an already small area.

Further, of the 7000 or so sales each year, only about 1500 are $1 million+ homes.

So how many high income households, combined with retired pied-et-terre buyers, out of town parents helping local kids, and inherticance money does it take to support the argument that SF will stay abnormally high???

And if "only" 1,500 $1 million + homes sell per year in SF and there are 350,000 households, how many people do you need to know who buy or sell a $1 million home per year for this all makes sense to you??? Mathmatically that appears to be about 1 in every 100 households that you personally know. Anyone on here not know at least one person/couple/family that bought/sold a $1+ home in the past year?

So exSFer, you still rolling on the floor laughing?

Posted by: hangemhi at April 25, 2009 2:35 PM

ZOMG, the Think guy--that is, like, one of the most awesome brands EVAR! Seriously, I have Think wheels on my board which still gets some use now and then. If any young person can afford this kind of whimsy, it is him. This is a fluff piece about living large, but the subtext is modernized Horatio Alger.

Posted by: Mole Man at April 27, 2009 10:02 AM

Ex-SFer,

Are you going to revisit your 350,000 structures thing, or not? You know only a fraction of those are ever on the market at any one time, right?

Regardless, let's take Sparky's 54,000 mortgates number, and working back from the 70/30 renter to owner ratio we see thrown around pretty often.

Thirty percent of 350,000 = 105,000. Is it reasonable to assume that half of those properties have mortgages? (Sparky's 54K?) I'd think so. And I'd think most people who have lived here any appreciable amount of time, or you yourself, being a native and all, would agree. Many of the properties bought prior to the last 12 or 13 years ago are going to be free and clear. Not to mention the people who have held property for decades, absentee owners, multiple property owners, etc.

Of the 54K mortgages, how many are going to be in trouble at any one time? On the market at any one time? Anecdotally I obviously agree with Hangemhi. A lot of the transactions I've personally witnessed included a significant amount of cash, which is going to facilitate refinancing if push comes to shove.

Posted by: anonn at April 27, 2009 10:16 AM

The house will not age well and neither will the owners.

Posted by: redseca2 at April 27, 2009 2:32 PM

MC3 -- they sound like awful neighbors, but you gotta admit it'd be pretty neat to be SO rich you could do just about anything you wanted!

The fact that all their neighbors now hate them probably means nothing to them.

I bet they throw great parties.

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at April 27, 2009 2:55 PM

Thanks Tripp.

Anonn, why are you taking 30% of 350k structures? Obviously someone owns (and may have a mortgage on) the 70% of structures that are rented.

Posted by: shza at April 27, 2009 3:02 PM

Yeah, you're right about that. And who is to say fully rented out properties won't be sold? They are all the time. It's really tough to quantify. If you've ever used title search software, as I have, you'd be amazed at how many absentee landlords and fully paid off properties there are too. It made sense in the context of toxic mortgage resets to talk about half of the mortgages. Which we were told was 54K, and the numbers seemed to sync up. If you have a better way of looking at it, I'd like to know.

Posted by: anonn at April 27, 2009 3:24 PM

"...unsafe, unpermitted, two story skateboard ramp in the yard..."

So there's a code for building a skateboard ramp now ? "Well, you're gonna have to replace that section of OSB with 1/2 plywood and use a 4" nailing pattern if you want me to sign off on this".

And I thought that safety was pretty low on the list of skate stunt terrain attributes. Check out an extreme skating video some time.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at April 27, 2009 5:24 PM

fu bu guo san dai - Wealth does not pass three generations (chinese proverb)

First generation: wealth generation
Second generation: wealth preservation
Third generation: wealth destruction

I hope they are generation 1...

Posted by: San FronziScheme at April 27, 2009 6:10 PM

Sheez, this post sure got legs...later on 'boarder dude!

P.S. Your digs belong more in the mish than stuffy ass schmoe valley. Be a true trustafarian hipster!

(ok, time for din-din).

Posted by: 45yo hipster at April 27, 2009 6:44 PM

I found the website of the guy who creates the space invaders tiles : http://www.space-invaders.com/som.html

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at May 31, 2009 10:34 AM

In 1968 my father painstaking refurbished this delapidated house to its original state. He worked many hours bringing it back to its edwardian glory on weekends and afterwork. the hall had leather wainscotting and he stipped off the paint and handrubbed it to its natural state. the kitchen was modernized at that time but kept with the edwardian theme. It is sad to take such a glorius old house in a neighborhood with other lovely victorian and edwardian homes paint it black and modernize it to something that belongs in SOMA or in a industrial loft.

Posted by: margie at September 1, 2009 7:32 PM

very very trippy - i grew up in this house. i can't figure out where my bedroom has gone, become part of the kitchen? yeah for ridiculous money, its just my childhood home

Posted by: city girl at September 27, 2010 9:23 PM

UPDATE: 264 Clipper is now on the market and listed for $2,250,000.

Posted by: SocketSite at October 23, 2012 10:20 AM

UPDATE: 264 Clipper has sold for $1,895,000.

Posted by: SocketSite at January 18, 2013 2:17 PM

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