CFAH

188 King Street (Image Source: 188king.com)
Is it really possible that there have been only three sales in 188 King Street since our sales update in August? If so, we estimate that 32 of the 44 condos remain available. Two first-hand accounts from SocketSite tipsters (tips@socketsite.com):

“Right before leaving for vacation at the end of August, we stopped by 188 King again because we really do like a particular unit there. It was the weekend after their price drops (the unit we like was lowered from $925k to $825k). We got a hard sell…from the agent who warned us that the unit would definitely be sold by the time we returned in two weeks from our trip as the price reductions were generating lots of renewed interest. Well, here we are, well into October and if the MLS is correct, it looks like there’s been little to no movement of those units, including the one we like.”
“Based on your last update we took another look at 188 King last week. Couldn’t help but notice that half of the ten available units in ‘Phase II’ were leftover from Phase I.”

It’s true, there are currently 9 Active listed condos in “Phase II,” five of which (201, 203, 306, 404, and 503) were available in “Phase I.” We can’t help but wonder, is the stumbling block product, price, or positioning?
188 King Street: Sales Update [SocketSite]
Price Reductions At 188 King [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Anonymous

    “We can’t help but wonder, is the stumbling block product, price, or positioning?”
    How about all three? My guess is that we’re finally hitting the “luxury condo” saturation point, where some properties will still be able to command premium dollars (the Rincons, for example), but there are no so many developments that they eventually become interchangeable, with buyers taking their time to make up their minds and wondering what they’re really getting for their $750K. Speculators are also leaving the market, so there are fewer “buy and flip” sales going on. I still maintain that there is a vast untapped market of young professionals (like myself) who would be thrilled to get into “less finished” but relatively inexpensive developments, and that these would sell out at a dizzying pace – create a development of $200K studios and $350+K one bedrooms, let the owners worry about what finishes and appliances they want, and watch the contracts fly out of the sales office.

  2. Posted by Anonymous

    I would add location as well to 188 King’s lack of movement. It’s not exactly the easiest place to get into and out of if you a commuter – especially on a game day.

  3. Posted by Anonymous

    In response to the previous post. This has nothing to do with the saturation of “luxury condos.” This is not a condiminium building, it’s a loft building. Therein lies the problem. Pricing is the second problem. But, if you think that you will ever find a one bedroom in this city for $350K, you are in for a rude awakening. What you seem to ignore is that the finishes are not what account for the high cost of constructing housing here. It’s a combination of the land, obtaining the entitlements for the land, building costs and marketing costs that account for the pricing. Not putting in bamboo floors and granite counter tops is not going to reduce the cost enough to allow them to sell a one bedroom for $350K.

  4. Posted by Anonymous

    Good point that there is demand for less pricey units with either a lower level of finish (or a smaller unit). I recall a loft development on 7th/Howard sold their units unfinished a few years back. Generally though with people paying most of their savings and being stretched to buy a place, a lot of people don’t have the money to do renovation work right after a purchase and it is a little tricky to finance such an arrangement. However, a studio for $200K and a one bedroom for $350K? Not likely anytime soon. The land for these projects costs around $150K a unit (for very average locations mind you) and construction costs are $300-$400 a square foot for pretty basic developments last time I checked. Throw in the value of someone’s knowledge, time, effort, and risk to construct these things along with the interest costs over a two-three year horizon and then you’ll get closer to reaching the break even point of a lot of these projects (regardless of who finishes out the last bit of interior construction).

  5. Posted by Dude

    All true, but with the market slowing and layoffs occurring in construction, costs may drop soon as builders/developers squeeze margins to stay in business. I think the price of lumber has already fallen sharply (which doesn’t affect SOMA highrises but does affect other types of construction). Cement and steel are the big two, though. Not sure what they’re doing.
    As a footnote, $350K for a one bedroom is unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility. Figure that an average one bedroom is 700 sq. ft., which puts it at $500/sq. ft. SOMA lofts were going for $400/sq. ft. in late 2001.

  6. Posted by deshard

    I’d like to add that location isn’t as big of a deal as it will likely be for the folks at Rincon (who I think are desparately trying to convince themselves they’ve scored, so to speak). We visited 188 on a gameday and it wasn’t bad at all. King St. during the game was open, it was easy to drive through and it was remarkably quiet.
    188 is a small loft complex (less than 50 units). That to me is a huge plus over a building with hundreds of units. Many people, like us, can commute to work from that area via Muni or in my case, I could easily walk.
    The problem to me at 188, after having visited several times is two-fold.
    One: the lack of storage. Other than two cabinets and six built in drawers in the area between the bedroom and master bath, there is not an iota of utility storage. (Note: what you see in the promotional photos that feature closets are the huge $1.6m and up units, of which there are a handful. The majority of units hover around 1100sq ft.) The developer should have invested a little money into each of these units and included built in storage cabinets, etc. in the area between the kitchen and the downstairs bath. I mean really, to buy one of these means off the top having to invest a few-thousand in some built-ins so you have a place to put your vacuum cleaner, coats, household products, etc). Big mistake, I think.
    Two: the kitchens. My partner thinks I’m putting too much emphasis on this, but the fact that the kitchens feature a Viking range, a Bosch dishwasher and an Amana fridge is a mistake (I still equate the brand with TV game shows). It’s a mish mash, and for the style-brand conscious buyer, it’s a turn-off. When it comes time for re-sale, you want to advertise “A Viking kitchen”, “A Bosch kitchen”, etc. For better or worse, the other major developments got this right (The Palms: all Bosch, The Lansing: all GE Profile, Shoreline: all GE Monogram just to name a few).
    As well, someone on a previous post regarding 188 King mentioned the McDonald’s behind the project and the closeness of the yet to open 170 off Third development. We spent enough time there to know that for us, they’re non-issues. We could neither hear the drive-thru, smell any french fries and with proper blinds and furniture orientation, the closest units from 170 off Third would not have intrusive views into the 188 King units that we liked.
    There you have it; my two cents, although for a third penny, I’ll tell you that when they drop them another 10%, I’ll buy.

  7. Posted by Anonymous

    “I’d like to add that location isn’t as big of a deal as it will likely be for the folks at Rincon (who I think are desparately trying to convince themselves they’ve scored, so to speak).”
    That’s a really funny comment! 🙂

  8. Posted by Anonymous

    “I’d like to add that location isn’t as big of a deal as it will likely be for the folks at Rincon (who I think are desparately trying to convince themselves they’ve scored, so to speak).”
    Based on the comments that I’ve read, I’d say it’s more like the 1Rincon NON-buyers have been desperately trying to convince themselves that the buyers have NOT scored.
    The reason that 188 King is struggling is that it’s basically an apartment complex with high-end finishes. If I want a cookie cutter apartment that is being sold as luxury condo, I’ll move to Texas.
    Sorry 188 King, but the wave of the future in South Beach/Rincon hill is the Infinity, 45 Lansing and 1Rincon. Your prices are going to get squeezed by those new developments.

  9. Posted by Anonymous

    I have visited these units three or four times. Unlike the poster above and other posts, the mis-matched kitchens don’t bother me, aside from the fact that the Amana fridge seems out of place with Viking and Bosch. I think they could have sold the kitchen with separate appliances better if they had gone with a Sub-Zero, so while they may not have matched it would have seemed that they went with a percieved top of the line item for each appliance, which would have been fine, much better than all GE, for instance. Using Amana looks like they ran out of money at the end and makes one wonder what other corners they cut.
    The location does not bother me either. Yes, ballgames can be difficult, but not as bad as I would have thought. Even on a ballgame day its a breeze compared to getting to the Met or the Lansing because of the Bay Bridge traffic any time between 3pm and 7:30.
    The big thing is the closet space. The built in units in the bedroom do not really offer that much storage for clothes. Its the equivalent of a very small closet, not at all what you would expect in a master bedroom. Worst of all, though, is that’s it! No coat closet. No place to store a broom, mop, or vaccum. Its incomprehensible. And building storage between the kitchen and bath as a previous poster suggests would ruin the effect of the glass bridge over that area, one of the really nice architectural touches. Lack of closet space was a major, major gaffe.
    In the back of the building, you have a choice – the units to the right in the building look into 170 off Third and have no view. The units to the left of the building have a view, but you cannot open your door – ever – because of the McDonalds smell. Because of the price difference between the front and back I desperately tried to convince myself that I could live with it, but in each of my four visits the smell was strong and foul.

  10. Posted by Anonymous

    188 King is far from “cookie cutter” – it’s a building of lofts, while One Rincon, Infinity, 170 Off Third, etc. are all more traditional “apartment” type of buildings.

  11. Posted by Tipster

    You folks have it all wrong. I’m the developer at 1Ronco and here’s my take
    1. The lack of closets is not a disadvantage, it’s a SELLING POINT!!! The condo association will be hiring *butlers* and we’ll store all your clothes in the garage. Need a belt, just call the butler, who will bring it right up. Mop and broom space? ha! Just call room service who will clean up that nasty spill. Just raise the association fees to $5000 per month. My idiot buyers would pay and think they were getting a *luxury* apartment, just like I sold them on my lack of sufficient parking spaces, ahem, valet parking at my 1Ronco development! With the clostes in the garage, there will be less parking. But this isn’t a disadvantage, it’s a “luxury feature” because we’ll hire valets here too. I saved a bundle on closets and now you all can pay an extra $2500 per month for a valet. See how easy this is!!
    2. Wrong kitchen appliances/proximity to MacDonalds problem can be fixed in one fell swoop. Can you see where I am headed with this? Pull out the kitchens altogether and call it another bedroom. You won’t even need to add a closet for the bedroom with the butlers I described above. Then the condo association can raise the fees another $1000 and hire “room service attendants” who will bring anything up from Macdonalds your heart desires. Want some nuggets? No problemo, the extra $1000 condo fee person/insurance/uniform/vacation/health benefits person will be glad to bring it right up. Yes, you’re really living in the lap of luxury when even McDonalds hamburgers can be brought right up. We can even get a Ronald McDOnald costume for our alcoholic runners to wear when they bring the food up. At least they won’t be parking your cars like my guys at 1Ronco!!
    You guys need to think outside the box like I do. I build a *box* and take everything *out* of it (parking, dryer vents. etc.) and sell the remainder as luxury.

  12. Posted by deshard

    Perhaps my comment about Rincon in my first post on this blog was gratuitous, but I stand by my belief that getting to and from their garage will be adding more nightmare to the existing bad dream that is Harrison to the on ramp at 1st St. As well, this isn’t a competition between developments, it’s a blog about the status of sales at 188 King, but like many Socketsite blogs, it can’t help but attract comments from Rincon Hill chestbeaters.

  13. Posted by Dude

    Ha ha….too funny. Suggestion: stop wasting money on windows and just paint a scenic view on one of the walls. Give people one of those postcard views, like sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t spare the airbrush!

  14. Posted by Anonymous

    What is Tipster raving about? I don’t understand his post! ;-/

  15. Posted by Tipster

    I was pointing out that 1Rincon has all sorts of flaws that are billed as “luxury features”. The flaws with this place could be twisted around and sold as luxury features as well. All you have to do is get the association to pay for the fixes.
    No closets? hire butlers. Bad kitchens? hire runners. If 1Rincon can sell a lack of parking spaces as a luxury feature (when the condo fees will end up being outrageous to make up for it), anyone can do it, including 188 King.

  16. Posted by Anonymous

    I’ll stand by my comment on the location of 188 King not being the best, but that’s my feeling, and I understand the points of the other comments on that subject.
    But, I have to agree with the lack of storage. If I was the developer, I would offer some type of credit towards a local funiture store to allow the homeowner to buy additonal storage if a purchase is getting hung up on that point.
    As for the appliances, I do have to admit its a little weird on the mixed selection (I just updated my own kitchen, so this is fresh in my mind), although its not a big deal to me. I would have gone with Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Miele.

  17. Posted by Anonymous

    Take it easy on Tipster…….he’s just one of the many ranting bloggers that seem to be obsessed with 1Rincon.
    It’s actually quite a fascinating sociological event………do we ever get psychiatrists or psychologists interested in real estate on this blog? If so, I would suggest that one of them analyze of all of the hostility being directed at this inanimate object known as 1Rincon.
    I’d be curious to hear to diagnosis.
    [Editor’s Note: And if anyone comes up with a diagnosis, please just email it to us directly. Now back to the discussion of 188 King…]

  18. Posted by Anonymous

    The Editor’s point makes the earlier posts all the more hilarous. I was just about to ask, wasn’t this topic supposed to be dealing with 188 King? How did we get onto 1Rincon again. Jeez…
    [Editor’s Note: Yep.]

  19. Posted by Anonymous

    I still have yet to see anyone post a comment that they actually like the condos at 188 King and would love to live there. That might be clue into why owners are having a hard time selling their units.

  20. Posted by Anonymous

    Slow sales at 188 King: That’s what happens when they are asking condo prices for lofts.

  21. Posted by amused

    As the owner of a real loft, I’d like to propose that we stop using the term for newly constructed McLofts. A loft is an industrial space converted from its previous purpose. It naturally retains elements and characteristics of its previous usage. For those who prefer them, they offer an interesting alternative and, quite often, large spaces.
    A poorly designed condo with cement floors and a postage-stamp-sized mezzanine over the kitchen is NOT a loft. It’s a bad condo. Big difference.
    Another point: a good conversion loft carries a price premium. Go take a look at the Clocktower, Oriental Warehouse or 355 Bryant.

  22. Posted by realtor

    Lofts or condos, I happen to be one of the few who like 188 King. Sure, these units are “cookie cutter” and “boxes” but at least these are boxes with style compared to anything a few blocks away on Berry St.

  23. Posted by Anonymous

    Yes, realtor, the projects that have been built and are being built over on Berry are “toilets” if you judge them purely on a relative basis. I’m sure they’re quite nice in absolute terms, but still.

  24. Posted by Anonymous

    Have I entered a McYuppie purgatory here on Socket?
    Hearing all of you McYuppies balk at 900k+ cracker-jack boxes because your Ikea-catalog dreamlives are ravaged by clashing brands of kitchen apparati makes me want to hurl.
    do society a favor and sell you SUV’s and get rid of you designer chihuahua’s.
    p.s. these “condos” on socket are nothing more than cubes of drywall violated by neo-bahaus-Ikea’esq-wal-mart-quality-furniture and fixtures made by the indiginouse half naked children in indonesia. When a developer paints a white wall red, green, or any other “hip” color it doesnt automoatically make it worth $50k more folks.

  25. Posted by Anonymous

    Wow, this guy needs some help!
    Maybe he’s a life long disgruntled renter, or an investor that lost tons of money in real estate…

  26. Posted by amused

    I have no idea why that borderline psychotic rant was posted by Anonymous, but I do know where he/she stole it: Chuck Palahniuk. Two Ikea references sealed the deal.
    BTW — love the “indiginouse (sic) half naked children in indonesia” bit. Such a big word (indigenous), and such hopelessly incorrect usage.
    Fake lofts still suck.

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