CFAH

Symphony Towers on opening day (www.SocketSite.com)
We might not have an official tally for this past weekend’s “grand opening” of Symphony Towers, but we do have one plugged-in reader’s report (and photo):

Buyers (including many investors) starting lining up at 6am for a chance at one of those 350k studios. From the look of things, Symphony was well on their way to selling out their first 50 homes… We were there till 1pm [on Saturday] and by then 30+ units were already reserved.

Any visitors to the sales office on Sunday care to report in on day two?
The SocketSite Scoop On Sales At Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness) [SocketSite]
Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness Avenue) [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by symphony buyer

    Hehe, I’m one of those in the crowd 🙂
    Yes, it’s true. People starting lining up at dawn. Most bought the studios and 1 bedrooms. And Symphony was giving a 3% discount to the first 50 buyers.
    Studios ranged from 345k to over 400k for a 400/sqft studio. One bedrooms ranged from 525k and up. I would say half were first time buyers, and half investors looking to rent their units. The line reminded me of the bubble days of 2004-2005…

  2. Posted by VanNess

    any idea what the sqft was for the 1 bedrooms? how were the views?

  3. Posted by Curious

    Symphony buyer – Congrats on getting a purchase. What do you think the typical profile is of someone spending $1,000/sqft for these places? Single, couple etc? Was nobody afraid of all the negativity being spewed by blogs and the media? Are you not afraid the economy and real estate market is going down?

  4. Posted by symphony buyer

    1 bedroom range from 720 to maybe 750 sqft. Views were ok, nothing special unless you had views of City Hall. Then there’s the noisy Van Ness views and the quiet inner courtyard views.
    Curious,
    I didn’t buy the studios. I got a 1 bedroom which calculated to $700sqft. I think that is a fair deal for a new condo in the middle of the city. Most of the buyers were single and couples and lots of investors.

  5. Posted by etslee

    It kind of annoys me that there were so many investors who just want to rent out their units. With such demand, can’t they let first time buyers who actually want to live there have first dibs? Plus, renters generally don’t keep up their units.

  6. Posted by anon

    Plus, renters generally don’t keep up their units.
    And they also generally have fleas. Shouldn’t the health department get involved? That many renters in one place is a health hazard. Dirty proletariat throngs!

  7. Posted by 94114

    “Plus, renters generally don’t keep up their units”
    And at least half the single family homes in this city are in desperate need of a paint job.
    I’m a homeowner but I get tired of the tenant bashing.

  8. Posted by etslee

    Let me clarify: most renters generally don’t keep up their units as well as owners. That’s been my personal experience in my building anyways. And as most condo shoppers can attest, you always ask what percentage of condos are rentals.

  9. Posted by 94114

    And drive around the city and see how many owners show absolutely no pride of ownership, even in really nice neighborhoods. Then they will tell you they can’t afford to paint their buildings because of low rent paying tenants even though they’re sitting on thousands of dollars in equity.

  10. Posted by Dude

    “It kind of annoys me that there were so many investors who just want to rent out their units.”
    Don’t worry, the math is against them. Unless they’re putting lots down, odds are they’ll bleed cash every month trying to rent these for enough to cover their costs. Most “investors” are flippers who haven’t gotten the memo yet.

  11. Posted by anon

    Agreed with 94114 – sometimes rental units may not be kept up as well, but oftentimes that is still the owner’s fault. The interior that I am in charge of (I rent) is immaculate – however, trying to get the building owner (12 unit building) to keep up a decent paint job or change light bulbs is a chore.

  12. Posted by anon

    Most “investors” are flippers who haven’t gotten the memo yet.
    Or they know that rents are continuing to skyrocket.

  13. Posted by SFCondo Guy

    And you apparently missed the memo that rents are skyrocketing. The divide between rent and mortgage payments is getting increasingly narrow.

  14. Posted by zig

    “And you apparently missed the memo that rents are skyrocketing. The divide between rent and mortgage payments is getting increasingly narrow.”
    Can someone break this down. What would one of these 750K 1 bedroom places rent for these days? How does this compare to a mortgage plus I am sure 400$ per in association dues

  15. Posted by Dude

    Great question, zig. By glancing over craigslist briefly, seems that an average 1-bedroom in the city is renting for around $1900/month now. Call it $2,100 with parking.
    $2,100/month, on a 30-year fixed at 6%, covers $350K in mortgage. Forget about property taxes, HOA fees, etc. To break even on the mortgage alone, you need to put $150K down on one of the smaller 1-bedrooms.
    This is just back of the envelope. Maybe I’m wrong – can one of the savvy investors out there break the numbers down another way?

  16. Posted by SFCondo Guy

    Keep in mind, zig, that the one-bedrooms are not $750,000 — they’re in the low $500s.

  17. Posted by zig

    We are not even in the ballpark of rentals being a wise investment in the Bay Area right now
    I tend to think it is the flippers not even considering renting

  18. Posted by Amen Corner

    “And you apparently missed the memo that rents are skyrocketing. The divide between rent and mortgage payments is getting increasingly narrow.”
    Not even close by my current calculations. Rents maybe rising, but so have mortgage rates. When you take the after-tax carrying costs of interest and/or loss of interest on equity, taxes, hoa and/or maintenance, and insurance, you’re still looking at 75 to 85% more for a new buyer versus a renter. It’s going to take many years of significant rent increases for the equation to come close to balance (or mortgage rates to fall substantially).

  19. Posted by zig

    thanks I made an error there
    I see 500-700K which I always read to mean most of the good units are closer to 600K-700K range but maybe thats wrong
    I still think investors can’t possibly be buying these places with the idea of renting them out

  20. Posted by Amen Corner

    “I still think investors can’t possibly be buying these places with the idea of renting them out”
    If you believe that there will be significant future appreciation, then why wouldn’t you? Not that I’m arguing there will be, but almost certainly investors are looking at capital gains as opposed to rental income to make their profit.

  21. Posted by wannabe investor

    What’s with all the anti-investors? Nothing’s wrong with investing in real estate? Sure, people can lose money investing in real estate in SF. Imagine that. But let’s be open minded now. If I had the capital, I would own tons of real estate in my portfolio, along with my securities and other assets. Not everyone is as poor as you. (By “you”, I’m referring to the ones who are complaining about investors and landlords.)

  22. Posted by Jeffrey W. Baker

    First, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) buy a condo if you want to invest in real estate. There are tons of ways to invest in real estate that don’t involve putting 100% of your capital on a single play. You can buy shares in a REIT, or buy shares of a builder, among other strategies.
    To call these condo flippers “investors” is to soil the good name of actual investors.

  23. Posted by Dude

    Nothing wrong with investing. But flipping isn’t investing. Even Kiyosaki, the acclaimed guru of real estate investors, has said that you shouldn’t buy to flip, but buy only property that’s cash flow positive or that you plan to renovate. Flippers aren’t investors, they’re speculators, i.e. gamblers.

  24. Posted by TICpimp

    2 points:
    1- if these 1BR’s are around $500-550k, that indeed is a great price relative to other new bldgs. and if you have the cash to put down 20-30%, it makes sense as a buy & hold rental, because remember folks, NO RENT CONTROL on new construction!! now i ask you, what is sweeter than owning rental property in SF w/o RC? not much, IMHO 🙂 add in the future appreciation potentail, and you have a pretty solid RE investment play.
    2- i doubt anyone is going to ‘flip’ these units. flipping is typically done when a run down unit is quickly renovated and resold. also, flippers buy pre construction units at a specific price, speculating that the units will fetch more when completed. flipping is definitly high risk (as little value is usually added to the project) and makes zero sense for this property.

  25. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    “renters generally don’t keep up their units.”
    come on – isn’t this really owners of rental units don’t keep them up? The whole point of renting is that you are paying the owner a security deposit and monthly fee in exchange for a place to live and proper maintainance on the part of the owner.
    You can complain that renters damage the property but that is what the security deposit is for and it is the reponsibility of the owner to make repairs, perform maintainance, and overall up keep of the property.
    While the renters may not make the owners job easy, it is the owner who is responsible here.

  26. Posted by AC

    Even if you’re an investor who will rent the unit and it is not cash flow positive, so what. Assuming you have enough income, you’re building equity into another asset. And a the current amount of mortgage payment, property tax, and HOA will seem tiny in 10 years from now.

  27. Posted by Amen Corner

    They will only seem tiny if there is continued significant appreciation over the next ten years. By my calculations, after tax carrying costs vs rents mean you need appreciation in the 3% to 4% just to break even. Historically, SF real estate has exceeded this, but I am not so sure it will over the next decade.

  28. Posted by Anon

    Great point by Amen Corner. If prices continue to appreciate by over 4% per year, these “investments” will probably look pretty good over time. But, maybe the coming decade will be different.

  29. Posted by John

    I came to read more about Symphony Towers purchase experience, and instead found a bunch of landlords, tenants and wanna-be homeowners bashing each other. Get a life people. There are forums dedicated to such arguments. Stop contaminating this wonderful website!
    [Editor’s Note: Don’t despair, we’re about to start cracking down on comments (once again).]

  30. Posted by 94109

    I am a 1st time buyer and I was one of the 1st 50 that purchased a 1 bdrm on 7/21. Most of the people there were looking to buy a studio with parking and a city hall view. Severel 1 bdrm with den’s were also sold that morning. I don’t think 50 units were sold on 7/21 because they offered the 3% discount the following weekend as well.
    I choose to purchase a 715 sq. ft 1 bdrm with deeded parking overlooking the courtyard in the Turk bldg. I find the HOA fees too high, almost $480 with no amenities. Looking across at Opera Plaza, where nicely remodeled 1 bdrm’s are selling between $450K-$480K, I wonder if buying a 1 bdrm for over $500K in this area is a wise decision.
    Even if I stay there for 2-3 years, will the values of 1 bdrm’s in the Van Ness corridor and Civic Center area pass the $530K-550K mark?

  31. Posted by 94117

    I bought in the Turk building too! When I looked at Opera Plaza I was not impressed. Most of the kitchens and bathrooms were not well updated and there is NO parking. Personally, I think the whole area will get better as there are already new construction projects clearly in the works. Many one bedrooms in SOMA were over $600 so I thought in the $500’s, brand new w/parking was good. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that these 1 bedrooms could be over $600 in a couple yrs.

  32. Posted by perplexed

    “Severel 1 bdrm with den’s were also sold that morning.”
    They had 1 bd with den’s? I guess they forgot to add that to their website! Any idea on how much those were going for?

  33. Posted by 94109

    The 1 bdrm with dens were going for the mid $600’s.
    I think till date, they have sold about 50+ units.
    Does anyone else have any updates? I wonder how many people who received the 3% discount actually signed their contracts?

  34. Posted by Person

    These are definately not flippers because as a Buyer you have to sign a document which states that you will NOT be able to sell before 1 year. I also believe that approx 40 sold the first weekend and most went into contract the next week. Very few of which wre 2 BR’s. I think it is a nice looking building and has many affordably priced units.
    I agree with Anon about the back and forth bantering and bashing. Please. Lets keep this site friendly.

  35. Posted by anon

    There are 6 1bdrm and dens, 2 sold on the first release and 2 more are available on this second release. Quite spacious w/private terraces… wish I could have afforded one, but am happy with my 1bdrm purchase.

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