CFAH

From a plugged-in reader and owner in The Infinity:

I walked through the tower last night and counted units that had not yet closed. You can do this by noting which ones are keyed for the master key. It was 63. That is a lot of units to not be closed and I know they are not delaying any closings. The people I know were virtually begged and asked to close asap for the last few months.

Total units in Infinity’s first phase of tower 1 (301 Main) and two mid-rises (333 Main and 318 Spear): 365.
A Listed Infinity Resale (301 Main #4B) And Reader’s Report On Sales [SocketSite]
The Infinity Sales Center: SocketSite’s Inside Scoop [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by chuckie

    What’s the total number of units?

  2. Posted by tony

    I assume this is for the first Infinity tower? Are they actively selling the second tower at this point?
    Looks like Rincon might have been smarter to wait (more likely, had no choice) on their second tower; speaking of which, now that it’s October, how’s that August groundbreaking coming along?

  3. Posted by cooper

    Nice info. 83% closed then. That’s not as bad as I thought however, it is bad in the context of the 2nd building being ready to move in pretty soon. They either have to drop prices on the remaining 63 or they have to just wait it out. OUCH!
    BTW. I give the ORH sales center much higher marks than infinity. Infinity Sales center is kinda non repsonsive and not very good at follow up. The builders need to lite a fire under those guys.
    [Editor’s Note: Not Quite. 83% would assume 100% closed in the mid-rises. Closer to 75% closed in the tower alone based on the above.]

  4. Posted by anon

    To have 17% (or 25%) of the units not closed at this point sounds exactly normal. Usually the last available unit in a tower would sell in 12-24 months after the first unit is sold.

  5. Posted by tony

    @anon 857am
    except that units are flowing back to the sales office & they are sitting on a whole additional tower full of inventory. minor detail, ya know…

  6. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    So what’s the way to tell a lock is master-keyed? Is is documented in a report somewhere so that a quick glimpse of a report can tell you, or do you have to do this first hand – physically having to walk around with the master key and try it in all locks?
    If the latter is true, then I find it somewhat creepy that there is a person systematically walking every single floor of an occupied building with a key (and how did they come upon said key?) and shoving it in a lock. Imagine if you lived there, were home and heard someone “attempting” to break in.
    Thinking about this some more, the fact that if I lived there (I don’t) and heard at least one person is walking the floors (with a master key, or even without) would have me raising a flag with the HOA. If one wants to take a walk, the Embarcadero is a block away… 🙂

  7. Posted by phatty

    So this tipster went up & down 30+ floors and checked out the keys to each unit? That’s dedication to plugging in!
    But how do you tell if a unit is keyed to the master key???
    And to address anon @ 8:57 – I’d say this is a very bad sign. If the Infinity is quoting 85-90% in contract or sold, and 75% is sold; that leaves 10% in contract that haven’t closed yet. The only reason I can think of that they haven’t closed by now is because they’ve told the Infinity they will walk away. Infinity has no incentive to update their #’s to include walk-aways. That’s what I would do if I were Infinity – look at these people as still “in-contract” until I can quietly resell their units to legally, but unethically, inflate my #’s.

  8. Posted by Ryan

    kudos to whomever went to every door with the master key. I hate to say it but if I had one I would think about doing the same… Okay maybe not but thats one deticated tipster!
    Now we have an accurate count!

  9. Posted by anon

    What a creep…

  10. Posted by tipster

    ^^^Infinity Salesperson Upset That The True Numbers Got Out^^^

  11. Posted by AnotherOwner

    You don’t need a master key – the master lock LOOKS different you ninnies.

  12. Posted by ex SF-er

    too funny that people immediately think that some Jack the Ripper is going from room to room trying out a mystical master key!
    Thanks for the update!
    sometimes people think it’s “bad” to sell the later units out at a lower price, becuase it drops values for the rest of the unit. However, I think it’s GOOD to get people in the place so they can all share the HOA fees, and also so that you don’t have uninhabited spaces. things can go wrong in uninhabited domiciles. (water damage, etc)
    and I’m not being hypocritical. this year we had a foreclosure (severe mold/water damage) sell for 50% of previous price, and now we just had another home sell (again, needs to be gutted and remodeled) for 60% of previous price.
    I’m overjoyed because now we have 2 less eyesores, and also less vacancies (for squatters or whatever).

  13. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    “Mystical master key.” Isn’t that a story line from the fourth Lord of the Rings movie? 🙂

  14. Posted by anon

    which units are left and how much are they going for / how much drop. this will be very interesting to hear.
    Is the developer/sale office allowed to lie when asked on closings?

  15. Posted by anon

    You don’t need a master key – the master lock LOOKS different you ninnies.
    Is that right? My understanding is that once the new owner takes possession, some pins in the lock fall so that the master key no longer works. IOW–it’s not that obvious from looking at the outside that there is no longer a master key.

  16. Posted by chuckie

    Goodbye condos, hello apartments 🙂
    This from today’s Mercury News front page:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_10602916
    I know sf is different, but still!

  17. Posted by ?

    I live at the Infinity and LOVE it!
    When we moved in they told us how to distinguish if the unit has been sold by looking at the lock, no key needed (I wont divulge details as it is not my business nor right to). I thought it was to make a resident feel more at home in knowing if you have neighbors etc. and I thought it was a nice touch and really appreciated it.
    The Infinity has been nothing but spectacular in pre and post sale doing all they can to make us feel at home.
    I find it disturbing that a resident decided to walk all the floors and actually take count – strange! Worse – I find it horrrible that someone would take advantage of details given as a courtesy and than post the info on a thread like this where the info can easily turn into negative ammo towards a great place. You would think this guy would have a vested interest in being a bit smarter about the message he sends out. What a moron.

  18. Posted by condoshopper

    nothing disturbing about wanting to know how many units are empty in the building.

  19. Posted by ?

    I should also note that once you move in the master key no longer works – we were told they change the locks… so you can stop making a big deal out of nothing.

  20. Posted by diemos

    “I find it horrrible that someone would take advantage of details given as a courtesy and than post the info on a thread like this where the info can easily turn into negative ammo towards a great place.”
    The truth shall set you free.

  21. Posted by cooper

    Maybe the kid is a renter and wants to buy eventually. I don’t think there is anything creepy about counting either. If I was there I’d totally count to see if the sales office was feeding me a line of BS

  22. Posted by huh?

    “I find it horrrible that someone would take advantage of details given as a courtesy and than post the info on a thread like this where the info can easily turn into negative ammo towards a great place.”
    Perhaps if the Infinity sales office were truthful about the actual number of closings, residents wouldn’t need to resort to methods such as these. This appears the only way to get an honest picture of the building. Blame is best directed towards the Mark Company for their lack of transparency and veracity.

  23. Posted by chuckie

    “The truth shall set you free. ”
    Second that. And…
    Truth wants to come out.

  24. Posted by anon

    In my experience, all sales offices keep their sales/contracts/prices very close to the vest. Not sure the Infinity is any worse than the others.

  25. Posted by redseca2

    It is standard on any construction project, not just a condo building project, that the contract documents require “construction cores” be installed in the locksets and that those then be replaced when the project is turned over to the owner. This is simple security to create a firewall between keys handed out to every tom, dick and tile-setter and the new owner. The “difference” at Infinity is probably just the metal finish.

  26. Posted by ?

    Look I agree about the honesty bit but I personally dont believe the team is being dishonest. Everyone is entitled to an opin.
    What I am interested in is how anyone can say the numbers are off when sales status changes daily, in this market crazy things happen like units in contract than not closing the day of escrow, others going back to market and getting sold the next day. I dont doubt the numbers being presented by the sales center – having bought here I can tell you that many of the other units we were interested in sold, and that many of those on the list are still selling even in todays market.

  27. Posted by cooper

    Sales #s change daily? I’ve been hearing an 80% closed or in contract # since last year +-5%
    Lumping the two numbers allows the sales office misleads buyers into thinking that it’s all sold when they are artificially keeping the #s high by not disclosing people dropping off contract.
    It’s really misleading and while not illegal it should be.
    Thanks to the intrepid brave soul who did some counting to give us the truth.

  28. Posted by phatty

    “I find it horrrible that someone would take advantage of details given as a courtesy and than post the info on a thread like this where the info can easily turn into negative ammo towards a great place.”
    So you find it disturbing that someone found a way to provide society with an accurate update of the sales – which is an indicator hugely important to potential buyers when trying to make informative decisions.
    But you don’t find it disturbing that projects like this hold all the important info to themselves (thus giving them leverage over the consumer) and inflating their #’s by any means necessary?
    If that’s your standpoint, hat’s an interesting perspective. Not a very respectable one, but interesting nonetheless.

  29. Posted by dede

    @ ex SF-er at October 1, 2008 10:04 AM
    HOA fees are paid by the developer until a unit sells the first time. So the scenario you describe doesn’t apply in this situation. You are correct in describing what can happen with foreclosures in existing developments and how the rest of the owners can find themselves in a position of making up the rest of the HOA dues – or cutting services – or some combination….

  30. Posted by recent infinity buyer

    Brilliant idea! I wish I had thought of this. It is quite easy to tell which units are closed and which are not via the lock. As with others, I won’t share how to do this, but it’s easy. And yes, all locks are changed at the closing so that only the owner has a set of key to the unit.
    My interactions with the sales office have always been very positive – they were very responsive as we were going through the process. I would agree that it was tough getting a specific percentage of the number of units sold/close when we were buying. However, by looking at the availabilty sheet that the agent had, you could get a good sense of this.
    Tishman Spier has been very, very responsive to the homeowner’s feedback and should be acknowledged for this. As an example, there were some issues with the gym (unfinished appearance of the ceiling, not enough mirrors, need for additional lighting, etc)that the homeowners asked to be addressed. Tishman did so with the attitude of “we want this to be right”. In this specific issue, they closed the gym for 3 weeks, sent everyone to Crunch or the YMCA free of charge and addressed all the owner issues. A very proactive stance. Not to say that I agree with all their choices (e.g. cheap looking tile in the second bathrooms) but I endorse them as a developer.

  31. Posted by Justin

    I have to agree with “recent infinity buyer.” We bought a unit in the tower that fell through when the original people could not get financing. While I don’t think we got a “bargain,” I do think the experience of living in this building is really top notch. We have lived in other luxury buildings in other cities. Our last place was a condo above a hotel. We were worried we would miss the room service and other hotel amenities here but the staff professionalism and responsiveness and the building amenities have far surpassed our expectations. Tishman has made numerous positive changes in response to homeowner feedback and continue to do so. We did not buy to flip and plan to live here for the long haul. I am not worried about a temporary reduction in home values.

  32. Posted by Infinite_issues

    ^^^ Looks like Tishman decided now would be a good time to roll out the damage control machine. So, here come all the soft ‘happy resident’ endorsements.

  33. Posted by ?

    Does anyone have any proof that the numbers being represented are not correct?
    “Sales #s change daily? I’ve been hearing an 80% closed or in contract # since last year +-5%”
    Could it not be that given the state of the econ that possibly those were the numbers and now well maybe its a bit lower, a bit higher or what ever it may be today…due to fall outs etc.? The market is extremely volatile in case you have not noticed.
    I agree lumping closed and in contract together distorts the info for perspective buyers so they could break the numbers I suppose but the task I think would be a bit daunting in particular given the way the market is today.
    Do any buildings break a part the numbers?
    All I am saying is that in all fairness unless we have the numbers in front of us, and literally call in and get a % quoted by the sales team that day it is a bit unfair in my mind to point fingers.

  34. Posted by anon

    ^^^ Looks like Tishman decided now would be a good time to roll out the damage control machine. So, here come all the soft ‘happy resident’ endorsements.
    Haha. I live there and echo the comments above. I don’t know why it’s hard to believe that people are happy living there and not deluding themselves.
    Good location. Fantastic amenities (I use the gym and pool every day–it’s better, really, than any of the other gyms in the city–crunch, club one, YMCA…). Concierge is very helpful. business center (I use that all the time too). Movie room, etc.

  35. Posted by tipster

    “If I was there I’d totally count to see if the sales office was feeding me a line of BS ”
    You can pretty much assume that at least some of it is BS. I wouldn’t have needed a lock count to tell you that the unsold numbers were higher than they were letting on.
    And if 25% fell out of Infinity, you gotta figure the number is higher at its ugly stepsister out by the freeway.
    ORH isn’t going to get the second tower funded for years with these kinds of numbers.

  36. Posted by ?

    100% – the assumption that 25% fell out of contract = 75% sold and some note they have been told 80-90% +/=5% variable… well if you take 75% and add in the variable are you not at 80% in the tower at least?
    If we dont have the exact numbers of how many sold or fell through not just in the tower but also the mid rises how do we know how much and if the counts are distorted?
    We are all guessing. Maybe the tipster will go count the other buildings too? kidding.
    Look either way if you all think the counts are falling, prices are going down and the sky is falling… is it not a good time to actually go to the sales center, get the current numbers and maybe see if you can snag a piece of the rock at a decent price?
    After reading all this, it makes me even happier I bought because I can stop worrying about all this stuff and live my life.

  37. Posted by Willow

    “I am not worried about a temporary reduction in home values.”
    Well it depends upon your definition of temporary, doesn’t it?
    The conventional wisdom was that condo prices would bounce back in the next 3-4 years. However most are admitting it may be more like 10 years before we get back to the same levels as the late 05 / early 06 madness. I wouldn’t count on any significant appreciation for a very long time on these units. (Which says a lot considering this is one of the best developments in the city.)
    BTW, Is there anything preventing Tower 2 from going rental?

  38. Posted by steve

    There are a couple of sales people who are absolutely the worst. They had no manners and one of them with an English accent was uninformed about the project and could not provide any information. If I am spending that kind of money on a place, I don’t want to be treated that way. I never went back.

  39. Posted by unearthly

    Well it’s a great place, especially when you’re renting a high floor unit :-). The warranty service is extremely responsive and the place is pretty empty so no lines at the gym or in the pool.

  40. Posted by abc

    Usually!!! I only read and never comment, however, have to applause for this “witty act”. Living here for so long, have been wondering WHEN the full house will happen. You know what, at night, not many lights, day time, not many curtains. I started to wonder I made the right decision or not. I try not to care and live here happily. Well, seems hard! hehe.
    Another thing is that I moved from South Bay, the South Bay developer behaves differently! Very transparent. They put a list out for your reference. Therefore, not all developers are like Tishman. Not saying it’s good or bad just not on the buyer side. That’s all!
    I really hope that Tower II will not be a rental because that will definitely drag down the house price. 🙁
    Good day!

  41. Posted by Infinite_issues

    “Is there anything preventing Tower 2 from going rental?”
    Good question. With 63 non-closed units in Tower 1 and about 30 or so between 333 Main and 318 Spear [this would match Socketsite’s estimate of 75% closed] rentals for Tower 2 has to be on the table. Maybe someone can ‘check the doors’ for the exact numbers in the two smaller buildings? Still, selling 90 units in Tower I before you even get to the 350+ units in Tower II will in itself be a task. Assuming HOA fees of around $700 per unit per month, just the HOA carrying costs for the developer are $250K per month, WITHOUT any financing costs. It gets expensive holding an empty building, so rentals might have to be the route.

  42. Posted by Trip

    I would not bet on Tower II going rental. Developers make all their profits on the last units sold. If only 75% of the units in Tower I have closed, I suspect they have only barely broken even on that one, and perhaps are still at a loss. I don’t know what the financing costs are on Tower II or the remaining unsold Tower I units, but there is no way the rents could come close to covering it, and rents (factoring in all future costs and a future sale) would bring in far less than selling now even at steep discounts. They will just cut the selling costs by 10% (then 20%, then 30%, then 40%) and move the units, which will still put them in better shape than renting them. They’re just waiting to try to close all those that are going to close at the original sales price, then they start cutting and see who bites.
    If they could rent out the 1BRs for $7000 and the 2BRs for $9000, the economics of renting might start to make sense, but they could not get anything approaching that.

  43. Posted by FSBO

    Trip, you make an excellent point and it really validates the rent v buy analysis that has been discussed here. Rents don’t come close to justifying the current asking prices. Like you said, they could cut the price by 40% and selling would still be preferable to renting.
    Interesting though it was reported yesterday that a big Santa Clara developer was converting two condo projects to rentals. Also reported that median prices for condos in Santa Clara dropped from $525K last year to $385K. $385K is still probably 150-200 X monthly rent – but it is getting closer to parity with rent. So renting v selling might be more justifiable in Santa Clara (from the developer’s perspective) than in San Francisco.

  44. Posted by Trip

    FSBO, this is an area you know far more about than I. Any guess what the term (in years) of the financing for a project like Infinity would be — i.e. when the current loan would be due? It is nearly impossible to get further financing on things like this these days, and I imagine lenders would be reluctant to do so given the likelihood that sales will come in far lower than projected. I’ve heard Tishman is well-funded (self-financed?), but I’m just wondering if there might be a drop-dead date where they have to start unloading units because the loan is due.

  45. Posted by FSBO

    Trip, I don’t know anything about specific Tishman funding for Infinity, but check out these recent articles:
    http://www.rew-online.com/news/story.aspx?id=439
    http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/109404
    Tishman has backed out of the rail yards project in NY – but they have been on a huge buying spree in recent years. Doesn’t look like the $5.4B Stuyvesant Town acquistion is working out too well (largest RE deal ever at the time). Look at the funding for that deal in the WNYC article – triple b minus! I thought the rating agencies gave everything AAA. Looks like they are burning through their interest reserves (which are kind of like a neg am mortgage). And the interest rate must be pretty high. I don’t think the Archstone deal has been that great either (and their partner, Lehman, probably feels the same way).
    Will be interesting to see if any of this impacts Infinity.

  46. Posted by Trip

    Hmmm, looks like Tishman may have succumbed to the same bubble mentality that is bringing down lots of industry giants. Makes me suspect there is some clock ticking on the financing that will prevent them from holding Infinity units off the market too much longer in the vain hope that they can get anything close to the original projected selling prices. Bargains (at least relatively speaking) in these buildings may not be too far off. I’m just speculating — I have no idea what the financing terms are, but regardless, just holding them empty is about as unproductive as one can get.

  47. Posted by anon

    Are any other purchasers who bought pre-construction pretty upset at how desperate the developer has become to unload and lower prices? 2 yr right of first refusal to protect buyer prices and hold comp values – but now sounds like the loyal people who had faith in them pre-construction are getting shafted. I know there are thoughts out there….

  48. Posted by huh?

    Anon,
    To be fair, believeing a developer [and that means ANY developer] will really “protect buyer prices” is being a bit naive. ALL developers are out to maximize profits for themselves and buyer’s interest will always be secondary … don’t believe the P.R. hype. And based on the article posted by FSBO, it sounds like the Infinity is the least of Tishman’s worries. More than likely they will need to come up with the equity to cover Lehman’s co-investment in Archstone, given Lehman’s bankrupcy proceedings. Hopefully they didn’t lever themselves 30 to 40 times [like Lehman did] and still have some available equity. While I haven’t looked at Tishman’s financials, if they liberally used leverage, the fate of Bear or Lehman is not inconceivable. Perhaps, right now, they may be at the point that any and all methods of obtaining equity are the primary focus. Accordingly, that may include equitizing units at the Infinity … at whatever price.

  49. Posted by anon

    who else has views on whats going on over at the infinity?

  50. Posted by George Marcos

    All I can say after having a friend whom owned several of the “hotel condos” in SF is that these projects (infinity,Millineum Tower,SR, FS, Ritz all are on a downward trend for many years. In fact, Millineum Tower will be forced in a year or two to start selling around 1000 sq ft. ANYONE who buys at these prices are crazy..sit back and buy with a 20-30% discount in a year or two. DO NOT believe what their offices tell you. More later

  51. Posted by SFSEA

    Seriously “George Marcos,” you must not even know what these projects are. You can’t lump them all together. The FS property is in a class of its own as the only one attached to a full-service hotel and all its amenities. I think it is its own thing and as a trophy property will sustain just fine.
    The Ritz property is different because it offers a “residence club” which is essentially a glorified time share. The investment there is dubious to start and then add into it the few on-site amenities compared to a lot of other buildings, very high HOA fees, and lack of hotel on site and you get a messy situation I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.
    Millenium and Infinity have nothing to do with hotels and can really only be compared to other stand alone high end condominium towers. I am not going to even conjecture what will happen with them in the long run as there has already been far too much armchair prophesizing occurring on here.
    I bought in the Infinity and love it and my view of the bridge. It may not be perfect but it has a lot going for it in terms of location, building construction quality, management team and amenities.
    A lot of people on here complained about the kitchens. I didn’t like it much myself but we just totally redid it and love it now. If you don’t like something and can’t afford to make it what you want then you probably shouldn’t be looking at it in the first place. If the sales center is truly offering 10% seconds I can’t say I am happy about it. I’d rather have the building full of people who can put down at least 20%, preferably more. We put 50% down and plan to live here for many years so I am not worried about being under water. People in this country and on the blogs need to start thinking about real estate as a place to live with long term investment potential and not as a way to make a quick buck in a year or even a few years.

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