CFAH

631 Folsom #6E

Purchased for a recorded $584,000 six months ago, and which appears to have included a year of pre-paid HOA dues worth $7,482 (“Hoa paid thru 6/2010”), 631 Folsom #6E returned to the market yesterday asking $669,000 as the first listed resale at BLU.

At the time of purchase this past June, BLU was around 25 percent in contract, prices had been cut a few months before in order to reach a pre-sale requirement, and #3E was the lowest list price unit at $599,000 (down from $739,000).

Today BLU is roughly 50 percent sold.

Full Disclosure: BLU currently advertises on SocketSite but provided no compensation for (nor had any prior knowledge of) this post.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by notsexy

    $499k is my offer. You can almost feel the EMF from the AT&T switching station 5 feet outside your living room window.

  2. Posted by J

    These wall view units must have the highest demand…

  3. Posted by OneEyedMan

    I walk by this building every night. It looks about 15% occupied – not 50%.

  4. Posted by OneEyedMan

    Blu unit resale
    Radiation poisoning
    What was I thinking?

  5. Posted by John

    It looks like this kitchen, just like the Infinity’s kitchen’s, suffers from the fatal error of the upper cabinets being much too high to be useful. They should be only 18 inches at most from the countertop. These appear to be at least 24 inches above the countertop. This is bad design for another reason as well – the under-counter fluorescent lights become visible when they are this high.
    Why do people do stupid design tricks like this?? 🙁

  6. Posted by Henning

    Gorgeous view unit!! Absolutely will go over asking!!!

  7. Posted by Ryan

    OMG. There is actually units at BLU that face the wall of the building next door? I thought all of the units faced the West, and that was why there was only 6 units per floor. I am speechless. That is terrible. Who would ever buy that?

  8. Posted by scurvy

    lolwut?

  9. Posted by Willow

    What’s the back story? Given the 6 month time frame you would think that this is a flip but from the pictures it doesn’t look staged. If it is a flip the seller would have to get approximately 620K – 625K to break even. Generally previous sales price is not a huge driver but knowing this unit sold for 584K six months ago I think would make prospective buyers reluctant to come even close to $669K. Not much room to maneuver for the seller.
    BTW, most of the SF BLU units get ample light. This stack is definitely the most challenged…

  10. Posted by t

    those white mdf baseboards really stand out in that photo.

  11. Posted by Legacy Dude

    I know folks have their issues with this place, but BLU is still one of my favorite buildings in Soma (not E plan, obviously, but A & B). Better location and finishes than Infinity, IMO, although views admittedly aren’t great even on higher floors.
    Regarding this particular place, isn’t there some no-flipping clause that forces people to hold these at least a year?
    As for the back story, here’s my guess: A few months ago, when the market was in freefall, BLU slashed prices on the less desirable units to increase the % sold. Since then, the building has become qualified for FHA financing (i.e. subprime 2.0), which opens it up to a whole new audience of “qualified” buyers courtesy of our tax dollars. So why not try and flip?
    Only takes $20K and a cable bill, and somebody is the proud new owner of a luxury condo here. Hint: if the cable bill shows past due, bring the phone bill instead. Oh, and if you don’t have $20K…
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/09/BU6M1B0JM1.DTL

  12. Posted by tipster

    “If it is a flip the seller would have to get approximately 620K – 625K to break even.”
    Not even close.
    669K less 5% for commissions, approx 0.66% for transfer tax, and, surprise, 6% for buyers closing costs credit that every FHA buyer is getting right now (the 3.5% “down” is a joke, the seller can credit 6% back to the buyer as “closing costs”, so everyone is paying -2.5% down), yields 669*.8833= 590. Add in more free HOA and this guy breaks even at that price.

  13. Posted by Sambo

    This could quite possibly be the worst unit in a very nice building. In terms of finishes and layout, Blu has done it better than anyone thus far. With the exception of the “E” units… they’re caves. If they get anything close to this price, that bodes very well for the rest of the building.

  14. Posted by SFHawkguy

    I see that FHA 3.5% loans are available for this condo (per the advertisement on the sidebar).
    At this asking price, 3.5% down is $23,400. And a buyer may get up to $8,000 from the federal government to make the purchase. The Chronicle notes there are also other government down payment assistance programs: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/09/BU6M1B0JM1.DTL I don’t know how low a borrower can go, but it seems that someone could buy an asset such as this, for over 2/3rds of a Million dollars with only about $15,000 of hard money down (and maybe even for much less than that).
    That’s a pretty low bar for home ownership and can only encourage people to stretch in order to live here.
    Here is what I get for the cost of ownership on this place–assuming 3.5% down, a 5% interest rate loan over 30 years, including a 1.5% extra because of the lower down payment (so 6.5% total effective interest rate), and $623 HOA dues, a 25% tax savings on interest and property taxes, would make a total monthly cost of ownership of . . . . .
    $4,196/month.
    This is probably much more than the fair market rental value of a similar place.
    That’s a cost of ownership to a FHA buyer of over $50,000 a year–even under these historically low interest rates (I’ve assumed 5%).
    So, the typical buyer would probably need to make over $150,000 a year to live here. I guess that depends on how much other debt one has, e.g. student loan and credit card debt. Maybe one could afford it on an income of $125K a year with no other debt (after taxes and the cost of owning this shelter one would have, what . . . . $30K to $40K left over for everything else: car expenses, food, clothing, entertainment, health care, savings, retirement, etc.). If one has moderate credit card or student loan debt (of say 25K-75K) then one probably needs to make $150K to live here. If one has high student loan and credit card debt then they probably need to make over $175K or $200K a year.
    I see no reason why the government is encouraging people to buy their shelter for only $15,000 down when they probably need to make $150,000 a year to live here (and if they are the “typical” SF condo buyer they will probably have some student loan debt, etc.).
    I also don’t see why a household making $150,000 a year would choose to spend $50,000 a year to live in less than 1,000 square foot two bedroom condo. They will be stretching to live here and the only logical reason to pay more than renting or to pay more for less house than they would get in other neighborhoods is to speculate that the price of this condo will massively appreciate in the future.
    Even at a sale of $499,000 the monthly cost of ownership is still $3,210. That very well could STILL be more than the cost of renting and even if it is getting closer to parity with the monthly cost of renting one would still be betting on enough appreciation to cover the future cost to sell the condo (~6%) as well as enough appreciation to keep up with inflation. Not a very good bet imo.

  15. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I see no reason why the government is encouraging people to buy their shelter for only $15,000 down when they probably need to make $150,000 a year to live here (and if they are the “typical” SF condo buyer they will probably have some student loan debt, etc.).”
    Me neither. I never quite understood why “jumbo conforming” was ever allowed. We’re propping up sections of the housing market that don’t deserve to be propped up.
    And I never understood why people in the top 5-10% of household income needed to be subsidized either.

  16. Posted by anonn

    Wouldn’t you call the cost of ownership per month the 4196 number minus the comparable rental unit’s price? People have to live somewhere.

  17. Posted by Outsider

    What’s wrong with facing the “wall?” You have total, and I mean total privacy. You really have NO need for window covering. No one complains about 74 Montgomery which is about to completely sell out. Most of the unit on one side have the identical look…The asking price, on the other hand, is a bit ambitious as a similar but much larger 2/2 sold at the Infinity for $535,000 based on a previous post. Curious to see how much the market has changed since the summer.

  18. Posted by SFHawkguy

    Yeah anonn, I think that is a good way to look at it. I’m fairly new to making these calculations so I’m open to any criticism/suggestions.
    To use my example, if rent for this place is $3,000 a month one would be paying $1,200 a month extra to own instead of rent, or $14,400/year. It would “pay off” to pay this extra money if one could recoup it when he went to resale the house. That’s the gamble.
    At the historic rate of 4% appreciation on housing there wasn’t much upside to gamble on appreciation by paying a great deal more than renting.
    For instance, look how much this buyer would need in 5 years if he were to pay such a premium to own:
    If he were to hold for 5 years, he would have paid $72,000 extra to own over renting. He would need the house to appreciate more than $72K (plus the 6~ selling fees plus interest) to recoup his costs. So, roughly, he would need to resell at $800,000 in 5 years to break even.
    I think there are a lot of households that will be looking at these calculations differently in the future. Household balance sheets are facing reality.
    And now we can throw in Obama’s soon to be new requirement that 40 to 50 million people have to go out and pay for insurance they probably can’t afford (because they’re stretched thin on their real estate?). And young people nowadays have more student loans to pay and higher credit card balances, etc. Household balance sheets are taking a killing and people can’t pay $50,000 a year on shelter so easily anymore.

  19. Posted by nash

    Why would someone buy in this building? The location isn’t great, only 1 floorplan has a view, the majority of the building faces a blank wall or into an office building, car stackers and real high HOA fees?
    If I need to buy something new in the area, I would choose One Hawthorne before I would consider this building.
    $700+ HOA for a doorman … OUCH!

  20. Posted by Willow

    “Not even close.”
    Tipster, so it is actually higher than 620/625K for break even with transfer taxes but I’m not sure I understand your other calculations. Is a buyer necessarily going to go through FHA? Can you elaborate?

  21. Posted by Mole Man

    Asserting that health insurance reform is going to have a major financial impact on potential buyers of housing units at BLU is really stretching things. It is unlikely that this specific unit will be purchased using loans that result in $50k of costs per year. This kind of hyperbole makes it look like some people aren’t even interested in really trying to figure any of this out. Obfuscation for the sake of political points is so much more rewarding than coherence.

  22. Posted by Anna

    “Wouldn’t you call the cost of ownership per month the 4196 number minus the comparable rental unit’s price? People have to live somewhere.”
    No. The cost of ownership is $4,196 per month versus a cost to rent of x. The difference between the two would be the premium or discount to owning.

  23. Posted by Mole Man

    Why would someone buy in this building?
    The location is close to downtown and tech work areas which is good for crossover workers and couples. It may be possible to work nearby, then play along the waterfront or South of Market hotspots.
    AT&T switching station 5 feet outsidewall view units must have the highest demandunits at BLU that face the wall of the building next door
    High rise units without views may have such advantages as exclusivity, relatively good neighbors, prime location, modern construction, distance from the street (or quiet alley in this case), and competitive pricing. Pricing is the big question nowadays, so the numbers are less visible and predictable, but given how much of the time most people keep their blinds drawn or attention inside units without views offer competitive value for lower prices.

  24. Posted by J

    Anyone know why PropertyShark.com only shows the sales history for BLU as a building and not the individual units?
    I actually like the building but don’t want to take on risk to pay more than rental value. If price was $500k or less, I’d be strongly considering this.

  25. Posted by Fish

    “To use my example, if rent for this place is
    $3,000 a month…” – SFHawkGuy
    You can’t get $3000 for this unit. 9A went for $3000 two months ago, and a much nicer unit with water view at 235 Berry went for $3000/mo as well. $2500 at the tops for this one. Personally, I wouldn’t even pay that; it’s a 970 sf unit whose 2nd bedroom is suitable only for a study. It stays dark all day too.

  26. Posted by anonn

    No. The cost of ownership is $4,196 per month versus a cost to rent of x. The difference between the two would be the premium or discount to owning.
    How so? You need to live somewhere. So why not take the comparable rental price and begin there? That’s in effect “zero.”

  27. Posted by SFHawkguy

    It is unlikely that this specific unit will be purchased using loans that result in $50k of costs per year. This kind of hyperbole makes it look like some people aren’t even interested in really trying to figure any of this out. Obfuscation for the sake of political points is so much more rewarding than coherence.

    Obfuscation? Hyperbole? There is an advertisement relating to this very building on this very web page that is advertising the very fact that units such as this are now available for FHA financing and it clearly touts the 3.5% number–it’s right there in big font prominently displayed at the top of the page.
    Plus, if you haven’t heard, FHA loans have been increasing they are evidently coming to San Francisco as well as other parts of the country–even to condos selling for $669,000 and beyond.
    I’m simply running the numbers and getting a cost of ownership for a hypothetical buyer at the asking price using the adverted financing. I’m using this calculator: http://www.irvinehousingblog.com/calculator/ I’ve noted my assumptions above and I’ve stated that I welcome any clarification to the numbers or my analysis (which is the opposite of obfuscation don’t you know). You haven’t provided any specific criticism of the numbers, as far as I can tell.
    But I do share your shock at seeing the $50,000 number.

  28. Posted by anon

    ^ So if I can find a place that would cost $10,000/mo to rent and I can own it for $10,000/mo, the “cost of ownership” is zero!!! Sign me up!
    No, the cost of ownership is the cost to own the place. It has nothing to do with any rental cost because you’re not renting. Anna had it exactly right. The cost of ownership and the rent vs. own analysis — or the premium one pays to own — are different things.

  29. Posted by anonn

    You’re not renting for a reason. But it’s paying for housing either way. I understand your view, but surely you can understand the other interpretation too.

  30. Posted by SFHawkguy

    Thanks Fish for the rental comps and I suspect you’re right about the fair market rent on a place like this.
    If I were thinking of buying a condo and were enticed by the low down payment I would want to run a few possible scenarios first.
    Let’s take a slightly bad scenario for the next 5 years and assume a double-dip recession. Many economists predict unemployment hovering above and around 10 percent through 2015 and the futures market predicts San Francisco house prices to decline in the near future and only slowly appreciate in the mid term future.
    Let’s say there is no increase in condo prices over 5 years (there was a dip then recovery to par–or some variation thereof). And let’s say rent dips then slowly ascends and this place would only fetch an average of $2250 a month over this period. And let’s also assume a sale, on 1/1/10, for $499,000.
    As I noted above, the cost of ownership on a $499K purchase for this place would be about $3,219 a month, which would be a $969 a month premium over renting. If this was a 5 year period the owner would have spent $58,140 more to own than to rent a similar unit. And remember, under my hypothetical there is no appreciation over 5 years (more likely a decline, but whatever), so the owner also loses his whopping $9,465 down payment (original $14K minus the $8K tax credit).
    In my mild depression scenario (there are worse possibilities as well) the owner will have spent $67,605 more to rent than to own (premium plus down payment). Of course I’m not including any money the buyer may decide to pay to cover any deficiency in a short sale or other costs associated with a foreclosure, etc. So that $67K figure could go up.
    The more conservative and prudent course of action would have been to rent in this situation (isn’t hindsight in a hypothetical great?).
    If the buyer would have simply put that $9,465 down payment in a conservative fixed income fund, and say he earned a return of 4% annually, and also contributed $11,628 a year to this fund (the ownership premium), at the end of 5 years our prudent renter would have:
    $77,015
    That’s a potentially huge swing for this hypothetical buyer/renter.
    Lose $67,605 and maybe more or have $77,015 in the bank.
    That’s a $144,620 swing over 5 years. And that huge swing can turn the whole household balance sheet upside down. And all this on an assumption of a $499K sale, which some would find to be low!
    Oh, and what is the price that would bring this unit to parity with the rental price of $2,250 a month in my double dip recession hypothetical?
    $315,000.

  31. Posted by ex SF-er

    How so? You need to live somewhere. So why not take the comparable rental price and begin there? That’s in effect “zero.”
    anna’s definition makes more sense.
    The comparable rental price isn’t ZERO, the comparable rental price is whatever one is paying in rent.
    The discount or premium would set the rental price at zero.

    The “cost of shelter” would be the price that one pays to have shelter, be it owning or renting.
    If you rent, the cost of shelter is your rental rate (at least in monthly terms)
    if you own, the cost of shelter would be your PITI payment (at least in monthly terms)
    If you were thus to buy a place for around 4200/mo then the cost of ownership is $4200/mo. if you were to rent a place for 4200/mo then the cost of ownership is not zero, it is 4200/mo.
    However, the PREMIUM (or discount) to renting would be 4200-4200 or zero.
    if you rented for 4400/mo and owned for 4200/mo then you would own at a 200/mo discount to renting.
    if you rented for 4000/mo and owned for 4200/mo then you would own at a 200/mo premium to renting.
    you set the comparable option to zero only when you are comparing the difference between two options (such as own vs rent)
    but you keep the price when discussing the cost to do something.
    hope that helps.

  32. Posted by Mole Man

    Why are the numbers for a minimal down payment purchase so compelling? Anyone who really wants to own one of these and can afford it should at least consider the option of putting 10-20% down. That would significantly lower not only the monthly cost, but also the total cost of paying off the loan.

  33. Posted by diemos

    ^ but put more of your own money at risk for a price decline.

  34. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    ^^ as well as having a greater opportunity cost. The money that went into the down payment is unavailable for non-RE investments. Granted there are not many good alternatives today, but that will change.

  35. Posted by anonn

    Again, I told you I understand that perspective, and its terminology. But I do not agree.

  36. Posted by anonm

    @Legacy Dude
    This is a particularly choice quote from the SFGate article you link to:
    “Kristen, a San Francisco teacher who didn’t want her last named used because she wants to keep her finances private, purchased a $475,000 Diamond Heights condo using a $105,000 sleeper loan from the city of San Francisco….’I’ve lived in the city 10 years,’ she said. ‘As a teacher, I thought I’d be a renter the rest of my life; I never thought I could crack the housing market. It means a great deal to me, and it would not have been remotely possible for a long time without this help.'”
    Unless she has a partner with significant income that the reporter completely missed, this is totally insane! A teacher with 10 yrs of tenure in the SF Unified School District can make up to about $62k, which under very optimistic assumptions works out to $4k/mo after taxes.
    Total monthly payments (5% interest, property taxes, HOAs, principal) on a $475k condo are going to be at least $2600/mo, even after the mortgage tax deduction. So you’re talking about 65% of income being dumped into the condo. Incredible…it’s like 2005 all over again!

  37. Posted by anonm

    Anonn is describing the decision calculus if you have decided on a particular place and are choosing between renting that place and buying that place.
    Others are describing the decision calculus in which you consider both the type of place that you want and whether to rent or buy.
    But either way, buying this unit is not going to pencil out at $669k under reasonable assumptions. Even at $500k, it probably only pencils out if you view it as the type of place people will settle down in (i.e. it is a long-term owner-occupied type of place, rather than a potential rental unit).

  38. Posted by MG

    I’m not sure about your calculations. I believe the PMI for condos under the FHA plan is .5%, not 1.5%. Also, someone making $150-200K is not in the 25% tax bracket, the tax savings are closer to 42-45% depending on AMT and some other factors (remember you get fed and state deduction, that income puts you in the highest brackets for both).
    Try using this:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pM4Gw0s2zSeAnOTnop5I7Lg

  39. Posted by anonm

    someone making $150-200K is not in the 25% tax bracket, the tax savings are closer to 42-45% depending on AMT and some other factors (remember you get fed and state deduction, that income puts you in the highest brackets for both).
    $200k is in the top 10% of SF household incomes. A 930 sf, 2 BR, wall-facing condo in a marginal area is hardly the top 10% of SF housing stock. If we’re conjecturing that this condo is marketed for $200k households, then we’re outright admitting that the underlying market fundamentals cannot support these prices.

  40. Posted by Legacy Dude

    “..then we’re outright admitting that the underlying market fundamentals cannot support these prices.”
    They haven’t for years. What’s new? Same bubble, different enabler, prolonged denouement.
    And I don’t want to hear anyone bitching about higher taxes as they quietly get rolled out over the next few years.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/business/11vat.html?_r=1&hpw
    Inflation will only go so far, and I surely hope nobody is stupid enough to believe that this market “stability” is free….

  41. Posted by J

    “Try using this:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pM4Gw0s2zSeAnOTnop5I7Lg
    Where do you get the version that can be edited? This one assumes 4.63% House value appreciation, 2% rent increases, no HOA, and a 44.3% tax rate, which only applies to income above $373k – what a joke!

  42. Posted by SFHawkguy

    MG,
    Thanks for the other calculator. That’s interesting.
    As to your calculations. I’m not sure what the FHA insurance or premium currently is (I thought it was 1.5 or 1.75 with some of it up front and some until the loan is paid down 20%). The government did away with some of the FHA premiums with the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (I’m sensing a theme–government trying to make the cost of ownership as cheap as possible–just look at our calculators and numerous fingers on the scale for owning).
    I don’t know what the current FHA standards are and I think they may be in flux and that the FHA may be stiffening some of these underwriting standards (like the front end debt and back end debt requirement) because people are defaulting so quickly when these standards are lifted. [Also, here’s a really good article about the difference between front end debt and back end and how important it is to household balance sheets to reduce debt and save and how much the typical household balance sheet is in trouble: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/12/millions-more-at-risk-of-default-than-most-think/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29 ]
    But I’ll go with your .5% extra FHA fee assumption.
    Also going with your assumption that the tax savings are 42% (that seems high to me but I’m no tax expert), that gives us a total monthly cost of ownership of:
    $2,453.
    Not bad. That is much closer to rental parity.
    Still, these assumptions under a slight depression scenario, or double dip recession scenario, show that a buyer at $499K, using your assumptions, would spent more than $12,180 on owning over renting over a 5 year period, plus lose $9K in a down payment, and we have about $20,000 extra for owning over 5 years for this buyer. Plus, if there was a short sale, I bet this type of borrower would cover the deficiency and would probably put $10K or $20K into a short sale (he could be way more short than that but would probably let it go to foreclosure if it cost too much more than $20K). If it fell into foreclosure there would be some costs associated with foreclosure (legal fees maybe, moving, etc.). But then again, the person may get free rent for a year or so if it fell to foreclosure.
    Let’s assume a somewhat bad scenario, a 10% fall in prices over 5 years, the $499K condo is now worth $450K, and the buyer then let’s it go into foreclosure because he’s so short, and will get 8 months of free rent while waiting for foreclosure–that’s a savings of $18,000 (after having spent $20,000 more to own). Under that foreclosure scenario (with free rent) the buyer only loses $2,000 more to own instead of rent (but he also a foreclosure on his record).
    So maybe it would start to become worth it to take the upside risk at a sale price of $499,000 (with the type of borrower you hypothesize). With the downside limited with such a low down payment and the government trying to blow another bubble there is a chance of making a windfall. There is a chance condo prices can go up, up, up.

  43. Posted by mike

    SFHAWK Guy,
    Great breakdown of the numbers. There’s no spin with those calculations. The numbers still support the fact that SF housing is way over valued. Even if someone puts 20% down, yes there monthly will decrease but that’s a lot of money down and if you’re in the 28-35 year old age bracket, how long do you think you’ll remain in a 2 BD 900 sf. condo? Propably not long enough to get a good return.
    It also supports the impending doom for the FHA low interest loans which translate into much higher monthly payments which many of the people using the FHA probably can’t afford.

  44. Posted by Mike

    However this is SF and I would bet that a large majority of these new buyers are receiving subsidizing in the form of family financial aid. A close friend of mine bought into a multi-tenant TIC about 9 years ago. 5 Out of the 6 tenants all received down payment assistance and monthly mortgage assistance from family. 4 out of the 6 probably made less than $60K per year. One of the 6 was unemployed.

  45. Posted by MG

    To edit the calculator just save it as a new document and put in whatever numbers you want based on whatever assumptions you want. It’s very helpful for playing out different scenarios, and it takes most factors into account.
    Basically, whether owning a home for x number of years is better than renting depends a lot two key variables: (1) the annual percentage change in home values (better for buyers) and (2) the performance of the stock market (better for renters). Because of the leverage, even modest percentage changes in home prices can make a huge difference in whether renting or buying is the best choice.

  46. Posted by SFHawkguy

    Thanks for the response Mike.
    I too see anecdotal evidence that many younger people in San Francisco get by on family gifts. For now at least. I see a lot of struggling people through my work and I’ve seen mostly the lower and middle classes getting crushed. So far. They don’t have a family member or friend that can give them $10K or $20K when in a pinch and they are quicker to give it up and downsize, default, and de-leverage. Ironically, these early defaulters might be better off than the slightly better off upper middle class young professionals that have parents to help (they may bleed the parents dry and both groups, retiring boomer parent and young professional may be setting themselves up for failure in 5 to 10 years).
    But distress is rising up the class ladder and especially for the demographic you describe. The upper and upper-middle class of 20 or 30-something-year-old professionals that we all envision buying these condos is taking a beating. Younger people have way more student loan debt than previous generations. I know plenty of people that have 6 figure student loan debt. And this generation makes way less than previous generations did. We have way more in credit card debt. And of course the cost of housing the last 10 years has skyrocketed and now for the last 2 or 3 years people haven’t made the easy money through real estate and equity withdrawal (that easy money during the early to mid 2000s masked much of the damage that was already done to the 20 and 30-something year old balance sheets). The younger American household balance sheet is in crisis and it will get worse (on the other hand the baby boomers and elderly are doing relatively well).
    And our government seems to not be interested in healing the American household balance sheet–just in playing financing games to make it easier to bleed us out over the course of our lifetimes and restore the banks to health. We are no longer citizens–we are debtor consumers.
    Just look at health care “reform”. The government’s idea of reform is making 40 million people purchase a product they likely can’t afford. A 30 year old that is self-employed and stretched thin on student debt, a mortgage, credit cards and is foregoing health care because he’s healthy and can’t afford the premiums now has an extra $300 a month or so to pay by government edict (I’m guessing on that figure–it’s not huge by itself but will be yet another straw on the camels back). He will also probably face rising government fees and taxes in general. For now, these upper-middle class young professionals that “own” a condo are still relatively okay–they still have some room on credit cards, then can forego retirement savings or savings all together, or the parents are still solvent enough to bail Jr. out. But pretty soon even the middle and upper middle classes won’t be able to bail themselves out. That’s where I see it going at least. Slowly but surely.

  47. Posted by Mike

    Completely agree. The priority of keeping people in their homes is a joke. Studies are showing that the earlier modification programs failed since the same people it was supposed to help are now in default. No wonder the banks are not participating. They know the numbers. Hmm write down a loan now or in 6 months?
    don’t get me started on healthcare reform. Unfortunately we’ve now become the United states of victims. Victims of the banks, insurance company’s, mortgage brokers, realtors. Time to stop the bailouts and feeding the pidgeons since they keep coming back for more.

  48. Posted by J

    “Basically, whether owning a home for x number of years is better than renting depends a lot two key variables: (1) the annual percentage change in home values (better for buyers) and (2) the performance of the stock market (better for renters).”
    I think declining rents are much more important in this decision than the stock market. Not everyone needs to risk their livelihood on yearly double digit growth.
    As long as renting is cheaper than owning in SF, you can invest the money you save by not owning in 0% investments and still be better off…
    …unless there is some strange situation where rents decline house values increase…

  49. Posted by walkman

    Does anyone know if this condo actually sold – and if so what did it go for ?
    Redfin would seem to suggest its still on the market but I don’t know how accurate that is.
    http://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Francisco/631-Folsom-St-94107/unit-6E/home/23424366

  50. Posted by SFRE

    @walkman:
    The unit is currently in contract. I am not sure of the price, but it was listed for a while before going into contract, so I would assume at a price slightly below asking (i.e. it wasn’t a multiple bid scenario).
    The thing the frustrates me at the Blu is definitely the pricing. As of today, they have several “B” and “C” plans available.
    They have 2B, which was in contract, but then out of contract and now available. They have it listed at $799k. Here is where it gets interesting… 2B has a large, semi-private patio (about 400 sq ft). Again, they are asking $799k, but unit 5B sold for $615k, unit 7B sold for $626k, etc. Making this a very expensive $170k patio!! [The stacks are identical at the Blu]
    Another example is 11B, which they have listed also for $799k. But they have sold better “A” and “D” stacks (larger, better views) for much less.
    They say there is little room for negotiation now that they lowered their prices, but in the cases I have seen for the units they have listed today, the prices are significantly higher than last year by about 15%.
    It would bother me to no end knowing that I paid in many cases $100k more for the same unit the guys above/below paid.

  51. Posted by walkman

    Thanks SFRE!! Interesting info.
    It may explain why Blu is still only at around 50% sold – a number which pails in comparison to many other condo developments.

  52. Posted by SFRE

    In case you were interested, here are the other prices for the other units (I am not sure if formatting will work):
    631 Folsom St Unit 3E 906 8/11/09 $575,000 $635
    631 Folsom St Unit 3E 1,054 6/24/09 $595,000 $565
    631 Folsom St Unit 9E 906 7/17/09 $600,000 $662
    631 Folsom St Unit 5B 1,054 6/26/09 $615,000 $583
    631 Folsom St #105 906 7/21/09 $615,000 $679
    631 Folsom St Unit 7B 1,054 6/26/09 $625,970 $594
    631 Folsom St Unit 6B 1,054 6/30/09 $643,000 $610
    631 Folsom St Unit 4E 906 12/11/09 $649,000 $716
    631 Folsom St Unit 9B 1,054 7/10/09 $658,000 $624
    631 Folsom St Unit 8F 1,190 8/28/09 $659,000 $554
    631 Folsom St Unit 5F 1,190 11/10/09 $677,500 $569
    631 Folsom St Unit 6F 1,190 8/21/09 $680,000 $571
    631 Folsom St Unit 9C 1,054 11/2/09 $690,000 $655
    631 Folsom St Unit 7F 1,190 9/18/09 $709,000 $596
    631 Folsom St Unit 3A 1,136 7/23/09 $712,000 $627
    631 Folsom St Unit 9F 1,190 12/31/09 $750,000 $630
    631 Folsom St Unit 4F 1,190 12/31/09 $755,000 $634
    631 Folsom St Unit 6D 1,230 5/7/09 $758,382 $617
    631 Folsom St Unit 10C 1,054 12/11/09 $760,000 $721
    631 Folsom St Unit 10F 1,190 9/16/09 $760,000 $639
    631 Folsom St Unit 7D 1,230 8/12/09 $763,500 $621
    631 Folsom St Unit 6A 1,136 8/7/09 $770,000 $678
    631 Folsom St Unit 8D 1,230 8/14/09 $775,000 $630
    631 Folsom St Unit 7A 1,136 8/28/09 $775,000 $682
    631 Folsom St Unit 9D 1,230 9/29/09 $790,000 $642
    631 Folsom St Unit 4D 1,230 12/11/09 $795,000 $646
    631 Folsom St Unit 10D 1,230 9/25/09 $805,000 $654
    631 Folsom St Unit 8A 1,136 10/20/09 $820,000 $722
    631 Folsom St Unit 9A 1,136 12/7/09 $825,000 $726
    631 Folsom St Unit 11A 1,136 12/29/09 $840,000 $739
    631 Folsom St Unit 14F 1,190 9/17/09 $900,000 $756
    631 Folsom St Unit 17A 1,136 12/29/09 $980,000 $863

  53. Posted by SFRE

    Oh sorry, I didnt include the labels.
    First Column (Address = Blu)
    Second Column Sq Ft
    Third Column: Sale Date
    Fourth Column: Sale Price
    Last Column: $/psft

  54. Posted by SFRE

    @walkman: So when/if you buy, you know what the guy above/below/next to you paid, and how much you over paid.
    For me, you should always use comp prices when shopping around. And like I said earlier, its so frustrating that the prices they have listed are so much higher than they were even a couple of months ago!
    If you do go to the sales office, it will be great to hear what they say to you about pricing. They told me little room to negotiate. To which I responded saying “I want to see the $150k patio!”

  55. Posted by walkman

    Hey thanks SFRE – I wasn’t expecting this, but its teriffic info – really appreciate you taking the time!!
    Planning on swinging by the neighborhood in the next week or two (want to see One Hawthorne also), so I’ll post if there’s anything interesting.
    Cheers!

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