Gramercy Towers

We doubt it will sell at asking, but if it does it might as well be a plugged-in person who picks it up. Purchased for $698,000 in June 2007, taken back by the bank “mid-remodel” last month and now listed for $389,900, 1177 California #512 is a 1,056 square foot Gramercy Towers one-bedroom atop Nob Hill.

Keep in mind the 411 square foot Gramercy Towers studio #203 is currently in contract as a “short sale” having most recently been listed for “$299,000” and purchased for $362,000 in January 2008.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by EH

    Well those MLS pictures sure are helpful.

  2. Posted by suspicious

    Are these coops or condos, there isn’t some 50% or 75% downpayment clause in the coop, right? The HOAs are prob high, but you could prob spread that out in the larger unit. The larger unit seems too cheap. Something’s up. The HOAs alone could not drive that price by itself.

  3. Posted by dontdueit

    HOA dues on a 1-BR are $1,042/month? That’s steep.

  4. Posted by tipster

    Man, if I were the listing agent and got the bank to agree to this price, I’d just take some really crappy photos at night to keep people away and then get one of my friends to buy the place, flip it, and split the profits with him.
    Of course, then I’d be a very dishonest realtor.
    I’d flip it to a medical marijuana grower, since the HOA includes all utilities. That coupled with a pool, insurance and a 24/7 doorman makes the HOA quite reasonable for 1000+ square footage.

  5. Posted by BobN

    Gorgeous! They just don’t make corners like that for regular folks.

  6. Posted by R

    “Well those MLS pictures sure are helpful.”
    Yes, I particularly like the ones of the kitchen. Oh wait, there are no pictures of the kitchen.
    LOL, Tipster chimes in with his realtor conspiracy theory of the day… Awesome, they get more and more unhinged every week.

  7. Posted by PPC

    Suspicious, the coop I live in didn’t require a 50% down payment. I assume the terms of each coop building is different. Anyway, this deal seems to good to be true, regardless of the HOAs.

  8. Posted by PPC

    Bad spelling – add a “o” on the to. I must have been in shock on the price and, no, I’m not the realtor.

  9. Posted by Lori

    The co-ops I’ve seen in SF generally require 20-25% down. And board approval. The issue here is whether or not anyone can get a mortgage since this unit would probably not be considered “livable” without a kitchen.

  10. Posted by j

    not to mention this is a relatively ghetto building compared to others in the area

  11. Posted by ex SF-er

    I agree with Lori.
    the price likely reflects the fact that it needs an immediate kitchen/bath remodel.
    given all of that and its high HOA it still seems like a good price.
    if I were the listing agent and got the bank to agree to this price
    there is the rub. the bank may not agree to this price.

  12. Posted by J

    Basically, the bank is going to be nervous that it isn’t an arm’s length transaction AND your lender will probably want 40% or more down because it needs work…

  13. Posted by kathleen

    Gramercy Towers is a condominium building not
    a cooperative apartment house.
    1177 California Street was orginally constructed to be hotel, so most of the units are relatively small.
    The HOA dues are high because it is a doorman building. You are paying for human beings, they require salaries, healthcare and pensions.
    That is expensive.
    Doorman buldings are very nice, but you pay for the nice.

  14. Posted by condoshopper

    many soma buildings have doormen but the HOA’s are not 1000+ for a 1-bed or even a 2-bed (not that i think $600-$700 is cheap), so there must be other factors other than the doorman.

  15. Posted by hangemhi

    the agent remarks say it must be a cash buyer – presumably because most lenders won’t lend without kitchens and baths. It also says you need Board approval for any remodeling. Some of these buildings are nightmares to get anything done – you need to wait for a Board meeting before they’ll even discuss it. Then they might request info you hadn’t prepped and then you’re waiting for another meeting. So you might wait a few months before getting Board approval.
    I also don’t think Banks have the savvy to purposely under price. So the $389k price is probably something they will accept.
    I’m not a fan of this building. It feels like an old age home to me

  16. Posted by sfrenegade

    “It feels like an old age home to me”
    That’s basically what most co-op-type places are these days.

  17. Posted by HappyexRealtor

    Not a great building, old and tired. The hoa board is full of retired attorneys, any improvements take forever and go way over budget, remember the fitness/pool renovations several years ago.
    Famous ex-residents include Yoko Ono and (not kidding) Osama Bin Laden, apparently he studied for a while at Berkeley.

  18. Posted by anon

    ^ Haha, Osama Bin Laden?!?!?!?
    Reference please…

  19. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Famous ex-residents include Yoko Ono and (not kidding) Osama Bin Laden, apparently he studied for a while at Berkeley.”
    I’m calling shenanigans on Osama Bin Laden having studied at Berkeley, although it’s entirely possible you could find someone who regularly appears on FoxNews to say that. It is entirely possible that a member of the Bin Laden family may have gone to Berkeley, but it’s a decent size family and they have lots of money.
    The closest thing I could find is that the Saudi Binladin Group may have owned a 6-story building at 19 Berkeley Street in London.

  20. Posted by Fish

    Cool, it’ll be a great PR for the building/unit. “Osama bin Laden lived here!”.

  21. Posted by sfrenegade

    Bin Laden studied at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, not Berkeley:
    But then again:
    I would love to know that book’s source for saying Osama Bin Laden lived at Gramercy Towers. If this is really true, did he bring his wife and kid?

  22. Posted by anon

    $1,000 for a copy of OBL’s lease or student ID.

  23. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    And cue the ranting by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage on their respective radio shows, railing against the “radical leftists in Berkeley” educating future world terrorists in 4, 3, 2, 1…
    sfrenegade, I’m sure Fox will have the author of that book on the air soon enough and we’ll find out if he was just repeating unsubstantiated rumors.

  24. Posted by londoner1936

    I looked at #203 in this building back in March of this year; it is a standard large hotel room, big windows, excellent maintenance of the public space, and comes with a parking space. All these plus all utilities make the HOA within reason ($702 monthly for studio # 203). Compared with Opera Plaza for example, where dues are close to $500 a month for a small unit, and parking leases are $200 – this is a reasonable HOA.
    But there is one other factor: sufficient reserves, and those of Gramercy Towers were much better than others I had looked in the disclosure packages. 1001 Pine, for example, had/has lower dues and a parking space, but no 24 hour doorman (just staff M-F 8-5) and far less adequate reserves. 1177 California was built in the early 1970s and needs reserves to cover problems of aging structures; 1001 Pine is 10 years older, and definitely needs reserves, which it does not currently have – big HOA increases are needed there to put the building on a sound footing (in my judgment).
    Both of these buildings are full of seniors (the seller of #203 in Gramercy Towers was much younger it seems), and the boards can be slow to act, but being a senior myself looking for a pied-a-terre, either place seemed potentially OK, but even though each came with a parking space, I would also want good public transportation, and as a contributor noted that the cable car on California can be tiresome to use as regular public transportation … and Pine Street at this location is a noisy one way raceway from the Financial District, and no buses …
    So I decided against going for #203, and at that time the short sale asking price was $335k, but I was not prepared to go above $300k (and that is ultimately apparently what it sold for). No, we have not yet hit bottom in this present real estate market!

  25. Posted by Buy High Sell Low

    512 is in escrow with an all-cash offer.

  26. Posted by SocketSite

    The short sale list price for 1177 California #203 has just been reduced to $283,662. Once again, the 411 square foot Gramercy Towers studio atop Nob Hill was purchased for $362,000 in January 2008.

  27. Posted by sfrenegade

    #512 sold in December for $408K, almost 20 grand above asking. That’s down about 42% from its $698K sale in 2007 even before considering inflation.

  28. Posted by SeeHSee

    As for former resident owner of this building, can confirm:
    1. Condo, not co-op
    2. Was indeed originally developed as a hotel
    3. HOA fees are not unusually high given the building’s strong financials, services, staff, maintenance, and good condition of major systems
    4. Location and style of building has tended to attract “pied-a-terre” and high-profile residents.
    5. Configuration of residences places together unusual mix of compact studios and mammoth units.
    6. I found the building to be tightly managed but didn’t perceive the board as slow-acting.

  29. Posted by 203CA

    Unit 203 sold for @265K 8/5/2011

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