Friday, August 13, 2010

One Hawthorne: Penthouse Sneak Peak

I recently attended a fundraiser for the San Francisco Zoo on the roof of the new One Hawthorne building.

I was excited to enjoy almost 360-degree of views from this gorgeous new residential high-rise. Unfortunately the “summer” weather made the catered rooftop affair unenjoyable: heavy sweeping fog and gusty winds quickly brought a sour face to the many chilled guests. Luckily for us, the One Hawthorne sales team, who sponsored the event, decided to bring the party indoors… to one of the 27th Floor penthouses.

This pleased me very much since, up until now, One Hawthorne has only released floors 2-7 of its 156 residences for viewing and purchase. Although an iPhone is not the best camera to take party or property pictures, I certainly wanted to give all of you a sneak peak at the roof and this 2,000 square foot (aprx) top floor view condominium.

First, let’s talk about the great roof top at this building. When I first arrived the sun was out and we got amazing views in every direction. As you first step out to the roof, there are lovely westward facing rattan sunbathing beds. The roof also boasts two outdoor seating and lounge areas as well as an outdoor kitchen with barbeque grill. Check out the downtown and bay views from this roof!

The 27th floor penthouses are high enough up to give an intensely chic city-living feel. I felt like I was in Manhattan as I strolled through the elongated unit with in-your-face western and northern views. Penthouse 25D boasts 2 large bedrooms with 2 en suite bathrooms and an additional half bath off the foyer. The master bedroom and the master bathroom are incredibly spacious. The bathroom feels like a spa with its super deep jet tub and enclosed glass shower for two (it’s so spacious it would have taken 3 photos to capture in entirety).

Beyond the bedrooms, the remainder of the penthouse provides a contrast of stark and warm tones with honey-colored teak hardwood plank floors and crisp white walls. The party doesn’t have to “end up in the kitchen” in this unit, where the long open kitchen and its six foot entertaining island bleeds directly into to the open living space. A west-facing balcony, perfect for sunset views when the fog doesn’t prohibit it, rounds out this well appointed and spacious penthouse.

So how much does this amazing penthouse cost? Don’t count on finding out anytime soon. One Hawthorne is still releasing phase one residences on the 2nd through 7th floors, and will not disclose pricing for unreleased units. Considering One Hawthorne’s prime location, and the fact that this full service building with concierge service, gym, and valet parking has a boutique feel which is quite unique, expect a price tag somewhere around $2,500,000 or more.

Don’t walk away feeling that you can’t afford to live at One Hawthorne. In this phase one release, junior 1 bedrooms start as low as $399,000, 1 bedroom + dens start at $575,000, and 2 bedroom units start in the low $800,000’s. Phase two, which will probably include floors 8 through 16, is expected to be released within the next month.

If you'd like to receive a copy of the variety of the floorplans for One Hawthorne, feel free to contact me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Google Impacts SF Rental Housing Stock

Does Google, whose headquarters are in Palo Alto, CA, have any real impact on the value of property in San Francisco? Most would think no, especially if we don’t own a spectacular luxury home that some tech exec would want to snatch up. But, the answer is actually yes, Google does impact property values: the value of multi-unit residential income properties. And so does Yahoo!. And so does Apple. Let’s look at how.

Google, Yahoo! and Apple all offer their employees a shuttle service from various locations in San Francisco to their corporate campuses. Shuttle stop locations are based on employee feedback of where in San Francisco they most want to live and on how easy the location is for the shuttle buses to access. These two factors have raised apartment rents in areas that otherwise would lag behind tonier blocks in specific neighborhoods. It is often an unsuspected boon to multi-family property owners, who then see their market rate rents (what prospective tenants are willing to pay) soar.

Take Pacific Heights, for example. Six years ago, finding a rental on the east side of Fillmore Street was comparatively easier and cheaper than finding one to the west. With elegant lobbies, large units (often exceeding 850 sq ft), and elevator service in most buildings, the multi-unit properties between Jackson and California streets on the east side of Fillmore historically catered to “dog owner” renters taking advantage of lower rents and proximity to Lafayette Park. That changed when shuttle commute began. The Google shuttle pick-up at the corner of Gough and Sacramento streets has changed the rental dynamic of Pacific Heights, producing a lower vacancy rate, faster turnover, and higher rents than the east side of Fillmore has seen in the last 5 years. A friend who left her Franklin Street (at Sacramento St) apartment 5 years ago was paying $1800 per month. Today, the same building is boasting a similar unit for rent floor for $2450, 26.5% higher, despite the soft economy. Rental rates on both sides of Fillmore Street these days are equal. Sales of multi-unit buildings in this area are now relatively non-existent: the last building to sell near the Lafayette Park Google shuttle with more than 5 units was back in 2007.

This type of market shift has happened all over the city. Relocation agents have told me that new Google employees overwhelmingly state that being within a 10 minute walk to a shuttle is their primary housing objective. As employees saturate their own shuttle areas, demand forces Google to improve service by adding shuttle locations. Google last year added 3 shuttle stops in San Francisco. Each time a new shuttle stop is established, it has a positive impact on income property revenue within a 4-6 block walking radius.

When investing in a multi-unit income property, it is important to research not only the property’s current financials, but also who your potential renters will be. Are you close to a hospital? A university? A Google or Yahoo! shuttle stop? How close is the commercial corridor and public transit? Answering these questions can help you determine the desirability of your location, estimate future income, and minimize the risk of your long-term investment.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

SF Public Schools Inch Toward School Selection Change

Since 2002, San Francisco Unified School District has placed students in its schools based on a lottery and a need for racial and economic diversity. For years parents have struggled with an inflexible system that refused to account for their families needs, location, and schedules. That's finally about to change.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nicer Price at 310 Townsend

An expansive 1 bedroom home at approximately 1132 sq feet, 310 Townsend #303 comes back on the market at $749,000, down from its pre-holiday price of $785,000 (-4.8%). At $659/sq foot it is historically the lowest price per square foot at 310 Townsend to date. With a phenomenal central location, great floor plans and authentic brick and mortar charm (backdropped by a killer kitchen), this is a great opportunity to get into one of my favorite smaller buildings South of Market.

On Your Mark; Get Set; Become a House Flipper

Effective February 1st, 2010, real estate buyers will be able to use previously restricted FHA loans to purchase properties that sellers have owned for less than 90 days.

The policy change, which will temporarily remove restrictions on FHA-insured financing, is intended to expand mortgages to “flipped” properties, distressed properties which were purchased by the sellers to remodel and sell for a higher price. The intention of lifting the restriction is to promote an increase in home purchases and reinvigorate communities that have been negatively impacted by mass foreclosures. This could be a great opportunity for individuals who want to try their hand at real estate investment, since it will significantly open the buyer pool now that FHA financing is applicable.

You can read the official press release by the US HUD Department and full details here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tick Tock Goes the Buyer's Credit Clock!

Home ownership advocates and Realtors pushed hard last year to extend the federal Home Buyers Tax Credit -the $8,000 first time buyer and $6,500 move-up buyer credits now run through April 30, 2010 - but resistance from sellers to put their properties on the market early in the year is wasting valuable time, which buyers and sellers need, to take advantage of the tax deduction.

With mortgage lending guidelines still very tight, the majority of real estate transactions are taking longer than the once-typical 30 days to close. To be safe, buyers should to be locked in to a sales contract by early February. This would allow a comfortable 60 days to tackle any financing hurdles and close before the April 30 deadline.

How do sellers benefit from the Home Buyers Tax Credit? One word: demand. Most of my buyers last summer would not have been shopping for a home without the incentive of the tax credit. Once the tax credit is no longer available, many buyers will pull out of the market. Putting your home on the market now ensures that you are taking advantage of an optimum buyer pool. There is no guarantee that the tax credit will be extended again, or for how long.

So don’t delay if you are selling your home –buyers are out there now; they are just waiting for the a positive flux in available properties.