Monday, February 24, 2014

The Cost of Living is High?... So, who cares!

San Francisco is known for a lot of things: the Golden Gate Bridge, the cool summers, the Castro, the tech industry, the foodie culture the cable cars... and the high cost of living.  With property costs in the neighborhood of $1,000+ per square foot, it might seem like living in the city is an unimaginable expense.  But the people who live in SF and love it know they're getting a bargain – because they're not looking at cost, they're looking at value.

San Francisco is a world-class city.  It's a cosmopolitan metropolis with everything from baseball to hackerspaces to wine bars at your fingertips – and in a city that's under 50 square miles and highly walkable, "at your fingertips" is no exaggeration.  Our City by the Bay is a cultural hub and an international destination, as well-renowned as London, Paris, NYC, Tokyo, or Zurich.  And you know what: the cost of living here is cheaper than any of those places.  It may be more costly to live in San Francisco than in many places of the US, but if you compare the costs here to the costs of the other great US cities – New York City, for example – SF still comes out ahead.  So, yes, you can find cheaper real estate in plenty of places, but the price you pay is that you'll forfeit the city experience.

I’d encourage you to keep a high-level perspective when shopping for a home in San Francisco, and keep in mind the broad Buyer pool this market is exposed to (i.e. multinational / international interest).  One of the main reasons our market is so resilient and strong is because of the global visibility and demand we get from foreign players given the ‘affordability’ here compared to their home country (i.e. England, France, Japan).  In the end, if it's the city itself that you love, the price can't compare to the value of living in the heart of it all.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Dave Eggers of San Francisco's own 826 Valencia points out that happy families are the building blocks of happy neighborhoods, happy communities, happy cities and eventually a happy world.  While your next real estate purchase might not lead to world peace, it can have a huge impact on your domestic bliss (don't judge the pic - our parents think we're adorable, lol).

Before we get married, my fiancĂ©e (Susie) and I have the benefit of a class to guide us through some of the big conversations: how would we balance our finances?  Do we want children, and how many?  What are our priorities going to be, as a couple?  Whether you're caught up in the excitement of a new engagement or celebrating your fiftieth anniversary with a move to a better home, you should discuss your real estate goals with your significant other. Consider the following:
  • What neighborhoods do you want to be in?  Do you like the bustle of city life, or the quiet of a property farther out?  How do you prioritize access to public transportation, shops, nightlife, parks, and other resources?  Do you want a place that's easily walkable, or a place that caters to commuters and roadtrippers?
  • How do you plan to use your home?  Are you attached at the hip, or do you need private spaces like a den, office, or separate bedrooms to enjoy some alone time now and again?  What about the facilities – do you entertain frequently and need a well-appointed kitchen and dining room, or do you enjoy crafts and want to convert a bedroom or even livingroom to a workroom?
  • What does your family look like, and do you expect it to change?  If you're planning on having children, they'll want their own rooms and you'll want to be close to schools and kid-friendly spaces.  Or maybe you've got grown children who have already moved out, but you still want a guest room set up in case they stop by.
Your home should set the stage for an enduring romance between you and your loved one.  Talk to your significant other about how you want that romance to look!