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Monday, August 1, 2016

Feds Want to Know Who’s Buying Luxury Property in SF

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 11:12 AM

  • Flickr/NickNormal

The federal government has been so successful this year rooting out the evil behind all-cash real estate purchases in New York City and Miami that it’s bringing the operation to another high-value yuppie paradise: California.

San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties join L.A. and San Diego as new targets of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department. This might sound like something for the MBA elites at Stanford, but it’s actually quite easy for laymen to understand. You see, properties of all sorts are mega-valuable out here in the Golden State. So anything over $2 million bought using a “shell company” - a corporation that has no other function than to facilitate business transactions - will be scrutinized by the government.

Will this suddenly make San Francisco affordable? Answer: a resounding no. Will it be interesting to know how many shady dealings are going down all around you? Answer: a resounding yes.

The New York Timeswhich is taking partial credit for inspiring the Treasury to create this program - reported last week some of the suspicious activity uncovered in NYC and Miami just since March, when the monitoring began. In one instance, someone withdrew $16 million in cash for a purchase. Another buyer was tied to check counterfeiting, and some $7 million moved around in different shell companies was linked to South America, according to the Times.

Sadly, the details are scant beyond that, leaving us to wonder about the various people behind these shell companies. However, in a July story, the Times reported on a shell company with ties to Malaysia’s embattled prime minister, Najib Razak. 

If you follow the Bay Area real estate market, you’ve seen the headlines about cooling this and cooling that. And although things seem to be trending down, the median home value in San Francisco remains above $1 million. Bloomberg, for instance, reported in June that San Francisco’s stock of luxury property - condos and houses valued at $2 million or more - was increasing fast compared to the year prior. But there are still office buildings and other commercial properties out there to be purchased in a less than legal way.

Some still feel the program is more show than substance. The Real Deal, a New York real estate news source, spoke with experts in the field who said the rules lacked impact and were more of a bother to comply with than a solution to a big problem.  
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's True: Donald Trump (Partially) Owns San Francisco Real Estate

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 1:49 PM

That shit's mine, motherfuckers. - YOUTUBE
  • YouTube
  • That shit's mine, motherfuckers.

Yesterday afternoon, a crowd of over a dozen police officers and reporters were on hand to observe the four protesters arranged in front of 555 California Street in the Financial District, the site of an anti-Donald Trump rally.

Trump, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president, has yet to make a substantive campaign stop in northern California — which is at least partially Trump country. 555 California, a Cold War-era edifice that happens to be San Francisco's biggest commercial skyscraper, is indeed partially owned by The Donald.

As if you needed another reason to avoid going downtown.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Would You Like to Buy the Charmingly Named Town of Cal-Nev-Ari?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 11:14 AM

  • Google Maps
  • Cal-Nev-Ari

The western United States has a lot of cool place-names, from Mexican Hat, Utah to Petroleum County, Mont., to Why, Ariz.

The Mojave region in particular is full of curios: Zzyzx, for instance, and the mystical-sounding (but mostly depressing) Twentynine Palms. Or Pahrump, Nev., the town west of Vegas where the Martians first landed in Mars Attacks!

But few of these curios are for sale, as one particular eccentrically named burg is.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

More Warnings of Real Estate Bubble Apocalypse — Should You Care?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 1:21 PM

  • LinkedIn/Stacey Smith
It doesn’t matter if it’s Feb. 29 or March 1, it’s the same old story for San Francisco’s housing market. Or is it?

Depending on which electronic news source you read, it’s either impossible for most everyone in the city to afford the current median home price, or super impossible. We’re talking 11 percent  and 8 percent of people living here can afford to buy a home here, folks. As for the discrepancy, it appears SFGate just flat read the report wrong (it’s those extra-February-day blues apparently), but the figures are scary nevertheless.

Unless you have $240,000 under your mattress and a solo or combined household income of $250,000, you might as well start checking the listings in Portland (wait, they don’t want you either).

While those figures are more sobering than your 40-year-old roommates’ toenail clippings all over the bathroom, the real meat of the story is the fact that this kind of data was floating around right before the world economy — and especially our mortgage-backed own — imploded like a supernova 8 years ago.

If you want to get depressed and angry at yourself for moving here, scroll through this Paragon Real Estate report and look at all the charts. They clearly spell out: Run for your lives! Unless, of course, you’re one of those one-percenters creeping around the streets in your silent Tesla.

Business Insider points out that it’s the end of days for SF’s housing market thanks to a few factors.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

West Side Neighbors, Facing Potentially More and Taller Housing, Ask: “What Happened to Planning in This City?”

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 3:56 PM

  • Daniel Hoherd/Flickr

Supervisor Katy Tang sallied forth into her own neighborhood last night to pitch a plan for more and taller housing in the city’s traditionally low-rise western neighborhoods.

The measured argument, made to a room of skeptics at the Sunset Rec Center, went something like this: It’s not that bad, we really need more housing, and by the way, if we don’t do this then the state is going to unleash all of your worst nightmares and let them run riot on the neighborhood anyway.

That’s a rough paraphrase, of course.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Why Dense Development Might Make the Housing Crisis Worse

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

  • Mike Boening Photography/Flickr

Good news if you’re in a NIMBYish mood of late: A new study from Chapman University in Orange County gives you the anti-Manhattanization rationale you’ve been waiting for. In “Building Cities For People,” author Joel Kotkin, a former San Franciscan turned urban studies fellow at Chapman, argues that increasing building density actually makes the housing crisis worse, and also makes San Francisco less likely to attract and retain anyone except the super-rich.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

San Francisco’s Future Looks A Lot Like L.A.’s Status Quo

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 9:32 AM

  • Kevin Dooley/Flickr
Last week, real estate database Zillow released a list of the 10 most valuable housing markets in the country — as expressed by the sum total of all home values (in tax terms) in the city — as well as a list of the cities that paid the highest accumulated dollar amount in rent in 2015. 

San Francisco came in third on both lists, worth a combined $1.2 trillion and shelling out $16.7 billion in rent. (Hope you were sitting down for those numbers.) We were “beat” in both categories by New York City (number one in rents, number two in home value) and the greater Los Angeles area (vice versa).

Double bronze medals is pretty insane when you consider we’re less than half the size and a fraction of the population of those other municipalities. There are very few remaining measures of housing costs by which anyone can hold a candle to us.

So, is this really the summit, or can we go higher still on next year’s list (God help us)? We asked some real estate honchos in those other cities what’s driving demand in their neck of the woods and whether our skyrocketing market looks like an unprecedented cataclysm or business as usual.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Did Doug Shorenstein Have That Tech Billionaires Don’t?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 1:23 PM

  • Photo by Richard Seagraves

Doug Shorenstein, CEO of real estate monolith Shorenstein Properties for the past 20 years, died yesterday at age 60. The cause was cancer.

The term “real estate tycoon” isn’t one that gives people the warm and fuzzies — particularly these days, when “development” is San Francisco’s number one dirty word and “landlord” is number two. But that’s the odd thing about Shorenstein: Though he was the biggest of shots at the biggest of San Francisco developers, and a key player in ushering in the city’s most tumultuous era of change and upset since 1906, people liked him.

Likeability can be an elusive commodity for the young, modern San Francisco CEO. You might say it’s the one thing they can’t buy.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Warriors Announce Purchase of Future 12-Acre Mission Bay Arena Site

Posted By on Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 10:58 AM

  • Courtesy MANICA Architecture

Big news today about the Golden State Warriors’ planned 18,000-seat Mission Bay arena (which once faced opposition from UCSF, former mayor Willie Brown, and powerful political consultant Jack Davis): the NBA team has bought the 12-acre parcel where the sports and entertainment complex will be built.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

City Data Shows Academy of Art University is Operating Most of its Buildings Illegally

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 10:21 AM

  • Missy Martinez/Flickr

File this under “no shit”: Academy of Art University, the for-profit art school cum real estate behemoth, may be operating several buildings illegally.

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    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"