Ask Us: Should I Buy A Single Family Or 2-3 Unit?

Where readers ask and we (the community) try to answer:

Hello,

I have been following your blog with great interest. I have a comment/question and wasn’t sure of the best place to put it.

I was curious to know what you thought of something. Due to family circumstances, I would love to buy something in San Francisco, but something more along the lines of a 2 or 3 unit building. So, I am not just an investor coming looking to do a condo conversion in a year and then sell off again at a higher price. I plan on staying in there for a while, at least a few years and then depending on where I am at that point, renting it out to hopefully have it pay for itself.

It seems that sellers have the philosophy right now that they might not want to sell unless they get the price that they want (and the price they want is the price they would have gotten 6 months ago if they could). So, instead maybe some people are opting to hold on to their houses and rent it out until the market gets better and they could get a better price than right now? Do you see that happening?

If so, then it would seem to apply more to single family homes, no? Because rent-control laws don’t apply to them? But how about 2-4 unit buildings? It doesn’t seem right to apply this same logic to them, because both rent and eviction control laws apply to them, so either they sell at a lower price now (vacant but negotiated price), or a lower price later (because they might have tenants or even protected tenants).

I would be interested to know your thoughts! Anyways it will be interesting to see how it all plays out!

Cheers,
L

So many questions, such little space to answer. Check the comments below for answers from our insanely intelligent readers. Check your inbox for my reply directly to you, and check back here, because you touched on so many issues, we’re certain to keep coming back with more replies.

As always, thanks for reading and hanging out on theFrontSteps, and thanks for your question.

Road to Real Estate Recovery

When I was working at C__________, my boss was a big coke-head. As a result, the atmosphere was, to understate, lax. Everyone drank and ate copiously (never paying for it), sat down and/or danced randomly in the middle of the restaurant, swore, and slept with one another. All of the aforementioned took place during open-for-business hours. None of us were very surprised when an accountant appeared to “audit the situation” since the owners were confounded, and not at all pleased, that such a busy place could simply not turn a profit. The list of solutions thus generated included: uniforms, Michael Bolton CDs, crafting our famed sangria with boxed (as opposed to bottled) wine, and a NO DRINKING ON THE JOB POLICY.” Nowhere was it suggested that coke-head boss might… cut back, abstain, cease, or desist. And so ended my tenure at C_______.

The relevant thread here is that ailing businesses oft must look within to cure what ails. In the case of real estate, a national convalescent, such introspection cannot come too soon. Perhaps this is why Inman is sponsoring a “Roadmap to Recovery” program, part of which includes an essay contest, with prizes such as $500 and a free pass to the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference.

One recent essay asks how Realtors can redefine “full service.” The author, Jack Harper, has a thesis that what’s missing in real estate is transparency: a term he defines as the client having full understanding of what the agent does for his/her commission. He laments not only a lack of clear communication regarding those services, but also a lack of agreement by the industry as a whole as to what those services entail.

Commenters have opinions aplenty on this essay. Most turn out to be thinly veiled ads for the agents commenting, masturbatory “I am so good at this and that as well as that and this; and by the way, here is my contact information and website!” type stuff. But most of the ideas echo Harper’s.

As a potential client to any realtor, I would like to add that “transparency” also implies a level of honesty and freeness with information your industry is not famed for. We need to trust you again. Bringing that trust back to real estate could be one very important step on the road to recovery.

Photo credit: Active Rain.com

Google Founder(s) Vacationing In Mexico While Stock Falls?

We’ve been told, and we acknowledge this has absolutely nothing to do with San Francisco real estate (unless the Google founders took the Google bus to get to port), that one, if not both, Google founders are enjoying the fruits of their labor and declining company value with a nice cruise on their gigantic “dark sailboat yacht with three giant masts” down near Manzanillo, Mexico.

True or rumor? Anybody know? Admittedly, not as bad as the CEO’s of Ford, GM, and Chrysler flying to D.C. in their private jets asking for $25B, but interesting nonetheless.

We’re thinking “the dark blue yacht with three giant masts” is the Maltese Falcon (pictured above) on its way down to Panama. In which case, maybe Sergey Brin and Larry Page are just along for the ride, unless they threw down the $181,688,916 recently being asked for it, and added the yacht to their roster of extravagant things.

Either way, Sergey and Larry, you might want to go easy on the Lobster, and heavy on the beans and rice, things ain’t lookin’ so good up here north of the border.

Don’t suppose Jerry Yang is scrubbing the decks do you?

[Image Source: YachtPals.com]

Letter To Editor: “Defamation, Slander, Law Suit” Fun!

Life at theFrontSteps is nothing but sunshine and roses. Ummm, maybe not. Today, we give you the most recent friendly email to come our way, with a few things [removed] to protect privacy:

[Editor], It is unfortunate that I have to write you this email. A client of mine [removed] sent me this link to one of your blogs. Please know that if you continue to [post certain things] on-line, I will file a defamation of character and slander law suit in 5 minutes. You did not mention me by name, but have already affected my reputation [removed] with this blog. This is the most desperate and pathetic attempt I have ever seen by an agent to procure business. I could sue you right now based on the sales and records I have made [in the past]. Your implications are quite damaging and it will not be tolerated. Please remove these insulting and malicious comments off this site immediately or [your company] and you will hear from my attorneys before you can write another irresponsible, unresearched, innaccuate and unethical statement. By the way, you are using my photos for commercial use. Please cease and desist from this.

Sincerely,
[One upset agent]

And you thought this blogging stuff is easy, and always fun….