Well, kiddies, the end may just be near. Last- what?- summer the empty lot across the street from my humble (and I do mean humble) abode suddenly became a swarm of activity as the new buyers (or the old owners) began construction on a two-story fourplex. In the end they did a pretty good job of making it blend into the natural architectural style of the Tower District. Each balcony and porch was made up in the Craftsman style, the roof was done in a faux Spanish style (not in tile, but the asphalt shingles in the same color), the front stairs to the upper floor were hidden, the lawns are gorgeous, the offstreet parking isn't pukey at all. It really does look nice as these things go.
My landlord, who is an insurance agent and multiple property owner, researched and found out that the owner was going to ask for $750,000 for the whole shebang. 5 years ago, we would have hooted and asked if we could have the name of his dealer, 'cuz the shit must be primo. Not any more. We gaped at the asking price, but we never once thought it was not going to be met. We knew someone would jump at the bait. Probably a Bay area person. My landlord, also, informed us that the current owner was planning on calling the units "3 bedroom". That's when I began to gag. My studio apartment on Vassar Ave was as big. Granted, these units were very likely better made and laid out, but it didn't dismiss the fact that they were all about 700-800 square feet at best. And the owner was planning asking for over $1000 in rent.
Well, the 'for sale' sign went up last Saturday. The realty agent came out, took a mess of pictures of the exterior, interior, shots of the views and houses across the streets (though I think she skipped my place because of the delapidated fence situation) and left. So, that was Saturday. Saturday was the first official day of saleability. Today is Tuesday. Today there is a 'sold' sign on the realty sign. That's 4 days at most. The place sold in four days. Four freaking days. It ain't even renting yet. Four days. 3/4 of a million bucks. Snap. Gone. Gobbled. Didn't even see the shark's fin.
Now, the burning question is: local buyer or Bay area buyer? Evidently, the rule of thumb for rental building buyers is that the sum of monthly rent must be at least 1% of the sale price. 1% of $750,000 is $7500. $7500 divided by four equals $1875. Following this code, each '3 bedroom' unit needs to rent for $1875. That comes to (in my estimate) somewhere in the $2.50 per square foot range. A Bay area buyer would not think twice about charging what he or she considers fair market value based on the Bay area. That's how I was forced out of my last apartment. A Santa Cruz realtor bought the place and immediately kicked everyone for renovations with the notice that rent would increase by 50%. The locals who bought it before her and renovated the outside and landscaped it raised the rent by $50 (15%). Anyway, it will be interesting to see if the new owners will keep the same description or make it more sensible and what they will charge for rent.
Until then, I will continue to enjoy watching people stop and look in as I try and assess their probability of being able to afford living there. So far, the stats are running in the negative in terms of viable renters.