Real Estate Today

2014: The year of new condos

Amero Construction Site, 1501 Filbert at Van Ness Avenue; Photographed from Da Vinci Villa (2550 Van Ness Ave).

New residential buildings continue to spring up like giant mushrooms around San Francisco from Mission Bay and SOMA to mid-market, upper market, and along Van Ness Avenue. There are so many choices and so little time, the mind reels. How does one decide on a new condo?

Newly constructed condos are selling at a breathtaking pace. If 2013 is an indicator of what will be happening in 2014, you will need to be first in line the day the sales office opens at the building of your choice if you want to have your pick of the best condos.

It would take the whole Marina Times to give a comprehensive review of the residential new construction in San Francisco. The projects discussed here are buildings that happen to be along my daily path. I have had the opportunity to watch the construction over the past year. Beginning my review with two buildings that quickly sold out last year, you will understand that only the most diligent buyer will meet with success. As in all things real estate: Time is of the essence.

300 Ivy in Hayes Valley: A few days after the sales gallery opened on Gough and Ivy, I stopped in for a visit. The sales gallery was abuzz with interested buyers, and a few months later was completely sold out. At the time of my visit I thought: This office is a fairly low budget set up. This did not slow down the pace of sales one bit. Location, location, location! For the tech crowd going south, Hayes Valley is where it’s at. Hayes Valley is an easy bike ride to SOMA and Caltrans or a direct shot to the underground and the Financial District.

Since the 1989 earthquake, I have watched the Hayes Valley commercial area go from mostly closed storefronts to high-end boutiques and restaurants ranging from pizza parlors to French cafes and everything in between. The trend has been consistently upward, and the neighborhood shows no sign of slowing down.

Blanc 1080 Sutter: This beautiful project with two-bedroom condos over 1,200 square feet is, in my opinion was (they are sold out), one of the few new condos I would go so far as to call a deal. Since the land cost less here, the developers were able to put more money into the building’s finishes.

In keeping with San Francisco’s agenda to encourage use of public transportation and to limit cars in new construction, only the two-bedroom condos have parking. It will take a couple of years for this location to rise to the same level as other locations in town, but I am confident that time is not long off.

Marlow at Clay and Van Ness Avenue: There may be one or two condos left by the time the Marina Times hits the street. It is still worth investigating. The corporate buses stop one block from the Marlow. It is no surprise the building sold quickly. To celebrate their success, the developers are hosting an event in January for existing homeowners who have bought at the MARLOW, interested buyers, and real estate professionals. Local designers have been invited to mingle and participate in a panel discussion giving advice on everything from making your move to setting up the home of your dreams. Stop by the sales gallery at 1649 Polk Street or for information call 415-674-1800.

Linea 8 Buchanan at Market: Situated across the street from the new Whole Foods on Dolores Street and Market, no one can question this premium location, a few blocks from Dolores Park. When I stopped by the office in November, the 114-condo project was over 30 percent sold and the studios and the two-bedrooms with den were sold out. Estimated completion is March 2014. The sales gallery is situated at 2198 Market at Sanchez and has plenty of parking on its lot, a bonus anywhere in San Francisco. When I stopped by midday on a Tuesday, all the sales people were busy with buyers. It is always best to make an appointment. 415-552-1300.

3500 Nineteenth at 19th Street and Valencia: The project is 50 percent sold, and there has been no formal opening yet. You have to keep your ear to the ground to hear the drum beat as buyers who are looking for an ever-so-sleek modern condo are flocking to this building at 19th Street and Valencia. Two blocks from Dolores Park and more restaurants, bars, and coffee shops than one can imagine make this project a location of choice for young buyers and anyone who wants to live in an exciting urban environment. For information call 415-321-7011.

Amero 1501 Filbert at Van Ness Avenue: One Sunday in October I stepped out onto the street and, looking up, I saw an enormous crane that had appeared seemingly overnight. The excavation work had been going on for months to clean up the land previously occupied by a gas station.

If you are interested in what will go up here, you can go to The City Planning website also gives information about the project. There are no pictures or drawings, but there is information about the permits and the project’s history, as well as a mapping tool called “Active Permits in my Neighborhood”: Type in the address and hit the search button. Then click on the blue dot in the area of 1501 Filbert. The most important point is that there will be 27 luxury units. The top units will have a spectacular view of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I just love that in new-construction-speak sales offices are called “sales galleries” even though they may be a minimal set-up in construction trailers.

The Amero doesn’t have a sales gallery yet.

Now back to the original question: How does a buyer decide on a location or which building will work best? If you want to walk or bike to work, then the choice will be easy. Just look up and follow the cranes. Buildings have construction trailers on site and if it isn’t obvious where to go, just ask one of the workers.

If you want to save time, call your agent and ask for help. I love going to sales galleries with my buyers and talking to the agents on duty.

Here are important things to know when shopping for a condo in a new development:

1. The sales representatives are working for the developer. It is important to bring your own agent with you the first time you go to a sales gallery. This way your agent will be able to sign up to be your official exclusive representative.

2. Condo price quoted is always a base price. Things like a washer and dryer, hardwood floors, or window covering are upgrades. Many buildings do not have a parking spot, so it is important to know the extra cost of parking. This may be $40,000 or more.

3. Condo upgrades all add up to serious money, and your agent will be there to help you sort through the fine points of buying your condo and making upgrade choices.

4. Condo buildings are like a small neighborhood. Some locations in any given building are better than others. Your agent can help you find the best location that works for you.

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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate. Visit her online or call 415-608-1267.