Real Estate Today

Explore new condos in changing neighborhoods

From the Van Ness corridor, Hayes Valley, the Mission, South of Market, Mission Bay to Dog Patch, San Francisco is undergoing dramatic change. If you are considering buying in any of these neighborhoods, it is especially important to be aware of your preconceived notions and to explore new possibilities. Much of the new construction is located in neighborhoods that are in transition or newly developed from the ground up. You will need to think creatively to buy a condo in one of the many new buildings.

When a new buyer called and asked me about 8 Octavia, I did not have answers to his questions at my fingertips. In fact, I had not previewed the building, because of my own preconceived ideas. I was not fond of the location. The building designed by the famous architect Stanley Saitowitz has received much attention, but the price per square foot has been reported to be one of the highest of any of the recently completed condo buildings in San Francisco.

Motivated by a new buyer with questions, it was time to catch up on a few of the new condo buildings. Here are my insights on 8 Octavia, VIDA, Amero, and Lumnia.

8 Octavia: My tour included the model home on the sixth floor, an incomplete home on the second floor, and the common roof deck. The good news is these condos include everything except the washer and dryer. In most new construction, the price looks good until you find out how much the flooring, carpet, and appliances will cost.

Within 30 minutes I was in love. In fact, I have to say: “Seeing is believing.” Of course that does not mean this is the building for you. 8 Octavia was so hyped, I did not think it would live up to the story, but it does. Walking home through Hayes Valley, I am now a believer in the location. The streets were crowded and the restaurants had lines out the door. This was at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday. To understand the uniqueness of 8 Octavia, you must see it in person.

VIDA: Next stop was in the Mission to see VIDA at 45 Bartlett Street. Barely on the market a few months, there were only a half-dozen condos left for sale in March. The building goes through the whole block from Mission to Bartlett with commercial units on the lower floor facing Mission. Here the base price does not include appliances, window coverings, or upgraded flooring. VIDA is all about the location. All of the shuttles stop within two blocks near the BART Station. A Crunch Gym will be opening across the street on Mission, with a theater next door. It is difficult to keep up with the changes in the Mission, they are happening so quickly.

Moving closer to home, I stopped by the Amero at 1051 Filbert Street. There are 27 units here at the corner of Filbert and Van Ness Avenue. As of this writing, there is only one condo on the penthouse floor with a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge available.

My last stop — the Lumnia on Main and Folsom streets — is unquestionably targeted to the luxury market. A two-floor penthouse just came on the market at $49 million. This is the most expensive property for sale in San Francisco. Though this listing has caught everyone’s attention, the fact is that the building amenities are what make the Lumnia special.

The Lumnia’s architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia took the time to get to know the lifestyle of people who live in San Francisco. In a visit to the sales office, you will find a model showing the beautifully landscaped rooftop terrace with outdoor dining area, barbecue fire pits, and movie lawn. There is a 70-foot indoor lap pool, fitness center, climbing wall, bicycle storage and repair station, a pet grooming station, and even a children’s play area for young families. If you are wondering where to shop for groceries or gourmet foods, a new grocery store called Market on Main will open at the same time as the building.

Like 8 Octavia, high-end appliances are included in the price. The Lumnia offers a few upgrades such as window coverings, closet systems, or different flooring. You won’t need to worry about $100,000 additional in costs to make the condos spectacular. Set to open the end of the summer, 30 percent of the 656 condos are sold.

There is a wide range of location choices between these four buildings. What they all have in common is that only a few years ago these areas were a gleam in the eye of the developers and not on buyers’ radars. Today buyers are snapping up these new condos as they are released. Keep in mind that a general rule is that higher floors cost more, and as the market goes up in price, so will the cost of new construction. The good news is that because the condos are pre-sold before the opening of the buildings, multiple offers are not an issue.

The moral to this story is obvious. There is no way to know whether you like, love, or hate a home until you see it in person and walk around the neighborhood. More important than anything else: Don’t hesitate, because these new condos are selling fast.

If you are interested in any of these or other new construction buildings keep in close touch with your agent to make sure the best choice is available to you. It is important to take your agent with you the first time you visit a new construction condo building. Remember that though the sales staff may be friendly, they work for the developer.

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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate, where she is a Top Producer. Follow her on Twitter @CaroleIsaacs or visit her online at or call 415-608-1267.