Wednesday, July 06, 2016

How I bought a condo in San Francisco for $268,000

TL;DR: I got lucky and won the lottery.

San Francisco is America’s poster child for unaffordable city living: The median value of homes rocketed from $670,000 in 2012 to $1.13 million this May.

But I bought a brand-new, one-bedroom condo in the heart of the Mid-Market District, right around the corner from Twitter’s headquarters, for just $268,000.

I’m living proof that it’s possible to buy a home in San Francisco even if you’re not a millionaire.

As a 23-year-old whose income is nowhere near the $147,996 studies say you need to afford a home in San Francisco, I assumed homeownership would be out of my reach for decades — if not forever.

But in early 2015, out of curiosity, I browsed real estate sites, setting the price filter below $300,000. To my bewilderment, a few listings popped up. The descriptions had one thing in common: they were all part of the city’s Inclusionary Housing Below Market Rate Ownership Program.

I quickly did some research. San Francisco requires developers of market-rate homes to fund construction of below-market-rate, or “BMR,” homes. The city then mediates their sale. At the end of 2015, San Francisco had about 3,500 BMR units.

To qualify, you must live or work here, and earn less than 120% of San Francisco’s median income. (In 2016, that means $90,500 for a single-person household, more than twice the national average.)

In theory, more than half of San Franciscans qualify. I was one of them.

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