SF Bay Area Condo Purchase For The Unambitious
February 24, 2017 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I am considering looking for a modest 1-bedroom condominium in one of the less-gilded areas of the Peninsula, starting in Redwood City and extending north up to Daly City and targeting a sale price of $575K or below. Please help me understand the feasibility and logistics of such a purchase.

This would be my personal residence, not an investment property, and I do not have the means to make a cash purchase so I would be financing with a conventional mortgage. How much competition should I expect from all-cash buyers for a purchase like this? What hazards or "gotchas" (build quality, HOA shadiness, ...?) should I be aware of about the kind of properties that fall into this price range, or about the bidding and purchase process?
posted by 4rtemis to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Definitely read the CC&Rs of anything you are bidding on. Also find out how "funded" the HOA reserves are.

Unfortunately, probably tons of competition, but if your bid is highest, I would take that over an all cash offer.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2017

Yeah, I'd look hard at any potential HOAs I might be asked to join, especially looking for past or ongoing legal judgements against the HOA that my HOA dues would be directed towards. Be aware that some condominium developments had multiple phases of development but use a single HOA for all condo owners within the property, so if the buyers of the earlier condos had issues with, say, skylights leaking and ruining carpets, your HOA fees could be be used to help underwrite their lawsuits. Go in with your eyes open.
posted by mosk at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2017

Competition will be stiff, but honestly you can and should continue to include SF proper in your search. What you're looking for still exists in that price range, but expect that you'll be one of many gunning for it. We bought (via mortgage) a 600-ish square foot standalone house just a few years ago for about the amount you're working with. We put in our offer on this place after losing out to all-cash offers on two previous places in the same range. We're pretty sure one of those all cash offers was a bit of an inside deal between real estate agents, since it was "flipped" fairly quickly and has been on the market repeatedly since then.

We think we got this place because it's a tenancy in common (TIC), which means the financing is a little complicated. We have two small houses on one lot, the other owned by someone else. TICs are a bit like condos, in terms of financing and such, and we have to split a single tax bill. If the other owner bails on his portion of taxes, for whatever reason, we're on the hook for them. Hence, people don't go after TICs with the same zeal as condos (after living here for a few years, we're going through the process of converting our TIC to a condo arrangement). So keep TICs in mind. You can draw up a legal agreement with your fellow TIC owner(s) that covers the relationship between you, agreed conditions, first right of sale, etc.

Otherwise, the questions and concerns of buying a more traditional condo is a fairly straightforward thing. If something seems fishy, bail out or consult a real estate attorney (we did, and we got some good peace of mind for just a couple hundred bucks).

FWIW, a friend just got a really nice condo in Pacifica for a little less than your price range.

Good luck!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

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