State of the TIC Market: August 2011

The tenancy-in-common (TIC) market in San Francisco has seen its share of ups and downs. I’m happy to say that this market is alive and well—and actually thriving—despite economic uncertainty.

That’s because the rise of fractional loans has enabled buyers to purchase a building together without having to be on the same loan. The latter has always been the inherent huge risk in a TIC situation. The goal of purchasing an interest in a 3+ unit building was always that of converting the building to condos down the line. However, given the constraints of doing so, buyers have given up on that goal. They’ve been happy purchasing a TIC that will provide more space than a condo can offer in a central neighborhood in the city. And they can live without the threat of losing their building in the event one of their TIC partners on the group loan experiences financial hardship.

A total of 198 TIC interests sold from January-July 2011, at an average of $696,622. The least expensive unit was a tenant-occupied, 1BR/1BA garden TIC in a three-unit building in Lone Mountain that changed hands for all cash at $115,000. At the other end of the spectrum was the 4BR/3.5BA two-level townhouse in a five-unit building with massive views in Pacific Heights that sold for $3,185,303. So clearly, even buyers on the high end are realizing that purchasing a TIC may get them the space and location they need.

There are currently 125 available TICs on the market, and about 59 in contract. Most involve fractional loans, and the market for TICs with group loans is not a very popular one. Again, economic uncertainties are giving buyers pause when it comes to stepping into a group loan. As a result, existing TIC groups are attempting to refinance into fractional loans if they can afford to do so.

The most popular neighborhoods for TICs year to date have been Nob, Russian and Telegraph Hills; Noe and Eureka Valleys; NoPa; Pacific Heights and the Mission. These neighborhoods have many multi-unit buildings and continue to be the most likely bets for TIC inventory. They’re also some of the most desirable areas in San Francisco, which is a plus for buyers who want proximity to public transportation, shops, cafes, and parks.

The fractional loan market is pretty much run by Sterling Bank and NCB. So you don’t have your pick of lenders. The good news, however, is that fractional loan interest rates are much lower than they were a year ago (6-7%). For example, a five-year ARM with 25% down will likely let you attain a 5.25% interest rate. Yes, fractional loans require at least 20-30% down, substantial cash reserves, good credit scores and are only available in three-, five- and seven-year ARM flavors.

TICs have generally been anywhere from 10-20% less expensive than condos, but that can vary depending on the number of units in the building. For example, a two-unit property really does stand a chance at condo converting fairly quickly in two to three years. But 3+ unit buildings require a very different, very time-consuming path to condo conversion. As a result, you’ll see more of a discount. (And note that Sterling only lends on buildings with a max of 15 units.)

TICs aren’t for everyone, and I typically sit down with my clients and discuss the ins and outs before they even bother with fractional loan preapproval. I’ll also be giving a TIC seminar in September in conjunction with Sterling Bank, so stay tuned for that info. And don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to attend. I can follow up with the date and time.