Just Sold: Russian Hill TIC

I’ve just sold my 1BR/1BA tenancy-in-common (TIC) listing at 1145 Green #5. Listed shortly before Labor Day weekend, a very motivated buyer submitted an offer almost immediately and we were in contract within five days. List price was $439,000 and the sale closed at the asking price.

The unit is actually well on its way to becoming a condo, as the building won the condo lottery earlier this year.

Give me a shout if you’re looking for a similar property, or would like to sell the one you own. I’m well versed on the ins and outs of TICs, condos and everything in between.

Join Us: The TIC Home-Buying Workshop

Tenancy-in-commons (TICs) aren’t always the most straightforward of property types. I get regular inquiries from confused home seekers who’ve come across a large remodeled flat in, say, NoPa, that seems like a good deal. And it might be. But it’s not a condo, it’s a TIC. And there are big differences between condos and TICs.

TICs are very unique to San Francisco, and many home buyers new to San Francisco–as well as locals who are tired of paying rent–could always use a quick refresher on the basics. In conjunction with Sterling Bank & Trust, I’ll be hosting The TIC Workshop on October 18th. We’ll cover the pros and cons of TIC ownership, what fractional loans are all about, and what you can expect in today’s TIC market. And yes, we’ll definitely be discussing the value difference between TICs and condos.

By the time you leave our workshop, you’ll have a good idea as to whether a TIC is truly an option for you.

Here are the deets:

DATE Tuesday, October 18

TIME 7:00-8:30PM

PLACE Sterling Bank & Trust, 2122 Market Street at Church

We’ll serve light refreshments, too.

Please email me at ebermingham@zephyrsf.com or call me at 415.823.4656 if you’d like to attend, and we’ll reserve a space for you. We honestly have a limited amount of chairs, so if you’re interested in being there, please contact me.

And if you can’t attend but would like to hash out TIC details on a one-on-one basis, give me a shout and I’d be happy to schedule a meeting at my office with you.

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.

How To Figure Out If You Can Sell Your TIC

I’ve been fielding calls and emails regularly from TIC homeowners on long-standing group loans in 3+ unit buildings who want or need to sell their TIC interest. Unfortunately, many of these homeowners are unable to sell, and that turns out to be quite a surprise.

I wanted to put together a checklist to help these prospective TIC sellers determine whether they’ll indeed be able to sell their interest. So here goes:

1. Pull together all the information for the group loan. You’ll need the original purchase price/date for the property; the current loan amount on the building, and your portion of the group loan. You’ll also need to note the type of first mortgage and current interest rate (i.e., five-year adjustable rate mortgage with interest-only payment at a rate of 5.5%, etc)—and the name of the lender(s) for all outstanding mortgages.

2. Find out if your portion of the loan is assumable. Check with your lender to confirm whether your loan is assumable, meaning whether a new owner can step into the existing group loan without triggering a group refinance. Keep in mind that although your loan may have been assumable at the time of your purchase, the lender may have changed its policy (or the lender itself may have changed). If your loan is not assumable, you will have to qualify for a group refinance if a new buyer enters into the picture.

3. Obtain an estimated current value for your building. Getting the current market value for your building is more important at this point than the value of  your TIC interest. If you’re consulting a TIC loan specialist, he or she could potentially put you in touch with an appraiser who’d do a “mini appraisal” of the property and give you a ballpark value at a reduced fee.

4. Know that your property will be appraised as an entire building, not TIC interests. This is something most TIC owners don’t realize when they’re thinking about simply selling their portion of the building. An appraiser will be determing the value of the building, not the combined value of multiple TIC interests. So if you own a TIC in a four-unit building, your relevant comparative sales will be other nearby four-unit buildings—some of which may be income properties.

5. Determine how much of a loan your group could get in today’s market. Your loan consultant can assist you in obtaining a ballpark value of your building, and then disseminate all your information to arrive at the maximum loan amount you’d be able to obtain on the building. You’ll then have to back out what the other remaining co-owners would have to refinance to see what’s available for the new buyer of your particular interest to borrow on the new group loan. This, in turn, would determine the down payment required by the new buyer.

6. Consider fractional financing for the group. There aren’t many lenders doing these loans right now, and such loans typically require owners to have a lot of equity in their building. The loans also carry higher interest rates and potentially more stringent cash reserve requirements. But this is a good option if all owners can qualify.

7. If the group is able to refinance, confirm the value of your TIC interest. This is where your Realtor comes in; he or she can assess the market and gauge the value of your TIC. As you can see, this is the last step because everything else needs to check out before you can even think of selling.

More Condo Lottery Craziness

Tickets for San Francisco’s annual condo lottery go on sale Monday. And there’s something you should know, as per my friends at Plan C: The City may be denying additional lottery tickets to buildings that qualify with the minimum qualifications. (Generally, this means one owner-occupied unit for each of the last three years in 2-4 unit buildings, and three owner-occupied units for each of the last three years in 5-6 unit buildings.)

Historically, lottery priority and the issuance of additional tickets have required that one of the qualifying owner-occupants have been owners (but not necessarily occupants) during each of the previous lottery losses.

The change for the last couple of years and for 2010 is that the Department of Public Works (DPW) appears to have a new interpretation of written law. To establish priority credit (additional tickets), DPW is requiring that each of the qualifying owner-occupants be the same original owner occupants that were unsuccessful in past lotteries.

Simply put, your building might qualify for the 2010 lottery and receive one ticket, but unlike in years past, may not be entitled to additional tickets based upon unsuccessful previous lottery participation.

Plan C is reaching out to see if there are other TIC groups where this situation is likely to have an impact. If you’re facing the same issue, or would face this issue if one of your fellow TIC co-owners were to sell their interest, let Plan C know and they’ll put you in contact with other similarly situated people. Send them an e-mail at info@plancsf.org.

What You Get For: $950,000-$1M

We’ll take a look at three very different properties being offered in the $950,000-$1M price range. For those interested in purchasing a home in San Francisco, this sort of exercise is designed to help you sort through the unique property types that exist, as well as get a feel for the neighborhoods in which they lie.

andersonFirst off is 78 Anderson on Bernal Height’s north slope. This is the more desirable end of the neighborhood, and the 4BR/2BA cottage with one-car parking has vaulted ceilings, an updated kitchen and is about two blocks from the Cortland Avenue main strip. Last sold in December 2007 for $990,000, it’s not clear how the sellers will make out.

Next up is 650 Chestnut #106 in North Beach:
villanorthbeach
I remember showing this property when it was last on the market in June 2005; it ultimately sold for $1,009,000. The 3BR/2BA condo in the Villa North Beach complex at Mason Street is now on the market for $959,000. I liked the unit, though—it was big (about 1600 square feet), and had a very large patio. It’s in walking distance of everything North Beach has to offer, and makes for an easy downtown commute.

Finally, there’s 438 Buchanan,a TIC interest in a three-unit building in Hayes Valley.
buchanan
Yes, it’s located at the busy Buchanan and Oak intersection, and yes, it’s only a stone’s throw from the housing projects. But this recently renovated, 2200+ square foot unit has three bedrooms + a den, 2.5 baths, and is on two levels. It’s the top level that I really liked (above), with its patio and high-end finishes. That’s listed at $979,000. Though the unit is in a three-unit building, one of the units is a commercial space on the ground level. All that’s needed are two buyers who’ll owner occupy the two residential units, and the building can bypass the condo lottery. In the meantime, the seller is keeping the commercial space and is offering wrap-around financing with a down payment of 20% or more at a 6.5% interest rate.

So which one would work for you, if you had to pick one? Please feel free to comment!

TIC Lender Targets Noe Valley

Word on the street is that Marin-based Circle Bank is planning to open a branch on Noe Valley’s 24th Street. The bank reportedly believes the demographics in Noe and its immediately surrounding neighborhoods are very similar to that of Marin (no shock there).

With 229 TIC interests having sold since January for an average price of $622,606, it doesn’t appear the TIC market is drying up. Circle’s fractional loan product is the go-to loan for TIC purchases in 3+ unit buildings. (Fractional loans allow TIC owners to be responsible for their own, individual loan vs. all owners sharing a loan.)

I’m betting that fellow TIC and fractional loan specialist Sterling Bank, located at Church and 24th Street, can’t be too happy about its future neighbor. What do you think, Noe neighbors?

Telegraph Hill TIC BOM

chestnutticNo, this is not a photo of a kitchen in a $2M house in San Francisco. It’s actually the kitchen in a $529,000 TIC interest over at 289 Chestnut #1 in the fabled Telegraph Hill neighborhood.

The 1BR/1BA TIC, situated in a six-unit building that was renovated throughout 2008, just came back on the market (BOM). There are three other units pending, and three available. I decided to highlight this one—not because I’m a TIC fan by any means, but because for this list price, it is virtually impossible to find a unit in this condition, in this location, for the money.

Granted, parking is leased at $200 per month. But for the space, finishes and location, this TIC is worth considering. There’s also a three-bridge view roof deck.

Financing is on an individual basis, of course, which involves more stringent loan requirements, higher interest rate and cash reserves.

Luxury TICs Pray For Buyers

1669churchConstructed in the shadow of St. Paul’s Church in Noe Valley, 1667-1669 Church is a two-unit TIC offering in search of buyers looking to spend $1,289,000 and $1,479,000 for either of the 3BR/2.5BA units, which offer 1750 square feet each.

The usual trappings are here—radiant heat, Energy Star appliances, CaesarStone counters. I’m not sure what to think of the little drink shelf around the island in the kitchen:
kitchen_church

But here’s my quick and dirty evaluation: The building is on Church Street, which is notorious for noisy, rumbling street cars. There are only two units, so I’m thinking the building will fare better than its modern, three-unit TIC counterpart up at 1278-1282 Church Street. (The most recent sale took place in the latter property in late April: a 3BR/3BA, 1650-square foot middle unit that sold for $950,000.) The asking prices could be a bit ambitious, particularly since the TIC world is on shaky ground these days. I’d advice putting that statue of St. Joseph in the backyard.

Condos vs. TICs: The Condo Wins

There was a time when condos were worth substantially more than TICs. Well, the gap has narrowed as the San Francisco market has softened.

A look at two-bedroom units in the city with parking reveals that condo prices have declined to the extent that they may be the more obvious choice. For example, in the under-$1M category for two-bedroom TICs with parking, the average selling price from April 1st was $621,125, with an average of 1,052 square feet.

On the condo front, the averaged sale price was $671,360, with an average of 1169 square feet.

Though TIC interests will usually provide more space for the money, I think there’s something to be said for owning your property independently. In the current economy, being on title with other owners is more of a risk than it was when TICs first became more popular many years ago.

TICs vs. Condos on 3rd Ave

617_3rdMy broker tour brought me to Third Avenue between Balboa and Cabrillo this week, to check out two TICs and one condo all listed in a similar price range. 673 3rd (above) is a 2+BR/2BA Edwardian TIC, listed at $895,000. This top-floor unit has been recently renovated, and is about 1725 square feet. Though it has one-car parking and storage, there’s no outdoor space. That’s because the other, first-floor unit—soon to be on the market after its own renovations are complete—spans two levels, and has a deeded garden. (The master suite is on the garage level, so a shared yard would obliterate any sense of privacy.) Stay tuned for this lower unit: It’s about 2,000+ square feet, has two-car parking, and is expected to be priced at about $100,000 more than the top floor.

673_3rdNext up was 673 3rd, a 3BR/2BA first-floor TIC unit priced at $819,000. This unit is also remodeled, and has a solid floorplan. The landscaped garden is shared, and the owner of the whole two-unit building will stay on in the top unit to complete a condo conversion.

692_3rd692 3rd enjoys the best curb appeal of the three. It’s a 3BR/1BA, top-floor unit with a large, deeded undeveloped attic space. This will close as a condo, and the unit’s listed at $835,000. It seems the owners of the building will stay on and live in the lower unit.

New Twist on TICs in NoPa

215cole Got a three-unit building you want to sell, but don’t want to tread the choppy waters of the multi-unit TIC ocean? Take a tip from the sellers over at 215-217 Cole in the North Panhandle: Create an “airspace” subdivision of a three-unit building. Turn the top unit into Parcel A, and designate it a planned unit development, or PUD. Turn the middle and lower flats into Parcel B, and market them as two TIC interests. Then you can end up selling a two-unit building—much more marketable than three units due to the condo conversion requirements—and a PUD, which can be sold in a very similar manner to that of a condo.

Both parcels can, according to the disclosure documentation, “share the use and enjoyment of the land and certain elements of the building.” There’s one association that is then subject to a declaration which governs the building. Everybody pays monthly association dues as specified in the disclosures.

In the case of 215-217 Cole, the top unit was sold as a PUD in December for $775,000 after being on the market for 208 days. What remain are the two units, priced at $809,000 and $805,000 and first listed in November 2008. The units were in contract recently, but the deal fell through.

A word out there to prospective buyers: Consult with an attorney before you consider an ownership arrangement such as this one. It’s worth paying for a consultation so you know what you’re getting into.

TICs: Trending Toward Tumult

Popular among first-time home buyers in San Francisco, tenancy-in-common (TIC) ownership traditionally lets two or more individuals share building ownership through a group loan. You don’t technically own your unit in a TIC arrangement–just a percentage of the building. The goal is to ultimately condo convert the building, so everyone can officially own their unit. The conversion process is complicated, lengthy and fairly expensive, so the cons sometimes outweigh the pros in TIC situations.

There’s a fair amount of risk in TIC ownership–especially when dealing with 3-6 units–mostly related to you being tied to other owners with respect to paying mortgage, property taxes & other expenses. And if someone wants to sell his or her TIC interest, the entire group loan has to be refinanced with the introduction of a new TIC partner.

Therein lies the rub in the new lending environment: Everyone has to qualify for the new loan. In the past, this hasn’t been too much of a problem, as loans were easy to obtain for the most part. Now, however, I’m hearing of TIC partners not being able to qualify for a refinanced loan due to tighter lending restrictions. This is a real problem for the TIC interest sellers, as they will have to work with their group to facilitate a new loan. In other words, those partners who can’t qualify for a new loan can’t simply be forced to sell. The seller is on the hook.

I’m shying away from recommending TIC arrangements in 3-6 unit buildings, at least until the loan market shifts toward the positive. It’s increasingly challenging to convert larger buildings to condominium status, so you’re looking at years of TIC ownership before (or if) that goal is ever reached. And though there are widely used “fractional” loans available–wherein TIC partners can obtain individual loans–I have reservations on those in terms of future availability

Condo Conversion Isn't Getting Any Quicker

No surprises here. Three- to six-unit building owners have the right to pursue condo conversion through a lengthy and time-consuming lottery system. A total of 1,844 TIC units applied for conversion this year. Unfortunately, the cap is still set at 200 conversion approvals.

Better yet, there are 2,100+ TIC units expected to apply in 2009. At this point, it’ll take an average of 24 years to condo convert for a 2010 applicant.