Market Conditions in 94103>Question Details

Larry, Home Buyer in 94110

What's the outlook for SOMA lofts in 2009?

Asked by Larry, 94110 Fri Dec 19, 2008

Help the community by answering this question:


Loft-style living has been one of the hardest hit segment of the San Francisco Real Estate, only second to the TIC market. Several of my colleagues have had listings that continue to sit on the market, many of which have been pulled because the sellers were unable to get the price they wanted.

We have also seen a decline in the demand for loft living which has nothing to do with the downturn in the market. While I love the open spaces a loft has to offer, many home buyers have been drawn to the amenities that are being offered by some of the new developments.

It seems that everyone has an opinion on where the market is going. The simple fact is - We don't know! No one knows!!

We have heard predictions that the market will recover by the middle of 2009. I have also read that the second wave of toxic mortgages are about to hit and we will continue to see falling home prices indefinitely.

I would like to share the recent statistical reports that I frequently run for my clients. I can show you the trends for loft purchases, specifically by neighborhood which may help you.

Please feel free to contact me. 415.515.6097

Thanks for the great question!

Paragon Real Estate Group
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 21, 2008
I think you have to be careful when looking at SOMA lofts...some areas are much better than always, its location location location.
Mission Bay is very very far removed from the city. If I wanted to shop at Safeway and eat at Amici's, I'd just move to the burbs.
6th and Market and similar areas are crime plagued and drug infested. Take a walk down there and see for yourself.
I would look for another 35-40% drop over the next 2 years until prices bottom out. In 2000, you could buy a 2BR, spacious SOMA loft for $400K...wait for prices in the $400's. It may take a while for reality to set in for these developers and realtors.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 22, 2008
Hi Larry,

I work primarily in South of Market with Urban Bay Properties. We are anticipating continued pressure on prices through the first half of the year. There are differing opinions regarding the recovery in the economy, but with thirty year fixed interest rates below 5% again and all of the stimulus efforts being made, we think that real estate will begin to stabilize. There are greater efforts among lenders as a result of shifting policy by the Fed and Treasury Department to stave foreclosures at the consumer level. I think this will have an impact over the next few months as well.

While there are hopeful signs even now, we expect continued pressure for the time-being. I am advising my clients to remain in touch with the market, however, because there are sellers out there who are sincerely motivated. These kinds of opportunities are unique and some are worth considering. For those who are qualified, taking advantage of today's rates can represent years worth of savings.

These are some of my thoughts...

Would love to learn more about your interests.

Take care and good luck,

Jason Chapin
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 19, 2008
Hi Larry,

The outlook for Soma lofts depends on your perspective.

As a home buyer, there are really amazing deals in the loft market right now and this should continue through 2009. Prices are down and some sellers really must sell.

Unfortunately, SOMA was one of the areas hardest hit by the credit crunch and meltdown. Whereas a lot of San Francisco was always too expensive for sub prime borrowers and/or zero down payment borrowing (even with the relaxed guidelines of days past), some lofts in South of Market were at a price point that made low down payment and sub prime loans possible.

In general, there are very few short sales, foreclosures, and now REOs (Bank-owned properties) in San Francisco. The ones we do have are primarily concentrated in the less expensive parts of town and/or entry-level housing stock such as District 10 and parts of District 9, specifically SOMA lofts.

In addition, SOMA and surrounding areas of Mission Bay and the Waterfront are the last frontier of development in SF. This means that there is excess inventory...right now. SF is a small City that severely limits development so this supply will be absorbed. Don't kid yourself to think that there will always be more new construction supply than demand. There is no more land!

All of these factors make it a buyer's market in South of Market.

If your a seller, you may find that the value of your loft has dropped quite a bit since the peak in 2006 plus/minus. However, if you've owned your loft for a few years, it is very likely that you will still have some pretty decent profit through appreciation. As I always say, real estate is a long-term investment. Owning pretty much any property in San Francisco will appreciate over time.

Lofts have a more specific buying demographic than other homes, like single family houses for example. So, the loft market tends to be more up and down. Their popularity comes and goes. Personally, I think lofts are a great option for folks who want low-maintenance living, like the urban environment, have a modern aesthetic and want a cool pad to call home. They also tend to rent for a lot of $ so they can be a good long-term investment too.

If you are thinking of selling your loft, don't despair. Your best options really depends on your particular situation. It may make sense to take advantage of the discounted real estate market and amazing interest rates and "trade-up." If you're having trouble keeping up with your payments, talk to your lender right away. I understand that squeaky wheels are getting amazing loan modifications. I say look at your overall life picture and make the best decision from there.

In summary, if you're interested in buying a loft, do it now or soon.

You won't know that the market's heading back up until it already has and timing the market perfectly is a fool's game. Make sure you work with an agent who knows the area and understands how the loft compares to the competition so you'll get the best value you can. Of course, I'm happy to talk to you about that part! :)

All the best,
Danielle Lazier, San Francisco Realtor
Zephyr Real Estate
danielle (at)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 19, 2008

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 2, 2009
Hi Larry--Thought I'd weigh in with my colleagues on your question. In a nutshell, the SoMa area is completely a buyer's market right now. If you can get in at the right price, with a nice mortgage rate--and plan to keep your property for at least five years--you'll probably be making a decent investment. Lofts are a sort of dated property type, and SoMa has taken a back seat to up-and-coming neighborhoods like Mission Bay. With 6,000 brand new units on tap in Mission Bay over the next several years, you can be sure there will always be something shinier and newer than a loft. But if you like a spacious feel to your home, and enjoy nice weather, getting a good deal in SoMa can be a worthwhile thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 28, 2008
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