There’s been lots of articles in the paper recently about owning a home being a bad thing. I was always scratching my head about this until I realized I’m one of the few people left that was born and raised in San Francisco and is STILL HERE. Most of the people you’ll find in San Francisco are lucky to have lived here for twenty years at most, so it’s time I gave you a little history lesson about San Francisco real estate.
Now for most people here they don’t remember the time when a house was affordable because they aren’t, well, old like me. I was born in 1962 and my parents had bought their four bedroom house in the Sunset in 1954 for a whopping $18,300. Yes, you saw that right, there isn’t a couple of extra zeros on that number. The builders, McKewan Construction were asking $23,500 and my parents underbid the asking price and got it. The early 50’s was a buyer’s market.
My parents never thought of selling the house and moving on. It was a home to them and you didn’t sell it every couple of years to turn a profit only to move into a bigger home that you’d again turn and sell at a profit a few years later again.
My Grandmother was always the business savvy one in the family and she consulted her lawyer who worked out a deal that because I was living in the house when I turned 18 that I could have my name added on the the title as an owner so that when everyone was gone there would be no inheritance. Smart move and if you have kids you should think about doing this. There’s nothing illegal about it and it gives your kids a pretty priceless place to live in California what with Prop 13 and all that.
Now housing prices rose a bit over the years, but it wasn’t until around the late 80’s that the prices started to soar. In the 70’s you could get the same house for around $50,000. That’s pretty much close to the cost of a Lexus today with add ons and closing costs. Somewhere around the mid 80’s the prices started to skyrocket. When my wife and I got married you could get a two bedroom for around $215,000 out in the Sunset. I know, we were looking into the idea at the time. Our first landlord got a two bedroom house with a 1 bedroom cottage house in 1994 for $205,000. It wasn’t a fixer upper either.
Prices kept going up and right before the dot bomb of 2000 my Mom’s best friend who was in real estate told us we could easily get $1.5 million for this house. Great, we were millionaire, but still trying to struggle to pay the bills. I remember having to write the check for my Mom for the property tax that year and it was $650. We were paying twice that for our two bedroom house we were renting at the time.
My friends from High School, the few that stayed around and ended up in a similar situation to myself are all doing pretty good. I’m happy for them. We had parents that thought ahead. Others can’t fathom this and the fact that the people writing for the Chronicle and Examiner never take this into account shows that they aren’t either. Probably because they weren’t born and raised here. There are lots of people who want to do away with Prop 13 so that the state can get more money from home owners, but I’m not going to stand with that group. I plan on dying in this home, probably not literally, but I want to pass this house on to our daughter when we go.
I used to hate the crotchety old guys who would sit out in front of their houses in a lounge chair watering their lawns talking about why, I remember back when we… fill in the snide comment of your choice. I want to be that guy when I’m in my 70’s. I guess it’s all because I’m a Sunset redneck at heart and I want to be around to remind people about that.