In 2012, the median value of a home in San Francisco was $670,000. In May, it jumped to $1.13 million. So how does anyone who’s not ultra-rich afford to live in the city? MarketWatch staffer Sally French purchased a one-bedroom condo around the corner from Twitter’s headquarters for just $268,000. Here’s how:
She began browsing real estate sites in 2015 and discovered properties below $300,000, each part of the city’s Inclusionary Housing Below Market Rate Ownership Program.
San Francisco requires developers of market-rate homes to fund construction of below-market-rate, or “BMR,” homes. The city then mediates their sale. At the end of 2015, San Francisco had about 3,500 BMR units. To qualify, you must live or work here, and earn less than 120% of San Francisco’s median income. (In 2016, that means $90,500 for a single-person household, more than twice the national average.)
Since she qualified for the city-run housing lotteries that are held each time a building opens, she had as good a chance as anyone else. San Francisco is supposedly a high-tech city, but the lottery was conducted in the most low-tech way possible: A city employee pulled paper tickets out of a shoebox wrapped in glittery paper. In a stroke of luck, mine was the 78th chosen.
To read French’s in-depth look at the program and San Francisco housing, click below.