Even if you won the lottery, robbed a bank, or decided to start a deep-web drug marketplace and scored the cash to swing a townhouse at 1001 California or a penthouse at the Royal Towers, the hefty homeowners' association fees might sink you yet. After the city's wealthy are done paying many millions of dollars for two- and three-bedroom condos and co-ops with Master of the Universe-type views of SF, they still shell out thousands of dollars per month for the privilege. The highest HOA fees at 1001 surpass the $5,000 mark—which is high above the recent citywide median rent of $3,488. The 10th-place HOA fee on our map is $2,838, which is still more than the median rent for a one-bedroom in Bernal. So what do those steep HOA fees cover? We asked Joel Goodrich, former competitive ice skater and luxury realtor extraordinaire, to demystify all the zeroes.
First off, HOA fees do pay for boring, homeownery stuff like maintenance, water, garbage, and building insurance—expenses that might add up to somewhere between $600 and $1,000 per month on a single-family home, points out Goodrich, who is a luxury real estate specialist with Coldwell Banker Previews International.
Above the, say, $1,000 mark, HOA fees cover high-dollar extras. The Beaux Arts standby 1001 California has only 12 units, for instance, but keeps a full-time doorman. "In the smaller boutique buildings, you have a small number of units paying a doorman, oftentimes with benefits, so you're dividing a large expense among few people," says Goodrich. In the bigger, newer high-rises like Yerba Buena's Millennium Tower, the jacked-up services—maybe two doormen, a live-in manager, and sometimes a valet—and amenities like pools, gyms, and spas account for the higher costs. The Four Seasons and the St. Regis have higher dues than the Millennium, notes Goodrich, because they are part hotel and must carry earthquake insurance.
Why are people willing to pay thousands on top of already hefty mortgages? "One word: glamour," says Goodrich. At iconic buildings like 1001 California, those steep fees pay for the doorman, the exclusive address, and not much else. "Other than 1750 Taylor, they don't have swimming pools or gyms or saunas," notes Goodrich. Yet residents still plunk down their fees, in a kind of endless feedback loop of exclusivity begetting exclusivity. "You can never replace the historical grandeur that these iconic buildings in historic neighborhoods provide," says Goodrich. "A lot of these buildings are just known by their number. You see a number and everyone immediately knows what it is."
· Even Alleged Druglord-Outlaws Say the Rent Is Too Damn High [Curbed SF]
· It's Official: Bay Area Rents Are Absolutely Crushing New York's [Curbed SF]
· Mapping the Median Rent of a One-Bedroom in San Francisco [Curbed SF]
· Joel Goodrich [Official Site]
· Here Now, a Photo Tribute to Danielle Steel's Enormous Hedge [Curbed SF]