“It is essential the city find new ways to increase the rate of home ownership through condo conversions, while protecting existing tenants. A careful, gradual way to increase ownership rates."
— San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)
SAN FRANCISCO - BAY AREA - CALIFORNIA
Housing affordability has been a major issue in the San Francisco Bay Area for decades. It threatens everything that makes the region a great place to live — our ethnic diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, economic competitiveness, cultural vitality, even the environment.
A thriving city depends on the availability of market-affordable, entry-level homes that can attract upwardly mobile residents. A city that lacks such housing will eventually lose its economic vitality and fall into decline.
The housing supply for first-time homeowners typically comes from new construction, but new construction alone cannot meet the huge demand for market-rate housing in the Bay Area. Condo conversion is an essential tool in solving the region’s extreme housing shortage.
Housing is like money: it must circulate and continually change hands to be effective.
Exorbitantly-priced housing is making it increasingly difficult for anyone other than a narrow elite to live and work in our cities. And the problem is only likely to get worse: Two million more people are projected to move into the Bay Area over the next 20 years, according to the San Francisco Planning and Urban Renewal Association.
The median sales price of a home in San Francisco is $1.38 million and the median rental is $4,506— both the highest in the nation according to Zillow. San Francisco is a city dominated by renters and historically two-thirds of households are renters.
How did we get here and where are we heading? Below is a brief overview of the past, present and future of home ownership in the Bay Area and beyond.
Until recently, buying a home was considered an essential step in achieving the American Dream. Over the past century the federal government, financial institutions and the real estate industry worked together to promote home ownership through subsidized mortgages, loan guarantees and other incentives. By 1950 more than half of all Americans owned their own homes, and that percentage was increasing each year. But as the demand for housing increased, so did prices.
The introduction of condominiums in the 1960s and the resulting popularity of condo conversions expanded home ownership opportunities in San Francisco and other American cities. Before then, residents had only two viable housing options: buying a house or renting an apartment. Those limitations created the demand for a third option — owning an “apartment” in a multi-unit condominium building.
In 1979, San Francisco further expanded home ownership opportunities by allowing existing rental units to be converted into condos. Ownership opportunities were expanded even further in the 1980s with the creation of so-called Tenants-in-Common, or TICs, which gave residents who could not afford to buy either a single-family home or a condo the opportunity to share ownership in a multi-unit building. The city established a lottery system that allowed a limited number of units to be converted to condos each year. In 2013, due to growing backlog of conversion applications, the city temporarily suspended the lottery and replaced it with an Expedited Conversion Program designed to speed the application process. However, the ECP will end on January 20, 2020, after which most conversions will have to wait until the eventual restoration of the lottery in 2024 or later.
Despite the introduction of condominium and TICs, the high cost of housing in the Bay Area has prevented many residents from realizing the dream of home ownership. Rents in San Francisco have increased more than 75 percent over the past decade, forcing many working- class families to leave the city.
The skyrocketing cost of housing has made the need for new housing solutions greater than ever. Condo conversion is a cost-effective solution to increase the stock of market-rate housing. Conversions are legal in almost every community in the Bay Area, yet this bridge to home ownership is often underutilized because many people are not aware of it or are intimidated by the complexities of the process.
In 2013, WHITE TIGER introduced a major innovation in the condo conversion process in San Francisco, by creating Fast Track Condo Conversion™ (FTCC). Jen Chan developed this proprietary program and system that ties the entire process together into one streamlined, comprehensive service. Designed to create a win/win/win situation for everyone (property owners, buyers, and renters who get a chance to purchase) while reducing both the time and cost of converting, FTCC is making home ownership more accessible and helping more people realize the dream of home ownership while at the same time strengthening communities.
As housing affordability becomes an increasingly urgent issue in the Bay Area and across the country, condo conversions are growing in popularity — in smaller communities as well as in big cities. In response to this demand, WHITE TIGER is expanding its innovative FTCC real estate program into Oakland and other communities in the Bay Area and beyond.
San Francisco — long regarded as the technology capital of the world — was recently ranked by Business Insider as the world’s No. 1 "City of the Future" because of its strength in innovation.
San Francisco ranks #13 on the Global Power City Index (GPCI), which ranks major cities based on their “magnetism,” or their comprehensive power to attract people, capital and enterprises from around the world. San Francisco’s ranking would no doubt have been higher were it not for its housing affordability crisis, which makes the need for innovative housing solutions all the more urgent.
As the corporate home of Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, San Francisco is at the forefront of the sharing economy, sometimes referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the sharing economy, ownership gives way to access, sellers and buyers are replaced by providers and users, social capital becomes as important as market capital and consumerism is upended by sustainability. Along with "sharing cities" offers a framework for citizen engagement and collaboration at the local level, thereby strengthening trust between cities and citizens.
Changes in how we work, live, play and shop are transforming traditional business models and have potential to improve the quality of life for all of us. The sharing economy is forcing antiquated industries to reinvent themselves.
The sharing economy is reshaping the real estate industry in the Bay Area, across the country and around the world — and condo conversions are playing an important role in this transformation.
WHITE TIGER is ideally positioned to capitalize on this exciting new economic model by making housing “co-ownership” more affordable, manageable and approachable to more people. Jen Chan designed FTCC to be a flexible, highly repeatable model that can be applied in almost every community in the Bay Area, as well as in cities across the country and around the world.
WHITE TIGER is determined to make FTCC the gold standard for condo conversion around the world.