More Condo Conversions …

by on May 21, 2008

To the Editor:

Your recent article outlining your opposition to allowing tenancies in common to convert to condominiums seems like yet another way to make things more difficult for middle class individuals and families to make their way here in San Francisco. As everyone knows, housing in our city is difficult for the middle class to access; condo conversion relieves some of the risk that SF homeowners take on when purchasing a TIC. Risk they choose to incur because it is sometimes the only way for them to afford a home.

Yes, there are some TICs that sell in the $1million-$2million range. So what? Do you really think units like that were previously being rented at an affordable rate to someone who otherwise wouldn’t be able to live here? No – these are luxury properties and, rent or own, high income individuals are going to reside there. A large portion of the TIC stock is priced around $400K-$800K, and goes to “middle-class” buyers who want to invest in their future and their childrens’ by becoming homeowners. Much has been said about all of the benefits, both fiscal and emotional, of home ownership. Why shouldn’t we as a city aspire to provide more home ownership opportunities that aren’t heavily restricted and reserved only for low-income families (like some of the city’s first-time-buyer programs)?

I’m a 28 year old professional who has worked hard for the ability to afford my flat in a 2 unit building, which I plan to convert to a condominium sometime next year. In order to convert to a condo, the city can and probably will require my partners and I to spend a substantial amount of money upgrading health and safety items like electricity, sidewalk cracks, steep stairs, fire exits, etc. If this property was being used as a rental, it’s unlikely that these repairs would ever be made. A few years after condo conversion, I hope to have some return on my investment and enough resources to move into a slightly larger place. Will I sell my current home when I make that move? Absolutely not; I’ll use it as a rental.

Amy Clemens
San Francisco

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