Before the legalization of recreational marijuana, industrial warehouse properties in Oakland were largely being used by artists to curate and host events or create large scale projects. But once 2016 hit and weed became legal, cannabis businesses began filling these industrial properties instead. Rents have shot up and many artists have sadly been priced out altogether.
When Oakland announced permits for marijuana dispensaries in 2018, 116 businesses applied for only eight available spots. Between May 2017 and August last year, 124 businesses approached the city to open indoor growing operations. Rents for industrial properties rose 70% in 2017 alone. And while Alameda County made around $12 million in cannabis sales tax last year, none of that went towards arts or culture programs.
This isn't just specific to Oakland though. This is happening in states like Washington, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, and even in Canada, which legalized cannabis as a whole country. While many artists supported the legalization of marijuana, they did not foresee the consequences of workspace rent hikes, which have unfortunately put a lot of them out of a place to work and live.
BART has now approved a development project at the West Oakland Station that will include 762 housing units (!!!) with more than 30% of units being marked specifically for affordable housing. The development will also include more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and 300,000 square feet of office space, along with additional crosswalks and wide sidewalks for pedestrian access, perfect for getting those Fitbit steps in. The hope is that this project will be transformative for West Oakland, providing much needed housing that is more easily accessible to neighborhood amenities and resources.
With big companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Shopify setting the trend for employees to work from home forever-ish, potential home buyers are wondering why they're living in a pricey city to be close to work when work is actually just their dining table most days anyway.
This may explain why the Oakland market is recovering much faster than in San Francisco or San Jose. Move-in ready homes in Oakland are selling in 5-10 days with multiple offers. There are fewer homes on the market, but almost as many people searching as there were pre-pandemic.
The more suburban cities like Berkeley or Walnut Creek will likely see an increase in buyers too as remote work becomes the norm. I mean hey, if your money could get you a bigger house with an actual yard and your only trade-off is having a longer commute where you cry in the car two days out of the week instead of five, then I say why not?
Once upon a time, millennials were willing to sacrifice a few stimulus checks (and then some) on each month's rent to live in a closet-sized apartment just to be part of the hustle and bustle of a city. But when all the alluring things about living in a city (like bumping into people on crowded streets, standing in ridiculously long lines for brunch, and cramming your way into packed sports arenas and concert venues) can potentially change, the possible danger of these everyday social interactions could accelerate a trend away from densely populated urban cities and into the suburbs.
After the lockdown, new home sales came to a screeching halt (as did everything else). But in the last two weeks, homebuilders have seen sales start to climb back up, particularly with dual-income first-time buyers wanting to leave their tiny apartments and buy larger move-in ready homes that they find more safety and stability in. More emphasis is now being placed on outdoor areas, functional layouts, and overall MORE SPACE.
The secret is out: Doordash tastes the same from wherever you are.
The average U.S. home costs $240,000. But in San Francisco, a two-bedroom apartment costs around $750,000 to build. The costs of construction in SF are 13% higher than New York, 60% more expensive than Chicago, and 75% more than in Houston. But why is it SO expensive?
For starters, the price of land and labor in California is insanely higher than other states. In SF, a construction worker makes about $90 an hour. (Did you just audibly gasp because you had no idea this was a construction worker's average wage and consider maybe you too could work in construction someday? Because same).
But it’s not just that. There are so many costs that go into building affordable housing. Government fees, permits, hiring consulting companies.... So. Many. Things. It literally took the City Council 6 months just to agree on the financing paperwork alone. More attorneys are involved in projects than actual construction workers. And we wonder why it takes SO long to get any sort of traction on building affordable housing (or any housing at all) in the city. *Insert crying face emoji here.*
In non-Corona-related news (does that even exist anymore?), Kaiser cancelled their plans to build out a 1.6 million square foot tower due to delays and the ever-increasing costs of construction and project-related fees (not because of the pandemic, although the timing couldn't have been worse). This would've been Oakland's biggest commercial project, so this is a huge blow to the development of downtown.
In the midst of the biggest growing phases in downtown Oakland history, another tech giant is hopping on the bandwagon and making the move! Credit Karma opted to lease 5 floors with a rooftop deck at 1100 Broadway. Now with two offices, one in Oakland and one in SF, Credit Karma employees will be able to BART back and forth between two locations. New residential towers, offices, and hotels are also expected to pop up in the area within 6-12 months, proving that downtown Oakland's momentum is just getting started.
Is everyone else finding it impossible to read the internet or take part in a conversation without the coronavirus coming up? Well, this post will be no exception.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys the occasional night of self-quarantine (thank you DoorDash and Netflix), the coronavirus is the excuse I've been waiting for my whole life to stay at home wrapped in a blanket for hours on end without feeling guilty. But it turns out that buyers have other plans.
While everyone everywhere seems to be in panic mode—avoiding large crowds, eating out less, working from home more, washing their hands often (ok maybe it's not all bad?), and stocking up on toilet paper like it's the end of days, Bay Area buyers seem unphased and are still going to open houses in droves, determined as ever to make their next move. Maybe it's the ridiculously low interest rates, lack of inventory, rush of activity after holding off last year, ambitious 2020 goals, or all of the above, but buyers have a renewed sense of energy and are back in the market in full force.
Which means the bidding wars are making a comeback, as evidenced by these extreme examples:
This mid-century modern house in Montclair got 21 offers.
An Adams Point penthouse with a 500 sq ft roof terrace got 26 offers.
And one charming house in Fruitvale even got 42 offers. That's FORTY. TWO. OFFERS!
It truly is (March) madness out there, at least for now. With the spring market approaching, virus fears spreading, interest rates falling, important elections coming, stock market rollercoaster-ing, stay tuned to see how everything plays out. TO BE CONTINUED...
Big news for both renters and landlords in Oakland—the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance banning landlords from inquiring about potential tenant's criminal history or rejecting them based on having a criminal record. Berkeley is planning to vote on a similar measure in February.
Long but necessary list of exemptions include: single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, in-laws with the owner living on the property, tenants looking for a roommate, and government-subsidized affordable housing.
Supporters say this will help to ensure those with criminal records have an equal chance to secure housing and successfully reintegrate themselves back into the community. Landlords have 6 months to adapt to the law, or they'll be fined up to $1000 for each violation.
And it's not even February yet!
A week into the new year, Climb announced an unexpected shutdown, and just like that—the place I called home for the last 3.5 years is now sadly no more. It's crazy how an office that was once bursting at the seams with vibrance and energy could just cease to exist overnight the way it did. But, life goes on (is what I was told after reasonably and rationally claiming to be homeless and jobless forever and ever).
Needless to say, things have been a little nuts. In the span of ten extremely long days, I learned the news about Climb (devastating), scrambled around interviewing with different brokerages (exhausting), continued working as though my work life had not just been turned upside down (grinding), bought an investment property on an aggressively tight timeline (stress-inducing), found my new real estate home at Compass (exciting), and lived happily ever after (hoping). While I will always carry a piece of Climb with me wherever I go (literally because this pop socket with the Climb logo stuck to the back of my phone is impossible to take off), I'm super excited for these new beginnings and what's in store for me at Compass!
Besides a change in my email address (please please please save email@example.com to your address book!), everything else will be business as usual. The only exception is that I now have more tools, more resources, more support, which ultimately allows me to have more time for you and your referrals. ;)
All things real estate.