houses I can’t afford

Little Blue

Blue.jpgYou know that neighborhood around the MacArthur BART station you used to be afraid to walk through? You could call it home sweet home with the purchase of this Emeryville fixer upper. Seller will consider a fresh coat of tan paint for serious buyers. Bring us your offers! Bidding starts at 1.1 million.

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Boxy Bernal Brothers

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Precariously perched near the peak of Bernal Hill, these simple structures have been in the neighborhood long enough to see at least one San Francisco bubble burst. While the bars on the window tell you things haven’t alway been Instagramable vistas and six-dollar lattes, both homes have been updated to match the Ikea decor that’s sure to fill them. This is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own an entire corner of the most squirrely city in America. Bidding starts at five million.

Spanish Tile Tony

Spanish Sal.jpgWith an oversized one-car garage, plenty of mature trees and a gracefully curved stairway that your movers are gonna hate, this Grand Lake District beauty would probably set you back about a million or more. Like the festive feel? The current owners will throw in the Christmas lights for free.

Piedmont Pete

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Pete has been lovingly maintained by his upper-middle class family for decades. With subtle castle-like curb appeal and an aesthetically appealing arrangement of windows, rooflines and overhangs, he stands out among his neighbors. While there may be shag carpeting lurking within his plaster walls and perhaps an olive green electric stovetop in his kitchen, most of the leftovers from the 1968 remodel can be quickly erased by an ambitious new owner and a trusty contractor. Bidding starts at 1.25 million. Depending on the fiscal success of your start up, you may want to go ahead and get comfortable with the things you don’t like—there’s a good chance you’ll be living with them for a while.

Bernal Ben

Bernal Ben.jpgBen hasn’t been gentrified yet—even as the Design Within Reach crowd ambushes his fellow, wood-framed neighbors. His eaves are dirty, his first floor siding tagged by teenagers and his porch smells of urine. Although never divided into apartments, this two story Bernal Heights home hasn’t had the maintenance it deserved over the years. Considering his square footage and proximity to “authentic” Mexican food, I’d imagine the starting bid for Ben would be at least two million. And if one of Zuckerberg’s buddies is in the bidding war, the foggy San Francisco sky is the limit.

Stucco Sam

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Delightfully plain, this Piedmont home is perched on a corner lot and surrounded by trees and stray children. My guess is that it was purchased six years ago for $425K and it’s latest tax evaluation was in the one-and-a-half million range (an absolute steal when you consider the school districts!). The rooms are small, the electrical is outdated and the family that lives there has already set their sites on something bigger and newer just a little further up the hill. After all, there’s no space for two new Audis in a single-car garage.

Rustic Roger

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A fixer-upper in any other part of the world, this hillside retreat comes with a secure entrance, two-car garage and enough dry rot to keep your preferred San Francisco contractor busy for at least a year.* Spend your evening watching the fog roll over Twin Peaks and your mornings trying to figure out how to get another home improvement loan. My estimated pre-bidding-war starting price is $1.8 million. Rent the whole house for $6250—with a 13-thousand dollar deposit to cover any damage. Small cats considered.

* I have no idea if this house has any dry rot issues.