Look at this sign I saw in San Francisco

Ramit Sethi · December 15th, 2006

I saw this on King St. in SF while driving a little while ago:

Expensive housing in SF (spotted on King St)

What pictures do you have of funny/weird/interesting personal-finance things? Maybe a hairdresser with $200 haircuts, or a homeless man trying to find $1 to eat, or the bill when you last went out with your friends?

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  1. AvatarKava

    You really have to be nuts. Half of a million for a shoebox 1BR?

  2. Ah the joys of Bay Area housing prices.

  3. Ouch!

    This is why I live in the midwest.

    Actually, I’m going to be out of the midwest shortly, but it’ll be to move to New Mexico.

    I’ve always known people living in the Bay Area and New York and such. I’m sure they’re fascinating places and I wish the areas I’d lived in had better museums and restaurants and employment opportunities, but it’s definitely not worth that. Around here, you can get a respectable full-sized home (not a new one, but a liveable one) for $100k.

  4. wow, and I thought the Boston area was bad…

  5. Bo Williams

    What on earth is “funny/weird/strange” about a homeless man trying to find some money to eat?

  6. I looked at the picture and thought to myself – What’s so funny? Half a million for a 1B is great!

    Living in NYC I forget that these prices are absurd for the rest of the country. Half a million will get you a studio in NYC!!!
    I guess I see the humor.

  7. Sean Casey

    I’ve been living here too long: I had to read the comments to find out why this picture was significant. 🙁

  8. I couldn’t figure out what was funny about the picture until I read the comments. It’s amazing how where you live (NYC) changes your perspective on what is a reasonable price.

  9. Clearly the prices are unreasonable, but living here in NJ only a few miles from NYC (I can see the skyline from here) these prices seem just about on par with the lunacy around here. Might actually be a bargain if you can see the water.

  10. This is out of the ordinary? Ive lived in SJ my entire life, I see nothing unusual with this. And yes…I know thats sad

  11. They’d probably be cheap in Manhattan 🙂

  12. It makes me sad that I’ve only been here a year and a half and I didn’t get what was strange about the picture.

  13. Stephanie

    Egads! My mother is about to sell her twenty year old, five bedroom log cabin on 6 acres of land for, get this…. $160,000.

    And that’s a good price here!

  14. Catch a Gideon

    Supply. And Demand.

  15. I know its not USD, but 1br places easily go for that much AUD almost anywhere nice in sydney.

  16. Clearly the time to buy investment properties in SF is after the next major earthquake.

  17. Wow you have to be a millionaire or in a lot of debt to live in those apartments.

  18. Edward S. Marshall

    Wow. Just…wow.

    When I moved to the Chicago area from central Canada, I sold my three-bedroom, two-story, finished-basement home for $50,000, and made a decent profit on the sale.

    At least, I thought it was a decent profit, until I saw what the going rate for houses in the Chicago suburbs were. I just about flipped seeing $150-300k homes, depending on the neighborhood and how far you’re willing to commute for gainful employment.

    It amazes me that some people don’t think a housing market crash is on it’s way, when you see things like this. You’re paying for status, and that has a funny way of devaluing overnight, without any notice.

  19. Awesome! Just dugg it

  20. I’ve heard some homeless people in my area make hundreds of dollars a day by standing on their little corner.

    Even if all they made was $4 every 10 minutes at a busy corner, that’s $24 an hour just for standing/sitting outside. I bet half the people aren’t even homeless.

  21. I couldn’t agree with Edward more.

    I see the same crap in Ft. Lauderdale, FL… and some of the downtown Tampa, FL area (Bayshore, for those who know the area).

    It’s bound to happen, no longer an “if”, but moreso a “when”.

    As always, thanks for your articles, Ramit. Always a pleasure to read.

  22. Haha, $520,000 in Kansas City will get you a 5 bedroom house in the nicest suburbs with the best schools on about 1/2 and acre of land.

  23. My 4BR 2 Bath house will fetch about $190k. For $520k, I’m up on the hill with all the rich snobs.

  24. sadly, the pic didn’t even phase me.

  25. I too had to read the comments to see what was ‘funny’ about this. That should tell you something. The disparity between those that have, and those that don’t is growing at a fantastic pace. It’s call wealth inflation, and it is truly scary to the 98% of people in the world who look at this and are shocked. The prospects of catching up with the rich are becoming dimmer. Invest wisely and consistently.

  26. Well, that’s not all SF– That’s close to downtown.

    Yes, I live in Tallahassee,Fl in 5 acres and worth $250,000.

  27. In the Great State of Tennessee, where I’m from, $520,000 will put you in the same neighborhoods as professional football players. It’s funny how there can be such a range in real estate prices across the country.

  28. I think that location is critical part of the wealth building decision.

    I once got offered a transfer to L.A. I looked at the offer and turned it down due 100% on the price of housing. I knew that I could make the same salary in a city with a lower housing cost.

    Now I’m semi retired and if I want to spend time in L.A., I fly there and rent.

  29. I don’t think it’s that funny nor should it be. Prices aren’t outrageous they’re just a function of what people are willing to buy at. Salaries in SF/NYC are higher and more people desire to live in those areas so therefore it costs more. It’s nothing to be sad or embarassed about — it’s normal. It just sucks if you live in Kansas and decide to move to New York, but besides that it’s no big deal.

  30. Here in Atlanta, I work next to a building going up with a sign that reads, “93 residences from $1 million+”. It never occurred to me to take a picture! I just always want to know what it is people do to make the money to live in these places (yes, I understand some live beyond their means). I scrimp and save and (at 37) it seems I’ll never even have enough for a 1br, 1ba shack. But wait, is this strange b/c it’s actually cheap for SF?
    I don’t have signs of weird/funny financial stuff, but the stories I hear every Friday when I volunteer at the consumer action center never cease to amaze…

  31. Wow! Those are staggering, I’ll bet you the one bedroom is a whopping 500sq if that.

  32. I don’t have a picture, but there’s a guy on the Venice boardwalk with a sign that reads “Will work for marijuana”

  33. Andrew Maury

    I honestly wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be noticing when I first looked at that sign. I guess working as a real estate broker in San Francisco would do that to you!

    Check out these charts on my site that show the median prices and prices per square foot for San Francisco condos.

    Some of the new condo buildings, like the Infinity and One Rincon Hill, start around $950 per square foot and get well over $1000 for the units on the higher levels.

  34. anacoluthia

    oh, honey, that’s nuthin. I lived on Wisconsin Ave in DC up through July. In June 2005, when I moved into the building, there was a condo building going up across the street with a banner strewn across the front: “Luxury Condos from the Mid-$700’s.” About 5 months I was coming home I noticed a subtle change: “Luxury Condos from the Low-$800’s” Amazing! The price went up 50k and they weren’t even finished yet.

  35. so you don’t notice the “1 bedrooms” ?

    bedrooms … rooms … sss …

    or not?

  36. Is a guaranteed parking spot included in that price?

  37. Cheap by Manhattan standards for Luxury new construction. A One Bedroom at 240 Park Avenue in Manhattan is going for…$1.4m!

  38. EmptySet

    #35: I saw that at first too (I assume you’re talking about the plural “s” on 1 bedroom). But, it is indeed correct grammar, because the “s” refers to apartments. As in “We have 1-bedroom apartments for rent.” Sorry, I’m a grammar nazi.

  39. I’m really curious, where to hamburger flippers and other unskilled workers live in SF?

  40. The sad thing is that these prices looked really reasonable to me. It took me a while (getting out of the California box) to realize that these prices would be funny to folks outside the state.

  41. Binkley


    There are bad / “ghetto” neighborhoods in SF just like any other big city.

  42. The prices are funny to anyone who realizes just how big the mortgage payments would be on that loan. But what is even more funny is the fact that these prices are for property yet to be built. Anyone want to throw down half a million site unseen? Now that’s funny.

  43. outwiththejive

    Eugene, I hope you don’t honestly believe that housing prices are based solely in the realm of economic function (supply and demand). Sorry to inform you, but there are a few points that oppose such a view. First, real estate agents (even buyers’ agents) are paid commission as a percentage of the final sales price of a house. What motivation do any of them have to sell for a low price? Not much. (Note: by this comment I AM NOT deriding agents in any way. Many of them are wonderful people and do good work. I’m simply addressing their method of payment for services) Second, subprime lending (as we all have read in the news by now) has allowed good people with poor credit to purchase (not afford) homes at much higher prices. Unfortunately for many, they were unaware that they could be approved for much more house than could be reasonably afforded, and purchased up to their maximum limits. This, of course, continues to drive up prices and may be based on supply/demand, but isn’t rational in nature.