- Fixer-uppers selling for at least $1 million in San Francisco regularly make headlines.
- In a city where housing demand outweighs supply, the value of homes and land is sky-high, meaning even dilapidated single-family homes throughout the city are worth a pretty penny.
- But the purchase of the property is only the first step in taking on a fixer-upper project — renovations typically mean shelling out millions more.
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The glamour of flipping a “fixer-upper” has in part been fetishized by home-renovation TV shows on channels like HGTV. One of the most recent and high-profile ones that come to mind is of course Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “Fixer Upper,” where homeowners paid on average $173,221 for their fixer upfront in the Texas town of Waco before the famous couple gave it their signature touch.
It’s common to not only watch on TV but read about how old, decaying structures are reborn into the homes of families’ American dreams.
In San Francisco, though, the concept of a piece in the city’s tight housing market being a “fixer-upper” has a wholly different connotation.
The city’s limited housing stock and subsequent housing shortage and crisis translate to even these dilapidated houses selling for north of $1 million. As demand outweighs supply, the value of land and the homes sitting atop it — whether they’re intact or otherwise deteriorating — rises, which Coldwell Banker listing agent Jeremy Rushton told Business Insider is what’s so stupefying about seeing a property in disrepair with such a high price tag.
“If prices doubled next week, all these homes would still look the same,” Rushton said. “In the 90s, when they were a third of what they’re worth now, they looked the same as they do now.”
That’s why San Francisco fixer-uppers get so much attention, Sotheby’s real-estate broker Herman Chan told Business Insider in an email. And on top of that, people love a good before-and-after project.
“[It's a] rags to riches story,” Chan said. “It’s so American.”
Peruse any real-estate listing site, and you’ll see a bunch of these fixer-uppers listed for sale in San Francisco. Some are bluntly categorized as a “fixer.” Other spoiler alerts are a lack of interior photos in the listing or a disclaimer screaming “BUILD YOUR CUSTOM DREAM HOME” or “Bring your contractors and architects!” Listings don’t usually attempt to sugarcoat it.
“Properties really speak for themselves no matter what they are,” Rushton said. But historically, that doesn’t sway buyers — these homes are almost always snatched up after not sitting idly on the market for long.
But buying the home is only the first step — then comes the millions more for renovations and the lengthy city approval process.
Business Insider has reported on a portion of the city’s “fixer-upper” homes in recent years, including a recent sale of one of the city’s famed Painted Ladies purchased by a tech founder for $3.55 million (in cash, mind you.)
Here’s how San Francisco’s fixer-uppers have fared on the market, why new owners can’t simply demolish their new fixer-upper even if they want to, what their listing agents had to say about them, and what some of them are like inside.