Big Tech Throwing Big Money at Housing Crisis

It seems every week we’re hearing about another BILLION dollars or more coming into the Bay Area housing market.

Most recently it’s Apple with $2.5 billion, one-upping both Facebook and Google’s earlier $1 billion each. Amazon and Microsoft are doing the same in Seattle.

Why is this a “trend” though? Why is there a tech “arms race” on this issue? The answer is one of the simplest Things You Learned in Kindergarten lessons:
 You Break It, You Buy It. 

Imagine the span of about 18 months from late 2007 to early 2009: 1) Apple introduces the iPhone; 2) Google releases the Chrome browser; and 3) Facebook hit critical mass, shifting from a little campus thing into a real social network and brand platform.

That’s when the world changed. Since then 500,000 tech jobs have been created. Every one tech job yields five non-tech jobs. And yet, only 50,000 new homes have been built. A recent McKinsey report estimates that 3.5 million new homes are needed by 2025 to close the gap.

So tech brings in thousands of bodies, throws tons of money at them, and demand+prices skyrocket. Now they’re throwing more money at the problem they helped create.

But money alone isn’t enough, according to experts who say the answer is “a combination of relaxed suburban zoning and permit regulations from local governments, aggressive home building over the next decade, public transportation alternatives, and a wider array of housing options beside single-family homes.”

And this is why we need to talk to you. 

The answer is taller multifamily properties, preferably near transit centers. So what are you sitting on? Ask yourself: 

  • Do you have a property near a BART or CalTrain station? Or major bus line?
  • If you could get zoning changed, could your current property be developed into housing? 
  • If you could get height limits changed, do you have a property that could be a higher-rise multifamily site? 
  • Could you get access to any of the $4.5 billion earmarked by tech to improve housing? 

Governments are ready to adapt, and you might have an ideal situation for a developer able to navigate City Hall. Contact us, and let’s look at all the commercial real estate investment opportunities that you might benefit from as the rush to build housing continues. 

Noel Carrillo joins NAI Northern California as Investment Advisor in San Francisco

NAI Northern California is pleased to announce that Noel Carillo has joined as Investment Advisor in San Francisco. Noel specializes in multifamily properties. He has called San Francisco home for nearly a decade, seeing the City evolve over one of its most transformative eras, and now brings that local awareness to his clients in a manner that transcends the transaction and commits to long-standing relationships through open communication and transparency.

Noel is originally from San Diego and is currently attending City College of San Francisco, where he is pursing his degree in Economics. His professional enthusiasm extends into his personal life where, aside from cherished downtime with friends and family, he pursues adventures like saltwater sportfishing–frequently netting yellowfin, bluefin, and yellowtail tuna–and travels to such far-off locales as Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Learn more about Noel Carillo

NAI Northern California volunteers with Project Open Hand in San Francisco

On Tuesday, August 13th, NAI Northern California and Piedmont Financing volunteered with Project Open Hand in San Francisco. Six brokers, staff, and advisors from the companies’ San Francisco office worked at the Grocery Center peeling and chopping sweet potatoes for sick and vulnerable people in the Bay Area. Project Open Hand’s volunteer coordinator, Kelly Wong, described the nonprofit’s origin during the AIDS crisis and their mission of providing healthy, nutritious meals to people with critical illnesses.

The team donned hairnets, gloves, and aprons, except Investment Advisor Kevin Royer; he had read the instructions and worn his own hat. (The rest of the volunteers were a little jealous, as they felt hairnets were not the most flattering look.) As the team got started, another of Project Open Hand’s coordinators gave them a quick lesson in sweet potato peeling techniques before they set to work. When almost all the potatoes were peeled, most of the team switched to chopping the potatoes into cubes; another volunteer at Project Open Hand taught knife safety and dicing skills.

By the time the volunteer shift was over, they had peeled and diced five cases (135 pounds) of sweet potatoes, over twenty pounds per person. Market analyst Cole Byrd said, “Project Open Hand was a fun and eye-opening experience that makes you realize that a little effort can go a long way for the community. It was also a great time to bond with coworkers; I found it a very fulfilling experience.”

Investment advisor Trey Sells, who also volunteered at the Oakland location last month, said, “”I loved seeing how a small donation of our time and teamwork was able to produce such a large amount of prepared food for the community.”

“Learning that this massive operation started with one woman cooking for people after work is living proof that big dreams with powerful impacts really come true,” said Investment Advisor Kevin Royer (with the hat). “Taking a couple of hours out of the day to help feed over 2,500 people in need gave me a great feeling, and it was amazing to see how our small role could have such a great effect on thousands of people throughout San Francisco. Plus it is always nice to connect with colleagues over non-work stuff while still being productive. And I became a professional in the kitchen after only a few hours!”

In a thank-you letter from Project Open Hand, their volunteer coordinator wrote, “The amount of hard work, energy, and enthusiasm your group brought was much appreciated! Thank you for your generous donation of 2.5 hours of service. We look forward to working with you again in the future.”

See all the photos from the event on NAI Northern California’s Facebook page.


Founded in 1985, Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals with love to critically ill neighbors and seniors. Their food is like medicine, helping clients recover from illness, get stronger, and lead healthier lives.

Every day, they prepare 2,500 nutritious meals and provide 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain their clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging. They serve San Francisco and Oakland, engaging more than 125 volunteers daily to nourish their community.

Learn more or sign up to volunteer at 

Transit-oriented development on the rise

Cities across the Bay Area are opening up to transit-oriented development, building high-density housing with ground-floor retail near BART stations, including on BART-owned land. Despite neighbor complaints, cities are revising their zoning restrictions to allow bigger buildings near major transit hubs.

Most of the development is happening in the East Bay, with completed projects near at least eight stations and more under construction including a 402-unit apartment complex at MacArthur Station with 13,000 square feet of commercial space; 94 units at Fruitvale Station; 200 units at Pleasant Hill Station; 410,000 square feet of commercial space at West Dublin/Pleasanton Station; and 596 units at Walnut Creek Station. Planned projects in Millbrae, West Oakland, Lake Merritt, North Concord/Martinez, Balboa Park, and Fruitvale total over 2,300 units and over 2 million square feet of commercial space.

As zoning codes begin to relax near transit, future development opportunities could open up, strengthening the local markets for existing multifamily buildings as well as retail and office assets.

Source: SF Chronicle

NAI Northern California promotes Trey Sells to Investment Advisor

NAI Northern California, a member of the world’s premier managed network of commercial real estate firms, is pleased to announce the promotion of Trey Sells from Market Analyst to Investment Advisor. Trey specializes in multifamily and mixed-use real estate in the Castro and surrounding areas of San Francisco.

“Trey sets a high standard for exceptional client service and this promotion is well-deserved,” said James Kilpatrick, President of NAI Northern California. “As we look toward the future of NAI, we’d like to acknowledge Trey for his contributions and are confident he will be an asset as we continue to develop and expand.”

Trey has a background in entrepreneurship, education, and personal coaching. He studied neuroscience at Brown University, where he mastered the workings of complex and interconnected systems. After graduating in 2010, he started his own tutoring company and used his extensive and broad education to coach his clients and help them achieve their goals. His career in real estate started with a passion for architecture and beautiful homes; he managed the renovation of a luxury home and, in the process, gained an appreciation for the power of investment to change lives.

Trey is interested in building investment opportunities in real estate leasing. He sees huge potential for the growing advancements in technologies and building materials for real estate to redefine the way we live and invest. His acute attention to detail and extensive network of contacts ensure he can provide the best experience and outcome for his clients.

Trey was born in southern California, where he spent his early childhood, and grew up in northern Nevada near Lake Tahoe. He frequently visits and travels with his family, including his four nieces and nephews. He is very involved in service work for populations in need and values lifelong education and healthy living. He enjoys physical fitness and reading and writing creative fiction. Trey can be found enjoying the outdoors all around the Bay Area or writing in cafes on the streets of the Castro.

How are developers preparing for sea level rise?

The Bay is expected to rise up to 10 feet in the next 80 years; how are local developers protecting their waterfront projects? According to the SF Business Times, “With the right planning, project designs and innovative construction, new developments can not only survive the effects of climate change, but in some cases, can help protect the region from flooding and erosion.”

Depending on what changes the world makes (or doesn’t make) to slow climate change, California estimates that waters will rise 1.1 to 2.7 feet by 2050 and between 2.4 and 10.2 feet by 2100. Most developers and project planners aim to be ready for 2 feet of sea-level rise by 2050 and 6 feet by 2100.

One solution is to truck in dirt to raise the level of the ground before building; Brooklyn Basin, a master-planned community on Oakland’s waterfront, elevated the land 3 feet with this method, and it is also being used on Treasure Island. The Treasure Island development is also using the strategy of siting buildings farther away from the shoreline to allow room for future retaining walls or levies. Terracing is also an option; India Basin and Pier 70 in San Francisco are building homes on sites that already sit well above the water, even if it means they’re a little farther from the waterfront. A more back-to-nature approach is restoring the Bay’s wetlands and marshes, which absorb water and slow flooding.

New developments have many strategies to survive sea level rise, but it remains to be seen how older buildings and infrastructure can be protected. There are currently 48,895 homes in the Bay Area worth a total of $31.8 billion that are at risk of flooding due to sea-level rise, on 48 to 166 square miles of threatened shoreline.

Source: SF Business Times

Cole Byrd joins NAI Northern California as Market Analyst in San Francisco

NAI Northern California is pleased to announce that Cole Byrd has joined as Market Analyst in San Francisco. Cole is training to be an investment advisor, specializing in multifamily properties. Cole was raised in Orlando, FL and Charlotte, NC before making the move to San Francisco. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and began his career in the automotive industry, working for Sonic Automotive and AW Collision Group. NAI Northern California is proud to welcome him to the San Francisco team.

Learn more about Cole Byrd

Market Pulse: San Francisco, August 2019

Welcome to the NAI Northern California’s “Market Pulse” feature. We checked the pulse of the San Francisco commercial real estate market to discover the ups and downs of the office, industrial, retail, and multifamily markets.  Each market has four dimensions: current inventory, 12-month net absorption, under construction, and vacancy rate.

Check out our August 2019 San Francisco Market Pulse infographic. If a dimension is on the rise, the pulse goes above the baseline; if it’s on the decline or negative, the pulse will dip below the baseline.

This month the San Francisco office market’s inventory is up to 176 million sq. ft., with 12-month net absorption at 2.2 million sq. ft. of office space and dropping. Approximately 6.6 million sq. ft. are under construction with an upward trend. The vacancy rate is rising, at 6.2 percent.

For the industrial market, 95 million sq. ft. of space is in the inventory and rising. The 12-month net absorption is at 6,800 sq. ft. and rising. The space under construction is also rising, at 2.5 million square feet. The vacancy rate is at 3.7% and trending upward.

There are 82 million sq. ft. of retail space available, and more coming, with a 12-month net absorption rate of 244,000 sq. ft. heading upward. More is being built, about 433,000 square feet. Vacancy rates have started to drop, at 2.5%.

The multifamily market is holding strong, up to 164,000 units available in the inventory. The 12-month net absorption rate is 2,200 units and rising. Construction is on the upswing here, at 6,200 units, with a decreasing vacancy rate of 3.9%.

For more detailed updates or to find out how San Francisco’s submarkets are doing, contact one of our advisors; whether you’re interested in office, industrial, retail, or multifamily properties, we can help.

How retailers are succeeding in San Francisco

San Francisco’s changing demographics, tricky economics, and transforming neighborhoods are requiring retailers to adapt, but many are rising to the challenge. The city has become one of the most popular destinations for “clicks-to-bricks” retail stores; San Francisco is tied with Los Angeles in second place for where e-commerce retail opens their first physical location (as of 2018). 

One characteristic of successful stores is that they have a story in addition to a popular product; examples include Warby Parker, with 2 SF locations, and Allbirds. Both started as online-only retail (eyeglasses and shoes respectively) and then opened flagship brick-and-morter stores. 

Another winning strategy is anything that will get millennials in the door: experiential retail, pop-ups, fitness centers, and quality food and drink stores like Onedome, CorePower Yoga, and Barry’s Bootcamp are doing well enough to open new locations.

The downtown area is strongest, with stores targeting millennial workers in locations a little off of Market but still within easy reach. The Marina and Pacific Heights are also profitable locations, loci for millennials and far away from centers of homelessness.

 It may soon get much easier to open retail stores in the city; Mayor London Breed has announced a new initiative to speed up the permitting process for small business. The ordinance eases zoning codes, eliminates duplicative inspections, and standardizes local laws to match state regulations. In addition, according to the Mayor’s office, “The proposed investments for Fiscal Years (FY) 2019-20 and 2020-21 include $9 million to provide small businesses with access to capital through low-interest loans, resources for storefront and tenant improvements, and new funding to provide small businesses with financial assistance for regulatory fees.”

Source: Bisnow

Bay Area markets rank in top 5 for most expensive office space in the Americas

Downtown San Francisco and the Peninsula rank #3 and #4 for the most expensive commercial office space on the continent, according to Globe Street and CBRE. For Q1 2019, the cost per square foot per year for prime office space downtown was $130.51, with office space in the Peninsula costing an average of $116.28 per year. New York City still holds the top two slots, with the Midtown-Manhattan and Midtown-South Manhattan markets, and Boston’s Downtown is just behind the Peninsula at $106.60 per sq. ft. per year.

Office space costs in the Americas continue to rise, 3.7% higher than Q1 of last year, and they’re rising faster; Q1 2018 was only 3.2% more expensive than the previous year. Globally, rents for prime office space rose 3.6% compared to 2.5% the year before.

The most expensive office markets worldwide are Hong Kong Central, at $322; London’s West End at $222.70; and Hong Kong Kowloon at $208.67 per sq. ft. per year. Downtown San Francisco and the Peninsula rank 11th and 13th, behind Beijing’s Finance Street, Beijing’s Central Business District, Tokyo, and the City of London.