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Roh Habibi: Is Wealth Taboo In San Francisco?

Real estate broker and former cast member of Million Dollar Listing: San Francisco Roh Habibi wondered if it was taboo to have money in San Francisco during his keynote address at Bisnow’s 3rd Annual Residential Forum last week.


In comparison to other cities, the wealthy in S.F. are not as keen to open their wallets and conspicuously consume real estate, said Roh (left, with brother Obeid Habibi).

Roh began his remarks by placing San Francisco’s real estate prices in a global context. Compared to cities like Monaco, Hong Kong or London, S.F. is a “steal of a deal.” Despite the bargain in real estate prices, however, he said growth in the city has been hampered by rules and regulations.

He described the Bay Area as a great place to invest in real estate for the long term. Roh added the fundamentals of the Bay Area—job growth, new company formation and so on—are strong and ensure a healthy future.

Paradoxically, despite the great wealth in the region, people have been afraid to spend openly. While the tech sector’s wealth engine has produced approximately 50 billionaires in the Bay Area, people are reluctant to spend money publicly. Roh bemoaned signing NDAs before engagements to not disclose purchases. In comparison, no one from New York or Los Angeles seems to care about keeping up appearances, he said.

Roh concluded by saying he wants people to “break out of the shell of being afraid to spend money.”