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Why Now's a Good Time to Sell

But definitely not a fun time to buy. Housing experts explained at Bisnow's Residential Real Estate Summit at Hotel Nikko this morning.

Wilson Meany project manager Kim Havens says when people think of her firm, many picture S.F. icons like the Ferry Building and 140 New Montgomery, but they've actually got a lot going on in the residential master planned sphere. Wilson is selling some land at its Bay Meadows project in San Mateo; there its units are half the price than those in the city. She has high hopes for the Southeast waterfront, and she calls the San Francisco Shipyard the next Richmond or Sunset for families.

Allen Matkins partner Lee Gotshall-Maxon, who moderated, says this is the most perfect development environment he's seen in 35 years. He compares the city to Walmart because it's a "blue light special" everyone wants a piece of. Some say S.F. should have a population of one million, which would require 30,000 new housing units in the next five to six years—but he wonders if the city has the infrastructure and transit to support that. (It would come in handy though when trying to put together a pick-up softball team.)

Polaris Pacific principal Paul Zeger helps sell properties and bundles that valuable information for developers. In S.F., there's no problem with demand. Go to the top biz schools in country and ask where people want to live. A high percentage will say S.F. Ten years ago, having young kids in a high rise was unheard of (when he did One Rincon, no Timmys were in sight). Now he's seeing that happening fast. 

The New Home Company VP of NorCal Charles McKeag says there are opportunities in the greater Bay Area and beyond. The question comes down to what your business model is as a home builder. His Rose Lane project in Larkspur, comprised of 29 single-family detached, 42 senior condos, and 14 senior cottages, is a unique opportunity to develop at scale in Marin County. It's also in a core location next to downtown where people want to walk to. His firm's got some 7,000 homes in the pipeline.

DM Development principal Mark MacDonald calls buying a "bloodsport" now, with large public developers to Asian equity duking it out for deals. If you're buying anything that is fully marketed these days, you're guaranteed to be overpaying for land. That's why he's glad he pounced on some city deals during the depths of the recession. His 47-unit condo project at 8 Octavia got creative with stretching every square inch of floor plans to make 700-SF units feel bigger than they are.