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An Accidental Homeowner

Eva Javier


Buyer: Eva Javier
Bought: Studio in the Tenderloin
Asking: $146K
Final: $146K
Realtor: Justin Palmer, Zephyr

Eva Javier was at a small party at a friend’s place in SoMa when talk turned, as it inevitably does, to housing. Javier mentioned that she was being forced out of her longtime studio beneath an alternative theater space in the Mission. Her friend Marc was grousing that he and his girlfriend were trying to buy a larger, higher-floor condo unit in their building, but that he had to sell his current studio to complete the sale. Javier, a hairstylist who was working as a contractor at Google at the time, had no designs on homeownership (and nowhere near the funds for it). But Marc explained that his studio was a BMR—a below-market-rate unit that, for a qualified buyer, would cost only $146,284.

“I was just like, ‘If it’s under $1,000 a month, then I will definitely look into it.’ Why not? I mean, I had to start somewhere.” Javier’s friend ended up emailing her some information, including a link to the Mayor’s Office of Housing website. She decided to go ahead and fill out the paperwork and attend the homeownership workshops—one of the requirements for qualifying for a BMR.

Her timing couldn’t have been better. BMRs are typically doled out via a lottery system, with sometimes as many as 60 qualified entrants for new units. But resale units get far less interest, sometimes just 5 to 10 applicants. “Or even fewer in some cases,” says Maria Benjamin, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing. The person who had initially won the lottery to purchase Marc’s unit had been disqualified, so now they were moving down the list of applicants. “Another guy who applied realized there wasn’t a parking spot that came with it, so he removed himself,” Javier recalls. “So I was next in line.”

Javier got the unit, and with it a mortgage of $875 per month. Even adding in the $303 monthly HOA dues, she’s still paying virtually the same as what she was for her studio in the Mission. “I actually told myself that I never wanted to own property because I thought it was going to hold me down,” she says. Now she feels liberated by it: For the first time in her San Francisco life, “I don’t have to worry about a landlord evicting me.”


The Family Business
Broker, Lawyer, Designer, Mom
To the Locals Go the Spoils
Tell a Story, and Make It Good
The Lottery Winners
Riding Out the Recession
The Soul (and House) Mates
Three Boys and a Dream
Not in Texas Anymore
A Reward for the Faithful
A Gift from Grandma
The Grateful Educators
Chasing the Dream
The Renter No Longer
The Data Optimizers
An Accidental Homeowner
The “Oh-S**t” Moment
All Aboard in the Marina

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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