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Chasing the Dream

Jeanne Chan and George Hu


Buyers: Jeanne Chan and George Hu
Bought: 3-bed, 2-bath TIC in Glen Park
Asking: $$1.095M
Final: $1.22M
Realtor: Tim Fong, Coldwell Banker

Back in 2010, Jeanne Chan and George Hu were new parents sitting on a modest nest egg, and it seemed like the right time to buy something. But even in those recessionary days, they couldn’t meet San Francisco’s prices. Moving out of the city wasn’t an option (Jeanne grew up in North Beach, and her family still lives here), but buying outside of it was. So they purchased a one-bedroom townhouse in Emeryville and rented it out, while staying put in their own two bedroom rent-controlled apartment in Twin Peaks. By 2015 the market had grown—and so had their family—so they sold the Emeryville property. “We made some money on it, but not enough,” Chan says. “When we were looking at places we loved, our dream homes, we weren’t even close.”

What they were dreaming of was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom with an open floor plan and a yard. Their budget was around $900,000, and everything was being bid up hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their reach. “It was difficult. We were really discouraged, so we started to look outside the city—the Peninsula, South San Francisco, Alameda. We actually saw a home in Pacifica we thought we were going to get. It was listed at $980,000, we bid $1.2 million, and we were sure we were going to get it because no one on the block had paid that much.” It went for $1.3 million—“in Pa. Ci. Fi. Ca,” she recalls. “When are we ever going to get a home if we can’t even get one in Pacifica?”

Two years into their hunt, at 4 p.m. on a Saturday after another marathon day of open houses, Jeanne insisted that they just drive by one last property—their seventh of the day. It was in Glen Park, just five minutes from their current apartment, and it ticked all their boxes: 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, and an open floor plan, listed at $925,000. It seemed like a long shot, but the selling agent was friendly and even mentioned that the sellers had previously turned down an all-cash offer because they didn’t feel it was the right fit. It was also a tenancy in common (TIC) with one other unit above, which gave the couple a glimmer of hope that it could be theirs.

“We told our agent, ‘We have to put in an offer tomorrow,’” Chan says. She had her older daughter, Hayden, write a letter and draw the sellers a picture. Less than 48 hours later, they got the call that their offer ($1.22 million, 20 percent over asking) had been accepted. “We nearly had our minds set that we would have to leave the city,” Chan says. Instead, her girls get to stay at their school, while her husband, a product designer at Salesforce, has the same commute to work in the morning. “We are just really lucky, and it still surprises us…like, this is our home!”

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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