Skip to main content

February 11, 2015

Trade-Offs for House Hunters in Trying Times


I came across this toilet in what’s known as a “split bath” in San Francisco recently. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our Victorian- and Edwardian-era architecture, the floor plan often features a bathroom where the shower/tub and sink are located in one room, and the toilet is situated on the other side of a wall, in its own closet.

A drawback to this arrangement is that you can’t wash your hands in that closet. This necessitates a visit to the room next door, which may not be convenient if someone is taking a shower.

The “smart toilet” above addresses that issue, though you find yourself standing over the toilet to wash your hands (not a big deal if you’re a guy). In any event, it’s a creative way to consolidate bathroom activities if you don’t have the money for a bathroom remodel at the moment.

This toilet got me to thinking about the types of tradeoffs buyers need to make in order to find homes within their price range, amidst the stiff competition in today’s market. Given San Francisco’s diverse floor plans and architectural styles, nothing is very clear cut. Need a three bedroom but can only afford a two bedrrom? Maybe the small room under the stairs really can serve as the office or guest room. Oh, and that kick-ass master suite you’re longing for? The one that usually appears at the $1.5M level? Well, you do have the undeveloped attic space you just saw in the $1.1M condo that may work as a great master. The list goes on.

Most buyers looking for a home in San Francisco are doing so because they appreciate the unique nature of our homes. If you want cookie cutter, ranch-style homes, for example, you’ll have to go to the Peninsula or East Bay for that. But if you’re creative enough—and you let your agent know exactly what functionality you need in your next home—everyone can approach your house hunt in a more strategic and successful way.

You may not be dreaming about washing your hands over the toilet. But you very well could be fantasizing about an easy commute, restaurants within two blocks of your condo, and walking the dogs in the park a few blocks away. For the foreseeable future, buyers need to be flexible and open minded about what they can truly afford.

Explore All Posts

Blogging Since 2008

Posts by Neighborhood

Posts by Category

Posts by Year