Frequenly asked questions from prospective clients
What does Tenants Buying Real Estate do? TBRE represents tenants buying their homes. We also represent small groups of tenants buying their apartment buildings.
What services do you provide? We offer a full array of real estate services specifically tailored to San Francisco tenants. We are there to guide you from initial consultation through financing and negotiation, to completing the purchase of your home.
Why use TBRE instead of another real estate agent? The head of TBRE is Richard Hurlburt, a successful tenant rights attorney with over 20 years experience, and a licensed real estate broker since 2005. TBRE is uniquely well-connected and qualified to represent tenants buying their apartments in San Francisco.
When do tenants buy their apartments? Tenant opportunities to purchase typically arise when the building goes up for sale, such as when the seller-landlord becomes too old to manage the building, or sells the property for tax purposes. Some tenants buy to resolve conflicts with their landlord, such as when a developer is trying to buy out or evict the tenant. Ideally, these transactions take place before the building goes on the market.
Who pays for your services? The seller typically pays a real estate commission to the listing agent, which gets split with the selling agent (representing the buyer).
Do you provide tenant rights counseling or legal advice? Our role is to assist our clients in buying their homes. To the extent possible, we will focus your attention on a successful purchase.
Can you help us negotiate a buyout? We do buy-ins, not buy-outs. If a buyout is really what you want then we would refer you to a tenant rights attorney.
Do you have a physical business location? Yes, we are located downtown on Market St in the Flood Building (870 Market). There are no walk-ins, however. We see clients by appointment only, and often we come to see clients at their unit when we are working with them.
How does a group of tenants buy their apartment building? This depends on the size of the building and the goals & relationship of buyers. A smaller, owner occupied building may be eligible for conversion to condominiums. Other common forms of group ownership are tenancies in common (TICs) and co-ops.
What are common challenges to tenants purchasing their own units or buildings? Other than financing and the owner’s willingness to sell, the biggest challenge is the ability of everyone involved to think forward, beyond the old landlord-tenant roles to a new relationship of seller and buyer. There are some common myths that also get in the way, such as:
The market is about to crash.
Tenants are never serious about buying or can’t afford to purchase.
Tenant-buyers believing they are entitled to a lower price.
TICs are bad / condos are bad / owning is bad.
We can help educate and advise you through these and many other issues.
Who should contact you for more information? Any tenant (or group of tenants) that would like to explore whether a purchase is possible.
What can I expect once we begin the purchasing process? First we’ll talk about your goal and options. From there we’ll make a plan to fit the project. The common stages are: financing, disclosures, negotiating terms, escrow, due diligence & closing.
What is the outcome of a successful purchase? Tenants, although anxious about transitioning from tenant to home, often express great pride and relief:
“No one but Richard really believed we could do this. So every step of the way, including now, it’s still hard to believe that we own this, and when I really wrap my brain around it, I’m absolutely thrilled.” - Harriet Schatz reflecting on purchasing her unit
Sellers and landlords also often express positive feelings about the experience compared to the alternative solutions of buyout or eviction!