The ad offers 7,200 square feet of property in the high-end West Clay Park neighborhood, a section of the Richmond Distict located north of Lake Street between 22nd and 24th Avenues. The price is astonishing – just $35,000. Mere pocket change compared to the $2 million+ that most addresses in West Clay get.
In a city with a median price of around $800 per square foot for real estate, $4.86 per square foot is eye-popping.
But of course there’s a catch! Didn’t your parents teach you anything?
The “property” is actually a communal driveway / back alley that runs between the homes on Lake Street and West Clay Street. It’s essentially the access road that all of the homeowners use to reach their garages.
The parcel has easements for all the adjoining homeowners to use the property to access their homes. “You can not build or park anything in this driveway since there is no room,” the ad says.
So we had to wonder, is this even real? Well, yes, it actually is.
We contacted the San Francisco Real Estate Division who confirmed that the property is real – it’s Block 1336, Lot 37 according to the Assessor’s office. It is privately owned, so not under the jurisdiction of any City agency.
“But I don’t know why anyone would want to buy this piece of land,” said the kind city worker on the phone.
According to city records, the property last changed hands in 2015 for about $10,000. It was owned by an investment company in Boston, and then sold to a private individual. That individual tried to list it right away for $50,000 but then dropped the price in January of this year to $35,000. The owner just recently put the property back on the market.
In the ad, the seller says “I know, it’s crazy, but this is a way to own real estate in the city! And yes, you will own the air and underground rights. Get creative!”
Hmm, well ok but it’s not like you can build on this property, or even park your car on it (because you’d be blocking someone). There are also historic easements for the adjoining properties, which do not net any revenue for the parcel owner.
So yeah, you can have bragging rights of owning 7,200 square feet in San Francisco’s 94121.
But you’ll also have to brag about paying property taxes. For 2015-2016, the tax rate was 1.1826%, or about $640 for the year. Not to mention you are responsible for making sure the property is in good condition. After all, even West Clay streets are subject to potholes.
I could see someone rich gifting this to someone like you buy a star for someone and name it after them? Could you name the alley something fun like “Suckers Lane” or “NoFreeWiFiHere Road”?
I guess you could occasionally drop by with your hibachi grill and lawn chairs for a back alley picnic. Or make beautiful chalk drawings on the road that your neighbors could enjoy. Or hope that a future monorail or underground subway comes through and has to pay you off for access. Let’s not bother calculating the odds on that one.
But I guess the biggest benefit is just being able to say you own property in San Francisco. I mean, no has to know that it’s an unusable strip. It definitely sounds better than owning swamp land in Florida when you’re boasting at the hotel bar during Dreamforce.
And if you’re wondering is this is the oddest piece of land in the city, it’s not. Our contact at the Real Estate Division said he once came across a piece of real estate that was 1 inch wide by 50 feet in length. He didn’t know why it existed or how it came into being. It was owned by a man who just got a kick out of owning a miniscule piece of SF.
There is an open house 24/7 if you want to stop by and view the West Clay Park property. Just don’t wake the neighbors, ok?