Kaid Benfield Archive


Even company-sponsored transit can sell homes: the Google Shuttle

Kaid Benfield

Posted July 29, 2008 at 1:21PM

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Apparently it does, if the company is big enough to justify the service and to influence the market.  So writes Carol Lloyd, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“At a time when so many San Francisco neighborhoods are experiencing a certain sagging in the market — the inevitable aging of the eternal boom — it's interesting to note that a few places have proved themselves strangely resilient. San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood (by: philyook, creative commons license)Why some neighborhood markets remain lively while others go into hibernation or fall ill is a matter of constant deconstruction for real estate analysts. Whether they focus on supply vs. demand, industry hype vs. media horror stories, a revitalized shopping area or a new transit hub, it's often difficult to disentangle the myriad factors that influence the worth of a given neighborhood.

“So when at a recent brunch I heard some Noe Valley residents discussing what was bolstering the value of their homes, I was particularly fascinated by a single factor they had all settled on: the proximity of the Google Shuttle stop. None of the group was employed by Google, but that didn't seem to matter. ‘I know some people are mad about the noise,’ one of them told me. ‘But we're not complaining.’

Google employees board the morning shuttle (by: Jyri Engestrom, creative commons license)“Could it be that a few private bus lines would actually affect the real estate and residential rental markets of a big city like San Francisco? At first, it seemed like a bit of a stretch. I mean, how big could the phenomenon be? Google does not release specific data about routes, number of trips and passengers, but company spokesperson Sunny Gettinger told me the company shuttles 1,200 employees daily from around the Bay Area to its Mountain View campus.

“Yet according to some real estate experts, the shuttle service exudes a powerful force field over the micro markets on its most popular routes like the Valencia Corridor, Dolores Heights and Noe Valley.

“J.J. Panzer, a property manager with Real Management Company, based in Noe Valley, said that again and again he's gotten requests for rental apartments or homes near the 24th and Castro Street stop. ‘I always have fantastic, qualified tenants for any of our units near the shuttle stops,’ he told me. ‘I think it's really propping up the market.’

a commercial strip in Noe Valley (by: Mioi Hanaoka, creative commons license)“Panzer characterizes his Google tenants as young professionals between 21 and 35 who have the money to buy homes but are renting at a high price because they are in no hurry to settle down or buy homes that aren't exactly what they want. ‘They're selective, but they will pay a premium for quality,’ he said.

“One client he recalled told him he wanted to live within 100 yards of the stop. ‘We worked with him for three months, but never found something that fit his precise criteria,’ he told me.

“Indeed, all the real estate agents who responded to my inquiries about the Google Shuttle effect offered anecdotes about Google employees who were looking for homes to buy within spitting distance of a shuttle stop . . .”

For the rest of the article, go here.