Jeffrey Marples: San Francisco Real Estate Agent at Marker Luxury Properties

News > Four Things to Consider When Buying a High-Rise in San Francisco

Imagine looking out your windows to Bay views, sunsets, moonsets, and hills dotted with jewel-like housing. Picture waking up to see Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, or Alcatraz. Visualize hosting a party against the backdrop of sparkling city night lights. All of this is possible in high-rise living.  Living in a high-rise in San Francisco is a thing of beauty. But before you choose a high-rise to buy, here are a few things to consider:

What do you want to look at?

First, in choosing your unit, how important is that aforementioned view? Some condos have spectacular views – for instance, certain units in the One Rincon Hill Highrise can give you a dead-on, eagle’s-eye perspective of the Bay Bridge span. Not everyone values a view though – maybe it’s the full-service, amenity-rich lifestyle of a high-rise that you desire. In that case, choosing a lower floor might be a less expensive option.

No matter what level you’re considering, it’s good to think about what the side of the building you want to be on. West-facing condos get the warmer afternoon sun on clear days and might mean you’re able to enjoy those great sunset views. Do you want to wake up with the light and bright of the eastern sun? North-facing condos might not get much sun in the winter, but artists have always painted to northern light. Even if the unit faces the direction of your choice, does another building block your light and view?

Where's the car going?

Another important factor to consider when choosing your SF high-rise condo is whether the parking situation will meet your needs. Many high-rises offer only one dedicated parking spot, and some buildings don’t offer parking at all. At some communities without onsite parking, the homeowner’s association will work to secure residents dedicated off-site spots. Does this work for you? Would you be happy in a community with required valet parking, or could you do without that service? Where will your guests park? If your building does offer parking, it’s important to find out where the spot is located and whether that location meets your needs.

What about the monthly fees?

A third factor in choosing your high-rise is the HOA. Are you after great amenities or lower fees? High-rise buildings have higher fees than many of the smaller Victorian condo buildings in the city. Building maintenance in a tower is generally higher, as hallways and common areas need to be climate controlled. Most buildings have a doorman, 24-hour security, and onsite management. Any building that hires personnel will have higher fees in order to cover salaries.

A building like Millennium Towers in South Beach is a great example of a high-rise with fantastic amenities. Its 20,000 square foot Owner’s Club level features a gym with personal trainers, a screening room, a pool with outdoor terrace, a wine cellar and tasting room, a kids’ room, and an owners’ lounge. The RN74 French restaurant and wine bar is also on site as well as a social events and excursions series for residents, curated by La Vie. At the architecturally-inspired Lumina high-rise, the amenities go well beyond pool, spa, and gym. They include a bi-level club lounge, a music practice room, a pet-grooming station, and even a climbing wall.

What Neighborhood?

Of course, the final factor to consider in choosing your San Francisco high-rise condo is the mantra of real estate buyers everywhere: location, location, location! What’s nearby? Is it important to be able to walk to your favorite restaurants, cafes, and nightlife? Would you prefer a downtown, new-construction feel, like at Infinity Towers, where you can walk right out your door to Embarcadero and Union Square for shopping, dining, the Ferry Building farmer’s market, and BART? Or would you be happier in a slightly older high-rise in a more established residential pocket, such as the Pacific Heights Towers, or the Eichler Summit high-rise in Russian Hill? Is it important to you to be able to walk to work? To BART? To Caltrain? Are schools a factor in your condo choice?

San Francisco high-rises aren't for everyone, but if they are for you, we have some favorites to share with you. Contact us to help you find the right one.


Though not guaranteed, information and statistics in this article have been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

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Logo for Fair Housing ActThe Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on color, race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.

Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. The information being provided is for consumer's personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. This information, including square footage, while not guaranteed, has been acquired from sources believed to be reliable.

Last Updated: 2024-07-23