WTF is a BMR? Below Market Rate units in San Francisco

“Affordable” condos in San Francisco?

San Francisco’s Inclusionary Housing Below Market Rate (BMR) Ownership Program requires residential developments with 10 or more units to avoid hefty fees by providing 12% of their units on-site or 20% of their units off-site as affordable to low- to moderate-income households.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community Development, this program is meant to “maintain income and cultural diversity”, but critics of the program suggest it actually subsidizes upper-middle-class homebuyers while pushing lower-to-middle-income people out. Either way, the BMR units on the market now are 60–70% below the average prices we see in San Francisco.

Qualification Short List

  1. You must be a first-time homebuyer.

  2. You cannot make more than 90% AMI (area median income) — that’s $64,200 for a single person and $73,350 for two people.

  3. You must occupy the unit for at least 10 months of the year.

  4. You must obtain a loan pre-approval from an approved BMR lender and submit this pre-approval with your application.

Read the rest of the requirements here.

The catch

The lengthy application process coupled with a fiercely competitive lottery for scant inventory make it almost impossible to score a BMR condo. It’s also rare that a BMR condo comes back on the market after it’s been sold.

How do I start?

Apply online and follow this 79-page manual for all the gritty details.

When you’re ready, shop for BMR units that are currently for sale and buy one with Open Listings.

In the market to buy a home? Open Listings empowers you to shop without an agent and keep half the agent’s commission when you buy. It’s the smarter way to buy any home in California.