La Boheme condos – San Diego real estate drops?

La Boheme in Northpark San Diego


This page is the most popular page on my blog b/c everyone is researching the La Boheme condos. Please leave your comments or new information so that we can all learn from it. Thanks.

In January I was driving through the North Park area and I saw a new condo development that was being built: La Boheme. I was very intrigued because it was in the heart of the North Park redevelopment area. You could walk out your door and be within a few yards of the newest restaurants and shops. And just around the corner is the North Park Theater hosting the San Diego Lyrical Opera. How exciting!

To make a long story short, I was on the verge of buying a condo until I noticed that a group of townhouses on the same block were for sale as well. When I looked at the townhouses, they were much nicer than the condos, had ALL the upgrades, had a private garage and were in the same price range as the condos. What struck me as odd was that the townhouses weren’t selling. If the townhouses weren’t selling, then that doesn’t speak well for the future of the La Boheme condos which weren’t nearly as nice.

It has been five months since I made this discovery and my theory appears to be correct. When I originally talked to the sales rep they were offering me $10,000 towards closing costs if I bought by the end of January. It is now the end of June and they are still advertising that offer. Not only that, but they are now giving you two years of no HOA fees as well. That’s a huge incentive.

In my opinion, the ploy of giving you $10K towards closing costs is probably a scam b/c these lenders are known for giving you a worse deal than you can get elsewhere. And you know that the developer is getting a kickback too. So it’s not costing them anything to give you this offer. But to give you two years of no HOA fees is the equivalant of taking money out of their pockets. They would only do this if they were desperate.

Oh yeah, remember those townhouses that were right around the corner and were a much better deal? Out of eight townhouses, five months later three are still unsold. Doesn’t look good for either place. La Boheme is a 300 unit complex. That’s a lot of units to sell in a market where people aren’t buying. And my new theory about why they don’t list all the properties for sale at one time – so you don’t realize how many units they still have to sell.

For the past five years, the San Diego real estate market has been known for selling properties on the same day they are listed. People often got into bidding wars. Those days are long gone. Now properties sit on the market for months without selling. How quickly things change.

Here is the link to La Boheme and here.



  1. Ellie said


    I was glad to hear your comments about the la boheme project. I went into thier office and they came at me with car salesman like tactics. Honestly, I loved the condo but they are asking way too much for this type of market. Also, their HOA’s are !350. I would just feel like I was being robbed to pay that every month even if they waived my first two years. I did really like the place and the neighborhood.

    Thanks for tour commentary.

  2. Brian B said

    I agree. I didn’t have the “car salesman techniques” towards me when I was in there, but my real estate agent did. They kept calling her over and over telling her to bring me back in to talk to them. She was nice at first but finally had to tell them to quit calling b/c I had lost all interest in their project.

    Re HOA fees, I was originally under the impression that this is to pay for maintenance of the building. But as I look at condos around San Diego, I see HOA fees from $100 up to $700 per month. And some of these buildings look the same! I have to think that the developer is using HOA fees as a revenue center rather than just covering the cost of maintaining the landscape and keeping the place clean.

    Not only that, but a friend of mine has been living in The Egyptian condos for a year (very pricey complex in Hillcrest) and they already raised her HOA fees $75. She is like, “What are they doing differently now than they were a year ago to have to raise them that much???” It’s just a scam. So even though La Boheme is charging $350 right now, next year they could easily jack that up to $450 and you can’t do a thing about it.

    • Joe said

      6 years later and the HOA fees have risen by $6.50. Also, I checked the HOA website and they have over $1,000,000 in the HOA bank account. What you have to realize is that this money is put aside for major repairs like new roofs, etc. Those things don’t happen often, but when they do it isn’t cheap.

  3. Nessa said

    I’m going to check out La Boheme tomorrow. Just to look at. But I can’t believe that their HOA fees are $350 a month. It would be nice if it was $350 a year!

  4. Bitter Bus said

    Here’s my thoughts. I think North Park is going to be a great area … but in 5 years. Hillcrest used to be kind of icky and gross, and it’s become a trendy, cool place to be in. North Park will get there, but it’s not there yet, and won’t be without some additional “redevelopment.” That being said, La Boheme is pricing their condos as if North Park has already been redeveloped and is a highly desirable neighborhood.

    I signed up for their interest list, and haven’t really heard a word from them except for an errant email here and there. I haven’t gone into the sales center yet – partially because I’m not yet ready to buy, but also because I have a feeling their prices are going to have to drop. I have a feeling they priced the units based on the market continuing to go up, and it hasn’t.

    I wonder what all the HOA fees cover. My aunt had a condo up in Rancho Bernado that coverd basic cable, trash, water and all the community amenities. I have a feeling if they’re willing ot waive HOAs for 2 years, that it doesn’t include that much. (Years ago, when I looked at Escala in Mission Valley, they had two HOA fees, one for the community which was about $200 and another for the master community (for the pools, hot tubs etc) for about $90.

  5. NVT said

    Would you happen to have the name of the townhouse units and how bad there HOA fees were too?

  6. Brian B said

    On, the townhouse shows the HOA fees as $212/mo. The link from is:

    4028 Ohio Street.

    Oh yeah, per ZipRealty, the HOA fees at the La Boheme complex are $372.



  7. Brian B said

    Hey – I just noticed that the townhouses have a listing date of 7/29/06. They must have pulled the listing and resubmitted it so that you don’t realize how long it’s been on the market. Ha.

  8. Craig said

    My partner and I put a deposit down on one of the 2 bedroom top floor units in La Boheme (445K). Upon later inspection, we realized the incentives were nothing more than a magic trick. The 15K toward closing costs went almost exclusively to the buydown on the rate to 6% (4 points, which was the builder’s mortgage company). When we shopped around, we realized we could get that rate for almost no points. So that 15K was lost. The 8K toward closing costs was eaten up more when we got paperwork stating the HOAs were going from $387 a month, to $446, even before we moved in!!!
    On top of all that, as someone pointed out, they’re priced as if the neighborhood has come back. Not the case. If you’re in the market for a condo, wait. Lots coming on the market and lots of building going on. Can you say “supply surge?”

  9. CM said

    Today I signed for a 399k 2b/2ba with a patio on the ground level that’s as large as half the interior of the condo. Seemed like a good deal because the location of the unit is very nice in that it doesn’t even feel like part of the rest of the maze-like structure. It’s off to the corner above a laundremat. It was definitely better than all of the 10 other units we viewed the next morning and the huge concrete patio (not a balcony mind you) is awesome. And the unit doesn’t shake when people jump around because it is at the base level above the garage. All of the other floor plans seemed just, well, weird — with small ill fitted bedrooms. There was one other unit that was nice that seemed small when you walked in at first but once you turned a corner it had a kind of a trap door master bedroom that led to a bathroom… then a hug walk-in closet. But most of the other units were just yuck. They are offering a 30k incentive now and a 3% broker incentive (I’m the broker sot hat comes back to me) and they are applying part of that towards the hoa fees for 20 months.

    Brian, are you sure they said they were ‘waiving’ fees and not that they were applying part of your incentive towards it? I’m not sure if I will close on this unit yet… I am mulling recission over as I write.

    Also, as an individual who has worked for mortgage companies for the past few years the rates they are offering anyone over a 660 fico are untouchable in the general market (because they are lending with privately owned money.) They offered me 4.75 on a 5 year arm for the 1st lien @ 80%. Right now you would need to buydown the rate just to get it in the mid 5’s. I’m curious to see the loan documents though so I can check for any funny business like Craig had mentioned. Initial disclosures will come in the mail soon. Currently the hoa fee’s are at 390.

  10. Craig said

    Are you financing the down payment? Sounds like it from your comment about the primary mortgage. If so, how are you financing that? What type of loan? If you’re not putting 20% down, expect to be upside down for a couple of years.
    I’m guessing that you don’t plan on staying in the unit for over 5 years? If you are, you need to re-think that mortgage. Rates are only going up based on every financial forecast you read today. ARMs are great when interest rates are high or you have limited timeframe. They pushed that mortgage on us pretty heavily and we laughed at them. Unfortunately, too many people buy into the ARM argument they give.
    Honestly, if they gave me another 20K in incentives, I probably still wouldn’t buy there. If you had to sell that place tomorrow, given what you paid, what the HOAs are, you’d be extremely hard pressed to do it. On top of that, it’s North Park. There’s signs that the neighborhood may come back, but that’s based on the growth of real estate we’ve seen in the last 5 years. Builders are halting a lot of projects throughout the country, so I wouldn’t expect much new development there for probably another 5 years.
    P.S. Take a look on Ohio Street at the new townhomes right near Lincoln. 445K with a two car garage, more sq feet, 1/2 your HOAs and they can’t sell them. Been on the market for a while.

  11. RS said

    Everything above is true about La Boheme, I purchased a 1bd in May and was offered the low ARM of 4.875% with only a 2K incentive. Upgrading the carpet and vinyl I ended up spending 4K above the incentive.

    A friend of mine purchased a different unit back in 2005 and backed out-of-it. They spend $390K. DR Horton ended up dropping the cost to around $290K because they knew the price was not valid based on the neighborhood.

  12. Don Juan said

    Very informative blog… Thanks for the information everyone… You guys are saving me $$$…

  13. NorthPark Newbie said

    I have moved into my condo in La Boheme and love it. There are a few minor issues that need to be corrected – and DR Horton is working to fix them. They have to take out the wood flooring and replace it in the next few weeks. Is that an inconvenience? Yes, but it’s only a 2 day process and the floors will be just the way I want them when done. It seems to me that there are MANY first time homeowners here in La Boheme that do not understand construction or new homes. There is no such thing as the PERFECT home out of the box. There is no magic wand to make everything perfect for those of us who moved in first. It’s the same people who complained that they were behind schedule and demanded them to rush who now say we moved in too quick! Talk about wanting to have it both ways….

    Some are even talking about a class action lawsuit – very dangerous thing to do. First, if you sell or want to re-finance you have to disclose the lawsuit and many lenders will not want to get involved. On selling, it could lower the price of the La Boheme units. My point is so what if you won 15K if your home value goes down by 20K! You end up losing money on the whole deal.

    Personally, I am going to give DR Horton time to make the changes and fix what needs to be fixed. If progress does not occurr in 6 months time then I might listen to those who want to sue. The bad part is that since it is an HOA community everyone would be affected by the potential of a lawsuit. I have not seen any major defects in the building yet – minor things yes, but not anything to make me jump off the ledge….


  14. Craig said

    I’m curious as to why people would want to form a class action lawsuit? Are there really that many issues? Anyone who bought in there should have known that there would of course be some construction issues, that’s a given.
    I think the discussion here was geared more toward how they represented themselves in the sales process. In addition, a lot of people who posted here definitely realized that the supposed great deals they were giving weren’t so great. Given the trend in prices, it’s possible to buy a similarly sized unit in Mission Hills for about the same price, with less HOAs.
    P.S. Just curious, why did they have to tear up the flooring?

  15. North Park Newbie said

    The flooring looks fine (to me) – it has about 20 planks with decent marks/cuts from construction people who were not careful. DR Horton offered to replace the whole wood flooring so we said sure. I could live with it as is, but of course we paid for “perfect” flooring and they want us to be happy.

    I undertand the sales process as we went through it – you have to be careful no matter where you buy and who you deal with. What I like about La Boheme is that it is brand new – we were not interested in a condo conversion or an older unit. I also like the area, and think it is only going to get better. Is it perfect, no but what really is.

    We got 12k towards closing costs, 2 years of HOA’s, and all our appliances. I felt like we got a good deal and our unit price was also reduced by 45k from when we first put a downpayment in January. Pretty good deal I think – the 2 years of HOA’s is “real” money and that is huge in itself.

    Anyway, we are really happy and loving our new place.


  16. North Park Newbie said

    Oh yeah, I think there are many first time home buyers who do not understand “new construction”. We have no major items and have not heard of anyone else with major defects etc. Some people are just the litigous type I guess….


  17. Craig said

    I guess it depended on the unit you bought, but our closing cost incentive was $15K, $8K for HOAs, upgraded appliances. I think it came to about $43K total. The unit we were to purchase was originally priced in the low 6’s when they first put it on the market. Eventually, they were willing to sell it to us for $445K. Ultimately, what turned us off was the $450 HOAs, an 18% jump from what was originally quoted.
    I think the area has a lot of potential, but as someone mentioned on here, they priced their units as if the area has already come back. North Park has some very sketchy pockets, one of them being directly east of the development. I think the reason a lot of the units aren’t sold is exactly for that reason. If they were in Hillcrest, they’d definitely all be sold.

  18. Kayaker said

    I heard some La Bohemians are banding together to offer free hi-speed WiFi Internet access to all residents and surrounding homes. Sounds like another cool perk of living in or near La Boheme.

  19. Kayaker said

    Hey I just started a blog for everyone living at La Boheme, one of the coolest new addresses in Noth Park!! Here it is:

  20. La Boheme is offering a lottery program under the City of San Diego Affordable Housing Program. I JUST GOT my neighbor IN !!!

    The City of Chula Vista is also doing something similar except its townhouses. They offer the Low Income and Moderate Income program.

    For more information, give me a call…….619-210-5265 Realty Executives Premier

  21. Deed said

    We just bought a one bedroom at La Boheme. There is nothing that compares to this new construction in North Park as far as square footage & price. Do you want a 700 sq foot condo for $325? Or a townhouse with a garage for $550? Otherwise, youre getting a condo conversion which is basically an apartment. We are getting almost 1,000 sq feet for under $300 . . .think about it.

  22. Matthias said

    I don’t know why everyone is gripping about the prices and HOA fees at La Boheme. As of April, they are over 70 percent sold out and are not offering nearly as many incentives as they were a year ago. I’m very happy I was able to purchase my 1-bed with loft for what I paid. True, the cash towards closing incentive is fluff, but what’s so bad about using it to pay down points on your mortgage? I don’t mind paying less each month. For what you get, where it’s at, La Boheme is a steal. The only thing you can really comp it to are condos in East Village Downtown which will cost you 15 percent more. Also, have you seen the average HOA prices for Downtown condos? Well over $500. Older building in Hillcrest have lower HOAs, but that’s because they have built up their reserves over the years. ANY new building will have higher fees than one built 15 years ago. La Boheme’s covers all your water (hot and cold) along with the standard inclusions. Maybe I’m biased, but if you’re looking for a NICE condo without having to pay Downtown and Hillcrest prices (incidently, HC is a mile away and Downtown is two miles from La Boheme), I think this place is a sure bet.

  23. Yousallcrazy said

    Hey I currently own at La Boheme, bought earlier this year and am disappointed with the level of noise and vibrations I can hear and feel from the unit above me. Does anyone else have these problems? It seems I can hear every single footstep and when they walk down the spiral metal staircase, my whole ceiling shakes….

  24. snicker said

    how does everyone feel about the upcoming auction? still feel smart for paying a quarter to half a mil for a pos condo in the ghetto?

  25. It’s amazing to see the development of units like this. I looked at La Boheme in spring 2006 when researching a place to buy with my wife. We found the units cramped, and over priced. We ended up buying a 2bed/bath+office space unit at Balboa Ridge in Clairemont. Our units have had many of the issuesas mentioned above: noise, inadequate construction, price drop, incentive variation, etc. I think that the market of 2002-2005 allowed for developers to get away with this shitty work.

    Staying on top of the developer to fix problems is the key. I don’t know about La Boheme, but construction is still in progress at B.R., so a direct call to the office gets things fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

    It’ll be a tough 10 years to fix the problems that the SD condo/real estate market has been hit with. The over development of the county in general has out priced many of the typical condominium/first-time-buyers around. It’s sad.

  26. josephine said

    I think that arrangements have been made with R.E.D.C. and Western Pacific aka D.R. Horton to sell these condos at an auction. It is true that the real estate market is very sluggish and developers are aware of this. They try all the incentives till that runs dry.
    The auction, I think, is a selling tactic. R.E.D.C. I think, was hired by the developer to sell the condos, hence the fine print on the auction brochures that say a 5% Buyer’s Premium is added to the winning bid amount to establish the final selling price. The developer doesn’t pay a commision. R.E.D.C. gets their money from the sale one way or another.
    R.E.D.C asks the developer what their bottomline selling price is and that’s how they come up with a starting bid. The developer and R.E.D.C are assured that the condo will sell at auction well above the bottomline opening bid.
    If any of you have ever been at auctions, it gets crazy. Properties very often sell to what the comps or other properties have been selling for in the area. Sometimes over ! People get carried away in the frenzy. A lot of people looking for deals go to auctions and watch in astonishment at how ridiculously high the price goes. Sometimes you can pick up a deal.
    Definitely do homework. I got the brochure in the mail from way back when I was on the mailing list. I saw the price back then and passed. Now I do a little research to see what the HOAs are. That’s a lot. Condos in UTC and 4S Ranch have that kind of HOA. A little much for North Park. That’s money thrown away. That’s a nice car payment. Hope the people at auction are aware at what the HOAs are, which often can and do go up.
    Hang in there folks. More loans to reset next summer. I see some condo foreclosures on the horizon.

  27. Brian B said

    Here is the website for the La Boheme condo auction on Sept 29th. I’m going to try to make it (might be in San Fran), but if not can someone post some final prices on the blog when it’s over?

  28. Lauren said

    When I was working p/t at a local start-up at the start of construction, I put my name in for the Moderate Income lottery Lee mentioned above. I was chosen, but declined because (1) they offered me a 1/1 (my son was ten at the time, as if that would work) and (2) because of the caveat that you cannot sell your unit for fair market value for 45 years! Fifteen years after a traditional 30 yr fixed?!

    A year later pushy sales guy calls to see if I’m still interested and I said no again because my financial situation had changed and I no longer qualified. The skunk then tried to get me to sign on to pay full price – over $400,000 when single family homes in NP are selling for less. What a loser.

    I liked the slide show they had way back when, but on a whim I actually went down to look at the models recently. Yech. I wouldn’t pay the auction price today! Granite counters and stainless steel appliances do NOT make up for the small units, awkward floor plans, high HOAs and inflated pricing.

    I think anyone who bought when the prices were going up just to get in before being priced out were foolish. As are those who have those jenky arm etc. mortgages. It’ll be a long time before you see the fruits of your urge. If you don’t suffer foreclosure first.

  29. JAP said

    Anyone who bought one of these POS condos is a very foolish person. These condo’s ARE indeed in the ghetto.

    I was in one of these POS condos and could hear every single noise from the person(s) living upstairs. It sounded like a heard of elephants was up there. I watched these things as they were being built… very shoddy construction.

    I know for a fact several 2 bed/2 bath’s recently sold for $200,000 at the auction. Imagine to dumb people who bought one of these things above $350-400,000? I wonder how they feel now?

    It’s fun to sit back and watch the San Diego real estate market take a dive. Serves all the flippers and speculators right… greedy dopes.

  30. Tita said


  31. roncraigs said

    Yousallcrazy and JAP et al,

    Sorry to hear you experienced noise problems with the upstairs tenants…unfortunately I’m in the same boat. I just sent an inquiry to the Property Management to see what can be done. If everyone is experiencing the same problem, I doubt much can be done.

    I also bought in at $325K. Now the exact unit right next door to me is being offered at $183.7. I’m 37 years old and it took me a long time to be able to buy into San Diego’s housing market. I hope things work out for the best for all.

  32. Yousallcrazy said

    The unit next door being offered at $183.7 is via the San Diego low/mod program. It does not have the upgrades yours has – and the value and buyer restrictions are on there for 30 years or more.

    The noise issue will not go away and since I feel many of us were told ‘you will not hear your neighbor’ there will be something to come out of this mess.

  33. TPSReports said

    I”m going to take a look at a 2bed/2bath low/mod program unit tomorrow. Just curious as well to see what the HOA’s are at right now, but more importantly if anyone has link to some of the stipulations and guidelines for these low/mod income programs. I can’t seem to find any ‘fine print’.

  34. DEED said

    Its simple: the neighborhood is up and coming . . .and its actually happening! New restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. Its a good sign that the development is happening, despite the fact that the home prices have dropped significantly. If you are an owner at La Boheme, like myself, its just a waiting game. The HOA fees are a bit high, but that is because the building is considered a high rise. They hike them up because of that, unfortunately. If you were to buy a high rise downtown, your HOA fees would be in the 600-700 range. Its also new construction and not a condo conversion, so it will be worth more in the long run. Be patient everyone!!

  35. […] word on the street” isn’t all good news concerning La Boheme.  From the blog San Diego, Just Another Day In Paradise comes this observation:  “I was on the verge of buying a condo until I noticed that a group […]

  36. JYC said

    so, i just discovered this blog – obviously there hasn’t been much activity… but if anyone is still looking at this… can anyone tell me what these condos are renting out for?

    i love, love, love my la boheme home. yes, it was expensive. yes, it the hoa’s suck. yes, dr horton has lousy sales people. but i have come to love my home, my neighbors, and the fact that there is so much new development around us.

    sad to say, i’m going to have to move and i need to rent out my place. does anyone know what people have been paying in monthly rent? i know there are renters here… not all the original buyers survived…

    • Pauline Le said

      Hi, it’s probably been a while since you’ve rented out your condo already, but if you are still looking to rent or sell, let me know. I have a section 8 voucher that I think can pay a rent to $1400 but I don’t know if you would accept it. How many bedrooms and if you are considering selling it, how much? Thank you, Pauline.

  37. JK said

    Are you advertising the rental yet? I just came across, as a potential renter, an ad and am intrigued by the property. I know this site isn’t for finding rentals, so feel free to email me at

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  38. Mark H. said

    If any tenants from this complex would mind me bouncing a few questions off of you, please let me know.


  39. Jodi R. said

    Came across this blog and was wondering how things are going now at LaBoheme. Thinking about buying a 1bd with loft ? I see HOA is pricey…..

    Can anyone give me an update as to if the residents/owners are happy ?

  40. Eddie said

    I’m looking at buying a 1BR right now. The price seems a bit high at 180k, but I’m willing to stay there for the long haul. The noise complaints worry me though and I’m hoping to do a walk through of the place soon.

    Great find! I found this site looking for floor plan pictures as there are a few units being offered for sale at this place.

  41. Joe said

    Just bought a 2/2 for $232,000. Appraised at $235,000. HOA fees are $357 per month and the association seems very responsible. Over $1,000,000 in the HOA bank account. That’s really nice b/c when things like catastrophic roof damage, etc occur they won’t have to hit everybody up for $5,000 to fix it.

  42. Joe said

    If you’d like to see what your HOA fees pay for the annual budget for La Boheme is posted here:

    Want to live in a nice place with fresh paint, clean garage, washed windows, graffiti covered up, etc? It costs a little bit of money. Plus, things like pest control, light bulbs, maids to vacuum the halls, and building insurance aren’t free. We tend to take all these things happening behind the scenes for granted.

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