Buying a house

I’m toying with the idea of buying a house. Or rather, a loft. Have been talking to a few people about it. Just seems like if I’m going to stay in the bay, which it seems like I’m going to, that I ought to invest. I’m paying relatively little rent to live in Palo Alto right now, and I have a ton of garage space, which I love. Gives me room for the Delorean. But I’m 40 minutes from the city, and that sucks since a lot of my friends are there and just about everything I want to do is there. So… perhaps a loft in the city?
Lots of questions come up. What can I afford? How will I deal with parking? What will I do with the Delorean? Will I actually like living in the city where there is less green space and more people? Can I find a loft that is built well enough that I feel comfortable playing my sax or using my subwoofer? (That is very important!)
I did a search for lofts in my ideal area of San Francisco, under $500,000. Eleven came up, so it looks like that is doable. Over $500,000 just starts to seem incredibly obscene. My brother bought a pretty nice house with a huge yard in Seattle, and it was about half that cost. Darn San Francisco.
Anyway, I’m doing some exploration. If you have any thoughts, please let me know!