Category archive - Blog

Long-Term Trends in San Francisco Real Estate

The great advantage of reviewing annual data is how often the market trend lines clarify into a straightforward dynamic, instead of the constant up and down fluctuations often seen in monthly or quarterly data charts. (Monthly data is constantly being abused by the media, when proper context is not given.) It is similar to standing back to look at a broad view of terrain as opposed to focusing on the one small piece that is right in front of your shoe.

Among other advantages, annual trend lines track greater amounts of data, which usually adds to reliability, and also avoid the fluctuating effects of seasonality on real estate markets. However, we also have dozens of charts that look at monthly and quarterly data, sometimes specifically to illustrate seasonality, but those analyses are in other reports.

Median Price Changes
A Selection of Angles & Presentations

We have many more annual appreciation charts on individual San Francisco neighborhoods and Bay Area cities, which can be found here: Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis

S&P Case-Shiller Bay Area Home Price Index Trends

Case-Shiller does not use median prices to determine appreciation, but instead uses its own proprietary algorithm. The numbers on Case-Shiller charts refer to home prices when compared to a January 2000 home price of 100. Thus if at some point after 2000, the chart number is 150, that signifies 50% home price appreciation since January 2000. Case-Shiller uses a 5-county metro area in its San Francisco analyses. Needless to say, this includes a huge variety of different housing markets.

We probably have 10 charts illustrating Case-Shiller data. This one below breaks out appreciation and depreciation trends by price segment, dividing the market into thirds by number of sales. The reason why this is particularly important recently is that during the subprime bubble and the resulting crash, different price segments had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of hugely different magnitudes, mostly depending on how they were affected by subprime financing, foreclosures and distressed property sales.

Our full report: S&P Case-Shiller Index for SF Metro Area

 Inventory & Sales Trends

Housing Affordability Trends

Our full report: Bay Area Housing Affordability

 Luxury Home Market Sales Trends

Our full report is here: San Francisco Luxury Home Market Report

 Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Annual General Market Dynamics Trends

Looking at annual trends of a variety major real estate market measures, one is struck by how the different analyses reflect virtually the exact same market dynamics over the past 6 or 7 years, heating up as the market came out of the recession, and then cooling or plateauing in 2016 after market heat peaked in 2015. When multiple statistics line up like this, the data is considered much more meaningful and reliable. However, remember that the San Francisco and Bay Area markets are made up of many distinct segments, and it’s not unusual for the trends in specific segments (prices, locations, property types) to, at times, go in different directions at varying speeds.

Depending on the statistic, a trend line moving up might signify either a market heating up or one cooling down, and vice versa.

Residential Multi-Unit Median Price Trends

Our complete report: San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Building Report

Other Economic or Demographic Trends
Selected Factors behind the Real Estate Market

Annual Sales Volume Trends

Much more information can be found on our main reports page:

Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis

Using, Understanding and Evaluating Real Estate Statistics

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis, which we are happy to provide upon request.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in San Francisco and the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. Longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group


8 Family Fun Holiday Activities to Do in San Francisco

The brisk winds and pretty lights that adorn the Bay Area come wintertime—not to mention the great hotel room rates—make for a perfect family getaway. If you are heading to San Francisco with your family, here are some essentials that epitomize a lovely winter holiday in the City by the Bay.

1. Stockton Street Winter Walk

Every year, Stockton Street is converted into a pop-up pedestrian mall to celebrate the holiday season. Through Jan. 1, 2018, you can indulge in street food, watch live performances, shop till you drop or snap a family photo for keepsakes. The entire strip is buzzing with people and the area is lit up with beautiful holiday lights.

2. Ice Skating

Winter in San Francisco also means pop-up ice skating rinks. The most popular one is at Union Square, under Macy’s giant Christmas tree. It lasts until Jan. 19, 2018. Given its popularity, you would do well to book your tickets in advance. Also check for scheduled events at the rink, such as the Polar Bear Skate on Jan.1, 2018.

If you can’t find a spot at Union Square, you don’t need to be bummed out. Embarcadero Center has the biggest pop-up rink in the city, with gorgeous views of the waterfront. It runs till Jan. 7, 2018.

3. Reindeer Romp

If bustling downtown isn’t your idea of holiday fun, head to the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens on the opposite side of the city. Every year, the zoo organizes a reindeer exhibit, where cute relatives of Rudolph can be seen in their natural habitat. The exhibit is accompanied by an educational tour on reindeers. This year, Reindeer Romp is scheduled from Nov. 18, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018.

4. Holiday Lights Tour

Ring in the holiday season aboard a special 90-minute Open Top Holiday Lights Bus Tour of San Francisco with Big Bus Tours, available nightly Dec. 15, 2017 through Jan. 2, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Holiday Lights Tour begins at Big Bus’s Visitor Center at 99 Jefferson St. in Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way, you’ll see San Francisco’s festive holiday trees, trimmings, and twinkling lights decorating the city for the winter season. Enjoy jovial jingles along with a complimentary seasonal treat from Ghirardelli Chocolate and a complimentary souvenir.

5. Trip to PIER 39

PIER 39 has its resident sea lions, street performers, magicians, food, shopping and, of course, pretty lights. PIER 39 is hosting its tree lighting celebration on Nov. 19, 2017, featuring Disney characters straight from Disneyland Resort. Kids can even send letters to Santa at the event, with the help of the U.S. Postal Service. While you are here, catch the boat parade from the marina. About 60 boats, lit up for holidays, cruise through the bay during December.

6. Winter Wonderland Party at Moscone Recreational Center

Every holiday season, Moscone Recreational Center throws a holiday party for kids. The event typically happens in mid-December and features arts and crafts for kids, a visit from Santa and a bouncy house, among other activities. On Dec. 4, catch their production of The Nutcracker Sweets at 10 a.m. Additional performances and activities will be announced. The Recreational Center also accepts Christmas donations of cash and kind, which can be a good opportunity to share the spirit of giving in your child. Check their website for the latest details.

7. San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall

San Francisco Symphony plays Christmas favorites throughout December at Davies Symphony Hall. These include such classics as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Home Alone set to a live orchestra. The Davies Symphony Hall is decked in pretty lights and festive decorations to add to the spirit.

8. Run Wild San(ta) Francisco

Run Wild San(ta) Francisco is an annual event at East Beach (Crissy Field) that sees hundreds of people run a 5K race dressed in Santa hats and running gear. The event also features a kids’ dash, with prizes for winners. There is a Christmas festival after the race, too, which has food trucks and musical performances. It’s a darn good way to get the entire family into the Christmas spirit. The event is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2017.


This Weekend: Dec 16 – Dec 17, 2017

This weekend offers many great things to do for free and on the cheap. From the Winter Crafts Fair in Berkeley, to SF Etsy’s Winter Pop Up Shop to the Santa 5K Run & Festival in San Jose. The events below will help you fill your calendar with fun!

View even more events here.

2 Charts That Show the Truth about Home Affordability

There is a lot of discussion about the current state of housing affordability for both first-time and move-up buyers, and much of the narrative is tarnished with a negative slant. However, the truth is that housing affordability is better today than at almost any time in our history.

The naysayers are correct in the fact that affordability today is not as good as it has been over the last several years. But, we must remember that home prices collapsed during the housing crash, and distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) kept home values depressed for years. When we compare affordability to the decades that proceeded the crash, a different story is revealed.

Here is a graph of the National Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index. The higher the graph, the more affordable homes are.

We can see that affordability is better today than in the fifteen years prior to the boom and bust.

CoreLogic just published a report showing the National Homebuyers’ “Typical Mortgage Payment.” Here is a graph of their findings:

It reveals that, though a ‘typical’ housing payment was less expensive in 2012 (remember distressed properties), it is currently less expensive than it was in 2000 and is still projected to be lower next year than it was in 2000.

Bottom Line

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:

“While borrowing power for the potential home buyer has fallen relative to the low point of 2012, it remains high today and will remain high next year, relative to the long run average. If you don’t want to rent anymore and are considering becoming a homeowner, even if mortgage rates rise next year, your borrowing power will remain strong by historic standards.”


How to Enjoy All the Diverse Holiday Celebrations in San Francisco

From Christmas to Kwanzaa, Hanukkah to Hedonism, San Francisco is the kind of city where the holidays are celebrated with a diversity found nowhere else in the country. No matter who you are, where you hail from or what you believe, you will be welcomed here in the City by the Bay with open arms and an invitation to join in on our extensive holiday celebrations. Check out our favorite picks of these holiday happenings. There is something for everyone!

Santa Con SF

Here in San Francisco, we take the “Saint” right out of “Saint Nick” by dressing up as old Kris Kringle himself, parading around town and then going on an extensive bar crawl through the city’s top drinking dens. Meet up at Union Square on Dec. 9 at noon to get in on the wildness. Almost 10,000 people showed up last year!

The Dance-Along Nutcracker

The 20th annual production of this San Francisco tradition takes place on Dec. 10 at the Yerba Buena Gardens Center for the Arts. Join the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band as they parody Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker Suite, and be prepared to shake your own rump when the “Dance Along” signs lights up.

Kwanzaa in the Bayview

Come celebrate community and faith in the Bayview neighborhood at the annual Village Project Kwanzaa celebration. Running for seven days (Dec. 26, 2017 through Jan. 1, 2018), this annual festival features music from Fillmore Slim and Sista Iminah, among others, as well as a slew of other performances.

Hanukkah in Union Square

From Dec. 12 to Dec. 19, there will be candle lighting ceremonies on a giant mahogany menorah in Union Square to celebrate Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in the Jewish tradition. On Dec. 17, join in on the all-day, all-ages fun as a variety of festivities, including kids crafts and reggae bands, take over Union Square completely.

A Charlie Brown Christmas 

A true San Francisco tradition that is fun for the whole family, the San Francisco Symphony hosts live actors and an animated backdrop to bring to life the Peanuts crew and all their holiday shenanigans. The show runs the week before Christmas and takes place at the magical Davies Symphony Hall in the Civic Center.

Parol Lantern Festival and Parade

Held at the Yerba Buena Gardens every holiday season for the past 15 years, the Parol Lantern Festival and Parade on the evening of Dec. 9 is one of the largest Filipino American celebrations in the Bay Area. Live bands, delicious home-cooked food and a colorful competition of handmade lanterns round out the event. For those who want to try their hands at making a lantern themselves, workshops are held in the weeks leading up to the event at the Bayanihan Community Center on Mission Street.

San Francisco Bazaar Holiday Nightlife

A handmade arts market, indie music fest and DIY extravaganza all under one roof, the San Francisco Bazaar showcases all that is uniquely San Francisco and is the perfect place to shop for those loved ones back home. Taking place at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park on Dec. 14, this event mixes shopping and nightlife in one fun-filled holiday-themed party not to be missed.

Unsilent Night

Join in this impromptu procession of everything from boom boxes to smartphones playing an original composition by Philip Kline meant to spark up the holiday spirit. Originating in New York City and now taking place around the world, San Francisco’s own Unsilent Night takes place in Dolores Park on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m.

The Santa Skivvies Run

Get into your sexiest red and green undies and take a one mile run through the Castro District to raise money for AIDS treatment and research in this sexy holiday tradition. The Santa Skivvies Run starts at 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at the Lookout Bar and ends at the Santa Village Block Party, where you can dance the afternoon away in your undies as well.

Kung Pao Kosher Comedy

Serving up Jewish comedy in a Chinese restaurant is about as San Francisco as it gets and in fact, the Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show is the City by the Bay’s longest running comedy show ever. Taking place at the New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown, Dec. 23-25, this event will knock your socks off with laughs and fill your belly with real Chinese fare at the same time.

Elfstravaganza: Making the North Pole Gay Again

Just when you thought the holidays couldn’t get any more San Francisco, along comes Elfstravaganza. Put on by the internationally acclaimed San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, this outburst of fabulous holiday spirit takes place at the Nourse Theater on Dec. 8 and 9 only.


Changing Dynamics in California Migration Trends

We just crunched the numbers on a recent U.S. census report tracking population migration to and from California in 2016, and illustrated them in the chart above. Though this chart refers specifically to state data, the trends illustrated almost certainly apply to the Bay Area to a large extent as well. The census report highlights two issues: 1) More CA residents are moving out to other states than residents of other states are moving into California, and 2) Foreign immigration into California has more than made up this deficit, to continue an overall increase in the population.

The chart is based on 2016 data, and there are now two big wild cards in play which may significantly affect these migration trends.

Firstly, the U.S. government in power now has radically different philosophies and policies regarding foreign immigration than previous administrations, which may dramatically curtail foreign influx numbers into California and the Bay Area in 2017 and subsequent years.

Secondly, changes to the tax code currently contemplated by the Republican dominated congress – the deductibility of mortgage interest costs and local/state taxes in particular – would not only make living in the Bay Area, which already has either the highest or close to highest cost of living in the country (especially vis a vis housing costs), more expensive for many residents, but also substantially increase the difference in living costs between it and other parts of the country. Depending on what legislation is finally put into place, this could exacerbate the outflow of companies (concerned, among other reasons, about competing for employees) and residents to lower-cost states. As an example, Texas has been actively trying to recruit CA companies to relocate for years, and often crows about its success in doing so. The Texas pitch revolves around its much lower housing costs and the absence of state income taxes – the proposed changes to federal income tax law would only widen the already wide cost-of-living differential between the two states as they compete for businesses.

The Bay Area has competed, for years extremely successfully, on the basis of quality of living and its situation as the nexus of high-tech, bio-tech and fin-tech industry and innovation. However, other metro areas, such as Austin, are increasingly attempting to compete on these bases as well.

[Resident outflow from California can be broken into 2 main groups: Those relocating for jobs in lower cost states, and those moving subsequent to retirement, which often involves cashing out of a higher-cost housing market to maximize proceeds and retirement income in lower-cost, lower-tax regions. Looking at the chart above, as pertaining to the outward migration of CA residents, Texas, Washington and to a lesser degree, Oregon and Colorado dominate for the first group, and Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Oregon probably dominate as locations for retiree relocation. It’s interesting to note that 5 of these states also top the list for states whose residents relocate to California, though in lesser numbers.]

The net result could be an reduced inflow of new foreign residents and residents relocating from other states, coupled with an increased outflow of existing residents – especially the more affluent residents most affected by proposed tax law changes – which together might have substantial ramifications for state and local economies and housing markets. It is unknown at this point what scale of change may occur and how significant the ramifications might be – we honestly do not know how this will all play out. However, there have been a number of governors from high-immigration/high-cost-of-living (blue) states, which levy state income taxes, voicing major concerns regarding possibly severe economic effects. Of course, their desire to alter proposed changes to tax law before they come into effect is certainly a motivation in these statements.

The chart at the top of this article has been posted to our new analysis on San Francisco and Bay Area demographic trends: Paragon Demographics Report

All our reports and articles can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

The data herein is from a wide variety of third party sources deemed reliable – much of it from national, state and local government data sources – but it may contain errors, and is subject to revision.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Low Interest Rates Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.92%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.


12 Unusual, Quirky Gifts You Can Only Find in San Francisco

For the people on your gift list who have been swept off their feet by San Francisco’s foggy charms, there is a nearly unlimited array of local wonders to be had. Home to a thriving community of artists, designers, craftspeople, culinary artists and scientists, this city offers one of the world’s most richly varied shopping environments. Here’s a curated list of quirky and classic items guaranteed to delight any San Francisco fan.

Wearable Art
Artist Diego Marcial Rios offers mask-making classes through a number of different outlets, including the Mission Cultural Centerfor Latino Arts. The brilliantly colored papier-mâché masks that students create and paint reflect Mexico’s rich cultural history. Rios also sells his sculptures and paintings and is an active presence in the San Francisco community.

Homegrown Style
Two local women, Stacy Rogers and Deirdre Nagayama, have designed a line of graceful, wearable clothing at affordable prices under the label Curator. Their designs are simple and durable, making use of natural fabrics. Check out their stunning Seacliff coat for a taste of real San Francisco style. You can visit their small shop at 1767 Church St. or check out Curator’s collection online. They also sell an interesting selection of handmade soaps, jewelry and accessories.

The Scent of a City
The breeze blowing through each San Francisco neighborhood picks up unique fragrances, and a particular scent will always carry you back to a special spot. Destination Fragrances uses pure essential oils to capture the essence of a dozen city neighborhoods and blends these into its pure Scents of San Francisco candles including a special holiday fragrance. From the Mission District  (lime, palo santo and cinnamon) to the Haight (patchouli, cedarwood and ylang ylang), these handmade aromatherapy candles will bring a touch of the city to any home. 

Irresistible Chewiness from Kika’s Treats
Kika is the nickname of Brazilian-born confectioner Cristina Arantes. A San Franciscan since 1999, she has developed an artisanal line of chocolate-covered goodies, using local Dandelion Chocolate and a range of natural sweeteners. Her caramels use coconut palm sugar, which lends its own unique dark sweetness, and they were voted “best caramels” at the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. Kika’s treats are available online and at more than a dozen fine food retailers throughout the city.

French-Style Fruit Preserves
Located in the burgeoning Dogpatch neighborhood, Maison de Monaco creates delicious handmade fruit preserves. The French family that started this tiny business uses a traditional recipe and their products are loaded with more flavor and less sugar than commercial fruit jams.

Coffee From the Diaspora
The Museum of the African Diaspora has partnered with Red Bay Coffee for a curated selection of four coffees that represent the exclusive flavors of the African Diaspora: Ethiopia: Origins, Kenya: Movement, Burundi: Adaptation and Brasil: Transformation. Each cup is a reminder of how the diaspora connects us all. Roasted in Oakland in their garden roastery, dubbed the “Coffee Dojo,” Red Bay was founded by artist Keba Konte who sources his beans from Sweet Unity Farms, founded by David Robinson, son of the famed baseball player Jackie Robinson, and his wife Rachel.

Walk on the Wild Side
Wild SF Walking Tours offer you an unvarnished insider view of the city. Every guide is a working artist or activist who will tell you the tales that never make it to mainstream ears. These super-affordable tours include moments from San Francisco’s unique social history as well as opportunities to become acquainted with your fellow travelers. Furthermore, the fun doesn’t have to end when the tour does. Many times the guide and tour group will go on to have food or coffee together at one of the great local places you’ve just found. Book a tour as a gift here:

Focus on Science
A visit to the California Academy of Sciences is an absorbing experience in itself, but giving the gift of a behind-the-scenes tour will appeal to the hidden scientist in anyone. The Academy has partnered with Funsherpa to offer two different types of special tours: you can either focus on the research labs that drive the museum’s continuing explorations, or you can learn about how the animals in the Aquarium are cared for. All tours include reserved tickets to the Planetarium and the special Rainforests of the World exhibit.

Modern Taxidermy
We did mention that our list was quirky, right? For that one friend for whom only a costumed taxidermied animal will do, Paxton Gate is your source. Wandering through their store is an experience not to be missed, even if you don’t invest in any (ethically sourced) skulls or stuffed wildlife. In case you’re in the mood for something slightly less off the beaten path, they also offer an array of highly civilized gardening tools and personal products.

Etta & Billie Guurl Grey Tea soap
Soapmaker Alana Rivera creates her bath and body products in her San Francisco workshop, and sells them online as well as at interesting gift shops such as Perish Trust in the Western Addition/NOPA district. Rivera’s Etta & Billie soaps are offered in a rich palate of unusual fragrances, with ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible.

Limited-Edition Baseball and a Behind-the-Scenes AT&T Park Tour
Delight the baseball enthusiast in your life with a high-quality ball they won’t be able to find in any old sporting goods store. Huntington Base Ball Co.’s limited-edition ball was designed especially for San Francisco’s FOG Design+Art fair, and it’s available in two rich vintage colors. This ball and other design delights are found in the Park Life Store and Gallery in the Inner Richmond, voted “Best Gift Store” by SF Magazine. Bundle it with a behind-the-scenes tour of AT&T Park and you’re all set.

Wig Out
For the last 80 years, Cliff’s Variety in the Castro has been charming visitors with its cornucopia of randomness. Stop in this store and you’ll find products ranging from home improvement to art supplies to fun and games. During the holiday season, the store is decked out in costumes, wigs, tiaras and stockings. Perfect for that one zany, good-natured friend of yours.

The City by the Bay has always been an incubator of creativity, and your gift shopping can reflect this fact, drawing from the unique breadth of San Francisco’s maker culture. Visit some of the city’s one-of-a-kind stores and galleries, in person if possible (and online, if not), and discover its rich and flavorful selections.


The Cost Of NOT Owning Your Home

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Zillow recently reported that:

“In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $48,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.