Category archive - Market News

San Francisco Real Estate December 2019 Report

When the media reports on the “Bay Area median home price,” it’s worth remembering that SF is a relatively small market compared to the big 3 counties.

Appreciation in Very Expensive Markets

Based on the calculations of an algorithm created to track long-term price changes, this next chart looks at percentage appreciation since 2012 in the most expensive markets of 5 Bay Area Counties. (In Marin, Tiburon, a very expensive, but not the most expensive market in the county, is graphed due to data issues.) This chart does not delineate prices, which vary hugely, only estimated percentage home price changes over time.

According to this algorithm, prices in these most expensive markets have generally declined from recent peaks in 2018.

Bay Area Ultra-Luxury Home Markets –
Active Listings vs. 12 Months Sales

SF has the third largest market for homes of $5,000,000+ in the Bay Area.

Market Dynamics & Seasonality –
New Listings & Price Reductions

The market is now deep into its seasonal plunge in activity, which hits its nadir in December. (This chart is updated through October. November saw its usual big drop in new listing activity.)

The percentage of listings reducing price in October – typically the peak month for price reductions – ticked up a little year over year, to its highest point since the recovery began in 2012.

Home Prices & Market Statistics by SF District

Median House Prices by Realtor District

As always, these prices should be considered very general approximations of prices in complex district markets containing homes of widely varying size and quality.

Median Condo Prices by Realtor District

Market Statistics by Realtor District

As mentioned in previous reports, market dynamics in San Francisco are often – but not always – separated by price segment as much as by neighborhood/district location. More expensive segments not unusually have somewhat softer supply and demand dynamics. However, District 5 – the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district – one of the city’s more expensive districts, has been bucking that trend in 2019.

Districts dominated by condo sales also typically have softer dynamics than those dominated by house sales.

San Francisco Real Estate November 2019 Report

Using six-month-rolling figures for monthly median sales prices smooths out the often meaningless monthly fluctuations to illustrate broad, long-term appreciation trends with more clarity.

Home Sales Volume by Month

A crystal clear illustration of the role of seasonality in the SF real estate market. Starting in November activity begins to plunge towards the mid-winter nadir. Remember that November sales volumes mostly reflect October accepted-offer activity. Market activity hits bottom in December, which makes January the month with the lowest sales volume.

Home Sales & Median Prices by District
HOUSE Sales & Median Sales Prices

Note that districts often include neighborhoods of varying values and that the district median sales prices quoted reflect combined sales. Median prices are broad generalities useful for comparative values and home-price trends, but how they apply to any particular home is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis.

Median sales prices broken out by neighborhood, property type and bedroom count are also available upon request.

Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales by District
2-BR, 2-BA Condo Median Sales Prices

Luxury Home Sales

Sales of homes of $3 million and above in October were a little below the number in October 2018, but looking at September-October sales, there were gains over same-period sales in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Sales vs. Listings for Sale by Price Segment

Market Dynamics by Property Type & Price Segment

Location is, of course, always important in real estate value – within the the city and within the neighborhood – but to a large degree, market dynamics within San Francisco are also determined by the property type and the price segment. And individual neighborhoods and districts will usually have homes in several or even all of the price segments broken out in the 3 charts below, with these segments seeing differing supply and demand conditions.

Generally speaking, demand is stronger and supply is lower (as compared to demand) for houses over condos. For both houses and condos, market dynamics are somewhat softer in the higher price segments, especially above the $3 million price threshold for condos, and in the $5 million+ price segment for houses.

People Moving in & out of CA in 2018

According to new census estimates, approx. 501,000 people from other states moved to CA in 2018, while 691,000 Californians relocated to other states – a net loss of 190,000. In addition, an estimated 284,000 foreign nationals moved into CA from outside the country. (Foreign out-migration numbers are not available.)

The top states for out-migration are Texas, Arizona, Washington, Nevada & Oregon, states with high-tech centers of their own and/or no state income taxes, and/or significantly lower housing costs – thus attracting working residents, local businesses, and retirees. Updated Bay Area figures are not yet available, though migration trends here have generally paralleled state trends in recent years.

Sales Without Price Reductions & Withdrawn (No-Sale) Listings

The following 2 charts illustrate both year-over-year changes in market conditions and the role of seasonality within the calendar year.

Last year saw a big jump in the number of listings pulled off the market without selling in December – this was a particularly volatile time in financial markets and interest rates were relatively high. The situation with both of those factors has changed dramatically in 2019, but it is too early to see how that will affect the number of listings withdrawn in the last 2 months of this year.

San Francisco Neighborhood Home Prices, Market Trends

Updated Market & Census Statistics, Home Prices & Appreciation Rates, Luxury Home Sales, Price Reductions, Employment & Interest Rates.

It will be another month before hard data on the autumn selling season begins to become available. In the meantime, below is a review of market trends and statistics through the third quarter. Note that September sales data mostly reflects market activity in August, a historically slow month.

Year-over-Year Q3 Comparisons – Q3 2016 – Q3 2019

Looking back over the Q3 statistics in the past 4 years, the San Francisco market has remained quite strong, though the number of sales has declined. The “IPO effect” may well be playing a role in keeping demand up, especially in the higher price segments where sales volumes have continued to increase.

Median House Sales Price – 3-Month Rolling Figures

Median house sales prices hit a new high in spring, though the year-over-year increase was relatively modest. However, many Bay Area Counties have seen small declines in median home sales prices over the last 4 quarters.

Year-over-Year, Quarterly Median House
Sales Price Percentage Change

Generally speaking, San Francisco is seeing significantly better year-over-year home price appreciation rates over the past 2 quarters than most Bay Area Counties, but the increases are well down from those seen during much of the recovery since 2012.

Median Condo Sales Price -3-Month Rolling Figures

Median condo sales prices have hit new highs, but the apples-to-apples appreciation issue is complicated by the thousands of new condos that have come on market, many of which have been at higher price points.

San Francisco Home Sales
by Price Segment & Bedroom Count

The most common sale in San Francisco is that of a 2-bedroom condo selling between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000. 2 & 3 bedroom condos now have higher median sales prices than 2 & 3 bedroom houses. This is due to 2 issues: 1) the tens of thousands of newly built, higher-price (often high-rise) condos coming on market in the last 15 years, and 2) condos are commonly found in more expensive neighborhoods than those where most house sales occur.

Updated Census Statistics

Underlying the real estate market are the changing details and circumstances of its population. At the end of September, the U.S. Census released its 2018 American Community Survey 1-year data estimates for a broad range of economic, social and demographic statistics. Below is a selection of survey insights into our community, plus 2 or 3 statistics from other sources. (You may want to expand this slide for easier reading.)

Luxury Home Sales

Sales Volumes & Price Reductions

Looking forward, October is typically both a big month for closed sales, reflecting the surge in deals after September’s big spike in new listings, as well as for price reductions, as sellers of unsold homes try to spark renewed buyer interest before the market slows in mid-November for the winter holidays.

Then in December, many sellers pull their unsold listings off the market altogether to wait for the market to wake up again in January-March. Of course, sales occur in every month of the year, and indeed, slower periods can be advantageous to buyers since competition for listings plunges.

SF Employment Trends

Behind the story of home price appreciation since 2000 are the ups and down in the number of employed residents. After a spectacular boom in job creation since 2010 – many of the jobs extremely well paid – the number has generally leveled off in the past year (according to the CA Employment Development Department).

Trends in Rents

The 2 big recent factors in rent rates have been changes in employment numbers, and the increase in the supply of apartments on the market due to the boom in rental unit construction (the first such boom in many decades). Economists believe there should be generally parallel trends in rents and ownership costs, those being the 2 housing options (besides living with one’s parents).

The dotted line delineates the approximate divergence in rents between a market rate unit and a rent-controlled apartment leased in 2010.

Mortgage Interest Rates

A year ago, many experts predicted that interest rates in 2019 would average in the 5.5% range, but they plummeted instead, a major dynamic in this year’s market. Buyers generally saw big drops in homeownership costs as compared to late 2018. If you are already a homeowner, depending on when you purchased your home, you might want to investigate the option of refinancing your mortgage with a new, long-term, fixed-rate loan. Note: Historically, it has been very difficult to predict interest rate movements.

San Francisco Real Estate

Neighborhood House & Condo Prices; Short-Term & Long-Term Appreciation Trends; Population Migration In & Out of the City.

After the heat of the spring market, activity typically slows down markedly in July and August. In September, listings start pouring on the market again to fuel the relatively short autumn selling season – in fact, September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings. Autumn is also a very important time for the luxury home market – luxury house sales often peak for the year in October.

What occurs in the next 2 months, before the mid-winter holiday doldrums begin, will be the next major indicator of market conditions and direction.

Migration: People Moving In & Out
of San Francisco

Using new U.S. Census estimates released 8/29/19, this chart attempts to identify U.S. counties, states and international regions with the highest number of residents migrating to and from our county. In the Bay Area, there is a general trend outward from more expensive to more affordable places, while in-bound migration is deeply affected not only by exchanges between Bay Area counties, but people arriving from other parts of the state, country and world. Areas often have large two-way exchanges of residents.

Foreign in-migration is a huge issue in SF and the Bay Area, but it will be another year before any impact of new U.S. immigration policy on foreign in-migration in 2018 shows up in census numbers. The census estimates foreign in-migration in this analysis, but not foreign out-migration.

Short-Term & Long-Term Trends
in Median Home Prices

San Francisco is out-performing the Bay Area – most of the other counties have seen 3% to 5% declines in median home prices since peaking in spring 2018, while the city saw a new monthly peak in June and a new quarterly peak in Q2. It has been suggested that the differentiating factor in SF has been the high number of large, local, high-tech IPOs occurring this year since early spring.

In the next chart, the 2019 YTD median sales prices should be considered preliminary until full year data is in. Note that it is more difficult to compare annual median condo prices on an apples-to-apples basis because of the huge number of new construction condos – many at higher prices – coming on market in the last few years. Comparing 2019 YTD to 2018, the median house sales price is about the same, even though new monthly and quarterly peaks were hit year to date.

Supply & Demand Dynamics since 2005

The chart below compares supply, the number of active listings on the market, with demand, as measured by the number of sales. This is a 12-month-rolling graph that smooths out normal monthly fluctuations to provide clearer historical trend lines.

San Francisco Home Prices & Appreciation
by Neighborhood & District

The next long series of charts and tables looks first at house prices by neighborhood, and then at condo and co-op prices. We’ll start with our neighborhood/ Realtor District map for easy reference.

San Francisco Median House Sales Prices
by District & Neighborhood

San Francisco Median Condo Sales Prices
by District & Neighborhood

San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Markets Survey

Note that it is not unusual for median home sales prices to peak for the calendar year in spring (Q2). This is due not only to heightened buyer demand, but also to the extreme seasonality of the luxury home market – more luxury home sales (as a percentage of total sales) pull overall median sales prices up.

Year-over-Year Median Home-Price Appreciation (or Depreciation) Rates

Markets in late 2017 through spring 2018 were very hot virtually throughout the Bay Area – perhaps the hottest they’ve been since 2000, the height of the dotcom boom. In the second half of 2018, markets cooled considerably – besides issues of simple affordability, financial markets saw nerve-wracking volatility and large declines, and interest rates jumped dramatically. Then, in 2019, stock markets recovered to hit new peaks and interest rates hit multi-year lows, and markets heated up again.

However, generally speaking, except for those markets most affected by the slew of local high-tech IPOs – San Francisco and the greater Oakland market – most markets saw either no significant year-over-year appreciation or year-over-year declines in median house sales prices. (Santa Cruz County bucked this trend.) The next major indicator of market direction will come from autumn selling season data: The season runs from early-mid September to early-mid November. Markets then typically go into the mid-winter holiday doldrums for a couple months.

Bay Area & California Long-Term Median House Price Trends

Median House Sales Price Trends by Bay Area County

Compound Annual Home Price Appreciation Rates

When calculating these rates, results can vary enormously depending on the year the calculation begins with. These start with the year 2000 – if we started with 1995 – prices rapidly appreciated between 1995 and 2000 – the rates would jump; if we began with 2007 – the height of the subprime boom – then the rates would drop. (The same issue exists with calculating stock market returns.)

These very approximate calculations do not reflect any of the tax benefits that have applied at various times to home ownership and to the sale of one’s primary residence. And they are based simply on the all-cash purchase price and the sales price, without adjusting for closing costs (or the effect of not paying all cash upon purchase).

Bay Area House & Lot Sizes

Bay Area Median Condo Values

Bay Area Median Dollar per Square Foot Values

Bay Area Luxury Home Markets

Median Sales Prices for Large Homes in Expensive Bay Area Markets

High-end home markets in outlying counties – the four with the lowest percentages in the chart below – have softened considerably, and would typically be considered to be in buyer’s market territory – much more supply than demand. This doesn’t mean, however, that some luxury homes there don’t sell quickly at excellent prices. It does mean that many luxury homes don’t sell without price reductions, or don’t sell at all.

In many ways, average dollar per square foot values give a better indication of what one actually gets for one’s dollar in different counties.

Bay Area & U.S. Home Prices, Appreciation Trends & Affordability

The next chart illustrates the dramatic divergence since 2012 between Bay Area home price appreciation – supercharged by the high-tech boom – and the national trend line.

Median 3-Bedroom Home Sales Prices around the Country

Active Listings on the Market

Home Sales Volumes

Bay Area Home Sales by Price Segment

Bay Area Real Estate Market Indicators

Below are a wide variety of standard market statistics broken out by county or region to illustrate respective market conditions, as well as overall trend lines to illustrate the general market direction and the effect of seasonality on supply and demand.

Looking just at 2019 YTD stats, the greater Oakland-Berkeley market has been the strongest in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the picture is muddied a little by the fact that the city’s house and condo markets have somewhat different dynamics: New-condo construction has increased supply in that segment, while the supply of house listings has declined markedly since 2010, making houses the scarce resource in a high-demand environment.

Price Reductions & Listings Expiring without Selling

San Francisco Bay Area Median House Sales Prices by City

Bay Area Median List Rents

Selected Economic & Demographic Factors

Behind the real estate boom is the stupendous boom in hiring, specifically in the high-tech fields.

Migration & Population Trends

Housing Affordability in the San Francisco Bay Area

Home Prices, Appreciation & Ownership Costs; Affordability Percentages, Household Incomes, Interest Rates, Rents & Homelessness. August 2019 Report – including 30 illustrative charts.

Housing affordability may be the largest social and political issue in the Bay Area, and the effects of low affordability also greatly impact the general economic picture in a wide variety of important ways – from hiring and business relocation, to the ability of “normal working people” (not enriched by the high-tech boom) to live here. Significant demographic shifts are also taking place as some groups move out and others move in.

Generally speaking, affordability percentages – the percentage of county households who could afford to purchase a median-priced house – ticked up in Q2 2019 as compared to Q2 2018: Median home sales prices were relatively stable year-over-year – some counties up a bit, some down a bit, some the same – but interest rates dropped very significantly over the 12 month period. However, affordability percentages remain low by historical standards – and the Bay Area typically has among the lowest in the nation.

Note: Counties contain cities, and cities contain neighborhoods of varying values, market conditions and trends.

Calculations on affordability percentages, home payments and household incomes are based upon the California Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index, measuring the percentage of county households able to afford to buy a median priced house with a 20% down-payment at prevailing mortgage interest rates.

The next 2 charts are excerpted from the very in-depth report, “Bay Area Homelessness: A Regional View of a Regional Crisis” put out by Bay Area Council Economic Institute, published April 2019.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis. 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.

San Francisco Real Estate August 2019 Report

Sales & Values by District and Price Segment, Special Circumstance Sales, Market Seasonality, the Luxury Home Market & Foreign Buyers. The May Case-Shiller Home Price Index was released in late July for the 5-county SF metro area. This chart illustrates the difference in appreciation rates between the Bay Area (higher price markets) and the entire country. Case-Shiller does not use median sales prices but its own algorithm to calculate appreciation. January 2000 home price = 100; 250 = a home price 150% above that of Jan. 2000.

Needless to say, there are many factors behind home sales and values in different communities. Home size is one of them, and median sales prices are not apples to apples comparisons: For example, in Pacific Heights, the average house size is over 4000 square feet, while in Sunnyside, it runs about 1500 square feet.

Note that it is not uncommon for median sales prices to peak for the year in Q2.

Market Dynamics by Realtor District

Q2 is commonly the hottest market of the calendar year, and the statistics below generally reflect a very strong spring 2019 market.

Home Sales by Price Range

Of homes selling for under $1,000,000, over 80% were condos, co-ops and TICs, and most of those were smaller units.

Tenants, Fixer-Uppers, Homes without Parking, Homes with Golden Gate Bridge Views

Market Seasonality: The Autumn Spike,
Then the Winter Doldrums

Though spring is the biggest overall selling season in San Francisco, the single month with the highest number of new listings is typically September. This big surge fuels the relatively short autumn selling season – highlighted by the dramatic spike in sales in October. In November, activity begins to plunge for the mid-winter holidays – though homes continue to sell in every season.

Seasonality: New Listings by Month

New Listings – Long-Term Trends,
12-Month Rolling Figures

Seasonality: Listings Going into Contract
by Month

Higher-Price Home Sales

The central greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district now has the highest number of home sales over $2 million, but the northern Pacific Heights-Cow Hollow district dominates sales of $5 million and above.

The SF luxury home market is even more dramatically driven by seasonality than the general market. September often sees a tremendous burst of new listings. October is sometimes the single month with the most luxury house sales.

Long-Term Appreciation Trends by District

Though prices vary, appreciation trend lines since the recovery began in 2012 are often relatively similar.

In the next chart, we combine house sales across the swathe of older, prestige neighborhoods that run across the north of the city – generally speaking, a region of larger houses and higher prices. (Putting them on the chart above would flatten the other trend lines due to issues of scale.) None of these neighborhoods have that many sales – and some have very, very few – so we combine them to increase statistical reliability. Though they are all high-price, prices do vary considerably between them.

Median Two-Bedroom Condo Prices
by Realtor District

There is significantly less variation in condo prices in most of the neighborhoods of SF than there is with houses. Much of this has to do with all the new construction that has occurred in the last 20 years. Probably the greatest differences in condo values are between those on lower floors and those on higher floors of new luxury high-rises.

Percentage of Sales Selling for Over List Price
by Property Type

Median Percentage of Sales Price to List Price
by Property Type

Foreign National Home Buying Tumbles

According to a new report by the National Association of Realtors – based on a survey of its member agents – the purchase of U.S. homes by foreign nationals plunged in the 12 months through March 2019. The drop was particularly steep for Chinese nationals, for whom California (and the Bay Area, in particular) has been the top destination.

Stock Market Hits New High

The last 12 months have been an extremely dramatic time for financial markets as illustrated below. The alternating confidence and fear generated by its swings have been considerable factors in Bay Area real estate markets. A parallel dynamic has occurred with the swings in interest rates.

The spring burst in high-tech IPOs in San Francisco also played a role in the heat of the Q2 market.

CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index Update

The CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index does not evaluate median sales price changes, but employs its own proprietary algorithm to measure home price appreciation over time. Since its indices cover large areas – for example, the San Francisco Metro Area is comprised of 5 counties – which themselves contain communities of widely varying home values, the C-S chart numbers do not refer to specific prices, but instead reflect prices as compared to those prevailing in January 2000, which are all designated as having a consistent value of 100. A reading of 250 signifies that home prices have appreciated 150% above the price prevailing in January 2000.

Case-Shiller divides all the house sales into thirds, or tiers: The third of sales with the lowest prices is the low-price tier; the third of sales with the highest sales prices is the high-price tier; and the third in between is the mid-price. The price ranges of these tiers change as the market changes. The 3 price tiers experienced dramatically different bubbles, crashes and recoveries over the past 18+ years, to a large degree determined by how badly the tier was affected by the subprime financing crisis. The low price tier was worst affected – huge bubble, huge crash, most dramatic recovery – and the high price least affected (but still significantly affected).

Most house sales in expensive counties such as San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo, as well as affluent communities in other Bay Area counties are in the “high price tier”, and many would qualify for an “ultra-high-price tier,” if such existed. All counties, to varying degrees, have sales in all 3 price tiers.

The Index is published 2 months after the month delineated – the May 2019 index was released 7/30/19 – reflects a 3- month rolling calculation, and one month’s sales generally reflect accepted-offer activity in the previous month. The Index is looking into a rear-view mirror at the market 3 to 5 months ago: The May 2019 reading, released in late July, mostly reflects market conditions in February – April 2019.

The 5 counties in our Case-Shiller Metro Statistical Area are San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa: Alameda and Contra Costa are by far the largest markets; SF itself comprises only about 7% of house sales in the metro area. We believe the Index generally applies to other Bay Area counties, such as Sonoma and Santa Clara, though those 2 have had somewhat softer markets over the past year. There are hundreds of unique real estate markets in such a broad region, with different dynamics, moving at varying speeds, sometimes in different directions. How the C-S Index applies to any particular property is impossible to know without a specific comparative market analysis.

SF Multi-Family Residential Market – Compass Commercial

An interesting 2019 so far: Stock markets have hit new peaks; interest rates have hit multi-year lows; the SF unemployment rate dropped to a historic low; Bay Area unicorn IPOs have rolled out one after the other; SF residential and office rents have ticked up; consumer, corporate and governmental debt levels – nationally and internationally, across virtually every sector – have hit all-time highs; and SF median home prices hit new peaks in Q2.

The below report reflects sales across an enormous range of buildings of different size, quality, location, type and era of construction, unit mix, tenant profile, rent control effects, expense ratios and other characteristics. It is impossible to know how any of these sales or statistics apply to any particular property without a specific, tailored comparative market analysis.

Review of Sales – Last 12 Months

Legislative Update – New Limitations on Sale

SF has enacted a new law called the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) impacting Sellers listing or selling buildings with 3+ residential units and lots zoned for 3+ units. It is designed to provide certain Qualified Nonprofit Organizations (QNOs) preemptive opportunities to purchase such properties. As of 9/3/19, Sellers of such properties will have to provide formal notice to these organizations of their decision to sell before they solicit offers or place such properties on the market.

COPA applies to SF multi-family residential buildings on which (1) 3+ residential units exist, including mixed use properties; (2) lots on which 3+ residential units are under construction; and (3) vacant lots on which 3+ residential units could be built. By September 3, 2019, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development plans to publish the list of QNOs and to issued rules pertinent to implementing COPA. Buyers – especially those affected by 1031 exchange deadlines – and sellers having any questions should engage a qualified San Francisco real estate attorney. Your agent can provide you with a more detailed outline and list of FAQs which the SF Association of Realtors has created.

General Financial Indicators – Updated through Mid-Year 2019

Supply & Demand Statistics

If you would like to receive the list we have compiled of year-to-date San Francisco 5+ unit apartment building sales, with their specific parameters of sale, please let us know.

Rent Rate Trends – Average & Median Statistics

New Housing Construction Pipeline

Sales by Broker