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Dynamic October Market in SF Real Estate

The October 2017 median house sales price in San Francisco surged over $100,000 above the previous peak in May to hit a new high at $1,588,000 (sales reported by 11/5/17). A major factor was that October was a record-breaking month for luxury house sales, and more sales of expensive homes pull up the median price. The median condo sales price, at $1,180,000, was a tad below the recent peak hit in August, and luxury condo sales reported to MLS were well below their peak sales volume reached this past June. The luxury market is covered further down in this report.

San Francisco Monthly Median Home Price Trends

We prefer measuring median price trends by periods longer than 1 month (which are prone to fluctuate considerably without great meaningfulness), and the below chart illustrates rolling 3-month median price trends for houses ($1,415,000 for August, September, October) and condos ($1,175,000), and 6-month rolling median prices for TICs ($982,500). Remember that median price changes are not perfect measurements of changes in fair market value.

San Francisco 3-Month Rolling Median Home Price Trends

And this chart below based on CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller data compares the appreciation of the more expensive Bay Area home markets (blue line) – such as most of SF, Marin, San Mateo and Diablo Valley – to the overall national trend (green line), going back to 1987. It is interesting to see where our local appreciation rates have diverged from national rates: The divergence since 2012 has been particularly striking.

Note that the numbers on this chart all refer to a January 2000 price of 100. So, the latest Bay Area reading of 238 means that home prices here have appreciated, according to Case-Shiller, by 138% since January 2000. National home prices appreciated by 95% during that period.

San Francisco vs National Home Price Appreciation

San Francisco Neighborhood & Realtor District Map

San Francisco Neighborhood & District Map

San Francisco Market Overviews
SF House, Condo & TIC Sales by Realtor District

Some districts are dominated by house sales and others by condo sales. The most balanced is the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district with almost equal numbers of both. Condo sales now outnumber house sales in the city, a trend which will continue to accelerate with new construction. Looking at the horizontal columns below, the gray portion represents house sales, the teal, condo sales, and the green, TIC sales.

San Francisco House & Condo Sales by District

SF Home Sales by Price Segment

Home sales under $1m are dwindling, and 70% of those are condos or TICs.
The highest number of sales is now in the $1m to $1.5m price segment.

San Francisco Home Sales by Price Segment

Sales by Property Type & Bedroom Count

Compared to other Bay Area markets, SF has more small, 2-bedroom houses and fewer big, 5+ BR, house sales – and far more condo sales at much higher prices than in other counties. By far the most prevalent SF home sale now is a 2-bedroom condo.

San Francisco Average Sales Prices by Bedroom Count

Link to Chart: New Listings Trends since 2007
Link to Chart: Unit Sales Trends since 2007

San Francisco Luxury Homes Market

As mentioned before, luxury house sales hit a new high in October 2017: In recent years, October has become the biggest month for very expensive house sales. This is not the case for luxury condos, which typically peak in spring. Looking at broader trends in the second chart below, the luxury home market grew dramatically from 2012 through 2015, cooled significantly in 2016 (especially the luxury condo segment), and then surged back in 2017 to hit new highs. But then everything seems to be surging higher nowadays, from stock markets to homes to iPhone prices.

Luxury house sales in October were concentrated, highest to lowest numbers, in the Pacific Heights-Marina district (D7), the Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district (D5), and the Lake Street-Sea Cliff district (D1). These 3 districts contained about 80% of the sales. Other luxury house sales were scattered singly around the city: Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Inner Sunset, Potrero Hill, Mission, Bernal Heights, Hayes Valley and Lower Pacific Heights. The 3 districts that dominated luxury condo sales, with 9 to 11 sales each, were the Russian & Nob Hills district (D8), Pacific Heights-Marina (D7), and the South Beach-Mission district (D9). There were also a handful of sales in Noe-Eureka Valley (D5), and a couple in Lake Street-Richmond (D1). (Sales reported by 11/5/17.)

San Francisco Luxury House Sales by Month

Link to Chart: Luxury Condo Sales by Month

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales Trends

Median Home Price Trends by Neighborhood
2005 to Present

Following are 2 charts on houses and one on condos illustrating home price appreciation trends over the past 12 years in selected neighborhoods. We generally picked neighborhoods with greater quantities of sales, but please contact us if you would like information on one not included below. (The highest priced house neighborhoods like Pacific and Presidio Heights – with median prices in the $6m range – have relatively few sales and an enormous range in sales prices, which has a tendency to make the trend lines jump up and down somewhat erratically.)

Neighborhoods with current median house prices under $1.5m have generally
seen smooth, consistent appreciation since the recovery began in 2012.

San Francisco Neighborhood More Affordable Median House Price Trends

Neighborhoods with current median house prices of $1.5m to $3m:
Some of these saw median price dips in 2016, but recovered in 2017

San Francisco Median House Price Trends over $1,500,000

Two-Bedroom Condos – Median Sales Price Trends:
Some SF condo markets saw significant dips in 2016, but recovered in 2017

On the chart below, South Beach would ideally be divided into two distinct neighborhoods, with condos on lower floors of highrises in one, and condos on higher floors in another (distinctly more expensive). Since that is not easily possible, the median price below is a blend of both. To a large degree, all median sales prices are derived from a blend of a wide range of individual sales, but the highrise dynamic is concentrated in the greater South Beach area.

San Francisco Median 2-bedroom Condo Price Trends

SF Neighborhoods & Property Types: Hottest to Coolest Markets

The following charts looks at the various districts of the city by a number of standard statistical measures of supply and demand, or market heat. As has been the case for the last couple years, generally speaking, the greatest pressure of buyer demand has continued to be focused on the more affordable house neighborhoods (affordable by SF standards), such as those in the Sunset/Parkside District.

Note: These are general statistics and small differences between districts or market segments are not particularly significant.

Overbidding Asking Prices

First houses and then condos: The higher the %, the hotter the market.
Some of these percentages are staggeringly high.

San Francisco Neighborhood Overbidding House List Prices

Overbidding in the condo market is not quite as frantic as with houses.

San Francisco Neighborhood Overbidding Condo Prices

Months Supply of Inventory & Average Days on Market

First houses, then condos: The lower the statistics, the hotter the market.

San Francisco Houses - Months Supply of Inventory and Days on Market

San Francisco Inventory and Days on Market - Condos

Hottest to Coolest by Price Segment & Property Type

To a large degree, what is seen below dovetails with the analysis by district above: More affordable home segments are strongest, and the affordable house segment in particular has been crazy feverish. The ultra-luxury condo market is, by far, the softest: Part of this is certainly due to competition from new, luxury condo projects coming on market.

San Francisco Sales Prices to List Prices

San Francisco Market Absorption Rate

San Francisco MSI by Price Range

Seasonality & the SF Homes Market
Advantages to buying during the mid-November to mid-January slowdown

Just before Thanksgiving the market begins to rapidly subside until starting to revive about 7-8 weeks later. Many buyers simply check out during this period, but there are good reasons for staying engaged – mainly the possibility of getting a much better deal. Starting in October and extending into November, sellers begin reducing prices in large numbers as they try to capture the attention of disappearing buyers: Buyers should treat these as brand new listings and take a new look. Competition between buyers drops dramatically during the mid-winter period, and since competitive bidding is the biggest single factor behind higher prices, its decline can mean significant savings. Fewer buyers also means that sellers are often more willing to negotiate: Throw offers in at whatever price you feel is right and see where they go. It is true that the number of new listings coming on markets plunges, but there are still hundreds of listings to consider for those willing to stay in the game.

The dark red lines in the charts below illustrate these big, seasonal market shifts.

Price Reductions Soar in October/November

San Francisco Home Price Reductions

Overbidding Declines

San Francisco Overbidding Seasonality

San Francisco Seasonality Selling over List Price

Average Days on Market Increases
Making sellers more willing to negotiate

San Francisco Market Seasonality - Days on Market

Inventory Drops
But hundreds of listings remain on market

San Francisco Seasonality and Active Listings on Market

Median Home Prices Drop
due to a number of factors, including a reduction in demand

San Francisco Seasonality and Median home prices

All our real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

Link to SF Neighborhood Home Price Tables
Link to our SF luxury house market update
Link to our SF luxury condo market update
Link to our apartment building market report

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way. Information on neighborhoods not included in this report is readily available.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

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. Late-reported MLS activity may change the statistics for the last month in some charts.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Q3 SF Real Estate Market Review

Year-over-year, a low inventory homes market dropped even lower, while buyer demand increased to keep the pot boiling in San Francisco through the third quarter, when activity typically cools down between the spring and autumn selling seasons. Since closed sales in each month mostly reflect the market heat in the previous month, when the offers are actually negotiated, we will not have hard data on September until October sales data becomes available in November. One thing we do know is that the number of new listings coming on market in September, which is usually the month of the year with the highest number of new listings, is down considerably from last year – but the number of listings accepting offers increased: Less inventory, but more demand.

Q3 SF Median Home Sales Price Changes since 2005

San Francisco Q3 Median Home Price Trends

The Q3 SF median house sales price was $1,365,000 and the median SF condo sales price was $1,175,000, considerable year-over-year increases over Q3 2016 prices: 7% and 11% respectively. It is not unusual for median prices to drop from Q2 to Q3, to a large degree due to the seasonal decline in luxury home sales, as well as the typical overall market cooling during the summer, and this occurred for houses, which dropped $75,000 from Q2, similar to drops in previous years. But condos bucked this trend and increased $40,000 quarter to quarter. (Q2 to Q3 change is not illustrated on this chart.) However, while the house inventory in the city has been relatively unchanged for 60+ years, tens of thousands of new condos have come into the market over recent decades, which means that comparing the basket of sales in different periods is not always apples to apples.

Q3 San Francisco Market Trends since 2005
Comparing Q3 statistics for the past 12 years

Q3 New Listings Coming on Market since 2005

New listings hitting the market dropped appreciably year-over-year, doing no favors for buyers competing for homes in Q3 overall, and in September specifically.

San Francisco Q3 New Home Listings on Market

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI), Q3 since 2005

MSI compares demand to supply in one statistic: The lower the MSI, the higher the demand vs. the number of listings available to purchase. The MSI for the SF house market in Q3 2017 was as low as in any Q3 during the past 12 years. For San Francisco condos, the MSI was somewhat higher, but still historically low (but does not include the substantial inventory of new-project condo listings, not listed in MLS). Both are down significantly from Q3 of 2016: 2016 was a cooler market between two very hot markets in 2015 and 2017.

San Francisco Q3 Months Supply of Inventory

Average Days on Market, Q3 since 2005

San Francisco Q3 Days on Market

Overbidding List Prices
by Month since December 2015

In the last 6 years, overbidding percentages have usually declined from the Q2 spring selling season to the quieter Q3 summer market. But not this year: This year overbidding increased in July and September to their highest points since mid-2015.

San Francisco Overbidding Home Prices

Context Economic Factors to Bay Area Housing Markets

Market-Context-Tile_V2.jpg

We recently completed a report placing the Bay Area housing market within the context of a wide variety of other economic and demographic dynamics, such as population growth, employment and hiring, the stock and the IPO markets, consumer confidence, interest rates, commercial lease rates, , aging homeowners (who sell less frequently), housing affordability and new housing construction. Because conditions, trends and cycles seen among them are, more often than not, closely interrelated. The full report is online here: Economic Context Report.

San Francisco Luxury House & Condo Markets

In September, we issued 2 detailed reports on the San Francisco luxury house market, and the SF luxury condo, co-op and TIC market. Above are 2 of many updated analyses. The complete reports can be found here:

Link to our SF luxury house market update
Link to our SF luxury condo and co-op market update

San Francisco Investment Property Market

After dropping in 2016, SF residential rents appear to be making a small recovery, though the data is still very short-term, and there are thousands of new apartments in the new construction pipeline in the city. This chart is from our latest report on the San Francisco, Alameda and Marin multi-unit residential markets:

Link to our apartment building market report

Trends in Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods

We have dozens of analyses of appreciation trends within specific SF neighborhoods and districts, and below is a sampling, some by median sales price and others by average dollar per square foot value. Some city neighborhoods plateaued or saw declines in values in 2016, when segments of the market distinctly cooled: Generally speaking, these were more expensive home segments, and condo markets most impacted by new-project condos coming on market with major new supply. Affordable house markets largely continued to appreciate in 2016. In 2017 to date, most areas of the city have experienced further appreciation.

Changes in these statistics do not necessarily correspond exactly to changes in fair market value, as they can be affected by a variety of factors. Neighborhoods with relatively few sales and broader ranges in individual sales prices are most prone to fluctuations unrelated to changes in fair market value. Longer-term trends are always more meaningful than shorter term. If you are interested in a neighborhood not included below, please let us know.

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way. Information on neighborhoods not included in this report is readily available.

SF neighborhood home price tables: Median Sales Prices by Bedroom Count

All our real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

Over the past 12 months, Paragon sold more San Francisco residential and multi-unit residential real estate than any other brokerage. (Dollar volume sales reported to MLS per Broker Metrics.)

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

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

 No one knows San Francisco real estate better than Paragon.

A Hot Autumn Market in San Francisco?

Generally speaking, late summer market dynamics (or, for that matter, during the mid-winter doldrums) are not of great significance and do not tell us much about where the market is heading. September, however, is usually the single month with the greatest number of new listings hitting the market in San Francisco, and that surge fuels sales through mid-November, when activity begins to plunge. The coming two months will be the next major indicator: Will the SF market continue to maintain the intense high-demand, low-supply heat of this past spring, or will it cool? While the entire market is affected by seasonality, the luxury home segment is fiercely so, and the next couple months will be the peak selling period for high-end homes until spring 2018 rolls around.

City-Wide Home Appreciation Trends since 2005
Median Sales Prices & Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

As of September 1, the 3-month-rolling median sales price was $1,418,000 for SF houses, and $1,160,000 for condos. The average dollar per square foot value was $907 for houses and $1056 for condos.

San Francisco Median Home Sales Price Trends

San Francisco Average Dollar per Square Foot Trends

San Francisco Neighborhood Appreciation Rates
2011 to 2017 YTD, Median Sales Price Change

Median sales prices are not perfect indicators of changes in values for specific homes: They can be and often are affected by factors other than changes in fair market value, and shorter-term anomalies are not uncommon. What is certainly true is that every part of the city has seen tremendous appreciation since the recovery began in 2012, however the percentages on the charts below should be considered very approximate indications of the scale of change.

These charts delineate 2011 and 2017 YTD median sales prices by neighborhood, as well as the percentage change between the two. The 2 charts on house appreciation are followed by 2 on condo appreciation. If you wish information on a neighborhood not included in the charts below, please let us know.

SF HOUSE Median Sales Price Appreciation Rates

SF Neighborhood House Price Appreciation

NOTE: A perfect example of how median price changes can misrepresent changes in fair market value can be seen above: Typically, Noe Valley and Eureka Valley (Castro) have very similar median house prices, but in 2017 YTD, the Eureka Valley median price unexpectedly jumped by an astonishing $500,000 (23%), putting it far above Noe, and giving it a much higher overall appreciation rate. However, the average size of houses sold in Eureka Valley so far in 2017 suddenly jumped by 22% from 2016: That is, its houses did not just suddenly and inexplicably have a tremendous jump in value: the average size of homes sold changed, probably temporarily. Monthly median price changes in particular, trumpeted everywhere in the media as vitally important, are often unreliable due to seasonality and the small size of the data set.

SF Neighborhood Home Price Appreciation

SF CONDO Median Sales Price Appreciation Rates

Thousands of newly constructed condos, which typically sell for higher prices than resale condos, have hit the market in recent years, which means year-over-year comparisons are not always apples to apples. Generally speaking, comparable-condo appreciation rates have been well below house appreciation rates since 2015, because of the difference in the supply available to purchase.

San Francisco Neighborhood Condo Price Appreciation

SF Neighborhood Condo Price Appreciation

The September Rush of New Listings
General Market

San Francisco New Listings

Luxury Home Market

For some reason, September 2016 saw a stupendous rush of luxury home listings coming on market, which among other effects led to the highest monthly number of luxury house sales ever in October 2016. (As an aside, luxury condo and co-op sales hit their highest sales volume this past June.)

San Francisco New Luxury Home Listings

Where to Look in Your Price Range

In August, we updated our complete series of charts delineating where one is most likely to find a home in a specific price range. Below are 2 of the charts, and the entire series can be found here: SF Neighborhood Affordability.

San Francisco Condo Prices by Neighborhood

San Francisco House Prices by Neighborhood

National Housing Affordability

This next chart illustrates home affordability for selected metro areas across the country as calculated by the National Association of Realtors. The 7 Bay Area counties, in our 2 metro areas, are the least affordable in the nation – not the happiest of distinctions, except for those planning to sell and move out of the area.

U.S. Metro Area Housing Affordability

San Francisco, California & the United States

The appreciation of home prices in San Francisco since 2011 has out-performed overall state and national markets by a substantial margin.

San Francisco, California and US Home Price Trends

County House Markets

Since San Francisco is considered the big city in the Bay Area (though San Jose is actually larger), it seems counter-intuitive that its house market is one of the smallest, but this is a major part of its ruling dynamic: Very little supply compared to intense demand. Owners in the city (and the nation) are getting older, and selling their houses ever more infrequently. And virtually no new houses are being built within SF itself.

SF Bay Area House Markets

Condo sales significantly outnumber house sales in SF, and the supply of condos available to purchase has surged with new project construction. This has made that market segment somewhat less heated; condo owners also tend to sell more frequently than house owners. However, the condo market in the city is much more expensive than in other counties.

Ultra-Luxury House Sales in San Francisco
Houses Selling for $5 Million & Above

A quick look at the very highest end of the SF market. Though other districts, such as the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district, have increasingly surged into the luxury home segment, when it comes to the realm of the really big, most expensive houses, the district comprised of Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and Marina dominates with 75% of sales. House sales there can exceed $30m, though that is still very rare.

Most expensive houses in San Francisco

Bay Area Home Price Appreciation
per the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index

Earlier in this report, it was mentioned that median price changes can sometimes be unreliable as indicators of actual appreciation. However, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures appreciation using its own special algorithm tracking resales of the same home, and it does not use median sales prices. This first chart below, based on Case-Shiller, is a simplified, smoothed-out look at the up and down cycles over the past 33 years in the higher end of the Bay Area real estate market, which predominates in most of the city, Marin, San Mateo and areas like Piedmont, Diablo Valley and Lamorinda. Because it covers 5 counties, it merges the differences between their separate markets into a single trend line.

San Francisco Bay Area Home Price Cycles

This second Case-Shiller chart illustrates how homes in different price segments around the Bay Area have recently been appreciating at considerably different rates. C-S divides all the Bay Area house sales into thirds by number of sales: low-, mid- and high-price. As illustrated in the lower green line, the higher-priced segment went flat in appreciation in 2016, but then jumped back to life in 2017. The most affordable price segment (top blue line) has been experiencing the highest pressure of buyer demand and competitive bidding, and since April 2016, has out-appreciated the most expensive segment, 12.4% to 4.3%, i.e. almost triple the rate of increase. The middle price segment (gold line) has been in between, appreciating by 7.8%.

These dynamics are generally true within each county, as buyers, somewhat desperately, search for homes they can still afford, in the area they wish to live.

The numbers on this chart all refer to a January 2000 home price of 100. Thus 262 signifies a price 162% higher than in 2000.

Case-Shiller SF Home Price Trends by Price Tier

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)

The lower the months supply of inventory, the higher the demand as compared to the supply of homes available to purchase, i.e. lower MSI equals a hotter market. The entire Bay Area has been experiencing very, very low MSI figures recently, with San Mateo at rock bottom. (Its median house sales price has just recently been exceeding the median price in the city.) Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, generally offering considerably more affordable home prices than Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Marin are also at extreme lows.

Within SF itself, the MSI for houses alone, and especially in the more affordable neighborhoods, is substantially lower than the MSI for condos, though both have been very low since spring began.

SF Bay Area Months Supply of Inventory

Mortgage Interest Rates

Since the election, interest rates have seen a wild ride, first up and then down. As of the end of August, rates hit their lowest point so far in 2017, a significant financial advantage for buyers.

Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way. Information on neighborhoods not included in this report is readily available.

All our many Bay Area real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

Over the past 12 months, Paragon sold more San Francisco residential and multi-unit residential real estate than any other brokerage.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

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

1000+ Things to Do in San Francisco & Bay Area

Out of town guests are arriving, the kids are hungry, the dog is restless, or you are just lying on the couch reading email and need something to motivate you to get up and out of the house.

Dinner, brunch, burritos, burgers, desserts, bars, music, dance, theater,
walking, biking, hiking, and things to do with visitors, children and dogs.


 


FOOD & DRINK

Hottest SF Restaurants
Zagat’s Best Restaurants
Best Cheap Eating
More Cheap Meals
Best Spicy Food
Best Breakfast
More Breakfasts
Essential Bakeries
Best Brunch
More Brunches
Best Burritos
Best Sandwiches
Best Pizza
Best Hamburgers
Best Dim Sum
Best Sushi
Best Bars
Dive Bars
Beer Drinking
Wine Quaffing
Coffee Drinking
Best Donuts
Best Desserts



Out & About

Things to Do
To Do with Kids
More To Do with Kids
8 Unique Day Trips
Weekend Getaways
Meditation Retreats
To Do in Oakland
To Do in Marin
In Napa & Sonoma
Top 10 SF Bike Rides
Longer Bike Rides
Mountain Biking
City Walks
More Walks
15 Stairways
Best Views
Bay Area Hikes
Places to Kayak
Pro Sports Events
Bay Area Festivals
Farmers’ Markets
City Parks
Dog Parks
Volunteering



Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Events
Places to Dance
Best Jazz Clubs
Stand-Up Comedy
Music
Museums
Ballet
Opera
Symphony
Theater
Place Magazine
Paragon Real Estate Market Reports


Note: You will undoubtedly find yourself disagreeing vehemently with one or more of the above lists: best burrito, brunch and dive bar are particularly contentious, ferociously disputed issues in the Bay Area. We hope you will accept our apologies for any egregious errors.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Bay Area Home Prices, Incomes & Demographics

Which counties are most expensive or most affordable, have the highest overbidding and appreciation rates? Which are healthiest, most educated, have the highest incomes or worst poverty percentages? What cities have the biggest, most expensive homes? And where do Bay Area residents come from?

August 2017 Report

Median House Price Appreciation since 1990

Appreciation trend lines are largely similar across the Bay Area, but some counties have outperformed others. Solano is still well below its previous peak price ten years ago, and Sonoma and Napa are just now coming back up to their previous highs. Most of the other counties have exceeded their 2006-2007 peaks, sometimes by very wide margins. As will be explored further below, proximity to the heart of the high-tech boom has been one of the major factors in recent appreciation rates. Still, it is worth noting that in the past year and a half, appreciation rates in less expensive towns and neighborhoods have typically been higher than in more expensive areas, an indication of the sometimes desperate search for affordable housing – however that might be defined within the context of any given market.

Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

The Most Expensive Places in the Bay Area

By clicking on map, you can also access our full collection of home price maps delineating current city home prices throughout the Bay Area.

Note: Diablo in Contra Costa with 6 sales at a median price of $2.73m, and Penngrove in Sonoma with 13 sales at a median price of $919,500, had higher prices than Alamo and Healdsburg in the period measured, but because of their very low number of sales, we highlighted the larger markets on the map above.

Annual Home Price Appreciation Rates (since 1996 and 2011)

This table below illustrates annual compound appreciation trends going back to the post-recession recovery that began around 1995, and also from the current post-2008-crash recovery which started in 2012. This is based upon someone purchasing their home all cash: If one had purchased with a 20% down payment, then the annual compound rate of appreciation of that cash investment would be much, much higher.

There are 3 big factors behind local appreciation rates: 1) the emergence of the Bay Area in the past 20 years as an international, economic powerhouse, which generally lifted all markets, 2) how close the specific market is to the white-hot centers of the high-tech boom (SF and Silicon Valley), and, 3) how badly the county was hammered by the foreclosure crisis, since those markets whose prices fell 50% or more to unnatural lows bounced back more on a percentage basis than those counties less affected by the subprime catastrophe.

SF has had the highest compound annual rate since 1996: It is the epicenter of the Bay Area high-tech, bio-tech and fin-tech economic miracle. But Oakland soars above all other markets in appreciation since 2011, because of a combination of factors: It is the closest affordable alternative to much higher SF prices; it is a lively, multi-cultural urban area appealing to high-tech workers; and its housing prices dropped an astounding 60% after the 2008 crash, which set them up to fly upward once the heavy anchor of distressed property sales was removed.

Having complete confidence in our ability to predict what will happen in the past, we now recommend that all our clients go back in time to 1995 or 2011 and buy as many homes as possible.

Economic & Demographic Factors

Underpinning the Bay Area real estate market and general economy are often amazing, but sometimes worrisome statistics. Below are tables and charts ranking counties, zip codes and cities by a variety of parameters. The Bay Area ranks extremely high in income, education, employment rates and general health factors, often grabbing almost all the top rankings, but it is also unhappily high in income inequality, housing unaffordability and poverty.

Bay Area City & Zip Code Income Rankings

Atherton has the highest median household income and the highest median income per worker in the state, followed by a handful of other nearby, highly affluent, Silicon Valley communities. In San Francisco, South Beach and the Presidio zip codes make the top rankings, but note that several of the most expensive neighborhoods in SF are in zip codes that mix highly affluent with less affluent areas (such as Pacific Heights and Western Addition, or Russian Hill and the Tenderloin). SF also has much higher percentages of residents who are tenants, and generally speaking, renters have lower incomes than homeowners.

In Marin County, Belvedere, Tiburon, Kentfield and Mill Valley make the lists; in Contra Costa, the Diablo Valley & Lamorinda communities of Blackhawk, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga rank highest; in Alameda, Piedmont is in the top 10 cities for median worker earnings.

Bay Area zip codes utterly dominate the CA rankings for higher education, taking 14 of the top 15 spots out of about 2600 zip codes. Unsurprisingly, high positions in income usually correlate with the same in education (and having UC Berkeley and Stanford in our midst was a help): Top Zip Codes for Higher Education

If you wish to explore Bay Area rankings by other criteria: Top 25 Rankings in California

Employment & Unemployment

High-tech employment in SF & San Mateo Counties illustrates broader trends in hiring: massive growth and some recent cooling.

Unemployment rates are bumping against historic lows.

Bay Area Poverty Rates & Housing Affordability

Beneath surging affluence, significant percentages of county populations are living in poverty. High housing costs are a big factor.

Housing affordability percentages are approaching historic lows in some counties,
a huge Bay Area political, economic and social issue. If interest rates start to go up
considerably, the picture will worsen, but so far they have remained quite low.Link to our mortgage interest rate chart
Link to our full report on Bay Area housing affordability

Bay Area Luxury Home Markets

Santa Clara is by far the biggest luxury home market in the Bay Area by the number of homes selling for $2m+, but then its overall market is also the largest, more than 2½ times larger than that of San Francisco. Average dollar per square foot values for luxury house sales are surprisingly similar across Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco, with Marin County just a notch lower. Moving further out, one gets considerably more luxury house for the money.

Generally speaking, SF luxury condos and co-ops command the highest dollar per square foot values in the Bay Area: Think fabulous units on high floors of prestige, ultra-amenity buildings with absolutely staggering views.

Calculating luxury markets by the top 10% of sales, the thresholds for the luxury designation vary widely: For example, in Sonoma, the threshold is about $1,125,000 for houses, while in San Francisco, it is about $3m.

Other Angles on Bay Area Market Dynamics
Bay Area Condo Markets

Overbidding

Average Days on Market

Bay Area Market Sizes

Bay Area Rents

Rents are even more sensitive to hiring trends than home prices.Link to our apartment building market report

Additional Demographic Snapshots

The foundation of the Bay Area economy is a richly multi-cultural society constantly infused by many of the best and brightest from around the world.

S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the San Francisco Bay Area

Case-Shiller charts are complicated, which is why we have put them at the end of the report, but they do give perspectives on home price appreciation by price segment. The different price tiers had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of very different magnitudes, with the low-price tier having an extravagantly enormous subprime bubble and a disastrous crash, while more costly home tiers having lesser bubbles and crashes. The end result now is that all three tiers are relatively close in their current prices as compared to 2000 values, but are in very different circumstances when compared to their 2006-2007 bubble peaks. Around the Bay Area, generally speaking, San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Santa Clara and Diablo Valley-Lamorinda have high-price tier markets with smaller mid-price segments; Alameda, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and non-central Contra Costa have mixes of low-price and mid-price markets (though there are, of course, pockets of high-price homes as well).

All C-S data points refer to a January 2000 home price of 100. Thus a reading of 250 signifies a price 150% higher than in January 2000.

More affordable homes have been appreciating much more quickly in the past 15 months than more expensive price segments.

Link to our full S&P Case-Shiller Index Report

All our reports, including dedicated analyses of the SF luxury home segment, and of the Marin, Sonoma and Diablo Valley-Lamorinda markets, can be found here: Market Trends & 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 the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value, and longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term. It is impossible to know how median prices apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis. All numbers in this report are to be considered approximate.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Real Estate: The Paragon Mid-Year Report

After hitting new monthly highs in May, San Francisco houses and condos hit new quarterly peaks in Q2 2017. However, median house price appreciation, $100,000 above its previous high, has been more dramatic over the past 2 years than median condo price appreciation, which has mostly plateaued due to the surge in new-project condos coming on market. As illustrated above, it is not unusual for median prices to peak for the year in Q2, and a significant part of this dynamic, besides the competitive heat of the market in springtime, is the large jump in high-end home sales seen at this time of year. More expensive home sales closed in Q2 than in any quarter in the past.

A Very Hot Spring
SF Median Sales Price Appreciation
by Quarter since 2012

San Francisco Luxury Homes Sales
by Month since 2014

Sales of luxury condos surged dramatically this spring to hit their highest number ever in June on a monthly basis, and in Q2 on a quarterly basis. Luxury house sales of $3m+ also barely exceeded the previous quarterly high in sales, but its component months were well below earlier monthly peaks. Note that condo figures do not include new luxury condo sales unreported to MLS.

Our complete report: The San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Building Cranes Everywhere

Approximately 64,000 housing units, 31 million sq.ft. of commercial space
& 25 hotels with 4685 rooms are now in the SF new construction pipeline –
with 5700 units, 10 million sq.ft. and 5 hotels currently under construction.

In the above chart on new housing construction, the main issue for the SF residential sales market is new condo construction and its effect on the supply and demand dynamic. Over 5000 new condos have been built in the past 4 to 5 years, with another 2000 expected to hit the market in the next 2 or 3. This surge of supply has been a substantial factor in the overall plateauing of condo median sales prices in the city since 2015, and some declines in those neighborhoods where new construction has been concentrated. However, it is true that new construction has been shifting much more toward building rental housing than condos intended for sale, which should help relieve pressure on condo prices and continue to exert downward pressure on rents. The rental scenario is discussed further at the end of this report.

Home Price Maps

We have just updated our median home price maps for the entire Bay Area by city, for San Francisco by neighborhood, and then specifically for the Marin, Lamorinda & Diablo Valley, and Wine Country markets. To access them, click on the map image below and then roll your cursor over the maps on the webpage.

SF Neighborhood Home Prices & Trends
House & Condo Prices by Bedroom Count

Our full collection of home price tables: Median Sales Prices by Bedroom Count

Appreciation Trends since 2005 for Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods

Sales by Price Segment within Neighborhoods

Median sales prices typically disguise a wide range of prices in the underlying individual home sales, which is what these charts illustrate.

Dozens more neighborhood analyses can be found here: San Francisco Neighborhood Prices & Trends. Or simply reply to this email if you would like information on a neighborhood or district not included above.

Bay Area Rent Trends

This is from our mid-year report on the multi-unit residential market, which can be found in its entirety here: Bay Area Apartment Market Report

San Francisco still has the highest rents in the nation (the light blue columns in the chart above), exceeding even Manhattan (in second place, delineated by the dark blue line), but they have been dropping since recent peaks in late 2015/early 2016. There are two main factors: 1) per Ted Egan, the chief economist of the City of San Francisco, high-tech hiring has been slowing since 2016, and 2) over 8000 new rental units have been built in the past 5 years, with at least 10,000 more expected to hit the market in the next 5. Generally speaking, rents around the Bay Area have either declined, in what had been the hottest markets, or seen their appreciation rates significantly slow, over the past year or so.

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way.

All our Bay Area real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

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

Crazy Hot Market – Again

As Buyers Compete for an Inadequate Supply of Home Listings,
San Francisco Median House Sales Price Soars to $1,500,000 in May

June 2017 Report

Home price appreciation, overbidding asking prices, supply and demand
dynamics, the SF luxury home market & new housing construction

Three Views of SF Median Sales Price Appreciation

Monthly House & Condo Median Sales Prices since 2012

We are not that enthusiastic about using monthly median prices, because San Francisco does not have that many sales in any given month (400-550), divided among 4 property types in 70-odd neighborhoods with different values. Monthly data can also be affected by short-term events, such as bad weather, a spike in interest rates, a new-condo project closing many sales, or a sudden political or economic event. All those factors mean that monthly prices can fluctuate dramatically without great meaningfulness as to changes in fair market value.

However, that being said, the spring market 2017 definitely became feverish and in May, the SF median house sales price jumped to $1,500,000, its highest point ever, about $100,000 (7%) above its previous monthly peak. The SF median condo sales price also hit a new peak at $1,200,000, $20,000 (1.7%) above its previous high. Note that it is not unusual for median sales price to spike in spring and then decline thereafter as the market starts to cool for summer (i.e. spring median prices do not immediately become the new normal). Other counties around the Bay Area also hit new peak median house sales prices in either April or May: $1.49m in San Mateo, $1.35m in Marin, $1.28m in Diablo Valley/Lamorinda, and $875,000 in Alameda.

Year-over-Year 3-Month Median Sales Prices
March-May, since 2005

Comparing March through May sales year-over-year, houses and condos also hit new peaks: the SF median house price increased 4.6% from the same period in 2016, and the SF median condo price increased 4.5%.

Rolling 3-Month Median Sales Prices since 2005

In both this chart and the one above it, one sees the plateauing of condo median prices in 2015-2016. The condo market cooled much more than the house market in 2016, mostly due to an influx of new construction condos coming on market just as high-tech hiring slowed.

Comparing Us and Them

San Francisco & National Appreciation Trends since 1987 through March 2017

The numbers on the Case-Shiller chart below all relate to a home price of 100 in January 2000: 50 denotes a home price 50% below then; 230 signifies a price 130% above January 2000.

This chart compares the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for the 5-county San Francisco Metro Area high-price-tier market (which reflects the city of San Francisco best) in the blue line and the United States market in the green line. It goes through March 2017, which is the last report Case-Shiller has released as of early June, so it will not reflect the appreciation of April and May.

The appreciation trend lines are really quite similar except for 3 periods: Right after the 1989 earthquake, the rise and crash of the dotcom bubble, and the recent high-tech boom in the Bay Area. Looking beyond the difference in appreciation rates since 2012, 70% vs. 40%, the difference in dollar appreciation in median house prices over the 5 years is enormous: over $500,000 for SF vs. $70,000 for the U.S.

Note on the chart that after a divergence, it is not unusual for the trend lines to converge once again.

Market Heat by San Francisco District

Overbidding House List Prices

The house market is hotter than the condo market, and the more affordable house market (affordable by San Francisco standards) has turned into a feeding frenzy this spring. By the measure of overbidding, the Sunset, Parkside and Golden Gate Heights district remains the hottest the city, as it was when we last measured in October 2016. These are stupendous median percentages over house asking prices. In the condo, co-op and TIC market, overbidding is at lower percentages, generally running in the 5-11% range, but going as low as 0% in the South Beach/SoMa district with its big influx of new construction inventory.


4 Measures of Supply & Demand Dynamics
January 2007 – May 2017

In each of the following charts, there are distinct changes reflecting 1) the market recession after the 2007 peak, 2) the 2012-2015 recovery, 3) some cooling in the market in 2016, and 4) the market heating up again in spring 2017. Note the differences in some of the trends lines between the house and condo market. San Francisco is the only county in the Bay Area where the market is dominated by condo listings: Thousands of new condos have been built since 2000 with many more in planning.

New Listings: The decline in the frequency of owners putting their homes on the market has played a critical role in pressurizing the markets in SF and, indeed, around the country.

Active Listings: The number of active listings on the market at any given time is determined by the number of sellers putting their homes on the market and the intensity of buyer demand jumping on those new listings (and taking them off the market).

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI) measures the interplay of supply and demand: The lower the MSI, the stronger the buyer demand as compared to the supply of listings available to purchase.

Average Days on Market: When demand increases, especially against a declining inventory, competitiveness between buyers increases and, typically, average days on market decline.

San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Here are 7 charts from the more than 20 new analyses we have posted to our luxury report, which can be found in its entirety here: San Francisco Luxury Home Market

The luxury home market in the city has mostly bounced back from the cooling it experienced late-2015 through 2016, but, generally speaking, is still not quite as strong as it was in spring 2015. The first chart below breaks out luxury home sales by dollar per square foot values. The 3 MLS sales for over $3000 per square foot in the past year were all in the new Pacific Heights luxury condo project, The Pacific.

San Francisco Luxury House Sales

House sales of $3m+ are concentrated mostly in 2 districts: The $3m to $5m market is dominated by the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district; the $5m+ market is dominated by the Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and Marina district. On a dollar per square foot basis, the best values are in the St. Francis Wood/Forest Hill area, an area of large, gracious houses on larger than usual lots.

The majority of luxury houses in San Francisco were built before 1920; the great majority before 1940.

San Francisco Luxury Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales

May 2017 saw the second highest monthly number of luxury condo sales ever, just below the number of sales in March 2015.

The biggest change in the luxury home market has been the dramatic drop, almost 50% year over year, in luxury condo sales reported to MLS in the greater South Beach/ SoMa/ Yerba Buena district, even as listing inventory there has hit new highs. This is the area where large, very expensive, high-rise projects continue to come on market, and, to some degree, they may be cannibalizing MLS sales in the resale market. Foreign buyers have played a significant role here in recent years and it is possible (we do not have hard data) that this demand has declined due to political issues here and in China. This is also where the unfortunate issues at the Millennium Tower (slight sinking and tilting; multiple lawsuits) are being extensively reported upon. Even though the construction issues at the Millennium are unique to itself, it may be that the storm of negative publicity is making affluent buyers more cautious about buying in the surrounding area. If so, that effect will presumably wear off in time, which may make this a good time to buy while inventory is high.

For the time being, the luxury condo market has shifted its center back to older, northern, highly affluent neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill.

New Housing Construction

Socketsite.com and the San Francisco Business Times performed excellent analyses recently of the state and pipeline of new housing construction in San Francisco, which we have illustrated in the two charts below. (Unfortunately, the annual Planning Department Housing Inventory Report, which usually comes out in May or June, has been delayed, probably until August or later.)

All our Bay Area real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

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

A Second Wind for San Francisco Real Estate?

Since the year began, preliminary data has been trickling in regarding the Bay Area and city economy, and the commercial and residential real estate markets in particular, that appears to indicate that things may be heating up again after clearly cooling in late 2015 and 2016 (subsequent to the increasingly torrid conditions in the 4 years prior). It is far too early to come to any definitive conclusions regarding the long-term significance of recent local or national shifts: Some of the data is not always consistent with such a conclusion; some of the data may indicate over-exuberance in the markets. Though always hesitant to make too much of short-term trends, we will take a look at a few angles on current developments. A recent article in the San Francisco Business Times (of similar title) describes what is going on in commercial real estate, while this report will primarily focus on the SF residential market.

Percentage of Home Listings Accepting Offers
by Property Type & Price Segment
Note: 12-month median sales prices in San Francisco are currently approximately $1,350,000 for houses and $1,100,000 for condos

One of the classic statistics of supply and demand is percentage-of-listings-accepting-offers: The higher the percentage, the hotter the market. In the chart above, we assessed San Francisco by property type and price segment, comparing this past April to the same months of 2015 and 2016. Note that spring 2015 was considered a particularly feverish market characterized by very high demand and very low inventory. Most of the segments saw a considerable cooling from April 2015 to April 2016. However, almost all the segments bounced back in April 2017, and, indeed, the lower price segments performed significantly better than 2 years ago.

Other standard measures of market heat such as average-days-on-market, and months-supply-of-inventory saw similar changes (approaching all-time lows), though we did not chart them for this report. On the ground, increased buyer competition for an inadequate supply of houses under $2 million and condos under $1.5 million, dovetails with the statistics. We have also heard that new-project condo sales have seen a considerable surge in buyer demand, but we cannot verify that.

It will be interesting to see if these dynamics continue through Q2, usually the most active selling season of the year, and, if so, how they will affect median sales prices: As seen in the second chart below, so far, there has been no appreciable year-over-year change. However, most listings accepting offers in April will not close sale until May, which will then be reflected in median sales price data available in June.

Year-over-Year SF Median Sales Price Comparison

Looking at 3-month rolling median sales prices in the chart above, comparing the February through April periods of 2015, 2016 and 2017, the SF median house price is relatively flat since last year, and the median condo price is relatively flat since 2015, after both saw rapid appreciation rates in the previous years. (At this point, the recent, minor percentage changes comparing 3-month periods should not be considered significant.) The flattening in condo median price for the additional year reflects the earlier and greater cooling that occurred in that market segment.

 

Comparative Neighborhood Values & Appreciation Trends

One of our readers suggested that it would be interesting to see multiple San Francisco neighborhoods illustrated on a single chart to compare home prices and appreciation rates. We got a little carried away and created more than 2 dozen graphs, of which 6 are below.

The extremely affluent Presidio Heights neighborhood has the largest houses and highest prices in the city, with next door Pacific Heights right behind.

All the charts in this series are here: San Francisco Neighborhood Comparisons, which also includes an SF neighborhood map.

If you are interested in a city neighborhood not included our full report, please let us know.

 

San Francisco Luxury Home Pricing

It has been clear over the past 2 years that the market for higher priced homes has cooled more than that for less expensive homes, and this is reflected in the first chart of this report. One of the big issues is that many luxury home sellers have simply been asking for more money than buyers are willing to pay: This is illustrated in the chart above which compares median sales prices with median asking prices, and then with the median prices of expired listings that were ultimately pulled from the market without selling.

 

Various Economic Indicators
Bay Area Employment & Unemployment Rates

The lowest unemployment rates in 15 years, but the picture in hiring and
new high-tech hiring in particular, is a bit unclear with recent shifts up and down.

S&P 500 Stock Index

Maybe some irrational exuberance at play since the election?

Housing Affordability

Perhaps the biggest social, economic and political issue in the Bay Area right now: Remaining close to all-time lows

San Francisco, Alameda & Marin Rents

Rents in all 3 counties ticked back up in Q1 after recent declines, but too much should not be made of this until substantiated over a longer term than 1 quarter

Mortgage Interest Rates

Up after the election, down since the new year began, rates remain extremely low by historical standards

S&P Case-Shiller House Price Index
Another Angle on Bay Area Home Price Appreciation Trends

According to Case-Shiller, which divides sales into 3 price tiers and measures Bay Area home price appreciation using its own proprietary algorithm (instead of median sales prices): In the period from April 2016 through February 2017 (its most recent report), less expensive homes appreciated by 7% during the period; mid-priced homes appreciated by 3%; and high-priced homes remained flat over the 11 months. Over the last year or two, the greatest pressure of buyer demand in the Bay Area has shifted to the more affordable home segment. Again, the first chart in this report highlights this dynamic in San Francisco.

C-S numbers all refer to a January 2000 home price set at 100. Thus, a reading of 249 signifies a price 149% over than of January 2000.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this report, or if assistance can be provided in any other way, please call or email.

Our full article on market cycles: 30+ Years of San Francisco Real Estate Cycles

All our analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, 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.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Real Estate in Early 2017 – Preliminary Indications of Market Direction

In recent months, there have been multiple reports in local media about Big Drops in San Francisco Home Prices! But, umm, we are not seeing it, neither on the ground in the hurly burly of buyers and sellers making deals, nor in the year-over-year quarterly statistics of supply and demand. News articles often make a big deal regarding the median sales price in a single month, but monthly data is often gravely deficient as an indicator, fluctuating up and down without much meaningfulness due to a number of factors. January and February are particularly bad months to draw conclusions from: The lowest sales volumes of the year, reflecting deals negotiated during the December-January market doldrums, with weather issues sometimes thrown in besides (for instance, in early 2017). Last but not least, the media often mixes property types to come up with a single median sales price, and that is generally not a good idea either.

This chart above illustrates San Francisco quarterly median sales price movements since 2012, which, as one can see, is also prone to significant fluctuation. In Q1 2017, the median house price basically plateaued year over year, while the median condo price actually increased from Q1 2016. (Historically, it is not unusual for Q1 median prices to drop from Q4 due to seasonal reasons, mainly the characteristic big slowdown of luxury home sales in mid-winter.) Q1 is the quarter of the year with the least number of closed sales, so too much should not be made of its data, but we have summarized annual Q1 dynamics for the past 4 years in the 2 charts below. For context, remember that 2014 and 2015 were particularly feverish markets. A much better assessment of the direction of the 2017 market will be possible after Q2 data is in: March through June is usually the most active selling season of the year.

Year-over-Year Comparisons of Q1 Statistics

Chart 1: San Francisco House Market Overview

Chart 2: San Francisco Condo Market Overview

Annual Median House Sales Price Trends:
5 Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods, since 2004

Generally speaking, in higher priced areas, median house prices have been plateauing or dropping a little, while the more affordable neighborhoods have continued to appreciate: This is a relatively common dynamic around the Bay Area.

The only way to assess value or appreciation for a particular home is by performing a comparative market analysis tailored to its specific location, condition and circumstances. Of all the neighborhoods graphed above, the Marina has by far the fewest house sales and the widest range of individual home sales prices, so it is most susceptible to median price fluctuations caused by other factors besides changes in value – for example, a substantial change in the listings available to purchase in a given year. We do not believe that the same Marina house selling in 2015 would have sold for 15% less in 2016: something less, perhaps; 15% less, very unlikely. This is a good illustration of the dangers of making too much of median sales price changes.

If you would like median home price trends for another San Francisco neighborhood, please let us know.

Average Sales Price to Original List Price Percentage

By Month: House, Condo, Co-op, TIC & 2-4 Unit Building Sales

As seen in this chart, overbidding typically heats up as the market moves into spring. So far, this year has been no exception, though the overbidding percentages are somewhat lower than in recent years.

Annual Market Trends

For clarity and meaningfulness, we much prefer annual trend analyses, with their much bigger data sets, and have recently completed a comprehensive review of virtually every statistic we could think of on that basis. Doing so allows us to stand back to see the broader view of what is happening in the market, instead of getting obsessed by what happens to be in front of our shoe. Looking at annual trends, virtually all the market statistics illustrate the same general conclusion: The market became progressively stronger coming out of the 2009-2011 housing recession; the frenzy peaked in 2015; and the market cooled a bit in 2016, condos more so than houses. This is a generalization of the macro-trend: Different market segments have been going in somewhat different directions and speeds in the city and around the Bay Area in the past year or so.

Below are a few of the many analyses. The full review is here: Long-Term Annual Trends in San Francisco Real Estate

First 2 charts: The hotter the market, the greater the percentage of listings that sell quickly, and the more ferocious the competitive bidding on those listings.

Even with some cooling, the overbidding on appealing new listings has remained quite dramatic: Our current percentages over asking would stun anyone from almost any other market in the country. (However, underpricing has also become a more common strategy here than in other markets.)

Annual Trends Chart 3: As a market begins to cool, the number of listings that expire or are withdrawn without selling increases. This is typically due to increasing supply, softening demand, sellers looking for more money than buyers are willing to pay, or all three.

Annual Trends Charts 4 & 5: As new condos and new rental apartments came on the market in greater numbers in the past year, it cooled those two market segments, much more so than the house segment, of which hardly any are built new in the city anymore. (The more affordable house market in the city has remained remarkably hot.) The rental market was affected most as more new rental units came on market than at any time since WWII: Though SF still has the highest rents in the country, they have dropped from their peak in 2015.

Chart 6: To a large degree due to big changes in tenant eviction and condo conversion laws, the TIC market has gone through a large decline in sales volume. It is also true that after decades of turning multi-unit buildings into condos and TICs, the supply of such properties available to do so has declined. Generally speaking, TIC median sales prices plateaued from 2015 to 2016 at about 14% below the median condo price.

San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Three sample charts from our big report on the high-priced home segment. Generally speaking, the luxury market has cooled more than the more affordable segments, and the luxury condo market has cooled more than the luxury house market. This is mostly due to the recent surge of new-construction luxury condos onto the market in the city.

The first two charts below are snapshots of either the house or condo segment of the luxury market in two of our major districts.

This next chart illustrates one of the bigger changes in SF high-end home markets. Many more listings, resale luxury condos in particular, are expiring or being withdrawn from the market without selling.

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

Interest Rates

Constantly shifting economic and political factors continue to affect rates: Mortgage interest rates are significantly up since the election, fluctuating up and down since the year began, but still far below historical norms. This is a factor everyone is watching carefully because of its potential impact on affordability, already a big issue in the Bay Area.

Apartment Building (Multi-Unit Residential) Sales

We have also released our quarterly report on the multi-unit residential property markets of San Francisco, Marin and Alameda Counties: Bay Area Apartment Building Market. Below is one of its many analyses.

All our reports can be found on our redesigned website: Paragon Market Reports

Using, Understanding and Evaluating Real Estate Statistics

If you will forgive a little celebrating on our part: In the last two quarters, Paragon sold more San Francisco residential and multi-unit residential real estate than any other brokerage (as reported to MLS, per Broker Metrics), even though we have far fewer agents than many of our competitors.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this report, or if assistance can be provided in any other way, please call or email.

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