House and Condo Values – Updated Charts

Two updated charts for house and condo values by selected district or neighborhood.



21 La Salle Avenue


21 La Salle Avenue
Piedmont, CA
Offered at $2,750,000

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.


957 Grove Street

Seller Represented
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Noe Valley Wine Walk – August 22, 2013


The 3rd Annual Noe Valley Wine Walk on Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 is a unique and affordable event staged along the stretch of artsy shops, intimate restaurants, friendly bars and cafes. Victorian houses have been converted into a neighborhood full of organic produce, smoothies, new age music and paint-it-yourself pottery stores that will, during the Wine Walk, offer wine samples, finger foods and special treats.

Experience the flavor of Noe Valley and take advantage of the free cable car shuttle making designated stops to pick up and drop off attendees during the event. The tasting event will be located throughout 24th Street from Diamond to Chattanooga, 4:00 to 8:00 PM. Look for Wine Walk signs posted on location fronts indicating participating businesses. Admission fees include a souvenir tasting glass for bottomless tasting during the event.

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM PST
Noe Valley – 24th Street from Diamond to Chattanooga
Advance tickets are $20, On-site tickets are $25

For more information go to

A changing market? Have SF home prices reached a plateau?

The market usually does slow down at least a little in mid-summer – a question has come up: is this possible slowdown caused by listing agents continually pushing the envelope on pricing for new listings or pricing to the last, highest, frenzied sale, a move that buyers are now finally starting to resist? It may be, that without buyer demand really slackening for homes deemed “reasonably” priced, we have come to a point, at least for the time being, that buyers are no longer willing to pay new tippet-top peak prices.


Have prices reached a plateau? Monthly median price stats are subject to fluctuation without great meaningfulness (which is why I prefer quarterly or longer periods), but after the big jump early in the year, the median sales price has been within a 4-5% spread (not a huge spread for monthly home prices) for 5 months, Including a drop from April-May. The idea of a plateau contradicts the recent Case-Shiller Index report, but the Index is about 3-5 months behind current realities, San Francisco is only a tiny part of the Index and the city has outperformed C-S since the turnaround began – having appreciated so much faster than other places, we may be due a flattening of appreciation before other areas. And that also may be true for different SF neighborhoods – since they have rebounded at different speeds, some may be plateauing and others are still appreciating.

At this point, this is speculation and it won’t be clear for a while – these things only become clear in retrospect – because spring median prices sometimes spike and summer prices drop a little as some of the higher end market checks out for the holidays. And median sales prices are not perfect correlations of changes in market value, being affected by a number of other factors, including seasonality. Anecdotally, we are hearing stories of the market not responding to homes priced at the top (even if “justified” by another recent sale), and also stories in which the winning bidder offered a huge amount, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, more than what the second highest buyer was willing to pay – i.e. the winning buyer ultimately paid much more than necessary to win the deal.

The number of expired/withdrawn listings is also increasing, though not to some crazy level yet.

So it’s worth considering, that we “may” have reached a plateau or bumped into a ceiling, transitioning into a somewhat different market. If we are in a transition, the market will be schizophrenic for a while: some buyers acting one way and another growing group of buyers acting another.

Summarizing the charts above and below:

  • The San Francisco Median Home Sales Price has leveled off, dropping somewhat from an April-May peak. (Chart above)
  • Buyer demand is still extremely high as measured by Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers.
  • Inventory is still extremely low as measured by Months Supply of Inventory and Units for Sale.
  • The number of Expired & Withdrawn listings climbed in July and was about 19% higher than July of 2012 (though less than half the number of July 2011). The main reason why listings expire or are withdrawn from the market is that buyers have concluded they are priced too high.
  • The July snapshot makes it clear that the market is still very strong by any reasonable measure, even if it might be on the cusp of a transition to a somewhat less fevered state.
  • Demand, as measured by percentage of listings accepting offers, is still very high:


    Months Supply of Inventory is still very low:


    The number of homes for sale is still very low:


    The number of expired and withdrawn listings has been increasing:


    Looking at July’s sales, mostly ratified in June, the market is still very hot:


From our NorCal network : The Artisan Group


215 San Carlos Avenue
Piedmont, CA
Offered at $1,995,000

For more information about this property or a referral to other areas of Northern California, please contact me.

Heat Map of Changes since 2006-2008 Peak Values

Heat Map of San Francisco Median Home Price Changes

Percentage Changes since 2006-2008 Peak of Market
Range from 25% Below to 25% Above Previous Peak Values

August 2013 Market Report


This heat map compares 2013 2nd quarter or 1st half median home sales prices – for houses, condos, co-ops and TICs combined – with those at the peak value time prior to the recent market recovery. Previous peak value times vary by neighborhood: typically, the least affluent neighborhoods hit peak prices in 2006 and also fell the most, percentage-wise, during the crash, falling 25% to 50%. These neighborhoods were most affected by the subprime and distressed-property sales crises. The mid-affluent neighborhoods peaked in 2007, and usually declined in value in the 20% to 25% range. And the most affluent areas reached peak values last, in the first half of 2008 prior to the September 2008 crash: Their fall in value ranged approximately 15% to 20% from 2008 peak to 2010-2011 nadir.

Generally speaking, when the market began to turn around in late 2011/early 2012, the last neighborhoods to fall were the first to recover, followed by the mid-affluent and then the less affluent areas. This link goes to our full report and an explanation of the analysis:
Heat Map Report

2All-Cash Home Sales
All-cash buyers come in three main categories: the first group consists of investors buying foreclosed-upon properties, often during trust-deed auctions on the “courthouse steps.” The Blackrock Group alone has purchased over 20,000 distressed homes across the country, which they usually fix up and rent out. Other investors buy, fix up and re-sell, or just buy, wait and flip (as the market recovers). The second category of all-cash buyers consists of people who always purchase their homes without financing: These often very affluent buyers have always been around to one extent or another. And the last category of all-cash buyers are those who prefer to finance their home purchases but have enough cash available to buy without financing: In the hope of winning in a competitive bidding situation, they make all-cash offers in order to appeal to sellers. This link goes to our full report:
All-Cash Buyers

3Homes With and Without Parking
The vast majority of San Francisco home sales include at least one on-site parking space in the sale, and 80% – 90% of buyers put parking on their must-have list when searching for a new home. That doesn’t mean that a home without parking cannot sell at a good price, but it does mean that on average it will take somewhat longer to sell, as well as selling at a lesser price than a comparable home with parking. It’s difficult to calculate the exact value differential between homes with and without on-site parking for a number of reasons. This link goes to our full report:
The Value of Parking

4Renting vs. Buying in San Francisco
We’ve updated two analyses regarding the financials of renting vs. buying in San Francisco. This is the first part of our calculations regarding 2-bedroom units, comparing the median condo sales price with the average apartment asking rent. (We also did one for 3-bedroom houses.) These calculations depend to a large degree on one’s financial assumptions and projections. For our complete analysis:
Rent vs. Buy – 2-Bedroom

5Largest SF Home Sales YTD
Looking at SF home sales reported to MLS by July 31, this chart shows the largest sales by neighborhood for properties selling for $3,500,000 or more. This link goes to our chart on sales below $3.5m:
Largest Home Sales, Chart 2

6Victorian & Edwardian Architecture in San Francisco
In case you missed our recent article using information and photos by SF architect James Dixon, here is a fascinating timeline and this link goes to the complete, well-illustrated article on the different Victorian and Edwardian architectural home styles prevalent in the city:
Victorian-Edwardian Architecture

7San Francisco Transportation Report
We recently stumbled across the annual report of the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and charted some of its most interesting facts. This chart illustrates the (staggering) number of citations issued by violation, and this link goes to all 5 of our charts:
SF MTA Report

Bay Area Apartment Market Report – Paragon Commercial Brokerage

The San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Building Market

The Paragon Commercial Brokerage – Reis Reports
2nd Quarter 2013 Market Update

“Welcome to what is arguably one of the worst cities in America to be a renter, but among the best to be a landlord and apartment investor. San Francisco led the top-50 U.S. metropolitan areas in average rent growth during the second quarter, jumping 7.8% to $2498, while Oakland was No. 2 and San Jose was in fifth place. The rent increases have investors rushing to purchase existing properties.”

The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2013, “Bay Area Rally Sends Rents Soaring”

The West Bay area of metro San Francisco (SF, Marin and San Mateo counties) continued to boom through 2012 and into 2013, even as it became increasingly expensive. The 136,980-unit market-rate investment grade San Francisco apartment market has rock bottom vacancy and high rents. While the pace of population growth is not high in the densely developed and expensive West Bay, it is still solidly positive at an estimated 9,770 in 2012 and a forecast 11,270 in 2013. Even higher increases are predicted for later years by Moody’s It seems people will pay any price to live in San Francisco, as long as a growing number of advanced, high paying jobs are available.

The East Bay apartment market (Alameda & Contra Costa Counties) also tightened further in early 2013, although rent gains remained more moderate.

The Bay Area has a long history of boom and bust dating back to the Gold Rush of 1849 and continuing through the dot-com bubble and bust little more than a decade ago. When the previous tech boom ended, not only did the number of jobs plunge but so did the population. Moody’s does not expect a repeat. Instead, employment is forecast to keep growing at a somewhat slower pace, surpassing the 2000 employment peak some time in 2015. Reis predicts a leveling off of the current strong conditions in the apartment market, rather than a frenzy followed by a collapse. The well timed arrival of new supply will keep rent gains in check, while pent up demand will ensure the units are absorbed, barring an unexpected economic shock from outside the Bay Area.

The first three charts below pertain to San Francisco County alone and then only those listings and sales reported to MLS. The specific numbers should be considered approximate, but the trend lines apply to and illustrate the overall Bay Area market: low supply + high demand = higher prices.

The supply of investment properties available to purchase as listed by SF MLS has dropped by over 50% over the past 3 years.

While supply has plunged, demand has soared as measured by this statistic, percentage of listings accepting offers.

The supply and demand dynamic, super-charged by improving economic conditions, rapidly rising rents and extremely low interest rates, has led to a rapidly appreciating market. This chart tracks average dollar per square foot values.

In the analyses below, the San Francisco Metro Area is comprised of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, while the Oakland-East Bay Metro Area consists of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. When mixing many buildings of very different size, quality and location, all the statistics should be considered very generalized and approximate. The county of San Francisco itself typically has significantly higher rents and values than the other counties.








In the West-Bay SF Metro Area, the Civic Center/Downtown submarket led the rest in units sold over the past four quarters at 1,370, and dollar value of sales at $266 million. Among submarkets with substantial sales price per unit, Marina/Pacific Heights leads in price per unit at $478,442. Generally speaking, as the market appreciates, Gross Rent Multiples are heading higher and Cap Rates lower.







For the 3-county, west SF Metro Area, 2,300 apartment units are expected to complete construction in 2013, followed by 3,600 in 2014. The three years to follow are expected to see less new supply, but still more than 1,000 units completed in each year. Whatever number of apartments is built, however, Reis expects net absorption to match it as pent up demand is met. The only question is at what rent level.



In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, apartment developers are re-starting projects shelved during the recession, and the under construction total has risen to about 1,760 market-rate units. There are also 1,226 subsidized and senior housing units under construction. Relatively few units, however, are expected to complete construction this year, allowing the vacancy rate to fall to a low point of 2.5% at year-end.






The 15,771-unit Civic Center/Downtown submarket has a first quarter 2013 vacancy rate of 3.5% and an average asking rent of $1,604 per month, the lowest among eleven submarkets according to Reis. The 417-unit second phase of Trinity Plaza was projected to complete construction in summer 2013. The 750-unit Crescent Heights broke ground in January 2013 for completion in April 2014.

In the 9,787-unit Russian Hill/Embarcadero submarket, the vacancy rate is 2.5%, and the average asking rent is $2,767 per month, the highest in the West Bay area according to Reis.

In the 8,084-unit Marina/Pacific Heights submarket, the first quarter vacancy rate is reported by Reis at 2.0%, the lowest in San Francisco proper, with an average asking rent at $2,368 per month. “The Marina, the tract with the highest creative class concentration in San Francisco, has a reputation for being chock-full of young former fraternity members,” according to the Atlantic Cities. “As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, ‘Today the apartment buildings, shops, and restaurants seem to be bursting at their seams with beautiful, young and fit 20- and 30-somethings.”

The 16,018-unit South of Market (SoMa) submarket has a vacancy rate of 5.0%, highest among the submarkets, and an average asking rent of $2,517 per month, the second highest market-wide. In the close vicinity of both the financial district and the high-tech, bio-tech hubs in the city, this is a very strong market. This submarket has dominated new supply recently, but while 1,032 units remain under construction here, new supply is spreading to other areas.

The 8,381-unit North Marin submarket has a vacancy rate of just 1.5%, the lowest among the submarkets, and an average asking rent of $1,608 per month, the second lowest according to Reis.

In the 14,713-unit Central San Mateo submarket, the first quarter vacancy rate is reported by Reis at 2.9%, with the average asking rent given at $2,006 per month, highest in the suburbs.

Outside Lands Festival TBA


The Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival takes place on August 9th through 11th with dozens of bands and attractions. From singer-songwriters to DJs, jazz acts and cutting edge rock bands, all major music movements are celebrated alongside a host of local musicians, food vendors and visual artists representing San Francisco’s vibrant cultural community.

This green-conscious event directly benefits the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department with a special annual donation. The Outside Lands Festival is become one of the ultimate summer destinations for live music, food and wine fans. The fact that it takes place in the great city of San Francisco ensures an unparalleled entertainment experience. Come on out and join the fun!

August 9th through 11th
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
General admission tickets

For more information go to

SF Transportation Statistics

We ran across the annual fact sheet published by the SFMTA and thought it interesting enough to justify a few charts. This data came from the November 2012 fact sheet. As context for the numbers, the population of the city is about 807,000 and the physical area is about 48 square miles.

Our favorite fact learned from the MTA report is that there is a specific citation for “driving through a parade” — hopefully performed very slowly and carefully. And we suppose a terrific number of unmanned cars must be rolling down our hills like golf balls, because there were 65,000 tickets issued for not curbing one’s wheels on an incline.