Newsletter

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

What Costs How Much Where in San Francisco

Below are 3 charts from our updated 9-chart report that breaks down which neighborhoods one is most likely to find a home within a specific price range, whether house or condo. The report covers homes from under $1 million to over $5 million.

If you want to buy a house under a million dollars, one is now mostly limited to the neighborhoods that run across the southern border of San Francisco.

The full report is here: San Francisco Neighborhood Affordability

What Can I Buy for $1,200,000 or $2,000,000?
Below are illustrations of the wide range of homes (and, to some degree, lifestyles) one might buy at two different price points in the city. The higher a home is located on the vertical axis of the charts, the greater its square footage. (Note that the bathroom specifications can be a little screwy, for example 1.3 or 1.7 baths, because these are averages of homes sold at these approximate price points.)

$1,200,000 is approximately the median home price in San Francisco if one combines both houses and condos. For that price, one could buy a 4-bedroom, 2135 square foot house in Ingleside or Oceanview, or a 3-bedroom, 1566 square foot house in Outer Parkside, or a 2-bedroom, 1070 square foot condo in Pacific Heights.

For $2 million, one could purchase a gracious 4-bedroom, 2650 square foot, detached house on a large lot in Forest Hill, or a classic 2-level, 3-bedroom, 1900 square foot condo with a garden in the Marina, or a 2-bedroom, 1350 square foot, luxury high-rise condo with spectacular views in South Beach.

Quick Market Update
December through February constitute the slowest sales months of the year and are subject to significant seasonal issues, so coming to definitive conclusions about where the market is heading based on their data is difficult. However, for what it is worth, comparing the 3-month period to the same period a year ago, the median house sales price at $1,290,000 is up 4.5% and the median condo sales price at $1,050,000 is down 4.1%. As mentioned in earlier reports, the big dynamic affecting the condo market has been the surge of new-construction inventory hitting the market in the past year, just as demand started to soften. The inventory of new condos for sale is now at its highest level in 7 years, and, not surprisingly, this is impacting the supply and demand dynamic for condos, especially in those districts where new construction is concentrated. On the other hand, the inventory of house listings continues to remain at record lows, keeping that market, especially its more affordable segments, quite competitive.

This chart below reflects the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the 5-county metro area house market, going through the end of 2016. It illustrates how in 2016, more affordably-priced houses continued to appreciate significantly, while the most expensive segment basically plateaued. Generally speaking, this is a common dynamic around the Bay Area.

San Francisco Median Home Price Trends since 1994
For a longer-term perspective

New Listings Begin Pouring onto the Market Again

The period of March through May is usually the most active selling season of the year, and we will soon have more conclusive indications of where the 2017 market is headed. This next chart illustrates the typical, dramatic surge of new inventory that fuels sales during this season.

San Francisco Home Sales with Views
SF is a city known for its wide variety of gorgeous views, which can add substantially to the value of a home so graced. Of all the house sales in 2016, only 88 reported having a Golden Gate Bridge view, and some of those were peek-a-boo views (i.e. if you lean out the bathroom window on the top floor) or roof deck views. A full-on, panoramic view of the GG Bridge from Pacific Heights adds over $1 million to the median house price there. Unsurprisingly, condos have the most, and most spectacular, views due to high-rise condo projects.

San Francisco Home Sales by Bedroom Count

Renting vs. Buying in San Francisco

Comparing the purchase, with 20% down, of a 2-bedroom/2-bath condo with the rental of a comparable apartment in San Francisco.

Every year or so, we like to update this analysis using current median sales prices and average rents for comparable 2-bedroom condos and apartments. Rent vs. buy calculations can be performed a wide variety of ways, and results will depend on your own financial circumstances and economic projections, which you should review with your accountant. There is a versatile calculator published by The New York Times, where one can play with all the financial factors involved: NYT Rent vs. Buy Calculator. Our analysis represents simply one scenario, which is meant to be more of an invitation to perform your own calculations than a definitive conclusion on the subject.

Depending on your circumstances, plans and predictions for the future, renting may well be the best choice for you. However, low interest rates, high rents, loan principal pay-down over time, inflation and appreciation rates, and the large tax benefits that accrue to homeownership typically give a large long-term financial advantage to buying, if you have the funds for the cash down-payment. (Of course, as with any investment, financial results will ultimately depend on your purchase and sale dates.) This next chart compares net monthly housing costs between renting and buying after tax deductions and principal repayment are accounted for. Our full report goes into much greater detail, such as the accumulation of wealth, in the form of home equity, over time. Please contact me if you would like a copy.

Other recent Paragon reports you might find interesting:

A Comprehensive Survey of the 2016 Market in San Francisco
San Francisco Luxury Homes Market Report
A Survey of Real Estate Markets around the Bay Area
Bay Area & San Francisco Home Price Maps

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

Real Estate Cycles, Interest Rates & Neighborhood Appreciation Trends

The first chart below is a simplified graph based on the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index illustrating percentage increases and decreases in prices for houses in the higher-price tier. The markets in San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Lamorinda/Diablo Valley are generally dominated by high-price tier home sales. (If you wish our chart of market cycles for low-price or mid-price homes, please let us know.)

All the short-term fluctuations up and down have been removed so that the chart only reflects major turning points in the market. This chart is a general overview for 5 Bay Area counties, and there have been significant variations between market trends in different neighborhoods, cities and counties.

San Francisco Median Sales Price Trends
since 1994

Year-over-year median sales prices for SF condos and TICs have plateaued in 2016, while median house prices have continued to appreciate, albeit at an appreciably slower rate than the previous 4 years.

Note that the Case-Shiller Index does not measure home price appreciation by changes in median sales price (as in the second chart above), but uses its own special algorithm, which it believes adjusts for factors that often affect overall median sales prices, but are not related to changes in fair market value of specific properties.

Our complete report on cycles is here: 30+ Years of SF Bay Area Real Estate Cycles. This is by far the most widely read report on our website.

Short & Long-Term Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Interest rate movements are much in the news since the election, and below are 2 charts illustrating short-term and long-term trends. Interest rates can be very volatile and affected by a wide range of economic and political factors: Rate changes are famously difficult to predict. Most experts believe the Federal Reserve Bank will raise its benchmark rate, for the first time in 12 months, later this month. Needless to say, mortgage interest rates play a large role in ongoing housing costs, except for buyers paying all cash.

Our post-election report is here: Interest Rates & Housing Affordability

Average Dollar per Square Foot Trends by District
San Francisco HOUSE Sales, 2011-2016 YTD

Realtors divide the city into 10 different districts. For example, Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina constitute District 7. The central cluster of neighborhoods surrounding Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys make up District 5. The broad area running south of Market all the way to Inner Mission and Bernal Heights is District 9, and so on. Some districts contain neighborhoods of relatively similar values, such as D5 and D7, and others contain neighborhoods of significantly varying values: For example, D8 includes both Russian Hill and the Tenderloin. In any case, using districts allows us to look at what is broadly going on in the city without breaking out the 70-odd individual neighborhoods. (If you would like data specific to a single neighborhood, please call or email.)

A San Francisco neighborhood and district map is included at the bottom of this report.

Like all value statistics, average dollar per square foot is not a perfect indicator of changes in home values. It can be affected by a variety of factors to create anomalous fluctuations; square footage can be measured different ways; and a fair percentage of home sales do not publish square footage at all, so that the calculations can only be made on those that do.

Very generally speaking, the more affordable house districts in the city (and around the Bay Area) have continued to see significant appreciation in average dollar per square foot values in 2016, while the more expensive neighborhoods have plateaued or even ticked down a little. However, one should not make too much of small percentage changes up or down over the shorter term. Sometimes, one has to allow a trend to develop instead of jumping to dramatic conclusions about where the market is headed based on limited data. 2016 YTD statistics may well change when the last 3 weeks of the year are included in the analysis.

Average Dollar per Square Foot Trends by Realtor District
San Francisco CONDO Sales, 2011-2016 YTD

The condo market has generally softened more than the house market and most of the district condo markets have plateaued in average dollar per square foot values or dropped a little. Much of this has to do with both a cooling in the high-tech boom (lessening demand) and a surge of new-condo projects coming on market (increasing supply). The district with the most significant decline, 5%, has been District 9, a large district encompassing SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Inner Mission: A large majority of SF new-condo construction is occurring in this area, and thus more definitively shifting the supply and demand dynamic.

On these charts, the only district showing a significant increase was District 2, Sunset-Parkside, but there are really too few condo sales in D2 for the data to be statistically reliable. District 7, Pacific Heights-Marina, saw a small percentage increase, but its 2016 average dollar per square foot value was affected by a sizable number of sales of newly-built, ultra-luxury condos, with very high values. If those sales were deleted, D7 would also have seen a small decline.

None of the declines in either house or condo dollar per square foot values yet suggest anything approaching a market crash. So far the changes appear to be moderate adjustments to shifts in the local economy, increasing new construction, and/or affordability issues at the higher end of the market.

Median House Price Trends by Neighborhood

Substantial median house price appreciation has continued in more affordable San Francisco neighborhoods, as illustrated in the first chart below

Looking at the next chart for median house price changes in higher-price neighborhoods, some important caveats apply: First of all, some of these neighborhoods, such as St. Francis Wood, Cole Valley or Inner Richmond, do not see many house sales in any given year. This makes price fluctuations more common without necessarily relating to changes in fair market value. (Do we believe that Inner Richmond houses suddenly appreciated 20% in 2016? No.) In Pacific Heights, the issue is both not that many sales and that the range of MLS sales prices is so huge, from $2,000,000 to $22,000,000 in 2016. This can cause median prices to jump up or down without great meaningfulness: Sometimes, just one or two additional sales can make the median price in a given period change dramatically.

Statistically speaking, the most reliable data in the chart below is for Noe & Eureka Valleys, which have a high number of sales: The median sales price there has basically plateaued from 2015 to 2016.

San Francisco Neighborhood Map
with Realtor Districts Delineated

All our reports can be found here: San Francisco & Bay Area Market Reports

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, and longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term. It is impossible to know how value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

Multiple Angles on a Changing San Francisco Market

Median sales prices usually jump in autumn, to a large degree because of the seasonal increase in luxury home sales, and that is what happened in October. The combined house and condo median sales price was up 6% from October 2015, but substantially unchanged from the previous peak median prices achieved in spring 2015 and spring 2016.

San Francisco Median Home Sales Prices

median-price_combined-sfd-condo_by-month_bar-chart

Median sales prices usually jump in autumn, to a large degree because of the seasonal increase in luxury home sales, and that is what happened in October. The combined house and condo median sales price was up 6% from October 2015, but substantially unchanged from the previous peak median prices achieved in spring 2015 and spring 2016.

Click on the map below to access our updated Bay Area & SF home price maps
bay-area-home-price-map_screenshot_v2

Overview

The six weeks from mid-September to Halloween constitute the heart of the relatively short autumn selling season, with the market typically going into semi-hibernation from Thanksgiving through mid-January. (Sales still occur during this period and it can be an excellent time to buy with the big drop in competition.) Generally speaking, this autumn experienced further cooling in SF market conditions: October saw significant year-over-year declines in accepted-offer and closed-sale activity, and significant increases in price reductions and listings expiring without selling. Condos appear to be most affected on all these counts, with some decline in condo values: This situation is certainly being exacerbated by new condo projects coming on market at the same time that buyer demand has been softening.

The house market has continued to see declines in listing inventory and to shrink as a percentage of total home sales, thus becoming a scarcer commodity. It has performed much better, especially in more affordable neighborhoods. And sales of luxury houses suddenly spiked dramatically in October, though this appears to have been mostly driven by a huge surge in such listings in September. This jump in expensive house sales drove the median house sales price to its highest point ever in October, to just over $1.4 million. The condo median sales price in October, at $1,150,000 was above that of October 2015, but a tad below its all-time high in June. Please note that median sales prices are not perfect measures of changes in fair market value, since they fluctuate for a number of reasons, including seasonality and significant changes in the inventory of homes for sale.

Bay Area Case-Shiller Home Price Index
Recent price changes by property type and price segment

Case-Shiller Index numbers all refer to a January 2000 price of 100, and track appreciation since then. Thus 243 on the chart signifies a price 143% above that of January 2000.

case-shiller_low-mid-high_short-term

As mentioned in earlier reports, the highest pressure of buyer demand has shifted in the past year toward more affordable homes, and that is now showing up in the different price movements of low, middle and high-price tier houses. The Case-Shiller Index does not measure median sales price changes, but has its own special algorithm to determine same-home appreciation. This short-term chart illustrates how lower-priced houses have continued to appreciate rapidly, while mid-price and high-price houses have recently more or less plateaued, and condo prices have declined. The Bay Area Index for August 2016 was published in late October.

Chart: Long-Term, Case-Shiller Bay Area Home Price Trends

Link to our complete S&P Case-Shiller Index report

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales
Houses of $3 million+/ Condos, Co-ops & TICs of $2 million+

luxhome_sfd-3m_condo-etc-2m_sales_by-month

This report will generally consider houses selling for $3m or more, and condos, co-ops and TICs selling for $2m or more, as constituting the luxury home segment in the city. They total just under 10% of total home sales. For the ultra-luxury designation, houses are bumped up to $5m or more, and condos, co-ops and TICs to $3m or more. These price segments total 2.6% of total home sales.

Pursuant to a big jump in new high-end home listings in September, luxury house sales in October, suddenly hit their highest point in many years, if not ever. This is illustrated in the red line in the chart above. Luxury condo sales reported to MLS, as seen in the blue line, were higher than in October 2015, but far below peaks hit in previous spring selling seasons. However, this does not count new-project luxury condo listings unreported to MLS, which are playing an increasingly large role in the market and creating substantial competition for resale luxury-condo listings.

Below are 2 charts breaking out luxury home sales by city district.

lux-house-sales_3m-plus-by-neighborhood

lux-condo-co-op-tic-sales_2m-plus-by-neighborhood

Additional Chart: New high-end listings coming on market

Further Perspective

The past 14 months has seen the Chinese stock market crash, the oil price crash, Brexit, high U.S. financial market volatility, a slowdown in the Bay Area high-tech boom, and enormous election-related anxiety. It is difficult to tell exactly how these events may have affected real estate markets. However, despite significant affordability issues and the transition to less heated market conditions – as illustrated in the analyses of this report – so far, we have seen no sign of anything approaching an impending crash in our local market.

Selected Real Estate Market Statistics
Year-over-year changes by property type and price segment

Listings vs. Sales: The overall inventory of house listings has persisted in declining, while house sales are basically even year-over-year. Condo inventory continues to climb (without including new project condos not listed in MLS), while sales have been dropping.

fs-sold_sfd-condo-etc-yoy-comparison

Percentage of Sales over Asking Price: Condos saw dramatic drops in this metric, illustrating a significant decline in buyer demand and competition. Overall, houses have seen a negligible decline, maintaining a very high percentage of sales over asking price. Luxury houses, as mentioned before, experienced a stronger October market than last year.

over-asking-percentage-of-listings_sfd-condo_lux-reg

Median Percentage of Sales Price over Final List Price: All market segments saw year-over-year drops as buyers refused to overbid list prices on the scale of previous years. However, the general house segment still saw a 9.3% median overbid of list price, which is huge, even considering that some agents are consciously underpricing their listings. The other segments, with overbid percentages shrinking toward zero, are seeing a much greater quantity of sales negotiated below list price. And this does not include the increasing number of listings that are simply expiring, i.e. with no sale taking place.

sp-lp_percentages_sfd-condo_reg-lux_yoy-comp

Sales Price to Original List Price Percentage Overview
All San Francisco residential sales

sp-op_all-sales-combined_by-month-bar_chart

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI): MSI measures how long it would take to sell the current inventory of listings for sale at the average annual rate of sale. All segments ticked up, indicating some market softening, but the general house market is still well within seller market territory. The biggest change is in the luxury condo market, where inventory has been hitting new highs, while sales have generally been declining, thus putting the segment in buyer market territory. Again, these figures do not include the large number of new-project listings and sales unreported to MLS, which would probably increase the condo MSI readings.

msi-yoy-comparison

Average Condo Dollar per Square Foot Values by Era of Construction: Newer condos sell for higher average dollar per square foot values than older condos. Generally speaking, in 2016 there has been a tick down in this measure of value, which, as seen in the chart at the beginning of this report, correlates with the conclusion of the Case-Shiller Index as well. According to The Mark Company, which specializes in the marketing of new-construction condo projects (for which statistics are usually not available), average dollar per square foot values for brand new condos have dropped about 8% over the past year. This would presumably reflect the fierce competition between projects to sell out their inventories of units.

condo_avgdolsqft_by-era-of-construction_2007-present_bar-chart

The two following charts are from our recent report on the Bay Area Apartment Building market, mostly focusing on San Francisco, Alameda and Marin Counties.

Median Sales Prices for Multi-Unit Properties
by building size and submarket

10-16_invest_median-sales-price_2-4_5-15_by-submarket

Average Asking Rents by Bay Area County

avg-asking-rent_bay-area-counties-cities

Rent rates in San Francisco have been dropping in 2016 after peaking in 2015, with estimates of the decline generally running in the range of 3% to 6.5%, but with some city rental agents saying that certain districts have seen slumps of more than 10%. We believe there are 3 big factors at work: a rush of large, newly built apartment buildings coming on market; a softening of demand as hiring trends have fluctuated; and affordability issues that have caused more prospective renters to simply turn away from living in the city, their first choice, and look elsewhere. However, even with the recent decline, the city still has the highest rents in the country.

Link to our full Apartment Building Market report

Link to our full Rent Trends report

Our Best Autumn Ever

We hope you will forgive our celebrating the fact that Paragon, which opened its doors in 2004, represented buyers and sellers in closing more in San Francisco home sales in October than any other brokerage. [Total dollar volume residential sales reported to MLS, per Broker Metrics.]

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 value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco’s Hottest, Most Competitive Neighborhood Market

Since the market recovery began in 2012, various districts have taken the lead as the hottest markets in San Francisco: The affluent and prestigious Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district and Pacific Heights-Marina district led the recovery out of recession. Later South Beach/SoMa, Hayes Valley and, especially the Mission, went white hot as the high-tech boom surged (though, honestly, high appreciation rates became general throughout the city). In mid-2015, price appreciation in many the more expensive and fashionable districts started to slow down and plateau.

With the search for affordable homes, and houses in particular, becoming ever more challenging (or desperate), the greatest pressure of buyer demand moved to a large, lopsided curve of historically less expensive neighborhoods running along the western-most edge of the city from Outer Richmond south to Lake Merced, then east across the southern border with Daly City, and up through Bernal Heights and Bayview. Of these, we believe Realtor District 2, Sunset/Parkside, with its quiet streets and low crime rates; its closeness to the beach, GG Park and highways south to Silicon Valley; and its attractive, modest-sized houses built mostly in the 1930’s and 1940’s, is now the hottest, most competitive market in San Francisco.

san-francisco-neighborhood-district-map

In the charts below, notice how year-over-year statistics have generally cooled somewhat in most areas of the city from the frenzied market prevailing in the first part of 2015: higher days on market, lower percentages of listings selling over asking price, higher months-supply-of-inventory figures, and so on. The most affordable districts are those generally showing the least, or even no, change year over year, and some of them are still sizzling. However, the 2016 statistics for SF house sales in no way suggest what would be described as a weak market in any of the city’s districts. (Some of the condo markets have cooled more significantly.)

Overbidding Asking Prices: SF House Sales

1

Percentage of House Sales Selling over Asking Price

2

SF House-Price Appreciation Rates

3

Average Days on Market

4

Months Supply of Inventory:
Buyer Demand vs. Supply of Listings for Sale

5

San Francisco District Condo Markets

For a number of reasons, including a significant increase in new-construction projects, the condo market in San Francisco is not as strong as its house market, but without any hint of an impending crash: The median SF condo price has simply plateaued after years of feverish appreciation. Based upon our analyses of underlying market dynamics shown via the charts below, we believe the condo markets of the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district, and the Richmond/Lake Street district are currently the most dynamic in the city. It is probably no coincidence that these areas are seeing comparatively little new condo construction adding to inventory.

The softening of the condo market is clearly reflected in the 2016 vs. 2015 statistics. The first chart also illustrates, as mentioned in earlier reports, how the luxury condo segment ($2m+), especially in District 9 (greater SoMa/South Beach/ Yerba Buena) where the majority of new, luxury condo construction is occurring, has softened the most. These charts do not include the many hundreds of newly built or under construction condos listed, accepting offers or sold, which are not reported to MLS, as exact data on that activity is hard to verify.

6

Chart: Overbidding Condo Prices
Chart: Condo % Sales over List Price
Chart: Condo Average Days on Market


District Sales Overview

Sales Volumes and Sales Prices

7

Chart: Average San Francisco House Sizes by Neighborhood

As illustrated above, the 3 most affordable districts for buying a house in San Francisco are also 3 of the 4 districts with the most house sales.

8

25 years ago, the greater South Beach/ SoMa/ Mission-Bay area didn’t even have an appreciable amount of residential housing. Now, if we add new-condo sales not reported to MLS (which are not reflected in the chart above), it is the area with the greatest number of condo sales in the city, more than twice as many as the second ranking district. It is also now the foremost area for luxury condo sales, having leapt ahead of the Pacific Heights and Russian Hill districts. This is the only place in the city where high-rise construction is currently allowed, and there is much new construction in the works.

San Francisco Median Home Prices by Quarter
2012 – 2016

9

Median sales prices typically fall in Q3 from Q2 due to seasonal inventory and demand issues, and that occurred in 2016 as well. Year over year, the Q3 2016 house price is running somewhat above that of Q3 2015, while the condo median price has stayed essentially flat.

San Francisco Median Home Prices by Year
1993 – 2016

10

Biggest Surge in New Luxury Home Listings Ever

11

Even more so than the general market, the luxury home market is fiercely seasonal, with spring and autumn being much more active than summer and, especially, the mid-winter holiday doldrums. September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings, which fuels the relatively short autumn selling season before the luxury market starts to go into hibernation in mid-late November. This year saw a particularly large jump in the number of new listings of homes of $2.5 million and above to by far the highest level ever.

Because the time between listings coming on market, offers being negotiated and accepted, and then the transactions actually closing sale is 4 to 6 weeks or more, it will be a little while before we have hard data on how the market responded to this feast of expensive homes hitting the market.

New Bay Area Hiring Surge?
Employed Resident Count in 4 Central Bay Area Counties

12

Hiring and the population growth it engenders play a huge role in buyer and renter demand. After peaking in December 2015, the number of employed residents in the 4 middle Bay Area counties fell by 6000 through June 2016, the largest sustained drop in 5½ years. This seemed to correlate with an apparent cooling in the high-tech boom. Then in July & August 2016, a sudden, new hiring surge added almost 38,000 to the employment numbers, hitting a dramatic new high. We will have to wait for the data of future months to see if this is part of a sustained second wind in Bay Area hiring (especially in high-tech), or simply an unusually large, short-term fluctuation.

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.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

Heading into the Autumn Selling Season

2015 to 2016 YTD, the overall median price for condos, which now comprise the majority of home sales in the city, remained exactly the same at $1,100,000: Among other issues, this market segment is clearly being impacted by an increase in new-project condos coming on market, altering the supply and demand dynamic. The house median price increased 6% to $1,328,000: This is far below the appreciation rates of the previous 4 years and is being driven mostly by continued demand for “more affordable” houses selling below $2 million. TICs, which only comprise 4% to 5% of home sales basically stayed flat year over year.

1

Where to Buy a Home in San Francisco for the Money You Wish to Pay

We just issued our semi-annual update on home prices by property type and neighborhood. Below are 3 of the 8 charts in the analysis. The complete report is here: San Francisco Neighborhood Home Prices

26% of SF house sales were under $1 million so far in 2016; In 2011, that percentage was 75%.

2

3

4

Autumn & the Expected Surge in New Home Listings

5

Autumn is the second biggest selling season of the year, and September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings. Autumn is a relatively short market season, running from after Labor Day until mid-November, when the market begins its slide into its winter-holiday slowdown. It is particularly important for the luxury home segment as its market activity usually plunges to an almost standstill at Thanksgiving and doesn’t revive until February or early March, i.e. this 2-month window is basically it for the next 5 to 6 months.

At this point, we are waiting to see if the expected, dramatic spike in new listings occurs as usual, and how buyers react to it if it does.

Our full report on seasonality is here: Seasonality & the SF Market

After 6-Month Decline in 2016, a Sudden Surge in SF Employment Numbers

6

From the middle of 2015, the Bay Area high-tech boom appeared to appreciably cool down in hiring, IPOs coming on market, venture capital flow and general economic optimism, and that was one factor in the cooling in the SF real estate market. (One local economist predicted “blood in the streets” of San Francisco from a crash in both high tech and real estate.) As to hiring, from 2010 through 2015, San Francisco added an astounding 100,000 new jobs (the Bay Area added 600,000), putting enormous pressure on home prices and rents, but then in the first six months of 2016, that trend reversed itself and the number of employed residents in the city dropped by over 3000. Well, whether it is a short-term, seasonal fluctuation will become clearer soon, but in July, the trend line reversed itself again and the number jumped by 9000 to hit a new all-time high, as illustrated in the above chart.

The SF market definitely shifted gears this past year, from ludicrous overdrive (as Tesla might describe it) to a more reasonable cruising speed, and it has become much more balanced between buyers and sellers, but we certainly haven’t seen any blood in the streets so far. One question now is whether the Bay Area high-tech boom is getting something of a second wind. The change in employment trends is one of the indications we are seeing that it might be, hopefully without the irrational exuberance, but it is far too early to come to any definitive conclusion.

Paragon Special Reports on San Francisco and Bay Area Markets & Housing Affordability

In August we issued 2 reports that received extensive media coverage in Bloomberg News & BusinessWeek, WSJ Mansion Global, San Francisco Business Times, KGO, KTVU, KCBS, SFGate, Curbed and others, even some international publications. Below is a sampling of the many analyses in the reports, as well as links to the full articles.

7

8

9

10

11

12

Full report: Income, Affluence, Poverty & the Cost of Bay Area Housing

Full report: Bay Area Real Estate Markets & Demographics

A Tumultuous Time in Financial Markets
The S&P 500 vs. the Shanghai Composite Index

13

We initially created this chart last autumn, and thought it would be interesting to update it for a longer term perspective.

A year ago at the end of August 2015, a very volatile year began for national and international financial markets. Initially triggered by a crash in the Chinese stock market, sparking serious concerns regarding the international economy, the S&P 500 fell significantly, but then recovered completely by mid-autumn. Then the oil price crisis of early 2016 dramatically affected the S&P, but again, it recovered completely within 2 months. When the Brexit vote came in late June, the market barely reacted, and then the S&P soon hit a new all-time high, a little above its previous spring 2015 peak.

Thousands of pundit prognostications later, many predicting crash and doom, U.S. financial markets are basically back to where they were when the Chinese stock market crisis began one year ago.

San Francisco Market
Statistical Overview

By virtually every statistical measure of supply and demand, the SF market cooled in 2016: price appreciation generally plateaued, inventory ticked up and sales ticked down, months supply of inventory and days on market increased, and the percentage of sales price over asking price declined. All the changes have been statistically significant, but, except for the luxury condo market (which has softened more dramatically), none of the recent statistics by themselves indicate what would be typically called a weak market. For example, months supply of inventory increased from an average of 1.7 months in the first 8 months of 2015 to 2.3 in 2016, but 2.3 is still quite low; days on market went up 3 days for houses and 7 days for condos, but the current figures are still not high; the percentage of sales price over asking price decreased by about 4 percentage points in 2016, but condos and houses are still averaging sales prices 3% to 8% over original list price, which would have sellers in most other places jumping up and down in glee.

Perhaps the statistic most indicative of change is that the number of listings expiring or being withdrawn from the market without selling has gone up a whopping 60% (and for luxury condos, up over 100%). This is the clearest sign possible of sellers trying to sell their homes for more money than any buyer is willing to pay.

As always, please remember that the heat of different market segments can vary dramatically by property type, price range and location. The more affordable house market, for example, is still crazy hot in many areas of the city. And more affordable markets outside the city have also generally continued to be very competitive.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they 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. Statistics are generalities, longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term, and we will always know more about what’s actually going on in the present, in the future. New construction condos not listed or sold on MLS are not counted in these statistics, though they often affect market dynamics.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

Bay Area Real Estate & Demographics

While waiting for the autumn market to begin, we thought we would step back and look at the Bay Area from a variety of angles. If you are tired of reading about real estate, there are some interesting demographic analyses at the bottom of this report.

1

Ups & Downs in Bay Area Real Estate Markets
All Bay Area markets saw large surges in home values from 2000 to 2007; all went through significant or even terrible declines after the 2008 financial markets crash, typically hitting bottom in 2011; and all have made dramatic recoveries since. But there are big differences in how these events played out in distinct markets, with 4 main factors behind price changes over the past 16 years:

  • BUBBLE: Generally speaking, the lower price ranges and the less affluent areas saw much bigger, crazier bubbles than other segments, inflated in the years prior to 2007 by predatory lending, subprime loans and the utter abandonment of underwriting standards.
  • CRASH: In 2008-2011 distressed-property sales devastated the lower price segments, which suffered the biggest declines in home prices. When the recovery started in 2012, they began from unnaturally low points, which had little to do with fair market values. Other market segments were affected but to much lesser degrees.
  • PROXIMITY to the high-tech boom: SF and Silicon Valley have been the white-hot hearts of economic expansion. Oakland and the rest of Alameda County were the closest, significantly-more-affordable housing options. Then, as one moves further away, the electrifying effect on home prices gradually lessened.
  • AFFORDABILITY: The more affluent areas led the recovery in 2012-2014, but then the highest pressure of demand started shifting to less expensive, comparatively more outlying neighborhoods, cities and counties. Buyers desperately searched for affordable housing options, or simply wanted more home for the dollar. Now, some of the most expensive markets are beginning to cool, while less expensive ones remain very competitive.

A fifth factor just beginning to impact some markets now (such as the SF condo market) is the significant increase in new home construction, most of which is on the more, or much more, expensive end.

2

The chart above illustrates median sales price changes, from 2007, the approximate peak of the bubble, to 2011, the approximate bottom after the crash, to the present, after 4-plus years of recovery. The table below summarizes the percentage changes charted above.

3

OAKLAND had a very large subprime bubble, a huge crash, and then a sensational recovery highly pressurized by being just across the bridge from SF (and much more affordable). The Oakland median house price is up a staggering 178% since 2011, partly because it crashed so low. However, because its subprime bubble was so big, it is only 10% above its inflated 2007 price. Alameda County as a whole has experienced much the same market. Other comparatively lower-priced Bay Area markets, such as northern Contra Costa, Solano, Napa and Sonoma, more distant from the high-tech boom, saw similar dynamics, but are still below their 2007 peaks despite substantial recoveries.

Price-change percentages up and down are not created equal: If a price drops 60%, it then has to go up 150% to get back to where it started.

SAN FRANCISCO, more expensive and affluent, had a much smaller bubble and much smaller crash with far fewer distressed property sales (and those mostly concentrated in its least expensive districts). The high-tech boom then supercharged its recovery: Its median house price is up 93% from the bottom hit in 2011 (much less than Oakland), but is 51% higher than its 2007 peak, the biggest increase over the 10 years of any of the markets measured. Silicon Valley has similar statistics, and other high-price markets like Marin and the Lamorinda/Diablo Valley area of Contra Costa County, saw comparable, if somewhat less dramatic, dynamics.

These county market descriptions are gross generalizations, as each county has both very affluent and less affluent communities, with their own unique dynamics.

Additional chart: Bay Area home price trends since 1990
Additional chart: Bay Area dollar per square foot values
Additional chart: Average Bay Area house sizes


Trends in Home Values since 1988

per the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index

Instead of looking at different locations in the Bay Area, Case-Shiller analyzes its entire market by low, mid and high-pricetiers, each tier equaling one third of sales. For any Bay Area home, whatever its price in January 2000, Case-Shiller assigns it a value of 100. All other values on the chart below refer to percentages above or below the January 2000 price, i.e. 150 equals 50% price appreciation since that date. Case-Shiller does not use median sales price data, but instead uses its own custom algorithm to reach its conclusions.

4

Two things stand out: As mentioned before, different price segments had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of vastly different magnitudes. Secondly, all the price tiers are now roughly the same percentage above their January 2000 prices, each showing about 130% appreciation over the past 16 years.

Note how much higher the peak of the bubble in 2006-2007 was for the low-price tier of homes (light blue line): Prices jumped an incredible 170% from 2000 vs. 119% for the mid-price tier and 84% for the high-price tier. Then came a correspondingly gigantic crash.

Our full report: 30+ Years of San Francisco real estate cycles


San Francisco Home Prices by Neighborhood, Property Type and Bedroom Count
Below is one of 7 tables in our updated breakdown of SF home prices. The full report:
SF Home Values Analysis by Neighborhood
5

Selected Bay Area Market Dynamics

A selection of relatively self-explanatory snapshots measuring Bay Area real estate markets. San Francisco dominates the news, but it is a relatively small real estate
market by number of sales.

67

Virtually no place else in the country has seen competitive overbidding comparable to the inner core of the Bay Area. (Though some of it is caused by strategic underpricing.)

8

Additional chart: Average days on market by county
Additional chart: Median condo sales prices by county
Additional chart: Comparative Bay Area rents
Additional chart: Housing affordability in the Bay Area

 

Selected Demographic Snapshots

A few angles on how the Bay Area is different from other places, and how Bay Area counties differ from one another.

9

All Bay Area counties have been growing in population. San Francisco in particular is very densely populated and getting denser.

10

In the spirit of the times, a look at Bay Area political party demographics.

11

Along with Washington DC and Seattle, the Bay Area ranks among the best educated metro areas in the country.

12

The single biggest factor behind strong rent control laws:

13

Our most recent region-specific market reports are here:

San Francisco Real Estate Market Reports
Marin County: Market Conditions, Trends & Values
Lamorinda & Diablo Valley: Market Conditions, Trends & Values
Sonoma County Market Report

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.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

A Soft Landing after 4 Years of Market Frenzy?

San Francisco Median Sales Prices by Quarter

Since median sales prices fluctuate so much by season, the most useful metric is year over year, i.e. comparing Q2 2016 to Q2 2015. In Q2 2016, the year-over-year appreciation rate was 4% for houses and less than 1% for condos, as compared with 2014 to 2015 rates of 20% and 18%.

1

Transition

By virtually every measurement of supply and demand, the SF real estate market cooled in Q2 2016 when compared to the 4 previous, often wildly overheated spring selling seasons. Listing inventory is up significantly, while the number of sales is down; the number of listings that expired without selling jumped by over 50%; and, as seen above, median sales prices for houses and condos increased year over year, but at much smaller percentages than the torrid rates of previous years. On the other hand, to keep perspective, the months supply of inventory is still under 3 months of inventory, which typically denotes a seller-advantage market in the rest of the country; the median days on market was a relatively low 24 days in Q2; and almost 70% of SF home sales went for over the asking price. Many homes are still selling quickly for very high prices.

Within the city, different market segments are experiencing varying realities. Very generally speaking, the market for more affordable homes is stronger than that for luxury homes; the market for houses stronger than that for condos; and the market for luxury condos cooling most distinctly. Districts with the most new construction, i.e. adding more supply, are usually softening more quickly. It also appears that the city is cooling before other, more affordable Bay Area County markets. San Francisco led the way out of the market recession as the recovery began in 2012 and now may be leading the way in the transition to a less frenzied market. It is also true that transitional markets often send mixed signals in their data.

In any case, it is typical for the market to slow down appreciably during the mid-summer months and then pick up again after Labor Day. Which does not necessarily mean it is not a good time to either buy or sell. For buyers in particular, there is usually greatly reduced competition for listings and thus greater scope to negotiate purchase prices.

Average Sales Price to Original List Price Percentage
Trends in Overbidding

2

As the market has cooled, competitive bidding has declined, thus this past June saw an average sales price 3% over original asking price as compared to the crazy 11% seen in June 2015, when it hit an all-time peak.

Appreciation Trends, 2011 to 2016 YTD, by Neighborhood

These four charts below track median sales price appreciation from 2011 to 2015, generally the period of rapid increases, and then from 2015 to the first half of 2016, when prices started to stabilize for most areas. Areas that were hit hardest by the distressed property crisis, such as Bayview, often have the highest appreciation rates because they were bouncing back from unnatural lows in 2011. Median condo price appreciation is iffier as a measurement of change because the surge of new construction condos, which are typically more expensive than older units, have substantially impacted values in some neighborhoods. (House inventory in SF has barely changed in many decades, so year-over-year sales are closer to apples to apples.) There are also neighborhoods that have gone through both substantial gentrification and lots of new construction in recent years, such as the Mission and Hayes Valley.

Houses

3
4

Condos

5
6

Generally speaking, neighborhoods were chosen because they had higher numbers of sales, which usually makes the statistics more reliable. However, median prices can sometimes fluctuate dramatically without great meaningfulness when different baskets of relatively unique homes simply closed in different periods. This is especially true in the most expensive districts: As an example, 20 house sales closed in Pacific Heights by 6/29/16 for a 2016 YTD median price of $5,675,000. Then, one more closed on 6/30/16 and the median price jumped to $6 million. A reminder not to take specific median price appreciation percentages too seriously: They illustrate general trends, not exact measurements of changes in home values.

Context

Anyone who reads real estate news, blogs or newsletters knows that there are 2 particularly vehement camps, each with emotional and sometimes financial attachments to diametrically opposed positions: One never stops insisting that the market is great and getting better (and apparently always will, for both buyers and sellers), and the other never stops shouting, usually gleefully, that the market is crashing or about to crash. Both marshal and exaggerate selected statistics and ignore others. The truth is that there are cycles, lulls and fluctuations in real estate markets and no market can go up 20% a year forever (nor should we want it to). On the other hand, we do not currently see local or macro-economic conditions suggesting any imminent crash. While it is true that economic, political or even environmental crises of various magnitudes can erupt suddenly (such as, in the past 12 months, the Chinese stock market plunge, the crash in oil prices, and Brexit), the impact of these crises can vary enormously, and it is very difficult to predict when the next one will hit.

The SF market is clearly in some kind of transition, currently at a relatively moderate pace, hopefully signifying what is called a soft landing from an over-exuberant state. The speed and scale of any further adjustment should become clearer over the second half of the year.

San Francisco Luxury Home Market
A Breakdown of Expensive Home Sales by City District

7
8

Luxury Home Sales Trends, by Quarter

Luxury house sales were basically the same year-over-year in Q2 (though listing count was up almost 25%), however luxury condo sales saw a significant year-over-year drop, even while the number of expensive condo listings on MLS jumped to its highest level ever. The resale luxury condo market is clearly being impacted by an increase in new, luxury condo projects coming on market, especially in those areas where most of the new construction is occurring.

Some of the new projects coming on line or expected soon will be the most expensive ever seen in San Francisco, estimating average dollar per square foot values for their units over, and sometimes well over, $2000. It will be interesting to see the match up of supply and demand for these condos, since such values in the existing resale market are relatively rare, as illustrated in the third chart below.

9
11

Condo Sales by Average Dollar per Square Foot Values
2012 to 2015 Trends, for Condo Sales Reported to MLS

12
Home Sales Breakdown by District

Underlying the median sales prices commonly quoted is commonly a huge range of prices in the specific home sales that go to make them up. We have updated our breakdowns for every district in San Francisco. Below are 2 of 15 charts:

12
13

San Francisco Residential Construction Pipeline
Projects of 60+ Units, per San Francisco Business Times Analysis

14

The San Francisco Business Times performed a superb in-depth analysis of the many housing projects, rental and sale, market rate and affordable, currently in the Planning Department new construction pipeline, breaking out and describing major projects of 60 units or more, and mapping them as well. Above is our attempt to boil down much of that information into one chart. Please note that projects are constantly being added, revised, sold to new developers, or even abandoned, and the median time from filing a plan to building completion is 3 to 6 years depending on the size of the project.

Hundreds of condos under construction have already been pre-sold to buyers, with close of escrow and occupancy to occur upon final building completion, sometimes well in the future. These sales of units not yet built still have a significant impact on market supply and demand dynamics.

It is also interesting to note that of projects either under construction or approved by Planning (and leaving aside the long-term mega-projects such as Treasure Island), rental units outnumber sale units by about 2 to 1. This is a very recent development in SF housing construction, which has long been dominated by condo projects (though there are plenty of those too). This expected rush of new rentals, most of which are at the high end of rental cost, is coming just as the rental market is dramatically softening in the city. Indeed, the rental market appears to have cooled much more quickly than the sale market.

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. Statistics are generalities, longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term, and we will always know more about what is actually going on in the present in the future. New construction condos not listed or sold on MLS are not counted in these statistics, though they often affect market dynamics. It is impossible to know how median prices apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

Wealth, Employment, Demand, Inventory, Affordability and San Francisco Home Prices

Two of the biggest drivers of local real estate demand in recent years have been increasing employment and new wealth creation, both of which exploded in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Approximately 600,000 new Bay Area jobs and 100,000 SF jobs have been added in the past 6 years. IPOs, unicorns and surging stock valuations created thousands of millionaires, dozens of billionaires and trillions of dollars in new wealth. The S&P 500 roughly doubled in the 5 years to mid-2015. Interest rates plummeted. And there was an exuberant optimism that the boom would only continue to soar. Add those ingredients to a deeply inadequate supply of housing and the result is a real estate market boiling over, with skyrocketing home prices and rents

1
Chart: Long-term SF Rent Trends

Two of the biggest drivers of local real estate demand in recent years have been increasing employment and new wealth creation, both of which exploded in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Approximately 600,000 new Bay Area jobs and 100,000 SF jobs have been added in the past 6 years. IPOs, unicorns and surging stock valuations created thousands of millionaires, dozens of billionaires and trillions of dollars in new wealth. The S&P 500 roughly doubled in the 5 years to mid-2015. Interest rates plummeted. And there was an exuberant optimism that the boom would only continue to soar. Add those ingredients to a deeply inadequate supply of housing and the result is a real estate market boiling over, with skyrocketing home prices and rents.

————————————————————

Market Transition, Lull or Short-Term Fluctuation?

But in mid-2015, fears regarding the world economy burgeoned; Bay Area IPOs started to dry up, (over 80 in 2013 to mid-2015; 1 so far in 2016); the valuations of many high-profile IPOs and unicorns declined; and the firehose of venture capital investment slackened. The S&P 500 is now flat year over year and housing affordability has dropped close to historic lows. Hiring slowed and then in early 2016, employment numbers started to decline a little in San Francisco. Some of the wild exuberance leaked out of the general economic optimism, and in the city, demand began to soften a little, while listing inventory started to tick up.

2
Chart: Long-term SF Employment Trends

In the first 4 months of 2016, after 6 years of heated growth, the trend in increasing employment numbers in San Francisco reversed itself. This aligns with stories of local start-ups starting to slow hiring and trim staff as venture capitalists have become more demanding. However, this change in hiring could be a short-term phenomenon.

3

Since 2012, the spring selling season has been the most dynamic period of median home price appreciation. In spring 2016, after years of major increases, year-over-year house and condo price appreciation basically plateaued.

Note: Virtually every time the analysis is changed even slightly, the result will change. The combined house-condo median sales price ($1,280,000) was 5% higher year-over-year, still way down from its 23% jump seen in 2015. Median sales prices can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value.

4

In 2016, the supply and demand dynamic shifted somewhat, with the number of listings available to purchase increasing, but the number of closed sales declining. (There was also a significant increase in listings expiring or being withdrawn from the market without selling, an indication of sellers demanding more than buyers were willing to pay.)

Slowing or plateauing appreciation does not imply a crash, and the cooling of a desperately overheated market to something closer to normal is not bad news. Indeed, an improvement in housing affordability (and supply) would be good news, both socially and economically. Likewise, a shift from irrational exuberance in the local economy to rational optimism would be a healthy change.

————————————————————

San Francisco Luxury Home Market

56

As mentioned in previous reports, it appears the luxury segment has softened to a greater degree than more affordable segments (some of which remain very competitive): The number of high-end listings in MLS has jumped, while sales have plateaued or declined. Why the more dramatic change in the luxury condo market? Firstly, increased competition from new, big, luxury-condo projects may be taking a toll (more supply). Secondly, a significant percentage of these very expensive units are usually purchased as second or third homes, not primary residences: When economic uncertainty swells, this is a market segment often affected first (less demand). Note: We do not have access to up-to-date statistics on new-project, luxury condo sales activity, so do not know if that segment has also cooled or is simply cannibalizing the resale market illustrated above.

Based on preliminary data, it appears that accepted-offer activity in May for luxury houses was very strong, possibly even exceeding levels of Spring 2015, suggesting that buyers took advantage of the greater selection of listings to jump in. If so, this will show up in the sales data for June.

————————————————————

Rental Market Trends

7

The rental market is especially sensitive to changes in hiring, and, as illustrated above, asking-rent appreciation has plateaued. It is quite possible that actual lease rents have already started to decline, though no decline has yet shown up in the above statistics. (There is no MLS for reporting actual rents paid, so we have to rely on advertised asking-rent data, which is a lagging indicator.) Clearly, available apartment inventory has grown, and renter demand has softened. Large new apartment buildings have been entering the SF market, with more in the pipeline. This quote is from a June 1 Bloomberg article: Softening apartment rents in New York and San Francisco have forced landlord Equity Residential to lower its revenue forecast for the second time this year, as newly signed leases are not meeting company expectations.

————————————————————

Important Caveats & Perspective

This recent data measures relatively short-term changes and may reflect only a temporary economic lull or market fluctuation (which is not uncommon). Also, different neighborhoods, property types and price segments in San Francisco are experiencing varying market conditions, from still-quite-hot (non-luxury houses) to cooler (luxury condos).

A staggering amount of wealth yet remains in the Bay Area. Hundreds of local companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars, including the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and Pinterest, remain in the near-future, possible-IPO pipeline, and economic optimism can shift quickly. Our business environment continues to be the envy of the world, and unemployment rates persist at near-historic lows. San Francisco ranks with the greatest cities of the world in quality of life, even if stressed by growth and housing-affordability issues. Overall city and Bay Area housing supply remains acutely inadequate to recent population increases.

Compared to almost any other in the country, our real estate market remains quite strong as measured by a wide variety of standard supply and demand statistics, and a substantial percentage of San Francisco home listings still sells quickly for well over asking price.

————————————————————

Advice for Buyers

Buy a home that is affordable now and in the foreseeable future, keeping an appropriate reserve for the unexpected. Buying for the longer term is usually safer than for the shorter term. Lock in a low, fixed, interest rate for an extended period. Expand the list of neighborhoods you are willing to consider and do not just run after brand new listings, but look at those the market has passed by: There will often good buying opportunities with greater room to negotiate. Do not be afraid to make offers below asking price and to negotiate, but carefully review the most recent comparable sales and market indicators. During the summer and mid-winter holiday seasons, the competition for listings significantly declines, and can be excellent times to buy. Be patient: New homes come on the market every day.

Historically, homeownership in the Bay Area has been a good investment, because of long-term appreciation trends, the advantages of leverage, what is called the forced-savings effect (each mortgage payment including principal pay-down), and the many tax advantages. Talk to your accountant or financial planner regarding how these factors might impact you specifically. Admittedly, if one has to sell at the bottom of a down cycle, it can be painful.

Advice for Sellers

There are still plenty of motivated, qualified homebuyers in San Francisco, but do not take for granted that mobs of desperate buyers will show up waving over-asking offers. Price your home correctly right from the moment of going on market as overpricing can have significant negative ramifications. Prepare your home to show in its best possible light: You only have one chance to make the right impression on buyers. Hire an agent who will implement a full-court marketing plan to reach every possible prospective buyer and seize their attention. Stay up to date on comparable listings and sales, market conditions and trends, and adjust appropriately. If you receive an unacceptable offer, do not be insulted: It almost always makes more sense to issue a counter offer instead of outright rejection.

————————————————————

San Francisco Housing Inventory & New Home Construction

8
9
Above are 2 charts from our updated report which contains a great deal of additional information: SF Housing Inventory & Construction Report

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they 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. Statistics are generalities, longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term, and we will always know more about what’s actually going on in the present, in the future. New construction condos not listed or sold on MLS are not counted in these statistics, though they often affect market dynamics.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group