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1000+ Things to Do in San Francisco & Bay Area

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

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


 


FOOD & DRINK

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



Out & About

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



Arts & Entertainment

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


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

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Bay Area Home Prices, Incomes & Demographics

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

August 2017 Report

Median House Price Appreciation since 1990

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

Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

The Most Expensive Places in the Bay Area

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

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

Annual Home Price Appreciation Rates (since 1996 and 2011)

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

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

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

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

Economic & Demographic Factors

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

Bay Area City & Zip Code Income Rankings

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

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

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

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

Employment & Unemployment

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

Unemployment rates are bumping against historic lows.

Bay Area Poverty Rates & Housing Affordability

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

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

Bay Area Luxury Home Markets

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

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

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

Other Angles on Bay Area Market Dynamics
Bay Area Condo Markets

Overbidding

Average Days on Market

Bay Area Market Sizes

Bay Area Rents

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

Additional Demographic Snapshots

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

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

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

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

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

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

All our reports, including dedicated analyses of the SF luxury home segment, and of the Marin, Sonoma and Diablo Valley-Lamorinda markets, can be found here: Market Trends & Analysis

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value, and longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term. It is impossible to know how median prices apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis. All numbers in this report are to be considered approximate.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Real Estate: The Paragon Mid-Year Report

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

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

San Francisco Luxury Homes Sales
by Month since 2014

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

Our complete report: The San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Building Cranes Everywhere

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

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

Home Price Maps

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

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

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

Appreciation Trends since 2005 for Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods

Sales by Price Segment within Neighborhoods

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

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

Bay Area Rent Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Building Market

Before jumping into the specific financial metrics pertaining to the market itself, below is a review of some of the major economic context issues which underpin the market: rent rates, new construction and employment.

Bay Area Rent Rate Trends

San Francisco still has the highest rents in the nation (the light blue columns in the first chart above), exceeding even Manhattan (in second place, delineated by the dark blue line), but they have been dropping since recent peaks in late 2015/early 2016. Generally speaking, rents around the Bay Area have either declined, in what had been the hottest markets, or seen their appreciation rates significantly slow, over the past year or so.

New Construction in San Francisco

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

With a lot of help from the recent San Francisco Business Times analysis and investigation of the SF Planning Department Pipeline report, we put together the two charts above. As far as the SF apartment building market is concerned, the big issue is the continued construction of new rental units, how that is affecting the supply and demand dynamic, and rent rates. Over 8000 new rental units have been built in the past 5 years, with at least 10,000 more expected to hit the market in the next 5. This surge of supply is a major factor in the recent decline in SF rents illustrated at the top of this report.

Note that projects are continually being added to the pipeline, or their plans significantly changed, or even abandoned. Some of the big projects noted are very long-term, and economic and political shifts can dramatically affect future plans, sometimes very quickly.

Employment Trends

Ted Egan, chief economist for San Francisco, put it succinctly, Since 2016, a slowdown in tech employment has been driving a slowdown in total employment. This has been occurring both in San Francisco (first chart above) and in the Bay Area (second chart). Adding substantial new apartment construction to a slowdown in hiring is something of a double whammy putting downward pressure on rents. However, in the first half of 2016, employment numbers also fell, only to surge back into positive territory in the second half. Much is currently going on in the high-tech economy and it is not wise to jump to definitive conclusions or predictions based on short-term trends.

Median Sales Price Trends by County

This report usually separates out the 2-4 unit and the 5+ unit apartment building markets, since they have somewhat different dynamics and valuation metrics.

Generally speaking, across a variety of statistical measures, there appears to be some cooling in the 5+ market in SF from the feverish markets of recent years. Alameda, where prices are much lower, remains quite hot. The 2-4 unit market, which typically follows the general residential home market more closely, saw strong buyer demand this past spring. (Residential markets hit new highs in median home sales prices around the Bay Area.)

Note that median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value, such as periodic, distinct shifts in inventory available to buy. Because of the relatively low number of sales in Marin or the absence of critical financial data in Alameda, some of the year-to-date analyses were not performed for those counties.

Average Dollar per Square Foot Trends

The analyses linked to below, from our previous quarterly report, review values by San Francisco neighborhood submarkets:

Chart: Median Sales Prices by City District
Chart: Average Dollar per Sq.Ft. Values by City District

San Francisco 5+ Unit Market Dynamics
Cap Rates, Gross Rent Multiples & Price per Unit

By all three of these measures, the heat of the SF 5+ unit apartment building market ticked down in the first half of 2017. However the changes are relatively small and end of the year data will be more conclusive.

These analyses below, from our previous quarterly report, illustrate these statistics by city district:

Chart: Cap Rates by City District
Chart: Gross Rent Multiples by City District
Chart: Price per Unit Values by City District

San Francisco Sales Breakdowns
12 Months Sales by Building Size & Price Segment

Interest Rates

Besides the enormous overall increase in rents since the end of the recession, the other major factor underpinning the investment real estate market has been the extremely low interest rates. This chart graphs residential mortgage rates, which don’t apply perfectly to rental properties, but which indicates the trends that apply to both markets. No one has consistently predicted interest rate movements correctly in the past 10 years, but if significant increases do occur it will certainly affect the financial scenario for the purchase and ownership of residential income properties.

Supply & Demand

The inventory of 5+ listings on the SF market has increased a little over the past year, but not significantly. However, as charted below, Q2 saw a sudden spike in listings going into contract. Q2 5+ numbers are as follows: 43 new MLS listings, 91 total MLS listings on the market, 56 went under contract, and 43 closed escrow.

The 2-4 unit market in the city, which we did not chart, saw 178 new MLS listings come on market in Q2, a total listing inventory of just under 300, 131 listings went under contract, and 109 closed escrow.


Q2 2017 Sales of SF 5+ Unit Apartment Buildings

San Francisco is a unique apartment building market: the buildings are smaller and older than in most places, built in a wide range of architectural styles. The great majority of the market is under rent control, which makes upside rental-income potential a big component of valuation, even if it is unknown when that potential might be realized. Furthermore, the units are typically unlike those in suburban garden-apartment complexes, and within the city the variety in units is enormous, from large, gracious, full-floor flats in Russian Hill and Cole Valley, to studio apartments in Tenderloin brick buildings.

In real estate, the devil is always in the details: If you are interested in further data pertaining to any of the above sales, or regarding properties currently on the market, please contact me.

IRC 1031 tax exchange endangered? Numerous recent news articles in the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Forbes have mentioned the possibility that the current congress is eyeing the possibility of doing away with the 1031 tax deferred exchange, which would have significant, negative ramifications for real estate investors: The tax deferred exchange plays a critical role in sales volume and in portfolio development. Of course, there has been talk of this on and off for years, and has always come to nothing. How serious the threat is now, we cannot say, though it seems an odd change to occur under a President who is a real estate mogul.

Broker Performance: Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

According to Broker Metrics, which crunches MLS sales data, whether looking at the market in San Francisco or for all of San Francisco, Alameda and Marin counties, Paragon closes more residential income property sales than any other brokerage.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. Statistics are generalities: This is especially true for multi-unit properties, with the enormous range of property types, sizes, conditions, circumstances, qualities and locations. Cap rate and gross rent multiple analysis relies upon accurate data (instead of scheduled or projected income and expense numbers) being provided by listing agents, which is not always the case. Many Alameda County sales do not report cap rates, so any calculation in this report is based only upon those that did. Marin County often has too few sales to generate meaningful statistics. A fair proportion of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis. When we identify outlier sales that we believe distort the statistics, these sales are typically deleted from the analysis. For all these reasons, any numbers in this report should be considered approximate.

© 2017 Paragon Commercial Brokerage

Escaping the June Gloom

8 Unique Day-Trips in Northern California

 

Crazy Hot Market – Again

 

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

June 2017 Report

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

Three Views of SF Median Sales Price Appreciation

Monthly House & Condo Median Sales Prices since 2012

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

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

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

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

Rolling 3-Month Median Sales Prices since 2005

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

Comparing Us and Them

San Francisco & National Appreciation Trends since 1987 through March 2017

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

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

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

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

Market Heat by San Francisco District

Overbidding House List Prices

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco Luxury Home Market

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

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

San Francisco Luxury House Sales

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

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

San Francisco Luxury Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales

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

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

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

New Housing Construction

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Buy Local

Paragon Real Estate’s 2017 San Francisco Farmer’s Market Guide.

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

Supply, Demand, Money & Demographics: 10 Factors Behind San Francisco’s Real Estate Market

A consideration of the main factors at play behind the current San Francisco real estate market, some of which reflect general macro-economic trends and some of which are specific to the city itself. As we’ve seen in 1989, 2001 and 2008, many of these factors can stall or go into reverse very quickly in the event of a large, negative, economic, political or even ecological event.

In 2016, the market in San Francisco started to cool off somewhat after 4 years of a ferociously high-demand/low-supply dynamic. By any national standard, it is still a strong market, especially in the more affordable price segments, but it has distinctly changed with listing inventory increasing and buyer demand softening. The influx of newly constructed condos have affected the condo market most of all, especially the luxury condo market.

  • Population growth vs. New Construction: San Francisco has recently been adding approximately 10,000 – 12,000 new residents per year. New construction is booming again in the city, and tens of thousands of new housing units are now somewhere in the planning and construction pipeline. Thousands of new condos and apartments (mostly at the high end of prices) hitting the market have been affecting the supply and demand dynamic, with both condo prices and apartment rents ticking down from 2015 highs – especially in those districts where new construction is concentrated. It will be interesting to see how influx continues to affect the market as more inventory arrives. There is no question that the city continues to suffer from a grievous lack of more affordable housing.

  • Employment growth: San Francisco has recently hit new highs in the number of employed residents and its unemployment rate is as low as it has ever been. Many of these new jobs – in high tech, bio tech and professional occupations – are very well paid. Approximately 14,000 units of housing have been built in San Francisco since 2010. Over the same 6 years, the number of employed residents has increased by about 100,000. In light of the mismatch between supply and demand, the pressure on housing prices is not surprising. Employment actually dropped in the first 6 months of 2016 and then surged again in mid-summer to its highest point ever.

  • Stock market upswing: Though there was some major volatility in the period from autumn 2015 through autumn 2016, adding in the recent surge after the election, the S&P 500 is way, way up from 2011. The affluent have benefited most from this large increase in the value of financial assets, and San Francisco has one of the most affluent populations in the country. When people feel wealthier, they spend more on homes, second homes and real estate investment properties. However, we believe much of the local affluent population has become somewhat more cautious with all the extreme volatility – China stock market, oil price crash, Brexit, the 2016 election – that has occurred in the stock market over the past 20 months.

 

  • Brand new wealth: Thousands of newly affluent residents, including significant numbers of millionaires and even billionaires, have been created in the Bay Area in recent years from stock options, IPOs and company sales. This super-charged the “wealth effect” on the real estate market from 2011 through mid-2015. According to Wealth-X, San Francisco ranks 3rd in the nation for number of “ultra-high-net-worth” residents. However, since mid-2015, there have been very few new IPOs, so the dynamic creation of huge amounts of brand new wealth has slowed. On the other hand, the Bay Area is still full of large start-ups like Uber, Airbnb and Palantir, which certainly have the potential to go public in the not too distant future, and start minting, once again, new millionaires by the dozens or even hundreds. It’s also interesting to note that: “San Francisco ranks first among U.S. cities in income mobility, i.e. the opportunity to rise upward on the income scale thanks to its schools, its growing economy and its compact physical size that doesn’t produce walled-off divisions.” (San Francisco: a city pushed to new limits and opportunities)
  • High rents: Purchasing a home in San Francisco, with the attendant multiple tax benefits, being able to take advantage of low interest rates, and equity accrual (as well as the possibility of future appreciation), often makes compelling financial sense if the alternative is to pay an extraordinarily high rent (with none of those benefits). SF rents started to plateau in mid-2015 and have dropped a little in 2016 and early 2017, but they are still the highest in the country.

  • Low interest rates: from 1996 to 2006, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan was approximately 6.3%. By late July 2016, it was running under 3.5%, and as of late-March 2017, it was running about 4.2%. Even after the relatively big post-election jump, the large reduction, 2007 to present, in the cost of financing has made an enormous difference in affordability and the ongoing cost of housing. To a significant degree, declines in interest rates to these near-historic lows have subsidized increases in home prices. It is extremely difficult to predict interest rate movements, but if rates continue to rise appreciably, it will certainly affect housing affordability.

  • Renting instead of selling: Very high rents and very low interest rates have convinced some owners who would have sold their homes to rent them out instead, and the Airbnb rent-to-tourists option is probably adding to this (even if in many instances, it violates city statutes.) As an adjunct to the financial calculation for renting instead of selling, we are also hearing from some owners that they are afraid that if they sell now, they or their children will never be able to afford to move back. All this further depresses the supply of new listings coming on market, exacerbating the inventory shortage. This is particularly true of houses in San Francisco, of which virtually no new ones are being built. (Condo construction is booming, and condo owners have a tendency to move much more often.) Not selling as frequently: According to a November 2016 report by ATTOM Data Solutions, “homeowners who sold in the third quarter [of 2016] had owned their home an average of 7.94 years, a new high in our data and substantially higher than the average homeownership tenure of 4.26 years pre-recession.” This big decline in turnover goes a long way to explaining the extremely low inventory levels of homes on the market: Owners are selling much less often.
  • Work there, live here: A relatively recent development, many of the people working or taking new jobs in Silicon Valley high-tech and bio-tech now insist on living in the city, creating what might be called a “reverse commute” from past patterns. The Google bus phenomenon (picking up employees in the city and ferrying them to offices in Mountain View) is just one illustration of a trend which puts considerable additional pressure on our housing market.
  • Magnet effect: Economic, social, cultural: San Francisco, a small city of 7 by 7 miles, is now the capital of perhaps the strongest, fastest growing, most lucrative, highest-prestige business segment in country: The Bay Area economy is the envy of the world. San Francisco is also in one of the most beautiful, best educated, most tolerant and culturally rich metropolitan areas in the world. That makes the city a magnet for smart, creative, ambitious people from all over the planet and they are willing to pay a premium to live here. (Of course, at certain levels of housing costs, people and companies start to look for alternatives, even if they’d much prefer to be located in SF. And that doesn’t begin to address the issue of teachers, police officers and so many other employment profiles, who can’t begin to think about affording to buy a home here.) There has clearly been a general demographic trend for post-college adults, aged 24 – 39, to move back into urban core areas – and that certainly is dramatically occurring in San Francisco. (See the books, “The Great Inversion & the Future of the American City” and “Who’s Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life.”)
  • Limited supply: Almost two thirds of the city’s housing is in rental units, much of it under rent control. The number of homes suitable for owner-occupancy and available to purchase each year is relatively small, usually 6,000 to 8,000 units. The SF homes market is less than half the size of the markets in either Alameda or Contra Costa counties.Furthermore, new housing construction simply has not been adequate to the city’s needs over the past 35 years. 49% of San Francisco’s housing stock was built prior to 1940. As seen in the chart below, the surge in population during WW II led to a burst of building, which then steadily declined to clearly insufficient levels until the big increase in condo construction at the end of the 1990’s. The 2008 market crash ended that cycle, and the current feverish boom in home construction has been quickly gathering steam only in the past few years – however, as increasing volumes of new-construction housing units come on market, it has been significantly altering the supply and demand dynamic that has prevailed 2012 – 2015. Worth noting is that ever since the mid-1990’s the units being built are typically 1 or 2-bedroom condos or apartments, instead of 2 and 3-bedroom houses, i.e. the new housing units being added accommodate fewer people per unit. Our report on new housing construction in San Francisco is here: SF Housing Inventory & Construction Report

Tax benefits: We won’t count this as one of the 10 factors behind the current market, because the enormous tax benefits of homeownership in the U.S. are always present, boom or bust (until Congress legislates large, unexpected changes to U.S. tax law), but still they are a big factor underlying the housing market. Being able to deduct interest costs and property taxes allows homes to cost (much) more and yet remain affordable to buyers. And there is also the $250,000/ $500,000 exclusion of gains realized upon sale of a primary residence from capital gains taxes: There is not another financial investment we can think of that allows one to reap profits of this magnitude without any tax liability. It’s interesting to note that the tax benefits of homeownership in this country are rarely found anyplace else in the world.

This chart below is a simplified, smoothed-out and approximate look at the last few real estate cycles in the San Francisco Bay Area, illustrating estimated percentage changes in home prices from successive peaks and bottoms of the market. The years between these high/low points are simply depicted here as straight lines (which does not reflect reality). Different market segments – areas, property types, price segments – have experienced varying appreciation and depreciation rates over the years and how this chart applies to any specific property is unknown without a tailored analysis.

We want to reiterate that none of this implies justification for an ever-appreciating real estate market: Almost all these factors can stall or even go into reverse, and as mentioned earlier, in 2016, conditions began to cool. Real estate and financial markets are prone to a wide variety of extremely complex and hard-to-predict economic and political factors, and they typically go in cycles: up, down, flat, up again (repeat). And economic and market fluctuations are not uncommon within cycle phases. Still, the above factors are, we believe, the fundamental realities underpinning the city’s homes market in recent years.

San Francisco’s real estate market is now heading into the beginning of its 6th year of its current market recovery since the crash and recession that ran 2008 – 2011.

Our full report on real estate cycles is here: 30+ Years of San Francisco Real Estate Cycles

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