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Affordability & the Cost of Housing in the SF Bay Area

Home prices, affordability percentages, monthly housing costs and income requirements for SF, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Napa, Alameda, Contra Costa & Solano Counties

This national affordability chart above employs a different methodology than the CA county charts below: The graphed chart values (percentages) have totally different meanings.

San Francisco & Marin Counties: Long-Term Overviews

The California Association of Realtors recently released its Housing Affordability Index (HAI) for the 3rd quarter of 2017, which measures the percentage of households that can afford to buy the median priced single family dwelling (house).

In this analysis, affordability is affected by 3 major factors: county median house price, mortgage interest rates, and the distribution of household incomes within the county. (Housing Affordability Index Methodology). The HAI uses house prices exclusively and if condos were included in the calculation, median home prices would decline, affordability would increase and income requirements and PITI costs would be reduced as well. (SF now has more condo sales than house sales, but that is not the case in other Bay Area counties.)

By definition, half the homes sold in any given county were at prices below the median sales price, i.e. there were numerous homes that were more affordable than the median prices used in this analysis. However, any way one slices it, the Bay Area has one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – and least affordable housing markets in the country. That impacts our society and economy in a number of important ways.

Since many of the figures don’t change that much quarter to quarter, we’ve only updated some of the charts in this report with Q3 2017 data.

Our Survey of Bay Area County Markets, Trends & Demographics

Year-over-Year Changes
Year over year, affordability declined in every Bay Area county as well as in almost every other county in the state.

Long-term Bay Area Housing Affordability Trends

Affordability Percentage by Bay Area County

Note that extremely low affordability readings converged across Bay Area counties at the top of the bubble in 2006-2007. So far, there has not been a similar convergence in our current market, though affordability is generally dropping as prices increase. Most counties now have higher, and sometimes much higher, home prices than in 2007 (see chart later in report), but their affordability percentages are higher now too, instead of lower. The reason behind that apparent contradiction is the approximate 40% decline in interest rates, 2007 to 2016, as well as some increase in median household incomes.Extremely low interest rates have subsidized increasing home prices to a large degree in recent years.

San Francisco is still 5 percentage points above its all-time affordability low of 8%, last reached in Q3 2007 (even though its median house price has increased about 50% during that period). Other Bay Area counties (except for San Mateo) have appreciably higher affordability percentages, for the time being. Generally speaking, as one moves farther away from the heart of the high-tech boom, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, affordability increases.

Monthly Ownership Cost at Median Sales Price

Minimum Qualifying Income to Buy Median Priced House
Assumes 20% down payment and including principal, interest, property tax and insurance costs.

Bay Area Median House Prices

Before the high-tech boom, Marin, a famously affluent county for long time, had the highest median house price. But the high-tech boom accelerated median home prices in San Francisco and San Mateo faster and higher.

Additional chart: Median condo sales prices by county

San Francisco has a much larger and more expensive condo market than other local counties, and is the only county with a very substantial luxury condo market – one that is growing significantly with recent new-condo project construction.

Income, Affluence & Poverty

Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin Counties have the highest median household (HH) income in the Bay Area. Though the median HH income figures of these 3 counties are almost double the national figure, their median house prices are 4 to 5 times higher, an indication that income dollars can go a lot farther in other parts of the country than they do here. Indeed an income that in other places puts you close to the top of the local register of affluence, living grandly in a 6-bedroom mansion, in the Bay Area might qualify you as perhaps slightly-upper-middle class, living in an attractive but unostentatious, moderate-sized home that costs twice what the mansion did (though, this being the Bay Area, you are probably still driving a very expensive car).

On the other hand, you live in one of the most beautiful, highly educated, culturally rich, economically dynamic, and open-minded metropolitan areas in the world.

Behind median HH incomes, each county also has enclaves of both extreme wealth and poverty within its borders.

Very generally speaking, in the Bay Area counties, renters typically have a median household income about half that of homeowners. In San Francisco, where the majority of residents are in tenant households, that significantly reduces the overall median HH income figure. The picture of housing affordability for renters in the city is ameliorated or complicated by its strong rent control laws (which, however, don’t impact extremely high market rents for someone newly renting an apartment) .

Additional chart: Homeownership Rates by County

Additional chart: Population Demographics – Children & Residents Living Alone

San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any major city in the U.S. (It is famously said that there are more dogs in the city than there are children.) It also has an extremely high percentage of residents who live in single-person households – 39% – which is a further factor depressing median household income below markets with similar housing costs.

The Bay Area has approximately 2.8 million households. Of those, approximately 124,000 households have incomes of $500,000 and above, which would generally be considered to place them in the top 1% in the country by annual income. At 7.5%, Marin has the highest percentage of top 1% households, followed by San Mateo at 6.2%. With approximately 38,000 top 1% households, Santa Clara, the Bay Area’s most populous county, has by far the largest number of these very affluent households, while San Francisco has about 22,000.

It should be noted that besides high incomes per se, another factor in the Bay Area housing boom of recent years has been the stupendous generation of trillions of dollars in brand new wealth from soaring high-tech stock market values, stock options and IPOs. Thousands of sudden new millionaires, as well as many more who didn’t quite hit that level, supercharged real estate markets (especially those in the heart of the high-tech boom) as these newly affluent residents looked to buy their first homes, perhaps with all cash, or upgrade from existing ones. That is something not seen in most other areas of the country, certainly not to the degree experienced locally, and is a dynamic outside typical affordability calculations. This increase in new wealth has slowed or even declined in the past 12 months as the high-tech boom has cooled (temporarily or not, as time will tell). Still, there are dozens of local private companies, usually start-ups, some of them very large – such as Uber, Airbnb and Palantir – which are considered to be in the possible-IPO pipeline. If the IPO climate improves and successful IPOs follow, a new surge of newly affluent home buyers may follow.

Additional chart: Bay Area Populations by County

A look at two very different income segments in the Bay Area, those households making less than $35,000 and those making more than $200,000. The $35,000 threshold is not an ironclad definition of poverty, especially since housing costs (by area, and whether market rate, subsidized or rent-controlled), household sizes and personal circumstances vary widely, though it is clearly difficult for most area families trying to live on that income. At over 25%, San Francisco has the highest percentage of households with incomes under $35,000 and, at 22%, Marin has the highest percentage making $200,000 and above.

Amid all the staggering affluence in the Bay Area, and huge amounts of new wealth generated by our recent high-tech boom, very significant percentages of the population still live in poverty, especially if our extremely high housing costs are factored into the calculation. (The above chart calculates poverty rates by different criteria, the higher one factoring in local costs of living.) The economic boom has helped them if it resulted in new, better paying jobs, unfortunately not as common a phenomenon as one would wish for the least affluent. It hurt them, sometimes harshly, if their housing costs escalated with the increase in market rates.

Mortgage Interest Rates since 1981

Interest rates play an enormous role in affordability via ongoing monthly housing costs, and interest rates, after their recent post-election jump are about 35% lower than in 2007. To a large degree this has subsidized the increase in home prices for many home buyers. It is famously difficult to predict interest rate movements, though there is general agreement. Any substantial increase in interest rates would severely negatively impact already low housing affordability rates.

Longer-Term Trends in Prices and Rents

The same economic and demographic forces have been putting pressure on both home prices and apartment rents.

Bay Area Median House Prices since 1990

If one looks at charts graphing affordability percentages, home prices, market rents, hiring/employment trends and to some degree even stock market trends, one sees how often major economic indicators move up or down in parallel.

Monthly Rental Housing Costs

The recent economic boom has added approximately 600,000 new jobs in the Bay Area over the past 6 years, with about 100,000 in San Francisco alone – with a corresponding surge in county populations. Most new arrivals look to rent before considering the possibility of buying. The affordability challenges for renters (unless ameliorated by rent control or subsidized rates) has probably been even greater than that for buyers, since renters don’t benefit from any significant tax benefits, from the extremely low, long-term interest rates, or by home-price appreciation trends increasing the value of their homes (and their net worth). In fact, housing-price appreciation usually only increases rents without any corresponding financial advantage to the tenant. Rents in the city have been plateauing in recent quarters and may even be beginning to decline as the hiring frenzy has slowed and an influx of new apartment buildings have come onto the market – but they are still the highest in the country.

Bay Area Rent Report

Affordable Housing Stock & Construction in San Francisco

Additional Chart: Affordable Housing Construction Trends in San Francisco

There may be no bigger political and social issue in San Francisco right now than the supply (or lack) of affordable housing: Battles are being fought, continuously and furiously, in the Board of Supervisors, at the ballot box and the Planning Department by a wide variety of highly-committed interests, from tenants’ rights and neighborhood groups to anti-growth factions and developers (to name a few). It is an extremely complicated and difficult-to-resolve issue, especially exacerbated by nimby-ism and the high cost of construction in the city. SPUR, a local non-profit dedicated to Bay Area civic planning policy, estimated in 2014 that the cost to build an 800 square foot, below-market-rate unit in a 100-unit project in San Francisco was $469,800 – and we have seen higher estimates as well.

This fascinating graphic above, based on SF Controller’s Office estimates from late 2013, breaks down SF housing supply by rental and ownership units, and further divides rental by those under rent control. All the units labeled supportive, deed restricted and public housing could be considered affordable housing to one degree or another, i.e. by their fundamental nature their residents are not paying and will never pay market-rate housing costs. (Units under rent control will typically go to market rate upon vacancy and re-rental, though rent increases will then be limited going forward.) Adjusted for recent construction, there are roughly 34,500 of these units out of the city total of about 382,500, or a little over 9% of housing stock. Section 8 subsidized housing would add another 9,000 units.

There are currently many thousands of affordable housing units, of all kinds, somewhere in the long-term SF Planning Department pipeline of new construction, though many of them are in giant projects like Treasure Island and Candlestick Park/Hunter’s Point, which may be decades in the building. But it is generally agreed that new supply will never come close to meeting the massive demand for affordable housing, further complicated by the question of what exactly affordable means in a city with a median home price 5 times the national median, typically well beyond the means of people such as teachers and members of the police force. One corollary of increasing affordable housing contribution requirements for developers and extremely high building costs is that developers are concentrating on building very expensive market-rate units – luxury and ultra-luxury condos and apartments – to make up the difference.

Other reports you might find interesting:

Survey of SF Bay Area Real Estate Markets
10 Factors behind the San Francisco Real Estate Market
30+ Years of San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Cycles
San Francisco Neighborhood Affordability

All our analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

Our sincere gratitude to Leslie Appleton-Young, VP & Chief Economist, Oscar Wei, Senior Economist, and Azad Amir-Ghassemi, research analyst, of the California Association of Realtors, for their gracious assistance in supplying underlying data for the CAR Housing Affordability Index calculations.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. All numbers should be considered general estimates and approximations.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

2017 SF Holiday Events Calendar

There are many great things to enjoy in our wonderful Bay Area now through January. Take a look at some of the events that will “Add a little sparkle to your holidays” in our events guide this winter season.

Dynamic October Market in SF Real Estate

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

San Francisco Monthly Median Home Price Trends

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

San Francisco 3-Month Rolling Median Home Price Trends

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

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

San Francisco vs National Home Price Appreciation

San Francisco Neighborhood & Realtor District Map

San Francisco Neighborhood & District Map

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

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

San Francisco House & Condo Sales by District

SF Home Sales by Price Segment

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

San Francisco Home Sales by Price Segment

Sales by Property Type & Bedroom Count

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

San Francisco Average Sales Prices by Bedroom Count

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

San Francisco Luxury Homes Market

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

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

San Francisco Luxury House Sales by Month

Link to Chart: Luxury Condo Sales by Month

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales Trends

Median Home Price Trends by Neighborhood
2005 to Present

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

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

San Francisco Neighborhood More Affordable Median House Price Trends

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

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

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

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

San Francisco Median 2-bedroom Condo Price Trends

SF Neighborhoods & Property Types: Hottest to Coolest Markets

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

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

Overbidding Asking Prices

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

San Francisco Neighborhood Overbidding House List Prices

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

San Francisco Neighborhood Overbidding Condo Prices

Months Supply of Inventory & Average Days on Market

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

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

San Francisco Inventory and Days on Market - Condos

Hottest to Coolest by Price Segment & Property Type

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

San Francisco Sales Prices to List Prices

San Francisco Market Absorption Rate

San Francisco MSI by Price Range

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

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

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

Price Reductions Soar in October/November

San Francisco Home Price Reductions

Overbidding Declines

San Francisco Overbidding Seasonality

San Francisco Seasonality Selling over List Price

Average Days on Market Increases
Making sellers more willing to negotiate

San Francisco Market Seasonality - Days on Market

Inventory Drops
But hundreds of listings remain on market

San Francisco Seasonality and Active Listings on Market

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

San Francisco Seasonality and Median home prices

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

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

Since Case-Shiller Indices cover large areas – 5 counties in the SF Metro Area – which themselves contain communities and neighborhoods of widely varying home prices, the C-S chart numbers do not refer to specific prices, but instead reflect home prices as compared to those prevailing in January 2000, which have been designated as having a value of 100. Thus these charts are broad generalizations about appreciation (or depreciation) trends: for example, a reading of 250 signifies that home prices have appreciated 150% above the price of January 2000. For data on actual median home prices for specific locations, please access our main market analysis page: Paragon Market Reports. At the very bottom of this report, there are a few charts on overall median home prices in SF, Marin and Lamorinda/Diablo Valley.

Please note that we don’t update every chart in this report every month since what is most meaningful are longer-term trends.

Long-Term Appreciation Rates by Price Segment

Case-Shiller divides all the house sales in the SF metro area into thirds, or tiers. Thus the third of sales with the lowest prices is the low-price tier; the third of sales with the highest sales prices is the high-price tier; and so on. (The price ranges of these tiers changes as the market changes.) As seen in this first chart, the 3 tiers experienced dramatically different bubbles, crashes and recoveries over the past 12 years, though the trend lines converged again in 2014 – this is discussed in detail later in this report.

Short-Term Appreciation Rates by Price Segment

In recent months, home prices have been increasing significantly, with more affordable houses seeing by far the highest appreciation rates. But 2017 has been an unexpectedly feverish market for all market segments.

Longer-term trends are always much more meaningful than short-term fluctuations. 

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index for the San Francisco Metro Area covers the house markets of 5 Bay Area counties, divided into 3 price tiers, each constituting one third of unit sales. Most of San Francisco’s, Marin’s and Central Contra Costa’s house sales are in the “high price tier”, so that is where we focus most of our attention. We’ve also included some data on the Case-Shiller Index for metro area condo values, but unless otherwise specified, the charts pertain to house prices only. The Index is published 2 months after the month in question and reflects a 3-month rolling average, so it will always reflect the market of some months ago. In effect, we are looking into a rearview mirror at the market 3 to 5 months ago. The August 2017 Index was published at the end of October 2017. Much more information regarding the Index’s methodology can be found on its website.

The 5 counties in our Case-Shiller Metro Statistical Area are San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa. (And we believe the Index generally applies to the other Bay Area counties as well.) There are many, vastly different real estate markets found in such a broad region, moving at different speeds, sometimes moving in different directions. San Francisco’s single family dwelling (SFD) sales, which are what Case-Shiller measures, are only 7% to 8% of the total SFD sales in the 5-county metro area, while Alameda and Contra Costa make up over 70% of SFD sales.Therefore, the Index is always weighted much more to what is going on in those East Bay markets than in the city itself. (Marin’s percentage is about 7% and San Mateo’s about 14%.) SF makes up a much larger proportion of condo sales in the metro area, as condos are now the dominant type in home sales now in the city.

These first 2 charts below illustrate the price recovery of the Bay Area high-price-tier home market over the past year and since 2012 began, when the market recovery really started in earnest. In 2012 – 2015, home prices dramatically surged in the spring (often then plateauing or even ticking down a little in the following seasons). The surges in prices that have occurred in the spring selling seasons reflect frenzied markets of high buyer demand, low interest rates and extremely low inventory. In San Francisco itself, it was further exacerbated by a rapidly expanding population and the high-tech-fueled explosion of new, highly-paid employment and new wealth creation. The markets in the Bay Area are appreciating at somewhat different speeds, depending on the price segment. As clearly seen in the second chart above, the low-price tier has been seeing the most dramatic movement, but all 3 segments saw spikes in spring 2017.

For more regarding how seasonality affects real estate: Seasonality & the Real Estate Market .

Short-Term Trend: Past 12 Months

This chart below highlights the highly seasonal nature of home price appreciation over the past 5 years.

Longer-Term Trends & Cycles

The next 4 charts below reflect what has occurred in the longer term (for the high-price tier that applies best to San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and the most affluent portions of other counties), showing the cycle of recession, recovery, bubble, decline/recession since 1988. Note that, past cycle changes will always look smaller than more recent cycles because the prices are so much higher now; if the chart reflected only percentage changes between points, the difference in the scale of cycles would not look so dramatic (as seen in the third chart below).

Comparing San Francisco vs. U.S. Appreciation since 1987

Interesting divergences occurred after the 1989 earthquake, making the SF recession longer and deeper in the early 1990’s, during the dotcom spike and drop, and since the latest market recovery began in 2012, which in SF was supercharged by the local boom in high-tech.

Annual MEDIAN SALES PRICE Changes in San Francisco
As a point of comparison: NOT Case-Shiller data. First houses, then condos.

In the city, the house median sales price continued to appreciate in 2016, albeit at a much slower rate than the previous 4 years. The condo median sales price, impacted by both a cooling in the market and a surge in new-construction condo inventory, generally remained flat year over year in 2016. Both segments have seen new bursts of appreciation in the first half of 2017 (not charted below).

Different Bubbles, Crashes & Recoveries

This next 3 charts compare the 3 different price tiers since 1988. The low-price-tier’s bubble was much more inflated, fantastically inflated, by the subprime lending fiasco – an absurd 170% appreciation over 6 years – which led to a much greater crash (foreclosure/distressed property crisis) than the other two price tiers. All 3 tiers have been undergoing dramatic recoveries. The mid-price-tier is just now back to its previous peak values, but the low-price-tier is still below its artificially inflated peak value of 2006 (though recently, it has been appreciating quickly). It may be a while before the low-price-tier of houses regains its previous peak. The high-price-tier, with a much smaller bubble, and little affected by distressed property sales, has now significantly exceeded its previous peak values of 2007. Most neighborhoods in the city of San Francisco itself have now surpassed previous peak values by very substantial, and sometimes astonishing margins.

Different counties, cities and neighborhoods in the Bay Area are dominated by different price tiers though, generally speaking, you will find all 3 tiers represented in different degrees in each county. Bay Area counties such as Alameda, non-Central Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Solano have large percentages of their markets dominated by low-price tier homes (though, again, all tiers are represented to greater or lesser degrees). San Francisco, Marin, Central Contra Costa (Diablo Valley & Lamorinda), San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are generally mid and high-price tier markets, and sometimes very high priced indeed. Generally speaking, the higher the price, the smaller the bubble and crash, and the greater the recovery as compared to previous peak values.

Remember that if a price drops by 50%, then it must go up by 100% to make up the loss: loss percentages and gain percentages are not created equal.

The price thresholds for the different tiers changes every month, based upon the prices of the homes that sell in that month, so you may see small variations on various charts. For example, in the past year, the threshold for the Bay Area high-tier house price segment has ranged from $956,000 to $1,074,000 (in August 2017). We don’t always adjust these figures in every monthly chart.

Low-Price Tier Homes: Under $663,000 as of 8/17

Huge subprime bubble (170% appreciation, 2000 – 2006) & huge crash (60% decline, 2008 – 2011). Strong recovery but still a tiny bit below 2006-07 peak values. Currently appreciating more quickly than other price tiers.

Mid-Price Tier Homes: $663,000 to $1,074,000 as of 8/17

Smaller bubble (119% appreciation, 2000 – 2006) and crash (42% decline) than low-price tier. A strong recovery has put it somewhat above its previous 2006 peak.

High-Price Tier Homes: Over $1,074,000 as of 8/17

Much smaller bubble/ much smaller crash:
84% appreciation, 2000 – 2007, and 25% decline, peak to bottom.
Has been climbing well above previous 2007 peak values.

Case-Shiller Index for SF Metro Area CONDO Prices

High Price Tier vs. Low Price Tier Appreciation
2012 to Present

The more affluent neighborhoods led the city and the Bay Area out of recession in 2012, surging quickly, while the lower priced tier, still trying to recover from the huge distressed property/foreclosure crisis, lagged well behind. That dynamic shifted: the low-price tier caught up in 2014, and lately, as affordability has become an ever more pressing concern, it has become the greatest focus of buyer demand and has been appreciating significantly more quickly than than more expensive home segments. (Even though many of the more affordable houses in San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo and Lamorinda/Diablo Valley would actually qualify as high-price tier houses by overall Bay Area standards, the underlying dynamics are similar to Bay Area low-price tier homes, i.e. each market area’s dynamics reflect its own division into most affordable (low), mid-price, and more expensive (high) home segments).

In San Francisco, where many neighborhoods vastly exceed the initial price threshold for the high-price tier, declines from peak values in 2007 in those more expensive neighborhoods typically ran 15% – 20%, and appreciation over previous peak value has also exceeded the high-price tier norm.

San Francisco, Marin and Central Contra Costa
Median Sales Price Trends

Looking just at the city of San Francisco itself, which has, generally speaking, among the highest home prices in the 5-county metro area (and the country): many of its neighborhoods are now blowing past previous peak values. This chart shows both house and condo values, while the C-S charts used above are for house sales only. Median prices are affected by other factors besides changes in values, including seasonality, new construction projects hitting the market, inventory available to purchase, and significant changes in the distressed and luxury home segments.

Marin County

Central Contra Costa County

Bay Area Counties Median Price Trends

And here are a few charts looking at San Francisco median sales price appreciation trends in specific neighborhoods.

Seasonality & the San Francisco Real Estate Market

Seasonality typically affects inventory levels, buyer demand and median home prices, often in very significant ways – as is illustrated in the following charts. However, it is not the only factor affecting market conditions and trends – general economic conditions and financial market movements, new construction projects coming on market, significant changes in interest rates, local stock market IPOs, natural and political events, and other factors can and do impact the market as well, sometimes quite suddenly.

It is also worth noting that new listings and new sales occur every month of the year – and sometimes, depending on prevailing market conditions and the specific property, buying or selling during the slower periods of the year can be the smart strategy. For buyers in particular, though the supply of active listings is somewhat lower during mid-late summer and mid-winter market slowdowns, and the number of new listings dwindles, the competition for homes is much lower as well. There are many more price reductions and increased seller willingness to negotiate list prices. The result is that buyers can sometimes make the best deals during these periods: Many of the charts below illustrate this opportunity.

Because of the significant summer and winter slowdowns, it is difficult to come to definitive conclusions about the condition and direction of the market during July/August, and December/January. One really has to wait for the autumn market to begin in mid-September with the typical surge of new listings, or the spring market to begin in late February/ early March to get a sense of where the market may be heading next.

The devil’s always in the details, and the details of the market change constantly. Still, there is a typical and dramatic ebb and flow to the level of activity in the market that correlate with seasonality, and that is what this report explores from a variety of angles.

Without inventory and buyers wanting to purchase, there is no market. These first charts show the classic effects of seasonality on supply and demand.

Inventory
 

Buyer Demand, Price Reductions & Overbidding

For the last few years, spring has been the season of the greatest market frenzy, which shows up in Sales Price to Original List Price ratio (a good measurement of the competitiveness of the market), and the percentage of listings selling for over final list price..

As seen in these next charts, the higher-price end of the market is usually much more affected by seasonality that the general market. Among other effects, this will usually raise the median sales price during the peak spring and autumn selling periods, and lower them in the slower periods of summer and mid-winter.

These final 2 charts illustrate both the rapidly appreciating real estate market since 2012 and the shorter term ups and downs that seasonality can play in median home prices – which sometimes have little to do with changes in fair market value. The Case-Shiller Index chart attempts to track changes in fair market value, and the effect of seasonality is dramatically illustrated. Of course, in an appreciating or depreciating market, there are usually other factors impacting median sales prices beside seasonality – as always, what is most meaningful is the longer term trend in home prices, not short-term fluctuations.

Fluctuations in median sales prices are not unusual and these fluctuations can occur for other reasons besides changes in value, such as seasonality; inventory available to purchase; availability of financing; changes in buyer profile; and changes in the distressed and luxury segments. How these statistics apply to any particular property is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

Q3 SF Real Estate Market Review

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

Q3 SF Median Home Sales Price Changes since 2005

San Francisco Q3 Median Home Price Trends

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

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

Q3 New Listings Coming on Market since 2005

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

San Francisco Q3 New Home Listings on Market

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI), Q3 since 2005

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

San Francisco Q3 Months Supply of Inventory

Average Days on Market, Q3 since 2005

San Francisco Q3 Days on Market

Overbidding List Prices
by Month since December 2015

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

San Francisco Overbidding Home Prices

Context Economic Factors to Bay Area Housing Markets

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

San Francisco Luxury House & Condo Markets

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

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

San Francisco Investment Property Market

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

Link to our apartment building market report

Trends in Selected San Francisco Neighborhoods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group

 No one knows San Francisco real estate better than Paragon.

The Multi-Unit Residential Property Markets of San Francisco, Alameda & Marin Counties

We recently completed a report placing the Bay Area housing market within the context of a wide variety of other economic dynamics, such as population growth, employment and hiring, the stock and the IPO markets, consumer confidence, interest rates, commercial lease rates, housing affordability and new housing construction. Because conditions, trends and cycles seen in housing markets and in these other fundamental economic realities are, more often than not, tied together quite closely. The full report is online here: Economic Context Report.

Context Economic Factors to Bay Area Housing Markets

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Our updated analyses specific to the Bay Area apartment building market begin below.

This report generally separates out the 2-4 unit and the 5+ unit apartment building markets in the 3 counties, since they typically have somewhat different dynamics and values. When analyzing statistics by submarket, we are sometimes working with a relatively small number of sales, which can lead to anomalous fluctuations. Sudden outsized jumps or declines in median prices or average dollar per square foot values should be taken with a grain of salt until the trend is substantiated over the longer term. All the statistics below are broad generalities covering a wide variety of buildings of different locations, sizes, qualities, condition, incomes, and expense ratios.

 

Sales & Values by Submarket

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Overview Trends by County

Marin is sometimes excluded from analyses pertaining to larger apartment buildings simply because the number of sales there is often too low for reliable statistics to be generated.

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Chart: Sales by Price Segment, SF 5+ Units
Chart: Sales by Price Segment, SF 2-4 Units

 

Rent Rate Statistics

According to Zillow, median list rents ticked back up in the first half of 2017, reversing several previous quarters of decline in 2016, but still well down from peaks in 2015: This trend is relatively consistent across Bay Area counties, as well as within San Francisco when looking at rents by unit size. However, the change is still short-term and too much should not be made of it until substantiated over the longer term. Hiring trends, which often drive rent rates, have been fluctuating up and down over the past 20 months, with a general overall plateauing in employment numbers over the time period (after years of huge increases). At the same time, there are still many thousands of new apartments in the construction pipeline in the city.

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Market Metrics by County & San Francisco Submarket
Cap Rates, Price per Unit & Days on Market

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San Francisco Trend Overviews

These 3 charts below for the overall SF market, from our mid-year report, give additional context to the submarket metrics illustrated above.

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San Francisco Supply & Demand Dynamics
Active Listings, Listings Accepting Offers & Seasonality

As of 10/2/17, there were 107 active 2-4 unit building listings in San Francisco with 43 listings pending sale (offers accepted but not yet closed sale). In the SF 5+ unit building market, there were 29 active listings with 28 pending sale (a relatively high number). These two charts illustrate the size of the SF multi-unit markets in any given month, and how market activity ebbs and flows by season. In mid-November, local real estate markets usually plunge in activity until picking up again in February and March.

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Sales Price to List Price Percentages, Days on Market,
Price Reductions & Expired Listings

This chart below illustrates different reactions to properties that the market deems fairly priced or priced too high: Some listings sell quickly for over asking price; some must go through one or more price reductions to sell after a much longer time on market; and some do not sell at all, but are pulled off the market because of buyer indifference. Though this chart is specific to San Francisco multi-unit buildings, the same basic trends are found in every county and every segment of our real estate markets.

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Q3 2017 Sales of San Francisco 5+ Unit
Apartment Buildings

San Francisco is a unique residential-investment 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 very unlike those in suburban garden-apartment complexes, and within the city the variety in buildings and units is enormous.

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Sales reported by 10/2/17. Data from sources deemed reliable but may contain errors
and subject to revision. May not contain every sale occurring in the period.

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

 

Long-Term Appreciation Trends: 3 Major SF Districts

These 3 charts review the 2-4 unit building markets in three broad sections of the city: The very expensive, northern district encompassing the greater Pacific Heights area; the central Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district; and the Richmond district in the northwest corner of the city. We use the 2-4 unit building markets because the greater quantity of sales makes the statistics much more meaningful.

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Broker Performance in Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

According to Broker Metrics, which crunches MLS sales data, of the largest brokerages in San Francisco for multi-unit residential property sales, Paragon ranks first for highest sales volume (in both 2+ and 5+ unit building sales). Paragon represents both many more buyers and many more sellers in successfully completed transactions. We also know and do significant amounts of business in surrounding Bay Area counties.

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All Paragon market reports can be found here

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular apartment building without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis, which can be provided upon request.

Numbers reflect sales reported by 10/2/17. 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, financial data and locations. We are often dependent upon listing agents for income and expense details, which can be of varying accuracy. Many Alameda sales do not report cap rates, so the calculation in this report is based only upon those that did. A percentage of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis. All numbers to be considered approximate.

© 2017 Paragon Commercial Brokerage

The Economic Context Behind Housing Market Trends

The real estate markets in the SF Bay Area are parts in an overall economic reality that includes a number of financial, demographic and psychological components – all of which are impacting each other in constantly changing ways. Some are local, and others reflect national or even international events or trends. They often run in parallel, but can also diverge or reverse themselves very suddenly. Below are snapshot analyses of what we see as major cogs in this economic machine.

In some charts, we use specific data for San Francisco itself, but the trends seen there – such as home price appreciation, employment and housing affordability – are playing out, to varying degrees, throughout the Bay Area. That is, we believe these economic context illustrations generally pertain to the entire region.

The charts are relatively self-explanatory if you wish to skip the descriptive text.

Sudden, Dramatic Population Growth

Spectacular Employment Growth

The Bay Area has had the strongest employment trends in the nation, adding approximately 600,000 new jobs in the past 7 years. As illustrated below, San Francisco alone has added about 100,000 in that time period. All these new people need somewhere to live, and many of these new jobs are very well-paid. Note that after dropping in early 2016 (per the economic cooling to be discussed later in this report) and then climbing back up again in the second half of 2016, hiring has basically plateaued in 2017. (Too much should not be made of short-term data.)

Employment Chart: SF, San Mateo, Alameda & Contra Costa

New Housing Construction

Though ramping up in recent years, new housing construction has not come close to meeting the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Most of the recent new construction would not be considered “affordable,” as developers have concentrated on more expensive condo and apartment construction. So while helping to fill an urgent need for new housing, it has not really helped less affluent, normal-working-class segments of the population.

New Housing Pipeline

A snapshot of what is currently in the pipeline for new construction in the city. 3 huge, long-term projects make up a big percentage of units planned. Note that the pipeline is constantly changing: new plans submitted, and existing plans changed or even abandoned. Just because something is in the pipeline does not mean it will end up being built. Economic downturns typically shut down new development plans very quickly.

Mortgage Interest Rate Decline

The 35% to 45% decline in interest rates since 2007 has played an enormous role in real estate markets, in effect subsidizing much of the home price increases seen in the past 6-7 years. Since the 2016 election, rates first jumped up 23% and then declined again to, historically, very competitive rates below 4%. The fear that rates might rise again soon may have been one factor behind the feverish spring 2017 markets seen around the Bay Area. It is notoriously difficult to predict interest rate movements with any confidence.

Consumer Confidence

The monthly fluctuations in consumer confidence reported on in the media are relatively meaningless and without context, but longer-term movements are much more meaningful to overall economic trends. Psychology – confidence, optimism, fear, pessimism – often plays a huge role in financial and real estate markets. And events can sometimes turn consumer confidence one way or another very rapidly, whether such movements are rational or not.

New Wealth Creation: Initial Public Offerings

Besides the effect of increased, well-paid employment, the sudden creation of brand new wealth has been a very, very big factor in Bay Area real estate markets. IPOs can create tens of thousands of residents who suddenly feel much, much wealthier, and that impacts home buying. Local IPO activity increased through mid-2015, pouring hundreds of billions of new dollars into the economy, and then suddenly stopped in its tracks when financial markets suddenly became very volatile in September 2015. This particularly affected the high-end homes segment: Not only were new millionaires not being minted by the dozen, but the affluent are typically most sensitive to financial news and market volatility.

The Bay Area has an astounding pipeline of possible IPOs in the not too distant future – Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and Pinterest, to name a few of the biggest. If and when these companies go public, and how the IPOs are received, are a real wildcard for the region’s real estate markets. There is the potential to unlock tremendous wealth held in relatively non-liquid private equity into billions of spendable dollars. On the other hand, if there was a dotcom-like implosion, the effects would be quite serious. (We don’t expect such an implosion, though a sudden financial crisis could still have significant negative ramifications, especially for currently unprofitable start-ups.)

New Wealth: Stock Market Appreciation

The gigantic surge in the stock market over the past 9 years has also made people feel much wealthier, which, besides making new money available to purchase a home or a bigger home, stimulates consumer (and venture capitalist) confidence, which feeds yet more positive energy into the markets.

Financial Market Volatility

The above S&P chart smoothed out all the volatility to illustrate the overall steady climb in stock market values since 2009. Below is a snapshot of the volatility that occurred from autumn 2015 to late summer 2016 (with an allusion to the big jump that has occurred in 2017 YTD): stock markets plunged in September 2015 to recover fully by November, then plunged again in January 2016 to recover again by April. Then came a smaller response to the Brexit vote. This volatility affected IPOs, venture capitalist confidence (to continue funding start-ups), hiring, and real estate markets, especially of more expensive homes. One local, respected economist predicted in late 2015 that soon “there would be blood in the streets of San Francisco” from a collapse in high-tech and housing booms. Then financial and real estate markets, hiring, VC and consumer confidence bounced back dramatically in 2017, and he revised his estimate for streets filled with blood to 2019 or 2020.

Residential Rents

Again, this chart is for San Francisco, but similar trends occurred throughout the Bay Area. Soaring population and employment without a concomitant increase in housing supply made rents soar to the highest in the nation. Extremely high rents (with no tax, equity accrual or appreciation benefits) make many people think of buying as a better financial alternative. Rents declined from a peak in 2015 due to increased supply (new apartment buildings coming on market) and a softening in high-tech hiring through mid-2016. In 2017, there are some preliminary signs of a recovery, or at least that the decline in rent rates has, for the time being, stopped.

Rent Trends Chart: Selected Bay Area Counties

 Supply: New Listings Coming on Market (SF)

A very significant change has occurred in real estate markets locally and nationally: Homeowners are selling their homes much less frequently. There has been a general decrease in population mobility (people moving for new jobs), a substantial increase in the average age of homeowners (older people move less often than younger), and an increase in owners renting out homes instead of selling (helped by the big drop in interest rates and the big jump in rents). If demand increases for all the reasons mentioned earlier – demographic shifts, new wealth, new jobs, more confidence – but the number of homes being put on the market declines, that creates the pressure that leads to higher home prices.

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)

MSI is a statistic that takes into account both buyer demand and the supply of homes available to purchase. The lower the MSI, the greater the competitive pressure on prices: Very low MSI figures, such as we have been seeing around the Bay Area in almost all market segments, means that there are too many buyers for the number of homes on the market. This leads buyers to bid against one another: Nothing leads to higher prices more quickly than this dynamic.

Median Home Price Trends

This chart is for SF, but the entire Bay Area has seen similar upward swings in home prices since 2012. In many ways, this chart is the result of everything that has been illustrated in previous charts in this report. However, it should be noted that the very considerable appreciation in home values has also increased the wealth of much of the population, which feeds back into the financial and psychological loops.

Appreciation Trends Chart: Bay Area Counties

Real Estate Appreciation Cycles

This very simplified, smoothed-out graph illustrates the percentage ups and downs in home prices over the past 30+ years per the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for “high-price-tier” homes in the Bay Area: High-price-tier homes predominate in most of SF, Silicon Valley and Marin County, as well as in enclaves in other counties. Like other financial markets, real estate markets are subject to cycles. However, they are hard to predict because there is no hard and fast rule as to how long cycles will run. Booms can last longer than expected, or suddenly get a second wind, and downturns can come out of nowhere. There are so many churning, interactive economic, political and ecological factors in the mix nowadays, running from local events in the Bay Area to developments in China, Europe, North Korea and Middle East.

Bay Area vs. National Appreciation Trends

What has happened home prices in the Bay Area has also been occurring generally in the country, though our high-tech/bio-tech/fin-tech boom has certainly goosed appreciation here. However, it is interesting to see, that for the most part, the trends are quite similar over recent decades, with divergences for the 1989 earthquake, the dotcom boom and bust, and the most recent recovery. It will be interesting to see if the trend lines converge again as has happened in the past.

San Francisco Housing Affordability

All the factors that have pushed up home prices have pushed down affordability. San Francisco and San Mateo Counties have the lowest housing affordability percentages in the state (and maybe the nation), but affordability has been rapidly declining around the Bay Area. When affordability gets too low, it starts to throw a wrench in some of the other components, like population and hiring. People and companies start moving away, poverty increases, start-ups start up elsewhere, rents begin to soften, and so on throughout the economic ecosystem. Housing affordability may be the biggest social, political and economic issue facing the Bay Area right now.

Housing Affordability Chart: Selected Bay Area Counties

With statistics, one is almost always looking in the rear-view mirror, and, as anyone reading the news during the past year knows, the future is an unknown country. As they say in the standard disclaimer, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

All our many 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

Luxury HOUSE Market Update for San Francisco

The autumn selling season is a big one for the San Francisco luxury house market: Last September saw a record-breaking spike in new listings hitting the market, leading to a similar spike in October sales. It will be a couple months before we begin to get definitive statistics on listing and sales activity in September and October 2017, but in the meantime we can review the market conditions and trends as they have developed over recent years. This report will pay particular attention to the different neighborhood markets within SF.

We typically use $3,000,000 as the price threshold for the luxury house market in San Francisco: That approximately defines the top 10% of the market. The ultra-luxury segment starts at $5 million, which constitutes the top 2.5% of sales. Of course, what one gets in the different neighborhoods for the same price can vary dramatically: A fixer-upper in Presidio Heights may go for the same price as a large, gracious mansion in St. Francis Wood in move-in condition. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

Link to our update on the SF luxury CONDO market
All Paragon reports can be found here

Overview: Listing & Sales Activity

As of mid-month, 29 new luxury house listings priced at $3m+ have come on the SF market since the beginning of September, so it looks like it may be another big month for new listing activity. Of those 29, 4 had already accepted offers by 9/15/17.

If you wish, you may skip our summary and jump to additional graphed analyses further below.

MARKET SUMMARY

The luxury real estate market is impacted by a number of factors: positively, by improvement in general economic conditions and confidence, highly-paid employment and population growth, and especially, by the creation of new wealth in large quantities. All these elements were dynamically present in the Bay Area from 2012 through mid-2015. Then significant economic and political volatility put a damper on luxury home sales: Chinese stock market turmoil, the crash in oil prices, Brexit, large U.S. stock market swings, as well as an apparent cooling in our high-tech boom, all injected uncertainty into financial and our luxury real estate markets. Furthermore, Bay Area high-tech IPOs, which had created a stupendous amount of new wealth since 2011, basically dried up – and newly rich or further enrichened buyers have played a big role in demand.

These changes in the economic environment caused the SF luxury home market to cool in autumn 2015. Generally speaking, the segment most affected was the market for re-sale luxury condos, particularly in those districts where big, new-construction, projects are concentrated. There has been very little new, luxury house construction in the city – only about 8 to 10 per year built since 2000 (as opposed to many thousands of new condos), which is one reason the SF house segment has generally been stronger than that for condos.

Then in October 2016, after a sudden huge surge in listings, SF luxury house sales hit a new high in sales volume, and in June 2017, the luxury condo market suddenly hit a new high as well. However, neither segment is as strong, as measured by standard market metrics, as it was during the 2014 to mid-2015 peak of market heat. Many of the statistics in this report reflect a similar trend: The market getting increasingly hotter 2012 through mid-2015, cooling from autumn 2015 through most of 2016 (during substantial financial market and political volatility), and then strengthening again in late 2016 and 2017. Now we are waiting to see how the autumn 2017 luxury home market shakes out.

Overview: Dollar per Square Foot Values

Overview: Average Days on Market

Overview: Months Supply of Inventory

San Francisco Luxury House Market
by Neighborhood & District

Median Sales Prices & Avg. Dollar per Square
Foot Values by District

Luxury House Listings & Sales Volumes by District

In the past 6 years, the Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district has seen very considerable growth in the luxury house segment. To a large degree, this shift began in the last few years of the previous millennium, when the dotcom boom suddenly erupted. Among other issues, the recent high-tech booms have somewhat changed the demographics of Bay Area wealth and of the SF luxury home buyer, and the lower-key neighborhood ambiance many younger, newly affluent buyers prefer. Another factor is that this district is much closer to highways south to the peninsula and the head offices of many high-tech giants than the wealthy northern neighborhoods. All in all, it constitutes a totally different choice from neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, and from the newer, luxury high-rise condos of South Beach-SoMa, each of which appeals to a different, but substantial segment of buyers.

Top Luxury House Districts: Months Supply of Inventory

Top Luxury House Districts: % of Sales Accepting Offers within 30 Days

Top Luxury House Districts: % of Sales over List Price

Top Luxury House Districts: Listings Taken Off Market without Selling

Ultra-Luxury House Sales in San Francisco
The Top 2.5% of Sales, $5m+

The most expensive house sales are clustered in the Pacific & Presidio Heights district, with typically a handful-plus sales each in the Russian, Nob & Telegraph Hills district and the Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district (which includes Ashbury Heights and Buena Vista Park). Every now and then a huge Alamo Square mansion will sell in this price range. Russian Hill and Sea Cliff have very few house sales in any given year, but they sometimes sell for prices well over $10m.

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

Link to our update on the SF luxury CONDO market
Our complete SF luxury real estate report
All Paragon Bay Area 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

Luxury Condo Market Report for San Francisco

The autumn selling season is a big one for the San Francisco luxury homes market: There is usually a very significant spike in activity between Labor Day and the beginning of the mid-winter slowdown in mid-November. It will be a couple months before we begin to get definitive statistics on listing and sales activity in September and October, but in the meantime we can review the market conditions and trends as they have developed over recent years. This report will pay particular attention to the different neighborhood markets within SF.

We usually use $1,850,000 as the price threshold for the luxury condo, co-op and TIC market in San Francisco: That approximately defines the top 10% of the market. The ultra-luxury segment starts at $3 million, which constitutes the top 2.5% of sales. Of course, what one gets in the different neighborhoods for the same price can vary dramatically: The city has an enormous range in locations, architectural styles, views and amenities.

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Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales over $5m
2017 YTD SF MLS Sales

Overview: Listing & Sales Activity

As of mid-month, 49 new luxury condo, co-op and TIC listings have come on the SF market since the beginning of September, so it looks like it may be a record-breaking month for new listing activity.

If you wish, you may skip our summary and jump to additional graphed analyses further below.

MARKET SUMMARY

The luxury real estate market is impacted by a number of factors: positively, by improvement in general economic conditions and confidence, highly-paid employment and population growth, foreign buyers, and especially, by the creation of new wealth in large quantities. All these elements were dynamically present in the Bay Area from 2012 through mid-2015. Then significant economic and political volatility put a damper on the market: Chinese stock market turmoil, the crash in oil prices, Brexit, the U.S. presidential election, as well as an apparent cooling in our high-tech boom, all injected uncertainty into financial markets and our local luxury real estate market from late summer 2015 to late autumn 2016. Furthermore, Bay Area high-tech IPOs, which had created a stupendous amount of new wealth since 2011, basically dried up during this period – and newly rich or substantially enrichened buyers had played a big role in demand.

Generally speaking, most affected was the market for re-sale luxury condos, particularly in those neighborhoods where big, new-construction projects are concentrated and dramatically increasing supply. It is hard to get definitive data on new-project sales activity, but it is believed to have softened as well with the overall jump in listings, all competing for the same buyers.

However, in June 2017, the SF luxury condo market suddenly hit a new high in sales volume. This accompanied feverish spring real estate markets around the Bay Area, though the more affordable segments were most frenzied, and house markets somewhat hotter than condo markets. Consumer confidence climbed, interest rates remained low and the stock market soared to new heights.

The biggest shift in the luxury condo market has been the dramatic year-over-year drop in sales reported to MLS in the greater South Beach-SoMa district, even as listing inventory there has hit new highs. As illustrated below, by virtually every market indicator – months supply of inventory, average days on market, and others – it is the softest luxury condo market in the city. This is the area where many big, new projects continue to come on market, and, to some degree, they are probably cannibalizing MLS sales as they aggressively compete with the resale market. This is also the district where the unfortunate issues at the Millennium Tower (slight sinking and tilting; multiple lawsuits) are being extensively reported upon. On the other hand, the high-end condos that do sell in this district still often achieve the highest dollar per square foot values in the city.

The Pacific Heights-Marina district and the Noe, Eureka (Castro) & Cole Valleys district have much stronger supply and demand statistics in their high-end condo markets, with the greater Russian & Nob Hills district a bit cooler.

Overview Dollar per Square Foot Analyses

Most Expensive Luxury Condo, Co-op & TIC Buildings
in San Francisco, by Median Dollar per Square Foot

Each of these buildings had 7 to 23 sales during the period measured.

San Francisco Luxury CONDO, CO-OP & TIC Market
by Top Neighborhoods & Districts

Each Realtor district delineated on the map above and the charts below contains a number of neighborhoods. For example, Realtor District 9 contains South Beach, SoMa, Mission Bay, Yerba Buena, Potrero Hill and the Mission (as far as luxury condo sales go). Sometimes the chart legends will mention different neighborhoods within the district, but it is always referencing the same District 9.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

The highest luxury dollar per square foot values are achieved in the greater South Beach-SoMa district – almost all high-rises built within the last 20 years or so – and in the swath of much older, high-prestige neighborhoods, such as Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, running across the northern side of the city.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: Listing & Sales Volumes

The South Beach-SoMa district has by far the highest number of active luxury condo listings, and that does not include most of the new-project listings, which are typically not entered into MLS. So supply, or over-supply, is a major issue there in the market dynamic.

This next chart illustrates the abrupt plunge in sales over the past 15 months in South Beach-SoMa (tying neatly into when the Millennium problems started getting press coverage). The Pacific Heights-Marina district is now the top district for sales, followed by the Russian & Nob Hills area. Sales in the two relative “upstarts” in the luxury condo market – the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district and the Hayes Valley-NoPa-Alama Square district – have been significantly growing in recent years.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: Months Supply of Inventory

South Beach-SoMa now has a very high months supply of inventory, while Pacific Heights-Marina and Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys have very low MSI figures. Russian and Nob Hills have somewhat higher but still relatively low MSI figures in recent months. The lower the MSI, the stronger the demand as compared to the supply of listings available to purchase.

High MSI in South Beach-SoMa does not imply that luxury condos are not selling there, but it does mean that listings generally have to stand out as good values, i.e. priced correctly as well as prepared and marketed properly, to seize the attention of buyers confronted with so many options.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: Average days on Market

The same dynamic seen in months supply of inventory is replicated in the statistic average-days-on-market. Indeed, the dynamic is consistently illustrated, to a greater or lesser degree, in all the following charts.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: % of Sales Accepting Offers within 30 Days
The higher the percentage, the stronger the market.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: % of Sales Selling over List Price
The higher the percentage, the stronger the market.

Generally speaking, the higher the overbidding percentage, the more buyers are competing to win listings. However, it is also not unusual in recent years for lower priced areas to have higher overbidding percentages, and the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district is distinctly less expensive than the other 3 districts illustrated on the chart below.

Top Luxury Condo Districts: Listings Taken Off Market without Selling
The higher the number, in relation to overall district
listing and sales numbers, the softer the market.

Ultra-Luxury Condo & Co-op Sales in San Francisco
The Top 2.5% of Sales, $3m+

As illustrated in the second chart below, sales at the highest end of the luxury condo and co-op market peaked in spring 2015, while the number of active MLS listings have continued to rapidly climb to peak this past June, so the supply and demand dynamics in this segment have changed considerably in the past 2+ years. This ties in with the financial market turmoil and plunge in local IPO activity that began in late summer 2015. At the same time, some of the recently built as well as upcoming condo projects are aggressively targeting this very expensive niche, adding further to supply.

This market segment targets a very small pool of very affluent buyers and it is not unusual that its statistics for months supply of inventory and average days on market to be appreciably above those in the general market. However, since spring 2015, both metrics have climbed much higher, to an average of 8.5 months of inventory and an average 55 days on market over the past year. This market has been clearly and significantly tilting to the advantage of buyers.

As seen earlier in the list of biggest sales and the chart showing the most expensive buildings, the ultra-luxury segment is totally dominated by neighborhoods such as Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Nob Hill and South Beach-SoMa.

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

Our complete SF luxury real estate report (including luxury houses)
All Paragon Bay Area 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