Bay Area Demographics

18 charted analyses of ancestry, affluence, education, real estate,
politics, poverty and employment for San Francisco, Marin, Napa,
Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda & Contra Costa Counties.

4th Quarter 2014, Paragon Special Report

These charts are mostly based on U.S. Census surveys from 2010 to 2013. Each of the 8 counties examined contains areas of widely varying demographics, and the multiple reports analyzed (6+ for each county) contain counts and estimates made at different times. Though these statistics are broad overviews, we still found many fascinating insights – and hope you will as well.

Adjusting your screen-view to zoom 150% will make the charts easier to read.

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Ancestry, Race & Age

For the most part, the ancestry and race categories used below
are as designated in the U.S. Census reports.

Ancestry: This first chart is a collated overview of the 8 counties. The Bay Area is one of the most multi-cultural places on earth, but (not broken out on this chart) this diversity is not evenly spread: Different ethnic and national groups often cluster in specific counties. For example, San Francisco has the largest populations with Chinese or Russian ancestry; Santa Clara has, by far, the greatest number of residents from India, Vietnam or Mexico; Alameda leads in those of Portuguese or Pacific Island heritage. For breakdowns by county, U.S. Census reports can be accessed at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html.

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Race: Marin County has by far the largest percentage white (non-Hispanic) population at 73%, followed by Sonoma and Napa. San Francisco has the largest Asian percentage at 34.4%, with Santa Clara just behind at 34.1%. Santa Clara is the only county where white isn’t the largest group – Asian is bigger by a tiny margin. Napa has the largest Hispanic percentage at 33%, with 5 other counties between 23% and 27%. Alameda has the most substantial percentage black population at 12%.

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Foreign-Born: The foreign-born population in the Bay Area is large (behind only New York, Miami, LA and Chicago) with again, different groups predominating in different counties. About 50% of our foreign-born residents have acquired U.S. citizenship.

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Children & Residents Living Alone: It has famously been said that San Francisco has more dogs than children, and at 13.4%, SF has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any major U.S. city. The other counties run close to the national percentage of 23%. San Francisco also has a much higher proportion of residents living alone than the other 7 counties – which probably correlates with a more urban lifestyle.

It’s interesting to note (not delineated on the chart) that though SF has relatively few children, its population aged 25 to 39 is very high, at just below 30%. Other Bay Area counties run from 16% (Marin) to 23% (Santa Clara). Demographers have noted that younger, post-college adults are moving into urban centers in large numbers, and this is clearly occurring in San Francisco. The city’s young, high-tech, start-up environment is undoubtedly supercharging this phenomenon.

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Affluence, Poverty, Education & Politics

Median Household Income: Many factors impact this statistic: household size, level of education, percentages of homeowners vs. renters, median age and of course, employment. Marin and Santa Clara are at the top of the list for highest household income. Obviously, various towns and neighborhoods – such as Pacific Heights, Ross, Atherton, Piedmont, Blackhawk – far exceed the figures in the chart below.

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Poverty: According to the 2013 Wealth-X report, the Bay Area has the 3rd highest number of ultra-high-net-worth residents in the country, behind NY and LA. According to SFLuxe, the Bay Area is now home to over 70 billionaires – and it seems one can’t turn around in Safeway anymore without bumping into another new billionaire.

But surging affluence isn’t the only story.

The U.S. poverty-level income threshold does not vary by geographic region: For a family of 4, the national threshold is approximately $23,500. According to a Stanford think tank, adjusting for much higher local costs of living (especially housing) raises that threshold to $31,000 – $36,500 in Bay Area counties. In San Francisco, that increases the percentage of residents living in poverty to 23% and in Napa to 26%. Adjusted or not, the percentages add up to many hundreds of thousands of people – and this seems an appropriate place to remind all of us not to forget the neediest this holiday season.

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Unemployment Rates: A big factor behind Bay Area economic conditions has been the strong growth in employment in recent years – in high-tech certainly, but also in the financial, medical, retail, construction and other industries. Many of these new jobs are very well paid.

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Education: Some Bay Area counties are among the most educated in the country – not a big surprise considering the presence of 3 of the world’s great universities, and the Bay Area’s role as a hub for various high-education industries. Among U.S. major cities, San Francisco usually ranks near the top of the list just below Washington D.C. and Seattle.

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Political Party Registration: This chart is self-explanatory. The Bay Area is a very blue region in a very blue state.

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Housing, Real Estate, Prices & Rents

Median Home Prices: Apples to apples, San Francisco has the most expensive real estate in the Bay Area, followed by San Mateo and Marin. But all the counties include diverse neighborhoods featuring home prices ranging from relatively low to very high. One thing that stands out is the city’s distinctive condo market: the median price for 2-bedroom condos is just a tad lower than its median price for 3-bedroom houses. The reasons are twofold: firstly, very generally speaking, condos predominate in the more affluent city neighborhoods, while houses predominate in the less affluent. Secondly, thousands of new condos have been built in the last 10 years, or are under construction now, and by and large, they are of luxury or “ultra-luxury” quality and cost.

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For a Million Dollars: Consider this infographic to be very approximate indeed, but it gives an idea of what one would get in square footage for $1,000,000 at each county’s overall house and condo average dollar-per-square-foot value. For the money, one gets more than twice the space in Contra Costa or Sonoma as in San Francisco or San Mateo. In many parts of the country, one could double or triple the square footage again.

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Case-Shiller Home-Price Trends: The Case-Shiller SF Metro Area does not cover all 8 of the Bay Area counties, but it generally applies to the overall market. If Case-Shiller went back a bit further, we would see the late seventies/early eighties recession on this chart. From recession – which in the last 30-odd years has typically lasted 4-5 years – comes recovery (typically very robust recovery). Recovery usually takes 5-7 years to become utterly “over-exuberant,” which leads to a correction – and the next recession. We are still less than 3 years into our current recovery – which doesn’t mean that past trends will hold true in the future.

This chart aggregating all the sales of 5 counties is a huge simplification of hundreds of different micro-markets: Different areas and price segments of the Bay Area housing market had 2004 – 2008 bubbles and crashes of vastly different magnitudes. The lowest price segment rose and crashed the most (think “subprime loans”) and, though recovering dramatically, is still well below 2006 peak values. The higher priced housing segment had a much smaller bubble and crash, and has now exceeded its previous peak values of 2007-2008, in many cases by substantial margins. All 3 home price segments – low, middle and high – are now approximately 95% – 97% above their values of year 2000 (denoted as “100” on the chart).

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Average Asking Rents: In the Bay Area, rising apartment rents and rising home prices have gone hand in hand, a big social, economic and political issue right now. Per the analytics firm Reis, San Jose, Oakland and Francisco are 3 of the 4 hottest rental markets in the country, as measured by rent appreciation.

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Homeownership: With San Francisco’s homeownership rate of 37%, tenants outnumber homeowners by a large margin – and, not surprisingly, the city has some of the strongest rent and eviction controls in the country. (SF rent-limitation controls do not typically affect vacant or recently built apartments, so they do not reduce the “asking rent” values seen in the earlier chart.)

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Market Size: Santa Clara and the two East Bay counties each have more than twice as many home sales as any of the other 5 counties. This is mostly due to significantly higher populations, but San Francisco’s relatively low number of home sales is also caused by the fact that almost two thirds of its units are rental housing: Thus, SF has more people but fewer home sales than San Mateo. Very limited supply amid huge demand is a big factor in its rising home prices.

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Era of Construction: This chart illustrates how empty the Bay Area was 75 years ago, before World War II: Almost 50% of San Francisco’s housing was built prior to 1940, but in 6 of the other counties, the percentage falls to 12% or lower. In Santa Clara and Contra Costa, it drops to 5% – there were a lot of open fields where housing developments exist now.

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Population, Density & Size

Population & Population Density: Santa Clara and Alameda have the largest populations of the 8 counties. San Francisco, the second most densely populated city in the country (far behind Manhattan), has a population density 95 times that of Napa County.

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Size in Square Miles: This chart reminds us what a small place San Francisco really is – and its inability to expand (except upward) plays an interesting role in many of its economic and social dynamics. Sonoma is the largest of the 8 counties and it is 33 times as large as San Francisco County.

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August Case-Shiller Index Report

The August Case-Shiller Index report released today showed a small home price decline for the 5 counties of the SF Metro Area. Autumn’s numbers will give us a clearer indication as to whether this is the beginning of a flattening or declining price trend or simply the not untypical indication of a summer adjustment from the spring frenzy. PDFs are attached.

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3rd Quarter 2014 Market Report

San Francisco House & Condo Values

Which Neighborhoods Dominate Home Sales?

Who Is Buying the City’s Luxury Condos and Why?

September saw the largest surge of new listings coming on market in the past 2 years, which led to a big jump in deal-making, but data on transactions negotiated in September won’t be available until most close escrow in October and early November. In the meantime, we’ll look at the last 2 quarters.

Median Sales Prices
& Average Dollar per Square Foot

The following 2 charts look at current and longer-term trends in home values. As is common, median house sales prices dropped a bit in the 3rd quarter – this is due mostly to seasonality issues – though condos have held steady for 3 quarters now at $950,000. Dollar per square foot values have continued to increase to new peaks: This metric is particularly being impacted by new-development condo sales, which are breaking dollar per square foot records virtually everyplace they’re being built.
If you wish to drill down on values in very specific city neighborhoods, we recently updated our interactive map, which can be found here: SF Home Price Map

Median_SFD-Condo_by-Qtr_Short-term

AvgDolSqFt_by-Neighborhood_Comp

Where Home Sales Occur at What Prices

These 2 charts illustrate where the greatest quantity of house and condo sales occur in San Francisco. House sales are dominated by the districts running along the southwest and south borders of the city, from Sunset-Parkside down to Ingleside and across to Excelsior, Portola and Bayview. These areas are also among the most affordable in the city. With 25% of sales, the South Beach-SoMa-Mission Bay district has the biggest concentration of condo sales: Virtually the only place where high-rise, high-density projects can be built in the city, the latest to begin selling is the ultra-luxury, 656-unit Lumina development. Realtor district 5, the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys area, sees a large number of both house and condo sales: This area has appreciated ferociously since the early 1990’s.

Note that the median sales prices delineated on these charts combine neighborhoods of differing values and are generalities for the larger areas described.

House_Unit-Sales_by-District

Besides the neighborhoods in the chart above, the Lake Street, Sea Cliff and Jordan Park area had 35 house sales in the past year and a median sales price of $3,000,000 over the past six months, and Potrero Hill had 34 house sales and a median price of $1,460,000.

Condo-Unit-Sales_by-District

Who Is Buying San Francisco’s Luxury Condos & Why?

A report just published by 48HillsOnline analyzed the SF Assessor’s Office owner mailing records for 23 condo buildings comprising 5212 units, most built in the last 10 years and/or qualifying for the description “luxury real estate.” It found that 39% of owner mailing addresses were not those of the property, with percentages over 50% for ultra-prestige buildings such as the St. Regis, Four Seasons and Millennium – some of the most expensive real estate west of Manhattan. The article’s basic thesis is that building condos for the rich to use as second or third homes does virtually nothing to alleviate the city’s shortage of housing. Without agreeing with their conclusion, the analysis does confirm an interesting insight, i.e. the city is increasingly becoming a destination for wealth, as well as a location for the creation of new wealth.

As to the article’s anti-development case: First of all, 61% of owners appear to be owner-occupiers – working professionals, empty nesters, famous ballplayers and so on – and are clearly helping to address local home-buyer demand. Of the 39% with different mailing addresses, there may be a number of explanations: 1) units are indeed being used as second homes or pied e terres by the ultra-affluent who like to visit the city (and spend money in the local economy), 2) the units are being used as investments by local or, often, foreign buyers: to buy and hold, as long-term rental properties (which help alleviate the housing shortage), or as short-term Airbnb type rentals (which don’t), and 3) units are being occupied by dependents, such as children attending college. It’s also possible some mailing addresses are for services handling financial matters for owners.

Additionally, it’s true that developers of these condo projects, under city law, must build a certain number of affordable housing units or contribute funds to do so. Last but not least, the sale and ownership of these high-end condos contribute huge sums to the county’s transfer tax and property tax revenues, which help support city services.

Condo-Bldgs_Non-SF-Mailing-Address

Home Listings Selling over Asking Price

Average Days on Market

This next chart illustrates three points: 1) the remarkable heat of the city’s real estate market as buyers bid up home prices, 2) how seasonality impacts demand – with spring and autumn being the big, highest-demand, selling seasons, and 3) because of supply issues, the SF house market is somewhat hotter than the condo market (though it too, by any standard, is very hot).

Remember that because of the time lag between listings coming on market and offers negotiated, and the actual close of escrow – upon which these statistics are based – September’s market is not reflected on these charts.

SP-OP_All-SF-Sales_by-Month

Days on market statistics still indicate a high-demand market and, again, that the house market is a bit hotter than those for condos and TICs. New condo development is helping to meet buyer demand, while new house construction barely exists in San Francisco. TIC sales, whose numbers have been dwindling in recent years, are impacted by a number of legal, political and financing issues.

DOM_by_Quarter

San Francisco Employment

We recently illustrated our report on the main factors behind our market, charting employment, seen below, city population, city rents, interest rates and the S&P 500. Taken together, one clearly perceives the inter-connectedness between them and with SF home price trends as well. The full report, with all the new charts, is here: 10 Factors behind the Market

Employment_SF-by-year

Neighborhood Snapshots

If you’d like information on home-value trends for other property types or other neighborhoods than shown below, please let us know. We cover all of them.

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Potrero-Dogpatch_Condo_Values-by_Year

District-7_2U_DolSqFt-by-Year

Case-Shiller sees small drop in Bay Area home prices in July – 3 charts included

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for July 2014 was released today, and indicated a small – less than 1% – dip in high-price-tier houses. (The Case-Shiller aggregate Index for all Bay Area home price tiers dropped even less, about 4 tenths of a percent.)

For the past 3 years, home prices have surged in the spring and then plateaued during the summer. It is too early to speculate whether home prices are trending down a bit after the spring market frenzy, which is certainly possible. For any definitive sense of home price trends, we will have to wait until the autumn-selling season numbers are in. Autumn this year began with a big surge in the number of new listings in September.

Remember that the C-S Index covers not just San Francisco, but 4 other Bay Area counties and is a 3-month rolling average. San Francisco makes up a very small part of all the house sales being surveyed by the Index and C-S home prices reflect offers negotiated in previous months – thus the June 2014 peak reflects the heat of the market in the heart of the spring 2014 selling season.

The last 13 months, July to July:

The small dip in July 2014 from the spring peak can be seen. Small fluctuations up and down are not particularly meaningful until substantiated by longer term data.

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Since the recovery began in earnest in early 2012.

One can see the two previous summer price plateaus (and, now perhaps the beginning of a third) after spring surges:

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Longer-term overview of real estate cycles:

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