CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index Update

The CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index does not evaluate median sales price changes, but employs its own proprietary algorithm to measure home price appreciation over time. Since its indices cover large areas – for example, the San Francisco Metro Area is comprised of 5 counties – which themselves contain communities of widely varying home values, the C-S chart numbers do not refer to specific prices, but instead reflect prices as compared to those prevailing in January 2000, which are all designated as having a consistent value of 100. A reading of 250 signifies that home prices have appreciated 150% above the price prevailing in January 2000.

Case-Shiller divides all the house sales into thirds, or tiers: 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 the third in between is the mid-price. The price ranges of these tiers change as the market changes. The 3 price tiers experienced dramatically different bubbles, crashes and recoveries over the past 18+ years, to a large degree determined by how badly the tier was affected by the subprime financing crisis. The low price tier was worst affected – huge bubble, huge crash, most dramatic recovery – and the high-price least affected (but still significantly affected).

Most house sales in expensive counties such as San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo, as well as affluent communities in other Bay Area counties are in the “high price tier”, and many would qualify for an “ultra-high-price tier,” if such existed. All counties, to varying degrees, have sales in all 3 price tiers.

The Index is published 2 months after the month delineated – the March 2019 index was released 5/28/19 – reflects a 3-month rolling calculation, and one month’s sales generally reflect accepted-offer activity in the previous month. The Index is looking into a rear-view mirror at the market 3 to 5 months ago: The March 2019 reading, released in late May, mostly reflect market conditions in December 2018 – February 2019.

The 5 counties in our Case-Shiller Metro Statistical Area are San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa: Alameda and Contra Costa are by far the largest markets; SF itself comprises only about 7% of house sales in the metro area. We believe the Index generally applies to other Bay Area counties, such as Sonoma and Santa Clara,
as well. There are hundreds of unique real estate markets found in such a broad region, with different dynamics, moving at varying speeds, sometimes in different directions. How the C-S Index applies to any particular property is impossible to know without a specific comparative market analysis. More here.

Jobs Report: California sees largest monthly gain in two years

According to the latest report from the state Employment Development Department, California added 46,000 jobs in April – the largest monthly gain since March 2017.

While monthly job additions have varied a lot since the beginning of the year, California led all states in the monthly increase. The state has added 271,600 jobs over the last year, which is a 1.6 percent year-over-year increase – slightly behind the 1.8 percent overall national growth rate.

The state’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3 percent in April. Labor force declined, however, by 52,200 in April, after some solid increases in first three months of the year. Compared to a year ago, the labor force has increased by 203,900 people.

With 46,000 jobs added over the month, 9 out of 11 industries added jobs in January, with largest gains in educational and health services, up 17,300 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality, up 12,100 jobs. Information and minting and logging posted monthly losses.

In annual comparison, 10 out of 11 industries added jobs with health services showing the largest gains, up 78,800 jobs, followed by professional and business services, up 66,900 jobs. Only financial activity posted an annual loss of 2,700.

Regionally, Los Angeles finally showed a rebound after a rocky start to 2019. Los Angeles County added 19,300 jobs over the month and 56,100 over the year. The region’s labor force, however, declined by 20,000 which is not encouraging for hiring trends going forward. Nevertheless, monthly gains were largely focused in leisure and hospitality, with a larger than usual seasonal addition. Construction also saw above-average April gains bringing the sector’s employment to the highest level in more than a decade. On the annual basis, the health and wellbeing of an aging population continues to influence large gains. Job additions in healthcare and social assistance, up 18,800, accounted for ninety-two percent of the overall sector job growth to reach a new all-time high. On the other hand, losses were focused in financial services, particularly, finance and insurance, though apparel manufacturing was down as well.

In the Bay Area, gains were broad based across the regions and most regions saw unemployment rate decline again falling below the year-ago bottom. In San Francisco-San Mateo region, up 5,000 jobs, monthly gains were led by healthcare job additions, followed by leisure and hospitality, and solid gains in information.

In the Santa Clara-San Benito region, up 6,400 jobs, gains were also led by leisure and hospitality, but also specialty trade contractors, and information. Computer and electronic product manufacturing posted 1,100 losses.

In Alameda and Contra Costa, up 6,800 jobs, similar trends followed with healthcare and social assistance leading the gains followed by leisure and hospitality.

San Francisco Real Estate High-Demand Spring Market Slightly Below Last Year’s Home Price Peaks

With April’s end, we now have 2 months of spring season data unaffected by the end of 2018, when financial markets plunged. As of early May 2019, stock markets have recovered to hit new highs, interest rates are far lower than last year’s peak, and our local, unicorn IPOs have begun to roll out after a media frenzy of speculation on their potential effects on the market.

The market has heated up considerably from the slowdown in the second half of 2018, with strong buyer demand for a very limited inventory of listings. Median home sales prices have returned to highs close to those in spring 2018, but, so far, last year’s peaks have not been exceeded. This is a big change from the year-over-year appreciation rates of the past 6-7 years.

However, there are still 2 months of spring sales data to come in (before the typical summer slowdown), and word on the street is that some new listings are again generating feverish bidding wars between buyers.

Monthly Median House Sales Prices

Monthly median sales prices are often affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value – for example, the extreme seasonality of luxury home sales – but the above chart helps illustrate trends over the past 2 years: Spring 2018 was one of the hottest markets in history, with dramatic year-over-year price appreciation. The market then cooled, stock markets turned scary, and interest rates climbed. 2019 has heated up again, but, so far, without any y-o-y median price gains.

The most expensive housing market in the country has, for the time being, stopped becoming more expensive.

Year-over-Year Comparisons

The table below compares the March-April market statistics of 2018 and 2019. Prices were stable, overbidding was down, and luxury home sales were up, but most statistics were remarkably similar to last year’s. The SF and Oakland-Berkeley markets are currently the strongest in the Bay Area.

Home Sales by Price Range & Bedroom Count

Below is an illustration of sales of houses, condos, co-ops and TICs over the past 12 months, by price segment and by number of bedrooms.

Condos now constitute the biggest share of sales in San Francisco, which mostly explains the high columns for 1- and 2-bedroom sales in the $500,000 to $1.5 million range.

District Sales & Median Home Prices

The next 2 charts break down the last 12 months of sales by Realtor District (delineated on the map above). Some districts were split into 2 for these analyses, but all these areas contain neighborhoods of differing characteristics and home values.

House Sales, Median Prices & Median Sizes

The two biggest districts by volume of house sales – Bayview/ Excelsior/ Crocker Amazon (D10) and Sunset/ Parkside/ GG Heights (D2) – are also 2 of the 3 most affordable districts for purchasing a house in the city. Many of the older districts with bigger, more expensive houses are relatively small markets.

Condo Sales & Median 2-BR/2-BA Condo Prices

Condo sales in SF run across a wide range of eras and styles, from Victorian and Edwardian units in small buildings, through brand new, ultra-luxury high-rise penthouses. The breakout of median sales prices pertain to 2-bedroom, 2 bath condos only.

San Francisco Luxury Homes Markets by District

We typically define the SF luxury house market as houses selling for $3 million+, and the luxury condo, co-op and TIC market as those selling for $2 million+.

SF Luxury House Sales by District

The central Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district (D5) dominates the market for houses selling from $3 to $4.99 million. The northern Pacific Heights-Cow Hollow district (D7) dominates the $5 million+ ultra-luxury segment. But high-end home sales are scattered across the city.

Luxury Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales by District

Luxury condo sales are concentrated in 3 districts: District 9, where most of the newer, high-rise, luxury projects are found in the South Beach/Yerba Buena area (which 30 years ago was filled with parking lots and auto-stereo shops), and in the old-prestige, northern neighborhoods of Districts 7 & 8, which include Pacific Heights and Russian Hill. (This is also where the city’s high-price co-op units are clustered).

Q1 2019 “Ultra-Luxury” Homes Markets

We start the “ultra-luxury” segments at $5 million for houses, and $3 million for condos and co-ops. There has been a large (and continuing) surge in the construction of very expensive condo projects over the last 15 years, which makes for a greatly increased inventory of high-price condos for sale – and softer market dynamics.

House Size & Era of Construction

Many factors influence home construction size during any particular period: Affluence, economic conditions, household size, buyer age, land costs, population growth, natural disasters, etc. Generally speaking, the median size of houses was larger during the Victorian-Edwardian era, and declined through the 1940’s – when enormous swathes of the city were built out in the south and southwest districts. Home sizes then began increasing again, and are now larger than ever – however, few new houses are currently built in the city.

The sizes of houses built in earlier periods have increased over the years due to renovations: Adding that 2nd bathroom, or a 3rd bedroom behind the garage.

Condos have become the major alternative for people purchasing homes of smaller size.

Selected Demographic & Economic Factors
Population Growth

SF has seen a dramatic population increase over the past 10 years, and by percentage growth, SF had the 2nd highest rate in the Bay Area after Alameda County. But new census data indicates the rate of growth is rapidly dropping.

Our latest burst of growth – an increase of about 78,000 or 10% – with all its social and economic effects, looks paltry compared to the 1940’s, when the city’s population soared by 140,000, a jump of 22% that began with WWII.

Commuting

Venture Capital Investment

In recent years, the Bay Area has been the biggest destination of venture capital investment dollars in the country – and probably the world. These tens of billions of dollars have constituted a massive factor in the local economy, supercharging the creation of new companies, hiring, and, eventually, IPOs. Venture capital is effectively seed money that has exploded into the creation of stupendous amounts of new wealth.