Mixed Signals in San Francisco Real Estate Market

Autumn markets in counties around the Bay Area have seen significant shifts, with wide variance in the magnitude of these changes between counties. So far, San Francisco itself has seen less dramatic changes than other local markets such as Santa Clara and Sonoma Counties.

Homes that sell have generally continued to sell quickly, at prices often well over asking. Median sales prices are considerably higher on a year-over-year basis. However, listing inventory has climbed, sales volume has dropped, and the numbers of price reductions and expired listings have increased. Luxury house sales hit a new all-time high in San Francisco. Luxury condos hit a new sales peak for the month of October, but the number of listings hit a new all-time high.

Market statistics are generating contradictory readings amid a background of financial market and political volatility, and rising interest rates. Some standard statistics take time to reflect changes on the ground, and will bear watching in coming months.

Median Sales Price Appreciation
4 Views

Long-Term Annual Trends since 1993
(2018 figure reflects YTD sales)

In recent years, house price appreciation has far outpaced that of condos.

3-Month Rolling Median Price Trends since 2005

Year-over-Year Comparisons, 2016-2018: S
an Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara Counties

Appreciation percentages can change rapidly in these year-over-year comparisons.

Monthly Median Price Changes since 2012
COMBINED House and Condo Median Sales Prices

Monthly and seasonal fluctuations are very common.

Supply & Demand Statistics

More new listings came on market in autumn 2018, providing buyers with more choices and lessening the sense of urgency and competitive bidding.

The number of active listings on the market is significantly higher than in October 2017, 2015 or 2014, but comparable to October 2016 and 2013. Further increases might considerably alter the supply and demand dynamic.

Looking at the past 3 months, sales volume has dropped about 2% year over year. September 2018 saw the lowest volume of any September in 10 years, but then September is not typically a high volume month: It mostly reflects accepted-offer activity in August when the market slows way down.

October 2018 saw the highest number of price reductions in 6 years. Some other counties saw much more dramatic increases. This is an important indicator of changing market conditions.

The number of expired and withdrawn listings – no sale – started to climb in October 2018 above previous years. December is the big month for listings being pulled off the market for the mid-winter holiday slowdown. This statistic will bear watching to see if there is a big jump in homes that sellers have not been able to sell at prices they consider acceptable.

Average percentage of sales price to original list price (overbidding) declined from the heat of the spring selling season, as is typical, was lower than in October 2017, 2015 or 2014, but higher than in October 2016.

Looking at the past 3 months of median sales price to final list price percentages, overbidding varied greatly by property type and by price segment, and some rates remain staggeringly high. But the increased number of listings undergoing price reductions this autumn has generally not yet had time to sell and thus be reflected in these statistics – when they do, if they do, they may well lower the rates seen in the charts above and below.

So far, those listings selling this autumn have generally sold relatively quickly. But this statistic won’t reflect properties that have not yet sold, perhaps after necessary price reductions. If the market is in the midst of a sustained transition, future months may see significant adjustments in this metric

Luxury Home Sales Hit New Highs

Houses selling for $3 million and above hit an all-time high – by a tad at 38 sales – in October 2018, as reported to MLS. The great majority of these sales occurred in 2 districts, the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valley district, and the Pacific & Presidio Heights-Marina district – though smaller numbers of sales took place in a wide variety of other neighborhoods. The highest-price sales were for $32 million in Pacific Heights and $16 million in Nob Hill. There were 4.5 months of inventory at the end of October, not a particularly high level of inventory for this market segment, and down 15% from October 2017.

Luxury condos, co-ops and TICs selling for $2 million+ hit their highest point ever for the month of October – 32 sales – but were well below highs hit in previous spring selling seasons. The highest sale in October, as reported to MLS, was for $10.9 million – a 3200 sq.ft. unit in the St. Regis in Yerba Buena. However, the number of active listings also hit an all-time high in September (144) and October (141) – 11% higher than October 2017, the previous peak (not illustrated on the sales chart below). The months supply of inventory stood at 6.5 months, which would be considered high as compared to the last 5 years – and does not include many new-project luxury condos not listed in MLS.

SF District Median Sales Price Appreciation
since 2005

San Francisco Houses

Short-term fluctuations are not particularly meaningful as pertaining to changes in fair market values – and big fluctuations are more common in more expensive areas. What are important are the longer term trends

San Francisco 2-Bedroom Condos & Co-ops

New condo construction can muddy the water of apples-to-apples comparisons of median condo sales prices over time, but the the general trends are still relatively clear.

In Pacific Heights, a neighborhood of big, very expensive houses, both median sales prices and average dollar per square foot values (illustrated below) have dropped from peaks hit in 2015- 2016.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis.

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

Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, DRE 01527235. Equal Housing Opportunity. This report has been prepared solely for information purposes. The information herein is based on or derived from information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Compass disclaims any and all liability relating to this report, including without limitation any express or implied representations or warranties for statements contained in, and omissions from, the report. Nothing contained herein is intended to be or should be read as any regulatory, legal, tax, accounting or other advice and Compass does not provide such advice. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Compass makes no representation regarding the accuracy of any statements regarding any references to the laws, statutes or regulations of any state are those of the author(s). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

© 2018 Compass

F

San Francisco Early Autumn Market Report

Due mostly to seasonal issues, median sales prices typically drop in Q3 from Q2 peaks, and did so this year as well. The median SF house price was up 15% and the median condo price was up 4% from Q3 2017. The other Bay Area counties also saw substantial year-over-year increases in median home sales prices in Q3 2018.

New Listings & Price Reductions
September is always a big month for new listings coming on market in San Francisco – typically with the highest number of the year – and this year they jumped 28% higher than in September 2017 to hit their highest point in years.

The number of price reductions in September also increased: 37% over 2017 and 18% over 2016. October is usually one of the two biggest months of the year for price reductions as sellers of unsold listings make a last attempt to grab the attention of buyers before the mid-winter slowdown begins in mid-November.

The number of active listings on the market on a given day in September was somewhat higher than last year, but a bit lower than in September 2016.

What will tell us most about where the market is heading is how buyers respond to these new listings and price reductions, and that information won’t be available until autumn’s listings have time to accept offers, and accepted offers have time to close escrow – in quantity – to give us their data. October is usually a very big month for sales in San Francisco as buyers jump on the surge of listings.

Bay Area Statistics by County

Jumps in listings and price reductions have been common around the Bay Area, and in some counties, the changes are much more pronounced than in SF: Sonoma saw a 122% increase in price reductions amid an active inventory of listings 90% higher than in September of last year. Santa Clara County saw staggering increases, but much of that is due to the fact that inventory was incredibly, abnormally low last year, when Santa Clara was perhaps the hottest real estate market in the country.

Days on Market, Overbidding &
Months Supply of Inventory

So far, we are not seeing significant shifts in these 3 standard measurements of market heat.

Price Tables by Neighborhood & Bedroom Count

Below are selected excerpts from 10 pages of tables breaking down SF home sales over the past 12 months. If a field is left blank, it signifies that there weren’t enough sales for statistical analysis; if a price is asterisked, it means there were only 3 or 4 sales in the period. We are happy to provide the full collection of tables upon request.

House Sales

Condo Sales

The Luxury Home Market

As with the general market, September is typically a very important month for new luxury home listings and October a big month for sales. For the past 3 years, October has been the biggest month of the year for luxury house sales of $3m+. Even more so than the general market, the luxury market goes into a precipitous slowdown from just before Thanksgiving to mid-late January.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis.

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

Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, DRE 01527235. Equal Housing Opportunity. This report has been prepared solely for information purposes. The information herein is based on or derived from information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Compass disclaims any and all liability relating to this report, including without limitation any express or implied representations or warranties for statements contained in, and omissions from, the report. Nothing contained herein is intended to be or should be read as any regulatory, legal, tax, accounting or other advice and Compass does not provide such advice. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Compass makes no representation regarding the accuracy of any statements regarding any references to the laws, statutes or regulations of any state are those of the author(s). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

© 2018 Compass

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

The big political issue facing the market is CA Prop 10, which, if passed in November, repeals the limits on local rent control laws enacted in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. This would almost certainly have negative ramifications for owners of multi-unit residential properties in San Francisco and Oakland. The CA Legislative Analyst Office does a good job summarizing the issues: Prop 10 Review. Prop 10 is currently creating something of a shadow on the larger apartment building market, with some buyers waiting for election results – much as happened with SF Prop G did in 2014. (Prop G failed and the market rallied dramatically after Election Day.) However, the market certainly did not grind to a halt in Q3, nor did values plunge.

Historically speaking, it has been difficult for rent control measures to pass on a statewide basis, because homeowners, all of whom are potential landlords, outnumber tenants in California. On this issue, people tend to vote their financial interests, and homeowners generally vote in higher percentages than tenants. Strong rent-control measures are generally found only in tenant-majority communities. All of which is not to take for granted what will occur on November 6.

This report generally separates out the 2-4 unit and the 5+ unit apartment building markets, since they have different dynamics and values. All the statistics herein are broad generalities covering a wide variety of buildings of very different location, age, size, quality, condition, tenant profile, income and income potential. The number of sales in many of the segments is relatively small, which can make the statistics more prone to anomalous fluctuations.

Some charts pertain to multiple counties, and others drill down on statistics specific to San Francisco; some track the last 12 months of sales, and others have a final data point reflecting 2018 YTD sales. All numbers should be considered good-faith, general approximations.

Trends in Residential Rents

This chart below tracks longer-term average asking rent trends, instead of median asking rent appreciation since 2012, as illustrated in the charts above. It provides a bit more historical context.

Sales, Prices & Market Trends

2-4 Unit Buildings

5+ Unit Buildings: Inventory, Sales & Values

The inventory of active listings ticked up in the last 2 quarters.

SF 5+ Unit Buildings: Trends in Gross Rent Multiple,
Cap Rate & Dollar per Unit Value

Many of the standard value parameters have remained remarkably
consistent in San Francisco over recent years.

San Francisco New Construction Pipeline

Almost 70,000 housing units are now in the SF new construction pipeline. Plans are constantly being added, revised and abandoned, and new housing construction is extremely sensitive to changes in economic conditions.

Q3 2018 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. Within the city the variety in buildings and units is enormous.

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.

Broker Performance in
Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

In the summer of 2018, Paragon and Pacific Union merged into Compass to create the largest residential investment property brokerage in San Francisco.

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular apartment building without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. 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. A percentage of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis.

Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, DRE 01527235. Equal Housing Opportunity. This report has been prepared solely for information purposes. The information herein is based on or derived from information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Compass disclaims any and all liability relating to this report, including without limitation any express or implied representations or warranties for statements contained in, and omissions from, the report. Nothing contained herein is intended to be or should be read as any regulatory, legal, tax, accounting or other advice and Compass does not provide such advice. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Compass makes no representation regarding the accuracy of any statements regarding any references to the laws, statutes or regulations of any state are those of the author(s). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

© 2018 Compass

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 and neighborhoods 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, designated as having a value of 100. Thus a reading of 250 signifies that home prices have appreciated 150% above the price of January 2000 (with its reading of 100).

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 the third in between is the mid-price tier. The price ranges of these tiers changes as the market changes. The 3 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 deeply affected).

Most of the 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 that is where we focus most of our attention. In fact, much of the house market in San Francisco and other very expensive markets would qualify for an “ultra-highprice
tier,” but C-S does not break that out. All counties, to some degree, have sales in all 3 price tiers.

The Index is published 2 months after each month delineated – the July index was released in late September – and reflects a 3-month rolling average, so in effect, it is looking into a rear-view mirror at the market 3 to 5 months ago.

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 the other Bay Area counties as well. There are many dozens, if not hundreds, of unique real estate markets found in such a broad region, with different dynamics, moving at varying speeds, sometimes even moving in different directions. How the C-S Index applies to any particular property is impossible to say without a specific comparative market analysis.

S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index [CSUSHPINSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CSUSHPINSA, September 25, 2018.

Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, DRE 01527235. Equal Housing Opportunity. This report has been prepared solely for information purposes. The information herein is based on or derived from information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Compass disclaims any and all liability relating to this report, including without limitation any express or implied representations or warranties for statements contained in, and omissions from, the report. Nothing contained herein is intended to be or should be read as any regulatory, legal, tax, accounting or other advice and Compass does not provide such advice. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Compass makes no representation regarding the accuracy of any statements regarding any references to the laws, statutes or regulations of any state are those of the author(s). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.