SF Residential Newsletter: Hottest SF Neighborhood Markets

Before discussing neighborhood values, appreciation rates and market cycles, here are 3 overview charts on the entire city market.

Citywide Home Values & Trends

On a 3-month-rolling basis, median home sales prices in San Francisco yet again hit new highs in April 2018: The median house sales price jumped $55,000 over the March price to hit $1,665,000, and the median condo sales price jumped $50,000 in April to $1,225,000 (3-month rolling sales through 4/30/18, reported by May 2). Those reflect year-over-year increases of 23% and 8% respectively. Average dollar per square foot values also reached new peak values.

Highest Median House Price Appreciation Rates by Neighborhood:
Compound Annual Appreciation Percentages, 2011 – 2017

The neighborhoods and districts circled on the map below have seen compound annual appreciation rates of 12% or more over the past 6 years. As a point of comparison, the national rate over that period was about 7%, and the CPI inflation rate about 1.5%. As illustrated in the table below the map, the highest rate in San Francisco over the period was above 18%.

If the return on cash investment was calculated for purchasing with a 20% down payment (instead of paying all cash), and adjusting for closing costs (estimated at 2% on buy-side, 7% on sell side), the compound annual rate of return on the cash investment soars: A 10% annual rate of home price appreciation would then translate into an annual compound return on cash investment of just under 40%. The use of financing in home ownership is one of the reasons why it can often be such a good investment to develop household wealth over time.

Total 6-year appreciation rates can be calculated by dividing the 2017
median house sales price by the 2011 price.

Though median home price appreciation rates throughout the city have been incredibly high by any reasonable measure, some neighborhoods have outpaced the norm. The main reason is affordability: Less expensive homes have appreciated considerably faster than more expensive homes. Also, some of the most affordable districts were hammered by foreclosure sales after the 2008 crash, which brought their sales prices down to unnatural lows by 2011 – setting the stage for dramatic recoveries. Bayview, with the most affordable houses in SF and also worst hit by the 2008-2011 distressed property crisis, has had the highest compound annual appreciation rate since that time, a staggering 18.3%, or a 6-year total rate of 174%. Other affordable neighborhoods running across the southern border of the city – such as Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, Sunnyside, Ingleside and Oceanview – also saw extremely high annual rates of 12% to 14% for similar reasons.

The dynamic in the Inner Mission was somewhat different: Its 14.7% compound annual rate of appreciation – a total of 128% over the 6 years – was because it turned into the hottest, hippest district in the city, especially among younger high-tech workers. The gentrification which had been slowly occurring for 30 years suddenly went into overdrive to catapult prices higher.

Bernal Heights – with a 13.3% compound annual rate and 111% 6-year total – is right next to the Mission on one side and to Noe Valley on another. It was perfectly situated to take advantage of the classic overflow effect for people who wanted a similar neighborhood ambiance to Noe or Eureka Valley, but could no longer afford their much higher prices. Outer Richmond was also a standout: It has the lowest house prices in the northern third of the city. And the Sunset & Parkside district is filled with mid-price 2 and 3 bedroom houses, has a variety of attractive neighborhood commercial districts, ocean or parks on 3 sides, and easy access to highways south to the peninsula. All these factors have made it into a much sought-after location to purchase a home in recent years. The market there is insanely hot now.

The most expensive neighborhoods in the city have lower, but still very high rates of appreciation. And in dollar terms, their appreciation returns are by far the highest in the city.

CONDOS: Calculating appreciation rates for SF neighborhood condo prices is an iffier process, because so many large, new condo projects have come on market, significantly impacting inventory and sales prices, and making it much more difficult to perform apples to apples comparisons. Therefore, our calculations, above and below, are performed for the entire city instead of for separate districts. It is certainly true that, due to supply and demand issues, condos have typically appreciated at somewhat lesser rates than houses, which have become the scarce commodity in SF. There has been some variation in condo appreciation rates depending on location, supply and price segment.


Up, Down, Up: A Longer-Term Look
at SF Home Value Changes since 2000

Bubble, Crash & Recovery
by District & Price Segment

Home value appreciation in the charts below is broken down by 4 distinct time periods: 1) 2000 to peak of bubble (2006-2008, depending on price segment); 2) peak of bubble to bottom of market (typically 2011); 3) the 1st 4 years of the recovery, 2012 to 2015; and 4) 2015 to present.

House appreciation is broken down into 4 broad price segments as exemplified by the markets in 4 city regions: The least expensive segment is represented by house sales in the broad swathe of southern neighborhoods running from Bayview through Portola, Excelsior, Crocker Amazon and Outer Mission (Realtor district 10). The mid-price segment is illustrated by sales in the Sunset & Parkside district (Realtor district 2). The central Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district (district 5) is used to represent the expensive segment; and the very expensive house segment is illustrated by the northern, old-prestige neighborhoods running from Sea Cliff, Lake Street & Jordan Park through Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and Marina to Russian, Nob & Telegraph Hills (which are the very affluent parts of 3 different Realtor districts).

These areas were used because of their quantity of sales and the relative homogeneity of values within them. For condos, appreciation rates were calculated on the entire SF condo market. The calculations below were made by averaging both median sales price and average dollar per square foot appreciation rates. Present values are based on sales occurring in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018.

2000 to Peak of Bubble,
Crash to Bottom of Market

Less expensive homes saw by far the biggest bubbles (2000 to 2006-2008) and crashes (2008-2011), mostly due to the predatory lending/ subprime financing crisis. This was a phenomenon across Bay Area markets. (Note that different price segments peaked in different years from 2006 to mid-2008.)

Bottom of Market to 2015,
2015 to Present

The first 4 years of the recovery which began in 2012 saw high home-price appreciation rates across the city. In 2015, the market shifted – there was considerable financial market volatility in late 2015 and the first half of 2016, a precipitous drop in IPO activity, and the high-tech boom cooled temporarily – and appreciation rates diverged, with less expensive homes significantly outpacing more expensive neighborhoods. One factor was that buyers were desperately searching for homes they could still afford.

Overall Dollar & Percentage Appreciation
2000 to Present

By total percentage appreciation since 2000, Sunset/Parkside ranks first. By actual dollar appreciation, the most expensive home prices increased the most, typically by well into seven figures.

San Francisco Condo Appreciation
2000 to Present, All Districts

Generally speaking, the SF condo market has not seen appreciation rates as high as for houses. Mostly, this has to do with increasing supply due to the boom in new condo construction, but it was also affected by factors in 2015-2016 already described above.

Percentage of Sales over List Price
by Property Type

This chart illustrates the difference in demand by property type.
Houses have been the hottest segment in recent years.

San Francisco New-Housing Trends

New construction, projects authorized, and affordable housing figures
based on SF Planning Department data recently released for 2017

Additional reading for those interested: Paragon Main Reports Page

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 certain statistics such as median sales prices, to some small degree.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

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

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 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 December 2017 Index was published at the end of February 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 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 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. All 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 $1,087,500 (in October 2017). We don’t always adjust these figures in every monthly chart.

Low-Price Tier Homes: Under approximately $685,000 
Huge subprime bubble (170% appreciation, 2000 – 2006) & huge crash (60% decline, 2008 – 2011). Strong recovery and has just recently popped a tad above 2006-07 peak values. Currently appreciating more quickly than other price tiers.

Mid-Price Tier Homes: Approx. $685,000 to $1,100,000

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: Approx. $1,100,000+
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

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.

All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision. Statistics are generalities and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Short-term fluctuations are less meaningful than longer term trends. All numbers should be considered approximate.

© 2015-2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

Yet Another Dramatic Jump in San Francisco Median House Price to over $1,600,000

Consumer confidence is still soaring, and buyers continue to push aside concerns about recent financial market volatility, federal tax law changes affecting Bay Area homeowners, and interest rate increases, to fuel heated neighborhood markets throughout San Francisco.

Houses have become the scarce commodity in San Francisco: Few new houses are built in the city anymore, and house owners are selling less frequently than ever. In Q1 2018, the SF median house sales price soared almost 24% above the Q1 2017 price of $1,300,000, and over $100,000 above the recent peak in Q4 2017. Neighborhoods with house prices under $1.5 to $2m are, in particular, experiencing frenzied buyer demand. Median condo sales prices also continue to increase on a year-over-year basis, but at slower rates due to the significant quantities of new-construction condos coming on market.

Median Sales Price Changes by Quarter
since 2012

Median sales prices often fluctuate by quarter or season. Longer-term trends are more meaningful than short-term changes.

Longer-Term Median Sales Price Changes
since 2005, 12-Month Rolling Figures

12-month-rolling median sales price figures will always be behind the curve during periods of rapid appreciation, but are excellent for illustrating long-term trends, as they reduce the effects of large, anomalous or seasonal fluctuations.

Long-Term Home Price Trends
Bay Area vs. National Appreciation since 1987
per CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index

The Case-Shiller Index does not use median sales prices to measure appreciation, but instead employs its own algorithm. This chart compares the national home price appreciation trend with that for high-price-tier houses in the 5-county SF Metro Area. The high price tier applies best to most of the markets in San Francisco, Central-Southern Marin, San Mateo, and Diablo Valley & Lamorinda.

In this chart, home prices in January 2000 are designated at a value of 100, thus the reading of 248 in December 2017 signifies a price that has appreciated 148% in the 18 years since then. Notice how similar the national and Bay Area trend lines are, with appreciable variations occurring after the 1989 earthquake, during the dotcom bubble and crash, and during the most recent Bay Area high tech boom.

As always, market dynamics often vary significantly by specific location, property type and price segment, and median prices are often affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value (such as fluctuations in luxury home and new construction sales, and in the average size of homes sold). Late reported sales may affect the median sales prices illustrated in the quarterly chart, though typically only to a minor degree.

A condensed version of our report on the ups and downs in the market over recent decades: SF Bay Area Real Estate Cycles

Overbidding Asking Prices in San Francisco
Sales Price to List Price % by Property Type, 12-Month Rolling Figures

Overbidding reflects buyer competition for new listings. It is a pure supply and demand issue, and this chart illustrates the respective heat of property-type markets in the city. However it should be noted that some agents have adopted a strategy of underpricing their listings, which will artificially increase overbidding percentages.

San Francisco Median Sales Prices by Neighborhood
Reflecting Sales Reported to MLS 10/1/17 – 4/5/18
Neighborhoods with a Minimum of 12 Sales in Period
(except Presidio Heights)

Below is a glance at recent house and condo median sales prices broken out by neighborhood for sales reported to MLS in the last 6 months or so – basically since autumn sales began to close. There are many SF neighborhoods that did not have at least 12 sales during the period and these were not included, because the fewer the sales, the less reliable the statistical analysis. The only exception was Presidio Heights: It holds the title for both highest house and condo median sales prices, so we included it even though it had only 11 sales of each property type.

Note: In recent years, the Pacific Heights median house sales price has typically been running close to $6m, far above its price in the table below. But median prices can fluctuate dramatically in the most expensive neighborhoods: This is due to the relatively small number of sales and the enormous range in individual sales prices. Absent some definitive market event, sudden, abnormal spikes up or down in neighborhood values should always be taken with a grain of salt until confirmed over the longer term.

There are 10 Realtor districts and 70-odd neighborhoods in the city, and here is a link to a detailed San Francisco Neighborhood Map.

If you would like information on a neighborhood not included here, please let us know.

The Facts Regarding Bay Area
Migration, Population & Employment Trends
Alarmist Media Reports Forecast Doom for Bay Area

Many semi-hysterical articles were published in March regarding Bay Area residents fleeing in droves, that more people are leaving than arriving, that Silicon Valley is over, and this may spell disaster for the region. Wow, that sounds very bad – but is not true: Though the rate of growth has considerably slowed from the torrid pace of recent years – which is probably a good thing, since the Bay Area is now bursting at the seams – more people are still arriving than leaving, and population and employment numbers are still increasing. Our report, Will the Last Person Leaving the Bay Area Please Turn Off the Lights covers this topic in much greater detail.

Here are 3 of the charts from our full article, based on recent U.S. census and CA state employment data.

Net domestic and foreign migration in and out of the SF Metro Area,
natural population increases and annual net population growth.

San Francisco & Bay Area populations continued to increase in 2017,
though slowing from the feverish growth rates of previous years.

The Bay Area continues to be a high-paying-job-creating machine,
though hiring intermittently speeds up or slows down.

Again, our full report is here: Will the Last Person Leaving the Bay Area Please Turn Off the Lights

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales Trends
since 2005

More analyses: Paragon Luxury Market Report

SF New Housing Construction Pipeline

There are approximately 65,000 housing units in the SF Planning Department pipeline, which includes condos, apartments, and affordable and social project housing in various states of plan submittal, review, approval, permit issuance and construction. The construction of new rental units continues to outpace new-condo construction in San Francisco, an interesting shift which just began a couple years ago. More projects continue to enter the pipeline, but some of the really big projects, such as Treasure Island and Candlestick, do not seem to be making much headway toward breaking ground.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Interest rate changes are one of many factors we reviewed in a recent report Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets. It may be that fears of impending rate increases are helping to fuel the strong buyer demand we are seeing so far in 2018.

MEDIAN List Rents by County
Short-Term Trends since 2011

Additional reading for those interested:

Residential Income Property Market Report

Paragon Main Reports Page

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 certain statistics to some small degree.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

Economic Context Factors Underlying Housing Markets

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, as is well illustrated in many of the charts below. 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.

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

Article link: Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets

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

Sudden, Dramatic Population Growth

Population Migration into and out of California

Though this chart below refers specifically to state data, the trends illustrated most probably apply to the Bay Area as well. Of course, foreign immigration numbers in 2017 and later years may change dramatically with the recent changes in national policies. If foreign migration into the state drops, and emigration out to other states continues (or accelerates) on the below trend, it would eventually probably have significant ramifications for the Bay Area. This chart refers to 2016 data.

The issue of migrations into and out of California is more fully explored in this article: Article link: CA Migration Trends

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, and most of the recent new construction would not be considered “affordable housing,” 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. (Affordable housing construction is increasing, but still in very inadequate numbers.)

New Housing Pipeline

A snapshot of what is currently in the pipeline for new construction in the city: Over 60,000 housing units of all kinds (sale, rental, affordable, social-project). 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.

San Francisco appears to have a much bigger new-housing construction pipeline than most other Bay Area counties, some of which have very little planned or in the works.

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.

For landlords, the very substantial drop in interest rates coupled with the huge jump in rents, as detailed below, turned apartment buildings into cash machines, especially those purchased prior to the recent surge in investment property prices. Declining interest rates helped real estate owners of all types; unfortunately, renters reap no advantage from the shift.

Short-Term Interest Rate Movements

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.

As of January 5, 2018, the S&P has increased another 40 points since this chart below was updated on January 2. According to the October 7th Economist magazine, when the index was about 200 points lower, Only at the peak of the two bubbles [in the 1920s and the dotcom bubble] has the S&P 500 been higher as a multiple of earnings measured over a ten-year cycle. For whatever you believe that is worth.

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.

This chart published in 2017 by the U.S. Census Bureau illustrates median HH income
for the 25 most populous metro areas in the nation. The SF Metro Area ranks first.

Residential Rents

Again, this chart is for San Francisco, but similar trends occurred throughout the Bay Area. Rents are actually more sensitive to employment trends than home prices, as new employees pour in during boom times or the newly unemployed flee high SF costs in a major downturn. (See dotcom boom and bust in the chart below.). Soaring population and employment in recent years 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 for renters) push many into buying as a better long-term financial alternative. (However, in San Francisco as well as Oakland, the majority of existing rental units are under rent control to the significant advantage of long-term tenants.)

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 have been some preliminary signs of a slight recovery in rent rates, though the data is still very short term. There are still many thousands of new apartments in the new construction pipeline in San Francisco, which may pressure rents downward once again depending on whether hiring and demand ramp up again.

Rent Trends Chart: Selected Bay Area Counties

Commercial Lease Rates

What goes on in commercial rents is another angle on the residential real estate market, since the growth or decline of the city’s businesses is a very significant factor underlying housing demand. Despite increasing amounts of new office space coming on line, commercial lease rates continue to hold up, not only because of new and growing start-ups, but because of huge new leases being signed by high-tech heavyweights such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Dropbox, who have decided to expand their footprints in the city. Office lease rates are very sensitive to economic conditions, having dropped precipitately twice in the last 17 years, first after the dotcom bubble burst and then after the 2008 financial markets crash.

Besides the approximate 10 million square feet of commercial space under construction in SF, there are another 20m square feet somewhere in the longer-term planning pipeline (not all of this is office space). Besides the issue of a possible economic downturn, it remains to be seen if such an enormous amount of new supply (if actually completed) can comfortably be absorbed without a significant drop in lease rates even if no downturn arrives in the near future.

Supply: New Home 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 their homes instead of selling them (encouraged by the aforementioned drop in interest rates and jump in rents). There is also the issue under CA Prop 13 in which homeowner property tax bills grow very, very slowly during the term of their ownership, even if home price appreciation soars: If one moves, one’s property taxes will be reset to the purchase price of the newly bought home. (There is a limited program under Prop 60 for those 55 and older to transfer one’s current property tax assessment to a new home.)

The net net: 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 further unbalances the supply and demand dynamic, and creates the pressure that classically leads to higher home prices.

Chart: SF Metro Area – Active Listings on Market
Article link: Homeowners selling less often
Article link: Homeowners growing older

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 large numbers of homeowners, which feeds back into the financial and psychological loops.

Another interesting dynamic – mostly anecdotal for the time being – is that many Bay Area home sellers are taking their often stupendous capital gains from local home price appreciation, retiring and moving to areas of much lower housing costs (which then helps to pressurize those markets, to the dismay of home buyers there).

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 to severely negative effect (though downturns don’t have to be severe). There are so many churning, shifting, interrelated economic, political and ecological factors in the mix nowadays, running from local events in the Bay Area to developments in Wall Street or Washington, or China, Europe, North Korea and the 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 note, 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. And, of course, as clearly illustrated, affordability can move in very dramatic cycles, just like the other factors discussed above. 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.

This report has been our most read for 5 years: Article: 30+ Years of San Francisco Real Estate Cycles

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

Media Reports Suggest Major Bay Area Decline

The sources of the data behind the below (and many more) articles: an online survey by a PR company; an analysis of traffic on a real estate website; the alleged cost of a U-Haul to Las Vegas; anecdotal opinions from a handful of venture capitalists on a mid-west bus tour; and new U.S. census data, more often than not selectively or misleadingly quoted to sound most ominous. (The WSJ article was by far the most fastidious with using hard data from reliable sources, though it was still alarmist in tone.)

Quotes and headlines from selected media articles in March 2018

[According to a survey] “49 % of Bay Area residents were looking to move out.”
Business Insider

“San Francisco is such a boomtown that people are leaving in droves.”
Wall Street Journal

“Silicon Valley is over” “In the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost
more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country.” 

New York Times

“San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in
– and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital.” 

SFGate

Bad news, predictions of crashes, the arrogant finally getting their comeuppance: These stories grab eyeballs and get re-posted on social media. And much of the country finds the Bay Area insufferably smug – its wealth, home prices, unicorns, Google buses, 26-year-old billionaires, liberal politics, and much else – and if it is finally getting its just deserts, that is entertaining news. I get that: Sometimes, I find us insufferably smug myself. But let us investigate the issues a bit deeper.

First of all: Without argument, there are big economic and social challenges facing the Bay Area: high housing costs; high state income taxes; recent federal tax law changes; the hostility of the current federal government to foreign immigration; rising income inequality, poverty and homelessness; growing commute times and other quality of life issues; national and international concerns; and, yes, population migration trends too. This was covered in some detail in our recent report Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets. It is certainly true that places like Austin and Seattle, with much lower housing costs and no state income taxes, are actively luring our businesses to relocate or expand there, and doing so with some significant success.

But, for a much more realistic illustration of what is going on in the Bay Area, here is some hard data from U.S. Census and CA Employment Development Department data released in March:

More people are NOT leaving San Francisco or the Bay Area than arriving. When you tally both domestic migration in and out (to and from other places in the U.S.), and foreign migration, more people are arriving than leaving. It is true than in the past 2 years, domestic net migration has shifted to a net loss, but that deficit is still overcome by the large positive in foreign immigration. Is the shift in domestic migration worrisome? Yes, if it continues to grow. But it is not cataclysmic in its current proportions, and there are further underlying factors to consider, which shall be discussed later in this report.

San Francisco County: Residents Leaving, New Residents Arriving
Net Domestic & Foreign, and Total Net Migration Numbers, per U.S. Census
The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number

5-County San Francisco Metro Area Migration

The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number

The Bay Area population is still growing both from migration and natural factors (births less deaths), albeit at slower rates than the torrid pace of previous years. As the WSJ admits in its article, SF and SF metro area populations are not shrinking: The SF Metro area population increased by .6% in the last 12 month period, as measured by the census through 7/1/17, which is one tenth of 1 percent lower than the .7% national rate. And a slower rate of growth than our recent population explosion is not a bad thing, since the Bay Area is bursting at the seams from growth without concomitant improvements in housing supply and infrastructure.

Long-Term Population Trends: San Francisco County

Short-Term Population Changes: 5-County SF Metro Area

The representation by Business Insider that 49% of residents were looking to move out is simply absurd. Really? Every other person? If people were fleeing or planning to flee in the proportions suggested, one would expect every other home in the Bay Area to sport a “for sale” sign, while the percentage of homeowners selling their homes is actually at historic lows: Less than 2% of SF house owners sold their homes in 2017. (The ratio was higher for condo owners, but still low at something over 4%.) I suppose it is possible that in the frenzy to get away, people are simply abandoning their homes instead of selling them.

New Listings Coming on Market: San Francisco County

Bay Area employment growth remains extremely strong. According to the CA Employment Development Department, for the six big Bay Area counties (the 5-county SF metro area plus Santa Clara County), no matter which month of 2017 one looks at, the year-over-year increase in Bay Area employed residents, ranged from 60,000 to 90,000. As the WSJnotes: “The broader Bay Area is the most robust metro region in the nation in terms of payroll job growth, according to the most recent regional analysis from the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson Forecast, an economic forecaster.”

Number of Employed Residents, per EDD
5-County SF Metro Area + Santa Clara County

Some other factors to consider:

Many of the people leaving inner Bay Area counties are moving to adjacent counties, such as Solano, Sonoma, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, San Benito and Stanislaus Counties. Many of those people almost certainly continue to work within the metro area. To some degree, the Bay Area economic zone is expanding geographically, not declining.

The Bay Area over the past 7 years has been one of the greatest new-wealth creation machines in history. With the recent Dropbox IPO, it seems to be cranking into gear again – and there are still dozens of other local unicorns such as Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, Palantir, with total values in the hundreds of billions of dollars – that could yet go public. Uber has already stated its desire to do so in the near future.

A substantial portion of those leaving the Bay area are retirees, cashing out on high home prices to move to less expensive locales, such as other counties in California, and Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. This is not a new phenomenon, as it has been going on for decades, though it may have accelerated in recent years, since cashing out has become so much more lucrative.

Most of those coming to the Bay Area are coming for new jobs, and the Bay Area remains a magnet for many of the best and the brightest around the world. Besides which, every year, thousands of Bay Area students graduate from schools like UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford, to take jobs locally as well. Economically, the Bay Area is trading many residents who are, to a large degree, checking out of the economy for people in the prime of their working lives.

Millions of square feet of new commercial office space continue to be snapped up as soon as they come on market, even before the buildings are finished, and the only possible reasons are new businesses arriving and existing businesses expanding, both of which are fueled by continued hiring.

The Bay Area certainly has substantial challenges to face and it is not sure it will overcome its problems. And it is true that people and businesses are moving out in greater numbers than any time since 2002. But, on the other hand, start-ups continue to start up by the hundreds, local business continue to expand, and the Bay Area undoubtedly remains one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. And despite all its faults and problems, it is still, in my opinion, one of the great metropolitan areas and best places to live on the planet.

Other reports you might find interesting:

Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets
Changing California Migration Trends
30+ Years of Bay Area Real Estate Cycles
Survey of Bay Area Real Estate Markets
All Paragon reports can be found here

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

A Selection of Charts about Debt

Most of the charts below come from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. We have not had time to comment on each chart and what we believe its significance to be (and, in any case, we are probably unqualified to do so), but you might still find them interesting. Increasing debt levels often play an enormous role in financial cycles. In our view, the increasing amounts of debt being taken on within the country and worldwide (both at historic highs) is dangerous, however historically low interest rates have greatly ameliorated the effects. If rates rise significantly, then high levels of debt can easily become economically destabilizing.

The first 2 charts look at short- and long-term mortgage interest rate trends because they massively influence the financial effect of debt.The third is on consumer confidence, because increasing confidence often leads to taking on higher levels of debt, and “irrational exuberance” often leads to taking on untenable levels of debt. Then the report dives into national, corporate and household debt statistics.

Mortgage Interest Rates
Short-Term Trends

Long-Term Trends

Consumer Confidence

National Debt

U.S. Corporate Debt

Investor (Margin) Debt

Household Debt Statistics

Household Debt Statistics for Selected States

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

Long-Term Trends in San Francisco Real Estate

The great advantage of reviewing annual data is how often the market trend lines clarify into a straightforward dynamic, instead of the constant up and down fluctuations often seen in monthly or quarterly data charts. (Monthly data is constantly being abused by the media, when proper context is not given.) It is similar to standing back to look at a broad view of terrain as opposed to focusing on the one small piece that is right in front of your shoe.

Among other advantages, annual trend lines track greater amounts of data, which usually adds to reliability, and also avoid the fluctuating effects of seasonality on real estate markets. However, we also have dozens of charts that look at monthly and quarterly data, sometimes specifically to illustrate seasonality, but those analyses are in other reports.

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

Median Price Changes
A Selection of Angles & Presentations

We have many more annual appreciation charts on individual San Francisco neighborhoods and Bay Area cities, which can be found here: Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis

S&P Case-Shiller Bay Area Home Price Index Trends

Case-Shiller does not use median prices to determine appreciation, but instead uses its own proprietary algorithm. The numbers on Case-Shiller charts refer to home prices when compared to a January 2000 home price of 100. Thus if at some point after 2000, the chart number is 150, that signifies 50% home price appreciation since January 2000. Case-Shiller uses a 5-county metro area in its San Francisco analyses. Needless to say, this includes a huge variety of different housing markets.

We probably have 10 charts illustrating Case-Shiller data. This one below breaks out appreciation and depreciation trends by price segment, dividing the market into thirds by number of sales. The reason why this is particularly important recently is that during the subprime bubble and the resulting crash, different price segments had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of hugely different magnitudes, mostly depending on how they were affected by subprime financing, foreclosures and distressed property sales.

Our full report: S&P Case-Shiller Index for SF Metro Area

 

Inventory & Sales Trends

Housing Affordability Trends

Our full report: Bay Area Housing Affordability

 

Luxury Home Market Sales Trends

Our full report is here: San Francisco Luxury Home Market Report

 

Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Annual General Market Dynamics Trends

Looking at annual trends of a variety major real estate market measures, one is struck by how the different analyses reflect virtually the exact same market dynamics over the past 6 or 7 years, heating up as the market came out of the recession, and then cooling or plateauing in 2016 after market heat peaked in 2015. When multiple statistics line up like this, the data is considered much more meaningful and reliable. However, remember that the San Francisco and Bay Area markets are made up of many distinct segments, and it’s not unusual for the trends in specific segments (prices, locations, property types) to, at times, go in different directions at varying speeds.

Depending on the statistic, a trend line moving up might signify either a market heating up or one cooling down, and vice versa.

Residential Multi-Unit Median Price Trends

Our complete report: San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Building Report

 

Other Economic or Demographic Trends

Selected Factors behind the Real Estate Market

Annual Sales Volume Trends

Much more information can be found on our main reports page:

Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis
Using, Understanding and Evaluating Real Estate Statistics  

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis, which we are happy to provide upon request.

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

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

No Let Up in SF Real Estate Market – a Paragon Report

So far in 2018, the market seems to have brushed aside any concerns about increasing home prices, rising interest rates, and new federal tax law changes. It is still very early in the year to come to definitive conclusions about where the year is going, but right now, in most market segments, buyer demand is competing ferociously for a limited supply of listings. This is especially true in the more affordable home segments, and particularly for house listings. The situation is somewhat more complicated in the highest price ranges, especially in the luxury condo segment where supply has been rapidly increasing. Of course, whatever the property type or price segment, it all ultimately depends on the specific property, and its location, appeal, preparation, marketing and pricing.

As an example of what is going on so far in 2018, our dollar volume SF home sales here at Paragon is up 38% for January and February as compared to last year, though admittedly we are outperforming the general market, which is still up by 8% (per Broker Metrics for MLS sales).

San Francisco Median Home Price Appreciation
Year-over-Year Comparisons since 2005

San Francisco year over year median home price appreciation

San Francisco Price per Sq.Ft. Appreciation
Year-over-Year Comparisons since 2005

San Francisco Average Dollar per Square Foot Appreciation

These first two charts above compare year-over-year median and average home values for the same 3-month period, December through February, since 2005. For the past 3 years, appreciation for houses has dramatically outpaced that for condos. This is mostly a factor of supply as new-construction condos have poured onto the market, while the supply of house listings has continued to dwindle in the face of high demand.

We are not enthusiastic about monthly median price movements since they tend to bounce around without great meaningfulness due to a number of factors, and sales volumes are very low in the first 2 months of the year, but, for what it is worth, the SF median house price soared to a new high in February 2018 to $1,715,000 (100 sales across 70-odd neighborhoods, reported to MLS by 3/7/18 – late reported sales may affect this price). Monthly median condo prices have generally been jogging up and down within a relatively narrow range since 2015. Chart: Chart: SF Monthly House & Condo Median Sales Prices

Appreciation by San Francisco District
by Year since 2004

The next 2 charts glance at house value appreciation in a few major districts around the city, from most affordable to more expensive to most expensive. As mentioned before, houses in more affordable neighborhoods have seen the most competitive market dynamic, and most consistent appreciation, in recent years.

It can be challenging to measure appreciation in the most expensive price segments, because, firstly, there are not that many sales, and secondly, because of the huge range of sales prices within those segments ($3m to $30m for luxury houses in SF; $2m to $22m for condos and co-ops), but it may well be that their values have mostly plateaued since 2015, or in some instances, ticked down. This can be seen in the second chart below with average dollar per square foot values declining a little in the most expensive house district in the city, Pacific Heights-Marina. But, again, it all depends on the specific property, its location and circumstances.

Median House Sales Prices by District

Average Price per Square Foot House Values

Pacific Heights -Noe Valley- Sunset Average Dollar per Square Foot

We have hundreds of other analyses on San Francisco neighborhood house and condo prices and appreciation trends: SF Neighborhood Values & SF Neighborhood Appreciation Trends.

Or simply contact us regarding the neighborhoods you are specifically interested in.

San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Luxury home sales started off very strong in 2018, but the supply and demand dynamics are softer than in the general market. In the ultra-luxury condo market, in those neighborhoods where new, high-price condo construction is concentrated, supply is now outpacing demand. We just did a massive update of our luxury home analysis and it can be found in its entirety here: Paragon Luxury Market Report.

Below are a few samples of charts in the complete report.

Year-over-Year Sales Comparisons
First 6 Weeks of the Year

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales 2018 YTD

Active Luxury House Listings by District

San Francisco Luxury House Listings

SF Luxury House Sales by Era of Construction

San Francisco Luxury House Sales - Era of Construction

Active Luxury Condo & Co-op Listings by District

San Francisco Luxury Condo Listings

Supply & Demand: Ultra-Luxury Condos & Co-ops

San Francisco Ultra-luxury condo market

Long-Term Trends in Inventory

Only about 2% of house owners are putting their homes on the market each year, which is incredibly low by historical measures. About 5% of condo owners sell their homes each year, plus the new-construction condos that come on the market. This dynamic has made houses into the scarce commodity, and has fueled dramatic house price appreciation.

New Listings Coming on Market
Long-Term Trends

Active Listings on Market at End of Month
Long-Term Trends

Short-Term Trends: Seasonality

We are just heading now into the biggest sales season of the year, running from March through mid-June. The real estate market in the city is significantly affected by seasonality, and the luxury segment is even more fiercely affected. We shall also see if rising interest rates (if they continue to rise) or the changes in the federal tax law start to have any significant dampening effects on demand.

Listings Accepting Offers (Going into Contract)
General Market

New Listings Coming on Market
Luxury Home Market

Selected Supply & Demand Statistics

The following charts illustrate 3 of the classic indicators of market heat, and all of them speak to the feverish real estate market we have seen so far in 2018. However, the market is clearly hottest in the non-luxury price segment, and cooler in the highest price ranges, which is illustrated in the fourth chart below.

Average Days on Market
Year-over-Year Comparisons

Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
by Month

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)
Year-over-Year Comparisons

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)
by Property Type & Price Segment

The market is softer in the highest price ranges especially for the most expensive condos

Average $/Sq.Ft. Value by House Size

All things being equal, house size and price per square foot go in opposite directions, i.e. a smaller house will sell for a lower sales price but a higher dollar per square foot value. This has to do with land value and the cost of systems, kitchens and baths. This is why, comparing two periods of time, it is possible that median sales prices can go up while dollar per square foot values go down, or there is a significant mismatch in the appreciation rates – the average size of the houses sold significantly changed between the periods, which happens sometimes. The charts below are of 2 districts with both a good number of sales and relatively homogenous values within the district.

In both the cases below, the difference in price per square foot between smaller houses and the largest houses runs about $200, or about a 15% to 20% difference.

The above effect does not always apply: For example, in Pacific Heights, the biggest houses are also often in the most prestigious locations with the best views, and so command a premium in price per square foot despite their size. And this often does not apply to condo sales, because bigger units are often built higher up in the building, with more expensive finishes, delivering better (or staggering) views, and thus selling for higher $/sq.ft. values.

Rising Mortgage Interest Rates
Short-Term Trends

Long-Term Trends

Long-Term Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Debt in America

One of the macro-economic factors of concern is that debt levels, of virtually every kind, are hitting new highs in the country (and in the world). This has been heavily subsidized by the historically low interest rates prevailing in recent years, but rates appear to be headed upward, and increasing debt often plays a big role in market cycles.

Debt Taken On to Invest in Financial Markets
(Often a Sign of Investor Over-Exuberance)

Household Non-Housing Debt
Credit Cards, Student Loans, Car Financing

Household Mortgage Debt Service Ratio

The amount of total mortgage debt in the country is now about the same as at its last peak in 2008 (not illustrated on this chart), but because of the plunge in interest rates since then, the ratio of mortgage debt service to disposable income was close to an all-time low in mid-2017. Interest rates have been rising since then, but are still about 30% lower than in 2007. The good news is that so much of mortgage debt in America is now in fixed-rate loans at very low interest rates, which adds much stability to economic conditions, a stability grievously lacking at the time of the 2008 financial markets crash.

Link to additional charts on debt

Additional reading for those interested:

Paragon Main Real Estate Reports Page
Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets
Survey of Bay Area Real Estate Markets
San Francisco & Bay Area Demographics

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 certain statistics to some small degree.

© 2018 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 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 December 2017 Index was published at the end of February 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 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 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. All 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 $1,087,500 (in October 2017). We don’t always adjust these figures in every monthly chart.

Low-Price Tier Homes: Under approximately $685,000 
Huge subprime bubble (170% appreciation, 2000 – 2006) & huge crash (60% decline, 2008 – 2011). Strong recovery and has just recently popped a tad above 2006-07 peak values. Currently appreciating more quickly than other price tiers.

Mid-Price Tier Homes: Approx. $685,000 to $1,100,000

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: Approx. $1,100,000+
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

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.

All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision. Statistics are generalities and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Short-term fluctuations are less meaningful than longer term trends. All numbers should be considered approximate.

© 2015-2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Luxury Home Market Report

After cooling somewhat in late 2015 and 2016, the San Francisco luxury home market bounced back in 2017 to hit new highs in the number of sales.

Note: Our report online contains several dozen updated analyses of the San Francisco luxury and ultra-luxury house and condo markets, of which this newsletter contains a relatively small sample. The full report is here: Paragon SF Luxury Home Report.

Increasing Sales Volumes
in 2017 and in 2018 YTD

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So far in 2018, SF luxury home sales have been quite strong, higher than in any previous year since the recovery began in 2012. The recent stock market volatility notwithstanding, the economic confidence that has been sweeping the nation is also showing up in our luxury home markets. For example, as of February 16th, the sales of condos, co-ops and TICs at prices of $2m and above has jumped 55% in the city, year over year, and luxury houses by 19%. However, year-to-date data is very preliminary and much more will be known once the spring selling season really gets started in earnest. Also, if the recent financial market volatility continues and becomes even more dramatic, that may cool high-end home markets (and IPO activity) as it has in the past.

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Supply Growing Faster than Demand

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However, behind the positive sales statistics, inventory statistics provide a note of caution, especially for what we call the ultra-luxury home segments: houses selling for $5m+ and condos and co-ops selling for $3m+. In those segments, the supply of listings has been surging beyond demand, and many of these listings are expiring without selling. As an example of the supply and demand disconnect, ultra-luxury home sales make up about 2.5% of total MLS sales, but as of late February, they made up 12% of active SF MLS home listings (no offer yet accepted).

A big wildcard in this dynamic is the new luxury condo projects currently on market, under construction and planned. They dramatically swell supply in those areas where they are concentrated. It will be interesting to see if there is enough inherent demand to absorb, in the near future, the increasing supply of $3m, $5m and sometimes $10m+ condos. There have even been recent attempts to sell new penthouse condos in the $40 million price range. (Note: New-project marketing companies often try to keep their sales activity confidential, which can make it difficult to know exactly how well their most expensive units are selling.)

This does not mean that some very expensive houses and condos are not selling very quickly for well over asking price, as some certainly are. It all depends on the property, its specific location, appeal, preparation, marketing and, of course, pricing. Different neighborhoods are often experiencing different market conditions, some much stronger than others. This is discussed in much greater detail in the full report online.

Market Seasonality

The luxury real estate market in San Francisco is intensely seasonal. As illustrated by the 2 charts below, the high-price market wakes up and heats up as the new year gets going, with spring typically being the most active season overall for sales. It then slows way down in mid-summer, spikes back up dramatically for the short autumn selling season, and then plunges for the mid-winter holiday period.

Note the delay between new listings coming on market and listings accepting offers: For example, September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings, leading to the big October spike of listings going into contract. Sales then usually close 3 to 5 weeks after going into contract. Right now is the period when new luxury listings start pouring on the market for the spring season.

LuxHome_2500-Plus_SFD-Condo_Co-op_New-Listings_by-Month.jpgLuxHome_Units-UC_by-Month-V2-Area-Chart.jpg

New Listings Coming on Market
Long-Term Trends since 2005, 12-Month Rolling Figures

The supply of luxury homes available to purchase plays a huge roll in market dynamics. Supply is affected by 3 large factors: 1) the number of new listings coming on market, 2) how quickly these new listings sell, and 3) how many listings are taken off the market because they cannot find buyers (expired and withdrawn listings). The chart below looks at longer term trends for new listing activity: The number of new listings hitting the market accelerated in early 2016 as the luxury segment was cooling due to financial market volatility (Chinese stock market crash, oil price crash, Brexit vote).

LuxHome_New-Listings_2500-Plus_SFD-Condo_Co-op_12-month-rolling.jpg

Sales & Average Dollar per Sq.Ft. Values

Luxury House Market by District

Sales of houses $3 million and above have soared in the central Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district (red line in first chart below) in recent years, to jump ahead of, by a tad, the wealthy, old-prestige, Pacific Heights-Marina district (blue line). These rapidly increasing sales have been fueled by younger, very affluent, high-tech industry buyers, who prefer the lower-key neighborhood ambiance, as well as the proximity to the hot Mission district and to highways south to the peninsula. However, the Pacific Heights district still utterly dominates house sales of $5 million and above – that chart can be found in the full report online – and its houses achieve by far the highest average dollar per square foot values, as illustrated by the blue line in the second chart below.

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Luxury Condo Market by District

The older, high-prestige neighborhoods running across the north of the city from Pacific & Presidio Heights-Marina through Russian, Nob and Telegraph Hills have been dominating the sales of luxury and ultra-luxury condos and co-ops (the top 2 lines in the next chart). The greater South Beach, SoMa, Yerba Buena, Potrero Hill and Mission district (the third, red line) saw its sales plunge from mid-2016 to mid-2017, but has had a significant recovery since. All three of these districts see very high dollar per square foot values (second chart below). And of course, some individual sales see much higher values than the averages.

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How the 2018 market plays out depends on a number of factors that are susceptible to change: financial markets, interest rates, the course of the high-tech boom, whether our big, local start-ups proceed with IPOs, political developments, and so on. (Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets) For the time being, the San Francisco market appears to be off to a heated start characterized by robust demand. Here at Paragon, our 2018 SF sales volume is up 30% year over year, though admittedly we are outperforming the general market, which is up about 5%.

Again, the full report online contains many more analyses: Paragon SF Luxury Home Report.

All our reports and articles are available here: Paragon Main Reports Page

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

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 certain statistics to some small degree.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group