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

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

Context Economic Factors to Bay Area Housing Markets


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

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


Sales & Values by Submarket





Overview Trends by County

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





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


Rent Rate Statistics

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





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





San Francisco Trend Overviews

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





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

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




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

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



Q3 2017 Sales of San Francisco 5+ Unit
Apartment Buildings

San Francisco is a unique residential-investment market: the buildings are smaller and older than in most places, built in a wide range of architectural styles. The great majority of the market is under rent control, which makes upside rental-income potential a big component of valuation, even if it is unknown when that potential might be realized. Furthermore, the units are typically very unlike those in suburban garden-apartment complexes, and within the city the variety in buildings and units is enormous.

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

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


Long-Term Appreciation Trends: 3 Major SF Districts

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





Broker Performance in Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

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



All Paragon market reports can be found here

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

Numbers reflect sales reported by 10/2/17. These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. Statistics are generalities: This is especially true for multi-unit properties, with the enormous range of property types, sizes, conditions, circumstances, qualities, financial data and locations. We are often dependent upon listing agents for income and expense details, which can be of varying accuracy. Many Alameda sales do not report cap rates, so the calculation in this report is based only upon those that did. A percentage of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis. All numbers to be considered approximate.

© 2017 Paragon Commercial Brokerage

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