Market Statistics

Another Challenging Spring for Buyers; Sellers Rejoice as Home Prices Hit New Highs

Escalating Home Prices; Fierce Overbidding; Luxury Home Sales;
Interest Rates; Employment Trends; Biggest Home Sales of 2015 YTD

June 2015 San Francisco Real Estate Report
by Paragon Real Estate Group

4 Angles on San Francisco Home Price Appreciation

Short-Term Trend Line: Since the Recovery Began in 2012

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Longer-Term Trends: 1993 – 2015

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Neighborhood Appreciation Snapshots
May 2011 – May 2015

Central Sunset, Central Richmond & Noe Valley:
Median House Sales Prices

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SoMa, Eureka Valley & Marina:
2-Bedroom Condo Median Sales Prices

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Link to San Francisco Neighborhood Map

Luxury Home Sales by District

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High-end home sales and prices in the city have been increasing rapidly, with interesting shifts occurring between older high-prestige neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Russian Hill, and areas such as Noe Valley and South Beach, where surging sales of very expensive homes are a more recent phenomenon.Part of this shift is being fueled by the explosion of younger, high-tech wealth; another part is the recent construction boom of high-rise, ultra-luxury condo buildings south of Market Street.

There is an enormous variety in high-end real estate in San Francisco, from mansions to penthouses, Victorians to new, ultra-high-tech construction, as can be glimpsed in the list of sales at the end of this report. One of the more common amenities is spectacular views.

Home Sales by Price Segment, 2015 YTD

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Four years ago, one found the most homes for sale in the $600,000 to $750,000 price segment. Now $1 million to $1.5 million is the “sweet spot” for San Francisco home prices.

Overbidding List Prices

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When the average SF home sale is selling for 10% over the original asking price, the market is characterized by fiercely competitive buyer bidding wars. Another indicator: Almost 93% of home sales in May sold without going through any price reductions, an astonishingly high percentage.

These charts above and below, along with the one at the top of this newsletter delineating quarterly median price movements, also illustrate the seasonal nature of real estate sales. For 4 years running, the hottest, most competitive markets have been during the spring selling season. The market often cools down during the summer.

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Economic Indicators

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Two of the biggest factors affecting the San Francisco real estate market are extremely low interest rates, which have a large impact on the ongoing cost of homeownership, and surging, well-paid employment. According to Ted Egan, San Francisco’s Chief Economist, high-tech jobs alone jumped by 18% in the 12 months through March 2015, and as of April, the city’s unemployment rate, at 3.4%, was the lowest since the height of the dotcom boom.

Interest rates are almost 40% below those in 2006 – 2007. With home prices having increased so much recently, future interest rate changes will be something to watch carefully for their impact on affordability. Rates have been inching up recently and just hit 4% for the first time in 2015, but they are still very low by any historical measure.

Highest Home Sales by Neighborhood, 2015 YTD

This is a sampling of highest sales prices achieved in selected San Francisco neighborhoods in 2015 YTD, as reported to MLS. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of the city’s highest priced home sales.

$31,000,000. Pacific Heights: 7-bedroom, 16,400 sq.ft. mansion on Broadway, $1890/sq.ft.

$11,000,000. Sea Cliff: 5-bedroom, 3600 sq.ft., ocean-front house on Sea Cliff Ave., $3068/sq.ft.

$9,250,000. Pacific Heights: 2-bedroom, 3500 sq.ft., 1927 co-op on Alta Plaza Park, $2643/sq.ft.

$9,100,000. Russian Hill: 2-bedroom, 3300 sq.ft. co-op at Royal Towers, $2742/sq.ft.

$7,000,000. Noe Valley: 5-bedroom, 1907, 4450 sq.ft. house on Elizabeth Street, $1571/sq.ft.

$6,500,000. Alamo Square: 6-bedroom, 1902, 7800 sq.ft. mansion on Fulton, $833/sq.ft.

$6,285,000. St. Francis Wood: 5-bedroom, 6700 sq.ft. mansion on half-acre lot on San Anselmo Ave., $938/sq.ft.

$5,600,000. Dolores Heights: 4-bedroom, new construction house on Noe Street

$5,500,000. Nob Hill: 3-bedroom, 2721 sq.ft. TIC at Park Lane, $2021/sq.ft.

$5,475,000. SoMa: 3-bedroom condo at Four Seasons

$4,995,000. South Beach: 3-bedroom penthouse condo on South Park

$4,200,000. Glen Park: 4-bedroom, new construction, 3400 sq.ft. house on Laidley, $1235/sq.ft.

$4,000,000. Yerba Buena: 2-bedroom, 1952 sq.ft. condo at Millennium, $2049/sq.ft.

$3,900,000. Lake Street: 3-bedroom, 2952 sq.ft., 1914 Edwardian, $1321/sq.ft.

$3,850,000. Golden Gate Heights: 5-bedroom, 4062 sq.ft. 1974 house on Pacheco, $948/sq.ft.

$3,150,000. Bernal Heights: 4-bedroom, 2293 sq.ft., 2011 house on Folsom, $1374/sq.ft.

$3,100,000. Inner Mission: 3-bedroom, 2800 sq.ft. house on Shotwell, $1107/sq.ft.

$3,000,000. Inner Richmond: 3-bedroom, 4225 sq.ft. 1912 Edwardian on 10th Ave., $710/sq.ft.

$2,885,000. Inner Sunset: 3-bedrrom, 2640 sq.ft. 1904 Edwardian on 6th Ave., $1081/sq.ft.

$2,715,000. Hayes Valley: 4-bedroom, 3808 sq.ft. TIC on Waller, $713/sq.ft.

$2,510,000. Forest Hill: 5-bedroom, 3300 sq.ft., 1926 house on Taraval, $761/sq.ft.

$2,400,000. Potrero Hill: 3-bedroom, 2434 sq.ft., 1908 Edwardian on Kansas, $986/sq.ft.

$1,900,000. Sunnyside: 4-bedroom, 2715 sq.ft., 2003 house on Mangels, $700/sq.ft.

$1,280,000. Portola: 5-bedroom, 3128 sq.ft. new construction house on Madison, $409/sq.ft.

$900,500. Bayview: 4-bedroom, 1626 sq.ft., 1996 house on Armstrong, $554/sq.ft. read more →

San Francisco Home Price Appreciation

This chart updates, with the last prices the medians for 2015 YTD (i.e. 1/1 – 5/21/15).image004 read more →

San Francisco Neighborhood Home Prices Continue to Break Records

Median Sales Prices; Luxury Home Sales; Housing Affordability Index;
Home Values by Neighborhood; Investment Real Estate; New Development

Median House & Condo Sales Prices

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As the 2015 market has accelerated, median home sales prices have been hitting new highs in neighborhoods across San Francisco. Link to San Francisco Neighborhood Map

Home Price Appreciation

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The chart above graphs monthly house and condo median price appreciation in the city since the market recovery began in early 2012. The 2 charts below are snapshots of changes in median sales prices in a sampling of 6 different SF neighborhoods from early 2013 to early 2015, one for houses and one for 2-bedroom condos. (The 2015 prices in these charts below may vary from those earlier in this report, because slightly different parameters were used.)

Median Price Changes, 2013 – 2015

Bayview, Bernal Heights & Glen Park Houses

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Hayes Valley, Inner Mission, South Beach 2-Bedroom Condos

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Luxury Home Sales

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High-end home sales continue to hit new highs in San Francisco: Last spring was the hottest on record; spring 2015 is blowing through last year’s numbers. The chart above is from our updated luxury report, which can be found here:
SF Luxury Home Market Report

Housing Affordability Index

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This CAR Housing Affordability Index (HAI) is calculated using median price, household income, interest rates and other financial criteria to determine the percentage of local households which can afford to buy. At 14% to 15%, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo have very low affordability readings in comparison to other parts of the country – the Index reading is now 31% for the state and 59% for the country.

Affordability calculations are a complex and nuanced issue, especially in San Francisco*. However, one can’t argue with the general trend lines. When the market heats up and prices rise, affordability goes down; when the market goes into a recession, affordability rises. If affordability declines beyond a certain point, it may become an indicator of an overvalued real estate market. SF’s Index reading is still above the historic lows it hit in 2001 and 2007. Changes in interest rates can quickly and significantly affect affordability.

New Listings & Buyer Demand

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The above chart illustrates the seasonal ebb and flow of the market as new listings come on the market and buyers react by putting properties under contract. Spring is typically the biggest selling season of the year, followed by a large spike in autumn. Market activity usually slows in summer and plunges during the winter holiday season.

Multi-Unit & Investment Real Estate

The two charts below are from our recently issued reports on the multi-unit building market, the first on properties of 2 to 4 units, and the second on larger apartment buildings of 5+ units. The second chart illustrates the parallels between rents and home prices in counties around the Bay Area. Regarding affordability: If someone’s choice is between paying a very high rent or buying an expensive home at today’s low interest rates and with all the tax advantages of homeownership, buying is typically the much better option financially over the longer term. But the devil is always in the details.

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The full reports can be found here:

SF 2-4 Unit Building Market

Bay Area 5+ Unit Apartment Market

Housing Inventory & New Home Construction

The first chart below and the map following it depict the current boom in new-home construction and the districts where new development is clustered. The second chart illustrates the growth of the condominium segment of the city’s housing inventory via both construction and conversion.(A lot more is coming.) The new-home development situation in San Francisco is fascinating – and a fierce political issue.

Our full report on the topic is here: Paragon Housing & Construction Report

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New home development often goes through gigantic boom and bust cycles. What complicates the issue for SF developers is that from start to finish, from creating plans for city review to completing construction, the process can easily take 4 to 6 years. Right now, both residential and commercial developers are making enormous bets on a long, sustained, up cycle in the SF economy and real estate market.

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New residential construction is heavily concentrated around the Market Street corridor, the Van Ness corridor just north of Market, and in the large quadrant of the city that lies to the southeast of Market. This is due to the availability of large, previously commercial/industrial-use lots that can be changed to residential use, and the zoning that allows for large – sometimes very large – projects to be constructed in these areas.

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Though only about 40 years old, the condo sales market in the city is now larger than the house market. And 99% of all new construction being built for sale consists of new and usually high-end condos.

* A few “peculiarities” that may skew the housing affordability calculation in San Francisco are: 1) the city has an abnormally high percentage of single-resident households, 38%, which affects median household income figures, 2) unlike most counties, the majority of SF residents are tenants not owners, and the greater part of those are under rent control, and 3) the SF market is currently being fueled in no small part by large numbers of people moving into the city for very well-paid jobs.

Short-term median prices may fluctuate due to a number of different factors, including seasonality, inventory available to purchase, interest rates and significant changes in the luxury and new-home segments of the market.Longer-term trends are always more meaningful than short-term ups and downs.

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 and how they apply to any specific property is unknown without a tailored comparative market analysis. Sales statistics of one month generally reflect offers negotiated 4 – 6 weeks earlier, i.e. they are a month or so behind what’s actually occurring in the market as buyers and sellers make deals. All numbers should be considered approximate.Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

© 2015 Paragon Real Estate Group

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San Francisco New-Housing Construction Trends

Many of the charts included in this report are based on or excerpted from the San Francisco Planning Department’s 82-page 2014 Housing Inventory report, released in April 2015, which can be accessed using the link at the bottom of this article. Much of the text below detailing housing-inventory statistics is excerpted from this report as well.

Planning-4-Steps

The process of application and review, public hearings (and sometimes ballot proposals), revisions, entitlement, permitting, construction, inspection and completion is complex and lengthy. Housing units are being planned and built, and existing units are being altered and removed. And there are many housing types: rental or sale units, market rate or affordable, social-project housing or luxury condominiums.

The new-housing landscape in San Francisco is in constant flux: new projects, developer plan changes, city plan changes, and shifts in economic and political realities. The basic reality is that the city, after its recent 2008-2012 new-construction slump, is now experiencing a huge building boom. So far, however, it has not been able to keep up with accelerating population growth, soaring employment and concomitant surging buyer/renter demand.

4-15_Planning-Dept_Units-Added_1995-2014

“The production of new housing in 2014 totaled 3,654 units, a 50% increase from 2013. This includes 3,454 units in new construction and 200 new units added through conversion of non-residential uses, alterations to existing units or buildings, or expansion of existing structures. Some 140 units were lost through demolition (95), unit mergers (20) and removal of illegal units (24).

“Some of the larger projects completed in 2014 include: 1411 Market Street/NEMA Phase II (437 market-rate units and 52 affordable inclusionary units), 185 Channel Street (315 market rate units), Rincon Hill Phase II (312 market rate units).The 1190 4th Street (100% affordable 150 units) and St. Anthony Foundation’s 121 Golden Gate Avenue (100% affordable 90 senior housing units) are two major affordable housing projects completed in 2014.”

New-Construction_Authorized-Completed

“The Planning Department approved and fully entitled 57 projects in 2014. These projects propose a total of 3,756 units. In 2014, 3,834 units were authorized for construction. This represents a 21% increase from 2013. New housing authorized for construction over the past five years continues to be overwhelmingly (90%) in buildings with 20 or more units. In 2014 the average project size was 16 units.”

“Some of the major projects authorized for construction during the reporting year include: 2801 Brannan Street (434 units); 3350 8th Street (408 units); 250 4th Street (208 units); and 588 Mission Bay Boulevard (200 units).”

4-15_Housing-Inventory_Looking-Forward-Numbers

“In 2014, 269 projects with about 8,030 units were filed with the Planning Department. This number is higher than the count in 2013 by 66% and is a little over double that of the five year average of almost 3,690 units.

Residential Development by City District

4-15_Housing-Inventory_Map-New-Units-Added

New-Construction_by-SF-District

New construction has been concentrated in a few specific districts of the city, mostly where there are commercial lots able to be converted to residential use and where higher density housing projects are most viable. The ability to take under-utilized commercial property sites and turn them into multi-unit or even high-rise residential projects is particularly prized. Generally speaking this describes the quadrant of San Francisco around and to the southeast of the Market Street corridor.

New Development Pipeline

We also have an overview of the quarterly San Francisco Planning Department’s Pipeline Report, which complements the annual Housing Inventory reports with a longer term perspective: The San Francisco Residential & Commercial Development Pipeline Report. Below is one chart from this report.

There are over 50,000 housing units of all kinds currently in the pipeline – and the pipeline is growing and changing quickly now – but some of the bigger projects (such as Treasure Island and Hunter’s Point/Shipyard) may take decades to complete.

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Construction vs. Conversion

New-Housing_Construction-Conversion

“Thirty-three single-family units were added in 2014: Single-family building construction made up a very small proportion of new construction in 2014 (1%).” Very few new houses are built in San Francisco, as developers prefer to build higher density housing projects on our limited supply of land. The houses that are built are typically big and expensive.

“New condominium construction in 2014 dropped to 1,977 units from 2,586 units in 2013. Condominium conversions were up by 98% in 2014 (730 from 369 conversions in 2013). This number is 20% higher than the 10-year average of 606 units.” The rules governing condo conversion in San Francisco are byzantine, politically-wrought and, seemingly, ever-changing, and the changes affect the ability to convert existing multi-unit properties and TICs into condominiums. .

Affordable Housing Construction

4-15_Affordable-Housing-vs-Market-Rate

Affordable-Housing_Construction

Very generally speaking, the city requires that new home developers either dedicate 15% of their units to affordable housing, which could be built on-site or on another city site, or contribute to the city’s affordable housing fund “in lieu” of building the units themselves.(The rules are more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea.) There are few subjects more politically charged in San Francisco than affordable housing: how much should be built where and who should be responsible for the costs.

“In 2014, 757 new affordable housing units were built. These new affordable units made up 21% of new units added to the City’s housing stock. This count includes 267 inclusionary units and 59 units added to existing structures. About 83% of the new affordable units are rentals affordable to very-low and low-income households.” These units are allocated, rented and sold under rules and formulas pertaining to social and economic circumstances and housing cost. Large projects are also built on an ongoing basis by private-public social organizations for dedicated purposes such as senior housing.

“In 2014, a total of about $30 million was collected from developers as partial payments of in-lieu fees for projects.”

Major affordable housing projects completed in 2014 include: 1190 4th Street (150 units); 121 Golden Gate Avenue (90 units); 378 5th Street (44 units); 833-871 Jamestown Avenue (96 units); 1600 Market Street (23 units); and 63 West Point Road (15 units).

Housing Units Demolished, Merged and Abated

Housing-Units_Lost

“Dwelling units are gained by additions to existing housing structures, conversions to residential use, and legalization of illegal units. Dwelling units are lost by merging separate units into larger units, by conversion to commercial use, or by the removal of illegal units. The net gain of 155 units from alterations in 2014 is comprised of 200 units added and 45 units eliminated.”

The Context behind San Francisco New-Housing Development
Population, Employment, New Supply vs. Demand

What ultimately underpins new housing construction is demand. San Francisco is seeing surging population and employment that has been far outpacing new supply. Below are 3 charts we made up plus one from the CA Legislative Analyst’s Office.

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Employment_SF-by-year

New-Home-Construction_SF_by-Decade

Population-Growth_SF

Insufficient Housing = Increasing Prices & Rents

Below are two of our charts illustrating the white hot rental and sale markets in San Francisco, which are motivating investors and developers to build new homes, and motivating the city and non-profits to try and accelerate the construction of affordable housing units as well.

Median-Price_SF_SFD-Condo-Combined_by-Qtr

Rents_Avg-SF_by-year

New Housing Construction by Bay Area County

As can be seen below, Santa Clara has taken the lead in new home construction in the Bay Area. “In 2014, Bay Area counties authorized 21,090 units for construction, 8% more than the 2013 authorizations of 19,551 units. In San Francisco, 98% of new housing is in multi-family buildings.”

New-Construction_by-County

SF Housing Stock by Building Size

4-15_Housing-Inventory_by-Bldg-Type

Condo Values by Era of Construction

AvgDolSqFt_Condo-by-Era-Built

The first golden age of SF apartment buildings, many of which were later turned into condos, was in the period of 1920 – 1940: The units in these buildings are large, light, gracious and filled with elegant detail. Pacific Heights and Marina are filled with these buildings. Though there are beautiful condos built in other eras (Edwardian flats, Art Deco apartments), the second golden age really arrived with the latest burst of new-condo construction, built for an increasingly affluent population: These units are ultra-modern, high-tech and feature highest quality finishes and amenities. They are exemplified by the new, luxury high-rises of the greater South Beach-Yerba Buena area, though variations on this theme, in non-high-rise form, have been springing up all over the city.

The units in these newer buildings command a premium both when rented or, as seen in the chart above, when sold – now surpassing an average dollar per square foot value of $1000. This is the major motivator for developers today.

Housing Unit Construction by Bedroom Count

Micro-Units-Quote

New-Condo_Construction-by-BR-Count

We haven’t found an easy place for construction data by unit size, so this first chart above is extrapolated from SF MLS sales of condos built 2001 -2015. It may not apply perfectly to units built as apartment rentals or affordable housing.

Typically, the smaller the unit, the higher the dollar per square foot value on sale or rental, however in San Francisco, 3+ bedroom condos are often high-floor units with spectacular views that sell for extraordinary sums – but these would be outliers to the general rule. The city plan appears to have a bias for 2-bedroom units, which it designates as “family units” – this may be an anachronism considering that 38% of city residents live alone and that SF has the lowest percentage of children of any major U.S. city.Lately there has been a push by developers (and some housing advocates) toward smaller or even “micro” units, but other segments in the decision-making chain in the city, such as supervisors and neighborhood community groups, often push back against allowing this trend to gain traction in the city.

The politics of new home development in San Francisco is not for the weak of heart. There are very, very strong opinions and pressures regarding how it should best proceed.

San Francisco Planning Department
Pipeline & Housing Inventory Reports

Below are links to the SF Planning Department Pipeline and Housing Inventory report webpages. They contain huge amount of data, which we have attempted to represent accurately.As noted by their authors, who did an incredible job, the original reports themselves are “compiled and consolidated from different data sources and subject to errors due to varying accuracy and currency of original sources.”

2014 SF Planning Department Housing Inventory Report, Issued April 2015

San Francisco Planning Department Pipeline Report

SF Development Pipeline Map

And this image-link goes to a flowchart of the Planning Department’s
review and approvals process:

SF-Planning-Flowchart

This report was created in good faith and is based on data from sources deemed reliable,
but may contain inadvertent errors and misrepresentations, and is subject to revision.

© April 2015 Paragon Real Estate Group

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San Francisco Autumn Real Estate Market Dynamics

SF Luxury Home Sales Hit New Peak

Neighborhood Snapshots: Noe & Eureka Valleys, South Beach
& Yerba Buena, Richmond District, Bernal Heights & Sunset/Parkside

November 2014 Update

Adjusting your screen view to zoom 125% or 150% will make the charts easier to read.

The San Francisco market definitely cooled after the overheated feeding frenzy of the first half of the year. The competition between buyers for new listings declined to more rational levels: Homes that might have received 5 to 10 offers earlier in the year received 1 or 2 or 3. Values in many of the city’s neighborhoods plateaued or even ticked down a bit after spring’s big spike – the exception being districts with the most affordable house prices (under $1.2 million) where prices generally continued to tick up. The number of expired and withdrawn listings jumped 18% August through October when compared to last year, to over 460 listings, as buyers decided many sellers were pushing the envelope on prices too far.

On the other hand, as seen in the charts below, the autumn market has been very strong by any reasonable measure, just not one of utterly crazed competition. The number of house and condo sales was a little higher in October 2014 than October 2013, and that doesn’t include a very large number of high-end, new-development condos that went into contract. Most of the city’s listings have continued to sell quickly for well over the asking price and luxury home sales hit their highest number ever.

The market for multi-unit buildings did decline dramatically, but that was due to Prop G fears. Since the proposition failed on November 4, that effect should quickly dwindle. Meanwhile, buyers have a large inventory of 2-4 unit buildings to choose from.

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General Market Dynamics

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Median Sales Price by Month: Median prices are affected by other factors besides just changes in home values, such as seasonality, inventory available to purchase and significant changes in the luxury market. It often jumps up and down by month and season: It is the longer-term trend which is most meaningful. In this chart above, the spring spike, summer decline and early autumn increase are clear. Among other factors, luxury home sales usually jump in spring and autumn and drop in summer and mid-winter, and this rise and fall affects the overall median price. For the last 3 years, the general trend line has been dramatically up.

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Homes Selling Over & Under List Price: As seen in the 2 charts below, an astounding percentage of San Francisco home listings continue to sell over, and sometimes far over asking price. However, an increasing percentage of listings aren’t selling at all: A hot market doesn’t mean buyers will pay any price sellers dream up. 
This first chart looks at SF houses, condos, co-ops, TICs and 2-4 unit buildings, breaking down sales by those that sell with and without price reductions, and the difference that makes in sales price and average days on market. Pricing correctly right from the start reaps significant rewards for sellers.

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This chart breaks down SF house and condo listings by the percentage of list price achieved upon sale. Even if the autumn market isn’t as white-hot as last spring’s, these are incredible statistics. It should be noted that some of this phenomenon is certainly due to strategic underpricing of homes by some listing agents, which became increasingly popular in 2014.

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Months Supply of Inventory (MSI): At just under 2 months of inventory, San Francisco’s MSI is up from spring 2014, but still indicates a very strong seller’s market.

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San Francisco Luxury Home Market

Luxury Home Sales Soar Again: October saw a big autumn surge in luxury home sales: It was by far the biggest month ever for SF house sales of $2m+, with 61 sales. Luxury condo sales were also quite high at 55 sales, a figure which doesn’t include market response to the new “ultra-luxury” Lumina project in South Beach, where 80 to 100 very expensive condos went into contract amid almost frenzied bidding – these units won’t close escrow until construction is completed in 2015 or early 2016.

The average days-on-market (DOM) for luxury houses sold in October was 21 days, and for luxury condos, it was 28 days: These are very low DOM figures, indicating quick market response to the listings purchased.

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Luxury House Values: House sales of $2,500,000 and above, charted here by average dollar per square foot, cluster in a handful of areas in the city. The Pacific Heights-Marina district has the most sales and the highest median sales price for such sales: Historically, this district has been the city’s nexus for big, luxury houses. However, the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district now sees a substantial (and growing) number of sales in this segment, though at a significantly lower price point. This area is becoming popular with the young, high-tech, ultra-wealthy (such as Mark Zuckerberg) and record prices are being achieved. Russian & Telegraph Hills have very few house sales, but very high values, as seen below. And the greater St. Francis Wood-Forest Hill area is by far the best value for big homes (often on big lots) by how much house you get for your money.

Average house size varies from approximately 2700 square feet in Russian & Telegraph Hills to 3260 in Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys to 4200 in Pacific Heights-Marina. All things being equal (which they rarely are), a smaller home will typically sell at a higher dollar-per-square-foot than a larger one.

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Luxury Condo & Co-op Values: The Pacific Heights-Marina district currently has the most luxury condo and co-op sales – but not for long: With all the new, high-rise condo construction in the greater South Beach-Yerba Buena district – already featuring the highest average dollar per square foot values in the city – this new residential area will soon dominate sales volume too. The prestigious condo and co-op neighborhoods of Russian, Nob and Telegraph Hill also feature some of the most expensive units in San Francisco. With new, luxury condo construction surging across the city, such sales – at very high dollar per square foot prices – are growing in neighborhoods such as the Mission, Hayes Valley, Duboce Triangle, Mission Dolores and Potrero Hill – and there’s a lot more coming.

Average unit size for luxury condos ranges from about 1650 square feet in South Beach/Yerba Buena to 1900 – 2100 square feet in the older, northern neighborhoods such as Pacific Heights. Older buildings usually feature larger units.

Perhaps as many as 30-40% of luxury units in the city are being purchased as pied e terres and second homes by the very affluent, or even as investments (often by wealthy foreign buyers).

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Bay Area Real Estate Prices

These two charts come from our recent report on Bay Area Demographics, covering issues such as ancestry, income, housing and education.

Square Footage for $1,000,000: At average county values, you’ll get double the square footage in Sonoma and Contra Costa as you will in San Mateo and San Francisco, and, of course, in other parts of the country, that can double or triple again.

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Average Asking Rents: In terms of rental-rate appreciation, the Bay Area has 3 of the 4 hottest rental markets in the country in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco. High rents, of course, are one of the big factors behind high home prices.

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San Francisco Neighborhood Snapshots

A look at long-term home-value trends in selected city districts. Please call or email if you’d like information on another neighborhood. Median and average statistics are generalities which summarize a huge range of underlying, individual sales.

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Updated S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for San Francisco Metro Area

The 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 the San Francisco’s and Marin’s house sales are in the “high price tier”, so that is where we focus most of our attention.” 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. June’s Index was released on the last Tuesday of August.

The 5 counties in our Case-Shiller Metro Statistical Area are San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa. Needless to say, there are many different real estate markets found in such a broad region, and it’s probably fair to say that the city of San Francisco’s market has generally out-performed the general metro-area market.

The first two charts 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 both 2012 and 2013, home prices surged in the spring and then plateaued in the summer-autumn. The surge in prices that occurred in spring of 2013 was particularly dramatic, reflecting a frenzied market of huge buyer demand, historically low interest rates, increasing consumer confidence and extremely low inventory. In San Francisco itself, it was further exacerbated by an expanding population and the high-tech-fueled explosion of new wealth. The market then calmed down somewhat in the second half of 2013, but then heated up yet again in early 2014. In fact, the spring 2014 market was, if anything, even more ferocious than last year’s. Typically, the market cools off for the summer months and that is what we are starting to see in the Case-Shiller numbers (which, again, are some months behind the current market). The next big indication of market trends will come after the autumn selling season begins in mid-September.

For more regarding how seasonality affects real estate: Seasonality & the Real Estate Market

Case-Shiller Index numbers all reflect home prices as compared to the home price of January 2000, which has been designated with a value of 100. Thus, a reading of 198 signifies home prices 98% above those of January 2000.

Short-Term Trends: 12 Months & Since Market Recovery Began in 2012

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Longer-Term Trends & Cycles

The third and fourths charts below reflect what has occurred in the longer term (for the high-price tier that applies best to San Francisco and Marin counties), showing the cycle of recession, recovery, bubble, decline/recession since 1996, and 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.

Case-Shiller_from_1990 Case-Shiller_HT_1996-2011

Different Bubbles, Crashes & Recoveries

This next chart compares the 3 different price tiers since 2000. 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 crisis) than the other two price tiers. All 3 tiers have been undergoing dramatic recoveries, but because the bubbles of the low and middle tiers were greater, their recoveries leave them well below their artificially inflated peak values of 2006. It may be a long time before the low-price-tier of houses regains its previous peak values. The high-price-tier, with a much smaller bubble, and little affected by distressed property sales, has now exceeded its previous peak values of 2007. Most neighborhoods in the city of San Francisco itself have surpassed previous peak values by substantial margins.

It’s interesting to note that despite the different scales of their bubbles, crashes and recoveries, all three price tiers now have similar overall appreciation rates when compared to year 2000. As of May 2014, as seen below, appreciation for all three tiers since 2000 ranged from 93% to 97%. In June (not shown below), this range narrowed further to 96% to 98%. This suggests an equilibrium is being achieved across the general real estate market.

Different counties, cities and neighborhoods in the Bay Area are dominated by different price tiers. Bay Area counties such as Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Solano have large percentages of their markets dominated by low-price tier homes (though all tiers are represented to greater or lesser degrees). San Francisco, Marin, 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 two “2014″ readings for each tier in the chart below, refer to January 2014 and May 2014.

Case-Shiller_3-Tiers_Trends

 

San Francisco County

And then 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. Note that this chart has more recent price appreciation data than available in the Case-Shiller Indices. 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 constructions, inventory available to purchase, and significant changes in the distressed and luxury home segments. Short-term fluctuations are less meaningful than longer term trends.

Median_SFD-Condo_by-Qtr_Short-term

And this chart for the Noe and Eureka Valleys neighborhoods of San Francisco shows the explosive recovery seen in many of the city’s neighborhoods, pushing home values far above those of 2007. San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are most effected by the high-tech wealth effect on home prices. Noe and Eureka Valleys are particularly prized by this buyer segment and the effect on prices has been astonishing.

Noe-Eureka_SFD_Avg-SP_DolSqFt_by_YEAR

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San Francisco Luxury Home Market

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales & Prices
Continue to Climb Past Previous Peaks

July 2014 Update by Paragon Real Estate Group
With 7 Custom Charts & Tables

The luxury segment of San Francisco’s real estate market was the last to peak, in 2008, while most other housing segments started to lose steam in 2006-2007. After the financial markets crash in September 2008, the city’s high-end home market generally lost the least value on a percentage basis, 15-20%, as compared to the 20-60% drops seen elsewhere. Then it was the first to recover in late 2011/early 2012. Now, SF luxury home values have accelerated well past the previous peak values of 6 years ago. The factors include the increasing strength of the Bay Area economy; the huge, local surge in high-tech and affiliated wealth; an increase in well-heeled foreign buyers; and the fact that the highly affluent have, by far, profited most from the recent, tremendous appreciation in stocks and other financial assets.

The net result: There is an enormous amount of new and old money sloshing around the Bay Area looking for beautiful homes to buy, many of which are being purchased all-cash.

Luxury homes in San Francisco are typically defined as condos, co-ops and TICs selling for $1,500,000 and above, and houses selling for $2,000,000 or more. These are relatively arbitrary thresholds since $2,000,000 might buy a small-ish, fixer-upper house in Pacific Heights or a large, gracious home in another neighborhood. It is also true that the significant appreciation since 2011 has simply moved more sales into the “luxury” price category, which at current trends will soon require reassessment.

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales by Quarter

The number of SF luxury home sales in the 2nd quarter of 2014 was more than twice the number sold in the 2nd quarters of 2007 or 2008 before the market crash. Luxury condo sales in particular are skyrocketing.

LuxHome_Unit_Sales_by_Qtr

Average Dollar per Square Foot Values 
for San Francisco Luxury Homes

Average dollar per square foot is a very general statistic, but this chart gives an idea of the extraordinary values now being achieved by San Francisco luxury properties in different neighborhoods of the city. These are just averages: Some homes are selling far beyond the values seen here, including a few over $2000 per square foot.

LuxHome_AvgDolSqFt_by-Neighborhood

San Francisco High-End Home Sales by Neighborhood

Luxury house sales in San Francisco are dominated by the swath of established, prestige, northern neighborhoods running from Sea Cliff and Lake Street through Pacific & Presidio Heights and Cow Hollow; by the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district (which has seen explosive growth in this market segment since the mid-nineties); and, to a lesser extent, the smaller neighborhoods around St. Francis Wood and Forest Hill.

Lux-SFD_Sales_2m-plus

High-end condo sales have now overtaken luxury house sales in the city because of all the new-condo construction which occurred over the past 10-15 years – and this building boom, which lapsed in the 4 years after the 2008 market crash, is accelerating once again. (Very few new houses are built in SF anymore, though those few are typically quite expensive.) Besides the older Pacific Heights-Marina and Russian & Nob Hills districts, and the greater Noe-Eureka Valleys district, the newer neighborhoods of South Beach, Yerba Buena and Mission Bay have a rapidly growing footprint in luxury condo sales. And just very recently, high-priced, high-tech, condo buildings are being constructed in areas such as the Mission, Hayes Valley, and the Market Street and Van Ness corridors that were not previously considered luxury-home locations.

Condo-Sales_1500k-plus

Luxury Home Sales With & Without Price Reductions: 

Sales Price to Original List Price Percentage & Average Days on Market

For the sake of simplicity, this chart looks at all SF home sales of $2,000,000 and above in the 2nd quarter of 2014. The 88% of these listings that sold without price reductions averaged a sales price 9% over asking price, with a very low average days-on-market of 26 days. These statistics are an indication of a very high-demand market. Still, not every home sold quickly: Listings that were price reduced averaged a sales price 12% below original price and spent 2.5 months longer on the market. And then a fair number of listings expired without selling, typically due to being perceived as overpriced: Even in a red hot market, one can overprice one’s home – and doing so will severely impact the market response.

Lux_Homes_SP-OP_DOM_by_Price_Reduct

House Values in San Francisco’s Prestige Northern Neighborhoods

This table includes neighborhoods of varying home values, but still gives a fair representation of high-end home-price trends over the past 20 years. Average sales prices and dollar per square foot values have blown past their previous peaks of 2007-2008.

Prestige_SFD_Avgs_Numbers

As mentioned before, other neighborhoods besides the “Prestige Northern Neighborhoods” now feature significant luxury home markets. More details on those districts can be found in the Neighborhood Values section of our website.

San Francisco’s Most Expensive Condo Buildings

Here one can see the impact of newer, luxury high-rise buildings such as the 4 Seasons, the Millennium and the Infinity Towers, all located in the greater South Beach-Yerba Buena area. However, this list ranks only the largest condo buildings and since many of the condos in the older neighborhoods are in much smaller buildings, they won’t show up here even though they have extremely high values as well. Besides location, premium services and expensive amenities, probably the most common element of luxury condos in San Francisco is spectacular views, which can add hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to the sales price. (The city’s most expensive condo sale ever – a penthouse at the St. Regis – closed for $28m in 2011.)

Condos_Most-Expensive-Buildings

Paragon is one of the top 4 brokerages in San Francisco for luxury home sales 
and has the highest Closed-to-List ratio of any of the city’s major luxury property firms.
 

LuxHome_Closed-to-List_Ratios_by-Broker

For your convenience, below is a map of San Francisco neighborhoods.

San_Francisco_Neighborhood_Map

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New Case-Shiller report: new jump in Bay Area home prices

The new S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for April 2014 came out today and it showed another bump in home prices for the 5-county San Francisco Metro Statistical Area. For homes in the upper tier of home values – as most of San Francisco’s are – prices are up approximately 17% in the past 12 months and up 41% since the recovery began in early 2012. 

Based upon what we are seeing on the ground in the market, we expect another bump in the May Index, which will come out at the end of July.

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Bay Area Home Purchase vs. S&P 500

Return on Investment: 1994 – 2014

May 2014 Report

We recently put together an analysis comparing the comparative investment returns of buying a San Francisco Bay Area house, gold, Apple stock, an S&P 500 Index fund or putting money into a bank CD in January 2012 (Of Real Estate, Gold & Apple Stock). Not unreasonably, the issue arose regarding returns over a longer term. Now, whatever time period is used will always be fundamentally arbitrary, and different periods will often generate dramatically different results. Twenty years is a round number, which allows a nice mix of recessions, bubbles, crashes and recoveries to be encompassed within our inquiry.

Stock and home purchases cannot really be compared apples to apples: This is a simplified, good faith illustration pertaining to the investment of $100,000 in January 1994. February 2014 was chosen as the home sale date because that is the last published Case-Shiller Index (as of 5/20/14). Home prices in San Francisco have actually surged yet again in the past few months, but this is not reflected below. April 2014 was chosen for the stock sale date because that was last published update for the DQYDJ S&P 500 calculator.

S&P 500 Index Investment, 1994 – 2014

In hindsight, 1994 was an excellent time to put money into the stock market.
If hindsight investing was viable, we would all be rich as Russian oligarchs.

Invest-ROI_S&P-500_20years

Bay Area Home Purchase, Buy in 1994, Sell in 2014

1994 was an even better time to purchase a San Francisco Bay Area home.

Invest-ROI_Home_20years

Return on Cash Investment: S&P 500 vs. Bay Area Home

Certain benefits to U.S. homeownership boost return on investment over stock market.

Invest-ROI_S&P-vs-Home_20years

Including dividend reinvestment, the S&P 500 appreciated approximately 9% per year for a total of 473% over the 20 year period. (If account and transaction fees were deducted, the return would be somewhat reduced.)

Bay Area home prices appreciated much less than the S&P 500 during this period, approximately 5.5% per year for a total of 189%, but the return on cash down-payment investment would be approximately 733%, significantly out-performing stocks. This difference increases when taxes on gain are included in the equation.

Note: Adjusting for inflation, investment returns would be about 2.5% lower per year (the approximate, average inflation rate over the past 20 years). Both stocks and home investments significantly outpaced inflation.

Financial Advantages Peculiar to American Homeownership

1) Leverage: 189% appreciation of a $500,000 home = over 900% appreciation, before closing costs, of the $100,000 down-payment. If one pays all cash this advantage disappears, but one’s monthly cost of housing plunges (though probably not close to making up for losing the supercharging that leverage adds to investing).

2) Long-term, fixed-rate home loans: Which substantially lock in monthly housing costs (while other costs, such as rents, continue to increase) and can be refinanced at opportune times. When one can get a 30-year mortgage at what is, historically speaking, an extremely low interest rate, it makes an enormous difference in total interest expense and monthly housing costs. As an example, in 1994, the average 30-year rate was 8.4%; now, in mid-May 2014, it’s 4.2%, (in 2013, it dipped to below 3.5%) i.e. today’s million dollar loan charges the same interest as 1994′s $500,000 loan.

3) Multiple homeownership tax deductions: Such as the mortgage interest deduction, which effectively subsidize monthly housing costs. (Consult with a qualified accountant regarding your own tax situation.) These deductions, along with low interest rates and ongoing principal repayment of the loan, generally make net monthly homeownership costs comparable to and often less than the cost of renting the same home. (Rent vs. Buy Calculator)

4) The huge, capital-gains exclusion on the sale of a primary residence: $250,000 for singles/ $500,000 for couples. It’s a rare investment that allows you to walk away with large, untaxed profits. For a couple selling their home in the above investment scenario, it means an extra $75,000.

It’s worth noting that advantages 2, 3 & 4 above are not found in most other countries, and indeed some of them remain issues of political contention in our country as well.

Homeownership as Investment & Homeownership as Housing

In this analysis, home-ownership is divided into two distinct financial spheres: 1) the investment return on the $100,000 down payment: you put in $100k cash and upon sale, you receive a certain amount of cash proceeds back. And 2) the cost of living in the home you purchase, i.e. the monthly net homeownership cost (principal, interest, taxes, insurance and maintenance, after tax deductions and principal pay-down), which is minimally assumed to be, over the course of time, comparable to the cost of renting.

Upon purchase in 1994, with interest rates at over 8%, the net homeownership cost probably exceeded the cost of renting by a good margin. But interest rates then started to decline: to under 6%; then under 5%; and in 2013, to under 3.5%. As of mid-May 2014, it is 4.2%. Refinancing at selected times over the 20 year period would have dropped net monthly homeownership costs substantially, while San Francisco rents over the same period have soared to historic highs. Ultimately, the monthly cost of owning would be far below – probably more than 50% below – the market rental rate for the same home.

The cost of housing issue is not figured into the return on investment scenario, because the equation simply gets too complicated. This is one of the ways in which comparing homes to stocks is not an apples to apples comparison.

Asset Building One Loan Payment at a Time

This analysis does not adjust proceeds of home sale for the reduction of outstanding loan balance over the 20 years, i.e. of the original $400,000 loan, only $153,000 remains due and payable upon sale. If this was done, then cash after-tax proceeds of sale would be almost $250,000 higher.

Homeownership over time — especially longer periods of time — not only typically delivers a good return on investment, but as long as one doesn’t refinance out increasing home equity to buy yachts or finance a child going to college, it acts as a lay-away savings account that grows each month as your loan payment reduces the principal loan amount due. In earlier generations, this was a classic strategy: buy a home, live in it for 30 years, retire, and then either live in it at a very low cost, since there is no longer a mortgage payment, or sell it and recoup not only appreciation but the initial purchase loan amount which has turned into home equity. Many of us are not that good at saving: Mortgage repayment can act as a “forced” savings account to be tapped far in the future, such as upon retirement.

If you want to read even more analysis regarding leverage, inflation and home equity, please see our October 2013 article: Home-Buying as Investment

Real estate markets, like other financial markets, typically move in cycles:
Where you buy and sell within these cycles can dramatically affect the outcome.
 

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New Case Shiller Index

The new February S&P Case-Shiller Index for high-price-tier homes in the 5-county San Francisco Metro Area increased almost 1% from the January reading. This puts the Index up about 20% over the past 12 months, and up about 34% since the recovery began in earnest in early 2012. Based upon what we are seeing in the market, I expect another increase in the March Index. (The Case-Shiller Index is published 2 months after the month specified.)

Case-Shiller_High-Tier_2011

 

Case-Shiller_from_1990

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