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San Francisco Luxury Home Market Report

In this report, we will define luxury homes in San Francisco as houses, condos, co-ops and TICs selling for $2,000,000 or more. Homes selling in this price range currently make up a little more than 10% of the SF residential market; those selling for $5,000,000 and above constitute about 1% of the city’s home sales.

In the past 12 months, 671 home sales of $2m+ above (414 houses, 220 condos, 23 co-ops, 14 TICs), and 67 sales of $5m+ (56 houses, 7 condos, 3 co-ops, 1 TIC) were reported to San Francisco MLS.

San Francisco Luxury Home Sales by Month
March 2015 saw the highest monthly number of luxury home sales in San Francisco’s history. Typically, this segment of the market doesn’t really hit its stride until April and May, which may indicate that spring 2015 is going to be very active.

Not shown on the chart, but if we compared our recent market with the previous peak of the market prior to the 2008 crash, home sales of $2m+ have more than doubled: Part of this speaks to the surge in affluence in the Bay Area, and part of it is due to recent home price appreciation.

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Median Sales Prices
for San Francisco Luxury Homes
As seen below, the Pacific & Presidio Heights neighborhoods still rule the roost for highest home prices. Part of this is pure location, but this is also an area where one finds very large houses, true mansions, and that naturally affects sales prices as well. Many of the runners up in this chart are very small markets, i.e. the number of luxury house sales can average less than 1 or 2 per month in Sea Cliff, Russian & Telegraph Hills, Jordan Park, Lower Pacific Heights and St. Francis Wood.

For buyers of larger houses, the greater St. Francis Wood-Forest Hill area offers comparably large and elegant homes, often on larger lots, at significantly lower dollar-per-square-foot prices. (See the following section below the next chart.) And many of the large, gracious, 3 to 5 bedroom Edwardians found in Inner/Central Richmond and Inner Sunset now sell for over $2m, but usually at lower prices than in the Lake Street and Cole Valley neighborhoods nearby.

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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. The new, ultra-luxury, high-amenity, high-rise condo buildings of the South Beach/ Yerba Buena district now generate the highest average values: Think large, gorgeous, high-floor units with staggering views.

Some homes are selling far beyond the average values seen here: A 15,000 square foot penthouse in South Beach is now on the market at $3000 per square foot, and a Pacific Heights penthouse of 5400 square feet reportedly just sold off-MLS for over $5000 per square foot, an all-time high in the city.

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Shifts in Gravity
This chart tracks changes in percentage luxury-home market share by different districts of the city, and it illustrates a slow shifting of the market. The swath of established, prestige, northern neighborhoods running from Sea Cliff and Lake Street through Pacific & Presidio Heights to Russian & Nob Hills has historically utterly dominated high-end home sales. This area will always be highly prized and valued – it’s full of beautiful streets, homes, views and commercial districts – but now luxury sales are increasing much more rapidly in places like the Noe, Eureka and Cole Valleys district, and for luxury condos, the greater South Beach, Yerba Buena and Mission Bay district.

Part of the reason is proximity to where high-tech workers work in San Francisco and on the peninsula; another part is that many of the newly wealthy are relatively young and prefer a different neighborhood ambiance; and last but not least, the vast majority of new luxury condo construction is occurring in the quadrant of the city near to and southeast from Market Street. There is very little new housing construction occurring on the north side of the city.

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Not included in the chart above, but over the 7-year period, home sales of $2m+ also increased in the Richmond/Lone Mountain neighborhoods from 1.5% to 3% of total luxury home sales, and from 0% to 2% of sales in Inner Sunset.

Sales Prices to List Prices, Days on Market & Price Reductions
93% of Q1 SF luxury home sales sold without prior price reductions, averaging 7% above asking price and a very low 25 days on market: Indications of a strong, competitive market. However, this housing segment is also one prone to overpricing by sellers and listing agents, sometimes egregiously so: Of the 73 active $2m+ listings on the market as of 4/15/15, 51 have been on the market for 50 to 505 days. So buyers are snapping up many new luxury listings very quickly, but ignoring many others until price reduced (or simply withdrawn from the market).

Last but not least, it should also be remembered that the more expensive the home, the smaller the pool of qualified, prospective buyers: Sometimes, it simply takes longer to find the right one for a particular property, especially if it’s a little outside of the norm in some way.

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Luxury Home Sales by Bay Area County
Santa Clara County has by far the biggest luxury home segment in the Bay Area for two reasons: 1) Silicon Valley wealth, and 2) its population and housing market is well over twice the size of San Francisco’s, in an area 27 times larger.

Of San Francisco’s home sales of $2m+ in Q1 2015, 43% were condos, co-ops and TICs. SF is the only Bay Area county where luxury condos and co-ops play a significant (and increasing) role in the market. Less than a handful sold in all the other counties combined.

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For your convenience, below is a map of San Francisco neighborhoods and a breakdown of neighborhoods in each Realtor district.

San_Francisco_Neighborhood_Map
These analyses pertain to sales reported to MLS: off-MLS sales and new project condo sales unreported to MLS are not included.

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 without a tailored comparative market analysis. Outlier sales that would distort the statistics were deleted from the analysis when identified. All numbers should be considered approximate.

© 2015 Paragon Real Estate Group

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First Quarter 2015 Update: The San Francisco Real Estate Market

San Francisco Home Value Appreciation

Median-Price_SF_SFD-Condo-Combined_by-Qtr

The chart above illustrates the continued march upward of median home sales prices in San Francisco. However, if we separate out house from condo sales, an interesting trend appears: The median house sales price basically stayed flat from Q4 2014 to Q1 2015, but the median condo sales price jumped from $995,000 to $1,080,000. Drilling down further, the median sales price for SF 3-bedroom houses in Q1 was $1,200,000; for 2-bedroom condos, it was $1,199,000, i.e. effectively the same. Much of this is due to the fact that the greatest number of houses in the city exists in the less expensive western and southern neighborhoods, while 1) condos are mostly found in more expensive areas, and 2) new home construction in San Francisco for the last 10 years has been dominated by very high-end condo projects. That trend is only accelerating in the current building boom.

This is illustrated below in a comparison of house and condo average dollar-per-square-foot values in the first quarters of 2008 – 2015. For the first time, overall SF condo sales just hit an astounding average of $1000 per square foot. Much of this increase is being fueled by recently built condos selling for far higher figures.

Avg-DolSqFt_SFD-vs-Condo_Q-1-2008_to-Present

More Affordable Neighborhoods Take Off

When the SF market recovery began in 2012, the more affluent neighborhoods led the way in rapid home-price appreciation, but in 2014, the more affordable neighborhoods took the lead. Of course, there are few places outside San Francisco where houses of $1.2 million would constitute the “affordable” segment of the market, but as median house prices in the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys area accelerated over $2 million (and over $4 million in the Pacific Heights-Marina district), buyers started to fan out, desperately looking for less expensive options. That sparked increased competition and the chart below illustrates the resulting year-over-year appreciation rates in some of those neighborhoods.

This is not to suggest that the higher-end house markets in the city are languishing. That is not the case – the markets are crazy there too – but generally speaking, recent appreciation rates have not been as robust as in less costly neighborhoods. Information on home prices around the city can be found here: SF Neighborhood Values.

Q1-14_to_Q1-15_SFD-Price-Appreciation_by-Neighborhood

Statistics are generalities that can be affected by various factors, and different baskets of unique homes sell in different quarters. And different statistics can disagree: For example, as seen above, Bernal Heights, which has been white hot, saw year over year median price appreciation of 10%, but its average dollar-per-square-foot value jumped 19%. Consider these statistics to be general indicators instead of precise measurements of changes in home values.

Sales Prices, Price Reductions and Days on Market

Further indications of the heat of our market: The vast majority of sales in March sold very quickly, without going through a price reduction, and averaging a whopping 10% over asking price. That relatively small percentage of listings that went through price reductions prior to sale took 3 times longer to sell at a significant discount to original list price. And, of course, not every home sells: If a property is deemed significantly overpriced, buyers typically ignore it and, unless price reduced, the listing will ultimately be withdrawn from the market. A hot market doesn’t imply buyers will pay any price that pops into a seller’s head (though sometimes it may seem so).

SP-OP_DOM_by-Month

Factors behind the Low Supply of Homes for Sale

Lately, there have been many articles about the reasons why sellers aren’t selling, which is supposedly the main cause of the market’s drastically low inventory situation. What is rarely mentioned is that by far the biggest factor behind declining inventory is not that sellers aren’t selling, but simply the greatly increased demand over the past 3 years. The number of sales in 2014 was actually about average for the last 15 years. Mostly, it was the competition among greater numbers of buyers that shrunk the supply of homes for sale at any given time.

Below is Slide 3 of three charts from our full report (The Real Story behind Low Inventory). It shows how inventory declines as buyer demand increases, even if the number of new listings coming on market doesn’t fall. Please see the full analysis for our complete reasoning, as well as a list of other subsidiary factors.

The simplified, sample illustration below uses actual data pertaining to buyer demand in the city over recent years, but assumes that the number of new listings stays steady at 600 per month.

Inventory_FS-Illustration_Slide-3

Comparing Bay Area County Markets

These 3 analyses are excerpted from our recent article, Taking the Temperatures of Bay Area Real Estate Markets. The full report includes 5 other charts, all of them fascinating.

Bay-Area_DOM_by-County Bay-Area_Increase_in_Employment Bay-Area_Median-SFD-Condo_Sales-Price-by-County

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.

 

 

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Taking the Temperatures of Bay Area Real Estate Markets

Across the Bay Area, how many listings sell without price reductions, how quickly do they sell, and at what percentage of asking price? What role does employment play in the real estate market? Which are the biggest and smallest county markets, and how do prices and rents compare?

The white-hot – some would say overheated – core of the Bay Area homes market is San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and the heat radiates out from there, diminishing as one gets further away. This core is defined by the incredible strength of the economy, much of it supercharged by the high-tech boom. However, there are also cultural and lifestyle factors, as well as what might be called the creativity/innovation-cluster effect, all of which have almost gravitational attractions. Indeed, San Francisco is almost a perfect example of the “super city” concept, drawing in people from all over the country and the world like a giant magnet.

Because it’s close and a (relatively) easy commute to these areas, and so affordable by comparison, Alameda County (which includes Oakland) is also crazy hot. Marin has a strong market but is less feverish, firstly because getting to Silicon Valley isn’t as easy – one has to fight one’s way across the whole city to get to Highways 101 and 280 south – secondly, because it’s a very wealthy and expensive county, so it doesn’t offer quite the attraction of big home price discounts, and perhaps thirdly, because Marin has the highest median age in the Bay Area (45 years), and much of the high-tech employment boom is characterized by (pre-family forming) youth who prefer a more urban environment.

As one gets further north, east and south of the inner core, the markets become less overheated: It’s not that these markets are weak – in fact, some are quite hot and they’ve all been strengthening for the last 3 years. It’s simply that they’re not characterized by a feeding frenzy of almost overwhelming demand meeting limited inventory. Except for sellers eager to maximize their homes’ sales prices, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It should be noted that many of the charts below reflect February sales data. Generally speaking, Bay Area markets have become significantly hotter as the calendar gets deeper into prime spring selling season.

Most of these charts speak for themselves, so we’ve kept commentary to a minimum.

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As an illustration of perhaps the Bay Area’s most important market dynamic, this chart below delineates new job creation over the past 6 years. In San Francisco, for example, there are over 95,000 more employed residents than in 2009, and according to the San Francisco Business Times (3/6/15), there are currently 8600 unfilled software engineer positions in the city. During the same 6-year period, approximately 10,000 new housing units were built in the city. That ratio of new employment to new housing equals a desperately competitive housing market.

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Other factors play important roles in the Bay Area markets – such as affluence and education levels – and many of these are assessed on a county by county basis in our 2014 report on San Francisco Bay Area Demographics.

And updated maps of comparative home values around the Bay Area can be found here:Bay Area Home Price Maps

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Another Feverish Spring Market? March 2015 Report

Overbidding & Inventory; Bay Area Home Price Map; Renting vs. Buying;
Different Markets = Different Bubbles, Crashes & Recoveries

Preliminary statistics and, even more so, indications on the ground in the current hurly burly of deal-making are sending strong signals of another very competitive real estate market in San Francisco as we approach spring. If it continues to develop as it’s looking right now, this would make the 4th intense spring season since the market recovery began in early 2012.

Once again, buyer demand has surged early in the new year without a corresponding increase in listing inventory: High demand meets low supply generates competitive bidding – sometimes fiercely so – and upward pressure on home prices. This doesn’t mean every listing is selling over asking price or even selling at all – even in a red hot market, 20% – 30% of homes are price reduced before selling or withdrawn from the market without a sale taking place (usually due to overpricing). There are also hotter and cooler pockets within the market: Right now, more affordable homes – for example, condos under $1 million – appear to be in particularly high demand.

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. Sales volume in January and February was down 20% year over year, reflecting a market that pretty much shut down in the last two weeks in December, and then started the year with extremely low inventory.

Overbidding List Prices

SP-OP_All-SF-Sales-Combined_by-Month

This chart above illustrates seasonal trends in competitive bidding, which underlies the phenomenon of homes selling for over asking price. For the last few years, the average percentage of sales price to list price has been peaking in spring. But already in February, prices averaged a whopping 8% above asking – very few other markets in the country are seeing anything similar. Drilling down by property type, SF house sales in February averaged 12% over asking, condos averaged 7% over, and 2-4 unit buildings 2%. Houses are becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of city home sales (since virtually no new ones are being built), which has generally made them the most competitive market segment.

In previous years, the percentage over asking has peaked in May, reflecting offers negotiated in late March, April and early May.

Inventory
February-Inventory-Levels_SF

Seasonality_Listings-For-Sale

Seasonality_New-Listings

Seasonality in the Bay Area often has more to do with summer and winter holidays than the actual weather since, unlike back east, January and February often look more like spring here. New listings and overall inventory bottom out in December, and then slowly rise in the new year. What is super-charging the market is that buyers woke up after the holidays and jumped back in the market much earlier than sellers have put homes up for sale in quantity. For the past 3 years, this unbalanced dynamic between the high pressure of buyer demand pushing against an insufficient supply of listings continued through spring, causing dramatic home-price increases, until the market slowed during the summer. We shall soon see if prices can jump higher once again in coming months.

Days on Market before Acceptance of Offer

Months Supply of Inventory

DOM_Blended_SFD-Condo-Coop_Month

MSI-SFD-Condo-Co-op

The greater the demand, the faster listings go into contract (i.e. accept offers), and the lower the average days on market (DOM) and months supply of inventory (MSI).Both these statistics are currently in deep “seller’s market” territory. Of course, this could change dramatically if we get a sudden tsunami of new listings or if a large, negative economic event happens, but right now, we don’t have any reason to expect either to occur in the next few months.

As points of comparison, the national average days-on-market is more than twice that of San Francisco’s (approximately 69 days vs. 30), and the national MSI figure is almost 3 times higher than the city’s (approximately 4.7 months of inventory vs. 1.6). Many new listings in San Francisco are going into contract within 7 to 14 days of coming on market, as eager buyers swarm over them.

Bay Area Median House Prices

This map gives a very general idea of comparative home values around the Bay Area. Remember that median prices will often disguise enormous variety in the underlying individual home sales.

We’ve also updated our SF neighborhood map for house and condo prices, which can be found online here: San Francisco Median Home Price Map

2-15_Map_Bay-Area_Median_House-Price

Renting vs. Buying in San Francisco

2-15_Rent-vs-Buy_Medians-Comp_C

Someone moving to or within San Francisco basically has 2 choices: Renting at market rate or buying at market rate. And rents have gone up so much locally that after accounting for multiple tax benefits, low interest rates, principal loan-balance pay-down (which adds to home equity) and estimated long-term appreciation, buying often looks like the financially attractive course. Above is one chart of a much more detailed analysis comparing the cost of renting a 2-bedroom San Francisco apartment at the current median asking rent, with the monthly cost of buying an SF home at the current median sales price after adjusting for tax deductions and principal pay-down.As seen above, the net monthly cost of buying can be less renting.

There are many personal and monetary issues that pertain to this decision and our analysis is based on a number of financial assumptions – interest, inflation, appreciation and tax rates; downpayment amount; maintenance and insurance costs – that you may not agree with or might not apply to you. You can review our full analysis and also perform your own calculations here: Renting vs. Buying in San Francisco

Different Markets, Bubbles, Crashes & Recoveries*

The real estate market is often spoken about as if it was a single monolithic entity performing in a consistent way – but nothing could be further from the truth. Markets vary enormously between states, cities, neighborhoods, property types and price segments. The S&P Case-Shiller Index looks at the Bay Area market* by breaking all house sales into 3 price segments – low, mid and high price tiers – each containing one third of the total number of sales.The exact price range of each tier changes as the market appreciates or depreciates, or more sales occur in one price range than another: Right now, the “high-price tier” starts at $872,000. In February of 2012, the high tier started at a threshold of $537,000.

Breaking down the market by price segment is a vast over-simplification – there are many other factors at play – but generally speaking, the lower the price range, the more the housing segment was impacted by subprime/ predatory lending in 2003 – 2006. In turn, that caused the larger price bubble, and then the bigger crash as the foreclosure/ distressed-property crisis took hold.

Most Bay Area counties are dominated by homes in 2 price tiers, low and mid, or mid and high, but there are pockets of homes in all tiers within most counties. The numbers in the 3 charts below all relate to a January 2000 value designated as 100. Thus a reading of 199 indicates a home price 99% above that of January 2000.

Bay Area Low-Price-Tier Houses – Currently under $542,000

The low-price third of sales was massively impacted by subprime lending – people buying homes they couldn’t actually afford. It experienced an insane appreciation rate of 170% from 2000 to 2006, creating an enormous bubble. It then crashed by a catastrophic 60% due to the distressed-home phenomenon. As distressed sales dwindled, the recovery since 2012 has been spectacular, up 81%, but prices are still well below peak values and may not re-attain them for years. (If prices go down 60%, they must go back up 148% to get back to where they started.) Many homes in Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Solano* counties fall into this market segment.

Interestingly, this price segment was not impacted by the popping of the dot-com bubble, perhaps because these homeowners were less likely to be speculating in the technology stock market.

Case-Shiller_LowTier_Longterm

Bay Area Mid-Price Tier Houses – Currently $542,000 to $872,000

The mid-price segment was less hammered by subprime, but still significantly impacted. Its appreciation rate was 119% from 2000 to 2006 and its market then crashed about 42% before starting its recovery in 2012. This segment is now up 55% from the bottom and close to its 2006 peak value. Many homes in northern Marin, the southern border neighborhoods of San Francisco, northern San Mateo and various areas of the other counties fall into this price segment.

Case-Shiller_Mid-Price-Tier_since-1988

Bay Area High-Price Tier Houses – Currently over $872,000

Most of the houses in San Francisco, San Mateo and southern Marin, as well as affluent areas in other counties, fall into the high-price third of Bay Area sales, which was not deeply affected by subprime lending and foreclosure sales. Though its bubble and crash seemed dramatic enough to those experiencing them, they were much smaller: It appreciated 84% from 2000 to 2006, including a hiccup drop in 2001 after the popping of the dot-com bubble, and then fell about 25% (compared to 60% for the low-price tier). Its strong recovery since 2012, up about 44%, has now put this segment approximately 8% above its previous peak value in 2006.

Case-Shiller_from_1990

Many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo would easily qualify for an “ultra-high” price segment, and it remains generally true that the higher the price, the smaller the crash. For example, most of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city peaked in value in 2007 or early 2008, then dropped 15% to 20% after the 2008 financial-markets crash.Due to the high-tech boom, many areas of San Francisco and San Mateo have significantly outperformed their price-tier in recent years.

Though the price tiers had radically different bubbles, crashes and recoveries, all 3 are now almost exactly the same in relation to the year 2000, showing appreciation of 97% to 99% over the past 15 years. This suggests equilibrium is once again being achieved between them.

* Technically the Case-Shiller San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area is comprised of San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, but we believe its general trends apply to other Bay Area counties as well.

San Francisco Combined House & Condo Median Sales Price

Median-Prices_Short-Term

Selected U.S. City Median Rents
Chart courtesy of California Association of Realtors

Rents_by-City_CAR

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The San Francisco Real Estate Market

Median Sales Prices, Neighborhood Values, Seasonality & Demand,
Condo Construction, New SF “Airbnb” Law, Appreciation vs. Inflation

February 2015, Paragon Real Estate Group

The market just begins to wake up in January, so its statistics are not particularly illuminating. The last 3 springs in San Francisco saw frenzied markets, which took its home values to new heights. While waiting to see what develops in 2015, this report will drill down on other angles of our distinctive real estate market.

Note: On February 1st, San Francisco’s new short-term residential rental ordinance, the so-called “Airbnb law,” went into effect. In order to legally rent out your home for less than 30 days, there are a number of requirements pertaining to registration, insurance, advertising and taxes, as well as limitations on such rentals. Information and forms can be found here: SF Planning Department.

San Francisco Median Sales Prices, 1993 – 2014

1993-2010_SF_Median_Sales_Prices

Unit Sales Trends by Property Type

1994-Present_Unit-Sales-SFD-Condo-TIC

The first chart above graphs median sales prices by year. Looking only at the 4th quarter of 2014, house and condo median prices climbed to all-time highs of $1,125,000 and $999,250 respectively, and the TIC median price increased to $829,500.

The second chart above illustrates sales volume by property type. Houses turn over much less often than condos or TICs – i.e. house owners generally live in their homes longer before selling – and with virtually no new houses being built in the city, house sales as a percentage of total sales are declining, but this has also made them the market’s highest-demand, most competitive segment. Condos now dominate SF home sales and will continue to do so with the many new-condo projects being built. TIC sales are down almost 60% from 2007, probably due to financing conditions and changes in condo conversion and tenant eviction laws. The number of listings fell last year putting additional pressure on the market.

San Francisco New Construction & Population Trends since 1940

After reading our recent reports on new development and factors behind the market, one of our clients suggested graphing out the quantity of new housing built in the city over time. Based on census figures, the resulting (very approximate) chart illustrates the decline in new-home construction in the 1980’s and 1990’s, which helped exacerbate our current housing crunch.

Another note: the housing “units” built in 1940-1950 were not only much more numerous, but were typically 2-3 bedroom houses, while since 1980, the units built have generally been 1-2 bedroom condos and apartments (which makes sense with our changing demographics – more singles and couples, fewer families – but obviously hold fewer people per unit). And now a big topic in development is building urban “micro-units” of 250 to 350 square feet.

Our chart on SF population growth follows as a counterpoint.

New-Home-Construction_SF_by-Decade

Population-Growth_SF

Condo Values & Sizes by Era of Construction

A previous condo construction boom ran from the end of the 1990’s until 2008, when it crashed for 4 years – and now we’re in the midst of a new boom.Condos built in the last 15 years are selling at higher dollar per square foot values, but average unit sizes have also been getting smaller – and all things being equal (they rarely are), the smaller the unit the higher the per square foot value. Of course, there are other considerations besides size that affect value: quality and graciousness of construction (i.e. Marina-style and Edwardian flats), views (most likely in high-rises), amenities (security, gyms, outdoor space, etc.) and neighborhood ambiance (Russian Hill vs. Noe Valley vs. SoMa). The average $/sq.ft. for new condos now exceeds $1000 in the city, and, according to estimates, at the new, luxury, South Beach development, Lumina, it is now running $1400 to $1500/sq.ft. on units going into contract.

As increasing quantities of “luxury” condos come on market in coming years, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts and absorbs the new inventory.

AvgDolSqFt_Condo-by-Era-V2

Home Appreciation vs. Inflation

Since 1988, home price appreciation has hugely outpaced CPI inflation, though as seen below, the difference can swing dramatically depending on the exact point within a financial cycle.On a cash investment basis, if you had put $100,000 down on a $500,000 home purchase with a 30-year loan in 1988, by the end of 2014, per the Case-Shiller Index, your home would be worth approximately $1,900,000. After deducting 7% closing costs and paying off the remaining loan balance, your $100,000 down-payment turned into approximately $1.65 million in proceeds (if you didn’t continually refinance out your growing equity to buy new toys).

This is a very simplified calculation of a complex financial scenario that includes leverage, financing terms and interest rates, inflation, appreciation, multiple tax benefits and housing costs – you should talk to your accountant – but it still illustrates why a recent New York Times op-ed piece (11/30/14, “Homeownership & Wealth Creation”) said, “Renting can make sense as a lifestyle choice or because of income constraints. As a means to building wealth, however, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.”

Home-Prices_vs_Inflation

San Francisco Neighborhood Values

We just updated our semi-annual breakdown of SF home values by property type, bedroom count and neighborhood. Below are the tables for 3-bedroom houses and 2-bedroom condos while the full report can be found here. If you want data on a neighborhood not included, please call or email.

8-14_3BR-SFD

8-14_2BR-Condo

Seasonality & Demand

This graph from our updated report on market seasonality measures the ebb and flow of buyer demand as compared to the supply of homes available to purchase. For the last 3 years, spring has been the highest demand season of the market, leading to significant home price appreciation.

Seasonality_Percentage-Under-Contract

Bay Area Rent Appreciation

This chart is from our January Commercial Brokerage report on Bay Area investment real estate. The full report has further detail on average rent rates and trends, and other apartment building financials.

Invest_YOY_Rent-Appreciation_by_County

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. All numbers should be considered approximate. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

© 2015 Paragon Real Estate Group

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3 Years into the Recovery: San Francisco Real Estate as 2015 Begins

San Francisco Real Estate Cycles, 1984 – 2014

1984-Present_Appreciation-Cycles_Percentages

Case-Shiller_Simpl-Percentages

The 2 charts above look at the last 30 years of real estate cycles, and also compare percentage appreciation during the first 3 years of recent market recoveries (the light blue columns in the 2nd chart). Appreciation since 2012 has occurred somewhat faster than the other recoveries since 1980, but it is also coming off a much larger crash than earlier cycles. Typically, recoveries, and the upswings in appreciation they engender, have lasted 5 to 7 years – which is no guarantee how our current cycle will play out.

The chart below graphs the quarterly path of median house price appreciation in San Francisco since 2012, illustrating shorter-term seasonal cycles. Condo prices in the city followed a similar trajectory, though at somewhat lower values: In the latest quarter, the median condo sales price was just the tiniest bit under $1 million.

1-15_Seasonality_SF-Median-Price_SFD

Neighborhood Affordability
Below are 2 of 12 charts in our updated analysis of What Costs How Much Where in San Francisco. These are meant as a general guide for buyers as to where to find the greatest choice of home listings in their price range – and to open up neighborhood options they perhaps hadn’t been aware of.

2014_House-Sales_Up-to-1m 2014_SF-Condo-Sales_1m-1499k

San Francisco’s Luxury Home Market

Over the past 3 years, the luxury home market has outperformed the overall market as wealth dramatically surged in the Bay Area. In the last 15 years or so, the high-end market segment has been spreading from the classic, northern prestige neighborhoods – such as Sea Cliff, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill – to other districts of the city, such as those surrounding South Beach and Noe Valley.

2014_SF-Condo-Sales_1500k-plus 2014_SF-House-Sales_2m-plus Lux-Homes_Units_Sold_by_YEAR

New Construction in San Francisco
These 2 charts are from our San Francisco Development Report, excerpting the highlights of the SF Planning Department’s new Pipeline Report of residential and commercial real estate projects. Almost 7,000 residential units (sale, rental and social-project) and several million square feet of new commercial space are currently under construction in the city, with much more coming in the next few years (absent some large, negative economic event occurring).

Adding large quantities of new inventory should eventually affect the recent, high-appreciation dynamic for both sale and rental markets in the city, but so far, population, employment, wealth and buyer demand has continued to outpace supply. Also, the great majority of new-home construction intended for sale is for high-end, ultra-modern condos costing $1000 – and sometimes much more – per square foot, so how that surge in inventory will affect other segments of the SF market – such as for houses or Edwardian condos – is unclear.

12-14_New-Homes-Pipeline_from-Planning 12-14_Residential-Pipeline-by-District

How the Bay Area Spends its Money
On a lighter note, and to take a brief break from real estate, these two charts, which we’ve just added to our recent Bay Area Demographics Report, compare how we spend our money as compared to national averages.

12-14_SF-LESS-Spending-vs-National-Average 12-14_SF-MORE-Spending-vs-National-Average

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)
Low inventory remains a huge issue in the San Francisco market. Typically, the year begins with the lowest number of listings, which then gradually increases into spring. In the past 3 years, buyers have woken up from the holidays much more quickly than sellers have put their homes on the market. This set the stage for the city’s early spring market frenzies in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In the second half of 2014, home prices plateaued or even dropped a little in the more expensive housing segments, while continuing to tick up in more affordable areas.

What 2015 has in store for the market will become clearer in the next few months.

For-Sale_during-Month-SF_4-types MSI-SFD-Condo-Co-op

Mortgage Interest Rates
One of the big factors underlying the market’s strength in recent years has been extraordinarily low interest rates, which have a tremendous effect on the ongoing, monthly cost of housing. In 2010, pundits almost universally predicted interest rates would rebound to 6% or higher, but instead rates dropped until hitting a low point in mid-2013 of about 3.5%. After fluctuating up and down a bit since, interest rates at the start of 2015 were somewhat below 4% – incredibly low by any historical standard.

Average_30-Year_Mortgage-Rates

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 without a tailored comparative market analysis. All numbers should be considered approximate. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

© 2015 Paragon Real Estate Group

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What San Francisco Home-Buyers Bought in 2014

Penthouses, Probates, Lofts, Mansions & Fixer-Uppers

What San Francisco Home-Buyers Bought in 2014

How many San Francisco home sales were… Victorians, Edwardians or Art Deco? Condos in doorman buildings? Artist live-work lofts? Probate or bank sales? Without parking? Under $500,000? Over $5 million? Tenant occupied? Had Golden Gate or Bay Bridge views? What were the oldest house sale, the biggest condo sale and the median sales price for a 2-unit building?

Below are answers to those and a hundred other questions about real estate prices, neighborhoods, architecture, amenities, views, home types and sizes. San Francisco has one of the most interesting real estate markets in the world and we hope you enjoy some of the details.

Adjusting your screen-view to zoom 125% or 150% will make the charts that much easier to read. A map of SF Neighborhoods can be found at the bottom of this report.

 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Map of San Francisco Neighborhoods

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SAN FRANCISCO REALTOR DISTRICTS

District 1 (Northwest): Sea Cliff, Lake Street, Richmond (Inner, Central, Outer), Jordan Park/Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain

District 2 (West): Sunset & Parkside (Inner, Central, Outer), Golden Gate Heights

District 3 (Southwest): Lake Shore, Lakeside, Merced Manor, Merced Heights, Ingleside, Ingleside Heights, Oceanview

District 4 (Central SW): St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, West Portal, Forest Knolls, Diamond Heights, Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Sunnyside, Balboa Terrace, Ingleside Terrace, Mt. Davidson Manor, Sherwood Forest, Monterey Heights, Westwood Highlands

District 5 (Central): Noe Valley, Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights (Castro, Liberty Hill), Cole Valley, Glen Park, Corona Heights, Clarendon Heights, Ashbury Heights, Buena Vista Park, Haight Ashbury, Duboce Triangle, Twin Peaks, Mission Dolores, Parnassus Heights

District 6 (Central North): Hayes Valley, North of Panhandle (NOPA), Alamo Square, Western Addition, Anza Vista, Lower Pacific Heights

District 7 (North): Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina

District 8 (Northeast): Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, Financial District, North Waterfront, Downtown, Van Ness/ Civic Center, Tenderloin

District 9 (East): SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bernal Heights, Inner Mission, Yerba Buena

District 10 (Southeast): Bayview, Bayview Heights, Excelsior, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Silver Terrace, Mission Terrace, Crocker Amazon, Outer Mission

Some Realtor districts contain neighborhoods that are relatively homogeneous in general home values, such as districts 5 and 7, and others contain neighborhoods of wildly different values, such as district 8 which includes both Russian Hill and the Tenderloin.

Sales information as reported to and described in San Francisco MLS through late November 2014. These analyses were performed in good faith with data derived from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. All numbers should be considered approximate.

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San Francisco Neighborhood Appreciation Rates

Which Neighborhoods Have Appreciated Most and Why?

4th Quarter 2014, Paragon Special Report

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Percentage Appreciation Rates

2010/2011 – Present

This analysis is based upon review of both median sales price and average dollar-per-square-foot data. However, there is no San Francisco or Noe Valley median or average home that one can use as the unchanging basis for comparison year after year, only differing collections of unique homes selling in different times and circumstances. Please see notes at the end of this report regarding our methodology.

Adjusting your screen-view to zoom 125% or 150% will make the charts easier to read. A San Francisco neighborhood MAP can be found at the bottom of this webpage.

Appreciation-Percentages_by-Neighborhood

The above chart illustrates the approximate home value appreciation from the bottom of the market (2010-2011) to present (2014 YTD), as illustrated by the dark gray bars, and the overall appreciation or depreciation to date since the last market peak (2006-2008), as illustrated by the red numbers.

Over the past 3 years, in our latest market recovery, San Francisco neighborhoods have typically appreciated 40 – 50%, with an overall increase of approximately 44%. This correlates well with the Case-Shiller Index for the Metro Area, which estimates appreciation in the range of 42% – 46% for Bay Area mid and high-priced homes. As one can see in the percentages in red, most of the city’s neighborhoods have now exceeded, often by substantial margins, their previous peak values before the bubble popped. However, some of the neighborhoods hit hardest by the subprime crisis are still below their previous peaks.

Looking at the 3 neighborhoods with the highest appreciation rates from the bottom of the market to present, there are distinctly different reasons why they stand out:

  • Bayview: Up 75% from 2010/11; but still down 12% from its market peak in 2006. Due to subprime lending, Bayview’s bubble was so big, its market crashed terribly when it popped. During the downturn, its housing market became dominated by distressed sales and it fell so far that now, with the disappearance of the subprime effect, its recovery has been equally dramatic. But because its bubble was so large, it is still below its 2006 peak value. The markets in the Bayview and nearby neighborhoods are quite strong, because they contain the most affordable houses in the city.
  • Inner Mission: Up 63% from 2010/11; up 46% from 2007 (pre-crash peak). The Mission’s appreciation rate is explained by a huge change in its buyer demographics over recent years: Though it had been slowly gentrifying since the nineties, more recently it became a highly sought-after home location for young, hip, affluent, high-tech buyers. They love the Valencia Street corridor, being close to Dolores Park, the sunny weather and the (disappearing) edginess – and the speed of gentrification shifted into a feverishly high gear. This change has also entailed the construction of expensive, new, condo projects (typically selling for $1000 per square foot and up), which is also pushing up average and median values.
  • Bernal Heights: Up 57% since market bottom; up 24% from its previous market peak in 2007. Bernal Heights has become one of the most popular, more affordable, go-to neighborhoods for house buyers who like the neighborhood ambiance of the general Noe Valley area, but were priced out there by its rocketing prices. Bernal Heights’ houses – with a median price about 45% lower than Noe Valley’s – have looked likeextremely good values in comparison. Buyer competition for new listings became particularly fierce in the past year or so.

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To give context to the appreciation rates, this next chart delineates actual 2014 YTD median home sales prices. In the second half of 2014, after a frenzied spring market, appreciation generally flattened or even ticked down a little in the more expensive areas of the city, but continued to tick up in the more affordable districts. On the other hand, the more expensive neighborhoods began their recoveries in late 2011 and early 2012, much earlier than the less affluent districts.

Appreciation-Analysis_Median-Prices

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Dollar Appreciation Rates

Whether you are a buyer, seller or real estate agent, dollars are more real than percentages: Hearing that a home has jumped hundreds of thousands of dollars in value in a relatively short time period grabs the attention more than a percentage change. The higher priced neighborhoods sometimes have lower percentage appreciation rates than less expensive areas in a given time period, but the dollar-amount changes can make the eyes pop:

In Pacific & Presidio Heights, the theoretical “median house” now costs over $1.3 million more than it did 3 years ago. In Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys, the increase is over $700,000.

Appreciation-Dollars_by-Neighborhood

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Boom, Bust, Recovery

2000 – 2014

Different neighborhoods and price segments experienced bubbles, crashes and now recoveries of significantly different magnitudes. The city’s less affluent neighborhoods – on this chart illustrated by Bayview, Excelsior & Portola – had much bigger bubbles and subsequently much bigger crashes, both inflated by subprime lending issues. Bayview saw an astounding 136% appreciation from 2000 to 2006, followed by a huge 50% drop from 2006 to 2010/2011. Excelsior and Portola were an order of magnitude behind with 90% appreciation and 30% decline. Generally speaking, the mid and high-end segments of the city’s market appreciated 60% – 70% from 2000 to pre-crash peak, and then dropped by 15% to 20% subsequent to the 2008 market crash. And, as mentioned earlier, on average the city’s home values have now increased 40% – 50% over the past 3 years, with some neighborhoods outperforming the general range.

According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Bay Area homes of all price segments are now, regardless of their different ups and downs over the past 15 year, about 96% above their prices in year 2000 (as of late 2014). This may suggest that an equilibrium is being achieved in the market.

Note that the tremendous burst in home price appreciation actually began in 1996, subsequent to the early nineties recession. Prices approximately doubled in the 5 years 1996 to 2000. This earlier period is not included in these charts, nor is the smaller, short-term decline following the dotcom bubble bursting in 2001 broken out.

Appreciation-since-2000_by-Neighborhood

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Housing Cost: Today vs. Previous Peak Values

Comparing current San Francisco home values to previous peak values before the 2008 financial markets crash, we estimate general home-price appreciation in San Francisco of approximately 15% to 20% over the past 7 years. However, mortgage interest rates are now about 35% lower than in 2007 and there has been inflation of approximately 15% over the same period. Thus, we estimate that, adjusting a normal 20% – 25% down-payment plus resulting loan expense to 2007 dollars, the current cost of housing – mortgage and property taxes – is about 12% lower now than it was in 2007. This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on a number of basic assumptions – and it would obviously vary widely by neighborhood – but we believe it to be generally valid.

The Bay Area’s current market recovery has lasted about 3 years now. Over the past 35 years of cycles, recoveries have typically lasted in the range of 5 to 7 years, which doesn’t guarantee that this one shall follow past patterns.

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Important notes regarding this report:

The estimates in this analysis should be considered very approximate since there are different ways to evaluate home value movements – such as median price and average dollar per square foot – and they don’t always agree, nor are they perfectly reliable. Besides which, other factors can affect these statistics besides changes in values, such as big changes in the distressed, new-construction or luxury home segments. There are also a wide variety of economic and political factors that can and do impact real estate markets.

Different San Francisco neighborhoods peaked in value at varying times before the bubble popped on 9/15/08: Generally speaking, the least affluent areas peaked in 2006; the mid-price segment in 2007; and the high-end market hit peak prices in late 2007/early 2008. We use the 2-year period of 2010-2011 as the basis for “bottom of the market” values, and we use aggregate 2014 YTD values (as of mid-late November) for “present” values. If one cherry-picked specific months or quarters for the absolute lowest and highest values in each neighborhood, the percentage and dollar swings illustrated would be much more dramatic than with the broader periods used in this report, but, we believe, no more meaningful.

This map of neighborhoods is according to the San Francisco Association of Realtors,

San_Francisco_Neighborhood_Map

SAN FRANCISCO REALTOR DISTRICTS

District 1 (Northwest): Sea Cliff, Lake Street, Richmond (Inner, Central, Outer), Jordan Park/Laurel Heights, Lone Mountain

District 2 (West): Sunset & Parkside (Inner, Central, Outer), Golden Gate Heights

District 3 (Southwest): Lake Shore, Lakeside, Merced Manor, Merced Heights, Ingleside, Ingleside Heights, Oceanview

District 4 (Central SW): St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, West Portal, Forest Knolls, Diamond Heights, Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Sunnyside, Balboa Terrace, Ingleside Terrace, Mt. Davidson Manor, Sherwood Forest, Monterey Heights, Westwood Highlands

District 5 (Central): Noe Valley, Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights (Castro, Liberty Hill), Cole Valley, Glen Park, Corona Heights, Clarendon Heights, Ashbury Heights, Buena Vista Park, Haight Ashbury, Duboce Triangle, Twin Peaks, Mission Dolores, Parnassus Heights

District 6 (Central North): Hayes Valley, North of Panhandle (NOPA), Alamo Square, Western Addition, Anza Vista, Lower Pacific Heights

District 7 (North): Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow, Marina

District 8 (Northeast): Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, Financial District, North Waterfront, Downtown, Van Ness/ Civic Center, Tenderloin

District 9 (East): SoMa, South Beach, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, Bernal Heights, Inner Mission, Yerba Buena

District 10 (Southeast): Bayview, Bayview Heights, Excelsior, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Silver Terrace, Mission Terrace, Crocker Amazon, Outer Mission

Some Realtor districts contain neighborhoods that are relatively homogeneous in general home values, such as districts 5 and 7, and others contain neighborhoods of wildly different values, such as district 8 which includes both Russian Hill and the Tenderloin.

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Statistics are generalities that may fluctuate for a number of reasons, including but not limited to changes in home values. There is no San Francisco “median home” or “average home,” that one can use as the unchanging basis for analysis year after year, only differing collections of unique homes – and how these general statistics apply to any particular property is impossible to say without a custom market analysis. These analyses were performed in good faith with data derived from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. All numbers should be considered approximate.

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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.

5.

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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Bay Area Demographics

18 charted analyses of ancestry, affluence, education, real estate,
politics, poverty and employment for San Francisco, Marin, Napa,
Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda & Contra Costa Counties.

4th Quarter 2014, Paragon Special Report

These charts are mostly based on U.S. Census surveys from 2010 to 2013. Each of the 8 counties examined contains areas of widely varying demographics, and the multiple reports analyzed (6+ for each county) contain counts and estimates made at different times. Though these statistics are broad overviews, we still found many fascinating insights – and hope you will as well.

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

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Ancestry, Race & Age

For the most part, the ancestry and race categories used below
are as designated in the U.S. Census reports.

Ancestry: This first chart is a collated overview of the 8 counties. The Bay Area is one of the most multi-cultural places on earth, but (not broken out on this chart) this diversity is not evenly spread: Different ethnic and national groups often cluster in specific counties. For example, San Francisco has the largest populations with Chinese or Russian ancestry; Santa Clara has, by far, the greatest number of residents from India, Vietnam or Mexico; Alameda leads in those of Portuguese or Pacific Island heritage. For breakdowns by county, U.S. Census reports can be accessed at http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html.

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Race: Marin County has by far the largest percentage white (non-Hispanic) population at 73%, followed by Sonoma and Napa. San Francisco has the largest Asian percentage at 34.4%, with Santa Clara just behind at 34.1%. Santa Clara is the only county where white isn’t the largest group – Asian is bigger by a tiny margin. Napa has the largest Hispanic percentage at 33%, with 5 other counties between 23% and 27%. Alameda has the most substantial percentage black population at 12%.

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Foreign-Born: The foreign-born population in the Bay Area is large (behind only New York, Miami, LA and Chicago) with again, different groups predominating in different counties. About 50% of our foreign-born residents have acquired U.S. citizenship.

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Children & Residents Living Alone: It has famously been said that San Francisco has more dogs than children, and at 13.4%, SF has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any major U.S. city. The other counties run close to the national percentage of 23%. San Francisco also has a much higher proportion of residents living alone than the other 7 counties – which probably correlates with a more urban lifestyle.

It’s interesting to note (not delineated on the chart) that though SF has relatively few children, its population aged 25 to 39 is very high, at just below 30%. Other Bay Area counties run from 16% (Marin) to 23% (Santa Clara). Demographers have noted that younger, post-college adults are moving into urban centers in large numbers, and this is clearly occurring in San Francisco. The city’s young, high-tech, start-up environment is undoubtedly supercharging this phenomenon.

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Affluence, Poverty, Education & Politics

Median Household Income: Many factors impact this statistic: household size, level of education, percentages of homeowners vs. renters, median age and of course, employment. Marin and Santa Clara are at the top of the list for highest household income. Obviously, various towns and neighborhoods – such as Pacific Heights, Ross, Atherton, Piedmont, Blackhawk – far exceed the figures in the chart below.

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Poverty: According to the 2013 Wealth-X report, the Bay Area has the 3rd highest number of ultra-high-net-worth residents in the country, behind NY and LA. According to SFLuxe, the Bay Area is now home to over 70 billionaires – and it seems one can’t turn around in Safeway anymore without bumping into another new billionaire.

But surging affluence isn’t the only story.

The U.S. poverty-level income threshold does not vary by geographic region: For a family of 4, the national threshold is approximately $23,500. According to a Stanford think tank, adjusting for much higher local costs of living (especially housing) raises that threshold to $31,000 – $36,500 in Bay Area counties. In San Francisco, that increases the percentage of residents living in poverty to 23% and in Napa to 26%. Adjusted or not, the percentages add up to many hundreds of thousands of people – and this seems an appropriate place to remind all of us not to forget the neediest this holiday season.

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Unemployment Rates: A big factor behind Bay Area economic conditions has been the strong growth in employment in recent years – in high-tech certainly, but also in the financial, medical, retail, construction and other industries. Many of these new jobs are very well paid.

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Education: Some Bay Area counties are among the most educated in the country – not a big surprise considering the presence of 3 of the world’s great universities, and the Bay Area’s role as a hub for various high-education industries. Among U.S. major cities, San Francisco usually ranks near the top of the list just below Washington D.C. and Seattle.

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Political Party Registration: This chart is self-explanatory. The Bay Area is a very blue region in a very blue state.

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Housing, Real Estate, Prices & Rents

Median Home Prices: Apples to apples, San Francisco has the most expensive real estate in the Bay Area, followed by San Mateo and Marin. But all the counties include diverse neighborhoods featuring home prices ranging from relatively low to very high. One thing that stands out is the city’s distinctive condo market: the median price for 2-bedroom condos is just a tad lower than its median price for 3-bedroom houses. The reasons are twofold: firstly, very generally speaking, condos predominate in the more affluent city neighborhoods, while houses predominate in the less affluent. Secondly, thousands of new condos have been built in the last 10 years, or are under construction now, and by and large, they are of luxury or “ultra-luxury” quality and cost.

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For a Million Dollars: Consider this infographic to be very approximate indeed, but it gives an idea of what one would get in square footage for $1,000,000 at each county’s overall house and condo average dollar-per-square-foot value. For the money, one gets more than twice the space in Contra Costa or Sonoma as in San Francisco or San Mateo. In many parts of the country, one could double or triple the square footage again.

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Case-Shiller Home-Price Trends: The Case-Shiller SF Metro Area does not cover all 8 of the Bay Area counties, but it generally applies to the overall market. If Case-Shiller went back a bit further, we would see the late seventies/early eighties recession on this chart. From recession – which in the last 30-odd years has typically lasted 4-5 years – comes recovery (typically very robust recovery). Recovery usually takes 5-7 years to become utterly “over-exuberant,” which leads to a correction – and the next recession. We are still less than 3 years into our current recovery – which doesn’t mean that past trends will hold true in the future.

This chart aggregating all the sales of 5 counties is a huge simplification of hundreds of different micro-markets: Different areas and price segments of the Bay Area housing market had 2004 – 2008 bubbles and crashes of vastly different magnitudes. The lowest price segment rose and crashed the most (think “subprime loans”) and, though recovering dramatically, is still well below 2006 peak values. The higher priced housing segment had a much smaller bubble and crash, and has now exceeded its previous peak values of 2007-2008, in many cases by substantial margins. All 3 home price segments – low, middle and high – are now approximately 95% – 97% above their values of year 2000 (denoted as “100” on the chart).

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Average Asking Rents: In the Bay Area, rising apartment rents and rising home prices have gone hand in hand, a big social, economic and political issue right now. Per the analytics firm Reis, San Jose, Oakland and Francisco are 3 of the 4 hottest rental markets in the country, as measured by rent appreciation.

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Homeownership: With San Francisco’s homeownership rate of 37%, tenants outnumber homeowners by a large margin – and, not surprisingly, the city has some of the strongest rent and eviction controls in the country. (SF rent-limitation controls do not typically affect vacant or recently built apartments, so they do not reduce the “asking rent” values seen in the earlier chart.)

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Market Size: Santa Clara and the two East Bay counties each have more than twice as many home sales as any of the other 5 counties. This is mostly due to significantly higher populations, but San Francisco’s relatively low number of home sales is also caused by the fact that almost two thirds of its units are rental housing: Thus, SF has more people but fewer home sales than San Mateo. Very limited supply amid huge demand is a big factor in its rising home prices.

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Era of Construction: This chart illustrates how empty the Bay Area was 75 years ago, before World War II: Almost 50% of San Francisco’s housing was built prior to 1940, but in 6 of the other counties, the percentage falls to 12% or lower. In Santa Clara and Contra Costa, it drops to 5% – there were a lot of open fields where housing developments exist now.

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Population, Density & Size

Population & Population Density: Santa Clara and Alameda have the largest populations of the 8 counties. San Francisco, the second most densely populated city in the country (far behind Manhattan), has a population density 95 times that of Napa County.

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Size in Square Miles: This chart reminds us what a small place San Francisco really is – and its inability to expand (except upward) plays an interesting role in many of its economic and social dynamics. Sonoma is the largest of the 8 counties and it is 33 times as large as San Francisco County.

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