Appreciation & Depreciation of San Francisco Homes Since 1995

June 13, 2009

Below, median sales prices are calculated for 2-bedroom condos, 3-bedroom houses and 2-bedroom TICs in a number of SF neighborhoods over a variety of periods beginning with 1995 — when the last, great Sellers’ market began — and ending with the six months following the financial market meltdown in September 2008. (Its effect began to show up in mid-October sales.) Median price is a relatively crude statistical generality – especially in SF with its huge variety in property type, size, condition, curb appeal and architectural style – but it can be useful in assessing macro trends in the market. However, remember: for a specific home, only a specific market analysis is truly pertinent.

Since October 15th, year over year, the number of sales has dropped 20% for houses, 35% for condos, 53% for TICs and 46% for 2-4 unit buildings. But that masks significant changes in buying trends: the number of houses sold below $1,000,000 actually increased 4%, while sales of more expensive houses plunged over 50%. People are generally buying smaller, less expensive homes, and then, only those that stand out as excellent values. Less appealing homes – which still sold in earlier years (virtually everything sold during the boom years) – are not getting reflected in the current figures.

Some of the more affluent neighborhoods had too few sales to be statistically meaningful. For example, in the last 6 months, all of Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina had only 19 house sales, of all sizes and prices. St. Francis Wood had only 6 and Sea Cliff only 4. Roughly 50 – 70% of buyers of upper-end homes – who would typically be considered “willing and able” – can no longer get better financing rates without very large down payments. When that changes, we’ll be better able to assess values in that market segment. In the meantime, it is dominated by buyers with lots of cash.

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Further analyses of percentage changes in median and average prices, and dollars per square foot can be found here:
Percentage Declines Analysis