Market News

San Francisco Real Estate Market Update:2017 in Review | 2018 Looking Ahead

2017 saw two foundational trends continue in the San Francisco real estate housing market. Prices continued their trend upward while inventory continued its trend downward. It marked the sixth straight year for higher sales prices for both single family homes and condo/loft/TIC’s.

Two changes, one already implemented and one in the making, may have a significant impact on the housing market, in San Francisco and across the country. First, the tax changes may impact buyer behavior with the reduction in deductibility of mortgage interest and possibly state income taxes and property taxes, with the latter two still up in the air.

Second, the projected three hikes in the federal funds rate by the Federal Reserve are anticipated to result in mortgage rate increases of ½ to ¾ percent by the end of 2018. Additional factors will affect mortgage rates so it’s impossible to predict where they’ll end up and how they’ll get there. No expert expects them to stay as low as they are currently.

Single Family Homes:
2017’s median sales price is up 12.2% from 2016.

There were 5.5% fewer new listings in 2017, and 1.5% more sales.

Inventory ended 2017 down 31% from 2016, the lowest level in 10 years.

78.7% of homes sold over their list price and the median percent of list price received was 113.4% for 2017.

Condo/Loft/TIC’s:
2017’s median sales price is up 9.3% from 2016.

There were 6.2% fewer new listings in 2017, and 3.4% more sales.

Inventory ended 2017 down 24% from 2016, the lowest level in 3 years.

59.5% of homes sold over their list price and the median percent of list price received was 101.9% for 2017.

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San Francisco Real Estate Market Update:December 2017

The November San Francisco real estate market moved along pretty much as expected, with continued low inventory and the majority of properties selling above list price. Condo prices hit an all-time high of $1,230,000.

The proposed tax changes are very likely to affect future buyer behavior as they lose purchasing power with the loss of full deductibility of state income taxes and property taxes. That loss of purchasing power will likely dampen sales price increases. Stay tuned…

Single Family Homes:
November’s median sales price eased off a bit from October’s all-time high of $1,588,000, down to $1,500,000. However, prices are still up 10.7% compared to last year.

While new listings typically fall off in November, this year’s were exceptionally low at just 112, 19% fewer than last November. The number of new listings on the market year-to-date is down 5% from 2016 while the number of sales is up 4.2%. Inventory remains very low at a 1.4 months supply, the lowest level since December 2016.

The incredibly tight supply coupled with strong demand kept the level of overbids high as well, staying at 115%, much higher than last November’s 107%. 81% of single family homes sold above the list price.

Condo/Loft/TIC’s:
As mentioned above, the median sold price hit an all-time high in November. On a three-month rolling average, the median sold price is up 7.7% compared to last year.

Inventory is down 23%from October and 19% compared to November, 2016. Like single family homes, the number of Condo/Loft/TIC listings are down year-to-date compared to 2016, by 5.6%, while sales are up 3.2%.

59% of condo/loft/TIC listings sold above list price, down from 67% in October and 64% last November. The median overbid was 102%, the same as last November.

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New Fannie/Freddie Conforming Loan limits for 2018!

We just received word that the new loan limits in 2018 for the government agencies (Fannie and Freddie) have been increased! The conforming loan limit of $424,100 has increased to $453,100, and the agency The limit for high-balance conforming loans have gone from $636,150 to $678,650.
 
Loans that are below these limits generally have better terms, so this is a change that can help people in a lot of different situations.
 
Are you currently paying PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)?
Do you want to take some cash out of your home to do some work or financing a special need?
Would you like to refinance out of a 2nd loan to a single loan?
 
The benefits are open to homeowners of condominiums, Townhouses and Single Family residences, from 1-4 units. Loans on 2 to 4 units have higher limits.
 
This article was provided by friend and trusted resource Eric Nelson. You can reach me at eric@svcfunding.com, or 408-268-2442. Please contact him if you want more information.

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San Francisco Real Estate Market Update – September 2017

Single Family Homes:
August’s median sales price continued its predictable seasonal backing off from its Spring peak, dropping 6.4% to $1,380,000 from May’s $1,475,000. However, in the same time frame last year prices dipped 7.4%. Prices are still up 10.4% above August, 2016.

Since August, 2012, the median sold price in San Francisco is up 81%.

Inventory continues to be at its lowest level, 1.6 months, since last December. This is the ongoing result of fewer homes coming on the market while sales stay fairly constant. The number of new listings on the market year-to-date is down 7% from 2016 while the number of sales is up 3.3%.

The incredibly tight supply coupled with strong demand kept the level of overbids high as well, down a bit from July but still at 114%, and 79% of single family homes sold above the list price, up from 75.9% last August.

Condo/Loft/TIC’s:
Median sold prices are up 10.8%, to $1,175,000, compared to August 2016. And, while not as great a rise as with single family homes, the median sold price is up 62.5% compared to August 2012’s $723,000.

In August, 63.4% sold above list price and the median bid was 3.2% above list price.

The number of Condo/Loft/TIC listings are also down year-to-date compared to 2016, by 10.7%. And, like single family homes, sales are up, by 2.6%. Current inventory stands at a 2 months supply.

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San Francisco Real Estate Market Update – August 2017

July’s median sales price for single family in San Francisco followed its seasonal backing off of its May peak, dropping to $1,431,000 from May’s $1,500,838.

Single family home inventory continues to be at its lowest level, 1.6 months, since last December, and its lowest July level in a decade. This continues to be caused by fewer homes coming on the market, while sales stay fairly constant. The number of new listings on the market in 2017 is down 10% from 2016 while the number of sales is up 1.4%.

The incredibly tight supply coupled with strong demand pushed overbids up as well, to 117%, the highest since September, 2015.

Condo listings are also down year-to-date compared to 2016, by 12.7%. And, like homes, sales are up, by 4.3%, leading to a 2 months supply. And, like single family homes, condos were bid up above list price to a median overbid of 107%.

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San Francisco Real Estate Market Update – July 2017

June’s median sales price for single family in San Francisco backed off a bit from its all-time high in May, dropping from $1,502,675 to $1,465,989. At the same time, single family home inventory was at the lowest level, 1.6 months, for June in 10 years. This is largely due to the fact that the number of new listings on the market in 2017 is down 8.8% from 2016 while the number of sales is up 1.3%.

The incredibly tight supply coupled with strong demand pushed overbids up as well, to 115%, the highest since October, 2015.

Condo listings are also down from 2016, by 13.3%. And, like homes, sales are up, by 6.6%, leading to a 2.2 months supply. So, like single family homes, condos sold at a median overbid of 102.5%, off just slightly from May’s 102.7%.

The exceptionally strong San Francisco economy continues to be behind these numbers. Unemployment stands at just 3.0%, down from 2016’s 3.4%. There are more jobs filled in every category tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in June, 2017 than there were in June, 2016. And while the increase in the number of new jobs is slowing, jobs are still being added.

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San Francisco Real Estate Market Update – June 2017

The median sales price hit an all-time high for both single family houses and condo/loft/TIC’s in May. The incredibly tight supply coupled with strong demand pushed the prices up and the overbids as well. Single family homes sold at a median overbid of 114.7%, the highest since October, 2015. Condos sold at a median of 103% of list price, the highest overbid percentage since May 2016.

As we discussed last month, the number of new single family home listings coming on the market was down sharply in April, 25.5%, and we saw that repeated again in May with a 12% year-on-year drop.

Likewise, the precipitous decline, 33.5%, in new condo/loft/TIC listings coming on the market in April, was followed by a 23% drop year-on-year for May. This is the third double-digit monthly year-on-year decline for new condo/loft/TIC listings this year.

The total number of single family homes sold was up 5.5% in May while condo/loft/TIC sales were unchanged.
Inventory stands at 1.8 months for single family homes, down 25% year-on-year, and 2.3 months for condo/loft/TICs, also down 25%.

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Uncertainty Rises as Do Homes Prices

With the January inauguration of the new administration came a number of changes that have injected uncertainty into some important aspects of business which may have a ripple effect into the San Francisco real estate market.

The first change is the executive order to ban non-U.S. citizens entering the U.S. from certain countries. This caused an immediate employee travel ban by a several prominent San Francisco and Bay Area employers for employees potentially affected by the ban. Second came the announcement that the administration plans to double the qualifying salary threshold from $65,000 to $130,000 for an H-1B visa, making it much harder for employers to fill positions with foreign talent, a not insignificant source of employees in the high tech sector. Both of these injected uncertainty and potential business disruption into the Bay Area business community and both have received broad coverage in the business and general news, with some high-profile CEO’s speaking out against them because of fears of damage to their businesses.

On a stabilizing note, mortgage rates eased off just slightly (about 1/8 percent) in January. However, most lenders expect them to rise somewhat throughout the year, to around 5%.

The charts on the following pages graphically depict the same message we’ve seen for the past few years: San Francisco remains a strong single family home sellers market, with incredibly low inventory at 1.3 months, down 10% from January 2016. Median sales prices are up 7.1% year-on-year for single family homes. The median sales price of single family homes also continues to be bid up above list price, coming in at 105.9% for January.

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San Francisco New Housing Construction & Inventory Trends

Many of the charts included below are based on the San Francisco Planning Department’s excellent 75-page 2015 Housing Inventory report, released on May 27, 2016, which can be accessed using the link at the bottom of this article. We are very grateful for the enormous effort put into creating that report by Audrey Harris and other Planning Department personnel.

Numbers in different charts below will not always agree: This is due to the vagaries of how and when condos and other housing units are counted as filed, authorized, permitted or completed by the different agencies who compile this data. As far as the real estate market is concerned, the situation is complicated by the fact that new construction condos are often marketed and “sold” (offers accepted) well before they finish construction, i.e. market dynamics of supply and demand may be significantly affected by units that do not yet exist.

The politics of new home development in San Francisco are not for the weak of heart. There are vociferous disagreements between neighborhood and homeowner associations, developers, affordable housing advocates, tenant’s rights groups, business groups, and pro-, slow- or no-growth advocates regarding how it should best proceed (or not proceed). The battles are non-stop in every political or legal venue available.

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Comparing total inventory (illustrated above) to annual sales reveals that condos and TICs turnover about twice as often as houses in San Francisco. About 2% to 2.5% of all SF houses are now sold each year, an extremely low turnover rate, which has exacerbated the city’s inadequate, house-listing inventory situation. For condos, turnover runs in the 4.5% to 5% range, which is roughly in line with national averages for home sales, and for TICs, turnover is in the 5% to 6% range. These are all very general approximations. Since condos and TICs are typically smaller than houses, and often purchased by younger buyers and/or smaller households – singles, couples, beginning families – it’s not surprising they sell more often than houses, whose owners are often older, more settled in life, and have larger households.

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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 fact is that the city, after its recent 2008-2012 new-construction slump, is now experiencing a huge building boom. However, it should be noted that booms can slow dramatically or even come to a screeching halt if economic circumstances significantly change.

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Residential Development by City District

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SF Development Pipeline Map

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 Housing Construction by Bay Area County

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Affordable Housing Construction

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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, and there’s something on the June ballot that will change them further.) There are few subjects more difficult and politically charged in San Francisco than affordable housing: how much should be built where and who should be responsible for the costs.

Affordable housing 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. Looking at the number of units actually being built, there is a general consensus that current construction is deeply inadequate to needs.

In 2015, a total of about $73 million was collected from developers as partial payments of in-lieu fees for projects.

Bay Area Housing Affordability Trends

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Bay Area Housing Affordability Report

San Francisco Housing Units Demolished,
Merged and Removed

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Housing 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.

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 Pipeline Report.

There are over 60,000 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, Hunter’s Point/Shipyard, Candlestick Point) may take decades to complete. Also, just because a project is in the pipeline does not mean it will be built as planned, or even built at all.

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Pipeline Analysis, Based on SF Business Times June 2015 Project Breakdown
(A little outdated but still providing useful insight)

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San Francisco Housing Stock Breakdown
A Fascinating 2014 Analysis by the San Francisco Controller’s Office

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The Context behind San Francisco New Housing Development

What ultimately underpins new housing construction is demand. San Francisco has been experiencing surging population, employment and new wealth creation, that has so far been outpacing new housing supply. However, as of spring 2016, it appears that new hiring has slowed, at least in the short term.

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Insufficient Housing = Increasing Prices & Rents

Below are two of our charts illustrating the rental and sale markets in San Francisco. As of spring 2016, it appears that appreciation rates may have begun to finally slow or plateau.

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Condo Values by Era of Construction

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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, and sometimes far above that. This is the major motivator for developers today, many of whom are now concentrating on luxury or what might be called ultra-luxury condo construction. There is a question as to whether the luxury segment is being overbuilt considering the size of the buyer pool for such expensive units.

Housing Unit Construction by Bedroom Count

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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.

Below are links to the SF Planning Department Pipeline and Housing Inventory report webpages. They contain a 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.”

2015 SF Planning Department Housing Inventory Report, Issued May 2016

San Francisco Planning Department Pipeline Report

SF Development Pipeline Map

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Midway through the Spring 2016 Selling Season

San Francisco Median Home Price Appreciation
Short-Term & Long-Term Trends

As seen in the first chart below, the combined house-condo median sales price hit a new high in April. However, as the second chart illustrates, so far this year, while median house prices continued to appreciate, condo and TIC prices appear to have generally plateaued. 2012-2015, spring was the most dynamic, high-demand/low-supply selling season of the year.

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Market Dynamics by Property Type & Price Segment

As mentioned in our April report, different segments of the market appear to be diverging. The below charts separate the San Francisco homes market into house and condo/co-op/TIC segments, then further subdivide each into 4 price segments. The lowest, most affordable, price segments are defined by the median sales prices for the first 4 months of the year. The highest price segments (or luxury home sectors) are defined, approximately, by the top 10% of sales.

Very generally speaking, the house market has remained hotter than the condo market, which appears to have cooled to some degree (but nothing remotely approximating a crash), and more affordable homes are seeing significantly more demand than luxury homes, where the pool of potential buyers is much smaller. The luxury condo market, in particular, may be being impacted by an increase in large, new, luxury-condo projects arriving on market, especially in those districts where they are mostly being built. The number of resale luxury condo listings in San Francisco hit an all-time high in April.

These analyses do not include new-project condo activity unreported to MLS, which is now a significant portion of the market: Unfortunately, our access to definitive data regarding current activity in new condo sales is limited.

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More on the luxury market: SF Luxury Home Market Analytics

Percentage Changes in Median Sales Prices
& Average Asking Rents, 1994 to Q1 2016

The first chart tracks year-over-year changes in annual median sales prices for San Francisco houses. The year of greatest percentage appreciation was 2000 at the height of the dotcom bubble (though on a dollar appreciation basis, recent years far exceeded earlier periods). This is a generalized overview: Homes in different neighborhoods and in different price segments often saw wide variations in annual appreciation rates.

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More on real estate cycles: 30+ Years of Bay Area Real Estate Cycles

This second chart illustrates appreciation in average asking rents. Note how much rents declined after the dotcom bubble ended, while the effect of the 2008 financial markets crash was much milder. We have heard from multiple city sources that available rental inventory has significantly increased and renter demand significantly decreased in recent months, which may reflect a possible softening in new, high-tech hiring. We shall see if this begins to show up more definitively in upcoming rent and employment statistics. Or it may simply be a temporary lull in the market.

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More on SF & Bay Area Rents: Rent Trends Report

Our Q1 report on the apartment building market: Bay Area Apartment Market

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 all numbers should be considered approximate. New construction condos not listed or sold on MLS are not counted in these statistics, though they often affect market dynamics. Sales statistics of one month generally reflect offers negotiated 4 to 6 weeks earlier. Last but not least, different analytical systems sometime calculate standard real estate statistics differently, which can deliver variable results.

© 2016 Paragon Real Estate Group

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