Spring has Sprung: How about the SF Housing Market?

First, let me thank everyone for their positive feedback on my last newsletter regarding Unicorns, IPO’s, big press headlines, and the likely effects of all of that on San Francisco home prices.  With Lyft down 30% from its opening price, Uber looking less “über alles”, and the stock market gyrating on news of a trade war – or just, um, war – we are already in the realm of larger forces potentially swamping whatever IPO effect was so breathlessly anticipated. 

That said, after a very slow start to the typically strong spring season – and by “strong” I mean heavy buyer demand and higher prices – the residential market has notably recovered from the “weakness” of the last half of 2018.  (For more on that, check out my 2018 Real Estate Wrap-Up.) ...  Additional Details

The IPO Thing: Will Lyft and Uber take Real Estate Prices for a Ryde?

I don’t think I have ever been pinged so often as I was shortly after the New York Times published “When Uber and Airbnb Go Public, San Francisco Will Drown in Millionaires.” In the Styles Section, no less.  Certainly, the idea that San Francisco, where so many IPO companies are headquartered, could see upward pressure on home prices makes sense.  As the NY Times article notes, there were only about 5,600 home sales in San Francisco in 2018 and less than half of those were single family homes.  So it makes intuitive sense that a few thousand newly minted millionaires could move the market with their new-found fortunes. (I made the same point months before the NY Times article but sadly they didn’t quote me.) ...  Additional Details

“What Goes Up Just Might Be Coming Down.” The 2018 San Francisco Residential Real Estate Wrap-Up

Off to the Races

In 2018, San Francisco’s median house sales price was $1.6 million.  That’s an increase of 13% over the previous year.  Meanwhile, the median condominium sales price increased about 5% to $1,210,000.

If the chart above was the only one you consulted on SF real estate, you could be forgiven for thinking that since the 2012 recovery from the Great Financial Crisis, the city’s real estate prices have been rocketing inexorably upward. 

Slow Finish

But you’d be wrong.  As Mark Twain said, quoting Benjamin Disraeli: “There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  In 2018, the year had two very distinct halves.  And if you don’t look at the statistics for those two halves, you’ll miss the real story here – which is that single family home prices fell precipitously over the last two quarters. The chart below shows price changes by quarter. ...  Additional Details

Three Studies Suggest a Mild IPO Effect on Residential Real Estate

A February 5 article in the SF Chronicle discusses three recent studies on whether IPO’s actually affect residential real estate prices. None of the studies focus specifically on the San Francisco market; only one, by Zillow, suggests that the IPO effect on neighborhoods populated by employees who benefited from an IPO, might have seen a substantial increase in prices as a result.

Nevertheless, with San Francisco home prices cooling at the end of 2018 and with AirBnB, Uber, and Slack among others, all poised to go public this year, it will be interesting to see if all the newly minted money will add some “spring” to the spring market. Stay tuned. ...  Additional Details

Where is Bay Area Housing Headed?

In my last newsletter in late October, I suggested that despite data indicating the possibility of a slowing real estate market, it was too soon to tell.  It may still be too soon – but the evidence is mounting.

Notably, we’re seeing evidence of a slowdown across the Bay Area and, indeed, nationally.  The December 1 issue of The Economist describes a national “housing wobble”, citing declining new construction  and higher interest rates as among the contributing factors.  Nationwide, sales of existing homes were down 5.1% from the year previously and sales of new homes were down by 12%.  (interestingly, the article suggests that declines in residential purchases and homebuilding are a leading indicator of recessions, rather than the other way around.) ...  Additional Details

Signs of a Slowdown? – “Ask Again Later”

Every couple of weeks, around a hundred (formerly Paragon, now Compass) agents get together to discuss the market and share their sense of what’s going on.  Is there lots of activity at open houses?  What’s selling? What’s not?  Are buyers active – or tired?  Are sellers getting greedy?  That sort of stuff.  We also receive regular updates from our stellar Chief Market Analyst, Patrick Carlisle – the best in the business – who puts together the charts that I use in these newsletters. ...  Additional Details

Update on Prop 10 and The Repeal of Costa Hawkins

I covered Proposition 10 on November’s upcoming ballot in detail last month. Today’s NY Times article has a brief summary of what it’s about. In addition, there’s a link to another article that explains the pros and cons of rent control, including why most economists on both the left and the right “are almost universally against rent control.” No one, least of all me, is disputing that housing affordability both for renters and buyers is an issue in the Bay Area. I just don’t think that expanding rent control is the way to fix the problem. ...  Additional Details