Meet The Expert – ‘Everything You Wanted to Know About Buying a Home in San Francisco’

JUNE 08, 2017

(*But were afraid to ask!)


Join Misha Weidman, J.D., Broker Associate and Attorney at Paragon Real Estate Group, for a lively and informative discussion about the essentials of buying a home in San Francisco. Here are just some of the questions he will address:

  • How to find a home
  • How to make an offer
  • How to finance your purchase
  • What are San Francisco’s more affordable neighborhoods
  • What is “dry rot” and why should you care
  • What is a condominium
  • “Notaire?” Not here!


Misha Weidman‘s experience in San Francisco real estate is broad and deep. He has owned, renovated, and invested in residential property since 1987.  A licensed attorney, Misha practiced commercial real estate law for a leading San Francisco firm for many years before focusing on residential brokerage. Now a broker-associate at Paragon Real Estate Group, one of San Francisco’s pre-eminent locally owned real estate brokerage companies, he also blogs about real estate trends and topics on his website and on, a bilingual website that helps French-speaking expats “find their way” in San Francisco. A parent of high-schoolers who have attended both of San Francisco’s French-Bilingual schools, Misha has helped many francophone families and individuals find homes in San Francisco.


Who? Expert & up to 12 participants
How? Our expert will tell you all about the theme of the day and will save some time for questions
When? Twice a month on a Thursday
Where? French-American Chamber of Commerce San Francisco’s office, 26 O’Farrell Street, #500, San Francisco, CA 94108
Why? Learn, network and enjoy a nice breakfast!
Price? Free for members – Non-member: $35

More Information

Did you like this? Share it:

Spring Has Sprung Once Again in San Francisco’s Housing Market.

Between 2012 and 2015, the median price of a single family home in San Francisco increase by around 70% as we came out of the Great Financial Crisis. Condominium prices increased by around 55% during the same period.

It’s not surprising, then, that the market took a breather and leveled off a bit during 2016. However, along with the return of warmer, dryer weather, buyers seem to be returning to the market in droves, and there is simply not enough inventory to meet demand. While it’s still a little too early to tell, our data suggests that things are heating up again.

Acceptances are Up

One of the classic statistics of supply and demand is percentage-of-listings-accepting-offers: The higher the percentage, the hotter the market.

In the chart above, we looked at single family home and condo sales in various price segments in April of the last three years. Most segments saw considerable cooling from April 2015 to April 2016. However, almost all the segments bounced back in April 2017, and, indeed, the lower price segments (shown at the right of the chart) performed significantly better than 2 years ago. It’s also worth remembering that the spring of 2015 was itself considered a very “hot” market; yet acceptance levels for entry level condos and, especially, homes up to $2 million are now well above those we saw in 2015.

Supply is Down

Other standard measures of market heat, such as average-days-on-market, and months-supply-of-inventory, corroborate our perception the market may be taking off again. The chart below shows just how constrained our inventory levels are currently. High demand plus low supply spells “price increases.”

Trench Warfare

Reports “from the trenches” also support the statistics. Multiple offers, pre-emptive offers, non-contingent offers, and a seven to ten-day “show ‘em and sell ‘em” period from first open house to offer deadline date, are all once again the norm. Forget about meaningful listing prices: attract sufficient buyers and the selling price will take care of itself. Certain neighborhoods are on fire (again) and others are heating up as the others burn: You can now figure you’ll pay $1,000 – $1100 per square foot for a nicely renovated 1600 sf home on a postage stamp sized lot in Bernal Heights — unimaginable just a few years ago. Meanwhile, the more affordable southern and western neighborhoods like Central Sunset, Sunnyside, and the Excelsior are seeing big gains as buyers are priced out of their first and second choice neighborhoods.

Here’s a chart showing price appreciation through 2016 for the Sunset District and Golden Gate Heights.

It’s still a little too early for the data to reflect sales occurring since the start of Q2 2017, usually the most active selling season of the year, but my guess is that prices will be up, and up strongly in the more affordable market segments.

The Big Picture

With the stock market at new highs, interest rates still hovering near their all-time lows and Bay Area employment looking very solid, it’s hard to see a crash and burn scenario on the near horizon (though the state of our national politics injects a note of uncertainty into everything). Even rental rates, which have been falling, are on the rise again.

At the same time, the lack of affordable housing is a huge issue and certainly should sound a note of caution. At some point, the party is going to stop: it always does. For long-term buyers, however, I remain confident that San Francisco will remain one of the best places in the world to own a home or an investment.


If you’re thinking of selling, now’s the time to move quickly before the summer lull hits. That’s especially true if your home will be priced above $2 million.

If you’re a buyer, start by understanding — and accepting — that it’s a tough market out there. This is not the kind of market where anything is going to feel like “a deal.”

  • Have your financing lined up and rock-solid with a lender that can and will move quickly.
  • Be prepared to give your highest and best bid first — you may not get a second chance.
  • Visit new listings and be prepared to move fast.
  • Consider listings that have been languishing for a while. Sometimes they are overlooked because they don’t “check all the boxes.” These can be rare opportunities to make an offer with less competition.
  • Be clear about your “must haves” and what you might be able to do without.

As always, your questions, comments, and referrals are greatly appreciated!


Did you like this? Share it:

How Does San Francisco Compare to Other Bay Area Markets?

While we wait for the rain to stop and for the market to give some sign of its direction this spring, let’s take a look at what’s going on around us.

We’ll start with a look at single family homes.  I was surprised to see San Mateo running neck-and-neck with SF, and ahead of Santa Clara, Marin, and LaMorinda/Diablo Valley (Diablo).  I suspect that’s both because ritzy communities like Atherton and Hillsborough bring up the median values and because there are relatively few low-priced neighborhoods.  (Compare, for example, Santa Clara County, which along with high-priced Palo Alto, includes the neglected community of East Palo Alto as well as a lot of agricultural land in its southern and eastern parts.)

Big Up, Big Down

The table below looks at how values changed, both up and down, on either side of the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) that started in 2007.  While all counties fell from their peaks, the ones that fell hardest were those that were generally more rural, less affluent, with greater overbuilding, and where buyers were more susceptible to predatory loan practices.  While they roared back from the bleak bottoms they hit in 2009-2011, they still have not reached their pre-bust levels.

Meanwhile, Oakland and Alameda County are interesting points of comparison to San Francisco, especially as many who feel priced out of SF think of moving there.  Both fell significantly further during the crash (-60% and -44%) than San Francisco (-17% for condos, -23% for homes) and have enjoyed spectacular increases since the recovery began.  However, Oakland and Alameda County lag far behind San Francisco if you look at total appreciation from their pre-crash levels to now.  Focusing on Oakland alone, it’s up 12% by that measure, while San Francisco homes and condos have both appreciated over 40%.

In my mind, this is proof of the first three rules of real estate investing:  “location, location, location.”  Other areas will be buoyed by the tide as prime locations are bid up and are no longer affordable, but when the tide ebbs, they will also drop further and take longer to recover.


Here’s an interesting look at the relative heat of different counties based on average overbids.  (We break out Oakland separately, as well as SF homes and condos.)


I’ll leave you with some fascinating charts on demographics for our Bay Area Counties.  For the truly geeky, you can find even more charts and analysis in Paragon’s full Bay Area Market Survey.

As always, your feedback, questions, and referrals are much appreciated!


Did you like this? Share it:

The 2016 San Francisco Real Estate Wrap-Up: Houses on Simmer; Condos Cool

The data is now in for 2016 and we have sliced and diced it to perfection.  The results?  Single family homes are on simmer, with median prices up a “mere” 6% over last year.  City-wide,  houses hit $1,350,000 in the last quarter of 2017, an all-time high.  Meanwhile condominiums are going sideways.  At $1,078,000, they were down about $25,000 from a year previous. In fact, their median price is effectively the same as it was at the start of 2015.


Here’s another look at the appreciation rates for houses and condos in recent years.  Clearly, double-digit gains are not sustainable forever. 



Not Hot, Not Cold

The overall cooling of the market — and the fact that condos are cooling more than houses –shows up in a wide range of statistics.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  The first shows how many homes are selling over their final list price.  The second shows how much they’re selling for over the list price.



So let’s be clear: even with condos cooling off, last year 58% of them received overbids.  The amount of the overbid, however, has declined markedly so that now on a $1 million condo, an overbid might be “just”  $15,000.  Meanwhile, 76% of houses are receiving overbids and they’re still around 10% over list price.

Will the cooling trend continue?  Right after election day, I discussed what a Trump administration might mean for San Francisco’s real estate market.  Now that he’s been in office for a week, I think it’s more prudent to say “who knows?”   While my views haven’t changed about why Trump and the Republicans should generally be “good” for a real estate market like ours where only the well-off and wealthy get a seat at the table, it seems to me that the dangers that uncertainty injects into any market just got a lot “bigly-er.”  Witness Monday’s slump in the stocks.

Getting Granular

Not all neighborhoods or price segments are performing equally.  Broadly speaking, more expensive properties are seeing weaker demand than more affordable properties.  You can see this most clearly in the following charts that track the percentage of listings that expire or are cancelled without a sale.  The first chart is for the overall market; the second focuses on properties that listed for $2 million or more:  quite a difference!



Correspondingly, the more affordable neighborhoods saw decent price growth for single family homes, while home prices in the more luxurious neighborhoods plateaued.  Ie.  “Go West”  and Go “South” for value.   (In the first chart, imagine same-colored bars stacked beside each other to see prices changing over time.  The second chart does a clearer job for high-priced neighborhoods.)


Consider the statistics in the second chart with caution:  there tend to be fewer sales in these ritzy neighborhoods and there can be wide discrepancies in sales prices that can throw the numbers off.  (No, we don’t believe that Inner Richmond prices really jumped 20%.)  Statistically speaking, the most reliable data is for Noe & Eureka Valleys, which have a high number of sales: The median sales price there has basically plateaued from 2015 to 2016. 

Condominium prices have flattened more uniformly across the city, but MLS District 9, which includes all the new construction taking place in SoMa, Mission Beach, etc, has dropped the most:  around 5% from last year.


For my readers who just can’t get enough of this stuff, we have lots more charts here and here.  For everyone else, I’ll be breaking it down into bite-sized chunks over the coming months.

As always, your comments, questions, and referrals are much appreciated!


Did you like this? Share it:

Happy Holidays

Here are some of my favorite photos from 2016: from a trip to Death Valley in February to see the super-bloom, and the rest from our family trip to Peru where we did the Inca Trail among other things. Somehow Luna the Wonderdog got in there too, carrying flowers home on 24th Street.

We’ll take a detailed look at 2016 when all the data is in early next year. Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a joyful 2017. And thank you all for your continued readership and positive feedback for this newsletter. Keep it coming!


Did you like this? Share it:

Turkey and Trump: Lots to Digest

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  It’s been an emotional roller-coaster November with a surprise election result (on my birthday, no less) that sent many San Francisco residents into a state akin to mourning. (Full disclosure:  I count myself among them.)  Several of my own buyer clients have put their plans on hold while they regroup emotionally and assess how Donald Trump’s election affects their own plans to invest a sizable chunk of money in real estate and/or put down roots.  Meanwhile, sellers ponder whether to speed up bringing their homes to market as the post-election spike in interest rates may presage more of the same, which in turn may reduce the amount that people can afford to pay.

Continue reading

Did you like this? Share it:

San Francisco’s Hottest Neighborhoods: Not Where You Might Think

Noe Valley? Bernal Heights?  Those are so yesterday.  Maybe you’re thinking Bayview/Hunter’s Point as people search out more affordable housing at the city’s edges.

Well, you’re right about the edge but wrong about the direction.  Based on our recent analyses, San Francisco’s “hottest” neighborhoods are also some of its foggiest: go west to the Sunset and its more southerly counterpart, Parkside.


Now admittedly, together these comprise a lot of smaller neighborhoods.  Many would object to, say, the Inner Sunset with its vibrant retail scene centered on 9th Ave and Irving, being lumped in with the quieter environs of the Outer Sunset.  Fair enough:  our analysis is really of MLS Districts, rather than individual neighborhoods, but it’s no less telling for that. Continue reading

Did you like this? Share it:

Bay Area Housing Affordability: A Grab-Bag of Charts

In my July Newsletter, I did a wrap-up of the year so far and concluded that the market, for the moment at least, seems to be going sideways. Post Labor-Day inventory has already shown a big jump in anticipation of the short buy/sell season between now and the end of November. It’s too soon to say whether the new inventory will excite buyers to loosen their wallets or simply cause them to be pickier.

So with the market on “pause,” I thought I’d put together a grab bag of charts that cover SF housing affordability, both from the standpoint of owning and renting. Many view housing affordability as a central concern for San Francisco’s long-term future. Changes in the rental Continue reading

Did you like this? Share it:

Real Data SF July Newsletter


Mid-Year Report – A Soft Landing For San Francisco Residential Real Estate?

With the data in for the for the first six months of 2016, the cooling trend that I’ve noted in recent newsletters is increasingly clear. Since sales typically dip in the middle of summer due to seasonal factors (everyone, especially those who own or are looking to buy higher end homes, is on vacation), it’s best to compare 2nd quarter results with those of a year ago.


In Q2 2016, the year-over-year appreciation rate was 4% for houses and less than 1% for condos, as compared with 2014 to 2015 rates of 20% and 18%: A significant slowdown. However, median home prices are still at their highest point ever. Continue reading

Did you like this? Share it: