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

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

Prop 10 and How Your Own Home Might Become Subject to Rent Control

I don’t mean to sound alarmist – well yes I do – but there’s a California ballot measure up for vote this November that could significantly curtail your rights as an owner of a single family house or condominium if you should ever decide to rent it out.    

Most people are aware that San Francisco has rent and eviction control legislation.  Briefly summarized and simplified, if you own a multi-unit building (ie. two units or more) which was completed prior to the date the Rent Ordinance was passed, June 13, 1979, you cannot increase the rent of an existing tenant by more than 60% of the annual Consumer Price Index each year. In addition, you can only evict a tenant for a limited set of reasons enumerated under the Ordinance.  In practical effect this means that a lease for a fixed term has no meaning:  once the lease is up, a tenant who is otherwise paying rent on time can stay as long as she wants to stay. And, for as long as she stays, the maximum annual amount that her rent can increase is determined by the Rent Ordinance, not by you.  ...  Additional Details

2018 San Francisco Mid-Year Real Estate Report: Hot and Hotter

(Writing this from Prague, possibly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.)  Our mid-year report is out and it reflects nothing less than a sizzling seller’s market for single family homes, one that has re-ignited after something of a two-year lull — if that’s the word for a market that’s “only” been increasing by 6 to 7 percent per year.

Year to date, median prices for single family homes have increased by 14.5% over 2017.  The median price is now $1.62 million (see next two charts). ...  Additional Details

Will the Last One Leaving the Bay Area Please Turn Out the Lights?

Media Reports Sound the Death Knell of the Bay Area
– a Mite Prematurely

“49 % of Bay Area residents were looking to move out.”
Business Insider

“San Francisco is such a boomtown that people are leaving in droves.”
Wall Street Journal

“Silicon Valley is over…. In the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country.”
New York Times

“San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in – and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital.”
SFGate

As our oft-quoted Chief Market Analyst, Patrick Carlisle,  says in his recent report, “That sounds really bad.”  It turns out that the sensational headline stories quoted above were largely based on questionable and selective data and then amplified in the media in the ways that we’ve all become accustomed to.  This month, I’m reposting an abbreviated version of Patrick’s report.  The bottom line:  if everyone’s leaving the Bay Area in droves, you’d think it would be showing up in real estate prices.  It’s not – on the contrary, Bay Area prices, including San Francisco, continue to hit new highs.  Read on! ...  Additional Details