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

Who is San Francisco?

Every year we publish an in-depth look at San Francisco and the Bay Area told almost exclusively in charts.  The focus is not on real estate but rather on who we are, what we do, what we believe in.  While some of the charts simply confirm widely-known data– for example, that Asians as a group represent the largest minority in San Francisco (33.5%) — others reveal the most obscure and amazing things.  For example, did you know that there are almost as many dogs in San Francisco as there are trees?  Coincidence you say?  You can find all 32 charts, with links to dozens more, here.  I’ve cherry-picked some of my favorites below (Click the charts to expand them). ...  Additional Details

Winter: The Best Time of Year — for Buyers

I wanted to entitle this newsletter “Winter is Coming,” but decided that comparing buyers to the Dead Walkers might not go down well.  Besides, it’s buyers that have been getting the short end of the, um, spear for years now.  Prices really took off in 2012; with inventory relentlessly low (see my previous newsletter, it’s been a seller’s market ever since.

But everything slows down in winter.  There’s (even) less inventory, and buyers — being human — batten down the hatches from approximately Thanksgiving through early February.  Who wants to be out house-hunting when the weather’s turned cold and dreary? Besides, everyone is either preparing for or recovering from the Holidays. ...  Additional Details

Here’s What’s Really Sustaining the San Francisco Real Estate Market

As I was getting ready to send out yet another newsletter showing further year over year gains in home prices(see first two charts below for single family homes and condos, respectively), I took a closer look at a chart that focuses on the supply side of the supply/demand equation.

August Median Sales Price
August Median Sales Price

“New Listings Coming On the Market”  is the simplest indicator of how many homes are being put up for sale in any given time period.  Take a look at the chart below, which tracks new listings (homes, condos, etc.) on a rolling 12 month basis.  ...  Additional Details

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! ...  Additional Details

The San Francisco Rental Market and Why It Matters

For starters, the most recent US Census Bureau estimate (2014) concludes that about 57% of San Francisco’s population are renters.  That’s reason enough, especially when housing affordability is perhaps the major social and economic challenge that San Francisco faces over the long-term.

Rent and Condo Conversion Control.  With strength in numbers comes political power: San Francisco’s Rent Control ordinance applies to the vast majority of San Francisco’s housing stock, regulating everything from the rental increases that landlord’s can charge to existing tenants to how much interest owners have to pay renters on their security deposits.  Other ordinances have severely restricted the ability of owners to “remove” units from the rental market by converting them to condominiums.  Regardless of whether you think these controls are a good or bad idea, they have created an incredibly complicated legal landscape.  Whether you’re a tenant or an aspiring landlord, it pays to know your rights.  Here’s my favorite cheat sheet, courtesy of the Law Firm of Bornstein & Bornstein. ...  Additional Details

Real Data SF April Newsletter

Are Condos Cooling? Are Homes Still Hot?

Paragon’s April newsletter created quite a stir recently when it was misquoted in a Business Insider article to suggest that San Francisco’s condo market is heading for a bust. That, in turn, prompted cries of foul play by one of San Francisco’s leading condo developers – presumably because even the suggestion of a slowdown would not be good for business. (If you have an SF Chronicle subscription, you can read all about it here.)

Sensationalist headlines make good copy but misleading news. A fair reading of the newsletter suggests that there is increasing evidence of softness in the high-end condo market, represented most clearly by the glass towers of SOMA/South Beach, etc. ...  Additional Details

Special Report: Noe Valley Homes

NoeValleyMore High Priced Homes Than Any Other Neighborhood

While its homes may not generally be as grand as those of Pacific and Presidio Height or St. Francis Woods, no neighborhood in the city comes close to matching the number of $2 – $4 million sales that occur in Noe Valley and its environs. Admittedly, part of the reason is that the Noe Valley and surrounds is large geographically compared to those other neighborhoods, so you’d expect there simply to be more sales. But, as any one who has tried to buy a home in Noe Valley will tell you, homes here are expensive – period. ...  Additional Details