Median prices almost always conceal large disparities in the prices of the underlying individual sales – this is particularly true for larger cities: in San Francisco for example, median house prices by neighborhood range from $465,000 to $4,000,000, and there will be similar disparities in Oakland and San Jose. But median prices can be valuable to show appreciation trends, and to some degree, to compare general home values between different areas. The last quarter was a period of rapid price appreciation virtually everywhere on this map.
Paragon Market Report, June 2013
New highs in home prices have not yet been reached in every San Francisco neighborhood, but the majority has either regained the value lost since the 2008 market meltdown, or now exceeded the previous high points of 2006-early 2008. (Different neighborhoods peaked at different times, just as they are now recovering at different speeds). This does not mean that every property bought at the height of the bubble in feverish multiple-offer bidding wars has now regained peak value. Nor does it mean that values might not fluctuate or drop in future months due to seasonal and/or other economic factors.
Though virtually every market in the country is now on a similar upward trajectory, San Francisco’s has recovered more quickly than most in the Bay Area, state and country. The city’s neighborhoods, with a few exceptions, were never hit as hard as most other areas by the tsunami of distressed property sales: our home values generally fell in the 15-25% range compared to huge declines of 40-60% elsewhere and so we have had less ground to recover. That said, the city has always been an exceptional real estate market and the confluence of economic factors both general (such as the lowest interest rates in history) and unique (such as the local, high-tech boom) jumpstarted and supercharged our recovery beyond most others.
It should be noted that, looking at past recoveries in the early eighties and mid-nineties, it is not unusual once a recovery gets underway after years of recession and repressed demand, for the market to regain previous peak values within a couple years of the turnaround beginning. Recoveries often start with a dramatic surge and that is what has happened with this one.
City, State & National Long-Term Overview
In this chart, one can see the recovery occurring everywhere, but most dramatically in San Francisco. For this analysis, we’ve calculated the 2013 SF median house sales price for the 5 months since the year began; if we looked at just the last 3 months (reflecting offers accepted in 2013, when the market accelerated further), the SF median house price jumps to about $1,000,000. (Note: State and national data sources are behind those we can access for the city, and the last median prices reflect that disparity.)
SF Houses: Previous Peak Values to Present
In this chart, since we’re also calculating average statistics, we’ve capped the sales price at $3,000,000 because ultra-high-end sales usually distort averages. We see the previous peak value in 2007 (for SF houses in general), the drop to the bottom of the market in 2011, and the rebound starting in 2012 and accelerating in 2013. By all 3 main statistical measures of value, San Francisco houses have met or exceeded previous peak values. To adjust for seasonality, the comparisons are for the spring months of each year.
This link goes to the same analysis for SF condos except it starts in 2008 when condo values peaked and sales are capped at $2m:
Condos: Previous Peak Values to Present
Short-Term Appreciation Trends
This chart breaks down the rise in SF home values occurring over the past 2.5 years. Though it appears that 2013 prices surged after the first quarter, the surge actually started in March, which is when the market really started to reflect offers negotiated in 2013. January and February sales mostly reflect the holiday season market, when the higher-end home market typically checks out. We prefer quarterly or longer time periods because they make for more reliable statistics: monthly statistics often fluctuate without great meaning. The high overall median prices achieved in March-May may drop somewhat during the summer due to seasonal and other factors.
This link goes to an overview of the past 30 years: it helps give context to what we’re experiencing today:
30 Years of SF Real Estate Cycles
2006-Present: House Values by Neighborhood
These 4 SF Realtor districts generate a lot of house sales, so they’re good for statistical analysis. For 2013, this chart looks at the last 5 months of sales-if assessing just the last 3 months, 2013 numbers would typically be higher. The central Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district, a hot bed of high-tech buyer demand, has soared well beyond its previous peak value in 2008. The very affluent northern district of Pacific Heights-Marina has also exceeded its previous peak. Sunset-Parkside in the southwest has regained its 2007 peak, and the southeast Bayview-Portola-Excelsior district, which was hit hardest by distressed sales, while recovering rapidly, has not yet made up the value lost since its 2006 peak. This district, with more house sales than any other, lost more percentage value in the downturn (25-45% depending on neighborhood) and so has more ground to make up. But it’s well on its way.
2006-Present: SF Condo Values by Neighborhood
These 6 areas of the city generate high numbers of condo sales, which is why we chose them for this analysis. Condos in all these areas have increased in value beyond their previous peaks in 2006-2008; some of them, such as South Beach, dramatically so.
This link illustrates how, over the past 5 years, the SF market has switched from being dominated by house sales to condo sales; with the continuing construction of large condo projects, we expect this trend to continue. TIC sales have dropped significantly, both as a percentage of sales and in actual unit sales: This is due to a number of complex issues such as changes in city condo conversion and tenant protection regulations.
Sales by Property Type
Price Range Dynamics
There are 3 main underlying currents occurring in San Francisco. First is the rapid dwindling of distressed property sales: Thus, sales under $500,000, the price range of most distressed sales, have dropped by 62% since last year. This segment is on the verge of disappearing completely in SF. Second is the dramatic resurgence in luxury home sales: the affluent have profited most from the economic recovery and the city also has large numbers of the newly affluent (often high-tech) who wish to buy homes. So, sales of homes costing $1,500,000 plus have surged by 76%. The third dynamic is simply the general appreciation of home values. All 3 factors add up to a large migration from lower-priced to higher-priced sales. Note: The medians quoted on this chart are for many different property types combined.
May Listings/Sales Snapshot
A clear indication of the red-hot heat of our market: 90% of SF home sales closing in May sold without going through any price reductions, at an average sales price 7% higher than the asking price and a very low average days-on-market of 29 days. These are very dramatic statistics illustrating the high demand/low supply situation here in the city.
May 2013 Update
Below are 3 maps delineating recent median home sales prices and/or average dollar per square foot values for San Francisco neighborhoods and communities around the Bay Area. These statistics are generalities which may fluctuate for a variety of reasons, but still give an idea of comparative home values in and around the city.
Generally speaking, home price appreciation is continuing and indeed accelerating in 2013, extending the upward swing that began in 2012. This is being supercharged by increasing demand meeting inadequate supply. For more information about current market conditions and trends, please click on the “Market Dynamics Charts” link above.
In the maps below, “k” signifies thousands of dollars; “m” signifies millions; “$/sf” means average dollar per square foot; and “N/A” means there wasn’t enough data to generate a reliable number.
Home Values around the San Francisco
San Francisco Neighborhood HOUSE Values
San Francisco Neighborhood CONDO Values
Real estate statistics in the Bay Area are based upon that relatively unique basket of homes that happen to sell within any given period, so instead of being exact measurements applicable to specific properties, they should be considered indications of the direction and approximate scale of market trends.
Median price is that price at which half the sales occurred above and half below – a single additional sale can sometimes make a 3-5% difference in overall median price, especially when the number of sales is low. Dollar per square foot is based on “livable space”, which should not include decks, patios, yards, garages, unfinished basements and attics, or rooms built without permit (“bonus rooms” and “in-law apartments”). Square footage figures are often unreported, measured in different ways or simply unreliable. Both these statistics can be affected by other factors besides changes in value, such as seasonality, available inventory, variations in buyer profile, changes in the distressed and luxury home markets, and variations in average home size (all things being equal, a smaller home will have a lower sales price but a higher dollar per square foot value than a larger home).
These analyses were performed in good faith with data derived from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. If you have any questions, please contact us.
San Francisco Home Values by Neighborhood & Bedroom Count
The March 2013 Paragon Market
We’ve just completed our semiannual review of SF house and condo values by average and median prices, average size and average dollar per square foot for sales occurring September 1, 2012 – February 28, 2013, as reported to MLS.
The maps contain median sales price data only, while the tables include the full range of value statistics. (The tables are easier to read, but they’re not as colorful.) If a price is followed by a “k” it references thousands of dollars; if followed by an “m”, it signifies millions. Remember that medians and averages are very general statistics.
Further down in the newsletter are charts tracking supply and demand dynamics and price appreciation trends for the city’s residential real estate market. Statistical definitions can be found at the very bottom. For the smaller images, you’ll need to click-to-expand them to really make them decipherable.
4-Bedroom House Values
This is the table for 4-bedroom house sales over the past 6 months. This link goes to the full analysis by property type, neighborhood and bedroom count.
Neighborhood, Property Type, Bedrooms
2-Bedroom Condo Median Price Map
A map of median sales prices for 2-bedroom condos around the city. The table in the full analysis provides further statistical measures.
Trends in Inventory & Sales Volume
Sometimes there’s nothing like a chart to depict trends. Here one can clearly see the drastic decline in inventory. And this link goes to a chart on Months Supply of Inventory, another statistic of supply and demand:
Months Supply of Inventory
New Listings Coming on Market
The quantity of new listings ebbs and flows by season, however even accounting for seasonality, the number of new listings coming on market is much lower than usual. And this link shows the increasing demand since the market recovery really got underway in 2012:
Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
Median Price Trends by Month
Monthly price data often fluctuates due to a variety factors. For example, median and average prices almost always drop in January since the higher end of the market usually checks out for the holidays: Values haven’t changed; the demographic of buyers and available inventory changed. However, the clear upward trajectory of prices over the past year is clear in both median and average sales prices.
Average Price Trends
The MEDIAN SALES PRICE is that price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less. If there were 3 sales, at $1, $2 and $10, the median price would be $2. If there were 4 sales at $2, $2, $5 and $10, the median would be $3.50. Median sales price may be affected by seasonal trends, and by changes in inventory or buying trends, as well as by changes in value.
AVERAGE DOLLAR PER SQUARE FOOT is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, storage, unfinished attics and basements; rooms and apartments built without permit; decks, patios or yards. These figures are typically derived from appraisals or tax records, but can be unreliable, measured in different ways, or unreported altogether: thus consider square footage and $/sq.ft. figures to be very general approximations. Generally speaking, about 60-80% of listings report square footage, and dollar per square foot statistics are based solely on those listings. All things being equal, a house will have a higher dollar per square foot than a condo (because of land value), a condo will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a TIC (quality of title), and a TIC’s will be higher than a multi-unit building’s (quality of use). All things being equal, a smaller home will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a larger one. The highest dollar per square foot values in San Francisco are typically found in upper floor condos in prestige buildings with utterly spectacular views.
The AVERAGE SIZE of homes of the same bedroom count may vary widely by neighborhood: for example, the average size of a 4-bedroom house in Pacific Heights is much larger than one in Noe Valley; and the average of a Marina 2-bedroom condo is larger than one in South Beach. Besides the affluence factor, the era and style of construction often play large roles in these disparities.
Some neighborhoods are well known for having additional ROOMS BUILT WITHOUT PERMIT, such as the classic 1940′s Sunset house with “bedrooms” and baths built out behind the garage. These additions often add value, but being unpermitted are not reflected in $/sq.ft. figures.
Many aspects of value cannot be adequately reflected in general statistics: curb appeal, age, condition, views, amenities, outdoor space, “bonus” rooms, parking, quality of location within the neighborhood, and so forth. Thus, how these statistics apply to any particular home is unknown.
“Looking at 245 Bay Area ZIP codes, Zillow projects that 244 will see home values ratchet up by significant margins in 2013, with 27 ZIPs seeing double-digit appreciation…Popular San Francisco neighborhoods such as Noe Valley, the Castro, Twin Peaks, the Mission and Bernal Heights are poised for double-digit appreciation, along with Menlo Park, Larkspur, Palo Alto, Alameda and North Berkeley, Zillow predicts.”
The full article is here: http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Bay-Area-home-prices-projected-to-surge-4288392.php
July 2012 Market Update
If you wish, you may jump straight to the market charts.
The SF real estate market is stuck. Stuck in high gear: huge buyer demand + the lowest interest rates in history + extremely low inventory of listings = (often ferocious) competitive bidding and increasing prices. Though this trend began in the city’s more affluent areas, it has now spread to virtually every neighborhood, property type and price segment. Since closed sales activity follows the time of offer acceptance by 4 to 8 weeks, the appreciation in home values has not yet shown up in the statistics for certain neighborhoods. We believe it will soon.
Though this situation is to the advantage of sellers (after years of market doldrums), homebuyers might take some consolation in the fact that the last time the market dramatically shifted after a similar downturn, in 1996 after the early nineties recession, there was a market frenzy much like ours today. However, people who bought at that time still ended up doing very well by getting in at the beginning of a market rebound that went on for many years, even before the housing-bubble years began. And interest rates then were close to double today’s.
When reviewing the map analyses below, remember that median and average statistics are generalities, and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Percentage changes should be taken with a grain of salt: some neighborhoods have relatively small numbers of sales, which make statistics less reliable; in other areas, it may simply be that the size/quality mix of homes sold shifted from one period to the other — this happens. Still, overall, it is clear that the city is experiencing a general surge in home values.
Explanations for the statistics referenced can be found on the Paragon website: Statistical Definitions
SF Median House Prices and Appreciation
Many of the city’s neighborhoods are showing significant increases in the house median sales price, and this appears to be accelerating as we get deeper into the year. Those areas not yet showing significant change are expected to show increases in the next quarter’s statistics.
Median Condo Prices and Appreciation
Many neighborhoods are showing significant increases in the condo median sales price, and this appears to be accelerating. (However, as an example of how statistics are not 100% reliable, the chart shows no appreciation for Pacific and Presidio Heights condos over the past year: we believe there was indeed significant appreciation on par with most other nearby affluent areas, but the statistic is reflecting other factors, such as different inventories for sale during the two periods being compared.)
SF Unit Home Sales
The number of sales reported to MLS has jumped to its highest number in over 4 years. However, there are two additional factors: new-development condo sales which are often not reported to MLS are lower than in many previous years due to the crash in building after 2008 (though this is turning around too). On the other hand, it appears that the number of “off-market” sales, not listed in or reported to MLS, has surged in 2012.
Home Sales by Property Type
Houses and condos make up the great majority of sales in San Francisco, though TIC sales seem to be making a big recovery in the low-inventory situation the city has found itself in.
Home Sales by Price Range
As the market has heated up, prices have risen and distressed home listings have plunged. This is causing something of a shift upward in the percentage of sales in the higher price segments.
Price Reductions, Sales Price to List Price Percentage & Days on Market
Houses selling without a price reduction are growing as a percentage of sales. They are averaging well over the asking price and selling in the shortest time period in years.
2-Bedroom Condo Prices: Long-Term Trends
These neighborhoods have all been showing significant price appreciation since the home-price crash in 2008-2009. If this chart went back to 1995, it would show that median prices pretty much doubled between 1995 and 2000.
Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
The stronger the buyer demand and the lower the inventory, the higher the percentage of listings accepting offers. Every San Francisco property type is at its highest percentage in many years, and perhaps its highest ever.
That’s what New York Times journalist Ron Lieber discusses in Saturday’s Business Section. You can find a copy of the article here. Of course, nobody really knows where the real estate market is headed but Lieber suggests that now could be a good time to buy. Here are a few of the takeaways:
- First-time home-buyers presumably have the down-payment sitting in the bank, so they can benefit from the drop in home values without having to worry about selling their own home in a depressed market to raise the downpayment.
- Mortgage interest rates are currently pretty low by historical standards and could go lower if the federal government decides to try to drive them lower. If you can lock in a low rate for 30 years, that seems pretty smart.
- The best deals may be in “new” housing, where developers are desperate to get out from under bloated inventories. Those inventories, however, are falling as construction of new projects has come to a halt. With winter being a traditionally slow time to move houses, now may be a particularly good time to buy.
Along these lines, a loan officer recently told me that he’d heard of a downtown high-rise condo that was listed for $1.1 million and was sold by the developer for $770,000 — just enough to pay off the loan amount attributable to the unit.