Of Mixes and Medians: Interpreting Noe’s Valley

My last post was about the fact that Noe Valley median home prices are still down 30% from their all time highs despite a smart recovery in median home prices city-wide.  This, despite my sense that there seem to have been a burst of Noe Valley homes hitting the market in the $2 million range and above recently. Continue reading

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Horror Headline (just in time for Halloween): SF home prices down 24.8%!!!

Yup, that’s right folks.  According to the well-known and well-respected Case-Shiller Index published by Standard and Poor’s, San Francisco home prices in July 2008 were down a whopping 24.8% from a year previous.  How can this be, when you read right here that median prices were down YOY (year over year) a “mere”  11.3% in September  (see Oct 23 blog below) and just 5.5% YOY for July 2008 — see my market trends archive.)  More realtor fluffery, you huff, designed to make the credulous public believe that things are not so bad.

Actshooly (actually), the reason’s simple.  As is often the case when widely quoted indexes talk about a city, what they’re really referring to is a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a much larger geographical area. So “San Francisco” doesn’t mean our little piece of heaven, no.  It means…  all of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo COUNTIES as well as San Francisco county.

According to the latest release from Dataquick, median home prices in Contra Costa County were down a whopping 45.6% YOY for September 2008. No great surprise considering that it includes ground-zero overbuilt subdivision train-wreck areas like Pittsburgh and Antioch. Take a look:

With Alameda County down 30%  and even Santa Clara County down 27.4%, it’s clear how the other counties in the San Francisco MSA are dragging the “San Francisco” index down.  Feel better now?

And a PS.  Dataquick shows San Francisco County as down 12.7% for September versus my 11.3%.  I get my  numbers from a service that pulls them directly from the MLS, then I use their spreadsheets to dig deeper when necessary.  I’m looking into why there’s a discrepancy between my numbers and Dataquick’s.

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Just How Bad Is It? (Answer: depends)

I’ve been digging a bit deeper into the raw data that’s used to generate the beautiful graphs you can find here and which I used to generate the MLS District graphs in my blog of a few days ago.

So I thought I’d check how September 08’s median home prices (condos will come later) compared to their all-time highs and to the median prices of a year ago, both by MLS District and for all of San Francisco.  I didn’t include District 8 (North-east) because it doesn’t have enough data to be useful, and I also didn’t include the southern-most districts of SF (3 and 10) because to be honest I don’t follow them closely. Here’s the result:

So clearly prices are down from their all-time highs across the board.  (Most districts were still hitting highs or near-highs well into 2007, by the way, and District 5, which includes Noe Valley had its top 3 highs in 2008!) )  But where the drops are really big (Districts 6 and 7 for example), that could simply be due to the fact that the all-time high was aberrational.

The percentage change from a year ago are interesting because you can see how some districts seem to be doing quite well.  Half up, half down.  Once again, though, with sales volumes down across the board, there are less data points and that can skew the numbers.  But it certainly seems like the tonier districts (1, 5 and 7) are holding up better than the others.  (Take a look at my graph from a coupla days ago to see how the districts compare over time.)

Bottom line(s)?

San Francisco single family homes are down over 11% from a year ago.

The more expensive neighborhoods seem to be doing ok.

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