Noe & Eureka Valley charts

Updated numbers table and graph for houses in Noe & Eureka Valleys. Note that of the houses reporting square footage (which usually runs from 60%-75% of all sales), the average size dropped 12% in the 1st Quarter from 2012’s average size. This will typically affect dollar per square foot (increasing it, because smaller homes usually generate higher dollar per square foot values) as well as average sales price (lowering it because smaller houses sell for less). One quarter’s data is not definitive, though the trend upward is clear.



Averages are very general statistics that may fluctuate for other reasons besides changes in value. There is no “average house” or “median house” consistent from year to year, of which sales can be annually compared to calculate exact changes in market values. Statistics are most useful for ascertaining market trends over the longer term.

The only way to assess the approximate fair market value of any particular house is by a comparative market analysis crafted to its particular – and in San Francisco, often relatively unique – specifications.

DOLLAR PER SQUARE FOOT ($/sqft) is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, unfinished attics and basements, rooms built without permit, lot size, or patios and decks — though all these can still add value to a home. These figures are usually derived from appraisals or tax records, but are sometimes unreliable or unreported altogether.

All things being equal, a house will sell for a higher dollar per square foot than a condo (due to land value), a condo higher than a TIC (quality of title), and a TIC higher than a multi-unit building (quality of use). Everything being equal, a smaller home will sell for a higher $/sqft than a larger one. However, all things are rarely equal in SF real estate. There are often surprisingly wide variations of value within neighborhoods and averages may be distorted by one or two sales substantially higher or lower than the norm, especially when the total number of sales is small. Exact location within a neighborhood, condition, curb appeal, amenities, parking, views, lot size & outdoor space all affect $/sqft home values.

All data is from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors or omissions, and is subject to revision.

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Focus on Noe Valley

It’s been a few months since I took a look at my own stompin’ ground, Noe Valley, and how prices have been doing compared to the city as a whole.  We dispensed with the notion that Noe Valley was somehow “immune” some time ago.  Sadly — at least for home-owners — and happily for buyers, Noe hasn’t bounced back over the last few months, even though city-wide median prices have improved.

Noe Valley Vs. SF All Districts Percent change August 09

Bear in mind that “Noe Valley” means a very small area.  What’s more, there were only 7 sales in August, down from 14 in May and June, and 22 in July.   Sure, there’s been a bit of an improvement over the previous month, but there’s still an 11% difference between how far prices have fallen for the city as a whole (19%) versus Noe Valley (30%).

Arrian Binnings over at Inside SF Real Estate also did a recent update on Noe Valley, looking at median prices in a different way.  (I’ve forgiven him for appropriating my term, “getting granular” to discuss what I now have to refer to as “focusing” on a particular area. Sniff.)  Here’s one of his charts.


Not much comfort there either.

People will continue to point out that this doesn’t mean that your beloved home has fallen in value as far as the data suggests  — and that’s probably true, unless you bought a median-priced home at the top of the market.  Still, Noe Valley seems unseasonably cold right now, and it’s not just the fog whipping down off Diamond Heights.

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DOM Roll Please

A couple of posts ago, we dispensed with Absorption Rate as a good barometer of the market since there appeared to be no correlation between how much inventory was available in relation to sales rates and where median prices were going.  I asked whether there might be a different metric that would correlate better, like the oft-quoted Days on Market or “DOM.”

In essence, DOM tracks the average number of days that properties have been on the market from the time they became active on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service used by realtors) to the time they actually sell.

Great minds must think alike because it turns out that my friends over at Inside SF Real Estate have been exploring the same thing.  Head over to their recent post for a look at DOM trends over 14 years.  What they haven’t done, however, is track DOM against median prices.  Ha!  I have, and here are the results for the last three years tracked by month (my numbers are pulled directly from the MLS database  — click to make the chart larger).


Now that’s what I call correlation! Note that the right-hand Y axis tracks DOM inversely, with longer periods at the bottom and shorter periods at the top.  So, this chart is basically showing that during periods, even relatively short periods, when the average DOM falls, prices rise, and when properties stay “on the market” for longer, prices fall.  This is just what you’d expect.

Why?  My guess is that DOM captures many of the factors in play in the real estate market at any given time.  For example, if credit is tight and appraisals are rigorous, you’d expect that transactions would take longer to get approved.  Likewise, if lots of people are bidding on the same house, you’d expect that the winning bidder would promise a quick “no contingency” close and that there would be no haggling on the sale price.  When the market slows, you’d expect more cautious buyers, more haggling on price, longer closing periods — all reflected ultimately in the DOM.

As my friends over at InsideSFRealestate pointed out in their post on DOM, realtors can play games with DOM.  For example, if a property doesn’t sell, they’ll take it off the market, and then put it back on as a “new listing” at a lower price and voila, the DOM resets to zero.  Still, that would just tend to increase the “down” side of the line — the correlation would still hold.

The only other point I’d add is to note the seasonal trend in the chart.  It seems that every December/January, DOM increases and prices dip.  Perhaps that’s the best time to buy.

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The Credit Crunch from the Other Side of the Desk

I’ve written a piece as a guest-writer for The Front Steps, one of the better blogs on SF Real Estate.

After talking to loan officers and loan brokers for several weeks about the lending environment, here are the takeaways:

  • Have “perfect everything”:  high credit score, secure job, money in the bank and documentation to prove it all.
  • Figure you’ll be putting down a minimum of 20% as downpayment.
  • For the best long-term rates, to to a retail bank that you have a relationship with.

The complete article is here.

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Cool new blog with an analytical approach

I came across a great post analyzing condo prices in Pacific Heights at  Source of the article is a new blog Inside SF Real Estate, very much of the same philosophy as I believe in:  independent analysis, hard fact, no bs.  I’m adding them to my blogroll today.

They also have a great chart and article focusing on Noe Valley condo and home prices (wish I’d done it first 🙁 ).  Go take a look.  And good luck Arrian!

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