San Francisco Home Sales and Median Price

The recorded sales volume of single-family homes and condos in San Francisco increased 13.4 percent from 373 in January to 423 in February, which is within 0.3 percentage points of the typical seasonal increase which has averaged 13.1 percent over the past eleven years.

The median sale price for the San Francisco homes that changed hands in February was $1,142,500, down 2.1 percent from the record $1,166,750 in January but 3.9 percent higher versus the same time last year, according to data compiled by Corelogic. The recorded year-over-year gain was the smallest since January 2015 and the second smallest in four years.

Across the entire Bay Area, recorded home sales increased a nominal 0.3 percent January to February and were 0.4 percent higher year-over-year with a median sale price of $609,500, which was down 1.7 percent from January but 5.1 percent higher year-over-year.

And based on 916 sales, which was down 6.4 percent versus the month before, the median sale price in Alameda County was $635,500 in February, relatively unchanged from $635,250 in January but 24.7 percent higher versus February 2015.

Keep in mind that while movements in the median sale price are a great measure of what’s selling, they’re not necessarily a great measure of appreciation or changes in value and are susceptible to changes in mix, as opposed to movements in the Case-Shiller Index.  

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by garrett

    so, we gonna see a massive pop or is it going to be a slow and steady decline? either way, the writing is on the wall…

    • Posted by Jon @ SFBARF

      I guess. It’s still almost a 4% increase year-to-year. Inflation was .7%
      Housing increasing 6x times faster than inflation isn’t exactly a major bust. Even with a big tech correction, its unlikely we will see housing costs grow slower than inflation because we didn’t effectively maximize construction during the boom to create a glut in the market.

      • Posted by garrett

        in other words, if a buyer is on the sidelines until things slow down, chances are they’ll be waiting for something that may not happen or will happen very slowly?

        • Posted by Jon @ SFBARF

          I guess my point was unless the prices go up slower than inflation, it isn’t a “steady decline” of housing costs, but yeah, I see your point 🙂

        • Posted by anon

          People remodel houses for sale, so the median house gets bigger and better. Especially if an area gets richer. An owner holding on to a house doesn’t see the effect of the median price unless they put in maintenance and upgrades. Hanging on to a house for 10 years gives you a 10 year old house. Not the median house of 10 years from now

  2. Posted by REpornaddict

    Is the writing on the wall though?

    One figure always shown in this report – but for some reason not included this month – is the YOY change for Home Sales for SF.

    This was up 33% for March vs the same time last year…

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Ever since acquiring DQNews, CoreLogic has been revising historic data left and right.

      While the reported sales volume last month is 33 percent higher than the sales volume as reported last February (not March), we won’t report the year-over-year number until we have the revised number in hand, as we already do for the Bay Area as a whole (up 0.4 percent) as reported above.

  3. Posted by Frank C.

    Forget trailing RE stats, look at jobs statistics. You can bet on decline arriving (how much? localities? 10 to 30% real? who knows?) after it becomes clear that big companies are doing layoffs, and especially when office inventory starts to pile up.

    If one is waiting on the sidelines, key thing is interest rates and monthly payments. If you want to stay long term in the area and can afford to buy now, why not buy now? Wait and pay tens of thousands in rent for a few extra years just to save…..several tens of thousands with a reduced purchase price? Could easily be a wash. Prices are sticky on way down, so I’d bet that even if there are big declines, they don’t happen for 2 to 4 years.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Better to buy at a lower price and high interest rate, because you can always refinance later.

  4. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for a massive price decline in SF. I’m not seeing it at all yet – just a slowing down of the rate of increase, but still increases.

    If one wants to look at history as a guidepost, one might consider the prior dot-com boom. That busted very, very hard, with hundreds of companies closing shop over a short period of time in 2001-02 and SF losing tens of thousands of residents in an equally short time. And yet home prices declined maybe 5-6% for about a year or a little more. (Note that rents declined more). Silicon Valley had an even bigger bust, and also saw pretty modest home price declines.

    The 2008 crash in home prices was far worse, of course – maybe 30% and running about 4 years. But that is because the bubble was in homes themselves, so when that bubble popped it did result in the bubble product crashing hard.

    It is not a certainty that the new tech trend will “pop” at all. But even if it were to do so, 2001-02 would be a better model for the likely impact on local home prices. Home sales volume has been pretty low for many years in SF. The hundred thousand new SF residents did not all buy homes. For the most part, they’ve rented. If and when we see a “pop” and they go home, they are not going to be dumping tens of thousands of homes on the market to sell. Now we certainly could (nb: not will, but could) see a price drop and a sustained “valley” for several years, which is why I’ve been cautioning that one should probably not buy unless one could weather that. But I just don’t see conditions set up for a big housing price plummet like we saw in 2008-11 even if we see the new internet bubble bursting. Rents, on the other hand, could see a big decline.

    • Posted by EBGuy

      How about the 1990’s bust. Down over 10% (eventually), with “hope Springs eternal” (referring to the spring selling season), only to be followed by slightly lower lows.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      And there’s a huge difference between the 2002 bust and today. Those companies were completely built on nothing. Profits, revenue, they were all bad.

      Today we have Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. Huge revenues, large profits, and they’re not going away. Neither are AirBnb or Uber or Salesforce

      • Posted by anon

        Apple & Google were around in 2002. And large profits for AirBnb, Uber & Salesforce? Think again.

        • Posted by SFRealist

          Split adjusted, Apple was at about $1:60 in 2002. Google’s IPO was in 2004. Today they’re both worth over $500B. Do you honestly not see the difference? (Facebook is worth $300B)

          I didn’t say large profits for AirBnb, Uber, or Salesforce. I said they’re not going away.

          • Posted by anon

            There were plenty of companies back then that had revenue but no profit just like today. Some solid companies were on the rise and some on the fall. Google was profitable pre-ipo in 2002. What’s different today is the large post IPO valuations of profitless companies.

            And options don’t live in home, people do. Just like back then, there are scores of wannabe unicorns flying under the radar employing scores of people. And large companies aren’t immune from downsizing during downturns. Boom & Bust has being going on in the Valley for longer than these last two cycles.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            And I assume you are aware that BOTH Apple and Google are worth more than ALL of the unicorns in San Francisco, but you think that doesn’t matter either.

          • Posted by Jake

            yeah, and there are many many major SV tech companies that are still not worth as much as they were in 2000, Intel, Oracle, and Cisco for example. FWIW, the NASDAQ is still lower than it was in 2000 inflation adjusted, as are SF commercial rents (~25% lower than they were in 2000 inflation adjusted). I wonder if the total market cap for all bay area tech companies is greater now than in March 2000 inflation adjusted. The VC funding levels are certainly much lower, so they have less risk.

          • Posted by anon

            Are you really arguing that in order for there to be a retreat of housing prices/rents every single company has to be a revenueless, profitless shell? Both Apple & Google were around and doing well during the post dot com rent bust and the 2007 housing bust. Are you expecting these companies to use their market cap to buy/rent vacant units to prop up prices if a downturn occurs?
            In a thinly traded market like SF it doesn’t take many either way to move prices.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            No. What I am saying is that in order for there to be a significant retreat on home prices, there must be a weakness in the large companies where most people work. Not the ones where relatively few people work. Apple was NOT doing well in 2002 and Google employed a couple of hundred people. They WILL use their market cap to prop up the market. Not by buying real estate, but by paying their employees.

          • Posted by anon

            Both Google & Apple had 10’s of thousands of employees and large profits in 2008 leading into the housing bust.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Great, sounds like you’re in agreement with me on the 2002.

            2008 is different because like someone said earlier, the whole entire boom was built on stupid housing loans.

          • Posted by anon

            No, I was assuming you were confused since you were talking home prices and 2008 was the housing decline with 2002 more of a rent decline. But regardless, they didn’t prevent the post dot com rent drop round 2002 nor the housing bubble bust round 2008 and it’s unlikely they would do so in the future.
            There’s plenty of headcount in the profitless sector to swing the housing market one way or the other.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            In 2002 they did not exist in anything like their current form

            In 2008 they were much smaller. Apple was under $25; Google about $200. And the crash in 2008 was indeed due to a bubble. In fact, most of the economic growth before that was caused by the same bubble. Neither Google nor Apple (nor Facebook, etc) is a bubble.

          • Posted by anon

            Nothing is exactly the same in 2016 as in 2008 as in 2002. But they, and other companies, were real and profitable but prevented neither the rent bust nor the housing bust.

            Employees of large profitable companies just don’t go out and buy/rent RE to fill the hole created by large numbers of failing companies.

            The real question is not if one or two good companies can prevent a bust, but are there even one or two companies that good this time around? Google was profitable pre-IPO, many companies now are not profitable post-IPO. The iPhone was introduced in 2007, right into the housing bust, does any unicorn now have a product with anywhere near that potential?

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            anon and SFrealsit, what about the other 93% of jobs that are not tech. healthcare is booming for instance,

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Good point. I focused on the big tech companies who are healthy and employ thousands of people, while Anon seems hung up on the tiny companies who employ relatively few people. But healthcare is booming and is also a strong driver of our housing prices

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            And this all goes to the point I made above. In the very, very big dotcom 1.0 crash, about 50,000 people in SF lost their jobs (unemployment rate tripled from 2.5% to 7.5%), and tens of thousands left town. And yet housing prices did not take an enormous hit – maybe 5 or 6%. If (a big if) we were to see a crash of the latest tech mania, I don’t see why the result on housing prices would be any different this time. Could be bigger, I suppose, but I don’t see any basis for people to plan on scooping up huge bargains should that tech crash come.

          • Posted by Jake

            Bob, in the years after the dotcom crash housing prices declined ~5%, residential rents declined ~25%, commercial rents declined ~50%. There were plenty of good deals on commercial property after the dotcom crash. That’s when the Academy of Art made their big move into SoMa.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Jake, good points. I was just talking about residential property selling prices. No doubt that a new major tech crash could have a bigger impact on residential and commercial rents and commercial property values. Frankly, it seems a little weird to me that we had just a disconnect after the crash of dotcom 1.0 between housing prices and these other real estate metrics. But that was, in fact, the case.

          • Posted by anon

            “I focused on the big tech companies who are healthy and employ thousands of people, while Anon seems hung up on the tiny companies who employ relatively few people”

            You both claimed that this wave of companies is more substantial then the first dot com and that the presence of large companies could forestall a housing/rent bust. Both of which I disproved, you merely caved quicker on the “Those companies were build on nothing” claim.

          • Posted by anon

            “healthcare is booming for instance,”

            But what’s the wage of the bulk of these jobs? Isn’t the trend towards more care being delivered by lower level less credentialed staff?

            If you’re talking bio-tech/health-tech, many of those companies are in the same boat as tech startups as far as profits and business model. The Theranos story is interesting to look at and Castlight Health is a cautionary tale about healthcare hype.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            biotech is much different from tech. there are 10 successful start-ups developing high quality drugs for every 1 theranos. there were 15 biotech IPOS in bay area in past 15 months. large liquidity events.

            castlight is tech, not biotech. Hospitals are also making money hand over fists.

          • Posted by anon

            Even large established drug companies have a very high failure rate for taking drugs from lab notebook to market. And they tend to favor conservative approaches.

            If you think that the success:fail ratio for bio-tech startups trying radical innovation is 10:1, you are very very mistaken.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            ive spent 20 yrs in biotech and in a VP level seat now, so am an expert. no one said the failure rate was low, so not sure where you got that. The chance that a drug in Phase 1 gets to market is 10%, its 25% for current products in phase 2 and about 45% for those in phase 3. There are a lot of phase 2 products in biotech in the bay area now, and over the 50+ innovative drugs in Bay Area pipeline, that’s 10+ that will make it to market. Valuations are very high right now, and a ton of money has been made on equity events. the median biotech salary is about $140K, but ~20% of the jobs pay $200K or more, and there are generous bonuses and all get options. Big pharma is a different story, but Bay Area is not a BP place.

            Physicians as well are extremely overpaid IMHO, and the Bay Area has a very large hospital/medical car infratructure.

            you may be qualified to speak about the 7% of jbs that are tech (although i highly doubt it based on your comments), but its clear you don’t know healthcare. there is also tourism, which broke all records for 2015 and legal/ financial industries which are seriously kicking butt right now.

            does anyone know what % of tech jobs are at companies generating more than $100M in REVENUE? Profit is not the key indicator, as Saleforce is doing extremely well, but is unprofitable (ON PURPOSE). The market favors growth stories over profit and always has in innovation industries (as long as significant revenue is being generated)

          • Posted by anon

            Since this is the internet, you could be in a VP seat or in a booster seat for all anyone knows, so let’s look at some data.

            This site helpfully aggregates IPO data for both tech and biotech. Looking at table 4b the % of Biotech IPO that have been profitable for each of the past 6 years is: 0%, 7%, 10%, 0%, 0%, 0%
            The median sales for biotech IPOS: ($M) 0,0,11,1,3,0
            (67% showed profit in 2009, but there were only 3 IPO’s total)

            Both profit % and sales numbers are substantially worse for biotech than for tech in the comparable time period. So regardless of where you are sitting, your argument that biotech IPO’s are in a better financial position than tech IPO’s is incorrect.

            “The market favors growth stories over profit and always has in innovation industries (as long as significant revenue is being generated)”

            Agreed that many tech and bio-tech companies are really growth stories and not solid companies. And that during some time periods the market falls in love with growth stories. And some growth stories ( Goolgle, iPhone) actually do make good on their promise of growth.

            But the market’s appetite for growth stories can wax and wane. And there’s not much distance between a zero revenue money losing biotech and a zero revenue money losing tech company when that market interest wanes.

      • Posted by Sabbie

        All of those companies were around in 2009-2011 when the housing market tanked and dragged bottom and have little to do with the bubble today. This latest run-up is due low interest rates creating a combination of front running ponzi type financing and irrational exuberance in the private funding arena.

        These unicorn companies are no more profitable then their dot com counterparts, they rely on giving away their products basically for free in order to generate massive user growth to attracts new investors, so that the original investors can leave someone else holding the bag. These companies are even worse actually, because they can’t even go public at this point, everyone knows the emperor has no clothes and they are running out of greater fools.

    • Posted by anon

      “Frankly, it seems a little weird to me that we had just a disconnect after the crash of dotcom 1.0 between housing prices and these other real estate metrics. But that was, in fact, the case.”

      See moto mayhem’s post about ‘The Big Short’ regarding this.

      Relaxed lending and/or government intervention are very powerful forces that can, at least in the short term, forestall a housing price drop.

  5. Posted by moto mayhem

    JR Dobbs said “If one wants to look at history as a guidepost, one might consider the prior dot-com boom. That busted very, very hard, with hundreds of companies closing shop over a short period of time in 2001-02 and SF losing tens of thousands of residents in an equally short time. And yet home prices declined maybe 5-6% for about a year or a little more. (Note that rents declined more). Silicon Valley had an even bigger bust, and also saw pretty modest home price declines.”

    watch The Big Short. you will understand why. basically ninja loans were seperated from reality of economy.

  6. Posted by anon

    “It is not a certainty that the new tech trend will “pop” at all.”

    Turns out it’s easy to get customers by selling a dollar for fifty cents. Hard to make a profit that way though and hard to keep those customers when you try and charge $1.15. Especially in low margin businesses: “Not everything can be Uber-ized: on-demand economy faltering

  7. Posted by soccermom

    @eddy – What are you working on right now? Are you able to source any decent-return projects in San Francisco? Certainly more difficult than 2 years ago, at least in my experience.

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