According to the detail behind Redfin’s summary data, the sales volume of single-family homes in San Francisco dropped 26.7 percent on a year-over-year basis last month (from 187 in January 2011 to 137 in January 2012) while condo and townhome sales volume fell 10.1 percent (from 178 in January 2011 to 160 in January 2012).
The median sale price for single-family homes in San Francisco ticked up 3.3 percent year-over-year in January, but the price per square foot fell 6.4 percent. With respect to condos, the median sale price fell 1.6 percent in San Francisco while the price per square foot ticked up 3.0 percent versus January 2011 (down 4.8 percent versus December).
Sellers Still in Control in San Francisco [Redfin]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by eddy

    My informal monitoring of new listings and closed listings parallels the report here. Are we ever going to get Inventory back?

  2. Posted by Lance

    This could be an ominous sign of things to come, but it is January we’re talking about. Isn’t that the lowest volume month of the year…by far? No offense, but this is a bit of a useless data point.

  3. Posted by Lance

    And shouldn’t the name of that Redfin article be Buyers are in control? That’s certainly my take in reading it.

  4. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Lance, that’s my reading as well, but consider the following, ‘graph four:

    January showed it’s still a seller’s market in San Francisco, but not as pronounced as in December. There were 312 single-family homes for sale in San Francisco at the end of January, a 3.3% increase over the previous month, but still a 41.6% drop from January last year.

    Emphasis added. So it seems like they’re hanging that headline off the over 41% year-over-year decrease in homes for sale in addition to the increase in median sale price.

  5. Posted by shza

    I think they just have their terminology backwards/misunderstand basic economics. The paragraph Brahma quotes says that it’s “not as pronounced” a seller’s market as it was in December, when there were *less* homes for sale. I.e., they seem to be equating “seller’s market” with “more supply,” which makes no sense.

  6. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    Sales are down in SF because everyone is moving to good parts of San Mateo and Burlingame to raise their kids. My Zillow Z-estimate is up to $948k after dropping to $824k last year. And that’s even in January.
    A house on my street rented for $4800/mo last month.

  7. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    People who can’t make it in The City have been bailing out to The Peninsula, Marin and Lamorinda forever, this is nothing new JNLB.

  8. Posted by lol

    Yeah, people in, people out, the cycle of any city. Like Jimmy, I also have some samples of totally crazy rents on my street and I am medium/prime SF. This is general to many areas of the BA in particular Marin, SF and the Peninsula. It’s a sign of a very healthy economy along with localized pockets due to IPOs, new tech…
    Lots of people with good pay are moving in. Some people who want more room and cannot afford to move up locally move out. A friend gave me the speech of the plight of the poor 250K/Y couple with 2 kids who just moved out of town so that their kids could have a yard. The question is: where can they go?

  9. Posted by grayorgrey

    While I don’t ever draw too much from one month, the post is about sales in SF down 18.6% YoY and $/sqft -6.4% YoY.
    From that, we get to . . . a sign of a very healthy economy.

  10. Posted by REpornaddict

    Inventory is down over 40% YOY? Wow. Wow.
    No wonder sales are down, with only 312 SFHs on the market, theres only so many that can be sold each month, surely..
    There are lies, damned lies and statistics, and without underlying inventory data, I have my own opinion as to which one of the 3 this report sits..
    There was talk of a return on the inentory report, would love to see it again – any reason why this isn’t being produced any more ed?

  11. Posted by REpornaddict

    Or, as one of the comments on the Redfin post puts it..
    “inventory has shrunk-up tighter than a bulls ass in fly season!”
    couldnt have put it better myself.
    Be good to get that kind of vital info on this site too, though…!

  12. Posted by Legacy Dude

    REtrolladdict, I think a third “wow” in your first post would have conveyed even more feigned melodrama. Just an observation.
    Anyway, the largest bailout in history has nationalized mortgage lending – rates are at record lows. Down payment requirements are also low. Loans are still easy to get.
    Plus now inventory is way down, and the local economy is booming, minting new millionaires on a weekly basis.
    So why aren’t home prices going up? Is everybody waiting for the Facebook IPO to list their places all at once?

  13. Posted by sparky-b

    Places like the Cole street house are why prices aren’t going up. Expensive house that represents the booming ecomony, and newly minted millionaires, but doesn’t show up in this report. Not an apple. Plus the costly $/sq.ft. houses never show how big they are so I think the number is always off on if $/ft is up or down.

  14. Posted by DataDude

    Regarding waiting for Facebook IPO – my understanding is that Facebook employees have been able to liquidate stock options for many years now due to private equity investments. So the idea that their IPO will suddenly unleash thousands of multi-millionaires ready to drive up home prices in SF is false. Even though this is the “drink the Kool-aid” line many realtors are saying. Once the IPO comes employees must still wait 6 months before they can sell. So if a home owner is waiting till the Facebbok millionaires can sell stock on the open market, they’ll be waiting till Thanksgiving.
    So where is all the inventory? Good question. Maybe all the once troubled owners have been able to refi at lower rates. Maybe they found jobs. Is it possible there are fewer realtors in SF, and getting post-Super Bowl inventory staged, photographed and in the MLS is taking longer?
    But why

  15. Posted by [anon.ed]

    You’re welcome to point to a single realtor talking about thousands of multi-millionaires going on a buying spree in SF post FB IPO. Otherwise, I’m hereby setting that strawman ablaze.

  16. Posted by HC

    Well, why would anyone sell if rents are so high? Just sit tight and collectively hope that prices have bottomed and better days are ahead. Problem is the .com bubble 2.0 is about to pop. Earnings calls for public companies are talking again about user count, not revenue, eyeballs, not dollars. When this bubble finally pops, where is Saddam 2.0 to help jumpstart another “recovery”?

  17. Posted by DataBase

    One developer at least…
    “It’s very simple,” Mezhvinsky said when asked how Facebook’s IPO would affect local real estate. “The Facebook IPO will create in an instant multiple millionaires who when they sell their stock to cash out will be looking for higher-end properties in and outside San Francisco.”

  18. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I do not get how the trolls here just keep on repeating the same arguments ad infinitum, seemingly impervious to the world around them. I bought in 2010 for $850k. My neighbors bought a 30% smaller, unrenovated house next door for $825k a year later. The house three doors down was rented for $4800/mo in December.
    I used to be a real estate bear and then I tried actually buying a house. Even FINDING a decent house is tough enough in the sub-$1M price range, everything down here is so old and run down.
    Have any of you people actually been out there and put down real offers on actual, physical houses you would want to live in? Because the way you talk it seems like you just live in a world that has zero basis in reality.
    Inventories for the entire city-state of San Francisco are currently ~312 single-family homes. That’s 300 homes for sale for 750,000 residents. Do the math. The world is not about to end. Its the opposite.

  19. Posted by [anon.ed]

    You’re arguing against yourself in several ways. “In and outside San Francisco” — I think most would find that very likely. He didn’t even limit it to San Francisco, and over 25% of the workforce live in SF after all. But “thousands” was a strawman, and the guy isn’t a realtor either.

  20. Posted by REpornaddict

    “REtrolladdict, I think a third “wow” in your first post would have conveyed even more feigned melodrama. Just an observation.”
    Legacy Dudd,
    Or maybe It should have just capitalized the wow to WOW?
    It wasn’t even that feigned, actually.Was genuinely shocked to see inventory so low (312 SFHs?).
    Usedto rely on the bi-monthly inventory report here, but since thats been gone haven;t really kept an eye on it. Was never sure why it went away,but starting to see now!!

  21. Posted by DataDude

    anon.ed – regarding “buying spree in SF post FB IPO”
    This is from Nina Hatvany’s 2011 newsletter, available on her website, regarding 2012 sales expectations for San Francisco.
    “Several local technology companies are expected to have IPOs this year and the expectation that these will result in new buyers is already driving up sales prices in District 5 (to the South)…”
    My understanding is that Ms. Hatvany is one of the more reputable and professional agents in the City, so I mean no disrespect to her by quoting her newsletter. She’s got a great website, although I do wish under “Properties” she would list the price the home actually sold for, not what it was offered at.
    The point I was trying to make is that some of these companies, Facebook in particular, have been minting millionaires for several years now by offering employees liquidity despite the fact that their company isn’t publicly traded. So many of these Facebook millionaires have already bought homes. The idea that their IPO will create a lot of new buyers sometime this year is not supported by the facts.

  22. Posted by DataBase

    Silicon Valley in California is already known as a high-priced area, but an anticipated crop of new Facebook millionaires is expected to send housing prices even higher.
    “I’m kind of worried — a thousand millionaires are going to be buying houses!” says one buyer looking for a home in the area.

  23. Posted by DataDude

    And why is inventory down? Theories? Trend or blip?

  24. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    The entire world of business, including presumably real estate sales, goes into a virtual coma from mid-December to early January. Things don’t really get going until February typically… just how it is on this continent.

  25. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “And why is inventory down? Theories?”
    – underwater owners unable to sell
    – sellers holding out for a better market
    – zombie “owners” who’ve been foreclosed upon but are squatting until kicked out
    – general self enforced austerity (i.e. no move-up until the economy gets better)

  26. Posted by eddy

    You forgot:
    – Prop 13

  27. Posted by [anon.ed]

    I agree with everything you said in that last post. But that’s all pretty subtle and pretty far from what you wrote with the first series of greatly exaggerated statements.
    And @ DataBase, that was paraphrasing a New York Times article, where the buyer was named. The realtor in that NYT article had a funny title for a book he wrote but was actually pretty measured as to what he expected to see happen in Palo Alto. “Some” will do this, “some” that, etc.

  28. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “The idea that their IPO will create a lot of new buyers sometime this year is not supported by the facts.”
    Why don’t you like “a lot” ? What’s a lot? Have you looked at the filing or read the Facebook flow chart thing? There’s a number of mid 2009 hires who will indeed make a lot of money. What they intend to do with it, who knows? But whether or not you’d consider it “a lot,” I don’t know, but let’s be real and both understand that “a lot” though colloquial is always going to mean a lot less than “thousands, which is what you first flamed/said.

  29. Posted by DataDude

    Well, if you take Hatvany’s “several tech IPOs” times number of employees (hundreds, perhaps thousands) and throw in a few spray paint graffiti artists, I’m not sure my first post was hyperbole.
    Realtors mention the Facebook IPO every chance they get, to both buyers and sellers, to create a frenzy.

  30. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Yes, very scientific and precise stuff. Realtors = buyers, a lot = thousands, some = not factual, people exercising options in secondary markets = IPO is nothing, 2007 = 2009 and later, etc etc. Got it.

  31. Posted by tipster

    Facebook stock on the secondary market actually dropped yesterday. People looked at the registration statement and decided, no thanks.
    Should be fun.

  32. Posted by sparky-b

    Well it would be interesting if the employees hadn’t sold off all their stock years ago. Besides even if some of them still have some of this totally cratered stock left they’ll buy in Palo Alto “not dirty, smelly, gang and bum infested San Francisco”

  33. Posted by curmudgeon

    Lol Tipster. I have no comment on what Facebook stock is actually “worth”, but your example shows a 5% decline in value. That is obviously well within the normal fluctation range of a stock. Sure sounds like folks are running towards the exits!

  34. Posted by astonished

    People with children are not leaving the city because they “cannot make it” here, but because we do not want to raise our children in San Francisco. Why do San Franciscans continue to try to convince themselves that all Bay Areans “would live in the city if they could afford it”?
    I lived in 94123, but after moving up to Mill Valley, I would NEVER move back to San Francisco, nor would my wife and children let me.

  35. Posted by lol

    Yeah, FB being valued at 98B instead of the 75-to-100B original estimated valuation is an ominous sign if there was ever one 😉
    Straws are getting thinner and thinner. Even has more reminiscing and commentary stuff than any kind of hard current data, finding only very little to maintain the permabears in their permagloom.

  36. Posted by tipster

    I assume the Gallup numbers on unemployment shooting right back up will give the bear sites plenty of material.

  37. Posted by lol

    Glad you found a bit of news that can keep you unhappy.

  38. Posted by theinbetweens

    In some ways, I’m most interested in the opinions of the people who would never post here. In general, you get people posting on this site who are religiously bullish or extremely bearish. While it makes for a lively back and forth, I get the feeling that there is almost no information, apples, or date out there that would get people to change their entrenched views.
    There are plenty of apples to apples showing big declines and the bulls just find problems with those and say the decline already happened in the past but we have bottomed and everyone should buy now (or that the apple in question was not one of the two parcels in SF that are the “real SF.”) If I read the opinions above, I would believe that things are booming even though my own search has shown a lot of places on and off the market.
    On the other side the bears dismiss the unique SFH’s that trade higher (given, there are far fewer of these) and if I listen to them, the sky is falling and I should buy some canned food and ammunition.
    My guess is the majority of readers never post and are somewhere in between the extremes. It is kind of funny watching each side call the other side crazy. I don’t get the feeling that anything could possibly happen in this market this year or in the data that each side couldn’t explain away . . .

  39. Posted by looking_to_buy

    I am in the process of looking for a simple 1 bedroom condo in SF with or without parking and there is absolutely nothing on the market at any price range as of the new year.
    Go figure

  40. Posted by tipster

    And Facebook stock falls another 5% in yet another two week period. Can you believe it?
    Someone with a million options at 39.99 went from having options worth ten million dollars four weeks ago to having options worth ten thousand dollars today.
    Woohooo! Ten thousand dollars! I’m rich, I tells ya!

  41. Posted by [anon.ed]

    ^Correlating secondary market directly to IPO directly, predicting the future, hypothetical individual with the precise “Gotcha” strike price, gloating conclusion based upon same? That’s all pretty much nothing.

  42. Posted by tipster

    Facebook dropping four straight weeks is not a good sign, a.e.

  43. Posted by lol

    Oh my. All these FB employees are all gonna qualify for food stamps soon. lol.

  44. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “Facebook dropping four straight weeks is not a good sign, a.e”
    Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, why are you incapable of sitting back and seeing what happens first? You know, before inserting hypothetical individuals with just the WRONG strike price, etc, painting it doom and gloom? You’re an anachronism, Tipster. Your moment in the sun was 2009 and ya blew it. Get with the times dude.

  45. Posted by Rillion

    OMG Facebook’s valuation has fallen all the way to $93 billion? That’s way under its $83.5 billion valuation of January 2012 and the rate of decline from its February 2011 value of $52 billion is just staggering. I mean if it continues that rate of decline yoy it will fall all the way to $166 billion by next year.
    Those poor FB option holders.

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