S&P/Case-Shiller Index Change: February 2012 (www.SocketSite.com)
According to the February 2012 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, single-family home prices in the San Francisco MSA fell 0.7% from January 2012 to February 2012, down 4.1% year-over-year, down 42.9% from a peak in May 2006.
For the broader 10-City composite (CSXR), home values fell 1.0% from January to February, down 3.8% year-over-year, down 35.1% from a June 2006 peak.

“While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvement in many annual rates of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly-speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early months of the year,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.

Nine MSAs — Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – and both Composites hit new post-crisis lows. Atlanta continued its downward spiral, posting its lowest annual rate of decline in the 20-year history of the index at -17.3%. The 10-City Composite declined 3.6% and the 20-City was down 3.5% compared to February 2011.

On a month-over-month basis, prices fell across all three San Francisco price tiers.
S&P/Case-Shiller Index San Francisco Price Tiers: February 2012 (www.SocketSite.com)
The bottom third (under $297,895 at the time of acquisition) fell a nominal 0.1% from January to February (down 3.2% YOY); the middle third fell a nominal 0.2% from January to February (down 3.7% YOY); and the top third (over $537,349 at the time of acquisition) fell 1.2% from January to February, down 1.7% year-over-year (versus 2.6% in January).
According to the Index, single-family home values for the bottom third of the market in the San Francisco MSA have dropped below May 2000 levels having fallen 60% from a peak in August 2006, the middle third has dropped to February 2002 levels having fallen 43% from a peak in May 2006, and the top third has dropped to July 2003 levels having fallen 29% from a peak in August 2007.
Condo values in the San Francisco MSA fell 1.5% from January ’11 to February ’12, down 6.4% year-over-year, down 38.8% from a December 2005 peak.
S&P/Case-Shiller Condo Price Changes: February 2012 (www.SocketSite.com)
Our standard SocketSite S&P/Case-Shiller footnote: The S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices include San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda in the “San Francisco” index (i.e., greater MSA) and are imperfect in factoring out changes in property values due to improvements versus appreciation (although they try their best).
Nine Cities and Both Composites Hit New Lows in February 2012 [Standard & Poor’s]
S&P/Case-Shiller San Francisco: Homes Slip, Condos Dip In January [SocketSite]

54 thoughts on “S&P/Case-Shiller San Francisco: Home/Condo Prices Dropped In Feb”
  1. Clearly Mr. Case and Mr: Shiller, like the Socketsite editor, merely cherry picks the properties in this report.
    And I hear the Case Shiller report is produced on a busy street.

  2. I don’t think this means much honestly, and I’m surprised about the bearish spin on the numbers by CS — starting to question their motives. The 0.7% drop from Jan to Feb isn’t atypical (normally the two month’s are flat), and these are two of the lowest volume months of the year, so I don’t think they are indicative of much. The dataquick numbers seem to be stabilizing at the very least, so I wouldn’t be surprised to say an uptick in the CS stats next month (as they tend to lag). If that happens, I’m guessing we won’t see many comments like the one above. Some of these same snarky posters were conspicuously absent on the two threads from last week that showed appreciation on purchases.

  3. Lance, as has been pointed out many time, CS numbers lag dataquick, because they are actually a three month average. Would not be at all surprised to see CS stabilize soon.

  4. It’s never a straight shot down, Lance. Even a dog like Zynga went up for a while. That didn’t make it less of a dog, it just made it an even more overpriced one.
    A blip up, even a longer term shift up, doesn’t make any difference. The fundamentals always win.
    All these people losing their life’s savings on SF real estate daily? They didn’t get that when they bought, but they sure learned it when they sold!
    Invest wisely. You can lose everything. Zynga went up, up, up. Didn’t matter. If you see SF real estate prices go up, look at the fundamentals. Prices. Incomes. Market based (not manipulated) interest rates and prudent (not relaxed) loan standards.
    Manipulated interest rates won’t last forever, just like imprudent loan standards didn’t last forever, destroying the life savings of many of the people who thought imprudent loan standards would last forever or ignored their effects and the fact that they could not last. One has been substituted for the other to cushion the blow.
    Low interest rates didn’t help in Japan and it cannot help here forever. It causes too many distortions.
    Japan was not a straight shot down. Zynga was not a straight shot down. But down they went.
    If you see Zynga rising, Think! That’s how you end up in a comfortable retirement. Following the herd, or panicking is how you end up broke.

  5. As was pointed out above, the CS index is for February (and is actually a rolling 3 month avg) where as DQ numbers were for March.
    Additionally, DQ is publishing a MEDIAN (which tends to hide price declines) and CS is not.

    The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are published on the last Tuesday of each month at 9:00 am ET. They are constructed to accurately track the price path of typical single-family homes located in each metropolitan area provided. Each index combines matched price pairs for thousands of individual houses from the available universe of arms-length sales data. The S&P/Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index tracks the value of single-family housing within the United States. The index is a composite of single-family home price indices for the nine U.S. Census divisions and is calculated quarterly. The S&P/Case-Shiller Composite of 10 Home Price Index is a value-weighted average of the 10 original metro area indices. The S&P/Case-Shiller Composite of 20 Home Price Index is a value-weighted average of the 20 metro area indices. The indices have a base value of 100 in January 2000; thus, for example, a current index value of 150 translates to a 50% appreciation rate since January 2000 for a typical home located within the subject market.

  6. Rather than seeing SFH prices down 42.9% from peak, I’m seeing them roughly at about bubble peak. So of course the charts above include vast areas that are not in San Francisco, but still it seems that the difference between reality and these charts so radical that it makes the charts nonsense.
    In other words, the single family houses in PH, Noe Valley, Russian HIll, etc. are at or near bubble price peaks. Go to the open houses on Sunday and you’ll see what I mean. By contrast these charts tell us that the San Francisco “area” is down 42.9%. It’s just absurd, reality vs. charts.

  7. Funny how everyone is slavishly believeing the CS index again, but when it was showing pretty much 20% YOY gaibns a few years ago, the index was pretty much discredited and debunked on here.

  8. who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?
    SF MLS data for March showed medians and averages were were down from last year. Case Shiller shows the same thing. But the reel-uh-ters assure us that “really” prices are up!

  9. “SF MLS data for March showed medians and averages were were down from last year. Case Shiller shows the same thing”
    If you can show me where Case Shiller shows SF down for March..please..
    Two schoolboy errors..
    1) The Case Shiller is the SF MSA,notSF itself
    2) This is January, not March data, so Case Shiller doesn’t show SF down for March.
    No wonder I don’tcome here much these days..the standard and level of intelligence of posters is down. Way down.

  10. Mr. reel-uh-ter, don’t worry! After the mediocre March MLS data, I’m sure that Case Shiller will reflect huge gains in March because, you know, the market is HOT! (and I know this because the reel-uh-ters say so)

  11. unwarrantedinlaw, have you considered that perhaps single family houses in Pacific Heights, Noe Valley and Russian Hill don’t constitute a statistically significant portion of the greater MSA’s home population? I mean, how many homes in those neighborhoods change hands at arms length in a three month period?

  12. I think we are in a loooong bottoming process in prices (we hit sales bottom last year). A bottoming process is never clear, but in prior downturns, price bottoms usually happen a couple years after sales bottoms. A couple of things to note, though. SA CS numbers actually rose a bit this month for our region. Don’t think that means anything, just emphasizing it can be a very mixed-bag analysis. YOY non-seasonally adjusted number decline %’s are decreasing. Distressed sales are decreasing as a percentage of all sales, although still very significant. Rents are trending up fairly strongly, and are beginning to nibble at the margins of the buy/rent decision for people willing to compromise on location. Barring a flood of new foreclosures/distressed sales or a fresh economic downturn, I think we may see the first YOY positive comparative in CS around the Spring 2013 time frame.
    If indeed 2013 turns out to be the bottom in prices, that would make it 7 years after the peak. In the 1989-90 much smaller bubble, price bottom in CS came 3.5 years after peak and then meandered for a couple more years, but marginally up. Seems about right to me. Real prices (after inflation) will probably be flat from 2013 through 2016-17 at least. That translates to 16 years of zero real gain in housing prices in the Bay Area. YMMV.

  13. – the last housing bust saw prices falling for 6 years from 1990-1995 and prices finally rising in the 7th year in 1996.
    – eyeballing it shows around 15% drop in 6 years or 2.5% drop/year.
    – we can also see on the year-over-year CS chart
    * a large drop the first year in 1990
    * a large pseudo recovery in 1991(dead cat bounce)
    * then a couple years of smallish 2% declines in 1992-1993.
    i do expect to see similar patterns (although at different scales and different time frames) for this RE bust. indeed, we have already seen:
    * a large drop in 2007
    * the pseudo recovery/dead cat bounce in 2009-2010
    * 2011 to present(2012) smallish 3%-4% declines
    this much larger housing bust has seen prices dropping for 7 years from 2006-2012.
    if the smaller bubble took 6 years, this bubble should see prices fall for at least a few more years.
    i’m going to go out on a limb and predict smallish declines (much like the tail end of the RE bust in the 1990s) for the next 3-4 years.
    the index will likely turn positive some months (on a year over year basis), but on average i expect the index to be slightly negative over this period (1%-4% decline).

  14. “[S]ingle-family home prices in the San Francisco MSA…down 42.9% from a peak in May 2006….”
    “According to the Index, single-family home values for the bottom third of the market in the San Francisco MSA have dropped below May 2000 levels having fallen 60% from a peak in August 2006, the middle third has dropped to February 2002 levels having fallen 43% from a peak in May 2006, and the top third has dropped to July 2003 levels having fallen 29% from a peak in August 2007.”
    “Condo values in the San Francisco MSA… down 6.4% year-over-year, down 38.8% from a December 2005 peak.”
    The dates that prices have been rolled back to in the greater SF area seem about right to me, but the percentage declines from peak seem a bit high. I think that’s mostly because, living in the better areas of the SF MSA, many posters including myself underestimate just how crazy prices got for the lower quality properties and neighborhoods.
    All in all, though, a great report and a welcome reminder that the bubble is not done deflating yet.

  15. about that “large number” of Noe houses:
    there have only been 47 Noe single family house sales all year. Out of about 1600 total home sales in SF. But if you ignore the lowest-performing 97+% of the market, the results look really great!

  16. Large is apt, for Noe. 47 sales over 4 1/2 months is brisk. Noe saw 25 sales for $671 psqft 1/1/11 – 4/24/11, and has seen 47 for $$740 psqft so far this year. (And it was 31 for $666 in 2010, 22 for $685 in 2009.

  17. Of course, it all depends on one’s perspective, I agree.
    The ave. Noe V house is selling for 103% of asking. Not that that’s a world shattering record, but I try not to take too much stock in the C/S index. Lots of micro-hoods are doing pretty well.

  18. Hoo boy, the cheerleaders are trying to get ANY other metric used other than ones that matter.
    So we have “Open houses are packed” metric, and “percent of asking” metric as an indicator of house prices, as if those metrics mean anything at all?
    Thanks, I think I’ll stick with Case Shiller for now. Slightly down for the period covered seems about right. Some up, some down, average, down.

  19. Guess it depends on your definition of “lots”. Trying to define the market by the few exceptions seems pointless. Yes, some specific types of properties in specific locations might be doing okay but overall the market is continuing to sink.

  20. tipster,
    I am almost certain you would not want to purchase in areas that have actually witnessed the typical San Francisco Area CS drop. That’s the whole issue I think. But are you actually interested in purchasing or are you simply venting your frustration? A totally different matter…

  21. I don’t think having an opinion is pointless. And some of the so called “metrics” that others follow, including myself, do matter.
    Packed open houses do matter. So does “over asking”.
    I’ve always been a Noe booster and continue to do so. Others can believe other points of view.

  22. according to that website someone posted the other day, in March, d5 houses sold for 101.9% of asking with sales down 5.9% from last year. d10 houses sold for 102.1% of asking with sales up 40.5% from last year.
    The obvious conclusion: d10 is HOT, HOT, HOT!
    No statistics on open-house-crowdedness, so I’ll take your word on that one.

  23. The CS index pretty much blows when it comes to evaluating San Francisco real estate. Look, as a potential buyer with too much cash earning me a whopping 1.2% in my rocking CD I would love the SF market to be in the dumbs with plenty of decent finds. But it just isn’t happening… anybody wh has been out there knows. Maybe in Hayward, maybe in Martinez, maybe in Union City or whatever other place falls under the CS “Metro Area” of SF, but not in SF. It’s not… It’s a crappy metric for SF.

  24. But if you have adequate cash and believe in D10, then buy a fixer, gut it, renovate it and you’ll do well.
    There are 3 full on renos right now on Sanchez St. going on. The potential is still there for growth and good roi. There are a handful of full renos on Diamond St.
    The PPI: (contractor porta potty index) is way up these days.

  25. well, to slightly defend the “packed open house” and “over asking” indicators, they would be leading indicators which is something that the case-shiller is not.

  26. Yes, they are leading indicators–of nothing.
    Take any house that was purchased today after a nearly empty open house (say because it was overpriced). Put it right back on the market tomorrow for $800,000 less than the buyer paid for it, and viola! Packed open house and it will go for over asking.
    Did the price go up in one day? Nope.
    Leading indicator of nothing. Leading indicator of how low the meaningless “list” price was.
    List prices can be artificially set to be too low. An indicator that can be manipulated is no indicator at all.

  27. If houses are selling slightly over asking, that indicates listing agents are doing a good job of setting the price at a realistic level so that it will move quickly, which lowers carrying costs, staging costs, etc. for their client, the seller.
    Even in the hot areas D5 and D7, it seems we have a very bifurcated market. If something is nicely remodeled and priced right, it sells quickly. If not, it languishes on the market. Eventually the price is reduced, or it’s removed from the market for “improvements,” and returned. Some houses have literally been on and off the MLS for the last several years without a buyer.
    The CS index only factors in houses that have actually SOLD, not the large ugly under-belly of inventory: the over-priced remodels, the rotting grand dames grossly in need of face lifts and hip replacements, the delisted ones waiting on the sideline.
    Nor does the CS index directly take in to account mortgage interest rates, that Ben and friends are actively trying to keep at record lows. So even if an apple sells at the same price as when it was purchased 3 years ago, the monthly “price” in terms of mortgage payment has gone down considerably.

  28. “The CS index only factors in houses that have actually SOLD, not the large ugly under-belly of inventory: the over-priced remodels, the rotting grand dames grossly in need of face lifts and hip replacements, the delisted ones waiting on the sideline.”
    “If something is nicely remodeled and priced right, it sells quickly”, or is “removed from the market for “improvements,” and returned” they won’t show up in CS either.

  29. There are a number of houses that were remodeled in 2007, 2008 and purchased, that are back on the market a few years later. Wouldn’t those show up in CS Index?

  30. “…the rotting grand dames grossly in need of face lifts and hip replacements…”
    Love this metaphor, DataDude.
    Another angle to look at the unsold properties is that SF contains a higher proportion of owners who don’t have the same compulsion to sell as “normal” owners who must sell their current place to finance the next. The sheer volume of vacant prime properties is an indicator.

  31. DataDude, your synopsis of D5 + D7 is the most accurate one I’ve seen from a layman on here. But I’d also point out that the other languishing properties are ones that were priced aggressively four, five, six years ago, and still sold for more or at asking even though the pricepoint wasn’t merited. Flash forward to today. Their sellers have little choice but to list at “get me out of jail” prices, and the market is objecting to such maneuvers. (Unless the property is impeccable.) This common scenario is when “list price matters.”

  32. Thank you, sparky-b, for the clarification. And you’re right I was throwing some oranges in to the CS apple basket when in fact I should not have.
    Perhaps another way to look at it is the “spread” between apples and newly remodeled oranges (which sell quickly if priced right and aren’t factored in to CS drop), is growing wider. It’s more attractive to be a developer today than it was in 2006, because the spread is wider.

  33. It was, until gutted Noe fixers starting getting 7 offers and going at $1.4M. It isn’t attractive to develop if the buy gets really high again.

  34. Well you see you make money on the difference between what you sell for and the costs to buy and remodel. The bigger the purchase cost the less the profit (plus it is compounded as it creates a bigger tax and mortgage payment as well).

  35. Yes. And…
    When you buy something, fix it up, then get $400k more than you asking, seems to me you’ve done pretty well. Of course, there are no guarantees, but I don’t see how, say in the next 10 years, you could go wrong with buying a fixer in Noe, and selling it for a decent profit.
    The housing stock here is pretty old, and house by house, block by block, these 100 year old homes are going to need foundations, and full new systems, especially for the new, young, well to do families/partners looking to move here.

  36. You’re viewing everything through the prism of 1566 Sanchez right now, seems like. The point is that if they paid 1.4M for it instead of 850K it wouldn’t have been that good of a return.

  37. futurist, sparky-b (and various partners) have sold two rehabilitated/remodeled properties in Noe this past year. The fact that he ain’t buying says something (at least to me).

  38. futurist,
    You have some assumptions in your post…”then get $400k more than you asking” and “I don’t see how you could go wrong with buying a fixer in Noe, and selling it for a decent profit.”
    Of course selling for $400K over asking and selling for a profit are awesome. But that is by no means guaranteed. And in my example the $1.4M was for the fixer, it wasn’t fixed up.
    A $1.4M fixer that needs $900K to be a $2.5M house and will take 2 years to do so is not a good investment and there is no profit. You lose money.

  39. @spark-b:
    1. And yes, I said “there are no guarantees”.
    2. I was referring to 1466 Sanchez, that I mentioned in earlier posts, that sold for $2.5m, 400k over asking.
    There are two other properties just up the block on Sanchez near 27th; both are getting fully re-built from foundation to roof. Those are the kind of examples I am referring to, and there are many more in Noe.

  40. I don’t think any of those bought at the recent prices that are getting crazy again. Plus at least one of those on Sanchez is not gonna be for sale, it’s for visiting the grandkids.

  41. I have been looking at Redfin listings which really show a dearth of inventory, but the other day I noticed quite a few properties advertised on craigslist and on the RE agents websites which are not on Redfin. Is that common or a recent trend and if so why? Is the goal to artificially create a shortage of inventory? Or is it just a lag in the time before they are listed on MLS (and consequently Redfin)?

  42. anon.ed and futurist–one important point to clarify…1566 sanchez sold for 2.8mm, not 2.4mm (as suggested in posts above). Zillow shows a sale in May 2008 for $850k. massive return, even given the long hold and money spent on refurb. hard to see how sales prices that have hovered during most of 2012 around $950psf in Noe for renovated, “family ready” houses in the core won’t continue to attract the spec contractor hordes willing to roll the dice on similar outcomes.

  43. no_valley,
    You make my point perfectly. 1566 Sanchez was bought for $850K and took almost 4 years to complete and sell.
    55 Fountain just sold for $1.4M. I don’t think it will be worth as much at sale (if it were bought by a developer, which it was not). I would guess $2.5M. But even if it got $2.8M it would not be worth it.
    It is going to cost $120K a year to carry. Say it takes 3 years. $360K. That is only the purchase not the construction loan. That costs you another $80K+.
    The sale costs you $200K in agents, closing, transfer and staging.
    So it’s $2.8M -$1.4M-$800K (construction)-$360K-80K-$200K…so at that point you have lost $40K, plus I didn’t even put the architect, the engineer, or the permits in and I only used a $800K budget.
    And again that is if it gets $2.8M and the market stays hot,hot,hot for 3years way after the super duper facebook IPO money is spent.
    Now $800-$850K for good D5 with upside, like they got at Sanchez, is still worth it.

  44. sparky–will be interesting to watch 55 Fountain…my sources tell me it’s lining up to be a quick flip, so will be interesting to watch what happens there. A few bad assumptions in the Sanchez case vs Fountain:
    1) Sanchez was bought at exactly the wrong time, circa 2008 dip. So it made no sense to plow money back into the fix up until it was clear (or at least seemed) market was on path to recovery. That’s why it took 4 years of hold time–it wasn’t one contractor pounding one nail a day for 4 years. With Fountain you’ll have maybe 6-9 months of refurb time, tops
    2) Related to (1)…financing cost calculation in your example is just silly. Sure, if the property were held for say 10 years they’d pay $1mm in “financing cost” and lose everything. Or for 100 years it would be $10mm+. In the current market, contractors can and will flip things quickly, so take the finance cost down to maybe 20% of your estimate.
    Net net, I could see a property like 55 Fountain getting turned around in 6 mos tops; construction cost of $500k, transaction costs of $150k, financing cost of $50k, sold at $2.8mm = $700k profit. Even if a lower clearing price, still plenty of profit potential. Hence the high PPI (PortaPotty Index) all over Noe these days…there’s money to be made.

  45. no_valley,
    The seller told me he was not selling to a developer, but that was before it was all said and done. We’ll see.
    I bid the project as it stands which is a 2/2 up and 1/1 at the yard. $500K after permits. That house will not get you anywhere near $2.5M.
    To get the $2.5M to $2.8M house you need to square off the top floor and do an addition. SO you need to design and permit that, which will take 8 months. That is the timeline I worked into the carry. Contractors may want to flip things quickly, I know I do, but the planning and building departments don’t care if you want to move quickly.
    I think the financing costs are legit, or if not you can look at it as opportunity cost.
    55 Fountain can only be turned around in 6 months if it remains 2200 feet. If it gets $925/ft for that it will get $2M and change.

  46. sparky–i know some of the people working on Fountain, so guess we’ll just wait and see what happens up there. don’t forget on that slope east of fountain it’s easy to go down and add space below. related: i walked by the “garage” being added to the remodel on 23rd near diamond and was shocked at the ~30′ excavation below street level and all the way to the back yard. look for that formerly ~1200sq ft hobbit house to end up at 3000+ with newly added subterranean space. i could see something similar at Fountain. but again, let’s mark our calendars to circle back in 6-9mos on Fountain and see where we are.

  47. As Sparky has pointed out I don’t think it’s possible to expand the envelope (front or back or up or down) in six months.. Not in this city.

  48. no_valley,
    Sounds like a plan, check back here in 6-9. I did count 500 feet down with a bed and a bath into my 2200. The may try to get some “infill under existing” space to grab a bit more, but that needs notification now too I think.

  49. Infill, or remodeling of existing space does not need 311 notification. Stay within the envelope and it’s a much easier permit.
    You can also “infill” and existing rear corner provided it aligns with the existing construction and height. You can also “infill” area below an exterior deck (into habitable space) provided the deck is not greater than 12′-0″ above existing grade.
    I’ve done that on several projects with fairly easy permits.

  50. Right totally agree. The case here is that the space under the sunroom which is on posts is well over 12′ above grade.

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