With a little over 100 homes listed for sale in San Francisco last week, more or less matching the number of homes sold, the overall inventory of homes for sale in the city is relatively unchanged versus the week before but is currently running around 12 percent lower on a year-over-year basis as the number of new listings since the beginning of September has not kept pace with the year(s) before.

The number of listings for buildings with two or more units, however, is at its highest point in over a year and is running 10 percent higher than at the same time last September, likely driven in part by fears of the proposed anti-speculation tax known as Proposition G.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by eddy

    Is Prop G retroactive; or only applicable to new sales post the prop passing. Either way, not sure 10% is statistically significant on such low numbers. But good to bring this important ballot measure to the top of the press cycle. Many people I know in the industry are freaking out over the potential of this passing. Seems like low probability but in this city who knows.

  2. Posted by soccermom

    My understanding is that the tax is retroactive in that it would be applicable to all sales from the date of Prop G passage forwards. An owner’s purchase date is irrelevant.

    I think the odds of the measure passing are actually quite high. “Stop the Housing Tax” doesn’t seem very important if you’re not the person paying it. Not unlike the No-Wall-On-The-Waterfront measure In a mid-cycle election with low voter turnout, given the demographics of the city (long time renters vs. perceived arrivistes and flippers) the default majority choice is to defend the status quo.

    Look for the Pacific Legal Foundation or similar to immediately mount a legal defense, and for that to percolate for 1-3 years?….. The dollars involved are so high that they will find a willing chorus of suit funders.

    • Posted by Anon

      your understanding was based upon what?

  3. Posted by Jake

    No, Prop G is not retroactive, though it is kinda radioactive.
    The last sentence of Prop G:
    “This ordinance shall become operative on January 1, 2015.”

    • Posted by boggle

      Read deeper Jake. It is retroactive in that purchases of building over the past five years that would look to sell in 2015 would in fact be subject to this tax.

      • Posted by Jake

        I understand the law well enough, and even insisted on having a BOS legislative aide explain some of its more convoluted clauses in detail, which I have previously posted on SocketSite.
        I also understand the meaning of a “retroactive law” and taking past facts into account does not make it retroactive.
        This law is punitive, poorly written, even more poorly reasoned, but it is not retroactive.
        Truly mind boggling that people don’t understand the plain meaning of a common word, yet want to argue about what they could just look up in a dictionary.

        • Posted by boggle

          Sure it is a retroactive law, by any dictionary definition you want to site. It changes the consequences of actions made prior to this law being in existence, textbook ex post facto law. My act of buying a building 2 years ago was taken with the understanding that I was free to sell it at any point in time in the future without being penalized for doing so. After this law, I am no longer free to sell in the next 3 years without a huge tax bill Do I need to take another affirmative action after Jan 1, 2015 for this tax to hit me? Sure. But that does not mean that this law did not change my rights related to actions I took prior to January 1, 2015, aka, a retroactive law.

          • Posted by Jake

            Not to go all language lawyer on you, but you really are confusing important concepts here. Misrepresenting this prop in these ways distracts from the glaring ridiculousness of the formula and outrageous magnitude of this proposed tax and also detracts from what may otherwise be your serious opposition.
            In your example, your “act of buying a building 2 years ago was taken with the understanding that” you were subject to the tax laws then and in the future. You aren’t entitled to a freeze of the tax laws. Unless a tax law change is somehow unconstitutional, and some people think this one is by being so excessive, it doesn’t change your rights to change your taxes.
            If instead the law were written to assess the additional tax also on the purchase made two years before the law was passed, then it would be ‘retroactive’ by the normal meaning.
            By your meaning all kinds of laws would be ‘retroactive’, including even trivial changes to the tax laws because there is always some party with inventory either left holding the bag when the rates go up or padding their margin when they go down.
            Are you also going to argue that when they changed the social security retirement law or the voting age law or the drinking age law that those were somehow retroactive to the birthdays of everyone affected?
            FWIW, ex post facto laws are explicitly prohibited in the US constitution at both the federal and state level.
            BTW, there are many dictionary web sites which I might ‘cite’.
            Retroactive has a clear and useful meaning, unless we insist on blurring it along with ‘rights’ vs expectations and ‘sites’ vs ‘cites’.

  4. Posted by Jake

    Here is the full text of the last section of Prop G:

    Section 7. Effective and Operative Date. The effective date of this ordinance shall be ten days after the date the official vote count is declared by the Board of Supervisors. This ordinance shall become operative on January 1, 2015.

  5. Posted by Anon

    If it passes it kicks in January 2015.

  6. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    The text of Prop G is a complicated mess, and I have not parsed every clause. But my read is that it applies to any sale made on or after January 1, 2015. It does not matter when the property was previously purchased. Thus, a property purchased today, or two years ago, or on December 31, 2014, and re-sold on January 1, 2015 or later could be subject to the tax.

    So it is “retroactive” in a sense.

  7. Posted by Mr. Me Too

    I wish tenants would see this as a “tenant tax” and kill it ASAP. The end user always pays in the end. Convoluted, yes. But economically a fact. For one of the most highly educated populaces in the country, it’s obscene how this could be allowed on the ballot. Hopefully the confiscatory nature of this tax gets struck in the courts anyways.

  8. Posted by SFrentier

    ^ it will get challenged in court if it passes.

  9. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    What would be the basis for a legal challenge? Is there some state or federal law that preempts this? Some kind of “takings” claim (that seems awfully feeble)? There may be some basis to strike this, but I can’t think of anything.

    Nor do I see how this is a “tenant tax.” Landlords can’t just “pass on” this tax. They can’t touch RC tenants. And landlords already charge new and non-RC tenants the highest rent the market will bear, so they can’t just “add more.” I suppose there may be some vague, long-term “impedes the addition of more supply” argument, but that’s pretty weak here given that this only applies to turn-over of existing supply.

    Prop G only requires a simple majority – not 2/3 as required for most tax increases – so I’d say this has an extremely strong chance of passing. The “Yes on G” campaign has great, simple lines: “Stop the Evictions” and “Help Keep SF Affordable. The “No on G” campaign appears to be well-funded given the number of flyers I’ve gotten in the mail, but their pitch is terrible: “Not one cent of the revenue raised from Prop. G is guaranteed to go towards affordable housing or any housing.” A huge majority of renters will vote for this. Most homeowners are unaffected, so they have no strong incentive one way or the other. It’s only the tiny number of realtors and multi-unit owners who would be adversely affected and thus are strongly against this. Long odds.

    I agree this would be a terrible law. But terrible laws are enacted all the time (witness rent control and Prop 13). And “it’s a terrible law” is not a basis for enjoining a law in court (again, witness rent control and Prop 13).

    If I owned a place that would be subject to this come January 1, I’d strongly considering selling now.

  10. Posted by soccermom

    “If I owned a place that would be subject to this come January 1, I’d strongly considering selling now.”

    Tell your friends.

    Of course, FWIW, buyers “may” have an inkling this is going on and try to price it in. Even before it passes, the proposition is hosing owners.

    As to the retroactivity, it’s sort of pre-retroactive in that sense, no?
    Been-had workin’.

    (How do you like THOSE words, team internet-comment-grammar-patrol?)

  11. Posted by san FronziScheme (formerly known as lol)

    An interesting unintended consequence of this law is that buyers who purchased in the past 0 to 4.5 years and were planning to sell will refrain from doing so until their 5 ownership years are up.

    This will restrain supply, which will most probably cause a price hike, until sellers come back out realizing the market has effectively nullified the tax disincentive to sell!!!

    Idiot BoS does what it does best: shoot themselves in the foot.

  12. Posted by Mr. Me Too

    Why not 100% then? It’s just as good as any #. Why stop at 24%? If it’s a certainty that 50% of the populace will vote for prop G. I don’t see why they stopped at 24%. So targeted. So poorly written. No impact studies done and with no oversight over the money stolen that may be generated. Surely this is illegal. Right? Tyranny of the majority I tell ya.

  13. Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

    Lots of legislation is arbitrary. Why cap Prop 13 tax rates at 1% of the purchase value? Why not 1/2% or, even better, 0%? And why limit rent control rent hikes to a percentage of CPI? Why not eliminate all increases? Or eliminate rent altogether?

    On the point about “no oversight over the money stolen,” I believe that if the tax funds had been earmarked for anything specific, the measure would have come under the Prop 13 rules requiring 2/3 majority to pass. By leaving that out, it can pass with a bare majority. So I think they actually thought that point through.

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