San Francisco Median Price and Sales

The number of single-family homes and condos that traded hands in San Francisco jumped 30 percent from September to October, roughly a quarter of which could be ascribed to typical seasonality. But total sales were also 10 percent lower versus the same time last year while listed inventory levels in the city were running an average of 13 percent higher.

For the San Francisco properties that changed hands in October, the median sale price was $1.11 million, up 5 percent from a revised $1.06 million in September but 3 percent below the record $1.15 million mark set in May. The median sale price was 11 percent higher versus the same time last year, according to data from CoreLogic.

Home sales in Alameda County, which includes Oakland, dropped 5 percent from September to October and were down 8 percent versus the same time last year with a median price of $633,000, up 14 percent year-over-year.

And home sales across the entire Bay Area slipped 2.4 percent from September to October and were down 2.5 percent versus the same time last year, with a median sale price of $635,000, up 4 percent versus October 2014.

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

20 thoughts on “Mixed Messages from San Francisco Home Sales Last Month”
  1. Prices for anything remotely close to a prime area have all risen dramatically forcing would be buyers further and further away from downtown and other prime areas. Many folks I know are now expanding to marin, san rafel, oakland hills, pacifica and even south san francisco.

    More inventory and less demand. At the same time the number of reduced priced listings or below asking close prices seem to anecdotally be on the rise.

    Agents are telegraphing the softening of the market to buyers to get low offers (or any offers) to bring seller expectations back to reality. There are plenty of listings out there with sellers who have unrealistic expectations.

    The SF market continues to fascinate with its many nuanced intricacies. Still good buys to be had but its a tricky market. Flippers are getting squeezed on the buy, and TIC discount to condos is virtually eliminated.

    I don’t anticipate any massive market discounting as demand is still off the charts and overall supply is still relatively constrained. Buyers are no longer willing / able to pay for what they perceive as valuable in market. The spread between ask/bid is now higher with sellers “asking” for what should be the bid up competitive price and buyers are balking. So I think there is a bit of a standoff that will take some time to shake off. Probably a good time to be a cherry picker buyer.

  2. Think it was a pretty strong month. The assumption seems to be from many here that we are at the start of something between a period of price reduction and a crash for SF Real Estate. I’ve still seen very little real data to back that up, and these figures certainly don’t qualify.

    1. the RE market always follows the stock market. So unless we see or predict a crash there, then a RE crash is not happening.

  3. It’s a matter of CAP rate in this all-investor market. Non-investors can hardly compete at these prices. But if your 3 unit building is flowing a CAP rate of 5% or more in rents, you’re golden.

    Rent control keeps a damper on the market, and flippers at bay. If your 3 unit building is flowing $70,000 in rents, you’re not going to get the $2.5M asking price that your exact same neighbor building will fetch when it is flowing $135,000 in rental income.

    1. Its pretty hard to get a cap rate of 5% in SF or most of the Bay Area for that matter – buying into the market now. Not if you’ve owned the rental for years already which is a different story..

  4. CAP rates mean almost nothing for 2-4 properties in SF. Vacancies create far more value. The typical buyer of a 2-4 is usually an owner user or a flipper who are not too concerned with CAP rates, unless they are so low the only choice is to flip into TIC.

    Even in larger commercial properties it’s not usual to see CAP rates below 4, which must mean those buyers are stashing their cash or buying up negative income and depreciation to offset tax liabilities on their other properties. Besides, this article’s data is about Houses/Condos/TICs, not multifamily…

  5. If you look at the trend for the past few years, prices spike ~10% around January and remain flat for the remainder of the year.

    During the 2008 crash, the pricing trends looked healthy for 4 months since the economy officially entered the recession. A significant decrease in transaction volume was followed by a gradual decrease in prices. It took about a year for prices to completely bottom out.

    I am not seeing indicators of stagnating marketplace so far. We will need to wait until January/February to see if we get another 10% YoY pop; and if history were to repeat itself, the real estate market lags the US economy by about 4 months.

    1. I’d just say that SJ and next SF are the most unaffordable real estate markets right now. Logically I have a hard time seeing SJ/SF prices taking off again next year.

      This is not a crash but a slowdown for probably a few years.

      A slowdown is harder to see than a crash (which this is not to reiterate).

      Do a google search on home prices and 2006. The best of times and the worst of times. Night and day the hits you will get.

      If folks could not see that RE crash I am not surprised at all they can’t see a slowdown.

      I am contrarian on this. Most here think prices will take off again in SF/SJ next year. We will see.

  6. Declining volume is a leading indicator. The exuberance is no longer there, there is now caution. The low end and the high end luxury segments are already in a buyer’s market. There are many black swans out there, and we will now be in a sideways market until one lands. Stock market breadth is terrible and the tech startup space is getting downright silly.

    1. I’d agree and add that Chinese investment money buying up Bay Area real estate as it has in recent years (LA, Sydney and certain other cities too) will likely partially dry up. Another factor adding to the slowdown.

      1. I don’t think there is any significant buying of residential RE in SF by Chinese investors. I’ve seen a recent report that it was <2% of SF all cash buyers. I’ve heard the myth that Chinese investors are driving up SF RE pries for years, but no one has EVER produced data.

        1. “Buyers from mainland China, as well as those from Hong Kong and Taiwan, spent $28.6 billion in the year that ended in March on U.S. home purchases, according to estimates by the Realtors. While that accounts for just over 2% of American home purchases by dollar volume, the percentage is much greater in the high end of the housing market in such cities as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and, increasingly, Miami, according to the association.”

    2. You guys are off on a couple points. One, the low end in SF is not a buyers market by any stretch! The high end is softening a bit, but the properly priced under $1mil is flying off the shelf.

      Two, Chinese money will increase, not decrease in flow to the CA RE market. Matter of fact, nice article about it in the Sunday NYT. It claims that 35% of all Chinese RE money goes to CA, significantly more than the next several states combined. I was frankly surprised that CA fared that strongly.

      As for 2016 I predict flat to modest price increases in SF, not a down trend in prices. Not in 2016 at least.

      1. That same article also had the headline that Chinese are pulling back from US property investments. California metropolitan areas should be most hurt by the pullback.

        1. Exactly. Within the US no doubt California was/is the top investment market for this money. Worldwide add in Sydney and Vancouver.

          The “irrational exuberance” in the Bay Area real estate market was to a big extent fueled by both Chinese investment money and tech workers well off suddenly from IPO money or other sweetheart deals they were given by their companies.

          Those two engines will be revved down now for the near term future anyway and that will rev down Bay Area real estate.

        2. The Chinese presently are buying more, not less, since their stock market took a correction. They are even more worried about keeping their assets in China and under the renminbi. We’ll have to see how bad their economy gets in the future. So far they are still growing at a rate that makes the USA economy look stagnant. A full on recession in China is a different story, but so far that’s not happening.

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