The San Francisco Real Estate Market
Median Sales Prices, Neighborhood Values, Seasonality & Demand,
Condo Construction, New SF “Airbnb” Law, Appreciation vs. Inflation
February 2015, Paragon Real Estate Group
The market just begins to wake up in January, so its statistics are not particularly illuminating. The last 3 springs in San Francisco saw frenzied markets, which took its home values to new heights. While waiting to see what develops in 2015, this report will drill down on other angles of our distinctive real estate market.
Note: On February 1st, San Francisco’s new short-term residential rental ordinance, the so-called “Airbnb law,” went into effect. In order to legally rent out your home for less than 30 days, there are a number of requirements pertaining to registration, insurance, advertising and taxes, as well as limitations on such rentals. Information and forms can be found here: SF Planning Department.
San Francisco Median Sales Prices, 1993 – 2014
Unit Sales Trends by Property Type
The first chart above graphs median sales prices by year. Looking only at the 4th quarter of 2014, house and condo median prices climbed to all-time highs of $1,125,000 and $999,250 respectively, and the TIC median price increased to $829,500.
The second chart above illustrates sales volume by property type. Houses turn over much less often than condos or TICs – i.e. house owners generally live in their homes longer before selling – and with virtually no new houses being built in the city, house sales as a percentage of total sales are declining, but this has also made them the market’s highest-demand, most competitive segment. Condos now dominate SF home sales and will continue to do so with the many new-condo projects being built. TIC sales are down almost 60% from 2007, probably due to financing conditions and changes in condo conversion and tenant eviction laws. The number of listings fell last year putting additional pressure on the market.
San Francisco New Construction & Population Trends since 1940
After reading our recent reports on new development and factors behind the market, one of our clients suggested graphing out the quantity of new housing built in the city over time. Based on census figures, the resulting (very approximate) chart illustrates the decline in new-home construction in the 1980’s and 1990’s, which helped exacerbate our current housing crunch.
Another note: the housing “units” built in 1940-1950 were not only much more numerous, but were typically 2-3 bedroom houses, while since 1980, the units built have generally been 1-2 bedroom condos and apartments (which makes sense with our changing demographics – more singles and couples, fewer families – but obviously hold fewer people per unit). And now a big topic in development is building urban “micro-units” of 250 to 350 square feet.
Our chart on SF population growth follows as a counterpoint.
Condo Values & Sizes by Era of Construction
A previous condo construction boom ran from the end of the 1990’s until 2008, when it crashed for 4 years – and now we’re in the midst of a new boom.Condos built in the last 15 years are selling at higher dollar per square foot values, but average unit sizes have also been getting smaller – and all things being equal (they rarely are), the smaller the unit the higher the per square foot value. Of course, there are other considerations besides size that affect value: quality and graciousness of construction (i.e. Marina-style and Edwardian flats), views (most likely in high-rises), amenities (security, gyms, outdoor space, etc.) and neighborhood ambiance (Russian Hill vs. Noe Valley vs. SoMa). The average $/sq.ft. for new condos now exceeds $1000 in the city, and, according to estimates, at the new, luxury, South Beach development, Lumina, it is now running $1400 to $1500/sq.ft. on units going into contract.
As increasing quantities of “luxury” condos come on market in coming years, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts and absorbs the new inventory.
Home Appreciation vs. Inflation
Since 1988, home price appreciation has hugely outpaced CPI inflation, though as seen below, the difference can swing dramatically depending on the exact point within a financial cycle.On a cash investment basis, if you had put $100,000 down on a $500,000 home purchase with a 30-year loan in 1988, by the end of 2014, per the Case-Shiller Index, your home would be worth approximately $1,900,000. After deducting 7% closing costs and paying off the remaining loan balance, your $100,000 down-payment turned into approximately $1.65 million in proceeds (if you didn’t continually refinance out your growing equity to buy new toys).
This is a very simplified calculation of a complex financial scenario that includes leverage, financing terms and interest rates, inflation, appreciation, multiple tax benefits and housing costs – you should talk to your accountant – but it still illustrates why a recent New York Times op-ed piece (11/30/14, “Homeownership & Wealth Creation”) said, “Renting can make sense as a lifestyle choice or because of income constraints. As a means to building wealth, however, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.”
San Francisco Neighborhood Values
We just updated our semi-annual breakdown of SF home values by property type, bedroom count and neighborhood. Below are the tables for 3-bedroom houses and 2-bedroom condos while the full report can be found here. If you want data on a neighborhood not included, please call or email.
Seasonality & Demand
This graph from our updated report on market seasonality measures the ebb and flow of buyer demand as compared to the supply of homes available to purchase. For the last 3 years, spring has been the highest demand season of the market, leading to significant home price appreciation.
Bay Area Rent Appreciation
This chart is from our January Commercial Brokerage report on Bay Area investment real estate. The full report has further detail on average rent rates and trends, and other apartment building financials.
These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. Statistics are generalities and how they apply to any specific property is unknown without a tailored comparative market analysis. All numbers should be considered approximate. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.