As many of you know, one of my favorite pastimes is visiting art galleries and museums, reading about artists and collecting art. One of these days, I’d like to learn how to paint. It won’t be pretty but I sure would enjoy the process. A style of painting that I’ve gravitated towards is abstract figurative so when I found out that a retrospective of David Park at the SFMOMA is happening this year, I began planning a client event for a guided tour. Since life is on hold, even at SFMOMA the show is delayed, Zoom is proving to be the ideal outlet for making sure life goes on. I would like to invite you to a lecture on David Park by the private art consultant, Jennifer Reese, on Friday, April 24 from 4-5pm. I have asked Jennifer to share and discuss images of this incredible artist and explain the Bay Area Figurative Art Movement that Park helped create.
Here’s the introduction to the David Park show at the SFMOMA:
At the age of 38, in late 1949 or early 1950, artist David Park (1911–1960) filled his Ford with as many of his Abstract Expressionist canvases it could fit and abandoned them at the city dump. The work he made next shocked the Bay Area art world. At a moment when serious American painting was dominated by abstraction, Park emphatically reintroduced the figure into his practice and began painting “pictures,” as he called them—a radical decision that led to the development of the Bay Area Figurative Art movement. On view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) from April 11 to September 7, 2020, David Park: A Retrospective will be the first major exhibition of Park’s work in three decades and the first to examine the full arc of his extraordinary career.
To learn more about Jennifer’s background, read her bio:
Jennifer Reese has been a Private Museum Guide at SFMOMA since 2016 when the museum reopened after being closed for 3 years for its $300 million expansion. Before SFMOMA she was a museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over twenty years. Jennifer has a Masters in Art History from Hunter College, City College of New York and an undergraduate degree from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. As an art consultant, Jennifer’s keen eye and depth of art history provides her clients excellent insight into finding works of art that are perfectly suited for them.
Let me know if you are interested in joining the lecture and I will forward the Zoom invitation.
– Shelly Sutherland, DRE #1079918
My partner at Kindred SF Homes recent blog post:
I remember my first home in San Francisco: a 2-unit building purchased with my husband (let’s call him Pablo) and our partners/my clients (let’s call them Curt and Sally).
Loma Prieta had shaken us silly that October of 1989, but it didn’t stop our real estate search. Curt, Sally, Pablo and I first viewed our future home – a spacious hunk of Victorian history on Divisadero near Golden Gate – that Halloween. By the time we closed the San Francisco market was looking rather spooky. Seems we’d bought at the peak. (And this was long before that stretch of Divis became the NOPA we know today.)
But we made the best of it as the market continued falling. We remodeled, painted, added parking, started families, celebrated holidays and watched the neighborhood improve. We enjoyed our homes. We converted our flats to condominiums. The market started to recover a little bit.
It wasn’t easy, but Pablo and I managed to sell our condo in 1994. The sales price was pretty depressing, and we had to carry a second for a couple of years. However, we were able to scrape enough funds together to purchase a single family home in the Richmond district at the bottom of the market. Had we not sold our condo at a less-than-ideal time, we’d never have bought the $325,000 house that would sell 15 years later for $1,350,000.
In retrospect, we were lucky. Though it didn’t seem that way in the down cycle of 1989 to 1994.
Ask any agent – on any day during any month during any year – if it’s a good time to buy and they’ll say one of three things:
None of us can control what happens and there’s plenty to worry about. Today it’s Coronavirus. Tomorrow it could be double-digit interest rates. Meanwhile, earthquake and climate change are always on the menu.
And yet the San Francisco market always seems to recover and rise. And rise. And rise. The main thing is to get your foot in the proverbial door. Call me and we’ll get started!
Photo Credit: Micheile Henderson
It’s important to note that the Bay Area contains many different markets and market segments, sometimes following diverging trends in supply and demand, and home-price appreciation. Most of the materials in this report reflect overall trends for the entire region.
When the data is available we’ve charted longer-term trends since they give much greater context to what the state of the market is today, and where it may be heading.
How these statistics pertain to any particular home is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis.
Generally speaking, after years of high appreciation rates, annual 2019 Bay Area median home prices went down a little bit, went up a little bit or basically remained unchanged as compared to 2018. SF hit new quarterly price highs in spring of 2019 (amid all the IPO excitement), but ended up the year at about flat for houses and a little up for condos. (Since there has been so much new luxury condo construction in recent years, year-over-year median price comparisons may not be exactly apples to apples.)
For 2020, economist Ken Rosen at UC Berkeley has said he expects the Bay Area median price to remain basically flat, within a general range of up or down 2% – in other words, similar to what happened last year. We can’t predict the future, but that certainly doesn’t sound unreasonable, and happily avoids the sensationalism of many other media-grabbing forecasts.
One of the big factors in SF house price appreciation since 2012 has been that fewer house owners are selling (dark green portion of chart below). If demand increases, but supply drops, that puts upward pressure on prices. Overall, house prices have out-appreciated condos over the past 7 years due to 2 factors: All the new condo construction and the fact that condo owners sell their homes more often than house owners. Both those factors increase supply to help meet increased demand.
San Francisco Home Prices by Neighborhood
Below are just two of the tables in our much longer analysis of home prices by property type and bedroom count for every neighborhood in the city. If you’d like the complete report, contact your Compass agent.
San Francisco Luxury Home
Markets by District
Economic Factors Affecting
Real Estate Markets
When the media reports on the “Bay Area median home price,” it’s worth remembering that SF is a relatively small market compared to the big 3 counties.
Appreciation in Very Expensive Markets
Based on the calculations of an algorithm created to track long-term price changes, this next chart looks at percentage appreciation since 2012 in the most expensive markets of 5 Bay Area Counties. (In Marin, Tiburon, a very expensive, but not the most expensive market in the county, is graphed due to data issues.) This chart does not delineate prices, which vary hugely, only estimated percentage home price changes over time.
According to this algorithm, prices in these most expensive markets have generally declined from recent peaks in 2018.
Bay Area Ultra-Luxury Home Markets –
Active Listings vs. 12 Months Sales
SF has the third largest market for homes of $5,000,000+ in the Bay Area.
Market Dynamics & Seasonality –
New Listings & Price Reductions
The market is now deep into its seasonal plunge in activity, which hits its nadir in December. (This chart is updated through October. November saw its usual big drop in new listing activity.)
The percentage of listings reducing price in October – typically the peak month for price reductions – ticked up a little year over year, to its highest point since the recovery began in 2012.
Home Prices & Market Statistics by SF District
Median House Prices by Realtor District
As always, these prices should be considered very general approximations of prices in complex district markets containing homes of widely varying size and quality.
Median Condo Prices by Realtor District
Market Statistics by Realtor District
As mentioned in previous reports, market dynamics in San Francisco are often – but not always – separated by price segment as much as by neighborhood/district location. More expensive segments not unusually have somewhat softer supply and demand dynamics. However, District 5 – the greater Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys district – one of the city’s more expensive districts, has been bucking that trend in 2019.
Districts dominated by condo sales also typically have softer dynamics than those dominated by house sales.
Using six-month-rolling figures for monthly median sales prices smooths out the often meaningless monthly fluctuations to illustrate broad, long-term appreciation trends with more clarity.
Home Sales Volume by Month
A crystal clear illustration of the role of seasonality in the SF real estate market. Starting in November activity begins to plunge towards the mid-winter nadir. Remember that November sales volumes mostly reflect October accepted-offer activity. Market activity hits bottom in December, which makes January the month with the lowest sales volume.
Home Sales & Median Prices by District
HOUSE Sales & Median Sales Prices
Note that districts often include neighborhoods of varying values and that the district median sales prices quoted reflect combined sales. Median prices are broad generalities useful for comparative values and home-price trends, but how they apply to any particular home is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis.
Median sales prices broken out by neighborhood, property type and bedroom count are also available upon request.
Condo, Co-op & TIC Sales by District
2-BR, 2-BA Condo Median Sales Prices
Luxury Home Sales
Sales of homes of $3 million and above in October were a little below the number in October 2018, but looking at September-October sales, there were gains over same-period sales in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Sales vs. Listings for Sale by Price Segment
Market Dynamics by Property Type & Price Segment
Location is, of course, always important in real estate value – within the the city and within the neighborhood – but to a large degree, market dynamics within San Francisco are also determined by the property type and the price segment. And individual neighborhoods and districts will usually have homes in several or even all of the price segments broken out in the 3 charts below, with these segments seeing differing supply and demand conditions.
Generally speaking, demand is stronger and supply is lower (as compared to demand) for houses over condos. For both houses and condos, market dynamics are somewhat softer in the higher price segments, especially above the $3 million price threshold for condos, and in the $5 million+ price segment for houses.
People Moving in & out of CA in 2018
According to new census estimates, approx. 501,000 people from other states moved to CA in 2018, while 691,000 Californians relocated to other states – a net loss of 190,000. In addition, an estimated 284,000 foreign nationals moved into CA from outside the country. (Foreign out-migration numbers are not available.)
The top states for out-migration are Texas, Arizona, Washington, Nevada & Oregon, states with high-tech centers of their own and/or no state income taxes, and/or significantly lower housing costs – thus attracting working residents, local businesses, and retirees. Updated Bay Area figures are not yet available, though migration trends here have generally paralleled state trends in recent years.
Sales Without Price Reductions & Withdrawn (No-Sale) Listings
The following 2 charts illustrate both year-over-year changes in market conditions and the role of seasonality within the calendar year.
Last year saw a big jump in the number of listings pulled off the market without selling in December – this was a particularly volatile time in financial markets and interest rates were relatively high. The situation with both of those factors has changed dramatically in 2019, but it is too early to see how that will affect the number of listings withdrawn in the last 2 months of this year.
Neighborhood House & Condo Prices; Short-Term & Long-Term Appreciation Trends; Population Migration In & Out of the City.
After the heat of the spring market, activity typically slows down markedly in July and August. In September, listings start pouring on the market again to fuel the relatively short autumn selling season – in fact, September is typically the single month with the highest number of new listings. Autumn is also a very important time for the luxury home market – luxury house sales often peak for the year in October.
What occurs in the next 2 months, before the mid-winter holiday doldrums begin, will be the next major indicator of market conditions and direction.
Migration: People Moving In & Out
of San Francisco
Using new U.S. Census estimates released 8/29/19, this chart attempts to identify U.S. counties, states and international regions with the highest number of residents migrating to and from our county. In the Bay Area, there is a general trend outward from more expensive to more affordable places, while in-bound migration is deeply affected not only by exchanges between Bay Area counties, but people arriving from other parts of the state, country and world. Areas often have large two-way exchanges of residents.
Foreign in-migration is a huge issue in SF and the Bay Area, but it will be another year before any impact of new U.S. immigration policy on foreign in-migration in 2018 shows up in census numbers. The census estimates foreign in-migration in this analysis, but not foreign out-migration.
Short-Term & Long-Term Trends
in Median Home Prices
San Francisco is out-performing the Bay Area – most of the other counties have seen 3% to 5% declines in median home prices since peaking in spring 2018, while the city saw a new monthly peak in June and a new quarterly peak in Q2. It has been suggested that the differentiating factor in SF has been the high number of large, local, high-tech IPOs occurring this year since early spring.
In the next chart, the 2019 YTD median sales prices should be considered preliminary until full year data is in. Note that it is more difficult to compare annual median condo prices on an apples-to-apples basis because of the huge number of new construction condos – many at higher prices – coming on market in the last few years. Comparing 2019 YTD to 2018, the median house sales price is about the same, even though new monthly and quarterly peaks were hit year to date.
Supply & Demand Dynamics since 2005
The chart below compares supply, the number of active listings on the market, with demand, as measured by the number of sales. This is a 12-month-rolling graph that smooths out normal monthly fluctuations to provide clearer historical trend lines.
San Francisco Home Prices & Appreciation
by Neighborhood & District
The next long series of charts and tables looks first at house prices by neighborhood, and then at condo and co-op prices. We’ll start with our neighborhood/ Realtor District map for easy reference.
San Francisco Median House Sales Prices
by District & Neighborhood
San Francisco Median Condo Sales Prices
by District & Neighborhood
Note that it is not unusual for median home sales prices to peak for the calendar year in spring (Q2). This is due not only to heightened buyer demand, but also to the extreme seasonality of the luxury home market – more luxury home sales (as a percentage of total sales) pull overall median sales prices up.
Year-over-Year Median Home-Price Appreciation (or Depreciation) Rates
Markets in late 2017 through spring 2018 were very hot virtually throughout the Bay Area – perhaps the hottest they’ve been since 2000, the height of the dotcom boom. In the second half of 2018, markets cooled considerably – besides issues of simple affordability, financial markets saw nerve-wracking volatility and large declines, and interest rates jumped dramatically. Then, in 2019, stock markets recovered to hit new peaks and interest rates hit multi-year lows, and markets heated up again.
However, generally speaking, except for those markets most affected by the slew of local high-tech IPOs – San Francisco and the greater Oakland market – most markets saw either no significant year-over-year appreciation or year-over-year declines in median house sales prices. (Santa Cruz County bucked this trend.) The next major indicator of market direction will come from autumn selling season data: The season runs from early-mid September to early-mid November. Markets then typically go into the mid-winter holiday doldrums for a couple months.
Bay Area & California Long-Term Median House Price Trends
Median House Sales Price Trends by Bay Area County
Compound Annual Home Price Appreciation Rates
When calculating these rates, results can vary enormously depending on the year the calculation begins with. These start with the year 2000 – if we started with 1995 – prices rapidly appreciated between 1995 and 2000 – the rates would jump; if we began with 2007 – the height of the subprime boom – then the rates would drop. (The same issue exists with calculating stock market returns.)
These very approximate calculations do not reflect any of the tax benefits that have applied at various times to home ownership and to the sale of one’s primary residence. And they are based simply on the all-cash purchase price and the sales price, without adjusting for closing costs (or the effect of not paying all cash upon purchase).
Bay Area House & Lot Sizes
Bay Area Median Condo Values
Bay Area Median Dollar per Square Foot Values
Bay Area Luxury Home Markets
Median Sales Prices for Large Homes in Expensive Bay Area Markets
High-end home markets in outlying counties – the four with the lowest percentages in the chart below – have softened considerably, and would typically be considered to be in buyer’s market territory – much more supply than demand. This doesn’t mean, however, that some luxury homes there don’t sell quickly at excellent prices. It does mean that many luxury homes don’t sell without price reductions, or don’t sell at all.
In many ways, average dollar per square foot values give a better indication of what one actually gets for one’s dollar in different counties.
Bay Area & U.S. Home Prices, Appreciation Trends & Affordability
The next chart illustrates the dramatic divergence since 2012 between Bay Area home price appreciation – supercharged by the high-tech boom – and the national trend line.
Median 3-Bedroom Home Sales Prices around the Country
Active Listings on the Market
Home Sales Volumes
Bay Area Home Sales by Price Segment
Bay Area Real Estate Market Indicators
Below are a wide variety of standard market statistics broken out by county or region to illustrate respective market conditions, as well as overall trend lines to illustrate the general market direction and the effect of seasonality on supply and demand.
Looking just at 2019 YTD stats, the greater Oakland-Berkeley market has been the strongest in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the picture is muddied a little by the fact that the city’s house and condo markets have somewhat different dynamics: New-condo construction has increased supply in that segment, while the supply of house listings has declined markedly since 2010, making houses the scarce resource in a high-demand environment.
Price Reductions & Listings Expiring without Selling
San Francisco Bay Area Median House Sales Prices by City
Bay Area Median List Rents
Selected Economic & Demographic Factors
Behind the real estate boom is the stupendous boom in hiring, specifically in the high-tech fields.
Migration & Population Trends
Home Prices, Appreciation & Ownership Costs; Affordability Percentages, Household Incomes, Interest Rates, Rents & Homelessness. August 2019 Report – including 30 illustrative charts.
Housing affordability may be the largest social and political issue in the Bay Area, and the effects of low affordability also greatly impact the general economic picture in a wide variety of important ways – from hiring and business relocation, to the ability of “normal working people” (not enriched by the high-tech boom) to live here. Significant demographic shifts are also taking place as some groups move out and others move in.
Generally speaking, affordability percentages – the percentage of county households who could afford to purchase a median-priced house – ticked up in Q2 2019 as compared to Q2 2018: Median home sales prices were relatively stable year-over-year – some counties up a bit, some down a bit, some the same – but interest rates dropped very significantly over the 12 month period. However, affordability percentages remain low by historical standards – and the Bay Area typically has among the lowest in the nation.
Note: Counties contain cities, and cities contain neighborhoods of varying values, market conditions and trends.
Calculations on affordability percentages, home payments and household incomes are based upon the California Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index, measuring the percentage of county households able to afford to buy a median priced house with a 20% down-payment at prevailing mortgage interest rates.
The next 2 charts are excerpted from the very in-depth report, “Bay Area Homelessness: A Regional View of a Regional Crisis” put out by Bay Area Council Economic Institute, published April 2019.
It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis. These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in San Francisco and the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. Longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term.
Sales & Values by District and Price Segment, Special Circumstance Sales, Market Seasonality, the Luxury Home Market & Foreign Buyers. The May Case-Shiller Home Price Index was released in late July for the 5-county SF metro area. This chart illustrates the difference in appreciation rates between the Bay Area (higher price markets) and the entire country. Case-Shiller does not use median sales prices but its own algorithm to calculate appreciation. January 2000 home price = 100; 250 = a home price 150% above that of Jan. 2000.
Needless to say, there are many factors behind home sales and values in different communities. Home size is one of them, and median sales prices are not apples to apples comparisons: For example, in Pacific Heights, the average house size is over 4000 square feet, while in Sunnyside, it runs about 1500 square feet.
Note that it is not uncommon for median sales prices to peak for the year in Q2.
Market Dynamics by Realtor District
Q2 is commonly the hottest market of the calendar year, and the statistics below generally reflect a very strong spring 2019 market.
Home Sales by Price Range
Of homes selling for under $1,000,000, over 80% were condos, co-ops and TICs, and most of those were smaller units.
Tenants, Fixer-Uppers, Homes without Parking, Homes with Golden Gate Bridge Views
Market Seasonality: The Autumn Spike,
Then the Winter Doldrums
Though spring is the biggest overall selling season in San Francisco, the single month with the highest number of new listings is typically September. This big surge fuels the relatively short autumn selling season – highlighted by the dramatic spike in sales in October. In November, activity begins to plunge for the mid-winter holidays – though homes continue to sell in every season.
Seasonality: New Listings by Month
New Listings – Long-Term Trends,
12-Month Rolling Figures
Seasonality: Listings Going into Contract
Higher-Price Home Sales
The central greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district now has the highest number of home sales over $2 million, but the northern Pacific Heights-Cow Hollow district dominates sales of $5 million and above.
The SF luxury home market is even more dramatically driven by seasonality than the general market. September often sees a tremendous burst of new listings. October is sometimes the single month with the most luxury house sales.
Long-Term Appreciation Trends by District
Though prices vary, appreciation trend lines since the recovery began in 2012 are often relatively similar.
In the next chart, we combine house sales across the swathe of older, prestige neighborhoods that run across the north of the city – generally speaking, a region of larger houses and higher prices. (Putting them on the chart above would flatten the other trend lines due to issues of scale.) None of these neighborhoods have that many sales – and some have very, very few – so we combine them to increase statistical reliability. Though they are all high-price, prices do vary considerably between them.
Median Two-Bedroom Condo Prices
by Realtor District
There is significantly less variation in condo prices in most of the neighborhoods of SF than there is with houses. Much of this has to do with all the new construction that has occurred in the last 20 years. Probably the greatest differences in condo values are between those on lower floors and those on higher floors of new luxury high-rises.
Percentage of Sales Selling for Over List Price
by Property Type
Median Percentage of Sales Price to List Price
by Property Type
Foreign National Home Buying Tumbles
According to a new report by the National Association of Realtors – based on a survey of its member agents – the purchase of U.S. homes by foreign nationals plunged in the 12 months through March 2019. The drop was particularly steep for Chinese nationals, for whom California (and the Bay Area, in particular) has been the top destination.
Stock Market Hits New High
The last 12 months have been an extremely dramatic time for financial markets as illustrated below. The alternating confidence and fear generated by its swings have been considerable factors in Bay Area real estate markets. A parallel dynamic has occurred with the swings in interest rates.
The spring burst in high-tech IPOs in San Francisco also played a role in the heat of the Q2 market.