April Newsletter: A Hot Market Getting Hotter

San Francisco: A Hot Market Getting Hotter

1st Quarter 2013 Market Report

In 2012, the market turned with a vengeance and grew very hot very quickly. Now in 2013 it has grown even hotter. Recent deal-making stories almost make the seemingly crazy, multiple-offer tales of last year appear sedate. The supply of listings is drastically low against buyer demand, and the pace of price appreciation looks to be accelerating. Some city neighborhoods appear to be surpassing the previous peak values reached in 2007-2008. As seen below, the first quarter’s numbers reveal big increases in home values year over year. And the month of March alone saw a particularly big jump of almost 9% above February’s median price.

March sales prices reflect the heat of the market 4-8 weeks earlier, when the offers were actually negotiated. Much of the first quarter’s sales data reflects offers negotiated in late 2012. In a rapidly changing market, we’re always looking in the rearview mirror.

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N2How Does Supply & Demand Affect Prices?
The past 18 months give a text book example of how the supply and demand dynamic affects home values. Months supply of inventory (MSI) measures the strength of buyer demand against the available inventory of homes to purchase: the lower the MSI, the hotter the market. The hotter the market, the greater the upward pressure on prices.

This link shows the details of the recent increases in median sales price:
SF Median Home Price by Month

N3Sales Prices Over & Under List Price
As the market has strengthened, the percentage of SF homes selling for over — and sometimes far over — list price, has soared to almost unbelievable levels. In the last 2 months, 30% of SF house sales have sold for 15% or more above asking price.

This link shows the huge decline in inventory since the market turnaround began. Typically, we see a surge in early spring. Not this year, at least not so far:
Inventory of Listings for Sale

N4Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
This is another excellent indicator of demand vs. supply, and it is now at the highest levels in memory for virtually all property types.

This link goes to our chart on average days on market. Generally speaking, the hotter the market, the faster listings go into contract and that is what we are indeed seeing now:
Average Days on Market


March Newsletter: What Costs How Much Where in San Francisco

San Francisco Home Values by Neighborhood & Bedroom Count

The March 2013 Paragon Market

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We’ve just completed our semiannual review of SF house and condo values by average and median prices, average size and average dollar per square foot for sales occurring September 1, 2012 – February 28, 2013, as reported to MLS.

The maps contain median sales price data only, while the tables include the full range of value statistics. (The tables are easier to read, but they’re not as colorful.) If a price is followed by a “k” it references thousands of dollars; if followed by an “m”, it signifies millions. Remember that medians and averages are very general statistics.

Further down in the newsletter are charts tracking supply and demand dynamics and price appreciation trends for the city’s residential real estate market. Statistical definitions can be found at the very bottom. For the smaller images, you’ll need to click-to-expand them to really make them decipherable.

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4-Bedroom House Values
This is the table for 4-bedroom house sales over the past 6 months. This link goes to the full analysis by property type, neighborhood and bedroom count.
Neighborhood, Property Type, Bedrooms

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2-Bedroom Condo Median Price Map
A map of median sales prices for 2-bedroom condos around the city. The table in the full analysis provides further statistical measures.
Full Analysis

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Trends in Inventory & Sales Volume
Sometimes there’s nothing like a chart to depict trends. Here one can clearly see the drastic decline in inventory. And this link goes to a chart on Months Supply of Inventory, another statistic of supply and demand:
Months Supply of Inventory

5New Listings Coming on Market
The quantity of new listings ebbs and flows by season, however even accounting for seasonality, the number of new listings coming on market is much lower than usual. And this link shows the increasing demand since the market recovery really got underway in 2012:
Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers

6Median Price Trends by Month
Monthly price data often fluctuates due to a variety factors. For example, median and average prices almost always drop in January since the higher end of the market usually checks out for the holidays: Values haven’t changed; the demographic of buyers and available inventory changed. However, the clear upward trajectory of prices over the past year is clear in both median and average sales prices.
Average Price Trends

The MEDIAN SALES PRICE is that price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less. If there were 3 sales, at $1, $2 and $10, the median price would be $2. If there were 4 sales at $2, $2, $5 and $10, the median would be $3.50. Median sales price may be affected by seasonal trends, and by changes in inventory or buying trends, as well as by changes in value.

AVERAGE DOLLAR PER SQUARE FOOT is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, storage, unfinished attics and basements; rooms and apartments built without permit; decks, patios or yards. These figures are typically derived from appraisals or tax records, but can be unreliable, measured in different ways, or unreported altogether: thus consider square footage and $/sq.ft. figures to be very general approximations. Generally speaking, about 60-80% of listings report square footage, and dollar per square foot statistics are based solely on those listings. All things being equal, a house will have a higher dollar per square foot than a condo (because of land value), a condo will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a TIC (quality of title), and a TIC’s will be higher than a multi-unit building’s (quality of use). All things being equal, a smaller home will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a larger one. The highest dollar per square foot values in San Francisco are typically found in upper floor condos in prestige buildings with utterly spectacular views.

The AVERAGE SIZE of homes of the same bedroom count may vary widely by neighborhood: for example, the average size of a 4-bedroom house in Pacific Heights is much larger than one in Noe Valley; and the average of a Marina 2-bedroom condo is larger than one in South Beach. Besides the affluence factor, the era and style of construction often play large roles in these disparities.

Some neighborhoods are well known for having additional ROOMS BUILT WITHOUT PERMIT, such as the classic 1940′s Sunset house with “bedrooms” and baths built out behind the garage. These additions often add value, but being unpermitted are not reflected in $/sq.ft. figures.

Many aspects of value cannot be adequately reflected in general statistics: curb appeal, age, condition, views, amenities, outdoor space, “bonus” rooms, parking, quality of location within the neighborhood, and so forth. Thus, how these statistics apply to any particular home is unknown.


The Crunch in San Francisco’s Real Estate Market

Over the last 13 months, for a variety of compelling economic reasons, home-buyer demand in San Francisco has continued to grow ever stronger, while the inventory of homes available to purchase has only become tighter. This is the classic supply and demand dynamic — increased competition for a scarce commodity — that leads to increasing prices. Our inventory crunch, at least so far in 2013, is not easing. This situation is advantageous to sellers, and difficult and aggravating for buyers (and their agents): the time, effort, emotional energy and money that it takes to find and buy a home have all been increasing.

However, if buyers can summon the patience and endurance to see the process through, they might take some solace in the last 2 real estate recoveries, in the eighties and nineties. As can be seen on charts further down, it’s not unusual for repressed buyer demand to explode after a long down market, creating the same rapid appreciation situation we are experiencing now. But even with increasing competition and rising prices, those who purchased in the first few years of the past 2 turnarounds ended up doing very well with their investments. We don’t know if this recovery will continue to follow the same trend lines as past market cycles, but it has thus far.

Below are analyses that look at both short-term and long-term trends from a variety of angles.

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Is Everything Selling Over the Asking Price?
No, of course not: not all listings are selling for over list price. Some homes still go through price reductions and some don’t sell at all, but it is true that a large percentage of SF listings is now selling for over asking price and sometimes far over. This is especially the case with houses, where 1 in 4 sold in the past 2 months went 10% or more over the list price. (Note: Homes selling for within a quarter percent of the list price were considered to have sold AT asking price.) And this link shows the dramatic increase in median home prices in 2012:
Median House & Condo Prices

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New Listings vs. Accepted Offers
There are two issues behind the current low inventory crunch: firstly, there’s the simple matter of fewer listings coming on market, and secondly, that the listings that do arrive are being snatched up very quickly. This chart compares the influx of inventory and buyer demand in January of the last 4 years. Currently, on any given day, the choice of listings available to purchase is far below that of previous years — which fuels fierce competition between buyers. This link illustrates that fact and the overall decline in listings for sale:
Listings for Sale

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Ratio of Expired Listings to Sold Listings
Even in a hot market, not every listing sells: some listings viewed as overpriced end up expiring or being withdrawn. However, the ratio of expired and withdrawn listings to sales declines significantly in a strong market, which is what happened last year. Typically, the fourth quarter is marked by a very high rate of expired and withdrawn listings due to the holiday season and end of the year, but in the last quarter of 2012, buyers continued to aggressively snap up listings. And this link goes to a days-on-market chart illustrating the increasing speed with which buyers are snapping up listings:
Average Days on Market

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Perspective on 3 Recoveries
This Case-Shiller chart for the 5-county SF Metro Area begins with the recovery following the market recession/ doldrums of 1991 – 1995. The market of 1996 and 1997 had basically the same dynamic of repressed demand exploding alongside a recovering economy that we’re experiencing today. (All chart numbers reflect a percentage of the home values in January 2000.) There followed a 100% increase in values over the next 5 years, even before the inflation of the big bubble of 2004-2008. Buyers who bought in the mid-late nineties ended up doing quite well. This link shows the same dynamic in the transition from the late seventies/ early eighties recession to the mid-eighties rebound. Those buying in the early years of that recovery also did pretty well, even factoring in the following recession and market correction:
Market Recovery in the 1980′s

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Supply & Demand
The chart and the one in the following link are two classic measures of supply and demand. The lower the months supply of inventory and the higher the percentage of listings accepting offers, the stronger the demand when compared to the supply of homes available to purchase.
Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers

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Buying vs. Renting in San Francisco
This analysis (just 1 part of a full report) compares buying a 2-bedroom SF home at the current median price of $775,000 to renting a 2-BR at the current average asking rent of $3800. It illustrates how buying can make excellent financial sense after tax benefits and principal pay-down are factored in, much less building substantial home equity over time. In this analysis, the “net” house payment comes out well below the rent. However, these scenarios depend on many assumptions such as interest, appreciation, inflation and income-tax rates. It depends on the rent one is paying and having the 20% down payment and closing cost monies available. Still, there’s no doubt that with current interest rates and rents, the equation is much more favorable to buying than it has been for a very long time. Feel free to perform your own analyses using our Rent vs. Buy calculator, which can be accessed using this link. After putting in your numbers, be sure to click on Calculate and View Report:
Calculators


January Newsletter

San Francisco Rankings, Real Estate Prices & Trends, and the Biggest Home Sales of 2012
January 2013 Paragon Market Report

Here is a look at how a diverse group of major and minor organizations have recently ranked San Francisco on a wide variety of important and whimsical measures. Where disagreements existed — 3 different surveys ranked SF as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd “Greenest City” in America, and 2 surveys ranked us as second and third smartest city in the country — we naturally chose the highest grade as most accurate.

The ranking report is followed by some fascinating snapshots of the San Francisco and Bay Area real estate markets.

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Median Home Sales Prices around the Bay Area

This mapped analysis calculates median prices from both distressed and non-distressed property sales around the Bay Area as reported to MLS. Median price is a very general statistic and many cities include districts of wildly varying value. For example, San Francisco contains neighborhoods whose median prices vary by over $4,000,000: The overall statistic mixes them all up together and comes up with $810,000. Maps with SF neighborhood values are included later in this report.

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The 2012 Rebound

Exactly a year ago, we suggested that, based upon the changing market and economic dynamics we perceived developing in 2011, the SF real estate market was on the cusp of a major turnaround in 2012, possibly similar to what occurred in 1996 when the market blasted off after years of doldrums. And that is what happened, not only for the city, which led the way early in the year, but for the Bay Area, state and country somewhat later. Note that the SF house median price quoted here for 2012 is for 4th quarter non-distressed sales only.

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San Francisco Neighborhood Values
This map charts median sales prices and average dollar per square foot for houses by city neighborhood. And this link goes to a map for SF condo values:
SF Condo Values Map

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Year over Year Changes in Values
Very generally speaking, and depending on neighborhood and property type, SF home values have risen by 10% to 20% over the past year. Here is a chart assessing the surprisingly consistent change in overall SF condo value statistics and this link looks at SF house statistics.
SF House Value Statistics

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SF Homes Sales by Price Range
One client once called this the “high-heel shoe” graph of San Francisco home prices. One of the big components of the 2012 market was the resurgence in luxury home sales, the chart for which can be found using this link:
SF Luxury Home Sales

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Sales by Property Type
Gradually, with the addition of the big new developments in the SoMa-South Beach district (and other areas of the city), condos have become the largest single category of property type sales in the city. This trend will only accelerate with the new burst in construction plans. And this link leads to a chart showing the resurgence in unit sales. Unit sales would have been much higher in 2012 if inventory had not been so drastically low:
Unit Sales Trends

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Distressed Sales: Goodbye to All That
Distressed home sales have been a market aberration caused by the collapse in loan underwriting standards and the refinancing frenzy of the bubble years. Fair market value is defined as “the price a willing, able and reasonably knowledgeable buyer would pay to a seller not under distress.” But bank and short sales radiate distress: underwater sellers, overwhelmed and unresponsive banks; often the physical condition of the homes themselves is distressed. Buyers demanded a huge discount to deal with them. In SF, this market segment was largely confined to the lower price ranges and less affluent neighborhoods. Now, with the market recovery, the city’s distressed home market is rapidly dwindling and should soon disappear altogether.

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Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
This one statistic provides the context to everything we’ve seen in the market this past year: ferocious, pent-up, buyer demand met a drastically inadequate inventory of homes for sale, leading to much more competition for listings and strong upward pressure on prices.

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Median SF home prices vary on some of the charts above, depending on whether the price specified is for both distressed and non-distressed properties together, only non-distressed homes, for the last 4 months of 2012 or for the last quarter of the year, or whether price limits were placed on the analysis (limiting sales to under a certain sales price). This is natural: the statistics will change depending on the parameters of the analysis, and it’s always useful to look at the market from slightly different angles.

Statistics are generalities and should be considered approximations: How they apply to any specific property is unknown. These analyses were performed in good faith with data derived from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

© Paragon Real Estate Group, January 2013


December Newsletter: SF Neighborhood Values

San Francisco Neighborhood Values

December 2012

The general market dynamics in November were little changed from October, so for a different perspective, below are long-term trends in average sales prices and average dollar-per-square-foot values in a variety of areas around the city. The last sales period assessed on the charts is made up of the three months September through November; the neighborhoods chosen were picked for their high volume of sales for the property type being tracked — generally speaking, the greater the volume of sales, the more reliable the statistics.

Pretty much all areas of San Francisco are now showing the same general trend line, a distinct and substantial recovery in values, though some neighborhoods began their recovery earlier in the year and have seen greater increases year to date.

If you’d like to review the overall real estate market dynamics of San Francisco — months supply of inventory, days on market, the number of new listings coming on market, percentage of listings accepting offers, and so on — these can be found online here: SF December Market Report


Inner & Central Richmond House Values
House sales here over the past three months had an average sales price of $1,186,000 at an average of $575 per square foot. Compared to 2011, those figures reflect a 13% to 14% increase.


Central & Outer Sunset & Parkside
This table shows the changes in average sales price and dollar per square foot since 1995. One can also see that the average size of the houses sold can fluctuate (which will affect the average sales price). Distressed home sales are in rapid decline here, as they are throughout the city. The average dollar per square foot is up about 9% since 2011.
Chart


Bernal Heights House Values
With an average sales price of $896,000 and a distressed home market that has basically disappeared, the Bernal Heights averages are up about 19% from the bottom of the market in 2011. And getting very close to the previous peak in values in 2007.
Numbers Table


Noe & Eureka Valley House Values
Average house sales price in this extremely hot market area was $1,665,000 in the past 3 months, which is actually higher than previous peak values in 2008. However, we’ll have to wait to see what occurs over the longer trend since seasonality is one of the factors in prices. Average dollar per square foot is still somewhat below the 2008 peak.
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Noe, Eureka & Cole Valleys: Condo Values
Condo values in these highly sought after Upper-Market neighborhoods have followed a similar trajectory. The average condo sales price here over the past 3 months was $1,000,000.
Numbers Table


Prestige Northern Neighborhoods
The most expensive area for houses in San Francisco is in the northern band of old-prestige neighborhoods running from Telegraph Hill in the east to Sea Cliff in the west. As the luxury market has rebounded in a big way in 2012, we’ve seen increases in value in the 18% to 20% range since the market bottom in 2010.


South Beach – Yerba Buena Condo Values
The greater South Beach area has seen a rebound in condo values in the 15% to 20% range. This area has some of the most expensive condos in the city, many featuring spectacular views.
Numbers Table


Pacific Heights-Marina Condo Values
At $1,235,000, the average condo sales price in the neighborhoods of Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina is now back up to the previous peak-value level of 2008. While the condos in South Beach have all been built in the last 15 years or so, condos in these older prestige neighborhoods are in buildings typically built 70 – 100 years ago.


Portola & Mission Terrace House Values
The southern-most neighborhoods of San Francisco were those hit hardest by the distressed sale crisis. But the distressed property market is rapidly dwindling here and prices have been rebounding dramatically in the past 6 months. The recovery here started a step behind the recoveries in the most affluent neighborhoods, but is now accelerating rapidly.


October Stats Show No Sign of Slowdown

October Statistics Show No Slowdown in SF Market

November 2012 Market Update

Last month’s newsletter mentioned anecdotal word on the street that the San Francisco market might be slowing down a bit – it appeared the frenzy had diminished somewhat and that fewer listings were selling instantly with ridiculous numbers of competing offers – and the question was whether this would soon show up in the statistics. It hasn’t. Though September did see a burst of new inventory that temporarily changed the equation between buyers and inventory, now with October’s statistics it’s clear the market is still dominated by a high demand/ low supply/ upward pressure on prices dynamic. However, it should be noted that there is a difference in market heat between a listing receiving 1 or 2 offers compared to it receiving 5 to 20 offers, however that difference might not show up in the statistics as long as one good offer is accepted.

Comparing September-October sales reported to MLS with the same two months in 2011, SF dollar volume home sales were up 41%; at Paragon, our sales were up over 109%. These are not the signs of an ebbing market, nor are the statistics illustrated below.

Typically, at this time of year, the number of new listings begins to markedly decline in preparation for the slowdown that usually begins at Thanksgiving and runs through mid-January. But we saw very little of the usual summer slowdown this year, so we will see how much market activity slackens during this year’s holiday season.

Median Sales Price Jumps in October
The median home sales price is that price at which half the sales occurred for more and half for less. It is a very general statistic and big monthly fluctuations, such as seen in October, should be taken with a grain of salt until substantiated over the longer term. Still, October saw a very large increase over the relatively static median prices seen in the previous 6 months, which followed the big jump in early 2012. Remember that sales prices reflect accepted offer activity in the 4 to 10 weeks prior.

Average Sales Price Jumps
The average price is simply the total dollar volume of sales divided by the number of sales. Like median price, it is a general statistic affected by a variety of factors and often fluctuates without great significance on a monthly basis. Among other factors, a decline in distressed home sales and/or an increase in high-end home sales, both of which are occurring now in SF, can have an outsized effect on average sales price. We will see if October’s big increase is sustained in future months or is simply one of those anomalous fluctuations which occur in real estate.

Buyer Demand Remains at Peak Level
The percentage of listings accepting offers in October was probably about as high as it has ever been, close to twice the level of October 2011. The decline seen in September was the result of a large influx of new listings hitting the market in mid-month.

New Home Construction Blasting Off
After crashing in 2008, developers are building again in a big way: over 4000 housing units are currently under construction in San Francisco, with many thousands more in the planning/permit phases. The lack of new homes on the market in the past few years has greatly impacted the supply side of the supply and demand equation. However, with the significant time lag between construction beginning on the larger projects and new condos arriving on market, the effects of this building surge will be a while before being felt.

Distressed Home Market Dwindling
The city was never as hard hit as many other areas by distressed home sales (bank-owned and short sales), and now they are declining rapidly with the market recovery. The number of distressed home listings has declined by 80% since it peaked in November 2010. On this course, this segment will soon be only a negligible part of the SF market.

Listings for Sale Still Very Low
After the spike in September from the large influx of new listings – September is typically the month with the greatest number of new listings – the number of homes for sale is declining again and will almost certainly continue to do so until early 2013.

Months’ Supply of Inventory (MSI)
MSI is a measure of how long it would take to sell the current supply of listings at the existing rate of sales. In October, it was about as low as it has ever been.

Average Days on Market (DOM)
Strong buyer demand plus low inventory typically leads to lower average days on market, and this is what occurred in October.

The Longer Term View
Pulling back from monthly data to look at the longer term cycles of real estate gives greater context to what’s happening in our current recovery.

In October, we completed quarterly updates for San Francisco’s luxury home market, the SoMa-South Beach condo market, the Noe Valley-Castro-Cole Valley home market, as well as for many of the city’s other neighborhoods. If you would like to review these analyses, please reply to this email with your specific request and the information will be sent to you.


Newsletter: Is the SF Market Easing a Little?

Is the Ferocious SF Market Easing a Little?

October 2012 San Francisco Market Update

September brought a burst of new inventory that helped satisfy some of the fierce buyer demand for San Francisco homes. Anecdotally, word on the street is that the market may have calmed down a little after Labor Day: not every listing is selling immediately amid high numbers of competing offers — though this may simply reflect the temporary increase in new listings, or sellers too hopeful in their asking prices. But it also appears that home price appreciation has been stabilizing or at least slowing in the last quarter after the big jump earlier in the year. It’s still too early for conclusions: Since most statistics are like looking in a rearview mirror, what is happening today will only become clear in coming months.

Even if the market has eased a little, it is still very strong and very competitive by any historical measure.

Below are 2 updated, mapped analyses of median sales prices and average dollar per square foot values. Almost all the current values reflect a significant jump from 2011: for the city overall, the increase has been in the 10 to 12% range, but it can vary from 4% to 18% by neighborhood and property type.

Median Sales Prices

After the big jump early in the year, median price appreciation for both house and condos appear to have stabilized or slowed – at least for the city as a whole. (Market conditions vary widely by neighborhood.) The median sales price for non-distressed SF condos now slightly exceeds the median price in 2007, the last peak of the market, while that of SF houses is only 5% below 2007. We have similar charts going back 15 to 30 years available on our website.

Inventory

September had the highest number of new listings of any month in the past year, though well below previous Septembers: 760 new home listings in September 2012 vs. 888 in 2011 and 1138 in 2010. This significantly, if temporarily, expanded the choice of homes available to buyers. But now, in October, the number of new listings is dwindling again and inventory is still drastically low by any historical measure. Overall, in the third quarter, there were 1100 fewer listings than in the same period last year, but the number of sales increased by 21%.

2-Bedroom Condo Median Prices

In the 5 areas shown, condo values jumped across the board, though the most dramatic increase from the bottom of the market has been in South Beach/Yerba Buena — where in the last 2 quarters, the median price surged ahead of that for Pacific and Presidio Heights. Noe and Eureka Valleys and surrounding neighborhoods, SoMa and Hayes Valley/NoPa have also seen large increases. If you’d like data on a neighborhood not listed, please let us know.

Average Dollar per Square Foot House Values

Though pretty much all SF neighborhoods are seeing increases in dollar per square foot values for houses, the more affluent districts 5 (Noe/Eureka/Cole Valleys) and 7 (Pacific Heights-Marina) have seen some of the largest jumps. In the last 2 quarters, District 5 hit a point matching the peak of the market in 2007. If you’d like data on a neighborhood not listed, please let us know.

Luxury Home Sales

Comparing the 3rd Quarter 2012 with 3rd Quarter 2011, MLS listings of San Francisco homes of $1,500,000 and above increased by 23% and sales soared by 54%. This map shows where those sales occurred: 18 in the Sea Cliff/ Lake Street/ Richmond district; 26 in the Pacific Heights/ Marina district; 21 in Russian/ Nob/ Telegraph Hills; 19 in the greater SoMa/South Beach area; 53 in the Noe/ Eureka/ Cole Valleys district; 10 in the St. Francis Wood/ Forest Hill district; 2 in Potrero Hill and 3 in Bernal Heights. The highest prices are still generally achieved in the band of very affluent neighborhoods running across the northern boundary of the city, though growth in the number of luxury home sales is strongest in the central and northeastern areas.

Months Supply of Inventory (MSI)

Still bumping along at the lowest levels in memory. MSI reflects the amount of time it would take to sell the current inventory of homes for sale at the existing rate of sales. Lower MSI means higher demand as compared to supply.

Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers

Houses, condos and TICs all hit historic highs in the 54% to 60% range earlier in the year, but have now fallen back a bit. In the third quarter, TICs saw a rather large decrease, but their percentage is still much higher than in the last four calendar years. The percentages for houses and condos are still extraordinarily high. This statistic is one of the clearest measures of supply and demand.

Average Days on Market

For those listings that did accept offers in September, the average days on market was the lowest in a long while. Many new listings, especially those considered most appealing and well-priced, are accepting offers within 7 to 10 days of coming on market.


Summer’s Unflagging Demand Fuels Higher SF Home Prices

San Francisco Real Estate Market: September 2012 Update

Typically, the real estate market slows down during the summer months – a period often called the summer doldrums — but that certainly did not occur this year in San Francisco: unflagging buyer demand continued through August. The market recovery that began in some SF neighborhoods late last year has now spread throughout the city. Bay Area, state and national home markets are also showing clear, if still early signs of turnaround.
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San Francisco House Values Rising

It’s rare that the 3 main statistical measurements of home value line up so perfectly, but comparing this summer’s house sales to last summer’s shows 12% increases across the board. Which doesn’t mean uniform appreciation for SF homes: changes in value vary by property and neighborhood. This analysis and the one following are for non-distressed sales in the city’s 8 northern and central districts, which generally run north of the Sloat Blvd/ Highway 280 line: The 2 southern districts were hit much harder by foreclosures and though they too are recovering quickly, mixing in their data distorts the results. During this 3-month period, house sales volume in the 8 districts was up 5% in units and 18% in dollar volume — and would be up much higher if more inventory had been available. Average days on market fell from 52 days to 39 days year over year.

San Francisco Condo Values Rising

The condo statistics don’t line up quite as neatly, but nearly so: they’re up from 9.4% to almost 12.5%, with the average being about 11%, which is very close to the 12% increase seen in houses. (Remember: these statistics are generalities regarding the sale of many hundreds of relatively unique homes.) Closed sales follow the time when new listings hit the market and offers are negotiated by 4 to 10 weeks, so these charts reflect the market from April through July. Non-distressed condo sales volume in the 8 northern/central city districts during this 3-month period is up 41% in units and 54% in dollar volume from last summer, and average days on market dropped from 69 days to 47 days.

Most Listings Selling At or Over Asking Price

San Francisco is currently seeing remarkable percentages of homes selling above and sometimes far above the asking price: 64% of house sales and 45% of condo sales in August closed at above list price, and solid percentages sold at 10% higher or more. This is perhaps as good a snapshot as any of the ferocious heat of buyer demand right now. (Sales that were within a quarter percent of 100% were considered “At List Price.”)

Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers

No summer slowdown is showing up in this important metric of supply and demand.

Price Reductions, Sales Price Percentages, Time on Market

Over two thirds of SF listings are selling quickly at an average of almost 4% over the asking price. Those listings that go through one or more price reductions take much longer to sell (over 2 1?2 months longer on average) to close at a significant discount to original price. For every listing selling after a price reduction, another listing expires or is withdrawn without selling, typically due to being perceived as overpriced. The keys to getting the best price for your home: price it right to begin with; prepare it to show at its absolute best; comprehensively market it to buyers and agents; negotiate offers aggressively. And it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of a low inventory/high demand market.

Distressed House Sales Declining

Distressed house sales – bank-owned and short sales – are clustered in the city’s two southern districts, running from Bayview to Oceanview. However, these listings are rapidly declining as the market turns around and values increase: distressed house sales have dropped from 20% of sales in 2011 to 12% in August 2012. This becomes a virtuous circle of market recovery: higher values mean fewer distressed listings; fewer distressed listings lessen their (significant) negative effect on neighborhood home values.

Distressed Condo Sales Sinking

The distressed condo segment of the SF market is dwindling rapidly both as a percentage of total sales (from 20% in 2011 to 14% YTD, and 10% in August 2012), and even more dramatically, as a percentage of listings for sale (down to only 4% as of August 31). The greatest number of distressed condo sales has been in the greater SoMa/ South Beach area, where so many of the new, big developments were built over the past 10-15 years, but the impact of these sales is shrinking very quickly everywhere in the city.

Unit Sales Up

Condo and 2-4 unit building unit sales are up over 20% from last year this time – this time comparing a six-month period of each year. House sales — and indeed sales of all types — would certainly be up by a much greater percentage if there were simply more listings for buyers to purchase.

Inventory Way Down

There’s no ambiguity in this chart: An inadequate number of new listings and extremely high demand have kept the inventory of listings available to choose from on any given day lower than at any time in recent memory. It’s not unusual for September to bring a large burst of new listings to fuel the autumn sales season: in this chart, you can see the big jump in September 2010 and the smaller surge in September 2011. Buyers and their agents are certainly praying for a surge in inventory to alleviate the intense competition for available homes.

Days on Market Continue to Decline

The trend is clear: listings are selling much more quickly. Though 37 days as an average is very, very low — nationally, there’s excitement that the figure just fell to 69 days — many new listings in the city are accepting offers within 7-10 days of coming on market.

Values by Neighborhood, Property Type & Bedroom Count

We just completed our detailed semi-annual survey of SF home values. This is one of seven charts: the complete report can be found by clicking on the Market Dynamics Charts link in the footer below and then selecting Neighborhood Values from the sections listed on the upper left of the webpage.


Three Recessions, Two Bubbles and a Baby (Recovery)

30 Years of Housing Market Cycles in San Francisco

Below is a look at the past 30 years of real estate boom and bust cycles. Financial-market cycles have been around for hundreds of years, all the way back to the Dutch tulip mania of the 1600′s. While future cycles will vary in their details, the causes, effects and trend lines are often quite similar.

In the first 2 charts below, tracking the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the San Francisco 5-County Metro Statistical Area (MSA), the data points are for January of each year and refer to home values as a percentage of those in January 2000. January 2000 equals 100 on the trend line: 66 means prices were 66% of those in January 2000; 175 signifies prices 75% higher.

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1983 through 1995

(After recession) Boom, Decline, Doldrums

In the above chart, the country is just coming out of the late seventies, early eighties recession – huge inflation, stagnant economy (“stagflation”) and incredibly high interest rates (hitting 18%). As the economy recovered, the housing market started to appreciate and this surge in values began to accelerate deeper into the decade. Over 6 years, the market appreciated almost 100%. Finally, the eighties version of irrational exuberance — junk bonds, stock market swindles, the Savings & Loan implosion, as well as the late 1989 earthquake here in the Bay Area — ended the party.

Recession arrived, home prices sank, sales activity plunged and the market stayed flat for 4 years. Still, even after the decline, home values were 70% higher than when the boom began in 1984.

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1996 through 2011

(After Recession) Boom, Bubble, Crash, Doldrums

This next cycle looks similar but elongated. In 1996, after years of recession, the market suddenly took off and became frenzied — similar to what we’re experiencing today. The dotcom bubble pop and September 2001 attacks created a market hiccup, but then the subprime and refinance insanity, CDOs and derivatives, Ponzi schemes, books titled “Dow 30,000″ and claims that real estate never declines, super-charged a housing bubble. From 1996 to 2006/2008, the market went through an astounding period of appreciation. (Different areas hit peak values at different times from 2006 to early 2008.) In September 2008 came the market crash.

Across the country, home values fell 15% to 60%, peak to bottom, depending on the area and how badly it was affected by foreclosures — most of San Francisco got off comparatively lightly with declines in the 15% to 25% range. The least affluent areas got hammered hardest by distressed sales and price declines; the most affluent were typically least affected. Then the market stayed flat for more than 3 years, albeit with a few short-term fluctuations.

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San Francisco in 2012

A Strong but Young Recovery

In 2011, San Francisco began to show signs of perking up. An improving economy and growing buyer demand coupled with a low inventory of listings began to put upward pressure on prices. In 2012, as in 1996, the market abruptly grew frenzied with competitive bidding. The city’s affluent neighborhoods led the recovery, and those considered particularly desirable by newly wealthy, high-tech workers showed the largest gains. However, virtually the entire city is now experiencing a high demand-low supply dynamic.

The SF median house sales price has increased dramatically in 2012, though varying widely by neighborhood. But it’s still a baby recovery — though seemingly a healthy one — and the economy remains susceptible to big financial/political crises. However, the greater Bay Area, the state and the country are ALL beginning to show signs of a housing recovery. New home construction is rising, distressed sales are declining, the rent vs. buy equation has turned favorable to buying, and values are ticking up again.

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The 1983 – 2012 Overview

Up, Down, Flat, Up, Down, Flat (Repeat?)

Smoothing out the bumps delivers this overview for the past 30 years. Whatever the phase of the cycle, up or down, while it’s going on people think it will last forever: Every time the market crashes, the consensus becomes that real estate won’t recover for decades. But the economy mends, the population grows, people start families, and repressed demand of those who want to own their own homes builds up. In the early eighties, mid-nineties and now in 2012, after 3-4 years of a recessionary housing market, this repressed demand jumps back in and prices start to rise again.

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Bay Area Price Declines by Price Range

This chart illustrates the huge differences in the degree of value declines suffered by different price segments of single-family housing in the Bay Area: The lower the price range, the greater the percentage of distressed sales and the larger the declines in values. San Francisco, with its expensive housing, suffered less than most places, though it still certainly suffered. Distressed sales never made up the huge percentage of sales they reached in other counties, and now, with the market rebound, distressed-home listings in SF are rapidly declining.

Very generally speaking, the more affluent areas of the city saw a peak-to-bottom decline in the 15% to 20% range; the city’s middle price range saw 15% to 25% declines; and its lowest price segment went down 25% to 40%. Some neighborhoods are now seeing a rapid reversal of those declines.

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Is San Francisco an Exceptional Market?

Comparing Rates of Appreciation & Decline with Other Market Areas

Every market is different, and San Francisco is very different from the rest of the state and country, even from counties across the bay: Demographically, economically, culturally, in its severe limitations on growth — we can’t expand like Las Vegas or Phoenix or most counties — and in its overall desirability as a place to live and work.

The above charts illustrate how that translates into home values. Comparing the city, Bay Area, California and United States over the past 20 years, San Francisco home values appreciated more, declined less after the crash, and now appear to be recovering more quickly.

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Note on Methods and Data Sets

Calculating home price percentage changes, such as increases to or declines from peak value, are notoriously variable. The most dramatic results — and most often quoted in the media — come from picking the absolute highest value or lowest value month as the point of comparison. But monthly data often fluctuates dramatically without great significance, and we typically prefer quarterly or annual statistics if available. However, if a market is changing quickly, then monthly data must be used to illuminate the incipient trend. Still, sustained longer-term trends are always the most meaningful.

The above charts use a variety of data sets: S&P Case-Shiller Indices, San Francisco MLS sales and median sales prices from state and national Realtor Associations. Each has its own specific market area, property types and time period tracked, and methodology. These analyses were performed in good faith to create what we believe are true, if only approximate, reflections of market trends over time.

Percentage increases and declines are not created equal: A price jump from $500,000 to $1,000,000 equals a 100% increase, but falling back from $1,000,000 to $500,000, the same dollar change equals only a 50% decline.


San Francisco Market is Stuck

July 2012 Market Update

If you wish, you may jump straight to the market charts.

The SF real estate market is stuck. Stuck in high gear: huge buyer demand + the lowest interest rates in history + extremely low inventory of listings = (often ferocious) competitive bidding and increasing prices. Though this trend began in the city’s more affluent areas, it has now spread to virtually every neighborhood, property type and price segment. Since closed sales activity follows the time of offer acceptance by 4 to 8 weeks, the appreciation in home values has not yet shown up in the statistics for certain neighborhoods. We believe it will soon.

Though this situation is to the advantage of sellers (after years of market doldrums), homebuyers might take some consolation in the fact that the last time the market dramatically shifted after a similar downturn, in 1996 after the early nineties recession, there was a market frenzy much like ours today. However, people who bought at that time still ended up doing very well by getting in at the beginning of a market rebound that went on for many years, even before the housing-bubble years began. And interest rates then were close to double today’s.

When reviewing the map analyses below, remember that median and average statistics are generalities, and how they apply to any specific property is unknown. Percentage changes should be taken with a grain of salt: some neighborhoods have relatively small numbers of sales, which make statistics less reliable; in other areas, it may simply be that the size/quality mix of homes sold shifted from one period to the other — this happens. Still, overall, it is clear that the city is experiencing a general surge in home values.

Explanations for the statistics referenced can be found on the Paragon website: Statistical Definitions

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SF Median House Prices and Appreciation

Many of the city’s neighborhoods are showing significant increases in the house median sales price, and this appears to be accelerating as we get deeper into the year. Those areas not yet showing significant change are expected to show increases in the next quarter’s statistics.


Median Condo Prices and Appreciation
Many neighborhoods are showing significant increases in the condo median sales price, and this appears to be accelerating. (However, as an example of how statistics are not 100% reliable, the chart shows no appreciation for Pacific and Presidio Heights condos over the past year: we believe there was indeed significant appreciation on par with most other nearby affluent areas, but the statistic is reflecting other factors, such as different inventories for sale during the two periods being compared.)


Average Dollar per Square Foot
Average dollar per square foot has been increasing in 2012, and this appears to be accelerating.


San Francisco Dollar Volume Sales
Two factors affect dollar volume: the number of sales and the average sales price. In 2012 both of these statistics have been jumping in the city.


SF Unit Home Sales
The number of sales reported to MLS has jumped to its highest number in over 4 years. However, there are two additional factors: new-development condo sales which are often not reported to MLS are lower than in many previous years due to the crash in building after 2008 (though this is turning around too). On the other hand, it appears that the number of “off-market” sales, not listed in or reported to MLS, has surged in 2012.


Home Sales by Property Type
Houses and condos make up the great majority of sales in San Francisco, though TIC sales seem to be making a big recovery in the low-inventory situation the city has found itself in.


Home Sales by Price Range
As the market has heated up, prices have risen and distressed home listings have plunged. This is causing something of a shift upward in the percentage of sales in the higher price segments.


Average Sales Price: Short Term Trend
Average sales price and median sales price are different statistics, but they’re both showing the same trend in San Francisco.


Price Reductions, Sales Price to List Price Percentage & Days on Market
Houses selling without a price reduction are growing as a percentage of sales. They are averaging well over the asking price and selling in the shortest time period in years.


SF Luxury Home Sales
Homes selling for over $1,500,000 hit their highest level in years in the second quarter of 2012.


2-Bedroom Condo Prices: Long-Term Trends
These neighborhoods have all been showing significant price appreciation since the home-price crash in 2008-2009. If this chart went back to 1995, it would show that median prices pretty much doubled between 1995 and 2000.


Expired and Withdrawn Listings
As the market gets hotter, fewer listings expire without selling. Right now,the percentage of expired and withdrawn listings is incredibly low.


Percentage of Listings Accepting Offers
The stronger the buyer demand and the lower the inventory, the higher the percentage of listings accepting offers. Every San Francisco property type is at its highest percentage in many years, and perhaps its highest ever.



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