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New condos support home sales in November

Sales of single-family homes and condominiums spiked 13 percent higher in November year-over-year, though they were down 14 percent from a month earlier – twice the decline usually seen during the holiday season. That’s according to SocketSite, which quotes CoreLogic data in reporting that closings for newly built condominiums buoyed those figures.


Additionally, sales listed in San Francisco – which, as SocketSite notes, do not include most of newly built sales – were down 19 percent month over month. They had also dropped 7 percent year over year. CoreLogic also found that the median sale price for all single-family houses and condos was $1.15 million in November. That’s an increase of 3.6 percent from September’s $1.11 million, which also hits the record $1.15 million that we saw in May and represents a 7.2 percent increase year over year.


In the metropolitan Bay Area, month-over-month recorded home sales dropped 16.8 percent between October and November. That said, they also jumped 7.1 percent year over year, hitting a median sales price of $649,000. That’s an increase of 6.0 percent as opposed to November 2014. Oakland in particular saw a whopping 14.6 percent increase in median sales prices, with $550,000 the median in November as compared to $480,000 a year earlier.


A word of warning: numbers are just that, figures from a certain point in time with a certain confluence of conditions. If you’re looking to assess trends, you need to go beyond these temporal figures to look at longer-term ebbs and flows. I’m happy to help. If you have any questions, please get in touch.311269_05

SF supervisor seeks to increase affordable housing

Earlier this month, the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, London Breed, introduced what she called in a statement the highest affordable housing requirements in San Francisco history. Under that legislation, developments of 10 or more units on private property in the Divisadero and Fillmore corridors will be required to include at least 23 percent affordable units on-site. According to Breed, that is nearly double the current city standard of 12 percent. Alternatively, developers must build or fund 25 percent of the units off-site.


“We are in a housing crisis in San Francisco, and we must respond accordingly,” Breed said in the statement. “My legislation pushes the envelope like no one has before.”


Last year Breed wrote legislation that created Neighborhood Commercial Transit Districts along Divisadero and Fillmore, which allows for more housing units within a given building size. In turn, more affordable units are created as a percentage of the total units.


“I was excited to pass the NCT legislation because it meant more affordable housing units and cheaper market rate units without any height or bulk increases for buildings,” Breed said in her statement, “but I also wanted to increase the required percentage of affordable units. And that is where we ran into problems with Proposition C.”


Proposition C was a charter amendment passed in 2012; it limited the on-site affordable housing requirement to 12 percent of the units in the building if the affordable ones were built on-site. Under the proposition, that figure was 20 percent if built off-site.


“But we kept working,” Breed said in her statement, “and together we found a way to raise affordable housing requirements for Divisadero and Fillmore even under the strict terms of Prop C.”

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user torbakhopper

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user torbakhopper

2015 year in review, part two

Before the holiday break, we began looking at the SF Housing Action Coalition’s 2015 year in review, which breaks down the year’s highlights and trends. The former was discussed in our last post; today let’s talk about the trends indicated by the report.


According to the coalition, the year’s most apparent trend is the geography of the new developments springing up throughout the city. “Although our Committee doesn’t review every new development that gets built, it’s no coincidence that our reviewed project list is concentrated on the east side of San Francisco where the City has adopted area plans,” the report reads.“We’d love to review future projects in other parts of the City because we believe every neighborhood needs to do its fair share in providing the housing we so badly need.” With more new housing developments providing higher levels of onsite affordable housing, however, the group believes that this trend is expected to continue for the next few years. The report cites an example of 5M’s attainment of 40 percent affordability “through a mix of innovative approaches” and an 80/20 deal at 1601 Mariposa Street “that builds 20 percent on-site low-income housing.”


The coalition is slated to play a role in the future mayoral group that will explore a ballot measure in November 2016 to change the current inclusionary housing levels of 12 percent on-site, 20 percent off-site or 20 percent in-lieu fee.


Finally, car parking ratios are dropping, the report says, with the Mission Rock development the one exception. “As a Transit-First city, we will do our part to continue this incremental reduction in car parking,” it reads. “Finally, bike parking ratios are increasing. Several projects have set new standards and we believe all project sponsors should consider providing 1:1 bike parking space per bedroom in their buildings.”311269_05

2015 in review: the start of a series

It’s that time of year: the time when we look back at the last 365 (or so) days and try to make some sense of everything that’s transpired. The SF Housing Action Coalition has done just that, and I’d like to recap their efforts.


First, a reminder of the coalition’s advocacy focus: building well-designed and well-located affordable housing that is also transit-friendly for renters as well as buyers. Through its Project Review Committee, the coalition looked over 26 proposed housing developments as of Dec. 2, endorsing all but three of them. “Through thoughtful discussion with the developers and architects,” its year-in-review states, “our Committee makes recommendations on how projects can become more transit and environmentally friendly by encouraging more bike parking and less car parking, as well as innovative conservation efforts such as individual water metering for new units. We’ve given guidance on how to make retail and pedestrian ground-floor improvements and informed developers about new housing policies such as the Affordable Housing Bonus Program and inclusionary ‘Dial’ so they can explore providing more permanently affordable housing in their projects. This is all achieved with the help of our eight Project Review Guidelines.”


This year’s Project Review Committee’s highlights include:


  • Endorsement of 23 new housing developments totaling nearly 5,000 homes
  • Eighteen onsite Below Market Rate projects
  • Two In-Lieu Fee projects
  • Three projects combining onsite, offsite and in-lieu fee
  • A total of 1,103 Below Market Rate units, with more than $22 million to the Mayor’s Office of Housing to fund all of the city’s affordable projects
  • Slightly more than 4,700 new parking spots, mostly attributed to the new Mission Rock project
  • Slightly more than 3,100 Class 1 bicycle parking spots


Tomorrow we’ll continue with our 2015 year-in-review through the eyes of the coalition.311269_05

Mark Company Trend Sheet: Keeping tabs on San Francisco development

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user kangotraveler

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user kangotraveler

If you’re interested in new construction in San Francisco, the Mark Company Trend Sheet for November has the information you’re going to want. Here are the actively selling developments of 20-plus market-rate units:

• 1001 Seventeenth (1001 17th Street): 26 units, one sold and 25 available.
• 400 Grove (400 Grove Street): 30 units, 29 sold and one available.
• Fulton 555 (555 Fulton Street): 122 units, 46 sold and 76 available.
• LuXe (1650 Broadway Avenue): 34 units, 10 sold and 24 available.
• Lumina (201 Folsom Street): 656 units, 406 sold and 250 available.
• 6 Mint (6 Mint Plaza): 22 units, 18 sold and four available.
• Onyx on the Park (310 Carolina Street): 21 units, 20 sold and one available.
• Park Lane (1100 Sacramento Street): 33 units, 28 sold and five available.
• Rockwell (1688 Pine Street): 260 units, 212 sold and 48 available.
• Seventy2 Townsend (72 Townsend Street): 67 units, 40 sold and 27 available.
• Summit 800 (800 Brotherhood Way): 182 units, 114 sold and 68 available.
• The San Francisco Shipyard Blocks 53-54 (Donahue and Innes Streets): 143 units, 97 sold and 43 available.

According to the Trend Sheet, the median price per square foot for condominiums in the city is $1,022. That’s a 10 percent increase year-over-year and a 6 percent jump month-over-month. The number of sales is at 188, down 6 percent year-over-year and a 20 percent plunge from October, confirming that the holiday season is slower than most. As for active condominium listings, there are 241 units available, with 140 active contingent listings. There is a paltry 1.3 months of inventory available.

As for pending condominium listings, there are 188 units currently, which is a pending percentage of 33 percent. Any figure exceeding 25 percent is indicative of a seller’s market.

The Fed Interest Rate Increase

On Wednesday, the Fed increased its key interest rate for the first time in 7 years – by .25%. So far, it has had a tremendous effect on the FHLMC average 30-year mortgage interest rate: It soared from 3.95% on 12/10/15 to 3.97% on 12/17/15.


Heading into the Holiday Slowdown after an Interesting Autumn Market

Median sales prices in October and November jumped back up to levels similar to the spring peak selling season. It’s important to remember that median prices are not a perfect reflection of changes in fair market value: They often fluctuate due to seasonal inventory and buyer-profile trends, as well as issues such as an influx of new-construction listings. It is the longer-term trend that is most meaningful – however we can say with confidence that there was clearly no significant “crash” in prices this past autumn.



One indication of the heat of the market is the extent to which sales prices are bid up over asking prices.As is not untypical, the market becomes less competitive in November as it heads into the winter holidays. Still, an average sales price 6% over asking price would be considered crazy-hot in any other market in the country (though one also has to adjust for the fact that serious underpricing has become a not uncommon listing strategy in the SF market).


This chart based on S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index data illustrates the seasonality of home price appreciation in the past 4 years: surging in our feverish spring selling seasons, and then generally plateauing through the rest of the year. Note that Case-Shiller looks at home prices in a totally different way than median sales price trends, and probably reflects changes in fair market value more accurately. Case-Shiller Index numbers refer back to a January 2000 value of 100, thus the current Index reading for higher-priced Bay Area homes of 217 signifies home prices 117% above January 2000.

As we enter the winter holiday market slowdown, the next real indication of the direction of the market will come in the first quarter of 2016. Will spring 2016 repeat the overheated, high demand/ low supply frenzies of previous springs or has the market finally reached a longer term plateau or an inflection point? We shall soon know more.

Our full report is here: S&P Case-Shiller Index for SF Metro Area


n 2015 YTD, the dominant price segment for home sales in San Francisco was $1,000,000 to $1,499,000. As seen in the first chart above, the median sales prices for both condos and houses fall within this range. Note the change from just two years ago.

San Francisco Luxury Home Market




The high-end home market is the most seasonal segment in the city (as well as the most sensitive to sudden, large, negative movements in the financial markets). Market activity starts to plunge in November, hits its nadir in December, begins to pick up in the first quarter and then usually hits its peak in spring. Much of the center of gravity in the luxury market has been shifting in recent years from the city’s prestige northern neighborhoods to other districts of the city, such as the greater Noe Valley area and the South Beach/Yerba Buena district. This is not to say that the northern districts are not still both very expensive and considered highly desirable, and the greater Pacific Heights area still dominates the market for the most expensive houses in the city, i.e. those selling for $5m and more.


After the semi-hysteria – already half forgotten – that erupted in late August and September regarding the Chinese stock market and its impact on the U.S. stock market and economy, and possibly the Bay Area housing market, we thought it interesting to take a look back at how it has played out so far.


It is widely expected that the Fed will raise interest rates in December, probably by some minimal increment, but for the time being, as of the first week of December, rates have remained below 4%.

In November, we issued two mini-reports, one on Bay Area housing affordability and another on San Francisco new housing construction. Below are the featured charts and links to the full articles.


Bay Area Housing Affordability & Market Corrections


San Francisco New-Housing Pipeline Update

Information regarding San Francisco neighborhood prices and trends can be found here: San Francisco Neighborhood Values

Additional market analyses are here: San Francisco Market Reports

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