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Interactive Map of 11 Best Beaches in the Bay Area

Yes, it’s beach time – at least according to the balmy, getting pretty warm and clear weather we’re having nowadays. So, you live in San Francisco, and you’re wondering what are the best coast beaches to take a blanket, high SPF sunscreen, umbrella and brunch or lunch cooler to? Well, the folks at sf.curbed.com have anticipated your wonderings on beach wandering, and produced an online interactive map of 11 beaches close by for you (see the link below).

This beachy interactive map gives you a text blurb on the beach, a snapshot and an icon on the CA Bay Area coast map of where the beach is (and you can see on the map the other icons of beach choices).

#1 is Stinson Beach, of course, a fav of the local beach goers that’s 35 minutes north. Get there plenty early so you get a parking lot spot.

#3 is Marshall’s Beach which is clothing optional (so maybe not for the whole family), and is just north of Baker Beach, but with less people.

#6 is Fort Funston Beach which is renowned for walking, and is reached by a short hike down 200-foot high sandy bluffs, and dogs are woof welcome.

Click here to see the map

Does A Butler Come With My Rent – Yes in SoMa, SF

That’s a question I wouldn’t normally think of: does a butler come with my monthly rental check to you? Well, down in the white hot competitive market for renters in SoMa, the new 33 Tehama Street Tower is offering a new service called, “Hello, Alfred”—which is pretty close to Downton Abbey butler service. Well…sort of.

What do you get for Hello Alfred in your monthly rent? You get weekly cleaning and grocery delivery services, and for some extra fees the ersatz butlers can run errands, organize closets and pantries, arrange for catering or a dinner party, get theater tickets and stuff like that.

Paul Paradis of Developer Hines (the company behind the luxury tower and butler service) says, “This is a whole new level of service that San Francisco has never seen. When you live here, you don’t need a gym or private club membership. You don’t even need a car.”

And what will it cost you to live at Tehama Street? $3,600 to $4,600 for a one bedroom, $5,375 to $6,300 for a two-bedroom unit, and for the penthouses, you’ll fork over $15,000 to $18,000 a month. The strategy is working. Renters are moving in fast to the building’s 403 apartments.

Media Reports Suggest Major Bay Area Decline

The sources of the data behind the below (and many more) articles: an online survey by a PR company; an analysis of traffic on a real estate website; the alleged cost of a U-Haul to Las Vegas; anecdotal opinions from a handful of venture capitalists on a mid-west bus tour; and new U.S. census data, more often than not selectively or misleadingly quoted to sound most ominous. (The WSJ article was by far the most fastidious with using hard data from reliable sources, though it was still alarmist in tone.)

Quotes and headlines from selected media articles in March 2018

[According to a survey] “49 % of Bay Area residents were looking to move out.”
Business Insider

“San Francisco is such a boomtown that people are leaving in droves.”
Wall Street Journal

“Silicon Valley is over” “In the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost
more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country.” 

New York Times

“San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in
– and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital.” 


Bad news, predictions of crashes, the arrogant finally getting their comeuppance: These stories grab eyeballs and get re-posted on social media. And much of the country finds the Bay Area insufferably smug – its wealth, home prices, unicorns, Google buses, 26-year-old billionaires, liberal politics, and much else – and if it is finally getting its just deserts, that is entertaining news. I get that: Sometimes, I find us insufferably smug myself. But let us investigate the issues a bit deeper.

First of all: Without argument, there are big economic and social challenges facing the Bay Area: high housing costs; high state income taxes; recent federal tax law changes; the hostility of the current federal government to foreign immigration; rising income inequality, poverty and homelessness; growing commute times and other quality of life issues; national and international concerns; and, yes, population migration trends too. This was covered in some detail in our recent report Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets. It is certainly true that places like Austin and Seattle, with much lower housing costs and no state income taxes, are actively luring our businesses to relocate or expand there, and doing so with some significant success.

But, for a much more realistic illustration of what is going on in the Bay Area, here is some hard data from U.S. Census and CA Employment Development Department data released in March:

More people are NOT leaving San Francisco or the Bay Area than arriving. When you tally both domestic migration in and out (to and from other places in the U.S.), and foreign migration, more people are arriving than leaving. It is true than in the past 2 years, domestic net migration has shifted to a net loss, but that deficit is still overcome by the large positive in foreign immigration. Is the shift in domestic migration worrisome? Yes, if it continues to grow. But it is not cataclysmic in its current proportions, and there are further underlying factors to consider, which shall be discussed later in this report.

San Francisco County: Residents Leaving, New Residents Arriving
Net Domestic & Foreign, and Total Net Migration Numbers, per U.S. Census
The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number

5-County San Francisco Metro Area Migration

The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number

The Bay Area population is still growing both from migration and natural factors (births less deaths), albeit at slower rates than the torrid pace of previous years. As the WSJ admits in its article, SF and SF metro area populations are not shrinking: The SF Metro area population increased by .6% in the last 12 month period, as measured by the census through 7/1/17, which is one tenth of 1 percent lower than the .7% national rate. And a slower rate of growth than our recent population explosion is not a bad thing, since the Bay Area is bursting at the seams from growth without concomitant improvements in housing supply and infrastructure.

Long-Term Population Trends: San Francisco County

Short-Term Population Changes: 5-County SF Metro Area

The representation by Business Insider that 49% of residents were looking to move out is simply absurd. Really? Every other person? If people were fleeing or planning to flee in the proportions suggested, one would expect every other home in the Bay Area to sport a “for sale” sign, while the percentage of homeowners selling their homes is actually at historic lows: Less than 2% of SF house owners sold their homes in 2017. (The ratio was higher for condo owners, but still low at something over 4%.) I suppose it is possible that in the frenzy to get away, people are simply abandoning their homes instead of selling them.

New Listings Coming on Market: San Francisco County

Bay Area employment growth remains extremely strong. According to the CA Employment Development Department, for the six big Bay Area counties (the 5-county SF metro area plus Santa Clara County), no matter which month of 2017 one looks at, the year-over-year increase in Bay Area employed residents, ranged from 60,000 to 90,000. As the WSJnotes: “The broader Bay Area is the most robust metro region in the nation in terms of payroll job growth, according to the most recent regional analysis from the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson Forecast, an economic forecaster.”

Number of Employed Residents, per EDD
5-County SF Metro Area + Santa Clara County

Some other factors to consider:

Many of the people leaving inner Bay Area counties are moving to adjacent counties, such as Solano, Sonoma, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, San Benito and Stanislaus Counties. Many of those people almost certainly continue to work within the metro area. To some degree, the Bay Area economic zone is expanding geographically, not declining.

The Bay Area over the past 7 years has been one of the greatest new-wealth creation machines in history. With the recent Dropbox IPO, it seems to be cranking into gear again – and there are still dozens of other local unicorns such as Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, Palantir, with total values in the hundreds of billions of dollars – that could yet go public. Uber has already stated its desire to do so in the near future.

A substantial portion of those leaving the Bay area are retirees, cashing out on high home prices to move to less expensive locales, such as other counties in California, and Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. This is not a new phenomenon, as it has been going on for decades, though it may have accelerated in recent years, since cashing out has become so much more lucrative.

Most of those coming to the Bay Area are coming for new jobs, and the Bay Area remains a magnet for many of the best and the brightest around the world. Besides which, every year, thousands of Bay Area students graduate from schools like UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford, to take jobs locally as well. Economically, the Bay Area is trading many residents who are, to a large degree, checking out of the economy for people in the prime of their working lives.

Millions of square feet of new commercial office space continue to be snapped up as soon as they come on market, even before the buildings are finished, and the only possible reasons are new businesses arriving and existing businesses expanding, both of which are fueled by continued hiring.

The Bay Area certainly has substantial challenges to face and it is not sure it will overcome its problems. And it is true that people and businesses are moving out in greater numbers than any time since 2002. But, on the other hand, start-ups continue to start up by the hundreds, local business continue to expand, and the Bay Area undoubtedly remains one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. And despite all its faults and problems, it is still, in my opinion, one of the great metropolitan areas and best places to live on the planet.

Other reports you might find interesting:

Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets
Changing California Migration Trends
30+ Years of Bay Area Real Estate Cycles
Survey of Bay Area Real Estate Markets
All Paragon reports can be found here

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco’s Seawall Up For Redo to Avoid Waterfront Disaster

One 2016 report that should make San Franciscans sit up or leap up in alarm is the one from the SF Port Commission stating that more than $77 billion worth of SF waterfront real estate will be under water by 2100. The report was responding to the predicted changing coastline of the state and Bay Area. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Creek developments rose out of unstable land fill decades ago and need further protecting. And two of the landmark properties protected by the seawall are the Ferry Building and AT&T Park.

It is estimated that it will cost $5 billion to fix and upgrade SF’s seawall to protect it from earthquakes and rising Bay water levels, at $3 billion for the former and $2 billion for the latter. SF Assemblyman David Chiu wants to fund an fast-response restructuring of the seawall with $250 million from state taxes.

The seawall report states, “Around the city, more than 200,000 commercial and residential buildings—along with major infrastructure like the airport—are at risk from either temporary flooding or permanent loss due to sea level rise if the city does nothing to prepare. Even more dangerously, the risk extends well inland, and isn’t limited to property directly on the coast.”

A Selection of Charts about Debt

Most of the charts below come from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. We have not had time to comment on each chart and what we believe its significance to be (and, in any case, we are probably unqualified to do so), but you might still find them interesting. Increasing debt levels often play an enormous role in financial cycles. In our view, the increasing amounts of debt being taken on within the country and worldwide (both at historic highs) is dangerous, however historically low interest rates have greatly ameliorated the effects. If rates rise significantly, then high levels of debt can easily become economically destabilizing.

The first 2 charts look at short- and long-term mortgage interest rate trends because they massively influence the financial effect of debt.The third is on consumer confidence, because increasing confidence often leads to taking on higher levels of debt, and “irrational exuberance” often leads to taking on untenable levels of debt. Then the report dives into national, corporate and household debt statistics.

Mortgage Interest Rates
Short-Term Trends

Long-Term Trends

Consumer Confidence

National Debt

U.S. Corporate Debt

Investor (Margin) Debt

Household Debt Statistics

Household Debt Statistics for Selected States

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

How Do You Celebrate Spring in San Francisco? Here’s How.

We’re getting some spring rains, and even the bees in San Francisco (and there are hundreds of thousands among us) are out harvesting nectar and pollen from burgeoning flower blooms on trees and plants. And longer days is a sure fire sign. Spring’s coming in like a seasonal freight train. So how do you best take part in this annual earth orbital event?

Here are 21 ideas from sf.curbed.com in the form of an interactive map in which there’s a blurb on the event, a picture and the location pinned on a web digital map. See the map link below.

#1 is the Bay Area Brew Festival, a favorite with local, national and international beer samples. Proceeds help the Copper Dream Animal Rescue. It’s being held on Pier 35 on March 24th.

#4 is Opening Day on the Bay for all serious, dilettante and observer-type boat enthusiasts. Includes a boat parade starting from Palace of Fine Arts. Held April 22

#15 is a visit to the famed San Francisco Botanical Garden with its 8,000 species of plants, shrubs and trees, all a poppin in bloom now. Park’s open till 6 pm now.

And many, many more…

Click here for the full map.

San Francisco Hot and Heavy Among the James Beard Award Finalists

San Francisco, and, indeed, the entire Bay Area includes 15 local chefs, restaurants, wine specialists and industry movers-and-shakers on the very short finalists list for the James Beard Award. The finalists were whittled down from 20,000 entries across 21 categories nationally. SF and the Bay Area produced 29 semifinalists, and those rarified few went on to rise to finalists. So, a nice percentage for our city are in the running for the prized award.

The finalists were selected by a panel of 600 volunteer judges who include food and wine editors, food critics, past JB Award winners and culinary teachers.

Among the finalist firmament:

In Situ in San Francisco for outstanding restaurant design award

Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn for best chef West

Bar Agricole on SF’s 11th Street for outstanding bar program

Quince in SF for outstanding restaurant

Saison’s for outstanding service

Click here to see the slide show of 7 of the finalists.

Long-Term Trends in San Francisco Real Estate

The great advantage of reviewing annual data is how often the market trend lines clarify into a straightforward dynamic, instead of the constant up and down fluctuations often seen in monthly or quarterly data charts. (Monthly data is constantly being abused by the media, when proper context is not given.) It is similar to standing back to look at a broad view of terrain as opposed to focusing on the one small piece that is right in front of your shoe.

Among other advantages, annual trend lines track greater amounts of data, which usually adds to reliability, and also avoid the fluctuating effects of seasonality on real estate markets. However, we also have dozens of charts that look at monthly and quarterly data, sometimes specifically to illustrate seasonality, but those analyses are in other reports.

All our Bay Area real estate market analyses can be found here: Paragon Reports

Median Price Changes
A Selection of Angles & Presentations

We have many more annual appreciation charts on individual San Francisco neighborhoods and Bay Area cities, which can be found here: Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis

S&P Case-Shiller Bay Area Home Price Index Trends

Case-Shiller does not use median prices to determine appreciation, but instead uses its own proprietary algorithm. The numbers on Case-Shiller charts refer to home prices when compared to a January 2000 home price of 100. Thus if at some point after 2000, the chart number is 150, that signifies 50% home price appreciation since January 2000. Case-Shiller uses a 5-county metro area in its San Francisco analyses. Needless to say, this includes a huge variety of different housing markets.

We probably have 10 charts illustrating Case-Shiller data. This one below breaks out appreciation and depreciation trends by price segment, dividing the market into thirds by number of sales. The reason why this is particularly important recently is that during the subprime bubble and the resulting crash, different price segments had bubbles, crashes and recoveries of hugely different magnitudes, mostly depending on how they were affected by subprime financing, foreclosures and distressed property sales.

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


Inventory & Sales Trends

Housing Affordability Trends

Our full report: Bay Area Housing Affordability


Luxury Home Market Sales Trends

Our full report is here: San Francisco Luxury Home Market Report


Mortgage Interest Rate Trends

Annual General Market Dynamics Trends

Looking at annual trends of a variety major real estate market measures, one is struck by how the different analyses reflect virtually the exact same market dynamics over the past 6 or 7 years, heating up as the market came out of the recession, and then cooling or plateauing in 2016 after market heat peaked in 2015. When multiple statistics line up like this, the data is considered much more meaningful and reliable. However, remember that the San Francisco and Bay Area markets are made up of many distinct segments, and it’s not unusual for the trends in specific segments (prices, locations, property types) to, at times, go in different directions at varying speeds.

Depending on the statistic, a trend line moving up might signify either a market heating up or one cooling down, and vice versa.

Residential Multi-Unit Median Price Trends

Our complete report: San Francisco Bay Area Apartment Building Report


Other Economic or Demographic Trends

Selected Factors behind the Real Estate Market

Annual Sales Volume Trends

Much more information can be found on our main reports page:

Paragon Market Statistics & Analysis
Using, Understanding and Evaluating Real Estate Statistics  

It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis, which we are happy to provide upon request.

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.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

Paying To Get Into Congestion Areas in SF Could Be Coming

The day could be coming where you have to pay a kind of toll to get into downtown San Francisco. That’s right. Pay to play, or drive as it were. California state representatives are looking at Bill 3059 that would permit cities to tack on congestion tolls in traffic clogged areas. The bill creates four “Go Zones,” two in northern CA and two in southern CA. One of the two in northern Cal would be downtown San Francisco.

Though it’s not clear how it would work, drivers coming into the Go Zone—including all the Uber and Lyft drivers—would have to pay a fee, that fee going into a fund to pay for local mass transit carriers BART or Muni.

How do San Franciscans feel about such a toll? Not too enthusiastic, at least as of two years ago. In a poll on the subject, 72% of SF citizens thought tolls were a bad idea. But that was two years ago, and in the current talk around town on traffic congestion (which has woefully increased) tolls could be looked on more favorably now.

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