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Renting Is Now Cheaper Than Buying in San Francisco

The sizzling buying market in SF has now turned another real estate law of gravity on its head: it’s now cheaper to rent than to plunk down the monthly mortgage on a house or condo in the city. According to Trulia’s latest research, people moving into SF or from one neighborhood to another in the city will be looking at renting as a more affordable option to buying. Of course, there’s no equity in renting, but individuals, couples and families can save by a monthly rent payment.

According to Trulia senior economist Cheryl Young, this is pretty unusual. She says, “For as long as we have run this report, renting has never been a better deal than buying. But this summer, driven by epic home price appreciation and lifeless rents, renting tips the scales over buying in San Jose and San Francisco.”

Young calculates that you can save 5.8 percent in San Francisco by going rental. Contributing to the situation is the job boom in San Francisco, with the city adding 19,100 jobs over the past year.

The Fascinating Etymology of SF Neighborhood Names

San Francisco is the city of colorful, charming neighborhood names, the more edgy colorful the better it seems. As in Dogpatch, which origins is not exactly known but it’s speculated that it was a neighborhood where dogs loved to hang out for some reason. Or another theory is that it was where bar frequenters used to congregate at favored bars. Or take Nob Hill, which is not named after a person, as many areas are in SF. Who would name a pretty steep hill “nob?” Well, etymological deep thinkers, and there is a lot of debate on this one, conclude that the name is a snarky version of “nabob,” referring to the very rich people (nabobs) building mansions on the hill.

SF names are the subject of an entertaining piece in sf.curbed.com where the origins of place names are given a pretty good historical buffing, keeping in mind that in some cases nobody can say with certitude where the name came from. A lot of them are names of politicians and soldiers (Noe Valley, Mount Davidson, Polk Gulch, Portola, etc., etc.).

If you want to know all the etymological facts and debates concerning San Francisco’s place names, check out that article here.

Stuff to Do In the Last Weekend of July 2018

It’s always a pleasure to sip some good coffee at a good café on an interesting SF street and take a look at what’s coming up for a weekend that happens to be the last weekend in a month—in this case July. San Francisco is a movable feast of engaging, inspiring, traditional to quirky art events. Yes, we are an artists’ city and we are art loving San Franciscans.

This weekend, you can check out all the pretty amazing things to do at the sfstation.com art calendar (see link below). Some are free, others pay to play.

  1. Nightlife on Mars: A Stand-up Comedy Show at Murphy’s Pub, featuring Bay Area’s best comedians.
  2. The Irish Influence in San Francisco Walking Tour—from the 1840’s on until today.
  3. Bollywood Blast: Retro Night at OMG, with hits from the 1990’s to current beats.
  4. Free Daniel Smith Watercolor Workshop, a conversation with Kim Del Valle.
  5. California — North and South at Heather James Fine Art, a two part series spanning six decades of painting California.

 

Go here to see the whole lineup for this weekend.

Seasonality: How Market Dynamics Change by Season

Seasonality typically affects inventory levels, buyer demand and median home prices, often in very significant ways – as is illustrated in the following charts. However, it is not the only factor affecting market conditions and trends – general economic conditions and financial market movements, new construction projects coming on market, significant changes in interest rates, local stock market IPOs, natural and political events, and other factors can and do impact the market as well, sometimes quite suddenly.

It is also worth noting that new listings and new sales occur every month of the year – and sometimes, depending on prevailing market conditions and the specific property, buying or selling during the slower periods of the year can be the smart strategy. For buyers in particular, though the supply of active listings is somewhat lower during mid-late summer and mid-winter market slowdowns, and the number of new listings dwindles, the competition for homes is much lower as well. There are many more price reductions and increased seller willingness to negotiate list prices. The result is that buyers can sometimes make the best deals during these periods: Many of the charts below illustrate this opportunity.

Because of the significant summer and winter slowdowns, it is difficult to come to definitive conclusions about the direction of the market during July/August, and December/January. One really has to wait for the autumn market to begin in mid-September with the typical surge of new listings, or the spring market to begin in late February/ early March to get a sense of where the market may be heading next.

The devil’s always in the details, and the details of the market change constantly. Still, there is a typical and dramatic ebb and flow to the level of activity in the market that correlate with seasonality, and that is what this report explores from a variety of angles.

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

Fluctuations in median sales prices are not unusual and these fluctuations can occur for other reasons besides changes in value, such as seasonality; inventory available to purchase; availability of financing; changes in buyer profile; and changes in the distressed and luxury segments. How these statistics apply to any particular property is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

From Luxury to Ultra-Luxury Condos in SF

Luxury has a certain ring to it in the condo world, and sparks up visions of design and amenities that include, …well, everything you can think of. However, luxury is not enough these days in San Francisco, where the trend to bring in the most well heeled buyers in condos is now ultra-luxury.

The newest ultra-luxury development is One Steuart Lane, which just took shovels to ground at 75 Howard Street. The tower will be home to 20 stories of 120 condos, with each needing to bring in at least $2.5 M for the developer to recoup costs. That works out to $2500 a square foot which is twice what a “luxury” condo goes for now in SF. The site has panoramic views of the waterfront, and Ben Kochalski, of the John Buck Co., said in an interview with bizjournal.com, “One Steuart Lane is going to be an elegant addition to the already beautiful skyline of San Francisco that will be the best-in-class residential building in the city.”

One Steuart is viewed as the last major residential development opportunity in the Embarcadero area.

60,000 New Residential Units in SF Mapped Out

San Francisco has a pretty big pipeline of new residential unit projects coming into the city—either as approved and being built or in the approval or proposal stages. These projects represent a significant boost to the total number of home or apartment units available in SF, which could translate into a lessening of the price spikes we’ve seen for home buying, and more affordable apartment rentals.

Bizjournals.com has put together two maps depicting the developments, which are clustered mainly in the downtown area with a few springing up in the Richmond District on over to the Potrero District and down to the Ingleside area.

The builders include Related California, Tishman Speyer, Crescent Heights and Shorenstein Properties.

See the map here.

SF Multi-Unit Residential Income Market

The Multi-Unit Residential Property Markets
of San Francisco, Alameda & Marin Counties

This report generally separates out the 2-4 unit and the 5+ unit apartment building markets, since they typically have different dynamics and values. All the statistics below are broad generalities covering a wide variety of buildings of very different location, size, quality, condition, tenant profile, income and income potential. Some of the charts pertain to multiple counties, while later in the report, we drill down on supply and demand statistics specific to San Francisco. Note that some of the analyses track the last 12 months of sales, while others have a final data point reflecting only 2018 YTD sales.

As a political update, Proposition F passed in San Francisco, providing city tenants facing eviction proceedings – for any reason – the right to taxpayer-funded legal representation.

According to an analysis by Socketsite, the SF Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program has so far resulted in 691 permit applications to add 1,244 such units to existing buildings. However, only 179 permits for 306 ADUs have so far been issued, and only 28 ADUs have been completed. 90 permit applications for 151 ADUs were filed in Q1 2018. There has been talk of the Planning Department simplifying the process and easing the requirements for the construction of ADUs, since current regulations have clearly been counter-productive to the goals of the program.

Bay Area Residential Rents

San Francisco Commercial Rents
Not so long ago, there were worries that a glut in new office buildings would hit market putting downward pressure on office rents, but every new building has had its space snapped up by major high-tech companies. This is pertinent to the apartment rental business since all those office buildings being leased are presumably going to be filled with additional, well-paid employees, maintaining pressure on apartment rents. This will help balance new apartment buildings coming on market as will be discussed later in this report.

Additional Chart: Median List Rent per Square Foot

Sales, Values & Trends by County & SF District

5+ Unit Buildings

2-4 Unit Buildings

San Francisco Market Overview Trends

Sales, Values & Statistics by Submarket
from our Q1 2018 report

Building Cranes Everywhere

Approximately 68,000 housing units are now in the SF new construction pipeline. Consistent with the trends in recent years, the percentage of rental units under construction is higher than for those units intended as condo sales.

Just because a project is in the pipeline does not guarantee it will be built as planned. Plans are constantly being added, changed and abandoned. New housing construction is extremely sensitive to changes in economic conditions.


Q2 2018 Sales of San Francisco 5+ Unit
Apartment Buildings
San Francisco is a unique residential-investment market: the buildings are smaller and older than in most places, built in a wide range of architectural styles. The great majority of the market is under rent control, which makes upside rental-income potential a big component of valuation, even if it is unknown when that potential might be realized. Furthermore, the units are typically unlike those in suburban garden-apartment complexes, and within the city the variety in buildings and units is enormous.

In real estate, the devil is always in the details: If you are interested in further insight into the details of any of the above sales, or regarding properties currently on the market, please contact me.

Broker Performance in
Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

According to Broker Metrics, which crunches MLS sales data, of the largest brokerages in San Francisco for multi-unit residential property sales, Paragon ranks first for highest sales volume (in both 2+ and 5+ unit building sales). Paragon represents both many more buyers and many more sellers in successfully completed transactions. We also do significant amounts of business in surrounding Bay Area counties.


Link to our latest report on the SF residential homes market
All Paragon market reports can be found here


It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular apartment building without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis, which can be provided upon request.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. Statistics are generalities: This is especially true for multi-unit properties, with the enormous range of property types, sizes, conditions, circumstances, qualities, financial data and locations. We are often dependent upon listing agents for income and expense details, which can be of varying accuracy. A percentage of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis. All numbers to be considered approximate.

© 2018 Paragon Commercial Brokerage

Hotel Room Boom is Upon San Francisco

San Francisco—one of the most visited cities in the world—is in the midst of a hotel room boom after several years of slack growth hotel-wise. The largest room increase was back in 2008 with the Intercontinental San Francisco logging in at 550 rooms. Now, there are hotels being built around the city to the tune of 1600 rooms scheduled to be open for business over the next few years. These include hotels from big brands like Waldorf Astoria, Virgin Hotels, Hyatt, Marriott, Yotel and a few others lesser known entities. The new properties are in SF and out at SFO.

The new hotels in the city will significantly enlarge the stylistic variety of hospitality business—from amenities and architecture to prices and the type of traveler being wooed. Julie Purnell, from CBRE Hotels says, “Silicon Valley’s corporate tenants are increasing their footprint in San Francisco, which will theoretically drive more corporate business into the city. The Warriors’ arena will have a strong impact on demand, and continued growth in Mission Bay for the biotech and medical industries will also help drive it upward. Combined, those corporate and leisure-like demand generators will all benefit hotels in the region.”

Check out the new hotels being built here.

The Symbiotic Affect of a Hot Job Market in SF and Rising Home Prices

The ecology of San Francisco includes more than its Golden Gate Park and small park flora, and trees along streets and rooftop and inner courtyard gardens. It includes a less helpful symbiotic relationship between the city’s job growth and the cost of buying a home here. We are pumping out the job opportunities, with 19,100 added between April 2017 and April 2018. These were professional and business services, information services and financial activities industries—as identified by Beacon Economics.

However on the converse side of the ecology, home prices (because all those new professional job people are competing) have jumped 21 percent in the same period. That’s a very large increase, and it’s easy to see there is at least a prima facie correlation between the number of jobs added (19 K) and the 21 percent rise in home costs.

The median home price in San Francisco is now $1.54 million, and as we reported recently it requires a salary of over $333,000 a year to land a house now in SF. And those making $117,000 a year are now considered to be low income in the city.