SF Spring Events Calendar

There are plenty of fun things to enjoy in the city this Spring. Take a peek at these events in our Spring 2018 events guide.

Middle Class Home Buying in SF Needs $303,000 Yearly Income

A new report out from Paragon Real Estate makes a startling conclusion: that if you’re middle class in San Francisco, working toward buying a median-priced home in the city, then you’re going to need to be making $303,000 a year, as of December 2017. Either as an individual or as a couple. Not surprisingly, this is an all time high.

In terms of the households in San Francisco, this works out to 12% of them being able to afford a median-priced house or condo. A median-priced home is now about $1.5 million and with a 20% down payment, affordability is available only to the few.

The takeaways from this report includes the observation that low housing affordability is the most critical economic and social issue in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and tech workers who have to have housing when they come here to work can’t even afford to live in the Bay Area.

4 San Franciscan Make Forbes 30 Under 30 Food List

The Forbes 30 Under 30 food and drink list is pretty well appreciated by its audience and well coveted by those who make the list: recognizing young game changers and innovative thinkers in the food sphere. This year the Forbes 30 Under 30 food and drink list included four outstanding denizens of San Francisco. That’s four out of six in the Bay Area right here in our beloved city.

The list goes beyond chefs in that it recognizes innovation in general food enterprise. For instance Benjamin Chesler and Ben Simon have taken off-grade produce to new heights by selling “ugly” produce to buyers at steep discounts, thus putting a dent in our city’s food waste.

Another food waste recycling duo are Daniel Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz of Regrained who are turning grain leftover from beer crafting into edible bars super dense with nutrients and sold at popular retail outlets. They’re trying to hit $1 million in revenue.

Click here for the full article and slide show.

Still Going Up: Bay Area Home Prices Zoom 12% in January

Easy to predict this: the cost of buying a home in the Bay area went up a staggering 12% in January compared to last year’s January prices. So, if you bought a home in SF for $1 mil last year in January, that same home would cost you $1,120,000 now. So, why? Because of the lack of homes or condos to buy in the city or the rest of the Bay Area. Inventory is at a 3-year low. Too few houses available with a lot of money chasing those few dictates much higher prices.

The median price for a Bay Area home is now $880,000. For a home or condo in San Francisco, the median is $1.2 million.

Reports from Zillow state that inventory in the Bay Area has dropped 27% over the past year. Homes and condos under $2 million are particularly hard hit, with those around $1 million being the least in supply, while homes or condos between $2 million and $3 million went up in inventory.

Housing Affordability in the San Francisco Bay Area

The California Association of Realtors recently released its Housing Affordability Index (HAI) for the 4th quarter of 2017, which measures the percentage of households that can afford to buy the median priced single family dwelling (house).

In this analysis, affordability is affected by 3 major factors: county median house price, mortgage interest rates, and the distribution of household incomes within the county. (Housing Affordability Index Methodology). The HAI uses house prices exclusively and if condos were included in the calculation, median home prices would decline, affordability would increase and income requirements and PITI costs would be reduced as well. (SF now has more condo sales than house sales, but that is not the case in other Bay Area counties.)

If the HAI Index incorporates changes to the federal tax code (effective 1/1/18) limiting the deductibility of interest expenses and property taxes, it will presumably have a negative effect on affordability percentages in 2018. By definition, half the homes sold in any given county were at prices below the median sales price, i.e. there were numerous homes that were more affordable than the median prices used in this analysis. However, any way one slices it, the Bay Area has one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – and least affordable housing markets in the country. That impacts our society and economy in a number of important ways.

Since many of the figures don’t change that much quarter to quarter, we’ve only updated some of the charts in this report with Q4 2017 data.

Link to our Survey of Bay Area County Markets, Trends & Demographics

Link to our Main Reports Page

Long-term Bay Area Housing Affordability Trends

Affordability Percentage by Bay Area County

Note that extremely low affordability readings converged across Bay Area counties at the top of the bubble in 2006-2007. So far, there has not been a similar convergence in our current market, though affordability is generally dropping as prices increase.

Having dropped approximately 40% from 2007 to mid-2016, extremely low interest rates have subsidized increasing home prices to a large degree in recent years – but they’ve begun to rise in early 2018.

San Francisco is still 4 percentage points above its all-time affordability low of 8%, last reached in Q3 2007 (even though its median house price has increased about 50% during that period). Other Bay Area counties (except for Silicon Valley) have appreciably higher affordability percentages, for the time being. Generally speaking, as one moves farther away from the heart of the high-tech boom, San Francisco and Silicon Valley, affordability increases.

Monthly Ownership Cost at Median Sales Price

Minimum Qualifying Income to Buy Median Priced House

Assumes 20% downpayment and including principal, interest,
property tax and insurance costs.

Bay Area Median House Prices

San Francisco-Only Median House Price Appreciation
by Quarter since 2012

Before the high-tech boom, Marin, a famously affluent county for long time, had the highest median house price. But the high-tech boom accelerated median home prices in San Francisco and San Mateo faster and higher.

Additional chart: Median condo sales prices by county

San Francisco has a much larger and more expensive condo market than other local counties, and is the only county with a very substantial luxury condo market – one that is growing significantly with recent new-condo project construction.

U.S. Metro Area Housing Affordability
by the National Association of Realtors
This national affordability chart above employs a different methodology than the CA county charts above: The graphed chart values (percentages) have totally different meanings. The two metro areas at the bottom of the rankings make up 7 counties around the Bay Area.

Mortgage Interest Rates since 1981

Short-Term Changes in Mortgage Interest Rates

Interest rates play an enormous role in affordability via ongoing monthly housing costs, and interest rates, after their recent post-election jump are about 35% lower than in 2007. To a large degree this has subsidized the increase in home prices for many home buyers. It is famously difficult to predict interest rate movements, though there is general agreement. Any substantial increase in interest rates would severely negatively impact already low housing affordability rates.

Income, Affluence & Poverty

Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin Counties have the highest median household (HH) income in the Bay Area. Though the median HH income figures of these 3 counties are almost double the national figure, their median house prices are 4 to 5 times higher, an indication that income dollars can go a lot farther in other parts of the country than they do here. Indeed an income that in other places puts you close to the top of the local register of affluence, living grandly in a 6-bedroom mansion, in the Bay Area might qualify you as perhaps slightly-upper-middle class, living in an attractive but unostentatious, moderate-sized home that costs twice what the mansion did (though, this being the Bay Area, you are probably still driving a very expensive car).

On the other hand, you live in one of the most beautiful, highly educated, culturally rich, economically dynamic, and open-minded metropolitan areas in the world.

Behind median HH incomes, each county also has enclaves of both extreme wealth and poverty within its borders.

Very generally speaking, in the Bay Area counties, renters typically have a median household income about half that of homeowners. In San Francisco, where the majority of residents are in tenant households, that significantly reduces the overall median HH income figure. The picture of housing affordability for renters in the city is ameliorated or complicated by its strong rent control laws (which, however, don’t impact extremely high market rents for someone newly renting an apartment) .

Additional chart: Homeownership Rates by County

Additional chart: Population Demographics – Children & Residents Living Alone

San Francisco has the lowest percentage of residents under 18 of any major city in the U.S. (It is famously said that there are more dogs in the city than there are children.) It also has an extremely high percentage of residents who live in single-person households – 39% – which is a further factor depressing median household income below markets with similar housing costs.

The Bay Area has approximately 2.8 million households. Of those, approximately 124,000 households have incomes of $500,000 and above, which would generally be considered to place them in the top 1% in the country by annual income. At 7.5%, Marin has the highest percentage of top 1% households, followed by San Mateo at 6.2%. With approximately 38,000 top 1% households, Santa Clara, the Bay Area’s most populous county, has by far the largest number of these very affluent households, while San Francisco has about 22,000.

It should be noted that besides high incomes per se, another factor in the Bay Area housing boom of recent years has been the stupendous generation of trillions of dollars in brand new wealth from soaring high-tech stock market values, stock options and IPOs. Thousands of sudden new millionaires, as well as many more who didn’t quite hit that level, supercharged real estate markets (especially those in the heart of the high-tech boom) as these newly affluent residents looked to buy their first homes, perhaps with all cash, or upgrade from existing ones. That is something not seen in most other areas of the country, certainly not to the degree experienced locally, and is a dynamic outside typical affordability calculations. This increase in new wealth has slowed or even declined in the past 12 months as the high-tech boom has cooled (temporarily or not, as time will tell). Still, there are dozens of local private companies, usually start-ups, some of them very large – such as Uber, Airbnb and Palantir – which are considered to be in the possible-IPO pipeline. If the IPO climate improves and successful IPOs follow, a new surge of newly affluent home buyers may follow.

Additional chart: Bay Area Populations by County

A look at two very different income segments in the Bay Area, those households making less than $35,000 and those making more than $200,000. The $35,000 threshold is not an ironclad definition of poverty, especially since housing costs (by area, and whether market rate, subsidized or rent-controlled), household sizes and personal circumstances vary widely, though it is clearly difficult for most area families trying to live on that income. At over 25%, San Francisco has the highest percentage of households with incomes under $35,000 and, at 22%, Marin has the highest percentage making $200,000 and above.

Amid all the staggering affluence in the Bay Area, and huge amounts of new wealth generated by our recent high-tech boom, very significant percentages of the population still live in poverty, especially if our extremely high housing costs are factored into the calculation. (The above chart calculates poverty rates by different criteria, the higher one factoring in local costs of living.) The economic boom has helped them if it resulted in new, better paying jobs, unfortunately not as common a phenomenon as one would wish for the least affluent. It hurt them, sometimes harshly, if their housing costs escalated with the increase in market rates.

Longer-Term Trends in Prices and Rents
The same economic and demographic forces have been putting
pressure on both home prices and apartment rents.

Bay Area Median House Prices since 1990

If one looks at charts graphing affordability percentages, home prices, market rents, hiring/employment trends and to some degree even stock market trends, one sees how often major economic indicators move up or down in parallel.

Monthly Rental Housing Costs

The recent economic boom has added approximately 600,000 new jobs in the Bay Area over the past 6 years, with about 100,000 in San Francisco alone – with a corresponding surge in county populations. Most new arrivals look to rent before considering the possibility of buying. The affordability challenges for renters (unless ameliorated by rent control or subsidized rates) has probably been even greater than that for buyers, since renters don’t benefit from any significant tax benefits, from the extremely low, long-term interest rates, or by home-price appreciation trends increasing the value of their homes (and their net worth). In fact, housing-price appreciation usually only increases rents without any corresponding financial advantage to the tenant. Rents in the city have been plateauing in recent quarters and may even be beginning to decline as the hiring frenzy has slowed and an influx of new apartment buildings have come onto the market – but they are still the highest in the country.

Bay Area Rent Report

Affordable Housing Stock & Construction in San Francisco

Additional Chart: Affordable Housing Construction Trends in San Francisco

There may be no bigger political and social issue in San Francisco right now than the supply (or lack) of affordable housing: Battles are being fought, continuously and furiously, in the Board of Supervisors, at the ballot box and the Planning Department by a wide variety of highly-committed interests, from tenants’ rights and neighborhood groups to anti-growth factions and developers (to name a few). It is an extremely complicated and difficult-to-resolve issue, especially exacerbated by nimby-ism and the high cost of construction in the city. SPUR, a local non-profit dedicated to Bay Area civic planning policy, estimated in 2014 that the cost to build an 800 square foot, below-market-rate unit in a 100-unit project in San Francisco was $469,800 – and we have seen higher estimates as well.

This fascinating graphic above, based on SF Controller’s Office estimates from late 2013, breaks down SF housing supply by rental and ownership units, and further divides rental by those under rent control. All the units labeled supportive, deed restricted and public housing could be considered affordable housing to one degree or another, i.e. by their fundamental nature their residents are not paying and will never pay market-rate housing costs. (Units under rent control will typically go to market rate upon vacancy and re-rental, though rent increases will then be limited going forward.) Adjusted for recent construction, there are roughly 34,500 of these units out of the city total of about 382,500, or a little over 9% of housing stock. Section 8 subsidized housing would add another 9,000 units.

There are currently many thousands of affordable housing units, of all kinds, somewhere in the long-term SF Planning Department pipeline of new construction, though many of them are in giant projects like Treasure Island and Candlestick Park/Hunter’s Point, which may be decades in the building. But it is generally agreed that new supply will never come close to meeting the massive demand for affordable housing, further complicated by the question of what exactly affordable means in a city with a median home price 5 times the national median, typically well beyond the means of people such as teachers and members of the police force. One corollary of increasing affordable housing contribution requirements for developers and extremely high building costs is that developers are concentrating on building very expensive market-rate units – luxury and ultra-luxury condos and apartments – to make up the difference.

Other reports you might find interesting:

Survey of SF Bay Area Real Estate Markets

10 Factors behind the San Francisco Real Estate Market

30+ Years of San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Cycles

San Francisco Neighborhood Affordability

All our analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports 

Our sincere gratitude to Leslie Appleton-Young, VP & Chief Economist, Oscar Wei, Senior Economist, and Azad Amir-Ghassemi, research analyst, of the California Association of Realtors, for their gracious assistance in supplying underlying data for the CAR Housing Affordability Index calculations.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. All numbers should be considered general estimates and approximations.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group  

SF’s New Transbay Transit Center Delayed to Summer Opening

The much ballyhooed, and mega price-tagged Transbay Transit Center is San Francisco’s mass transit hub to all Bay Area destinations served by the system. It will bring 11 transit systems into a central station. Coming in at $2.4 billion, the now-named Salesforce Transit Center began construction in 2011 toward a five-story building with bus plaza, an eye-popping 5.4 acre rooftop park and cavernous retail pop-up spaces and 6 million square feet of office space. It’s estimated 7,000 new residents will come into the center’s architecture.

It was supposed to open in June with great areas of construction done in late 2017, but that date could be pushed back to August or September this year because of construction challenges. That was the announcement from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority a few days ago. There is some hope the facility will open its doors on June 1st, but the certainty of construction timelines is not quite dead on.

Rare Sighting of Condo For Sale in Tendernob

Here we go with a very rare condo being put on the SF real estate market in the desirable, name-amalgamated area of the Tendernob. What is the Tendernob? Well, the area of San Francisco between Nob Hill to the north and the Tenderloin to the south. Hey. Makes sense. And it is a fine, fine area to live in the city. And now, a condo’s just come up for sale in one of the finer buildings along Sutter Street in the Tendernob, as sf.curbed.com reports.

The Bavaria building, a classic, red-brick Beaux-Arts architecture from Frederic Herman Meyer, sits at 795 Sutter Street. And one of its corner unit condos has now elbowed its way onto the SF market, taking a pretty prominent place among residences asking for over a $1 million. The condo’s full price is $1,295,000, which is not too bad considering what you’re getting, and the location.

The unit spreads across 1,784 square feet of opulence spilling into three beds and two baths. The interior amenities include arched windows, wood accents, glass pocket doors, modernized kitchen and baths.

How You in SF Can Make a Difference: 25 Ways

In moments of introspection, pique or worry, we ask the question: What can I do to improve things in San Francisco, this city I live in? A good, meaningful question. And often we don’t exactly know what we can do to be a make-better citizen. And this doesn’t mean big, life-changing stuff, as sf.curbed.com notes in its story on 25 small ways to make a difference in San Francisco.

They break down the efforts into five categories: From Your Home, In Your Neighborhood, Along Your Route, In Your Community, and With a Group.

#1 for From Your Home is staying informed of local SF news, including local blogs and specialty media sources such as Hoodline or San Francisco Magazine.

In In Your Neighborhood, the first item to make a difference is to learn your neighborhood’s history. This makes for some fascinating reading and context. For instance Presidio Terrace used to purposely be an all-white neighborhood.

Also in this section: donate old books to the library, including the Little Free Library; attend neighborhood meetings; wave to tourists when they pass by you on cable cars or visitor buses (sf.curbed says they love that).

Get much, much more here at the full list of 25.

A Survey of San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Markets

Our newly updated median home price maps for the entire Bay Area by city, for San Francisco by neighborhood, and then specifically for the Marin, Diablo Valley & Lamorinda, and Wine Country markets. To access them, click on the map image below and then roll your cursor over the maps on the webpage.

Bay Area Q4 2017 Median House Sales Prices

San Francisco Bay Area Median Home Sales Prices

Bay Area 2017 Median Condo Sales Prices

San Francisco Bay Area Condo Median Prices

One cannot draw many conclusions regarding the new year market by looking at January data, whose low volume of sales mostly reflects offers accepted in December, however, so far, it appears that the low-inventory/ strong-buyer-demand dynamic is continuing in 2018. One recurring situation in recent years is that buyers jump back into the market in January in larger numbers than sellers getting their homes listed to sell – setting up a mismatch between supply and demand. Typically, many more listings will start pouring onto the market in February and March, and a much better idea regarding where the market is heading in 2018 will be possible once spring selling season data starts coming in.

Since questions constantly arise as to how one development or another is affecting or may affect Bay Area real estate markets – new tax laws, the high-tech boom, interest rates, financial markets, new home construction, climate change, and so on – our chief market analyst has made an attempt to identify and quantify the factors currently at play: Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Real Estate Markets

This report will focus on Bay Area trends, but if you are more interested in the San Francisco market specifically, analysis is available via these links: SF Neighborhood Affordability *** SF Neighborhood Price Trends *** Our Latest SF Market Report

Year-over-Year Home Price Appreciation Rates
Comparing 2017 Median Sales Prices to 2016 Prices

San Francisco Bay Area Home Price Appreciation

Additional chart: Bay Area Median Home Price Appreciation since 1990

Average Dollar per Square Foot Values
& What You Get for $1 Million in the Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area Dollar per square foot values

Your great aunt gives you a check for a million dollars to buy a home, so you go down to the real estate store to fill your cart. Below are some examples of how much home you would get for your money at 2017 average dollar per square foot rates: In Palo Alto, you could buy 626 square feet of home, and in Vallejo, 3817 square feet, with many other options in between.

Bay-Area_SqFt_for-1m_by-city.jpg

Bay Area Luxury Home Markets

Though San Francisco is a major player in luxury home sales, Silicon Valley – Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties together – has over 3.5 times as many homes selling for $2m and above. All 3 counties have similar average dollar per square foot house values in this high-price category. SF dominates the luxury condo market, and these condos, on average, sell at the highest per square foot values in the Bay Area. Marin, Alameda and central Contra Costa Counties have smaller luxury home segments, but you start to get more for your money.

Bay-Area_LuxHome-Sales_2m-plus_by-County.jpg

Market Dynamics Overviews

Bay-Area-All-Home-Sales-by-County.jpg

The decline in active listings available to purchase has played a significant role in pressurizing the market in recent years, especially as buyer demand has increased over the same period during which supply has dropped.

Bay-Area_Active-Listings_since-2012_NAR.jpg

Since median sales prices are so often quoted and compared, it adds context to look at the average size of houses in the different markets. (Comparing median prices to average sizes is not ideal, but you get the idea.)

Bay-Area_Avg-House-Size_by-County.jpg

New Housing Construction

This chart below from the November 2017 Housing Inventory Report issued by the SF Planning Department is for 2016, but illustrates how new housing construction in Alameda County has recently accelerated ahead of San Francisco and Santa Clara. Our larger analysis of this report, which focuses mostly on San Francisco, can be found here: SF New Home Construction Report

New-Construction_by-County.jpg

Days on Market, Overbidding Asking Prices
& Months Supply of Inventory

Bay-Area_Days-on-Market_by-County.jpg

Bay-Area_SP-OP-without-price-reduction.jpg

Bay-Area_MSI-Trends_SFD-Condo.jpg

Interest Rate Trends

Interest rate changes will certainly be one of the main factors to keep an eye on in 2018, as they play a huge role in housing affordability.

Short-term_30-Year-Rate-Trends.jpg

Bay Area Unemployment Rate Trends

Bay-Area_Unemployment-Rates.jpg

Bay Area Housing Affordability Trends

The CAR Housing Affordability Index, of which the trend lines since 1991 are charted below, estimates the percentage of households who can afford to purchase a median priced house in their county, based on a 20% downpayment. The big factors in this analysis are prevailing household incomes, interest rates, and, of course, quarterly median house sales prices. It should be noted that half of home sales are, by definition, below the median sales price, and that if one included condos in the equation, that would add substantially to affordability percentages.

For Q1 2018, the Index will attempt to factor in the effects of the new federal income tax law limiting mortgage interest, property tax and state income tax deductions, which will presumably reduce affordability percentages further. As seen below, many Bay Area counties are already getting close to historic lows, clearly one of our biggest social and economic challenges.

Affordability_Bay-Area-Counties_Chart.jpg

County to County, Metro Area to Metro Area
& State to State Migration Trends
Bay Area County-to-County Migration

Though people from all over the country and world migrate to and from the Bay Area, the greatest flow is actually between the local counties themselves. In net migration numbers, amid all the back and forth, people are, generally speaking, flowing from the core, most expensive counties to adjacent, somewhat less expensive counties, and then to even more affordable counties outside the inner Bay Area. However, the inner core counties, where the high-tech boom has been most concentrated, attract significant immigration from outside the Bay Area, state and U.S., which is why their population numbers have continued to grow. Note: This chart does not include Santa Clara County, though much of its migration patterns can be seen in the data of the other counties.

Bay-Area_County-to-County_Annual-Migration.jpg

U.S. Metro Area to Metro Area Migration

This chart pertains to immigration in and out of the 5-county San Francisco metro area, which does not include Santa Clara to its south. Between U.S. metro areas, more people are leaving the SF metro than arriving, but that deficit has been more than made up for by substantial numbers of foreign immigrants. These numbers, however, pre-date the much more hostile view of immigration by the current administration, so we will have to wait and see what effects derive from that change. Looking at net metro-area migration, more people come to the SF metro area from Santa Clara County, Southern California, New York, Chicago and Boston. And more people leave the SF metro area to go to other (less expensive) CA counties east and north of the Bay Area, and to metro areas in Texas, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State. The exodus is made up of both people changing jobs, and retirees, though they tend to go to different places.

Bay-Area-Migration-Trends.jpg

If you want to read about state to state migration patterns, our recent article is here: California Migration Trends

All our Bay Area reports and articles can be found here: Market Trends & Analysis

One of our recent and popular reports: San Francisco & Bay Area Demographics

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 the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value, and longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term. It is impossible to know how median prices apply to any particular home without a specific comparative market analysis. All numbers in this report are to be considered approximate.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco’s Storied National Guard Armory Sells

$65 million is all you need to buy a richly historic, castle-like building in historic San Francisco. That’s what Soho House, an upscale club and hotel company, and its developer paid for the National Guard Armory, an appropriately massive brick building in The Mission that was built in the Moorish Revival style—like a somewhat subdued castle, with towers and crenulated walls. The building with its 200,000 square feet was built from 1912 to 1914 as an armory and arsenal, replacing the San Francisco Armory destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. In the 1920’s it was a sporting events venue, including popular prizefights. The building has been most recently used as an S&M porn studio.

The 1800 Mission Street building was purchased by SF Armory LLC, associated with Chicago developer Benjamin Weprin, who worked with Soho House to develop its Chicago property.

Up to November and December 2017, Soho House was denying that it was trying to buy property in SF. But on January 26, 2018, the deed was filed, with transfer taxes totaling some $2 million. Nothing is announced on plans for the building.