San Francisco: a robust sellers’ market

The past three years have been a seller’s market for San Francisco. Why? Well, we have high-paying jobs, high demand and a real lack of inventory, which is an ongoing issue since our city boundaries are very small by large international city standards. What’s more, the most popular locations in our city are even smaller still.

So how do agents compete in this kind of market? They start by listing a property and making sure it shows at its best, pricing it at or ideally slightly under the amount at which they hope it will sell. They then market it continuously for a 10-day to two-week period, setting an offer date and letting the best offers rise to the top.

Will there be a second round of bidding? This depends entirely on the offers that come across in the first round as well as the sellers’ motivations and the advice from their agents. More than half the time when the bid date comes, there is a clear winner that is acceptable by the seller. The other half of the time, there will be a few that are close enough that the seller will negotiate.

Should a property fail to show well or is overpriced out of the gate, it will not sell. Pricing and marketing are key factors in the amount for which a property will sell, and prices reflective of sales in the immediate area as well as per-square-foot prices vary greatly neighborhood by neighborhood and even block by block. Rentals are initially cheaper – but factor in the fact that they aren’t tax deductible and unless you’re under rent control, you’re in an insecure pricing situation.

Thanks to my colleague Meredith Martin for her input on this post.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email

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