How San Francisco Looked in September 2016

San Francisco MLS Sales Data for September 2016


But What Do The Numbers Show?

Real estate is about a lot of things: location, curb appeal, timing and trends among other things. It’s our opinion that in specialized markets like San Francisco, that it’s the story that matters. Each property sale is indeed different. It’s one of the few areas of the law where judges can use their inherent (equitable) power to actually do something apart from allocating money between litigants. That equitable power is a throwback from the English ecclesiastical division between law courts (i.e., money matters) and equity (fairness the ability to compel action or prohibiting action). Because each piece of property is so unique and special a court is given the authority to force a sale, remove a trespasser much like it can issue injunctions and restraining orders.

But back to the data.

Data reveals the larger context and trends we see emerging across the City and the data inherently feeds into what the ‘market’ is thinking and what buyers are willing to spend on a property and what sellers are willing to sell a property for. But data only goes so far as larger trend lines can obscure the elements that really matter to buyers and sellers.

This is true for a commodity that is as expensive, precious and dear as San Francisco’s scarce real estate. So, while you’re free to extrapolate to your heart’s content, know that if we lived our lives basing important decisions like where you’re going to live solely on what a data set tells us the bounds of any system are, we would be missing out on understanding what it takes to own and sell a home in San Francisco. In other words, ask us for the story behind the numbers you see so that you too can become a much better real estate consumer.

Median Sale Price

(all housing types)

Median Sale Price for A SIngle-Family Home in San Francisco (past 36 months)


Take Away Item 1: Your Purchase Price is Irrelevant (and so are the little price differences) 

San Francisco is a very special place where people want to be — prices reflect that and the trend will be positive and remain so

Remember San Francisco is a special place that has always attracted people from the world over ever since 1849.  The climate, the entrepreneurial spirit, the diversity, and the natural beauty among many other factors will keep drawing people to the City. Yes, prices are expensive but the other factors to remember is that building in the City is very difficult and demolishing buildings is even harder. Throw-in rent control and the NIMBYs and YIMBYs, well then you can see why property tends to hold its value over time — even after earthquakes!

So even if you were to ‘overpay’ for a property you’re only doing so in today’s dollars and, if you’re financing, at historically low interest rates. Indeed, with the market’s 2016 rebalancing we’re seeing buyers become more discerning and sellers having to step up their game.


Take Away Item 2: It’s Usually Easy for San Francisco Sellers But Success Takes Something More 

Sale Results Will Vary — To Maximize Your Sale Price You Should Hire Kevin+Jonathan

Since 2012 we’ve seen low inventory and an excess of buyers where sellers are not only getting high sale prices (so high that many are running into capital gains issues — a good problem to have, right?) but the days where every seller can set any sales terms to their liking may be numbered as we’re seeing more reductions and greater list price accuracy. Success and record-breaking results are, however, something Kevin+Jonathan are known for, so let them bring their expertise to bear to reach your goals by preparing your property properly so its poised for success.

% of SF Listings Selling for Over Price

(all housing types)

Median Price for a San Francisco Condominium/TIC or Co-Op (36 Months)


Spot the Trend Lines: SF’s Real Estate Market from 2012 to present 

San Francisco real estate prices have trended positively over the long haul. Starting in 2012, San Francisco’s real estate market turned the corner from the 2008 crash (with its bottom being some time in mid-2009) Its most recent tear peaked somewhere in May 2015 — with average prices more than doubling from 2009 to 2015.

At the start of 2014, we saw the average median price push past $1M for both single-family houses and condominium homes in the San Francisco. By the time 2015 rolled around, sellers were certainly in control with buyers clamoring to take advantage of low interest rates and to avoid outlandish rental rates bidding property prices up along the way.  In 2016, we’ve seen balance come back to the market place with price appreciation holding steady at 2015 levels — whew! But before you think we’re going to a bust keep in mind that the buying spree we just went through from 2013 onwards saw a different type of buyer succeed.

So, what’s next?

Buyers who bought during the past few years often locked in their mortgage rates at 4% or less, paid cash, or will be successful enough in the future that they’ll be able to keep their first purchased home as a rental property thus locking down inventory rates that much longer. But this new owner profile is just one factor among many that will keep San Francisco real estate prices strong for the long haul. So expect more of the same unless one or more of the following changes:

  1. Historic preservation laws renders tearing any building older than 45 years next to impossible without a prolonged approval process
  2. Rent control and eviction control laws distort the market considerably
  3. There is a scarce amount of available land that can be built upon in the City with many folks unwilling to consider the western parts of the City in their home search
  4. Artificially low property tax rate locks and very high capital gains tax obligations also make it difficult to sell a property for those whose property have gained in value markedly
  5. The Bay Area economy has created so many more jobs than there are places for these folks to live and the trend like the economic power of Silicon Valley looks to keep going up.

If you know anything about San Francisco politics or the staying power of Silicon Valley you know how unlikely any of the 5 reasons above will change.





Average Sale Price

(Single-Family Homes)

This type of property is more sought-after by most folks because a home is, well, a person’s castle. In most cases, there aren’t any HOAs to worry about (except for St. Francis Wood and Miraloma Park for example) but you have to take care of all your property’s insurance, bills and maintenance. Single-family houses are the primary inventory class in the Sunset, Parkside, Richmond, Miraloma Park, Mid-Town Terrace, Sunnyside, West Portal and in District 10 generally.

Average Sale Price


Now this isn’t your divorcee’s house at the edge of town. Instead condominiums in the City can be luxurious, expensive and amazing. They range from the studio in-law to the penthouse in the sky that will sell for millions. Just as the prices and quality vary so do the prices, HOA dues, HOA proactiveness and facility amenities. They are ubiquitous in the following neighborhoods: South Beach, Mission Bay, SoMa, Yerba Buena, North Beach and Dogpatch.

Median Days on Market

(All Types, Time from Market Launch until Offer Accepted)




From LoopNet (Commercial MLS)

Office Leases

From LoopNet (Commercial MLS)

You hear all about office spaces and tech companies. Take a look at the prices these companies are paying, per square foot.

Office Space

From LoopNet (Commercial MLS)

No, not the movie but the actual number of office spaces available in the City.

San Francisco Real Estate Experts +1-415.297-7462 (Kevin) +1-415.215.4393 (Jonathan)