Looking Past the Headlines: What’s Really Happening in San Francisco Real Estate

News articles and blog posts about San Francisco have recently quoted real estate “experts” espousing everything from inventory being up to nine-year record inventory levels, to the all-time-high median sales price we just hit, to the well-documented stampede out of the city as working remotely became the new normal. And the truth is there’s evidence that real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area is doing all three — rebounding impressively, building inventory, and seeing price reductions creep up. But on their own, no single take tells the whole story. When it comes to what’s happening in San Francisco real estate, it’s always worth looking past the headlines.

By the Numbers

First off, the market is moving. There are buyers out looking and they are busy making good use of the historic low interest rates now that there are procedures in place for seeing properties in person. True, there are no open houses for the foreseeable future, but if you’re working with a good buyer’s agent and you’re willing to mask up and jump through a few more hoops, including being willing to show you’re pre-approved prior to getting an appointment, private in-person showings are happening. And it’s being reflected in the number of listings going into contract.

Now about that new record median sales price of $1.8 million we just hit. It is impressive, especially given the circumstances, but remember a median price (where half the properties are less and half are greater than the median price) is different than an average sales price, which can be skewed high or low by a smaller number of sales. High-end sales staged a particularly strong recovery,  reaching a new high as a percentage of total sales. This is one of the factors behind the median house sales price hitting a new peak in June. That price range has more resources and is less likely to be impacted by unemployment. 

The condo market, however, isn’t reaching the same new highs. In fact, that segment — which accounts for more of the entry-level buyers — just retreated from its 2019 high. 

The Takeaway

It comes back to the trouble with click-bait-driven headlines. It’s not enough to scan the headlines, which are a limited spin on the juiciest angle of a story. The lesson stands — if you’re really interested in what’s happening with real estate in San Francisco because you’re looking to buy or sell, you’ll not only benefit from the cold, hard numbers, but from someone who can objectively help you decipher them. In San Francisco, I’m happy to help.


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