Mad Rush from San Francisco? Not So Fast

If you missed the short, snappy Bloomberg piece about wealthy havens luring homebuyers in a mad rush from San Francisco, and you didn’t happen to see its frenzied shares across other media, that’s probably a good thing. The trouble with a headline on a story like that it’s quick to catch fire — and it’s only part of the story.

The Bigger Picture

Compass’ chief market analyst for the Bay Area, Patrick Carlisle, was interviewed and quoted for the piece. But a few big caveats in his comments didn’t make the story’s final cut. He cautions against assumptions about changes to the market from inside the crisis — a scenario that applies to earthquakes, wildfires, terrorist attacks, and yes, pandemics.

So what is the bigger picture? Are the city’s wealthiest residents hightailing it out for destinations like Marin County, Sonoma and Napa Valley, Carmel Valley, even Lake Tahoe? Is working from home here for the long-term, making the SF commute a moot issue for many tech company employees? And is this movement a short-term reaction to the virus or a sign of something more permanent?

It’s hard to say. Patrick was also recently interviewed on, where he pointed out that the virus has robbed people of many of the things the love about living in the city — arts and culture, restaurants and entertainment, people watching, socializing, shopping, just being out and about and immersed in the energy of this big, buzzy place. Until the crisis calms, it’s easy to forget what makes a city like San Francisco so great. But it’s much too soon to leap to the notion that residents want out for good. We’re in the earliest states of recovery, and the city itself remains under strict shelter-in-place orders. And as to all of those questions above, at this point, it’s still very much a wait-and-see scenario.

The Takeaway

The clickbait-style approach to headlines isn’t going anywhere soon. Last year, media was sounding the call that freshly-minted IPO millionaires were going to eat San Francisco alive — another breathless prediction that made the frantic rounds, with a reality that wasn’t nearly as wild as anticipated. Here’s the lesson — we’re all better off when we can see media hype for what it is and take a beat to look a little deeper if it’s relevant to us. If that’s real estate in San Francisco, and you need the perspective of an agent who has been here for years, I’d love to chat.

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