Flat Prices, Low Inventory and Sales

The Spring market was generally down in March, but also with low numbers of sales, and anecdotally April sales surpassing expectations. But no one knows for sure how it will all end. By the end of this month we will hopefully have a better idea. 

The most striking aspect of March sales is that they were essentially unchanged from last March's record high, quite a turnaround from the depreciation seen in February. After a 3% decline in February, the March median price of $1,397,500 is essentially unchanged from last March which was the highest month ever. Single family homes were down 2.2% from last year but condominiums/TICs/coops were unchanged. 

March figures can be misleading because of the low number of sales compared to later in the Spring, but this year that effect has been more pronounced with inventory almost 10% down from last year. And new listings were down over 27% from last March. That may be because of the rain, or it may be because sellers are holding their properties in hopes of higher prices after the IPO "boom" some anticipate. The lack of inventory gives those willing to put their properties on the market an advantage right now, but only if buyers continue to come out. April statistics should be telling.

My experience in the current (April) market is that well-presented and desirable properties are selling at very high prices and very quickly. Preemptive offers are increasingly common as ready buyers vie for the few available properties that meet their requirements and their budgets. Properties with challenges - poor layout, in need of extensive renovation or on less-desirable blocks are not as popular. In short, the buying public seems to have become more discriminating but willing to pay significantly more than just 2 years ago for what they want. In this environment, advance preparation, strategic pricing and savvy marketing are all the more important.

What about inventory? It seems that "normal" properties (which varies depending on the part of the city) are starting to come out on the market as usual (although a bit late this year and in lower numbers), but super-expensive and unusual ones are not, and when they do are snapped up immediately. There is certainly no "flood" of new listings as is common for April. Will those arrive in May or are we skipping this most important season and waiting for the Summer or Fall? In a month I will summarize the answer but it's fascinating to watch it unfold.  

Want to know more about the market as it develops or about your particular house or neighborhood? Give me a call and we can talk about the property you want to sell, the one you want to buy or how real estate provides not just a home but also a life and a future. 

I'm never too busy.

Market Statistics District by District

March district statistics were generally down, but keep in mind that I use 3-month rolling averages for these, so February's hit is still reflected in these results. In a somewhat dramatic reversal, District 1 (Richmond) faltered in March, down 9% to $1,500,000. That put it almost on a par with District 2 (Sunset) which was the biggest winner, up 4.3% to $1,445,000. We will see if the two neighbors across the park will retain their distinctions, pricewise. District 3 (in the southwest corner of the city) was down just a bit and remained just below $1 million.

The central part of the city was also a tale of two cities. District 5 (Castro, Noe, Haight) was down a relatively modest 4.1% after a big upswing in February and, at a median of $1,677,500, surpassed District 7 (Pac Hts, Marina) to claim the honor of most expensive area. District 4 (St. Francis Wood, Miraloma Park, West Portal and District 6 (Lower Pac Hts, NOPA, Hayes Valley) both fell dramatically (-12.8% for median price of $1,525,000 and -13.6% for median of $1,210,000). District 5's perennial value seems assured, perhaps because of its central location, access to transit and charming neighborhoods.

As noted, District 7 (Pac Hts, Marina) lost its first place position with a median price of "only" $1.6 million (down 24.9%). Keep in mind, however, that this tony area had very few listings (less than 100) and has normally rebounded from these drops in the past. Nevertheless, it does appear that the long term trend is an equalization of District 5 and 7. District 8 (Russian/Nob/Telegraph Hill, Downtown) was down 12.6%, dangerously close to a below $1m median, which is also astounding since this area contains some of San Francisco's most iconic neighborhoods (but also some of its smallest and oldest units). 

District 9 and 10 on the east side of the city continued to perform relatively well. District 9 (SOMA, Mission, Potrero) was the only district other than 2 in positive territory, up 1.7% to $1,175,000. District 10 (Excelsior, Portola, Bayview) was essentially unchanged from last year (which is rare for this generally fast-appreciating and relatively affordable area) to $948,000.

I emphasize again that these numbers are only a preliminary look at the Spring market. Especially this year when the number of sales has been low, they may be misleading. And of course, these are generalities with many divergences by neighborhood, street, and type of property.

More neighborhood statistics on my website here.

City of Parks

We live in an urban environment where space is at a premium. That roof deck or private balcony offer sunlight and air, but don't forget that a nearby park offers that and much more. Plant life, space to run and learn, recreation and sports and maybe above all - a chance to get to know our fellow San Franciscans!

Everyone knows about Golden Gate Park, the Presidio and Alcatraz but we are blessed with a lot of open spaces (albeit, never enough). The city maintains 220 parks and other open spaces (pools, playgrounds, golf courses, etc.) that cover more than 3400 acres. You can find one near you here. Always consider these spaces when shopping for a new home - they bring space to you and add value! 

And don't forget state and national parks. The latter includes the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that includes Fort Funston, Fort Mason, Lands End and the Sutro Baths. Further afield are the Farallons way out at sea and protected as a wildlife refuge. California maintains Angel Island, our west coast Ellis Island, and Mount Sutro behind the UCSF hospital looming over Cole Valley. 

While you are appreciating the parks you might also consider helping them become better. Volunteer with your local neighborhood association, contact the Parks Alliance, or at least stay on the path and pick up some trash along your way. Our parks are more than just areas for nature, they are an important part of our communal life - and what helps keep San Francisco livable. Go Green!

Spring Is Finally Here!!!

Having just gotten over our BIG weekend that combined Easter, the Cherry Blossom Festival and the annual 420 marijuana blast you would think we were done for awhile. But San Francisco never sleeps and this year it seems like we can truly celebrate the beginning of Spring. So what's next? Maybe put on your orange outfit on April 27 and celebrate the Netherland's biggest national holiday, Kings Day, at the southern windmill in Golden Gate Park. Or make Cinco de Mayo less of a Tequila festival; on May 4 head to Valencia Street and learn something of the origins of the holiday (which is NOT Mexico's biggest) and the fantastic culture of our glorious southern neighbor. Look here for other events coming up!