A Hot Autumn Market in San Francisco?

Happy San Francisco summer!  As the rest of the country starts to think fall, we in San Francisco get to enjoy our warmest weather—and have already had a major taste of it with last week's heat wave.  This month's weather remains to be seen, but the real estate climate in September is typically hot. It's usually the month with the greatest number of new listings hitting the market in San Francisco, and that surge fuels sales through mid-November when activity begins to taper off. The coming two months will be the next major indicator: Will the SF market continue to maintain the intense high-demand, low-supply heat of this past spring, or will it cool? While the entire market is affected by seasonality, the luxury home segment is especially so, and the next couple months will be the peak selling period for high-end homes until spring 2018 rolls around.

City-Wide Home Appreciation Trends since 2005 Median Sales Prices & Average Dollar per Square Foot Values

As of September 1, the 3-month-rolling median sales price was $1,418,000 for SF houses, and $1,160,000 for condos. The average dollar per square foot value was $907 for houses and $1056 for condos.

San Francisco Median Home Sales Price Trends

San Francisco Average Dollar per Square Foot Trends

San Francisco Neighborhood Appreciation Rates 2011 to 2017 YTD, Median Sales Price Change

Median sales prices are not perfect indicators of changes in values for specific homes: They can be and often are affected by factors other than changes in fair market value, and shorter-term anomalies are not uncommon. What is certainly true is that every part of the city has seen tremendous appreciation since the recovery began in 2012, however the percentages on the charts below should be considered very approximate indications of the scale of change.

These charts delineate 2011 and 2017 YTD median sales prices by neighborhood, as well as the percentage change between the two. The 2 charts on house appreciation are followed by 2 on condo appreciation. If you wish information on a neighborhood not included in the charts below, please let us know.

SF HOUSE Median Sales Price Appreciation Rates
SF Neighborhood House Price Appreciation

NOTE: A perfect example of how median price changes can misrepresent changes in fair market value can be seen above: Typically, Noe Valley and Eureka Valley (Castro) have very similar median house prices, but in 2017 YTD, the Eureka Valley median price unexpectedly jumped by an astonishing $500,000 (23%), putting it far above Noe, and giving it a much higher overall appreciation rate. However, the average size of houses sold in Eureka Valley so far in 2017 suddenly jumped by 22% from 2016: That is, its houses did not just suddenly and inexplicably have a tremendous jump in value: the average size of homes sold changed, probably temporarily. Monthly median price changes in particular, trumpeted everywhere in the media as vitally important, are often unreliable due to seasonality and the small size of the data set.

SF Neighborhood Home Price Appreciation

SF CONDO Median Sales Price Appreciation Rates

Thousands of newly constructed condos, which typically sell for higher prices than resale condos, have hit the market in recent years, which means year-over-year comparisons are not always apples to apples. Generally speaking, comparable-condo appreciation rates have been well below house appreciation rates since 2015, because of the difference in the supply available to purchase.

San Francisco Neighborhood Condo Price Appreciation

SF Neighborhood Condo Price Appreciation

The September Rush of New Listings

General Market

San Francisco New Listings

Luxury Home Market

For some reason, September 2016 saw a stupendous rush of luxury home listings coming on market, which among other effects led to the highest monthly number of luxury house sales ever in October 2016. (As an aside, luxury condo and co-op sales hit their highest sales volume this past June.)

San Francisco New Luxury Home Listings

Where to Look in Your Price Range

In August, we updated our complete series of charts delineating where one is most likely to find a home in a specific price range. Below are 2 of the charts, and the entire series can be found here: SF Neighborhood Affordability.

San Francisco Condo Prices by Neighborhood
San Francisco House Prices by Neighborhood

National Housing Affordability

This next chart illustrates home affordability for selected metro areas across the country as calculated by the National Association of Realtors. The 7 Bay Area counties, in our 2 metro areas, are the least affordable in the nation - not the happiest of distinctions, except for those planning to sell and move out of the area.

U.S. Metro Area Housing Affordability

San Francisco, California & the United States

The appreciation of home prices in San Francisco since 2011 has out-performed overall state and national markets by a substantial margin.

San Francisco, California and US Home Price Trends

County House Markets

Since San Francisco is considered the big city in the Bay Area (though San Jose is actually larger), it seems counter-intuitive that its house market is one of the smallest, but this is a major part of its ruling dynamic: Very little supply compared to intense demand. Owners in the city (and the nation) are getting older, and selling their houses ever more infrequently. And virtually no new houses are being built within SF itself.

SF Bay Area House Markets

Condo sales significantly outnumber house sales in SF, and the supply of condos available to purchase has surged with new project construction. This has made that market segment somewhat less heated; condo owners also tend to sell more frequently than house owners. However, the condo market in the city is much more expensive than in other counties.

Bay Area Condo Markets


Ultra-Luxury House Sales in San Francisco Houses Selling for $5 Million & Above

Most expensive houses in San Francisco A quick look at the very highest end of the SF market. Though other districts, such as the greater Noe-Eureka-Cole Valleys district, have increasingly surged into the luxury home segment, when it comes to the realm of the really big, most expensive houses, the district comprised of Pacific & Presidio Heights, Cow Hollow and Marina dominates with 75% of sales. House sales there can exceed $30m, though that is still very rare.


It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular home without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis. In real estate, the devil is always in the details.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and are subject to revision. It is not our intent to convince you of a particular position, but to attempt to provide straightforward data and analysis, so you can make your own informed decisions. Median and average statistics are enormous generalities: There are hundreds of different markets in San Francisco and the Bay Area, each with its own unique dynamics. Median prices and average dollar per square foot values can be and often are affected by other factors besides changes in fair market value. Longer term trends are much more meaningful than short-term.

© 2017 Paragon Real Estate Group