Love and (Bidding) Wars in the San Francisco Home Market

February, a month often spent reflecting on love, brought with it continued affection for home sellers in the San Francisco residential market. Buyers, however, were not as enchanted. The month was characterized by increasing residential real estate demand and shrinking supply, resulting in bidding wars between buyers that continue to send home prices upward. Meanwhile, real estate agents have been employing both old and new tactics to entice homeowners to sell, from dropping flyers door-to-door, to blasting potential clients through social media and email channels.

Single-Family Home Sales

Compared to February of last year, the inventory of single-family homes for sale in the city dropped by 38 percent, to a total of 430 properties. The number of homes under contract also fell by 20.1 percent, while the number of homes sold decreased by 30.8 percent, to a total of 126 properties sold.

For homes that were priced below $700,000, the months supply of inventory shortened by 51.4 percent to just 1 month. For higher-priced homes between $700,000 and $1.2 million, the months supply of inventory also fell, by 29.1 percent to 1.4 months.

With homes on the market selling in weeks, rather than months, homeowners are wise not to set their hearts on a particular property or neighborhood. A prime example is the Central District, made up of a diverse array of neighborhoods including Cole Valley, Mission Dolores, Haight Ashbury, Noe Valley, Twin Peaks, Claredon Heights and Glen Park. Since February 2011, the number of homes sold in this area has jumped more than 40 percent, while just a handful – 20 total – were sold in February.

With its close proximity to the beautiful Golden Gate Park, family-friendly Noe Valley and the foodie haven that is the Mission District, there may be a shortage of property, but there is no shortage of entertainment in this sought-after region.The median single-family home price here is $1,602,500, up just 2.2 percent from a year ago. Year over year, the average number of days homes stay on the market is just 29, down from 53 in 2012.

Condominium Sales

Following similar trends as single-family homes, the inventory of condominiums for sale in the city fell by 33.3 percent, to a total of 612 condominiums. The number of condominiums under contract fell by 5.2 percent, to a total of 191 units.

For condominiums that were priced between $500,000 and $900,000, the months supply of inventory tapered by 40.2 percent to 1.1 months. For luxury condominiums priced above $900,000, the months supply of inventory dropped by 38.9 percent to 1.7 months.

One area of the city with limited condominium inventory is the Northeast District encompassing North Beach, Russian Hill and Nob Hill. Low supply has helped push up demand and median price, which grew by 10.9 percent. The median home price here rose to $696,000 over the past year, while the number of condominiums sold decreased to 117 from 187. With awe-inspiring views of the Bay from the neighborhoods of Russian and Nob Hill and proximity to North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco, condominiums in the area were snapped up quickly. Staying on the market an average of just 45 days.

Outlook

The Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in January, rebounded in February. At the end of February, The Index stood at 69.6, up from 58.4 in January. Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board said in a statement, “Consumer Confidence rebounded in February as the shock effect caused by the fiscal cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts appears to have abated. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions is more positive than last month. Looking ahead, consumers are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Income expectations, which had turned rather negative last month, have improved modestly.”

The California Association of REALTORS® highlighted the lack of inventory available for buyers in a recent press release. “The demand for homes remains solid, but a shortage of homes for sale, especially in the lower-priced segments, is negatively impacting housing sales,” said C.A.R. President Don Faught.  “Sales of homes priced above $500,000 continue to be strong, posting nearly 31 percent higher than a year ago, while homes priced below $300,000 were down 27 percent from last February due to fewer available homes for sale.”

A recent SFGate report shed some light on the city’s shrinking inventory, saying that home sellers remain reluctant to put their homes on the market for a number of reasons including: being underwater on their mortgages, not wanting to have to go through a short sale and sellers continuing to hold out for higher offers.

Article from the San Francisco Association of Realtors

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