Will the Last Person Leaving the Bay Area Please Turn Out the Lights?




Will the Last Person Leaving the Bay Area
Please Turn Out the Lights?

Media Reports Sound the Death Knell of the Bay Area
– a Mite Prematurely

By Patrick Carlisle, Paragon Chief Market Analyst

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Quotes and headlines from selected media articles in March 2018


[According to a survey] “49 % of Bay Area residents were looking to move out.”

Business Insider

“San Francisco is such a boomtown that people are leaving in droves.”

Wall Street Journal

“Silicon Valley is over” “In the last three months of 2017, San Francisco lost
more residents to outward migration than any other city in the country.”


New York Times

“San Francisco is so expensive that more people are leaving than moving in

– and it could mean disaster for the nation’s tech capital.”


SFGate

That sounds really bad.

The sources of the data behind the above (and many more) articles: an online survey by a PR company; an analysis of traffic on a real estate website; the alleged cost of a U-Haul to Las Vegas; anecdotal opinions from a handful of venture capitalists on a mid-west bus tour; and new U.S. census data, more often than not selectively or misleadingly quoted to sound most ominous. (The WSJ article was by far the most fastidious with using hard data from reliable sources, though it was still alarmist in tone.)

Bad news, predictions of crashes, the arrogant finally getting their comeuppance: These stories grab eyeballs and get re-posted on social media. And much of the country finds the Bay Area insufferably smug – its wealth, home prices, unicorns, Google buses, 26-year-old billionaires, liberal politics, and much else – and if it is finally getting its just deserts, that is entertaining news. I get that: Sometimes, I find us insufferably smug myself. But let us investigate the issues a bit deeper.

First of all: Without argument, there are big economic and social challenges facing the Bay Area: high housing costs; high state income taxes; recent federal tax law changes; the hostility of the current federal government to foreign immigration; rising income inequality, poverty and homelessness; growing commute times and other quality of life issues; national and international concerns; and, yes, population migration trends too. This was covered in some detail in our recent report Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets. It is certainly true that places like Austin and Seattle, with much lower housing costs and no state income taxes, are actively luring our businesses to relocate or expand there, and doing so with some significant success.


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But, for a much more realistic illustration of what is going on in the Bay Area, here is some hard data from U.S. Census and CA Employment Development Department data released in March:

More people are NOT leaving San Francisco or the Bay Area than arriving. When you tally both domestic migration in and out (to and from other places in the U.S.), and foreign migration, more people are arriving than leaving. It is true than in the past 2 years, domestic net migration has shifted to a net loss, but that deficit is still overcome by the large positive in foreign immigration. Is the shift in domestic migration worrisome? Yes, if it continues to grow. But it is not cataclysmic in its current proportions, and there are further underlying factors to consider, which shall be discussed later in this report.


San Francisco County: Residents Leaving, New Residents Arriving
Net Domestic & Foreign, and Total Net Migration Numbers, per U.S. Census

The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number

5-County San Francisco Metro Area Migration

The last column in each year tallies the net positive migration number


The Bay Area population is still growing both from migration and natural factors (births less deaths), albeit at slower rates than the torrid pace of previous years. As the WSJ admits in its article, SF and SF metro area populations are not shrinking: The SF Metro area population increased by .6% in the last 12 month period, as measured by the census through 7/1/17, which is one tenth of 1 percent lower than the .7% national rate. And a slower rate of growth than our recent population explosion is not a bad thing, since the Bay Area is bursting at the seams from growth without concomitant improvements in housing supply and infrastructure.


Long-Term Population Trends: San Francisco County

Short-Term Population Changes: 5-County SF Metro Area


The representation by Business Insider that 49% of residents were looking to move out is simply absurd. Really? Every other person? If people were fleeing or planning to flee in the proportions suggested, one would expect every other home in the Bay Area to sport a “for sale” sign, while the percentage of homeowners selling their homes is actually at historic lows: Less than 2% of SF house owners sold their homes in 2017. (The ratio was higher for condo owners, but still low at something over 4%.) I suppose it is possible that in the frenzy to get away, people are simply abandoning their homes instead of selling them.


New Listings Coming on Market: San Francisco County


Bay Area employment growth remains extremely strong. According to the CA Employment Development Department, for the six big Bay Area counties (the 5-county SF metro area plus Santa Clara County), no matter which month of 2017 one looks at, the year-over-year increase in Bay Area employed residents, ranged from 60,000 to 90,000. As the WSJ notes: “The broader Bay Area is the most robust metro region in the nation in terms of payroll job growth, according to the most recent regional analysis from the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson Forecast, an economic forecaster.”


Number of Employed Residents, per EDD
5-County SF Metro Area + Santa Clara County


Some other factors to consider:

Many of the people leaving inner Bay Area counties are moving to adjacent counties, such as Solano, Sonoma, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, San Benito and Stanislaus Counties. Many of those people almost certainly continue to work within the metro area. To some degree, the Bay Area economic zone is expanding geographically, not declining.

The Bay Area over the past 7 years has been one of the greatest new-wealth creation machines in history. With the recent Dropbox IPO, it seems to be cranking into gear again – and there are still dozens of other local unicorns such as Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, Palantir, with total values in the hundreds of billions of dollars – that could yet go public. Uber has already stated its desire to do so in the near future.

A substantial portion of those leaving the Bay area are retirees, cashing out on high home prices to move to less expensive locales, such as other counties in California, and Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. This is not a new phenomenon, as it has been going on for decades, though it may have accelerated in recent years, since cashing out has become so much more lucrative.

Most of those coming to the Bay Area are coming for new jobs, and the Bay Area remains a magnet for many of the best and the brightest around the world. Besides which, every year, thousands of Bay Area students graduate from schools like UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford, to take jobs locally as well. Economically, the Bay Area is trading many residents who are, to a large degree, checking out of the economy for people in the prime of their working lives.

Millions of square feet of new commercial office space continue to be snapped up as soon as they come on market, even before the buildings are finished, and the only possible reasons are new businesses arriving and existing businesses expanding, both of which are fueled by continued hiring.

The Bay Area certainly has substantial challenges to face and it is not sure it will overcome its problems. And it is true that people and businesses are moving out in greater numbers than any time since 2002. But, on the other hand, start-ups continue to start up by the hundreds, local business continue to expand, and the Bay Area undoubtedly remains one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. And despite all its faults and problems, it is still, in my opinion, one of the great metropolitan areas and best places to live on the planet.

Other reports you might find interesting:

Positive & Negative Factors in Bay Area Markets

Changing California Migration Trends

30+ Years of Bay Area Real Estate Cycles

Survey of Bay Area Real Estate Markets

All Paragon reports can be found here

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This article was first published on March 26, 2018.

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.


© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group

San Francisco Market Report – 2018

 

San Francisco Real Estate Market

Looking Back on 2017
& Forward to 2018

 

January 2018

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The median SF house sales price in 2017 was $1,420,000 (up from $1,325,000 in 2016), and for condos, it was $1,150,000 (up from $1,095,000). Looking just at the 4th quarter, median prices were $1,500,000 for houses (up from $1,350,000 in Q4 2016) and $1,185,000 for condos (up from $1,078,000).


San Francisco, CA, National Home Price Trends

San Francisco Median Home Prices by Quarter


Additional chart: Bay Area Median Home Price Trends by County

The chart below, based on CoreLogic S&P Case-Shiller Index data, tracks general price appreciation trends of homes in the upper third of prices in the 5-county SF Metro Area. Case-Shiller does not base their calculations on median sales price changes but uses its own proprietary algorithm. This chart has been simplified to only reflect percentage increases and decreases from various points in real estate cycles. Since it covers 5 counties, it is a very generalized illustration.

Case-Shiller San Francisco Bay Area Home Price Trends

Link to our full report on the Case-Shiller Home Price Index

Link to our report on Bay Area real estate cycles

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Moving into 2018, there are a lot of spinning plates in the air – local, state, national and international factors that could affect markets. 2017 saw real estate markets surge and financial markets soar. After some cooling from mid-2015 to mid-2016, the Bay Area high-tech economy surged back into high speed, with companies leasing enormous spaces in newly built office buildings – which they will presumably fill with new hires. Unemployment rates have flirted with historic lows, and 2018 may see some major local IPOs, which could create great quantities of new wealth. The Bay Area still has probably the most dynamic, innovation-fueled economy in the world and indisputably remains among the great metro areas on the planet – but there are also social, economic, political and environmental challenges looming as well.

Congress delivered an unpleasant holiday present to many Bay Area residents in the form of federal tax law changes limiting the deductibility of mortgage interest and state and local taxes. The effect of these changes make living in an already high cost-of-living area more costly for many residents, and also reduce some of the financial incentives of homeownership, especially for more expensive homes. Predictions on the effect of these tax changes on local housing markets and the business environment range from one extreme (economic devastation) to the other (shrug), and the state legislature is currently working on bills that might blunt the negative financial impacts. It is too early to guess how it will all play out. We live in interesting times.

This report will range far and wide looking at real estate, and some economic and demographic issues that impact it. Most of the charts are self-explanatory, so we have kept the text to a minimum. A review of annual, year-over-year, real estate market trends in San Francisco are at the end of this report.

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San Francisco Home Sales by Property Type

San Francisco Probates Views Values

San Francisco New Home Listings Coming on Market


Link to our report on market seasonality

California Migration Trends in 2016


Link to our analysis of domestic and foreign migration trends

Link to our survey of SF and Bay Area demographics

San Francisco Employment Growth by Year

S&P 500 Index by Year

Annual Mortgage Rate Trends


Link to our report on economic context factors

San Francisco Housing Affordability Trends


Link to our report on Bay Area housing affordability

San Francisco Bay Area Rent Trends


Link to our report on the apartment building market

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San Francisco Luxury Homes Market

San Francisco Luxury House Sales by Year

San Francisco Luxury House Sales by Neighborhood

San Francisco Luxury Condo Sales by Year

San Francisco Luxury Condo Sales by Neighborhood

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SF Home Prices by Neighborhood


The following tables and charts are part of a larger survey, which can be provided upon request.

San Francisco Neighborhood & District Map

San Francisco houses under a million dollars

San Francisco 4-bedroom house prices

San Francisco 3-bedroom house prices

San Francisco 2-bedroom condo prices

San Francisco Condo Sales by Price Segment

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Annual Market Trends


Most of these annual trend charts show the market heating up again in 2017 after some cooling in 2016. Very generally speaking, since 2015, the house market has been hotter than the condo market, and the more affordable neighborhoods hotter than the more expensive. But 2017 was a strong year across virtually all market segments.


San Francisco annual median house price percentage changes

 San Francisco annual condo price percentage changes

San Francisco Listings Selling Quickly

San Francisco Home Price Overbidding

San Francisco Days on Market by Year

San Francisco Months Supply of Inventory by Year

San Francisco Supply and Demand Trends

 


All our real estate analyses can be found here: Paragon Market Reports

Please let us know if you have questions or we can be of assistance in any other way. Information on neighborhoods not included in this report is readily available.

If you will forgive a little celebration on our part: In 2017, Paragon became the largest brokerage in San Francisco by dollar volume sales of residential and multi-unit residential real estate (as reported to MLS, per Broker Metrics). We opened our doors in 2004.


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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. Late-reported MLS activity may change certain statistics to some small degree.


© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group