Home Sales Prices Just Hit New High in SF

Scott Lucas | December 16, 2014 | Story Real Estate

Median home sales prices in San Francisco hit an all-time high in November—and city hall is scrambling to keep up.

According to the real-estate analysis firm DataQuick, in November the median San Francisco home sold for $1.07 million—a sharp increase from the previous record, an even one million, from July of this year. The median sales price has almost doubled from its low of $562,00, which it set in January of 2009, in the depths of the depression. Median sales prices have been steadily increasing since 2012.

Sales volume, however, was markedly lower in November, with only 434 homes changing hands. Though the market traditionally sees a seasonal dip towards the end of the year, the drop is much lower than in years past. Sales of luxury homes made up a greater proportion of sales during the period, leading to the upturn in prices.

If you've been paying any attention whatsoever, you know that his figure is but one in a parade of distressing revelations about housing prices in San Francisco. And as prices continue to climb, some members of the Board of Supervisors are looking at a new tax that they say could help fund affordable housing. Supervisor Eric Mar has proposed enacting a pied-a-terre tax on housing owned by nonresidents used for investment or occasional occupation. It’s similar to a plan that was recently considered in New York City. Mar intends to ask the mayor for his support for the idea during the Board of Supervisors meeting today. Mar has said that he worries about “zombie neighborhoods” which have “beautiful new luxury units but no residents.”

The idea isn't half bad, if San Francisco is in fact experiencing a surge in non-occupied housing. The best guess, though, is that it isn't.

A study by SPUR found that of the roughly 376,000 housing units in San Francisco, 30,000 were vacant, with just over 9,000 of those categorized as for “seasonal, recreational, or occasional use.” (That’s 2.4 percent of the total.) These units, though found all over the city, were concentrated in downtown, SoMa, the Marina, Pac Heights, Sea Cliff, and North Beach. San Francisco’s share of such housing was far lower than in other high-cost markets like Honolulu, Miami, and Manhattan, leading the report to conclude that non-primary residences did “not appear to be a large portion of San Francisco’s housing stock, especially when compared to other cities.”

Mar's idea isn't the only one floating around city hall, with Lee expected to roll out a raft of policy proposals in the new year to address affordability.

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