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Median Price of a Starter Home In SF: $734,000

You’ve got to start somewhere—and that somewhere is well over half a million dollars

Yesterday, Curbed SF featured ten great starter homes in San Francisco, ranging from $505,000 to $925,000. If you’re curious where the rest of them are, there’s a map for that too, but it comes with usual dose of sobering/intimidating data about the housing market.

Now let's talk price: According to the real estate site Trulia, starter homes in San Francisco (defined as the least expensive third of the market) now have a median of more than $734,000. Note that we’re talking about estimated home values here rather than sale prices, which can creep much higher when bidding gets hot.

But in cases where the price sticks close to the value, that means a 20 percent down payment of about $146,800, more than 200 percent of the Area Median Income ($71,350, according to the Mayor’s Office of Housing). Loan terms may become persnickety.

These kinds of starter homes are most common in the southern and eastern flanks of the city, although the site records a fair number of sales in that price range in the SOMA and Tenderloin areas too (condos, of course).

It's important to note that Trulia usually only works with data from homes listed on their site.

The median price of the most affordable homes in Oakland is just barely under $400,000, concentrated almost exclusively in East Oakland. That’s more than two and a half times the national median, meaning that the average Oaklander would need contribute 122 percent of his/her income of $65,450 towards a 20 percent down payment.

The problem, of course, is that prices are constantly rising. While it costs six percent more annually to pay down a house in San Francisco compared to last year, the spike was more than eight percent in Oakland. That’s the highest in the entire country, as Trulia reckons it.

If you’re curious, the median for a "premium home" (i.e., the most expensive one-third of all housing stock in a given area) nationwide is $585,334, the equivalent of a stunning bargain in San Francisco. A median price for a starter home on Trulia across all 50 states is $157,000, the equivalent of, well, nothing, locally speaking.