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San Francisco median home price up to $1.5 million, says report

That’s really too much

A cable car climbing a hill next to a yellow Victorian home.
Still climbing.
Pius Lee

A market report from Paragon Real Estate Group lays it all on the line: “San Francisco median house sales price soars to $1,500,000 in May.”

Suffice to say, that’s an all-time high. For the three-month period covering the entire spring (March through May) the median was a bit lower at more than $1.42 million.

It’s one thing to point out that said figure is up from $1.36 million last year. But according to Paragon economist Patrick Carlisle, it’s almost double the price from the same period just five years ago in 2012.

While the rate of increase has slowed down in the last two years, this just means we’ve traded huge year-over-year leaps for seemingly ceaseless hops.

Also of note, the median condo price in San Francisco went up to $1.2 million in May, another all-time record.

For perspective, back in 2000 a three-bedroom house in the city averaged $543,059—roughly $786,000 after inflation. So now the price of most homes is almost double the price of a larger than average home less than 20 years ago.

Home values (although not necessarily sale prices) for the entire state back then averaged $211,000, some $305,000 in today’s currency.

For even more perspective, down in Los Angeles—hardly a cheap place to live in its own right—the California Association of Realtors estimates that the average home (house or condo) cost around $480,000 in April.

In Orange County it was $775,000. In Santa Cruz, $815,000. But in San Francisco: $1.4 million for a house or condo, very close to Paragon’s own figure and nearly double some of the record highs everywhere else.

Meanwhile, CAR says the average California home sold for about $536,000 that month, roughly what a San Francisco house cost 17 years ago.

For anyone curious, the cheapest place to buy in the state is Lassen County (population 32,000 or so), where, at around $175,000 per abode, one could buy seven or eight average homes for the price of buying in SF.

Paragon’s Carlisle credits (or blames) overbidding, particularly in the western neighborhoods, as a major driver.

“The house market is hotter than the condo market, and the more affordable house market (affordable by San Francisco standards) has turned into a feeding frenzy this spring,” he writes.

Do keep in mind that the sky is not necessarily falling here. The city has broken records on home prices many times in the recent past. And while that’s not exactly a good thing, all that this latest news means is that the trend has continued.

Still, the big surprise may be learning that it might be impossible to ever stop being surprised by the implacable ascent of San Francisco’s homes.