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SF’s median housing price drops again

Six percent drop ends volatile summer, but houses still pricier in the long run

Closeup of a Victorian house in SF with the skyline visible over the roof. Photo by rarrarorro

If San Francisco felt slightly less overwhelmingly expensive this summer, it wasn’t your imagination.

The California Association of Realtors [CAR] released its monthly report on median single family home prices across the state Monday, crunching sales numbers for the month of August.

The result: Prices climbed slightly statewide but dropped in San Francisco and across nearly the entire Bay Area.

Of course, month to month dips are not usually that significant in statistical terms. However, this is also part of a slightly longer trend that saw prices tumble all summer.

Here’s how median SF sales figures for single family homes look since May:

  • May: $1.62 million (-1.8 percent)
  • June: $1.62 million (0 percent)
  • July: $1.65 million (+1.8 percent)
  • August: $1.55 million (-6.1 percent)

That’s an unusual ebb and flow, but it does amount to a fairly sizable drop overall.

Across the nine Bay Area counties, the median dropped from $1.08 million in May to $935,000 in August. The statewide median rose slightly from July to August (0.8 percent) but also declined overall since the beginning of the summer.

Photo by Iuliia Serova

In the report, CAR President Steve White points out, “Home sales activity remained on a downward trend for the fourth straight month [in August], as uncertainty about the housing market continues to mount.”

White speculates that buyers are waiting to see whether prices will take a significant downward trajectory after years of almost constant growth.

CAR figures reflect every sale made by an associated realtor that month, which is usually not quite every sale in the state but nevertheless represents a robust and close to comprehensive picture of buying and selling.

The bad news is that, even with this dip, SF prices are still way, way up year over year; last August the median in SF was $1.38 million, representing an appreciation more than 12 percent since then.

And looking back, the 2017 end of summer figures were themselves a nine percent year over year increase from 2016.

So the recent slippage might just be seasonal leniency or a brief hiccup in an inverse long-term trend.

Or, as White speculates that buyers might be speculating, it might be the beginning of a larger slide, as demand at last meets its match.

For now there’s nothing to do except watch fall numbers fall where they may.