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Bay Area home prices (barely) drop for first time in seven years

“The chickens will be coming home to roost this spring”

The exterior of a mansion with a white facade and a brown roof. Photo by Sanfranman59

According to Orange County-based data firm Core Logic’s monthly home sales report, the price of a home in the Bay Area for March declined year-over-year for the first time since 2012, albeit by a minuscule 0.1 percent.

While this drop is so small as to be meaningless in practical terms—and possibly anomalous in statistical ones—it snaps a seven-year trend of constant price growth in this metric and accompanies the tenth straight month of decline in the number of home sales year-over-year as well.

According to Core Logic, which compiled all public house and condo sales for March, the median price of a home in the region was approximately $830,000, down from $831,000 the same time in 2018.

While prices went up in San Francisco by 5.3 percent year-over-year (to $1.38 million on average), Marin County’s and Santa Clara County’s medians dropped during the period by 4.7 percent to $1.08 million and ten percent to $1.08 million, respectively.

In a separate national home price index report reflecting February 2019, which showed declines in growth nationwide, Core Logic Deputy Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin says, “In places like San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the proverbial chickens will be coming home to roost this spring because they haven’t been able to find a decently affordable coop.”

The number of homes sold in San Francisco was down in March too, dropping 12 percent from 517 to 455, the lowest in 11 years.

Across the region the decline was 14.8 percent, from 7,184 to 6,124 for March.

Comparing Core Logic’s figures to those from the California Association of Realtors, CAR found that prices declined year-over-year across nearly every Bay Area county, including San Francisco.

CAR recorded a year-over-year price change of negative 2.5 percent in March for SF, down to roughly $1.63 million.

This differs from the Core Logic figure because CAR only records the sales of single-family homes, which are usually more robust than sales of condos or the combined houses/condos metric.

In both cases, sales were up significantly from February to March of this year, although Core Logic notes that the month-over-month increase of 39.4 percent is less than the 39.9 percent averages month-over-month February to March sales bump for the past 20 years.