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SF housing prices rise again

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Oh, the fickleness of fate

Apartment buildings in Nob Hill. Photo via Shutterstock.

Earlier this month a host of sources, including the Orange County-based data firm Core Logic, reported that the median price of a house in San Francisco declined year-over-year for the first time since 2012.

The depreciation was a bare margin of 1.4 percent or less, depending on the source. But coming as it did after years of nonstop increases, it still qualified as a shocker.

But (not so) easy come, easy go is the law of the land: Now Core Logic has released its early estimate for May and reports that SF’s median price leapfrogged last year’s median, spiking 5.7 percent compared to May of 2018.

The firm’s latest San Francisco Bay Area home sales report, released Thursday morning, recorded 572 single-family homes sold in the city in May for a median price of $1.4 million.

The same time last year the median was just over $1.32 million.

Despite the bump, Core Logic economist Andrew LePage says that prices remain mostly middling across the region.

“For the past two months, the median sale price and other data have indicated that home prices across much of the Bay Area have basically flattened out,” he explains.

Across all nine Bay Area counties, the combined year-over-year price change was zero. Individual locales ranged from a gain of 7.6 percent in Napa to a decline of 6.5 percent in Marin County.

What does the May SF spike mean after April’s surprising drop? Possibly that April was a weird fluke and prices will keep going up as they have for years, despite recent flatness.

Or, possibly, that the indicators of malaise will spread and May will turn out to be a fluke amid a general slump. Frustrating though it may be, it’s never a good idea to draw broad conclusions from just one month’s numbers—or from one analysis.

One longterm trend that the recent figures do corroborate is that the total number of houses sold is once again down year-over-year across the wider Bay Area, slipping 7.6 percent in April.

“Sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for the past nine consecutive months,” notes LePage.

However, the number of home sold in SF rose compared to last year, up 5.1 percent.