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Housing crisis: SF home prices up again for spring despite lag

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Nothing lasts forever, but this market is giving its best shot

Apartments rising on Nob Hill. Photo via Shutterstock

The good times can’t last forever: New analysis suggests that the brief and oh-so tantalizing dip in SF’s median home prices seen earlier this year has evaporated.

In April, sources like the California Association of Realtors and real estate group Compass, among others, reported that the median price of a San Francisco home declined year-over-year, albeit by a tiny figure, for the first time since 2012.

But this week, Southern California-based data firm Core Logic brought the party down by reporting that the trend reversed in May. And now Compass, based in San Francisco, concurs with its June San Francisco market report, which finds that not only are prices up in the most recent month, but for spring altogether as well.

“We consider three-month rolling median sales prices to be more reliable than single month figures, which are much more prone to less meaningful fluctuations,” notes economist Patrick Carlisle.

Comparing MLS sales for March through May of 2019, the median price of a single-family house in SF came out to $1.65 million. For the same period in 2018, it was $1.63 million.

On the one hand, that’s not much growth compared to previous years in the surreal SF market, and the April contraction contributes significantly to that diminishment.

But growth is still growth. Carlisle notes that “both houses and condos are basically back up to the peak prices they hit last year at this time.”

Median condo prices were down a bit in San Francisco compared to last year. But the difference between 2018 and today was just $5,000—and demand for condos has long been softer in the region than for single-family homes.

The median condo price reported by Compass for spring 2019 was a bit over $1.25 million.

Carlisle even holds that the number of homes sold rose during the spring year-over-year from 2018—Core Logic has held that this figure has been on the skids for months across the Bay Area—from 1,533 to 1,540.

The only category that dropped: Condos that cost $2 million or more, a decline of four units year-over-year.

The only possible good news is that the increase is too slight to be a sign of the IPO-apocalypse that housing watchers have fretted about all year. However, since employees of newly public companies like Lyft and Pinterest aren’t yet allowed to sell their shares, that could still loom on the horizon.