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The San Francisco neighborhoods where home prices actually fell

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Break out the magnifying glass—these drops are minuscule

A low-angle photo of Painted Ladies in San Francisco. Photo by Shutterstock.

This month, sources like the California Association of Realtors and real estate group Compass took a look at the second quarter of 2019 and concluded that, across the board, home prices in San Francisco went up compared to the same time last year, despite some recent short-term declines.

A citywide or countywide median, though, assesses a city’s housing market from what might be called a pretty significant elevation. For comparison, real estate group Sotheby’s circulated a report this week assessing median prices on something closer to a neighborhood-by-neighborhood scale.

Sotheby’s divvies up the city into ten “districts,” each composed of about half a dozen to a dozen adjacent neighborhoods and compiles condo and house sales in each. This is still not particularly granular, as each district is a huge stretch of San Francisco, but it does provide a closer look nevertheless.

It also means that, for the most part, prices are up compared to the second quarter of 2018, we can break out a few areas where the trend reversed, albeit barely in some cases:

  • In Sotheby’s configuration of district four (not to be confused with D4 and so on), the median price of a single-family home dropped from $1.81 million-plus in 2018 down to $1.79 million this year, based off of 100 sales in 2018 and 101 for 2019. Unfortunately, district four covers a voluminous number of neighborhoods including (deep breath) Balboa Terrace, Diamond Heights, Forest Hill, Ingleside Terrace, Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Monterey Heights, Mt. Davidson, Sherwood Forest, St. Francis Wood, Sunnyside, and West Portal. So, it’s difficult to pin this trend down to any particular region.
  • In Sotheby’s district six, which spans Alamo Square, Hayes Valley, the Western Addition, NoPa, and Lower Pac Heights, single-family home prices declined from a median of $3.57 million to just $2.9 million. That would be a pretty huge shift, but unfortunately, only 11 houses sold in this area in 2019. And at this time last year, that number was just eight—not enough to make any change significant on this timeline. However, condo sales proved much more robust—80 this year and 84 last year. And on that end, prices declined too, albeit by a less drastic turn of $1.24 million down to an even $1.2 million.
  • Almost the exact same story played out in Sotheby’s district eight, where fewer than 20 houses sold this quarter either this year or the year before, making the seeming downturn in those neighborhoods (i.e., Civic Center, Financial District, North Beach, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, and the Tenderloin) from $3.56 million to $3.25 million pretty much meaningless. On the other hand, 153 condos sold in Q2 2019 and 130 sold in 2018. The median declined as well, but again, albeit barely, from $1.08 million to just less than $1.01 million.
  • Sotheby’s district nine covers a huge swath of mostly eastern waterfront neighborhoods, spanning Bernal Heights, Dogpatch, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, the Mission, South Beach, and SoMa, and across those fronts medians for single-family homes declined from more than $1.67 million to approximately $1.6 million. The sample size here isn’t huge—68 houses in 2019 and 76 the year before. More than 300 condos sold this quarter during both years in these neighborhoods, but the price year over year actually increased a bit.
  • The price for a house also dropped a bit (from $5.8 million to $5.6 million) in the ultra-tony district seven, which covers the Marina, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights. But again, there’s not enough houses sold in a single quarter here to draw major conclusions.

Overall, none of these depreciations seem particularly drastic, and for the most part represent stalling momentum rather than reversals.

For the record, all of these areas are still up significantly compared to this time in 2017. With the sole exception of district six, all of the 2017 medians showed increases over 2016.