San Francisco’s real estate market peaked last year in March, April, and May — so year-over-year price comparisons will remain eye-popping at least until the end of this month. They will become less pronounced in June, July, and August, because during those months in 2022 home prices fell dramatically. The margin of difference between the years will consequently be smaller.
For example, April’s median sale price for all homes was $1,390,000, down a considerable 13.1 percent year-over-year. The median price for single family homes was $1,702,500, down an even more astonishing 18.9 percent year-over-year.
Even so, home prices in April were up quite a bit from where they were late last year and earlier this year.
“Our spring market typically wraps up once schools let out in the middle of June, so we expect to see a drop in inventory in the summer months until after Labor Day,” said Missy Wyant Smit, a top agent with Compass. “However, our spring market had a slow start, so it’s possible that the uptick in inventory we’re seeing at the moment might push into the summer more than has been typical in the past.”
POCKETS OF ACTIVITY
That increase in inventory is driven in part by a drop in sales, according to SocketSite.com. In April, home sales in San Francisco were down 42 percent from the prior year. What’s more, 30 percent of all active listings were reduced at least once, versus closer to 20 percent at the same time last year.
“Buyers should write offers!” Smit said. “Agents will tell you that any offer is a good offer and buyers should not be afraid of offending sellers. There are some great deals to be had, especially in the sub-$5 million market.”
Smit added that there are pockets of the city that seem to be bulletproof. Single family homes in the $3–$5 million range in Noe Valley, for example, when presented and priced right, are still commanding multiple offers and high prices.
Pricey San Francisco homes are often purchased with jumbo loans, and one source for those loans disappeared last month. Regulators took over First Republic Bank and sold a substantial chunk of its assets to JPMorgan Chase, marking the third major bank failure in the United States in less than two months.
It doesn’t appear that JP Morgan Chase has any interest in issuing jumbo loans going forward. In San Francisco, jumbo loans are single-unit home loans that exceed the conforming loan amount of $1,089,300. First Republic was a big player in this niche, largely as a strategy for acquiring wealthy clients to whom the bank could sell other products.
According to the Los Angeles Times, First Republic became known for handing out interest-only mortgages at rock-bottom rates to borrowers with high incomes and exceptional credit scores. Typically, they didn’t have to start repaying the principal for a decade.
Demand for the loans surged during the pandemic as wealthy buyers sought mortgage deals that would allow them to keep the bulk of their money in higher return investments. The rush helped First Republic double its assets in four years. It also contributed to its collapse.
At the center of First Republic’s balance sheet was a $137 billion problem that made it a particularly hard sell: a giant book of those low-interest mortgages, mixed with some others, whose value had been severely dented since the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates.
JPMorgan Chase has indicated they want no part of this going forward. And while they might not issue new jumbo loans, according to CNN, anyone with a loan from First Republic should continue making payments as usual. There will be no change in the terms of existing loans.
The good news is, according to thebasispoint.com, there are still other banks in the market issuing jumbo loans, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup.
On an entirely different note, Redfin published an interesting report recently that suggests immigration into major U.S. coastal cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles has rebounded after dramatically dropping off in 2020 and 2021. The uptick in people moving in from other countries partly makes up for the homebuyers flowing out of those areas, typically to more affordable places.
The net inflow of immigrants more than doubled from a year earlier in 2022 in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston. Redfin’s analysis of U.S. Census data shows that immigration into many big American cities has picked up speed after the pandemic-driven slowdown.
Immigrants are flowing into expensive coastal job centers — ironically, the same places some homebuyers already based in the United States are leaving.