February 25, 2011

What Costs How Much Where in San Francisco

February 25, 2011

What Costs How Much Where in San Francisco

Low, High & Median Sales Prices & Average Dollar per Square Foot
By Neighborhood, Property Type & Bedroom Count
2/16/10 – 2/15/11

The charts below track San Francisco MLS home sales by price, size and average dollar per square foot ($/sq.ft.) for the year ending February 15th. Only homes listed as having at least 1 parking space are included.

Within the charts, neighborhoods are listed by median sales price. “Avg Sq.Ft.” signifies the average size in square feet for all those units that reported square footage. If a price is followed by a “k” it references thousands of dollars; if followed by an “m”, it signifies millions of dollars. “REO” refers to the sale of bank-owned properties (typically pursuant to foreclosure).

See the notes below the charts for important context to the analysis. Depending on your screen settings you may wish to adjust your viewing “zoom level” to below 100%.

* San Francisco TIC sales have been dramatically affected in the last few years by changes in financing conditions and condo conversion rules. Recently, more TIC listings expire without selling than actually sell. The TICs that do sell are generally perceived as particularly excellent values when compared to condos of similar size, location and quality. That is, a TIC usually has to stand out as a great value to attract attention from buyers, and the TICs sold are cherry-picked from the general inventory. Because the number of sales is low in the TIC chart, the resulting statistics are less reliable as indicators of general trends or comparative neighborhood values. TIC listings commonly do not publish square footage figures, so no $/sq.ft. analysis is possible.

The MEDIAN SALES PRICE is that price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less. It may be affected by “unusual” events or by changes in buying trends, as well as by changes in value.

Low Price & High Price are self-explanatory, but the low price might be for a property that needs significant work just to be habitable. Within a single neighborhood, it is possible for the low and high prices to be millions of dollars apart – the difference between a small, distressed, bank-owned 2-bedroom condo and a large, pristine 2-bedroom penthouse with spectacular views.

DOLLAR PER SQUARE FOOT is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, storage, unfinished attics and basements; rooms and apartments built without permit; decks, patios or yards. These figures are typically derived from appraisals or tax records, but can be unreliable, measured in different ways, or unreported altogether: thus consider square footage and $/sq.ft. figures to be very general approximations. All things being equal, a house will have a higher dollar per square foot than a condo (because of land value), a condo will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a TIC (quality of title), and a TIC’s will be higher than a multi-unit building’s (quality of use). All things being equal, a smaller home will have a higher $/sq.ft. than a larger one.

The AVERAGE SIZE of homes of the same bedroom count may vary widely by neighborhood: for example, the average size of a 4-bedroom house in Pacific Heights is 38% larger than one in Noe Valley; and the average of a Marina 2-bedroom condo is 25% larger than one in South Beach. Besides the affluence factor, the era and style of construction often play large roles in these disparities.

Some neighborhoods are well known for having additional ROOMS BUILT WITHOUT PERMIT, such as the classic 1940′s Sunset house with “bedrooms” and baths built out behind the garage. These additions often add value, but being unpermitted are not reflected in $/sq.ft. figures.

Many aspects of value cannot be adequately reflected in general statistics: curb appeal, age, condition, views, amenities, outdoor space, “bonus” rooms, parking, quality of location within the neighborhood, and so forth. Thus, how these statistics apply to any particular home is unknown.

In real estate, the devil’s always in the details.