In an effort to build a cleaner and healthier city, Oakland City Council just banned natural gas in all new buildings. Berkeley, San Jose, and San Francisco have also followed suit and said "We're not passing gas either!"
But seriously, eliminating natural gas use in buildings will lower the risk of fire after an earthquake (important when you live in earthquake territory!) and improve overall indoor air quality. Studies have shown that children are 42% MORE likely to have asthma in a home that uses natural gas while cooking. I know, right? Who knew??
We know that real estate is booming, but not all homes are created equal. Which ones are flying off the shelves and which are getting stale from sitting out for so long? In Santa Clara County, single-family homes continue to be a hot commodity while condos and townhomes lag behind. Many sellers are having to drop their prices to attract buyers to their units. In SF, some agents are even offering free cars and roundtrip flights to Paris to incentivize condo buyers. So what’s the deal?
Condos are usually in high demand among middle income households, but with the pandemic-induced hit on the economy, these households are being forced to put their real estate plans on hold. Meanwhile, higher income earners have largely remained unaffected. Combine that with lower interest rates and the demand for extra space and yards being at an all time high, and it’s pretty clear why single family homes are getting multiple bids and going pending in less than a week. The bright side? You can probably get a pretty good deal on a condo or townhouse right now. And maybe even a free car on the side?
Zoom Town? Never heard of her—until now. This term has popped up recently to describe locations where real estate is booming due to the uptick of remote work during this pandemic. Prime example? Truckee, an outdoorsy person’s dream town just northwest of Lake Tahoe. Skiing, hiking, mountains, lakes, great restaurants, an emerging art scene, all at 1/2 of the price of a home in San Francisco?? No wonder so many people are snatching up homes out there. But of course this isn’t happening in Truckee alone. National home prices are up 8% from this time last year, proving that there is still a huge demand for homes all over the country.
What has become abundantly clear is that at this point there are “two Americas”: a booming side filled with folks who remain gainfully employed and have the opportunity to take advantage of low interest rates, and a gloomy side, where nearly 3 million adults have moved back in with their parents and almost 30 million Americans are on unemployment benefits.
Covid has had an interesting effect on rental markets, with housing becoming cheaper in the country’s most expensive cities (San Francisco, New York City, Boston, San Jose, and Oakland to name the top 5), while getting pricier in more historically affordable areas. What’s going on? Amidst the pandemic we’re in, demand for rentals has dropped in the aforementioned larger cities, the desire for housing in cheaper suburban areas has gone up. According to the rental platform Zumper, people are opting to move out of their large city dwellings and opting for cheaper housing while they work remotely, effectively closing the gap between price distribution of rentals across the U.S.
For the first time since 2011, the number of homes for sale in San Francisco reached levels similar to that of our last recession with 50% more single family homes on the market than this time last year, and 130% more condos. Could this be the start of a buyer’s market emerging in the city? SF sellers are having to decrease asking prices to stay competitive as more people are working remotely and choosing to seek new homes outside the city.
At the same time, single-family home sales in the greater Bay Area have jumped up by 70% in June alone, highlighting the exodus of people from bigger cities to smaller surrounding suburbs. And with the stock market performing strongly and interest rates reaching record lows, people are more eager beaver than ever to buy a home.
Apparently June was the ideal time for buying a luxury home in San Francisco. Last month, more than 30 luxury single-family homes ($3 million and up) were sold, the highest in 2 years, causing average home values in the city to reach a record high of $1.8 million. WOW, right? Even in the middle of a pandemic, buyers with $$$ remain the least affected by financial hardship due to coronavirus.
Meanwhile, median condo prices saw about a 4% dip in values. Condos, in high supply due to recent new construction, are typically bought by younger and less affluent buyers than single-family homes, and as such, may have been hit harder by the increase in unemployment.
COVID-19 has caused a lot of folks to rethink their living arrangements. The logic seems to be, if nearly everyone is working from home now, why not move out of the city and into a home in the 'burbs where you can get more bang for your buck? For some, that means buying a second home while continuing to rent in big cities like New York and San Francisco. The appeal? Cheaper prices, more space, closer to nature, and being able to raise a family comfortably, while still getting the occasional city fix. It's the best of both worlds!
With big companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Shopify setting the trend for employees to work from home forever-ish, potential home buyers are wondering why they're living in a pricey city to be close to work when work is actually just their dining table most days anyway.
This may explain why the Oakland market is recovering much faster than in San Francisco or San Jose. Move-in ready homes in Oakland are selling in 5-10 days with multiple offers. There are fewer homes on the market, but almost as many people searching as there were pre-pandemic.
The more suburban cities like Berkeley or Walnut Creek will likely see an increase in buyers too as remote work becomes the norm. I mean hey, if your money could get you a bigger house with an actual yard and your only trade-off is having a longer commute where you cry in the car two days out of the week instead of five, then I say why not?
Once upon a time, millennials were willing to sacrifice a few stimulus checks (and then some) on each month's rent to live in a closet-sized apartment just to be part of the hustle and bustle of a city. But when all the alluring things about living in a city (like bumping into people on crowded streets, standing in ridiculously long lines for brunch, and cramming your way into packed sports arenas and concert venues) can potentially change, the possible danger of these everyday social interactions could accelerate a trend away from densely populated urban cities and into the suburbs.
After the lockdown, new home sales came to a screeching halt (as did everything else). But in the last two weeks, homebuilders have seen sales start to climb back up, particularly with dual-income first-time buyers wanting to leave their tiny apartments and buy larger move-in ready homes that they find more safety and stability in. More emphasis is now being placed on outdoor areas, functional layouts, and overall MORE SPACE.
The secret is out: Doordash tastes the same from wherever you are.
The average U.S. home costs $240,000. But in San Francisco, a two-bedroom apartment costs around $750,000 to build. The costs of construction in SF are 13% higher than New York, 60% more expensive than Chicago, and 75% more than in Houston. But why is it SO expensive?
For starters, the price of land and labor in California is insanely higher than other states. In SF, a construction worker makes about $90 an hour. (Did you just audibly gasp because you had no idea this was a construction worker's average wage and consider maybe you too could work in construction someday? Because same).
But it’s not just that. There are so many costs that go into building affordable housing. Government fees, permits, hiring consulting companies.... So. Many. Things. It literally took the City Council 6 months just to agree on the financing paperwork alone. More attorneys are involved in projects than actual construction workers. And we wonder why it takes SO long to get any sort of traction on building affordable housing (or any housing at all) in the city. *Insert crying face emoji here.*
All things real estate.