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 risks 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.*
We all hear it time and time again. "Rent is so expensive in the Bay Area!" But just how expensive? Well, rental website Zumper actually reported that rent prices broke all-time high records not once, not twice, but SEVERAL times in 2019! According to Zumper, the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in SF this past June was $3,720. According to another rental website, Adobo, a one-bedroom in SF was going for even more, topping out at $3,904 just last month.
The good news is that the current SF one-bedroom median price is now estimated to be lower, around $3,490. And by good, I mean actually-just-medicore news because wow, that is still a ton of rent money. Wouldn't you rather just use that money to build some equity in a home across the bay and take advantage of all the tax write-offs instead? Asking as a (knowingly) biased real estate agent.
In 2017, Business Insider writer Sam Dogen (also renowned author of my favorite finance and real estate blog Financial Samurai) became a stay-at-home dad after he sold his SF rental property for $2.75 million, leaving him with a $1.8 million profit after paying off the mortgage, taxes, and fees. Umm, can we say GOALS? Now a couple years later, he wants to buy property in SF again. Why now, you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask and I’m gonna tell you anyway?)
Well, Dogen says property prices in the US have softened and mortgage rates have collapsed. All while rent prices continue to rise! Plus he thinks the fact that 2020 is an election year, the stock market is thriving AF, and the amount of foreign buyers has dramatically decreased, all point to now being a good time to start looking into purchasing. He listed about 87** other reasons if you’re interested in reading all of them (**ok fine slight exaggeration, but honestly, there were a lot and they were all pretty convincing).
*Disclaimer: Every economist, journalist, and psychic will have varying degrees of optimism and pessimism about where the housing market is going—up, down, all around. If you want to compare different points of view and form your own educated prediction, here are a few other market forecasts to satisfy your inner nerd: Realtor.com, Redfin, Forbes, Freddie Mac, and Zillow.
Inquiring minds want to know. To answer our burning questions, Estately mapped out the relative cost of living near BART, compiling the average sale price per square foot for all the houses, townhouses and condos that have sold within a one-mile radius of each BART station over the past six months.
(If squinting at the blurry numbers on the map is hurting your eyes too, click here for a larger view.)
Here are the ten “most expensive stops” and relative commute times to Downtown San Francisco (defined as Embarcadero station):
1. Embarcadero – $1,191 per square foot (0 minutes)
2. Montgomery Street – $1,149 (2 min)
3. Powell Street – $1,099 (4 min)
4. 24th Street/Mission – $1,001 (9 min)
5. 16th Street/Mission – $998 (7 min)
6. Civic Center – $994 (6 min)
7. Millbrae – $854 (25 min)
8. Glen Park – $817 (11 min)
9. SFO – $735 (32 min)
10. Rockridge $704 (20 min)
And the ten least expensive:
1. Pittsburg/Bay Point – $219 per square foot (62 minutes from Downtown San Francisco)
2. Richmond – $258 (35 min)
3. Coliseum – $270 (20 min)
4. North Concord/Martinez – $306 (56 min)
5. Concord – $317 (43 min)
6. Hayward – $347 (32 min)
7. South Hayward – $356 (36 min)
8. San Leandro – $366 (24 min)
9. Bay Fair – $376 (28 min)
10. Castro Valley – $406 (32 min)
BART is also extending from Fremont into Silicon Valley, where new housing, commercial and retail developments are already being planned around the future South Bay BART stations. Home values nearby will probably increase, along with the number of commuters crammed into a sardine can of a BART train.
(Twin Peaks, that is.)
Good news for buyers: the hottest housing market in the country might finally be cooling off. According to Redfin, home prices in San Francisco declined last month for the first time in four years.
The median home price in the area dropped 1.8% in March from last year to $1.04 million. Quite a big difference from last year when prices in the market averaged 15% growth. Sales also took a hit, sinking 22% in March -- which normally marks the start of the busy home-buying season. While it's still a seller's market in San Francisco, homes are sitting on the market longer and inventory of unsold homes is at its highest in four years.
Economists and housing experts credit the shifting real estate climate to Wall Street's recent volatility, overvalued tech companies, and slowing interest from overseas buyers.
Oh, that's it? Apologies in advance for the buzzkill, but according to a new Charles Schwab survey, to be considered "wealthy" in the Bay Area, you need a net worth of at least $6 million. A net worth of $1 million is the baseline for being "comfortable." That's all, no big deal.
Charles Schwab surveyed 1,000 Bay Area residents aged 21 to 75 in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, SF, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Solano counties. The survey asked what residents considered enough money to be "wealthy" vs. "comfortable." They believed $2.5 million was the average needed to be wealthy in other parts of the country.
The survey unsurprisingly found that locals are shocked by the cost of living here. 86% said the cost of living is "unreasonable" and 55% said living in the Bay Area makes it "difficult to reach their financial goals."
To counteract these depressing stats, the majority also believe this is a prime place for career growth and innovation, and the Bay Area's economy is better than the national one.
While SF is notoriously known for its rapidly rising home prices, the city's neighboring towns have far exceeded its growth. Between January 2010 to December 2015, home prices rose more than 70% in some SF neighborhoods, according to Zillow. But in Palo Alto between Stanford and Google, prices climbed 104% - and 101% in CEO tech haven. Let's see what the rest of 2016 brings.
Despite the rising home prices, SF's commercial real estate market may be foretelling a slowdown in the city's heated tech-driven economy. Recently there has been very little room to rent for companies in SF. Supply is tight enough that office rents here have even topped Manhattan’s to become the nation’s most expensive.
Office subleasing, an early indicator of past downturns, is at the highest level since 2010. Twitter, Intuit, and Zenefits are among the tech companies putting excess space on the market, showing signs that they are slowly but surely shrinking in size with no plans to expand anytime soon.
Speaking of shrinking startups, a report came out yesterday that shows Fidelity recently slashed down the valuation of some big startups that have delayed going public (i.e. Dropbox, Cloudera, and Zenefits). Signs of a correction in the SF job market may translate to a correction in the housing market too.
On a scale of 1-10, how depressingly familiar does this traffic look? With all the awards and recognition the Bay Area could've gotten, we managed to claim the bronze medal for Worst Traffic in America with an average of 75 hours wasted in traffic in 2015. Yay, go us.
And here you have your worst traffic corridors of 2015. Now you know exactly where and when not to drive.
All things real estate.