Is now a good time to buy? Or will we see the market drop for another year?

Asked by Brottler, Burlingame, CA Sun Jan 13, 2008

I've also been told the SF market really hasn't fallen as much as the rest of the Bay Area, if at all. Is that true in your experience?


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Melanie Nard…, , San Francisco, CA
Mon Jan 14, 2008
Here in San Francisco we have not experienced markets such as Sacramento's or Stockton which have been hit hard. Properties are on the market a little longer, but sellers have adjusted and listing prices are more competitive. Buyers have become more active since the beginning of the year, I had good traffic at open houses this past weekend. The short sales and bank owned properties are in the entry/first time buyer part of the market, yet we only have a handful of them. And we're seeing single digit appreciation now, rather than the double digit we saw in 2004-2005.
Areas such as the Bayview, Crocker-Amazon, Visitacion Valley have seen fewer sales, while areas such as Inner Richmond (especially along Lake) have few properties on the market and we still see instances of multiple offers.
We still have good job growth, low unemployment and a housing shortage. Rents continue to increase from their lows of three years ago, while interest rates remain low.
There is a "Superstar City" academic theory that says cities such as San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Paris, New York are internationally attractive. Frankly, San Francisco is cheap compared to these other metros, and it has nothing to do with a weak dollar. While I do see some international buyers, I think our geographic constraint is more a factor here in the City and extending down onto the peninsula, which precludes adding substantial housing stock in the Western half of the City. The one area which is adding hundreds of housing units is Rincon Hill and Mission Bay, it will take awhile to see these communities evolve from redevelopment.
4 votes
Peter Brunton, , San Francisco, CA
Tue Jan 15, 2008
My best answer would be from more of an economics point of view. Yes, San Francisco is unique in that prices have not dropped as dramatically depending on what neighborhood you are looking at. Inventory is still fairly low and the salaries of potential buyers means that people can afford to keep properties at there current levels. However, the subprime mortgage mess while not as prevalent in most San Francisco neighborhoods still has not fully hit rock bottom and this will lead to increased difficulties in loan origination. Of course it's a guess, but I do think that the credit crunch will lead the market to drop slightly for the next year. However, this also leads to an incredibly opportunity to find great deals and negotiate seller concessions within this time.
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3 votes
David Patter…, , 29229
Sun Jan 13, 2008

Ironically, I had another individual asked me this question about the Phoenix market. That answer applies to your question.

As an outsider of the San Francisco area, I’d like to share my two-part professional opinion.

1. If you are in the real estate investment business, you should wait until prices have reached “bottom” in San Francisco. What’s the bottom in San Francisco? God only knows! That’s why it’s called “Speculative Investing”.


2. If you are looking to own a home and experience the “American Dream” of home ownership, anytime is a good time to realize your dream.

I know. I know. Rates could get lower. Prices could get lower. Maybe. But, have you looked at the big picture?

In Northeast Columbia, South Carolina during 2007, UNIT SALES were down by 10% from 2006. BUT…During the same time frame, home prices increased by 4.69%.

What does that mean? Potential buyers in our area LOSS about $8400.

In summary, if you are buying a HOME (and not primarily for investment purposes) and you are working with a real estate professional (I can help you find one), then anytime is a great time to buy.

p.s. - I am willing to bet that prices are higher in San Francisco today than they were in 2002. I’d be willing to bet on an increase in prices by 2014.

Good Luck in your real estate pursuits!


David A. Patterson, Broker CRS ABR
Russell & Jeffcoat Realtors, Inc.
5219 N. Trenholm Road
Columbia, SC 29206
(803) 960-5231

Visit My Blog - Your Comments are Welcomed

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2 votes
Sun Jan 13, 2008
You answered it yourself. Another year, maybe 18 months.
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P, Home Buyer, Gom
Sun Jan 20, 2008
And with 150,000 rent control units re-adjusting should the eminent domain proposition pass? Some are likely to be sold / condo converted; Demand/Supply curve should be cause for pause.
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Mon Jan 14, 2008
San Francisco is made up of neighborhoods and the numbers are different in each of them. So the answer to your question will be very different if you are looking to buy a condo in North Beach or South Beach, or a single family home Noe Valley or Visitacion Valley. The other part of your question can be answered by anyone anywhere in the country. Are you looking to invest and do an equity flip, don't buy now! Are you buying a home to live in, go ahead.
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Dirk Knudsen…, Agent, Hillsboro, OR
Sun Jan 13, 2008
That is a market by market stat. And nobody knows where the bottom is. In Portland we have such a tight land supply that I think this slow down we are having will be shorter lived. No new homes have been going in and in some areas there are less than a dozen new homes to be had. Plenty of resale right now but that can change quick here. There are jobs here and a healthy business atmosphere. I think that the bottom will be here by June and that this year will be the year that people say 'remember in 2007 when you could buy'.

Elsewhere like Phoenix they have a 22 month supply of new homes to sell and 28% of all homes sitting vacant. In Michigan there are no jobs to be had and people are not moving there. This could be a 5-8 year process in a place like that.

I heard a good stat on the Inman news and I think he is right on. The higher your market climbed the longer this will take to wash out. So look at your loaction. If prices were up 200% in 5 years you could be in a hole for a while.

case by case and that is a great question that needs a very very local answer!

Good Luck!

Dirk Knudsen
"the real Estate Doctor"
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0 votes
Sun Jan 13, 2008
Don't let stats like this throw you off:
According to DataQuick as reported in the SF Examiner, comparing October year over year sales (2007 to 2006), every other county in the Bay Area saw declines in volume of home sales between 28% and 54%.

SF County saw a decline of only 8.2% in volume of home sales, with an increase in median home sales price of 3.9%.

Foreclosures are still happening in SF and will continue:

260 King Street #613, a one-bedroom at The Beacon, is now “bank owned." It's currently on the market for $552,900 or $680 per square foot. And although tax records show an assessed value of $567,018, it would appear that the bank “bought it back” for $609,117 this past November.

At the same time, there are another four one-bedrooms at 260 King Street which are currently listed on the MLS with prices ranging from $726 to $931 a square foot. And of the two one-bedrooms listed at 250 King (which is also a Beacon address), one (250 King #410) is "subject to short sale approval" with a "motivated" seller.
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