What a Difference a Year Makes: Q1 2010 Update

The first quarter of 2010 is under our belt. The bottom line: The economy isn’t exactly booming, but San Francisco real estate is certainly enjoying a recovery.

Last year at this time, buyers and sellers really were at a standstill. Every sales meeting I attended had an air of solemnity. And with good reason: The stock market had completely tanked only a few months earlier, lenders basically weren’t granting many loans, and what little business was occurring was rife with complications and frustration.

But there’s a different feel to the market now–a much more positive one. Transactions are closing more smoothly, sellers are coming to terms with realistic property values, and buyers are taking advantage of low interest rates and extended tax credits. Banks are even more quickly approving short sales.

A fairly high volume of transactions closed in the city over the past quarter, with price averages for houses increasing and those for condos declining. A total of 442 single-family homes sold at an average of $999,337, and 375 condos were reported sold at an average of $716,655. Contrast that with same time period in 2009, when only 333 houses (avg. $876,662) and 231 condos (avg. $752,993) sold.

Prices in areas affected by foreclosure and short sale activity definitely saw prices continue to decline. But properties in central neighborhoods close to Muni/BART rail lines and popular retail areas were still able to command average or even above-average sales prices.

Many buyers entering the market now are the same ones who postponed purchases throughout last year. People believe their jobs are more secure, and they’ve saved money over the past year for a stronger down payment. Some would also still rather invest in real estate than the stock market, given the debacle in late 2008. In the end, however, many buyers are still very passionate about owning their own home in San Francisco.

There are 379 single-family homes and 354 condos currently in contract as of this writing. (That doesn’t include sales in the many new developments, which don’t report their data.) Based on these numbers, I’d say that San Francisco is well positioned going into the next quarter.

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Eileen Bermingham

Corcoran Global Living



DRE# 01352627

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